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 http://www.RGTR.com.
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.
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.]