Tuesday, January 27, 2004, 11:18:14 PM (ScreenShot1305)
By January 27th, SWG was 7 months old, and I was up to my old server splitting tricks. I had tried to get some guys from Eclipse to roll on Tarq, and some guys on Tarq to roll on Eclipse with only minimal success. For a few weeks, there was a group of GATers who were grinding lowbies on Eclipse, and there was even a GAT Chat up for a little while, but the idea died out pretty fast. Meanwhile, on Tarq, GAT City was peaking, and we had just about as many people as we’d ever have join the city. As you can see in the screenshot, “deathmaker” seemed to be very pleased that I helped him find a community of lunatics to be a part of. I don’t even remember that guy, so it just goes to show that part of GAT City’s success rested on getting anyone we could to plop down a house so we could bolster numbers. In the end, we weren’t very picky concerning who got to live in the city, as long as they were Imperial.
Tuesday, January 27, 2004, 11:39:43 PM (ScreenShot1310)
A little while later, Varsha found himself hurling on his cookie cutter Composite Boots while Briann Wilson “treated us” to his typical spread eagle stylings before a Nightsister hunt. For lack of real end game content, we would generally pick a high level mob every night and farm it until something dropped. If the item was unusable by the people on the hunt, we’d see who in the city could use it, and if it was something no one really needed, then it went to the highest bidder on the trade forums. If nothing dropped (which was typical most nights), then I guess you can say that we had nothing to show for our troubles other then some funny stories. As far as PVE was concerned, this was “it.” There wasn’t much to do other then farm loot, and that fact can be added to the list of things that was pissing off the SWG community and giving people yet another reason to stop paying SOE.
Wednesday, January 28, 2004, 1:12:39 AM (ScreenShot1312)
The next night, was… the exact same thing as the night before it. And probably the night before that, and the one before that too. And if you went forward on the calendar instead of backwards… well, you’d probably find yourself in a set of high end Composite Armor made by Merrak and I, wielding a high end weapon made my Werrt, surrounded by a few guys that looked exactly like you, while you’re all easily pummeling a Nightsister that looked and acted exactly like the hundreds that you’ve been killing for as long as you can remember. Above all else, the repetitive loot farming in any MMO leads to burnout faster then any other factor from what I’ve seen. The game had been broke all along but nobody seemed to quit… but that’s because people had not burned through 100% of the content yet. By late January 2004, all the powergamers, and even most of the “one hour a night” type players had reached the endgame of SWG. But what was that end game? Like most MMO’s of its day, it was either organized PVP or loot whoring.
Friday, January 30, 2004, 1:13:05 AM (ScreenShot1316)
On Eclipse, I was at a total crossroads profession wise. Basically I had to either regrind Pistoleer, or try something else. Since I enjoyed being a Swordsman on Tarq, I figured I’d give Teras Kasi a shot with Vroflus. Florian had told me it was a lot of fun, and TKA’s were notoriously overpowered in PVP & PVE, so it was worth a shot. It was interesting having pets to supplement a melee grind, but I got the vibe early on that it was pointless to have AI tanks if I was a tank myself. Again, there was no chance that I was going to drop CH, so really, I was just looking for a change of pace. I wasn’t going to drop Ranger just yet, so I was just kind of giving myself a head start in the event that I did drop Ranger in favor of mastering another combat profession. Also, I was in no rush to get Vroflus back to an end game point, because I was becoming very bored with Rodd’s end game on Tarq, and I didn’t want to double up on that already repetitive experience.
Saturday, January 31, 2004, 3:40:03 AM (ScreenShot1321)
It was around this time that I really started playing around with the camera angles and screenshot possibilities. Really, there wasn’t much else to do for me. Rodd’s endgame was so monotonous, if I saw another Nightsister I was going to freak out. On Eclipse, the hologrind took pretty much all of <LOK> out of the equation, and in reality, I hadn’t had the chance to really get to know most of the guild other then the guys that I knew before they even joined it, other then a select few. So during my TKA grind, I would constantly find myself the victim of downtime while my HAM regenerated, which was more of a universal MMO phenomenon of the time and less of a SWG issue. While I was sitting around, I’d be spamming the print screen button, and screwing around with the graphic options, until I ended up with shots like this. I’ve got hundreds of shots that really have no story behind them, other than me just trying to create something interesting to look at. That said, honing the skill of nailing the “perfect screenshot” would soon start serve a very interesting function for me…
Sunday, February 01, 2004, 1:32:13 AM (ScreenShot1325)
Being able to construct ridiculously gigantic camps as a Ranger never hurt the screenshot process. You almost cant see me hidden behind the foliage, and its even harder to see to see “Rerun,” my Gurrek who’s located off to the right behind the giant pylon. I remember this night very clearly. I was sitting there, by myself, doing what it took to grind the camp XP, when some random guy ran into my camp. He was wearing the novice marksman clothes and had a CDEF rifle in his hands, so obviously I knew I had a noob on my hands. His name was “Vida Blue,” and even though I never saw him again, I still remember the name and the guy, even though I didn’t take a screenshot of him.
He told me that he saw my camp from almost 500m away, and at first just came over to see what it was. He was surprised to see me sitting in it, and he initially thought that I was an NPC. I startled the poor guy when I said hello, he actually thought the NPC was talking to him. Looking back, I should’ve played along and given him a mission or something… So he and I got to talking, and as I suspected, it was his first week playing the game. He seemed very excited, and as he spoke, I saw myself back in beta, before I ripped through the entire game in a few months. After our conversation was over, I wished him good luck, and added him to my friends list. We never spoke again, but I payed attention to when he logged on and off line. He played for about two and a half months, and I never saw his name again. Maybe he re-rolled, or maybe he joined a different server. I never got that vibe though. He stopped logging in around March 18th, 2004… the exact day that WoW’s beta went live.
Wednesday, February 04, 2004, 2:40:54 AM (ScreenShot1330)
While on Endor, I came across a field of Elite Flora Farms, and was reminded that crafters really do go to the end of the planets to get the resources they need to make quality goods for the community. It had been a little while since I was going through the motions on Tarq, as Merrak and I had the luxury of splitting Armorsmith responsibilities. I started to forget how grueling being a crafter was, and I also realized that I was taking for granted how interesting the SWG resource gathering dynamic really was. I hadn’t even seen an Elite Flora Farm before, or at least I never noticed them. But to think, someone had to find this location, place this harvester, and then come back and maintain the hopper… it was a reminder that there were a lot of interesting stories in the universe, even if I was starting to lose my grip on my own. Players would always be able to leave their marks thanks to the lot system that was built into SWG. It’s a shame, I would see these fundamental SWG implementations, and start to realize that the game’s current road to hell was indeed initially paved with good intentions.
Thursday, February 05, 2004, 9:53:25 PM (ScreenShot1331)
The next day, I learned that “the walk” to Purgatory was now a much shorter adventure. I simply took a shuttle from Nyms to a nearby city, and then used my Landspeeder the rest of the way… the total trip took about 10 minutes, a gigantic contrast from the hour plus walks of old. When I arrived, I feasted my eyes on “MEGABASE.” Initially referred to as “Operation Chinchilla,” this faction base conglomerate would forever cement <LOK> as “the” Rebel stronghold on the planet. The scope was huge, and we were all asked to pitch in. Everyone had to place a small house in a strategic location that was directed by the council.
Once all the houses were in place, the Mayor would then place things like streetlights to fill in the gaps. The bases were placed in the middle of the gigantic open space of houses, and they were constantly fed resources which would then spawn the top of the line NPC defenses. Mine fields and turrets were of course placed, and finally, there was only one way in or out, and you had to swim across a sulfur river to get to the entrance. MEGABASE was the most imposing faction installations that I had ever seen, and it stood for a very long time indeed. It was however a source of stress on the guild, as only a few were really responsible for planning, putting it together, and the upkeep. The rest of the guild, including Purgatori, who had recently returned to the game, were all busy grinding their holos, and this fact would cause rifts that would not soon be mended.
Monday, February 09, 2004, 12:56:26 AM (ScreenShot1336)
Pushing mid February, there were still, even for me, wondrous places that I had never seen. The Agrilat Crystal Swamp on Corillia was one of the most interesting locations in the entire galaxy. Later on I learned that there was actually a swoop racetrack somewhere deep in the swamp itself, but I don’t think I ever spent the time to see for myself. Like most of the community, I was losing faith. Things just didn’t feel “right” anymore, and I was starting to question how things would end. For me, things like this swamp would pull me back to the old days of adventure and excitement. It became easy for people to quit SWG, and most would never even remotely consider resubbing… but it was the art of the galaxy that would always beckon me back to SOE’s monstrous concoction. For all its flaws, I was always won over by scenes like this. No matter how the devs pissed me off, I’d find it hard to put more weight on the game’s failures because at the same time I was so impressed with the way it looked.