Enter Sony Online Entertainment and its seminal Star Wars Galaxies sandbox. There are many reasons to dig this particular game if you're a fan of player-generated content, but among the most important is the Storyteller system. Yeah, I know SWG is on borrowed time. There's still plenty of time to enjoy it though, and if you're a Star Wars fan, a sandbox fan, and especially a player-generated content fan, you're going to love it. Join me after the cut as I show you how to create your own makeshift starship base, complete with starfreighters, starfighters, Rebel pilots, and even a few Wookiee commandos thrown in for good measure.
Oh yeah, this is all in the live game-world too. No instancing here.
My goal for today is to show you one possibility and point you in the right direction; if you're looking for an exhaustive how-to article, you should peruse this excellent guide on the official forums.
With that out of the way, let's put on our hardhats and get to work.
Storyteller boasts a huge number of options when it comes to props as well as persistent and one-time environmental effects, and players are limited solely by their imaginations when it comes to building unique sets and event staging areas.
All it takes is a little time, a quick read-through of the in-game help interface, and a few hundred thousand credits to create (or recreate) your favorite Star Wars-flavored scenes. If you're new to SWG and worried about the fact that I just said "a few hundred thousand credits" like it's nothing, don't sweat it.
You don't have to spend tons of money on Storyteller. Creative players can get a lot of mileage out of a couple of well-placed R2 units or an aerial dogfighting effect (both of which are available for cheap), and saving up enough coin to pimp out your dream set is a worthwhile newbie goal for those of you just getting into the game and looking for something to do apart from progression.
One caveat to keep in mind is that your grand designs will eventually disappear from the live game world (props and NPCs usually last up to 16 hours depending on where they're placed). Thankfully the blueprint feature allows you to save elaborate setups and re-deploy them on a moment's notice.
Yeah, the system really is that cool, and no, I don't have the foggiest idea why no one else in the MMO industry can code something like this.
I traveled to the city of Moenia on Naboo to find one, but you can go to any major city you like and there will probably be an event NPC in the local hotel. From the Moenia starport, I headed southwest and found the right building, then clicked on the event promoter and settled down for a bit of menu-diving.
When it comes to figuring out the Storyteller system, patience is the order of the day. The options are broken down into seven major categories and it will take some time to see what all is on offer.
All of your purchased props, NPCs, and effects will show up as tokens in your inventory after you've handed over the requisite payment, so be sure you clear some bag space before heading to the event promoter.
It's also worth noting that you can pick up a Storyteller vendor token from the event promoter (under the Flavor NPC sub-menu), and this token is basically a mobile form of the event promoter NPC itself. I highly recommend grabbing two or three of these prior to leaving the event promoter's hotel
Speaking of deployment, once you've selected some interesting props and your vendor token(s) you'll need to select your virtual set. Storyteller props can be placed basically anywhere in the wilderness provided there's no mob lair spawns or points of interest (POIs) nearby. Props may also be placed in player cities assuming you're either the mayor or a citizen with build permissions.
After I finished with my stage/landing pad, I threw down a couple of Incom T-65s (those are X-wings for you Star Wars newbs), a pair of generators and supply pallets, and even an astromech ready and waiting to be popped into the droid socket behind the starfighter cockpits.
Something was missing though, and after a few moments of head-scratching, I figured that it might be nice for my theoretical grease-monkeys to have a couple of industrial-strength work lamps, the better to light their way while they wrench on my starfighters all through the night.
Moving on, I placed a couple of Corellian freighters in the trench in front of my house, as well as a couple of shuttlecraft, a few swoop bikes, and a gaggle of NPCs milling around them. These included 24 Rebel troopers, six Rebel commandos and two officers, and six Wookiee commandos. Oh yeah, I also plopped down a couple of Rebel pilots (complete with those eye-catching orange flight suits) for the aforementioned X-wings.
Messing around with the placement commands is half of the fun here, and I spent a good while arranging things just so and generally having a ball by experimenting with stacked objects and figuring out the limits of the system. After I had it right, I purchased a blueprint token from the Storyteller vendor and saved the entire layout with the click of a button. When my props disappear over the next 12 hours, it'll be a simple matter of deploying another vendor, examining the saved blueprint as a sort of shopping list, and re-purchasing the tokens needed to re-deploy the scene. Once I've bought everything required, voila: Instant starbase!
Also, as you can see by the article screenshots and the gallery above, I'm not the galaxy's greatest exterior decorator. I basically plopped down a few ships, NPCs, and smaller props, and barely scratched the surface of Storyteller's potential. Players can and do go absolutely nuts with sprawling, mega-detailed creations, so don't limit yourself to what I've done for purposes of this article (speaking of which, if any of you SWG fans would like to get your creations preserved in Some Assembly Required, drop me an email via firstname.lastname@example.org).
So that's SWG's Storyteller system in a nutshell. It's well worth subbing to the game simply to check it out, particularly if you've got any sort of interest in player-generated content.
Until next time, happy building -- and don't forget to let us know about your creations!
Jef Reahard and MJ Guthrie take a break from their themepark day jobs to delve into the world of sandboxes and player-generated content. Comments, suggestions, and coverage ideas are welcome, and Some Assembly Required is always looking for players who'd like to show off their MMO creativity. Contact us!