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Tabula Rasa

One Shots: Ms. Rasa 2217

Screenshots, Culture, Tabula Rasa, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, The Secret World, Miscellaneous

One Shots Ms Rasa 2217
Sometimes some of you readers are actually crazy enough to respond to my weekly screenshot challenges for who knows what reason. Reader Joe got all excited when I put out a call for "pin-up" pictures and sent me a trio of his characters from the near-future (and dead past). I thought this one was the most striking.

"Here's Tabula Rasa proving that you don't need to show a lot of skin to look good in armor," Joe wrote. "That's right, Jyo, you work that incendiary injector gun!"

Will our kids learn about Tabula Rasa on the History channel some day? I can only imagine. Other amazing player shots await you in this week's column!

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One Shots: That warm pink glow

World of Warcraft, Screenshots, Tabula Rasa, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, Humor, RIFT, Miscellaneous

One Shots That warm pink glow
Dragons are many things in MMOs: fierce, ultimate, overplayed, gold-loving, air travel, and full of hot air. But reader Kim saw something else, something almost tender when she went up against this big fella in Guild Wars 2.

"This is my favorite game because I can battle dragons," Kim writes. "Of all the dragons, the Shatterer is my favorite. Who could resist that warm pink glow? Besides, it looks like he only has eyes for me!"

Imminent death is A-OK as long as it has a comforting, flirtacious glow about it. I learn something new every week from One Shots. What other lessons will I add to my brain-unit from the rest of these pictures? There's only one way to find out!

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Jukebox Heroes: Tabula Rasa's soundtrack

Sci-Fi, Opinion, Tabula Rasa, Jukebox Heroes, Music

Jukebox Heroes Tabula Rasa's soundtrack
It's a well-known fact that the ghost of Tabula Rasa haunts the Massively offices. I think it's because Shawn keeps feeding it ectopellets because he's not quite ready to let his beloved MMO go. The ghost is driving the rest of us crazy because it's constantly switching the labels on our lunchboxes and whistling the Tabula Rasa theme through the air ducts while we're trying to get honest work done.

So while the MMO no longer exists outside of a few forlorn collector's editions picking up dust on store shelves, the music persists. Tabula Rasa boasted a strong score thanks to the work of Tracy W. Bush. Bush is a name you should know when it comes to MMO soundtracks: He had a huge hand in the World of Warcraft score and contributed to several NCsoft titles (which are all dead, but that's probably not his fault). [Edit: Several readers wrote in to let me know that Curse Mackey, Stacie Cline, Chris Vrenna, and Clint Walsh also contributed to the score. Thanks!]

I find that sci-fi MMOs, particularly shooter-based ones, tend to elicit heavier tracks and more synth work than orchestral, and they are sometimes relentlessly grim. All of the above certainly can be applied to Tabula Rasa, up to and including its final surprising track.

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One Shots: Do you always dress like that?

Screenshots, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Lineage 2, Lord of the Rings Online, Tabula Rasa, One Shots, Humor, Miscellaneous

One Shots Do you always dress like that
Here's a tip from your friendly One Shots coordinator: If you send in a screenshot from a game that hardly ever gets featured in this column, there's a better-than-average chance that I'm going to bump it right up to the top of the pack. Case in point: this groovy shot from Lineage II.

Reader Johnny said he played this game back in 2007: "Behind me we can see the endgame, the Baium Raid Boss. Baium resides on the 13th floor of a the Tower of Insolence, a massive, non-instanced hunting ground with 13 fully accessible and monster-packed floors. The weapon I am holding is a Flaming Dragon Skull, an A-grade blunt weapon."

Be prepared for A-grade awesome screenshots and B-grade commentary as you forge on in this week's repository of player-submitted pictures!

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The Daily Grind: Are petitions to resurrect MMOs a waste of time?

Sci-Fi, Culture, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Opinion, Tabula Rasa, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, Sunsets

Tabula Rasa
We've received several tips over the last few weeks about a petition players are circulating in the hopes of resurrecting NCsoft's ill-fated MMO shooter Tabula Rasa. Even Richard Garriott himself tweeted about the campaign. But inside the Massively virtual offices, most of us just shrugged sadly. We've seen how these petitions go. Every once in a while, a sunsetted game returns from the dead, but MMO players are awash in petitions for games that never came back. Just ask the 21,845 gamers who signed the Save City of Heroes petition last autumn.

So what do you think -- are petitions to resurrect or save MMOs a waste of time? Or do you sign them anyway, just in case there's a tiny chance they might work?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

The Daily Grind: How do you handle a closed MMO still on the shelf?

Sci-Fi, Opinion, Tabula Rasa, The Daily Grind, Sunsets

The Daily Grind How do you handle a closed MMO still on the shelf
No, that header picture wasn't taken in 2007; it was taken 4 days ago at a Walmart near me. What's even better is the fact that I took a similar picture about two years ago of the same product in the same store, but nothing's ever been done about it.

The question is, is it up to me to tell the store clerks about how wrong this is, or do I contact someone higher up at Walmart? Perhaps I should go straight to NCsoft with this one? I can't imagine the dismay in a child's eyes when he buys the game, rips it open and installs it, only to find out that no Bane will be dropping down in front of his leech gun any time soon. Think of the children!

So, wise Massively readers, how would you handle this situation? Or have you seen a closed game on a store shelf before? Did you report it? Let us know!

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

The Perfect Ten: Final moments of MMOs, part 1

Video, The Matrix Online, Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, Tabula Rasa, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, Sunsets

The Perfect Ten Final moments of MMOs
Maybe many of us would just rather remember MMOs as they were in life rather than at the moment of their demise. But I believe that how a game went out is incredibly fascinating for many reasons and worthy of examination.

It's in these final moments when an entire community has to say goodbye. It's in these moments that the developers mourn as well before pulling the plug. It's in these moments that history is being made one last time. And it goes without saying that it's in these moments that everyone curses the unfairness of it all.

Today we're going to watch the first half of 10 videos featuring MMOs in their final moments. It's here we'll see how weird, crazy, sad, and interesting things can get. Maybe you were part of one (or more) of these moments or are simply curious what it was like. Either way, it's the end of the world as we know it. And we feel fine.

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One Shots: Paging the burn ward

Screenshots, Asheron's Call, Guild Wars, Culture, Tabula Rasa, One Shots, Vindictus, Miscellaneous

One Shots Great balls o' fire!
It's a little amazing, when you think about it, that all of these magic-users who prance around in extremely flammable robes don't suffer from third-degree burns more than we see. Or maybe the game is hiding the awful, scarred truth from us. In any case, our opening screenshot this week should have resulted in a quick trip to the ER for both parties.

"This is a simple yet fun battle in Vindictus' early levels," reader Carolina says. "I love the detail of the damaged shoe on my spellcaster character."

Forget the human element; now the shoes are the ones suffering for our casual disregard of fiery magic! If you can get past the misery of the moment, we've got plenty of other great one shots this week for you to admire.

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One Shots: Winning is half the battle

World of Warcraft, Screenshots, Culture, Tabula Rasa, Star Trek Online, One Shots, Champions Online, Miscellaneous

One Shots Winning is half the battle
If knowledge is half the battle, what's the other half? Winning, duh. It's certainly not flaky pastries or erotic roleplaying. You got to win the game's face off, and when you're done, you should pose for a commemorative photo like Reader Ralph here:

"This shot was taken just minutes from the end," he wrote to us. "After several fierce battles, our team of AFS soldiers succeeded in taking over the last Bane encampment! The Earth was ours again! WE WON! And then our universe winked out of existence, and Tabula Rasa was no more."

You won and you lost? Ralph, you officially broke the universe with that. Read on for more exciting player screenshots in today's edition of One Shots.

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One Shots: To those left behind

Screenshots, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Tabula Rasa, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, Miscellaneous

One Shots To those left behind
Good games may get cancelled, but as long as we have screenshots, they're never truly forgotten! Reader John sent us in this blast from the not-too-distant past that some of you may recognize.

"While going through some old screenshots, I came across a few from Tabula Rasa," John shared. "It was taken in November of 2007 as Veracious Pearl was ready to do some fighting."

Sadly, that soldier never made it out of the war. That doesn't mean we've given up fighting, however! Knock down a few mobs in the name of Veracious Pearl today, and when you're done, you should check out the rest of today's One Shots troops.

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The Game Archaeologist: Richard Garriott's haunted cache

Video, Events (Real-World), Tabula Rasa, Ultima Online, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous

Richard Garriott
Whenever you get really into a new hobby, it's natural to want to blab about it to anyone who drifts into your gravitational field. That's why we all talk about MMOs, right? It's also why any friends, family members, and coworkers have had to put up with excited rambling about my discovered love for Geocaching.

Some of you probably know Geocaching, as it's been around for over a decade now. For those of you who haven't, it's a worldwide treasure hunt that involves over a million and a half "caches" of various sizes that are hidden and then marked with GPS coordinates. Players head to the official site or one of the open-source projects to get the coordinates and go hunting for them. There's a useful two-minute introduction to this hobby on YouTube if you're curious.

I noted on our Massively Speaking podcast that Geocaching has a lot in common with MMOs: Both encourage questing and exploration, both have treasure to be found, and both plug you into a community of adventurers. Listener Terrence heard this and send in an email with an interesting revelation that ties these two hobbies even closer together, as a game developer brought his online world to a real-world location.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you Richard Garriott's haunted cache.

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The Game Archaeologist: When dead MMOs come back to life

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, The Matrix Online, Star Wars Galaxies, Hellgate: London, Tabula Rasa, Shadowbane, Mythos, Free-to-Play, All Points Bulletin, LEGO Universe, The Game Archaeologist, Faxion Online

Hellgate Tokyo
Maybe I'm alone in this, but my jaw just dropped when I came home this past week to see that Massively posted the news that Shadowbane is coming back to life. Granted, it's only going to happen in China, but still, that's pretty incredible. Shadowbane's been in the ground for three years now, and if I had to pick an MMO that deserved resurrection, this particular one would be farthest from my mind (no offense if you liked the game; it's just that there are so many others that are even more worthy).

But how can this not give you hope? Many of us have lost an MMO we loved or at least had a decked-out character populating the character select screen, and the thought of that game coming back against all odds is a goosebump-rising one. It may also smack of justice served, as some MMOs fail not because of faulty gameplay but because of mismanagement by the studio, complex legal wrangling, or bad marketing.

Today let's look at a few examples of dead MMOs that were brought back to life and what this may mean for the future of the industry. Zombie MMOs! Not, you know, MMOs with zombies.

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Richard Garriott: 'Exceptionally unusual pressures' helped tank Tabula Rasa

Sci-Fi, Interviews, MMO Industry, Tabula Rasa

Tabula Rasa
What truly happened with the sad tale of Tabula Rasa, the scifi MMO that had the full backing of Richard Garriott and NCsoft -- and yet lasted only 15 months before being shuttered? For the full scoop, it's good to go right to the source: General British himself.

Garriott sat down with Eurogamer for a candid dissection of what went wrong with Tabula Rasa. Ultimately, he feels that he did not do enough to make the game the best it could've been. Initially, Garriott's team brought on several Asian developers to help shape the title to be appealing to the Eastern market.

The partnership didn't work out, and after two years the team basically started over. By then, Tabula Rasa was already struggling. "So Tabula Rasa started its two-year late restart under exceptionally unusual pressures and with understandable corporate discontent, which made it very difficult to finish," he said.

Garriott then acknowledges that the MMO's failure has caused players to be wary about his future projects: "Since Ultima Online was a fair time back and Tabula Rasa had its troubles, it makes perfect sense that people would go, 'I'm cautious as to what my expectations are.'"

One Shots: Look out below!

Sci-Fi, Galleries, Screenshots, Tabula Rasa, One Shots

Tabula Rasa screenshot
Our One Shots image today comes to us from Joe, who managed to turn a very unfortunate misstep into a photo op from Tabula Rasa:
I remember when I first discovered Pinhole Falls. I came to it from above when I followed a river to a small lake near the edge of a cliff. I wondered why it was called Pinhole Falls when I couldn't see any water falls around me... until I jumped into the lake and fell through the waterfall to my death below. Other of than the unique structure of the waterfall, I loved that they went to the detail to include a rainbow in the waterfall's mist.
Environment week has been so popular that we're continuing it all next week. The game world is an area that most developers put a huge amount of effort into, and it shows. Do you have a favorite landscape, particularly eye-catching weather effect, or hidden jewel in an out-of-the-way location? Snap a screenshot of your favorite MMO area, tell us a bit about what and where it is, and send it to oneshots@massively.com.

GDC Europe 2011: Richard Garriott says mobile and social titles are 'the future of games'

Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Tabula Rasa, Events (Massively's Coverage), Miscellaneous

Richard Garriott
Delivering the final keynote address at this year's GDC Europe, Richard Garriott said that the industry is rapidly moving away from MMOs as we know them and toward mobile and social gaming -- and that companies need to hop on board, lest they be left behind.

Garriott used his iPhone as an example of this new direction: "I am now much more of a gamer than I ever been in my whole life, but the vast majority of the gaming I have played has been on this machine. I'm a devout believer that this is the current and near-term future of games."

He defines this "new era" of gaming by having cheap games that are simple to use and connect you with real-world friends. While he thinks earlier social games like FarmVille were too simple and unappealing, Garriott says that they're evolving quickly.

During the speech, Garriott expressed regret that his team didn't stick by the original vision for Tabula Rasa, and he urged fellow developers not to trade in their dreams in order to follow the company line. His new company Portalarium plans to "reinvent roleplaying yet again" by releasing a series of products that will capitalize on social gaming and retrain players to think beyond mere combat to a wider experience.

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