Another year of Star Wars Galaxies is coming to a close, and what a year it's been. Controversy, drastic changes, both welcome and un-welcome media attention and, among other things, two expansion packs to compliment the release of Episode III. Now, for the final word of the year, here's LucasArts on the updates that we will see to close 2005, and open 2006:
As we are sure you have noticed, Star Wars Galaxies has been getting a lot of attention in the press lately. We just wanted to send out a quick e-mail blast before the holiday to provide some information regarding some topics that have come-up in recent articles, features, reports, and other pieces, as well as share some of the recent updates and fixes and exciting new upcoming content and features!
THE GALAXY REMAINS STRONG
Today, 80% of active players in Galaxies are veterans who were in the game prior to the new game enhancements (NGE). It’s true that many players reacted to the new direction of the game by clicking cancel in the days immediately following the NGE announcement and in fact, our unique usage dropped by 10%. The NGE has now been live for five weeks, the cancel rate has returned to average levels, and we’re seeing many former players return to the game and over 100,000 new players join Galaxies through the 10-Day Trial. Additionally, the third expansion pack, Trials of Obi-Wan, released November 1 is being enjoyed by tens of thousands of veteran Galaxies players.
UPCOMING NEW CONTENT, FEATURES, AND ITEMS!
New Weapons Systems
New heavy weapons system including new features for weapons like the Flame Thrower, Acid Rifle, Launcher Pistol, Rocket Launcher all of which can be used without having to identify a specific target but used across an area.
New stealth and trapping abilities for Smuggler, Spy and Jedi
§ Spy's stealth high level abilities are being changed to give them almost infinite stealth abilities.
§ Smuggler will be granted the "Hide" ability. This will work similar to the Spy's Smoke Grenade in that you can't move or attack while using this ability to evade an enemy.
§ Jedi will be granted the "Force Cloak" ability.
§ Adding player traps & trap triggers into the game.
§ Introducing the concept of hiding & detecting traps as well as detecting hidden players.
§ Triggers are being added to the game and there will be two kinds that you can use to set off traps against your enemies:
o Remote trigger: This allows you detonate a single trap or mine from a distance.
o Timer trigger: This allows you to set a variable timer to detonate the trap or mine.
o Spies, Bounty Hunters & Commandos will be able to hide their traps from view - nobody will be able to see the traps.
New Jedi-Specific Abilities & Feature
New Jedi abilities that strengthen the Jedi combat tactics including the “Jedi Mind Trick”.
§ Strikes and Sweeps
Adding new sweep attacks that are similar to Strikes. Sweeps work exactly like strikes, but they will be 360 degree attacks. Strikes and Sweeps will require a Lightsaber or melee weapon to use.
§ Focus Buffs
Jedi will be getting 3 new offensive buffs to complete the power progression through level 90. This will give Jedi increased damage (including melee) up through mid and high levels.
§ Force Throw
Force Throw will be changed so that it is now a single ability that can be used with any Lightsaber or melee weapon.
§ Jedi Stances
The Jedi stances are all being unified into one group of abilities that will all deliver strong defensive buffs. For example at level 22, Jedi will get an ability that will give them an immunity to Poison effects for the duration of the stance and cure any poisons that the character may have been suffering from. Another stance comes at level 54 which adds an additional chance to block or dodge incoming attacks. There are additional stance surprises up through level 90!
§ Force Lightning
We have reduced the activation and cool-down timers to this group of abilities.
§ Force Run
Terrain Negotiation will be added as a bonus to this ability.
§ Self Heals
We have added another self-heal at level 14 so Jedi will have a complete ability progression.
§ Force Chokes
Force Choke will be changed so that it uses the range of the special ability and doesn't rely on the range of an equipped weapon.
§ Jedi Mind Tricks
Rounding out this list of changes to Jedi Abilities is the addition of Jedi Mind Tricks! This exciting and iconic new ability can be used to reduce the Strength and Precision of enemy NPCs, creatures and players. By using the Jedi Mind trick, a Jedi will be able to escape NPC's and Creatures with a wave of their hand. NPC's and Creatures will lose all interest in attacking the Jedi so he can "move along". At higher levels, this ability will affect all NPC's and Creatures in an area!
§ Jedi-Specific Tool Tips
A lot of Jedi abilities have different sorts of restrictions, so with that in mind we will be including all of these details in the tool tip for each of the Jedi abilities, the effects and the restrictions are clear and easy to understand.
FIXES, ADDITIONS, AND IMPROVEMENTS
As with the introduction of changes of this magnitude, there were several bugs and issues present at the launch of the New Game Enhancements. However, in the past month, the development team has successfully resolved the following issues mainly in response to player feedback, as well as with the help of quality assurance and customer support teams:
Mouse-Only Play Feature
Our new fast-action combat control scheme inadvertently presented a hardship for some players without the use of both hands. For this reason we introduced mouse-only play which allows all movements and abilities to be controlled through the mouse exclusively. This feature is currently available in the game and can be accessed through the options menu. Mouse-only play was implemented around the Thanksgiving holiday, mainly intended for those players only capable of one-handed play.
How to enable Mouse-Only Play:
1. Open your Options menu (press "O").
2. Click the button that says, "Keymap".
3. On the bottom half of the Keymap window, you will see a list of options.
4. Check the boxes that say:
o "Middle mouse drives movement" and
o "Scroll through default actions with mouse."
5. Click the button that says, "Apply" and then "Ok".
Now your mouse-only play feature will be enabled!
Here's how it works:
1. Left click is still used to fire your weapon.
2. Right click is still used to trigger your specials.
3. The middle mouse wheel will scroll through the abilities on your toolbar.
4. Holding down the middle mouse button will move you in the direction that you are facing.
5. You can use the "+" and "-" keys to control your camera zoom.
§ Targeting through friendlies (anyone you are not attacking) you can now target through them even if they are in your direct path.
§ Experience Points for quests up to level 20 have been increased.
§ Now you will earn ground combat XP while fighting in space.
o Players with characters who have combat professions can earn ground combat XP while playing in space. Example: A kill in space earns you 400XP in space and also 400XP towards your ground profession.
§ Improvements to the targeting system making it easier to target enemies that are moving.
o Melee attacks will hit more frequently against moving creatures and NPCs.
o Melee combat speed for “respec'd” characters should be improved.
§ Added Jedi Robe armor.
o Added various new Jedi Robes to provide Protection from levels 40-80
§ Greatly improved server stability and performance and reduced over-spawing issues.
§ Multiple characters per server – all active accounts may have two characters per server up to 8 total characters.
§ Added the ability to play strictly with a mouse (one-handed control scheme), using the left mouse button for combat moves and the right mouse button to initiate special abilities. Moving can be accomplished by holding down the center button of the mouse.
§ Creatures from levels 80 - 90 have been added to Yavin 4, Endor, Dathomir and Dantooine.
§ Added new Jedi powers including the Jedi Mind Trick (see specific list below).
§ Significantly increased the power of Officer.
o Officer abilities Paint Target, Called Shot & Fix Target now show a targeting visual effect on the de-buffed enemy while the buff is in effect.
§ Increased the duration of the Spy stealth abilities
o Spy's can now get closer to other creatures before the special ability Sneak "breaks" and they are revealed.
o The Spy's sneak & smoke grenade abilities now take the "Camouflage" skill modifier into account when determining the size of the bubble that determines how close you have to get to another NPC/creature before stealth breaks.
§ Improving lag
o Extensive server optimizations have been made to help reduce lag players have been experiencing.
§ More content for high-level players in the core game, not just Trials of Obi-Wan.
o We have placed additional high-level spawns on Yavin 4, Endor, Dathomir and Dantooine.
§ More profession differentiation
o We are beginning the introduction of more specialization and differentiation with heavy weapons, stealth, new Officer abilities, the addition of traps and triggers, and new Jedi abilities all added in Publish 27. We will continue evaluating further elements to help drive more specialization and differentiation within the professions.
All of the fixes listed above are scheduled to be implemented into the live game (if they have not already) in Publish 27, which is scheduled to go live in late-January 2006. Please note, we reserve the right to adjust the timing of any publish into the live game as needed with notice. For more information, please visit the Star Wars Galaxies community and news site at: http://starwarsgalaxies.station.sony.com/players/.
In the final analysis, bringing our game more into alignment with the adventure and excitement of the movies is the right decision for a game named Star Wars Galaxies. We are working hard to respond to the concerns of the current veteran player base and eliminate unintended bugs, but it may take some time.
With all the above in mind, we want you the faithful readership to tell us what you want to see in the wide world of Star Wars Galaxies for 2006 and beyond. Send an email our way and let us know what you think. In the meantime, Merry Christmas to all, and a happy New Year of gaming.
UPDATE: We've had a few emails from readers questioning the above piece. We'd like to mention that all of the above, save our own additions, are LucasArts' only.
It's safe to say that there are divided opinions on the game, both from a development perspective and that of the fan base. Over the last year we have left the floor open for both sides to discuss the issue, while our own staff opinions have graced various news posts.
Stay tuned to TFN, as we shall dig deeper into the heart of the issue and uncover as much as we possibly can. Call it our mission for the year...