Via a message on the Tabula Rasa Web site, NCsoft executive producer Richard Garriott alerted the industry that the massively multiplayer role-playing game would not make its winter 2004 release date. "The game won't be out this winter and likely won't be ready for some months beyond that," Garriott said in the post.
While he did not elaborate beyond some pat references to not wanting to ship the game "until it fully meets the lofty expectations" of both its developer and publisher, the news does add drama to the long saga of Tabula Rasa's road to release.
In July, designer Carly Staehlin, programmer Bill Randolph, and artist Scott Jones left the TR design crew and staff of NCsoft Austin. While Starr Long remained in his role as producer on the game, Garriott installed himself as lead designer. Staffers were mum on exactly what prompted the change in personnel, but it seems likely the game underwent some rethinking and retooling in the past month and a half.
Just last week, during a media event that preceded the Austin Game Conference, both Garriott and Long told those in attendance that the team had recently made significant progress with the game. In the statement that went live just two days after that small event, Garriott, in effect, elaborated on his comments of Wednesday, stating that the delay was due to "some noteworthy modifications and refinements we intend to make to the game."
In any case, the current status of Tabula Rasa is "delayed," with the good news, according to Garriott, that "we continue to be committed to launching Tabula Rasa only when it is ready."