Tabula Rasa producer admits to slow start

But studio layoffs are standard ramp down.

Starr Long, producer of science fiction MMO Tabula Rasa, has responded to recent speculation about the game's performance on the NCsoft website. Long admitted that "the game has not taken off as quickly as we had hoped", although he reassured players the company is committed to supporting it with new content.

Tabula Rasa was the subject of a controversial article in the Korea Times two weeks ago. The report claimed it had been a "financial disaster" for NCsoft, leading to layoffs at the company's Austin development studio.

Although NCsoft discredited the article at the time, Long's comments represent the first official indication that the company is disappointed with the game's performance. "We also launched in an insanely competitive time frame, with several well-known intellectual properties launching follow up products at the same time," he observed.

However, Long went on to explain that the downsizing of the development team is a "standard" ramp down from crunch development in the run-up to release. "The fact of the matter is that we are transitioning from a pre-launch crunch-mode development team to a live service team," he said.

"This is standard in our industry - you ramp up to launch a game and then ramp down once it's live. This is what we are doing over the next several weeks, and it only affects the Tabula Rasa team. Once all is said and done, we will still have a substantial live team for industry standards."

According to Long, "NCsoft has committed a lot of money and resources into continuing post-launch development of Tabula Rasa." He offered details on a number of new features and content updates in the works, including dynamic mission flashpoints, the ability to command squads of upgradeable AI soldiers and Personal Armour Units (mechs and mini-vehicles that players can use).

He also said that creator Richard Garriott remains involved in development on a daily basis, in between training to become the world's first second-generation astronaut [and redoing his plait - Dep Ed]. Garriott, the son of scientist and astronaut Owen K. Garriott, will fly to the International Space Station with the Space Adventures space tourism firm in October this year.

Expect extensive Tabula Rasa coverage when Eurogamer's MMO channel launches in the coming weeks.

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