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Would I be playing Star Wars Galaxies, City of Heroes, Vanguard, and Warhammer Online if they were alive today?

The oncoming shutdown of WildStar isn’t the first time that I’ve heard some low-level snark slung against bloggers and players from various quarters to the effect of “You’re not playing it right now, so why are you mourning this? That’s some weird hypocrisy right there!”

To me, that ignores a few factors, such as:

  • You can’t always be playing all the MMOs all the time, even the ones you like
  • If you’ve spent significant time with a game in the past and have a connection to it, that doesn’t fade to nothing when you’ve taken a break or left it. Plus, I’ve done my time, so that gives me the right to pine over its loss. Tell me you haven’t felt sad over the death of some musician or celeb that you haven’t spent time enjoying in the past year. When things are taken away that we loved in the past, that can hurt us in the now.
  • You can love a game and not be playing it for understandable reasons, such as a broken state, an obvious impending shutdown, or a lack of developer involvement

Anyway, this all got me thinking about whether or not I’d be playing certain shutdown MMOs if, for whatever reason, they were legitimately started back up and running today. We’re talking fresh starts, new servers, the works. And while I would be ecstatic to see any MMO revived, I can’t say that I would play all of them past perhaps a night of curious tourism.

Star Wars Galaxies is a strange case. It never grabbed me when it was running, but the more I learn about it now, the more I think that I could have really warmed up to this game — or at least some aspects of it. It certainly would provide a nice alternative to SWTOR for those who want a Star Wars MMO fix but are done with BioWare’s business model and approach.

I can say that, in regards to City of Heroes, the answer there would be an emphatic “you betcha!” I’ve been absolutely craving a good superhero MMO the way that City of Heroes once provided, and that was the perfect game to return to. I’ve really regretted not having spent more time playing it past 2006 or so.

Vanguard is a different story. It’s a game that I sincerely admired for a lot of reasons, yet it kind of is lumped in the same pool of fantasy MMOs with solid feature sets yet don’t grab me all the time as EverQuest II or TERA. I guess it would really depend if there was a movement among the MMO community to be engaged in that game that would pull me along for the ride.

And as for Warhammer Online… the answer would be “no.” I put in my time there, got out of it as full of an experience as I wanted, and ultimately felt as though the game wasn’t quite all there and wasn’t the approach that appealed to me.

That’s just a few of the bigger ones, but I know that WildStar will soon join the list of games that I’ll feel occasional twinges of sorrow that I won’t be able to log into when I want to see that beautiful, vibrant world.

12 thoughts on “Would I be playing Star Wars Galaxies, City of Heroes, Vanguard, and Warhammer Online if they were alive today?

  1. SWG (with the veneration for it that goes on with half the MOP staff) strikes me as one of those “you had to be there back when…” sort of games. There was a peak period of idyllic life and then most of the rest of the life of the game when fans pined for that period and spoke about how great the game used to be. And that is laced with “both ways uphill in the snow” levels of praise, which always makes me suspect. Going back and reading reviews and Raph Koster’s recollections of the game, along with the fact that its subscription based peaked pretty low for a Star Wars game makes me suspicious of the fawning. But with a group of friends even adversity can be fun times.

    WAR was clearly a “you had to be there back when…” game for most of us. We were all there for that first month, but after that most people stopped logging in to play, even if they still had time on their subscription.

    City of Heroes had a small but loyal following. If you liked it you probably went back now and again.

    And Vanguard. Bhagpuss aside, it was not a well loved game and it was only because SOE wasn’t being held to what one might consider normal business financial standards that it lived for so long. I remain surprised to this day that they put in the effort to convert it to F2P, but the minute Sony went to shape the company up to sell it Vanguard went out the window. The above three games at least had a dedicated enough following to get emulator projects off the ground. Vanguard even crashed and burned on that front. Vanguard wanted to be too many things and, while it had some interesting bits, was good enough at any of them to be a draw.

  2. Hmm. In either case, the answer would come with many conditions.

    For SWG, it was awesome at it’s time, in the right version. I very much enjoyed the short time when CU was rolled out, but before NGE hit. Before CU the combat system was too much buff-based. I never got it why some people hated the CU so much… it turned the game from a binary “underpowered without buffs, overpowered with buffs” to an actual game. It finally actually worked. On NGE on the other hand: it removed the option to mix-and match abilities to have your own character. It removed several professions (most prominently the Creature Handler). It devalued artisans, it killed several social professions, etc…

    It’s still known as a disasters many years later for good reason.

    That all being said, i sometimes wish back old SWG of the time right before NGE struck. But looking at it realistically: the game by itself wouldn’t be enough. Compared to present day MMOs, the games mechanics would be mediocre (although the spaceship combat would still be great) and that’s without mentioning how outdated the graphics would be. And still, that’s something i could live with. But i would miss the old community.

    That’s my real doubt: i don’t think the game could have it’s community again. And it’s not just about the numbers, but also about the communities quality. I mean, there’s still MMOs around there with good community, while others seem to be a pit of snakes and trolls. What i am uncertain about is, if SWG would still be able to have such a community. I mean, part of it sure was because the game was all about cooperation. No character was an island there, and you had one character slot on your account, so having a whole crew of crafters and stuff got expensive quickly. So people rather arranged with others, assisted each other and formed a community. And some professions really only worked for and with other players, which also helped form the community.

    By todays standards, i think a profession which is built around interaction with other games would probably die quickly. It’s also connected to the fact that playing online with other people still felt special and like a privilege at those times. While this might have made people a bit upnosed at times, many other by now commonly observed negative player behavior wasn’t seen at that time.

    So i doubt that SWG, even if re-released with updated graphics and in the last pre-NGE state, would attract the community. Which means that it probably wouldn’t hold me, either.

    The other game of the list, where i spent a lot of time, was WAR. And yes, of course 10 years later, it might start looking a bit aged at some corners, but i think it wouldn’t even be that bad. I personally was there for over two years and enjoyed it a lot. While I’ve seen any PvE content there, being a PvP oriented game, it never went stale. My reason for quitting was actually because the developers obviously gave up on it. There was a number of known and easily exploitable bugs.

    At some time i noticed a guild mate obviously using some exploits. When confronting him and informing the guild leader about it, the guild leader told me that he’ll do nothing about it. If he’d have to kick everybody who was using exploits, we’d loose more than half of the guild. As i didn’t want to base my victories on cheats and exploits i left the guild, to then find out that it was impossible to actually find a guild any more, which would refuse people who cheat and exploit. That was the signal for me to move on.

    I still sometimes wish i could grab one of my WAR characters and take him/her into battle. So if the game was still around and most importantly: being maintained, chances are good that I’d turn up there again. But i guess a PvP focused community again wouldn’t be big enough to support the game, resulting in yet again insufficient support.

    And yes, i have tried the WAR emulator a while ago. Development there might be ongoing, but the “quality” for me was lacking, simply by being very laggy for me. For a game of that kind, the game needs to be quick and reactive. So i guess the location of the server is disadvantageous for me.

  3. Very mixed feelings here:
    SWG I didn’t like back in its hay-day, I felt the UI was terrible, the gameplay was overly complex. I have no real nostalgia for it. City of Heroes I never even tried once.

    Vanguard I would happily play again, but only if it was modernised a bit (graphics, optimisation) and as Sylow says if there was a community big enough to support the more sandboxy elements of the game.

    WAR I would also love to play again but this time only if there was a properly fleshed out PVE side to the game. The PVP was better than in most games that I’ve played, but still PVE Is my bag. If there were enough players and more PVE content released on a regular schedule then sure – I prefer the mythos/setting to Warcraft’s anyway.

  4. Phew! Wilhelm gave me a moment there… I’m not sure what he meant by ” The above three games at least had a dedicated enough following to get emulator projects off the ground. Vanguard even crashed and burned on that front. ” but it sounded as if he’d heard the Vanguard Emu was dead.

    It most very definitely is not! I’m logged into it as I type this. The MOTD warns that it’s still in a “very early alpha state” but I can assure anyone who’s curious that it’s already exceptionally playable, with loads of working quests and many of the mechanics up and running, including some of the Civic Diplomacy.

    I would heartily recommend anyone who once played and still misses this near-greatest of all MMORPGs, or who never tried it and wonders waht it might have been like, to give the emu a look, if only to bookmark it for later, when it matures into a fully-featured version of the great game.

    Now if someone would like to let us all know how the Free Realms emu project is going…

  5. There was a lot to like about Vanguard. It was released with too many bugs and never recoverd. I am looking at Pantheon as a replacement hopefully.

  6. I loved Vanguard, it was my alt game for years, i never got beyond the teens because i would remake characters all the time. Like wildstar it needed a lot of tlc and dev investment to pull it out of the state it was in. Im watching pantheon closely too.

  7. Of the games on that list the only one I’m sure I’d be playing at least for a month or two a year is COH. Which makes it pretty ironic that it’s the only one without a playable EMU.

    I’ve been tempted to check out the WAR emu, I never felt like I fully explored it. Vangaurd might also have some draw if they ever get all the systems up and running again. SWG had a lot if interesting systems, but they forgot to make it fun so I have no interest in the EMU scene.

    I’m curious about Wildstar, but don’t want to invest time into something that will be gone in about two months. What if I ended up liking it? I’d be heartbroken. Plus my limited spare time is already well accounted for in the foreseeable future. I know the next game I’m playing after my current one, and there’s a pretty large list of games I have in mind for after that one.

  8. I expect that I would still be off and on with SWG if it was around and even today I will routinely hop on the private servers for the game. I have played Warhammer online and never quite finished leveling a character but it was a fun month of PVP. I don’t think I’d go back to that one ever…although I did horde a few collectors editions of warhammer online, hoping that they would increase in value like the classic WOW CE did. I think last year they went to good will and I hope someone enjoys the goodies inside.

    I think we all have those games that we love and nostalgia pulls us back in periodically. This is how I feel about WoW and SWTOR.

  9. I would for all of these. My problem wasn’t with games, it was with financial stability that I didn’t have during these games heyday. For SWG and CoH, I just couldn’t afford a sub most of the time. I played them anytime I could squeeze a free week or free month out of a promotion. For Vanguard, I did have a sub for a time, and then I went back for F2P, but struggled some with the XP pacing. Since I have the Emu, I think its safe to say I’d be back there right now if I could.

    For Warhammer though? Probably not. It was a decent game, but I can’t see getting back into it in any depth.

    Again though…if someone put these games on GoG with the ability to host your own server or play solo, I would snap them all up in a heartbeat.

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