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Tabula Rasa Goes Live

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the he-was-promoted dept.

Role Playing (Games) 64

After a lengthy wait and a substantial retooling, Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa has gone live. The New York Times is running a piece looking into the history of Garriott's interaction with MMOGs, while Wired had a chance to speak with the 'General' getting a better sense of what the game is about. "'It takes 30 minutes to an hour just to meet up with your friends to start playing' in most MMOs, says Richard Garriott, the new game's executive producer. In contrast, Tabula Rasa, a PC game that will be released Nov. 2, was designed to appeal to the average Joe who's probably not interested in learning what "gold farming" or "damage over time" means and just wants to amuse himself by saving the universe. It's a calculated shift designed to move beyond the hard-core gaming crowd and court the mainstream audience that has made Nintendo's Wii such a surprise success. And it isn't particularly remarkable, except that Garriott is the man largely responsible for inventing the MMO model in the first place. "

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Richard Garriot, The Lord British (1)

sw155kn1f3 (600118) | more than 6 years ago | (#21212017)

I have huge respect and appreciation for this guy. Perhaps for guys who are around 30 as me, UO is the first and only MMORPG played. Everything other is just "not there".
Unfortunately I have grown out of MMORPGs and have better things to do with my time and life. Still I remember how much fun it was and I certainly miss that fun. If the guy manages to spark my obsession for defending virtues and building my character/interacting with other ppl again, I'll be very glad. We'll see.
Glad to hear that Richard Garriot is back to MMORPG production again. Certainly this benefits all.
Keep up with good work, Lord British!

Re:Richard Garriot, The Lord British (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21212059)

So which phrase do you use more often each day? "Get off my lawn!" or "MATLOCK!"

Re:Richard Garriot, The Lord British (1)

sw155kn1f3 (600118) | more than 6 years ago | (#21212139)

How interesting: according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_garriot [wikipedia.org]
He's now General British in Tabula Rasa. Also he's going to fly to ISS as space tourist very soon. Pretty exciting stuff.

Re:Richard Garriot, The Lord British (3, Funny)

loafula (1080631) | more than 6 years ago | (#21212773)

Ahh the days... I used to hide outside of Moonglow and plant tinker trapped boxes to blow up curious passers-by. Then I would plant tinker traps in their backpacks and watch as the would-be looters met the same fate. Then I'd just loot everyone myself. Those were the days.

Re:Richard Garriot, The Lord British (1)

Boronx (228853) | more than 6 years ago | (#21214159)

The stories that came out of UO are still by far the most interesting of any MMORPG

Re:Richard Garriot, The Lord British (1)

sg_oneill (159032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21232931)

I dunno man. I think EVE's stories are pretty amazing sometimes, just for the sheer scope of 2000 players spontaneously deciding to kill 2000 other players all kitten piling each other and melting the server. Add that your *allowed* to scam cheat spy and generally be a space dufas, it makes for some amazing stories. Especially the scams but also the huge battles that flare up once in a blue moon.

Current state of game: the 15000+ players of the RSF currently have the 10,000+ players of the GBC cornered into a cluster of constelations in the siege that may well end the largest player initiated war in MMORPG history

But yeah. UO had some fairly nutty stuff too.

W00t! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21212079)

1st Post

Re:W00t! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21212655)

I'm not sure which is more pathetic, that you posted a "FRIST POST!!!!!1111!!!42!!!!!eleventy-one!!!!!" message, or that you weren't first by 3 minutes.

Oh, wait, I'm replying to the pathetic moron, so that makes me...

Try before buy (1)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 6 years ago | (#21212085)

I don't doubt some people will absolutely love the game for its different atmosphere than other MMORPG's

however, after playing it I can say it play EXACTLY like other MMORPGs. You still grind, you still pick up weapons and money from monsters who must have eaten another person to have gotten them (unless monsters have some kind of secret monetary and trade system exactly like the player does). Oh, and there's really no point in trying to use your FPS skills for trying to get head shots or jumping around to make yourself harder to hit: its all stats based anyway.

Re:Try before buy (1)

Huntr (951770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21212183)

How is the grinding compared to WoW? That's the only other MMORPG I've played and, although I played it for a pretty long time, eventually the ceaseless repetitive grinding for every-damn-thing is what drove me away.

Wish there was a demo of this game, like WoW's 10 day trial period. I'd give that a shot.

Re:Try before buy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21212255)

Wish there was a demo of this game, like WoW's 10 day trial period. I'd give that a shot.
Have you been hiding under a rock? They were pushing late beta keys pretty hard to everyone on pretty much every site you could imagine.

Re:Try before buy (1)

Huntr (951770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21212367)

Have you been hiding under a rock? They were pushing late beta keys pretty hard to everyone on pretty much every site you could imagine.

Yup. Although I had heard the name of the game a few times over the last few months, I never had any interest in getting back into an MMO. I read today that it was released, so I did some reading on it in just the last hour or so.

So, yes, relative to this game, I have been living under a rock.

Re:Try before buy (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21212573)

Then I've apparently been living under a rock, too, despite surfing GameSpot, GameFAQs, Joystiq, and other sites. Somehow, I don't think so. They weren't on 'every site you can imagine'.

If they release a trial period for this, I'll likely try it. Until then, I'll let people get over the initial rush and see what they really think.

Re:Try before buy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21212709)

Then I've apparently been living under a rock, too, despite surfing GameSpot, GameFAQs, Joystiq, and other sites. Somehow, I don't think so.
Don't know about all of those but Gamespot [gamespot.com] had beta keys. As did Gamershell, Eurogamer, Fileplanet (with and without subscription) and a few more that escape me now. And these were announced on a few news sites too.

I'd expect they'll release a trial once the things have settled down after the live release.

Re:Try before buy (1)

Fozzyuw (950608) | more than 6 years ago | (#21212725)

How is the grinding compared to WoW?

I beta tested it for a while, gave some input and found a bug or two (or so I thought). It's pretty much similar to WoW. You grab a bunch of quests and then step outside of the camp and kill some stuff, collect some stuff, and return to camp to cash in.

All in all, I didn't find it particularly engaging, but that was earlier in the beta. Things probably have improved since since then. Also, I think that MMO's are just out of favor with me, so it might be better than I state.

Cheers,
Fozzy

Re:Try before buy (1)

Alexpkeaton1010 (1101915) | more than 6 years ago | (#21213007)

Meh, WoW is still alot better. I was in Beta, tried it for an hour or so, it did nothing for me. I play a rogue and druid in WoW, and to me this game seems slower than WoW, even though this game is an "FPS" (I use FPS loosely since everything is stats based and there is no l33t pwning skillz in this game). And to top it off, this game has no meaningful PvP. An "FPS" with no meaningful pvp? Not for me thank you. Wait for Warhammer and maybe Conan. They are the only 2 games coming out in 2008 that in any way can be compared to WoW.

Re:Try before buy (1)

Homr Zodyssey (905161) | more than 6 years ago | (#21213571)

I played the beta for a week or so. I didn't like the UI. I found it harder to read and interact with the text. My system was on the low end of the hardware requirements. My Radeon 9600 could barely handle it, and it looked like poopie. If I cranked up the graphics it looked quite nice, but my framerate was so low, I couldn't play it.

As the other posters have said, the "FPS" aspects of it are all smoke & mirrors. However, these are fairly high-quality smoke & mirrors. I did feel a little more urgency / adrenaline when fighting than I do in WoW.

Its actually more comparable to City of Heroes -- which makes sense, because thats NCSoft as well.

Re:Try before buy (2, Informative)

arkanes (521690) | more than 6 years ago | (#21213297)

If this is what turned you off of WoW, you might want to remember that WoW was revolutionary for how little grinding it required, especially for leveling, compared to previous MMOs.

Re:Try before buy (1)

spyder913 (448266) | more than 6 years ago | (#21214727)

They have added so much more grind to WoW since launch that 'lack of grind' can no longer be used as a description for the game.

Re:Try before buy (1)

usrusr (654450) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215019)

that only proves that it's another blizzard game that does not really start before you have hit the level cap through much grinding.

Re:Try before buy (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215271)

that only proves that it's another blizzard game that does not really start before you have hit the level cap through much grinding.

Uh... I'll bite, other than WoW, which Blizzard game(s) would that be true for?

Warcraft? No levels there except sort of with heroes in III, and not the case.

Starcraft? Nope.

Diablo? Nope. Hell, once you got at/close to max level there was basically nothing else to do unless you wanted to continually farm phat loots.

The Lost Vikings? Come on, help me out here!

Re:Try before buy (2, Funny)

Minwee (522556) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215445)

Obviously that would be all of the _other_ games made by Blizzard.

You know, Ultima Online, Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot, Asheron's Call, Anarchy Online, Horizons, City of Heroes, Star Wars Galaxies...

After this I think I'm going to go out for a pizza at Taco Bell.

Re:Try before buy (1)

usrusr (654450) | more than 6 years ago | (#21236059)

I was talking specifically about diablo 2 online.

haven't been active there myself but i know a few of those d2 onliners, you know, those who played diablo 2 until wow came out. "does not really start before reaching level cap" was pretty much the impression i got from hearing them talk about d2 (like, whenever they were out in that cold, mean physical world).

Re:Try before buy (1)

srmalloy (263556) | more than 6 years ago | (#21213583)

Having played in the beta and, for the moment, still wavering on whether I want to buy the full game, one of the things that grinds constantly at immersion is the fact that you have to buy all your ammunition. The premise of the game is that Earth has been overrun by aliens, and you are one of the few people chosen to be taken to this new world, where you are drafted to be a soldier fighting the aliens to establish a new home for humanity... but even though you're a soldier, you're not issued ammunition; you have to buy it. Now, I could understand having to buy the better grades of ammunition if you use upgraded or specialized weapons, but paying for your basic load made me feel like a mercenary, not a soldier.

Re:Try before buy (1)

usrusr (654450) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215111)

If you want to fight for capitalism, you have to fight under the rules of capitalism. Defending humanity is only a random side effect of defending The System.

Or so you could read it ;). In reality it's obviously just a weak attempt of distracting from the fact that the game is not counterstrike.

Re:Try before buy (2, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215005)

How is the grinding compared to WoW? That's the only other MMORPG I've played and, although I played it for a pretty long time, eventually the ceaseless repetitive grinding for every-damn-thing is what drove me away.

Every MMORPG is always going to have grinding. It's like the labyrinths in old adventure games: there to make the game longer.

Take a typical JRPG game, one which takes around 100 hours to play through if you aren't in any particular hurry. Play two hours a day, and it takes 50 days, or two months with occasional day out, to exhaust the content. Now, how long did the game take to make ? I'd imagine it took more than two months.

So what does that have to do with MMORPG's ? Well, it means that content takes time to make. In order to have people stick around while you're making the next expansion, you need to give them something to play; and since the new content is not finished yet, the only thing available is the old content. Thus the players are made to play the same quests through again and again, in other words, grind; not because of either malice or stupidity of gaming companies, but simply because it is impossible to create new quests at the same rate as the average player can play through the old ones.

For this reason grinding will likely always be an important part of MMORPG genre. The other possibility is a simulation type environment where new situations are created by the gameworld mechanics and player interaction, but that also gives the game makers less control, and is therefore risky.

Re:Try before buy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21356575)

Wish there was a demo of this game, like WoW's 10 day trial period. I'd give that a shot.
If you're still interested, and you know someone who's in, you can now get a three day trial from them:
http://eu.rgtr.com/en/news/news_article/recruit_a_rookie [rgtr.com]

Re:Try before buy (5, Informative)

MrDoh! (71235) | more than 6 years ago | (#21212353)

Played the beta, played the 3 day head start, and got to say, I'm enjoying it so far.
Compared to existing MMO's, this is /really/ quick to get into.
My main game is EQ, and it's true, can spend hours getting things sorted, farming to prepare for playing 'for real'. This is 'log in, select character, go'. Never stop killing stuff, the grind for xp is very well hidden away.
Graphics look great, sound is good enough to make me want to keep it on and not turn it off instantly like most mmo's.
Now, it /does/ feel like it's a single player game sometimes that other people just happen to also be in running around, but that's probably why it's quick to get into, there's alot you can do without a group.
I tried City of Heroes for a bit, that knocked me out for presentation, ease of use, but had little to keep me interested after early teens. I was worried at first in TR as I had that same feeling of 'this is fun, quick to play, great!' and worried that I'd hit the wall of grind/repetitiveness any second, but so far, so good. Plenty of missions/scenery to look at, and the lore of the portals between worlds offers them the chance to spice it up a bit. Seeing big Bots walking around with Chain guns for arms is also giving me incentive to hope that I'll get to drive one soon.

So, yeah, give it a bash, we'll see how it lasts at the mid-high game, but so far, it's had a pretty good start.

Just the memory leaks/crashes after a few hours of play that's the downer atm, sure to be patched soon, but considering some MMO releases (even after 8years), it seems a highly tuned and working game.
Most of all,
Fun!

Re:Try before buy (2, Interesting)

srmalloy (263556) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215843)

I have to admit that I got a chuckle every time I entered Foreas Base (IIRC) and listened to the M*A*S*H-like PA announcements. And the skill tree and Logos components that need to be acquired in particular combinations for the various abilities are an interesting goad to get players to go out and explore the world, rather than just camp a particular resource. However, since everyone has access to the same Logos abilities within the limits of their specializations, with armor and weapon skills tied to the specializations, and only the basic models of each weapon and armor available from the quartermasters, with better gear acquired from drops or crafted, it makes Tabula Rasa just another loot-based game, although the variability with which the different mobs drop items that are used in recipes, it will limit the type of spawn camping that I read about in WoW. And the constant minor upkeep costs of keeping your gear repaired on top of having to buy (or craft, but I never got enough recipes for ammo to be able to craft all the ammo I went through) all your ammunition.

And while being able to make 'paint' to color your outfit, all armor of a given type has the same appearance and paints the same parts of it, so despite the individual color choices, everyone still looks pretty much the same in the same armor, and having to buy the components and craft the 'paint' can leave you with the option of wearing the better leg armor that you just got in a drop, and have it be a generic color because you're out of the color your old leg armor was painted, or keep wearing the old armor until you get a recipe to make the color you want and either get drops for the right pigments or buy them from a quartermaster. I guess I'm just spoiled by the variation and flexibility of the City of Heroes/Villains character designer,

Re:Try before buy (1)

MisterOblivious (948127) | more than 6 years ago | (#21220175)

I just want to jump in to say that while it's a bummer when you run out of your custom paint and pick up a new piece, it's not the end of the world. The standard armor paint can that you start out with has a number of colors that are close enough to the custom colors to "get by" until you can find the matching drop again. You can also buy these standard colors at 1 credit a piece so there's no need to ever go completely generic or utterly mismatched. Thankfully, all the drops seem to be coming in a neutral gray color now rather than the seemingly random colors during beta. I too am spoiled by CoX's excellent character designer!

Another reason Star Wars Galaxies was great (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21212751)

Animals did NOT carry either money OR items. Except rancors, they had the odd piece of equipment. That was clearly there because, well they had eaten whatever was wearing it at the time :)

Ah SWG's, nice idea, lousy execution.

Tabula Rasa? An average Joe game? But I am not an average Joe, oh well next game please.

Players who do not want to learn the meaning of gold farming. Well, that surely is up to the support staff to keep gold farmers out isn't it? Has this game got some magic defence against them? Else players will learn soon enough what gold farming means.

As for damage per second, the moment the game has a boss that doesn't drop with a single shot, players will know the meaning of that too. They realize it the moment they note that with character A it takes 30 seconds of shooting and with B it takes four and half ours (that is my captain from lotro speaking).

Don't get me wrong, I think there is room for a different MMO, but I also heard it all before. DELIVER! So far I heard nobody who just played the game claim it was any better then everything else. And no, being sci-fi ain't enough for me. I frankly don't give a hoot about the setting. GAMEPLAY! Give me more, give me better and give me stuff to do. Frankly give me back SWG. Pre doc-buff.

Re:Another reason Star Wars Galaxies was great (1)

NeMon'ess (160583) | more than 6 years ago | (#21216323)

So you're saying SWG pre doc-buff wasn't just a ton of grinding?

Star Wars Galaxies was the opposite of great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21240465)

Waaaah?! There was nothing to do in SWG... what are you talking about. Now there was a game where you had absolutely no incentive to go out and kill things, because it's pre-guaranteed that they won't drop anything even remotely useful, valuable, or interesting. Why quest? Why travel? "Players will create the content" - haha, what lazy assholes designed that? Don't know what it is now, but at launch their loot system was 100% vendor junk (designed that way because of crafting, but HELL THAT'S FUCKING BORING).

Re:Try before buy (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215607)

Wake me up when MMORPGs are more about "finding the perfect character template" and aren't just a bunch of linear single player stories conducted online side by side with other players and I can have a real impact on the world around me and the society and story in general.

Until then, I'll leave MMORPGs back in the dust where I left them so the house-fraus and Ritalin kids can continue spazzing over them.

Re:Try before buy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21215691)

correction: "when MMORPGs are more than just about".

Is the name more about the plot or the design? (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 6 years ago | (#21212103)

It seems kind of like an ego-boosting maneuver for the designers. "We started fresh and rethought the whole idea of MMO. Yay us, let's call the game 'Blank Slate', err... um, 'Tabula Rasa' (it sounds so much cooler!)".

Sure, the characters have fled Earth and had to set up bases elsewhere, but lots of names could fit that backstory ("Starship Troopers", "Alpha Centauri", "Titan AE", and "Earth 2" come to mind immediately).

Otherwise, it seems kind of cool. I wonder if people looking for casual games really will enjoy the cooperative, team-building, getting-to-know-you aspects of an MMO though. Part of what separates MMO players from casual gamers is the sense of obligation to play and temporal continuity of the game world. I have many times declined to start playing one or another MMO game particularly to avoid those entanglements.

Tried the beta (2, Funny)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 6 years ago | (#21212131)

Hated it when it was called NGE

Interesting review (4, Funny)

racerx509 (204322) | more than 6 years ago | (#21212315)

The escapist reviewed a pre-test beta for the game a few weeks back. Yahtzee had some "interesting" things to say about it....
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/editorials/zeropunctuation/2326-Zero-Punctuation-Tabula-Rasa [escapistmagazine.com]

Re:Interesting review (2, Insightful)

illumin8 (148082) | more than 6 years ago | (#21213587)

The escapist reviewed a pre-test beta for the game a few weeks back. Yahtzee had some "interesting" things to say about it....
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/editorials/zeropunctuation/2326-Zero-Punctuation-Tabula-Rasa [escapistmagazine.com]
Absolutely favorite review ever! I was in the beta and he really is spot on about his arguments. Richard Garriot gave so much hype about this game not having the typical MMO grind, but yet when you play it, you find that one of the first quests is "go kill boards and collect their hides..." WTF? That is like every single MMO ever invented.

I'm sorry but this game fails. If you want a fun hybrid MMO/Shooter, try Hellgate London. Now that game is a lot of fun and hella addictive. Sure, every RPG/MMO/whatever has stupid quests, but Hellgate London is so much fun that you won't really care. It's like Diablo (made by some of the same people) where the quests don't matter so much, it's more the hack-n-slash (or point-and-click) fun of killing hundreds of mobs.

The changed the game significantly from BETA (2, Informative)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21212631)

From BETA to live and most of the game changed.

Besides the obvious "all this crap is broken" cries...

they made grouping almost a must for many activities. Instances? All mobs are "elite" now... and you better hope you can actually do the quest provided you can find people - many needed drops are not there.

Most landscape mobs had their difficulty moved up significantly. Basically, what people were enjoying in BETA for difficulty level and need to group isn't there anymore.

Error or on purpose? Who knows, but I know a lot of pissed of TR fans... some rapidy approaching "former"

Re:The changed the game significantly from BETA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21219335)

Dude you forgot to checkmark the "EASY" button. Its under options.

Stargate Atlantis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21212841)

Dang. I thought we were talking about tonight's episode.

(Also called Tabula Rasa).

Just What I needed! (3, Informative)

JeremyGNJ (1102465) | more than 6 years ago | (#21213059)

I'm a pretty hardcore Richard Garriot fan. I have always played his games, from back with Ultima 4, and I played Ultima Online for the first SEVEN years.

That being said I was worried about this game. For as much as I knew almost anything he makes is very good quality (almost!), I am now in my 30's and am married with a child. I was pretty sure I wouldnt be able to ever play an MMO again without risking divorce.

The pleasant surprise is that Tabula Rasa is NOT like other MMO's. It has most of the same game mechanics and "objectives" as other MMO's, but the big difference is that you actually CAN jump in and play for 30-60 minutes and get something accomplished (and have fun at the same time!).

This fits into my schedule. This is just what i needed in an MMO.

Re:Just What I needed! (1)

random256 (676708) | more than 6 years ago | (#21214175)

Seriously, are you a shill? This game is just warcraft with more guns and more grind. How is this casual or different compared to it? Instances = elite now from what someone else said in another post Creatures = dead by special attack button mash How is this different or innovating at all? The only change at all is that they dumbed it down even further from WoW and made the "kill x monster" quests even worse. The game world doesn't even make any sense. "You're in a galactic war to save your race soldier. Would you like to buy a gun and some ammo to help save us?"

Re:Just What I needed! (1)

ZombieWomble (893157) | more than 6 years ago | (#21216019)

I'm intrigued - what you say is perfectly true in other MMOs which follow on from WoW's lead (and, indeed, WoW itself) in the early levelling stages. But when you reach the end-game, the relatively manageable quest-oriented, experience-based model breaks down and is replaced by gear modifications and grinds for "reputation" and the like. How does Tabula Rasa's end-game compare to the early game (or, indeed, how complete is its implementation at present?)

Re:Just What I needed! (1)

Jaeger- (63372) | more than 6 years ago | (#21216803)

You never played Guild Wars, I guess? I used to play UO then EQ (months/years each) then dropped MMO all together for a while. Eventually I picked up GW about a year ago and I find it is a great balance of cost/benefit. You can jump in and play for 30mins and have a good time, or you can play longer and have a better time. Check it out some time.

The problem with the idea of a casual MMO (4, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21213303)

It doesn't work. You can kick a ball for 5 minutes and call it casual soccer. You can't run a 5 minute run and call it a marathon.

Somethings just take time and a adventure is one of them.

One part of an adventure is that you go into dangerous lands, far from your home and safety, battling against increasing odds until finally you reach your goal.

That takes time.

Doesn't mean ALL games have to long drawn out affairs, but a chess game without the full set of piece just ain't a chess game, playing patience with only 10 cards will go a lot quicker but is hardly to be called a game anymore.

Take for instance distance, how far should a target zone be from a player. A 1 minute hop? A five minute walk? A 30 minute hike? A days worth of travelling? Or a venture that takes even the most rabid player days to accomplish.

WHAT give the richer gameplay. Sadly most MMO's seem to think 30 minute hike that has maybe 1 minute worth of gameplay but feels like days is the best option.

Lord of the Rings Online suffers from this, the entire world seems far too small, to the point of being silly. Enemy camps are so close to city they are within arrow range of each others. With the front a few minutes walk away, live continues on peacefully in bree. etc etc.

At the same time quests have you going all over the place.

The worsed of what I listed above, long travel but no sense of adventure.

Back to an old maligned game, Star Wars Galaxies, pre-doc-buffs. Live was dangerous back then and equipment expensive. Once in a while, some brave idiots, eh adventures, set out to hunt rancors, gathering people at a space port for a dangerous mission. Travelling there was a short trip through space (instant travel) but the space ship only left once every 30 minutes. This gave a real sense of preparing for a journey. Miss that ride and you would not make it.

Once you arrived you were on a planet so dark and hostile it had only two small outposts. Some rich but clueless companions would attempt to mount their speederbikes, the more experienced would call them idiots and tell them to put it away or loose it. Speederbikes just serve as extra roughage on Dathomir. Forget about being dismounted, you could loose that expensive vehicle in an instant. Disabled and now probably miles from your mates. You hunt rancors on foot.

Now it depended, were you after money OR were you looting for resources, back then people still cared and that meant a trip to rancor valley. An well deserved name, for a large area to the NW. Better have picked the right spaceport to travel to, or now you had a long distance to traverse to catch up with your group.

If you were lucky, you could buy some last minute supplies from the local bazaar at outrageous prices (I know they were outragous, I put them on there, Ah, sweet money) but with a 30 minute wait there was no hopping back for supplies. You were either ready or left behind. Catch up? Sure kid. You do that.

Then you sat out on a long journey, trying to avoid most things, fightig when needed trying to not attract more. Resting from time to time to wait out poisons and re-orgnaize equipment. If the medic was running out you hoped the ranger was good enough to have the biggest camp available so he could craft new stims with the harvested materials. If not. Well, continue on with what available, to costly to return now.

And then rancor valley, every way you looked, rancors, with just a handfull of giant beasts who you could count on not to attack you, they provided safety of a sort, since they would attack any rancors that came close, as long as you made sure not to accidently attack them.

Then the long hunt would begin, trying to find the right ones, perhaps circling out a young one for a beast master to train. Avoiding the most lethal ones and always on the look out for some force users like nightwitches and more dangerous foes.

Once you were done with the hunt. Well know you have to make your way back, low on supplies and tired.

Tell me, what is the greater adventure? A hop to a quest at the end of the street that you can do in 15 minutes of casual play OR the above selfmade quest that takes several hours?

Ultimately a casual game can never provide the hardcore game sense of adventure. No pain no gain.

Not this does NOT defend the articial lengthening of quests. No, Oh you returned from the enemy camps with the orders, right now go back and steal their field manual, and when you return from that, go back and get their map. That is just silly stuff.

But if you want to be a hero travelling in dangerous lands it is a bit odd if you fight the enemy with in spitting distance of your main city.

None of this touches on the difficulty of getting a group together. In fact from what I seen, the more "casual" the game claims to be, the harder it is. In SWG there were no quests, but missions, that by their nature were shared between all members in a group. So you never had to ask "LFG for Quest X". You just said "LFG" and that was it. Even a rancor hunt was easy, all you said "Looking for people to hunt rancors with" and that was enough, no what stage of quest are you on.

If you want "instant" satisfaction you need to give players goals they can achieve quickly, short quests means lotsa quests. Means you will have lots of people ondifferent quests.

LOTRO suffers from this as it is fairly common to see people all begging for fellowships for quests that are each others sequel/prequel. It then usually takes a matter of organizing to get the people on the later stages to help with the earlier stages.

You won't believe how many players refuse to do so, preffering to keep begging, and still begging when your group that did decide to start out from the start has completed the last stage.

Ah, well enough, ranting. If the game gets a demo I will give it a look, but frankly, unless someone tells me otherwise, this smells to much like every other MMO.

Re:The problem with the idea of a casual MMO (5, Insightful)

BadMrMojo (767184) | more than 6 years ago | (#21214091)

While I'm sure we all share the utmost respect for your memories of imaginary deeds, I personally disagree with the notion that the level of inconvenience is the ultimate level of difficulty. I'd rather enjoy a brief, challenging scenario/quest/mission/run/raid/whatever than a lengthy, tedious, repetitive one.

While the atmospheric value of lengthy and demanding preparations is clearly illustrated by your post... does that actually make it fun (with fun being the traditional reason for playing games)? For some, sure. For others, not so much.

It's the simplest and most overused method of scaling difficulty. It doesn't matter whether you're walking for hours to get to the right zone (or back for supplies), collecting hundreds of drops for a recipe or just killing ten rats repeatedly until you can get to the level where you're magically allowed to kill ten dire rats. I am truly saddened by the fact that difficulty is most typically made "hardcore" through excessive annoyance.

It's still purely artificial inflation - exactly the type that you claim to despise. I don't care whether you consider it "hardcore" or not, there's plenty of room to accommodate multiple levels of commitment to imaginary universes.

Re:The problem with the idea of a casual MMO (3, Insightful)

Mattsson (105422) | more than 6 years ago | (#21217331)

Exactly what made me stop playing both WoW and every other online RPG I've tried.
They're not challenging. They're repetitive. The difficulty lies in standing the boredom of reaching a certain level, killing a certain amount of something, gaining certain object, reaching a certain reputation, etc, etc.
If killing one wolf isn't particularly hard, killing two thousand isn't hard either, just boring.

Re:The problem with the idea of a casual MMO (2, Interesting)

aztektum (170569) | more than 6 years ago | (#21220847)

That's because RPG's in the video game sense are based around the mindless statistics management of the pen and paper variety.

Video games are an in-between medium. The computer can handle all the stats for you. The play experience should be a balance between interacting with the play world and "rewards" for doing so. That's the CORE of even a pen and paper RPG. Action A x 2 = Prize A, Action B x 4 = Prize B, etc etc. Game makers tend to fall back on translating PnP straight to the video game realm. It's easier and helps you meet deadlines.

How do you make an MMO, with a premise that keeps people plunking their "quarter into the machine" in return for a base level amount of amusement? That's a tricky one, because everyone's "base level" varies. There is the casuals who just need to "take a break from the world" for a few and the "hardcores" who probably have no life outside their basement (jk).

The lure of the MMO for the casual can be summed up somewhat by "consistency". For a nominal fee per month, they can fall back on a reliable piece of entertainment that will usually offer a diverse enough experience to justify the expense. Sure there have been online games that have been free for decades that would satisfy that itch... but it can be a pain to find a good server, cool people to play with, yada yada, MMO's offer somewhat of a fix to those headaches by offering a "one stop shop".

You run the risk that casuals will get bored if you don't add enough things over time (which could be a few days, weeks, months, can't please everyone of them though. I'd stick with a weeks to months demographic, usually you can sprinkle a little in here and there to keep enough of them interested). WoW does this pretty well and I think it's what mainly attributes to it's success.

Hardcores (there's a couple obvious sub-divisions in hardcore too, the one's in it for bragging rights and the RP type) blow through the casual stuff and need new ways to feel they have a "place" in the game world. The problem with servicing hardcores is they also tend to be the segment of your game population that is hardest to please. If you introduce more "casual" play content they will bitch you're pandering to lamers with no dedication. If you give 'em what they want, they take it and bitch about it not being enough.

The only one who struck a balance that seems to work well "enough" is Blizzard. The "problem" with WoW is they are kind of a one-trick pony. Their strength is how they handled class advancement (and within that, the ability to have relatively diverse skill sets). The early missions get you enough levels to feel enough satisfaction to keep going (this is important to casual players). The pacing slows in the middle levels, but you have enough access to diverse areas, gear, activities to keep enough people interested.

The end game is where WoW turns into nothing but a matter of looting and bragging rights, basically an online penis flailing session. This can turn off casual players who get bored and those RP types who want more of a "world" to live and breath in. WoW's implementation of crafting and "social" activities specifically impacts, IMO, the RP type of players (at the base level, they pretty much want a graphical chat room + sandbox. I'm pretty sure that a lot of these people would like to escape reality as a whole, but i digress)

A combination of methods would be required to make an MMO that would dwarf WoW's numbers (not to mention huge adjustments in social trends, which strangely may be easier than some of the technical hurdles, based on today's methods anyway.) You need advancement to come fast enough (not just through leveling) for casuals to stay interested, but not too fast for hardcores to burn out without reaching the top echelon.

"End Game" content I think requires the next large paradigm shift in MMO's. It tends to not pay out enough and you'll get people that bail halfway up the ladder, or some that get to the top and go "That's it?" right before clicking the unsubscribe box. You need to keep the world changing. That's much easier said than done. You can't simply build in a system like Spore, where the world changes on a whim based upon a few people's actions.

Also you'd need a way for player's to "personalize" the game experience. I don't mean a real "action/reaction" system, or procedurally generated content like Spore. In fact a world changing system like that might cost you players that A) didn't get a shot at now forever lost content (assuming it was a random objective they couldn't do because of level) or B) simply aren't happy things with the change.

Customization of in-game content is nice, but that can't simply start and end at coloring your armor a different color. Likewise, with the crop of MMO's out now, you can't let people adjust attributes of their gear without concern for balance.

Allowing player's to have a say in the "world" itself offers up possibilities of the creative type, but giant headaches on the technological end (sure any programming challenge can probably be conquered, but it will take a lot of damn effort). And as I mentioned before, you have to be wary of change influenced by some that will bother others, for various reasons.

Ultimately if someone wants to build THE MMO, you also have to remember you can't please everyone. You have to build something that all things being equal, works as a whole, and is "good enough". The "goal", at least if you're into it for the money, is that it ends up being better than the game that was previously "good enough".

Personally, I doubt I'll ever really be a big MMO person. I play games, but when it suits me and there's too much diversity in single player or other types of multiplayer games for me to say "This one game provides me the sustenance I need from this form of entertainment." I play Tetris, Pac-Man, Grid Wars when I need that quick "casual" fix, and Half-Life 1/2, KotOR, etc when I want a more immersive experience. I feel MMO's simply can't offer the diversity I want in both mechanics and content.

Also, I prefer choice and MMO's feel too much like a game companies attempt at the "all-in-one" gadget that does a couple things ok and 5 things poorly.

You mention some good points (3, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21222105)

But you do seem to have an issue with people escaping reality. Sorry mate, but that is entertainment for you. 6 billion people can't be wrong. ALL entertainment is about escaping reality. It is why people read books, watch movies, even listen to music.

HOW you do it, well that is matter of taste, some people swoon for a romantic movie where people never have morning breath, some people thrill to action movies where people never are hold accountable for their actions. It varies and same with game players, some prefer to play roles different from what they are, other prefer to turn into a super soldier and win a war single handed.

Tastes differ.

The biggest problem MMO's face it the translation from SINGLE player to MULTI player. MMO's do not have savepoints or a pause.

Think a moment about this. When the phone rings and forces you to escape your break from reality, you can save any single player game. YOu can ever drop out of a simple multiplayer deathmatch, but do so while grouped with other people and you are wasting their time while they wait.

MS Flightsimulator is a game that allows you to fly all over the world, if you fancy it, you can do a transatlanctic crossing in realtime. Might be a bit boring, but who are we too judge. However the game does NOT dictate that you do those 8 hours in one sitting. You can save when you want, pause when you want so if you fly those 8 hours in a single day, a weekend or a year, the game does NOT care. It even provides speed increases so you can it in less time.

An MMO can't do that. By its nature it can't just stop the world to suit the schedule of a single player.

This really ain't all that odd, if you are taking part in a soccer match, the referee won't hold up the entire game because your phone is ringing. And sorry if you are running a marathon, leaving it to walk your dog will get you disqualified.

Ultimately gamers must themselves decide what time they are willing to commit, but then also accept the consequences. Do not expect to be taken on a raid if you can only spare 5 minutes. On the other hand accept that the number of people who can spare hours on end, are going to be a minority.

Again, this ain't odd, even in most real clubs, the amount of time invested in club activities varies widely. Yet in real life we accept that if you can only spare an hour a week for a club, you do NOT run for a leadership position.

Choices, make them but also learn to live by them.

Yes it makes it fun (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21222041)

That is why I posted it. FUN is being able to do things to be challenged, to do something that is hard to do.

Fun is NOT mindlessly killing the same thing over and over. The self made quest I described is long and hard BUT it has one massive goal that at the end YOU managed to pull off.

Compare this with more casual games where you spend the same amount of time, but do it just travelling around. A new area in LOTRO is evendim, it is a map dominated by a HUGE lake in the center. Several quests have you crossing that lake, there is nothing in it and swimming is slow. You basically aim your character for the distant shore, start swimming and come back 5 minutes later to see if you arrived yet.

I rather have that lake crossing be an hour long hard battle, and do it ONCE, then those constant swims as quests send you there and back again.

But hey different tastes will always happen. We shall see if A this game does supply true casual gaming (I doubt it) and B if it is a success.

Re:Yes it makes it fun (1)

BadMrMojo (767184) | more than 6 years ago | (#21224197)

Please forgive me for quoting in multiple pieces. I'm not trying to take you out of context, I simply think there are a few different things to address.

The self made quest I described is long and hard BUT it has one massive goal that at the end YOU managed to pull off.

The point I was trying somewhat clumsily to make is that your one massive goal consists of putting yourself at inconvenience, when taken from another viewpoint. To me, walking for hours without being allowed to reliably use any sort of faster transportation, for example, is tedious rather than engrossing.

Compare this with more casual games where you spend the same amount of time, but do it just travelling around.
I don't consider a game where you have to spend uninterrupted hours just traveling around in order to eventually do something fun as a casual game (barring the hypothetical exception where traveling is the point of the game, I suppose). That, to me, typifies the exact same "hardcore" mentality you described in your rancor quest. Investment of time in order to eventually reap rewards of fun and accomplishment.

I rather have that lake crossing be an hour long hard battle, and do it ONCE, then those constant swims as quests send you there and back again.

Personally, I'd rather that it be possible to complete it in 5 minutes and it just gets increasingly difficult as the rewards get progressively greater. For some, that would seem to be a hollow accomplishment because it only took 5 minutes. For others, the difficulty itself is what determines the sense of accomplishment.

My whole point is that I believe the latter is much, much harder to implement (and harder to make money off of) and therefore it has been completely dropped. Using my own definitions, a "hardcore" casual game - one in which the challenge is significant enough without requiring an outright embarrassing investment of time required for any particular goal - could actually exist without being a complete oxymoron.

I greatly fear that the more typical definition of hardcore is the time involved, rather than the difficulty, making such a game impossible by definition.

One possible reason is that there is no way to have a realistic metric for difficulty. You can't say, "That was 42 kilodiffs and I won. I rock!" because there's no way to measure such a thing. Time, on the other hand, is quite easily measured. "I spent 12 hours raiding to get my drops for my new helmet. Now that is worthwhile."

Without a numeric measure of your e-penis, there's not much need for a big one, I suppose.

Re:The problem with the idea of a casual MMO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21215615)

Can you write a longer post next time?

Re:The problem with the idea of a casual MMO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21244645)

Translation: I have the attention span of a fruit fly that justifies the dumbing down of games to become "casual".

Look for me online (4, Interesting)

jacobw (975909) | more than 6 years ago | (#21213517)

You can find me in this game.

Well, OK, maybe not me--but you can find a NPC with my name. What happened is, one of the game designers [stratics.com] is on another website I frequent, and as you can imagine, you have to name a LOT Of characters when you're writing an MMORPG. He asked for volunteers who were willing to donate their names to the cause. I stepped forward, and the result is that one Corporal Sager Weinstein can be found fighting for humanity, somewhere on the planet Areiki.

The best part: another friend of mine also has an NPC named after him, but he's a lowly Private. I outrank him.

I do not intend to let him forget this.

That was... (1)

Hangin10 (704729) | more than 6 years ago | (#21213769)

rather confusing at first. It's probably my settings that caused only the headline of the story to appear on the front page of /., but Tabula Rasa is also the title of the episode of StarGate Atlantis tonight.

God, now what? (3, Funny)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 6 years ago | (#21214279)

> It's a calculated shift designed to move beyond the hard-core gaming crowd and court the mainstream audience

The childishly and embarassingly easy World of Warcraft is the "hard-core gaming crowd"?!?!?!

Good god, what would this new game entail? Portable guards who look like Gort from The Day The Earth Stood Still, following you around to kill your rat if it looks like the rat is going to win? Auto flying-carpet back to your body in the unlikely event the rat gets a quadruple-crit just before Gort decides to take action? Everyone born as the King's son or daughter, and sent out into the world with the Gleamming Armor Of Indestructibility and the Singing Sword of Assramming, both of which are in fonts that glow a golden shine with flecks of rainbow in it?

Re:God, now what? (1)

bi_boy (630968) | more than 6 years ago | (#21214837)

WoW is embarrassingly easy? I don't play myself but after watching my friend who does 20-25 (can't remember which) man raids, often having to try over and over because something went wrong, and hearing him exclaim "Son of a god damn whore!" it just doesn't seem very easy at the end-game when you're raiding for better gear, which will let you do other raids for even better gear and so on. Basically it just looks like it takes a lot of coordination between all those people and if enough of them drop the ball they have to reset.

Re:God, now what? (4, Informative)

charlesbakerharris (623282) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215949)

Hard core = "willing to spend all sorts of time", not necessarily "talented" or "smart".

Re:God, now what? (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 6 years ago | (#21223647)

You left out OMG! Poniez!! 1111!!!!

I don't know what you're on, but I'd sure like some, too. It's not just for breakfast anymore, right?

Learn from the past (2, Insightful)

wzzzzrd (886091) | more than 6 years ago | (#21221139)

I mean, let's take super mario. There were also levels you must complete, skills you can pick and an increase in difficulty over time. The difference: you had to do ONE difficult thing again and again (attempt to clear that level) to advance as opposed to do one simple task (click 4 times and kill that dire rat) AGAIN and AGAIN. It both takes time, but the first thing is MUCH MORE FUN.

Just how much better is it? (1)

Yev000 (985549) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240989)

I played the beta, and let me tell you the game was god awful for the following reasons:

1. Lack of weapon types, by that I mean lack of interesting ways to kill things and killing things is ALL you would do. I'm not talking about the zillion various rifles they have; you may as well have 1.
2. Tiny Class system: Yes it is a class system, and about 2 wow classes would make up for all the possible variations of TR.
3. Locks you into your class: Clones are great, but once you spent the only 1 you are allowed at certain levels you're stuffed. Put that point in the wrong skill? Sorry buddy its off to lev 1 for you. Which leads me to...
4. Unexciting upgrades: After hours of playing you get to use some new weapons, but guess what, your lev 15 versions of the basic lev 1 weapons are better... Go figure... And once you use up your clone to try the new skills out your stuffed for another 15 levels.
5. PvP??? No competitions makes the game a grind

Now add the bugs they expect the users to tolerate at release and all the balance issues makes the game unplayable. Even if they did up the difficulty of monsters and force people into groups (probably the worst way you can think of to get people to play together).

Maybe after 2 years worth of patches and an expansion pack added 2 extra "classes" it might be worth it...

Hell even the missions are identical to WoW's ... How is this a "clean slate"?

Re:Just how much better is it? (1)

Aadomm (609333) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259567)

Agreed. I played the beta for the last couple of weeks. Levelled a couple of characters up to 15 or so. Noticed the game wasn't really broadening out very much and that I had now seen pretty much all of the newbie content twice. Noticed that the costuming was very samey and you couldn't really tell the difference between one person and another. Noticed that the tradeskill system was very simplistic and boring. Noticed that to have such a combat orientated game where all the players are basically on the same side seemed to be a bit of a waste. This game has major issues. It has not just been issued early with a few too many bugs and not a lot of attention to balancing. It is fundamentally flawed in many different ways and I just can't see any way in which it can possibly be saved. As the old saying goes - you can polish a turd as much as you like but its still a turd.
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