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GDC Preview, Part Two

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Tabula Rasa: GDC Preview

MMORPG.com chats with Richard Garriott, the brains behind Tabula Rasa, in part two of this preview

Editor's Note Part one of this preview can be found here. It covers Garriott's public lecture on the design of his game. Part two (below) chronicles his talk with staff writer Garrett Fuller.

After the seminar on Tabula Rasa I was lucky enough to sit down with Richard Garriott to discuss the game as well as the future of MMOs in general. This story was not a direct interview as there were several of us asking questions together. I will try to go over the main points in what Richard spoke about and give further depth to what was discussed in the seminar.

The symbolic language that is being used in Tabula Rasa was the first thing we discussed. The language is based on certain universal principles. Things like distance, connections, time, and objects are all incorporated into this language. If players are worried that this sounds too complex, there are only about a dozen archetypes which the language was created around. Basically Richard said you can almost call these root words. He views the biggest side effect of the language as simplicity, meaning that both American and Asian users will understand the game better by using the same system of symbols. The game does not require you to learn these symbols to have fun. They are there for players to get a more in depth view of the world. They will be used in puzzles and certain game play aspects for players, but are not mandatory. Richard said that they are encouraging players to learn, not forcing them.

Moving to more direct gameplay issues, the battlefields in Tabula Rasa will change constantly. They plan to have a lot of strategy for players to think about. Bases will have way points, hospitals, defenses and quests that can be all quickly taken away from one side if the base is overrun. Richard made a great point about PvP in the game which was that shared space will be used for battles, while instanced areas will be used for solo content. He also remarked that each world has its own unique physical goods. Travel will be done through way points or wormholes, not light speed. The first world is finished and ready to go. Each expansion will be by world. Basically players solve a world and move on to the next one.

A question was asked about MMOs moving to consoles from PCs. Richard gave a great response showing the difference between console and PC games. The game consoles are usually in your family room hooked up to the TV. Kids, parents, and guests often gather around to play games. Richard said he sees PC games as a much more personal experience. Richard said he believes socially active games like MMOs will always be played on a computer. Richard said that MMOs build relationships and a computer allows you to push yourself into the world. There are too many features a computer has to give players more of an immersed experience.

Richard had said that with most MMOs the developers should be looking to give players a reason to be there. Many of us would agree that developers need to really think about why players would want to jump into their game and solve puzzles or compete with others. Thanks again to Richard for taking the time to talk with us. He certainly has some wonderful ideas on where games will be going in the future.

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