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Richard Garriott, NCSoft Finally Reveal Tabula Rasa

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the put-a-little-british-on-it dept.

PC Games (Games) 39

An anonymous reader writes "GameSpy has released the first concrete details on Ultima creator Richard Garriott's PC sci-fi MMORPG, Tabula Rasa, after years of development at Destination Games and NCSoft. The game promises to do away with MMO annoyances such as excessive 'travel time', indicating: 'one of the first elements added to the game was the ability to teleport to a friend - not as a power, but merely as an ability inherent to anyone in the world.' The combat system (in which the developers 'took inspiration from console titles like Soul Calibur II') and level structure is also more unconventional: 'The bulk of the game outside of the Hubs and the Estates is focused on squad-based cooperative gameplay in instanced missions that are available to anyone.'" GameSpy also has first in-depth details on another NCSoft title, Auto Assault, offering "[massively multiplayer] car combat in a Mad Max-type universe."

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Auto Assult looks interesting.... (5, Funny)

Muda69 (718162) | more than 10 years ago | (#9085719)

I'm gonna form a clan consisting entirely of Subaru WRX's and 1974 Dodge Darts..........

NCSoft (4, Insightful)

JMZero (449047) | more than 10 years ago | (#9085808)

NCSoft is building up quite a stable of MMORPGS. While it remains to be seen how many of them are going to be high quality, I think should consider an "all-access" pass (like Sony, only with different games to play). I can see players being really into Lineage II or City of Heroes - but also enjoying an occasional car pileup.

The market will only support so many monthly subscriptions at once - but they could ensure themselves a bigger slice of that pie by offering a bit of a buffet.

Re:NCSoft (4, Interesting)

Txiasaeia (581598) | more than 10 years ago | (#9086027)

Now *here's* an interesting idea! I've never played a MMOG in the past, having baulked at first purchasing a game and then paying for it monthly ($25-30 CAD); for the money spent on an MMOG and a couple months' worth of subscriptions, I could buy two new games every three months.

But if a company offered more than one MMOG per subscription (a la Compuserve back in the day), I might actually consider it. I'm not the only person who thinks like this - only my friends with completely addictive personalities play MMOGs, while the rest of us are content with single- or [subscription-free] multiplayer experiences (UT2004, for example).

Re:NCSoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9091606)

SOE (Sony Online) already does this. You have to buy the game, but then you pay a flat fee and you have access to any of the games of theirs you own.

So potentiall you could play Everquest, Star Wars Galaxies, Planetside, and a few others for one flat rate.

Re:NCSoft (0, Redundant)

the morgawr (670303) | more than 10 years ago | (#9086134)

That is the best idea I have heard in very long time. I'd go for it.

Teleport to Friend (3, Interesting)

gabec (538140) | more than 10 years ago | (#9086145)

Anyone else see this "teleport to friend" as an insane battlefield advantage? I haven't read up on their game, so perhaps there's no PVP going, but imagine sneaking a thief into an enemy city then a whole clan of players "teleporting to friend". Boom! an invasion force! That'd be sweet! (or... devastating.)

Re:Teleport to Friend (1)

bishiraver (707931) | more than 10 years ago | (#9091400)

PvP looks like it's limited to arenas where you can complete different missions while pitted against a different team. They mention Capture the Flag in the article. The article says that both Garriot and Long are highly against non-consentual PvP (I wonder how UO got it, then? Maybe they just didn't think it would happen), so I doubt huge sieges or anything of the such will be happening in the game.

Sci-Fi? (3, Informative)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 10 years ago | (#9086053)

I am of mixed opinions on this ... Sci-Fi tradionally doesn't do as well (gameplay-wise, financially, etc) as historical / social settings (i.e.Age of Empires, Sims, etc), because of the lack of familiarity and ability to relate to the material. i.e. techno-babble.

Hopefully I'll be proven wrong, and the game will be a lot of fun.

Can anyone comment on the strengths and weaknesses of KOTOR ?

Re:Sci-Fi? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9086912)

Totally agree with you having experienced Phantasy star online

Exception: Starcraft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9087080)

Starcraft is certainly an exception.

Follow S2 Games' Lead, Multi-OS Release (1)

Bob_Robertson (454888) | more than 10 years ago | (#9086187)

It doesn't mention any OS, so I must assume this is a MSWin only thing.

That would be very bad. Awful, even. S2 Games, with their release of Savage [s2games.com] on both Windows and Linux platforms, has raised the bar. I would like to see these folks rise to meet it.


Re:Follow id Software's, Multi-OS Release (2, Informative)

sYn pHrEAk (526867) | more than 10 years ago | (#9086924)

id released Quake 3 on Win32, Mac, and Linux. That was years ago. Probably before S2Games was even around. If I remember correctly there were also Linux versions of Quake 1 and 2 released for download. All you had to do was copy the graphic files off of your regular CD to the right directory.

Don't get me wrong, Savage is hella fun, but the first big name multi-OS release credit goes to id.

Re:Follow S2 Games' Lead, Multi-OS Release (1)

Colazar (707548) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090135)

For MMOGs, I think Multi-platform honors have to go to Lineage and Shadowbane, both of which are Mac/PC releases.

OF course, Everquest has a Mac version as well, but it is on separate servers from the PC players.

Re:Follow S2 Games' Lead, Multi-OS Release (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9095398)

They will most likely use a stock engine for the client software because of the rising costs of developing a good 3D engine. At least I think that would be the right thing to do. Most games that use their own engine are less efficient than more honed ones like Unreal, Quake3, or Doom3. It's just an efficient polygon pusher. You can turn it into any game you want after that.

That said, the Quake3/Doom3 engines will be cross platform, but the Unreal engine is not necessarily cross platform out of the box. Many others are Windows only.

Eliminate Travel Time (1)

Henry V .009 (518000) | more than 10 years ago | (#9086226)

Travel time sunk Morrowind for me. That and the lousy combat system. And the uninspired magic system. And especially the tedious skill system. Then there were the miniscule dungeons. And the flat NPC characters. Also, every single feature implementation seemed half-assed, leaving something to be desired. But out of all of Morrowind's flaws, the boredom of excessive travel time stands out.

Re:Eliminate Travel Time (1)

Flyboy Connor (741764) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087072)

If you built up some experience with Morrowind, you would find ways to cut down travel time considerably. Actually, I can reach any place in Morrowind from any other place in under two minutes (with a level 15 character). Hint: Boots of Speed + Ring of Flight + Travel spells.

You are definitely right about the combat system and the flatness of the characters. The dungeons varied: some were miniscule and other were actually huge (especially in the Tribunal add-on). The skill system was OK, in my opinion, if you remember that the game was designed to be played for a looooooong time. When I played it I didn't bother about skills at all, and they built up automatically. As far as the magic system is concerned, personally, I liked it a whole lot.

Re:Eliminate Travel Time (4, Informative)

blincoln (592401) | more than 10 years ago | (#9088655)

As someone else suggested, there are lots of ways to get around the travel time in Morrowind.

You can purchase transport at all of the major cities in the game. If you complete the Boots of Blinding Speed quest you can increase your speed 200 points whenever you feel like it. If you collect the Propylon indices, you can teleport between the various Dwemer fortresses. If you have any magic skills, you can learn Mark/Recall, Divine Intervention, and Almsivi Intervention. There are two handy magical items (Amulet of Levitation and Blade of the Wind(?)) that let you levitate basically as much as you want to get over mountains.

The skill system is awesome, IMO. I am usually not a fan of RPGs at all, but basing levels and skills on how much you use them made me really interested in Morrowind.

The only complaint I had about the game was the over-abundance of Cliff Racers.

Re:Eliminate Travel Time (1)

microTodd (240390) | more than 10 years ago | (#9089515)

Go here and download the "no cliff racers" mod.

http://www.rpgplanet.com/morrowind/modcontrols/m od s_full.asp

Re:Eliminate Travel Time (1)

garibald (17833) | more than 10 years ago | (#9103934)

I agree that there were tons of different ways to get around in Morrowind.

I might be in the minority here, but I found that things were too compressed in Morrowind, every five steps you would find a "hidden dungeon" filled with fantastic creatures of immense power... you'd think that there'd be more corpses on the road ways and alot fewer civilians just wandering around.

The skill system was more interesting than alot of class-based systems, but suffered badly from a non-progressive response to increasing stimuli, in other words, casting a 1 mana spell would give you the same bump in skill as casting a 100 mana spell successfully. Such a system encourages the player to follow absurd behaviors. For instance I once sat in front of a Hound wearing a bit of heavy armor, light armor and medium armor, for about 4 hrs; I would just go and get a drink, watch a bit of TV and so forth, so that I could increase my AC, so that my character could survive against much harder creatures.

I was dissappointed by the magic system in Morrowind, which is one of my specialties. Custom spells were more expensive than developer-made spells, and it was only through some serious min-maxing that I could actually play a mage.. oh and I ended up just using a big blunt instrument.

Anyway, congrats for anyone who has actually read all the way through this little tirade

"Dramatic Compression" (5, Interesting)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 10 years ago | (#9086245)

Good to see Garriot learning about game design, and admitting it.

"Dramatic Compression" is otherwise known as "dead-time." If the player is bored, then your game is missing the elements of fun.

i.e. Why is the player bored ?

Paraphrasing Sid Meir "You want to present the player with interesting choices - problems and offer solutions - none which are the only correct answer, as they work towards the over-riding goals."

It's interesting to note that card & board games typically don't have dead-time.

Movies have learnt this ages ago -- keep the story moving. Of course that doesn't mean you can't have slow buildups, or build the tension, but if the tension it is never resolved, you just don't feel right. People want completion. That's why games have goals. The devil is in the details as they say -- How you get there is just as important as the goal itself.

So when America has 2 buildings bombed, that's called Terrorism.
But when America genocides another nation, that's called ending the War?!
Are morals Relative? Absolute? Both? Neither?!

Auto Assault==Car Wars? (2, Interesting)

krinsh (94283) | more than 10 years ago | (#9086257)

I recall that being a very popular 'paper' game back in the day - and we used to use micro machines to portray our vehicles. A MMO with that background might go over very well.

I believe you're right... (1)

JMZero (449047) | more than 10 years ago | (#9086722)

I believe Richard Garriott (as Lord British) did work on AutoDuel (back in the mid-80's I think) which was an RPG with a similar theme. If I remember right, it specifically credited Car Wars as an inspiration.

So I wouldn't be surprised if many of the same ideas come through here.

Re:I believe you're right... (2, Interesting)

WinnipegDragon (655456) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087135)

Yes, AutoDuel was an early Origin game, and British had his hands on pretty much everything they produced in that era.

There were some real forgotten classics from Origin in that time, Moebius and Ogre for instance. Well worth looking into.

Re:I believe you're right... (4, Informative)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#9088247)

It was an early Steve Jackson game that Origin licensed.

Re:Auto Assault==Car Wars? (2, Funny)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087177)

well a mmorpg version of that with interstate 76 style and I'd kiss any hope of graduation goodbye..

Re:Auto Assault==Car Wars? (1)

bishiraver (707931) | more than 10 years ago | (#9091412)

The people developing the game is NetDevil, who already have one (sorta) successful MMPOG under their belt in Jumpgate. It's only sorta successful because it's only got about 60 players on at peak hours. It's still sorta successful because they haven't shut it down or stopped development on it.

Revenue Models and Marketing (4, Interesting)

MiceHead (723398) | more than 10 years ago | (#9086441)

Here's Garriott's take on Tabula Rasa [rpgdot.com] about a year ago.

I believe that the market will force the MMOG industry to abolish the up-front fee within a few years. Some publishers are already doing that (and more [slashdot.org] ), but the majority seem dead-set on requiring me to pay $49.95 to test the waters. This has kept me away from some that I might otherwise enjoy [cityofheroes.com] . Those that offer free trials are in the minority, and should do more to tout their low-barrier-to-entry. Horizons [istaria.com] , made by the same folks who brought us the excellent Mordor [pcworld.com] , might be good, but until about ten minutes ago, I had assumed that they, too, required the initial investment to try out.

Commercial and shareware demos exist because there's so much competition there -- consumers can usually overlook a title that doesn't allow them to kick the tires. Given the sheer number of MMORPGs that exist [ign.com] , I think it it won't be long before their publishers follow suit. Guild Wars' [slashdot.org] model -- free play, with sales generated from expansions -- is a great way to differentiate it from other games. And what better way to hook someone? C'mon, man. The first one's free.
Amusing trivia: Will Wright on his first game, Raid on Bungeling Bay: "I found that I was having more fun actually creating and editing these islands than I was actually bombing them in the game."

Re:Revenue Models and Marketing (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 10 years ago | (#9104669)

Most only require that up-time fee when it is first released, after around 6-8 months they start offering the front-end for a free sometimes along with a small time to try the game.
They will not be going away; thier are alot of reason they will stick around with boxes at stores. Primary ones are:
1) it is free advertisement. In the store people see the box and may purchase it. Without the price stores will not stock the box.
2) It pays a big chuck of change. At the average profit rate of $15 per box(for the dev) and say 50,000 sales; that is a nice $750,000. Not alot over the life put still nice enough to keep around.

Where is the fun? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9086442)

I just wish that someone would make a game that featured something similar to UO's treasure hunter. Nothing was more fun that spending the day fishing for maps and then heading out at night to find the treasure.

Ooh! (1)

Blackneto (516458) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087614)

I for one hope he decides to address the collected online members in this one too...

Wow, someone gets it. (2, Interesting)

JavaLord (680960) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087713)

Hah, Garriott made my favorite RPG of all time, Ultima 4. Now it seems he is the only one who "gets it" and wants to cut the boring parts out of MMO's. He's going to get my money just to see what he does. Ah, and for those who are concerned with the sci-fi format, Origin put out a pretty good Sci-FI RPG game back around the Ultima 4-5 days called 2400AD. Check it out.

Re:Wow, someone gets it. (1)

CarrionBird (589738) | more than 10 years ago | (#9088170)

Dont forget the whole Wing Commander series. Darn good for something that would run on my old 10mhz 286.

2400 AD (1)

schroet (244506) | more than 10 years ago | (#9088513)

Wow someone else remembers that game, I loved it! I wish someone would put out a MUD with that theme :)

Sounds really familiar... (3, Interesting)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 10 years ago | (#9088727)

Reading this article, a lot of the new gameplay dynamics, (such as reduced travel time to meet with friends, persistent "hubs" that give access to instanced areas, and focus on group co-op missions) sounds a LOT like what Guild Wars is doing. Only this will be Sci Fi. Not that I'm complaining, it sounds like a lot of fun. Hopefully, this will be the new standard for MMO gameplay. Seems NCSoft is all over this too...

A Combat System... (2, Insightful)

Zangief (461457) | more than 10 years ago | (#9089440)

like the one in Soul Calibur 2?. That would mean that, no matter how much time you played, or which level you are, some annoying kid mashing the keyboard could give you a good kicking in the ass.

3D fighters = button mashing = suckiness.

Re:A Combat System... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9090576)

You are a terrible fighting game player. I can introduce you to people who will NEVER be beaten by a button mashing idiot. And no, they have not dedicated their lives to it.

Re:A Combat System... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9095414)

He's clearly talking in much more abstract terms than "make it just like this fighting game." If you read the article they tested the system using generic human figures holding a polygon rod labled "melee weapon" fighting cubes and pyramids with "monster" written on them walking around in plain white space. Quite simply the latency of the speed of light travelling over copper hundreds of miles prevents any kind of MMO fighting game from ever materializing.

My Thoughts on Design (2, Insightful)

Wtcher (312395) | more than 10 years ago | (#9091766)

It's very interesting the way they approached the design of the game. Instead of pouncing on a smattering of ideas and play mechanics and pushing them together, Long and Garriott whent back to basics and tried to figure out exactly what makes games fun, and how they could narrow down gameplay to these specifications. Instead of making "just another MMO game", they're trying to do something newish and somewhat untried by combining many styles of play and interaction from various different genres. While it's not completely free of derivation (*grin*), the concepts just may work - perhaps not altogether, but overall the game sounds like a pleasure. I suppose in a way, this sounds like those cross-genre titles that've been failing to dominate sales in the past decade, but the problem with them is that [I suspect oft-times] the developers took discrete and traditional modes of play [for those genres] and tried to cobble them together with narry a thought about how players would appreciate them and how the game experience would be altered according to the mindsets that came with them.

There are specific design processes that they are utilizing here that are significant, irregardless of their knowledge of them - they're trying to focus on how users experience and deal with/enjoy games instead of just trying ideas out in a shotgun approach.

I think I'm going to put my money on it when it finally debuts.

Auto Assault: Car Wars comes to a PC....finally (1)

markh1967 (315861) | more than 10 years ago | (#9110461)

It's about time that Car Wars [sjgames.com] was turned into a PC game. Autoduel was severely limited by the hardware available and I've been waiting almost 20 years for someone to have another go. I know it's not really based on Car Wars, as the article points out, but hopefully it will have the same feel to it.

I wonder why Car Wars was never turned into a PC or Console game? It's a ready-made extensive system with a lot of source material that would seem to be ideal for a strategy game.

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