The Decline of Anchorhead

As I play more and more of Star Wars The Old Republic, I plan to write more about that game and less comparing it to Star Wars Galaxies. But there is one location where the two games intersect, and while this is just a quibble, I found it a little disconcerting.

The planet is Tatooine, and the place is Anchorhead.

Tatooine was the planet where Luke Skywalker grew up, and the Star Wars saga (in the order  the films were released) began there. Anchorhead is mentioned, but never seen (although apparently there was film footage of Anchorhead that didn’t make it into any of the various cuts of “A New Hope”.) Tatooine is the starting planet for Star Wars Galaxies, and Anchorhead a key location.

In SWG I started playing in the larger city of Mos Espa and eventually when I had leveled up a bit I decided to take a shuttle ride and traveled to Anchorhead. I was amazed when I got there, the tiny place was massively filled with other players. At that point in the game, Anchorhead was the place to hang out.

Anchorhead as viewed from the top of an overlooking hill in Star Wars Galaxies

It was a small place, however, without even a spaceport for travel to other planets. All it had was a shuttleport for travel around Tatooine. Yet everyone seemed to gather there, and in the early days the cantina was always filled. (This was before the hated NGE, which removed entertainer buffs and emptied the cantinas, removing one major source of player interaction.

I was particularly interested in how Anchorhead and its vicinity would appear in Star Wars The Old Republic, because I had made my home there in SWG. That might sound very silly, but after the NGE, when so many players left the game, I ended up as the Mayor of Mos Vegas, what was then a rather large player city just to the west of Anchorhead. As more and more more people left the game, the town’s base shrank, and it turned into an outpost, without a shuttle or bank any more. In fact, all the citizens were my various characters.

Yet it was close enough to Anchorhead to enjoy the amenities, and I spent much of my time in the game collecting different kinds of housing (there were many) and decorating them.

Star Wars The Old Republic is placed around 3000 years before the original Star Wars. This has the advantage of an ongoing war between the Jedi-backed Republic and the Sith Empire, which makes for a more balanced background than SWG. Yet the weird thing is that even 3000 years previously, the technology of SWTOR is almost exactly that of SWG. Saying this is not very realistic would be silly in the context of computer games, yet is is a bit inconsistent.

Tatooine is the fourth planet reached in SWTOR, and I was very much looking forward to seeing it, and possibly exploring the site of my future city of Mos Vegas. This is where the new game is a bit disconcerting.

Three thousand years in the past, Anchorhead, the sole spaceport on the planet, is not a small outpost, it is a largish city. The official explanation is that it was the founding city on the planet, and shrunk over the years. This is not impossible, the former great cities of Mycenae and Troy are certainly no longer what they were three thousand years ago. No, what surprised me is that the topography was all different.

In SWG Anchorhead is nestled among hills. In SWTOR is is on a plain. There are hills on Tatooine in SWTOR, just not around Anchorhead.

This is obviously a silly quibble. The designers of the new game were certainly not bound to use the same geography as those who designed SWG. And even in the real world, a city could retain its name and yet move somewhat geographically.  (Just as in Sweden, the modern city of Uppsala is not on the same site as the thousand year old ruins of Old Uppsala.)

But it threw me a bit. My comfortable old home in SWG didn’t look the same in the past. That said, it was fun to play on Tatooine, and a bit sad to move on in the game to a new planet. (Ironically you move from Tatooine to Alderaan, the way Luke, Han, and Obi-wan tried to do in “A New Hope”.)

Press photos of SWTOR Anchorhead from Bioware:


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