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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

SWG Me (for Free)

Alright, before I start this post I want to clarify:

1. While I didn't rip SOE (or Lucas)
too hard for the whole NGE thing, I did get my digs in. But not being a SWG player, I didn't feel knowledgeable enough to go totally overboard about it. I will say that I definitely would have handled the whole thing much differently and leave it at that. But this post is not a discussion of that issue. It's also not getting into the old vs. new game debate. From what I understand, regardless of what you thought of the old SWG it was pretty original in many ways. But this post is just taking a look at the new game as a first-timer.

2. I'm not one hundred percent sure on this but I think I was able to download the entire game (with the Jump to Lightspeed expansion) for free. I also think I will be able to play free forever. No, it's not my special Aggro powers. It's because I'm an All Access Pass subscriber, or whatever they're calling it these days.

The All Access thing is kind of funny because it shows how quickly business models change with the trends. A year or two ago it seemed like SOE was going all out on the All Access concept of playing several games for one price. Now they seem to be trying different concepts such as the free game (pay for extras) idea or the Station Exchange stuff. So I don't know if the All Access thing will fall by the wayside.

But for that probably very small number of All Access subscribers who do not currently play SWG, you may as well take advantage of it.

And for a free game, it's not bad.

The profession choice wheel is a bit corny but the character creator is more flexible than EQII or WoW.

The NGE combat is actually quite fun. I prefer the Commando class so far to the Jedi or Bounty Hunter and the ranged combat seems more fun than the melee. The grenades are a blast. It does move quickly. You fire or attack with the left mouse and a lot of the "strategy" comes from using different specials with the right mouse button.

The "tutorial" part is pretty nice. You get to hang with Han Solo and Chewie and within minutes of playing you're engaging in ranged blaster combat and even gunning down ships from the Falcon's gun turret. It pulls you into the world nicely.

Then you arrive on a space station and you do quests which are basically "kill ten x" and "deliver x to y" only in space. They're not badly done. The whole starter zone is accessible and pretty easy to understand. The waypoints are much easier to follow than EQII though they can be a bit much graphically. You also get involved with space combat and flight pretty soon which is enjoyable.

I thought the overall quest path was a little unclear at points and the rebel/imperial faction quests should have been made more apparent. But on the whole I would say it's not bad. The cut scene with the Falcon that pops up every single time you fly back to the initial station has to go (you can skip it by pressing esc but it's still pointless and repetitive).

The biggest negative (and it is a pretty big one) is how bad the lag is. And I mean it's bad even in areas you wouldn't expect it. I very rarely get any lag in EQII so it was a surprise and a disappointment.

When you choose to leave the initial station for good you get plunked down on Tatooine (Mos Eisley I think). And boy, it really is a shock. While the station prepares you well for most aspects of gameplay, nothing can prepare you for the social elements. There are tons of people running around spamming merchandise and other stuff and the whole thing is a bit daunting.

The game does set you on a continuing quest path, giving you a free speeder. The name is really a misnomer because it "speeds" along at the pace of a Segway going at one-quarter velocity. The quests continue though and you become embroiled in trying to pay off a debt of sorts to Jabba.

That's about all I played through so far so I don't know how the actual main gameplay is. But it was fun enough so far for me to take two characters through to that point. I wouldn't buy it, but for free I don't regret the time I've spent in the SWG universe.

Okay, since I first wrote this I've played a bit more. A friend bought me a swoop bike and wow, that makes a huge difference. I've been working the legacy quest series around Mos Eisley and I don't think I would have done it with that slow, cumbersome speeder. But with a cool swoop bike with nice animations, even fed-ex quests seem fun.

The early quests seem completely solo-oriented though it helps a great deal to have an experienced player around who you can ask questions to.

Oh, I also received some kind of Wookie Life Day Holiday Gift or something like that and it had me laughing for twenty minutes. I don't want to ruin the surprise for you but that was one of the neatest, most surprising things I've seen upon opening an item.


Blogger Mercurie said...

Wow. I didn't even know they had a free game. As a huge Star Wars fan, I might have to try it out. Thanks, Aggro!

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You must be on either Bria or Starsider. I can't think of another server where "Ton of people running around" applies. Well, Mos Eisley -- everyone's alt and trial accounts ends up there.

Still, here's something for you to consider. How many times have you needed to buy something crafted by a trader, or visit an entertainer (2 of the 9 professions)? How many times do you think you'll have to go back? (Hint: There's not a single thing traders can make better than what you can loot -- and loot easily. Most of the stuff you're given as rewards is significantly better than anything they can make).

I'm really curious. You're a smart fellow, fairly experienced -- what exactly is the role of those two iconic professions? I've yet to determine it myself, but perhaps you've got some insight.

It's a total mystery to me, so here's hoping a knowledgable outsider can make sense of it. As best I can tell, they have no role or purpose whatsoever.

Only shipwrights have any repeat business, and most traders don't offer anything at all. And Entertainers just give weak -- and fairly useless -- buffs.

7:00 PM  
Blogger Aggro Me said...

Haha, nice call...Bria it is.

You ask a fair question so I'll try to answer.

I haven't used any crafted items yet but keep in mind I just started playing. So I don't really know what to say about the Trader profession in the current game.

I will say the whole concept of the entertainer profession doesn't make sense to me. Just because something is unique in terms of MMO's doesn't mean it is a good idea. Maybe I'll try rolling one but honestly I don't quite see how it would be fun.

I'll try to update after I play some more.

8:25 PM  
Blogger Anskiere said...

I had an entertainer before the NGE. I really liked it... it was so different and unique. Yeah, I sat and played music/danced all day, but people came to watch. I had a theater in my city where my friend and I would put on shows for the guild. It seems like it wouldn't be fun... but it was.

I guess I don't know the current state of things since I haven't logged in for such a long time, but this was back when they were useful at getting rid of battle fatigue (does that still exist?)

Oh, and my main character who was going to be a bounty hunter (well before the NGE, obviously) is on Bria.. maybe someday I can bring myself to log in and stay for longer than three minutes (though doubtful :P)

8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I'll be nice to you. You'll need to visit a trader on the following occasions:

1) Perhaps twice to buy a ship. However, as the RoTW quest reward ships are far, far, FAR superior to anything a shipwright can make, you'll only use them briefly.
2) You might try to get something Reverse Engineered by a shipwright. Once.
3) You'll visit an architect on a handful of occasions to purchase a house and furniture. These don't decay, so no big.
4) You might purchase ONE suit of armor.

That's it. Once you've done that, everything you get as loot or level rewards or quest rewards is MUCH superior to anything crafted.

For you, having a Trader is nice -- there's no other way to get homes, for instance. For them -- they get no repeat business in a game that's small and shrinking.

They have no role. Neither do entertainers. Both do not fit the NGE. They'll be gone -- probably end up as useless secondary professions, actually -- with the next two publishes.

One word of warning: Turns out SWG sent server populations out unencrypted (It was used to determine "Heavy, medium, light" for server selection -- that display was built client side, apparently). Someone managed to sort out their packet format and post their Friday peak numbers -- I didn't exactly trust them until I learned that, suddenly, all servers are reporting "very light" -- as if SOE had suddenly started sending nulls instead of the population data.

10k users on a Friday night. Total. And SOE reacted quickly to change their packets.

Don't get too attached to the game.

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's really too bad that this game is losing its population... I played it from the day it came out for about 3 months...then the server I was playing on cleared out, almost over night. At that point I think we all figured out that SWG just wasnt as fun as we wanted it to be, and up and to that point, it was only fun because we wanted it to be. Although I havent been on since then and I heard that the NGE was supposed to change a few things. Maybe Ill log back on some day to check it out... oh well.

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Aiwe said...

Where can you download the game for free? I have Station Access too and tried some times but I have never found a link to do it.

I t would be nice to give a chance to SWG, and I am paying for it.

6:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally I hope this game rots and that SoE finally realises that treating loyal paying customers like shit isnt the way to go.

7:01 AM  
Anonymous Evil Entertainer said...

As for the role of entertainers, well it's not as emersive as the role of say an officer or medic, but there is a role for them. Entertainers are quite simply there to give people inspiration buffs which grant 10% increase to experience and faction gains. These buffs can be given to anyone that watches or listens to the entertainer and last for as long as 3.5 hours. Now there are varied buffs for the trader and entertainer aspects but all combat characters get a general buff as a rule. Aside from that entertainers are also excellent for gathering information from other players, since people love to talk even in games, a good entertainer can pick up on some or all of this info and sometimes might hit agold mine with a good loot spawn, perhaps a high pvp area or just about anything. It's a profession that unless you've played it a while, you're not going to fully understand its usefulness

11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmmm Wow I remember (in the old Version OF SWG) BEing a crafter , a g"grinding crafter was a way to make big , big , big credits. I was just doing some research seing if i want to get back into SWG. This new version kinda scares me though. How different is this Free version your playing compared to the regular version? I mean your still on the same servers as everyone esle right?

7:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how do u get to the Free swg?? i used to play it but for 16$ a month.

3:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PLEASE tell me how you got it for free .. i played it for about 4 months and got bored but i want to go back on it and i dont want to pay 10 pound a month. please tell me :)

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

me to i want to go on it but i dont want to pay the money please tell meeeeee.

1:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lmao yea how do u get it for free and the 3 above me are prob the same guy trying to pretend to be 3 diff people

5:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's free if you already play two Soe games ,because 2-$15.95 a month games is the same as getting the open pass . I Play pirates of the burning sea and EQ2 so SWG is a 3rd for the same price. I got my old Wow guild to try SWG and they are level 90's already, I have to forget a lot of the old careers and we made 3 different traders so we could make every thing we needed.It's been a blast with new people coming into space combat for the 1st time ,after they battle the desert beatles,and furnish their big houses they crafted,from factories they made.

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The following info comes directly from an inside source that I cannot name. As you all know, SOE is tight lipped about everything and doesn’t take kindly to leaks. It’s your choice to believe me or not. I don’t care.

As many of you already know, the new TCG has been released. This is not simply an additional game that will be mostly independent of the normal SWG. It’s the first step in a pseudo-rollback in the works. My first response was what the heck is a “pseudo rollback”? First he had to explain to me what was going on at SOE before I’d understand the motivations for the upcoming change.

SOE was getting ready to pull the plug on the game. The loss of players was causing the game to be a non profitable venture. There are two sides to this entire issue. The devs wanted to change the game to be more like the pre-cu game which had more players. That desire was expressed right after the NGE failure was fully realized but it has taken this long to get SOE to open its eyes. The money pinchers want the game to be changed to pull a profit, regardless of what customers think. After many heated exchanges and a history of failures directed by the greedy decision makers, the devs have apparently convinced them that poor customer satisfaction has resulted in poor profit.

Personally I’m confused as to how they couldn’t figure this out before. When I commented about it my friend replied that these folks really have no idea how an MMO works. All they follow are the financial reports and make assumptions. Anyway…

The devs have been given the green light for one last attempt. If it doesn’t work, the plug is being pulled. They have until March of 09 to show an increase in revenue. The TCG is the first part of that “last attempt”. The second part is bringing back the old professions and skill based system, albeit not the exact pre-cu. Their main goal is to clear the game of the loot flood and beat down the credit/loot farmers, while at the same time trying to being back old players.
The TCG loot is going to become the main source of special loot in the game. Initially, the current TCG loot system will push players to purchase more cards in the TCG which will boost revenue and buy time for the devs to bring back older parts of the game. It will also control the flow of loot in the game to ensure that credit farmers are not AFK looting for the items. They cannot acquire the loot without paying RL money themselves, which defeats their main motivation to acquire the loot in the first place.

Secondly, only the cards that are purchase will be tradeable, which prevents trial accounts from being used. Eventually the trade ability will be granted to players with full active accounts. The no trade status is only a jump start in order to keep players buying cards initially. In other words, they are making players believe that the no trade will continue in order to gain a little bit of fast revenue from the most hardcore players that want the instant gratification. This helps fuel the increase in revenue that needs to be there by March of 09. Later on the plan is to remove the TCG loot and turn it into schematics for specific crafters. The only direct loot from TCG will be stuff like exclusive decorations and convenience items. From what I understand, the devs want the loot to be crafted but the schematics must be acquired through TCG. This way they can control the flow of schematics AND make it so the prices of loot in game is related to how much is purchased in cards….. The more players spend on TCG, the more schematics will be available, and eventually cheaper. I personally don’t think this will work out but the devs do. Kinda greedy but it was one of the things the devs had to use to satisfy the big wigs.

Now into some details about the “pseudo-rollback”. Not only are the original professions returning but two additional NEW professions that have been in the works. Even I could not get him to tell me this. I think he was just trying not to spoil it for me. He said they would be “gap professions”. Whatever the heck that means!

Also, the TCG would be incorporated into special instances. In other words, if you get these special “quest” cards (which haven’t come out yet), you will be able to launch the specified quest. Some quests will be difficult in order to motivate players to get together. Some will be solo difficulty while others will be group difficulty.

The new in game loot drops!!! Oh this is a good one!!! Some of you will agree that this is a stroke of genius while others will be ticked off. Instead of getting loot from NPC’s you will get more TCG cards! Not the individual cards but some type of drop that can be converted in booster packs for the TCG. The first thing I said was “okay then players will farm for TCG cards, where is the solution”? His reply - Each player can only have a limited number of cards. Since most looting is done AFK, the farmers will need to physically open any earned packs and manually delete the ones they don’t want. This means they will need to go through a process that can’t be accomplished easily through AFK. Also, each player will only be able to accumulate a limited number of drop items that can be converted into packs, before they must open them. Additionally, since the TCG is not part of the original code (which is a mess), it’s easier to modify and prevent farmers from using 3rd party cheat tools.

More bad news? Well kind of not. Jedi is still going to be a profession but moved into a master profession that is more like a third branch in the skill tree. I really didn’t understand how this was going to work but I what I did get was that Jedi would be something like a “super master” profession. So I guess it’s not all that bad. Noobs won’t be able to select it from the start but there also won’t be any unlock like previously.

Most of the TCG cards have already been finished. They’re just being held back as the devs watch how each new card affects things. They will have full and instant control over what loot gets in the game, becomes rare, or common, by simply changing the payout probability in the TCG. Apparently it’s not that easy in SWG because of poor planning in the original design.

One last thing. The cards will eventually be available both as digital and physical cards for those that purchase them. It’s another stream of income to keep the game going.

That’s all for now.

1:52 AM  
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