Friday, June 27, 2003

Star Wars is for Suckers

A long time ago, in an office far, far away (in San Diego), a decision was made to choose the dark side. The result: EverQuest 2 - The Force is Not With Us. To wit, Sony Online Entertainment dropped the highly anticipated MMORPG Star Wars Galaxies on the heads of fanboys everywhere yesterday and the initial reaction is nowhere near the rabid hysteria one might expect. In fact, early impressions of the game are negative and much of the available internet scuttlebutt is dismissive, as this Fark thread shows.

So what went wrong? Everybody can agree that the game was released too early -- something proven yesterday when all servers were down on the game's first day of release. That's certainly an interesting way to reward those who have dropped $50 on a game. Further issues people have with SWG are its uninspired combat, tedious crafting, lack of vehicles or rideable creatures, derivative gameplay, etc. Essentially, the developers have taken the EverQuest model and slapped some Star Wars graphics over it while promising that, some day, things will improve. I think everyone can agree that waiting indefinitely for an X-Wing to fly or even a landspeeder to cruise around Tatooine in is simply something that should not happen in a game about the Star Wars Universe. For a retail price of $50 and then a monthly fee of $15, that sort of thing should be included from the word go.

SWG is not alone in its failures. With somewhat laughable regularity, MMORPG's are released before they're ready. Anarchy Online and WWII Online are two that immediately come to mind. It's a tough thing to balance the needs of development with the need for revenue and most companies are unable to get it right. SWG is just the most recent in a long line of MMORPG's to err on the side of revenue.

But, you're probably saying to yourself right now, "This is STAR WARS!!! This shouldn't happen!!" And I'm inclined to agree. If there's any game that could have had been postponed without much damage, this is it. But, as we have seen with many Star Wars games, films, and holiday specials, quality is rarely of much concern. The quick dollar is the good dollar. Keep the kids buying, goddamnit!

Why do we still care about Star Wars? We have been betrayed and let down countless times and still, we manage to stay excited about anything with the Star Wars stamp. Why? WHY? Something to tackle in a longer column.

Anyway, I should admit that I played the SWG beta and, unsurprisingly, was underwhelmed like everyone else online. I found the game tedious, uninspired, and lacking the least bit of innovation. I could elaborate, but I'm getting depressed thinking about Star Wars. Attack of the Clones has been on HBO all week and putting these two turds together in my mind creates some kind of super-turd that is threatening to consume my soul. The only way to avoid such an occurrence is to avoid thinking about it anymore. Farewell, my young Padouins!