Working As Intended: Deep-diving Star Wars Galaxies’ endgame crafting

It's time for spreadsheets in space

    
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Working As Intended: Deep-diving Star Wars Galaxies’ endgame crafting

When I leaped back into Star Wars Galaxies via the SWG Legends rogue server mid-2018, I didn’t really truly think I’d stay all that long, since the earlier, more classic SWG Emu hadn’t held my attention consistently. But I was wrong. Legends has since become my MMO home as its original version once was, and I am playing just as much as I was back before it was shut down all those years ago. In fact, I’m pretty much playing the same types of characters too: The vast majority of my game time is spent as a pure crafter and trader, most of all on my Chef. (Fun fact: I am not a great cook in real life.) It might sound odd to folks who grew up as murderhobos in MMOs, but I seldom pull my Smuggler out to fight unless I need to hunt creature lairs for resources (after all, SWG’s combat isn’t really the best, and if I just wanted combat, I’d play something else!).

What SWG does offer that makes an emu worth playing over most of the other more legit options out on the market is a substantial emphasis on crafting and economy gameplay, the late-game version of which is surely opaque to anyone who’s never done it or even dipped a toe in the game. Since so many people have asked about this and so few people seem to be covering it from this angle, I thought it’d be fun to dig in with a video to demo how it all works, from harvesters and factories to experimentation and surveying to vendors and even SWG Aide and my own personal spreadsheet.

A few caveats: I’m literally doing a walkthrough of econ gameplay here; it’s not exciting or flashy. It is a super-long video. This is a video with piles of spreadsheets, tools, math, and talking. No mobs were harmed in the making of this video, although I did get a migraine trying to mask out all of the PID! This one is for the folks who really want the details and might want to come back to specific segments later. Feel free to skip around – or skip it entirely if it’s just not for you, no hard feelings. But even if you never play SWG, it might be worth it to see how in-depth MMORPG crafting can go – and why crafters are expecting so much out of the next generation of sandboxes.

Timestamps

00:00 Intro
03:11 SWG Aide and the resource system
11:31 Spreadsheets in space
14:58 Shop tour, mail, and inventory
18:49 Houses and factory downloads
22:29 Player vendors
26:15 The bazaar
31:37 Buffs, crafting, and experimentation
43:14 Factory uploads
48:02 Survey droids and submitting resources
60:09 Surveying and harvesting
69:27 Multicrafting, specialization, and newbies
75:49 Outtro

Happy to answer any questions anyone has, though once the comments are archived, you’ll have to send us an email!

The MMORPG genre might be “working as intended,” but it can be so much more. Join Massively Overpowered Editor-in-Chief Bree Royce in her Working As Intended column for editorials about and meanderings through MMO design, ancient history, and wishful thinking. Armchair not included.

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elenie

This was a great watch, thanks Bree! I currently main crafter/gatherer in FFXIV which has some depth but nowhere near this :-) Tempted to try Legends but I don’t really have time to really give it a good go, sadly.
Would be nice to get the occasional video from you though, if time permits.

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Cali

Breeeeee! Why did you do this? Now I’m playing again after not touching it in 2 years.

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hooby _

I sadly never played SWG back in the day, and only started checking out a (pre-CU) rogue server two days ago. (And spent a lot of time with it, since we are currently not supposed to got out unless absolutely necessary anyway).

But I did previously play a few games that were more or less inspired by UO and SWG’s crafting, and I read Raph Kosters’ books and am very excited for his new company and game – and therefore I always wanted to check out SWG’s crafting in person.

To me that part of having regular customers, having supply chains, people relying on each other, and working together in an interconnected economy network is whats really important and makes sandbox MMO’s feel special – while the actual mechanical details, as long as they support that, seem secondary.
Being just a small fry that sells some shirts on some backwater planet seems a lot more exciting and rewarding to me than supposedly being the chosen one, the big hero who saves the entire universe from absolute evil and destruction – as long as there are just a few other players who genuinely need those shirts and are happy that someone sells them. It’s a small impact, but a real impact on real people and I’ll take that over that fake huge galaxy-saving “impact” any day.

SWG does achieve this goal (regular customers, supply chains, relying on each other, interconnected network, feeling special, real impact, etc.) with flying colors. A certain complexity is of course necessary to achieve this, but at the same time parts of its mechanical details do feel rather unnecessarily obtuse, making the life of a crafter somewhat a pain, and necessitating the help of tools like SWGAide and custom Excel sheets and requiring hours of playtime each single day to just check in on your harvesters.

So my big question to you (or anyone who understands those mechanical details on a much deeper level as I do) – would be if those same goals (as mentioned above) could not be achieved in a slightly less time-consuming fashion?

For example, watching the video I do get the impression that those randomly occurring and depleting resources cause a lot of difficulty.
Knowing which resource is available at which place with which stats, and then trying to get and stockpile as much of it as you can – does that really help with that goal of player interdependency? The fact that people use five characters (possibly even multiple accounts) to drop as many harvesters as they can – is that “better” than lets say, a system what would encourage people to secure a steady flow of “just enough” resources?

In the post-mortems, this random resource system is described as a method of planned obsolescence, making sure that schematics/blue prints eventually expire.
But I think the same effect could be achieved in other ways, like for example by making schematics single-use (factory uses it up) – and then making the factory loose durability over time through wear and tear, and eventually break. There surely are many other ways to do this as well – which don’t require players to painstakingly keep track of thousands of randomly changing resources.

That’s just one single example that occurred to me while watching the (great) video. I’m pretty sure you are aware of many more and even better such examples, where things could be made a bit less tedious and time-consuming for the player (and thus being more welcoming for a larger audience), without sacrificing that goal mentioned above, or loosing any other wanted benefits.

Ideas?

Nephele
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Nephele

Great video Bree :)

I’ve recently had to pull back from SWG Legends and I hate that I had to do that. I feel like I cut off my arm because I can’t log in and restock my store – but between pursuing an MBA, working full-time, and other commitments, I just couldn’t justify the time commitment that was needed.

I think that’s something that people don’t realize – in games with decent crafting, crafting is a time commitment. I would spend an hour every day checking for new resources and moving harvesters around, and then 3-6 hours a week (that’s one or two full play sessions) restocking things for my store generally. I actually ran into a problem in Legends where I couldn’t keep up with consumer demand. There are (sadly) very few people crafting seriously in Legends and so the ones that do are constantly mobbed because they develop a good reputation.

I really wish more MMOs would give real thought to enabling crafting as a pillar of their game world. There have been so few MMOs that have treated it as anything more than a fluff side game. Maybe I was spoiled by SWG, Vanguard, EVE, and some other titles – but I’m at the point now where if an MMO doesn’t at least have the potential for deep, engaging, and meaningful crafting, I won’t even try it.

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Minimalistway

Thank you Bree, i watched the whole video, and you are right, complex old games are hard to explain in few minutes.

The unbundlung of MMOs meant there are games made for crafting but do not provide the whole MMO world and systems, many current MMOs today have simplistic crafting system where you gather or buy mats then press a button to craft, there is no thinking in the process, some of them add a game which makes it a little better.

The other thing the video reminds me of is the role-playing, if there is an MMO with deep crafting system then this is the role i will play, i would not mind combat because i enjoy doing that from time to time, but i’ll spend my time crafting and making a name for myself so people buy my wares.

Socializing is talking with people and making deals with them, selling them stuff and buying from them, maybe join an alliance or a guild of crafters and merchants, non of that is group content but it is socializing.

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Katriana

Ah the memories. I’d forgotten about that Free Resource Crate thing for looking up stats on stuff. I remember it was really a royal PITA to use but so worth it to not have to go find things, esp. for the creature resources. Back in the day I was a regular contributor to SWG Craft website for my server and usually checked the resources every day as part of my normal routine. I don’t remember SWG Aide doing as much back then, but maybe I just didn’t use it’s full functionality since I had my own spreadsheets to do a lot of that stuff by the time it came out.

Thanks for the video! And you should totally do one about how you go about farming creature stuff next time there’s something good up that you’re going to be farming anyway. :)

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ShadowReaver661

This is wild! This game has a crazy amount of depth in its crafting. I never understood the draw of doing crafting, but Villagers and Heroes has changed my mind. It doesn’t even hold a candle to this. The restriction on what professions you can hold at one time always frustrated me. I like being able to change my “hobbies” for my main character I am playing just to get a change of scenery. Btw I watched the whole video in 2 sittings (45 minute sittings).

Lord_Grax
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Lord_Grax

Thankyou for the video!
Great info there, and a great version of SWG. Thanks for your effort. Looking forward to any more SWG videos you do.
I’ve recently come back to SWG after being very disgruntled with the poor offerings of current AAA games. There is simply nothing like the SWG experience. Such good memories.

As a side note, any chance of sharing what UI mod you are using… and maybe some blank versions of your spreadsheets? :)

Thanks again for your content!

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Toy Clown

Good stuff, Bree. Thank you! I have a domestics and structures trader currently. Mostly I use them for playing dress-up and decorating, but have been slowly collecting higher-grade resources for food/drink creation. The guides couldn’t have come at a better time!

oldandgrumpy
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oldandgrumpy

I used to contribute a lot to this site on current resources post NGE as I was a a master architect and that requires a lot of resources and lots of surveying.

http://www.swgcraft.co.uk/dev/current_resources.php?server=138&planet=0

It seems to be still going with the emu servers listed as well.