I don’t generally post links to other blogs – in fact, I’ve never done it before -, but today I’m going to make an exception. Raph Koster, formerly the lead designer of Ultima Online, creative director of Star Wars: Galaxies, and current consultant for Crowfall, has been working on a series of blog posts detailing a lot of the game features and design decisions that made Star Wars: Galaxies into the game so many love, even to this day.
As one of those fans, Star Wars: Galaxies holds a special place in my heart both due to its tremendous success as a virtual world (if not always as a game or product) and because no other game has even come close to replicating it in that arena. However, you don’t have to be a fan of the game to enjoy this unique insight into the game’s design, and these posts may be the single greatest resource currently available for outsiders trying to understand why it is that Star Wars: Galaxies fans are so dedicated to the game’s memory.
That said, Koster’s posts are neither rose-tinted nor self-congratulatory, and take a deep look into the features that weren’t able to be implemented as planned or ideas that just didn’t work out in practice. Mistakes were made, as they say, and Koster doesn’t shy away from addressing them; the series is more a post-mortem analysis than it is intellectually-masturbatory.
Here’s the list of posts in his now completed series:
A look into SWG‘s original PvP flagging mechanics, the considerations leading up to their implementation, and the challenges faced post-launch that lead to their eventual removal.
An analysis of the different ways Jedi were implemented over SWG‘s life-span and how eventually they lead to the game’s downfall.
A discussion of the tech behind SWG‘s massive worlds (wonkish) and a look into some of the game’s open world systems, such as housing, PvE spawns, and variable stat crafting materials.
A look at player interdependence for combat, crafting, and everything else in SWG. This is my favorite post so far and a must-read for anyone wanting to understand what made the game so special.
The continuation of the look into how SWG created a living society through developing for social connectivity and society building as core game features.
The final post in Raph Koster’s SWG series, exploring whether or not the game was a failure as a game or a product.