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Tabula Rasa To Shut Down

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the another-one-bites-the-dust dept.

Role Playing (Games) 244

NCSoft announced today that it will be closing down Tabula Rasa on February 28th. The sci-fi shooter-flavored MMO struggled for quite some time, despite recent attempts to draw in new players by announcements of new features, price reductions, and using Richard Garriott's trip into space as a promotion. We discussed Garriott's departure from NCSoft a couple weeks ago. This is NCSoft's second failed MMO, and apparently layoffs are in the works. They seem to be making an effort to make the game's last few months as fun as they can for their remaining players, though. "Before we end the service, we'll make Tabula Rasa servers free to play starting on January 10, 2009. We can assure you that through the next couple of months we'll be doing some really fun things in Tabula Rasa, and we plan to make staying on a little longer worth your while."

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244 comments

Last time the marketing department springs for a t (4, Funny)

ZeekWatson (188017) | more than 5 years ago | (#25854875)

Last time the marketing department springs for a trip into space ...

MMO = fun? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25854887)

Wait .. people play MMOs for fun? Why didn't they make it fun earlier? Maybe then it wouldn't be dieing.

Re:MMO = fun? (4, Informative)

LoneBoco (701026) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855285)

It WAS a lot of fun. It just couldn't shake the stigma attached to it when it went through the public beta. The game had VASTLY improved throughout the year. They resolved many of the issues people had with the game. It is sad really.

Re:MMO = fun? (1)

Trillan (597339) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855659)

Not so much sad as expected. There are enough other online games out there that a launch has to be extremely compelling or near flawless.

Re:MMO = fun? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25855965)

Well, this should show them to release a game after everything is fixed instead of "we will fix it during the year".

I know the development is expensive but that's the risk, if they are not going to take their time to finish it and then keep it running for a year or so, don't wase the resources and do something else.

Re:MMO = fun? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25856179)

Also everyone claims "it's going to be fixed soon, we promise" but people are impatient when their time costs money, when experience shows them that promises like that tend to be false and when competitors are already done implementing all the stuff.

Beautiful (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25854897)

This is why you spend 60 bucks on MMO's or other locked down games: just to see it disappear as the company goes under.

VMK (3, Insightful)

OpenYourEyes (563714) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855095)

Its not just spending the money... nor the company collapsing. Disney shut down their free MMO VMK for no apparently good reason except that they seemed to want to generate bad will among their customers. At least NCSoft is trying to "promote good will".

Re:Beautiful (3, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855115)

being locked down has nothing to do with it. relying on a central server for gameplay when they go under is the problem. Such is the nature of the beast.

Re:Beautiful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25855353)

What if they made it possible for third parties to act as servers?

Re:Beautiful (2, Funny)

billcopc (196330) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855527)

What if hell froze over, pigs flew, and Bush found WMDs in Iraq ?

Yeah. Not gonna happen.

Re:Beautiful (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855423)

Battle.net ran on a central server; bnetd solved that.

Re:Beautiful (1)

Fourier404 (1129107) | more than 5 years ago | (#25856139)

Yeah, battle.net and an mmo server have very, very little in common. The closest you get currently is FPS games where there server software comes with every copy of the game, some of which can host up to 64 players. That's hardly 'massively multiplayer' though.

Re:Beautiful (2, Funny)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855435)

At least with a MMO you pay far more over the months than for the original game; when they cut off service it saves you money. What does it matter if you play for a year or so then never really play it again or if they shut it down totally?

Re:Beautiful (4, Informative)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855437)

This got insightful?

NCSoft isn't going under - far from it. TR was just not making them anywhere near enough money to keep it going. Not only that, but for people who stick with the game till the end, every player will get:

- 3 months free on City of Heroes
- 3 months free on Lineage 2
- beta access to Aion
- a pre-order key for Aion
- 1 month free and a paid-for client for Aion

Not a bad deal for 'wasting' 60 bucks on a failed MMO - a free game and about 100 dollars in free game time.

Re:Beautiful (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25855601)

- 3 months free on City of Heroes
- 3 months free on Lineage 2

If they do this like they did it for Auto Assault... those "3 months free" things only work on new accounts. In other words, if you already play those games, or have no interest in them, they're worthless.

Re:Beautiful (1)

Xeth (614132) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855635)

The difference between an MMO and a locked-down game is your expectation of value. When you buy a single-player (or small-scale multi-player) game, you are putting down your money to play the game whenever you want, and it's reasonable to expect those terms continue without being sabotaged. When you subscribe to an MMO, it's a completely different outlay. You're making a recurring payment to be part of a world that has hundreds or thousands of other people simultaneously interacting.

Would you really want to play World of Warcraft single player?

Re:Beautiful (1)

tyrione (134248) | more than 5 years ago | (#25856201)

$60?

I see $19.99 for the software and an additional $14.99 per month. Sorry, but people bitch about OS X being $129 for an entire freaking operating system major upgrade but they want one to basically spring for $180 to have a year of on-line game playing?

Brilliant idea! That's right up with the $20 a month for email to chat with strangers on dating sites. Mankind finds amazing ways to piss money down the drain.

The game looks very cool and if they had a means of subsidizing it and making it so addictive that you want to pull a Half-life view where life just seems dull without it then I suggest something less immediate on the pocketbook and more on charging for expansion packs or whatnot.

What? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25854903)

Two years? This is ridiculous, you just can't have faith in MMO's sticking around for you.

Who wants to be the first to suggest to open source the leftovers?

Re:What? (3, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855119)

Who wants to be the first to suggest to open source the leftovers?

Who wants to donate endless hours in development and management of the game? Who wants to pay for the servers? Who wants to contribute assets to the game: art, animation, story, dialog, etc?

Re:What? (2, Interesting)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855221)

I knew that suggestion was going to pop up within the first twenty posts. Beyond the technical reasons for not bothering, there are plenty of legal ones too. Just ask any of NCSoft's shareholders, or the management hierarchy that would have to reach consensus in order to release the code. This isn't just a matter of one person's pet project, or a small company folding.

And before anyone points Quake out, recall how long it took for them to release the source, and also recall that the release included none of the actual graphic assets or maps.

Re:What? (1, Interesting)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855237)

Who wants to be the first to suggest to open source the leftovers?

Who wants to donate endless hours in development and management of the game? Who wants to pay for the servers? Who wants to contribute assets to the game: art, animation, story, dialog, etc?

This seems to fit with both the Google and the yahoo business model. Take your pick.

Re:What? (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855929)

This seems to fit with both the Google and the yahoo business model. Take your pick.

The successful RPG has to give a player a significant and entertaining role to play in a world that invites and rewards deep exploration. Tech isn't as important as art and story. That is a very different universe than the one inhabited by Yahoo and Google.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25855413)

Perhaps those people that are running unofficial WoW servers?

Personally, I'd love to see it all open sourced simply for the learning opportunity it would present. Seeing how such a large scale project is done would be quite fascinating.

Free Ryzom (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 5 years ago | (#25856233)

These guys did [ryzom.org], for a different MMO. They did raise 200.000 EUR to buy the remains of the bankrupt company. Their plan was to make the source (for client and server) free. Users would pay for the operations of the servers, development would proceed as any other free software project.

They lost the bid to another company, than run the game [ryzom.com] in a more traditional way.

Frosty Piss (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25854923)

This is a fucking frost piss post you cock sucking teabaggers!

Re:Frosty Piss (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855449)

This is a fucking frost piss post you cock sucking teabaggers!

I beg your pardon? Did you say Frosty Piss?

But here's what I think: It's just a last ditch effort to generate buzz and customers. If they get a significant increase in players, down the line there may be an announcement that the death is being put off. Then, a bit later there will be value added content for a fee. If things really pick up, they can make it all pay-for-play. Or, if nothing happens, it dies on cue.

Sad but true... (2, Interesting)

www.blogLinux.org (1401783) | more than 5 years ago | (#25854933)

Asking around, no one so far has even heard of this game. I watched the intro video, looks cool. Too bad it's already over; I would say next time, look into advertising.

Re:Sad but true... (1)

C18H27NO3 (1282172) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855059)

I've never heard of this game either so I would also believe the lack of marketing was the reason it went south.
Everquest has been around for nearly 10 years with 15 expansions and it is still fairly strong.
Granted Verant and then Sony had/have a lot to throw at it in terms of dev and marketing but they are keeping it putting along rather well.
It's a shame that NCSoft thought they had a revolutionary game and put a lot of effort & money into it only to have it fail.

Re:Sad but true... (1)

passthecrackpipe (598773) | more than 5 years ago | (#25856423)

it got a lot of publicity on MMO Sites. I played it for a while, it looks cool, and there was some interesting story, but nothing too fancy. Something you'd pay $20 or $30 to play, but not something you would pay a subscription -- any amount -- for.

Re:Sad but true... (5, Insightful)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855579)

It was not just publicity but the type of publicity it got.

I got this game expecting an exciting alien warfare scifi reminiscent of Starship Troopers, that was what the ads sold me.

Once I started playing, though, what I found was that I landed in a planet filled with fantasy-like tribal race, with a "religous" thing about some magic like technology that I had the power to use... it was nothing but a fantasy game sold as a sci-fi one. THAT was the biggest issue with the game, that was what made me cancel the subscription just after 1 week. I even gave it a second chance and despite the few technological structures and mechs that were around, the entire thing still felt like a fantasy game. Heck, I'd go as far as granting the game 90% Fantasy/10%Sci-Fi on a box that spelled 100% neo-apocalyptic, human-alien warfare.

In short, it was like ordering a Burger and getting a Hotdog, may be a good hotdog, but I wanted a frigging burger.

Re:Sad but true... (1)

jadin (65295) | more than 5 years ago | (#25856251)

As an avid "MMOer" I knew of and wanted to try this game. But with no free trial, I chose not to spend $50 to find out if I actually liked it or not, and I'm their target audience... The only reason I can think of that you _wouldn't_ want one on your game is you're trying to hide how horrid the game actually is. Makes sense I guess.

What they should do is allow players to download their character files, as well as sell the software to make 'private' servers. Now that would generate good will.

Re:Sad but true... (1)

atari2600 (545988) | more than 5 years ago | (#25856405)

Bullshit.

1. If you are an "avid" MMMoer, you wouldn't be cheap (and looking for free trials).
2. You had to pay 5$ for the pre-order and get in the Open beta program. I did.

Historical record gone. (1, Interesting)

eggman9713 (714915) | more than 5 years ago | (#25854939)

This is exactly why MMO's don't lend themselves well to keeping a historical imprint on society. One part of what defines us is what we did for entertainment, but without a real hard copy of a game (be it CD, cartridge, etc.), the archaeologists of tomorrow will never know what time we REALLY wasted. In fact that's one BIG problem with everything going to bits, everything needs electricity at some point to keep the records. One big EMF smackdown on the earth and its as if we never even existed past the early 2000's.

Re:Historical record gone. (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 5 years ago | (#25854993)

solution: let's get all these soap dodging workshy freeloaders doing something useful, like writing stuff down.

Oh, wait. That requires them actually being able to write, doesn't it?

Re:Historical record gone. (4, Informative)

mog007 (677810) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855277)

Firstly, I think you mean EMP not EMF. Secondly, EMP would have absolutely no impact on the bits that are stored on a hard drive platter, or a CD or DVD. Granted, those two forms of media won't last for thousand of years without severely degrading, but that property holds for paper also.

Our historic records are a scant fragment of what actually existed at one point, and imagine if the only pieces of entertainment we have today that can survive an archeologist digging them up in 50000 years would be a copy of ET for the Atari 2600 from the landfill out in the desert.

Re:Historical record gone. (1)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855475)

It's a Redundant Array of Idiotic Cartridges! The mirroring means surely at least one will survive...

Re:Historical record gone. (4, Funny)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855317)

This is exactly why MMO's don't lend themselves well to keeping a historical imprint on society.

Of all the criticisms I've heard of MMOs, I have to admit... that's a new one.

Re:Historical record gone. (4, Interesting)

Fractal Dice (696349) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855613)

On the Ultima Online boards a few years ago, there was a discussion about player memorials (once a game has been around ten years, when a notable player passes away, it can have a real impact on the community - especially in a game where player houses can become landmarks). One of the arguments against player memorials was that there was no guarantee that the game would always be there, so it didn't seem the right place a true memorial.

Re:Historical record gone. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25855697)

Funny, but it seems like nowadays there's no guarantee anything REAL will be there either, and at least with digital memorials there's always the possibility of someone else erecting a copy of it should the original fall, with minimal financial impact to themselves.

Re:Historical record gone. (1)

edschurr (999028) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855901)

There are lots of World of Warcraft videos, and my guess is it would be much more useful & interesting to watch those and see how people played than to know only what people played (by analogy, like knowing the rules of chess vs. the history of chess: the former tells you less about people).

Re:Historical record gone. (3, Funny)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25856311)

One big EMF smackdown on the earth and its as if we never even existed past the early 2000's.

Well, much as I loved "Unbelievable," I don't think they're coming back, so we need not worry about that.

And anyway, do we really WANT to preserve the history of MMOs for future generations? They might see "LOLZ!!! N00BZ got pwned by agro horde!!!" and decide not to clone us back to life. Worse yet, they might emulate it.

WOW I Mean WOW No pun intended (1)

NetNinja (469346) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855055)

I wonder how long will the Star Trek MMO will last. Hop they learn some lesssons from this failed MMO.

Re:WOW I Mean WOW No pun intended (1)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855073)

I'm waiting to see how awesome Darkfall [darkfallonline.com] is. Yes, lots of people still claim it's vaporware, but closed beta has actually started finally, and all reports (official and not) are that it's everything they claimed it would be and more.

Re:WOW I Mean WOW No pun intended (1)

slobarnuts (666254) | more than 5 years ago | (#25856237)

I'm wondering he same thing about Warhammer: AOR.

The population seems to be declining in both factions, and the developer seems more concerned with gimmicky special events than fixing some serious issues with the gameplay, interface, and faction balance. Not to mention long CSR response times

The date of release doesn't help much either, alot of people played for a month then went on the Wrath of the Lich King.

Not all that surprising (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855079)

From what I read of it and the little I saw it was trying to kinda be a sci-fi World of Warcraft. Ok... But the problem is World of Warcraft is really good. Blizzard really did a lot right in that game, things other games had failed miserably at (like having a very easy, engrossing introduction to the game). So if you are going to try and take on WoW, well you'd better be damn good. They weren't so there you go.

The MMOs other than WoW that seem successful are the ones that try and offer a real different gameplay experience. Something like Eve Online or Warhammer. They aren't trying to be WoW, they have their own idea of what a game should be. Now that may not get you 10 million players, but it can get you a comfortable niche. There are people who don't like WoW's way of doing things. If you make a game for them, you've got a good chance.

While I certainly think a game can compete with WoW, and we will see one at some point that does, it is going to have to be really good, and good out of the gate. WoW does a whole lot right and is generally very polished. So you've got to get all that down. If you don't, well then you are going to have people try your game and say "Eh, WoW was better,' and migrate back. Just changing the theme a bit or adding some bits won't help.

Personally what I want to see is an MMO that is really good that isn't trying to be WoW. I'd really like a more PvP oriented MMO. Warhammer has potential, but right now really lacks polish. I'd like to see an MMO that is as good as WoW, but in a different area. That is going to have a much easier time succeeding than something trying to take on the king.

Re:Not all that surprising (5, Interesting)

kungfugleek (1314949) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855313)

I'm still waiting for an MMO that really feels like a living world. Where the quests I'm on are only mine: they haven't been done by anyone, and after me no one will do them again. A shared world, but the experience, the goals, and the journey are mine alone. When our paths cross, it isn't because we both clicked on the bright exclamation point over Quest Giver Cletus, but because our individual journeys have fallen in step for a time. And maybe I can develop my character not through killing and loot, but by making real moral decisions. Not the simplistic "Either take your reward (neutral), refuse the reward (good), or kill the guy and take the reward anyway (evil)" choices, but the ones that aren't very clear: Do you steal from the king, who you've sworn allegiance, in order to give some food to somebody who's starving? Do you kill one innocent child in order to save a village?

Not that I don't mind a little level grinding now and then. It's just that sometimes I want something with a little more meat to it.

Maybe someday I'll play a game that puts the "character" back in "character building".

Re:Not all that surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25855363)

You and probably every other MMO player. Now all we need is a method of allowing for player driven content, and making sure the content actually "works" within the game.

Re:Not all that surprising (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855457)

Making player created content work isn't the problem. It's keeping all the asshats away from it that create PR/legal nightmares for your game. I was really surprised that Pirates of the Burning Sea let players upload their own pics for sails on their ships. I did expect to see more people flying under the banner of goatse. But the developers approve all the artwork. Kudos to them. It's a REALLY fun aspect to the game. Policing custom quests and other more hefty player-driven content would probably be a bit more difficult.

Hard to do (3, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855415)

For a lot of reasons not the least of which being such a thing would require a phenomenal amount of writing to be done to make all these unique quests and allow for all the branching. Hard enough to do something like that well in a single player game and in a huge multi player game, well it's near impossible. There's also technological hurdles to implementing such a thing.

At this point the closest you'll find to a game world you change is, again, in WoW. There are some quests that deal with a phased world. There are literally multiple versions of a given area and you experience the one relevant to your quest progression. So you do something and the world changes permanently because of it. However each person gets to do it. You are all in the same world, but there are multiple versions. Works pretty well.

At any rate the sort of thing you want isn't ever likely to come fully to fruition. You'd need something near a real artificial intelligence on the back end to deal with all this and a massive staff of writers and designers to try and implement this ever changing unique experience for millions of people.

With games you need to be satisfied to live in a small sandbox. There are going to be rules and boundaries of various kinds. That's part of what makes it interesting, fun, and doable. It is just like cards, you have to have a set of rules, limits on the deck and so on. If you just got people together and started drawing random shit on paper and trying to make a game you'd have the card game equivalent of Calvin Ball.

In terms of deep story and changing universe, you need to stick more to single player games, that's really the place it works. Play Mass Effect for a deep story, play WoW to kill night elves.

Re:Hard to do (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855561)

Don't think in a limited way/. Sure it's pretty unlikely that a company could actually get through the organizational red tape and god forbid the budgeting to pull of something of that scale, but that doesn't make it so improbable that it will never be done. Those are the real reason nothing of this nature has been accomplished. Money,getting a publisher to be patient enough for it to be developed, and the fact that no one wants to see someone else finish an awesome quest that they can't copy and reap the same rewards of. Most people want to be in that same epic set that everyone else has. I have a much differing opinion personally, but I am in the minority. I'd much rather have one really good piece of unique loot in a really balanced game than a full set of carbon copy armor and a mimic blade in a game where gear gets you farther than your character cane.

Re:Hard to do (1)

iCEBaLM (34905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855977)

Actually yes, it does make it so improbable that it will never be done. The state of the art in computing isn't there yet for a computer to be able to create unique, contextual, meaningful or sensical quests on the fly. That means a human would have to do it, and for a human to be able to do this, unless these quests were so enormous as to take months, even seasons, to complete, you're looking at almost a 1:1 ratio of players to game master/developers.

Which in turn means the cost to play this game would be many fold more than the game masters salary, and no one could afford it.

Re:Not all that surprising (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855505)

"Where the quests I'm on are only mine: they haven't been done by anyone, and after me no one will do them again."

For WoW, that would be over 10 million accounts with on average 3-4 characters each. Each of those characters needs to have unique quests to get them from 1-80 (for now). That is an INSANE amount of work. Especially considering that you only have so much room for NPCs and mobs.

Re:Not all that surprising (2, Interesting)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855665)

I think if you really want to do that the players have to interact more, and in more varied ways than a current MMO. You'd want players occupying roles usually held by NPCs, you'd want to have players be able to generate quests and you'd want to have players build up or tear down towns outside the core few provided by the game.

I think Ultima Online was closer to providing that experience than WoW has been -- player owned towns were not uncommon and early on it was a constant battle with the forces of chaos since PvP was unavoidable and reds were always griefing.

MUDs do an incredibly good job of providing an experience like that, since literally all the content is player generated and any NPCs are usually experimental AIs. The problem is it's not nearly as easy to generate graphical content as it is text content. Even if you did the whole game would probably eventually deteriorate into an MMORGY.

Re:Not all that surprising (1)

zerocool^ (112121) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855743)

If that's what you're looking for, sign up for eve, spend 3 months skilling up and learning the basics (go for Amarr), and then leave the sections of space controlled by NPC's. Go get involved in alliance politics. It's not "only you" doing missions, but if you join up with one of the player controlled alliances in 0.0 space, it's your alliance deciding their destiny - taking over other people's space, staging raids on their resource-gathering operations, defending your corner of the universe. It's really dynamic. This (http://www.eve-iss.com/external/maps/territoryanimated.gif) is the map (player made map) of alliance territorial control from 2003 to mid 2005, and here's a shot of it today: http://dl.eve-files.com/media/corp/Verite/influence.png [eve-files.com]. The center bit of eve is what you're talking about - the same 20 quests over and over. The rest of it is player controlled.

Go make history.

Re:Not all that surprising (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25856099)

I'm still waiting for an MMO that really feels like a living world. Where the quests I'm on are only mine: they haven't been done by anyone, and after me no one will do them again. A shared world, but the experience, the goals, and the journey are mine alone. When our paths cross, it isn't because we both clicked on the bright exclamation point over Quest Giver Cletus, but because our individual journeys have fallen in step for a time. And maybe I can develop my character not through killing and loot, but by making real moral decisions. Not the simplistic "Either take your reward (neutral), refuse the reward (good), or kill the guy and take the reward anyway (evil)" choices, but the ones that aren't very clear: Do you steal from the king, who you've sworn allegiance, in order to give some food to somebody who's starving? Do you kill one innocent child in order to save a village?

Not that I don't mind a little level grinding now and then. It's just that sometimes I want something with a little more meat to it.

Maybe someday I'll play a game that puts the "character" back in "character building".

You're looking for a pencil & paper RPG, in an MMO. Sure, it can and likely will be done.. in time.

It won't require a huge team of content writers, constantly creating new quests and such. There's no way a company would put it together under those conditions. The only way it would truly succeed, is when the server is capable of functioning as a GM. Really, really in depth AI will be required.

Its just not going to happen until the computer can do it without constant developer input. Nobody(almost nobody, at least) would be willing to pay the additional costs to have that many dedicated developers working on content.

Re:Not all that surprising (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 5 years ago | (#25856357)

Why do you need the "M" or the "O"? You will never, ever, see what you want in an MMO because A) no one will develop a detailed, nuanced game intended for mass online interaction and then B) only let you play it.

If you want to be the only one to do the quest, ever, why not play an offline game? Then you are the only hero. Or, better yet, if you want a game where you can make any level of nuanced decision and have the world reflect appropriately, and you still want to interact with some other people, why don't you find a local GURPS (or similar) group?

In the real world of what's available today, WotLK has added what Blizzard calls "phasing". It makes it possible for each character to have a unique view of the world, so that the world can indeed change (for you) as you affect it. See the quests at Angrathar the Wrath Gate.

Re:Not all that surprising (1)

lxs (131946) | more than 5 years ago | (#25856389)

Have you tried Outside [techeblog.com]?

It really works like you describe. The only drawbacks are that it takes up most of your time, and when you die only once you get a permban.

Re:Not all that surprising (3, Insightful)

Symbha (679466) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855393)

It IS that surprising.
Garriott is a veteran, the whole Ultima Franchise, not to mention UO (more or less) started the whole (grahpical) MMO thing. To have created an epic fail like Tabula Rasa, is surprising.

And, I'll say for the record, WoW is not the first to be designed like it is. WoW itself was trying to be so many other RPGs, and MMOs before it (but better.) WoW was fantastic, even though I'm highly critical of the endgame.

The flipside of that is EVERY MMO is trying to be as successful as WoW. To your point, it is the reigning champion... but it's also getting old, just like every last one of them before it.

And can I say FINALLY!

Re:Not all that surprising (0, Redundant)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855617)

Sounds like Darkfall [darkfallonline.com] is the game you're looking for. Closed beta finally just started recently, and they're going to move swiftly through open beta (open is just going to be a huge stress test really) and all reports from those in beta are that it's everything darkfall is made out to be and then some.

Re:Not all that surprising (2, Informative)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855885)

It's interesting you mention Warhammer and Eve, when WoW's biggest competition (by far) is actually... Runescape.

Blizzard toots it's horn about having 10+ million players, but Jagex hit that number back in 2007, and in 2008, an estimate was placed that the current RS community is over 16 million players.

Unlike in WoW, RS is extremely difficult to make a powerful avatar (Less than 100 players have reached max level), the game almost encourages individualistic gameplay, the graphics are unimpressive, and playing is dangerous (dying means most all items, no matter what the value, are lost on death).

What's the secret to success? Easy access. Unlike many other MMORPGs, Runescape doesn't require a 50$ upfront cost. The subscription fee is cheap at a little over $6.00 per month, and there is plenty to do for a willful individual in the free game.

Most importantly though, the game can be played from almost any computer that can run Java. There are no hard requirements or lengthy installs. Most users choose to play the game through the web browser.

Perhaps instead of making games that require a player jump through hoops to play, and fork out a stack of cash each month, developers should make the game easier to access and cheaper to play.

Re:Not all that surprising (2, Insightful)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 5 years ago | (#25856361)

I actually played it, and it was significantly different from WoW. The most obvious difference was the combat mechanism - it was rigged up like a first person shooter. You had targetting reticle, and you aimed at the enemy, and pulled the trigger to fire off bursts. It didn't have the usual timed-swing mechanism of most MMOs. It felt very dynamic. There were your usual RPG "dice"-rolls behind the scenes, but it felt very shooterish. There were some other differences, like the class tree, item creation mechanisms, etc, but that was the most obvious.

What lead to Tabula Rasa's failure, I think, wasn't that it was too much like WoW. Firstly, it was not enough content. Seriously, I think there were about twenty different enemy creatures in the entire game, and you just see more and more of the same. Secondly, the graphics, while gorgeous, were very toned-down and muted. This suited the game, but I don't think it attracts people as much as the vivid, eye-catching, over the top cartoonish graphics of WoW.

From what I hear, there was also very little endgame content. Unlike WoW, where the endgame brings a whole new level of gameplay, with Tabula Rasa, there was nothing really to do except start again with a new character. While a lot of players may not make it to endgame, I think an active endgame helps promote an enthusiastic community among the players. If all your most energetic players wander off after they cap out, your game is naturally going to fade away.

Free to play (0)

aztektum (170569) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855087)

Sounds like they're trying to squeeze a few boxed copy purchases out of people

Re:Free to play (2, Insightful)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855137)

Sounds like they're trying to squeeze a few boxed copy purchases out of people

Since the boxed sets are selling for $0.96 USD, they aren't going to recoup a whole lot of cash.

Re:Free to play (1)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855391)

It's overpriced.

I won't rent games for this reason, and the other reason that I can afford to play games, but don't want to have to compete with kids having 16 hours a day + to play when I have to make a living and pay for where I live.

The imbeciles running the gaming industry are claiming that the PC gaming is coming to an end. If they would stop the stupid online gaming and just do some stuff like moo2 and x-com, they'd see a resurgence in the sales from 30 to 50 year old gamers who just want to play a game instead of having to stay up until two in the morning to do some stupid raid.

I keep a PC up just for moo, moo2, x-com, the original mechwarrior, Day of the tentacle, etc, etc.

Re:Free to play (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855535)

I read an interesting article about how, in the past 3 years, there have been just shy of 80 million home gaming consoles (not handheld). Do you know how many GAMING PCs were sold? Not the crappy HP boxes you have at work, mind you, but real GAMING PCs?

179 million units.

PC Gaming is as strong as ever, if not stronger.

Re:Free to play (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25856063)

Link or it didn't happen.

This Is A Shame.... (3, Informative)

Caraig (186934) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855167)

This is a shame; TR had a lot of potential to be more than just another shooty take on MMOs. Ancient mysteries, xeno-archaeology, a strong theme of religion and myth, a dramatic war.... It could have been a lot more. Instead it was pretty bland at times. They had a lot of great ideas but they never seemed to implement them in time or well enough.

I was in the closed beta, and I really really wanted to like this game. The music was cool, the settings were fantastic, the scaling was pretty nicely done, and it was open to the casual gamer... but it was flawed. It just didn't grab a person.

As I said, it's really a shame. It could have been a lot more. Oh, well. I hope they learned something from it's failure. I just hope that 'Worlds of Starcraft' doesn't waltz in and take over the SciFi MMO slot.

Re:This Is A Shame.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25855609)

I agree. I managed to get into the beta, and initially I was excited about my character, and the game in general.

After about a week, though, I just about totally lost interest in the game. It definitely had some interesting features, but I guess it just wasn't put together in a way that made it compelling to keep playing.

I wish I could put my finger on what didn't click.. but I guess if I could I'd be designing awesome MMOs or something.

Re:This Is A Shame.... (1)

captjc (453680) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855691)

After seeing the game, my first thought was that it would have made an awesome single player KotOR / Mass Effect-style adventure RPG. Shame...

takes me back (3, Interesting)

Leontes (653331) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855181)

Back in 1997, I was playing a character on the old TrekMoo, when the Q (the admins) were in the process of moving to new servers. They decided to all scorched universe on the remaining players and I have to say, that was a heck of lot of fun. The Borg invaded, the Romulans and Klingons got their ass kicked and we intrepid few in the federation were forced to make some tough choices that included sacrificing our ship. It was a small community of text based adventurers, but the collaborative effort made it a hell of a lot of fun.

I'm surprised there aren't more scorched earth games, where we build up communities just to have them torn down. I hope the loyal players of playing Tabula Rasa get to have the same kind of experience. I know it influenced me as to what good collaborative theaterical improvisation was all about.

Re:takes me back (1)

cptgrudge (177113) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855231)

Blizzard tried something like this with the most recent world event to usher in the new expansion. Player controlled zombies rampant everywhere, infecting other players and NPCs alike. In the end, half of the players enjoyed it. The other half brought some *serious* whining, complaining that they "couldn't get stuff done". Can't please everyone, I guess.

Re:takes me back (1)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855307)

Well with the number of people playing the game and the availability of official forums for people to have their verbal diarrhea on it's no surprise. I will say though having the world event spill out into areas where people who potentially don't even have the higher level characters capable of taking advantage of the new stuff in the expansion is just going to tick them off for really nothing in return can get irritating. There's nothing dumber than getting ganked by a level 70 zombie in the Crossroads of all places.

Re:takes me back (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855675)

If it's "the game server is shutting down in 2 weeks" there isn't much "stuff to get done" to complain about not being able to do.

Of course they won't spend any dev time on it (it's shutting down...), but even a "the bad guys are attacking" followed by spamming big bad guys in all the usual safe places would do.

Also when you are shutting down "pleasing everyone" is completely irrelevant...

Re:takes me back (1)

JohnSearle (923936) | more than 5 years ago | (#25856427)

I would like to see this apply more to a long term strategy for an MMO.

MMO != Never ending questing.

An MMO could be more meaningful if the game actually had epic stories, that had real goals and real conclusions. Establish story lines as if it was a science fiction or fantasy series, where player actions are permanently etched into future stories / histories. Hire some permanent story writers, and develop an ongoing dialogue between them and the players, making player actions meaningful.

Then you can have your creative destruction, as well as your lasting epic journey.

- John

No community support FAIL (5, Insightful)

S77IM (1371931) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855325)

I'm sure other posters will mention Tabula Rasa's bugs, lousy control scheme, poor class balance, etc (typical MMO grievances) but to me the thing that always stood out about TR was its abysmal support for building communities.

Everyone's abuzz about Web 2.0 and "social networking," and somehow the TR devs didn't even see fit to have a Looking For Group feature in the game. The had on-line chat and a Friends list, and that's about it. The thing about massively MULTIPLAYER games is that they are only as good as the people you play with. Sure, a small percentage of MMO players exclusively solo, but for most people, the solo experience is basically a laggy, slightly glitchy single-player game, with extra monotonous grinding. In other words, you get bored of it after a month or two, max, just like any other single player game.

"Players come for the game, but stay for the community." -- I forget who said it, but that sums up most MMOs today. Compared to single-player games, any MMO is mediocre at best. The only reason people will pay $15/month for the MMO is to play with their friends. Tabula Rasa made it very difficult for me to locate people I might want to team with, let alone befriend. There was more incentive to solo than to assemble PUGs.

Suggestion to future MMO designers: Find a way to match up players with other players of similar game-play styles and compatible personalities. No, I'm not talking about in-game romance, just helping people find a good team. Match up Leeroy Jenkins with other Leeroy Jenkins, etc. Stop thinking of the players as an audience looking for "content." They're not. They're looking to hang out with friends and kill monsters.

Re:No community support FAIL (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855545)

WoW existed for about 2-3 years without a LFG system other than a channel that was spammed with all kinds of garbage.

Ask anyone who remembers how the global LFG channel went.

Re:No community support FAIL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25855867)

I liked open lfg chat. Plenty of other people did too.

Re:No community support FAIL (2, Funny)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855937)

Ask anyone who remembers how the global LFG channel went.

/shudder

And I just got done with therapy for that, too. Thanks for reminding me...

Power of community + run by the community? (1)

Morgaine (4316) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855781)

I like your observation that community is the key ingredient that gives an MMO longevity. It makes me wonder if an open-source MMO might one day not only rival the current big commercial ones, but even become far more long lived than any of them because its community would last forever, and it could never get shut down, regardless of perceived success or failure.

The easy attack on that idea is simply that "server farms cost a ton of money", but MMOs don't have to be programmed to require centralized server farms, and many FPS communities are more than happy to put up a server for public use anyway. There's no reason why such machines couldn't be confederated to underpin a community MMO.

What's more, there are MMO models that require very little in the way of centralized computing power. For example, Guild Wars has a heavily instanced framework, so that once in a fighting zone, there can never be more than 8 people playing together, which requires very little power from server systems --- in fact an instanced MMO programmed like that could even be run in P2P mode while in the instance, merely sending occasional game state updates to a central point, a very low centralized power requirement.

Yet, you still interact with vast numbers of people when in town or in your guild or when messaging across the world, so the MMO feeling is there despite the server requirements being not much different to those of an IRC server. Technically, this approach is definitely possible for a community-run MMO without any commercial backing.

We have all the open-source components for making both the client and server sides of a community MMO, and community-developed online games are announced occasionally, but we don't really hear of any success stories. Is it that none of them are any good, or just that the commercial ones get all the attention?

It sure would be nice to put one's investment of game time into a community-developed and community-run MMO instead of into a commercial one, both to avoid draining the wallet and to ensure that your favourite world exists forever. There must be huge merit to having such a community game world, if only it could be got off the ground in a flexible enough form.

Re:Power of community + run by the community? (1)

Nethead (1563) | more than 5 years ago | (#25856261)

..requirements being not much different to those of an IRC server..
You've may have never run a popular IRC host then. It's not the bandwidth so much but the damn DDOS that will kill you. I had a popular IRC box back in 2000 or so and it took a 400MB/s DDOS hit. My boss sure didn't like that on his network!

You can't take it to the bank (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25855345)

The problem is that everyone sees the Gobs of money that blizzard is making and this "Hrm, I'd love to make that much" so they produce an MMO and hope it works. It's not to say that WoW is better then these MMO's, but it's to say that you have to have a certain about of luck to truly make it succeed.

Tabula WHAT? failed PR (1)

citizenr (871508) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855477)

First and only time I heard about this game was that trip to space gimmick. Going to their page there is not a single gameplay Video you can actually watch (instantly as in flash player). Sure, you can download 600MB file if you are feeling desperate for info, but most people will just skip it and look for a game that is not ashamed of how it looks.

So... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25855597)

Why doesn't anyone mention Anarchy Online anymore?

Personally it's still the best MMORPG out there, it may not have as many people online as it used to have a couple of years ago, but it's still very popular.

I liked tabula rasa, but it lacked the 'twinking' aspect that AO has, and WoW doesn't.

AO may look dated, but for sheer immersion it's the best out there.

What's it like ? Heard of it, but not much (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855645)

Has anyone played Tabula Rasa ? I've only heard of it, mostly due to Richard Garriott's involvement, but I don't know any players. From reading the write-ups, it sounds a lot like Sony's PlanetSide, with some anime RPG elements bolted on.

PlanetSide never really got big enough, so there wasn't enough action to keep things interesting. There's really no fun in being the only guy on the continent, capping base after base without resistance.

If Tabula Rasa suffered the same fate, well... sucks but that's just what happens. That's the problem with MMOs, you need to build up hype before they launch, else it's a false start and it never goes anywhere after that.

Re:What's it like ? Heard of it, but not much (1)

iCEBaLM (34905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25856141)

I started playing PlanetSide during the open stress testing. I loved that game. I bought it the day it was available at the local EBGames. The game was simple: kill the other guys and take their territory. It was like this until WoW's open beta, then something happened...

They started adding crazy crap: now certain bases couldn't be captured just by taking them over, you had to grab a football (LIU I think they tried to call them?) and take it back to another base you controlled. Oh wait, look at that, you're not on just one planet anymore, the planet blew apart and now you're on a bunch! Holy shit Jenkins, you have to go underground now! This is when people started to stop playing. When the fundamentals of the game changed. The part that made it fun was teaming up with a few squads and taking a heavily defended base, not running a football. If I wanted fucking football I would have bought Madden. I still miss flying my reaver....

I started playing World of Warcraft during open beta stress testing. I still play it. I am a pretty hard core end game raider. I have killed Illidan, I have seen the Sunwell. There are a lot of things WoW does right. The main one is the developers don't just add a bunch of stupid shit simply to add a bunch of stupid shit. This is what screwed up PlanetSide. If the developers of PlanetSide had left well enough alone with the goddamn rules of the game and stuck to just adding more vehicles, weapons, maybe the world breaking apart could have been handled and we could have seen some new terrain, but no, they add in ridiculous crap like certain bases have impervious shields unless you capture the other bases around it in order. Oh yeah, and you can only cap bases that you have a base connected to via this lattice shit. What, the, fuck guys? This is WAR, not checkers. I should be able to flank. I should be able to surprise my enemy.

I started playing Tabula Rasa during open beta stress testing. This game was bad. Terribly bad. The graphics were horrible, the animations were junk, the combat.... ugh. The storyline, while very good and is what interested me in the first place, was somehow non-existent in the actual game. Maybe I was jaded by WoW. No, I am jaded by WoW. I expect certain things of a modern "post-WoW" MMO. I expect not to look like I'm ice skating while I'm running. I expect that if I read the whole quest text that it will tell me what I need to do and I don't have to guess. I expect to have options in combat and not to just be completely useless if I run out of ammo. I expect to be given the opportunity to make enough money to buy said essential ammo via my characters normal course of events without having to go out of my way to farm at level 5. TR was deleted from my system after 3 days of play. I am not surprised this game is ending. It was very bad.

How Richard Garriot scammed NCSoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25855865)

Basically richard garriot used his 20 year old fame from the ultima series to scam the biggest korean mmorpg maker to let him and his deadbeat chronies handle their business in the "west". He then ran the main franchise and it's sequel into the ground and blamed it on western audiences. Since he was LORD FUCKING BRITISH, they gave him money to make his own shitty game to show them how it was done, and then conned them into sending him into space as advertisement for the game which he convinetly forgot to advertise once he got his space suit. After coming back from space, he promptly QUITS the company and gives everyone the finger. Now his multi-million dollar piece of shit is being shut down. This comes as a huge surprise considering how much money Ncsoft has literally thrown away on their other games just to keep a presence in the western market.

Classic Richard Garriot (1)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | more than 5 years ago | (#25855935)

I remember how Garriot's Ultima Series took a nose drive. Ultima 8 was bad enough; last Ultima I ever bought, but Ultima 9 was worse; just a really sloppy job. Does this sound familiar?

"The game was so poorly received that no other Ultima was ever released. Richard Garriott shortly left Origin, which was shut by parent company EA Games soon after." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultima_IX#Controversy [wikipedia.org]

Poor NCsoft. Perhaps they should have Googled him before they hired him. ;-)

Plenty of Reasons To Open Source It! (1)

rhinokitty (962485) | more than 5 years ago | (#25856165)

I am so surprised no one sees the immense benefit that NCSoft could gain from Open Sourcing this program! There are plenty of business models for Open Source software!

Look at ...! Uh, wait... Twitte-no. Shit.

CoH's Future (1)

HardlineHeretic (1413175) | more than 5 years ago | (#25856205)

There is much speculation in the CoH community that it will loose subscribers and eventually shut down with the advent of champions Online, a similar and more in depth game by former CoH devs Cryptic Studios...
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