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Role Playing (Games) Entertainment Games

Tabula Rasa Going Out With A Bang 162

Mytob notes that sci-fi MMO Tabula Rasa is set to close down tomorrow, and the development team has something special planned for the game's final hours. The decision to close the game was made in November, and it went free-to-play a month later, while the developers continued to roll out the new content they had planned. Now, after a round of patches and server merges, the beleaguered MMO has reached its shutdown date. The game's primary enemies, the Bane, are launching an all-out offensive on Allied forces, which will culminate in a battle beginning at 8PM on Saturday and lasting until midnight. All players are being called in as reinforcements in this apocalyptic fight, though the final announcement says, "Penumbra has been informed of the situation and is standing by on the use of their last resort weapon. We can not afford to be complacent or uncertain, but if it is truly our destiny to be destroyed, we are taking them all with us."
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Tabula Rasa Going Out With A Bang

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  • by Majik Sheff ( 930627 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:10PM (#27020025) Journal

    It's the only way to be sure.

  • There are probably a few other MMO's they ought to take with them... cough cough Galaxies cough cough... Seriously though, it's nice to see a dev team giving some culmination to players that have stuck with it.
    • Re:Why stop there? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by symbolic ( 11752 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:27PM (#27020129)

      I have to give NCSoft some serious credit here - it was a great game. I started when it was first released, and there's not much I didn't like about it. It's a damned shame they have to close it.

      • was a great game...

        ARE YOU MAD?!?!

      • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Saturday February 28, 2009 @03:31AM (#27021173) Journal

        I guess it just shows how subjective tastes are. I also tried it when it was first released, like many other people did -- you know, because it's Lord British and all -- and my conclusion was the exact opposite: there was not much to like about it. In fact, I hated every single design decision about it, except for "let's make it SF." Even as the "let's make a bastard child of MMO and FPS" went, it had been done much better before: e.g., Planetside.

        In fact, you're the first person I even hear about which considered it a great game. I know several gamers IRL, and lemme tell you their tastes are spread all over the spectrum. There are a couple which prefer EQ2 over WoW, there's one guy who's actually become a big WAR fan, the mandatory couple of WoW addicts too, etc, among other distinctions. So, you know, at least about them you can't say that they didn't even try TR because of WoW, because more than half don't even like WoW. And invariably the talk went something along the lines of:

        Mr X: "So, what have you been up to lately?"
        Me: "Ah, I got Tabula Rasa last week."
        Mr X: "And, how do you like it so far?"
        Me: "To be honest, I'm don't like it that much."
        Mr X: "Heh. Why don't you ever ask first? I could have told you it sucked."

        Mind you, I'm not going to tell you that you're wrong in a matter of subjective tastes. Just that you were obviously a too small minority to keep the game running.

        • So what sucked about it? Details please.

          I wanted to try this game, but unfortunately forgot about it. Is this the type of game where a newbie can join & just sit back and watch the final battle?

          • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Saturday February 28, 2009 @08:01AM (#27021997) Journal

            Well, stuff like the game telling you in the tutorial to use cover, but then it didn't actually do anything. You could take cover behind a crate, and then you (or better someone else looking at it from the side) could see the enemy fire or spells going straight to the crate, then up, horizontally over the crate, then down behind the crate at you. Like it was a terrain-following cruise missile, instead of a stupid bullet.

            Then stuff like that it was nigh impossible to even tell who's a player and who's an NPC, because:

            A. There were no names or anything equally obvious on the screen

            B. Everyone looked the same

            So I'd run into a group of merry retards jumping around shooting at some enemy, and I'd think, "ah, it must be players jumping like that, I better not steal their kill", and then discover it was NPCs after all.

            Lighting also didn't help. Under the trees for example it was really dark, so I had trouble even telling that someone's there, much less who's who. And again, bear in mind that everyone dressed pretty much the same, and in the dark it was even more hopeless to tell who's who.

            The minimap was a funky SF thing in blue, which was unnecessarily hard to read. If you look at the one in WoW, it being in colour really helped recognize the terrain. You can go, basically, "ah, there's the road because it's a brown stripe." You didn't really have those clues in TR.

            Balance was a joke too, though I've come to kinda expect that in MMOs. Other than Blizzard, it seems like nobody ever tried to get that right.

            The mix of FPS and MMO was IMHO badly done. It was neither really FPS, nor the, well, bastard child of EQ or MMO. It was as if Mr Macho FPS got Miss MMO pregnant, but they were both on drugs and she was taking Thalidomide [] too at the time, and then they both scratch their heads and wonder why the kid was born with flippers instead of arms and legs ;) Joke aside, they took the worst of both worlds, basically. You could neither just turn and shoot at what's under the cursor (and expect to hit, anyway) like in a twitch-gamer fps, nor just select the enemy and use the mouse on your toolbar like in most MMOs.


            Finally, again, bear in mind that "sucked" is a very subjective thing. We have at least one person in this thread who actually thought it was a great game. Also, well, maybe "sucked" is too hard put. We're not talking Anarchy Online class crap, but merely a thoroughly uninspired game which tried to ignore all that was known about game design, and what works and what doesn't in a game, and reinvet it all from scratch. (Hence the "Tabula Rasa" name.) And ended up not much fun to play. Maybe not as in "I'd rather have root canal instead", but at the very least up to the "why would I actually want to pay a monthly fee for this?" mark.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              It's pretty simple for me why TR failed...

              There was no real endgame. A game without serious, multi-tiered, Player vs. Environment raiding, with many very tough encounters which reward players with exceptional loot is going to FAIL. MMOs are about progression and customization, and loot is the best way to provide that, period. Whether it's "Epic PurpZ" in WoW or Skill Enhancers etc in CoH, if the loot a game offers (including crafting) is weak, the game WILL fail. Glorified chat rooms are not going to su

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by lwsimon ( 724555 )

                "A game without serious, multi-tiered, Player vs. Environment raiding, with many very tough encounters which reward players with exceptional loot is going to FAIL."

                I diasagree.

                Exhibit A: Eve Online.

                • "loot" is not just an item in your inventory, or cargo bay, or satchel. It can be anything the player controls which they did not control before an encounter.

                  Does the endgame of Eve consist of many players getting together to achieve a common goal, with rewards commensurate with those achievements?

                  Does a large degree of that endgame activity involve the environment of the game and not just other players' ships? (If players in Eve Online only had each other's ships to attack, how successful do you suspect

        • by symbolic ( 11752 )

          Planetside?? I played Planetside for a while, and yes, it was fun on occasion, but there is absolutely no comparison. I realize there is some similarity between the capture/re-capture element with respect to the control points in TR, and the bases in PS, but TR had much more depth. It had missions. It had crafting. The artwork was meticulously done. With the Foreas base announcer, it even had a element of humor. It didn't have vehicles like PS, but I didn't see that as a big drawback.

    • Re:Why stop there? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PFI_Optix ( 936301 ) on Saturday February 28, 2009 @09:22AM (#27022241) Journal

      I think the community needs to be saying a HUGE thanks to these guys for showing the industry how to bow out gracefully and give closure to customers. Too often they simply abandon communities to wither and die; it's wonderful to see a company recognize when a game can't support itself in the long term and give the users a positive experience as they end it.

  • Open sauce (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lehk228 ( 705449 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:20PM (#27020077) Journal
    they should release an open server even if it lacks the content and patch the client to allow the user to specify a server.
    • they should release an open server even if it lacks the content and patch the client to allow the user to specify a server.

      Should... yes. Unfortunately, that would require more of what they already don't have enough of (money and/or people who work for free.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Aranykai ( 1053846 )

        Someone could always 'leak' some documentation and perhaps enough info for dedicated people to get it working. It wouldn't be the first time.

        • I bought a GPS module for the Handspring Visor - it was supposed to get an open API, yadda yadda... firm went bankrupt in the dot-com crash and the receivers of the company always found a reason to hold on to "their intellectual property" thinking they could make a dime off of it at some time in the future, rather than giving it to the open source community.

          You can argue all day long about how wonderful it would be if... but the shark that is feeding on the remains of the company is usually only interest
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      In addition to what the other posters said, there's also the issue of proprietary third party code. They may have a large chunk of that in there that they don't have the rights to release. Happens with a lot of closed source.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by tepples ( 727027 )

        In addition to what the other posters said, there's also the issue of proprietary third party code. They may have a large chunk of that in there that they don't have the rights to release. Happens with a lot of closed source.

        Then dummy it out. Id Software's initial public source release of Doom had its proprietary third-party sound code taken out, but enthusiasts quickly built up a replacement.

        • Re:Open sauce (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Bieeanda ( 961632 ) on Saturday February 28, 2009 @04:20AM (#27021373)
          Righty-o, then! They'll just have someone go through tens of thousands of lines of source code, take out the bits they don't own, then leave the rest in a tidy little depository for you to...

          Uh, no.

          First off, you're making a ridiculous assumption that the code belongs to the developer, and not the company's creditors. This is not iD, this is an outfit whose assets have gone into hock.

          Second, you're making the ridiculous assumption that the developers are being paid to go through the source and make it open-source friendly. Instead of, you know, shopping their resumes around, hoping to God that they've got enough socked away to make it until they're rehired somewhere, and not providing you with entertainment for free.

          Third... you're ridiculous, period.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by tepples ( 727027 )

            They'll just have someone go through tens of thousands of lines of source code

            How long would it take to bang out a script that searches all source code files in the tree for third-party copyright notices and produces a list of only those files that have the developer's or publisher's copyright notice and no third party's?

            • I'm wondering if you've ever used much commercial third-party code. There are frequently no copyright notices on individual units.

              • Point: I've been assuming "unit" means a source file, as in C's "translation unit".

                I'm wondering if you've ever used much commercial third-party code. There are frequently no copyright notices on individual units.

                The build system would ideally have spit out a report that one of the latest check-ins to the version control system had no copyright notice. But then, if the developers were sloppy enough not to track the copyright in its source tree, that casts doubt [] on the code's quality in other respects, as what else were they sloppy enough not to track?

                • Again, if you work as a professional programmer long enough, you'll stop being so surprised at the plausibility of such a situation.

        • As the other poster (rather harshly) pointed out, it's a matter of time and money. Id wasn't a bankrupt company. Having worked on a number of projects in the past, it can be a bit easy for proprietary components to get weave themselves into a project in a way that's a significant chunk of effort to disentangle. Especially when you have the source code to those components. Gotta make sure you get every single unit you don't own out of there or you could get sued. Think management is going to okay that?

          • Gotta make sure you get every single unit you don't own out of there or you could get sued.

            The company has to clarify copyright ownership of each unit anyway, whether the company is freeing the copyrights or its creditors are putting them up for sale.

            • Do you have a citation for this? Because I'm skeptical. They don't need to know this if they're going to keep using the code the way it's always been used. They only need to know this if they're going to do something radically different, like open source it.

  • by NotQuiteReal ( 608241 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:26PM (#27020121) Journal
    Does anyone notice?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:31PM (#27020145)
      If a bear craps in a virtual forest, and there is nobody to hear him break wind, can you see the Pope from there?
      • If a bear craps in a virtual forest, and there is nobody to hear him break wind, can you see the Pope from there?

        Only if the Pope is clapping with one hand while tying buttered toast to the back of Schroedinger's cat.

    • If there is a woman nitpicking about the method in which we end it all, fuck yeah.
    • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Saturday February 28, 2009 @12:26AM (#27020411)
      Apparently, yes. The neat thing about this is that these guys _care_ about their users. They could have kept things going business as usual, letting it whimper. If I see their names attached to a project, I'll know to give it a longer look.
  • ....with a server crash Turbine couldn't give a flying **** about.
    • AC2, there was a game that had its load of flaws!

      Yet, strangely, I was really sorry to see it go. Still miss that game from time to time.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    we threw a war, and nobody came?

  • When Disney announced they were shutting down VMK, they did so after a quest weekend where they ended up accusing their players of cheating. The final week of VMK was run exactly as the entire history of the game was - filled with lies and empty promises.
  • by dreemernj ( 859414 ) on Saturday February 28, 2009 @12:02AM (#27020295) Homepage Journal
    As in a proper, scripted end to the entire world?
    • by telchine ( 719345 ) * on Saturday February 28, 2009 @12:08AM (#27020329)

      As in a proper, scripted end to the entire world?

      Has an MMO ever had a proper, scritped beginning? Or a proper, scripted middle?

      What makes you think that devs would bother scripting an end?

      • by sunami ( 751539 ) on Saturday February 28, 2009 @12:22AM (#27020389)

        Dunno how much this counts, but the end of the WoW open beta was attacks on all the capital cities, where a death meant you were done.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by ActionJesus ( 803475 )
          Fwiw, I was there for that, and all I saw of the attack on open citys was a few fellguard mobs spawned in city locations, boosted to about 500% size and no ability for players to respawn on death. The idea was nice, but the whole thing felt just a little underwhelming.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dreemernj ( 859414 )
        It sounds like they have at least some sort of scripted end for Tabula Rasa. As in it will end in a series of events, probably culminating in this ultimate weapon destroying the world. One ending for the whole world. The question was if any other MMOs also have a scripted end.

        Just asking if something like this has happened before. Do you know if it has?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by murdocj ( 543661 )

        Well, WoW's WotLK has a pretty amazing story line and a number of great quest lines that I would match up against single player RPGs. So yeah, WoW has a well scripted middle.

        • by Runefox ( 905204 )

          Sure, they have backstory, but as far as the in-game story goes, it may as well just be a news report of what's going on while you're grinding. Everyone goes through the same quests, everyone saves (x location) from (y enemy), gets praise from (z NPC) and goes on to the next quest that everyone's already done. The only time this is any different is when an expansion is released, and then you can count on not everyone having done every quest for maybe about a week.

          You pay for the game, you pay for the expans

          • And that's different from single player RPGs how?

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Khyber ( 864651 )

              I haven't had an MMO make me cry.

              I've had two single-player RPGs make me break out in tears.

              • by neomunk ( 913773 )

                Which two, if I may ask? I've not yet run into a RPG quite that compelling yet. Mind you, I've not owned many consoles either, so my sample size is rather modest.

                I'd also like to know a couple of really funny humor RPGs, if anyone out there knows of any.

                • Funny RPGs?

                  Other RPGs with funny elements?
                  Tales of *
                  Chrono Trigger

                • by Khyber ( 864651 )

                  Persona 3: FES and Final Fantasy VII were the two that made me break out.

                  Persona 3 moreso than FFVII - Persona 3 was much more fucked up. Main character dies at the end of the game - no happy ending for j00. Guess that's what happens when you put a gun to your head and shoot yourself repeatedly in the brain to summon monsters to do your fighting for you.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by hvm2hvm ( 1208954 )
            You basically want a game only for yourself... Good luck with that. WoW is not meant to replace reality with a fictional world where you go through a story that never ends. That would be really pointless and time wasting.

            It's a game, it's just a set of rules that you have to obey when you play in order to reach a certain objective. That's how all games work: computer games, board games, sports, even economy, politics, etc. I did a dungeon of 5 with just 2 people (me and another guy). It took 3 hours but
            • No, he's asking for overarching events that effect the community as a whole rather than individual players, you know take advantage of the fact that this is supposed to be a collective world where people can play and interact with each other.

              The biggest example of an even like this would be the blood curse, and sadly that was a glitch.
          • by murdocj ( 543661 ) on Saturday February 28, 2009 @12:23PM (#27023249)

            Sure, they have backstory, but as far as the in-game story goes, it may as well just be a news report of what's going on while you're grinding

            The quests in WotLK get you up close and personal with Arthas. My priest is level 80 and I'm doing the Ice Crown quests, not to grind or get experience or loot, but because I've GOT to know the rest of the story.

            You pay for the game, you pay for the expansions, and you pay for every month you sink into the damned game.

            Well, let's see... should Blizzard give the game away for free? Should they be running servers for 12 million people for free? And as for expansions, Blizzard has release a ton of content w/o charging. Just off the top of my head both Black Temple and Sunwell were released well after BC came out, no extra charge, and they've already indicated that WotLK will include several more expansions, no extra charge.

            You're in no way involved in any moving plot, and you're in no way involved in anything epic that's truly yours.

            It's hard to imagine how you could be more involved with the story. Look at the Wrathgate and tell me you don't make permanent changes to the world. Yes, other players can have that same experience. What computer game have you played where each individual player gets a completely unique, custom tailored experience? For $15/mo should Blizzard have a couple of GMs follow you around and create events for you?

            There is zero gameplay, and there is zero point to the game, especially since the game "doesn't really start" until you reach level 60 and start going on raids that thousands of people have already done before you. There's no glory, no nothing.

            Sounds like you played hard and then got burnt out. Well yeah, you don't play for glory, you play for fun. No one is going to think you are uberz just because you are 60, or 70, or 80, or have the bear mount, or whatever. You play ALL computer games for fun, not glory. If you want glory and adventure, go climb a mountain. Go trek into uncharted wilderness. Computer games are spare time relaxation. What's wrong isn't the game, it's your expectations of what the game will provide you.

      • It seems that the developers of Tabula Rasa have at least attempted to script an end to the game. From the summary, it seems like they're basically using a archetypal end-of-the-world scenario where the forces of evil and chaos meet the forces of good and order in a final battle at the end of the world.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by falcon5768 ( 629591 )
        FFXI for all purposes is scripted. While it has MMO elements (the grind, large mob fights, PvP battles, quests) the main game is a massive storyline spanning decades at this point from the recent past up to the game worlds current day.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        There's at least one...

        LOTRO, scripted start, middle, end. The devs are very open about how many updates/expansions there will be.

        We know everything will culminate in the ring going into Mt Doom. There's not been much said about the ending (only being 1/2 way through the expansions), but I can hazard a guess that it will be quite big.

    • by Minwee ( 522556 )

      It happens all the time. A Tale in the Desert [] has already closed up the world and turned off the lights three times and is on its fourth "telling". Each time the game has been started with a fixed goal which the players have worked to and completed.

      Simpler MMO strategy games like Travian [] have similar life cycles and have closed up hundreds of worlds only to restart them clean a few days later.

  • by purpleraison ( 1042004 ) on Saturday February 28, 2009 @12:09AM (#27020333) Homepage Journal

    I am totally lame to be reading about this on a Friday night. .... rolls dice...... score!!

  • by Grimbleton ( 1034446 ) on Saturday February 28, 2009 @12:24AM (#27020399)

    And I mean this seriously...

    Was my bugged character.

    I could run at about 5x normal speed, jump about 60', climb to the edges, and beyond (and fall off the edges of!) maps by bouncing up them, very easily.

    I must say, once I got bugged, I didn't die once. How could I? I'd just RUN UP A MOUNTAIN and get away.

  • by TooMad ( 967091 ) on Saturday February 28, 2009 @01:03AM (#27020553)
    This game was just un-fun. I played during the open beta and it was 'fun' for the first night like just about any game. However, by the end of the second night it had already become a chore and there was no third night. Although I am a little surprised that it made this short of a run. Even Earth and Beyond nearly made two full years TR couldn't even make it for 18 months.

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.