I began my MMO adventures with Star Wars Galaxies and once again got my Star Wars MMO fix with Star Wars: The Old Republic. To me, both games are great for all manner of different reasons, but I still feel Star Wars: The Old Republic could stand to learn a few lessons from Star Wars Galaxies and today we’ll be talking about a couple of the SWG features I’d like to see make an appearance in SWTOR.
5. Multi-Person Vehicles
Sure, every game has mounts, and both SWG and SWTOR have vehicles, but SWG featured a solid array of multi-person vehicles that I felt really enhanced adventuring together as a party. I often like to fondly recall the one time I hitched a ride on a sand skiff with a bunch of random players coming back from Ft. Tusken in Star Wars Galaxies. It was a long trip and my speeder was blown up, so it was nice to be able to bum a ride off a couple of strangers. We chatted the whole way back.
I doubt this sort of thing would ever be necessary in SW:TOR, but I think it’d be great fun to jump into a vehicle with a bunch of other players while adventuring. Of course, adding vehicular combat would be amazing, too.
4. Storytelling/Player Events
The Storytelling/Player Events feature really helped support role-play in Star Wars Galaxies. Players could put on a variety of different costume items, rent props and settings, place NPCs, and more. Recently, BioWare added mood emotes to Star Wars: The Old Republic that really took advantage of the game’s varied facial expressions to give players additional role-play options within the game. I feel BioWare could go a step further here and take a page out of SWG’s playbook. In a game so focused on storyline, things don’t necessarily have to be only about the stories BioWare created, which brings me to…
3. User Generated Content
What better game to allow players to design quests in than Star Wars: The Old Republic? Star Wars Galaxies featured the ‘Chronicles’ system that basically allowed players to create their own elaborate quest chains and I feel that SW:TOR could benefit just as much from UGC as SWG or any other game has. I’d love to see player created quests featuring full dialogue trees that could optionally be player-voiced. It would no doubt require a great deal of work to design a user-friendly system that allowed players to put together good looking dialogue scenes or even player-created cinematics as part of their quests, but the obvious potential for some awesome content excites me nonetheless.
2. Factional Warfare
Say what you want about SWG PRE-CU or even post-NGE, but the game always featured a great faction and faction warfare system. Players could earn ranks in their chosen faction, redeem points for a variety of faction-themed rewards, do missions for their faction, and even fight in player vs. player combat on behalf of The Empire or Rebel Alliance. Assaulting a player-placed Rebel or Imperial base and eventually blowing it up was one of the most enjoyable aspects of factional warfare during the early days of Star Wars Galaxies. Post-NGE, SOE really put some serious effort into enhancing the Galactic Civil War experience in Game Update 15 by allowing players to hold territory throughout the game’s various worlds and cities. This control was reflected by spawning NPCs from the controlling faction within the held territory, displaying faction banners throughout controlled cities. Faction-appropriate starships would appear in the skybox, with an increasing presence depending on how well controlled the territory was.
There were also significant benefits for the winning faction and consequences for the losing faction. You’ve got to be careful here, though, as consequences are unfortunately often a double-edged sword. What often happens is the losing faction will just stop playing if the consequences are perceived as overly harsh, so I’m not sure how far I’d want BioWare to take this aspect of the system. But I think it’s important to have some tangible benefits and penalties built in or the whole thing is ultimately pointless.
1. Space Combat
Oh, boy. I recall taking flak for how much hell I gave BioWare for Star Wars: The Old Republic’s shallow implementation of space combat on the run up to launch. I think it’s safe to say that space combat has been a bust so far. I’m not sure if BioWare’ super-secret space project will ever materialize as anything as amazing as Star Wars Galaxies’ Jump to Lightspeed expansion, especially given the hard times the game has experienced in its first year of service, but a JTL-like implementation is something I’d really love to see.
Oddly enough, one of my favorite aspects of Jump to Lightspeed was the Star Trek-like experience offered by the game’s group ships. Players could freely walk around (and decorate!) these large group ships and more importantly, each player on the ship could man a different system, ranging from the pilot, to the co-pilot/operations officer, to turret gunners. Players could even work as an engineer on the ship, repairing key systems as they take damage in battle.
For me the, disappointing space game was one of the most blatant deficiencies of Star Wars: The Old Republic and I strongly feel the space game is the one area of the game that really could benefit from a serious overhaul.
What SWG features would you like to see in SWTOR? Share ‘em with us in the comments below!