Top Secret: Operation Tabula Rasa
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The end of the year is a time of reflection, when many of us look over the previous twelve months and examine what we've seen and done. 2007 has been an interesting year for MMO games in general with the cancellation of Gods and Heroes the delay of Warhammer, an expansion for World of Warcraft and EverQuest 2, and the launch of Tabula Rasa. While there isn't as much to think on as other games. considering 8 weeks hasn't even passed since launch, there are some significant events that shaped this year into a memorable one.
On September 6, 2007 following a press event at Executive Producer Richard Garriott's mansion, the NDA was lifted. Of course in game footage and descriptions had already made their way to various forums, Blogs, and even YouTube but this meant everything was fair game. Information regarding unfinished content, imbalanced classes, and every incomplete mechanic made it's way across the internet to waiting masses. Some was honest, some was over dramatic, but most agreed that Tabula Rasa was setting out to be a different type of game.
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It was interesting to note a few weeks later when Garriott spoke at the Austin Independent Game Developers Confidence, he expressed regret over how many people were let into beta. He was quoted as saying:
I actually think the biggest mistake was made not by the marketing department, but by the development team. We invited too many people into the beta when the game was still too broken.
They had formed their opinions early on during the testing and had used it as a "trial period" to decide if they liked it. Many weren't impressed with the build which saw significant improvement in the month before its retail launch. An unusually honest answer regarding the game if not maybe a quick way of saying "Hey guys, the game really is better now."
The only thing that outshines the drop of the NDA was the retail launch itself. Pre-Orders got an early treat being able to play 3 days early allowing many to out level what would become crowded areas early on. Despite many fears, the pre-launch went fairly smoothly allowing most players into game with little technical difficulty. From placement in the New York Times, to Garriott appearing at a local game shop to sign autographs, the marketing machine was in motion. With the promise of early play, a few exclusive emotes, a pet, and extra free game time, the was plenty of motivation to pick up the pre-launch version of Tabula Rasa.
Shortly after launch it was time to not only add content but tweak mechanics and with that in mind we saw changes to the Medic class. Unsatisfied with their utility in the field, Tabula Rasa developers have completely altered abilities to the joy of some and disappointment of others. The Frighten ability was replaced with Cure which removes debuffs and resurrect squadmates. In addition the Insanity ability was replaced with a mind control which starts off at low levels as a simple confusion attack but can result in complete control over an enemy target. While the changes are still on the Test server at the moment, it's apparent the adjustments aren't fully worked out yet.
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The most controversial event of the year was the change to the Soldier classes Rage ability. Essentially the Rage ability provides the player with a bonus to their DPS (damage per second) effectively boosting how quickly they can kill things. According to NCsoft the ability was bugged and providing players a 100% bonus at pump 1 which is considerably more than it was meant to have.
The changes on Test were not mentioned before they went in, and outrage began to fsorbing hours of conversation in General chat channels and days of threads in fansite forums it was all people were talking about. How would it affect Soldier classes, especially those that depended on that DPS boost for melee skills? Answers soon came in the form of a compromise. While the damage bonus would be more than halved, at certain pumps bonuses to damage resistance would be provided allowing players to live a little longer. The cast time on the ability was also reduced from 3 seconds to almost immediate pleasing many who didn't particularly enjoy having to stop in combat to activate it.
While the year hasn't been lengthy, there have been enough events the last few months to provide drama, excitement, and sweeping change. With a year like this one what can we expect in 2008? If it's anything like 2007, it'll be a roller coaster ride. What is your favorite memory? Head over to our forums and let us know!
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Tabula Rasa Game Page.