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Tabula Rasa Goes Free, Brings New Content

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the as-in-beer-with-lots-of-guns dept.

Games 87

Last month we discussed NCSoft's announcement that Tabula Rasa would be closing its doors at the end of February, and their plans to remove the subscription fee for all players in January. Well, they've decided to go completely free a month early, alongside the release of a variety of new content. The game has finally gotten a first-person camera view, something many players have been asking for since launch. A new instance and several other bits of additional content are available as well. NCSoft also previewed player-controlled Mechs and PAUs, which will go live in the next major patch. Ten Ton Hammer has an interview with Net Devil's Scott Brown about the closure of Tabula Rasa.

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not Free (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26209675)

free

FP (0)

yerktoader (413167) | more than 5 years ago | (#26209697)

It's too bad, it really seemed like an interesting game. I WAS looking forward to playing it when I upgraded.

Re:FP (2, Insightful)

Narcocide (102829) | more than 5 years ago | (#26209725)

I was just waiting for Cedega to support it or a version of Wine that does to last for more than one patch and not require installing Mono. :(

Re:FP (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26209733)

It's called Windows, try it one day, you'd be surprised how well it works.
None of that silly Cedega nonsense.

Re:FP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26209903)

Fuck you asshole

The sad thing is... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26210051)

...that if this were a thread about a Linux game / app, and somebody posted that they were waiting to be able to run it on XP / Vista, they'd be the one modded flamebait - and the person telling them to just try Linux would be modded insightful or informative.

God help you, simple Slashdot poster, if you violate the holy rule. Windows = Hatred; Linux = Praise.

Always.

Re:The sad thing is... (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#26210453)

and if this was fox news we'd be modded down for enjoying festivus or whatever it's called. My point here is there everywhere you go is bias and complaining about it is pointless.

You do realise that slashdot is part of the open source developer network don't you? It's pretty clear they'd have a bias towards open source.

Re:The sad thing is... (1)

not already in use (972294) | more than 5 years ago | (#26211201)

God help you, simple Slashdot poster, if you violate the holy rule. Windows = Hatred; Linux = Praise.

Yes, the generally insufferable Slashdot crowd. I've endured the inevitable downmods of un-inflammatory Microsoft remarks or constructively crticical linux remarks and maintained my Excellent karma status with the occasiona.... OH MY GOD A FLYING CHAIR.

Re:The sad thing is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26211909)

Go ahead. Beat the drums of martyrdom. Though you may be an idiot, you don't have to admit it. It's not you. It's your persecutors.

Re:FP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26221641)

It's called Windows, try it one day, you'd be surprised how well it works.
None of that silly Cedega nonsense.

Oh so thats why a lot of GAmes Co's are actively switching to Linux because windBloWs carp is so freakin good

 

Re:FP (1)

yerktoader (413167) | more than 5 years ago | (#26209743)

There's always a reason...

Nice ending (1)

hernyo (770695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26209741)

I LOOOVE when a company ends its services with a nice bonus. They could simply close all the servers thus saving money, instead they decide to pay the bills for an another month just for the sake of a nice ending.

Re:Nice ending (3, Informative)

Kedjoran (812649) | more than 5 years ago | (#26209789)

They're doing a fair bit more than that, they gave this as a parting gift to active TR players when they were announcing the closing: * 3 free months of City of Heroes including digital client * 3 free months of Lineage II including digital client * Aion beta access (coming soon) * Aion pre-order access (available in 2009) * 1 free month of Aion (including digital client, no physical goods, available in 2009)

Re:Nice ending (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26210081)

Trying to upsell Tabula Rasa users on three other products is hardly a good-faith measure. It's an attempt to get a bit more money out of them, pure and simple.

Frankly, were I a Tabula Rasa user I wouldn't touch this offer with a barge pole. They paid somewhere around $50 for a game, only to be used as its beta testers. Then to add insult to injury, they find that almost precisely one year after the release date (and perhaps only a matter of a few weeks or months after they shelled out their $50), the game would cease to work just three months after its first birthday.

This is precisely why I don't buy games or applications that entirely rely on a central server hosted by the parent company for their survival.

If NCsoft wanted to make a good faith measure to Tabula Rasa users, their parting gift to the community would be the ability to host the game on third party servers. They're not doing that though, they're taking the money and running - and insulting their users' intelligence with the suggestion that upsales are "gifts" when they're nothing more than a marketing campaign being run at a wholly distasteful moment.

An alternative (4, Interesting)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 5 years ago | (#26210727)

If NCsoft wanted to make a good faith measure to Tabula Rasa users, their parting gift to the community would be the ability to host the game on third party servers.

I kinda agree with you, but then I can also see why they wouldn't do this also. There are probably issues with IP and third-party licenses that keep them from distributing the server code.

What I would like to see, though, is maybe something like a "dead MMOG clearinghouse" company. If I were such a company, for example, I would pay NCsoft $x for the rights to set up and run one or more Tabula Rasa servers so that players could continue playing. There would never be any more updates to the game, except maybe content updates to advance the storylines given the existing mechanics. (I.e. the stuff probably stored in text files.) I would charge some nominal fee to access the game, and the client would be given away for free.

Re:An alternative (1, Redundant)

WillDraven (760005) | more than 5 years ago | (#26210951)

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:An alternative (1)

YouWantFriesWithThat (1123591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26212041)

that there is a pretty damn good idea. i wonder if you could get VC for a startup if you had some IP holders lined up

Re:An alternative (1)

Judinous (1093945) | more than 5 years ago | (#26212779)

That already exists. It's called Sony Online Entertainment. You can get their "station pass" for slightly more than the standard subscription fee and have access to at least half a dozen MMOs and some other games as well. SOE is where MMOs go to die (or were killed in the first place).

Re:An alternative (1)

Monchanger (637670) | more than 5 years ago | (#26215255)

Interesting idea but you're not talking about something as simple as renting out cartridges of Super Mario.

Running an MMO server (or any server for that matter) requires maintenance, both to ensure the software keeps running and to provide whatever in-game support was necessary to keep the bulk of customers from gradually leaving a piece of dead software.

Given how unlikely it is for short-sighted game publishers to invest in development of quality turn-key software I suspect that unless you hire the layed off people the MMO had supporting the system your servers won't live very long.

Re:An alternative (1)

Psychochild (64124) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231911)

I spent my time and money resurrecting a game I worked on that was shut down: Meridian 59 [meridian59.com] . I worked with another of the original developers to form a small team that included 3 other people to maintain and try to expand the game. So, I have some perspective on this issue based on first-hand experience.

Running an MMO server isn't easy. Even if you have a developer and team that put maintainability at the top of the list, your software will still have bugs. Any software developer knows that for any non-trivial program, there will be something that doesn't work as well as you might otherwise like. Fix those bugs, and others suddenly bubble to the surface. (Or, possibly, they were too minor to deal with before, but now they're the most noticable thorn in your side.)

The problem with running a very small online game with a subscription is that that business model doesn't scale down very well. For my game, I have about 250 or so hard-core people who still pay for the game. With the ~$10/player I make (after initial billing service charges), I make about $2500/month. Now, take out my other costs (bandwidth is the big one), and we're not talking about much money, and practically no marketing budget to grow the game. Even at our previous peak of many times the number of players we have now, it was enough to keep a handful of people from starving and not much more. At our peak, I was only personally making $24,000 per year while working 80+ hours per week. After a few years, knowing that you're working for less hourly wage than a burger flipper takes its toll.

Dropping in another business model, such as an "item mall" system would potentially bring in more money, but it would also potentially harm the game. Since one of our goals was to preserve the game instead of letting it fall into oblivion, that runs counter to what we want. Our game is also heavily PvP-focused, so things like "free accounts" and "buy some perks" doesn't really mesh well with the game due to abuse and feelings of unfairness. I like the "item mall" type business model for games, but I'm a firm believer that you should design that into the game from the start, not slap it on later.

You also have to realize that these games have failed for a reason. There simply aren't enough people interested in the game to keep it going. Now, some games may be killed before their prime (like Earth & Beyond was), but the fantasy that someone can take a struggling game and turn it around is just that: a fantasy. If you don't add to an online game, it gets stagnant and boring. After a few years the engine starts looking dated. Even if you do a massive overhaul of the engine [meridian59.com] , you still have to worry about how the art assets look, and it's no guarantee that people will take any new interest in your game.

In the end, resurrecting M59 was the right choice. Personally, it gave me a lot of valuable experience and it's helped my career by giving me a very visible note on my resumé. And, there is a core of dedicated fans that do thank us for our work. But, it's not a source of reliable income for me.

As for open sourcing it all, I might legally own the code but I am still in contact with the original developers. This is some of their earliest code, and they've never been overly enthusiastic about sharing that code with the rest of the world. But, note that taking the code open source does not necessarily preserve the game for others to play, it just puts something out there for people to tinker with. The tech is only part of the equation, the game design is also important but not necessarily covered under the same concept.

My thoughts.

Re:An alternative (1)

whoop (194) | more than 5 years ago | (#26219085)

This is about how it is with the Everquest emulation servers. They take a single version of the game, as it was in about 2005, and then on the server end start adding content to the servers. All this, and most of them are free to play on.

Re:Nice ending (2, Interesting)

Glimmerdark (1229958) | more than 5 years ago | (#26211227)

it's not just an issue with 'upselling'. though certainly the company hopes to keep these people as customers, there's nothing dirty or underhanded about that- quite the opposite, i wish -more- companies put forth effort to reduce customer churn. TR is an MMO, the people who play this game really should understand that the majority of mmo's don't succeed long term, though i will admit TR went a bit quicker than most. generally, when this happens, you end up stuck. do not pass go, do not collect $200. Here, NCSoft is at least offering -something- it's a realization that it's a bad situation, but a company can't continue to operate an operation that isn't making, nor shows any signs of turning a profit. it's a "we're sorry we can't keep the game you want to play running, but here, have some time to get to know all our other games, and decide if there's something here you'd like to try before you leave." the attitude that offering access to their entire online collection for 3 months, plus beta access an a month free of the new game they're producing is insulting.. is just well, insulting. assuming a user took up all that offer, and spent 3 months with CoH and L2, that right there is more than double to cost of the TR game purchase, and while it wasn't completely clear with L2, i did note that the digital DL was included with CoH, so there wouldn't even be a purchase required. the idea of offering up the server software as a free item isn't highly likely. TR's engine has some unique features that would likely do well in another game, therefore, the program will likely stay in the hands of the creators to help prevent issues with any of those future products. really, just lighten up.

Re:Nice ending (1)

ikono (1180291) | more than 5 years ago | (#26211703)

wait wait wait wait... Didn't you or someone else write this in an earlier story? Otherwise this is one hell of a deja vu

Re:Nice ending (1)

mrjimorg (557309) | more than 5 years ago | (#26212813)

What I would like is to be able to purchase the rights to their graphics, and information about their file formats. For novice MMO game writers like myself, graphics are the highest bar to entry.

Re:Nice ending (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26213073)

You do realize that this is the single nicest gesture a MMO company going out of business has ever offered their subscribers and you're crucifying them for it, right? You can call it an upsell if you want, but they are making a pretty educated guess that their subscribers like playing MMOs, based on the fact that they, you know, subscribed to Tabula Rasa. They are then offering them more than 50 bucks in free clients (I'm not aware that any of the listed games have free clients yet, though Lineage 2 is getting pretty cheap), which is what they paid for the client "that doesn't work anymore." That doesn't even get into the free game time. This is the single best move they could have made.

As for giving away server code for free, get real: failed company, very cash negative, probably owes NCSoft and maybe others a ton of cash, their only asset besides 3000 bucks of office furniture is this code. That doesn't even get into anything agreements they may have signed to keep certain elements under lockdown at the behest of 3rd parties.

The ONLY time I'm aware of a company giving away their server MMO code was when Microsoft gave away the Allegiance source code a couple years ago. It just doesn't happen often, and you probably do have to be MS to pull it off.

Re:Nice ending (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 5 years ago | (#26213555)

I guess you missed my submission from less than 2 weeks ago: http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/12/13/041200 [slashdot.org]

Re:Nice ending (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26217003)

Si senor, I missed that one. That is very nice of them. I'm not sure how much code there is, since the game wasn't live. If it's essentially a full game, missing a bit of polish, that's good, if it's a bunch of tech demos and concept crap all thrown together it's not very useful. I was referring to live games, but even this is a rare example and it's nice to see the ecosystem increased like this.

Re:Nice ending (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26213477)

I'm not sure what there is to be insulted about in what they're offering, really. I mean, first of all, it sounds like they're putting out two additional content updates, despite the fact that they know the game is dying. That's like having your car waxed as it's being towed to the junkyard -- not necessary, but at least it gets to shine one last time, I guess. Secondly, they're not just giving the normal two-week free trial of their other MMO's that you'd get off their website, they're including THREE months' worth of play in two existing MMO's, plus the client for free (saving the buyer $25 for CoH and probably a similar amount for L2, should they wish to continue play), plus beta to a new (and very pretty) MMO and one month free to that MMO when it launches. That's a flipping grab bag of fun, as I see it, not an insult at all. An insult would have been "Our MMO is dying, pls try another, bring your credit card, lolz, omgz!"

Now, is this a marketing attempt wrapped up in a grab bag? Absolutely. But, they are a for-profit company, so why are we surprised? Of course they want to get TR players to play their other products and continue to make money from them! Companies do this all the time, and usually in much less friendly ways. Now, speaking as someone who plays one of the MMO's in question, City of Heroes / Villains, I say give it a try. CoH / CoV is awesome, and a very different experience from, say, your usual bag of Elves and magic (for that, play Lineage 2). They just released a new content update for CoH/V and are releasing a client for the Mac next month (free download for current CoH/V subscribers), so it's not going anywhere anytime soon. Give it a try! If it turns out you don't like it, well, no skin off your back. Be greatful that you got to try it for three whole months instead of making your decision after the normal 14-day free trial. Marketing? Yes. But still quite a nice deal. Think of it as a free T-shirt with the company logo printed on it. No one snears at those, right? ;-)

Re:Nice ending (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26213707)

An "up-sell" isn't likely to be very successful. The alternatives are very Asian and not likely to appeal to the Americas. The real pity of TR is that it delivered necessary content after the shutdown was ordered and designed a game that intentionally kept players from interacting with each other.

Re:Nice ending (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26215983)

CoH is very popular and, though I haven't played, it doesn't seem very asian (seems pretty casual friendly). Lineage 2 is the other extreme from WOW, if you could have mixed the 2 you would have a very fun and beautiful game (and don't get on that WOW looks nice thing, L2 looked way better despite being released a year earlier). L2 isn't for everyone, but for those who enjoy the hardcore MMO it's pretty fun.

At any rate, they are all (except maybe Aion which I know nothing about) tier 1 MMOs, that's a pretty nice gesture for people coming from what amounts to a tier 2 MMO.

Re:Nice ending (1)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 5 years ago | (#26219081)

The alternatives are very Asian

City of Heroes is Asian? The MMO inspired by American comic book culture, with a main hero called 'Statesman' who basically wears an American flag, set in a city in Rhode Island, USA? City of Heroes bombed in Korea. They went the whole hog - even added an Asian supergroup called 'W.I.S.D.O.M' (eventually these became zone trainers in rebuilt zones), and they couldn't keep it going.

'Very Asian' indeed.

Re:Nice ending (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26215585)

Aw man, they aren't opening it up for third parties?
Well that kinda sucks.
They could have altered any bits if there was a chance it would reveal any company secrets fairly easily.

Mind you, the smarter people could create a third party server, if the source were suddenly leaked.
Or, if someone had played the game enough to know about everything everywhere, and everything you can do, recreate it... yep, probably not happening.
Most will probably take the offer and forget the game in a few months.

If it's not in a box I can keep, it doesn't exist! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26215651)

This is precisely why I don't buy games or applications that entirely rely on a central server hosted by the parent company for their survival.

So I take it you never watch any shows on cable channels, you never subscribe to newspapers or magazines, you never read books that are part of a series still being written, etc.?

After all, at any point, all those things can get cancelled and the only think you'll be left with is... well, what you've already paid for (and received).

Maybe Blizzard should return the money I paid for WoW because a couple of my friends stopped playing it and the game just isn't as much fun without them...?

After all, I couldn't possibly have been paying for an experience could I? Everyone knows that only packaged products are real, and everything else is worthless.

As an ex-Tabula Rasa user... (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#26217971)

Frankly, were I a Tabula Rasa user I wouldn't touch this offer with a barge pole. They paid somewhere around $50 for a game, only to be used as its beta testers. Then to add insult to injury, they find that almost precisely one year after the release date (and perhaps only a matter of a few weeks or months after they shelled out their $50), the game would cease to work just three months after its first birthday.

1. As a former Tabula Rasa user, I can only say: that ideological point would maybe bother me, if TR had been actually worth playing. But, see, the whole reason they're throwing in the towel is that almost anyone who did touch it with a barge pole, cancelled their subscription _long_ before that 1.25 year was over.

It's hard to get worked up about the finer points of "OMG, their centralized servers can keep me from playing any more", when I wasn't planning to play it any more in the first place, or not without someone paying me to. It's about as hard as getting worked up about some law that forbids me from eating shit: I wasn't planning to anyway. So, from a pragmatic point of view, who cares?

2. That said, a gift is a gift. They're not trying to _sell_ COH to those people as a parting gift, they're giving them a free copy of COH and 3 months free play (as opposed to 1 if you buy it from the store.) Or, of course, one of the other 2 games, if that tempts you more.

I don't know, I could appreciate that for what it is: some free stuff. Sure, you could dissect it as some evil plot that maybe they just want you to subscribe after those 3 months, but then again nobody forces you to. In the meantime you do get the equivalent of the game's base cost and a 3 month game card, for free. What's so evil about that?

3. Again, as a former Tabula Rasa player, I can say that the problem wasn't as much lack of beta-testing, as just plain old bad design. The thing tried to reinvent MMOs by wiping the slate clean, and building it from scratch... i.e., ignoring everything that a decade of MMOs proved as working or non-working. The game mostly worked as intended at launch... except "as intended" didn't involve it actually being fun for most people. It wasn't a flawed implementation, as much as design which ignores what most people want in a game.

(Though tastes being subjective, I don't doubt that a very small niche actually liked it. The keywords and problem being: "very small.")

And how that came to pass:

4. It seems to me like some people are all too eager to give the publisher all the blame. You don't hear "the SWG team fucked up", you hear "Sony fucked up"... even if none of the other Sony games had the same problems. It seems to me like you're doing the same fallacy about NCSoft.

The truth is, they don't micro-manage those companies, and they don't all have the same problems. E.g., COH is nothing like Tabula Rasa, and its evolution and faults were nothing like those of Tabula Rasa.

It seems to me like NCSoft simply did the same mistake with "General British" as Sony did with Raph Koster or Eidos did with John Romero: let a superstar designer run amok and do whatever he wishes, simply because he's too great to be judged by mere mortals. I mean, OMG, British _invented_ the graphical MMORPG as we know it today. He must know what he's doing. So nobody took the time to dissect and maybe veto his design.

From another point of view, it might have even been a calculated risk. _If_ his clean-slate re-inventing MMOs worked, it could have made NCSoft billions. You can't blame them for at least giving that a try.

5. Or maybe "4.a.", the extreme costs of MMO development seem to scare most publishers. Oh, they all want to make one, but there's a lot of playing it safe and trusting the people who've done it before. Even teams which botched more than 1 MMO in a row, tend to get the contract because they're the guys who've made an MMO before.

Sorta like hiring Michael Brown, head of FEMA during the catastrophic handling of Katrina _and_ of the earlier incompetent handling of Hurricane Frances relief funds, to be in charge of your disaster relief agency because he's done that job before. He's got the experience. Yeah, right.

Well, anyway, the same seems to apply to MMOs. People who fucked up once are a sought commodity, because they have the experience. People who fucked up twice are the experts and command a high price. Just because people seem to be more afraid of the guy who hasn't even tried before.

What I'm trying to say is that you can't single out NCSoft for trusting "General British" above common sense. Everyone else, whether it's EA or Sony or whatever, does the exact same.

Re:Nice ending (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 5 years ago | (#26210089)

Those aren't gifts, they're fairly desperate attempts at getting you hooked on any other game in their lineup, in order to keep your revenue.

Re:Nice ending (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26213099)

TR subscriber here. After paying to play an innovative sci-fi shooter MMO, you get"

1) Access to a fantasy-based Korean grind-a-thon.
2) Access to a capes n' spandex American grind-a-thon.
3) Beta access to a fantasy-based Korean grind-a-thon (with flying).

Color me unimpressed.

Re:Nice ending (1)

Sage Gaspar (688563) | more than 5 years ago | (#26212209)

This is still a bad, bad move for NCSoft no matter how you slice it. When people buy MMOs they're looking for a game they can invest time into and perhaps come back to years later even if they set it down. That's the important part of an MMO, that your character persists in the long term, your friends list will still be around (and possibly the friends on it!), etc. I'm willing to bet it's not just me that has no inclination to try an NCSoft MMO after this precedent.

any possibility of open sourcing it? (2, Insightful)

n3tcat (664243) | more than 5 years ago | (#26209863)

If they plan on closing it down anyways, doesn't it make sense to open source it so people can run their own 3rd party servers?

or am I missing something obvious here?

Re:any possibility of open sourcing it? (2, Insightful)

polymerousgeek (1196703) | more than 5 years ago | (#26209911)

It would make sense if Tabula Rasa was the whole issue. However, many of these companies will take bits and pieces of code from older projects and put them into newer ones (no point in reinventing the wheel). So, they would effectively be partially open sourcing other, money-making games/software (even if it is just a bit here or there), and that's something few companies are willing to do.

Also, there's always the possibility of various licensing issues, keeping them from redistributing the code.

Re:any possibility of open sourcing it? (2, Insightful)

jibjibjib (889679) | more than 5 years ago | (#26209941)

It might contain code they don't actually have the right to release (e.g code licensed from other companies.) Or it might contain code which they want to keep and use in future releases.

Re:any possibility of open sourcing it? (1)

gomiam (587421) | more than 5 years ago | (#26210009)

AFAIK, only having source code from third-parties would be a technical deterrent. If they own all the code, they can licence the version used in Tabula Rasa and keep working on it. It's not like it hasn't been done before, anyway.

Re:any possibility of open sourcing it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26210841)

If they own all the code, they can licence the version used in Tabula Rasa and keep working on it.

If it's still worth using they probably don't want to give it to their competitors - in any licensed form.

Re:any possibility of open sourcing it? (1)

Laibcoms (1443239) | more than 4 years ago | (#26298049)

License to a FLOSS license? It will not happen. You are forgetting one important factor here: They are doing business. With business comes a huge investment and a huge income. You do not want your competitors to know your trade secrets, how you do things, etc. etc. Especially the new and/or aspiring players. If there companies who will open source their game codes, these will be the small companies. Mid to Big companies are not likely to do so. They do not need another competitor :p

Re:any possibility of open sourcing it? (1)

gomiam (587421) | more than 4 years ago | (#26298491)

Mid to Big companies are not likely to do so. They do not need another competitor :p

I guess Id Software (76 people work in it, according to their teamlist [idsoftware.com] ) is a small company worried about competitors then ;)

Re:any possibility of open sourcing it? (1)

Laibcoms (1443239) | more than 4 years ago | (#26298981)

They have 76? Ok then there's an overlap at the middle-sized gamedev companies. :p Thanks for the info ^_^

Re:any possibility of open sourcing it? (1)

aapold (753705) | more than 5 years ago | (#26210661)

The sound effect of the shields in Tabula Rasa was almost 100% identical to the sound effect of the force field bubbles in City of Heroes/Villains.

I assumed it was just borrowed from there.

If this is typical of stuff used throughout... then open sourcing would be very difficult, you'd have to separate everything like that.

Re:any possibility of open sourcing it? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Conrad (600139) | more than 5 years ago | (#26210893)

If this is typical of stuff used throughout... then open sourcing would be very difficult, you'd have to separate everything like that.

That's largely irrelevant, though - it's the game code we need open sourcing and in particular the server code. As long as the game *data* (i.e. the sounds etc.) is generally available we can still use it even if it doesn't get GPLed or whatever.

Re:any possibility of open sourcing it? (3, Insightful)

BarryJacobsen (526926) | more than 5 years ago | (#26210901)

The sound effect of the shields in Tabula Rasa was almost 100% identical to the sound effect of the force field bubbles in City of Heroes/Villains.

I assumed it was just borrowed from there.

If this is typical of stuff used throughout... then open sourcing would be very difficult, you'd have to separate everything like that.

It's fairly unlikely the server code makes heavy use of sound effects. :P

Re:any possibility of open sourcing it? (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 5 years ago | (#26212793)

Why would you have to seperate it? I suppose if you licensed those sound clips from a third-party, then, yeah, you might have to. I might be wrong, but I believe that NCSoft pretty much owns CoH/V outright? (I'm not entirely sure - the game was developed by Cryptic, so it might be that Cryptic kept some rights to the assets and code, and NCSoft entered into another license to use some resources from Cryptic in TR).

So, these are some of the considerations that have to go into Open Sourcing your products. If a product lost money, are you really going to spend $10k+ to have lawyers sort through all the details necessary to figure out what you own, what is owned by others, and if you can get the right to open source your stuff? The only time it's practical to open source something is either if your product is itself based on open-source products, or 100% owned outright by you, which often isn't the case. Most developers simply do not have the wherewithal to develop their game completely in-house - all low-level libraries, game engine code, sounds, animations, particle effects, models, textures, etc, from scratch. Some companies do ( I can think of Id, Valve, Epic, and I think Blizzard did so for WoW as well[?] ), but not all.

I know that NCSoft has a history of licensing tech from other companies (I believe one or two of their titles are based on one of the Unreal engines from Epic)

Re:any possibility of open sourcing it? (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#26210251)

That gives a huge leg up to potential competitors.... Something you don't want to do if you ever intend to reenter the market with another product.

Plus, who wants to compete with their own failure? (2, Insightful)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 5 years ago | (#26211475)

Not only could it potentially give a leg up to a potential competitor, but from the perspective of a company like NCSoft, if you release the whole thing for free, and it starts to get popular once it's free, even though you couldn't make it a commercial success, you setup a potential competitor for your own future products. It's hard (though not impossible) to compete with free products. There's already enough competition, without creating more for yourself.

Now, some might say that if it's free, that it doesn't really count as 'competition', because the people still have the money in their pockets that they are not spending on that product, so they might still pay for your future products with the money they aren't spending. That might, in some cases be true, but in other cases, people might decide that they spend enough time on, and enjoy the free product enough, that they decide not to look at other, 'premium' options.

Re:Its competition for player play time (1)

Phrogman (80473) | more than 5 years ago | (#26213467)

Its the time the players have to spend playing that you want to get the market share for. The money follows since they will have to pay to play, but if they want to play they will pay because its usually only $15 a month.

I play MMOs about 1-2 hrs a night most nights, maybe 2-4 hrs on the weekend occasionally. I am probably a typical player in that regard. Some will play only occasionally, some will play very hardcore and be on it for 4-6 hrs a night. I am in the middle.

Any company coming out with a new MMORPG is competing for my attention span. Do I want to play their game enough to buy a subscription and do I want to play it enough that I will renew that subscription? I am likely subscribed to more than one game at a time (I often am), so which one has my attention sufficiently for me to keep paying for it, rather than becoming another "churn" statistic? Currently I am playing City of Heroes/Villains (the best designed MMO out there IMHO), but was playing WAR as well until recently, and dabbling in SWG because they gave us a free month and I used to be quite addicted to SWG in its early years. My WAR subscription just ran out, but playing it has made me nostalgic for the good old days in DAOC and I may renew that to play it for a month in January or February. Currently NCSoft is winning the war for my attention span with City of Heroes, and has continued to do so for the most part when compared to Warcraft (hated it), Pirates of the Burning Sea (great promise but frustrating leveling and too much PvP when I wanted to solo etc), Warhammer Online (nice idea but the RvR is borked and the zones are poorly designed), LOTRO (gorgeous game but unsatisfying for some reason), AOC (didn't get past the tutorial), and Tabula Rasa (which I tried against my better judgement and was soundly disappointed in).

The finite element here is how much time I want to spend playing and therefore which game I deem worthy of spending the money on to engage in playing. City of Heroes, while quite niche in nature (You have to like the world of Superheroes and Villains), is an all-round extremely well designed game and offers a lot of casual entertainment for me, my wife and my friends - therefore they continue to get our bucks as a result.

Re:any possibility of open sourcing it? (3, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26210415)

To many, your idea sounds impossible. But Cyan did just this same thin recently with Uru (Myst Online). They have announced their intention to open source the product and are working hard right now to prepare the code.

I see this as even more proof that Cyan cares about its customers. They have tried and tried and tried to make Uru a viable game, but have failed each time. I'm not sure why it can't make it, since Myst obviously can, but they did their best and they are continuing to support the fans.

Re:any possibility of open sourcing it? (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#26210459)

I'd reserve that judgement for when they actually release it. Right now they've done squat.

Re:any possibility of open sourcing it? (1)

El Gigante de Justic (994299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26213265)

I'm guessing that the server code (or at least the core code) for Tabula Rasa might be very similar or based upon the server code for NCSoft's other MMOs; afterall, it would save them a lot of development costs to keep the server code as similar as possible between games. Then the concern for releasing that code would be that someone might figure out from there how to hack the server code for their other still active games.

Re:any possibility of open sourcing it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26256407)

Probably just heavily modded godwars code anyway

Re:any possibility of open sourcing it? (1)

Laibcoms (1443239) | more than 4 years ago | (#26298031)

If they plan on closing it down anyways, doesn't it make sense to open source it so people can run their own 3rd party servers?

or am I missing something obvious here?

Yep, you are missing it ;) Proprietary Code. These are the codes that were developed by NCsoft and which other companies want to get their hands on and study (and vice versa). To the end-users, it appears that "to achieve something" can be easily programmed from scratch. That isn't the case once you get down to the dirty work. There are bits and pieces and ways that one company did "some feature" and the other company did it differently for that SAME "some feature". In fact, it may appear the SAME "some feature" but deep down they are different. These are the proprietary codes these companies are protecting. Secondly, if they want to sell their code, they have to create a group to go through EACH LINE of their code and check which are "theirs" and which are "easy" and "common" to reproduce from scratch. Now money and time is involve in that process. Provided they did just that, they will strip all proprietary codes, leaving only a bare skeleton of the game. Then whoever bought that skeleton, GOOD LUCK. Even if you offer to buy the all the codes of Tabula Rasa, even say offer them Planet Earth and Planet Mars (Granted you own these two planets), I highly doubt they will sell the codes ;) Maybe they will, but they will strip out codes that they think are their "trade secrets". That's the keyword: Protecting trade secrets. Especially from potential new competitors who will do anything to reverse engineer any MMO so they will learn how to develop a better one. Simplest explanation: There may be 1,000 ways to achieve the #1,000,000 but there is a better way to achieve it. That formula is proprietary. (Now from hereon, think big exponentially, :p )

Yeah right (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26209881)

From the site:

"You'll need to activate your new account with a credit card number, but don't worry - that's just so we know who you are. We will not charge your card for Tabula Rasa gameplay."

Free my ass. They want a credit card number. Like I'm going to just say "ok, I TRUST you" and hand that over to find they've ripped me off. Screw that.

Re:Yeah right (3, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#26209907)

How stupid are you?

They'd want a credit card back when you were subscribing too. They're just changing the cost to 0$.

Man, no wonder we have so many stupid anon posts.

TR was a creative game, and this is a great way to end things, heck, a free bonus is pretty nice.

Re:Yeah right (3, Insightful)

Nicholas Evans (731773) | more than 5 years ago | (#26211035)

There's a difference between "free" and "free if you give us billing information but trust us we won't dick you". I thought we all learned that in the heyday of AOL free trials?

Re:Yeah right (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#26211133)

eh I honestly suspect it's due to them doing a lazy approach to the billing where all they did to make it free was set the billing $ amount to 0 and leave the rest intact for now. Of course, I could be giving TR way more credit than due and I wouldn't doubt that you may be right. It's been so long I've forgotten about that kind of trash going on.

Re:Yeah right (1)

Psychochild (64124) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231747)

Actually, it's not billing information so much as a verifiable means of identification that they already have access to. When you give a credit card number, the credit card company can verify who you are. This is easier than taking faxes a driver's license, for example, since the company already takes credit cards and has a system in place for verifying credit cards.

Why is this an issue? Because it allows them to ban accounts based on identity. If someone goes in and makes the game unpleasant for others, they can ban the account and make it harder (but not impossible, obviously) for the person to sign up again right away. Even with a "free" game slated to be shut down, you don't want troublemakers causing people to view your service negatively if you can't keep the unruly people from hurting the game for everyone else.

Some thoughts from an online game developer.

Re:Yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26212033)

You're one of those people that puts your credit card into every e-Commerce site you find, aren't you.

Corporations never lie, they are always benev-hang on, Yahoo's stock is crashing. Brb!

Re:Yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26212965)

Do you have the habit of giving your credit card to anyone that swears that they will "just change the cost to 0$" ?

You have some nerve to accuse someone else of being stupid.

Re:Yeah right (2, Insightful)

FrostDust (1009075) | more than 5 years ago | (#26210309)

Way to be paranoid. It's good to be cautious, but NCSoft isn't exactly some obscure outfit with questionable origins.

Re:Yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26212685)

Richard Garriott is involved. Practically the definition of questionable 'Origin'.

Re:Yeah right (4, Informative)

andy9701 (112808) | more than 5 years ago | (#26210369)

While I read that too, I went ahead and set up a free account to see what the game was like. I was never asked for my credit card number - I assumed that they changed the sign up policy since they wrote that page on their support site.

Re:Yeah right (2, Interesting)

Shihar (153932) | more than 5 years ago | (#26210587)

u is so smart. u saw rite thruh there evil skem to carg u money on ur credit card with out asking.

Right.

There are plenty of people not worth tossing your credit card number too for a free activation. Doing it for a Russia snuff porn site? Eh, probably a poor idea. Doing to a multinational company running a handful of other MMORPGs? Probably not all that risky. If they do decide in a blatant act of malevolent glee to empty your bank account like some Nigerian scam, I am pretty sure that the law kicks in.

Re:Yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26217615)

Because companies have NEVER been known to nickel and dime people with small surcharges on things that they didn't agree to.

Because companies have NEVER been known to offer something for "free" then kick in normal charges after a given time due to some tiny print somewhere.

Because companies NEVER lose/leak personal customer data.

Because every single person at the company is completely trustworthy and would never take credit card numbers or illegally profit from anything that didn't belong to them [kotaku.com] .

Because it's so easy and takes up absolutely no time or money to take a company, especially one located in Korea, to court when the law "kicks in".

Simple - generate a one-time number (3, Insightful)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 5 years ago | (#26211419)

Dunno if your bank supports anything like this, but Bank of America has a feature in their web banking system, called ShopSafe, which (if you have a CC account with them) lets you generate a one-time use CC number whenever you want, with a limit you set. For something like this, you could genenerate a number with a limit of like $1 (or whatever the minimum is). Then, you don't really have to worry about getting ripped off by companies.

Re:Yeah right (2, Informative)

PriceIke (751512) | more than 5 years ago | (#26211721)

I picked up a copy of TR from Best Buy the other night cause it was going for fifteen bucks, and I wanted to see the world before it closed down.

I took it home, installed it, registered for an account and started playing. I had to enter the serial code for the game, but I don't remember giving them any credit card information. I was off and playing.

Re:Yeah right (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 5 years ago | (#26216873)

Then I guess they're not going to trust your ass on their servers.

Re:Yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26217347)

LOL, on their servers that won't be up for much longer due to the fact that the game is shit and failed.

Why bother? (1)

saintm (142527) | more than 5 years ago | (#26209943)

Seems a bit pointless really. As an RPG I assume that it is designed to have a long play-time (what with levels or other character development mechanisms).

Why bother to invest time in such a game that'll be gone in a few months time?

Re:Why bother? (4, Insightful)

Psychochild (64124) | more than 5 years ago | (#26210055)

What's the point in playing any game? After reaching the end (or whenever they get tired of it), it's likely a lot of people won't play a single player game after that. Was it time/money wasted? Depends on if you enjoyed it or not. The enjoyment in an online game for some people isn't just having a max level character you can point to and brag about, but if you have fun. I'm playing the game and I'm having fun, even though I might not see the max level. YMMV, of course.

It's a real shame, because I think Tabula Rasa is a fairly interesting game. I'm more of an RPGer than an FPSer, so I like the combat system what puts more emphasis on preparation and strategy rather than twitch action. I think TR's cardinal sin was that they didn't define what they were. They appeared to be an online FPS, but that's not what the game is; so RPGers tended to give it a pass and FPSers were disappointed once they got into it. It didn't help that the development went on way too long and cost too much money to ever hope to turn a profit. It's also kind of sad to see Richard Garriott's career fizzle out on yet one more in a string of mediocre games.

Re:Why bother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26210867)

I actually wanted to try this game out earlier, but they only offered a 3-day trial period. 3 Days just wasn't enough incentive to download some massive file and try out a game I probably won't have much time to look at within 3 days.

Shame too, as the sci-fi genre is underrepresented in MMOs.

Re:Why bother? (1)

saintm (142527) | more than 5 years ago | (#26210969)

MMORPGs are a different kettle of fish to single player games though. Who really would want to invest time into building a character, when it's gonna be lost when the world ends in a couple of months time? The journey may be fun, but if you know that you'll never be able to finish it then it's not half as interesting.

Could just be me of course :)

Re:Why bother? (1)

Retric (704075) | more than 5 years ago | (#26211609)

I played till 30 and then stopped. The game is fun but it becomes fairly repetitive over time so IMO it's worth checking out. For example multi kills in short time periods give more experience so chaining low level mobs is ideal but get's boring. You can solo dungeons and see some some really interesting an storyline even at fairly low levels.

PS: Defending a base with other random people is also interesting. As you level you can start having more impact on the battlefield. At low levels your picking off enemy's from the edge and over time you start getting into the tick of it. But, it's scripted so you will lose at some point, however you then get to take the base back which is also fun.

Re:Why bother? (2, Insightful)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#26212171)

That's an aspect of MMORPGs that I find interesting. Players will often dedicate the same amount of time they put towards any given hobby. But even though they're spending build-a-ship-in-a-bottle time to build up their character(s), they don't get the ship-in-the-bottle at the end. When the server plugs get pulled, everything is gone. Like it never existed. There's an almost tangible loss.

The thing is, this isn't the first intangible hobby. People also dedicate considerable time (and money) to their favorite sport(s). Yet at the end of a game, you're still left with no ship-in-a-bottle for the effort. You do get the experience. And maybe you have some souvenir from the game to try and provide material representation of that experience.

So why is it so different with MMORPGs? An Onyxia t-shirt or pennant doesn't quite do it. And perhaps the reason is that we fool ourselves in to accepting too much of the digital illusion. With a sports game, you know how long its going to last - the game clock is there from the beginning (baseball notwithstanding). With an MMORPG you can believe it will last forever.

It never does.

Re:Why bother? (1)

HoppyChris (1310725) | more than 5 years ago | (#26212185)

It's an MMORPG, of course you're never going to "finish" it! Whenever my friend tells me about what he's up to in WoW I always ask him if he'll have finished the game when he does that. It never gets old.

Re:Why bother? (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#26212585)

Whenever my friend tells me about what he's up to in WoW I always ask him if he'll have finished the game when he does that. It never gets old.

If you ask me that question, I'd respond with "I hope not." But I do realize there are people who just can't handle that idea. They're driven to "win" or finish the game. Yet the nature of this kind of game makes these things highly subjective if not outright impossible.

Re:Why bother? (1)

Laibcoms (1443239) | more than 4 years ago | (#26298087)

IMO the factors were: 1) Many people were expecting the "Richard Garriott" style of gameplay - no virtues on Tabula Rasa, just kill all the aliens! 2) It was RG's "test" game, he wants to try a new game genre. 3) They merged with NCsoft Korea, or rather, they were absorbed. Their concentration on the game got less and less because of NCsoft, their parent company. 4) And as you've said, RPG and/or FPS? 5) They relied heavily on Alpha Tester input, if you are not aware, the TR on the market right now was not the original TR design at all. Personally, I prefer the original - Sci-Fi Fantasy / Science Fantasy genre. The TR we have now is purely Sci-Fi. I bought the Collector's Edition of TR, but I stopped after a couple of 2-digit levels (I can't remember anymore). I highly preferred the original TR. It's "Richard Garriott". This new TR isn't "RG" at all.

Re:Why bother? (1)

Jeek Elemental (976426) | more than 5 years ago | (#26210191)

true, it is very action oriented tho and you can attack/defend control points nearly from the start.
Also its likely the last chance to see this, in my opinion, great game.

Open source it ! (0, Redundant)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#26210205)

if you do that, it will probably be dominating online gaming scene in at most 3 years, with countless servers and communities around the world.

The interview is interesting (1)

sleeponthemic (1253494) | more than 5 years ago | (#26210235)

.. but perhaps it should be made clear that the guy being interviewed has no knowledge at all of what happened to TR (nor does he claim this).

Re:The interview is interesting (1)

HBI (604924) | more than 5 years ago | (#26211535)

Yeah, I wanted my 2 minutes back.

A shame it was only partially developed (1)

rbanzai (596355) | more than 5 years ago | (#26212643)

Tabula Rasa had some good basic ideas but felt like half a game. That was disappointing since there's still no decent sci-fi MMORPG out there. Anarchy Online and Star Wars Galaxies filled that niche for the first couple of years before they each lost their way and I was hoping TR would pick up that mantle.

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