Nov 12, 2007
History lesson time: "Tabula rasa" is a Latin phrase popularized by John Locke in the 17th century. Translated to English it reads as "clean slate" and describes Locke's notion of human nature. In terms of Richard Garriott's new MMORPG, intellectually titled Tabula Rasa, the concept works on several levels. In the game's story, it refers to humanity starting over on a new planet after an alien invasion. For gameplay it hints at the cloning system that allows you to take a single leveled character down multiple paths at one time. And most importantly, for the genre at large, Tabula Rasa is Richard Garriott and crews' attempt to begin again with something new.
Garriott obviously looked at the success of World of Warcraft and came to the important conclusion that other big MMO releases of 2007 (Vanguard, Lord of the Rings Online) missed: the traditional MMO can no longer thrive. While Tabula Rasa certainly maintains some seeming necessities of the genre - a vast, open world, tons of quests requiring the ritual slaying of the same baddies over and over again, etc. - the core gameplay mechanics are recognizably different from anything that has come before.