Yesterday, I talked about what SWG did wrong. Today, what's right.
1. Open Market
The devs enabled the players to create an open market. They did not interfere. They even set up server-specific forums on the boards for trades and auctions. They did not interfere. The market grew, inflated, deflated, speculated, and sometimes went crazy. They did not interfere. Players continually asked for interference, and they had to step in on a few abuses and scams, but for 99.99% of it, they did not interfere. This enabled the players to have a truly open market.
Various mechanics of the market work or don't work to varying degrees. What I am praising the devs for is leaving the players to create the economy.
2. Player Cities
Player cities aren't perfect, but the freedom to create this things and set up some sort of governance worked. The implementation was not perfect and certainly had problems, but 1.5 years later, there are still large cities on all planets on all servers, all created by players. They did something right. The #1 thing they did right here was to say, "We'll let players sort out their problems." They curbed some rule abuses. They implemented changes here and there where players did not have sufficient authority in running their own cities. Yet, for the most part, cities have run the cities themselves.
The praise here is for staying hands-off for so much of this.
As is so true in SWG successes, the implementation may be flawed, but concept is good. Space is vital to the Star Wars experience. For the first year, we had no space. The developers sacrificed many improvements to get space into the experience, claiming that is was vital. They were right. I can no longer thing of SWG without space.
Not only do we have space, we have twitch-based space. There is actual blood-pumping excitement when a Tier5 gunship and your survival is questionable. The only thing between you and space-dust is your own flying skills.
4. New Quest Writers
For the newest expansion, SWG hired a veteran RPG quest writer. This has made a big difference in the type and quality of quests in the new expansion. In theory, I like the new quests. They take you to different places, planets, and situations. Although they are sometimes aggrivating in their back-and-forthness, they are better than the quests that first went into the game. Multiple planets/multiple modes is key to the Star Wars experience.
5. Reacting to Competition
When the competition came along and published new games, many players left SWG. Reacting to these new games, SWG has sought to clean up its act. Better late than never, they changed their ways. They switched to smaller, more frequent publishes. They add polish with every publish. They established multiple teams working on multiple material, in order to have new content coming along in a stream. They created a vision on what material they wanted to add to the game, and how they wanted to do it. In essence, they finally switched from a primary-creation based model (which had been necessary to get the game up in the first place), to a maintanance and expansion based creation model (which is necessary to keep an existing game going).
6. Community Relations
Although their community relations model is not perfect, they had one. Most MMORPG have poor community relations, as they are companies owned and run under the corporate model. SWG recognized very early on that they had to have some sort of community relations. This put them in the forefront of community relations. No other game set up programs as they had. The player correspondents had access to the developers. They made attempts at collection player concerns. If they had good follow through, the plan would have been far more successful.
Since SWG is so player dependent, the players themselves must get some praise for making this game work. Quite simply, the players are the game. They don't just show up, log in, and run missions. They have distracting alternatives to gold farming. Many players became professional miners, making more money selling resources than they did adventuring. Some collected up loot and resold it. Others made a living at modifying existing equipment and reselling it. You were only limited in your own creativity in making money. It's that player base creativitiy that helped make the game work.