SWG: From Beta To Blunder – 59 & 59.5

Entry #59
Monday, September 20, 2004, 12:01:30 PM (ScreenShot2449)

After losing Ramp, I headed back to Dathomir to drown my sorrows in some good old fashioned questing. The problem was… The Village quest line, or at least the part that I was up to, became a non stop grind of local patrol missions that would sporadically spawn Sith to kill. This new grind, coupled with increased graphical glitching, started to seriously wear me down. As it turns out, both of these issues would pale in comparison when compared to a new exploit that players had uncovered. A new way to illegally acquire credits was figured out by players, and its impact would inflate the economy to unheard of proportions. Reportedly, trillions of credits were created and distributed before the devs were able to put a fix into the game, and by the time they did, the damage would be unrecoverable.


Almost immediately, prices of goods skyrocketed, as certain people had infinite funds and could always outbid any honest player at an auction. The result of course alienated casual players from high end commercial goods, and also frustrated the honest player beyond recognition. One of those players… was me.

In the middle of all of this, I got a call from Elu Vagabond. He informed me that he, Hale Fusion and Cronik were all sharing a WoW beta account. Between them, there was a window of playtime when none of them were usually available, and it fit perfectly within my schedule. They invited me to play on the account with them, and I accepted for two major reasons. The first reason was, I had no MMO to compare SWG to. The second reason was that I wanted to see if my graphics card would gitch with WoW… if it did, then it wasn’t SWG causing my hardware issues.

The answers to those questions would soon spell my last days playing Star Wars Galaxies after my initial foray into the galaxy.

Saturday, September 25, 2004, 10:11:56 AM (ScreenShot2445)

Five days later, I logged back into SWG. The controls and the UI felt slightly unfamiliar, considering that I had been playing the WoW beta as much as I could since I installed it. One of my questions was seemingly answered very early on… my graphics card had no issues with WoW. My other question… my curiosity concerning having another MMO to compare SWG to… it can be summed up in one thought… the code was sturdy. Sturdy is the only word that I can really apply to WoW’s beta at the time… and in comparison, it really exposed SWG to be, in essence, flimsy.

While I wasn’t a fan of WoW’s cartoony graphics, I was amazed when I realized how well the game ran. There were just about no bugs at all, and the game wasn’t even released yet. Actually, thinking back, I did not find a single bug while playing the WoW beta. At that very moment, I felt almost insulted by SOE. I knew it straight away… for over a year, that I was paying for a very buggy beta version of a game. On top of that, WoW now had the community factor, especially as more and more GATers were getting into the beta. It seemed like a gigantic world of new and unexplored, and most importantly… properly coded adventures.

When I finally logged back into SWG, all I really had to do was either grind Village quests, or try and camp Black Sun spawns on Endor for loot… and as soon as I did… my graphics card acted up…

Sunday, September 26, 2004, 2:35:31 PM (ScreenShot2463)

The last time I tried to grind those Village quests, I busted out Ramp’s DE-10 and started to cut through Sith like warm butter. Still, I had a huge grind in front of me, and eventually, my graphics card would cut me off and frustrate me even further. The fact that I now thought my card would only have issues with SWG and not other games made things even worse. While I wasn’t really into the whole D&D aspect of WoW, and I surly preferred SWG’s look… just about everyone I knew was making the switch to WoW beta and the prospect started to look pretty good. Also, it’s important to note that Halo II was coming out in November… which would boast online play reconnecting me with all my rl friends (we’re all Halo freaks).

One last thing to mention, that you’d think I’d of mentioned a million times already… Jump To Lightspeed was scheduled to launch on October 27th… just a short month away. The fact that I haven’t even brought this fact up really shows where my head was at, at the time. I didn’t realize it, but I had already subconsciously decided to stop playing SWG.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004, 12:47:54 PM (ScreenShot2463)

A few days later, my time in SWG winding down, I started to make a world tour. One of the places I hit was Flo’s house, where I knew he had put together an awesome vendor presentation to sell his “Fish Food.” It was a sad time for me. I would find these awesome player made things, and was really too jaded to care. Nothing would be able to sway my attention back to SWG.

It’s important to also recognize that at this time, I was also given an end date at my job that would be a reality on November 1st 2004. The bank that I worked for was bought by a different bank, and I was basically riding out my last couple months so I would get my “package,” which is a paycheck that equaled about $10k USD. Also, the band that I was in at the time was doing really well, and we were playing bigger shows more often around NYC… so I had a lot going on irl that was also contributing to my lack of attention towards SWG.

Saturday, October 02, 2004, 11:31:05 AM (ScreenShot2466)

As October hit, I was really at a loss when it came to SWG. I found myself running around Lok doing a whole lot of nothing. One day I tamed two Mynocks and named them “Zox,” and Noxs,” which was Zox’s name back in beta. It was very obvious that I longed for the days when we were all together, having Lok all to ourselves. I was at this point taming pets and naming them after my departed friends… but obviously that was not going to bring them back.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004, 10:33:22 PM (ScreenShot2468)

Four days later, I was a broken fish. Vro’s facial expression says what words don’t have to… my time in SWG was over.

Sunday, October 17, 2004, 7:15:13 PM (ScreenShot2471)

Twelve days later, I dumped all my cash into my houses, and waved goodbye for the last time. With Homer by my side, and Rampage Savages DE-10 in hand, I was prepared to let go.

Sunday, October 17, 2004, 7:15:54 PM (ScreenShot2473)

Screenshot after screenshot, I tried to get the perfect angle… the perfect image, of my last moment in a world that I played in non stop since the second Zannex graciously shared his buddy key with me back in beta. A year and four months had gone by, and it was a ride that I’d never forget…

Sunday, October 17, 2004, 7:16:18 PM (ScreenShot2474)

As I took shots from as many angles as I could, I found myself looking down in the valley behind my house one last time. Just steps from where Rampage Savage logged out forever, I too would soon dematerialize into the Lokian air. Under me, I noticed three Wind Power Generators, and was reminded of all the wonders of the SWG world that were still out there… I thought that whoever owned those generators would have to pass by my house to get to them… would he stop in my house and find the remenants of possibly the first Dark Jedi Master ever killed on the server? Would he notice the date on Rampages house that read “first house on Lok.” Would my house be a relic, a permanent fixture like old Bens place on Tatooine or Gungen ruins on Naboo?

Would I ever see this place again?

Sunday, October 17, 2004, 7:16:46 PM (ScreenShot2475)

No matter how hard I tried, this was the only angle I could get of my house and Ramp’s in the same shot…

Sunday, October 17, 2004, 7:17:17 PM (ScreenShot2477)

This was the last screenshot I took before I logged out for the last time on October 17th, 2004. I didn’t know if I’d ever log back in again, and to be honest, I was half heartbroken and half relieved at the same time. I had my reasons for logging out, but my reasons for staying logged in were not very healthy. Facts were facts. The game never worked correctly, and I didn’t want to be a guinea pig dealing with the integration of Jump to Lightspeed on top of it. All my friends were gone except Florian, and although I owed it to him to stick around and help him acquire materials for his chef business, I knew I wouldn’t be reliable with my graphical issues.

So my mind was made up. I put my right arm up and waved goodbye, possibly for the last time. At the very least, my pre Combat Upgrade days playing SWG were over.

As I sat there atop Homer on that familiar hill, my house in the background, I remembered it all. The awe of the galaxy that I was shown in beta. Meeting Ciale and Ramp, Zox, Kastore, Rowah, Weola… my first MMO experience, Zannex and I building houses on Rori, character wipes, that first amazing hunt on Lok, and the one at night that lit up the sky…

And then launch, the servers, my friends, the obsessive hours, and most especially, that pocket of time when we were so far ahead of the curve, hunting Kimos when the rest of the galaxy was just trying to afford a ticket to get off their starting planet. I thought of Rodd, and what we did on Tarq… and for a second… I took my hand off the mouse and considered staying…

In the end, I had to let go. I had to accept that for the time being, I had done enough. I went from a fish with a CDEF to a server renowned hunt leader, a middle man of epic proportions, friend to all… and eventually, friend to none, alone and jaded.

And with thatt, I took screenshot # 2477, walked back down the hill, stood in front of my house, dismounted from Homer, and typed /logout. 30 second later, I was put back to the character creation screen, where I saw Vroflus, still and silent. From there I gave him one last look, and pulled the plug.

Entry #59 1/2
“Sometimes it’s not what you play, but what you don’t play.” A good friend of mine told me that when he and I were in a band together. He was referring to my drum part, but I think I adopted the lesson in music and applied it to parts of my life thereafter. In order to put my SWG experience into context, I have to take this entry to recount my life away from SWG.

The backdrop during that time in my life was one of stability. I was in my mid 20’s when Zannex got me into SWG’s beta. I had a pretty good job in the finance industry, but unlike most people in finance, after work, I was what I considered a full time musician. I played guitar and drums and did a little singing for about 5 bands in as many years. While most of my musician friends worked in places like Starbucks a few hours a day, I would play shows in NYC and get home at 1am, and then be up at 7 to get to work for 9. My job wasn’t very strenuous at all, the hours were always 9-5, and I never really put in any kind of extra effort. My main reason for not going the extra mile at work was because I was trying to make it as a musician, and the job was always a “Plan B,” (7 years later it’s my Plan A). I also had a secondary reason for not want to excel in the field of finance… and that was 9/11. I was standing outside of the WTC when the second plane hit, I saw a lot of things that day that took me years to deal with internally, and ever since that day I felt like a “target” while at work.

To add to the stability, I was in the middle of a 4 year long distance relationship with a girl from Atlanta. Her father worked for an airline, so we got to fly for free, and saw one another more then a normal long distance relationship would allow. I think my time with her had a lot to do with what was going on in the local NYC music scene. The best way to describe the relationships of musicians and those who hang out with them as far as I was able to tell was “incestuous.” Basically the same crowd of 100-150 people revolved around maybe 15 core bands, and everybody was sleeping with everybody at one point or another.

I’m going to use some fake names to tell a real story for a second. Ray and Dan were best friends growing up. When Ray was 14, he met Anne, and they were an exclusive item for 8 years. Dan met a girl (Brenda) when he was 18, and they were together for 4 years as well. One day, after 8 years, Ray left Anne for Brenda, his best friend’s girlfriend. Interesting side note, Ray and Brenda got married, they got their wedding rings tattooed on their fingers, and are now divorced… cant make this madness up I swear.

That is a bigtime example of the overall mindset. You could be with someone on Monday, and she’d be in your best friends bed on Tuesday. This behavior still exists with those people, and these days, even the ones that got married and had kids are now all (like almost 100%) divorced or split up, still hanging out at the shows and still banging everyone in sight.

So all that said, I went and found myself someone completely outside of this group, who was a Southern Christian on top of everything else. I rebelled against the norm of what I was surrounded by and instead, did my best to find stability… just like the desk job while the other musicians worked in Starbucks, etc… now the one thing to mention is this… I did not make it as a musician… but some of my friends did… the biggest of which were The Strokes. So it just goes to show, I played it safe and maybe if I didn’t I would be where they are… but in the end I’m sure everyone is happy where they ended up (well maybe not Ray & Brenda).

The point of all that is that leading up to SWG, I “had it all.” Good job, great girl, and living the dream, playing shows on drums & guitar. When I got my obsessive hands on SWG, it too served as stability in my life. The ridiculous hours I spent playing SWG kept me out of the bars, and I saved thousands of dollars (literally) while playing the game. If I wasn’t playing a show, at work, or in the practice studio, I was playing SWG.

Now that we got that out of the way, lets pick up the timeline where we left off. 10 days later, Jump to Lightspeed hit, and I didn’t even care. I was more concerned with Halo II, which came out on November 9th. Back when I lived next door with Zannex, I lived with his cousin, “Tobiasbrow.” Tobias’ brother Rukrem lived upstairs from us, Zannex brother Nosun lived upstairs from him, and we also had a few friends living on the block… so we dug out and placed underground LAN lines as far as 200 feet and basically had an entire block of people on an XBX LAN so we could play Halo together… at one point we had a “Dorian Cup” that included three tournaments and about 50+ people going from house to house to participate… so naturally, when Halo II was coming out and boasted true online play, we could all get back together and play Halo from the comfort of our own couches.

At the end of November, I got laid off at work. Instead of finding another job, I took my severance pay, and enrolled in the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC for 3D Animation. 3D was a childhood passion of mine that I pretty much forgot about until I was in my mid 20’s. So with the money, I bought a copy of 3D Studio and brought myself up to speed, doing my best to again find a career outside of finance. Around the same time (November 23rd to be exact), WoW launched, and almost all of GAT joined the Destromath server together. I did not buy the game, because I was still obviously grinding hours with my rl friends playing Halo II over XBOX Live every day.

Eventually, on January 10th, 2005, I bought World of Warcraft and subscribed for a free month. GAT was a month ahead of me, and Cerven had already started an exclusive guild with people he played Shadowbane with called “Masquers,” or <MQ>. <MQ> was only accepting people who were level 50, although there weren’t many of them as only the hardcore players were hitting 60 by the time I subscribed. Unable to join <MQ> (or at least not asking for favors), I joined the lowie GAT guild called Dinosaur Tea Party or <DTP>. Rumor has it it was between that name, and “Hug Police,” so it was good to see that GATer hijinx was still the foremost priority with these clowns.

While I played on Destromath, of course, my real life friends played on Dethacus, a different WoW server. This time around I was not about to split servers, so I stuck with GAT and soon hit 50 and switched over to Cerven’s guild to be with him and Suva (Elu Vagabond from SWG). It didn’t take long to hit 60, I completely powergamed and was raiding Molton Core just about as soon as <MQ> became able to attempt WoW first 40 man dungeon. As the months went by, I really enjoyed WoW but the end game (this was before battlegrounds were implemented) was incredibly monotonous. Raiding took its toll on me, and I was already facing burnout as April rolled around.

As my first time playing WoW was coming to a close, my stability factors were also moving into their twilight phases. After 4 years, my girlfriend and I called it quits. The plan all along was for her to move to NYC, and one day she decided that instead, she was going to move to Africa and “save” people in Liberia. While this was sudden, it wasn’t exactly a huge surprise… after all, I found this person because I wanted someone who was the opposite of everyone I knew… so when she did something so pure of heart, I had to just roll with it.

And of course, when we broke up, I fell right into the hookup madness of the NYC music scene, and believe me when I say it, I can fill another 10 entries just on the crazy nights playing shows and mornings waking up in different beds. I will say this much… two chicks at once ftw!

So there I was… no job, unemployment running out… burned through the $10k the bank gave me when I got laid off… and quickly came to the conclusion that even if I made it in 3D… the entry salaries weren’t enough to sustain the lifestyle that I had grown accustomed to. To add more instability, after a great run, the band broke up soon after April as well. My life went from plans with backup plans, to completely up in the air.

As all of this was happening, I was finally hit with an interesting wake up call. I was hooking up with this musician who did some modeling on the side, and finally, after weeks of deliberation, agreed to sleep over her place. The next morning, we were going to get breakfast, but I had to go home and take a quick shower and change my clothes. When I got out of the shower, I had a voicemail… the girl called me from a cab on the way to the airport… she was leaving for Italy. These were the kind of people I was dealing with… the second I gave in and slept over after weeks of her asking, she ran out of the country as fast as she could. Lucky for me I was able to drown my confusion into the other chicks I was fooling around with at the time. Let this be a lesson… variety is indeed the spice of life.

In the midst of my uncertainty, I read on GAT that a gigantic fix called the “Combat Upgrade” or “CU” was going to hit SWG on April 27th, 2005. On top of that, “Rage of the Wookees,” was going to hit just days after it. In my current real life universe of instability, this sounded like something that would level things off a little bit. SWG was a huge part of my stable life while I was playing it, and I really thought this would help re-usher those times back into my repertoire. The fact that I had never played JTL was even more of a reason to resub, as all that content would be there waiting for me as well.

After an absence of over 7 months… I decided to resubscribe to Star Wars Galaxies.

Rodd
Written by
As a kid I took quarters from my older brothers and played Double Dragon and Operation Wolf until the arcade closed. I sat with my best friends and played Wing Commander II until the sun came up. The way you could time a single bullet to hit an alien the second he appeared on the screen in Contra for Nintendo. The way the Sega Genesis would swirl you around that circular room in Strider. NHL 96 in my dorm room with the person I still talk to every day almost 20 years later. The almighty XBOX and the 200 foot LAN line we dug underground to play 16 man Halo tournaments before XBOX Live made it easy. How my roommate and I would lose full respect for one another if we got arrested in GTA instead of going out in a smear of wrecked cars and screaming pedestrians. The way my eyes burned when I played SWG for 60 hours a weekend. The community I thrived in, the friends I keep and the ones I lost on my way to this very post. Sitting behind my 4 year old son while he learns when to swing at an Octorok and when to block in The Legend of Zelda... the same as when my older brother sat behind me over 25 years ago doing the exact same thing in the exact same spot of the exact same game. Video games and the people I play and played with. These are the things that brought me here, and I hope they are the things that bring you back to GemtriX. Special thanks to ToddFlanders, The Franchise, Tobiasbrow & HumanSlob for never putting their controllers down. Dedicated to Caile Yhagai, who went on to explore that big MMO in the sky...

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14 Comments on "SWG: From Beta To Blunder – 59 & 59.5"

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Guest

Can’t wait for the rest, the suspense is killing me!

But really, thank you for sharing.

roddplaysgames
Guest

Thanks, I have a ton more, sorry I’m so slow!

Farelli
Guest

Absolutely epic story, Rodd. Makes me even more excited to be part of the SWGEmu project.

Can’t wait to read more of your story.

roddplaysgames
Guest

Thanks Farelli! I’ve got a ton more entries that got lost due to a tiny server mishap but I’m reposting over the next couple weeks!

Farelli
Guest

Excellent. Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen…

Farelli
Guest

I have to pull the posts from you. The crowd hungers for more. 😛

roddplaysgames
Guest

They are coming I swear, almost done converting them all!

Farelli
Guest

LOL, cool. 😀

Farelli
Guest

Almost time for another film release. The anticipation is killing me!

roddplaysgames
Guest

I just saw it… worth the wait 🙂

Farelli
Guest

Yeah, I saw it yesterday. The last 20 minutes were absolutely perfect.

Farelli
Guest

Still more we yearn, for the balance of the tale. We call to Rodd, to deliver our White Whale. 😀

roddplaysgames
Guest

Fair enough. On my honer I’ll get this finished!

Farelli
Guest

Heh. It’s cool. Just creating popular demand. 😀

wpDiscuz

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