Monday, February 16, 2004, 1:22:12 AM (ScreenShot1354)
I believe as time went on, I observed that my most common theme concerning the game itself was that it was broken, but for me personally, the graphics kept me memorized. By mid February 2004, I took a screenshot that captured exactly how I felt. I had finally gotten to the point where my TKA skills (and really good buffs) would allow me to grind Biz Natches nests on Dathomir. As we learned in previous entries, the nests themselves were given a massive amount of hit points during the nest exploit “fix,” a few months prior.
This obviously meant that a lowbie TKA would spend a good 5+ minutes kicking and punching relentlessly until the nest finally exploded. This felt like a total exercise in inefficiency, and reinforced to me that the devs had screwed up the exploit fix for sure. And what came out of this experience? Arguably, one of the best screenshots to ever come out of SWG in my eyes. That was my double edged sword. Most people balanced the seesaw of “broken game vs. community,” and I of course fell into that category as well… but on a more personal level, my obsessive screenshotting became a quest. It was my reason for still, after all these months, racing home from work to log in. It was my reason for not wanting to abandon the game like so many others were starting to do. As my friends started quitting, and as the “cartoony” WoW beta was looming, I was hellbent on producing a quality of screenshot that in itself could tell a story of the wonders of the intellectual property that SOE was not capitalizing on.
What was really happening on Monday, February 16, 2004, at 1:22:12 AM? I had 20 specials queued up, and I was bored off my ****ing ass just sitting there waiting to queue up 20 more and 20 more after that… monotonously chipping away at the HAM of an inanimate pile of rocks. So I spun the camera, and zoomed in, and zoomed out, and spun it again and again until I found this one angle that I found to be perfect. This was nothing new to me… this was the 1,354th screenshot I had taken, and that’s not even including all the shots from beta. So with a little effort, I forever captured what it looks like when in the middle of the night, a budding Teras Kasi Artist practices his skills on a pile of rocks in the most murky depths of Dathomir. The game was fuber by almost all accounts… but if I showed this to you then, or if I show it to you now… as a non player, would you not think this looks like one of the coolest games of all time?
This idea would really take over for me as time went on. Eventually, I’d be doing this, and only this, for years. I have over 3000 screenshots, and so many of them have very interesting stories behind them… but chronologically, we’ll be left with screenshots that no longer provide specific stories. They will have one common theme, and that theme was personal to me: “The game was broken to play, but from a certain angle, it was perfect to look at.”
Saturday, March 13, 2004, 10:27:21 PM (ScreenShot1366)
While Vroflus was toying with Teras Kasi on Eclipse, I had Rodd running the Imperial Theme Park on Tarq. Almost a month had gone by, and I had been very busy in real life. At the time I was in a long distance relationship, so I went to Atlanta for a week, and then she came back to NY with me for another week on top of it… plus, I was in multiple bands that were all playing shows around the NYC area, so I was pretty overwhelmed with real life stuff. For the first time since I got my beta buddy key, I was not obsessively playing SWG. I started to see both servers through a casual players eyes, and had a tough time adjusting. I liked being a guy who could be counted on at all times, and having felt like I abandoned my Eclipsian friends, I at least wanted to be one of the guys that would always keep GAT City running on Tarq. I would find out that it’s not easy to help run a city when you’re not around for a few weeks…
Monday, March 15, 2004, 7:51:23 PM (ScreenShot1375)
While hammering out the tail end of the Imperial Theme Park, I let Vader know that things in GAT land were a little ****ed up. It seemed that in my absence, all hell broke loose, and Varsha, who either somehow had admin to the guild hall, or logged Cerven’s toon in, disbanded <HATED>. The entire city was thrown into controversy. Jagermeister ended up getting into a relationship with that girl that he banged (see Entry #34) and became casual, and then quit once he got into WoW beta. Cerven and I were AFK for a few weeks, and this left the rest of the city to argue on how Varsha ****ed our **** up, and how it was going to be fixed. Recruiting players to the guild and therefore the city was halted, and it really never started up once order was restored. When I logged in and saw the guild chat was gone, and <HATED> was no longer next to my name, I needed to get to the bottom of it… and of course, it wasn’t going to be hard to figure out what happened because I immediately received 20 /tells in 5 minutes from a very pissed off GAT City.
Monday, March 15, 2004, 8:11:20 PM (ScreenShot1377)
Being unguided was a shock, and a mess, but it didn’t stop guys like Werrt from continuing with business as usual. During the guild drama, he shied away from dealing with the multiple arguments, and instead churned out the best batch of scythes he’d ever create. In the middle of the /tell hell I was in, one of them said “nevermind that ****, you’ve gotta come see this.” When Werrt said something like that, it meant one thing and one thing only… I was getting an awesome free weapon. I dropped the themepark and swooped to his location, and sure enough, the second I stored the bike I got a /trade invite. This thing was epic, and after Neesa sliced it and I gave it a powerup, it was completely off the charts. Unlike my trusty Power Hammer, it applied Kenetic damage instead of Blast damage, so it was a useful one-two punch as a swordsman to have both.
Tuesday, March 16, 2004, 7:08:59 PM (ScreenShot1385)
The next day, the Tarq guild drama would have to wait… the devs had patched the game, and finally, after a good portion of a year, Homer would be converted into my mount. I never understood why Cu’ Pa’s were not the very first mounts implemented into SWG considering that they were identical to the Taun Tauns from Episode V, obviously the most well known mounts in the Star Wars movies to date. Either way, it was finally a reality. I had tamed Homer the day I became a Novice CH, and he was with me for every single adventure thereafter. Of all the landmarks in my memory, this moment was one of the most important to me. This was the way that things were supposed to be for Homer and I, so I was very happy that the day had finally come.
I’m also sporting my camo outfit that was specially crafted for me by a Tailor… it had the maximum +taming and +maskscent modifiers, and it would go on to be my trademark outfit for years to come. I avoided much aggro, and tamed many a vicious creature while wearing those handmade clothes…
Tuesday, March 16, 2004, 9:24:47 PM (ScreenShot1388)
Later that night, I jumped over to Tarq to deal with the <HATED> fiasco. I liked Varsha, but this type of **** was completely unjustified as it affected the entire city. I didn’t really care what his problem was, and I simply told him “<HATED> wasn’t yours to disband.” The conversation went on for a while and I just reiterated the point that no one person was going to pull the plug on one of the most well known Imperial guilds on the server. I demanded the guild hall, and I demanded it immediately. He reluctantly agreed, and I got Jager to actually log in, possibly for the last time ever, to drop the hall in the exact same spot that it was in. After a long conversation, we determined that the hall would need to be moved over to my lots, because with Jager quitting for WoW’s beta, he would not be able to take care of any of the administrative tasks related to owning the guild hall. The good news was that Dank, a GATer who played back in the Talus days before I joined Tarq, resubbed with renewed vigor. He not only brought his character “Daynk” back, but he took over Jagermeisters account, so although the person behind the toon was gone, the Rebels still were on the receiving end of a solid daily dose of Jagers pistol fire. When he quit for good in 2008, Daynk’s “new” Jagermeister would end up being the last surviving GATer that actively played on Tarquinas.
Tuesday, March 16, 2004, 9:35:30 PM (ScreenShot1391)
One by one, Jagermeister reinvited the displaced members of the guild… but the damage had been done. <HATED> was never the same again. A spinoff guild dubbed <LOVED> was formed, and at least 30% of the former guild ended up over there. <LOVED> was for the <HATED> members that did not have PVP builds, and players would go back and forth, but no matter how GAT City viewed it internally, <HATED> was still smaller. On top of that, <EC> actually absorbed a few GATers before we had the chance to rebuild <HATED>, and no one was going to make a stink because everyone was on very good terms with Merrak and the other <EC> guys.
The true big “hit” that the city itself took was that Dwr & Batou left GAT City and moved their houses to Dantooine. Their original idea was to make a <HATED> branch that they would control themselves, which I personally was fine with, but they soon ended up disbanding from us and forming a new guild. They would actually outlast GAT City, and some of the refugees upon GAT’s collapse would end up joining them as well. Although we had <HATED> which included over 50% of GAT City, <LOVED> which had another 30% or so, <EC> with around 20%, and Dwr & Batou gone all together, we all still used GAT Chat, so in essence, no matter where we were, we were communicating all in one spot. Guilds didn’t matter, it was about being a GATer, and when GAT needed help, all factions would always answer the call until the very end of GAT’s time on Tarquinas.
Thursday, March 18, 2004, 1:00:38 AM (ScreenShot1396)
March 18th 2004 was one day in SWG history that I will never forget. One reason was that the “Geo Caves,” which was what pretty much everyone considered SWG’s first “real” dungeon was patched into the game and visited by GAT for the first time. The other reason, was that to the best of my memory, this was the day that the World of Warcraft Beta first went live. There is no possible way that anyone can remotely argue that anything left of the true original SWG community was not broadly impacted by WoW’s beta. The WoW beta started out like all betas, tiny, with a select amount of people given access to help test the game. Over the next 8 months, the WoW beta would slowely let more and more people in until it launched on November 23, 2004… and that launch, unlike SWG’s, was not a complete cluster**** that lasted weeks and months… it launched, and was perfectly playable.
The fact that I’m showing you a screenshot of something I had never seen before, the Acklay, but talking about some other game all together, mimics the exact feelings that so many SWG players would have over the next 8 months. I could be talking about how I gave a /tell to Merrak saying “Ninja,” indicating that we needed the Acklay’s Armorsmith loot no matter who else was in the room… or I could be mentioning that I was talking to “Eld,” who was Cervens alt… I could be talking about the bugged HUD that shows Werrt out of range although he was only 1m away from me… but I’m not talking about any of that, because once WoW beta hit, all eyes started to shift. The early reports were all beaming, but they were few and far between because the beta testers were under EULA and were not allowed to talk… but the leaks were all completely glowing endorsements. As time went on, and more people started talking about their WoW beta experiences, the ugly truth caught fire on the SWG forums… “WoW’s beta is more stable, and less buggy, then SWG is.” A couple of months later a few GATers would get into the WoW beta, and they unanimously confirmed the rumors… Blizzard had a better coded beta in WoW than SOE’s nine month old ****show called SWG.
Thursday, March 18, 2004, 1:01:00 AM (ScreenShot1397)
I stood there, literally hacking away at this high end content, something that the players had been begging for… but the real “content” was the information in GAT Chat and the reaction to it. The general GAT reaction to WoW was immediate, and practically universal. The second most of GAT got into WoW beta, they planned to cancel their SWG accounts. It was completely overwhelming… a good 85% of the city was actually relieved that this day had come. SWG was no long a game they were playing, but a ****ty experience that they felt shackled to. Players had been cynical and angry for months, but now they were just completely finished with SWG all together.
So there I was… disenfranchised myself, but personally not really buying into WoW either. I looked ahead and wondered if the SWG community, the one thing that everyone agreed was the best part of the game, was poised to crumble. If GATers were any indication of the entire games population, then we were clearly headed for an exodus. I wondered about all my time invested, and what it really meant in the end. If all my friends quit, if I had no community… would I want to continue without them? What would be the point?