Hyperspace Beacon: The Star Wars MMOs and communities beyond SWTOR


Time flies: I am now coming up on nine years of covering Star Wars: The Old Republic professionally. Of course, I was a Star Wars and Star Wars Galaxies fan way before that. Not only have things changed in the game over that many years, but the sites that covered the game have all changed, and even the crew from this site moved from one venue to another. The famous editor of the daily newspaper Le Figaro, Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, once said, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” In other words, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Like many things around SWTOR, this column is going to change up a bit, but in some aspects, it’s going to remain the same or even return to its roots. When this column launched, the two Star Wars games the site covered were Star Wars Galaxies and Star Wars: The Old Republic. One had not launched yet. Since then, our overall coverage of Star Wars games hasn’t really changed much. We still cover SWTOR and recently the SWG emulators too. This column should reflect that.

Star Wars Galaxies EMU

Since SWG officially shutdown in 2011, I haven’t covered much if anything that’s happened to the community. And if you haven’t been paying attention along the way, then you won’t know that the SWG community is still alive and doing pretty well. The emulators are thriving. In fact, I am surprised at the number of emulators out there, but it only makes sense given that the emulator code is open source. Heck, there was even a point in time when I considered opening an emulator myself.

I don’t think the emulators are going to go anywhere soon unless they become a real threat against what Disney is doing with the franchise. So I have decided to start covering them in earnest. There are emulators of many different flavors. SWG had three different combat systems; all are represented in some fashion. Some are actually expanding beyond what the original game offered.

In the coming weeks and months, I’m going to explore the different types of EMUs and give a rundown of what they offer. Of course, as someone who played SWG since its beta, I have seen everything that the original game did, so I will give you my insights into what the EMUs are doing — and how they are better or worse.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

The content schedule has clearly diminished since the days when SWTOR would release new information about the game every week, but there is still a stream of content worthy of being covered here.

SWTOR has promised to return to its roots, including bringing back some very noteworthy characters, like Malgus and Gnost-Dural. Of course, the BioWare team also promised to give us more of the Republic-vs.-Empire fight we have longed for since Shadow of Revan started combining the storylines.

I should be clear that this column will not cover Anthem, even though it’s made by the same studio. But I am interested in what some of the SWTOR influencers (BioWare’s words, not mine) are doing to keep content alive. If we look at someone like Vulkk, we can see that his content is expanded to games like the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, pop culture, and Anthem, of course. I have always been a community person, and I will always track what’s happening to some of my favorite fanbases.

Online roleplay

Much of the success of Star Wars as a franchise leans on its roleplay community. Of course, there are those players who like to dance on top of a table in whatever the latest Star Wars game is and call it roleplay. Fine, that is roleplay too, but the roleplay community for Star Wars stretches much further than that. Star Wars big-wigs like Pablo Hidalgo started in the Star Wars roleplay community before books like Heir to the Empire were a thought in Timothy Zahn‘s head. Hidalgo, if you weren’t aware, is part of the LucasFilm Story Group, which controls everything that is considered canon for Star Wars.

MMO roleplay stands as a pillar of why I like to play online games. And I’d like to spend some time focusing on those communities. Some people believe it is odd or a waste of a perfectly good game to emote or roll in-game dice to determine your actions, but I don’t. “We’re looking not only for roleplay but to be entertained even when there isn’t actual live roleplaying going on,” MMO roleplay legend Brian “OddjobXL” Rucker used to say. “We like actually seeing our characters and their worlds, too!”

With the number of Star Wars online games out there, I’d like to discover and embed myself into some of the roleplay communities that go with them. I’m interested in finding out what makes them tick – and how they have survived and thrived.

Other Online Star Wars Games

There are many other online Star Wars games, that I would like to talk about here. I never once talked about my Battlefront experience. Despite the controversy, I did believe that it was a smooth and decent game. And although my MMO time started with Ultima Online, my online gaming experience started at a little bit faster pace with Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight. The PvP in that game blew my mind. (I liked Force Choking people and dropping them off the edge of catwalks!)

Despite its closure of certain studios and the games that came with them, EA does still hold the license to Star Wars game development and does have at least one game in the pipeline. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is still a thing, right? Of course, there is Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes that still has a loyal community.

Yes, there are going to be some changes in focus here on the Hyperspace Beacon, but as Karr said, the more it will stay the same. To me, it’s returning to what I had originally envisioned the column to be when I started it back on Massively-of-old: a place to read about and discover your favorite online communities built around my favorite intellectual property Star Wars.

Every other week, Larry Everett jumps into his T-16 back home, rides through the hypergates of BioWare‘s Star Wars: The Old Republic and beyond the posts in the Hyperspace Beacon. Drop him a holocom on Twitter @Shaddoe or send him a transmission at larry@massivelyop.com. Now strap yourself in, kid — we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!

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2 years ago

Alright, finally came back to read what you actually wrote, all i saw was title and pulled out my SWG soapbox, so, finally read what you wrote and

“so I will give you my insights into what the EMUs are doing — and how they are better or worse.”

I could not be more excited, i am so looking forward to those. Pretty sure i’m sticking with legends, i installed the SWGEmu and only made a character, but yea there were so many options out there. Pumped! Looking forward to them.

2 years ago

Swtor is a garbage game has been since day 1 still is today. If they can’t bother addeding new features to the game why should anyone play it. I mean new content only goes so far but new features can have a lasting effect. A new story mode is only really good the first time around, but say open space with multicrew should have a long lasting effect on the game as it would bring a new feature. I’ve giving up on most mmorpg’s because the just stop making features and focus on more story missions . I think this is what most of them don’t survive long. Content is good but if you stop innovating and inprovjng the games overall gameplay features it becomes Boring and stagnant.

Just my 2 cents

Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Kickstarter Donor
2 years ago

I’m all in for this change of direction.

2 years ago

If we think when(about which year) SWTOR appeared and when SWG closed down I think one is related to another. The problem with these games is as much as their theme is awesome they are tied to how long their license lasts. Logically if someone else buys expensively the license he can demand to be the only star wars mmo provider out there and that could mean the end of SWTOR.

2 years ago

For me Star Wars died in all departments. Disney killed it with the movies, EA killed it with the games and now Star Wars only lives in the past.

If I want to play Star Wars games, I have to play:

– SWG Pre NGE/Post NGE
– Jedi Knight
– Battlefront 2004

And if I want to explore the story, I have to rewatch the old movies and continue with the Expanded Universe.

And to think I was so hyped about everything Star Wars as a kid… if only I knew it would end up like this… xD

SWTOR reminds me of this article earlier today about “what if WoW never happened?” and how SWG would still exist and SWTOR won’t because there would not have been a WoW clone craze.

Rolan Storm
2 years ago
Reply to 

“…there would not have been a WoW clone craze.”

Hear, hear.

We all know about different design for SWTOR before management happened to it. We might have had a chance to experience something similar to Anthem. Again, we might not have. I remember how management influenced Coster’s game development.

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Java Jawa
2 years ago

May I introduce you to tabletop: fantasy flights edge of the empire, age of rebellion and force and destiny!

2 years ago
Reply to  Java Jawa

Available on Tabletop Simulator in the workshop.

Kickstarter Donor
Java Jawa
2 years ago
Reply to  Larry Everett

You should! You got my vote. While we are at it, there’s armada, rebellion, imperial assault not to mention a new one called outter rim.

Bree new column maaayybbeee? :)

2 years ago

Star Wars Galaxies Legends is to me a hidden sanctuary away from the noise, noise being other games, advertising… meh i got a game, i’m good.

I mean will it still be to me in a month i dunno, but my desire to even think of playing another game atm has dropped to 0% that says something.

It’s kind of like oh that game, or that game meh i got a home with amazing peeps. Sure we all have been exposed to great communities but this is an entirely new stratosphere, it’s incredible tbh.

Hey i know lots of people may find SWG boring and that’s fine, it’s a world first and a game later, an mmorpg at its peak.

You know i was fine playing Warframe, F76 i still like them but uggg SWG:L is all that’s on my mind game wise. I was happily playing along but you know Bree, oh yea had to keep tempting me with her little news articles and now i’m so glad she did.

I always had these thoughts about emu’s as highly risky, unstable, unreliable, it is what it is so if you get stuck/item deleted/a bug your’e pretty much screwed and it can all go poof one day and boy was i ever wrong, this is community driven experience, i needed help and i dunno i think i had to wait 2 seconds once for help.

I’ll never come close to the work i’ve seen put into this world, i’m such a noob. Some of the homes are incredible, and the cities well planned out it’s like i said i’ll never come within a fraction of those levels. I mean i’m trying to get you to think about that for a moment if you’re even slightly interested in an emu experience.

Bree Royce
Bree Royce
2 years ago
Reply to  xpsync

I had the same experience with their support – I got lot-bugged and they had me fixed within like an hour. SOE would have taken days. And SOE was still miles ahead of everyone else too.

Sorry not sorry for the article! :D But it was a reader who hooked me too. I wish I had tried Legends a long time ago, but I’d just felt too burned on the classic emu. Such different experiences.

2 years ago
Reply to  Bree Royce

And I still pitch it whenever I can. ?

2 years ago
Reply to  Bree Royce

Haha – not sorry +1

“I wish I had tried Legends a long time ago” Truer words cannot be spoken.

It’s all i play, only game on my mind, we’ll see how it goes long term but it’s a heck of an mmorpg which i never really dug deep in on due to EQ2, and i basically played when there wasn’t even mounts, waiting for shuttles, so your progression was glacier slow at that time.

mmorpgs back then were/are over loaded with stuff to do (like they should be) it was hard to juggle two, if you really wanted to get somewhere in one you had to make a choice really. So lucky me choice is made :)

It’s funny how much of it came back to me in, lay of the land, but as i’m getting more in i’m really discovering how much i never tackled, like crafting… ect I mean i’ve not even touched space yet and yet you could play this mmo and literally just do space, that’s how HUGE this game is.

and after all these years, hours literally melt away still, which i’m not used to so i have to watch that, i’m sure i’ll acclimate, ” /stretch; maybe i should start wrapping up, must be like 10ish, watch a ds9 episode wind down for bed” 1 AM, WTF? That’s fine occasionally but this game thats happening ever night lol, so yea think i’ll be parking all my gaming time here for quite some time. :) thx!

IronSalamander8 .
2 years ago

RP is what kept me in SWTOR after my guild left and after I got tired of game itself to be honest. Sometimes it was a long term plot with an NPC Sith Lord or a player that wanted power for themselves or some other situations, or it could just be a simple discussion of light saber forms or whatever. I had to avoid the cantina people that are there “Role-Playing” by being abusive jerks (Yes, Sith are mean and nasty but one must be wary of how you interact with others, especially their first time meeting you), and starting fights every 5 seconds but overall it was a pretty decent time when it was strong.