Welcome to the 858th Edition of Loading...

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Daily Column

Loading... 858 editions, which backwards is 858 editions.

First, the Ten Ton Pulse, your finger on the beating heart of the MMOG industry.

If the Top 10 isn't enough, we also show the Top 20 and Top 50 lists as well, available to everyone on our homepage. (What is Pulse?)

  1. Age of Conan - 200 BPM
  2. World of Warcraft - 179 BPM
  3. Lord of the Rings Online - 69 BPM
  4. EverQuest II - 58 BPM
  5. Warhammer Online - 41 BPM
  6. Perfect World - 37
  7. Vanguard - 37 BPM
  8. Dungeon Runners - 35 BPM
  9. Guild Wars - 32 BPM
  10. EVE Online - 31 BPM

Congratulations to Spain on their 3-0 romp and their birth in the finals against Germany in Euro 2008. I know what I'll be watching Sunday!

Sometimes there seems to be a fit of cosmic consciousness. Yesterday I wrote what I thought was a fairly introspective piece, posted it and then in the afternoon was sent the link to another piece, much the same, posted hours earlier by another writer covering a different angle. Kieron Gillen has posted an article that you should read. I don't often place the word should in front of the word read. I often recommend. I often suggest, but in this case I implore you to go and read Barnett on: Games Journalism.

The article is more of a regurgitation of a Paul Barnett chat than a get your hands-dirty in the trenches wiping mud from your brow kind of article, but it's real; it's entertaining and in my opinion (as you read yesterday) it takes a deeper wittier look at what I discussed yesterday. Well done Paul. Well done Kieron.

In true, take a quote and bend it into something that it isn't fashion, the media have latched on to this beauty by Gaute Godager of Funcom,

"I enjoy playing WOW, I enjoy playing Lord of the Rings Online. But you know... I'm going to be a bit cheeky now, but if you've been to McDonalds for four or five years, and had your burger and your coke, sometimes it's great to just have a great steak and a glass of good wine. I think that's what we're trying to do. It's more expensive, it's not for everyone and perhaps it's not as easily accessible as WOW is. But it could be more meaty." --Gaute Godager at Eurogamer

Of course, every headline reads something like, 'Funcom Dev Calls WoW McDonalds'. For starters, if you have ever been to Norway, where Funcom is located you would know that a Big Mac there is called a 'Big Meaty' (which also happened to be my nickname in University). A Whopper is called 'An Angry Meaty' or something of the sort and Burger Kings have one in a cage as a display. It's very angry, and strong apparently. Burgers in Norway are mean cusses that might eat you before you eat them.

Gaute is right that AoC is different than WoW and LotRO. It's not as accessible. I'm not sure as much as I like Gaute, that it is meatier. WoW has so many advancement channels and such deep gameplay that it is hard for any newly released title to be 'meatier'. AoC offers something different, but I'm not sure that the difference can be described as meatier. My question is, what MMOG do vegetarians play?

Our good man Danny Gourley has scoured the Internet and his own mind to come up with a more plausible explanation of the Blizzard splash screen mystery than my Dairy Queen theory,

"Ever since Blizzard launched its intriguing new splash page (as mentioned in yesterday's Loading...),
rumors have been flying around the Internet like they normally
do...well, on the Internet. The new splash page shows a large wall of
bluish crystal-looking substance that could be ice. Let me recap what
we can tell by looking at the image.



Secrets in the Code?

First,
HTML monkeys like Ten Ton Hammer's own Deg will view the page source
and quickly pick up that the name of the division of the page with the
image is "icefield." Further digging around in the CSS (PM Deg if you really want to know what this is) reveals references to
things such as "tundra," "cavern," and "icy." The images contained in
the CSS have names like "04" or "ctbg" or "15."



Really, all we get from the code is that there are a lot of references to ice and caves. But more is there...

Image 1: The rune from the blade of Arthas

Rune 1 - Rumor Set 1

On
the first day, observant champions of the interwebz noticed an image
"watermarked" onto the sheet of ice. It was just a little symbol in a
circle blended into the image. World of Warcraft fans should find cause to be excited about this symbol. Anyone who has seen images of Arthas, the new big baddie projected to be the major boss in Wrath of the Lich King (WotLK), likely noticed the cold motif to the image and the badass sword he drives into the ice before him.



A
closer look at that sword reveals a series of runes from the middle of
the broad side of the blade down to the guard. That last rune, the one
there by the guard looks an awful lot like the first rune that appeared
on the splash page on the Blizzard website (see image 1).



From
this surreptitious observation, one can begin the speculation that this
is a publicity wind up for some news about WotLK. Could it be an open
beta? Could it be a new date? Could it merely be leading up to a press
event that Blizzard wants everyone to be psyched for?

Image 2: The Hel rune.

Rune 2 - Rumor Set 2

The second day brought with it a new visible symbol, this one quickly recognized as the same symbol of the Hel rune from Diablo II
(see image 2). Runes from Blizzard's beloved action franchise could be
combined with gear in the Horadric Cube to provide enchantments to the
items.



The Diablo franchise has been dormant for a while. Could Blizzard be making thousands upon thousands of diehard fans happy by announcing Diablo III soon? Or could the gaming behemoth be making my personal wish for Sanctuary: World of Diablo come true? Maybe it's none of those. Maybe the use of the rune is a nod to a new game play system in WotLK. Maybe we Diablo fans want a new game so bad we'll see hope in anything--even faint images on a sheet of ice.



And maybe it's not ice. Maybe it's the Worldstone, shattered by the angel Tyreal after the player's battle with Baal in the Diablo II expansion, Lord of Destruction. The Worldstone, described ably by Richard Knaack in the Diablo novels, could look a bit like a sheet of ice.

Image 3: The Protoss logo

Rune 3 - Rumor Set 3

Wednesday, the new rune embedded on the now broken ice sheet is easily identified by the people who play Starcraft religiously as the symbol of the Protoss race (see image 3). Starcraft 2 is already announced, but could Blizzard have more news about the beloved real-time strategy series?



Some wondered if there were merely a sign of general marketing. Others thought it might portend a magical date of some sort for Starcraft 2.
By contrast, a few people noticed something just at the edge of the
opening in the ice. Was it the light shining from behind the ice? Smoke
escaping? Was it not on the viewer's side of the ice at all but
something moving from the top of the screen down toward the hole? Maybe
that is Tyreal? Maybe Diablo himself someone conjectured.



Rune 4 - A Bunch of Speculation

We all expect to see a new symbol on the splash page today. Some speculate that it will be related Lost Vikings or Rock 'N Roll Racing, as Blizzard gives new life to an old franchise. Oddly, I have not encountered any hopes for a Blackthorne game.



Some
say it will be a game that blends the top three Blizzard franchises
into one big ecstasy smoothie. A good number believe it will be a new
symbol we have never seen before and the Friday will reveal the title
of a new Blizzard franchise. Don't rule out Boomjack's call of a Dairy
Queen-themed skill set for Mages in World of Warcraft.



My Take

With WotLK on the way and Starcraft 2's
production common knowledge, I tend to think this hoopla is not about
those two franchises. I hope against hope that this is about Diablo, my greatest gaming passion. If it is Diablo, will it be a action game like the first two, or is it a new massively-multiplayer online game (MMOG)? Blizzard sure is hiring a load of people to work on a MMOG.



During the press buildup to the announcement of Starcraft 2 last year, Ten Ton Hammer's Xerin told me in confidence (or was
that his admission to bedwetting?) that he couldn't see a MMOG. It
would be cannibalism, he said. Killing demons in Sanctuary would be too
similar to killing ogres in Azeroth; it would pull from the same
audience. DiabloStarcraft would make more sense to him--a massively multiplayer real-time strategy (MMORTS).



I
did and do disagree with Xerin despite his vast knowledge of Blizzard's
workings and his excellent coverage of WoW for this network. With Age of Conan
(AoC) making the M-rated MMOG en vogue and WoW players desperately
trying to find any game that gets them excited again before returning
to WoW because it is home and everything since has been a clone of some
sort, Blizzard stands perfectly poised to bring adult gamers a title
with mature themes. And as the displacement of WoW on the top of Ten
Ton Hammer's Pulse for several weeks surrounding the launch of AoC has
shown, the gaming community is ready to move on beyond WoW. Better for
Blizzard to strike while the iron is hot and the fans are still here
than to wait for some other franchise (*points to WAR*) to steal away
all those subs.



But whatever it turns out to be, we can bet it
will take freaking forever to get finished and it will be stellar. It
is Blizzard after all. I Told You So. " --Danny Gourley

Have a great weekend folks!

Do tell. The Loading Forums await you. Do you feel the need to contact me personally with naughty pictures or derogatory comments? Here's my E-mail.

--
[A big thanks to Phil Comeau for putting together the link and Real World News.]

19 new MMOG hand-crafted articles today! 272 in June! 1568 in 2008!

New MMOG Articles At Ten Ton Hammer Today

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- John "Boomjack" Hoskin and the Ten Ton Hammer Team

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Hoskin 0
Dissecting and distilling the game industry since 1994. Lover of family time, youth hockey, eSports, and the game industry in general.

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