Welcome!   |  Sign In  |  Register E3 2007 COVERAGE | FREE GUILD HOSTING  | BUY GAMES! | Help & FAQ  
 
Advertise      About Us      Contact     
November
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31
Downloads
LQGaming Store
Forums
LQGaming Radio
Live Chat
Advertise
Affiliate
Employment
Contact

  Tabula Rasa Interview with Richard Garriott  

TALKING TABULA RASA with Richard Garriott

Lord British Explains Why It’s Good to Be King

Richard “Lord British” Garriott all but single-handedly reinvigorated the role-playing genre when his first fantasy epic – Akalabeth, programmed at home in his spare time –originally debuted in 1980. The series eventually evolved to become Ultima, not only one of the most critically acclaimed and best-selling computer game franchises in existence, but also arguably the most beloved RPG brand ever. A pioneer in the massively multiplayer space – 1997’s Ultima Online proved a watershed moment for mainstream acceptance of MMOs – he’s always been an innovator.

But with Origin Systems, the Texas company he helped found (and home to the Wing Commander and Ultima Underworld franchises) long sold, it was no surprise when the visionary eventually jumped ship to NCSoft. And after helping the Korean firm launch Lineage in North America, Garriott’s attention soon returned to doing that which he loved best: creating entire virtual worlds. But delay after delay, plus a complete retooling of the project at one point, have conspired to keep his next magnum opus, online-only outing Tabula Rasa, from seeing the light of day.

But with Origin Systems, the Texas company he helped found (and home to the Wing Commander and Ultima Underworld franchises) long sold, it was no surprise when the visionary eventually jumped ship to NCSoft. And after helping the Korean firm launch Lineage in North America, Garriott’s attention soon returned to doing that which he loved best: creating entire virtual worlds. But delay after delay, plus a complete retooling of the project at one point, have conspired to keep his next magnum opus, online-only outing Tabula Rasa, from seeing the light of day.

That said, with the game’s launch finally impending early in 2006, we took a moment to speak with one of the industry’s brightest lights on what the future holds:

LQGaming Services:: Tabula Rasa means “blank slate.” You've been quoted as saying you were hoping to wipe the slate clean with this title and redefine MMOs. How do you plan on doing so?

Richard Garriott: The reference was originally a working title. We chose it because after creating fantasy based games loosely built atop the common language of Dungeons & Dragons and Tolkien, and 20 years of sequels, we were starting fresh, from a blank slate! We did not want to build a story or game play that people could say we built atop anyone else’s ideas. While not the original meaning of our name, yes, we do hope to redefine MMOs!

While MMOs opened up a great new area for gaming opportunities, most MMOs follow the narrow mold that was defined early on by Ultima Online and EverQuest. That even includes new MMOs like World of Warcraft. Basically they are all long, slow leveling fests, where monsters wait around to be “harvested” by players and then re-spawn back where they were. There is no real sense of a changing world, or my impact in it. No real sense of accomplishment above leveling up along with the masses of others on the same treadmill.

In Tabula Rasa "player actions have a tangible [...] affect on the state of play."


 

 

In Tabula Rasa, players will live and play on worlds under constant pressure and change. Battles will be won and lost and with it, control of territory. Players will go on a personal series of missions through which they can actually solve epic storylines and participate in events that significantly change the game state.

Tabula Rasa is a fast paced game that feels and plays more like a shooter than a traditional MMO where “He who does the most damage over time wins!”

LQGaming Services:: What are some of the features unique to this game that'll make it such a breath of fresh air for the gaming community? How will they add to the overall experience?

RG: There are two main areas we think will breathe new life into this genre. The first is combining the pace and feel of a shooter with the mechanics and ease of play of a role-playing game. We are combining things like movement and cover affecting accuracy with character skills and attributes into what we think is a very new gameplay experience. The second is Dynamic Battlefields, where player actions have a tangible (albeit temporary) affect on the state of play. For instance, players might go on an instanced mission to deactivate a power station. This in turn will decrease the effectiveness of enemy base defenses in the persistent space making it easier to assault a base.

LQGaming Services:: Why was the original version of the game scrapped?

RG: Our original idea for the look and feel of Tabula Rasa was “too original.” What I mean by that is it was very “unfamiliar.” We had unfamiliar player statistics, unfamiliar player clothing, unfamiliar player equipment. It all added up to a world that even we, the developers, could not relate to in an empathetic way. We did not desire to embody the characters we created.

LQGaming Services:: How has the title transformed and reinvented itself in the intervening months?

RG: The new Tabula Rasa still contains what we believe was the best thinking of our original design, but it is now presented from a much easier beginning point. We start the player with visuals and equipment that are much more embraceable and build into more and more exotic and powerful items.

LQGaming Services:: In the old version of Tabula Rasa, the game's history/lore played a very important role. Will the same rich mythos be applied to the new version?

RG: Absolutely! The depth of the world crafting is unchanged. In fact, the extra time has improved this a good deal!

LQGaming Services:: Has the game's complexity been reduced any since last we saw it to appeal to a larger, more mainstream audience?

RG: We believe Tabula Rasa is far more mainstream appealing than most MMPs due to its presentation and play styles. Plus, we are hopefully avoiding many of the broad market turn offs like demanding 40+ hours of gameplay per week to just feel average. That being said, we are providing a rich and detailed world to explore and discover that I believe will keep the hardcore players happy too.

LQGaming Services:: Will Tabula Rasa have a first person perspective mode? If so, will the screen be designed to work like a traditional FPS such as Doom/Quake/etc?

RG: That is not our plan at this time.

LQGaming Services:: You spent a lot of time and energy to create the mythology behind Tabula Rasa... even going so far as to create an entire language! Will any of your works be re-written or modified for the new version of the game?

RG: All of those details are still part of Tabula Rasa!

LQGaming Services:: Prior to the re-design of Tabula Rasa you worked heavily on a community project called the “Benefactor Stone Project”. Are there any plans to continue this?

RG: The stones, which we call Logos Stones, continue to play a very big role in Tabula Rasa.

LQGaming Services:: Are there any plans to bring player vehicles into Tabula Rasa?

RG: We have a design that includes them, but they will likely come into play in the first expansion, not in the original launch.

LQGaming Services:: What about Player vs. Player?

RG: Yes, while Tabula Rasa is primarily a PVE game, we do indeed support PvP. We are not yet ready to talk about the details yet.

LQGaming Services:: One of the highlights in the old version of Tabula Rasa was its instanced mission system. Will the new version have a similar system?

RG: Yes, Tabula Rasa has a great many instanced mission spaces where well-crafted personal storytelling and puzzle solving can take place! The biggest difference is that the old game was almost entirely instanced based. The new Tabula Rasa takes instances and pairs them with large persistent spaces so that the instances will actually impact the state of the persistent spaces (see the dynamic battlefield reference above).

"[...]Tabula Rasa takes instances and pairs them with large persistent spaces[...]"

LQGaming Services:: In what ways do you guarantee each individual player an exciting, unique experience?

RG: By giving players the ability to affect the game state in a noticeable way.

LQGaming Services:: How do you make sure group play/guild combat/etc is so compelling?

RG: By making sure there is a tangible effect on gameplay by participating in groups and that they are not there just for social purposes. No details yet but we are very excited by our clan system.

LQGaming Services:: Let's say I don't want to go adventuring. How can I choose to spend my time instead?

RG: There is a recipe type crafting system where a recipe includes a list of tools and supplies that must be owned, along with specific attributes or skills tests. Then one must consume the ingredients and create the final product. It is not a crafting skill type system as seen in some games… everyone can craft.

LQGaming Services:: How far a departure is the game from your initial MMO effort, Ultima Online?

RG: Very. Ultima Online is a “virtual world” game where every aspect of life is “simulated.” Tabula Rasa is definitely a combat centered game that is fast paced, playable solo, and gives great rewards for moving forward through the story, in an ever changing battlefield environment. They are more different than alike!

LQGaming Services:: Do you feel the ideas introduced here will change the MMO landscape permanently? Why so?

RG: Yes. I feel the faster pace of action will be desirable in every MMO setting, even Ultima Online model virtual worlds.

LQGaming Services:: What have 20+ years of gaming taught you about design that most people seem to miss?

RG: Research, research, research… The vast majority of games still made today are “thin” as intellectual property. They rely far too much on simple play mechanics and incremental advances in technology and thus the lead changes hands regularly. When you spend the time to develop an original in-depth intellectual property and thus a world and characters people care about, then you can win the race to success much more easily!

LQGaming Services:: Finally, why are you convinced Tabula Rasa is the title that will help Lord British reclaim the MMO crown?

RG: If I haven’t answered that already, you’ll have to see for yourself when it ships!!!

- Scott Steinberg

For more information, forums and more check out Tabula Rasa LQGaming Services:.


     
Do you think you'll ever get too old for video gaming?

Absolutely, we all have to grow up sometime.

Maybe, when real life demands more of my time.

No way, video gaming will always be an entertainment option for me.

Never, I'm looking forward to pwning my grandkids.

I don't know

Anyway!


View Results

lqgaming.com Copyright 2006 THE LQGaming Network, All rights reserved.
LQGaming Services: Logo is a trademark of THE LQGaming Network in the US and/or other countries. LQGaming Services: v1.5

LQGaming Services:: About Us | LQGaming Store | Register | MMO Insider | Advertise | Affiliate | Employment | Contact Webmaster | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Contact
LQGaming Services: Guild Services | News | RSS | Game Databases | UI Mods | LQGaming Services: Radio | Exclusives | Events | Downloads | Community | Live Chat | Games
LQGaming Community: WoW | EQII | Everquest | DDO | Guild Wars | LotRO | Lineage 2 | FFXI | CoH/CoV | SWG | Star Trek | MxO | Tabula Rasa | Vanguard | RO | MMO Insider
LQGaming Forums: WoW | EQII | EQ | DDO | Guild Wars | LotRO | Lineage 2 | FFXI | CoH/CoV | SWG | Star Trek | MxO | Tabula Rasa | Vanguard | RO | Radio | Guilds
Game Databases: World of Warcraft | Dungeon & Dragons Online | Everquest II | Everquest | Lineage 2 | Guild Wars
Interface Mods: WoW Interface | EQII Interface | EQ Interface | VG Interface