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Tabula Rasa

The Perfect Ten: MMO mascots

World of Warcraft, Anarchy Online, City of Heroes, Dungeons and Dragons Online, EverQuest, Guild Wars, Warhammer Online, Tabula Rasa, Humor, Free Realms, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, Faxion Online

Everyone knows that a good mascot can make a difference between a video game's death and rabid popularity. Mario, Master Chief, Duke Nuke 'Em, Pac-Man, Samus Aran, Pyramid Head -- each one of these mascots isn't merely an aspect of the game, they are the virtual spokesperson (or spokesthing) which represents the game itself.

Yet when you think about it, MMOs have had a tougher time producing mascots than other video game genres, partially because unlike other games, you don't play as the mascots, and partially because when you have a cast of thousands of NPCs, picking out one to elevate above the rest is a difficult job.

Difficult, that is, but not impossible. Today we're going to look at ten MMO mascots (MMOscots?) that studios have tried to promote as the face of these games, to varying degrees of success.

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One Shots: Worth the wait

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

MMO gamers generally aren't fond of standing around waiting for something, particularly when the wait time begins being measured in hours rather than minutes. Massively reader Sajud Soljar shows us that it's not always the case in today's One Shots:
I still marvel at the events in Tabula Rasa, especially after the objectives were met. In this case Irendas Colony had successfully been defended and people simply formed a line and waited their turn to be handed their rewards by developers, or sometimes even General British himself.

I remember standing in line for almost two hours before my turn and the line still stretching out behind me. People were joking and having a blast during these moments and every single one remembered to thank the team for their rewards and saluted. We were a special breed of gamers.
Next week's One Shots theme is Some Assembly Required, and yes, it's a little nod to Massively's newest column. If you'd like to participate, send your best screenshot of content that you've created to us at oneshots@massively.com. It can be a house you built, an item you crafted, or anything you like as long as it came from your two (virtual) hands. Include your name, the game, and a little description of the image, and we'll feature it here on Massively!

One Shots: They literally follow you everywhere

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

One Shots is quite literally in the toilet today thanks to Massively reader Joe. That's not a bad thing, though, since we get a look at a cool pet and a trip down memory lane:
Here's my red lumin keeping me company on the can in Tabula Rasa. While the purple lumins were nine-month vet reward gifts, I got this red one from someone who got a promotional code for it from Comic-Con. Since he (unfortunately) didn't play the game, he gave it away on a TR fan forum to the first person to make him laugh. I won by sending him a video of me screaming my head off on a roller coaster.
Now it's your turn! Large or small, deadly or purely decorative, we want to see your favorite pet companion. Just let us know your name, the name of the game, and a little about your pet and how you acquired it. Send it all to oneshots@massively.com and we'll feature you and your pet on One Shots this week.

It's time to start preparing for next week's One Shots theme as well. We've seen your gear, your mounts, and your pets; now it's time to see you! Snap a screenshot of your favorite character in your favorite MMO. Let us know about him or her, and we'll feature the character here on One Shots!

The Perfect Ten: The evolution of /dance

World of Warcraft, Age of Conan, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Fallen Earth, Guild Wars, Culture, Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, Tabula Rasa, RuneScape, Humor, Free Realms, RIFT, Allods Online, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

I recall when I was a wee... teenager and C+C Music Factory would blast through our Walkmans to demand that everybody (1) dance and (2) dance now. It was commanding, enthralling and extremely dorky, but the dance could not be denied. Dancing is in the soles of our souls as humans; we simply must boogie to a good beat.

I'm not quite sure when or where dancing in MMOs became all the craze, but these days it seems as though every game (except the dour ones with bears, bears, bears) prides itself on a good set of /dance emotes. For some players, it's the perfect way to unwind after a long raid or chew up a bit of time while one waits for SgtCuddlyMonkey to return from his refreshing bio break. For others, it's a legitimate career path with a long and distinguished history of gyrating on top of mailboxes while annoyed postal recipients long for a day when a pelvis will not be gesturing at eye level.

So this week, let's loosen up, let our hair down, and samba across the ballroom floor as we count down (up?) 10 incredible MMO dances.

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The Perfect Ten: The sadistic shopper's list for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Fury, RF Online, The Matrix Online, Hellgate: London, Tabula Rasa, All Points Bulletin, Humor, Promotions, Perfect Ten

With the holiday shopping season upon us, gamers are hot for great deals and cheap entertainment. As my wife's logic goes, if something is 80% off, you buy it, even if you didn't really want it in the first place. It's the principle of the thing, an automatic 80% dose of smug satisfaction at being a savvy shopper!

Not every deal should be pursued, however. Although most video games are playable for years and decades after release, not so with MMOs that have had their service shuttered. It's recently come to my attention that even though these games are completely unplayable -- rendered nothing more than a few cents' worth of a DVD and cardboard packaging -- online retailers haven't kept up with the times and keep these products on the virtual shelves long past their expiration dates.

That's not to say you should avoid these products at all cost, because studies show that a large percentage of Massively readers have a sick and twisted sense of humor. What would make a better gift this Christmas than a multi-million-dollar-budget MMO that died a horrible death years before?

So don't be the typical gifter who settles for a Blu-ray player or an iPod -- give a package of misery, disillusionment and broken dreams! Hit the jump for 10 items that absolutely belong in your shopping cart if you wish to be feared!

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The pain and suffering of MMO shutdowns

MMO Industry, The Matrix Online, Tabula Rasa, All Points Bulletin

Like life itself, the MMO industry doesn't often seem fair -- promising games can die premature deaths while creaky antiques continue to chug along just fine. When an MMO like APB or Tabula Rasa announces that it's closing its doors after only a couple years (or months), the first reaction is usually to ask, "What in Sam Hill happened and why are they doing this to me?" Yet what isn't always considered is the emotional fallout on behalf of the devs.

Over at Kotaku, Michael Fahey examined the fallout when MMOs are shuttered prematurely, using the examples of Auto Assault and The Matrix Online as case studies. NetDevil spent four years developing the former, which lasted a mere fraction of that time -- 16 months -- as a live game. Ryan Seabury testifies to the pain that this causes for a dev team: "I won't lie, it hurts like hell still over four years later... Naturally, if a universe like Auto Assault that you sort of mentally attach to over multiple years suddenly ceases to exist, it's like a part of you dies." He personally points to NCsoft as the reason for Auto Assault's closure, stating that the game might still be in operation if it wasn't for the publisher's lack of faith.

On the flip side, The Matrix Online had a longer run and plenty of time to prepare for the end once word was passed down. Then-Community Manager Daniel Myers says that the decision was a matter of dollars and sense. Still, Myers admits that it continues to affect him: "There are still days that I wish I could log in and see the Megacity again. I don't know [if] that will ever completely stop. I kind of hope it doesn't."

Avoiding a sinking game

Business Models, Culture, The Matrix Online, Opinion, Tabula Rasa, Vanguard


With the holiday season usually comes a healthy dose of gift money, and what comes with extra money for many people reading the site is new games. It's not as if the past year has been exactly spare on game releases, although the success of several is a bit up in the air. But be forewarned -- if you needed the reminder, 2009 could very well be the year we learned that no title is immune to being shut down, with Tabula Rasa and The Matrix Online being among the highest-profile games to finally be shut down for good due to sales figures.

Bio Break has an excellent post on what is termed "avoiding the Titanic" -- in short, making sure that you're not signing up for a game that's going to just leave you high and dry. The recent announcement from Vanguard is among the examples cited, although some fans would be quick to point out it's not a death knell for the game. But it doesn't sound like the game is going to advance far beyond its current state, and for many games, that means a slow bleeding-out. Of course, avoiding titles that are perceived as hopeless can be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but it's worth keeping in mind that perhaps that money might be better spent if you question a game's near future.

The Daily Grind: Do you buy lifetime memberships?

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Lord of the Rings Online, Business Models, New Titles, The Matrix Online, Tabula Rasa, Star Trek Online, The Daily Grind, Casual, Champions Online

On Monday we told you Cryptic had announced a lifetime membership for Champions Online. For $199 you get access to the Star Trek Online closed beta, special costumes not available to anyone else and other juicy perks. Cool huh? Now while lifetime memberships are not new (LotRO springs to mind), it's a lot of money to try a must-play game but, in a way, it also binds you to said MMO. You're buying before you try, in effect, and promising to invest a large amount of time in a particular game based on screen shots, lore or the IP.

The problem is, it's hard to tell whether a game will be hit and miss and if it ultimately goes the way of Tabula Rasa and The Matrix Online. At the same time, the really popular MMOs like WoW never seem to offer lifetime subs, as if they know they will be so popular that subscriptions will keep the game going well into the next decade. I'm wondering, constant readers, do you buy lifetime memberships and did you do it because it would work out cheaper or because you genuinely love that MMO?

The Daily Grind: When MMOs die

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, Endgame, The Matrix Online, Tabula Rasa, The Daily Grind, Virtual Worlds

It's a sad thing when an MMO gets switched off and all our hard played toons go to the great virtual world in the sky. This week it was the turn of The Matrix Online. It's rare for the better known MMOs, like Tabula Rasa, to go out with a bang. For most games, their death throes are just a whimper as they fade into obscurity. Big or small, when a game closes it's doors, it's an event which will being a tear to some players, even if most might have already gone to pastures new.

How do you cope when an MMO, specifically your MMO, dies? Imagine for a second, you've invested thousands of hours in characters, amassed a fortune in gold -- or whatever currency is hip right now -- and conquered the world literally. Personally, I firmly believe MMOs are not just about the world you exist in but also the people you play with. So, if you played The Matrix Online or Tabula Rasa, did you and your guild pick another game to try? Has game death prompted you to meet up in real life? Did you quit the moment the announcement of plug pulling came down from on high or were you there when the skies lightened and the end came? Tell us in the usual way by dropping your thoughts in the box below.

Richard Garriott blasts NCsoft with $24 million lawsuit

Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, Opinion, Tabula Rasa, Legal

When Tabula Rasa shut down in January, we thought we'd heard the last of NCsoft and Richard Garriott in the same sentence. Oh, how wrong we were. Yesterday, Kotaku broke the news that Garriott was suing his old pals at NCsoft to the tune of $24 million for fraud, and generally being a bunch of fetid arsebiscuits. Details were decidedly skimpy, however - why would Garriott go after the company so long after his departure? What had gone rotten in the state of Denmark?

This morning, GamePolitics added their .02 to the mix and upped the ante with the legal documents involved - and boy, are they illuminating. According to Richard's side of the story, it goes like this: Richard & co form Destination Games, and are bought out by NCsoft in exchange for some very hefty stock options. After Tabula Rasa launches, Richard gets tapped for a space flight he signed up for some years prior. After talking to NCsoft higher-ups, he is approved for, and goes on, extended leave to take his space flight. During this time, he continues doing PR for Tabula Rasa, including Operation Immortality. Flight (and PR stunt) successful, Richard touches down to Earth, goes into quarantine in Russia, and NCsoft calls him to drop the hammer - while he's stuck in Russia, decontaminating. No choice, no warning, nothing. "So long, and thanks for all the Bane."

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One Shots: A final salute

Sci-Fi, Screenshots, Tabula Rasa, One Shots


While Tabula Rasa may have shut down all of the servers, this game is by no means forgotten. As many people head into their favorite gaming spaces this weekend to spend time with friends, at least one group will be missing their favorite MMO haunt. This salute to the end of Tabula Rasa comes to us from Mort, who sent along the follow brief note: [This is] a final salute to the fallen Earth from clan Kaka, [taken] at the Empire State Building. We have a few other final Tabula Rasa contributions, so we'll be adding those in the mix in the days to come - if you'd like to send yours and join the fun, feel free!

If you're playing a game we haven't seen in a while - or likely won't see again - why not send in a screenshot? We like to see everything from rolling landscape screens to the intense heat of battle. All you have to do is email it to us at oneshots AT massively DOT com along with your name, the game it's from, and a quick note about what we're seeing. We'll post it out here and give you credit for sending it in!

Gallery: One Shots


Dismissed! The final moments of Tabula Rasa

Sci-Fi, Screenshots, Video, Culture, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), MMO Industry, Tabula Rasa


Despite any glimmer of hope from fans that the game could somehow be saved, NCsoft's Tabula Rasa closed down last night in a truly epic display of community and developer involvement.

It's not often that we get to see the last second of an MMO's life, so it's important that we showcase those videos depicting the final moments. Quite a few videos have popped up already, with many more out there on YouTube. We've collected and embedded a few of the very first videos available just below the cut, courtesy of iRacerMatt, our reader Poozle, Plukh and the wonderful tribute video at WarCry. Plus, be sure to check out our visual tribute to TR through a gallery of player screenshots.

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The Daily Grind: A farewell to Tabula Rasa

Culture, Events (Real-World), News Items, Opinion, Tabula Rasa, The Daily Grind


As this morning dawns across the world, the ranks of MMO communities are down by one. Tabula Rasa, started on the same day that Massively opened its doors, has closed down after one final, epic battle. As MMO players, just about all of us can relate as to how much it would suck to lose the game our community is in, thereby sending that community to the four corners of the gaming world. It's always a hard thing to see any MMO sunsetted.

This morning, we wanted to give those players a chance to reflect on what they loved about Tabula Rasa - the community, the graphics, the story line, the dev interaction. Also, we'd love to hear what your plans are now; other AFS alumni may decide to join you in new gaming pastures! Will there be another MMO, or are you off to play games like Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead?

One Shots: A final, brave fight

Sci-Fi, Screenshots, Tabula Rasa, One Shots


As the brave men and women of the AFS gather together for the final assault on the Bane tonight, many may wonder what the battle might look like. We were lucky enough to get in this awesome screenshot of Tabula Rasa from Adelbern on the (former) Pegasus server that might help folks to get an idea of what a small portion of the coming final battle may taste like. Adelbern writes: When you're the last man standing and the Bane are able to take back a control point, there's only one thing left to do: RUN! This screenshot was taken at River Base Krimm in Foreas' Palisades map.

If you're one of the people who will be playing on this final day of Tabula Rasa, please snap some screenshots for One Shots and send them in to us once the battles are finished? We'd love to have your screenshots and stories for a send-off, but we'll only be able to do it if you take them and send them in! Just email them to us here at oneshots AT massively DOT com along with your name, group, and a note about your experiences, funny TR stories, etc. We'll post them out here and give you the credit.

Gallery: One Shots

Tabula Rasa's shutdown salute schedule

Sci-Fi, Events (In-Game), MMO Industry, News Items, PvE, Tabula Rasa


Listen up, soldiers! We're going to post this once and only once, so I want all eyes and ears on this blog post! Do you get me!?

*Waits to hear the chorus of "We get you, sir!" coming from the computer monitor.*

We have gotten word from AFS High Command that the Bane are preparing for an all out attack against the Allied Free Sentients in Tabula Rasa. This will be the single largest troop movement that the battlefields have seen to date. This is why all soldiers are being asked to fortify all AFS bases in preparation of an attack on Saturday at 8 PM GMT for the Centarus (EU) server and again at 8 PM CST for the Hydra server.

These attacks will be lead by the infamous Neph, cousin race to the benevolent Eloh. Neph are the most intelligent commanders that the Bane has to throw against us, but we will fight them back!

The attacks are expected to last until midnight GMT and midnight CST. If we are unsuccessful with our defense, and should we be overrun, then we will make sure that their victory will cost them everything! The Penumbra Division has been ordered to ready the last resort weapon and only fire it should we still be under attack at midnight. If we're going down, we're taking them, and the server, with us!

Hoo-rah, soldiers!

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