Welcome to the 961st Edition of Loading...

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The Pulse

First, you vote with what you view at Ten Ton Hammer, and the result is the Ten Ton Pulse (What is Pulse?).

  1. World of Warcraft
  2. Warhammer Online
  3. Age of Conan (UP 2)
  4. Stargate Worlds (UP 1)
  5. Guild Wars (down 1)
  6. Guild Wars 2 (down 1)
  7. EVE Online
  8. Tabula Rasa (UP 1)
  9. Atlantica Online (down 1)
  10. Star Wars: The Old Republic (UP 6)

Biggest Sinkers and Floaters in the Top 20

  1. Star Wars: The Old Republic (UP 6 to no. 10)
  2. Lineage 2 (down 2 to no. 13)
  3. Dungeon Runners (down 2 to no. 14)

Daily Column

Loading... your own personal MMORPG vomitorium.

Ten Ton Hammer face man Garrett Fuller and I were discussing how public companies tend to release bad news on Fridays, a trend he first noticed while working in the breaking news department at financial news magnate Bloomberg. Think of it as the corporate answer to the old maxim that nature loves a balance; TGIF meets layoffs and poor earnings, and the market has a weekend to digest things before delivering its judgment on Monday.

With that in mind, it makes sense that NCSoft and Funcom chose a Friday to drop the hammer. First, rumors abound that 70% of the North American Customer Service and Quality Assurance staff in North America were given notice on Friday. These folks do some of the toughest, most thankless work in the industry and occupy the lowest rung on the payscale, so my heart goes out to them.

We spoke to Funcom rep Terri Perkins for an official comment on the situation, and she had this to say: "We did have some staffing cuts at Funcom this week as well as open new positions in the organization as part of our ongoing cost-based efficiency and performance initiatives that are vital to any business."

Ten Ton Hammer's Martuk has the most likely explanation - that this was less a harbinger of doom than that Funcom simply no longer needed the same level of support that they had at launch and, as Ms. Perkins said, had to adjust their staff accordingly - but that doesn't make the situation any prettier, especially with the X360 version of AoC overdue and The Secret World on the distant horizon.

But the real bombshell came a few hours later when, in a brief letter to the community, NCSoft announced that Tabula Rasa would be shutting down at the end of February. If this cloud has a silver lining, it's that the final, live event-filled month and a half of TR will be free-to-play.

Beyond the impact on the TR staff and yet another painful blow to Austin-based MMOG development, it's hard luck for the one publisher that truly made an effort to push the category beyond its fantasy RPG roots. Both Auto Assault (released in April 2006 by developer NetDevil and shut down some 16 months later) and Tabula Rasa (which will breathe its last only 15 months after launch) were published by NCSoft and feature (or featured) novel, fast-paced combat in a futuristic setting. That alone creates problems in a category typically designed around text chat and group interaction. If I can strap an uber minigun to my arm or roof and go tearing around the wasteland like Bahamut in a bulldozer, other players can do nothing but annoy me with their petty mortal concerns.

Still, I had a lot of fun with both Auto Assault and Tabula Rasa, they certainly were different and didn't deserve their somewhat ignominious fate. Unfortunately, we live and play in a market that tends to punish innovators. The real question is what this means to the premier sci-fi shooter in development, Stargate Worlds. How can they avoid the MMO shooter curse?

We hope to get a few comments from CME on that topic later this week, but for now, share your thoughts in the Loading... forum or, as always, feel free to email me.

Shayalyn's Epic Thread of the Day

From our AoC: The Courtyard (General Discussion) Forum

Funcom Fires 70% of their U.S. Staff ...

Mattlow, our WAR community manager, started a rumor. But it's a
rumor with pretty solid sources, or so we're told. He's let us know
that Funcom, makers of Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures, has fired 70%
of its U.S. customer service and quality assurance staff. Is AoC in
trouble? What about Funcom's other top secret project, The Secret
World? The Ten Ton Hammer AoC forum is buzzing with speculation.


Awesome Quote from the
Epic Thread

"The main problem is that FC has always used an approach of relying on CS to put out the fires that are the result of bad coding and sloppy testing. They'd rather spend dollars on stop-gap measures than on fixes. This is why after several years it still requires a GM to update the Uncle Bazzit quest if it's dropped at a specific time and why Afirce's book 4 never spawns properly; this is why the Dust Brigade quests give the wrong nanos and why if you're not close enough to the Beast on a kill you won't get credit for the Profession Star quest. AoC has some of these as well, and with a lower CS staff the support will simply not be there to put those fires out."

- Koshira


Do you have a favorite Epic Thread? Let
us know

12 new MMOG hand-crafted articles today! 145 in November! 2943 in 2008!

New MMOG Articles At Ten Ton Hammer Today [Thanks Phil Comeau for links and Real World News]






Hot Content - Or, what I took a fancy to:

  1. Lord of the Rings Online: Consoles, Horses and Middle-Earth with Jeffrey Steefel
  2. Warhammer Online: WAR-Torn - "Everyone's a Critic"
  3. Warhammer Online: 7-Day WAR Report
  4. Club Penguin: Why Parents Love It
  5. Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Series
  6. Age of Armor
  7. World of Warcraft: Comic - Goob & Begud - "Murphy's Law"
  8. Warhammer Online: WAR Journal - Heavy Metal
  9. Age of Conan: Border Kingdom Cryer - Community Feedback
  10. Exclusive LOTRO Mines of Moria Launch Interview with Jeffrey Steefel

Real World News

Thanks for visiting the Ten Ton Hammer network!

- Jeff "Ethec" Woleslagle and the Ten Ton Hammer Team

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Tabula Rasa Game Page.

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.