MMO news – Aion f2p and Tabula Rasa post mortem

Posted on 14 December, 2011

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Aion

A few stories have recently caught my eye in my favourite genre, the mmo.  Firstly it has been announced that NCSoft’s Aion is going free to play from early 2012. Aion is a tad grindy, wearing its eastern design origins proudly on its sleeve, but it also succeeds in begin a quite stunning mmo built on the CryEngine, features a wonderfully deep character customisation system, and includes battles that make full use of 3d space with your ‘Daeva’ character proudly sprouting wings when needed.

As expected there are some limitations with the f2p accounts, but they don’t look overly compromising and you certainly wouldn’t bank against Aion enjoying a resurgent start to 2012.  Full details here.

Tabula Rasa

One of the more famous rifts (not that Rift) in recent mmo times was Richard Garriott and NCSoft falling out over Tabula Rasa, which ultimately bit the dust after around 15 months.  There’s an interesting interview on Eurogamer in which Garriott provides some insight in to how Tabula Rasa reached its release shape after many years in development.  The biggest issue seems to be one of designing a game for a culture and audience different to your own.  A path they ultimately abandoned.

I was a huge fan of Tabula Rasa, having played it since closed beta stage.  Visually it was very nice, the class customisation system worked well, there was some nice depth in having to unlock skills by finding key ‘knowledge’ left behind in the game world, enemy spawns were nicely done with them dropping from trees, beamed in by ship or plummeting to earth from the skies (all much better than simply fading into existence), and it had a number of design systems that encouraged you to wade in to action against multiple enemies rather than avoid it. I played it until the day it died.

Richard Garriott is currently working on Ultimate RPG with current company Portalarium.

And no discussion of The Old Republic.  Yay!

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