NCSoft Austin In Trouble?

By Jim Rossignol on August 13th, 2008 at 10:41 am.


Edit: Denied by NCSoft, but then they would say that.

The rumour-mill over at Joystiq is grinding up some vital seeds of information from the Texas MMO scene. It looks like NCSoft’s main North America office might be in trouble, which means that Dungeon Runners and Tabula Rasa are on dangerous ground.

Future development of Tabula Rasa will reportedly be handed over to Seattle-based Guild Wars creator Arena.net, with Massively reporting that the title may meet a similar fate as Dungeon Runners if it “fails to turn the tide of subscribers and expectations.” It has also learned that any future collaboration between NCsoft and Tabula Rasa principals Richard and Robert Garriot will be “limited in scope,” due to a souring of relations with the Korean management team over their title’s lackluster performance.

It sure is a shame TR wasn’t much fun. Dungeon Runners is a laff though, and free.

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29 Comments »

  1. DSX says:

    I hope this doesn’t spoil an English or North American release of AION.. a title much anticipated for past 2 years or so and already in Korean Beta, English to come soon.

  2. Gurrah says:

    I think TR is a lot of fun, just not as an MMO. Would it have been released as a single player game without a subscription, it would have been the best thing EVER. I recently grabbed a 60day game time card for 10€ off of eBay and used it to reactivate my account – and I’m having a bloody good time, alone.

  3. Jim Rossignol says:

    AION is still on track as far as we know. I think Gillen saw it the other week.

  4. Naseer says:

    Aye, TR was fun. Somehow I am still not playing it anymore.

  5. Unheard Of says:

    Any word on how this will affect the Seoul office?

    I’m not an MMPORPG player, but I’m interested in their collaboration with Sun on Darkstar

  6. Zeitgeist says:

    TR is still the best MMO i have played, A shame that such a great game is in trouble

  7. MeestaNob! says:

    Not a fan of MMOs, but to be fair haven’t really tried them out much.

    Gonna give Dungeon Runners a look before they shut up shop.

  8. Commando says:

    TR is alright they just failed to really exploit what MMOs do so it’s kind of a half breed which doesn’t fit comfortably in either category. It’s not a particularly good shooter because the shooting is MMO style and it’s not a good MMO because the RPG elements are shooter style.

  9. UncleLou says:

    and I’m having a bloody good time, alone.

    I thought it required lots of teamwork? At least that’s the idea I got from the reviews. Only ever played the beta for a little bit.

  10. BrokenSymmetry says:

    I’m not surpised they’re handing more development over to ArenaNet. The gameplay virtues of Guild Wars aside, the game is a technical marvel. It runs and looks incredible, even on low-end computers, I’ve never had it crash, and it has by far the lowest downtime of all MMO’s (maybe a few hours in a year).

  11. Xander says:

    Nah, TR is the easiest solo MMO ever made. You don’t have to group at all if you don’t want to.

    This is a shame. The game is great.

  12. Rook says:

    I’m kinda shocked that Tabula Rasa didn’t do the Guild Wars model. It really didn’t strike me as a game I’d pay money for to play monthly, but I’m sure it would have done pretty well as just a boxed copy co-op sci-fi RPG.

    Although, in all honesty I’m surprised that more MMOs don’t try out Guild Wars’ model, and that it doesn’t get that much recognition for what it has achieved (5 million retail copies I think? And a release schedule that put most other episodic games to shame). Although I put the blame firmly on journalists and their WoW loving.

  13. BrokenSymmetry says:

    @Rook: I agree with you about the lack of recognition that Guild Wars receives, while it is one of the very few actually innovative games in the MMO world. Just look at RPS itself: all authors on RPS (with the exception of Kieron), always seem to have a slight distaste when mentioning Guild Wars.

  14. Abe says:

    Between this and Midway Austin, the Austin game development scene isn’t doing very well right now, is it? Vancouver isn’t faring much better.

    This seems to be a rough time for the industry.

  15. Grey_Ghost says:

    Been meaning to play the trial for this. Played it back in the beta, but it eventually started this endless crash cycle. Assuming it’s any good, I’d buy it with a Guild Wars type no monthly fee.

  16. danarchist says:

    I recently started my account back up just to give it (TR) a looksie again, and to keep me from checking my gmail for my WaR beta key every 5 minutes. The problems that drove people away, and still regrettably exist, is that after lvl 30 it becomes INCREDIBLY redundant. The leveling slows down to a obscenely slow eq1 pace while the monsters you are fighting look exactly the same as the ones you were fighting at 15. Throw in the fact that my favorite part of the game (defending bases from the bane) is now wholly controlled by bored lvl 50 players and the game is dust in a cup.

  17. Brother None says:

    Note NCSoft already denied this when GiantRealm started the rumour mill.

    Regardless, it’s probably true. Richard Garriott was making the kind of money you can fund a full AAA title with for Tabula Rasa, and the game did ok but not too hot. No way that won’t have some kind of consequence.

  18. Optimaximal says:

    Won’t this make Garriott’s Operation Imortality publicity stunt even more pointless now?

  19. RichPowers says:

    Guild Wars is the only MMO I’ve remotely enjoyed. Completing quests with pick up groups is entirely feasible; the PvP is fun, especially for FPS junkies like myself; and the game runs magnificently.

    Ditto on Anet mastering episodic gaming. Not only were GW’s standalones released surprising regularity, but had tons of new content as well.

    Charging a subscription and then asking players to buy $30 expansions is a ripoff. GW’s pricing model is perfect. My hope is that GW2 — with its persistent elements and other “traditional” MMORPG trappings — convinces consumers to abandon subscription gaming altogether.

  20. danarchist says:

    “Charging a subscription and then asking players to buy $30 expansions is a ripoff. GW’s pricing model is perfect. My hope is that GW2 — with its persistent elements and other “traditional” MMORPG trappings — convinces consumers to abandon subscription gaming altogether.”

    I doubt that’s going to happen anytime soon. I have discovered since starting mmo’s that i spend ALLOT less money when im playing one. Not only do I not end up buying 5 games a month that I only enjoy 1 of, I have allot less bloody freetime to go to movies, date, bathe, etc. It is really allot like I imagine crack addiction is. After you cease to get the rush you must keep going to maintain your current happy level.
    Subscription mmo’s will die right after crack does im sure….

  21. UncleLou says:

    I installed the 7-days trial today based on this thread – seems nice enough, but it stutters, chugs, wobbles, drops frames and has such horrible mouselag that that trial ends on day one, I am afraid. Looking into the forum, it seems these problems are common, and haven’t been addressed in the last 14 months.

    That’s on a reasonably modern PC that runs, for example, Age of Conan at the max settings at the native resolution with AA enabled…

  22. Brother None says:

    Won’t this make Garriott’s Operation Imortality publicity stunt even more pointless now?

    Probably a lost cause, but I believe NCSoft demoted Garriott from having anything to do with development to being purely a public face not long after Tabula Rasa. So interviews and publicity stunts is pretty much his job now.

  23. GeorgeR says:

    I liked a number of elements and potential that Tabula Rasa had, and I actually wanted a non-fantasy MMO to do well, but yeah, the interface was garbage, and leveling was weird. Sad to hear.

  24. Dreamhacker says:

    Starting an MMO is almost always a surefire death sentence for the company, yet so many companies keep trying and keep dying. What is wrong with people?

  25. Alex says:

    Starting an MMO is almost always a surefire death sentence for the company, yet so many companies keep trying and keep dying. What is wrong with people?

    There’s gold in them hills!!

    It’s the whole wild west frontier mentality all over again – the chances to get a hit are minute, most of the people who try get killed but when you hit.. you HIT!

  26. Harlequin says:

    Alex hit it right on the head. Everyone wants to be the next WoW. They claim they don’t want to, but that’s just a bald-faced lie to try and sell their product.

    What gaming company wouldn’t aspire to have that kind of revenue?

  27. michael says:

    http://www.thejonjones.com/

    “As of today, I’m no longer with NCsoft. I can’t go into any details on that. However, I am looking for a position as an Outsourced Art Production Manager.”

    So, it seems there’s something to the rumours then, eh?

  28. papergoose says:

    I’m in Austin. I have a friend who worked on TabRasa. He was layed off, currently working on a new project. He implied, a few weeks ago, that yeah, these rumors are true.