A stroll back through memory lane for Vulkk. I decided to share some of my earliest memories with the game – a pure personal experience!

Fun fact: The character on the featured image at the top is my newest one that I created for the PTS 7.0 rewards and achievements, yet the article tells the story of how I started SWTOR.

Title says 10, but I’ll drag you even further back

I have been a fan of SWTOR officially for nearly fourteen years. I still remember the late Fall night in 2008 when the SWTOR Forums opened up.

Unofficially I was a fan since around 2006 when I heard the first rumors of a possible new Star Wars MMO game. At that time SWG was already losing its popularity thanks to controversial updates Sony introduced to the game.

It was very hard to even open the site and register. Most of us back then were coming from Star Wars Galaxies (SWG) and the forums were filled with threads of who comes from which SWG server. Guilds started to form. And that was three years before SWTOR even launched.

There are a lot of interesting memories lurking in the back of my mind from the years leading up to the launch, but I will only share two to avoid overblowing this story: The Jedi Wizard incident and the Huge Hilts decision.

The Jedi Wizard incident refers to the moment BioWare announced the name of one of the Republic Classes to be a “Jedi Wizard”. I don’t know if it’s the distance of time or some thing else, but I seem to remember this being one of the biggest uprisings from the community the game has ever seen to date.

SWTOR Jedi Sage Progression Preview
A screenshot from the Class Progression video previews for SWTOR

The uproar was so swift and strong, that BioWare made a poll to ask the community what the name should be. And so the Jedi Sage was born. The community won.

In the second memory I want to share the community did not win and to this date we have these giant weapons and hilts that our characters hold. The Giant Hilt incident was a decision BioWare made and despite the revolts, they kept this in the game.

SWTOR giant Hilts on Lightsabers

The weapons are now not nearly as gigantic as they were when BioWare first started sharing images. They later explained their decision to make them so big – they wanted the weapons, and hilts specifically, to be the center of attention. They decided to partially listen to the community and made them a bit smaller and more appropriate in the end, but still to big to be realistic.

The struggles I went through to play SWTOR at launch

When SWTOR launched it was the worst possible time of the year for deliveries. So many of us were afraid we may not get to play the game after the Early Access days expired (they were bonus for pre-ordering).

Living in Bulgaria I myself expected the local customs to delay the delivery of my game, so I ordered it to get delivered to my brother, who lives in the UK. He gave me the code, so I could continue playing the game after the Early Access expired.

I do remember BioWare granting a few extra days for the players, who pre-ordered to get their full game codes registered before they were cut off.

SWTOR Collector's Edition

To this date the Malgus statue from the Collector’s edition sits on my desk. He reminds me of the times when international deliveries were not so affordable and accessible and of the struggles and fears I went through to get him (oh, and the rest of the items from the Collector’s edition… D’oh).

How I experienced the game’s Launch

From very early on we had two camps – people who praised the game and thought they will be playing it forever; and people who foresaw its doom before it even launched. I think I belonged more in the first group, although I did my best to keep myself sane enough to know what to expect and hope for.

Coming from other MMOs like SWG and LOTRO, I had some solid background already with this genre from both PvE and PvP aspects. I knew what an MMO game should have and I was aware how difficult a launch of an MMO is, especially if the game is as hyped as SWTOR was.

The log-in queues were unbelievable. I remember being one of the first twenty or thirty players on my origin server Frostclaw. Maybe that’s why my first character there was called “Alex”.

Being one of the first people to log in, I had no competition for one of the most popular and common real-life names in the world today. I didn’t come up with the “Vulkk” name until the second server merges.

Vulkk's Battle Monk Outfit
The earliest screenshots I have of Vulkk wearing his Battle Monk outfit are from 2013. It sure has been a long time.

Vulkk was first called Alex. He was (and still is) a Sentinel. Having experience with MMOs I knew what to look for, I knew how gearing up should work, although each game has more or less unique mechanics.

I played Alex until he reached level 50 and gained his Columi (intro to EndGame, Pve) set and partially his Battlemaster (PvP) and Rakata (EndGame, PvE). Then I started my first healer – Lekk the Sage. To this day this is the only character I leveled up as a healer from start to finish with no respecs to DPS.

If you are curious to learn more, I have a video in which I talk about my first characters in SWTOR – when, how and why I created them, how I played with them.

How different was SWTOR at launch

My favorite memory is how a bunch of us, close friends and guildies, gathered to collect our savings to put together 1,5 mill credits to purchase the VIP Speeder for one of our friends, because he had his mind set firmly on this gigantic white monstrosity. Today you sneeze and you have somehow already made 1,5 million credits. It’s that easy. And yes, back then the VIP Speeder was actually big compared to all other mounts that we had available.

Leveling was tough, slow and a lot more rewarding. Oh, and it was challenging. No, it wasn’t because we were all nubs in a brand new game. The content was genuinely tougher and a lot more satisfying to go through.

Back then you were playing not for the story alone, but for the gameplay experience as well. You had to take care of your leveling gear and keep it updated more often than you do now. You also had to do nearly all of the quests that you get.

Funny thing, the quests were not marked in different colors and segmented as they are today. We didn’t know which mission will take us where and how long it would be just based on the color of the icon above the NPC’s head.

Heroics were tough, they demanded four players and challenges inside were more appropriate for the name “Heroics”.

We didn’t have Sprint early on. We didn’t have the ability to ride a mount. We couldn’t teleport left and right whenever we please, thanks to a long cooldown timer. We even had to pay for New Skills and Skill Upgrades at the Class Vendors.

We didn’t have a holo-statue of a fat Hutt (heh) to give us our new skills easily on the spot. We had to travel back and forth a lot more often.

How I remember my first days in SWTOR

Being an achievement hunter myself I wanted to get everything done in SWTOR. I still haven’t achieved that dream of mine today. There are a few things that I simply cannot push myself through (GSF, I am looking at you).

I wanted to be the first level 50 in my guild. We were a bunch of friends that came together into SWTOR from SWG and LOTRO. I failed to get to 50 first, I think. Alex reached the cap around the first week of January, I think. Hold on, let me check my screenshot date.

The inability to unify your appearance was one of the worst things that I think could happen to the game, at the time. Not just mine, but all player characters looked like clowns. No exceptions. It was in early January that I started seeing better looking Jedi, Troopers and Smugglers. That was thanks to the first level 50 players, who had already begun farming their EndGame gear – Columi and Rakata.

Surprised? BioWare brings back the Columi and Rakata gear for SWTOR’s 7.0 Expansion and the tenth anniversary for a reason. And I think it’s to invoke nostalgy in the veteran players. They succeeded with me at least.

The game was a lot less polished, a lot uglier and far more challenging. Interesting thing about challenge. While regular players complained of the gear grind they had to do to defeat some bosses or complete some missions during the leveling process.

EndGame raiders had already been complaining not just from the lack of EndGame content, but of how easy it was. That was true, sadly. And it continues to be true for SWTOR in 2021. It will continue into 2022 and most likely beyond.

A lot of hardcore progression players gave up on SWTOR just a few months after the game’s launch. PvP players were also leaving the ship early on after it turned out that BioWare looks at this aspect of the game as a secondary priority.

For SWTOR and BioWare story and narrative has always been first priority. It was never supposed, nor wanted, to be a typical MMO game. And perhaps its unique approach to story with MMO elements is what keeps me into the game all these years. I hope that it will continue to keep me interested in the future as well.

I have often wondered over the years if and how BioWare might introduce a “Classic”, “Vanilla” or “Legendary” Server experience. I know some other long-running titles have done it already. I leveled up a character in LOTRO when they did it, to remember “the good old times.

It’s different for SWTOR, though. The game has a lot less content outside of the unmatched story narrative. And the team at BioWare continues to revamp and redesign the game in a way that allows players to keep replaying and farming all group content releases since launch on almost equal bases. On top of that the gameplay experience and the game’s visuals have significantly improved over the years.

To play now the 2011 version of SWTOR would feel more like a punishment, I think, rather than a good and fun experience.

The game’s engine was always flawed and problematic, but today the game looks a lot better than it did when it launched. BioWare did their best to squeeze the very last drop of performance and visual appearance the engine is capable of.

There are so many things that could be said. Perhaps some that should be said, but I missed them. This was my story, my memory, my experience with SWTOR as I remember it from ten years ago.

What was yours?

Check Endonae’s first memories from leveling up in SWTOR ten years ago. He had a slightly different launch experience than I did coming to SWTOR with a different gaming background.

I have shared some of my stories in my Four Years of SWTOR in Retrospect article. You can check it out if you enjoy this one.

A few old clips not many of you have seen

I thought I’d share these three old video clips I have made. They are intended to be funny and entertaining, capturing different experiences with the game of me and friends of mine.

The first three are from my early years in SWTOR with my guild Solstice. I have never had so much fun playing an online game as I did back in the 2.0 and 3.0 eras of SWTOR. We reunited later for 4.0 and 5.0 but I was no longer actively streaming on Twitch and I didn’t record everything I do, so I didn’t create any more collections like these.

The third clip of the Solstice collection is a special Christmas Edition. It depicts my “love” (or the lack of it) for the Life Day snowballs during Raids among other things :)))

Finally, the fourth clip is actually the first one I made. I originally published on the DR Guild channel – a YouTube channel I created for my first guild in SWTOR. I republished the video on Vulkk after I started the channel in middle of 2013 where I have been uploading all my video content since.

Author Lokzmir
Categories SWTOR News
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