Tabula Rasa To Go Out With A Dark, Unusual Bang

As NCsoft's sci-fi PC MMO Tabula Rasa is shut down forever tomorrow, the development team is trying something unusual in video game narrative: a final, dismal ending in which the good guys ultimately die.
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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