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Way back in the day I played Star Wars: Galaxies (SWG) for a long time. Later on (10+ years ago) SOE shut down the entire game. Since then, there have been some communities of privately run servers pop up, and if you had the original game discs, you could run their launcher (which modified the server locations, etc.) to play. Are questions about those kinds of games (specifically ones where there is no longer an official server available) considered on-topic here?

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    Depends what you are asking about the game. Asking about a game that is no longer able to be played is fine. Asking about specific non-sanctioned servers or any recommendations is going to be closed. – FoxMcCloud Dec 9 '17 at 1:25
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Without knowing your exact question it would be hard to say whether your question is on or off topic.

Saying that, I wouldn't vote to close a question as off-topic purely because it was based on running a copy of the game on a private server. We allow questions asking about how to use software not released by the game's developer/publisher in conjunction with your game. We have plenty of questions in the realm of emulators.

We even have examples of questions asking about running games on servers once the "official" servers have been shut down:

Age of Empires (1+2) online?

Note, we allow questions about:

Game-specific hardware and utilities

See https://gaming.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic

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As explained in Why are questions about piracy and related issues off-topic?, the questions are on topic as long as it's legal to play the games.

Regarding SWG, I note this from wikipedia:
"The servers aren't using any official SOE code which makes it technically legal[citation needed]"

At least one server, SWGemu, has a Q and A on its homepage explaining why it is legal.

Unfortunately, a statement from wikipedia or one of the servers in question without a citation is hardly definitive, and being sure on this topic would probably require a lawyer making a close read of the TOS and analyzing what exactly the 3rd party servers are doing. I'm not a lawyer, nor have I read the complete TOS.

According to What's our procedure for asking about not-quite-legal games?: "When it comes to legality, we tend to err on the side of assuming good faith here". My interpretation of "assuming good faith" is that a question about SWG (or a similar game) would be on topic unless/until evidence that the servers are in fact illegal surfaced.

  • Generally, if someone's asking a question about a defunct MMO, it's going to be rather obvious they're playing in a less than legal way. – Frank Jan 14 '18 at 21:06
  • @Frank If you have a reason to disbelieve SWGemu's claim that what they are doing is legal, please explain it. Otherwise, I'm not sure how you can state that it's "rather obvious". Legal concerns are quite complicated, and legal language is quite convoluted to non-lawyer types. (To be clear, I don't think "legal" is any more obvious than "not legal"). – Selvek Feb 8 '18 at 18:42
  • Yeah, legalities are quite complicated. I agree. And we are not lawyers, so we simplify it. If the servers are not owned by the official company, we assume it's illegal, and go from there. No splitting hairs, no moral grey area, just, "Official methods do not work, therefore no longer on-topic here" – Frank Feb 8 '18 at 18:45
  • "This is a grey area and therefore off-topic" would be a totally fair policy. statement. But it disagrees with "we tend to err on the side of the side of assuming good faith here". That's all. – Selvek Feb 8 '18 at 19:13
  • What good faith exception, exactly, is there for private servers? Someone saying they're legal? That's naivety, not good faith. – Frank Feb 8 '18 at 19:14
  • For more info, see law.stackexchange.com/questions/1254/…. – Selvek Feb 8 '18 at 19:45
  • @Frank, it wasn't SWG, but the terms of service for a different MMO specified that the penalty for misuse of the client software was termination of your game account -- and only that. In particular, it did not have any "and discontinue using this software" clause, so using the client software to connect to a private server was perfectly legal, so long as you didn't want to also play on the official server. – Mark Feb 15 '18 at 0:09

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