Tabula Rasa Pre-Order

I was at Fry’s the other day… how often is that my opening to a story?

I was there picking up something for work, so naturally I had to cruise down the PC games aisle.

On the shelf, amid the many Burning Crusade Collectors Edition boxes, there was a new facing of pre-order boxes for Tabula Rasa priced at $5.00 each.

I should say “Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa.”  His name is part of the title, and the web site is

Anyway, for $5.00, the box said I would receive the following:

  • Shell Bot or Pine-Ock non-combat pets will be by your side from bootcamp to battlefield
  • Two exclusive character emotes
  • Beta access to Richard Garriot’s Tabula Rasa
  • Three-day head-start on the live servers
  • DVD with game client, bonus wallpapers, and concept art

Well, pets aren’t my thing really, and what use would a non-combat pet be to me in bootcamp or on the battlefield?  And what kind of bootcamp let’s you bring pets?

Character emotes?  Hrmm, okay I suppose.

Beta Access!  Now this I like.  I have heard that the beta is in full swing and that they are even letting in anybody with a paid FilePlanet account these days. (see here)  I let my paid account lapse when I stopped playing WoW, but at least it is a sign they are letting people in.

Three-day head start on the live servers.  That could be okay, though I managed to squander a better deal with Lord of the Rings Online.

DVD with the game client and such.  I’ve sworn off giant downloads, so this sounded good.

I bought the box and brought it home.

Tuesday night I ran the install, let the patcher run for a little over an hour, used the supplied key string and added the game to my NCSoft account, which currently also has Dungeon Runners and an expired trial of City of Heroes, and saw the confirmation message hit my in-box.

So I launched game and tried to get in.

No joy.

While the outside of the box says “Beta access,” it is only when you get the box open that you get more details.

It seems that it is beta access when they are ready for you, at some unspecified date.  Since that is the major reason people will probably pick up this box, it seems more than a little deceptive to only explain the terms INSIDE THE BOX.

Now somebody reading this is thinking, “If you had listened to Massively Online Gamer episode 73 you would have heard about this already.”

Well, I did listen to episode 73.  And if you did as well, you would have heard Gary and Ryan say that RG himself decided that this claiming beta access on the box with the caveats inside was BS and that they were giving people access now.  Their enthusiasm and their statements about beta access clinched the deal when it came to picking up the box.

Only, they are not giving pre-order buyers access to the beta yet. Or so it seems.

Inside the box it and in the confirmation email it basically says, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

When I run the game client, it tells me that my account is blocked, but that I should go to the beta forums for details.

When I hit the beta forums and select new user, it asks me to log in with my account.  This goes fine and it asks me to create a forum account.

The things fall apart.

If I try to create an account outside the parameters specified, I get sent back to the main page with a message that, for example, my forum name needs to be longer.

If I enter all the information correctly, all I get back is an empty page with the following text:

500 Server closed connection without sending any data back

So it was Tuesday evening.  So it is now, Thursday morning.

I am not allowed into the beta and I cannot access to the forums to get any information.

So buyer beware on that pre-order box.  It isn’t of any use today, so do not buy it thinking it might be.

I’ll let you know if the situation changes.

[See the comments thread for updates.]

20 thoughts on “Tabula Rasa Pre-Order

  1. Sente

    >When I run the game client, it tells me that my account is blocked,
    >but that I should go to the beta forums for details.

    You will get the account blocked message if you try to connect to the beta servers when they are not up and available to players. If you get the forum part sorted out you should be able to get the schedule.


  2. p@tsh@t

    Hmm. The File Planet “Limited Play Test Beta” purports to be exclusive access from August 9 through 18, so maybe its opening up this weekend?


  3. syncaine

    That post alone is now enough for me to lose what little interest I had in TR. Good job RG, a game that already has had some PR issues, and they pull this… :eyeroll:


  4. Sente

    I do have access to these forums, I do not think it a serious NDA breach to say that the pre-order codes are expected to have access to the game at the scheduled playsession times. It is pretty clear when you can access the game if you read the forums, so I think your issue here is simply the problem with registering to the TR forums, not the pre-order access.


  5. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    Color me a little bit skeptical because one would think that those play times might fall during the prime time evening hours when I have been working to figure this out.

    And no response from NCSoft support on my problem accessing the forums, though even getting the question to them was a painful trial. Click the “contact us” button on beta forum site and it gives you an email address. However, if you send anything to that email address, you get told you cannot access support except via your NCSupport account.


  6. TickledBlue

    *shrug* Its a beta so there are bound to be issues – that’s the point to find and fix the issues. However not getting any response from NCSoft support on the issue is something that would leave a bad taste in my mouth. I also find the lack of explanation of when the beta will start on the pre-order box to smack of misrepresentation (its more likely to be a marketing thing or even an oversite on the part of the box designers than any real maliciousness though…) its kinda like not having a “batteries not included” message on a christmas present.

    I wish more games took the path of the recent Fury preview weekends in that the launcher window displays and counts down the time till the servers open up. No need to access the forums, just launch the game client and you can see exactly how long you have to wait. My beta registration for Fury also sent me a welcome email with the session times clearly displayed… real nice.

    I always find it frustrating that developers assume we will read the forums, personally I don’t have the time to wade through most of the guff on there. I’m happy to post about my beta experiences as that is why you sign up for these things – to try them out and tell people what you liked and didn’t, what worked and what didn’t… it seems that they don’t often apply themselves to thinking about the game experience outside the actual game, manuals, patching/updating, etc


  7. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    I did manage to get in game last night at the tail end of one scheduled play sessions. Given that it was not that late in the evening, at least on the west coast, I could have quite easily missed the sliver of time that was scheduled the previous two nights, so you may very well be correct Sente.

    Still no access to the forums however.


  8. Sente

    I have 2 beta access codes added to my NCSoft account, one of them being the preorder one and they both work just fine – when the servers are available for play. They are just not available 24/7 at the moment.

    I do agree that they could handle forum and forum registration issues better. Using forums to check and discuss issues is perfectly valid to require of beta testers I think – a good place to get a collective view of common issues, see info on bugs that are know and not needed to be reported, changes in schedules etc. So they should care about making the forum experience smooth.

    Although, when they start to hand out keys though per-orders and fileplanet members and similar, the crowd will be slightly different and they should adapt their procedures a bit.


  9. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    Cheers Sam! Misery loves company!

    Seriously, the forum issue has really bugged me because it is always possible that it is something on my end causing the problem. I have tried different computers, different browsers, and even a different operating system, but no luck.

    But all somebody has to say is, “I’m having the same problem” and I feel I can relax a bit. It isn’t just me.

    Now if I could just get on the forums to see what they say there about the NDA, since the official one is pretty vague… I have said way too much by even admitting I have heard of the game if you take it at its broadest read… because I do have a couple of things to say about the game.


  10. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    Ah, and a note from support at last. They know about the account creation issue, but do not have a fix or a work-around as yet. They will alert me when they do know something.

    They did, however, send along the play schedule, so at least I feel a little more informed! Thank you NCSoft support!


  11. Nobenzoyth

    Same problems here, Wilhelm. I got the digital preorder yesterday, but now way to register at beta forum (same 500 erver closed connection … error) or login into the game (Your account is currently blocked).



  12. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    In blatant violation of the NDA, but something that will probably help NCSoft support, here is what I recieved from them as to the hours:

    For those in North America:
    Tuesday and Thursday, 5:00pm-2:00am Central Standard Time
    Friday, 5:00pm to Monday, 2:00am Central Standard Time

    For those in Europe:
    Monday and Wednesday, 5:00pm-2:00am BST
    Friday, 5:00pm to Monday, 2:00am BST

    If NCSoft even blinks at me about this though, I’ll have to delete the comment.


  13. James

    I had the same experience and can’t get into the Tabula Rasa beta or on the forums. I’ll try and get my money back from Best Buy. It clearly states you get access on the box. I take it as an indication of how other issues in the game will be handled and don’t need any more headaches. I write for some game mags and sites and will tell other folks so they don’t get burned and waste hours. I encourage folks who are also upset to write letters to game mags and sites telling Tabula Rasa that they need to put some time into customer support or there will be no customers. From the posts I’ve read by others the Tabula Rasa pre-order box is actually killing interest, at least people haven’t wasted the full price figuring this out.


  14. Chase

    James, don’t do that, there was a previous post that stated that the North America times were Tues. and Thur. 5pm-2am, and Weekend Fri 5pm-Mon 2am


  15. Shadowchibi

    I personally didn’t have a single problem accessing the beta client or it’s forums..and neither did any my friends. I will say however, that they are aware of such issues, and are fixing/have fixed them(by time of this post). Also as Chase stated, client access is limited to a set time frame. I’ve never beta tested a game before, but I will say that it will try your patience XD Remember too, you bought the pre-order or what have you, to get an early look at the game/help out the developers in providing much needed feedback via testing..let this not mean you wanted a full game with full support, with no issues >.> Let’s help these guys out..and honestly, it’s $5 <.<


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