Apparently, Tabula Rasa is shutting down. Is it strange that I think the name is strangely prescient? It’s Latin for “blank slate“, and is typically used to suggest a newborn’s lack of mental content. It even makes some sense in a game genre that is built around player-created and nurtured avatars.
And yet, I can’t shake two thoughts:
One, “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”… the game will fade back into the nothingness from whence it came. That’s the philosopher in me speaking, and he can often be safely ignored. Philosophy is not reality, after all.
Two, expecting players to bring their own fun to fill the “blank slate” (and charge them for the privilege of doing so) isn’t necessarily the best business plan. I’ve not played the game, and I know, it’s not like Second Life (which demands a lot of its “patrons”), but still, as a general rule, you can’t charge people for the privilege of being creative. You can give them toys (tools), and charge them one time fees for those, but charging continued access to toys will, more often than not, mean that truly creative people will go find other toys.
…and that’s about as far as I’m going to take the analogy. It’s a general game design philosophy; players want to have fun, and it’s the designer’s job to provide it. User generated content may be all the rage in some game design circles, but you can’t charge people for making their own games. You can charge for the middleware or take a percentage of the proceeds, but the subscription model doesn’t fit. Also, thanks to Sturgeon’s Law, be prepared for a world based on user-generated content to be… well… full of static.