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 Tabula Rasa  To Go Out With A Dark, Unusual Bang
Tabula Rasa To Go Out With A Dark, Unusual Bang
February 27, 2009 | By Chris Remo

February 27, 2009 | By Chris Remo
More: Console/PC

NCsoft's sci-fi MMO Tabula Rasa finally reaches its planned shut-down date on Saturday.

But the development team at NCSoft Austin seems to be taking the opportunity to create something almost unheard of in video game story: a final, absolute ending to the narrative in which the good guys ultimately die.

According to an in-character message posted on the game's official site, the world of Tabula Rasa (which apparently dropped its Richard Garriott's prefix in the wake of the designer's departure following his return from outer space), will become overrun by an unstoppable tide of alien enemies, with humanity's only response being mutually assured destruction.

"We request that all military personnel begin fortifying defenses at every AFS base in preparation for a massive Bane assault," reads the post. "If enemy troop movements are as large as we fear, and the Neph are truly prepared to lead all out war against us, this may be our last stand.

"Penumbra has been informed of the situation and is standing by on the use of their last resort weapon. We can not afford to be complacent or uncertain, but if it is truly our destiny to be destroyed, we are taking them all with us."

In the months leading up to the game's closure, Tabula Rasa became free to play, and its developers admirably continued patching the game -- even releasing brand new content with only two weeks left to go.

Few single-player games, let alone online games, end on such a dismal note, particularly with such finality and with no alternative ending or obvious setup for a sequel. (It seems unlikely NCsoft will continue developing the franchise, with its failure to make a splash within the MMO space, and its public figurehead gone.)

But when Tabula Rasa ends, its in-game world will have been truly doomed, adding a unique resonance to the moment when its real-world servers shut off forever.

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Brandon Sheffield
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that's pretty amazing, and they should be applauded for it. hopefully it'll come off well.

Oliver Snyders
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Man, I would love to see that first-hand. Maybe someone will take a video...

Chris Remo
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Assuming I can get my account set up and the client downloaded in time, I plan to FRAPS it.

Russell Hughes
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Cheers NC! In this case it's definitely better to burn out than fade away from nothing. :) I look forward to the Fraps!

Nels Anderson
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That's awesome Chris. Please post a link to Twitter if you get a FRAPS video.

Yannick Boucher
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That sure is an interesting move ! Indeed, would love to see a capture !

Roberto Alfonso
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Few games or movies end like that because of policies. Hollywood doesn't allow bad ending, and publishers like Wizards of the Coast state that while novels may end in despairing situations, there should always be a glimpse of hope (which would ultimately end in victory in a continuation).

Ending a franchise like this, though, sounds like a great way, and hopefully more will follow this example.

Ken Nakai
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The only problem is going to be the lag...there already was plenty of it last night and it wasn't like the server was flooded with people then...

Eddie Vertigo
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Very impressive! That's a bold decision on their part, and though I'm saddened to see it end (I live in Austin and wanted to see the game succeed), I think the decision is an excellent one.

L King
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Is General British going to appear tonight, and go down in honor with his men? Or is he still nursing a hangover from last week at Mardi Gras?

Daniel Lawson
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I'd like this not to become a regular thing. Endings without hope are for the real world so I'd like to see it kept to a very few cases.

Soren Nowak
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There should be a price for the very last man (or woman) standing!

Max Taha
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Here's some footage from the final night in Tabula Rasa:

YouTube HD version here: (click on "Watch in HD")

P.S.: General British abandoned ship late last year.

Anne Toole
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I played at the end. It reminded me of the end of at least one beta, where once you died, your toon was gone for good -- until you created a new one to play on the real server.

My favorite part, however, was when the Admins started interacting with the General chatters, even going so far as to wish a player "Happy fucking birthday" using the admin announcement feature.

Players had a good time, and honestly, I didn't even know there was a "bad ending" until I read this article. As for there being no hope... I think that rests squarely on the shoulder of whoever decided not to try to sell it or repurpose the game for die-hard fans. I'm assuming it just wasn't feasible.

Maurício Gomes
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Huh... Why Garriot has that skill to make awesome games that do not sell?


I love his games, but anyone else that I know in person not...

gren ideer
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The Ultima Online Beta ended like this. It was a big event where demons attacked and the players could only fight them off for so long until they died. It was a fun experience.

Tom Newman
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I almost want to get an account just to witness this. That's the great thing about MMO's - even WoW - the world events are a once in a lifetime chance to experience.