Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided
Game Type: MMORPG
Developer: Sony Online Entertainment
Release Date: Q4 2002
Last year at E3, when we first laid eyes on Star Wars
Galaxies, it felt as though we has just been a part of gaming history in the
making. Our heads popped like pimples. The invisible hand of the Force
dramatically reached across times long ago and galaxies far away to grip us and
it still hasn't let go.
Star Wars Galaxies will allow players to step right into the middle of
the galactic civil war depicted in the original trilogy (Star Wars
through Return of the Jedi.) In this massively multiplayer opus, your
characters can either side with the Rebel Alliance, the all-powerful Empire, or
the loosely organized smugglers tentatively known as the "Hutt criminal
empire." There will be eight playable species and between eight to 12 fully
populated worlds at launch. Explore the beautiful grasslands of Naboo! Conduct
seedy business in the sweltering cantinas of Tatooine! Bitch-slap some
stormtroopers ... wherever you like!
This year we got to see more of the game in action, including the combat engine,
character creation, some of the social tools, in-game missions, and even a
glimpse at the kinds of things players will be able to build.
Socializing With Aliens
creation is an involved process giving people immense control over their
appearance. "Our goal was to make every character individual and
unique," explained producer Haden Blackman. Sure, all Mon Calimari are
bug-eyed fish people, but that doesn't mean all of them will look alike. The
shade of the skin and proportions of the face are all configurable.
Once you're in the world, you're immersed in what Blackman describes as "a
very social game," and the interface behaves appropriately. When you talk
to other characters, word bubbles appear above you. You can also
"think" aloud, with a thought bubble appearing above your head for all
to see. For instance, as we played, Creative Director Raph Koster typed "I
don't think I trust this guy...", 'thinking' it in plain view of
everyone in the middle of a conversation. The mechanism will allow for some fun
role-playing. Characters also have a wide variety of poses and gestures, of
You'll also be able to chat with NPCs via a simple pop-up menu of options.
"They're there to tell you a little more about the world or to give you
missions," Blackman said, while on the screen behind him, Koster chatted
with various grungy characters hanging around Mos Eisley. He eventually tracked
one down who gave him a mission (see below.)
Look at that water!
Interaction won't be limited to computer-controlled
NPCs. One of the most exciting features in Galaxies is the addition of
"pets" of every type. Yes, you can have alien critters to follow you
around and call your own. You can also own (and program) your own droids! At
this point, it also seems like players siding with the Empire will have some
awesome options of their own -- imagine you and your friends being able to build
a base and then man it with your own personal contingent of stormtroopers and
AT-ST walkers. It's unclear how much of that will be available in the final
version, but the developers are playing with it.
Because the game is so socially oriented, there are plenty of options for play.
For instance, as we walked through the Mos Eisley cantina (yes, the infamous
music was playing), Koster pointed out that you could be anything in the room.
You could be a musician and learn to play the instruments. You could be a
dancer. You could build your own cantina, own it and make money from attracting
customers. The possibilities are immense! "Our intent is to allow people to
formalize themselves as cities," Koster pointed out. You'll be able to form
little governments with other players in backwater parts of the game worlds,
hopefully evolving over time into a bustling (and completely player-created)
How do you build things? Resource harvesting is an important part of the game,
but not an all-consuming one. You don't have to stand around and click on trees
or mountains in order to gather something. Instead, gathering could be done
while you're offline. Koster gave the example of a moisture farmer building his
collectors and then logging off for the night.
and Combat »