It's been no secret that Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa has been facing difficulty for a while, now. Even if one hasn't been playing, there have been a number of signs of Tabula Rasa's troubles: there have been free trials open to all for a good while now in an attempt to increase player count, you can buy a boxed version of the game for less than a dollar, and Richard Garriott himself finally left NCSoft recently. For those playing the game, the low player counts and the "veteran bonuses," in-game items given to those who have had a paid account for a certain number of consecutive months, were obvious signs of trouble. Rumors of closure had been floating around between players as well.
Anyhow, NCSoft has set the official date of closure for February 28, 2009. The game will become free to play on January 10, 2009, so if you want to see what the game was like, you might be able to join for a month of shooting evil aliens starting then (whether or not you need a preexisting account or key for the free-to-play month is not specified). Here's the release from the RGTR team:
Last November we launched what we hoped would be a ground breaking sci-fi MMO. In many ways, we think we've achieved that goal. Tabula Rasa has some unique features that make it fun and very different from every other MMO out there. Unfortunately, the fact is that the game hasn't performed as expected. The development team has worked hard to improve the game since launch, but the game never achieved the player population we hoped for.
So it is with regret that we must announce that Tabula Rasa will end live service on February 28, 2009.
Before we end the service, we'll make Tabula Rasa servers free to play starting on January 10, 2009.
We can assure you that through the next couple of months we'll be doing some really fun things in Tabula Rasa, and we plan to make staying on a little longer worth your while. For more details about what we are doing for Tabula Rasa players, please click here.
Stay tuned for more information. We thank you for your loyal support of the game and encourage you to take us up on the benefits we're offering Tabula Rasa players.
The Tabula Rasa Team
Any players that had an existing paid RGTR account as of November 21st will receive a number of gifts to entice players to try other NCSoft games, including beta and 1 free month of access to their upcoming title, Aion.
Perhaps I have discovered the first step to becoming a lich. I mean, it obviously points to a lack of life.
Anyway, my points totals for Friday finally dropped through the scripts and fell on the front page... I added way too much in order to qualify for the Zune drawing. I started with 2,023 points on Friday, and by midnight I had added more than 3,088 points worth of text (that basically ignores any entries under 100 points).
The tags relate to pages I've edited in my recent spree. I'm still amused about being the primary editor for both Auto Assault and RGTR.
Ok...so you may not exactly survive... but you will likely score better than the other guys.
Sloth is your enemy. The zombies have spawn timers, and every second you waste dilly-dallying in the same spot, the more human-controlled special zombies you're going to have to face. Keep moving quickly, but at the same time, stick together.
As an addition to the above, plan ahead. In the second level of Blood Harvest, my team, as zombies, completely obliterated the Survivors in the emergency exit room because they waited too long to open the door.
Don't try to hide. The zombies can always see you. Instead, stay in the open and close to your friends so that they can help you if a smoker or hunter strikes.
People like to hide in trees and thick bushes in Blood Harvest. If you suspect somebody's camping in foliage, such as an audio cue, don't be afraid to open up on it with your pistol. They already know where you are, so you're not giving your position away.
Don't let things spiral out of control. Think of here and now. If your friend is pinned by a hunter or caught by a smoker, take care of it. The more you let the zombies work together, the more likely you lose.
Don't be afraid to make a run for the safehouse if you're close, just be on the lookout for ambushes. Once that door's shut, not even the Tank can get you. Every person who makes the safehouse increases a multiplier bonus by 1, so even if only two of you make it, your round score still doubles.
Coordinate your attacks. Attacking one by one is simply asking to die as you slowly peck away at their health. Typically the best way to coordinate is to induce the maximum amount of chaos possible as soon as possible. Typically first you want your Boomer (or Tank if you have one) to attack, making the enemy focus on them, and hopefully either attracting more zombies as a boomer (inducing chaos) or getting them all to focus on the tank while other zombie types attack from behind.
If all but one enemy is incapacitated, wait until the one guy tries to revive one of his friends, then attack. He'll have to notice, which he's probably looking at his friend, and he'll have to react, which will be delayed due to his attention being elsewhere.
Set up ambushes. The Survivors are set up for direct attacks. The zombies are not. You try to rush as anything other than a Tank and you'll find yourself a bloody piece of Swiss cheese. Hide in side rooms, foliage, you name it. Don't forget that behind is a great place to take somebody out unless they're actually watching back there.
Try to attack from angles where you can only see one Survivor, especially as Smoker. This prevents them from instantly mutilating you, lending you time to do damage.
As Smoker, try to get relatively close. Sure, getting dragged up the side of a three-story building is cinematic, but that gives them plenty of time to shoot you.
Smokers are good at trapping a player in a horde rush. This is especially good when they're tagged by a boomer. They can't fight back, there's a crapload of zombies on them, and best of all, a buffer zone of zombies between you and the other survivors if you've positioned yourself well.
As Tank, do not get carried away at killing every enemy like the AI tank does. The more you incapacitate the better, as incapacitating all of them means you stop them where they are.
Communicate! Use the voice chat, coordinate with your team, no matter which side you're on.
Well, it seems that my contestentry never got to official judging. It never appeared on the gallery page, and I have not received any e-mail about it, either their receiving of it, if it won me anything or not, etc. So...c'est la vie. Another lesson against procrastination.
So I decided to make a last-minute entry to the Left 4 Dead contest. I hopped on my bicycle at 5:30PM, rode a few miles to a L4D billboard I knew was up, and took a few pictures until I was satisfied. I then went back home, made a couple of minor touch-ups to the billboard picture, then proceeded to take a few pictures of myself to try to get a good one to mask. Having done this, I added zombie silhouettes, a gun, and some effects, then showed it to a couple people who generally approved, and decided it was finished.
So then comes entering it. I know I'm skirting the due date so I go to the site, try to upload at 9:48PM, and... "The connection to the server was reset while the page was loading." I tried for the next few hours, at least 100 times. Same error. So I'm pretty much fucked on officially entering it. I put it on a thread stickied on the Steam forums that announced that among other contests where other people with similar predicaments had posted theirs. So unless Valve is nice and decides that those are also entries, I don't have an official entry to the contest.
Anyway, here's the entry below, or you can see the full size.
Yup, that's me. No, I didn't really climb up there.
I meant to add this sooner but I was able to submit a more compressed version at 2:30 AM on Sunday. I'm hoping Valve is gracious enough to allow my entry to compete; I suspect they are just allowing any entries that were submitted before they removed the submission form. Announcement is tomorrow, so we'll see then!
So I've been playing a crapload of Left 4 Dead (PC) these last couple of days. I've won the demo on Expert 4 or 5 times now, and I've found a number of things that work. Here's my first tip.
When you know a horde rush is coming (usually the musical cue), get somewhere narrow, like a hallway, stairway, or subway car. Have each end player crouch facing their respective end, and simply use the melee attack repeatedly. The two middle players face towards their respective ends as well, and shoot the stunned horde. Do it well, and the zombies may not even be able to touch you.
Do this and you might actually survive a horde rush on expert without a pipe bomb.
If a narrow passage isn't available, the next best option is to back yourself against a wall and alternate melee and shooting depending on how close they are. Backing against the wall prevents them from attacking from all directions, allowing you to shove most of your attackers away.
I've been somewhat enamored with Unigine since StumbleUpon first led me to it a few months ago. Not only is it a good-looking middleware engine, as evidenced by their tech demos (which I gauge to be somewhere around the level of Far Cry 2) but it's also cross-platform, working on Windows and Linux. Seriously, I've never seen a Linux game that looks that good - even considering Enemy Territory: Quake Wars.
Today I ended up bored and wandered back over to the Unigine site for no particular reason, and decided one way or another to figure out if there were any notable projects being developed on the engine. I looked at their testimonials page and saw a single named project on that page - Afterfall. I Googled it up, and found their home page, http://www.afterfall.pl/en/. It's pretty barren, with no real in-game media yet, just some concept art gracing the front page, but there is a bit of info on the FAQ that looks to be something along the lines of Fallout and other post-apocalyptic RPGs. I kind of have an affinity for post-apocalyptic FPS/RPG style games - I highly enjoyed S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl and Clear Sky as well as Fallout 3. I don't know much about the project, other than a recent reorganization and perhaps a bit of a side project for money reasons, but it's something I'll probably keep my eye on. I won't hold my breath, it appears they're projecting dates 1-2 years ahead, but we'll see. I did manage to find twobits of in-engine footage (no real saying whether it's representative of the game or not, and gameplay is not shown here).
I wish the developers success in their endeavors.
I'll post some feature bullet points, although who knows how well they will follow through with any of these - features can be finicky:
the option to create and develop the main hero with unique capabilities never before seen in any computer game;
a gripping, non-linear storyline with many turns of events, where your every decision has its consequences;
hundreds quests to complete and over a dozen organizations to join;
a "Dynamic Turn-based Combat" system with infantry units and vehicles;
optional tactical game and stealth action features;
a random mutation system, cybernetic implants and prosthetic equipment;
around two hundred pieces of weaponry and over a thousand items, with the option of creating and modifying some of them manually;
excellent visual effects and realistic physics, due to implementation of a state-of-the-art game engine.
The game will be published on PC platform, and the developers didn't forget about a Linux version.
The Afterfall crew – Intoxicate Interactive Group, currently: Nicolas Games Intoxicate – was an independent crew of game developers and gamers, who spent over 3 years on the project of a post-nuclear computer role-playing game with a storyline based in central Europe. Afterfall was announced by many Internet sites in Poland and worldwide. News also featured numerous interviews, amongst all an interview with the project’s lead designer, published in the prestigious "RPGCodex" magazine.
"I am very happy as father of Afterfall and Project Manager. My dreams came true!" - said Andrew Koloska. The whole team of 20 people working on this project at the beginning (plus 10 best freelancers in Poland) decided to take opportunity to create one of the biggest and absolutely best cRPG game ever. The process of developing will progress in brand new studio, located at Dabrowa Gornicza, Poland.
In the future we will issue detailed updates about the project and a dynamic growth of our company.
I got kicked from another server today, not for team killing, or being a dick, but because I said "bullshit." There has been a noticeable increase in servers for games where I can watch virtual soldiers get their limbs blown in half a dozen different directions, blood flying everywhere, but a simple "fuck" gets me kicked and/or banned. I've asked server administrators for their reasoning, and if there's one thing I hear most regularly, it's the "kids play here!" defense. I'm sorry, but while I don't believe games cause violence or anything, I do believe that there's something of a mix-up of priorities if you let your kids play Red Orchestra or Call of Duty 4 or any other M-rated first-person shooter, but don't want them to see or hear the occasional profanity.
It's gotten to the point where I've seen "swearing allowed" servers occasionally, where once it was completely the opposite - profanity-free servers were a minority, and you would have had to search for them. Maybe it's the greater accessibility and ease of use of filtering bots these days, or maybe the gaming scene has actually changed this much. What do you think?
Apparently something happened with the printing of a significant enough quantity of keys on Red Alert 3 manuals to cause them to create this gem of a support entry. Instead of the 20 character code that is required, people have been shortchanged with 19 characters, leaving the last character off. They suggest guessing the last character, any of 36 from A-Z and 0-9, saying that "[y]ou should eventually get the right combination." Alternatively you can try contacting EA support, but perhaps it might take less time to just guess. You could always try guessing while you're on hold...
Either it happened to a shitload (relatively speaking) of manuals, they think they'll be facing shortages, or their key printing system doesn't let them reprint keys. Or perhaps EA wants to make SecuROM a game too?
I already knew I'd like the game, and I had 10 minutes with it at PAX, but I still wasn't completely sure what to expect from it as none of the storyline had been revealed and the starting Vault sequences weren't really revealed except for a few words and a screenshot or two.
Anyhow, it all seems to flow nicely together. There is however, one catch - this game is pretty hard, even on normal. Pretty much every expendable resource is scarce, although not survival-horror scarce. I regularly run out of ammunition and stuff to heal myself. Compare to Oblivion, which always seemed happy to give me a potion or arrows. I got myself in over my head in a subway near the beginning, and let's' just say that fighting fire ants with a BB gun is not very effective. Crippling definitely affects your play, from aim with crippled arms, to movement with crippled legs, to vision with a crippled head. There's no way in hell you're going to hit anything with crippled arms and a sniper rifle.
There are some technical hitches with the PC version, especially with CrossFire and SLI setups. It hangs up occasionally and then you have to wait for it to smooth back out. There's also the fact that the radio stations, while interesting, seem to have a pretty limited selection considering how long you'll be playing the game.