Star Wars Galaxies is not the creature it used to be.
"The game's been severely dumbed down," former Galaxies player Garrett Johnson told me. He played SWG from its inception until Sony Online Entertainment and LucasArts implemented the "New Game Enhancement," or NGE.
"They moved from a profession-based system to a class-based system," Johnson explained. "Instead of balancing all the professions, they just reduced the number of combat classes and turned it into a rock/scissors/paper game."
There is something to be said for evolution, which is how Sony Online Entertainment views the change to its massively multiplayer online role-playing game. It sees improvement. Many fans have yet to be convinced.
In our last mailbag, we posted the complaints. Many are not just disappointed -- they are enraged.
One e-mail in particular was a stick of dynamite. Written by an anonymous source, it claimed that Sony Online Entertainment had released unfinished software, and it went on to attack company president John Smedley for an alleged narrow focus on only one thing: exploiting the Star Wars license.
"I'm bent about that one," Smedley admitted in a phone call. "As a person, I have zero problem with criticism. I don't have any problem whatsoever with our customers complaining. I think it's perfectly legitimate, and I think it's perfectly legitimate for you guys to have a mailbag with hate mail from Star Wars Galaxies. But of all the mail, that's the one that bothered me because it's filled with a bunch of BS."
"There has never been a release by Sony Online Entertainment that has been incomplete," Smedley said.
How do we define "incomplete?"
A widespread problem, from the player side, is the number of bugs in the game. Smedley admits that Star Wars Galaxies has its share.
A bug is a defect in the code of a program. That is a basic definition. I prefer Ben Silverman's translation: "a bug is the crap that was supposed to be fixed before they sold you the game and ruined your day."