I agree with Lum’s conclusion that Tabula Rasa failed because it took too long, spent too much money, and became incapable of meeting its own expectations. But let’s not beat that dead horse — I’d rather beat the dead horse that Adam brings up:
Re-reading this as I go, I remember there was another big excuse that I never gave credence to: “I’ll bury my head in real work and make *my* parts as good as I possibly can, and hope if everyone else does the same, it will All Come Together In The End”. This one wasn’t voiced so much, but is simply what people did, in some cases.
Hope is not a strategy. Whenever your attempt to avoid disaster revolves around the H-word instead of a concrete averting action, you are doomed.
In my experience this happens an awful lot. Is this you? Are you doing this right now? Hoping that by working harder you will be able to stave off the doom you see coming? Take a step back and look at what you’re working on. “This is going to be the best monster ever. It will save my shitty game.” “This new twist on crafting is going to keep people distracted from the tedious combat!” “With enough back story I can distract players from the lack of content!” Come on. That’s not a plan. It’s hoping for a miracle.
It’s easy to hope against hope that it will all work out, and it’s so hard to rock the boat, risk your job and friendships, and push to make the critical changes happen. But if you can’t or won’t do that, then you need to at least leave. I know it’s hard to leave now, you’re bailing out on your doomed comrades, you’re sealing their fate, you’re… yeah yeah. Whatever. Down deep you know your game is going to die no matter what, and yep, it’s going to hurt like hell knowing that you wasted years of your life. But what would going down with the ship achieve?
I’m not speaking from a higher position, I’ve been plenty guilty of this. And I gotta tell you, changing everybody’s opinion about something they care strongly about is not my idea of a fun time. I have never signed up to change a company, I sign up to make a game! Yet most MMO companies are rudderless ships of overworked, desperately hoping, doomed people. It really hurts me to think about some of the failures I’ve not been willing or able to avert. (This is why I haven’t signed up full time on a new MMO. I would love to work on a live game again more than anything else. But I can’t bring myself to jump back into the doom yet.)
Hope isn’t a strategy, and you and I both know when we’re hoping instead of strategizing. You’re a professional game developer, and you got to this point in life by making sacrifices. You made these decisions in order to make great games. Are you making a great game now?
You’re a brilliant person, and I expect more from you than keeping your head down and hoping for a miracle.