I can understand your confusion, it has been a long time since the Original game was live. Maybe I can help clear up a few things.
- The base game dates back to around June 2003 in the US, and a few months later for various countries around the world.
- The game had many "upgrades" called "publishes." These started as early as August 2003 with Publish #1 which added the Nightsisters Cave. Followed by ugrades/publishes that included updates to pets, The Warren, Mounts, Cites, Vehicles, Imperial Crackdown, Droids... and so on.
- The major updates started around Publish 9 in June 2004 which included "secrets of the force" followed by the jedi trials (aug 04), Jump to Lightspeed (Oct. 04), Loot Revamp (Jan 05), Veteran Rewards (feb 05), and GCW changes in (march 05).
Now after all these game improvements came an update called the "combat upgrade" on April 27, 2005.
From that Combat Upgrade there were 3 major changes:
- Health, Action, Mind (HAM) was adjusted so that players could now only take damage to Health pool, and Action and Mind were used to perform abilities.
- Most profession abilities are no longer weapon specific. Now, different special abilities can be used with different weapons. (A big change from prior to Publish 15).
- Armor was reworked across the system to add diversity, choices, and visual improvements. Including a new crafting system:
Here is a quote from that Combat upgrade that describes the changes to the professions:
With the core combat changes finalized, we only had one last critical issue to resolve. Since we had decided to emphasize the specific role of each profession in combat we needed to narrow down what those roles were going to be. We needed to give each core combat profession a specific role strength with as little overlap as possible.
The biggest problem that we saw with the existing profession design was that there was too much overlap across professions which lead to a lack of any unique strength or role definition. One of the core philosophical issues that lead to this problem was that professions are not the same as classes. In a class-based system, each class must be complete and self-supportive in its own right. Since Star Wars Galaxies uses a skill-based system we are able to concentrate more on the specific strengths that each profession skill set provides without worrying if it was complete. Characters are able to learn multiple complete professions (profession stacking) or lots of abilities from among several different professions to create their own ideal template (we will discuss the changing prerequisites in a different document). This philosophy shift allowed us to concentrate on what exactly the true strength of a profession should be and make all of its abilities support that strength. We also looked at how each profession is currently played so that where possible, we could stay true to the nature of that profession.
We decided to visualize the role definitions in a diagram to more easily figure out where everyone fit. Most professions fell into place quickly and easily while a few were harder to place. Eventually we had to make some hard decisions about what the future of certain professions would end up being. Because we needed each profession to have a unique strength with as little overlap as possible we ended up having to give some professions new role abilities and others needed to shift quite a bit from what they were in the past.
While we know that there are a lot of changes in the plan, we feel the final decisions will ultimately lead to a stronger and more cohesive game. Below you will see the final balance diagram. In it you can see the relative balance of each profession and their roles. The diagram does not define any of the specific abilities or how those roles are going to be carried out but you can see how they interrelate. All future decisions about each combat profession will be guided by this balance diagram.
Along with these adjustments the following tweaks were added:
- Profession balances (more professions have greater value in combat, some become less meta)
- Skill modifiers (Skill box choices now have more "exciting" and "challenging" choices.
- Massive improvements to NPC and Creature AI.
- Weapons with Dots have been removed, Dots only from abilities now.
- Players still able to mix and match skills for "profession stacking" to create powerful combinations of professions.
There were a host of other changes, but in short the Combat Upgrade was widely accepted as a good thing and the vast majority of players welcomed it. It was the "little things" that were big wins for the Upgrade (for example they added full color icons which replaced the old icons).
The "upset" crowd was a handful of players who had to change play styles that were dominating PvP / PvE. These were mostly players who had server best DoT weapons which could kill players Mind Pools in a matter of seconds in PvP (something you could not defend against).
Now let's talk what New Game Enhancements (NGE) (Publish 25) -
While most people call NGE the "Combat Upgrade" it should be noted that the CU (as I described above) was a rather "mild" adjustment to balancing while keeping most of the core combat systems the same. NGE however was a complete rework of the game.
Among its more controversial changes:
- Jedi could now be selected and played from the very start of a creating a character by selecting "Jedi/Force sensitive" starting profession.
- There will no-longer be mixing of professions on a character.
- All professions will have a self heal.
- Complete rework of most systems in the game, including toolbars, UI's,
- Removal of most harsh penalties in the game (for example, little to no death penalty).
- Removal of decay of every kind (all armor and weapons now permanent).
This was the "death" of the game for many players because it removed a few things that were very important to them:
- Difficult, but rewarding unlocking and leveling up a Jedi.
- Crafting empires were no longer needed (demand for server best weapons/armor went away because the best items in the game were now drops from NPCs, and they no longer broke while being used).
- Players could no longer mix professions (example a TKA + Medic for a melee tank/healer).
So in short, Combat Upgrade (CU SWG) was a very good time for SWG (what I often call it's "Golden Years.") While New Game Enhancements (NGE SWG) was a dramatic change to the game that caused many players to stop playing.
So next time you hear someone say something about "Everyone became a Jedi" or "They made the game for casual players" or "They were trying to copy World of Warcraft" know that they are talking about NGE not CU SWG.