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Star Wars Galaxies: Roleplaying is Dead, Long Live Roleplayi

StraddenStradden Managing EditorHalifax, NSPosts: 6,696Member

MMORPG.com Star Wars Galaxies Correspondent Jef Reaheard writes this editorial piece reflecting on the days of a roleplayer's paradise in Star Wars Galaxies.

A funny thing happened while I was roleplaying my way to gangster infamy on Star Wars Galaxies' Starsider server from early 2004 to mid 2006. Amidst the story arcs, the guild drama (both in-character and out-of-character), and of course the hornet's nest stirred up by Sony's New Game Enhancements, I found myself drifting slowly but inexorably away from the reason I had jumped on the whole MMORPG bandwagon in the first place: to tell stories.

Looking back, I don't know that I was ever truly a 'roleplayer,' even though I defended the play style against all comers and engaged in some particularly nasty forum jousting with various antagonists. Though I was almost always 'in-character,' even while grinding mobs, I was basically playing myself in the Star Wars universe, something that I've dreamed of doing since early childhood, and boy was it a rude awakening when I realized that the lion's share of my fellow players didn't give a bantha poodoo about back stories, character development, or immersive authenticity. My quest for full immersion was doomed from the start, given the nature of these games and the people that play them, but that didn't stop me at the time, and, though I still play Star Wars Galaxies (and two other MMORPGs) on a daily basis, and though I've made attempts to rekindle the storytelling flame in each new game, it always ends the same way: leaving me wistfully remembering the roleplay on Starsider and wondering if, not when, that magic will resurface.

Read the article here.

Cheers,
Jon Wood
Managing Editor
MMORPG.com

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Comments

  • calmyroncalmyron Dallas, TXPosts: 46Member

     The art of roleplaying is indeed a lost art. There are many of us from the old d20 days, which I'm sorry you missed, who graduated to the MUDs, the text styled MMOs of the late 80s and through the 90s.

    It was in MUDs that you could see the transition to what we see now. As more and more d20 fans joined MUDs, you were able to immerse yourself in true roleplaying. Unfortunately, each year we moved farther and farther from roleplaying as more PS2 babies began joining our beloved MUDs who had never experienced d20 love. Griefing and ganking began to appear as more of the younger set treated the games more like a video game instead of a living novel.

    Now, we have graphical MMOs and we have people who play those that don't even remember MUDs. The evolution of the PS2 babies being the rule instead of the exception is here. Player killing is all the rage and many feel that if you aren't a PvPer, then get out of their way because they are the real roleplayers. How sad they are to not have known true roleplaying.

    RP is dead! Long live RP!

  • jadan2000jadan2000 roosevelt, NYPosts: 511Member

    You know its funny...

    Im 28. My first mmo was ffxi on ps2. I had a great time playign that game but there was no roleplaying into it. I was fien with that to be honest, because that game was built on being social.

    after 3 years of playing ffxi i graduated to a pc mmo. Star wars. i can remember finding out abotu it and slowly losing my mind to go play because it was starwars. i wanted to be a jedi, and a smuggler, own a yt1300. travel the stars! When i played SWG for teh first time, it was so easy to play in charcater. I had a great time. Ive moved on from swg now because ive done everything there is to do in that game. but i never forget how much fun i had playing it. My best RP moments would be everything from getting married in naboo, to being captured by the imperials on dathomir, only to have my guild come rescue me. We did special events and had devs spawn mobs to go with our storylines. This is one element that no matter if you like SWG or not, it cant be rivaled. SWG had teh best storyteller abilities ever and still does. It was proof that sandbox works, as long as you give the players the tools to do so.Sandbox is where RP lives!

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  • VeviVevi Quakertown, PAPosts: 146Member

    Jef,

    My best RP experiences were in SWG. I only stayed around for a year or so; and that was because of the RP. I too was on Starsider. Now, I am a more casual RPer in CoH. It still is great to see folks have creative fun in these games.  

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  • IronChuIronChu Champions Online Correspondent New York, NYPosts: 82Member

    Amen to that piece, Jef. I just had the same discussion with friends about City of Heroes last night, I can relate to pretty much everything you said.

     

  • MelisandeMelisande Auburn, ALPosts: 5Member

    I also loved the RP in SWG... as a member of the 488th LED, I remember very clearly playing with the Cartel and the Pixies, etc... also, The Guardians... those were some great times.

    I've moved on, even going so far as joining The Guardians, our mortal enemies in game, for WoW play. Still, I can say there hasn't been a day I haven't looked back fondly on those days on Starsider, in Vagabond's Rest, etc.

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    - http://bfm.red-troll.net -

  • shad0w99shad0w99 Milton KeynesPosts: 168Member

    I only dabbled with roleplay on SWG. And I am of the "PS2 Baby" generation, as another posted put it. I'm 19 (I was 15-17 when i was playing SWG), however I did tag along with some really great roleplay on SWG. I played as an Imperial on the server, Chilastra. I used to go along for a "Jedi hunt" with a roleplay guild. We used to just search around for participating Jedi and when we did find them, we questioned them to find if they were, indeed Jedi. They used to use Jedi mind tricks on us, and sometimes it would end with a lightsabre fight.

    I also used to play as a tax collecting Storm trooper in Tatooine. Some would play along, some wouldn't, but it was always great fun.

    People always seem to pull the age card, I won't have another rant about it... But it's a generalization and most of the time it's less to do with age and more to do with intellect or hobbies and interests.

    In any case, SWG was the only game where I felt really compelled to roleplay. As someone else said, they gave the players the right tools to immerse themselves and really get absorbed into the world of Star Wars. I haven't played another modern game which has that same immersion since. I played UO briefly, and I could definitely imagine some great roleplay moments there too! Ryzom is perhaps the only modern(ish) MMO where you could roleplay quite nicely. It has some great story telling but still doesn't have as many roleplaying tools as SWG did (And still does really)

    CoX seems to have the most thriving roleplay community, and I did try a bit of it. However, the CoX world just has nothing on Star Wars. It's hard to roleplay a superhero when everyone else is also a superhero. It's just not a great setting for roleplay. But nevertheless, the kind of people who play CoX are inclined to roleplay, so it's your best bet if you're also that way inclined.

    MMOs played (In order of how much I've liked them): Star Wars Galaxies, World of Warcraft, Vanguard, City of Villains / Heroes, Guild Wars, Warhammer Online, Age of Conan, Tabula Rasa, Anarchy Online, Ryzom, Final Fantasy XI, Matrix Online, RF Online, Rappelz, Hero Online, Roma Victor

  • ZodiaEclipseZodiaEclipse Guthrie, OKPosts: 100Member

    I'll never claim to be a real RP'er, but I remember the immersion of SWG and I loved it. Like the Op I bascially played myself  and met and married my husband in-game. It worked so well we did it for real two years later.

    I can remember being so involved in the game that I had to play at certain times because there were guild activities and hunting parties and all manner of things that I wanted to be part of. It was honestly a second part of my life that required just as much attention and upkeep as my real social life.

    With the games I play now it doesn't really matter when I'm on because nobody's waiting for or expecting me. When I'm in a guild I'm just another member to bolster the roster. It's been quite a few games since I've made any friends worth remembering. My point being I've never been as 'into' a game as I was back when I started SWG (Intrepid server!) and by now I'm really starting to doubt I'll ever find a 'home' quite like the one I had there.

  • ToothmanToothman Greenfield, WIPosts: 72Member

    Leet kiddies ftl....................as usual

  • PawpowerPawpower Inman, SCPosts: 20Member

     There is still active RP on Starsider, not as much as it once was, but still there, and still having a blast.  The other night, just a basic event, we loaded up on a yt1300, and ran a smuggling mission to Ord Mandel.  We ended up having a run in the bar with some characters, who tried to take out one of our group due to a past run in with them on Tat.  A fight ensued, which was great.  We were able to escape to our ship, and then out fight, and out run them back to the drop off point.  It was just a great RP event.

  • MoiraeMoirae New Orleans, LAPosts: 2,746Member Uncommon

    My best RP experiences were never in an MMO. They were online at White Wolf's website on their character chat rooms. There were no graphics other than the one you found to represent your character somewhere on the net and even that one couldn't actually be shown on the chat, you had to add it to the character descriptor so people could click on the link and go look. There was no sound. There was only text on the screen. We got really good at describing just enough that it could paint pictures in all of our heads of people, places, and things that didn't even exist.

     

    And honestly, I think thats how I still prefer it. I'd play there still but I don't like the new game and the whole site is now moderated by the company so you either have to play the new version of the World of Darkness (which I loath), or be part of an unmoderated chat full of twinks, powergamers, and nutjobs.

     

    But there's something to be said about not having everything done for you, and simply allowing your imagination to do the work of putting it all together. Imagination can sometimes make things much more real because you aren't relying on other people to put THEIR vision on it.

  • WallidWallid Edmonton, ABPosts: 8Member

    This is is a two for one;

    Yes this may sound like a " NGE = epic fail ever" post but .....

    I played SWG since before JTLS, Almost near the beginning, and I miss the game I truly loved. I had a Medic wookie that mostly inhabited Mos Eisley ( and the med center felt like my Doctor's office). I would be  healing combat damage and the " black bars" chatting with people hearing their stories of combat,  sitting up a "traige" system with low level medics as I was hoping to have my character a Doctor.  I eventualy found a guild and I created a trader character as that's one aspect the guild needed, I was the tickerer and I played as one. I also looked up to the other members for support for hides, trading for gear of what I could make.

    My favourite times was in MO, or Eisley. RP'ing " the spirited Mon Cal Scientist / entrepreneur".  It wasn't a forced RP, just a natural one.  "Wallid " just not the combatant type ( he tried once, but he was squeemish for battle).

    *PVP moment*

    I came out of T2 space mission, pvp mode and forgot I was set as such, I walked into MO, and stood by my guild memebers chatting away, when I was PM's " Hey friend Fish, your Flagged..." I was "<beep> kay I gotta go run to the recruiter"   My guildmate, ever the Wookie Scoundrel and having a hatred for Imperial said " wait, see that Jedi over  there? ".  And the last thing I heard was the light sabre lighting up, I was on my back and an all out brawl broke out with the combat cry " you killed our crafter!"

    My other greatest RP/ pvp moments was with McElroy.  (on farstar server), Redneck Zebrek Imperial soldier.  Only pilot tro have have a Gun rack in the back.  Started out Marksmen, made his wayup the ranks to Squadleader (Desert Squad). Guild at the time was a mixed with mostly neutrals.  This aspect gave for interesting RP as the rebs ether laid low or had confrontational issues with McElroy,  or Elroy had issues with the neutrals (He kept law n order).  The "raids" I saw in those days ( and up to the NGE) made WoW 25man kara runs look like a 5 man run in BG.  Huge epic battles at various player cities.  Battles that took planning and thought.  Attack and counter attacks.   It was beautiful, it was fun, it was crazy.

    * NGE

    NGE hit, yes there was the server exodus.  NGE turned the game I knew and loved into a single player game.  Crafting was left to be desired, there was low turn over of items, issues with the new crafting setup.  The FPS style combat was lack luster, and honest I would not suggest this game to anyone where previously I would have due to the community, the action level, the customization.  One can tell that someone seen the Error in their ways and are trying to fix what they broke by all the new enhancements, skills, and abilities, but it still lacks, it feels like an Anarchy online, the WoW like pvp fests, the ladder climb / hold your hand missions.

    I've attempted severial times to come back. Officer was not like the old squadleader (squadleader I felt like I was group leader or a pally), crafting still has it's up and downs not at the high standard as the old system.  Smuggler I like what they did, but they need to expand on it more. it's like reading a book and the author leaves you hanging and doesn't bother to write a second book.

    I wasn't the only RP'r before NGE, there was ALOT of others. and we hada hoot :)

    God I miss those days.

     

     

  • jedijefjedijef Star Wars Galaxies Correspondent Atlanta, GAPosts: 27Member
    Originally posted by Moirae



     
    But there's something to be said about not having everything done for you, and simply allowing your imagination to do the work of putting it all together. Imagination can sometimes make things much more real because you aren't relying on other people to put THEIR vision on it.

     

    That's where mmo's as roleplay environments break down, at least for me. Imagination is the lion's share of it, and the unimaginative treadmill design of the games is something I found myself having to constantly fight against. After a while, it feels more like work than fun.

    Glad to hear that there is still some fun roleplay going on on Starsider, however. I still play there as well, but I've taken to spending the majority of my time collection grinding or hanging out in space. The ground game doesn't feel like Star Wars anymore.

     

  • ToothmanToothman Greenfield, WIPosts: 72Member
    Originally posted by jedijef

    Originally posted by Moirae



     
    But there's something to be said about not having everything done for you, and simply allowing your imagination to do the work of putting it all together. Imagination can sometimes make things much more real because you aren't relying on other people to put THEIR vision on it.

     

    That's where mmo's as roleplay environments break down, at least for me. Imagination is the lion's share of it, and the unimaginative treadmill design of the games is something I found myself having to constantly fight against. After a while, it feels more like work than fun.

    Glad to hear that there is still some fun roleplay going on on Starsider, however. I still play there as well, but I've taken to spending the majority of my time collection grinding or hanging out in space. The ground game doesn't feel like Star Wars anymore.

     In some ways it doesn't.  But its still closer than the space game is :-)

     

  • VontroxVontrox New York, NYPosts: 12Member

    I really miss the SWG RP. It was fun and it died with the game. Really sad. I have never experienced that kind of RP in any other mmorpg i have played after SWG, not even close.........

  • jedijefjedijef Star Wars Galaxies Correspondent Atlanta, GAPosts: 27Member
    Originally posted by ZodiaEclipse


    I'll never claim to be a real RP'er, but I remember the immersion of SWG and I loved it. Like the Op I bascially played myself  and met and married my husband in-game. It worked so well we did it for real two years later.
    I can remember being so involved in the game that I had to play at certain times because there were guild activities and hunting parties and all manner of things that I wanted to be part of. It was honestly a second part of my life that required just as much attention and upkeep as my real social life.
    With the games I play now it doesn't really matter when I'm on because nobody's waiting for or expecting me. When I'm in a guild I'm just another member to bolster the roster. It's been quite a few games since I've made any friends worth remembering. My point being I've never been as 'into' a game as I was back when I started SWG (Intrepid server!) and by now I'm really starting to doubt I'll ever find a 'home' quite like the one I had there.

     

    I know exactly what you mean. I too was heavily invested in the game as a sort of second social life, and that experience has yet to be equaled in any other community (which is both good and bad, heh).  I don't know if any mmo will ever re-capture that, simply because it seems that very few people want to play that way. 

    I've tried Ryzom, as an earlier poster suggested, and the community there is reminiscent of early SWG, but for whatever reason its not the same.  It may have something to do with expectations and the oft-quoted 'it'll never be as good as your first.'

    Its not all doom and gloom however, as SWG is still enjoyable enough for me to log in, as are a couple of other games currently on the market, but I do wish that someone would cater to hardcore roleplayers.  I suspect I'm not the only one who would be willing to pay premium subscription prices for something similar to what SWG used to offer.

     

  • FionFion Montour Falls, NYPosts: 2,351Member

    I played on Starsider as did all my friends and my guild and we really did enjoy a lot of the RP.

     

    You know theres another game that has a lot of that classic RP going on. It's not a new game by any means but it is free (at least the basic non-expanded game.) The game actually boasts more RP tools and support then SWG did back in the day. That MMOG is Anarchy Online.

    You might have to look around for the RPers, but they are usually in the games hotspots. Reets Retreat (a club with a glass dance floor and private rooms of every type,) or a few other places based in the territories of the Clan or Omni Tec. The game actually has a very distinct and rich backstory that continues to this day and thus theres a lot of RP between the two factions even (it's not a WoW or DAoC were your faction is your enemy based off race and you cant talk to them. In AO you can talk, party, even hunt together. But for the RP sector theres some serious political RP that goes on.

    On that note let me add;

    OT Stinks!

    Clans Forever!

    image

  • TerranahTerranah Stockton, CAPosts: 3,605Member

    The only good RP I ever had in an mmo was SWG.  It's sad because the characters that I created in the precu swg died with nge.  I think most of us that played have lots of stories we could tell.

     

    Such a waste of a game when I think about it.  SWG did not deserve the fate that it recieved.  It should be going stronger than ever with some solid expansions under it's belt by now.  Instead we have the NGE and the hubris that is SOE.

     

    It would be interesting if someone fixed SWG one day.  So much time has gone by now though.

  • JYCowboyJYCowboy Northlake, TXPosts: 660Member

    /raises Hand

    Old school Table Top RP.  DnD got my start but I was one of those that bought Star Wars RPG when it launched Oct. of 1987.  I have played many types of RPGs but Star Wars is my first passion in to pop culture hobbies.  When SWG launched, I took my favorite RPG character and translated him there.  It was easy to do.  He has evolved some since his start and I still favor him most of my toons.

    The NGE put me back in a void I found with RPGs.  I have friends that want to RP every weekend for the thrill of power leveling and boosting thier ego's over Table top.  I have matured enough to see it for what it is and just wanted to avoid that rut.  SWG offered a new direction to get a RP fix and open up adventure with many many others with my character(s).  The NGE and other new games just put that Ego ride and power leveling back to the fore front, for me, at the cost of the immersion and community.  Don't get me wrong as I love improving my characters but I can do without boosting other's egos because thier life is boring otherwise.  There is nothing wrong with PVP and competetion but it shouldn't be the only element available for end game development.

    I still play SWG and CoX, but marketing is killing immersion and community in favor of  unending development  of  "fun".  What ever the definition of "fun" they use this quarter.

  • TARDISjunkieTARDISjunkie Jacksonville, FLPosts: 60Member

    I have to disagree with the OP here (that's the article author, not Stradden :p).  RP is /not/ dead.  It's SWG that's dead and simply refusing to recognize it.  We're well past time for someone to take a shotgun to that shambling corpse and make the world a better place. 

    /endrant, sorry

    Look, I'm a roleplayer, and yes, I took part in many of those tabletop sessions the OP longs for.  I still play tabletop from time to time, though the group I run with nowadays isn't so much into roleplay, more's the pity.  I actively roleplay in my chosen MMO, City of Heroes/Villains, whenever I can.  Even if I'm solo in a mission, in my head, I'm playing my character.  Until very recently, I was part of a RP supergroup on the Virtue server that had some outstanding storylines going, very much fun.  Unfortunately, one particular asshat ruined it for me, and I'm now SG-less...but that's how it goes. 

    Some games are, I think, inherently more hostile to RP than others.  EVE Online, for instance.  Gimme a break.  I know some people supposedly manage it, but how they do it without hallucinogens is beyond me.  Don't get me wrong, I love the game (despite its uber-grindiness and PvP-centricity)...I just can't get into it.  If some EVE-RP'er were to contact me with the intent to prove me wrong, though... *hinthint* ;)

    Ironically, I think WoW has some of the best untapped potential for RP.  The varied environments, the different races & factions...and yes, once you get past the jarring cartooniness of it all, it's actually quite pretty.  Unfortunately, it'll never happen.  Not until the dead rise from their graves, the rivers and seas flow red with blood, cats and dogs live together...mass hysteria!  :p

    I played pre-CU SWG, and I miss it like nothing else.  No other game has come close for me when it comes to pure immersiveness.  I will never forget Mazzik, the Teras Kasi (would-be) Master/Ranger/Medic who lived in a grand mansion, all alone on Dantooine, simply because he could.  And I agree: Jedi destroyed SWG, and SOE/LA finished the job with the thermonuclear turd they called the NGE.

    Still...RP isn't dead.  I'm sorry to hear the OP has lost it, and I sincerely hope he finds it again.  The alternative is endless, pointless grinding...and I'm sorry, but I already have a job in RL, and I refuse to pay $15/month to work another one.

  • jedijefjedijef Star Wars Galaxies Correspondent Atlanta, GAPosts: 27Member
    Originally posted by TARDISjunkie



    Unfortunately, it'll never happen.  Not until the dead rise from their graves, the rivers and seas flow red with blood, cats and dogs live together...mass hysteria!  :p

     

    In other words, its dead. Sure you'll find some isolated pockets of it here and there, but large numbers of people actively supporting it? Nope.  Games developed with it as a primary focus? Nope.  Perhaps I should've titled the article MMO RP is Dead, as I'm sure the table top variety is not, but for every MMO roleplayer like you and I, there are ten thousand 'lol u rp wut?' types filling up the servers.  SWG spoiled me, I suppose, as I now have high expectations of a roleplay community with each new game that I venture into.

     

  • MarlonBMarlonB HoensbroekPosts: 520Member Uncommon

    Pre-cu SWG was so immersive, I always forgot I was playing a game!

    I am not an RP'er at all, but in SWG that went completely naturally. That is what made the game so good and addictive ( I often got out of bed at night just to logon for a bit! ).

    Since then, not one MMO has been produced that made roleplaying so easy that everyone automatically participates. I've tried dozens ... and all they do is tell me " Go here and do that ..."

     

    But in all honesty, SWG was bad for my health ;) ... leading a guild for creature handlers chewed up all my free- and not free time.

     

    I don't believe Roleplaying is dead ... it's only almost impossible to find a good game these days that caters for it.

    The Repopulation - Scfi Fi Sandbox.

  • BurntvetBurntvet Baltimore, MDPosts: 2,938Member Uncommon

    SWG is dead.

    Long Live Roleplaying!

    Somewhere else....

  • WallidWallid Edmonton, ABPosts: 8Member
    Originally posted by MarlonB


    Pre-cu SWG was so immersive, I always forgot I was playing a game!
    I am not an RP'er at all, but in SWG that went completely naturally. That is what made the game so good and addictive ( I often got out of bed at night just to logon for a bit! ).
    Since then, not one MMO has been produced that made roleplaying so easy that everyone automatically participates. I've tried dozens ... and all they do is tell me " Go here and do that ..."
     
    I don't believe Roleplaying is dead ... it's only almost impossible to find a good game these days that caters for it.



     

    Yeah what I loved about it as well. you couldn'thelp but give your characters personalities, outfits, and attitudes.  then there was customization of houses and Vehicles.  I knew a wookie that based his  Struct crafter around buildings and " home Renovations" (And he was Goood...),  the Dance parties,  the escort runs with the combatants.  City  battles( the best imho because it felt like war, to bad we couldn't destory houses ;) ).  the hardcore dark jedi, the higher then thou light jedi. mercenaries, scoundrels.

    RP is a mind set, it's a community, it's character, it's customization.. it's attitude.

  • MoiraeMoirae New Orleans, LAPosts: 2,746Member Uncommon

    Oh well... think of it this way... soon we'll have the Knights of the Old Republic MMO to play.

  • OzmodanOzmodan Hilliard, OHPosts: 7,183Member Uncommon

    Yep, I lived in a rp community on Starsider, we had several rp cantina's going on and a fairly large town. Unfortunately I was a creature master and of course was devastated by NGE.   I tried to continue to play but the town became a ghost town within a month.    The change was just too radical for everyone, it was no longer the great rp environment of the past. 

    I have been back several times, I still maintain a station account.  Despite what some posters say, Starsider is dead, deader, deadest of all the servers.  Trying to find anyone to play with is almost impossible and finding a crafter is even more impossible.

    Maybe someday a developer will actually get off the Wow clone bandwagon and make an environment that actually attracts the rpers back. 

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