Friday Feature 9/29/2017: Invasion

Today’s Friday Feature is our first look at the upcoming GCW system. All features are subject to change in testing and due to community feedback.

The Galactic Civil War system in SWG was always a bit of a bust. Due to technical limitations, the SWG team was always nervous about too many people congregating in an area – players from live will recall massive lag and slowdowns in areas when large numbers of players gathered. (Think 100+. Yes, I broke Rori during Pex’s farewell tour. It was hilarious, and I’d do it again.)

The technical limitations imposed limitations on design as well – one of the worst being the Galactic Civil War.

A Civil War Without Battles

“Not all battles are fought with lightsabers. Some battles are fought in back-alleys with vibroblades.”

The GCW went through several iterations over the lifespan of SWG. The original implementation was all based on player bases, acquirable from faction recruiters. Planet control was determined by GCW score, in turn determined by the number and type of player bases owned by each faction.

PvP bases were worth more than PvE bases, with larger bases being more valuable than small ones. (Costs scaled appropriately.) PvE bases were always vulnerable to enemy player attacks; PvP bases only had windows of opportunity.

Out of this system arose a weird cat-and-mouse game, with bases dropped at weird hours to limit their vulnerability windows and skirmishes seldom exceeding 10 v 10 or 20 v 20. Rather than epic battles between opposing armies, the GCW was more akin to backalley fights between gangs.

During the NGE, the dev team implemented “zone control” – active factional players in a zone would slowly “take control” of an area and it would align more strongly with a given faction. Instead of concentrating combat, it spread it out even further, with PvP players looking for fights seldom exceeding 1v1 or 2v2.

Finally, the devs did implement a few control elements that encouraged grouping up – namely, the city invasions. At first, players heavily participated in these invasions, with crafters building up defenses and combatants taking the line to defend or attack. Quickly, though, the charm was lost – with battles running every couple hours, it was impossible for players to keep up with the demand.


Player Solutions

“Hand them a problem without directions and they solve it in some strange fashion.”

The player base rose to each challenge, but also wasn’t content with the unfocused approach SOE had provided. Players tried differing ways of providing that focused combat that the player base (or at least the PvPers) wanted.

The most successful and famous approach was one that the EiF devs participated in (and, at various times, planned and led): Starsider’s famous pilot events.

Events were held weekly on Saturday evenings at the same set time every week. Players who weren’t much into piloting still joined up and filled gun turrets on freighters and gunships. Non-PvP pilots would set aside that hour or two for time to group up and engage in team combat. And PvPers planned and prepared for it with strategies that ranged from basically unplanned to intricate details that didn’t survive contact.

An interesting aspect emerged from the space events – the planned PvP events led to more activity during the week. Pilots spent more time planning, practicing, and grinding equipment. General activity in the Deep Space PvP zone climbed as well. The planned events led to a spike of unplanned activity as players spent the week doing support activity to maximize their chances of victory during the planned times.

The Empire in Flames GCW system is heavily based on using old game mechanics in new ways, as well as learning lessons from the past. We can also take advantage of a smaller population to create content that might not be feasible with 1000+ players online and participating.

And with that, we bring you: invasions.



“Wars are won by boots on the ground.”

Planetary control is always a key element of the GCW system – the difference has always been in how is control determined. As has been traditional, players will determine control of a planet, but passive activities won’t help here – this is all about boots on the ground.

Invasions are regularly-scheduled combat events – an invasion happens every three days, with offense and defense flipped each time. In other words, every six days your faction will be invading an enemy-held world; and every six days, you will be defending one of your worlds from an enemy invasion.

The system is setup to run on US-friendly times (exact kick off times to be determined, but we’re looking at 9 PM EST as very likely). Sorry, European players, but this is designed for when the most players are available.

Controlling given planets will provide various perks to your faction – crafting, combat, travel. Those perks have not yet been implemented on test and the list has not been finalized.


Anatomy of an Invasion

“Control the skies, control the world.”

Invasions take place simultaneously at each NPC starport city on a target planet. An invasion of Corellia, for example (which I suspect will be a common offensive target) will have battles taking place in Coronet, Tyrena, Kor Vella, and Doaba Guerful. It will not have combat in Bela Vistal and Vreni Island.

Defending forces will rally inside the cities at the starports. Attackers will have a beachhead camp nearby but outside city limits.

Attacking forces have the objective of advancing to the starport, breaching the defenses there, and performing a base bust on the target starport. If they succeed, the starport flips to the attackers’ faction.

However, those gains are only temporary. To maintain control of the starport at the end of the invasion, the attacking faction must seize all starports on the planet during the invasion window (currently being tested at 60 and 90 minutes). As a result, more heavily traveled planets, like Corellia, are harder to flip than, say, a little-visited world like Dathomir with a mere two outposts to seize.


Players Make the Difference

“It’s the tipping point.”

Invasions are designed intentionally with lopsided forces and objectives. Defenders boast turrets, walls, and NPC defenders capable of holding the line against players. They also have the advantage of the clock – if the attackers don’t move fast enough, the defenders win by default.

Invaders have a larger NPC army at their backs to offset the challenges of invasion. In a striaght fight, invading NPCs will eventually overwhelm the defenders, but they will do so slowly, and without player intervention, cannot seize the starports via base busting mechanics. They will also struggle with defensive turrets, which are vulnerable to blast damage but deal out extraordinary firepower.

Invaders also get the unique perk of assault walkers – mobile siege weapons with extraordinary firepower, but only at a player’s command. These mighty weapons will be the subject of their own Friday Feature further down the line.


Control the Galaxy

“We’re about evenly gunned, and our people are better-trained and better-motivated.”

While each faction will maintain an un-attackable “fortress world”, a determined faction can seize control of the civilized galaxy with teamwork and superior firepower…and superior strategic decisions. The Galactic Civil War will be player-driven, not just because players are required for invasions to succeed, but because players will select invasion worlds.


We’re not quite ready to pull the cover off those secrets yet. Look for it soon!

Will you fight for the fledgling New Republic? Or will you crush all resistance under your heel as a proud fighting member of the Empire? The fate of the galaxy may very well be in your hands!


Friday Feature 9/22/2017: A Chat with Anishor

Continuing the Empire in Flames staff interviews. This week we get peek into the life of Anishor! Enjoy.

EiF: Which versions of SWG did you play? pre-CU, CU, NGE?

 Anishor: I played all versions of SWG.

EiF: If you played in the pre-CU live, approximately how long did you play in the pre-CU?

Anishor: I played pre-CU beta 2 through the CU, So I’m not sure exactly how long that was.  That being said, I followed SWG since it’s first press release in 1999.

EiF: Which server did you play on?

AnishorStarsider primarily, though starsider at launch was full and had stability problems so I played on Ahazi and Starsider 80/20% for the first two months..

EiF: Which classes and which was your favorite?

AnishorPre-CU : Squad leader, Rifleman, Bounty Hunter and Swordsmen, Medic, CH.  With the squad leader being my favorite. I enjoyed helping the base busts or saving Jedi from BH’s with the few squad leader buffs that worked. 

CU: Squadleader, Rifles, and Fencer. Was a lot of fun, OP at times too.

NGE: Squadleader, Melee Smuggler, LSJ.  Squadleader and Melee smuggler being tied.

EiF: How many accounts did you own/manage?

AnishorAt the height in the NGE I had 5 accounts, two were for buffing purposes. I had a main account that was for my wookiees, and another for my other RP toons.  With the final account being for secret alts. 😉

EiF: What type of gameplay style do you most enjoy?

Anishor: That’s a really hard question for me to answer, I love PvP on both the ground and in space. But RP is always right there so it’s hard to say.

EiF: What’s a typical gaming session for you, what activities?

Anishor: I check my vendors on my merchants, I check my housing maintenance, then I see if there’s anyone I want to RP or just do missions with.  If not, I just run missions by myself and talk about EiF’s direction.

EiF: What do you most enjoy about SWG?

Anishor: Living the Greatest Star Wars Story ever told, mine.

EiF: What do you enjoy most about Empire in Flames?

Anishor: Seeing other people enjoy the work we’ve put in and just enjoying the game. After that, I  like the hybrid skill set / profession system we’ve created and the balance we’re working towards.

EiF: When you are not ingame, what do you enjoy doing?

Anishor: I play three sports – I fence sabre, soccer, and ice hockey. Though I haven’t played hockey in a bit.  I also I enjoy playing CoD Zombies with my GF or playing the various battlefield series with my brothers.  I also enjoy eating out and working out.

EiF: What do you do outside of EiF / do for a living?

Anishor: I’m a senior software engineer who focuses on User Experience design and user interface implementation with an additional role as a semantic modeller. Though with this focus, I do embrace a full stack approach and am comfortable with a large variety of technologies, languages, and development approaches.

EiF: What is your role with EiF? What does that entail?

Anishor: I provide engineering support to Halyn as well as being the primary designer responsible for our combat/profession balance.  What that means is I spend time helping Halyn get passed server code bugs, figuring out how to implement some new features on the back end  if Halyn can’t. I also created our launcher, though not from scratch, I forked another team’s launcher and edited to suit our needs.  This is what good engineers do, don’t rebuild the wheel if you can just reuse and modify.  I also created our skill calculator beta.

From the designer perspective it means looking at numbers and doing a lot of play testing on my dev environment. To not only get balance right, but ensuring all the skill sets have a good/unique feel to them, don’t’ want to have cookie-cutter.

EiF: If you could have ANYTHING instantly in EiF, what would it be?

 Anishor: B-wings and JTL.

EiF: If you could find out one thing about our EiF Community, what would it be?

 Anishor: What incentives for PvP would everyone like?

EiF: What gives you Developer’s Crack?

AnishorDepends: in EIF – seeing people read the new plans for skill sets and changing minds about long held ideas or must haves. You must stack Fencer with Pistoleer for example.

In my real life job – Seeing a noobie pick up my user interface and they’re able to understand and improve their job in less than 7s.  Also creating a semantic model of complex real world concepts that people were unable to accurately describe without idioms.

EiF: Feel free to add anything else?

 Anishor:  Wookiees > Zeltrons  > Zabraks > Everyone Else. But really I enjoy seeing our server community grow and look forward to the heights of we can climb together.

Clearly Not Combat Princess!

Community Manager, Empire in Flames

Friday Feature 9/15/2017: Looking Back: Loot Kits

Lots of hardcore decorating has been going on in various places around the Empire in Flames galaxy. Cynabar’s Fantastic Technology in Barataria on Rori. The Gnorton Zoo and Sanctuary in Gnorton on Naboo. The City Hall and Wookiee Guild Hall in Whisperwind on Taanab. Port Jato Space Station. The Cantina in Mos Carova on Tatooine.

These are but a few of the outstanding locations the amazing decorating talents of players in EiF can be found. Not everyone is into decorating. If you are hunter or mercenary out taking contracts (missions), or maybe exploring a planet such as Dantooine and stumble over a group of hostile Janta or Dantari, then you are likely to be running across valuable decorating items.

Some items are more obvious than others such as the bowls and schematics.There is one catagory which isn’t as obvious and those are the loot kit parts. Those annoying orange or blue threads that seem to have no purpose other than to fill up your precious inventory. Yet if you go to Gnorton or the Broken Bridge Cantina you’ll see beautiful orange and blue rugs. These rugs were put together by collecting those threads and adhesives and other things and placed into a loot kit obtained from a junk dealer.

Below is a link to a guide on 5 of the loot kits, pictures of what they look like and the parts needed to make them. You can often find the looted parts on various player vendors and there are some players who often have the completed items for sale. Check in trade chat on Discord, if you are looking for something in particular.

Good Looting!

Community Manager

((Apologies for the delay in getting this out. My plans were another interview with an EiF dev, but he’s been out of power for over a week from Hurricane Irma 🙁 ))

Friday Feature 9/8/2017: A Chat with Halyn

Halyn and I got a chance to sit down virtually and talk about him and Empire in Flames. Well, actually, Gail and I wrote up a list of questions and Halyn answered them! The first way just sounded more cozy. *broad grins* Enjoy!

Sandi: Which versions of SWG did you play? pre-CU, CU, NGE?

Halyn: All of them!

Sandi: If you played in the pre-CU live, approximately how long did you play in the pre-CU?

Halyn:    I started in October of 2003 and played until the game shutdown. I had a couple breaks in there of a few months at a time, and periods where I was more and less active, but largely played from almost the beginning all the way to the end.

Sandi: Which server did you play on?

Halyn:    Starsider from beginning to end. I had an RL friend who rolled there first, and the RS guild started there as well. I never had a reason to go elsewhere.

Sandi: Which classes and which was your favorite?

Halyn:    Pre-CU, I largely played a weak combination of classes – pistoleer, smuggler, creature handler, ranger, and a few others. At the time, I wasn’t interested in min-maxing. I had fun in particular as a smuggler, and generally had one smuggler characters from mid-pre-CU all the way through the end of the game. During the early CU, I played a smuggler/commando which had some hilariously awesome potential until SOE nerfed cross-classing weapons.

Sandi: How many accounts did you own/manage?

Halyn:    Only one actively, but I wound up inheriting a number of accounts that I kept running. At peak, I had four accounts I was paying for before my then-girlfriend started playing and took one or two of them off my hands.

Sandi: What type of gameplay style do you most enjoy?

Halyn:    One we don’t have yet – space!

Sandi: What’s a typical gaming session for you, what activities?

Halyn:    On days I’m not wearing a dev hat, I log in and decide which character I want to play with. Sometimes I run missions, but I often spend more time now days just touring the galaxy and seeing what other EiF players are doing. Even with a small population, some amazing things are happening in-game, with deco that’s breath-taking and cities that are amazing.

Sandi: What do you most enjoy about SWG?

Halyn:    It may be cliche to say at this point, but it’s the sandbox. There’s a sense of freedom in the game – I can go anywhere I want, do anything I want, and it’s a legitimate gameplay experience. I can decorate a locale, ride a narglatch across Naboo, race a swoop on Tatooine, fight stormtroopers at a starport, or conduct some seedy business on Port Jato.

Sandi: What do you enjoy most about Empire in Flames?

Halyn:    Seeing other people enjoy the work we’ve put in is number one. Number two is working on new things that other servers haven’t done, like our extended selection of species and the upcoming GCW system.

Sandi: When you are not ingame, what do you enjoy doing?

Halyn:    Hunting, reading, and being a father to two wild boys who love Star Wars as much as I do.

Sandi: What do you do outside of EiF / do for a living?

Halyn:    I’m an author (check Amazon!) and run a small computer business out of my home. It’s enough to keep the lights on and food in the fridge.

Sandi: What is your role with EiF? What does that entail?

Halyn:    Lead developer/owner. As such, I’m often knee-deep in the muck of code, working on new features. It also means I screen patches and additions submitted by the rest of the team, make tweaks, and ensure nothing breaks. I also manage code merged from SWGEmu’s development to make sure we stay up-to-date and that our customization remains compatible with new upgrades. In other words, I do at least some of almost everything on the backend.

Sandi: If you could have ANYTHING instantly in EiF, what would it be?

Halyn:    JtL. Everything else on my immediate want list our team can handle from scratch, even if it will take a while.

Sandi: What gives you Developer’s Crack?

Halyn:    There are few things I like more than seeing players enjoy a new feature we’ve worked hard to implement. We introduced new races with the client patch, and I love seeing them already in use! Cat mounts started as a whim, but anyone who has some creature handler skill seems to prefer them over speeders, and it’s extremely satisfying to see them racing around.

Sandi: Feel free to add anything else!

Halyn:    I’m grateful for the players here. I know new content has been slow in coming, but the steady player community here is an awesome thing to see and participate in. I’m grateful for our volunteer team, too – Sandarie and BluePyros in particular have taken a huge amount of work off my hands, which lets me work on all the new features I’ve dreamed off.

Halyn:    I’m hoping in the next few weeks to start previewing bits of the Galactic Civil War system. It’ll be unlike anything else on a SWG server, with new features that will continue to shape EiF into the most unique SWG project around!

Patch Notes – 9/5/17

  • Merged latest SWGEmu code. (Check’s unstable patch notes for details.)
  • Added experimental “friendly” flag for NPCs. No current live NPCs are flagged with this code, but the live merge is to ensure the new flag causes no issues with existing code.