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of Loading...

Loading... is the premier daily
MMOG news and commentary
newsletter, only from Ten Ton Hammer.

Online communities and ponds have at least one thing in common: they both need an inlet and an outlet to avoid becoming a cesspool. In our marketing crazed culture, we pay plenty attention to player population growth, but could is there such a thing as a healthy level of attrition too? Do developer communities attempt to prune their communities of the most toxic elements? Should they? That, plus new news on the Halo MMO front are under the microscope in today's Loading... Internet Pond Scum.

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The Pulse

You vote with what you
view at Ten Ton Hammer, and the
is the Ten Ton Pulse ( href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/thepulse/" target="_blank">What
is The Pulse?).

are today's top 5 Pulse results:

  1. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/wow">World
    of Warcraft
  2. Warhammer Online (UP 6!)
  3. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/eq2">EverQuest
    II (down 1)
  4. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/aoc">Age
    of Conan 
  5. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/ddo">Dungeons
    Dragons Online 

movers today

  1. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/38">EverQuest
    (UP 6 to #7)
  2. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/co">Champions Online
    (down 6 to #15)
  3. Star Wars: The Old Republic (UP 6 to #17)
size="-1">Recent Releases
  • size="-1">2/1
    - href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/926">Global
    Agenda (release date)
  • size="-1">2/2 size="-1">
    - Star
    Trek Online
    (release date)
  • size="-1">2/16
    - href="http://everquest2.station.sony.com/expansions/sentinelsfate/index.vm">EverQuest
    2: Sentinel's Fate (expansion)
  • size="-1">2/16
    - href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/81479"> LotRO:
    Oath of the
    Rangers (content update)
  • size="-1">4/5
    - href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/83086">Pocket
    Legends (iMMOG - release date)



  • size="-1">April
    - href="http://www.cityofheroes.com/news/game_updates/issue_17/issue_17_overview.html?utm_source=COHemail&utm_medium=US&utm_campaign=banner">City
    of Heroes - Issue 17: Dark Mirror
  • size="-1"> style="font-weight: bold;">Spring 2010
    - href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/1801">Mytheon
  • size="-1">Summer
    - href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/998">APB
  • size="-1">TBA
    - href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/2079">Final
    Fantasy XIV size="-1">


  • size="-1"> style="font-weight: bold;">6/15 -
    6/17 - href="http://www.e3expo.com/">E3
  • size="-1"> style="font-weight: bold;">6/25 -
    6/27 - href="http://www.lfgexpo.com/">Looking
    for Group
  • size="-1"> style="font-weight: bold;">7/22 -
    7/25 - href="http://www.comic-con.org/">Comic-Con
  • size="-1"> style="font-weight: bold;">8/5 -
    8/8 - href="http://events.station.sony.com/fanfaire/">SOE
    Fan Faire 2010
  • size="-1"> style="font-weight: bold;">9/3 -
    9/6 - href="http://www.dragoncon.org/">DragonCon
  • size="-1"> style="font-weight: bold;">10/22 -
    10/23 - href="http://us.blizzard.com/blizzcon/?rhtml=y">BlizzCon
  • size="-1"> style="font-weight: bold;">2011: 3/24
    3/26 - href="http://fanfest.eveonline.com/">CCP

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Underfoot All-In-One Giveaway - 20 Copies Available!

Ton Hammer is partnering with Sony Online Entertainment to offer you a
chance to win one of twenty EverQuest® Underfoot All-In-One
Packs. For details and your free chance to win, follow the instructions
on the href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/giveaways/eq_underfoot=">EverQuest
Underfoot Giveaway page. Good

Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2 and City of Heroes This Weekend on Ten Ton
Hammer Live!

We have three guests booked for this Saturday's Ten Ton Hammer Live
podcast and they're all coming from NCsoft. Joining us will be Linsey
Murdock, lead of the Guild
LIVE team, Eric
lead for Guild Wars 2,
and Melissa Bianco,
developer of City of Heroes.

This is one episode you won't want to miss. href="http://media.omfg.fm:8000/stream.mp3.m3u">Tune
in live Saturday night
at 7pm EDT or catch it in the href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/podcasts/live">Ten
Ton Hammer Live archives when it
becomes available Sunday.


Loading... Daily

Xerin, our resident IM muse here at Ten Ton Hammer, slapped me with one of his usual out-of-the-blue posers earlier this week. “I’m concerned about the industry,” he said, not surprising me much. I steeled what was left of my general MMORPG enthusiasm for what came next. “With more and more games entering the space and relatively few dying off, I mean, people have been calling the MMO market saturated for years. How much more saturated can it get?”

I’m on a diet from such questions, which usually make too many assumptions. Like: all MMORPGs compete directly with each other. Or that there ever could be some invisible force aside from sinking revenue that could put games out to pasture. I also don’t for a moment think the massively multiplayer category is in jeopardy, but the massively multiplayer player – the gamer who self-identifies as an MMORPG fan and plays just about anything that wears the tag for the social component - might be. Massively single-player games and what writer Christine Rosen called the Facebook-fueled “networked individualism” have taken their toll. I do have hope for the next wave of MMORPGs- that they might restore the social game to its rightful place at the forefront of MMO gameplay as this week’s D-Mail foretells.

But Xerin’s question got me thinking not of the macro machinations of the MMO market, but of saturation on a playerbase level. Players have, far and wide, become pitifully jaded to all new things, whether potentially good or ill. Exercise your grounded enthusiasm on just about any official or unofficial forum, and see if there’s not an equal and opposite reaction in the form of the snarky comment (or maybe even a clever photoshop, if you’re lucky enough to catch an industrious pecksniff between porn runs).

Which, in turn, got me thinking of the man-made pond I helped build during a summer in my mostly misspent youth. For anyone that hasn’t had the pleasure,  building a pond is fairly simple, but not quite as simple as digging a hole in the ground.  You need a matching inlet and outlet to keep the water properly oxygenated so that the water stays reasonably clear and, in turn, something more attractive than stinking algae will grow and thrive.

MMOGs naturally gain and lose players. On the gain side of the equation, gamers love variety and, with the gravity of enlightened marketing and press efforts, will naturally flock to anything remotely interesting or different.  On the loss side, it’s equally inevitable. New games come out that players like, new patches are released that players don’t like, or real life events preclude your gaming habits temporarily or permanently. Before the free-to-play craze, the operative metric was “churn rate”, now it’s probably called retention rate.

I wish there were a metric for the rate at which an MMOG sheds dissatisfied players – not the critically constructive types, but the negativity-spewing fixtures. Going further, as I make my quick bombing runs on o-boards, I sometimes find myself wishing there were marketing efforts aimed at shedding these types (maybe “severance packs” offering links to free trials in other games perhaps), because even if they’re paying, they’re poisonous. Left alone they become algae blooms that suck all the beauty and life out of the playerbase, or at the very least any kind of reasonable discussion on the official forums.  If you joined a pickup basketball game at the neighborhood park and weren't having fun, you'd probably excuse yourself rather than bitch nonstop about bad calls, talent mismatches, and the like. In real life, you'd probably fear "accidentally" eating an elbow. But the only limit Internet sociopaths know is how far they're willing to go.  

Of course the ultimate severance pack would be the so-called “WoW killer”, which in light of ActiBlizzard's 10-year publishing and distribution deal with Bungie Studios (who recently parted with Microsoft killer of MMOGs after the Halo MMO debacle in 1997), seems that much more possible. I don't think the majority of FPS or MMO fans are terribly excited about a Halo MMOG, but if such a beast were to spawn, it would be an excellent (if temporary) asshat magnet to clean out the scummiest of our online communities.

And if that sounds elitist, so be it. Elitist to me means that a game servers only the interest of the best or most invested players, I'm just hoping for online games which can be evaluated on its own terms, free of the taint of the permanently dissatisfied. Like it or not, the community is part of the game experience, and I feel that the communities have let down games just as often as games have let down their communities.

What's your take?  What's the healthiest online game community you've been a part of? The unhealthiest? Can game developers take steps to clean out forum cesspools, or are we stuck with anyone stinkbot, so long as they're a paying customer? Have your say in the Loading... forum.

Shayalyn's Epic Thread of
the Day

From our /OOC (Off-topic) forum

Why does it burn when I pee?

somehow couldn't resist the title of this thread, which seemed epic
enough for a Friday as far as I'm concerned. Annatar posted a news
article about...well, never mind; you'll see. All I'm saying is that
the weekend approacheth and, particularly if you're in Australia, you
should probably be careful out there.


Awesome Quotes from the
Epic Thread

Make one!

Have you spotted an Epic Thread on our forums? Tell

and Exclusive Content
Today at Ten Ton Hammer

1 new Ten Ton Hammer
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in April! 471
in 2010!


EQ2 Game Update 56 Preview


EverQuest II has the mother of all updates coming soon and players will
be pleased with many of the changes happening around Norrath.
Due out in May, this update goes far beyond being a patch and adds the
biggest content we've seen since Sentinel's Fate including new zones,
a graphics update, a travel revamp, and battlegrounds for all. The game
update is currently on test so Ten Ton Hammer patched up and logged in
to bring you a preview of GU 56's highlights.

Hottest Articles, Guides, and Features

  1. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/giveaways/eq_underfoot">EverQuest
    Underfoot All-In-One Giveaway - 20 Copies Available!
  2. D-Mail #2: Knee Jerk Reactions
  3. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/syfy/interviews/rob_hill_on_action_mmo">Cash Rules Everything Around Me
    - A Look at Planet Calypso
  4. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/83781">Microcosms:
    Reinventing The Wheel – An
    Re-Launch Sneak
  5. href="http://tentonhammer.com/rift/first_look">A
    First Look at Rift:
    Planes of Telara
  6. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/syfy/interviews/rob_hill_on_action_mmo">The
    Syfy Marriage of TV and Video Games - A Q&A with Trion
    ' Rob Hill
  7. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/end_of_nations/reveal">Command
    & Conquer Creators Unveil Massively Military MMORTS: End
    of Nations
  8. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/podcasts/live/4">Ten
    Ton Hammer Live Ep. 4 - Funcom's Erling Ellingsen Talks The
    Secret World
  9. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/starcraft2/reviews/heavens_devils_audiobook">StarCraft
    II: Heaven's Devils Audiobook Review
  10. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/83664">Final
    Fantasy XIV
    Races Overview

for visiting the Ten Ton Hammer network!

- Jeff "Ethec" Woleslagle
the Ten Ton Hammer team

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Jeff joined the Ten Ton Hammer team in 2004 covering EverQuest II, and he's had his hands on just about every PC online and multiplayer game he could since.