As one era begins, another must end. With Star Wars: The Old Republic gradually releasing this week, we say goodbye to Star Wars Galaxies, the first MMO based on George Lucas' worldwide sci-fi phenomenon that began development all the way back in 2000.
We found out this summer that SWG was coming to an end on December 15th to make room for SWTOR and now that day has passed. While the Star Wars Galaxies license would have expired anyway in 2012, the game's activity had dimished to such a low point where it wouldn't make sense for Sony Online Entertainment to keep it running, especially against EA and BioWare's high profile Star Wars MMO.
Over the years, Galaxies has suffered quite a bit, with large drops in population. While starting with mostly positive critical response due to game's graphics, authenticity and attention to detail, a lot of the fan love and role-playing elements were lost with the game-changing and controversial "New Game Enhancements" update in 2005 which oversimplified the game and forced SOE to refund purchases of one of the game's expansions that had released just days prior to the update.
Regardless of what happened to SWG over the years, it spawned novels, card games and more, while living a long life in a genre that is not kind to start-ups, where we mostly see games embrace free-to-play models to stay alive. We must appreciate Star Wars games as we get them since there aren't that many great ones like their used to be.
Star Wars Galaxies launched over eight years ago, in the summer of 2003 and today we say bid fareware. Read on for the goodbye message from SWG producer Tony Tyson:
A Thank You to the Star Wars Galaxies Community
Looking back on Star Wars Galaxies and all these years I am so thankful for being able to be a part of the Star Wars Galaxies community both as the Producer and as a fan. It would not have been the incredible experience that it was without you, the players and fans, the dedicated team of people who worked on it over the years and the fantastic Star Wars galaxy itself, which offered us a very unique and compelling place to explore, fight, play, make friends, and build our homes.
This is a book of memories, so let me start with a few of my own.
When I was a little boy, my father brought me to the movies to see a new science fiction film that he heard was pretty good. What I remembered most was the feeling of awe I had back then, and still feel to this day. Once I had experienced Star Wars, my life would never be the same again. In May of 2004, I walked into the office at Sony Online Entertainment to start a new job working on a game based on the very same story that had amazed me in my youth. Cool! I was very excited. All I wanted to do then was learn how this thing worked, and I spent the next seven years doing just that. I can say that not a day passed in the development of Star Wars Galaxies where I didn't learn something new. Each day presented different challenges and solving them was always a rewarding accomplishment. It is everyone's hope to find a job that you look forward to each and every day. Being a developer on Star Wars Galaxies was just that kind of job for me.
Star Wars means something different to each of us. That's why we played Star Wars Galaxies. On June 26th, 2003, SOE and LucasArts released Star Wars Galaxies and, for the first time, you could play online with your friends in the Star Wars universe. I was amazed at how much there was to do in the game - player housing, crafting, entertaining, combat, and more. One of the most exciting times for all of us on the team was the launch of the Jump to Lightspeed expansion, which let players fly and battle it out in space in a true 3D simulation. Now we could all truly live out our Star Wars fantasies. It was like being a kid again.
Giving players a chance to live out that Star Wars fantasy has been the best part of the job. Some of my favorite memories include fighting Imperial forces on Hoth in the Battle of Echo Base, seeing those first player-created quests in the Chronicle Master System, fighting the undead in the Death Troopers update and, probably best of all, taking part in invasions and actually getting to make a difference for my faction in the Galactic Civil War.
From my first day to the last, Star Wars Galaxies was, and will always be, a meaningful and memorable part of my life, an experience I'll treasure and share with anyone who wants to hear a good story. It has been an honor to take this journey with you, the community and all of the team members who have made Star Wars Galaxies such an awesome game.
On behalf of the Star Wars Galaxies team, thank you. We have truly enjoyed getting to know you - our dedicated players - over the years. From in-game events to Fan Faires, we appreciate your continued loyalty and support. It would not have been possible without you.
May the Force be with you. Always.
- Tony "Teesquared" Tyson
Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.