Game talkTired of hearing about the NGE

 Posted by (Visited 25995 times)  Game talk
Jun 122007
 

So, here it is, a few years later, and we’re still seeing articles on the NGE. And honestly, I’m getting a little tired of it. In this case, I actually declined to comment for the article, but there’s nonetheless a giant inset quote from me dug up from ages ago (which irritates me, honestly). I had declined because I just didn’t want to perpetuate the discussion.

Why? Well, for one, it does feel a bit like the whole thing has turned into a bit of a punching bag. For example, the article claims that SOE has not apologized. But John Smedley has gone on record with saying it was an error several times now. All sorts of motives get ascribed to all sorts of people that just don’t fit with what I know of them.

Julio Torres is not the devil — in fact, he was a hardcore Entertainer in SWG, not an RP-hater. Jeff Freeman is a smart talented designer — he did the SWG pet system, so it’s not like he was out to remove it — and NGE wasn’t his initiative anyway. Smed is a guy who cares deeply about customers, whom I have personally seen spend hours on the phone talking to just one in order to try to resolve their issues. And yet all these guys regularly get vilified in forums regardless of what their actual roles were or what they feel about the subject, in large part because their names happen to be public. In the end, it all just feels a bit unfair, in large part because only fragments of the story are even available. And the story is going to stay unavailable because of confidentiality agreements.

I know this is likely going to prove unpopular with a lot of folks who read this blog. And I am not out to defend the NGE. Rather, I’m saying that until the subject can be discussed a bit more dispassionately, it’s difficult to discuss at all. And I am as guilty as anyone of speaking provocatively about it. But I feel burned out on the whole discussion, because so little of it seems productive.

Knowing the author of the article, I’m sure that it wasn’t his intent to merely fan flames. And I know that anything I said in the past is always out there on the Net, ready to come back to haunt me. I also know that anyone whose name is publicly associated with something, like mine, or Smed’s, or Jeff’s or Julio’s, is going to be fair game. But my personal take on the issue is more nuanced than what I see in the discussions and articles, which have uncomfortable tones of pitchforks and fires. I’m thrilled that something I worked on aroused such passion in people. I’ve also had to move on.

So yeah, I’m kinda tired of reading articles about the NGE, particularly ones that paint these adversarial relationships with people I still talk to regularly and whom I know to be good people. I doubt that anyone will simply stop talking about it, but as for me, I’m staying out of it, because regardless of how I feel about the NGE itself, I think that the real lessons of it are mostly stuff that isn’t even visible to the public. (For example, IMHO the real lesson is about data mining, and not about any of the stuff that gets talked about).

The flaming of me may now commence. :)

  187 Responses to “Tired of hearing about the NGE”

  1. Post. The most audacious attempt for a box product to escape its launch velocity and graduate to a new order of magnitude, by most reports, ended up resulting in a downgrade of subscribers. Of course, this has all been said before, and some are sick of hearing it. I’ve only brought it up because I’ve concluded that the maxim “You only get one launch” isn’t always true, though, and it’s clear that there are some situations where games have ’slow burned

  2. original IP will ensure that major publishers don’t crash and burn – see Majesco’s near-death for a great example of why this is the case. Secondly, Allen Varney is the most consistently readable and smart of all The Escapists’ contributors, despite some controversy – and is at least straightforward, for pity’s sake – and his interview with Magic The Gathering creator Richard Garfield is a model of well-researched rigor. Bravo, that man – more of this, please!

  3. de combate a nivel mínimo te movías por los planetas iniciales con tranquilidad, tras el CU un mob cutre de Tatooine te podia matar en un despiste. El ultimo arreglo final y que firmo la sentencia de muerte de SW:G fue, aunqueRaph este cansado de oirlo, el New Game Enhancements que eran un remake completo del juego. Simplificándolo en exceso, eliminando las habilidades de comercio y añadiendo algo de arcade a la mezcla. A los fans no les gusto nada y las cancelaciones

  4. Speaking as a current and former SWG player (Beta 1, Shuttle 1), I don’t think any flaming is deserved. The NGE was without a doubt a colossal mistake – but it wasn’t any one person’s fault and the parties involved seem to have learned from it.

    As I said over on Scott’s blog – well, I’ll cut-n-paste:

    There’s still work to be done but it’s night and day from where we were a year ago, when most of us were quitting or taking long breaks. Now the challenge in front of the dev team is to follow through on the positive momentum they’ve created. While there’s a few more of the “old-style” systems that players would really like to see come back, they also need to start seriously churning out new content. To provide an example of why, lately we’ve had something happen that hasn’t really happened since the game launched: players are leaving because of general endgame burnout. Not because some change happened that they’re upset about, but more because they “just felt like they’d done everything there was to do”. It was kind of a shocker for most of the player community to finally realize we were losing people to normal churn, the kind that hits every MMORPG, instead of just because of the latest patch or dev stupidity. That means now the team has to focus on fighting that churn if they want the game to continue though.

    Personally I think the game is almost ready for a re-launch, probably with a new blockbuster expansion. If it were me making the call I would have the team make a kick-ass expansion based on Empire Strikes Back because no Star Wars fan can really ignore that tie-in. Besides, the game doesn’t have a snow planet right now

  5. Personally I think the game is almost ready for a re-launch, probably with a new blockbuster expansion. If it were me making the call I would have the team make a kick-ass expansion based on Empire Strikes Back because no Star Wars fan can really ignore that tie-in. Besides, the game doesn’t have a snow planet right now

    I would love to see that happen. It would make me cancel my EVE/WoW sub. Would be nice if they added a new server so that people who havent played in forever could get a fresh start.

  6. […] take on the article is over here: http://www.raphkoster.com/2007/06/12/tired-of-hearing-about-the-nge/ Posting your comment… Have your […]

  7. I certainly hope you don’t think my posting an approving link to the article was trying to use it as “a bit of a punching bag”.

    I think the article has merit in that it is probably as dispassionate a discussion as we’re likely to get on what is easily the most wrenching design change ever done to an operating MMO, from an outsider’s view. Does it matter what designer thought it up, or what producer greenlit it? Not really, unless you’re an ex-SWG player looking for photos for your voodoo doll.

  8. the kind that hits every MMORPG

    I disagree pretty strongly with this statement. Pre-CU, from what I saw, SWG didn’t have this issue. There was no end-game. There were no level caps (in the class sense of the term). Everyone I knew from back then who quit the game did so because of reasons that typically weren’t even because of the game and I can’t think of a single one who quit because they were just flat out bored with it.

    I knew people who had grinded out every single profession, gone to every POI, and attempted every quest. These people STILL didn’t want to quit the game. Sure, you had people burn out on the game, but not in the traditional sense of WoW/EQ/etc burnout where people ended up saying “OK. I’ve done it all.. what now?”

    I was one of the guys carrying the pitch fork and torch ready to burn anyone and everyone at the stake. I was pissed at Lucas because even though I didn’t know if it were true or not, I believed they probably put the whole damn thing in motion. I was pissed at SOE for either agreeing it was a good change, or not having the balls to say “no, we’re not gonna do it” (even if it meant sending SWG to another publisher). I was even pissed at the players who STUCK with the damn game.

    I believe the articles about the NGE are actually helping SWG, not hurting it further to be honest. I look at those articles and it reminds me of how damn much I loved that game and Raph’s original design of it. I see them trickling things in from the past and it peaks my curiosity. I’ve been pissed and hurt for a long time and a big part of me wants them to just create an SWG 2 with an IMPROVED version of the old system.

    I’ve actually started a new account on SWG and have been playing (level 15 now) for a few days. Those articles, although bashing in most senses, actually made me want to try the game again… don’t know if it’s poor etiquette (if so, i can edit or you can remove this bit) but I’m blogging about it at http://precu.wordpress.com.

    P.S. Raph, we want you at IMGDC next year!

  9. I’d love to hear the “lesson about data-mining”, personally.

    I can’t say I know anything about the NGE, because it’s just not something I followed or was involved in. But the fact is that the very nature of these games dictates that people will revolt against any kind of large change in gameplay. Something can never be simply “good” or “bad”, because of the diverse interests of the diverse population, and the fact that the new design you implement is different from the one that the people who are already there *are there for*. Even if they see problems with it, it’s still what they’re accustomed to, so they’re ripe for dissension if you give them the slightest opportunity. Over time you’ll see a more favourable response from paying customers as dissidents churn out and newcomers who are attracted by the new design come in, but the screams in the night will always echo across the internet.

    I think that’s pretty much a universal MMO law. Unless you’re in the red, a new design is probably best fit for a new game. Or, at the very least, there’ll be big trouble and much gnashing of teeth when you try to collar people with it.

  10. From an uninvolved outsider’s perspective, the article did have some (still) good (if obvious) points.

    – Players get invested in ‘their’ game. A property management company may look at a renter as a minor entry in some subledger … but really, it’s a person living in “their” home. So too with games.

    – Release quality is critical. Don’t release until it’s ready.

    Certainly these are obvious points. Certainly they’ve been proclaimed and written many times (too many times). But from an uninvolved average player’s perspective, there hasn’t been a great deal of evidence that the “industry” gets it.

    I also find it interesting that people are still talking about NGE after all this time. It wasn’t the first game to undergo major changes that upset the existing player base (DAoC and ToA?) I think the ongoing discussion has a lot to do with the community that loved SWG.

    SWG was (until NGE) the best example of a recent graphical MMO with a definite worldy / sandboxy quality to it. The industry has yet (imo) to deliver a replacement (note: I haven’t yet tried Eve).

  11. […] After reading some comments by Raph over on his site, I went back and read to the end of Varney’s piece more carefully.  He […]

  12. The players that left because of the NGE still feel so betrayed, hurt, insulted, and burned; they can’t let go of it yet. Maybe some of them never will. Some of them may flood this post with well-researched, detailed comments explaining why SOE/NGE/Smed/whoever/whatever is the devil. Telling them that Smed has apologized and changes have been made since then is like talking to a wall, but I completely sympathize with those players nonetheless. I see your point though, and admit I’m a little tired of it now too.

    It does pretty much suck that, even though you refused to comment, the site disingenuously pulled a past quote by you from the archives and spotlighted it in big, bold type on the graphic. But maybe that was the work of the designer or editor. Hopefully they’ll note your displeasure and at least apologize, if not take it off the page completely.

  13. Well, I look at it this way Raph. Our crew pretty much lost interest in SWG once the NGE came out, but we were already in a down-turn at the time. Our city on Chilastra is about to finally go away with the housing clean-up, and it’s really a bit sad for all of us. SWG is where we all started…well, not even the game so much as the dev boards :) Luckily our group has managed to stay alive BECAUSE of the relationships we created on the dev boards and through SWG, and if there’s still any passion and heated discussion out there I think it’s because of the love so many of us had for the original vision of that world. Hell, I still bring up Outcasting all the time ;)

    There’s still nothing like it out there and every other game we get into inevitably draws us back to discussions on how SWG did this better and did that better. We complain about the flaws too of course, but the parts that made it unique are what’s stuck with us.

  14. […] Raph responded on his blog: clicky[/ur] I completely agree with him, and suggest to Raph a triple-sliced flame retardant suit…. […]

  15. You can’t steal someone’s stuff without them wanting it back.

  16. Well posted Raph. I agree with you wholeheartedly. It must be very frustrating to watch people rant so passionately without having the full story. And it must be more frustrating to not be able to share said story. Kudos for speaking out.

  17. […] reaction has been swift. Raph Koster asks us to stop moaning about his friends. So yeah, I’m kinda tired of reading articles about the NGE, particularly ones that paint these […]

  18. […] der Chef-Entwickler von SWG lange bevor der NGE verffentlicht wurde. Er beklagt sich nun in seinem Blog darber, dass viele Developer die mehr oder weniger daran beteiligt waren, bis heute behelligt […]

  19. It does pretty much suck that, even though you refused to comment, the site disingenuously pulled a past quote by you from the archives…

    I don’t see any foul play here. I think Raph’s quote is much more relevant to the conversation than the completely out-of-context quote they pulled on Paul Barnett. But if you’re doing a story on SWG, and you’re talking about game design, then it’s not a complete story without a Raph quote, past or otherwise. It would have been courteous if the author let Raph know he was using the quote, but not strictly necessary.

    More on-topic, I think the reason NGE keeps resurfacing is that the community is still pretty baffled over just how a slam-dunk license like Star Wars could have gone so horribly and spectacularly wrong. That much of it can’t be talked about only serves to further speculation. Couple this with SOE’s continuing struggle to communicate with their players in any meaningful way, and it’s a subject that has no choice but to continue to bubble up time and time again.

  20. I agree, but find it hard to let go, as many do. There simply isn’t any true closure. Sure, Smed has said it was a mistake, but where’s the recognition of the pain suffered.

    Personally, I just wish he would release an apology along the lines of “SOE, and I, deeply regret the pain & perceived betrayal our implementation of the NGE has caused. Although we felt we were doing the right thing at the time, we regret the manner in which we did it, and sincerely apologize to our present & former customers. Unfortunatly, we can not bring back the former SWG, but will continue to improve the NGE in an effort to bring in new & former players.” Then we could bury this and many of us could move forward.

    Smed may have felt he’s made amends, but he needs to take a moment and consider the benefits all would gain from the clear closure of an apology. Heck, he may even get back a few subs…

    That said, until you make us a game Raph, we’ll still be standing on your lawn… :P

  21. Well, I’m one of those people that was very upset with the NGE. However, I don’t hate Mr. Smedley or Freeman or any individual at SOE because of it.

    I think the article is spot on when it discussed the feeling of betrayal that the players received with the NGE. To this day I do not trust SOE. This has nothing to do with the individals mentioned but has everything to do with the company that pulled such a horrendous move. I find it very difficult to even contemplate spending time in a MMOG controlled by SOE. I just do not want to have my time spent in the game to be devalued because of some corporate decision.

    I know that SOE has claimed they have learned from their mistake. Yet I see no solution except time, as actions are louder than words. I’ll keep an eye on Vanguard and see what SOE does with it. I’ll look to see how the DC Online game launches, even though I have no interest in playing that. If SOE does a good job with them, then they will have earned back a bit of my trust.

    That is about as dispassionate as we will see about the subject.

    I am curious about your comment on data mining, though.

  22. I’m thinking that the people at the Escapist just didn’t have enough fresh content for this issue. Detailing the NGE in 2006 would be a conversation with merit. Digging into it now seems more like a I need something for this space and don’t have anything good. Let’s beat on SWG again! move.

    There is so much going on in the MMO world right now – at many companies – why not dig into some of that instead of falling back on yet another NGE devilization?

  23. Look, it’s not just NGE. The whole history of SWG has been a shambles, from releasing it about 6 months too early all the way through the slipshod and half-arsed player cities implementation (which I still blame for the servers seeming dead), from the first creature handler implementation through the CU and the NGE. Everything the developers implemented in the first three years of the game was done in an incredibly unprofessional manner and what should have been a sure-fire hit game was turned into a laughing stock.

    My point: ALL the developers are to blame, from the suits at LA and SOE on down to the programmers and playtesters. I don’t care if Smedley and Julio are nice guys. The point is, no one did enough to stop the rot that ruined SWG, and I just can’t forgive anyone involved for that.

  24. i for one think people would let the resentment over the nge die if there was
    a good deep sci-fi sandbox game out there to play however there isn’t.
    we wait and hope….

  25. Raph,
    I posted about this in more detail on my blog, but I wanted to say that I totally agree with your assessment of the continued beating of this dead horse, when there is nothing to be added to the discourse.

    SOE went for broke, and it didn’t work out. It happens in video game development. I understand people are upset, but this was back at the tail-end of 2005! Surely there are more important things to be concerned about?

    I can’t help but feel the Escapist were running a popular flame-piece simply for hits.

  26. I call BS on you Raph.

    The fact that this is still an issue just shows how committed the customers were to that game. I was one of them. I miss the game a lot. You of all people should understand that committed customers are something that a developer should cherish.

    I for one am glad that this happened. If and when I find another game that I like as much as I liked SWG, I will be fairly confident that it won’t change like the SWG did. Even if Sony won’t make amends, it may prevent others from making the same mistakes.

    If by data mining, you mean knowing your customers, and listening to them, then I agree, that is the biggest part of this story.

  27. I get what you are saying Raph. First you know these people and we don’t. You have worked and in some cases still work with them, broke bread and tossed back cold ones with them after work. I am sure at the end of the day Smed and company are good people who care about their families and have a passion for their work. Secondly, from a game developer and business standpoint, maybe the outcry has gone on too long. I am sure Bioware is none to amused of the constant “Is it Star Wars” MMO discussions on their forums.

    However, I know from personal experience you can’t jump into any MMO, from Entropian Universe to Runescape, without bumping into former SWG vets and hold a 20 min conversation about how great the game used to be, what professions you were and what server you played on. This is a passionate playerbase that got a taste of what a MMO could be. The greatness of open-ended sandbox gameplay where players can truly mold their avatar into a customized extensions of themselves. Sadly this game, and no other like it exsists today. Some come close, but not enough.

    Since you still speak to Smed etc, please pass this message on to him: This WILL NEVER GO AWAY until SOE and LA come together for the good of the community, offer frank and open discussions with full disclosure of the hows, whys and whens of the CU, NGE and other decisions that lead toward the end of the game we all love. And then, a full blown apology from all pertinent parties to the entire playerbase, current and former.

    Why is this necessary even though highly unlikely? Because we need closure. If classic servers are not an option and we can’t get the game back we loved, then we need some closure on this matter. As the article said, many of us viewed SWG as a second life. We had homes, jobs, friends and enemies. Some of us had amassed great wealth, others great accomplishments, but all of us found a wonderful world to which we could escape. This was all taken away abruptly and rudely with no regards to our feelings and desires.

    Raph we need closure with forthright answers and honest apologies. Until we get that we are unable to put this behind us.

    Thanks for everything you have and will do for the future of MMOs and Virtual worlds.

  28. Like many posters above, I’m also curious about the data mining comment.

    Is it because the other mistakes are too obvious to be meaningfully learned from, or that their lessons simply can’t be learned?

  29. I just want my game back.

    That’s all I care about.

  30. I think you are looking at it from an emotional perspective, which is fine, you are loyal to your collegues which bolds well for the type of person you are. I think the article is point out the fact that history repeats itself and as soon as you forget and move on, history repeats itself. Hence never get into a land war in Asia.

  31. I have to respectfully disagree, Raph.

    The problem is that SWG, the original was a lot more than a game to many of us who played it. There never has been any apology to us from Smed or anyone else. There never has been any effort to “make things right”. There is and will never be “closure” in this whole mess until either SWG shuts down for good, or Smed and company MAKE RIGHT on what they did, IE: give us our game back.

    Pitiful half measures like re-introducing more than a year and a half later some dumbed down versions of the skills system and even creature handler isn’t good enough.

    Until SOE and LEC do “the right thing”, the NGE will haunt them and everyone else associated with it so long as they are involved in operating MMO’s.

    Unless Smed, Torres, Freeman, etc, were just incredibly incompetent and naive, they had to know that what they were releasing on 11/15/05 was a grossly inferior product, that even measured by the stated goals for it wasn’t a good game by any measure.

    I also find it impossible to believe that the existence of the NGE wasn’t deliberately hidden from us while at the same time the TOOW expansion was being marketed AT us with features that Smed, Torres, Freeman, et all KNEW would be gone from the game less than 2 weeks after release.

    It’s also impossible to believe that it was purely coincidental that the NGE was announced literally THE DAY AFTER our credit cards were charged for the expansion.

    This was all done deliberately. It was NOT done in the “best interests” of the existing player base, it was done to jettison us for what was perceived as a larger, SIMPLER player base that they’d make more money off of, oh, and while we were on our way out the door, they’d pocket some extra cash off us by charging us for an expansion that lost tons of content that it had been advertised with 2 weeks after release.

    I know that you know those people much better than I do. But my experience with them is solely my experience with Star Wars Galaxies, and twice being burned by the CU and the NGE. How can someone like me possibly give them the benefit of the doubt and consider them to be “good people”?

    I already “turned the other cheek” once in accepting the CU only to have the other one violently clawed away by the NGE 5 months later.

    If you ask me, they got what they deserved. Smed owes his job to the fact that the REST of Sony is doing so poorly that upper management hasn’t sacked him yet. Julio Torres went from LEC producer of SWG to a footnote on a single player game. Helios is chained to a lesser role in the SOE DC comics game, a game already pretty much doomed to be DOA before even opening.

    Karma, as an old SWG guildie of mine (who won’t touch the game again with a 100 meter pole) can be a real bitch sometimes.

    I think the results of the NGE speak for themselves. Look at the STILL passionate former players who still keep this in the forefront of MMO press even long after the fact. Look at the fact that most of the (tiny) remnant of the SWG player base STILL asks for Pre-CU back on the official forums every day. And most importantly, look at that cliff dive of subscribers, from over 250,000 a couple months prior to NGE to 49,000 today.

    (source: mmogdata.com)

    You know, the NGE hurt the whole MMO industry as well. With the NGE, and SPE/LEC’s sociopathic treatment of an online community large enough to make a decent sized American city, no player will EVER again be as trusting of MMO devs as they were before it.

  32. […] Raph Koster just wants it all to stop: Julio Torres is not the devil — in fact, he was a hardcore Entertainer in SWG, not an RP-hater. […]

  33. An addendum (forgot to include this).

    As an IT Manager for one of the largest companies in the USA doing what we do, with branch offices all over the Eastern USA, I’m in a position to influence decision making. I can’t tell you how much pleasure it has given me to deprive Sony of every sale I could. One in particular was $50,000 worth of plasma screens and other equipment for a video conferencing project.

    Specs go to me for review. Sony crossed off the acceptable brands on the spec. Plasma screens bought from Philips.

    That was one month after the NGE and a direct consequence of it. I’m sure others do what I do.

    Don’t piss off the geeks. We weild a LOT more power than you think :)

    I seriously doubt SOE ever has another successful MMO launched. Ever. They simply have too bad a reputation. The NGE will haunt them forever.

  34. I… I only wish Ben were here.

  35. I believe that NGE will teach one valuable lesson to all MMO publishers: Keep customers at a distance.

    Bad business decisions get made every day. But that is all they are. And I do not believe any company will want to run a risk of such vocal fallout again.

    Gamers simply want a fun game to play. And Blizzard’s hands-off policy in customer relations seems to have done them a lot of good. No ammount of explanation, blogs or public statements, summits and other PR stunts helps.

    I do believe that this will be the lesson learned, not the effects of changing a game, since those are well known and documented already.

  36. The situation with the NGE is triple bizarre to me.

    1) SWG is far, far away from Star Wars and ever was. Its the most bizarre version one can ever imagine. Significant lack of content, art and so forth but plenty of necklaces(!) and stuff like that. It even has a newsboy hat on the item list. The developers even seriously considered “gardening” as a future publish. Let’s call that pink design, derived from the pink skyboxes on many planets (worsed.art-direction.ever.)In effect, many players played it because they liked some of the innovation, but mostly because its the only Star Wars MMO (at least in theory).

    2) The special design of SWG attracted a niche community which is of course very passionate. The game offered unique social gameplay and especially l33tness-on-demand with the Jedi, which lured plenty of players into the game (replacing the disappointed Star Wars Fans from the earlier community).

    3) All sorts of managemend faults, resulted in a game that hardly made any progress. Half-assed revamp followed by another half-assed revamp, while they catered foremost jedi players. Despite a classic trilogy setting, all sorts of exotic, external or prequel-movie stuff was put into the game, watering down what was left from classic star wars. So the earlier community often talked about the “potential” of the game. Which means, the “special community” grows stronger and gains more influence in the boards, the *only* ones who actually love this Star-Wars-Travesty.

    The NGE changed especially the gameplay of this “special” community, removing the l33tness by offering Jedi to everyone (and removing FOTM-Templates etc). A lot of complains came due to the fact that existing gameplay was exchanged with something unpolished and bug-infested. While it addressed some logical and game mechanical flaws, it left other major inconsistencies untouched (so that players outside of the die-hard-SWG community remained sceptical).

    In essence, a bizarre game tried to hurt those, who were the only ones who actually like its weirdness. I embraced the NGE when I read of it first as I hoped the developers would finally do the obvious (Star Wars Galaxies = Star Wars!?), which turned out to be a halfhearted, unconsidered attempt.

    It will remain a mystery, what exactly prevents SWG developers from making something classically star wars. ;)

  37. Don’t piss off the geeks. We weild a LOT more power than you think

    You know, it’s scary but TRUE. I think people really underestimate geek buying power, not just on the consumer side but in the corporate world, as you gave a great example of. People who don’t “get” MMOs would probably look at that and think it’s insane that you let your anger about a change to a game affect such a large purchasing decision, but there it is.

    Of course one might argue that the divisions of Sony that make plasma screens and MMOs are practically two different companies, they’re so far apart. I still find it fascinating though, and would love to see someone do a survey on ripple effects like this.

  38. I wrote the Escapist article “Blowing Up Galaxies” and provided the pull quotes used in the layouts. If my use of Raph’s words irritated him, that wasn’t my intent and I’m sorry for that irritation, but otherwise I see no reason to apologize. Raph’s words were and are here on his own blog; he hadn’t pulled them; I quoted him, and the others, accurately and in context. That’s not “disingenuous.” Raph, if you don’t want your past statements quoted, remove them.

    As for data mining being the “true lesson” of the NGE — well, it might have been nice if Raph had mentioned that when I showed him the article before publication.

  39. Oh no you di-int!

  40. the story is going to stay unavailable because of confidentiality agreements.

    Quite frankly, that right there is probably 90% of why the problem isn’t going away. In lieu of the facts, rumors will do for most.

    How do you fight ignorance? The truth is a good start. Nobody can stop the masses that come to string you up, who will refuse to change their mind in the face of full disclosure and honesty, even admitting where you went wrong. Trying to fight that attitude with silence only leads to their voices being the only ones present. You’ll never get an open, constructive dialogue by refusing any reasonable efforts to do so because of what unreasonable people ‘might do’.

    Without any opportunity to engage in a discussion of where things went bad, how it happened, and most importantly how to make sure it doesn’t happen again, those who feel victimized don’t have anyplace constructive to turn their energies. All we have is postulated rumors, snippets of information, corporate-speak cryptic remarks, and the like. There is no platform for real discussion on this issue publicly, so I’m not exactly shocked that the only discussion that does take place is emotional, negative, and very jaded. I think the reason for that, at least in part, is that you can resonate with others who either experienced it too, or are sympathetic (or at least empathetic) to your experience. Trying to engage in a constructive dialogue on the matter is like talking to the wind, either you get the people who want a witch-hunt on one side or absolute silence on the either.

    I think the concept I’m looking for here is ‘validated’. The best companies I have worked for in my life have stated policies that the very first thing you do with an angry customer is validate their concerns. If you bristle up, refuse to communicate, or tell them their situation isn’t important to you, the conflict grows into a battle of wills and egos. The percieved wrongdoing, how to avoid it in the future, to learn lessons, incorporate them into your operations, to grow and improve….all that gets left behind. Validating the customer, with the exception of those who are displaying immature irateness or are seeking discounts for inane issues (you don’t have Jergen’s lotion in your bathroom, I want free movie tickets!…and yes, I’ve had those exact words said to me), immediately disarms most people. Even those who ‘want a fight’, or are just waiting to be ‘kicked in the teeth’ when presented with an opportunity to move from disonance to resolution, will do so. In a lot of cases, you’ve not only addressed and resolved, but you’ve gone way over their (admittedly very low) expectations and impressed them enough to go tell their friends. There’s the old business adage ‘9 out of 10 dissatisfied customers tell 7 out of 10 of their friends about you; 1 out of 10 satisfied customers will tell 3 out of 10 of their friends about you…’ so you see, bad word of mouth kills you quick, building a reputation takes work, but the final bit ‘…every customer who has a bad experience that is addressed fully, fairly, and recieves the highest level of attention and care will tell someone about it’ is the most important. Everyone knows mistakes get made, but if they hear about a company that admits when it is wrong and has employees willing to make selfless efforts to make it up to you, that speaks volumes.

    Plus there’s the occasional confused look on a person’s face when you say ‘you’re right’, its priceless :9.

    Confidentiality agreements are for protecting against rival companies and provide legal means to punish people who might try to sell your interests out. They should not be used as a blanket defense against customers who want to understand how such a series of events got put into motion. Your customers have invested in your product, they have a right to know why it blew up in their face.

    Car company X produces vehicles which randomly catch fire/explode/flip over/etc. When questioned on how such a product made it to market, putting customers’ lives in danger, the company would rather not comment. Okay, nobody died from the NGE, fair enough, but my illustration was made to question just how far does confidentiality go.

    Can you blame someone for being upset that the expansion released not weeks prior to the change featured very desireable rewards for professions that were entirely removed from gameplay? Is anyone suprised that theories of unlawful business practices would get floated when something like that happens? If nothing illegal or unlawful was intended, if it was a gigantic mistake, why remain silent on it?

    Those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it. Hard to study when all the facts are behind locked doors.

    Basically, unless someone’s ego is at stake, I don’t see any intelligible reason to play the ‘stick my fingers in my ears until they forget about it’ game.

    I will say I’ve seen one place where halfway constructive discussions on SWG takes place, and thats on the Firefly MMO forums. However, those mostly consist of ‘How can we make something that fun, immersive, and with the same kind of possiblities again?’. That’s great and I encourage it, but a lot of us just remain weary of the industry as a whole right now because we’ve seen so little discussion on how to keep it from happening again.

    As far as the ‘data mining’ bit, I hope that isn’t aluding to the astromech stats on professions played/mastered. I think the oldest justification for disregarding others’ preferences is to devalue/dehumanize them as ‘unworthy of consideration’. The 2% of customers in that demographic that went ignored had the same enjoyment in what they did as the other 98%, and paid the same amount of money to do so. A business that starts believing itself big enough to ignore its customers wishes, even one, is a business that needs an attitude check or is going to fail, very publicly.

    In summary, my opinion is: We can’t stop talking about, because technically…we haven’t even started.

  41. #3, Scott, no I’m not mad at you. :)

    #29, Allen, like I said, I don’t think you had any intent to just fan flames, and I don’t think you did anything wrong by using that quote (even if it irritates me) — as you said, it’s out there and can’t be taken back. You can’t really remove anything on the Internet. :)

    I didn’t go into the data mining thing because a) there’s confidentiality stuff there, and b) like I said in the first place, I’m just tired of NGE articles, for the reasons above.

    As for the rest of it, I think the gap between, say, BadMisterFrosty and Zaush or wildcat_84 sort of sums up why I am burned out on the whole discussion. :)

  42. I won’t post anything more than what others have posted, and I respect you Raph…

    But saying the nge was an error, and actually saying they were sorry they screwed over their players are two different things.

    If I screwed around on my wife and told her it was an “error”, well, you can paint the picture.

    They’ve never done anything to make this up to the players they turned away. They have never even given us the “sorry, my bad” wave you give someone when you cut them off in traffic.

    They’ve done nothing to apologise. NOTHING.

  43. […] and foolish. Varney was little separated from that.Syntheticist will leave the last comment to Raph Koster, the original designer of SW:G, who also responded to the piece.I feel burned out on the whole […]

  44. We had a bit of a debate on RLMMO about how this intense hatred has lead to personal attacks on fellow members who don’t up the Sony Hate ante’. My view is that we are now beating a dead horse. We are that first date who can’t do anything all night but talk about the ex. It truly has become unhealthy. It was however productive, even if it is no longer so. Mistakes were made and laws were broken. LA, SOE and those involved have received a fitting reputation and the companies lost revenue.

    The real reason the dead horse won’t stop getting itself beaten is the lack of closure. As Raph stated, the public simply doesn’t know the whole story. We are left to speculate about the whos and whats without ever truly knowing. It’s the cover up that prompts all to put on their tinfoil hats and continue the discussions.

    My feeling is the best way to achieve closure is for a book to be written about this scandal. I am not directing this to Raph or anyone in particular, just putting this out there. The book can provide closure in two ways – first it allows all to know what truly happened. Second, it allows justice to be done, although not the type of justice people confuse with revenge. It would allow some good to come from a wrong; some lessons to be learned so future wrongs are not repeated.

    The book should be more academic in nature, more like a textbook of what not to do. It can start off from the point of an overly ambitious game design that did not fit the budget at hand, to an early and incomplete release, lack of development tools that cause many a missed deadline, through the first failed revamp and the release of Gordon Walton. The NGE would need special attention, as Raph stated there were many lessons to be learned that the public simply don’t focus on, like a chapter on Data Mining, When Focus Groups are Wrong. Just because a great newbie space station was built and people enjoy it, doesn’t mean that translates well, if at all, to the whole of the game. The expansion that was release just before the NGE should be another focal point. It’s marketing, timing and why complaints to the FTC had to be filled before a refund was given are great topics for people getting an MBA. Planning is key, or more to the point, having a plan is key.

    I can see why such information will never be out there. The confidentiality agreements are in place to protect people’s careers as much as to not give fodder to lawsuits. However if the individuals involved can show a track record of advoidance of such mistakes I can’t help but to feel their careers will be benefited by such a book.

    I feel that is what is truly needed here, disclosure and justice, though most would settle for a revamped and fully fixed version of preCU. Then all of this negativity will simply go away. This dead horse beating may be productive after all, to some degree, though most have moved on. For the rest something more is needed.

  45. My feeling can be summed up as such:

    Smed, nor anyone else involved, has EVER posted a DIRECT, TO THE SWG PLAYERS apology of any sort.

    The words, “We at SOE apologize to the SWG players for the NGE, which was a mistake, we never should have done it” have never come from Smed, nor have any of the admissions that the NGE was a mistake have been made in the SWG forums nor the website, they’ve all come elsewhere.

    Therefore, there hasn’t been any apology. None at all.

    Until there is an apology, and more importantly, concrete ACTION to prove the sincereness of the apology (pre NGE servers at the very least), I’ve not even been ASKED for forgiveness, how can I give it?

    How can any of the rest of us?

    Taking a tiny dev team and slowly trying to bolt Delorean looking parts (pre NGE) onto the NGE Yugo isn’t any sort of apology either, it’s at best placation. They are trying to sort of emu Pre-CU inside NGE, which is a pathetic at best, doomed at worst effort, especially when the emu, flawed as their Dev teams are, are at least expending their efforts on what the community actually wants instead of faking it.

    At the very least they should offer a REAL apology.

    Until they do, as I said, the NGE is going to dog every one of them and every project they engage in. And justifiably slow. One way or another they will pay the price, because there IS a price to be paid, there is a consequence to actions, especially when done in public to hundreds of thousands of non consenting victims.

    Either they eat some public crow, and do what they don’t want to do (pre NGE), or else they pay a price that is 100 times worse, and keep the scarlet letters of NGE tattooed to their foreheads forever.

  46. I agree with Raph on being tired of hearing of the NGE, but I also agree with the posters of “it will always haunt them”.

    If Smed and all the other guys are such good people and they *admit* the NGE was such a big mistake…..
    ….why is there still no Pre-CU server back online? Not even a single one?
    Just to show they listen to their community as they pretend they do.
    Shouldn’t be so hard to do!
    And would probably give them back some reputation as well.

  47. Oh come on Raph, you don’t wish Ben were here? You know, Old Ben, that crazy old wizard who lives out beyond the dune sea? :)

    (See, I’m making a statement that I’m burnt out on the NGE debate as well.)

  48. I think it’s as simple as already expressed…

    Without knowing how/why it happened there is no way to know whether it will happen again.

    PC’s are a huge investment. We all know that our PC’s can be taken away or nerfed or otherwise ruined at anytime but we expect our PC’s to be there as they were the day before.
    If a game is constantly changing the rules or can otherwise not be trusted then that’s a game that will not get many serious players.

    Anyway, that’s how I see the issue. I just want to know how/why it happened so I can make sure it doesn’t happen again in any new game I have become passionate about.

  49. Very well said, Kerri Knight! I completely agree.

  50. Quite honestly Raph, I think we are all burned out, most of us would like nothing more than to move past this and go forward. But as stated by myself and many others, we need some sort of closure.

    The sad thing is, had they just open classic servers in the first place, all of this animosity and frustration would have been avoided. Had SOE/LA come out and said “SWG is currently bleeding subscriptions, we are unable to keep up with the demands of our customers, and we feel we can do better by make some major changes to the core game.” Then offered classic servers and developed a working fully tested “NGE”, I think most of us would have understood.

    There are some very intelligent, business savvy people among us that can appreciate the position that SWG may have been in at the time. Although disappointed that SWG would see no more development attention, at least we still would have had the game we wanted, and possibly could have helped promote the new game and express ideas to aide the development.

    One of the major mistakes that SOE/LA made was not leaveraging the expertise and brilliants of its own playerbase.

  51. I could not disagree more BadMisterFrosty on points 1 and 2 of you post. As a die hard Star Wars fan from ’77 when I was 9, the dream of living in a “real” living breathing Star Wars galaxy was exactly the type of game I was looking for. It was a brilliant concept to make a game that went “behind the scenes” of the the original trilogy and allowed both a look and hands on experience to how the Star Wars universe ticked. And you were an active participant. Was it Niche? Absolutely, but that was the beauty of it in my opinion. It was a well needed change for the “same old same old” movie based games that have plagued the Star Wars IP for more than 2 decades.

    On point 3 I agree 100%. And this is where I think the blame falls squarely at the feet of LA. Marketing started to drive development and things that had no place in the game and boarderline canon breaking made into the game where clearly they did not belong.

  52. To Raph:

    Tired of discussing or reading about it but make a blog about it anyway?

    *boggle*

    Okie dokie…………………….

    Anyway….

    It’s worth talking about today and tomorrow because it keeps the mistakes made in the forefront of the minds of arrogant developers. Yes, you’re all arrogant, and all have a God complex. You guys can bristle at that notion and say “I’m not arrogant and I certainly don’t have a God complex”, but the rockstar mentality of being worshipped by hundreds of thousands of nerds (including myself) generally causes ones head to expand. You all believe YOU’RE right and all the players are wrong, and YOUR design document that you’ve been working on since your MUD / DnD days is the one holy grail of design documents.

    There are important lessons to be taught, retaught, learned, and relearned from SWG (all versions of it: PRECU, CU, NGE, Current) for developers. And it’s a good thing to have the most collasal failure of all MMOs to brought back to the forefront as a testament of what NOT to do; how not to run a game; how NOT to treat your players with arrogant indignation.

    The history of it is fascinating, it’s hard to argue that point. It’s been a trainwreck from the beginning, and it’s been awfully hard not to watch.

    To anyone else still wanting an apology:

    First, you won’t get it (See point about arrogance).

    Second, what good would it do? Would you suddenly forgive SOE for stomping a hole in your heart? Would you go running back to the girlfriend that has abused, lied, and cheated to you multiple times over the last couple of years? Would you suddenly re-up and start playing again – to be the player who posts rather than posters who play (another shining gold star in the SOE cap)? An apology would do nothing but give you MORE ammunition to use against SOE and the people associated with it from beginning to end in more forum fodder and blog posts (SEE!!!! I WAS RIGHT!!!111!!!!ONE!!!! U WERE RONG!!!!).

    But anyway. There are still lessons that need to be learned and relearned from it. If there was no such thing as the Star Wars mystique and it was just…Blasters and Laser Swords Online…noone would care. It would have likely never have made it past month 6. But it WAS/IS Star Wars – THE single most recognizable IP in the WORLD. There should be NO competition for a Star Wars MMO. None. Anybody and everybody has heard of Star Wars.

    And SOE, and you, blew it.

  53. I know this isn’t exactly polite… but are you SWG people out of your freaking minds??? It’s a game, get over it! You voted with your dollars… get on with your life.

    Seriously, it just stuns me that an online game could have people get their panties all tied up in a knot well over a year after this NGE.

    There are trees outside, and this magical golden thing called the ‘sun’ that is warm… and girls… yeah soft and fun to play with girls

    Get a life!

  54. Dr. Reality Check

    Your perceptions of the (former) player base of SWG was a part of the problem. Your sterotypical view of basement dwelling, cheetos eating, jolt cola swilling, pocket protector wearing nerds playing a video game may apply to some. But most of the people that I have met through this game were and are establish adult professionals, with families and a LIFE. Many, like me, used SWG as an escape from the everyday so that we could relive our youth and our fastasy of being in the glaxay that Lucas created.

    I believe your view was similar to those that made the decision to implement the NGE. They failed to realize that we are savy consumers in the connected age and we flexed and continue to flex our muscle and influence. We will continue to do so because we were wronged. I don’t care if you do not appreciate that we were wronged in a pretend world, but we were wronged nonetheless. And if you think “get over it” will placate the cabal, you are sorely mistaken.

  55. 44 years ago in Dallas a President was assassinated, a event that still got rumours floating about the shooters and people to this day talking about different conspiration theories. Would it be same if they had catched the killer(s) and got a confession and a trial? If people would have gotten some sort of a closure? Who knows…all I know is that SWG needs one…

    A closure and explanation would be nice, for all players that invested their love,time and money into the game, only to get the ice cold silence when they wonder why someone would annihilate the great community that was built up by them.

    SWG was never a game to many of us, it was a thriving living world. I found my place in this world, I made tons of friends and I had a great time playing it. After the “upgrades” I lost all contact but a few of them, and Im still to this day wondering how the “lost ones” are doing.

    Maybe its all about the clash between the naive average player Joe (that is thinking of the importance of community,friendship and immersion into the vr world) and the flat cold corporation (that is thinking of the importance of budget,cashflows and profit)and in the middle we got the Devs trying to please both sides. Neither one side understanding the other one. Neither one side sees what the other one sees. Neither one side feels what the other ones feels.

    Examples: Buildning a player city from scratch with friends and succeed vs. freak out about low subscription numbers, Making friends on a 20 man squill hunt outside Anchorhead vs. worrie about the yearly budget, Sit and watch the sunset on Tatooine in a scout camp with ranger friends vs. developing the NGE to attract new players($$$) in wild panic. A creature handler tame a cool new animal the day before the NGE and /flex in happiness vs. “Tomorrow we are down to 9 managable professions that will make our job so much easier.”. Its like two diffrent realities and they are as far from each other they could be. No wonder they clash together loudly when suddenly they have to meet. Different expectations, different views and diffrent goals, diffrent minds.

    Someone brought armageddon to our SWG world…The CU was like a 1906 San Francisco earthquake to the world we lived in. The NGE was like a suddenly nuclear holocaust. No wonders why we still wondering what the H*** happened and want some answers och explanations.

    Well some of my thoughts and take it for just that, thoughts, not facts…( and yes I had 2 beers before writing it and been awake for over 24h. I love life, I really do) :)

    Take care all

    The Second Day Vet

  56. SWG wasn’t a game. It was a pastime.

    Is baseball still the most popular sport?

    Nope, football’s TV ratings are higher.

    However, baseball draws more fans per season (the longest season of any sport with the most games) than any other sport.

    Football teams with pack in 70,000 fans a game… For 16 games. Baseball teams will pack in 25,000 fans a game… For 162 games…

    Baseball is a far more complex game than football. It requires lots of specialized skills. It sometimes is slow. It sometimes resembles a chess match more than a contact sport. To master the act of hitting a baseball is probably the most difficult feat in all of sport, to the tune that someone who fails to do it 70% of the time is a Hall of Famer. It’s the only sport where the DEFENSE holds the ball. It’s the most balanced sport, in that both teams have the same number of chances to go on offense.

    What if one day, to compete with football’s ratings, baseball changed the game drastically overnight, removing long loved roles and replacing gameplay with “fast action basebally and iconic” rules. Such as there being only one strike, so that an at bat is resolved within a couple pitches. Or in replacing the ball with a beach ball so that it’s way easier to hit?

    The focus group, after all, said that people wanted to see more hits and more action.

    Who cares if that 25,000 fans per ballpark, per game, 162 times a year the day after the “New Game Experience” is released falls to 2,000, they will soon be drawing 70,000 a game and higher TV ratings than ever, right?

  57. When I was a kid I was a huge Cubs fan. I watched a lot of baseball, played a lot of baseball, and even went to Wrigley Field for more than one game. Then in 1981 the league went on strike. I was angry, dissapointed, and sad for a few weeks that summer with no baseball to play.

    Then I moved on to other things, like playing with the other kids in the neighborhood, and pumping quarters into arcade machines. By the time the strike ended, I no longer felt the need to watch every Cubs game on TV. In fact, I never looked back and even now, 26 years later, I feel no compulsion to watch baseball, or even care who’s in the race. Or if Hell is freezing over for the Cubs this season.

    That’s my point. You move on. The NGE was a year and a half ago. If you are adults, and professionals, isn’t it time to go find something else? Is it really that self satisfying to run around on any message board or blog where you can complain about how SOE screwed you? I loved Star Wars as a kid. Dreamed that someday I’d be able to pilot an X-Wing… and then the ‘first’ trilogy came out and kicked some of my childhood memories in the teeth.

    I survived.

    Why can’t you?

  58. I’m a Reds fan. I got screwed more than anyone in 1981, since my team had the best record in all of baseball, yet didn’t make the playoffs :)

    But your analogy falls because in 1982, when the game resumed with a non strike season, there were still 9 players on the field, the pitcher’s mound was still 60′ 6″ from the plate, there were 3 strikes, 3 outs, 9 innings, etc etc etc. Anyone who loved baseball who didn’t come back after 1981 or the more disastrous 1994 strike DO need to get a life. Because their game and pastime STILL exist.

    That is NOT the case with SWG.

    The NGE is to Pre-NGE what kickball is to Major League Baseball. It’s vaguely similar but not at all the same game.

  59. […] up resulting in a downgrade of subscribers. Of course, this has all been said before, and some are sick of hearing it. I’ve only brought it up because I’ve concluded that the maxim “You only get one […]

  60. I think the NGE has become one of those undead memes, like permadeath, open PvP, and class vs. skills. It’ll keep popping its head above ground every year or so.

  61. I just didn’t want to perpetuate the discussion.

    Which is why you wrote a long blog entry and linked the article…

    SWG/NGE will perpetuate itself whenever Sony make game-breaking changes in future games. I can see why players want to educated future designers with short to-the-point articles like the one linked.

    THIS is your player-democracy at work, Raph.

  62. I’d like to present two comments that Raph him self has made, partly to address Dr. Reality Checks “get a life” comment, but mostly to show why so many will always be disgruntled about the NGE (And because Raph says it so well).

    “It’s a SERVICE. Not a game. It’s a WORLD. Not a game. It’s a COMMUNITY. Not a game. Anyone who says, ‘it’s just a game’ is missing the point.”

    “Everyone knows that the game is about other people, right? That’s often presented as the Great Secret, the Holy Grail of Online Knowledge.

    Well, it’s wrong. In part, anyway. The fact is that other people are something fairly cheap. The trick is other people that your people care about. Other people in the same place as your people. Other people who aren’t going to leave.”.

    IMHO LA/SOE’s biggest mistake was thinking they could turn a Star Wars world/sim into a “game” and that no one would leave. Pets, professions…most of what made SWG “serious” about Star Wars *poof* gone over night. They totally misread their customers and the community, but worse, they effectively said “We don’t care if you the community like SWG how it is, we’re changing it anyway”.

    Arrogance is why everyone left SWG and that, to me, is the real lesson companies should learn here.

  63. The lesson is important for the coming generations of online games. You chose how to deploy your game and there is no known way to get a second chance. This is really knowledge that the designers need to relay to investors, and today there are lots of inexperienced designers working in this industry.

  64. Well, I think developers are still in a pretty confortable position, compared to say people in the SWG community forums. You know, the boards are part of the orbit, so you can’t escape it there. Part of its stickiness is that discussion and meta-discussion frequently switch sides. So, you’ve tried to distance yourself by putting some more metas between the issue and you.

    Interestingly enough, it has drawn a piece of meta-discussion in many discussions, as posting issues are no longer something naive and for fun. The somewhat “hidden” intention of posting at all has moved to the foreground, say like “50,000 subsribers” can be seen as a statement like “look, what the NGE has done” other than “Its an interesting figure”.

    Anyways, what makes the discussion of the NGE itself futile to me is that you can never beat people’s best-of memories they created from a long and checkered time period.

  65. @ Just a bystander:
    You might be right with devs having a “god-complex”, but I don’t think the devs decide what makes it into the game in the end…

    @Dr. Reality Check:
    As I said on the swg forums back in the days:

    “It’s not just a game, it’s a world to live in!

    I think the reason everyone is bringing up the NGE every once in a while is because they (including me) feel betrayed. We worked our butts off to achieve what we did ingame and suddenly everything was changed.
    We had/made friends ingame and had a community ripped apart from one day to another.

    An example of how deep the fear of this happening again is sitting is my former swg guild:

    We all went to play Vanguard. On the day SOE announced they took over Vanguard all of them (about 20 people) cancelled their accounts and left the game. Only my brother and me stayed in the game and we are thinking to leave as well.

    We just don’t want to take the risk of investing another 2.5 years in a game that completely changes into something totally different.

  66. Wow RAph you are really wise person defending the ones who killed your brain child just wow.

  67. […] I think it’s time for us to move on. I tend to agree with Raph on this one. I think players who are still hung up on this need to do one two things, 1) get […]

  68. There are actually two seperate debates here IMHO:

    The Implementation of the NGE

    The NGE Vs Pre-NGE gameplay

    The latter is, and always will be, a valid discussion. However, the former is truely where the vast majority of the anger comes from, and is the root of discussions such as this. Because the former is not addressed, it will continue to remain attached to the latter.

    A majority of the “hate” could be addressed if Smed would truely apologize for the former.

    There can never be closure on the the feelings we all have for the game we lost, but there can be closure on the implementation of the NGE itself. Having that closure would allow many to put that hate behind them, and would benefit not only the “SWG Vet” community as a whole, but SOE as well.

    I find it hard to believe Smed doesn’t see this, but if he doesn’t, someone should enlighten him. Until there is an apology, this horse will continue to rot in front of us all, including you Raph, no matter how tired we are of the same-old rehashed arguments…

  69. I know it doesn’t take much out of a person to post a rant on the Internet, but still — that someone can draw a parallel between JFK’s assassination and the NGE demonstrates a massive lack of perspective.

    This passionate hatred of an event almost two years ago is unhealthy. NGE-haters don’t need to forgive, but they sure need to heal. And they need to find that healing within themselves because there’s nothing that SOE/LucasArts could ever do that would erase the NGE.

    It’s called acceptance.

    (sigh)

    I wish Ben were here.

  70. Alot of people miss the game. For allot of people, because of the IP, it was there first game. it think it may have introduced more new MMO players than wow did….

    We all know how people feel about there first MMO and time spent in it.

  71. Unfortunately this topic is not so much about what really happened but mostly about basic human nature. Prior to the NGE there were differences in views but the player base (although complaining like in every game) was alongside the game developers when it came to core of most things. The NGE on many levels was a breach of trust – real or imagined – on an unprecedented scale in that kind of relationship.

    From that point on it transformed into a war of ideology between part of the player base and SOE and like all wars people thought and still think that they are right to promote their side. Whether it’s a war with guns or a war with words, few ever embark with the concept that they are the bad guys.

    So overall I am sorry that you are caught in this war Raph and I fear that it will not end. If it’s any consolation then you should know that personally I find this blog to be very insightful in many different topics and that it humanizes you a lot. I’m definitely not condoning what is happening but I would not expect it to end if I were you. Humans have yet to learn to let go :(

  72. I don’t understand why people think that an apology, even a complete “we totally screwed you guys and we’re sorry” would have really any impact on the issue? Sure, it would make me FEEL better, for a few minutes. I’d feel about as good about that as dinging level 10 on WoW.

    The point is, I WANT MY GAME BACK. I don’t give a crap who was to blame, who had who’s head up who else’s ass. I WANT MY GAME BACK. SWG had TONS of problems with it. It wasn’t polished in pretty much any way, but we didn’t care. We loved it for what it did right.

    The only way this will ever go away is if LA and SOE get their shiz together and create SWG2 with an improved version of old SWG.

  73. I quit because of the NGE…

    I feel very strongly that when a company keeps something a secret until charging customer’s credit cards for a new expansion which advertised items for classes that were being removed from the game (Creature Handler Necklace for instance) it is more than bad customer service – it is unconscionable.

    I feel very strongly that when a company forces an ‘update’ down the community’s collective throats just because it had a specified “ship date” and not because it was finished – that is wrong. The game itself was released it seems merely to create a revenue stream to fund development.

    I am very passionate about the fact that games such as World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online spent intensive time in development – World of Warcraft was even pushed back year after year by Blizzard because it wasn’t yet finished. Some companies seem to care about quality and releasing a product that makes its customers happy as opposed to angry. Love or hate WoW – it is polished and complete.

    Now 4 years post-release, I can still be shot through walls/floors by NPCs and cannot shoot back in SWG. I can still fall through world geometry, and I can find myself getting pummeled to death by cavemen with sticks while I am wielding a lightsaber. I can watch mobs stack on top of each other and they can all attack you but you can’t attack them individually. I look at all of the above – and I am told that it is ‘working as intended’ to make things more ‘Star Warsy.’

    Very real concerns that were raised by players are brushed away because the higher ups do not care about the customers as you allege. John Smedley posted that he wanted to hear what we thought of the NGE when it was first release. A look at his profile revealed that he never bothered to log in again to check for replies to his message for at least the two months that I watched.

    People who are still playing are funding a beta test in progress. The least SOE could have done would have been to scrap and take the time to finish the game instead of breaking things every patch. But hey – at least Smugglers can now smuggle (4 years post ship date). Next thing you know Jedi will be able to use the force!

  74. An apology won’t undo the damage to be sure. But it needs to be done.

    As I said, even if I were inclined to forgive them, how can I since I’ve not even been ASKED for it?

    The fact that Smed hasn’t officially apologized to the SWG players reeks of ego and pride. Who knows, it could be the whole Sony is an Asian corporation thing, they won’t apologize for the “loss of face” cultural thing.

  75. It is just a game.

    MMOs aren’t meant as a substitute to your real, living, breathing world.

    And if they ARE your substitute for your real, living, breathing world, then you have some severe issues past (real or imagined) slights by MMO developers that desperately need to be addressed.

  76. Good people make bad mistakes every single day and because of who they were all the days before, people forgive them. I can’t however forgive John Smedley even though some have said he has apoligized. Regardless of what a great person he is, regardless of how long he has spent talking to players on the phone, he has a history of placing $$$ before his customers. From releasing games early, to taking developers off of the live game to work on expansions to pushing the CU and NGE live broken and incomplete to meet a marketing deadline, he has consistantly shown that the customer is always second fiddle.

    So I don’t judge Smedley on the NGE alone, I look at the body of his work and judge him on that, and if Raph can show I am wrong on any of these things, please do.

  77. People seem upset over this NGE thing.

  78. And yet, I have to remind myself — probably 95 percent of the people who left SWG have well-adjusted lives with family, friends, jobs, outside hobbies and other things to fill the gap that the NGE left in some of them.

    There’s the wounded ex-player, and then there’s the player who simply walked away and tried something new without acting 18 months later as though his/her hand had been chopped off

  79. I wasn’t sure if I should post this, but what the heck, these are my opinions and I stand by them. They don’t reflect the positions of my company, clientele, or previous employers. But since I’m in marketing, you probably don’t like me anyway, so if you don’t like what I have to say, you’re S.O.L. ;p

    Jonathon Stevens wrote:

    I don’t understand why people think that an apology, even a complete “we totally screwed you guys and we’re sorry” would have really any impact on the issue?

    I come from a long line of rough, tough backwoods Scots whose progenitors were actual raiders, Norman pirates originally hired as mercenaries by Duke William to conquer England. After the 1066 invasion was successful, they became cutthroats for hire to the highest bidder and eventually became royalty themselves.

    Hell, several of my cousins were elite special forces, several of my relatives work in the defense industry, my grandfather despite being a respected entomologist was a rumblin’ Jack with his guncrazy hunters for an extended family in upstate New York, and even my mother got the best of boy bullies as a child and later became a second-tier Judo master in the Phillipines.

    So whenever I see adults crying for someone to apologize to them, my stomach grumbles and I feel sick. It doesn’t matter if the adults crying for an apology are political characters in a sci-fi television series either. I feel the same way. That petty game of playing the victim is ugly and weak. I simply have no respect and zero sympathy for anyone, wronged or not, who howls about “closure” from hearing someone regret their decisions. Victim play smells of a sadistic desire for the pleasure of seeing someone bend their knees to your will.

    Heh. “All I have in this world is my balls and my word and I don’t break’em for no one.” — Tony Montana

    wildcat_84 wrote:

    The fact that Smed hasn’t officially apologized to the SWG players reeks of ego and pride.

    I wouldn’t apologize for my mistakes either. I would acknowledge them, but I wouldn’t look back, sulk, and regret my actions. I would recognize that I did what I thought was best at the time, make that clear to you, and expect you to be an adult and move on. It’s not a matter of ego or pride. It’s a matter of decency. People make mistakes. That’s life. Forgive and forget.

  80. Sorry Raph, but I do think constantly talking about it is productive. Maybe next time a developer looks longingly at the subscriber numbers of a competitor they’ll remember the NGE Saga and think twice.

    And I think you’re going to continue to hear about it because a large group of former SWG players continue to wander the gaming landscape like refugees.

    And Raph we need to keep in mind the NGE was the tip of the iceberg. It wasn’t an atrocity that drove everybody away. It was the final in a series of blunders that culminated in a reservior of hate and angst among players for SOE, Smed, Torres and others.

    If we the players were an adoring spouse and SOE was our cheating significant other, the NGE wasn’t just SOE getting caught cheating (again). It was SOE getting caught cheating again on a Dateline special.

    And for a lot of us that Dateline special was the final straw (although apparently some folks have no problems with their spouse getting caught on Dateline – and all that entails).

    Lets back track shall we?

    First the game was released too soon (Vanguard anyone?) with tons of bugs. Every single patch seemed to bring more bugs and more issues. They’d get fixed in a few weeks, only to bring more bugs. By that first Christmas I knew a lot of people who wouldn’t play for two or three days after a patch because they knew the rubberbanding and other issues would be almost unbearable.

    This was SOE sleeping with the hot 20-something secretary. But despite QA never being what it should, folks made excuses and hung on. We saw the potential and loved the community the game built. So we looked the other way when it came to escapades on business trips to Austin.

    Then we started hearing about these grand changes coming to the combat system. Groovy we all though – since about half to a third of the combat professions in the game were broke and basically useless. Smugglers didn’t Smuggle. Bounty Hunters couldn’t bounty hunt. Commandos were fire breathing dragons that couldn’t hit anything, and nobody could remember ever seeing a Carbineer.

    Then silence. Then some “oh we changed gears a bit but the next thing coming is going to be awesome” followed by nothing. Rinse repeat. Until many months had passed and nobody knew what was going on.

    The waiting game was aggravating and a lot of people either quit or turned to grinding jedi. PvP died. The game basically lost any forward motion and was in a constant state of inertia.

    Finally the CU came. Of course it wasn’t what we were expecting. All along we were told changes to the existing system would be coming. NOT a wholesale change of the game from top to bottom.

    Most alarming was almost everything players had built up was now worthless. To add insult to injury, many rare or expensive items (say … doc buffs) were literally transformed into useless items of little or no value. Everything from weapons to armor was converted to the new system with no guarantee that the best gun on the server going into the change was the best gun on the server coming out. (Personally I had one of the better DE-10s on the server that myself and a friend spend $20 million on, only to have one of my worst DE-10s turn out better in the conversion).

    This was your spouse getting drunk, having a party, cheating on you with some tramp downtown, passing out and having that tramp call her friend to clean out your house.

    Still, many of us stuck around. We kind of saw the direction, thought it had potential and were willing to deal with the inconvenience if it meant a more balanced game. And of course we were under the impression that this was THE wholesale change to the game.

    Little did we know SOE was already talking in chatrooms with the teenage NGE. They were making plans, talking dirty to each other and secretly keeping their budding illegitamate romance secret from EVERYBODY. At least in the past SOE let its friends and co-works know about their foibles.

    This time nobody knew. So while we were all dealing with the growing pains of the CU, SOE was booking a flight out to meet the young NGE in-person.

    Which brings us to the “Have a seat over there” moment.

    The NGE will continue to be talked about because it is THE example of a developer giving the high hard one to its customers. Personally I don’t believe for a second Smed and others didn’t know this. I don’t believe that it was a coincidence they pushed the expansion pack on customers only to announce the NGE days after it went public.

    The biggest problem with SOE was a lack of vision for the game. They never had a grand road map and as a result changed direction at the drop of a coin.

    Jedi in SWG can be seen as a true symbol of that lack of vision and pre-determined direction.

    At launch jedi were mysterious and we were told they’d be rare, hard to get and their unlocking would be secret and mysterious. Within months that changed. Not only were we told how to unlock jedi, but we were given a holocron to help us. From there they were changed again so that every character in the game could pretty easily be put on the road to becoming a jedi via the village, although it still took months to unlock and grind. Then the CU came and with new XP systems it was even easier to have a jedi (not to mention exploits that let folks grind out a jedi in a week were ignored) so they were nerfed. By the time the NGE-bomb was about to drop almost every long time player had a jedi and I knew a few people who had MANY jedi. In two short years we had gone from “don’t be disappointed if you never get a jedi because you probably won’t” to “hey look at me – I have two jedi.” Then the NGE hit and everybody could be Luke Skywalker if they highlighted his picture and hit OK.

  81. […] have to love this. Apparently the Escapist has an NGE story on its web site.This story apparently caught the eye of Raph Koster, who is wondering why people still care. And basically defending Smed and Company. And making it […]

  82. […] Apparently Raph is tired of hearing about the NGE. […]

  83. I didn’t go into the data mining thing because a) there’s confidentiality stuff there, and b) like I said in the first place, I’m just tired of NGE articles, for the reasons above.

    Fair enough. How about a future post on data mining that that is abstract enough to avoid both a) and b)? I’d like to hear what you and the rest of the cognoscenti have to say about it (Sara Jenson Shubert type stuff…)

  84. @ Wildcat84 and crew: A corporate CEO isn’t going to apologize to 10 rabid preCU fanbois.

    It wouldn’t change anything. It wouldn’t undo the NGE. It wouldn’t undo the CU. It wouldn’t undo the myriad of mistakes, errors, and monumental screw ups everyone at SOE: Austin has done with SWG – from design document stage to execution to maintaining and improving the live service. Everyone is culpable; from Koster to Smedley to the no name artists designing box art.

  85. Han Solo Shot First!!

    sorry, it had to be said.

    What SOE and Lucas Arts did with the “new game enhancemtns” is destroy any brand recognition they had.

    Even though the “nge” is a stale topic that many would rather not hear it is a valid one that deserves discussion to prevent future mistakes; like the Nazi’s during WWII. History is taught for a reason so let us not forget the mistake made before us.

    While I’m confident there’s many good people behind the scenes who have taken the fall for the “nge” there’s no amount of “greatness” which can remove the wronging of the customer base. There’s never been an apology but only half given admitions to mistakes.

    To this day I refuse to -purchase- anything with a “Sony” lable on it, as well with “Lucas Arts”. I am also extremely hesitant to directly associate with any products which are developed, or in developemnt, by the same people who were responsible for the end product known as the “new game enhancements”; sorry Jeff and Julio.

  86. […] like The Escapist has stirred a hornets nest over at Lum’s house and positively has knocked over some potted plants at Raph’s place. Allen Varney’s article, Blowing Up Galaxies, has caused Raph to whine that he is tired of hearing […]

  87. Personally, I believe the CU was nothing more than a precurser to getting the game ready for the NGE. The NGE WAS the Combat Upgrade, it was just done in two parts.

    JTL proved in large part that twitch style aiming and combat could work for SWG.

    In short, it was a sham.

    The original combat balance docs were trashed, thus the NGE was born (albiet under a different name).

    Think about it…Really sit back and look at what the CU brought to the table then tell me you don’t reach the same conclusion.

    But we’ll never know because everyone hides behind an NDA.

    The story is what fascinates me. I could care two cents about playing PRECU, CU, or NGE.

  88. @Just a bystander – It’s funny how you can basically tell people they have no life because they are passionate about something you feel is mundane yet you #1 wont give a halfway legit name, #2 wont give a link to a location where people could come close to recognizing who you are, and #3 are continuing to post on a discussion who’s sole purpose is really to discuss what happened.

    My life in SWG was much more engaging, social, and meaningful than your’s on this board apparently.

  89. It could be worse, it could be about Trammel :P

  90. OK, let’s go through the list of overwrought analogies in this thread alone:

    NGE = marital infidelity (with TV news magazine and hobo variants — someone alert John Hodgman), Naziism, assassination of JFK, exploding cars, nuclear-armageddon-following-the-San-Francisco earthquake, the hypothetical desecration of baseball (with replacement-by-kickball variant).

    I’m waiting for NGE = pandemic flu, Darfur, the oppression of Paris Hilton, and the lack of third-party apps for the iPhone.

  91. @ Jonathon:

    There’s no information about me that matters, other than I’m a bystander – I’m a gaming enthusiast, a gaming hobbiest (sp?). I’ve no vested interest in it other than I am a fan of MMOs, enjoy playing MMOs, but I don’t wail around in self pity because SOE kicked my (PRECU) puppy (that constantly peed on the carpet) to the pound.

    As I previously stated, my interest in it is because it’s a fascinating story.

    I enjoyed SWG for what it was – a GAME. And ANYONE that compares the PRECU/CU/NGE debacle to the assassination of a President, a devestating earthquake, or any other real life travesty has some serious issues. But that’s not the crux of anything I’ve said – or what any normal person has said or would say. Some of these people have wished serious personal harm upon those (or their families) that brought it about.

    There’s something seriously wrong with that.

    And further, anyone that puts so much effort into a virtual community (or forums, whatever) and makes that their ‘world’ really could stand to get outside more often.

    When it call comes down to it, it’s pixels.

    Nothing more.

  92. There is only one possibility to move on. At least for me…

    Pre-CU was unique and most importantly still IS unique. Not because we were in Star Wars, but because we were in place which felt like a copy of RL with only “good” things inside.

    You could create a life you would live if Star wars would really exist.

    And that posibility is, that we get a place to go, a place that we will like, not necessary SW branded, but same or simmilar freedom and same or simmilar choice of things.

    Many of us vets whine about how it was nice in it, and thats because we can’t find the place to replace it. There is no single game which covers basic sandbox functionality of SWG, not to talk about all these features and possibilities of it.

    And trust me, many devs are afraid to make sandbox, because they know that we are their customer base, and every each of them know that we can yell very laud, if they do mistake.

    So, i start to give up on Precu servers from soe. I start to give up to see any finished emu server. I’m trying to stop moaning about good old times and i try to move on. But i will never forget.

    And, just off topic: I own Xbox1 and Wii and i also bought an Nintendo DS to my little one. My company buys HP’s and/or Dell Notebooks or PC’s and there won’t be any Sony product in my range as long as i have decision power, be it profesional or private. Ah and i play wow and not eq1/2.

    Bye bye Soe, bye bye Precu.

    G.

  93. I find it fascinating that two people with purchasing authority in corporations claim to be declining products from a completely separate division of a large conglomerate based solely on a bad experience with an unrelated personal entertainment service.

    If these corporations were publicly held, or the purchasing was being done for a nonprofit or governmental agency, I would consider that a breach of fiduciary duty. To say nothing of the complete lack of perspective.

  94. I think, in large part, it was that it was sprung on the players. Litterally just after an expansion pack which had only just been introduced, with minimal testing. Disenfranchisement of the player base like that…yea.

    At least people talking about it means people are..less likely to repeat the error.

  95. Raph why were you influenced so much by Caella.
    Did you ever get to know Caella beyond the forums.
    Or know why Caella said so much and fought so much for Caella’s style of gameplay which you seemed to give in to so much?

  96. I find it fascinating that two people with purchasing authority in corporations claim to be declining products from a completely separate division of a large conglomerate based solely on a bad experience with an unrelated personal entertainment service.

    Welcome to the double-edged sword of brand. I’m sure Morgan could say a lot about this.

    If these corporations were publicly held, or the purchasing was being done for a nonprofit or governmental agency, I would consider that a breach of fiduciary duty. To say nothing of the complete lack of perspective.

    Because purchasing decisions are typically done in some objective, optimal way?

  97. @79: That Chip Guy

    Well it is easy. There is always cheaper item of equal or better quality than Sony product.

    Pcs? Whos is enough stupid to buy Sony notebook, while you can get cheaper notebook with more features than Sony.

    Xbox1? Best mediacenter for your living room ever. Look at XBMC :) And PS3? Expensive piece of… you know what.

    Wii and DS? Story of itself, definetly better than what you get from Sony side. Btw, i played games on machines that had graphics resolution of 80×64 pixels, so you can see that i prefer gameplay over sparkling graphics.

    Btw, i could buy Sony LCD but i got myself Samsung and you know what? Sony lets Samsung to produce LCDs for them, but charging 20-50% more for simmilar model of Samsung :)

    Oh, well i could be happy custommer and buy that product with 4 letters but i won’t. I’ll spend more time to find cheaper and better offer than just go for “good” name.

    Btw, if you can’t hurt company that hurted you, just hurt their parent company but let them know why did you do it. Don’t be arse and tell them “Precu4TW” but explain to them that you were disapointed with quality of service of one division and you are not doing any other transaction with corporation as whole.

    G.

  98. What I miss most about the “pre-NGE” game is all the friends I had who left when the NGE was implemented.

    I miss major parts of my community. I had something like 170 people on my friends list, about 80 of which left with the NGE.

    The gameplay is… okay. It’s not what I originally signed up for. It’s not everything that I like. If the NGE system was released at launch, I probably wouldn’t have stuck around very long.

    Now, the reason I stay is because I still have friends who play. I still have a character, I’ve still invested my time into the game.

    I can only hope that somewhere, in some business ethics or customer service class, the whole NGE fiasco (both the announcement and the actual changes to gameplay) are being used as examples of exactly how NOT to treat your customers.

  99. “# Just a bystander said on June 13th, 2007 at 9:37 am:

    @ Wildcat84 and crew: A corporate CEO isn’t going to apologize to 10 rabid preCU fanbois.

    It wouldn’t change anything. It wouldn’t undo the NGE. It wouldn’t undo the CU. It wouldn’t undo the myriad of mistakes, errors, and monumental screw ups everyone at SOE: Austin has done with SWG – from design document stage to execution to maintaining and improving the live service. Everyone is culpable; from Koster to Smedley to the no name artists designing box art.

    You know what, it’s that sort of arrogance from high executives (btw, Smed isn’t a CEO, he’s President of SOE) that ticks off customers the most.

    Damn skippy Smed should DIRECTLY apologize to SWG subscribers. You see, MMOs are service businesses. The customer repeats his purchase every month. This means you have to sell them on staying every single month.

    That’s why they are hurting so badly across the board from the NGE. SOE is the MMO company best known for screwing their customers without batting an eye. That is their reputation. That is Smed’s reputation, whether he likes it or not.

    Only he can do something to change that.

    Frankly I hope he doesn’t. Continuing on as he is makes his failure all the more certain. And when Smed is canned, I plan to throw a party. As I’ve said, I don’t know him personally, only from how he’s acted with respect to SWG. He may be a good person to other people, but to SWG vets, he’s demon spawn evil. To this date he’s done ZERO to give us any reason to change our minds on that impression.

  100. I think Joseph’s statement in post 44 says it all. Some of you have a misguided perception of the SWG playerbase. I am far from a basement dwelling, no life gamer. In fact I was considered a weekender when I first started playing as I was working 50 hours a week. The reasons we enjoyed SWG and the amount of time we found to play aren’t always related. Just because I enjoyed the complex virtual world of PreCu SWG does not mean I have no social life, any outside interest or lack the ability to have a personal/sex life as was insinuated by Dr. R.C.

    Furthermore, to those of you who say it is “just a game”, I have many “just a games” in my entertainment center. I also have “just a console gaming system” as well. I have played many enjoyable “just a games” and continue to do so. The absolute brilliance of SWG PreCU, is that it was not “just a game”. I was able to develope meaningful friendships and bonds to places and things, and to even my own avatars. I have yet to find a “just a game” that gives my that ability. So at least for me SWG went way beyond “just a game”, and I am grateful it did. It opened a new gaming/entertainment/socialization world for me. And whether I was able to log a 2 hour game weekday game session, or a 20 hour weekend marathon, I enjoyed it all the same.

    Lastly, don’t be glib and condescending when it comes to other people’s feelings. And don’t pretend to know me and others like me because of a stereotypical view you hold of what a gamer’s life is like. Because honestly you have no clue. Some Star Wars die hards walk to the beat of a different drum, I am one of them and proud of it. We may seem off to some, but you only see the “Star Wars” side of us. I played SWG with doctors, attorneys, truck drivers and housewives. In real life many of us would never had the opportunity to get know each other. But through our love of the Star Wars universe we met, formed friendships, became adversaries and created cities and communities. A lot of us poured our hearts and souls into this game, regardless of actual time played. And that should count for more that just our subscription dollars to SOE/LA.

  101. I’m amazed so many people (and companies) so totally miss the “core” of what it means for a “game” to be MMO.

    Pure and simple, it’s all about community.

    The game is just like that little speck that an oyster ends up turning into a pearl. When people make the comment that an MMO is “just” a game, they’re showing they just don’t get it.

    Some ex-SWG players realise it, some don’t, but the real reason people are so pissed off with the NGE is because of what it did to the community, not what it did to the “game”.

  102. Tinman_au wrote:

    Some ex-SWG players realise it, some don’t, but the real reason people are so pissed off with the NGE is because of what it did to the community, not what it did to the “game”.

    I think they are one in the same. They broke the community by how and what the did to the game. They are interconnected.

    But you are absolutely right, in many aspects the community makes the game. This was especially true with SWG. However, in newer games being released the community seems to be an afterthought, game play is the primary focus. I think this is something that Raph was eluding to when speaking of WoW de-evolving the genre.

    Not meaning to generalize, but publishing and development companies continue to strive to grab a piece of the console pie. I am not sure many console gamers are interested in the community aspects of games. Making games more accessible and console like is evolving the business and marketing aspects of MMOs, but at the cost of uniqueness, creativity and quality.

  103. That Chip Guy said on June 13th, 2007 at 5:51 am:

    I know it doesn’t take much out of a person to post a rant on the Internet, but still — that someone can draw a parallel between JFK’s assassination and the NGE demonstrates a massive lack of perspective.

    lol yeah I maybe was getting a little over my head on that one. I blame it on the beer. :D

    That Chip Guy said on June 13th, 2007 at 8:41 am:

    And yet, I have to remind myself — probably 95 percent of the people who left SWG have well-adjusted lives with family, friends, jobs, outside hobbies and other things to fill the gap that the NGE left in some of them.

    There’s the wounded ex-player, and then there’s the player who simply walked away and tried something new without acting 18 months later as though his/her hand had been chopped off

    I’am stuck in a wheelchair, I only got a sister left living in the family, I live on the unemployment benefit fund every month and I value these games for being a really good social contact with the rest of the world. Do you mean that Iam any diffrent than those 95% in anyway just because I still grief the lost of many fine friends and want a closure?

    Conclusion: JFK was over my head, Raph is tired of the moaning about the NGE and Im gonna to respect that, That Chip Guy is entitled to his opinion even if Im one of the 5% outcasts that doesnt have a life to fill the gaps with and I dont really understand what that was all about.

    I here by retire myself from this discussion.

    Take care all

    The Second Day Vet

  104. Just a few random observations, in no particular order….

    Hmmm… almost 90 posts? Raph, I hope you’ve reframed your perception of this “rehash” article by now. Rather than resent the fact that people are still talking about SWG and the NGE almost two years after the deed was done, be glad for the fact that people are still talking about it, and that editors still consider it newsworthy. Makers of projects that died in obscurity would give an awful lot to have had that kind of energy under their product.

    …Confidentiality agreements are for protecting against rival companies and provide legal means to punish people who might try to sell your interests out. They should not be used as a blanket defense against customers who want to understand how such a series of events got put into motion. Your customers have invested in your product, they have a right to know why it blew up in their face.

    I thought this observation worth repeating for emphasis.

    I really hope the PTB’s at Sony Online figure out sooner or later that the NDA’s that keep people from speaking forthrightly about the game’s twists and turns are counterproductive. All they’re doing is creating an information vacuum. For my part, I found your comments last year to be an enormous relief, akin to the relief one feels when the proverbial other shoe drops. Call it silly if you must, but after spending a full year grinding out the “Force Sensitive” prereqs for my character’s Jedi career, only to have the Combat Upgrade nerf what I’d worked for just as I got there, and then getting hit with the NGE just as I was completing my character’s development that November… well, let’s just say I got the worst possible timing for both changes. And like others in this thread, I just cannot believe your friends innocently thought concealing the NGE was a Good Thing To Do.

    You might think John Smedley and Julio Torres are dandy chaps, but to the hundreds of thousands of customers they shafted, they are the virtual-world equivalents of the nice man next door who was secretly chopping up young boys in his basement.

    And yes, I still haven’t let pre-CU SWG go. Like others, I don’t see any projects out there, either current or in development (other than the private non-profit SWG emulator projects) that offers anything like the NON-LEVEL-BASED gameplay model you and your team created. I fully expect all the big-dollar developers to follow the level-based WoW model — but I have some serious issues with that model. My hands-on experience with the WoW/LOTRO/etc. model is that it: (1) Isolates players from one another due to the characters’ different levels; (2) Is a game-development nightmare, because it effectively forces the devs to create 50 or 60, or 70, or 90 level-based minigames within the game; and (3) Breaks virtual “worlds” up into discrete zones that resemble a RISK board more than a virtual world. I don’t want zones; I want WORLDS! You spoiled me that way.

  105. Frankly NGE was so bad it deserves every punch it gets. Its like other historical topics that -never- will be dropped.

  106. Raph,

    With all due respect, admitting it was a mistake and apologizing to the 200K people you screwed, are 2 diffrent things.

  107. An apology won’t change anything.
    A pre-CU server won’t change anything.
    A pre-CU emulator won’t change anything.

    The NGE is the examply of “How you mustn’t do it.” It’s not just a spot of ink on SOE’s record, it’s burned in deep with huge letters. They will never get rid of it as long as they exist. And there will always be someone ranting about the NGE. And as long as it keeps other companies from making the same error, I don’t have any problems with that.

  108. Raph, the NGE discussions need to continue… just to remind the people involved in that monumental train wreck of decisions to never do it again.

    Yes, you can want them to stop, you can try to avoid feeding them, but you can’t avoid the reasons behind them.

    An apology from Smed wont change anything. CU/NGE killed 90% of SWG’s population directly or indirectly- apologizing for it won’t bring those players back. It won’t bring back the fun memories, and let us relive them, it will only bring back the feelings of loss, despair, and failed potential of a game people were truly passionate about.

    All we as consumers can hope is that others in the industry truly learn lessons from it. We can hope that more games wont be launched with incomplete systems. We can hope that more dev teams wont apply game balance breaking patches every month to fix previous game breaking patches. We can hope that there will never be another game with such huge potential that goes unrealized. And finally, we can hope that a game’s representatives never blatantly lie to their customer base again – such as with the original jedi lies – and that they never change (and lie) about requirements/quests again (6 classes to unlock, became 9, became 24, some random threshold that varied among players, or was shuffled to maintain a certain population control on jedi…)

    We can hope… but it’s only people like Smed, Raph, Rob Pardo, etc who really have control over that.

    I personally hope that the NGE/CU discussions continue to be painful to the people involved so that the lessons remain learned, instead of quietly forgotten.

  109. Hrmm, I tried SWG and I thought it was a level grind game. Maybe I didn’t give it enough of a chance, and then again all games do have some grind to them, even UO did. But I think I must have missed SWG’s full extent of non-grind game play. I did see some of that, did have some “sandbox” feel. I’m thinking that SWG had alot of game play that wasn’t centered around questing for levels and items. Yet, it also had that, the levels and items based on level progression, and that’s what turned me off from it (maybe without seeing the other side).

    The fact so many players did see SWG as a sandbox game leads to something, and that’s the lack of other sandbox games to go to. Feeling screwed in your game is bad enough, but it just makes it so much worse when there’s no other games like that to go to.

    I think I’m seeing more proof that there are indeed alot of gamers who want the sandbox.

    For those who say that it’s just a game and that people shouldn’t get all upset about it, I say bull. Take a golfer’s favorite driver away from him and see what happens. Fill in a fisherman’s favorite fishing pond and see how he reacts. Most importantly though, as an example, take the Cleveland Browns out of Cleveland and see what the goddamnMFingdieahorribledeath happens!!! (While the overwhelming majority of us don’t really wish any harm to that scumbag, we certainly will never forget nor forgive and damn him if he thinks we’ll ever allow his induction into the Hall of Fame. Not even as long as we have cold dead fingers to reach from the grave with!)

    Do you see my point? :)

  110. As for me, instead of bringing back over and over those sad memories, I prefer to think about things like when they fixed the Imperial cap!

    Silly how a so little thing could bring so much excitment to the players (well, for RPers at least… well, at least for me!).

    Ah the old days…

  111. I’m confused as to what the lesson is supposed to be. Don’t change things? That’s obvious.

    But wasn’t there 750,000 people who purchased an SWG box but did not subscribe? That’s an overwhelming majority of people who won’t post on a message board or a blog. Where is the lesson for that? How do you change things to entice those people to join the game? Especially when you’re not allowed to change anything due to avatar rights?

    From the outside, having never been involved in any capacity, I’m reading four things. The grindy jedi, the levels, deleting classes and twitch. Of those 4, the only thing I see as being COMPLETELY misguided is the classes being deleted. I’ll readily admit though I may not be reading it correctly. There is a bit of noise.

    Although, I must say, the degree and frequency of the lost-love theme seems to be unique to SWG. It is rather poignant.

  112. Some of these people have wished serious personal harm upon those (or their families) that brought it about.

    I have not in the past, do not now and would not in the future ever wish harm to anyone making a stupid decision such as this. I do not compare this to JFK or any other “real world” disaster. This is nothing like the loss of human life.

    When it call comes down to it, it’s pixels.

    Nothing more.

    This is what I’m saying I don’t agree with. It’s not just pixels. Just like the photo on my desk of my son when he was 3 months old is not just ink and paper. Just like the same image on my computer isn’t just pixels. It means something. It has value that no one outside my immediate family would or could care about. You don’t care if my picture gets lost do you? Of course not, because you aren’t emotionally involved in that picture. Just like you obviously haven’t had a game that was so good it got you emotionally involved.

    It makes you petty to attack people who are passionate about something.

    And further, anyone that puts so much effort into a virtual community (or forums, whatever) and makes that their ‘world’ really could stand to get outside more often.

    I spend at most 2 – 3 hours/day playing games (and usually only M – F). I “get out” quite a bit. With that aside, let’s think about this for a second. What is there for the average person “in the real world?” Take a teenager for instance. As a teenager, I was picked on at school for being poor, picked on at work for working at a fast food restaurant, pressured that I should join the military, saw killing, child abuse, and various other horrible things on the nightly news EVERY day.

    I go home, I turn on my computer and I log into an MMO (MUD at the time). Guess what? Now I am somebody. I’m not getting teased, bullied, etc. I’m not seeing people being hurt, I’m seeing made up characters being hurt. I’m winning stuff. I’m socializing with my guild/clan. I AM SOMEONE.

    So which of those two realities would YOU rather be in? Which of those is BETTER for you in this instance (which is pretty damn common.) Just because you specifically get nothing more than a game out of virtual worlds, does not mean people who do are nerds, geeks, losers, or people who need to get a life. They have a life. I have a life. Sometimes virtual life is better than real life.

    I can only hope that somewhere, in some business ethics or customer service class, the whole NGE fiasco (both the announcement and the actual changes to gameplay) are being used as examples of exactly how NOT to treat your customers.

    This is why we will still hear of NGE for years and years to come. This is why we still hear about it now. It shouldn’t be forgotten. It should be retold as tales get retold. NGE will more than likely save us from every having this happen again, but only if it’s not forgotten.

    @Raph – Are you more pissed about NGE being talked about or that they quoted you on it again?

  113. […] http://www.raphkoster.com/2007/06/12/tired…e-nge/#commentsSo, here it is, a few years later, and were still seeing articles on the NGE. And honestly, Im getting a little tired of it. In this case, I actually declined to comment for the article, but theres nonetheless a giant inset quote from me dug up from ages ago (which irritates me, honestly). I had declined because I just didnt want to perpetuate the discussion.Why? Well, for one, it does feel a bit like the whole thing has turned into a bit of a punching bag. For example, the article claims that SOE has not apologized. But John Smedley has gone on record with saying it was an error several times now. All sorts of motives get ascribed to all sorts of people that just dont fit with what I know of them.Julio Torres is not the devil in fact, he was a hardcore Entertainer in SWG, not an RP-hater. Jeff Freeman is a smart talented designer he did the SWG pet system, so its not like he was out to remove it and NGE wasnt his initiative anyway. Smed is a guy who cares deeply about customers, whom I have personally seen spend hours on the phone talking to just one in order to try to resolve their issues. And yet all these guys regularly get vilified in forums regardless of what their actual roles were or what they feel about the subject, in large part because their names happen to be public. In the end, it all just feels a bit unfair, in large part because only fragments of the story are even available. And the story is going to stay unavailable because of confidentiality agreements.I know this is likely going to prove unpopular with a lot of folks who read this blog. And I am not out to defend the NGE. Rather, Im saying that until the subject can be discussed a bit more dispassionately, its difficult to discuss at all. And I am as guilty as anyone of speaking provocatively about it. But I feel burned out on the whole discussion, because so little of it seems productive.Knowing the author of the article, Im sure that it wasnt his intent to merely fan flames. And I know that anything I said in the past is always out there on the Net, ready to come back to haunt me. I also know that anyone whose name is publicly associated with something, like mine, or Smeds, or Jeffs or Julios, is going to be fair game. But my personal take on the issue is more nuanced than what I see in the discussions and articles, which have uncomfortable tones of pitchforks and fires. Im thrilled that something I worked on aroused such passion in people. Ive also had to move on.So yeah, Im kinda tired of reading articles about the NGE, particularly ones that paint these adversarial relationships with people I still talk to regularly and whom I know to be good people. I doubt that anyone will simply stop talking about it, but as for me, Im staying out of it, because regardless of how I feel about the NGE itself, I think that the real lessons of it are mostly stuff that isnt even visible to the public. (For example, IMHO the real lesson is about data mining, and not about any of the stuff that gets talked about).The flaming of me may now commence. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif) * […]

  114. […] Raph is tired of hearing about the NGE http://www.raphkoster.com/2007/06/12…about-the-nge/ […]

  115. BTW: Here’s a post that basically talks about Jeff Freeman being the poster boy initially even though his original postings were taken out of context and he was only responsible for saying the new fast action combat was his: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/72835-SWG-NGE-Crying-Freeman

  116. Raph,

    Yea I’m Still MAD about the NGE and the lost of the comunity, but why am I MAD Raph? Lets see people that should have known like yourself and the others you mentioned should have said NO thats only going to chase away our customers you can’t expect them to stay after we have destroyed the time they spent building thier AVATARS! And thats why they lost 150,000 people in a couple of months.

    Why didn’t some stand up and say HEY TEAM this is suicide! And we are breaking our customers trust yes TRUST that all our customers efforts and time spent will be gone after re-boot? Did you go to Smead and say John this is wrong, John what are we doing?

    Oh well I do know that since this happened SOE is not considered the leader any more any the company carrys the taint of the NGE. Heck I won’t even by any Sony Prducts anymore, its about Trust.

    Thanks For letting me have my Say Raph and if your next Game is any thing like the SWG PRE-CU and its not a Fantasy Game I will check it out.

    Joe Damore

  117. Argh, I didn’t even want to reply to this thread, hoping it would kinda just die off. But clearly, that won’t happen. :)

    So, my summary replies:

    – The last I made any real decisions on SWG was in 2003 (except for a couple days of focus testing on JTL). Hence my need to have moved on. I realize that for everyone else it’s a lot more recent. Everyone else can feel free to talk about it, it’s not like I am going to stop you. :)

    – I have said my piece on the NGE before, and I don’t see any reason to reiterate it. Anyone can search for it and find it. I am not at all minimizing people’s feelings.

    – I do think that because of the lack of information, there’s factually incorrect stuff floating out there and people are getting blamed for stuff that wasn’t them. Sure, letting the info out would help clear that up. But that’s not within my power.

    – I wasn’t “pissed,” I was irritated. I don’t think Allen did anything journalistically wrong — after all, the quote was out there — but I had declined to comment just because I didn’t want to just rehash stuff yet again. Allen’s actually a friend going back years, so I feel bad about this turning into bashing on him either. :P

  118. Morgan…

    I would agree with you on the apology if it were something that has ended and can no longer be reconsciled.

    But this isn’t the case.

    $OE is clearly trying to court us back. They are trying to convince us to “get over it” and resubscribe. They want us to start paying them 15 bucks a month. Or at very least, they want us to lay off the bad press.

    Well, if they want US to do something nice for them, they better at the very least apologize for screwing us.They owe it to us if they want us to forgive them.

  119. An interesting statistic…

    SWG prior to the Combat Upgrade sold 1 million copies.

    Approx 250,000 people are reported to have been playing at the time of the Combat Upgrade according to the most recent chart at another website, that Raph has endorsed as being as close to factual as you can get without it coming from SOE. This number does NOT include multiboxers, which pretty much everyone had two accounts. Some had 20 accounts or more.

    Three out of every four people that bought the box didn’t sub up past their initial ‘free’ month.

    Let that sink in for a bit…

    Also an interesting note was that the majority of people that were going for Jedi had multiple accounts to support the account going for Jedi or for the account that had obtained Jedi. People blast Jedi being in the game (DUR!! IT’S NOT IN CANNON (yes I mispelled it on purpose)!!! IT DOESN’T FIT TEH TIMELINE!!), but that pretty much saved it financially from the beginning.

  120. @ Jonathan Stevens:

    Is it really necessary to throw Freeman under the bus again?

    Now this whole thing is starting to smell like a carefully planned witch hunt / stake burning….

  121. I was over the NGE on day one. However, outside of the pros and cons of any data mining that may have gone on and whether or not it was used properly, I think there were more than a few lessons to be learned. No need to rehash those lessons, either. From what I’ve seen and read, they have been learned. The unfortunate part is how much damage was done to the reputation of the game. Perception, unfortunately, *is* reality. Anything with the Star Wars logo slapped on it has a *lot* higher expectations placed on it to begin with. We’ll see what happens.

  122. An interesting statistic…

    SWG prior to the Combat Upgrade sold 1 million copies.

    Approx 250,000 people are reported to have been playing at the time of the Combat Upgrade according to the most recent chart at another website, that Raph has endorsed as being as close to factual as you can get without it coming from SOE. This number does NOT include multiboxers, which pretty much everyone had two accounts. Some had 20 accounts or more.

    Three out of every four people that bought the box didn’t sub up past their initial ‘free’ month.

    Let that sink in for a bit…

    This is bad math. That’s not how it works. You are comparing first month conversion to net churn over the course of a year+. The result is that you are painting an inaccurate picture of SWG as a business pre-CU. In fact, SWG was doing just fine on the axes you mention — its problems were on a different axis (longer-term retention).

    This one is sort of awkward for me, because there’s confidential info here that I can’t trespass onto. But there’s this retroactive sense in some quarters that SWG was doing poorly from the get-go and that’s just not the case. Doing poorly and not hitting expectations are not the same thing.

  123. Either way, the retention rate was about 25 percent, or one in four.

    It doesn’t change 1 million boxes sold, 250,000 playing. And the only people how many of those were multiboxers are SOE’s accounting / billing dept.

    I don’t know if 25 percent retention typical for the industry, I’ll admit.

    I didn’t say that 250K players was bad, it was actually quite good for all intensive purposes unless you compare it to the phenom known as WoW.

    You can play with the numbers all you want and get pretty much any result you want from it. Look at Torres 80/20 remarks made shortly after the NGE as an example.

  124. Shayde wrote:

    I would agree with you on the apology if it were something that has ended and can no longer be reconsciled.

    I don’t believe in apologies. I don’t expect them, and I don’t give them because I don’t expect them. I would never expect anyone to regret making a decision they thought was right even if the actual result of their decision was disastrous. I would, however, expect them to acknowledge that they made the decision and that they would have to live with having made that decision. I would hope that they learn from the experience, but I would never wish them to feel sorrow, guilt. There would simply be nothing to gain and I see such a desire as akin to wishing someone harm.

    I remember a story once about traditional Japanese values. In Japan, so the story goes, when someone makes a mistake, they are asked, “What went wrong? What can we do to prevent such problems in the future?” This differs from Western values in that the Japanese are more concerned with solving problems and ensuring continuity than needlessly placing blame wherever possible. I like that story. I wish more people had their priorities straight.

  125. …there’s this retroactive sense in some quarters that SWG was doing poorly from the get-go and that’s just not the case. Doing poorly and not hitting expectations are not the same thing.

    Which is exactly why I am making the case that the non-disclosure blocks are counterproductive. Or at least, some of them. For my part, if I perceive an individual or organization as withholding information, I tend to assume the worst-case scenario, under the logic that “they must be hiding something.” Especially when “they” have a HISTORY of hiding something as cataclysmic as the NGE.

    I’ve been playing RPGs since the late 1970’s, Raph. I’ve rubbed shoulders with RPG designers over the years, and I’ve always been interested in how various games actually do as sellable products. I see SWG as lining up in the tradition of pen-and-paper RPGs like Traveller and other similar products that tried to buck the generic level-based mechanics of Dungeons & Dragons. I’ve always seen skillset-based RPGs as an interesting concept with a lot of potential, but no one quite seemed to really pull off a stunning success, whether it was because their profession systems were too cumbersome for tabletop gameplay, or because they lacked a rewarding character-advancement system. I thought SWG was a noteworthy advancement of that model. It came VERY close to pulling off a successful system. I just think it’s a damn shame SOE and LucasArts punted and reverted the game back to a level-based system.

    All that to say, I would love to see some sort of in-depth analysis of the economics of the game. What WERE the actual subscription figures? What WERE the factors that drove those numbers up or down, or held them back? What WERE SOE’s and LucasArts’ various revenue projections for the game — prior to launch, prior to the CU, and during the development of the NGE? I only have my own perspective as a gamer to go on, and my own guesses as to what inhibited the growth of the game’s subscriber base were fairly simple: (1) The bugs (GAHH!!!); (2) The lack of clearly-recognizable quest content (all those NPCs with quest icons over their heads always seemed to be offering content that was either a bit too tough for my nOOb Marksman, or too easy when I went back and talked to them later); and (3) The lack of an up-to-date game manual that took characters beyond the six entry professions. Granted, the gaming community did a superb job on the SWG Forums filling in the info vacuums for the various advanced professions, but I don’t think the average new player had any idea of the existence of the forums. I know I didn’t discover them until three months after I’d started playing. I know, I know… people (especially, it would seem, Nancy McIntyre) think no one reads manuals anymore, but would an up-to-date downloadable PDF document have been too much to ask? Would that not have been less costly than TWO MAJOR REVAMPS? Hell, next time, ask me — I’d be happy to help write the thing.

    Anyway, all that to say I’m just wondering if my three guesses are off target.

    I also think a well-crafted SWG built in the tradition of the old skillset-based game (as opposed to a WoW-styled level-based RPG) would capture TENS of millions of subscribers around the world. I’m curious about that gut-level guess, too.

  126. I remember a story once about traditional Japanese values. In Japan, so the story goes, when someone makes a mistake, they are asked, “What went wrong? What can we do to prevent such problems in the future?” This differs from Western values in that the Japanese are more concerned with solving problems and ensuring continuity than needlessly placing blame wherever possible. I like that story. I wish more people had their priorities straight.

    But doesn’t Japanese culture also emphasize apologizing more than us damn-the-torpedoes Americans? Not to mention committing seppuku from time to time? Or is that ancient 50-year-old history now?

  127. But doesn’t Japanese culture also emphasize apologizing more than us damn-the-torpedoes Americans? Not to mention committing seppuku from time to time? Or is that ancient 50-year-old history now?

    No it’s not 50 year old history. I should dig up some stories about business executives doing formal apologies but I like this for the light it sheds on ‘forget blame lets fix things’…I hate derailing the thread into a cross cultural comparison of shame & blame but that was too much.

    Japanese Hostages Come Home To Much Criticism and Blame
    By Norimitsu Onishi
    The New York Times — TOKYO

    The young Japanese civilians taken hostage in Iraq returned home this week, not to the warmth of a yellow-ribbon embrace but to a disapproving nation’s cold stare.

    The first three hostages, including a woman who helped street children on the streets of Baghdad, first appeared on television two weeks ago as their knife-brandishing kidnappers threatened to slit their throats. A few days after their release, they landed here on Sunday, in the eye of a peculiarly Japanese storm.

    “You got what you deserve!” read one hand-written sign at the airport where they landed. “You are Japan’s shame,” another wrote on the Web site of one of the former hostages. They had “caused trouble” for everybody. The government, not to be outdone, announced it would bill the former hostages $6,000 for air fare.

    Beneath the surface of Japan’s ultra-sophisticated cities lie the hierarchical ties that have governed this island nation for centuries and that, at moments of crises, invariably reassert themselves. The former hostages’ transgression was to ignore a government advisory against traveling to Iraq. But their sin, in a vertical society that likes to think of itself as classless, was to defy what people call here “okami,” or, literally, “what is higher.”

    Treated like criminals, the three former hostages have gone into hiding, effectively becoming prisoners inside their own homes. Dr. Satoru Saito, a psychiatrist who has examined the three former hostages twice since their return, said the stress they were enduring now was “much heavier” than what they endured during their captivity in Iraq. Asked to name their three most stressful moments, the former hostages told him, in ascending order: the moment when they were kidnapped on their way to Baghdad, the knife-wielding incident, and the moment they watched a television show the morning after their return here and realized Japan’s anger with them.

  128. Which is exactly why I am making the case that the non-disclosure blocks are counterproductive.

    And not something I can change. :)

    I’m just wondering if my three guesses are off target.

    The number one reason why people left early on was “running out of things to do”/”not enough content”.

  129. Raph said people left early on was “running out of things to do’/’not enough content”

    wouldnt that be because the game was released early and the only real thing to do was run terminal missions? explore the worlds and find all the broken dungeons (poi’s), and enjoy the cantina’s.

    Even half complete (just my opinion)it was still the best virtual world ive ever journeyed into, or probably ever will be, though i have hope with Raph’s new company.

  130. Pre-WoW 1 million boxes sold was pretty good for a PC game. Pre-WoW 250k subs was pretty good for an MMO. SWG would have been a big success if it were only called Galaxies.

    People do get bored after a few months and leave. I bought WoW and got bored with it before I even installed it. The retention rates were not all that bad. People did run out of things to do because there wasn’t enough content. The content was basically all the different professions. Maybe that was the reason Jedi was based off of professions? If you weren’t a crafter, didn’t want to be a jedi and were only interested with the professions you had, then SWG didn’t hold much for you. That was SWG’s biggest problem; the game was so incomplete at launch that content had to take a back seat to completion of the game. That really gave sandbox MMOs a bad name, which is both unfortunate and unfair. I don’t see too many developers looking to do sandbox MMOs. They seem to be fully focused on easy linear content.

    Had the game that is on live today been the game released 4 years ago it probably would have done better. Not because the NGE plays better than preCU (it doesn’t) but because the game is more complete. That is probably the best lesson learned from SWG – you only get to launch once.

  131. Ok, so I’m out of things a few days and the web explodes again on an NGE-related topic? Come on guys. Just a few things have happened since then including SWG itself getting, like, better and stuff.

    I swear, the I-was-abused angst about the NGE rivals only the launch of you-mean-I-can’t-be-Luke SWG itself. It has long since surpassed even the trammelizing of UO as the hot button issue of our time. But at this point it’s the Paris Hilton of topics: painfully obvious even to those partaking that there simply isn’t any reason to be talking about it anymore other than carthartis by inertia.

    Let. It. Go!

  132. Raph- your a stand up guy to defend your former co-workers. But I would love to know what really happened per NGE :). Yet I agree its time to move forward. SWG really needs to move forward with new content, gameplay, and so forth. Man – its takes ultra ballz to post it!

  133. […] enough trouble healing on their own. But all the recent hubbub, observations, clarifications, and reluctant rehashings make it hard to resist throwing my coppers into the […]

  134. Just a Bystander:

    You seem to think a lot of folks still upset about SWG are the “sit in their homes at all hours playing the game” type. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

    SWG was an escape for many. I happen to be very active in both gaming and also coaching baseball. What the NGE did was the equivalent of my teaming showing up for a baseball game and finding the field had been turned into a playground.

    If that happens wouldn’t you be pissed? Sure you can say “well its just a game” – but often things matter a little more than that.

    You hear a lot of talk from gaming industry folks about community. And how they think its important and trying to figure out ways to engage or create a community out of their gamers.

    And yet, those same folks are the first to throw this notion of something larger than just a game under the bus.

    I would say this is a major disconnect between gamers and the people who make games. Those in the industry just see something as a game. Its something they worked on and that’s about it. Gamers, however, want the product to be more than just a game – especially when it comes to MMOs.

  135. What the NGE did was the equivalent of my teaming showing up for a baseball game and finding the field had been turned into a playground.

    If that happens wouldn’t you be pissed? Sure you can say “well its just a game” – but often things matter a little more than that.

    There are hundreds of exactly identical baseball fields all around the country. As long as baseball exists, such playfields will exist. They just might be more inconvenient to get to.

    SWG was like Disneyland. There’s several of them, but each unique.

    How much obligation does Disney have towards changing the riders, adding or removing them, or even changing the direction and entry fee? For someone who went there for sole purpose of shaking Mickey’s hand every weekend, the removal of Mickey actors will be devastating, and remove the only purpose to go.

    Is emotional attachment something that should be covered in service agreement? Which items would be covered there? Skill balance? Visual and audio assets? Circle of friends one makes online or guild memberships?

    Every change in any MMO causes a percentage of players to rage quit. Should any change then be forbidden, even bugfixes which could cause change to gameplay, but fix gamebreaking flaws?

    All game-ish virtual worlds exist on definition of virtual items, and clearly state that player has no right to any aspect of this world. In addition, any change is covered.

    Should these games come with a warning label: “Warning – this game may cause emotional attachment, attachment to virtual objects which may perish at any time, and loss of service may cause extreme emotional trauma for prolonged periods of time. Before subscribing, consult with your medical record for fitness of subscribing to such service”?

    After all, in real world, items come and go, shops open and close, worplaces apear and disaper. Why do people react so strongly in relation to virtual items, where changes in real world are much more drastic?

    And if gaming addition is added to the list of medical conditions as recently proposed, what impact will that have on virtual worlds? Adding a warning label will merely remove company’s responsibility in case of any change, no matter how drastic, both legal and ethical.

  136. @Just a bystander – Did you actually ready my post about Freeman? I stated that he was the one everyone attacked even though he shouldn’t have been, which is basically what Raph said. I then posted a link to an article which stated what he was responsible for and how people just chose him since no one else from SOE was posting. Read a post before you flame it.

    As far as the numbers you keep throwing out there. NDAs only protect against information that isn’t public. If that information was public, then Raph could talk about it. Since it obviously isn’t and he obviously isn’t, what makes you so sure you are even correct?

    Do you know how many boxes sold for WoW? Do you think only 8.5 million? 9 million?

  137. Jonathan –

    I don’t really care about your post about Freeman. I wasn’t even addressing your post. My response was regarding Verney’s follow up article that was contained IN your post.

    Not everything is about you.

  138. If there is something I want less than constant NGE debates, it’s flamewars on my blog. Please chill out.

  139. @Raph – Apologies

  140. our game is gone for good. we should just accept it’s loss and move on…but NEVER forget how we as subscribers were treated, and how raph’s dreams and hard work were flushed down the toilet so lucas arts could chase those people
    who love battlefront 2 type of gameplay.
    also raph just remember all the people who haven’t let it die are just fans of your vision and your type of game. we look forward to your next project!

  141. Funny thing of all the NGE stuff is…they didn’t learn a thing from it.
    They are actually doing the same stuff (ignoring their customer base) with Vanguard right now by forcing the Team-PvP players into a FFA ruleset.

  142. Your interesting article indicates that one person, Julio Torres, was not responsible for coming up with the NE. It seems to me that you beg the question; if Mr. Torres was not responsible, who was? Are you able to tell us in whose mind the NGE had its genesis? I hope this question does not ask you to breach your NDA.

  143. I’m sorry An addendum to my last post:

    So many experts talking about SWG, SOE and the NGE from so many different angles but all of them, all of you, either only know a fragment of the story or else are only able to tell a fragment of the story – and each fragment is from a different position on the astrolabe.

    Despite the passage of two years, no-one seems to know or, at least, told, the complete story.

    Here are questions that do not seem to have been answered conclusively yet;

    1/. What was the nature of the SOE relationship with its licensing partner, LA?

    2/. Who within that relationship originated the the idea of the NGE? Sold the idea? Rode herd on the idea until it launched?

    3/. Who – if anyone – opposed the idea? Or changed the idea while it was in gestation?

    4/. What was the calendar of the NGE? When was it originated? What resources were allocated to it? Which areas were neglected because capital and manpower were denied them?

    5/. What was the fallout within SOE and LA? Who was promoted and who, faint hope, punished for NGE in action when its implications became clear?

    I ask these questions not because I have any stake in SOE or in MMOGs or in the wider industry – I don’t – but simply because I once played the game, enjoyed it and am interested in what happened to it?

  144. David Irelan wrote: …Which is exactly why I am making the case that the non-disclosure blocks are counterproductive…

    Raph wrote: And not something I can change.

    Understood. But based on what I am reading of your views on community and such the velocity of information in today’s interconnected world, it sounds that we hold similar views that NDAs are counterproductive at times. Perhaps a well-placed bug in the ear of some appropriate power-that-be on the need for a well-thought-out disclosure or Come-To-Jesus interview (perhaps even a panel of current and former SWG dev team members sitting down with some ace from a well-respected gaming journal) on this whole subject? It might help clear the air in time for the eventual release of a next-gen Star Wars MMORPG, when it comes. Perhaps it might help if you whisper, “tens of MILLIONS of subs… tens of MILLIONS of subs…” like a mantra into someone’s ear….

    Raph wrote:
    The number one reason why people left early on was “running out of things to do”/”not enough content”.

    Ah! A juicy bit of insider information! That validates one of my hunches, at least. How’d my other two guesses (the bugs, and the manual issue, which really is more about the lack of help from the devs on the game’s learning curve) do? I figure they’re up there somewhere, given the vow a few months ago on the SWG forum by the devs to definitively squash the game’s bugs, and the creation of the level-1-to-30 Legacy Quest storyline.

    But the boiling of the game’s old profession structure down to the Nine StarWarsy Iconic Professions(TM)? The transformation of the skillset-modifier-driven character-development system into a level-based system? Were those changes driven by subscriber attrition? I keep getting this uncomfortable feeling from the dev comments on this subject — it’s like they were saying, “We can’t handle this code/structure.” The comments and reasons I saw simply struck me as tantamount to them saying, “We’re too wimpy for the job. And so we need to dumb it down for OUR sake.”

    I don’t understand the logic there.

    Personally, I don’t like thinking ill of people like that. The way I neutralize such ill thoughts is to understand situations, to the best of my ability to do so. Thus my personal quest for information, because I happen to be someone who DOES think deeply. I could let it go, but I would draw the analogy like this: Picture yourself as the proud owner of a 1973 Chevy Corvette, a flawed but popular sports car of its day. One day, Chevrolet Corp. announces a plan to address the car’s flaws — but when the day comes for you to receive your NEW, UPDATED PRODUCT, it turns out they’ve given you a Chevy Chevette in its place.

    Pre-CU/NGE SWG, and my flawed toons, were MY “sports car.” MY “Corvette,” if you will.

    So I ask you all in this thread: Would YOU let your Corvette go? How long would you take to do so?

    Ah, well. I just hope whoever winds up developing a 2nd-gen SWG musters up the courage to go for broke again. And if me sharing a bit of my own passion for what the original project meant to me will help on that level, then, well… it’ll all be for the good.

  145. Darniaq: “…carthartis by inertia.”

    Holy crap that’s a good one. :)

  146. … perhaps even a panel of current and former SWG dev team members sitting down … on this whole subject?

    Just in case there are any powers-that-be watching this discussion…

    International Game Developers Association, San Diego would be up for doing a video panel on this subject. ;p

  147. Can I be the moderator?

  148. […] recently posted a rant about the NGE http://www.raphkoster.com/2007/06/1…-about-the-nge/ Kinda interesting. It doesn’t really tell you anything that hasn’t already been made public, but […]

  149. Wow, nice backlog of reading for me to catch up on :)

    For the record, I left SWG *before* the CU precisely due to “running out of things to do”/”not enough content”. So it did happen :)

  150. […] provoked Raph to share his thoughts on the topic and the author.The following post can be found at Raph Koster.com.So, here it is, a few years later, and were still seeing articles on the NGE. And honestly, Im […]

  151. […] Raph to share his thoughts on the topic and the author. The following post can be found at Raph Koster.com. So, here it is, a few years later, and we’re still seeing articles on the NGE. And honestly, […]

  152. […] snake_03 wrote:Kenobi26 wrote:I might be off base here….but who likes 9 "iconic starwarsy" profs only? Who loves the only melee class as Jedi? (Don't even insult yourself by trying to say that the bastardized melee smear in the other profs is true melee) I've read dozens of posts over the past months since you streamlined the game to "Star Wars for dummies" concerning the limited choices in professions.  It used to be NGE vs Pre-cu…but now that is all over with NGE is obviously here to stay – but what I'm hearing isn't the mechanics of the game itself, or combat systems or any of that – it's the stupid profession wheels with cookie-cutter portraits, and limited choices people are tired of. I think people want more profession choices, want more options for cross-specialization (more than just profession x + Beast master combos), and want something that looks more like expertise trees expanded to a 4×4 box screen like we used to have. Don't change the stats, the combat, or any other dynamic except the profession trees and number of choices as well as hybrid options, and see what happens. Why is it you're allowing beast master as a pseudo-hybrid prof, but BH-Medic isn't viable, or Commando-spy? Or hell, just give people otpions to pick from marksman, brawler and scout pools to meet pre-requisites to become their chosen prof? (remember master marks+ 2 scout trees was BH? Very cool way to do things. Don't tell us ya lost the code to redesign some prof trees and erase those silly iconic portraits) Think about it….anyone prefer the 9 iconic profs with no diversity tell me. KenobiWell, back when we had more professions pre-nge it was kind of fun, I miss being a ranger. However, considering that we have alot of folks asking for fixes and nerfs on what we have now, I can't see Soe adding more professsions. That would  just open the door for more nerf cries and bugs. This is just another I hate the NGE post and as Raph Koster stated last week in his blog.   Tired of hearing about the NGE […]

  153. Hello all,
    I beta tested SW:G and played post-release right up until about a month after the NGE. I miss the sandbox that was SW:G. And am really upset at the way they treated us as customers. It will be a LONG time before I trust SOE enough to subscribe to a game.

    There has been no apology, as has been stated here. Only a slight regret by a select few. That does NOT cover it… And I’m sorry that it rubs a lot of people the wrong way, as it was, and in some cases still is, their “baby” that got kicked around. But the frustrations of many ex-players still have not run it’s course.

    Raph, I am a huge fan of your designs and such, I sometimes don’t agree with you, but that’s normal. In this instance, I don’t agree. Only by thrusting this back up to discussion every once in awhile, will other developers take notice of this lesson and not make the same mistake.

    I have moved on to Eve-Online which is just an incredible game, both in depth and community. And I can’t recommend it highly enough, although it does have it’s drama out-of-game the results in-game are just as exciting. ;)

    With all that said I still do miss my Teras Kasi and the people from Chilastra. :(

  154. I’m sorry but I blame everyone who pushed the NGE. I blame Smedly, I blame Torres, I blame everyone who knew about this “New Game Enhancement” BECAUSE when the playerbase had gotten wind of it, it was OBVIOUS that it would tank.

    The playerbase aren’t idiots. We are not 15 year olds who have nothing better to do than to bitch and moan. Many of us are professionals and many of us have graduate degrees which require us to think on some level of difficulty.

    We told SOE that it was going to kill the game. We begged them not to proceed. Your former collegues pretty much ignored over 5,000 different posts from different people and relied on some corporate ties who likes “role playing” to decide the fate of the game.

    You want to know why this NGE disaster is still going on and on, Raph? It’s because it’s a prime example of a company ignoring their playerbase for the hope they can get more profit by making the game dumber.

    Well, you see how the game ended up. I don’t have to explain. The numbers speak for themselves.

    The playerbase were more pissed off that they were ignored more than the fact they changed the MMO in the first place.

  155. Question why there are still articles.

    It’s been more than 2 years, vet SWG players haven’t forgotten and I doubt they will forget untill they get what they’ve been asking since April 2005.

    Those people, Smeldey, Freeman or any other people who helped NGE, will never care if people blame them or not. I know Smedley admitted it was a failure a few times, but why he never does something to reverse this?

    All articles, hate speeches are made by vets and it seems we’ll keep seeing em… Just look at this blog, 153 Responses to “Tired of hearing about the NGE” and counting. SOE has a bad name since Nov 2006 just because of us. Vanguard fiasco also added more to it (and remember Vanguard has many vet SWG players).

  156. I don’t think we can really see the truth about who’s responsible for this. There’s obviously more to the story than is appearant.

    But I don’t think it’s wrong to be pissed off, just that it should probably be directed at the general entirety, and not directed at any individuals.

    Sometimes people get caught in circumstances and just have to do their jobs, even if they know it’s the wrong course.

  157. After what SOE/LA did that brought on the NGE, did you honestly expect people would just move on or stop talking about it? Do you really believe that John Smedley’s admitting that the NGE was a mistake, was going to just make things magicly better? SOE/LEC brought this upon themselves and I dont feel the slightest pitty for them at all.

    After 2+ years since NGE launched, it is still a failure to this day. Where is the huge influx of new players that the NGE was supposed to bring in? Apparently, not playing SWG, but other games.

    And as I have said since the launch of NGE, if I had of known Dec 2004 what I know now, I would not have picked up a copy of SWG. And I am sure that there are others out there that say that .also

  158. I know Smedley admitted it was a failure a few times, but why he never does something to reverse this?

    Well, first of all, there is an existing playerbase—not everyone left after NGE and some new faces surely joined the party. Reverting SWG to its state previous to NGE would alienate the existing playerbase, and while you as someone of the former playerbase might not care what happens to them, learning from past mistakes means not making the same error twice. Second of all, do you honestly think that reverting SWG to its state previous to NGE would suddenly attract everyone back? Certainly not. After all, many SWG veterans have even said that SOE’s brand has suffered and that they have little trust in SOE. It’s really not a simple matter of changing the game yet again. SOE has to do something more to win your hearts and minds back, if at all possible.

    … did you honestly expect people would just move on or stop talking about it?

    After 9/11, Average Joe American was talking about terrorism. After a number of disasters and scandals since then and with 9/11 five years back, although the memory remains, the number of people who have moved on from an invasive attack on their country to the idea of peace is probably much greater than the number of people who have moved on after NGE. The irony is astounding.

  159. The other failure of the NGE can probably be put down to two concepts: Feature Creep and Groupthink.

    Feature creep, in that the NGE was originally billed as a new introductory area replacing the starting space station.

    Groupthink, in that in these large meetings, the enthusiastic people pushed the idea of this new game system and the people who should have known better got caught up in it. Except for those developers who left the team, that is.

    I remember reading something about a “new player experience” back in spring of 2005. I did not expect it would mutate into the NGE by November.

  160. Raph, to some extent, this is the kind of thing I was thinking about at Terra Nova recently when I was wondering when we might get a really comprehensive account of how design happens as a process with virtual worlds.

    Because you can complain that the real story isn’t told, or that people who have been held accountable for mistakes by the gaming public aren’t responsible, but where are the alternative narratives, the spin-free accounts that lay it all out in specific, the post-mortems that create good faith rather than seem like one more public relations strategy?

    In the absence of information, people have to do the blind-men-feeling-the-elephant thing.

    That they continue to feel the need to do so should surprise you not at all. You’ve long understood, keenly, just how invested players can get in a given virtual world. What was the “Rights of Avatars” about, if not about creating a good-faith relationship between the prerogatives of developers and experiences of players?

    I understand the reality of an NDA. But in the absence of transparency, you can’t ask people to just shut up about it all. In fact, you can’t even ask them to get the story right (as you see it) because there isn’t any basis for getting it right. There’s only best guesses and Kremlinology. There isn’t any basis for just giving it up on the whole topic either. Not just because players felt and still feel passion about the game (which should please as well as dismay you) but because there is still a good deal at stake in understanding the drivers underneath SWG’s history.

    You hint, for example, that data-mining was an issue–something I’ve written about from the other side, with my consistent perception that the devs did not always have a very good or well-distributed understanding of the incentive structures driving play within the game, nor a well-coordinated response to bugs and exploits that were well known to most or all of the playerbase. Now if it turns out that this was an issue not because the development team was underresourced, badly organized or badly managed, but because a sandbox game that pushes towards emergent forms of economic and social behavior produces a game that is hard to debug, control or track from the developer side, that’s really, really important. (Given that I like sandbox games, I’d really rather that it turned out that there was an organizational problem on the developer side, frankly.)

    I understand you and anyone else who worked on the game is in a tough place, but I’d urge everyone involved in its history to beg for some historically unprecedented room to talk honestly about how SWG came to be, and about its complicated history. Barring that freedom (which I think would even be good for the commercial health of the game and the company *now*: how else do you win back good faith without transparency of some kind?), I don’t think you really have any room for complaint against people writing about the game, even when they’re wildly wrong–because no one is provisioning any of the kind of information that would keep people from being wrong.

  161. Well, first of all, there is an existing playerbase—not everyone left after NGE and some new faces surely joined the party. Reverting SWG to its state previous to NGE would alienate the existing playerbase, and while you as someone of the former playerbase might not care what happens to them, learning from past mistakes means not making the same error twice. Second of all, do you honestly think that reverting SWG to its state previous to NGE would suddenly attract everyone back? Certainly not. After all, many SWG veterans have even said that SOE’s brand has suffered and that they have little trust in SOE. It’s really not a simple matter of changing the game yet again. SOE has to do something more to win your hearts and minds back, if at all possible.

    I don’t think rollback is what vets want.

  162. […] the blog of Raph Koster, former Creative Director of Star Wars Galaxies: Knowing the author of the article, I’m sure that […]

  163. […] Did anyone else look at the other developer’s responses? I started out over at Moorgard (which is down at this time with a bad config of some sort) here: http://www.moorgard.com/?p=134 I finished up over at Raph’s place: http://www.raphkoster.com/2007/06/12/tired-of-hearing-about-the-nge/ […]

  164. I was one of the more than 20000 people that signed the online petition back then . Honestly speaking from the heart I will never trust a game that includes you on the Dev list again.
    Having SO many people warning you against the NGE and still completely and utterly ignore them shows me more than you can ever excuse. And I honestly hope you will never have another role where you ideas get any attention.

    Brorim

  165. I wouldn’t be too harsh with Raph

    I certainly hope he had nothing to do with the NGE. I’m assuming it was out of his control and I certainly hope he wasn’t one of the guys at the water cooler going “oh cool! This is gonna be iconic! They’ll love it! Ignore the people on the forums. They don’t represent the majority.”

    I hope not. Right Raph?

  166. I would like to start a movement to ban “Iconic” from the English language for at least 5 years.

  167. If you remember, Raph left. They said something to the effect that they and Raph didn’t have the same goals at “this” point, or something like that.

  168. I’m sure Raph remembers the date far better than I do, but I recall that he left SOE in January or February 2005.

    At the same time, a new Creative Director? joined the SWG team from outside SOE.

    The “NPE” was talked about on the forums, briefly, in March, and the guy who came from outside left SOE after a short three month stay. Then we heard nothing for several months, until the NGE took us by surprise in late October.

    The timeline pretty much tells me that Raph left SOE long before the design for the NGE was finalized.

  169. Well, if you want to build a Cadillac, you don’t need finished design plans to see that it’s going to be a Gremlin, or something similar.

  170. Tarek, I moved off of SWG in late 2003, pre-CU — pre-Holocron drops, actually. I very rarely touched SWG after that — a few days of testing of JTL, that sort of thing.

    NGE happened when I was still at SOE, but I was not involved in its design at all, nor was it under my control in any way. Dev teams never reported to me in any case, and at that point, I was running my R&D group anyhow.

  171. Genwa wrote:

    I don’t think rollback is what vets want.

    I agree with you; yet, anyone who has ever been on the customer-facing side of things knows that what customers say they want and what customers really want are two different things. There are plenty of vets who want a complete rollback. Other want a separate server. Other vets just want to see SOE destroyed. There’s no pleasing everyone.

    Brorim wrote:

    I was one of the more than 20000 people that signed the online petition back then . Honestly speaking from the heart I will never trust a game that includes you on the Dev list again.

    Having SO many people warning you against the NGE and still completely and utterly ignore them shows me more than you can ever excuse. And I honestly hope you will never have another role where you ideas get any attention.

    “Think before you speak” is a time-honored approach to intelligent discourse. There is more than enough information on the Web that readily illustrates why your belief that Raph is the destroyer of worlds is baseless and utter nonsense.

  172. […] up Galaxieshttp://www.escapistmagazine.com/issue/101/14 Raph responded in his blog over his quote.http://www.raphkoster.com/2007/06/12/tired-of-hearing-about-the-nge Then he responded over the blog itself […]

  173. I left SWG Soon after the NGE,being totally disgusted with the dumbing down of the game.I left SWG Heartbroken.It was a great game with a lot of potential,not to mention all the hard work and effort i put into my characters pre NGE nullified with its release.As other people have posted above i now avoid anything sony and will not recomend sony games or products.The only thing that will get me back to SWG is a Pre NGE server.
    i want to come back.I miss it so much.I had so much fun.

  174. Raph, I remember that you left being creative director of SWG in 2003… I was pointing out to the person who thought you might have had something to do with it that you’d not only left SWG, but also left Sony Online Entertainment well before the NGE was developed.

    Incidentally, I’m still playing SWG even in its current state. I’ve got too much time invested in it to leave now. Enough of the original “Virtual World” design remains that I can overlook the massive changes to combat. The current SOE Producer and Lead Designer are both on the forums frequently, which was not the case for much of the past couple of years, and the development team in general is now actively soliciting feedback.

    That gives me hope that the game will recover most, if not all, of the “virtual world” attributes that were stripped away in the name of “accessibility”.

    Though, creatures still don’t attack each other spontaneously. I miss seeing rancors and malklocs attacking each other…

  175. I guess I was wrong in that you were still with SOE when the NGE was developed though. Oh well, I made a mistake and acknowledge the error.

  176. […] read the article and Raph Koster's reaction a bit ago. I mostly agree with him: Smedley HAS apologized, and he's even quoted in the […]

  177. There’s quite a bit here that everyone is forgetting, but I’ll address some points someone brought up that they’d like answered. The best I can do is speculate and give anecdotal evidence that such things *may* be fact.

    1. What was the nature of the SOE relationship with its licensing partner, LA?

    Consdiering what happened with Obisidian’s KOTOR 2 (pushed out incomplete), LA seems to control their property with an iron fist. It’s been said again and again that the approval process for changes takes a long time and that LA has the final say so.

    2. Who within that relationship originated the the idea of the NGE? Sold the idea? Rode herd on the idea until it launched?

    Most likely someone at LA. Someone asked why the game wasn’t doing as good as WOW was at that point. The ball started rolling from there. I think it might have been some form of group think that as people got sold on the idea one by one, no one stopped to say “omg this sucks” because that would mean throwing out all the work they had done previously.

    3. Who – if anyone – opposed the idea? Or changed the idea while it was in gestation?

    No clue. And here is something NO ONE HERE, except Raph, seems to have realized: They need to earn a living. This means doing exactly what your job is. If your job is to make something work, and the boss says make it work, you don’t ask why. If you ask why, rock the boat, you get fired. You get fired so hard, it’ll be difficult to get a job in the same field. Whoever it was that spawned the idea, the responsibility lies with them.

    4. What was the calendar of the NGE? When was it originated? What resources were allocated to it? Which areas were neglected because capital and manpower were denied them?

    No way to tell without insider information that will most likely breach an NDA and cause someone to get sued.

    5. What was the fallout within SOE and LA? Who was promoted and who, faint hope, punished for NGE in action when its implications became clear?

    Same as 4.

    As far as the data mining goes, I never realized that angle until Raph mentioned it and I started making some connections. I was at the first 2003 fan fest, and one of the devs said that every piece of text ever typed into the game is saved. Algorithims exist, and my current employer actully developed this kind of software, to go through vast volumes of freeform text and derive statistical analysis based on certain key words. It was originally developed for the auto industry to look at questionaires sent out by manufacturers. (You want to talk real money here, the cost of developing an MMO is miniscule compared to launching a new vehicle design)

    Impication? Simple. They can comb the vast amounts of your chats, tells, spatial, guild chat, group chat, cross-server tells, in-game mail, etc. and see what players are telling eachother. They also can use this same software on the forums and get a decent overall picture of not only what players are saying about SWG, but what they’re saying about other games IN SWG.

    The software is extremely advanced. It’s not just saying “WOW was mentioned 298357223 times during the first week of June”. It’s saying “45% of people mentioned WOW in positive light about the gameplay mechanics during this time frame.” This is extremely useful statistical data that coming out of this software.

    Like any software though, it’s still at the mercy of “Garbage in, garbage out” and I think that’s the lesson that needed to be learned from this particular data mining experience.

    Then again, I’m in marketing so I’d tell you it was a lesson in marketing. :)

  178. Point the finger Raph .. Or this will be with you until the day MMO’s are no more .

  179. epilogue to Post 27: The developers of SWG now want to introduce purple mandalorian armors. ;)

  180. […] Koster is Tired of hearing about the NGE Thats No Moon on Broken […]

  181. […] Varney is the most consistently readable and smart of all The Escapists’ contributors, despite some controversy – and is at least straightforward, for pity’s sake – and his interview with Magic The Gathering […]

  182. […] is the most consistently readable and smart of all The Escapists’ contributors, despite some controversy – and is at least straightforward, for pity’s sake – and his interview with Magic The […]

  183. […] on SWG) who is sick of hearing about it and mentions that Smedley has apologized repeatedly Raph’s site *June 1, 2007 – SWG Vault Reconciliation Mentions a recent interview but doesn’t cite it *June 15, […]

  184. […] ultimo arreglo final y que firmo la sentencia de muerte de SW:G fue, aunque Raph este cansado de oirlo, el New Game Enhancements que eran un remake completo del juego. Simplificándolo en exceso, […]

  185. kladionica ponuda…

    […]Raph's Website » Tired of hearing about the NGE[…]…

  186. […] course, this has all been said before, and some are sick of hearing it. I’ve only brought it up because I’ve concluded that the maxim “You only get one launch” […]

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