Apologies and What’s Ahead

I apologize for the radio silence for some time here at Empire in Flames. Due to personal reasons, I’ve had no time or energy to post anything here for several weeks.

On the plus side, there’s much to look forward to in the weeks ahead. Coming up includes more official server lore (starting with planetary lore for Naboo), skills, and profession information. We’re also working on some updates for the test server to try to iron out the worst issues (namely, skills missing modifiers and low-level abilities normally gained through starter professions that are no longer available).

Research continues apace on the most important features: Galactic Civil War and Underworld. It will likely be some time yet before details are publicly available, but rest assured that we’re working hard.

Yes, details are a bit sparse, but I hope to be sharing specifics with you in the coming weeks.

Roleplayer Lore: Rise, Part IV

One of the details that sets Empire in Flames apart from other SWGEmu-based servers is a focus on story. While roleplaying alone cannot sustain a server, it can be an important part of the playerbase’s activities. The live Starsider server is a great example of that.


Rhaze Durile was a mainstay figure in the RP community on Starsider. As an Imperial Inquisitor, he provided a steady stream of story-driven events over a number of years. Although he currently is focusing on Star Trek Online, he is planning to return when Empire in Flames launches to run another long-term campaign. Rhaze will be a GM in-game to allow him to more easily create the epic setups he specialized in back on the live servers. 

As part of the setup, he’s writing a serialized story to set the stage. This is the fourth part.


Tarv threw himself back from the bulk of the cave-in, but the screams he heard over the comms said not all of his men were so lucky. Alright, so this kid wasn’t an amateur. That was fine by Tarv. He’d been spoiling for a good fight anyway. He switched on his jetpack and blasted out of the pile of rubble covering him to try and get some altitude on the Jedi, but suddenly found himself crashing to the ground.

He quickly ejected the jetpack, and rolled over to see the smoking ruins of it clattering down among the rubble with the Jedi standing over him with his lightsaber pointed at Tarv’s throat. There was something familiar about those steel grey eyes Tarv recognized before his helmet’s HUD went dead, likely from the impact of several falling rocks.

Tarv removed his helmet and stared into the face of his opponent. “I know you,” he said with a gravely snarl.

“Yeah,” the Jedi said. “I’m sure your Master wasn’t expecting to find me here. Tell Durile we’re on to his plan, and it’s not going to work. I’ll let you gather the rest of your team if you agree to leave peacefully.”

Tarv laughed and spat blood. “Not gonna happen, heretic.”

“I don’t think you’re in any position to refuse.”

Tarv laughed again. “You Jedi…always underestimating your opponents and never seizing the opportunity to strike when you have it.” He outstretched his hand and let lose a blast of energy from the Force.

The Jedi allowed himself to be carried by the wave of energy and used the momentum to propel himself back on top of a pile of rubble. He sneered at Tarv and said, “Spectre Trooper”.

Tarv grinned and opened a hidden compartment on the lower back of his armor and drew a chrome plated lightsaber hilt. He ignited the crimson blade and brought it up in a salute. “The only thing I will be telling Lord Durile is how I killed you right before I claimed the artifact.”


In his private chambers, deep in meditation, Rhaze Durile saw the fight unfold between Tarv and Grade Ardeen. Altough he had felt a familiar presence in the Force upon arrival, he hadn’t shared that information with anyone…not until he was sure, anyway.

Rising from the meditation platform, Durile activated the holocomm and Captain Mevara’s stern face shimmered into existence. “Yes, milord?”

“Captain, there has been a new development. Ready my shuttle. I’m going to the surface.”

Roleplayer Lore: Rise, Part III

The journey had been an arduous one. Grade Ardeen had always wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps as a boy, but his training had been a bit unorthodox. Training while on the run from the Empire with his father and mother had taught him how to wield the Force, but it was his time living with his father’s unlikely best friend, Iske Ahi, that had taught him how to survive and fight. As a Mandalorian, Iske’s training had been downright brutal at times. Grade had railed against it as a boy, decrying it as a path to the Dark Side since much of Mandalorian culture was based on violence.

As he got older, though, Grade came to see the Mandalorian culture as less about violence and more about honor. The ideals of the Jedi and Mandalorians were certainly at odds when you looked at them from the outside, but once you got down to the core of what each fought for, they became more in line than either side wanted to admit.

The Jedi sought peace and balance. The Mandalorians sought honor for their families, and honor came in many forms. Iske had taught Grade how to use the environment around him to survive. He’d learned farming, how to care for and domesticate animals to improve quality of life when there was no technology available. He’d learned how to care for others around him and to protect his assets through martial techniques.

His father had shown him how to feel the Force in all those things and draw strength from it at the same time as embracing the inner peace needed to focus. And yet, both men had the same basic lesson. Never start a fight…but always finish it.

That lesson now replayed in his head as he stood inside the Jedi sanctuary, alone in the wilderness, with only his still nascent command of the Force and his will to survive serving as his armor. His emerald lightsaber blade cut through the darkness and glinted off the black special ops stormtrooper armor of his foes.

Grade knew the armor well, as he had seen them all too often while being hunted by his father’s and Iske’s nemesis, Rhaze Durile. Grade had heard rumors that Inquisitor Durile was on the move following the deaths of Palpatine and Darth Vader. The Rebellion’s Intelligence network had revealed Durile was operating in the Outer Rim, but with no clear evidence, they didn’t have any resources to direct toward his advances while still dealing with the aftermath of Endor.

Without the oversight of the Emperor, the Empire had started to swarm like angry insects, with every Moff in the galaxy moving to assert their power. It was only a matter of time before Durile made his move.

Grade steadied himself. His curly close-cropped straw-colored hair was already damp with sweat from his heightened sense of anticipation. “You don’t belong here,” he said as he stepped into the single shaft of light coming from the planet’s moon at its zenith, which cast Grade in a brilliant shaft of light.

The lead stormtrooper lifted his weapon and barked, “Identify yourself!”

“You don’t belong here,” Grade repeated. The stormtroopers didn’t move and they were certainly not going to leave. They had come for the same thing he had…the artifact. He could feel it in the Force. A fight it would be then.

Grade called upon the Force to add speed and strength to his charge, then launched himself at his enemies. A hail of blaster fire surrounded him. Most of it was fire for effect, a standard tactic by the Empire that was meant to unnerve an opponent they meant to subdue, rather than kill. Grade had no doubt Durile had given these men standing orders for no prisoners, but a “Jedi Cultist” was always something Durile cherished, and trumped any orders he gave to kill.

It was an old tactic of the Imperial Inquisition. Capture a Force Sensitive if possible. Kill only when necessary, because a turned Force Sensitive was more valuable than a dead one.

Well, that was their folly. They weren’t just dealing with a Force Sensitive. They were dealing with someone who had been taught to fight by a Mandalorian. Grade pressed a button on the remote attached to his belt with his free hand while he batted away blaster fire with his saber hand.

There was a rumble, and then the ceiling came raining down on them.

Friday Feature: Development Philosophy

I’m going to take a step back from our regular Friday features to write a bit about our development philosophy. “What’s the purpose? Why are you making the decisions you’re making? What are you focusing on?” Those are questions we’ve been hearing regularly, and I’m going to try to give you a look into the mindset we’re using. So, without further ado, the general philosophy we’re working with.

Freedom is everything. The sandbox was SWG’s greatest strength. Unlike the vast majority of MMOs, players could always leave a mark on the game – quite literally. Player-crafted goods reigned supreme; player cities dominated the landscape; player interaction drove PvP.

The original team did wonderful things to make the game open. It’s something we don’t want to lose.

The profession revamp is designed to make the game even more flexible than it used to be! A problem in SWG was that professions that “did” things were pigeonholed into doing it a certain way. My go-to example is always smuggler: to be a smuggler, you had to specialize in pistols. (Unless you were a triple threat, with TKA/smuggler/pistoleer.)

Wanted to use carbines instead? Well, prepare to have a large number of points tied up in things you can’t use, from the pistols line in marksman to all those pistols-only combat specials.

Worse, at end-game PvE levels there were only a handful of professions (or even templates!) that worked. Fighting Krayts, for example, virtually had to have the heavy armor piercing T-21 or Power Hammer. Professions like pistoleer, carbineer, TKA, and fencer were out in the cold at the end-game level.

So we’re doing our best to open things up further, make the game more open than it already is. We want people to pick a profession because it’s fun to play, not because it’s the only way to complete content.


Structure is necessary. SWG failed to impose rules it needed to keep the game going on a long-term basis. The worst offender was the housing system – the devs failed to anticipate what would happen. Namely, players built rings of houses at the edge of the no-build zone around starports. The more time went on, the worse it got.

PvP withered away as it became clear players had nothing to gain, but things to lose by engaging in PvP. A small, dedicated crowd (both ground and space) kept at it, but it was never what it could have been. Alternatively, it never reached the heights we saw during the Anchorhead/Bestine wars.

The idea, then, is to impose some structure where there wasn’t any before. Not because players are playing the game “wrong”, but to keep the game healthy and to channel energies into activities that are fun for multiple people.


Eliminate the grind. Those of us who played from the beginning are now twelve years older than when we started. Many of us have kids that weren’t born when we first played Star Wars Galaxies. We have jobs, spouses, family, commitments that we previously lacked.

We’re not eliminating the grind entirely – players still have to level professions (even if it’s much quicker than the old days), acquire resources, and so forth. But the days of spending weeks camping a boss spawn or trying to get that last perfectly-tuned pearl are not the the defining characteristics of the Empire in Flames project.


Provide fun. This probably shouldn’t be the fourth entry on this list, because that’s hardly fair to the importance we put on it. The game should be fun. Leveling skills should be fun. Crafting should be fun. (Well, for those who like it – I’ve personally never played a game where I enjoyed crafting. That’s my personal preference, though.) Running through a dungeon should be fun. Engaging in PvP should be fun. Building a city should be fun. Decorating should be fun.

Even when we had content under the various SWG implementations, fun was often substituted for grinding. Kill collections became monotonous, item collections had a “rare” item that sapped the enjoyment from looting pieces.

We want players to have fun, not swear at that stupid item that just won’t drop.


Give players something new. Seems like an odd statement, but it’s true. It’s why we’re working to allow players to own buildings that were previously only for NPCs, or build entirely new professions, or implement new planets entirely.

We’re a server built by players who loved the game in all its forms, and we all had things we wished the SOE dev team would have done. Now it’s our turn to prove that those things could have been great.


Use what worked. There are SWG emulator teams that are committed entirely to a certain era of the game – pre-CU, CU, or NGE. The problem is that, arguably, none of those systems worked well. Pre-CU was an unbalanceable mess; CU depending heavily on creature/player levels that undercut the freedom of the skillpoint system; and the NGE removed the freedom of character building.

We played through SWG from the very beginning, and we understand that somethings worked very well, but many things didn’t. We refuse to pigeonhole ourselves into thinking just one way; instead, we’re going to take the elements that worked well and make them work together.

Are the changes going to please everyone? No – but there’s not a version of SWG /anywhere/ that /everyone/ likes. Period.


So now, when you’re questioning a decision we’ve made or a method of implementation, take a look at this and you can likely see how it fits in with our philosophy. Will we make everything perfect? I doubt it. But we’ll do our best to build a server that’s still fun to play, twelve years after Star Wars Galaxies first released.

Skills: Rifleman

“About as warm, tender, and helpful as a methane ice comet.” -Ton Phanan describing sniper Myn Donos, X-Wing: Wraith Squadron


In the classic pre-CU Star Wars Galaxies game, the rifleman was one of the most powerful classes in the game. Through various mechanics, the rifleman shot fast, hit hard, and kept moving. The heavy armor piercing capability of its signature weapon, the T-21, made it one of the two classes of choice for high-end PvE.

Rifleman is taking a bit of a different role in Empire in Flames, with a heavier focus on the sniper side.


Rifles, as a rule, are the most powerful long-range weapons in the game available to anyone. (Commandos will beg to differ, but they specialize.) Long barrels and heavier hardware translates to greater accuracy at a distance, with a heavy punch to match. While rifles take longer between shots, the extra firepower more than makes up the difference.

That firepower comes at a price. Rifles are awkward in close-quarters combat, hard to aim at close ranges and even harder to shoot while on the move. Riflemen are kings from a prone position or shooting from a rest, but vulnerable to the pistoleer or melee combatant who makes it to their optimal combat distances.

berserker rifle

Rifles are favored by heavily-armored, slow-moving characters. Typically, they see use by commandos at the beginning of an engagement or by bounty hunters looking to off a target before he’s even aware of the danger. If played advantageously, a rifleman can kill before his opponent can turn the tables.