Tabula Rasa Designer Diary #2 - The Planet of Arieki

Familiarize yourself with one of the worlds you'll explore and conquer in this upcoming interstellar massively multiplayer game.

Massively multiplayer games have come a long way since the days of creating a character (usually some kind of elf) and repeatedly bashing skeletons and goblins until they dropped a few measly copper coins and netted you a few experience points to go up a level. NCsoft's Tabula Rasa, which is being developed under the supervision of the same designers that created the Ultima series and Ultima Online, will instead attempt to offer one of the most highly evolved massively multiplayer experiences to date. The game will take place in a sci-fi universe under siege by an invasion of aliens known as the "Bane," and your character will be a supersoldier who will become a master of both field warfare and supernatural powers. When the game launches later this year, your struggle will begin with the liberation of two of the game's major planets, Foreas (the planet on which you start), and later, the war-torn world of Arieki. In this designer diary, the Tabula Rasa team takes you on a tour of the contested world of Arieki. Tabula Rasa is scheduled to launch later this year.

The Tabula Rasa Guide to Arieki


By Tabula Rasa Development Team, NCsoft

In many ways, Arieki is very different from Foreas. This harsh, volcanic world stuns many humans who experience it for the first time, especially if they are coming from the beautiful, lush Foreas. Large areas of Arieki are very barren and rugged, pockmarked with numerous active volcanoes and volcanic fissures. In fact, much of the surface is geologically active in one form or another; a volcanologist would be in heaven on Arieki. Aside from the massive stratovolcanos, visitors may find hydrothermal vents, subterranean lava flows, and burning pits of liquid, such as tar or other flammable material.

You'll need big guns and spectacular superpowers to survive in the harsh universe of Tabula Rasa.

The sky takes on a sickly greenish hue in the daytime; however, ground visibility can be extremely limited due to dense atmosphere close to the ground, caused by the presence of ash and other expelled materials. Clouds of toxic gas sweep the landscape, and powerfully violent electrical storms are a constant danger. A particular metal ore infused in the planet's crust, nicknamed "fluxite," seems to be the root of the numerous electrical storms. It has also been discovered that the Bane use this ore to amplify the intensity of their energy weapons.

Despite the toxicity of the planet, there is more than enough oxygen in the atmosphere to sustain life on many levels, and certain life-forms actually thrive in this environment. The plant life is generally scrubby, thorny, and sharply contoured. Arieki's native creatures are tough, squat creatures and mostly insect-like. While they have an interesting capacity of taking on the destructive qualities of the environment around them, Arieki's flora and fauna represent a remarkable display of persistent life. However, planetary scientists believe that life did not evolve naturally on Arieki; early analysis revealed a massive impact crater from a comet, pegging this event as the turning point in Arieki's evolutionary track.

The sentient race currently inhabiting Arieki wasn't native to the planet either. The Brann contingent was transported from Arieki's sister planet, Erdas, some years before...as a penal colony. The Erdas leadership sent thousands of Brann to Arieki as punishment for various crimes. Some are petty criminals, convicted of "white-collar" crimes, while others belong to massive, hardcore crime syndicates. Unfortunately, these two major groups, the "reformists" and the "syndicates," represent all that remains of the Brann after the Bane overran Erdas and slaughtered the planet's population.

As the humans begin to ally themselves with the remaining Brann, the Bane have finally cast their eyes upon Arieki as well. There are rumors of an Eloh refugee amongst the Brann, and it's more than likely the Bane have uncovered this very same rumor as well. The Brann have also been at constant struggle with the Atta, an indigenous species of multilegged ant-like creatures that previously sat atop the planet's food chain. Humans will have to navigate their way through the various Brann groups and subgroups when battling the Bane, and sometimes there are no easy choices.

The planets of Tabula Rasa are constantly at war with the alien invaders.

Arieki's two most accessible landmasses that members of the "Allied Free Sentients" faction (to which players belong) currently need to know about are Torden and Ligo. Torden, which means "Thunder," is a large region located to the west of the immense volcano Mount Moeru. Large regions of Torden are actively volcanic, featuring various magma fissures, burning lakes, tar pits, earthquakes, and dangerous electrical storms. In the areas that are less active, life has managed to flourish. AFS members should take careful note of Ligo as well, located near one of Arieki's magnetic poles. At night, a luminous ribbon of aurora continually lights the sky, and is plainly visible through clouds. The topography and geology of Ligo is similar to Torden in many respects. The central region features a massive rift, with areas of wide, fast-moving flows of lava, and desert-like plains strewn with volcanic rock. The Bane have several footholds on Arieki in both landmasses, and it will take a concerted effort to turn the tide on this world. Cartographers spread each landmass into a number of geographical regions, six of which are readily accessible.

The region known as the Torden Plains is where the base of human operations on Arieki is situated. Here, new arrivals become familiar with this new, more hostile environment. Facilities include Fort Irendas (the main human habitation) and the former Irendas penal colony and support infrastructure--massive self-sustaining constructs that hint at the Brann's technological achievements. The Bane maintain a presence, though it is not particularly strong. North of the Plains lies the Torden Incline, which is geologically unusual since it's not nearly as active as the bulk of the planet. In comparison to the rest of Arieki, the Incline is ecologically diverse, with numerous species of plant life, and it serves as a natural habitat for the Atta. The Bane presence on Torden is strongest in the Torden Mires, in the southwestern area of the region. As the name suggests, the Mires feature numerous burning lakes, tar pits, and superheated mudflows, and a thick toxic smoke hugs the terrain. Because the Mires make it entirely easy to mine fluxite ore, this particular region is especially valuable to the Bane operations on Arieki.

Brave New World

In the southernmost section of Ligo lies a region known as the Crucible, where lava flows down huge shelves that descend from west to east. The Brann maintain a communication tower in the Crucible, and thus it's strategically important for the AFS, though the Bane wiped out the recent human base at Fort Intrepid in a surprise attack. Far to the north is the Ashen Desert, a somewhat barren and, at times, rocky region that harbors some plant life. The Humans and Brann settlements in this region are recovering from a recent volcanic eruption. The Bane have an active interest in this region, though the specific reason is unknown. The Ligo Thunderhead is centrally located on this landmass, marked by an enormous tectonic rift that runs through the area from east to west. Here, the Bane are the strongest. This is where they plan their next strategic moves and conduct numerous scientific experiments.

Below are some of the life-forms you'll encounter on the planet.

Better bring your suntan lotion.

Brann: The Brann are a bipedal humanoid race native to the planet Erdas, a lush, idyllic sister planet to Arieki. They share some physical characteristics of humans and Foreans, but have a light blue skin tone and elongated ears, with three digits on their hands and feet. Long ago, the Eloh revealed the power of "logos"--the mystical runes that grant special powers to your character--to the Brann, who revered them as gods and showed great aptitude for logos. The Brann wanted to emulate the Eloh society and they strove to create a utopian civilization of learning, wisdom, and spiritual tranquility. They viewed unstable elements such as aggression and greed as destructive, and forced unwanted Brann who displayed these tendencies into penal and reeducation colonies off-world, on Arieki. While the ostracized Brann on Arieki would theoretically rehabilitate themselves through self-sustenance and mutually beneficial societies (or die trying), the Brann on Erdas would concentrate on their utopia and the learning of logos.

Unfortunately for the Brann, a Bane expeditionary force discovered them. Seeing the Brann's vast knowledge of logos as an imminent threat, they descended quickly upon Erdas and eradicated the peaceful Brann completely. There are rumors that a few scattering remnants made it to Arieki and may have found refuge with the Irendas Colony. Petty criminals and those convicted of other "light" crimes originally inhabited the colony, and are currently attempting to remake themselves in the Brann tradition (called the Reformists). Meanwhile, the hard-core criminals in the Staal Facility revolted and formed a number of self-ruling Syndicates. While AFS members are encouraged to cooperate with both groups of Brann, the Syndicates seem to be more inclined to engage the enemy, and may be of great help on the battlefield.

Atta: The global indigenous species of Arieki, the ant-like Atta is a collective society of colony workers. They are at odds with the other major inhabitants of Arieki (Brann, humans, and Bane), as they plainly see incursions into their perceived territory as a threat, not only to themselves but the ecosystem that sustains them on a whole. Exobiologists have discerned that the Atta are probably solely responsible for maintaining Arieki's ecosystems and maintaining the habitability of the planet. However, the Atta occasionally attack Brann and human settlements, and are to be considered hostile.

Barb Tick: These small, colony-based creatures live beneath the blasted sands of Arieki. They grind food for nutrition and sustenance, and the high mineral content of Arieki's soil collects in their bodies over time, allowing the barb tick to spit out these chunks at high velocity. Barb ticks also have a symbiotic relationship with another Arieki species, the beam manta, as they rely on the beam mantas to kill large prey.

Beam Manta: Large, floating creatures that meander lazily close to the surface of Arieki, beam mantas use a unique method of attack to bring down prey. Beam mantas gather electrical energy with their long, slender tails and store this energy in muscle tissue arranged across their backs. When the beam manta attacks, it bridges a connection between its forward appendages, allowing it to direct a strong electrical pulse at its target. The beam manta is incapable of eating large prey on its own, and relies on barb ticks to reduce its food to manageable size.

In addition to the aliens, you'll also encounter hostile critters on each planet.

Geyser Hopper: One of the lowest creatures on the Arieki food chain, geyser hoppers serve an important role in sustaining life on the planet. Hoppers sustain themselves on bacteria and other organic material that can be found near Arieki's numerous sulfur geysers. As a byproduct of this feeding, they produce and store oxygen and hydrogen in gas form, using it to propel themselves from one place to the next in the ever-constant search for more food. Hence, not only do these nonviolent creatures replenish the breathable air, they serve as a constant source for food for nearly everything else.

Magmonix: These large, four-legged, hairless creatures evolved into a territorially aggressive species on Arieki. While they generally move slowly, magmonix walk in a head-forward posture in anticipation of ramming anything they don't like. A magmonix's flanks typically consist of thick plates of hide, charred heavily in places due to enormous heat. They like to live around extremely hot areas such as lava flows and other volcanic regions, and AFS members are encouraged to use their heads before attacking one.

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62 comments
unacomn
unacomn

I really miss Tabula Rasa

bodylotion
bodylotion

I still have good feelings when i remember the time i used to play Star Wars Galaxies... too bad the game is doomed nowadays due the patch that changed the whole game. I hope this game will be a good Sci-Fi MMORPG.

__Imbaness__
__Imbaness__

Let's hope it's worth to buy it and enjoy it.

nth1739
nth1739

Denso - the sci-fi theme is a welcome departure from the mainstream MMOs. Some sci-fi MMOs have been tried in the past with less than stellar results (Anarchy Online, Neocron) so that may put a sour taste in some peoples mouth. I say everyone should give it a chance. The beta is alot of fun and I am seriously considering ordering the game based on the beta experience alone.

DensoCooper
DensoCooper

Well, you all remember SWG, and you all remember how fantastic it was in the first year or two. Imagine the gameplay of SWG with the intense action of a third person shooter. Then toss in the fact that you play it with thousands of other people, and have the option of making squads, doing varied missions, and so on. Tabula Rasa sounds like it's going to be a much needed break from the elves and **** I'm tired of fantasy, give me a gun! And for those of you knocking the sci-fi mmo's, you only have to look at who developed them.

nth1739
nth1739

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

diamond18
diamond18

The majority of MMO's Released are due to be released are P2P , The way Forward is F2P with a Item Shop , Take SilkRoad are even Better (Perfect World) - Which is going to be released soon i play on the chinesse server I got to say has alot of potential. Back on Topic i wanted to shine i little light of influence here and see if you guys understand why the cash shop is being used instead of P2P. First of all. We all love money right? its what pays our bills, allows for luxury's, and makes the world around us evolve. Pay to play has existed since the beginning of MMO's and to this day some rather large companies continue to use it. However who do you think is making more money? P2P or F2P? Lets look at it from a mathematical point of view shall we? Lets say you have 1 major MMO with 500,000 players on a P2P basis. Now lets go with todays standard MMO rate of exchange. Say $15.00 Bucks a month. 15*500,000 = 7.500.000 Now Let say you have a F2P MMO with lets say the same amount of members. 500,000 Players. Lets say you wanted to stop with the long grinds or taking massive damage or want to fly somewhere faster. I don't know the current prices of these things but Lets say you wanted a set of armor with defensive values you cant find in game and a flying mount that goes faster then the basic one in game. Lets assume the Flying mount is $50.00 for the mount and $40.00 for the armor. no no no. better yet lets use something people are gonna want to have all the time. Megaphones. 10 of em lets say cost you $30 dollars. You know you want more then 10. So does a lot of general population. On average out of 500,000 players. around 300,000 of them will be constant buyers all the time to enhance their gaming pleasure. better yet we will even go with 200,000 players. now say those 200,000 players make a monthly habit of buying hundreds of these megaphones per month. Lets say. 100 of them. 30*10 = $300 ( i said 10 because they come in packages or 1 or 10. 10*10 = 100 ) $300*200,000 = $60,000,000 Clearly the game with the cash shop is making more money. Don't get me wrong the cash shop has its downtimes. There will be 1 month when say 50,000 players end up not making a single purchase. But you are still making more money. Even with 50,000 players you are still making more money. While it has its Highs and lows it will always maintain a certain average of paying customers and in the end you are still making twice the amount of money if you are F2P with cash shop rather then P2P. A free game is great. especially since you only spend money when its convenient for you. So every one gets a piece of the pie even in game players who never pay for anything. Thus making the cash shop worth more then having a P2P base system. Just ask Sword of the new world. Ask Rappelz, Ask Last Chaos. They are making so much money that This is the reason half of these companies can even bring you a foreign game. without them we would only be stuck with major titles Lineage 2 and WoW for the majority. Thats why F2P games are becoming more widely popular and thats why major P2P games are losing a lot of customers. on an end note **** P2P Games F2P is the way forward you will see 2 as upcoming companys will switch. (most of the above was taken from a very knowledgeable source all credit goes to him)

nth1739
nth1739

Glad to hear some others enjoyed the beta too. I was sad when I tried to lag on last night only to find the beta sessions closed :/ I'll have to wait a while for my next fix. Have they stated how much the monthly fee is going to be? I am going to assume the standard $15 MMO fee?

mopeyking
mopeyking

Not even going to waste my time on it if it has no pvp,...................

infinity_
infinity_

i was hooked by the trailer too. And the ingame movies they posted look promising too. I think Tabula Rasa would definately be worth a try. After alot of research on Age Of Conan and WarhammerO i wasnt very surprised at all. Ive played wow now since the beta was out and what i long for is an mmo with more action and a better combat system.

Zero_Space
Zero_Space

Played the beta.....a good game, but honestly not worth a monthly fee.

pogswarts
pogswarts

the graphics are a TON better than WoW, and if you played the beta you will know that it was a ton of fun

NuZZ01
NuZZ01

Truely it does have some nice graphics. kaziechameleon ... Are you retarded? 2003!?? SICK ONE! This game's graphics are fairly decent (FOR AN MMORPG), you obviously cannot compare graphics properly or something. I can't see how this game can't be better than WoW and all those random Asian mmorpg with the endless grindage. I personally despise all fantasy based games/movies as I have grown out of that genre. I find the aspect this game is offering is absolutely ideal!

Seven_Is_Darker
Seven_Is_Darker

Its been echo'ed by people before, I really think the game would make an awesome movie to watch, Im not sure if its a game I would like to play though.

kaziechameleon
kaziechameleon

i want to like it the trailer is sweat but the videos make it look like every other mmo. sorry Richard but this game would have done well four years ago visually, and honestly it doesn't stand out visually or gameplay wise. i haven't been in the beta so maybe i'm speaking from ignorance but in a world with GW, and WOW and their huge established worlds just fifty dollars away it's hard to be sold on a game that isn't new enough looking. tabula rasa, what about it is new, sci fi, we've had dozens of bad sci fi MMO's you know why they were bad, because they do closely mimiced the fantasy mmo. clean slate, you'd think it would have some more new elements to it.

telvisnostic
telvisnostic

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

nth1739
nth1739

I am playing the closed beta right now and I generally like the game. There are some technical issues to be worked out still, but the core gameplay is quite enjoyable. The combat is different that any other MMO. Like most MMOs the depth of gameplay doesnt become clear until you reach the upper class levels. The gfx are well executed, but not next-gen by any means. i am still a lower level player but the missions are fun and keep bringing me back for more.

ngiraud
ngiraud

I have played the beta for a couple of hours, and found it rather unimpressive. It's a shame that they replaced generic medfan with generic scifi, at least that's the feeling I got... I found the combat especially dull and the general design absolutely plain... I'd rather keep playing GW and FF XI.

Drakshon
Drakshon

lol, you obviously haven't seen much of the game. It is light years ahead of all of the other mmos visually.

arc_salvo
arc_salvo

Just FYI, if you want to get in the Beta, you can do it by buying the Pre-Order box.

Vlad_md
Vlad_md

It seems to have that very sucky engine that almost every mmorpg has.

jasper205
jasper205

You know guys im either gonna be the sucker here or the Visionary but I think this is a game ive been waiting for a long time. im pretty sick of the elvish and wizard play. This game looks suprisingly good. Matrix online i though about but once playing it blew you know. But i think that Tabula Rasa Could be the next WOW or GW Sci-fi or Serenity style (by the way awesome movie). Well see you online :)

Hunawearl
Hunawearl

Wow, the gameplay trailer was very underwhelming graphically and seemed to have serious framerate issues(which I'm sure will be resolved). The graphics though.......meh.

Tsuska
Tsuska

Hmmm...like I had said b4, I'd only play this game if it is BETTER than WoW just because i rekon only the best MMO is worth dedicating my life on =P...almost...lol Well that's the thing with MMO's +P

NoneOther
NoneOther

Im in the beta and I'm currently really enjoying it. Even if Its laggy, unbalanced and somewhat buggy (in addition to some performance issues), but really thats to be expected in any beta. The gameworld feels huge, there are plenty of quality quests and the sci-fi setting and futuristic weaponry give this game a distinct feel and look. I agree with dwarden that this really isn't a MMOFPS, yet its nothing like the tedious combat in SWG. Im definitely going to pick this up at launch.

Dwarden
Dwarden

don't put Your hopes high , this game is not MMOFPS nor MMORPGFPS ... there is nothing related to FPS genre at all only that You got guns ... Imagine it just as another StarWarsGalaxies and similar clones ... If you want argue bring facts and not some nicely done movies :) And remember it's 2007 ...

L0stS0u1
L0stS0u1

Don't really care if I play as an elf or a futuristic super soldier its all about the game play. Warhammer Online with its RvR and more open pvp elements looks more promising to me.

kingjackass
kingjackass

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Jack_Dracon
Jack_Dracon

That's will be the game...the look is incredible on the trailer, now the game, is other history, i am curious...

hump
hump

Been in the beta. Its not an especially deep game but its a lot of fun taken in small bites. Definitely a nice change of pace from the high-fantasy shtick of elves, dwarves, wizards etc.

ColdstoneX3
ColdstoneX3

seems interesting, hopefully it will turn out as good as it looks

sneakbyte
sneakbyte

So This is a MMOFPSRPG correct?

Wayward_Son_88
Wayward_Son_88

To me it has a very Knights of the Old Republic look to it, it still sounds fun though. I'd get it if I had the comp. for it.

silentkillah
silentkillah

That movie trailer was off the hook. Hope the gameplay and community is good!

SmArTaLeC1321
SmArTaLeC1321

This and Conan look to me like they will be the best MMORPGs of all time.

Retue
Retue

In the beta and must say that the game has sparked a huge interest. Dosen't run very well atm, It's ofc a beta so i wasn't expecting it. Anyways it's a nice change from all the hack and slash rpg mmo games and i might quit a few games to play it when it's out.

BigDaveyDogz
BigDaveyDogz

can't wait to see how this game turns out...seems very interesting!!

kyrieee
kyrieee

The trailer got me pumped

Targzissian
Targzissian

Steven Messing is a fantastic concept artist. I love his depictions of Arieki's lava fields. J. P. Targete has done some great pictures of Tabula Rasa's bizarre life forms. Also, there's a fantastic painting by Steven Stahlberg called Sarah Morrison that depicts one very hot female character from Tabula Rasa. Some great art is going into this game. I hope there will be an art book available for it sometime.

KyanMehwulfe
KyanMehwulfe

PC games don't... Perhaps you mean medium-range games in general across any platform.

daveg1
daveg1

why do pc games have to have nothing but straight edges everywhere..the trailer looked very promising but looking at the gameplay shots even though they are early they its put me off for a game with a great idea nad storey...shame!

Sexy_Yofu
Sexy_Yofu

I'm downloading the beta right now. >w

TheC0m1ssar
TheC0m1ssar

Ooh, this game looks sweet. Might get it when it comes out. Or if they release even better news, I'm pre-ordering it.