Yeah, supposedly the server I am on is almost always very busy and the most crowded of the listed ones, but when I am on a planet (past Tatooine that is, Alderaan and later), there are 8-20 people.
I'm not one of those people who has to play with others to have fun, but I do like seeing people run around.
I don't think people will come back. I subbed for 2 months about 40 days ago. I won't be subbing again, because what's the point? I'll have finished the class stories on a couple of characters and have no particular desire to repeat the planetary quests, yet won't be able to just do the class quest (without having to do KDY a bazillion times). And there's no class or companion story past 50, so no point in continue to play the characters I did finish on.
And there's not much of a community here. It's not bad, but it's like in most other MMORPGs. You have a lot of small guilds that never seem to recruit, you have a few big ones that aren't particular but are aggravating to be in. Trying to do group content in PUGs usually makes you run into the elitists (see all the complaints about bolstering) which isn't worth the frustration.
If you see "recruiting" as spamming fleet general chat with messages of "looking for players for my guild!!", then no, small guilds don't recruit. The guild I'm in is fairly small, but has grown substantially in the last few months. And that was with a lot of the original members leaving several months ago. I'm not sure about other guilds, but we tend to recruit people only after playing FPs or Ops or other content with them and seeing if they are a good fit for the guild.
As for the OP, if you want to see a lot of negativity that will reinforce your decision to leave the game, then by all means, keep reading all the posts by naysayers on the forums. You know where the majority of people who enjoy the game spend their time? Logged in to the game. The forums will always be heavily skewed towards those that don't like the game or have problems with the game, for one reason or another. And that's fine, because a lot (OK, some
) of it is good, constructive criticism. However, basing your opinion of the game solely on the forum-talk is never a good thing. Pretty much every game forum is going to be the same way. There are absolutely no games out there that are perfect for every single person. Everyone likes different things, can overlook certain shortcomings, etc.
As someone else mentioned, if you really want to give the game a fair shot, join a guild, maybe try a different server to make sure the prime time lines up with your schedule, and just have fun. If you're not having fun, no amount of people telling you the game is good is going to keep you here. The opposite should be true as well, if you ARE having fun, then no amount of negative talk on the forums should dissuade you from playing.
Anyway, on planet population, yes, most planets can seem fairly bare at times. The major reason is that there's not a lot of reason to go back to planets after reaching max level. Most people hang out on fleet, and do their pvp or FP or Ops from there. If you had logged on during 2xp weekend, I guarantee the planet populations were higher, since a lot more people were running alts through story missions.