October 27th, 2003


[/.] How SW Galaxies is failing

Whatever the reasons—and I’m sure there are others beyond those I have listed—the fact is that Star Wars: Galaxies is a major disappointment. Combined with the failure of The Sims: Online, it more than justifies Mythic head Mark Jacobs’ characterization of this moment as a gloomy one for MMOGs. Even with my faith in the potentialities of the genre, it’s hard to look ahead with any anticipation: all I see in other games are small tweaks and adjustments in a general formula whose possibilities are demonstrably exhausted. For SWG itself, my early optimism about the development team’s capabilities is completely gone, and my account cancelled. If SWG is ever going to become a decent, enjoyable gaming experience, let alone something that confidently pushes the design envelope, it’s going to be a long, long time in the future---and maybe it never will feel as if it is a long, time ago in a galaxy far, far, away.


A while back, I wrote that the MMORPG concept was being treated as open source had been two or three years ago: as if it were magic pixie dust that you could sprinkle on anything and suddenly it would make it amazing. This attitude is of course stupid, but business bandwagoning is nothing if not stupid.

It's nice, however, that SW:Galaxies has shown what happens when you forget that software is inherently hard, and there are no silver bullets that will make it easy. Even all the money in the world and the best talent on the planet won't save you if you fall prey to that mentality...
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