[MUD-Dev] Changing Midstream (SWG's New Look)

Ken Sewell sewellkr at earthlink.net
Sun Feb 5 13:58:48 New Zealand Daylight Time 2006

I'm fairly new to this list and have not posted up to now.  For some
reason I didn't start receiving MUD-Dev mail until now so I'm going
through a backlog of messages.  I'm a bit late, but would still like to
comment on this thread.  The NGE happens to be a topic I've been
following lately, so I wanted to join in.  I think the NGE was more of a
shift in the target demographic than a recreation of the game.  As
pointed out below, the graphics are not much different from pre-NGE or
pre-CU SWG.  The main change is who SOE wants as their customers.  So
you know where I'm coming from, let me point out that I am a male, aged
30, married, one child on the way.  I joined the game several months
pre-CU and found a very enjoyable game.  But more than that, I found
much in common with my fellow player.  Many were married with families
and of a similar age group.  That and the complexity of the game were
what kept me playing.  I no longer play because I am not part of the
demographic that the NGE now targets.  Instead of a complex RPG the game
is now a simple FPS.  I'm also not sure that SOE/LA has thought about
how fickle the new target demographic tends to be.  They may all flock
to the "star-warsy" NGE, but they are also very likely to quickly
abandon it for the next hot game.  There is also the subject of income.
The monthly fee to an adult is not a big amount, to a teenager working
minimum wage it can be alot of money.  It seems risky to me to throw out
most of your established userbase in hopes of attracting a new one.  In
the case of SWG I think it would have been better to follow the existing
approach of launching a sequel.  The pre-NGE customers wouldn't have
felt betrayed and the NGE sequel could attempt to attract the twitch
gamers its designed for. I think you can see this mentality on the SWG
forums.  They are definitely split.  Some like the NGE and (it seems)
most prefer the older version.  Only SOE has the data to determine the
numbers, but alot of threads are begging/asking for a pre-CU version of
the game (well until the threads are deleted that is.)  I happen to fall
into this category, and would gladly renew to get the old game back.  So
to me a sequel would have been the logical choice.
	I do agree with Dan that there were very few quests before, and that is
the one thing I enjoyed when I tried out the NGE.  But the quests have
little to do with the change to FPS.  If all they were doing was
responding to customer demand, then quests could have been added to the
existing game.
	To the comment on dated graphics and sampled speech, while SWG is
showing its age, there are a great many of us who don't consider that a
major issue.  The NGE could have the best graphics out there and it
still wouldn't appeal to me.  Likewise a game with simple graphics can
still be very enjoyable.  I think graphics are important for catching
someones eye, but you can't expect them to keep playing/paying a game
because it looks good, content, gameplay and community are what will
keep the customers resubscribing.  I and my gaming group of friends are
still searching for a MMORPG that has the depth and complexity that SWG
used to have.


> Sean Howard wrote
> > If you aren't already painfully aware, Star Wars Galaxies has
> > recently gone through and is still going through a process of
> > completely revamping the game called the new game enhancements
> > (NGE). It's practically a whole new game, which I think most 
> > people agreed needed to happen (in theory).  However, the
> > backlash  against this change is significant and my ability to
> > discuss the whole thing publicly has been met with something less
> > than  intelligentdiscourse.  ...
> > After SWG's first combat revamp, I've noticed several other
> > MMORPGs also having revamps, but not making the same
> > mistakes. Could the NGE lead to other MMORPGs recreating
> > themselves now that the sacrificial lamb has taken one for theam? 
> > Rather than launching sequels like Asheron's Call 2 or Everquest
> > 2, could it be a smarter decision to simply rebuild old games in a
> > new image than segment a playerbase that may not be able to
> > support both?
> Its interesting you raise this as I too recently noticed the NGE
> having not really played any MMORPGs for a while now. I was
> sufficiently intrigued to re-register for a month to have a
> look. When I finally connected, I was immediately struck by just how
> dated the graphics had become, and this may well be the main
> stumbling block for such exercises. Do you alienate your existing,
> admitedly dwindling fanbase, trying to pursue new customers, who
> perhaps won't have much tolerance for a dated game engine?
> Despite this limitation, the new player experience was very
> entertaining. It was entirely directed, and I was kept busy for the
> hour or so I played. It felt more like a FPS shooter with missions
> and a slightly clunky UI, rather than a traditional MMORPG. Having
> played everquest 2 though, I was slightly taken aback by the near
> absence of sampled speech - another bar that has been raised for
> every other game to hurdle henceforth?
> The other interesting aspect is the de-emphasising of the crafter
> economy and the decision to itemise mobs with meaningful loot. That
> is as big a u-turn as I've ever seen in an online game, and I agree
> with Sean's point that it might be a little hard to discuss here
> given the architects read these posts. From the perspective of my
> playstyle it is a step forward. As a monster basher and frustrated
> achievement gamer I couldn't find many rewards for my playstyle with
> the previous mechanics, you could advance for advancements sake but
> at launch there were precious few quests, no drops from monsters,
> just a lot of enforced mingling with crafters and entertainers which
> often felt overly contrived. I think people with my playstyle just
> accepted this though and realised SWG wasn't for them, yet despite
> it not suiting my playstyle I'm a little sad that a different model
> didn't work, at least in this instance.
> There is an interview on gamespot with John Smedley which raises an
> interesting question :
>   GS: Last question, John. What's the one lesson from your two years
>   of seeing Star Wars Galaxies being played, that you wish you knew
>   sooner?
>   JS: That straight sandbox games don't work. And that we needed to
>   focus much more on the Star Wars experience. I think in the past,
>   what we probably made was the Uncle Owen experience as opposed to
>   the Luke experience. We needed to deliver more of the Star Wars
>   heroic and epic feeling to the game. I think we missed
>   there. That's what I think we really brought to the game [with the
>   update].
>   ( http://www.gamespot.com/news/6141213.html )
> Can straight sandbox games work?
> In other news, Asheron's Call 2 is closing, only a few months after
> they just shipped an expansion. Everquest 2 doesn't seem to be
> growing as quickly as expected either, despite being a better game
> than EQ1 in every way. Tough times ahead for the big commercial
> games? Is the market still growing or just fragmenting into smaller
> communities on games that cost ever more to develop?
> Dan
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