Missions and Combat
But let's get back to the mission we talked about above. Apparently the
residents of Mos Eisley had taken a dislike to Imperial meddling, and wanted us
to help clear them out. Trusty blaster at our side, we ran out to the desert to
accomplish our mission. A shimmering transparent blue light on the horizon
pointed us toward our goal (Galaxies aims to be very accessible.) When we
got there, the blasters cut loose and the combat began!
Combat was an interesting mix. It was turn-based, but dynamic. You had special
moves you could do, including altering your position. Characters could run and
gun, kneel to fire, or go completely prone -- each position had advantages and
disadvantages. You could queue up your attacks. There were special rules for
things like headshots and suppression fire. Combat seemed simple to execute but
it had a lot of depth.
Stormtrooper AI wasn't brilliant; in other words, they acted just like they do
in the movies.
Very rich colors
After killing the stormtroopers, we went on to do battle
against an AT-ST (those are the big two-legged walkers the Ewoks were having a
field day with in Return of the Jedi). After a healthy dose of laser fire
(and a little bit of cheating for the purposes of the demonstration), it rolled
to one side, exploded and collapsed into the sand. Victory!
Missions could be generated by the game (as in the example above), but they can
also come from elsewhere. Other players, for instance, can set up their own
missions. If you stand to make a profit from getting a trade caravan safely to
town, you can make that a mission for other players just by setting up an
appropriate reward. It's all done in-game, again showcasing the social nature of
Star Wars Galaxies.
Come to My Hutt
One of the great things about a game taking place in the world of the original
trilogy is the number of familiar locations available. We got to see one such
location first hand as Koster walked us through an enormous set of doors and
into the cavernous palace of Jabba the Hutt. His throne room was in there,
complete with dancing booty aliens and the trap door floors. What sort of
strange soap-opera action will take place there? We can only imagine.
Galaxies will have eight to 12 planets to explore at
launch, each one roughly as big as the entire EverQuest game. That's a
LOT of turf! Every location is rendered in loving detail with an engine capable
of dynamic lighting and bump-mapping. The sunrise/sunset cycle is breathtaking,
and the backgrounds are alive with shuttles taking off and other details.
How soon before we get to play? Well, if you're lucky enough to be selected for
the beta at StarWarsGalaxies.com,
you might be able to try the game out as early as July 15th, when a beta test
goes live. After the developers have put the game through its paces, assuming
all goes well, the game could be launched as early as December 2002. An
expansion pack, allowing you to fly around in your own spaceships from planet to
planet, will follow a few months after.
It's a long, long wait. But it'll bring that distant galaxy closer than it's
ever been before. •