It seems that NCsoft is at it again; attempting to steal the market from other venerable leaders through incredible innovation and providing gamers with a fun experience that does not punish them after hundreds of hours of effort just because that's the way it has to be. Apart from another big announcement (Guild Wars: Factions), NCsoft has shown us its new upcoming MMORPG, Tabula Rasa. Developed by Destination Games, the studio founded by the team behind Origin Games and the creators of the Lineage series, this game has high expectations.

The basic story of Tabula Rasa revolves around the Allied Free Sentients who are attempting to save the universe from the Bane. Players will join the Sentients and use weapons and alien powers in their struggle across alien landscapes located throughout space. At the heart of the gameplay is the unique combination of third-person shooter elements within this RPG. Instead of having static battles, where movement and positioning matter very little, players are presented with fast-paced action which requires aiming and movement to destroy enemies. In order to keep the game from becoming overly complex, the developers have implemented a "sticky" aim feature that gives gamers a little freedom from being completely accurate.

Other features found in Tabula Rasa include a built-in voice chat system, similar to what many MMO players use in external applications today, a rich 3D world and the use of instances to create a more story-driven experience for the player. Instead of simply providing an area for gamers to go and repeatedly play in search of that one item that may drop once every hundred runs, Destination Games has chosen to make these highly popular dungeons an area for story and character development.

Massively multiplayer online games used to involve spending hundreds of hours building up a fantasy-based character only to find out that the choices you made have a negative impact on your current gameplay, causing you to die repeatedly and lose experience, gold, items, your own sanity or other valuables. Well, it appears that this could also be a thing of the past with Tabula Rasa. Not only are the penalties for death almost non-existent, but in another extremely innovative decision, players no longer choose their character class from the beginning of the game, instead making choices later on. With this comes the fact that Tabula Rasa has a system allowing players to save templates of their characters as they progress and clone them to re-play the game with different choices, eliminating the unnecessary time spent creating and building up a new character when things go wrong.

Tabula Rasa not only takes a unique approach to the presentation of the MMO genre by focusing on story and the mechanics of battle, it also strives to remove the frustrating aspects associated with the time spent playing these games altogether. Besides the amazing alien environments, players will also notice that the interface used in the game is extremely different from other popular titles. Of course this is not a negative aspect of the game, on the contrary it appears that NCsoft may have another hit online game when Tabula Rasa releases late this year.