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Star Galaxies Combat Upgrade: Your Say Pt. 3

Over the last few days we've been swamped with emails from our readers across the globe, so much so that I've decided to expand on our usual news reports for a full article dedicated to all of your points of view on this very important issue. Whether it be supporting the Combat Upgrade or against the changes made by Sony Online Entertainment, this is how you feel on the future of Star Wars Galaxies:

It's sad to see all the mindless venom that has been spewed around over this trivial issue. From reading the SWG forums, you'd swear that a book actually existed called "All I Ever Need to Know About Logic & Problem Solving, I Learned From the Jerry Springer Show" and that the anti-CU people were reading it droves. If you want the system changed, there are responsible ways to do it that besides shouting "**** SOE" in front of a star port. That just shows that even in the Star Wars universe, brainless trash exists. Its easy to stand up & say "I hate it". What you don't realize is that that is the logic of a 5 year old child. You could gain more credibility to your arguments if some of you learned respect as a child, which has become abundantly evident, that you haven't.

Some of the complaints that the anti-CU people have are complaints that I agree with, some maybe more than others. I don't know yet how I feel about the move towards a "Level-based" system from a 'Skill-based" system. That will be something that only time can tell how it'll work out. I also don't how it is going to work out if your entire ability to solo is going to be replaced by group activity. Again, we'll see.

However, I LOVE the idea that "buffs", as we know it, will not exist. That is the best news of it all. With all of the people that buff & the frequency of the buffs, why even have an 'unbuffed" mode. It does make you god-like & does give you the ability to solo a majority of the creatures & NPC in the game, with very few exceptions. The new weapons are awesome & the certifications for armor are great.

This issue has seemed to greatly divide the SWG community. It is almost unfathomable the levels of insults that anti-CU have thrown out towards SOE and the people who like the Combat Upgrade. On the Bria server, someone on Dantooine renamed their city "CU IS A BAD IDEA". There was also someone in the Mining Outpost on Dantooine spamming "Send me an email if you like the CU so that I can add you to my idiot list". SOE has gone to great lengths to build a new system (like it or not) to work with. For all that they do for us on a daily basis & the crap that they get put through over every decision that they make, they DESERVE more respect than some of the anti-CU people have shown them. Your parents should disown you for that crap. In my opinion, it was better to start over with a new system and keep repairing than the screwed up system that has been in play since day one. Teras Kasi Masters should have never had 'god-like" abilities in certain templates & I'm glad that that is getting torn down. Now the "tanks" are just like the rest of us now!!!!!

- Krowdrah Sideja (Bria Server)

I don't want to list bugs of old and new system, it's not need to understand the situation. What's happened to SWG is something nobody wished or at least not the majority. Let us see the SWG history.

Two years ago SOE gave us a game called SGW, we payed for it, and payed monthly to betatesting the game on live servers, yes because SWG when was in stores had lots of bug, had some profession doing nothing with code not yet written and lots of similar issue. But we stayed and played, At a certain point most of the code was running for all profession (apart Pistoleer, they never have written code to 80% of Pistoleer ability). Having worked in these 2 years to add, on the run, to the game the features the game should had from the beginning, with poor betatest, results in the game was not balanced... instead of work to correct these they gave to the community revamps (each one allowed the game to be more unbalanced) and new Expansion. Well they have never focused to correct bugs and balance problems (Pistoleer after 2 years is totally crap, same as beginning). Lastly at SOE had the idea to take the EQ2 code and translate it into SWG universe, then they have realized it was faster to adapt SWG to the EQ2 code.

What this means?
1) SOE had never keep in consideration their customers, as well as we pay and continue to play with all problems
2) SOE decided to cut costs performing an unification between EQ2 and SWG code.
3) SWG looks like a fantasy game, with state effects and moves similar to EQ2 / FFXI
4) Having to adapt SWG to the new coded, was clear the CU is not a CU as it afflicts every profession in the game, not only combatants.
5) SWG in a new game now, with less than 6 months development and less than one month betatesting.
6) This means SOE again will give us a totally bug game we have never bought (we asked to fix bug and balance the game which mainly consist in adjust variable parameters, not a new game), and we have to pay to betatest it for them.

They also have covered the playerbase is against CU at 80%
Isn't it ridicolous ?

- Alessandro Cerioni

One of my biggest problems with the CU is the total lack of disregard for the players that have a Jedi.

Jedi, in this game, must remain solo while they are leveling up.

Because if a PC/NPC is within 32m of them doing force moves/lightsaber, they will generate visibility.

Get enough, and some PC Bounty Hunter will attempt to kill you. Depending on your level of Jedi, anywhere from 20k to 230k of experience is lost.

Jedi is the only class in this game that will lose experience for death. So, since they are making this CU more “group” oriented then solo, Jedi will suffer.

The party line SOE is passing is that we should “hire” someone to group with us to help out with the tougher critters. Sorry, this just doesn’t cut it when the very people you group with will cause you to get killed by other players.

Toss in the fact they also did not allow everyone a chance to test their profession, and didn’t even allow all our Jedi testers the chance to test, This CU looks like a death blow to one of my favorite games.

- Bob Sunagel

What it boils down to for me is that after the CURB this will no longer be the game I purchased a week after it went live in the States (to be fair it hasn't been the same for some time, but at least it resembled it), it will no longer be the game I have paid hundreds of dollars to play for nearly the past two years, it will no longer be the game I love.

While I have often complained about the lack of quality customer service, I have always defended the devs, admired their work, and encouraged others to be patient and optimistic when dealing with the anxiety of coming changes from the devs. Either I was wrong in my optimism, or the money men are ignoring the devs and causing all this chaos by rushing the development process.

Logging into the various test centers over the last few days, playing various templates, has been like a slap in the face from Sony. I have a few characters on different servers, and not a single one of them (except for my master dancer/master musician) will be at all useful without changing them into completely different templates, and in a RP game this means they will no longer be the character they were, they will have to be played, and role-played, completely differently.

In other words, Sony is murdering my characters, and trying to justify it by saying "you can have a different character of the same level, and with the same name." So much for the concept of a persistant universe.

I have always been willing to beta test, on test center, where there have never been any guarantees of a persistent universe. Now no server has such promise. Sony has determined that we shall all beta test on the main galaxy servers, and pay them to do so. This is, quite simply stated, not cool.

Let us all hope that either Sony wakes up and abandons the CURB to focus on rebalancing the combat system which already exists (my preference), or some uber-cool dev leaks the old server code so that we can all flip the money men the bird as we play on pirate servers (but of course this would be against our EULA and against the dev's Non-disclosure agreement, [sarcasm]so clearly I must just be joking[/sarcasm]).
- MyzTekTraveler

I don't use the term Bait & Switch lightly here, but many feel that they didn't ask for changes to this degree and are forced to take them or leave the game they enjoyed. I think both sides are childish. I have played on Test Center and honestly it's not bad. Buggy, but not bad. That they will push this live in this state is a decision that really doesn't matte. The players is already alienated and has littlle good to say about how this was handled (even the ones who are staying like myself.) This is after all the Only Star Wars MMORPG. There is so much that is good in the game even post CU, it boggles my mind that SOE would not do any kind of damage control. They have some great ideas that with a little player input could be awesome! Sadly it appears no one can see the Emperors new clothes. And worse the Emperor doesn't care he's mooning the players.

Actaully the deleting of posts and publishing misleading information is their damage control. This is the first posting I have seen ouside of SOE controlled web space, that the cat has somehow gotten out of the bag.
- Rob A.y

I tried out SOE's "combat upgrade" I am a veteran player, a master doctor/master swordsman. Upon trying their combat upgrade, I honestly had no idea what I was doing. I dislike these changes every bit because I play odd hours, and tend to be a loner, and these lead me to believe that they're trying to force grouping, and I am VERY opposed to that. The game is fine, they need to just learn from their mistakes and make a new game, rather than "re-newb" everyone. I am almost a jedi padiwan, I've spent probably much of my time working at becoming a jedi. I don't want my experience in game being ruined because they suddenly feel they messed up. The game is what it is, don't change it because you think it will suddenly make more money.

They're totally going to ruin my playing experience.
- Mike HeXt

The problem with the CU is that it will severely impact the gaming experience of any non-combatant. It used to be that, with decent protection (buffs, armor) a non-combatant could go about their business - travelling to shops, dropping harvesters for resources, travelling to an Entertainer gig, and so on.

With the CU, any non-combatant (who has a Combat Level of 1) will get DESTROYED by any creature who is a few levels above them. Of course, most creatures and NPC's in the game are far above level 1, to allow combatants to have something to do.

This CU will make playing SWG as a non-combatant into a frustrating and very unrewarding experience. And nothing, not ONE thing, was done accomodate the non-combatant playstyle, a big draw for many SWG players.

We were told we should get friends/guildmates/hired help to escort us - but no "protection" function exists in the game. We were told that combat droids could be used by everyone, but combat droids do no good when travelling because they can't keep up with vehicles.

The post directing people to your site was deleted by the SWG forum Mods, by the way. The way this entire CU has been handled is just pathetic, given how desperately this needs to succeed so that SWG is a fun and challenging game again. Forcing your non-combatant players to die repeatedly because they're "useless" outside of cities in this game is the biggest mistake the SOE could have made with this supposed "Combat Upgrade" when really it would be more accurately called "Non-combat Downgrade."

From a veteran of the game for over a year, with 3 accounts, I give two thumbs down to SOE for their entire handling of this CU.

They have RUINED the game for non-combatants. I don't care if they intend to do anything to try and fix the situation at some later unspecified date. When someone pays a monthly subscription fee, one month, one week, even one day is too long to deal with a game that is not fun and fraught with frustrations.

Thank you for hearing us out and posting our many concerns about the direction SWG is headed. I think the CU will be the biggest mistake SOE has made yet. And the subscription count will reflect this. They very well may get a slight bounce in subscriptions in the short term from Episode III, but their apparent focus on a quick dollar will cost them veterans' subscriptions, and it's a shame. The CU should have been handled better, and I'm extremely disappointed to be typing these words when I hoped at this point I'd be excited over the CU. I am now skeptical, fearful, and frustrated about being stonewalled as a non-combatant.
- mike

Although there are many aspects of the CU that I am very much against, including the new ham system, the making us all 'generic' combatants, the horrific and gawdy icons and childish partical effects, and the destruction of professions such as entertainers, and doctors, not to mention the totally unnecessary dumbing down of a profession I have always greatly respected (and never managed to master lol ) AS, it is the completely baffling response or lack thereof from the developers to our concerns.
I have followed the forums almost since this CU went into test, and the players were posting legitimate concerns, politely and with the assumption the concerns would be addressed. We were after all , told that they wanted our feedback. Apparently they only wanted positive feedback that would support the lies they tell of the positive response to the CU in test.
It was only after it became obvious that we were being ignored, and our concerns not addressed at all did the forums become more indignant. And if the lack of response from the devs wasnt enough to upset people, the deleting of posts for no reason other than they contained dissatisfaction of the upcoming upgrade, the banning of ranters (ranting I supose being vocal in your dislike of the upcoming upgrade) and the developers seeming total lack of respect for our opinions and concerns was certainly enough to set people off.
As I write this email, my server, Ahazi, supposed to be back online 4 and a half hours ago is still down, surprise surprise. And though the developers dont seem to have the time to address legitimate concerns by an ever more angry player base, the CSRs still have plenty of time to run through the forums deleting 'dangerous' posts.
I am sorely dissapointed in the CU, I had hoped for a much different solution to the problems that the game has, but more than that I am totally disgusted at SOEs handling of the PR in this situation.
- Jane Friedrick

Regarding the article of April 26th, the sampling of responses is dead-on. It is true there is some support for what is being termed "Combat Downgrade", however Sony Online Entertainment seems to be taking the totalitarian approach to the dissenters. What is most troubling is no one has yet to hear what LucasArts has to say about this.

A few folks have taken the liberties to locate some phone numbers, addresses, and emails for LucasArts, however posting it in SOE's online forums results in the post deleted and the poster receiving a ban.

It is very true, the mechanics of the game have been dumbed down to a level on par with other popular MMORPG's, such as EverQuest, EverQuest II, and World of Warcraft. However, the changes to Galaxies commit the cardinal sin against the Star Wars canon by reducing the immersion level, and making it less 'Star Wars'. This fact alone should be opening eyes at LucasArts, but there has been no communication from them so far.

Much of the angst over the CU comes from the very people who have been long critical of SOE for not implementing it sooner. Last July, SOE announced that the CU (which was a hot topic then) would be delayed until after the release of the Jump to Lightspeed expansion. Public outcry was quite large, with many players canceling their accounts in protest, especially after the Jedi profession had just been the recipient of a large dedicated overhaul. Recalling Hayden Blackman's interview with IGN, he proclaimed that the majority of subscribers were "playing the game", and had no reservations about waiting longer for the promised CU. About the same time, Stratics.com's SWG site posted a poll, where some 24% of the 19,000 respondents announced intentions to cancel.

Not more than 2 months ago, the community was informed that the previous ideas for CU were being scrapped in favor of a 'better' system that would be easier to balance and implement. After 3 months of sandbox testing, and countless hours of work by the alpha-testers and correspondents, many had hopes that the bugs were being resolved and we would get a stellar product. What was unveiled with little advance warning was immediately recognizable as the EverQuest II interface and movement, combined with a strict level system (as opposed to the skill-based system), and a complete redesign of the game. All that remained were the static buildings, landscape and artwork. New 'magic' particle effects, new multi-colored icons, new movement, new keymap, and new con system sent many veteran players into shock.

The best responses form the community decry SOE for performing a redesign to the core game system, rather than balancing combat, professions, and weapons, as had been intended all along. To this end, SOE still has not given the player base any concrete reasons for why this was done, leaving the community speculating as to their intentions. Rumors floating abound of a new target audience, integrating development teams from SWG and EQII, and porting the game to PS2 and XBOX. Developers at the breakfast meeting last week could not and would not provide any data to support their claims, and made great exaggerations regarding the dissent.

It was announced to the players that the new Rage of the Wookies expansion, due to be released on May 5th, was coded for the new system. RotW just entered beta last week, meaning much of the coding had not yet been finished, and it's due to go live in one week. Problems are still abound on the 1st group of servers that have come up live after the CU, with numerous bugs being reported by the players, ranging from missing player cities, items missing, skills not converting, to players missing altogether.

On April 25th, the night before the 1st group of servers was to be taken offline for the CU patch, massive in-game protesting on Bria (and others) caused the login servers to become unresponsive, as well as bring the game to a crawl as literally hundreds, if not thousands of players converged on one location to protest. Players were warped to remote locations by SOE customer service, in an effort to break it up, then players were warned that if they did not leave immediately, their accounts would be banned. When players refused to leave, many were banned by SOE.

Since subscription data is not published by SOE for competitive reasons, one can only speculate on what the level of active subscriptions is. Estimates range from 80,000 to 250,000. No one knows for sure, but it's clear that a segment of those subscriptions will vanish over this implementation of the CU, just as it's clear they will garner a share of new subscriptions after the release of the EPIII movie later in May. The questions still remain to the average player - "why?", and where is LucasArts when we need them?
- Michael Ressen

----Continue to Part 2----
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