Make your own free website on







A Little Something For All Playing Styles

Koster was clear about their goals with the new game. "We want to take the tedium out of online gaming." That means a few conventions are out the window. The major difference between EQ (and a similarity with Ultima Online) is that the system is entirely skills-based -- there's no experience points to be gained from mindlessly bashing womp-rats. Instead you build up individual skills. Developers compared the skills system to collecting Magic: The Gathering cards. You could acquire new skills by completing missions, then add them to your unique skillset.

Creature spawns are all random, and all the powerful items are generated by skilled players instead of creature drops. The result? Camping isn't a valuable tactic, so you're not forced to wait long periods in a creature lair to advance.

Developers didn't want to discuss how they'll handle player death yet, but they promised that the frustration of hunting for your corpse will be removed from the game. "We want to support a wide variety of play styles," Koster explained. Non-combat characters are a possibility, and they're aiming to allow casual player who can only log in occasionally to be as integral to the world as die-hards who play constantly.

Both melee (hand to hand) and ranged combat will be simulated in the combat engine. We didn't get a chance to see it in action yet, and the team is still working out the details, but they're aiming to capture the cinematic feel of the movies. Koster explained that the combat will be "Strategic and compelling -- not 'twitchy.'" Their intent is not to let the powergamers or broadband-enabled twitch-gamers to overwhelm the world. Several combat skills will be available.

Obviously, it's too early in the game's development to see how all of these gameplay elements are coming together. But hopefully the combined experience of the team can make it happen, populating the servers with a mix of both hardcore and casual players all interacting to create a unique online experience.

The Space Expansion

Creating all those worlds in such lavish detail is certainly a feat, but space travel and combat is an integral part of the Star Wars universe. As E3 dawned, the developers finally broke the silence and pulled the wraps off of an expansion they'd been working on for months. Yes, you'll be able to explore the space in-between the worlds. You'll be able to buy an X-Wing fighter to do battle against the empire, or you'll be able to buy a freighter and attempt to smuggle cargo under their noses.

Again the experience of the crew will come into play. Developers from such classic space shooters as Privateer and Wing Commander have been working non-stop on the expansion, and we got to see it in action. Imagine for a moment flying by a star destroyer in an X-Wing. Now, imagine for a moment that as you fly toward it, the monstrosity dwarfs your tiny ship -- you're flying over a fully rendered city, with every groove and turret in tact. It was there. Over 100,000 polygons were used to render the star destroyer we buzzed. With a few keystrokes the developers were able to zap in a handful of TIE fighters to duel against -- we shot off into an asteroid field and fought a battle while the score raged in the background. Again, this was no movie; it was rendered in realtime.

Hard to believe that the space combat and the ground detail were all part of the same seamless universe. Total immersion, indeed!!

Coming Soon To Your Galaxy

The idea sounds like a sure winner -- get the most talented developers together to work with one of the most famous science fiction properties in history. To see it starting to bear fruit, however, was a joy. While the final game is still a ways off, we'll definitely be keeping our eyes on this one.

More than the technology, though, what excites us the most is the chance to live and explore a world that was so integral to our childhood. Famous faces from the books and movies will be present, and even to some extent interactive. You'll be able to make smuggling runs for Jabba or obey the orders of imperial commanders. Darth Vader? Oh yes. "If you're lucky you'll be able to fight him!" beamed Raph Koster. He paused a moment. "Er ... unlucky."

SWG Home Page

Dev's Posts