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Tabula Rasa: The New Auto Assault? September 8, 2007

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Misc MMOs.
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Just look at some of the reviews and impressions showing up since the lifting of the NDA and you start to get a very familiar vibe.

People think that Tabula Rasa is fun, very action oriented, and that you can get past any barriers to play, like the controls, pretty quickly.

But overall it lacks the depth that would keep them playing over the long haul, at least at $15 a month.

Is the industry going to learn another harsh MMO lesson?

If one action MMO dies… well it could have just sucked.

If two falter… two points are all you need for a trend line that allows you to jump to a premature conclusion.

Are action oriented games just not suited for a $15/month subscription plan?

Check out these posts to find out where I am coming from:

I would write me own set of general impressions about the game, but in the end they wouldn’t vary much from any of the above:  Interesting, fun, not deep enough to keep my attention long enough to be worth a subscription fee.

What do we have to do to get something fresh that will stick in the MMO world?

Comments»

1. Pixie Styx - September 8, 2007

it is fresh and innovative but not worth the $15.00 monthly fee.
I think these types of game are better suited to a different pricing model. Soe are on the right track with the agency, maybe tr should take note of this, before it is to late ….

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2. darrenl - September 8, 2007

I think this whole subject is a SUWT talking point…hmmmmmm.

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3. Curious George - September 8, 2007

The first day I logged into the TR Beta forums I said to myself, “Uh oh, I’ve seen these comments before”. Sure enough I log into the beta server and my first impression is “This is Auto Assault all over again”.

For their sake, because I will not be buying the game at release (once bitten twice shy), I hope that they will consider changing the price model and re-marketting the game ala Guild Wars IF they see a problem with their subscriptions.

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4. Sente - September 9, 2007

The game is nice and fun and have some good ideas implemented.

It is a rather niched theme and as such, not something most people likely would spent countless of hours in – which is just fine. Not every MMOG needs to be a virtual world where you spend hours and hours every day doing a bit of this and that. The pricing model(s) used would need to reflect that though.

I am a bit curious to where people get the info on the $15/monthly fee – I cannot recall seeing any official statement what the pricing model should be, so are people just assuming that this is the pricing model that will be used, or have some other intel on this?

I think The Agency might a better comparision at this point, given that it is another action-oriented and niched theme. We know the pricing model for that, but really do not have a huge amount of info on the gameplay. In the Tabula Rasa case it is the other way around as I see it.

I think a potential problem here is rather in the marketing messages – TR marketing has focused on driving the innovative/different elements to an audience of experienced MMOG players. The Agency marketing so far is more about having a bit of fastpaced actionpacked fun James Bond style for everyone once in a while. The latter is a better message for this type of game, IMHO.

I will definitely buy Tabula Rasa when it is released. I do not expect to play it regularly for many months or many hours per week – it will just be one of multiple MMOGs and probably not the primary one.
But it will be a nice change.

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5. Eric - September 9, 2007

Auto assault was indeed fun for the trial period, but not worth $40,0 + 15 a month. If this game is like that, it’s not going to last long :(.

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6. Cheston - September 9, 2007

It is really strange to me that so many people are calling the race before it even begins, I understand the comparison of TR to AA in that they are both niche, and lack the depth that we as MMO gamers have come to expect from a (dare I say it) “next-gen” title. But this comparison to AA brings a lot of side-effects, namely thoughts of deserted servers and game shutdown, which I really think is a bit ridiculous at this stage. Don’t only look at the games though, look at the target market, the audience for TR is much much wider than that of AA. The marketing for TR has been pretty damn good, I see preorder boxes at most major retailers, and even if they don’t sell, the name is out there before release. And at release I knew only a handful of people that had even herd of AA, no less planned on checking it out. With TR I know many of my friends are interested and will at least check it out, and most of these people are not looking for the hardcore serious MMO, they are looking for a good way to spend a few hours a couple times a week.

Though I do agree, if they price point per sub is $15.99, I don’t know how many will stick with it. But lets not jump the gun on pricing, things can quickly change in these early stages.

/rant

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7. Wilhelm2451 - September 9, 2007

Well, everybody I linked up there played in the beta and has a feel for the game. I did not bother to write up my own impressions, beyond the last name thing, because my thoughts were covered so thoroughly as to be a bit eerie. Often I am at some extreme when it comes to a new game.

Getting the word out, getting marketing done right can only go so far. Vanguard had pre-order boxes out in all the major software retailers as well and moved something like 200K copies in the first month or so. Not to compare TR to Vanguard when it comes to quality, because TR seems pretty solid to me, but interest in a game can fade fast if there isn’t much “there” there.

On pricing, yes, there has been no announcement on how they will charge for TR, but NCSoft seems content with the flat monthly fee formula for their “premium” games. (And before you throw GuildWars in my face, remember that is where GuildWars 2 is headed. Color that experiment terminated.) And it does give a nice flat, predictable revenue stream, so you can see what at least finance loves it.

I would love to see TR try another pricing model. As I said on SUWT#8, I think the market for games with a flat monthly fee is only so big and that there needs to be a move from the “all you can eat” model to plans where you pay for what you actually consume or at least for what premium content you consume.

But if you’ve seen anything to indicate that NCSoft is going for anything different when it comes to pricing, you are ahead of me.

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8. Wilhelm2451 - September 9, 2007

And what are the ethics of selling a pre-order to a game that will have some sort of ongoing pricing scheme but which is, as yet, unannounced?

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9. Bildo - September 10, 2007

I guess they haven’t announced a price-scheme… maybe they’re waiting to for all of us bloggers to tell them what to charge. ;)

I know I’d buy it if it was F2P or Buy-Your-Time like Ragnarok.

I’d even play it if it was MT for items and whatnot, since there’s no real PvP outside of duels and guild duels.

But, simply put, there are precious few people (at least around the web) who will come out and say it actually feels worth the 15 dollars in the face of so many larger, more complex games that we know are getting consistent content updates. The lead designer of GW said it best, “If you’re going to charge a subscription, you’d better be prepared to back it up with a reason.”

I’m still waiting to hear why TR has one, other than to fun Garriott’s spending spree on his new tower add-on at his mansion.

As for GW2’s pricing model, I do believe ArenaNet is still saying it’ll be free to play. I think there’d be too much backlash from their loyal fans if they went the other way. Expect it to be F2P.

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10. Cheston - September 10, 2007

I had no idea VG had pre-order boxes, I mustn’t have seen them. And yes it is a bit strange to put boxes in stores before you have a price plan. I guess it is really just the AA comparison that irks me.

But with the development of an “All-Access” style system for NCSoft, maybe more people will be likely to check out TR, which I think is really appropriate, I would gladly pay the box fee if I had access to a few other games as well, ideally EQ2 as that is the game that I currently play but that is not really possible.

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11. Talyn - September 10, 2007

I’m hugely disappointed by what I’ve read so far; I’d really been looking forward to TR. I did finally get a beta slot but my gaming rig has been dead for nearly a month so I haven’t had the chance to check it out yet.

I sometimes wonder though, what specifically people are looking for when they speak of “depth” in their MMOGs.

I read “there’s nothing to do but kill Bane, the game is all combat.” What game isn’t? Get any quest and there’s a 99% chance it’s a quest to kill something. If it’s the other 1% fedex quest, there’s a pretty high chance you’ll have to kill random mobs on your journey to deliver the quest. Wanna be a crafter? Great, but make sure you bring your combat gear because those mobs love to hang out where those resources you need spawn.

I read “it’s too simple, just *click click click click click I WIN* yet other than the pace, how is that different than *tab 123,123,123 I WIN* ?

Is it just that TR doesn’t have anywhere to just explore without having to always be in a warzone? Lack of mail and auction? Yeah, I’d say the ball was dropped here for sure. Maybe it will get added later; there’s absolutely no doubt that something has happened behind closed doors that DG is suddenly releasing TR early.

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12. damianov - September 11, 2007

One question: how does CoH/CoV fit into the “action RPG” trendline? There’s a potential example of a not-very-deep, rather action-centric game, though it’s definitely not FPS-style of play, which has enjoyed a fair amount of market success.

This may tie back to Talyn’s question, I think: what exactly do we mean when we talk about “depth”? Hmm, I feel a blog post coming on…

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13. Question of the Day: What is Depth? « Voyages in Eternity - September 11, 2007

[…] 11th, 2007 in General Design Prompted by some recent reviews of Tabula Rasa, and specifically this post and associated comments over at the Ancient Gaming […]

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14. Wilhelm2451 - September 11, 2007

I think that CoH/CoV would be in peril of the same fate were it not for their character creation tool. That is its saving grace, the game within the game, the hook which keeps people interested. It has that intangible characteristic “depth.”

During the CoH 14-day trial I spent the vast majority of my time in the character tool. The game itself did not do much for me at all.

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15. Talyn - September 11, 2007

I was just the opposite with CoH, I found the much-lauded character creation to be lacking. Sure, there’s many costume themes to choose from, but most look altogether stupid or mixing and matching to be unique ends up looking stupid.

While I don’t mind re-subbing to CoH randomly for a month or two per year, I also found it shallow in that there was nothing to do. A couple of mob types, a couple of instance types, the city pretty much all looked the same. In the context of CoH, lack of variety lent much to its lack of depth for me. Perhaps that’s also why many people feel LOTRO has a shallowness, because until you get to some of the eery higher level areas, you’re fighting the same mundane mobs zone after zone? If CoH were more twitchy, more action-based, would that make up for lack of variety and improve our opinion of its depth because we have unfortunately come to expect that in an action game?

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