- Tabula Rasa
- Massively Multiplayer
Written by: Sam Sollars
Yesterday afternoon, I had the extremely enviable position of being able to sit about 10 feet from Lord British himself, Richard Garriott, as he demoed his upcoming new game, Tabula Rasa. I did not, however, have my Black Sword or poison bread loaf with me, so I am in fact unable to confirm the rumors that some of you have been asking me about. Also, thankfully, Rainz was nowhere to be found, so the demo went off without a hitch.
What is Tabula Rasa? That’s a fair question, I suppose. The answer is that it’s a revolution in MMO gaming, it’s a new experience, and it most definitely deserves your attention. Richard Garriott is more than famous for his contributions to the gaming industry, which can be found in games like City of Heroes, Lineage and of course, the Ultima series. All signs so far point to Tabula Rasa eclipsing the impact that these games have had, and it most certainly seems that many hours of my time are to be eaten up by this amazing-looking game. On Wednesday afternoon, Christiaan and I headed in to a small room in the Sony Metreon, adjacent to the conference hall to get a sneak peak at a game that we’ve been drooling over for a while. Here’s a quick background on what we know so far about Tabula Rasa.
The Blank Slate
Tabula Rasa is an online, massively multiplayer game unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Tabula Rasa features fast paced, real-time tactical combat. The game is set in a contemporary time frame – just a few years in the future – when an alien race known as the Bane invades the Earth and slaughters the majority of mankind. In a clever tactical assault, the Bane will crash giant pieces of previously conquered planets onto their new targets, allowing interstellar plagues to grip and ravage new planets, effectively doing much of their killing for them. The players are the surviving members of the human race, and it’s our job to eliminate the Bane of earth’s existence.
The mission structure of the game should play an enormous part in determining how the plot of the game unfolds. Garriott says that the base gameplay should last somewhere between 100-300 hours, with something close to a 50/50 mix of instanced areas versus battlefield combat. There should be “almost zero” forced group content here, which should please the more solitary players. “Our intention is to make a game that is fully soloable,” said Garriott. Solo play is also enhanced by the fact that NPC characters will dynamically battle for supremacy with the player, and will continue to do so even if the player isn’t around. You may come back from an intense battle to find that one of your supply points has been taken over, or you may come across a group of soldiers attempting to take control of a Bane base. There’s very little chance that they’ll have much success without some assistance from players, though.
If you’re a group raid type of player, however, you’ll be glad to hear that there’s never a detriment to bringing along some friends. If you defeat a boss or capture a control point, everyone in the party gets full credit for the experience; that is to say that XP is replicated per player, rather than divided. You can expect the baseline mission time to be about 30 minutes, but every goal will have multiple side tasks that can not only give hours of extra gameplay, but also provide a distinct tactical benefit. Take out a communications tower, for example, and the enemy won’t be able to call for backup.