|Star Wars Galaxies|
One soundless, musicless, 1.8 gigabyte install later we were ready to throw ourselves headlong into Star Wars. This is something we prepared for last week by going to the "Art of Star Wars" Exhibition being held right now in Kyoto's National Museum.
After entering in credit card details and being forced to sign up an extra month's subscription after the initial trial month (presumably you can cancel if you're quick enough), we got shown a shoddy intro movie with a nicely (read badly) aliasing Star Wars logo flying into the distance ala the movie.
Next, the character selection screen, now *this* is great fun, you can choose from a no. of races (all wearing blue jeans and a shirt it seems, except the wookiee of course) and then modify all their physical attributes to quite a serious extent. Its worth spending 30 minutes just playing around on this screen fine-tuning your "look".
Then there was a tutorial section which, as you know, if badly done, is a reason to switch off a game there and then. Well, we were surprised, the tutorial section is quick and fun and, apart from the annoying Tool Tips which try to tell you about every single button and item in a dialog box one by one, fairly painless.
Finally an Imperial Guard says we are being re-imbursed for having our ship shot up and destroyed (because we were thought to be harbouring rebels of course), and we are to be given a free ticket to any one of the game's start positions. There were about 5 planets to choose from, including Tatooine, and then roughly 4 or 5 cities on each planet.
We chose Tatooine, Mos Eisley (of course) and dove straight in. Straight away the noise and bustle of the bazaar and the screech of overhead Imperial tie fighters filled our senses so much we could almost smell the little Jawa scouts scuffling back and forth.
And thus our adventure begins...
Some extra comments:
The user interface is exceptional. Star Wars Galaxies uses "Radial Menus" which means everything is nice point and click with not too many key presses at all. Considering the Everquest user interface was so utterly dire, this was a really nice surprise. Take my word for it, its almost *enjoyable* just playing with the user interface.
The camera is still a bit dodgy, but much better than Everquest's camera-on-a-stick-stuck-to-your-head affair. The system of mouse control is interesting too with a limited point-and-click area around the center of the screen, then as you move the mouse out of that area the camera rotates.
The speech bubble system makes conversing much more pleasant than scanning a multi-lined text box, but occasionally it is a problem because you have to make sure the person you are speaking to is on the screen. I think they should have had speech bubbles pointing off the bottom corners of the screen for people who are speaking behind you because sometimes you miss parts of a conversation with a twirl of the camera.
Chatting with NPCs is much more pleasant than the Everquest "say hello then guess a keyword" gameplay. They've taken some tips from RPGs in this area with decently structured "conversation" menus.
Oh, and Tusken Raiders are *very* cool. (apparently you can find a Tusken Raider disguise if you up your faction rating with them)
Posted by PixelJunk at 10:36 AM on Thu, 24 July 2003