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An Inside Look At Tabula Rasa's Failure

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the ambitious-projects-and-corporate-fud dept.

Games 44

Massively notes a couple of posts from people who worked at NCSoft while Tabula Rasa was in development. Adam Martin says the lengthy, wandering development cycle led management to push it through before it was ready. "Very late, they eventually hit upon a good formula, a good core game," but, "Before they could actually make that game, a difficult decision was taken to push the team to the wall and force an early beta test." Scott Jennings suggests that early warning signs, like the tepid reaction to the beta, were largely ignored. "One of the mantras that went around production discussions after Auto Assault's launch square into the pavement was that if you can't get people to play the beta for free, you have serious, serious issues. Tabula Rasa had those issues. Not as bad as Auto Assault — there were people doggedly playing every night and presumably enjoying themselves, and metrics were duly assembled to measure every movement those testers took. But it was pretty clear, at least from my completely disassociated and busy with my own thing viewpoint, that there wasn't a lot of excitement."

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Tabula Rasa (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26503887)

The question I have for Obama is this: Who is stimulating the economy? Me, the guy who has provided 14 people good paying jobs and serves over 200,000 people per year with a flourishing business? Or, the single fat colored mammy sitting at home pregnant with her fourth child waiting for her next welfare check?

And as far as Tabula Rasa goes, I'm sure B. Hussein Obama doesn't give a rat's ass. For my part, I give Tabula Rasa two thumbs up.

Re:Tabula Rasa (-1, Offtopic)

Surt (22457) | more than 5 years ago | (#26503959)

Statistically, the long run view favors the mother of the four children on welfare producing far more for the economy than your business ever will.

Baloney (4, Insightful)

earnest murderer (888716) | more than 5 years ago | (#26503997)

You don't have to be successful. The wages of the incompetent managers in charge alone outstrip many hard working, gainfully employed people.

Scott's summary really matches with my own experiences in my industry.

Many managers want all of the credit, and will accept none of the blame.

Re:Tabula Rasa (-1, Redundant)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504741)

Please, don't reply to trolls.

Re:Tabula Rasa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26508099)

I'm looking at the crayola website here, but I can't find anything labeled, "fat." Can you give us the html rgb code?

Ya well (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504023)

Only so long you can take. While it is nice to say "We'll just keep working on it till it's done," that isn't realistic. There's two major problems that can result:

1) It costs too much. Publishers have to make money on the games they publish. You can't ask them to just toss money down a black hole. Well if a development team spends a decade working on something with nothing to show for it, all the while collecting their salaries, needing equipment and so on, this puts the publisher in a bad position. They are so far in the hole that even if the game is successful, they may not make back all they spent. So while I can certainly understand why publishers are going to push a release at some point.

2) Duke Nukem Forever syndrome. Here's an example where they are self financing so they CAN do development for many years. The problem is it isn't working. At a certain point, you can't improve you game. Part of the reason is just that with really long cycles focus can get lost and such. However the bigger reason is technical. You are developing for 1995 hardware. It is now 2000, your game is outdated. So you have to redo your art assets, you have to rewrite or buy a new engine and so on. You get stuck on a treadmill of doing the same shit over and over. DNF has gone from Quake to Unreal Engine 1 to Unreal Engine 2 and will have to buy Unreal Engine 3 if they want to release a game today. That's a lot of respent effort (and money).

So I certainly don't condone publishers hurrying releases out the door, but I can understand how after a time they'll say "Enough is enough, we move forward with the launch." You can't ask them to wait forever. Often the end prodcut won't be good, or even get done (see DNF) and even if it is good, it may still not make enough money dur to the costs.

Re:Ya well (5, Funny)

Winckle (870180) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504053)

Are you suggesting Duke Nukem Forever won't ever come out?

You have lost faith my child. Replay LA Meltdown 10 times, and say 5 hail Dukes and you should be fine by the morning.

Re:Ya well (2, Funny)

Adriax (746043) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504121)

It is good to see another keeper of the faith. Duke's next coming will be grand.

Go in carnage, and may you forever be out of bubblegum. Amen.

Re:Ya well (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504653)

There's no such thing as "done" in an MMO. Actually, when it's "done", you should start to get working on the next because you'll probably close this one down within a year or so.

There is such a thing as "not done enough" in an MMO. Sadly, this applies to far too many MMOs that get released. You needn't be "all finished and polished". People are well able and willing to accept a few bugs and some problems. The WoW release wasn't really all smooth and roses either, IIRC of the first 30 days you could play at about 15 or so, provided you didn't happen to live in the "wrong" parts of the planet. But the game was "done enough". The main quest lines worked. The main skills worked. And while balance was an issue, it wasn't broken to the point where one class could solo bosses while others were struggling to survive against trashmobs that barely still gave XP (that was actually the case with TR at release).

The failure of TR can be summed up in one sentence: When you decide to scrap a game when it's near the "almost done" stage and pretty much restart it from scratch, you will produce a failure. At the very least it will be a financial disaster.

When you look at early (pre-2006ish) TR teasers and trailers, you will not recognize the game that TR finally was. The original TR was a fantasy-scifi game, complete with unicorns and bards. They scrapped it almost completely to retool it into a high tech scifi game. Of course management got cold feet when they saw the millions roll downhill with no product on the horizon and pushed for the release. About 3-4 years of development should be enough. Usually they are. Unless of course you decide after about 2 of those years to start over.

Of course this led to a game being released that was about a year from maturity level. TR would be ready for a release now. Now that it's closing down. Try it while it's still around, it's free now. It's pretty much done now too. Quests are working (mostly), skill sets and classes are fairly balanced, overall now the game could be considered "done enough".

Too bad it's about a year too late. Or released a year too early, your pick.

Handhelds: They print money! (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26505189)

You are developing for 1995 hardware. It is now 2000, your game is outdated.

In 1995, the PlayStation was hot droppings. In 2004 through 2008, the Nintendo DS is the big money maker, and it has hardware comparable to that of the PlayStation.

Re:Handhelds: They print money! (2, Insightful)

slackbheep (1420367) | more than 5 years ago | (#26506211)

So... should they have released TR as a mobile app?

Re:Ya well (1)

ixer (1423597) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515571)

And again, like the previous /. stated:

The managers are the dead weight. Most are overpaid pinheads with MBAs on their walls and Atlas Shrugged and The Prince on their book shelf - and the few that are good get marginalized by the incompetent ones, reducing their effectiveness or worse...forcing them out. And since a manager makes 2 - 3 times or great what a developer makes...that's the money drain.

Watchmen movie is a perfect example of 'overeducated' Ayn Randian Fox executives not knowing WTF they are doing...WB is another. Microsoft is a sterling example of a company being run by a moron in need of a hair transplant.

DNF (1)

Mud_Monster (715829) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522651)

Anybody else notice that DNF can also stand for "Did Not Finish?"

Re:DNF (1)

Lord Kestrel (91395) | more than 4 years ago | (#26538035)

Yes, we noticed that 10 years ago.

Worst beta I've ever been in (2, Informative)

Adriax (746043) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504067)

I've been jumping into every MMO beta I could ever since asheron's call, and frankly TR had the worst quality beta and launch I've ever seen.

Dungeons were unfinished. There were some very clear best and worst class tree picks. The control point assaults were terrible, to the point most people just ignored them. Holes in the terrain geometry were scattered everywhere.
It just had a whole game feel of not all there, much like the feeling you got playing starwars galaxies.

Personally I found auto-assault to be a much better game, and I still wasn't surprised when that one tanked.

Re:Worst beta I've ever been in (2, Informative)

necro2607 (771790) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504127)

"I've been jumping into every MMO beta I could ever since asheron's call, and frankly TR had the worst quality beta and launch I've ever seen."

Damn.. did you play Hellgate London beta? I thought it was freaking horrible. I was honestly surprised that the game I was playing, was one that was supposed to be launched/live in like 2 or 3 weeks. Wasn't even slightly surprised when I heard the servers would be getting shut down...

Re:Worst beta I've ever been in (1)

elvesrus (71218) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504363)

It's a shame Mythos was the perpetual beta and not the retail game.

Re:Worst beta I've ever been in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26506561)

I was in Mythos from the closed Alphas and, believe me, with EVERY revision the game got worse, not better.

Dunno about the beta, but the release was worse (4, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504549)

Actually, I haven't been in the beta for either, but the released product... well, it's probably misleading to say that HGL was better, but let's just say that Tabula Rasa was actually genuinely worse. In fact, since the OP mentioned SWG, I'll up the ante and say that NGE SWG was actually more fun than TR. Or more exactly, TR was actually less fun.

And I don't just mean the bugs and unfinished content, that everyone loves to hammer on, because those are _easy_ points to make. The problem is that even if you managed to avoid the bugs, the game just wasn't much fun to play. The design was flawed in a dozen different ways.

The problem was the whole "Tabula Rasa" concept. Lord British actually planned from the start to wipe the slate clean, and reinvent it all from scratch. I.e., work in a vacuum, and ignore a whole decade of proof of what works and what doesn't in a game.

In a way it was a continuation of how Ultima Online invented the graphical MMORPG, and ended up in third place as soon as there were two other competitors.

UO didn't _have_ to invent everything. There were already thousands of text-based MUDs, and whole discussions, correlations and theories (e.g., Bartle's) as to what works and how it works. You could tell from the start why a whole bunch of Lord British's ideas won't work, or won't make players happy, because the exact same had happened a thousand times before on MUDs.

But British basically chose to ignore all that. And to ignore the players complaining about it.

"Tabula Rasa" was basically the same failure mode repeated verbatim one more time. Now I'm all for innovation and trying new things, don't get me wrong. But it's not innovation if you repeat someone else's mistake. And it's not really "new things" just because British refuses to acknowledge the many people who tried the exact same things before.

Re:Dunno about the beta, but the release was worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26504717)

The problem was the whole "Tabula Rasa" concept. Lord British actually planned from the start to wipe the slate clean


Re:Dunno about the beta, but the release was worse (1)

Lightwarrior (73124) | more than 5 years ago | (#26507117)

"UO didn't _have_ to invent everything. There were already thousands of text-based MUDs, and whole discussions, correlations and theories (e.g., Bartle's) as to what works and how it works. You could tell from the start why a whole bunch of Lord British's ideas won't work, or won't make players happy, because the exact same had happened a thousand times before on MUDs."

I'm confused by this; are you saying that UO was rife with ideas that didn't work, or didn't make players happy?

Because 11 years later, it's still alive, and still above the 100k subscriber mark. And regardless of the ravenous hordes that have descended upon the industry, none of them have reached the level of interesting immersion UO has. I challenge you to name one MMO without classes that has player made housing, player made shops, and still a full combat experience.

Re:Dunno about the beta, but the release was worse (2, Interesting)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#26507307)

1. SWG before the NGE? Just because _you_ can't name one, doesn't mean they don't exist, ya know?

2. Also, in the meantime UO did fix a bunch of the stuff that wasn't funny. Most of it after Lord British gave up. So it's a bit misleading to showcase UO _now_ as a testament to Lord British's skills.

3. Well, tastes being a subjective thing, I don't doubt that there is a niche that still likes UO.

But to put things in perspectie:

- 110 times more people currently prefer to pay more for WoW than play UO

- EQ peaked at 5 times that

- SWG was well over 2 times that when Sony decided it needed a NGE to stem the playerbase decline

- TSO was at about 110k players when EA proclaimed it a flop

- ditto for Auto Assault IIRC

- Tabula Rasa was IIRC at about 3/4 that when NCSoft threw in the towel. So, you know, god knows that even with a buggy, unfinished, poorly-designed POS you can land in that kinda ballpark figure

So basically if you happen to be in the minority that actually likes UO, good for you. But the cold hard fact is that those "ravenous hordes" gave _far_ more players what they wanted in a game. For the average mainstream gamer, UO just wasn't that much fun, and while it's been fixed after British, not enough by half.

4. But, anyway, to get back on topic: yes, that's literally what I'm saying. That UO was launched full of piss-poorly thought-out ideas that were known not to work well.

And if you disagree with that, hey, argue with Origin about it. Because if they got fixed later, surely Origin and EA did consider them to be mistakes.

Re:Dunno about the beta, but the release was worse (1)

Lightwarrior (73124) | more than 5 years ago | (#26508467)

1. SWG, even before NGE, was/is an abomination against the gaming gods and should never, ever have been released. For one, it fails the "interesting combat" test. For two, it was just atrocious.

2. I thought UO was great *then*, regardless of what it is now.

3. There wasn't a "minority that actually likes UO." You're mistaking the vastly increased MMO market of now from what it was 11 years ago. ~12 million people didn't try UO and decide they didn't like it.

The "cold hard fact" is that UO was really, really popular at the time. It grew the MMO fanbase, and EQ grew it even more with a generic fantasy world and true 3D graphics.

The fact that it STILL has players is proof enough that it is fun.

4. You're wrong. :) I'm happy to argue with you about that, because you're the one making the incorrect assertions.

Re:Dunno about the beta, but the release was worse (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#26508915)

3. There wasn't a "minority that actually likes UO." You're mistaking the vastly increased MMO market of now from what it was 11 years ago. ~12 million people didn't try UO and decide they didn't like it.

The "cold hard fact" is that UO was really, really popular at the time. It grew the MMO fanbase, and EQ grew it even more with a generic fantasy world and true 3D graphics.

The fact that it STILL has players is proof enough that it is fun.

The actual cold hard fact is that the Earth's population didn't increase 110 times in the last 10 years. Heck, not even in the last century.

There was exactly the same potential market for UO as for WoW or EQ. In fact, higher for UO, because it didn't require as much hardware. But more people preferred the more hardware-intensive EQ.

And yes, there were plenty of people who tried UO and found it crap. The reputation it had was that it was that place where you get ganked as soon as you poke your nose out of town, among other unflattering pieces of reputation. Or that it's the place that's as freaking unbalanced as to have 1 skill that can do everything (magic) and 1 skill (tinkering) that's useless for anything except trapping chests and hoping some newbie opens them. (NPCs never opened them.) You know, for the kind of ganker that doesn't even have the balls for a face to face fight with a newbie. Or that it's the kind of buggy untested place where you can pick up grass tiles, or where people can steal your furniture through the walls. Or where you can max your strength in a couple of hours by just dropping and picking a coin, so there's no sense of achievement in doing it any other way. Etc.

But at any rate, the market size is largely the same. If one MMO has X players and the other 100*X players, the latter simply fit their taste better. It's that simple.

And yes, it was the most popular as long as it was the only game in town. As soon as EQ and AC got launched, and they actually listened to what the players wanted, UO became the least popular of the 3.

4. You're wrong. :) I'm happy to argue with you about that, because you're the one making the incorrect assertions.

Ok, then here's one assertion for you to chew on: British's retarded insistence that everything should be solved by player justice. It's easy to disprove me: name _one_ MUD or MMO where that ever worked. Go on. Argue that one. Just one example where that ever worked.

On the contrary, even the most cursory read of Bartle's paper would have told anyone why that can't work. The kind of player who gets their jollies out of driving someone off the game, doesn't hunt its own kind. They need unwilling and hopefully easily annoyable victims, not other "killers". So the kind of griefer who could form a posse to drive someone off the game, won't form a posse to drive off another griefer.

Also because of how that works: there is nothing you can do to someone's character that will drive him off, if he regards that character as a disposable _tool_ for harassment. Trying to hunt that character down is, in fact, "feeding a troll". He gets some attention from lots of people.

So basically for British's idea to work, he needed some kind of "killers" that actually work and think like "achievers" or maybe "socializers". (By Bartle's classification.) It was predictable that it won't work at all.

That's just one example of the kind of ideas that UO just had to reinvent... badly, instead of looking at what's already known to work.

That's what I'm talking about.

Re:Dunno about the beta, but the release was worse (1)

garylian (870843) | more than 5 years ago | (#26512727)

Ah, someone that truly understands the utter lameness of UO!

You basically summed up my experience with UO. I played it while it was the only game in town, and after a few months, gave up in complete disgust. Some time later, just after the Kunark expansion had been released, I picked up EQ. Ended up playing that for over 5 years, and the wife started to play some 6 months after I started.

I'm constantly amazed at how many people think UO was such a brilliant game. Yes, it fit the bill for a niche audience, but for the vast majority of potential players, it just couldn't gain traction. The constant PK aspect of the game, the botting, the fact that you could train a toon to 6 100 skills in 3 days via a bot, and the fact that large groups would target any non-PK type(s) made for a very anti-social game. The term "griefer" was made famous in UO.

MMOs are largely about their player base. They are social games more than a FPS type game ends up being. UO made being anti-social too easy, with minimal penalties. Ohhh, you can't go into town or the guards will kill you! That's not very harsh when you just create another toon that can deposit stuff in your house for you, or have your PK buddy help you transfer items around with one of their alts meeting you just outside of town.

I think it was the player housing that made everyone so rabid, with folks getting their first piece of online real estate. That was the one thing most EQ players whined about. Yet those damn houses made the countryside a disaster.

UO had one of the greatest potential "name recogniztion" of any MMO ever, after SWG. The Ultima series of games were legendary, especially for those of us lucky enough to play the early ones on the Apple II series of computers. (I-III were brilliant.) If the game had such great mechanics and gameplay, it would have been king for a long time. But with crappy top down fixed graphics and the well documented problems the above poster listed, it was bound to fail.

I'll forever be glad that I got to experience the early Ultimas, and I thank Lord British for those games. But the man got too big for his britches, and too many people still believe his name will garauntee success.

Re:Dunno about the beta, but the release was worse (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#26514163)

Well, that's actually the funny part... Lord British was good at one thing: telling a story. Think about those single player Ultima games that you mentioned, and really that was what made them interesting. The game systems weren't particularly balanced (e.g., magic doing everything with one skill was there before too), and so on. They had the same problems that would plague UO later, but it didn't matter because it was single player.

So he takes basically the engine of U7, removes the story, and makes it an MMO. And proves to be pretty incompetent at handling a multi-player game.

The even funnier thing is: again, he ignored what was already known. He went basically "ooh, we can't have quests in a multi-player game, because once one guy saved the princess, the other thousands of players can't do that any more." And a whole industry was happy to quote and paraphrase that idea.

But the thing is: some MUDs already had quests, particularly LPMUDs. (E.g., DW MUD comes to mind.) And more than proved that humans can bend their mind around that. People quite easily can go "yay, I saved the princess" just as she's respawned at the balcony again and the next player in a 20 player line takes his turn at saving her. Or people can queue up to give a guy his long lost heirloom, as 20 other players queue up to give him the same heirloom, and another 20 are there to be given the quest to retrieve that heirloom.

Heck, I've been on _DIKU_ MUDs which had basic "go there, kill npc X, bring me his head" or "go kill 50 smurfs" quests. Especially in a world where whole zones were just hunting-grounds respawning on turbo (e.g., the cemeteries spawned endless zombies"), it would have been trivial to have some "go kill 15 skeletons", "go into the crypt and kill 15 zombies" and "go in the caves below the crypt and kill the lich" quest arcs. I mean, those guys respawned anyway and nobody wondered "why are they there if I just killed them?" Adding a quest to it wouldn't have made any difference to suspension of disbelief.

I'm not saying that just in retrospect after other MMOs proved it (you know, Columbus's egg and all that), but because it was already proven on MUDs. It just took MMOs many years to reinvent that.

So to get back on topic, UO could have had quests and a story, and thus could have actually made good use of Lord British's main strength as a designer. By ignoring everyone else, he shot himself in the foot IMHO.

Fuck UO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26537751)

I had a UO character. It was my first MMO. I somehow lucked out and found some insane spear "of Vanquishing" with other mods on it as icing on the cake. Then one night I lost connection while minding my own biz hunting ophidians in T2A. I logged back in to find out I was ghost and I had been killed and my corpse looted and sodomized while offline. I never logged in again. To this day I don't play non-consensual open PvP games, because I'm not a masochist. I DO NOT agree to be subject to random reversal of my progress, in ANY game, for any reason.

Re:Worst beta I've ever been in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26504629)

Anarchy Online was far worse than TR

Re:Worst beta I've ever been in (2, Insightful)

fat bastard of doom (1187649) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504813)

Anarchy Online is still going, Tabula Rasa is dead. I beg to differ that Anarchy Online is worse. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Of course, Anarchy Online looks quite a bit dated, but then again, there are a few things more important than graphics. Like beer. And hookers. And cocaine.

Re:Worst beta I've ever been in (4, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504927)

TR beta was no beta. It was one by name, but I've been in a few late-alpha / early-beta tests that had better stability and fewer killer bugs. TR beta was a nightmare. Suddenly you were ... somewhere. Shortly thereafter, you were at your Desktop. Logging in put you back to ... somewhere, only without a way to get out. Quests were simply and plainly broken, most had to be done to the letter if you wanted to have any chance to finish them, and even then it was often a matter of luck whether the right triggers fired at the right time of you were stuck with a permanently failed quest, which actually got worse through the levels, post level 40 quests seemed to be completely untested. Some skills simply didn't work at all. Others didn't work as intended. Skill progression was a joke, some things that worked great on early levels left you stranded as soon as you progressed, simply because damage did not progress. Ammo cost was insane for rapidly firing guns, limiting your choice pretty much to using a shotgun.

And that's only what I can remember without even investing a minute to think about it. And no, we're not talking about early beta or anything. This is the state the game was in right before release, and even well into its live stage. Hell, they redid the skills until well into the second half of 2008. And I don't mean skill tweaking. I mean ripping out whole skills and replacing them with something completely different.

Does this sound like a game that's live? That doesn't even sound like public beta.

Re:Worst beta I've ever been in (1)

Salgak1 (20136) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515235)

And then. . . there was Hellgate:London.

The mother of all beta-to-live failures. I should know, I was an alpha and beta tester. Flagship had roughly half the game done when they released. As a result, everything that WASN'T in the beta (the entire last two acts) was a cut-and-paste of the first three acts with some of the details randomised and the difficulty turned up.

The storyline was there, but that was about it. But what killed Hellgate was the truly horrendous launch: massive billing problems (people were billed mulitple times) followed by some of the worst customer service in recent memory (example: they billed you **5** times for your subscription, so you cancel the account to stop the fiscal bleeding. . .Flagship's INITIAL response was to close your account immediately, even though you were billed for 5 months at that point.) THEN they denied problems existed.

To add the cherry on the top of their sundae of pain, they ran Halloween and Guy Fawkes Day events with bugged items that could not be deleted, with limited space per player. There is a REASON "Flagshipped [] " has become a verb []

Compared to Hellgate, TR ran SMOOOTH. . . .

Sounds a bit like sour grapes (2, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504709)

Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty sure the writer has his valid points, but some parts really read like he blames NCs focus on TR on the failure of his project. Maybe rightfully so (when you have a tenth of the budget and manpower of another project but are expected to outperform it, you are prone to fail), but it sure sounds like it.

Re:Sounds a bit like sour grapes (1)

GearheadX (414240) | more than 5 years ago | (#26505421)

It's a pretty legitimate gripe to have, especially once management regresses to screaming and throwing poo following the flaming death of a 'sweetheart' game they'd thrown a lot of money into.

I blame Garriott (3, Interesting)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 5 years ago | (#26505439)

If he had any creative control over this game then he clearly did not comprehend why Ultima Online was successful. If he did know why it had been successful, but chose to go another direction, then he is a moron. He failed at making "WoW with guns," which is the only thing I can derive from the essence of TR.

Just so I don't sound like a whiner, I will toss in some info. What made Ultima Online successful? It was not your run of the mill RPG. It had near total character freedom. You could be a warrior one day, mage the next. Your characters were not stuck in some Arch-type mold, but rather could be any combination of the many (I think 40+) skills available in the game. Naturally some skills worked better together than others, but still there was a lot of freedom. You wish to be a Mage Blacksmith? Be my guest! A Warrior Tamer? Ok, it's up to you. An Archer Bard? Sure! FREEDOM

Furthermore, there were no levels. You character didn't magically "ding" and he was higher level. Instead he gained skills through using them. This kind of progression was really great. Of course one had to learn, usually through trail and failure, what monsters they can and cannot kill with their current skill level. But that was fun of the game. Hell when I started the game and picked rather confusing ensemble of skills. I quickly found myself crying out for help, because I was losing a battle against a small bird while using a dagger. The game was just awesome.

Now why did TR fail at being a "WoW with Guns?" Lot's of reasons. For one thing if you try to copy WoW, you should have at least 2 factions. Not the numb Humans vs the NPC alien invaders. That gets boring real fast. There should be at least 2 factions of players. I can only assume that money was the reason they did not go this route.

Money seemed like the source of a lot of the problems. Why the map was so small? Well at least it felt small, small as hell. Maybe it wasn't, but the instant-warp points made it feel small? I can't tell.

The game had very little choice when it came to your character, this was a huge failure. Maybe they thought that giving the player few choices would be more casual-friendly. But whatever the group-think, it was wrong. On top of that, none of the classes were well balanced. Most classes were useless. And as another posted points out, shotgun was really your only option.

Worst failure of all, total lack of player interaction! There was no PvP, no economy, and no reason to adventure together. The game was basically single player game, where you could chat to other people playing the same single player game.

All it's faults came together in making TR probably the most boring game I ever played.

Re:I blame Garriott (1)

KermodeBear (738243) | more than 5 years ago | (#26506531)

What made Ultima Online successful? It was not your run of the mill RPG. It had near total character freedom. You could be a warrior one day, mage the next.

This is one of the reasons I enjoy Eve Online [] . Any character can, in time, learn to do anything in the game. You're not stuck in a certain linear path of progression. I have been playing this game for a year and a half so far, and there are still tons of things that I haven't done. This, after vowing never to pay a monthly fee to play a game. (o;

Problems with Auto Assault (2, Informative)

Flentil (765056) | more than 5 years ago | (#26505549)

I was in the Auto Assault beta test. It was a fun game but it's problems were many, starting with the beta system itself. They only had the servers up for a few hours at a time, a couple days a week. Something like 6pm-11pm on tuesdays and thursdays. I had a hard time matching my schedule with theirs, so didn't get to play much. When I did I was frustrated by way the game handled vehicle upgrades. Killing things in the field caused many many items to drop and almost all of them were useless, either outright useless, or useless because it's something that too high level or too low level for my car. Even if I found something that was in my level range and would fit on my car, I couldn't install it without having high levels of crafter skill. So I spent a good deal of the little time I was in there sorting through useless crap in my inventory and selling it to a junk vendor. I also didn't like the disconnect between player characters and cars. You were either outside playing a car, or inside a walled no-combat possible city playing a buffed out avatar wandering around looking for quest NPCs with exclamation points over their heads. There was also no good reason to group up with other players. Still, once you got out in the wasteland with your vehicle it was fun to explore and shoot things. They got that part right pretty much. It was everything else that was wrong.

Re:Problems with Auto Assault (1)

aafiske (243836) | more than 5 years ago | (#26519857)

I always thought it would've made a great single-player game. The car-in-wasteland gameplay and engine was pretty cool and fun. But as a mmo it just sort of became same-y real fast.

Didn't even know that TR existed (2, Interesting)

roguegramma (982660) | more than 5 years ago | (#26505571)

I didn't even know that TR existed before I read the news that it was about to close.

I think that is a marketing error. Or maybe they never did trust their own game.

Re:Didn't even know that TR existed (1)

mr_gorkajuice (1347383) | more than 5 years ago | (#26514245)

I suspect you've probably been living in a cave. I couldn't avoid hearing about TR, till like, right after it launched.

Still a fun game.. (1)

Laurie Therrien (1455293) | more than 5 years ago | (#26506099)

It's True that the TR beta wasn't very good and the game had bugs, BUT there was always a way to report the bugs and the developers were pretty fast to fix bugs. I will really miss TR. I haven't found a game to replace it yet. Any suggestions?

it is a great game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26511111)

I have to admit I wasn't impressed by Tabula Rasa when I heard about it and saw videos of it. I never played the beta, or purchased the game.

Recently, though, I decided to take advantage of their free play that lasts until the game is shut down this February. And, I have to say that this is a really good game.

You essentially run around killing aliens with modern weaponry in an MMO setting. I like how you have to aim at enemies in order to actually hit them, unlike most MMO where you just click and sit back as the computer takes over the auto-fight.

There are concepts here like the ability to take and hold forts against the NPCs. The only other game that had something like this was Lineage 2 where you could take castles. But, Tabula Rasa made it seem much more real and intense. You look forward to trying to hold the city against the incoming tide of enemy forces. With little breathing room between invasions to repair your armor, weapons, buy more ammo and medical injections.

The whole concept of injecting thoughts from extraterrestrial kiosks into your brain is exciting, though I wish they would have used it for more than some basic force powers.

I really liked how aliens are dropped off by dropships, to explain their arrival instead of just magically appearing as they do in most MMO.

Another innovation is, this is the first MMO where you can hide behind walls, buildings, rubble, trees, a hilly slope in the ground, etc. to avoid getting hit by enemy fire. Everyone, player and non-player, requires line of sight to hit their enemy target. They make use of object occlusion here, and they do it well. It really made the combat more intense and enjoyable.

To summarize, I feel like this game should be making money, I don't see any reason for it not to. Any flaws it has are superficial and other more successful games lack its innovations and have more flaws. I'm baffled as to why it is failing.

Re:it is a great game (1)

wildstoo (835450) | more than 5 years ago | (#26514499)

I started playing a couple months before its closure was announced. My experiences pretty much mirror yours.

Combat - there's simply nothing else like it in the MMO genre. It's as close to real-time combat as you're going to see. Cover, aiming, crouching to increase accuracy and damage. No other MMO comes close.

The fact that you can solo most of the instances is a big win, imho. Rather than making it a single player game with a chatroom as others said, it removes the need to find someone else to run the instances with, which is sometimes a challenge in a game with such a low player population.

I'm actually surprised they're canning the game entirely. Most MMOs survive longer even with just one or two servers and a skeleton crew of staff and devs.

I'm _guessing_ that TR, thanks to its combat system and constant NPC-vs-NPC-vs-Player battles, probably has a heavy power and bandwidth requirement compared to other MMOs, contributing to high running costs. I could be totally wrong about that.

As others have said, TR only really reached release quality a few months ago. It's sad to see it go at this stage. It's by no means a bad game now. In fact, it's one of the better MMOs out there at the moment, and certainly a unique one. Given more time and money I think the developers could and would have done so much more with it.

Farewell, Tabula Rasa. We hardly knew ye.

A bad sign... (1)

sabt-pestnu (967671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522295)

When I heard that TR was closing up shop and setting the servers on "free play" until they shut them down, I thought I'd go look at the official web page.

Now, I may just be a spelling Nazi, but... I really think that having a web site up for a year is plenty long enough to go through it with a spellchecker and take out the obvious spelling errors. I ran into more than a few, looking at class descriptions.

And for those knee-jerk, "Y do U care? Spellang ain't important! ur a noob!" people, I'll point out once again that when a text interface is how you communicate with someone, spelling is how you put yourself across. Ignore it at your peril.

Re:A bad sign... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26568661)

I'll thrown in another bad sign for ya: I first heard about TR because I subscribe to another NC Soft MMO, City of Heroes / Villains (which is awesome, old as it is, by the way). I always thought "I might like to try that some day, when they get the bugs worked out," but I never actually did so. Once I heard that it was being released free for two months before shutdown, I decided to go take a look, just for the heck of it. I went to the official web page, which made it's free-play future sound like it actually WAS a future (not a swan's song), went to the news item about free play, clicked the link to "create a TR account for free play" or however it was labeled, filled out the online form, and found I'd registered myself for. . . their knowledge base? WTF? I went back, combed the whole web page, found that the news item I initially saw was the only mention of how to register, followed the link again, and found myself staring at the same registration page. I looked all over and couldn't find anything that said "click here to request a free TR CD key," or anything to that effect. I even logged into my NC Soft account page to see if there was a way to "Add TR" or something like that, but no dice. I guess we were supposed to submit a "help ticket" to customer service from the knowledge base account that just said, "Free CD key plskthnxbye?" I dunno, but I felt so stupid having even gone that far and found nothing that I gave up in disgust. Would it have killed them to have their web dev take five minutes to make a "click here for game key" page, especially for those of us who already have NC Soft accounts for other games? I guess I never will see TR after all.

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