Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Dev Corner: Tabula Rasa - State of the Game
Starr Long, the Producer of Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa, updates us on the state of the game, as well as moving forward to the exciting things to come.
In the last few weeks there's been talk about the future of Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa, the financial impact of the game on NCsoft as a whole, and the state of our development team here in Austin. I think it's important to clarify what is going on and what our players can look forward to in the near future, because there is a lot to look forward to.
NCsoft has committed a lot of money and resources into continuing post-launch development of Tabula Rasa. We have been putting new content into the game every few weeks, and we will continue doing just that. We have already added more upper level content and new features like Hybrids, and we're working on tons of exciting content, such as Personal Armor Units (mechs and mini-vehicles that players can use and will grant them new abilities). Other features we are planning include Command Opportunity, where players will get the ability to summon entire squads of upgradeable NPCs to fight for them. Clans will be able to battle over control points, which we are building specifically for clan versus clan gameplay. Another addition we're working on is Flashpoints, which are missions that start dynamically in a region for a number of players, whenever certain criteria are met.
Richard Garriott remains involved in, and dedicated to, Tabula Rasa. Even while training for the opportunity of a lifetime—to go to space—he's been in daily contact with our team, providing guidance and continually challenging us.
I would be remiss if I don't clarify the matter of rumored "massive layoffs" within NCsoft North America and the Tabula Rasa team. While the game has not taken off as quickly as we had hoped, we also launched in an insanely competitive time frame, with several well-known intellectual properties launching follow up products at the same time. However, the fact of the matter is that we are transitioning from a pre-launch crunch-mode development team to a live service team. This is standard in our industry—you ramp up to launch a game and then ramp down once it's live. This is what we are doing over the next several weeks, and it only affects the Tabula Rasa team. Once all is said and done, we will still have a substantial live team for industry standards. As you can see by the new features we're working on, we're still planning on lots of great content and updates all year long.
There has been a lot of talk about Tabula Rasa lately which doesn't match the reality of the situation. I hope I've been able to shed some light on what is really going on. We have become a more flexible team and have put procedures in place in order to deliver more focused, timely content and fixes much faster than before. This has given us the ability to support our players in a much more timely fashion, which they seem to appreciate and we plan to continue.
I can't close this column without mentioning Tabula Rasa's community. They have been invaluable in helping us determine the priorities for the game moving forward. We deeply value our community's passion, commitment, and dedication to the game. They continue to provide us with excellent feedback and ways to improve Tabula Rasa. We have a lot on the horizon for Tabula Rasa this year, so stay tuned to our website for more updates on the game.
Thanks for your time!
Starr Long, Producer of Richard Garriott's http://www.rgtr.com/, NCsoft North America
Starr Long has been in the business of making PC games for more than a dozen years. Alongside Richard Garriott, he was the original Project Director for the commercially successful Ultima Online. Starr worked his way up through the ranks of Origin Systems, Inc. starting in Quality Assurance working on Wing Commander, Ultima, and many other titles for Origin. In 2001 Starr teamed with Garriott to start the Destination Games studio in Austin, which was later acquired by Korean gaming giant, NCsoft. Currently Starr is Producer on Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa, an epic sci-fi role-playing online game developed at NCsoft's Austin, Texas studio and published in 2007.