While SOE gets a lot of hate in the gamer community (much of it, ironically, for the same SWG that we're going to examine today), several of its titles provide some of the best customer service in the business, and SWG is no exception. Similarly, the game's community features an unusually high number of helpful people, particularly on the Starsider server.
Follow along after the cut to see what we found.
first few columns, we were able to make extensive use of global and regional chat channels (as well as group chat and personal tells) to gauge a game's community. With Star Wars Galaxies, the chat channels are player-created (if they exist at all), and they're not particularly useful as they're quite often empty save for special events. To compensate, we parked our characters at Chalmun's Cantina in Mos Eisley, long the SWG-nooblet playground and also a hotspot for roleplaying and low-level group-finding.
Our polling consisted of approaching as many random players as possible, both via spatial chat and private tells, in order to ask our traditional community questions. It's not exactly a fool-proof (nor scientific) system, but it does work well for gathering general impressions and random snapshots of a particular server community. In this case, we chose Starsider, as it is far and away the busiest of Galaxies' remaining shards and home to vastly different player types (the server is renowned for both its pilot and roleplaying communities, for example).
As per usual, we also put SOE's customer service system to the test via support tickets on two different accounts.
While we received a steady stream of answers from players at all the time slots, the weekend predictably provided the most bang for our buck. Responses ran the gamut from helpful and detailed to snarky and off-putting, with the former outnumbering the latter almost two to one in all test periods.
For our second question, we narrowed our focus a bit:
As with our initial question, response quantity and quality varied with day and time, and the weekend periods again featured the most returns per question.
It should also be noted that the SWG forums are the place to go for newbs. Not only are game systems and guides presented in excruciating detail, but the new-player boards offer a plethora of resources for the novice and returning player alike. The community has put together a post detailing player helpers, sorted by server and profession (SWG's equivalent of the standard MMORPG class); the post encourages newbs to contact said individuals in-game with any and all questions.
The title ticket was handled by GM Zuglash. Unfortunately, we weren't able to claim our veteran title, as the system is based off of "entitled" days (basically the number of days actively subscribed). Though our account was over 2600 days old, actual subscription time was just over 2200, granting us the six-year veteran title and leaving us about a year short. Zuglash took the time to thoroughly explain how the system works and also placed a few gifts in our in-game backpack as a consolation. As with our first ticket, we also received a follow-up email that invited further questions and commentary.
That about wraps up our snapshot of the Starsider community as well as our experiment with Star Wars Galaxies customer service. Despite what you may have heard from eternally disgruntled pre-NGE players, SWG remains a viable sandbox destination that features a helpful community and that rarest of MMORPG animals: GMs who genuinely care about the customer experience.
Join Jef Reahard every other week as he goes behind the scenes to file first-hand community and customer service reports from the front lines of your favorite genre titles. From Aion to Zentia, the Community Detective case files are an essential part of any game-hopper's research library. Suggestions welcome, care of firstname.lastname@example.org.