Hyperspace Beacon: Memorable moments in Star Wars Galaxies, the original Star Wars MMORPG
Yesterday, the game that solidified my place in the MMO space would have turned 15 years old, and MJ, Bree, and I took a trip down memory lane by hopping into one of the Star Wars Galaxies emulators. All the memories of the adventures I had came flooding back, even though my muscle memory for the combat mechanics was gone.
Since the launch of SWG in 2003, we have seen the launch of two other MMORPGs (Clone Wars Adventures and Star Wars: The Old Republic) and other multiplayer online Star Wars games, like Battlefront. If your experiences in these online games were anything like mine, you’ve made many friends that you would otherwise never had contact with and have lived through virtua; adventures you’d never dreamed of experiencing in real life.
There was a time in this column’s lifespan that I would talk about all things Star-Warsy, leading up to the launch of SWTOR. And given that we just celebrated the original Star Wars MMO’s 15th anniversary, I figured I could take a moment to reflect on one of my favorite moments in Star Wars MMO history and ask you what your favorite moment was.
To understand why my moment was so great, you will have to understand who Pex was in SWG. It seems a bit odd that I have to explain who Pex is, but it’s been about 10 years since he worked with SWG, and there are some people reading this who were still learning how to read and write when Pex did the majority of his work.
There was a time in MMORPGs when developers and community managers would play a very active role in the day-to-day activities of the players. SWG was designed to be a kind of living world, so many of the adventures would be player-generated. However, sometimes those adventures needed a little bit of a boost. That’s where Pex came in.
Pex was the handle for Jason Ryan, the Events Manager for Sony Online Entertainment. If your event needed Darth Vader to show up or special decorations or a timed-event to happen, Pex was the person you talked to. Of course, you would have to schedule a time with him and have details of what you wanted or script for him to follow, but there was little he wouldn’t do to help the SWG community find more enjoyment in the game.
My request of Pex stretched his abilities, but he was more than willing to take it on.
When the guild leader of my Stormtrooper guild had to leave because the actual army was restationing him, I was made the leader in his stead. I had never run a guild at that point, although I had been an officer in this guild and a couple of previous guilds. And I wanted to do something memorable for my guild once I was in charge. I thought the best thing to do was to create a story where one of our own joined the Rebellion and actively turned against us.
The guild had laid out Corellian small houses in a roughly square shape. Approximately five on one side, and three on two of the other sides with Corellian guildhalls facing each other to complete the square. Because of the collision maps on those particular houses, players could butt them right up against each other and other players couldn’t pass between them. A former guild of mine used to do that in PvP all the time. This configuration made for a great military fort, and we used it that way for a solid six months. I thought it was time for a change.
A few months prior, I had seen some of the fun things that the events team could do when they spawned NPCs and blew things up at the Battle of Restuss. I wondered why we shouldn’t do something similar.
But in order to do that, I would need Pex.
The end of Fort Vanguard
I want to say that the structure that we’d build was named Fort Vanguard, but I honestly, don’t remember. And from a roleplay perspective, it was equipped with a shield that protected it from aerial bombardment. But during an attack on the front gates of the fort, our traitor sneaked into the control room and deactivated the shield. Immediately after, there was an announcement that flashed on the screen telling everyone in the area that the shield had been compromised and that the Rebels had commenced bombardment.
My character who was supposed to be in charge of the defense lost all control of the situation. The wounded were being carried to the medical center, Imperials were taking cover in the base, and Rebels were everywhere. Then suddenly, there was a bright flash in the sky, the ground shook, and a thunderous explosion left a ringing in our ears. Then for a moment, the blaster fire stopped, and everyone turned toward the medical facility – one of the large guild halls that made up one side of the fort. But it was gone, and in its place was a pile of rubble. The entire north side of the fort was destroyed, with husks of burning buildings left in its place. My character was forced to call a retreat.
How we did it
I told my guild that I wanted to do an event where there was an attack on our base. I didn’t want to tell them too much about what was happening, but I did tell them that I was going to have Pex help out by spawning NPCs and the like. I scheduled a time with Pex ahead of time and gave him a script of what I’d like to happen. He said it was a bit unusual, but he thought he could make it happen and warned me of some of the errors that could happen. I told him that if it worked, it would be worth it.
When the battle actually happened, he spawned wave after wave of Republic NPCs for the guild to engage with. Then I sent a message to the traitor to go to his position. As soon as he replied that he was there, I sent a message to Pex that we were ready.
There were three things that Pex had to do in order for the illusion of blowing up buildings to work. He had to activate the explosion effect, move each player building to a safe location several hundred meters away, and replace them with blown-up buildings from Restuss.
And he did it expertly, and my guild was shocked and excited all at once, forging a moment in MMORPG history that I’ll never forget, in a game that lives on in classic MMO players’ memories. And emulators!
What was your favorite moment? I would love to read about your Star Wars MMO story in the comments below.