Saturday, June 7, 2003 – 4:31AM (ScreenShot0000). My first ever SWG Beta Screeny…
After years of posting on the SWG Development boards, after waiting all night for a “buddy key,” I was in game. I was so excited, I didn’t know what to do first. So I did what any fledgling adventurer who’s never played an MMO before would do: I ran into the woods as fast as burstrun would take me. The trees blurred as Narmle faded from my periphery. I ran and ran until something out of place appeared on my minimap.
As I crept closer, I was surprised to find a decent sized installation. I didn’t know that there would be structures like that in the woods… and I also didn’t know that a Twi’lek was running around the corner of the base, no doubt looking to give me a “hero’s welcome,” into the Azahi Galaxy. As the blaster fire screamed past where my ears would be (if I were human), I quickly got the hint that I was somewhat of an unwanted guest in these parts. Would this be my first “corpse run?”
Saturday, June 7, 2003 – 4:34AM (ScreenShot0003)
A Novice Scout camp & a CDEF Rifle… man those were the days. After narrowly escaping my first corpse run, I managed to bring down a few critters, accruing enough hide & bone to build my first camp. One second I was a bloody mess, the next, lounging on a lawn chair that I personally built. And it was really there too! It was a fully functional camp and I put it there. I made something out of nothing. If someone walked by, they’d see it. They could interact with it. And it’d give ME XP! I had an overwhelming thought in my head that kept saying “I picked the right profession for sure.”
Saturday, June 7, 2003 – 11:41PM (ScreenShot0006)
The Galaxy wasn’t all solo camps and green pastures as I soon found out. I made my way to Tatooine, bought a few pieces of brand spanking new Bone Armor off the Bazaar, and ran out into the… well, into the darkness really. This place wasn’t like Rori, and I thought that was just cool in itself. Even the music was different. As I made my way up and down the sandy hills, I eventually observed something on my minimap that I didn’t recall seeing prior to that moment… other people!
I ran as fast as my blue webbed feet could sift through the sand. As I got closer I saw two sets of blaster fire heading towards something big… really big… Bantha big! Was there some kind of etiquette with this type of thing? Could I just join in the fray? Did they need my help? Would I be stealing XP? Who cares, this was awesome! So I pulled out my rifle and invited them both to a group… my first ever group in SWG beta.
Saturday, June 7, 2003 – 11:43PM (ScreenShot0008)
We spent a few hours together, hunting, harvesting, and just sitting around talking. This was so much different then my time on Rori. Being part of a group was clearly going to be the way I would spend much of my time. Everything about it felt right. This was back in a time when running into anyone at all was a pleasant surprise. Everyone was helpful and friendly, but with character wipes looming at all times, we just hoped to have 5 more minutes to do anything at all. I remember adding just about anyone to my friends list in hopes that the next time I logged on, I could rally the troops and do something bigger and better.
Monday, June 9, 2003 – 1:07AM (ScreenShot0018)
Two days later, and I was already deeply in love. Star Wars, what kid wasn’t raised on the stuff? The game was broke, but in a strange way, that was part of the charm. Besides, this was beta, right? The only thing that really killed was the dreaded server disconnect. It was like being starved, and someone yanking your favorite food out of your hands. The good news was I finally met a medic! “Rowa” had his **** together for sure. He was a veteran MMO player who usually rolled a healer (he played with a group called “Transcendents” that jumped from MMO to MMO http://forum.transcendents.org/index.php)…
At any rate, this was my first taste of cohesion. I remember thanking him every single time he healed me. He was smooth, kept himself out of trouble, and led the group perfectly. I almost dropped Scout for Squad Leader because I was so into the idea of leading groups thanks to this little Bothans influence.
Monday, June 9, 2003 – 7:30PM (ScreenShot0019)
Zannex, my real life next door neighbor, hooked up the buddy key. He and I built computers just to play SWG. We surfed the official boards for years, so naturally we were more excited for this then we were about anything else in the world. His dream was to one day become a Droid Engineer, so when he picked Artisan as a starting profession, he became by default the first crafter I had ever known. Prior to taking the above screenshot, he had told me to come quickly as he had just built his first extractor and placed it near… get ready for this… his HOUSE! At first I questioned his choice to be a crafter, but soon he was able to weave clothing, build interesting installations, cook food… you name it and it seemed like he was making it. He also made me the missing pieces for my bone armor set, so I started to think twice about crafters all together.
Wednesday June 11, 2003 – 12:11AM (ScreenShot0028)
Rowa & his fellow “Trans” Weema were down for adventure every time I logged in. We picked up a straggler, and headed for the hills of Rori. In a land before swoops, or even mounts, it could take hours to get from one place to another. “Splitting Aggro” was a term I coined to describe the act of running between hostile mobs without gaining any unwanted attention. With my scout modifiers, the team elected me to take point. It was my responsibility to get us through groups of creatures that could easily chop us up. No one wanted to risk a corpse run, it meant losing valuable XP while the group pushed on without you. “Rezing” was a long ways off, I didn’t see anyone do that until well after the launch of SWG.
Wednesday June 11, 2003 – 12:15AM (ScreenShot0031)
Clad in bone armor (the only armor even invented at the time) we learned the in’s and out’s of SWG’s combat system together. We learned how to pull one target at a time, and also learned to only have one person from the group pull. We especially learned to quickly pull aggro off the medic. A night that was born in chaos matured into cohesion. We mowed down Tortons like they were Chubas. At the end of the hunt we were all capped on the XP that we needed. We logged out as a group, and the next time I logged in, I built my house on Rori, right behind Zannex’s place.
Friday, June 13 2003 – 1:57PM (ScreenShot0044)
Home sweet home… for about a day I think. I’m pretty sure one of the character wipes happened just days after I placed that small generic house on Rori. But still, there was a feeling of finality about it. I staked a claim of sorts, like that scout camp just days prior… except this time, it would be there every single time I logged in. A place to hide my treasures, a place to rendezvous with friends, a place to hide out, and a place call my own.
Friday, June 13 2003 – 2:15PM (ScreenShot0047)
I started to understand things better. I was confident that I could lead a group into a fight. /tells were coming in from strangers, “we can use a scout, wanna group,” that sort of thing. Rumors of places like “Lok,” where the XP was supposedly big, had begun to pique my interest. I attempted to travel to Lok via Naboo, but Theeds Starport wasn’t working (it was letting people arrive, but not depart). Major problem, stranded on Naboo… or was I? I overheard a group of guys talking about “running to one of the other cities” to catch a ride off Naboo. That sounded like a plan and a half to me. By chance I ended up being group leader, and soon we embarked on a cross continental voyage from Theed to Keren.
Friday, June 13 2003 – 2:15PM (ScreenShot0051)
Doesn’t sound like that big of a deal now, but then… well lets just say that there were no things like “player cities” to break up the mob spawns. None of us had broken out of the “novice” combat boxes, and things like Greater Shaupauts could wipe our whole group easily. The thing is, when given the choice of waiting around for the devs to fix the Starport, or seeing what was between Theed & Keren… well obviously there wasn’t much of a choice involved.
In a straight line, we made our best attempt to snake our way through spawns, only fighting when we had to. There was pretty much no chance of the six of us doing any damage on Naboo anyway. The goal was to get to Lok, then try to squeeze into a 20-man group, and get bigtime XP… or so the rumor went. Hours later, either the grass up to our belts or having sloshed through rivers… we eventually made it to Keren intact. We immediately caught the first boat to Lok… but when we arrived there were only two of us… the other guys couldn’t afford their tickets. Just goes to show how broke everyone was back in beta.
Friday, June 13 2003 – 4:12PM (ScreenShot0052)
Lok. It was like Tatooine, but something much more menacing. I stepped off the “boat” as we jokingly called it, and for the first time heard the droning theme song to a planet unlike any other. “This is where I’ll build my home at launch,” was the very first thought I had. A mess of people were on my radar behind the Starport, so I ran over the hill and got absorbed into a group of almost 20 people. The rumors were true, this was where the action was.
At first glance I knew I was in over my head. What I learned was Chitin, Mabari & Ubese armor made me feel self conscious. My rusty bone armor was starting to look obsolete. Turning my attention elsewhere, I observed the group leader, “Rock Forehead,” who seemed easy going but completely respected. He told all of us wanna-be CH’s that there were “no harvest rules,” which meant that we needed to basically be quick to harvest when a mob dropped or we wouldn’t be harvesting at all.
And that was it. Rock moved, the group moved with him, and I was just trying to keep up. We made our way over a hill, and before I even made it to the top, I heard the blaster fire. When I finally got into range, I saw a slew of group members in a pile, with giant elephant looking creatures right on top of them. The ranged players were lined up to my right, but I couldn’t see that as being a smart move. Once the “Snorbal” died, I wouldn’t be close enough to harvest. So I took my chances, and ran into the mess of swinging staffs & swords. We cleared a few spawns, and then the **** went down for real.
Friday, June 13 2003 – 4:31PM (ScreenShot0054)
“A Giant Dune Kimogila.” WHAT? Okay remember when I said I was getting close to the action so I could harvest… well this was certainly NOT one of those times. The ground was shaking, people were all talking at once, at first it seemed like total chaos… until I saw Rock. There he was, his actions focused and his motions deliberate. I wished Rowa were here to meet this guy. He seemed very sure of what his group was capable of. This Kimo thing was one hit DBing player after player, but Rock just kept telling us what to do, and we listened. In the end, in a giant crash, even the mighty Giant Dune Kimo is no match for a lowbie group of 20 players… if they act like a unit. And this group was a unit, because Rock made it that way.
Friday, June 13 2003 – 4:57PM (ScreenShot0062)
Hell we even swam like a unit. Rock just had that effect on everyone. He wasn’t frantic, he wasn’t screaming in caps, he usually wouldn’t even say anything. He would just say “here we go,” and we’d just go with um. We ran around Lok looking for trouble all day long. When Rock logged out I added him to my friends list, but the group charged on. One of the other members, “Noxs Denosis,” took over the lead. Noxs had a few more ground rules then Rock did, but in the end he was a good leader as well. We all capped on XP yet again, and I was getting close to having all the pre-requisites to become a Novice CH.
I spent all weekend on Lok. I grouped with Noxs & Rock as much as I could, and I felt like we were becoming good friends. Late Sunday night, I found myself on my way to Endor, and I gave everyone I knew a /tell to come along. The result was a well rounded group. I had Rowa & Weema, the “Trans” guys I met on Rori, as well as Rock Forehead & Noxs Denosis and some other guys we met when we got there.
Monday, June 16 2003 – 1:43AM (ScreenShot0093)
Master Squad Leader. In the beta world, Rock Forehead was the man, plain and simple. I don’t know why the guy enjoyed my company, but thankfully he did, cause man did he pull me out of trouble time and time again. And I suppose it was Noxs job to get me back into trouble, and so the cycle continued. Good thing we had Rowa to heal our stupid asses all over Endor. We covered as much ground as possible, walked with the Ewoks in the treetop village, you know the deal. The servers went down for a few days, and when they came back up that Thursday… our characters were gone. Good thing I took the AIM names of some of the guys, or I’d of lost um for good…