After a grand total of fifteen months in live service, style="font-style: italic;">Richard
Garriot's Tabula Rasa will join the long list of massively
online games to go to the great href="http://gucomics.com/comic/?cdate=20081111" target="_blank">Zapper
in the sky. When (and if) you
happen to hear about some no-name F2P failing in the market - just like
you did out of your college Calculus class - it's
no big deal. It still sucks because there were people that poured their
hearts and souls into the game, but in the overall scheme of things,
it's about as surprising as getting a sweater from your grandmother on
Christmas - you had a pretty good idea it was going to happen.
While this won't be the first game NCsoft published that failed
(*cough* Auto Assault *cough*), Tabula
Rasa isn't just a
“typical” MMOG; this was Richard “Lord
British” Garriott’s baby. Richard Garriot is like
Norris of the gaming industry - whether you like him or not,
you know who he is. He's been around the industry forever. Hailed as
one of the gods of gaming development, Richard introduced the world to
one of the greatest game franchises of all time: Ultima. With the
creation of Ultima Online he became one of the founding fathers of
today's MMOG's, and who can forget how fast the news spread when we
heard that target="_blank">Lord
British had been killed during a live event? Those are
the stories that make legends, and without a doubt, Richard stands
proudly among those legendary figureheads of gaming.
Gamers and industry insiders alike are always talking about how the
game industry is quickly closing on (or surpassing) Hollywood in terms
of popularity and cold hard cash. Overall, I'm one who obviously
agrees, but this past week has highlighted one extreme difference. A
movie only needs to have a strong opening weekend or two to make its
money back and nab a couple extra dollars to spare. If a studio
surrounds a movie with some mystery, has an editor piece together a
kickass trailer and pulls in a big name actor, it's virtually
guaranteed to reap the rewards, even if the movie itself blows chunks
like a four year old on the Tilt o' Whirl.
Online games can't afford to take this flash in the pan approach. Even
after the game is released to the public, there are ongoing hardware
and personnel costs behind the scenes to keep the game going and the
community happy. Keeping the hardware up and content is nothing
compared to the horrible raging mob a game community can become at the
drop of the hat.
Unlike their movie counterparts, the developers and community
representatives in the gaming world can't just turn their backs and say
"It's out, so I'm done. Have fun!” Personally, I bet over
half the people working in today's gaming industry would love to be
able tell the community to take this job and shove it nearly once a
day. The MMO player community tends to have the social grace of a
badger in heat; if you open your mouth the wrong way, you're going to
get your face ripped off.
Sadly, this isn't the first time we've seen this particular drama
unfold and I'm sure it won't be the last. While the circumstances
surrounding the trials and tribulations of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes are
many ways, one thing they had in common with style="font-style: italic;">Tabula Rasa was
name lurking behind the scenes, watching the show.
To the average gamer, Brad McQuaid was a relative unknown, but to the
masses that spent years of their lives playing the original Everquest,
he was a name among names and one of the developers responsible for the
best expansion (in player's minds) in the game's long history, href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scars_of_Velious"
Velious. So when word got out that he was going his own way
creating a game that was essentially Everquest 2.0 in spirit, players
were giddier than a six year old at a circus.
Unfortunately for us, a circus is just what he was running and the game
suffered horribly for it. Sony Online Entertainment saved the game from
inevitable death by picking it up, giving it some massive doses of
love, and have attached it to the life sustaining goodness of its
Could Tabula Rasa
be the next game to find a home at SOE or at least
enjoy a similar sort of situation at NCsoft? A game with such
innovation deserves a better fate than being terminated before its
time. NCsoft now has enough titles under its belt to give the idea of
offering access to all their games for one price some serious
credence. At the same time, SOE desperately needs a good sci-fi game to
flesh out their lineup (Sue me - Star Wars Galaxies doesn't count).
There may not have been enough geeks in the world willing to support
by itself, but give us access to it in a bundle of gaming
goodness and they may be surprised with just how many people decide
it's time to lock and load.
The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed are those of the author
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of
the Ten Ton Hammer network or staff.
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