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Tabula Rasa To Shut Down 244

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

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  • MMO = fun? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 21, 2008 @11:12PM (#25854887)

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

  • Beautiful (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 21, 2008 @11:13PM (#25854897)

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

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday November 21, 2008 @11:40PM (#25855079)

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

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

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

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

  • VMK (Score:4, Insightful)

    by OpenYourEyes (563714) on Friday November 21, 2008 @11:43PM (#25855095)
    Its not just spending the money... nor the company collapsing. Disney shut down their free MMO VMK for no apparently good reason except that they seemed to want to generate bad will among their customers. At least NCSoft is trying to "promote good will".
  • Re:Beautiful (Score:4, Insightful)

    by v1 (525388) on Friday November 21, 2008 @11:45PM (#25855115) Homepage Journal

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

  • Re:What? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by westlake (615356) on Friday November 21, 2008 @11:45PM (#25855119)
    Who wants to be the first to suggest to open source the leftovers?

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

  • Re:Free to play (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fnord666 (889225) on Friday November 21, 2008 @11:49PM (#25855137) Journal

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

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

  • by S77IM (1371931) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @12:26AM (#25855325)

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

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

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

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

  • by Symbha (679466) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @12:40AM (#25855393)

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

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

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

    And can I say FINALLY!

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

    by Tharsman (1364603) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @01:22AM (#25855579)
    It was not just publicity but the type of publicity it got.

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

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

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

  • Re:Beautiful (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 22, 2008 @01:24AM (#25855601)

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

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 22, 2008 @03:48AM (#25856099)

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • by LordLucless (582312) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @05:24AM (#25856361)
    I actually played it, and it was significantly different from WoW. The most obvious difference was the combat mechanism - it was rigged up like a first person shooter. You had targetting reticle, and you aimed at the enemy, and pulled the trigger to fire off bursts. It didn't have the usual timed-swing mechanism of most MMOs. It felt very dynamic. There were your usual RPG "dice"-rolls behind the scenes, but it felt very shooterish. There were some other differences, like the class tree, item creation mechanisms, etc, but that was the most obvious.

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

    From what I hear, there was also very little endgame content. Unlike WoW, where the endgame brings a whole new level of gameplay, with Tabula Rasa, there was nothing really to do except start again with a new character. While a lot of players may not make it to endgame, I think an active endgame helps promote an enthusiastic community among the players. If all your most energetic players wander off after they cap out, your game is naturally going to fade away.
  • Re:MMO = fun? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thoughtlover (83833) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @01:14PM (#25858441)

    Yes, it looks like a great game, actually. I would probably have played it, too. Would I have been upset with bugs, yes, but the genre of the game is what I like. In truth, there are so many games that it's hard to know what is out there at any one time.

    So my question is, if the game has improved drastically, why are they making it free for the last month, if only to say to all the new players, "Ha! we told you it would be worth it" ??

    If anything, they should make it free now and see how much play it garners till the end of the year. Enough mew players (and disgruntled early adopters) may come to like it enough to pay for more later.

  • Re:Hard to do (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vux984 (928602) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @05:25PM (#25860025)

    In many MMOs, the quest items are ethereal - you kill stuff and get things, but you never actually have those items on your person - the quest keeps track, and when you get them all, it goes "ding" and you turn it in for a reward. You don't actually tote around 15 horns of some beast, hides, etc.

    You haven't played Everquest. The reason the new games don't do this is players are whining retards.

    1) "I accidently deleted my quest items/ sold them to a vendor/ dropped them on the ground" wah wah....

    2) "Quest items are taking all my backback/bank space, and they're too heavy, and I have to make trips back to town to unload them and I'm not levelling as fast..." wah wah...

    The beauty is that there's a good chance you will ask someone lower level to go do your dirty work for you. You'll pay them for the goods, they'll get XP and gold, you'll turn in the quest. Thus, rather than you getting quests from NPCs, you'll get them from PCs. "Damn - that 37th level fighter just came by and offered to pay me a ton of gold to go kill swamp rats, if I bring him the tails. I guess some wizard he knows needs them."

    That's how tradeskills ALREADY work. Except the player interaction is funnelled through the 'auction house' system. And it fucks up the game, because selling trade skill items to higher level players tends to be one of the most profitable things you can do. Kill 100 level 5 critters? make a couple silver. Mine 40 units of copper in WoW or farm 40 spiderling silks in Everquest... and you'll make 100x times that or more.

    That is far more interesting than going to the tavern master six times in a row, or bouncing from NPC to NPC in town to get and turn in quests. The strength of a MMO is that there are lots of people playing. Make them part of the world, rather than "just another player".

    No. Its far less interesting. You always go to the same place and you deal with a spreadsheet interface instead of an NPC or PC.

    Everquest, again, started out without an auction house, and resisted adding one for a long time, because they had a thriving player driven auction house, and the games had areas where people were standing around hawking their wares, traders roamed the servers with Want-to-sell and want-to-buy chatter, and honestly... its was very cool.

    But too many players wanted the easy route... they wanted a serverwide searchable database, they didn't want to actually travel to the vendor, they didn't want to acutally have to be online at the same time as the vendor... they didn't want to actually have to haggle and trade... they wanted ... well... WoW's spreadsheet system. Sure its more efficient and whatnot.

    The only thing close to a living world i've ever played was everquest during the first few expansions. The lack of an auction system, the travel challenges, the wandering high level mobs in newbie areas... it forced players to actually interact.

    What killed it? Most player really don't want to interact - it 'slows' them down.

  • Re:MMO = fun? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nschubach (922175) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @05:48PM (#25860149) Journal

    Warhammer Online I would have to say will fall into your COH assessment. I played it up to level 26 and got bored and tired of the RVR content. It was repetitive and always the same. People were/are stupid and never worked together (on both sides.) Every match pretty much was the same, with the same tactics, and the same look. It was worse than sewers and buildings in COH. At least they changed layout in COH.

    Now, you take that formula and make end game out of that? No thanks! I was sick and tired of the game when I hit level 20 without playing RVR and had to go to the other areas and complete partial chapters just to level. Then I found out RVR experience was a pretty huge part of the game and I started RVR'ing more. Then the boring repetitive run Morkain's Temple (sp?) over and over and over again until you got sick of it.

    Granted, I'm not a fan of PVP/RVR content. I think it inspires all the wrong in people and they become competitive rather than cooperative. The type of people that play PVP games are generally less inclined to help other people. Nowhere better did this show than in Public quests. It wasn't about helping people complete it. It was about who could heal/damage/tag/collect more than everyone else. Then you toss in the random loot roller and you had a situation like I had with my friends. You see that a PQ was near completion, you'd jump in and get a few shots to have the opportunity just to get loot and out roll the players that had been there progressing the quest from the start.

    Games like these make me absolutely hate PVP. Not because of all the good things that COULD come from it... but because of all the bad that DOES.

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