Tuesday 23rd October/...NCsoft's latest Tabula Rasa feature is entitled "Caves of Donn" by Rebekah Tran, Mission Designer. The feature also includes a video/dev diary.
"The game world of Tabula Rasa is filled with many different types of environments that range from somewhat familiar to very alien. The overland maps (the persistent maps where hundreds of players share the same space ) share their visual theme with three to four connected instance maps (unique maps created for a party alone). Wilderness is the first overland map that the player visits after completing the game tutorial).. It is covered with dense forests, and sports the familiar sounds of twittering birds that is, when you're not in the middle of a fierce battle.
One of the first instance maps players can explore off Wilderness is Caves of Donn. When it came time for me to start creating the missions on this map, I had a little bit of a challenge on my hands, as it is one of the smaller instance maps. It is laid out as three primary large outdoor rooms connected by a smaller cave system. These connecting caves are rather enclosed, so the battles in Caves of Donn needed to be smaller in scale (but not in intensity) and a little more intelligent. In order to be successful in this area, the goal is to pay attention to your environment. Do you see creatures you previously thought long dead back in the picture? Ask yourself, "Where are they coming from?" Think you're getting sniped? You probably are, so search out that sneaky guy and take him out!
Beyond this, Caves of Donn is the first instance map the player is introduced to that does not involve a Bane installation. The goal between the World Builder (the designer that sets up the visual look of the map) and myself was to give a sense of the Bane taking over areas in which they did not previously have a strong foothold. This way, the player will get a taste of what's it's like to be hit on their own turf, so to speak, instead of infiltrating a Bane stronghold. In fact, the Bane in Caves of Donn have actually left a trap to try to lure you into the area in the hopes to use players to help them get at artifacts held deep within. Though subtle, there definitely are a few "gotcha" elements in this area. In Caves of Donn there are several things that you have to do to the environment to ensure that the path you think you secured is truly secure.
This is also the first time you are introduced to a story arc for Concordia concerning a mysterious place called Eloh Vale. It was easy to put this fictional hook in Caves of Donn because it was designed to be a spiritual place where the Foreans (an allied alien race) would take vision quests and commune with all things Eloh. The question I asked myself when I first started in on this map is whether the Foreans knew about the artifacts held within the caves, or whether they just had their spiritual awakenings amongst the ruins. I worked under the premise that the Foreans did not know what was hidden beneath the ruins because, if they did, the Thrax could have machinized them and taken the knowledge they needed. This makes the story in Caves of Donn very subtle, but important in that it sets the stage for the rest of the Concordia story arc. The player leaves Caves of Donn with many unanswered questions: What is this Eloh map? Why did the Eloh not entrust the Foreans with all the knowledge of past and future events? What and where is Eloh Vale? These questions are answered in later instances, so Caves of Donn really is the appetizer before the main meal of the main story arc."
For more information about Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa please visit http://eu.playtr.com/eu/