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Roke

Remembering the great Tempest weaponsmith, Felton Kel

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In 2003 I was a Sophomore in high school, and in this year I fell head over heels in love with Star Wars Galaxies. When MMOs come up in discussion today, 9 times out of 10, I will bring up SWG. One of my most memorable experiences was exploring Corellia on the Tempest server, after deciding to make Coronet my "home among the stars". There, upon wandering newly-built and flourishing player cities alike, I stumbled upon the shop of the single greatest weaponsmith on the entire server: the Mon Calamari player known as Felton Kel. Walking into his fully-stocked player house for the first time, with his multiple vendors all conveniently placed and organized, instantly assured me that I had come to the right place if I needed bitchin' guns.

At first, it was the simple purchase of an Advanced Scout Blaster with exceptional stats. I remember immediately equipping it and running out to go test it's power on some wandering Rontos by the winding rivers just south of Coronet. Then, running back to the bazaar to look at other weapons to compare it to, to find that all others I could find did not even come close. I knew this guy had figured out the secret of not only crafting seriously top-of-the-line weapons, but selling them at affordable prices for simple adventurers like me. And boy, did he have a selection to choose from. After that blaster had eventually lost its durability, I returned to Felton's shop and bought another. Then another. The cycle repeated, and at that point I had considered no other weaponsmith his equal, as I spent my fair share of time checking out dozens of other shops on the neighboring planets. From that day forward, every weapon I would purchase would have the FelKel LTD stamp of approval.

In an effort to participate in the economy and to help spread the good word about his work, I chose to take up the Slicing profession so I could enhance Felton's weapons myself. This soon grew into a service I provided to others outside the Coronet starport, as many players felt was the appropriate location to sell their wares and services to many passersby (since this was one of the more heavily trafficked areas of the city). There I would sit, and every few minutes I'd put out an advertisement for my services as one who could make their freshly-purchased weapons even better. "Need a faster pistol? Come see me by the mission terminals, I'll fix you up," or so the message went. Over time, my skills increased and I began making a fair amount of credits. Of course, competition was steep in Coronet as there were plenty of other Slicers all offering the same services nearby, at somewhat comparable prices. Their policies might differ, as some would charge higher prices after Slicing something with now-exceptional stats. Others, like myself, offered flat rate fee of something like 1,000 credits per slice, regardless of the outcome. Undercutting competition became a natural evolution, as all player-run economies experience.

Everybody had room to do their own thing, and it was amazing. Doctors buffed players keen on adventuring and farming dangerous beasts. Combat Medics provided stimulants to enhance the various stats. Creature Handlers sold all sorts of different animals to anyone who could keep them contained. Many times, I'd see that the players requesting my slicing skills had weapons made by none other than Felton himself, and I'd give them a friendly nod and discount, because that felt important to me to acknowledge. "Oh, nice! A FelKel carbine. Dude, keep this baby. His stuff is the best."

Eventually, I had become a Master Slicer and decided to start simply buying Felton's weapons in bulk, buying dozens by the handful, spending nearly all of my savings each time I visited him, slicing them right there in his shop, drooling for those perfect rolls. Most times I'd keep the results for self-use or to re-sell, or I'd sell them to players in my Player Association for a hefty discount. Other times I sent them back to Felton with excited messages like, "Check this bad boy out! Commandos will love this!" with the Flamethrower or Rocket Launcher attached. Usually they were rolls I was particularly proud of, and wanted him to know that I was cool and knew it meant people would consider these over weapons that hadn't been sliced yet. Sometimes, I'd see him put those weapon right back onto his vendor at an increased price. "No way!" I thought. "He likes my slice!" And then later would come the in-game /tip; my share of the profit. That small gesture was the most encouraging thing he could have done for me at the time, as it was like being complimented by your childhood hero. While we did not have an official partnership, the notion that someone as well-known as he would consider his masterwork improvable by others (and worth selling on his own vendors) meant a whole lot to me. To this day, that simple relationship between professions, especially as one who could further enhance the others' goods, is something that resonated quite strongly.

That was a void in my life I have had difficulty filling all these years. I plan to relive this experience in Crowfall, in some shape or form, by focusing on crafting and gathering in the time to come. Which crafting skill I'll focus on is yet to be determined, but with the way the crafting system and resource relationship is outlined already, I can see there is value for every specialization and a firm foundation for a player-driven economy just as strong as SWG's.

Felton has since left relics behind to sate nostalgia. He kept a fairly detailed website advertising his crafting services, which you can still view here if interested: http://web.archive.org/web/20050311050442/http://members.cox.net:80/felkel/

There's also a wonderful blog post about his story, back in 2009, which can be found here: https://garybren.wordpress.com/2009/10/03/feltons-story/

I'm 30 years old now. But it still enthralls me that, after 14 years of immersing myself in dozens of other MMOs, I still remember his name, still remember where to find his shop, still remember the various vendors he had in his shop, and still remember how well-known a single player could be on a giant server with thousands of players all fulfilling their dreams. I miss that. I want that.

Edited by Roke

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I appreciate the kind words.

It's amazing to me that all these years after Galaxies, the community remembers.  We remember not only each other as players and friends, but the world we built: the cities we founded, the businesses we ran, the battles we fought, the relationships we developed.

I was 25 years old when I created the persona of Felton Kel, at a time in my life when I needed a sense of self-confidence.  I didn't realize it at the time, of course.  It wasn't until much later, after I realized how much my experiences playing Felton and running my own "little" professional business had impacted me that I even noticed there was a void there that needed filling.  But it was a transformational experience, one that no other game since has been able to replicate for me.  I've come to the conclusion that it isn't possible for a game to impact me that much a second time; Galaxies was the perfect mix of free market economy and open sandbox that hit at just the right moment in my life to allow me to prove to myself that - given the right tools - I had the wherewithal to own and operate a small business and cultivate a professional image of integrity and quality. 

It's been nearly 15 years since that fateful day when I rolled up Felton on Tempest.  I had no idea it would change me, but it did.  Galaxies is long dead, but the relationships, memories, and impact of the players live on.  I'm glad I was able to impact others positively along the way, and I wish you the best of luck in your next adventure.

 

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I clocked out from work and grabbed some tacos on the way home. Sitting down at my computer, ready to chow, I check my email and find something that wasn't actually spam - instead I find this gem of a Crowfall forum notification. And I'm like,

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In all seriousness, this was a very pleasant surprise to come home to. Thank you for taking the time to read my post, and for all the memories as well. It's hard to express how excited I was/am to see your comment. I wish you nothing but the best, my good friend. :)

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I remember my time as an armorsmith, running a shop with a buddy of mine and the stories of buying votes to overthrow a player city, creating a shopping experience and my buddy and I still talk about that game in a way that no one could understand. 


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