Welcome to the 1,159th edition of Loading...

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

Our coverage from this past weekend's PAX 2009 continues to
roll out, and Ten Ton Hammer's Reuben "Sardu" Waters somehow found time
the whole crazy experience that has become the industry's feature fan
event in North America. Part one of two follows in today's Loading...
Sardu's PAX 2009 Journal (Part 1 of 2).


The Pulse

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

Here's today's top 5 Pulse results:

  1. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/41"
    target="_blank">World of Warcraft
  2. Lord
    of the Rings Online
  3. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/860">Champions
  4. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/115">Age of
  5. EverQuest

Biggest movers today:

  1. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/2036"
    (UP 22 to #12)
  2. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/117">Star
    Trek Online (UP 14 to #15)
  3. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/926"
    target="_blank"> (UP 11 to #14)
MMO Releases


  • 9/15 -
    - GDC
  • 10/1 -
    href="http://fanfest.eveonline.com/">EVE FanFest

Loading... Daily

Ten Ton Hammer's Reuben "Sardu" Waters, especially valued by us not
only for his knowledable nice-guyness, love of MMOs, and his complete
inability to turn off his gamer side (as you'll see), made
several withdrawals on the old sleep account to journal his experience
at PAX 2009. Unprompted and unscripted, they turned out far too cool
not to share. We'll air his artfully constructed running
commentary in two parts, today and tomorrow. Enjoy!


Thursday (pre-PAX)

The flight into Seattle was mostly uneventful apart from some
of the more rowdy passengers a few seats ahead of me that somehow
managed to drain the flight of both vodka and whiskey in record time.
Apparently they were on their way to a bachelorette party in Vegas and
figured they might as well get the party started early. If I didn’t
have a couple of quests to turn in as soon as the flight landed I’d
have no doubt joined them for that leg of the journey, but that’s
beside the point.

Speaking of quests, the flight reminded me of the one in Wintergrasp
that would send you back and forth between Everlook and Gadgetzan 3
times in a row. The first time I decided to run through that quest I
remember thinking that I could have easily painted my garage in the
time it took to fly from one end of Kalimdor to the other. 
This flight somewhat reminded me of that. Since I wasn’t really able to
go AFP (away from plane) to get some painting done, I did the next best
thing; I read through one of Jim Butcher’s Dresden novels (Fool Moon).

The only other thing that really stood out for me on this flight was
that the overall graphics didn’t seem quite as polished as I’d have
expected.  I think a part of it had to do with the overuse of
bump-mapping to give the environments a minor semblance of topography
or depth when viewed from so far above. The weather effects were
particularly well done but unfortunately also served to obfuscate many
of the other environmental effects further off in the distance such as
the ambient lighting from some of the towns and outposts we passed
over. On a plus side, I really didn’t see any obviously perceptible
zone lines, or the telltale seams that typically accompany the
transition between larger areas.

Once Jeff and I arrived and got checked into the hotel we took the
opportunity to see a bit of downtown Seattle after scampering over to
get our show badges at another nearby hotel. That process was almost
laughably easy considering all the hoops the media have to jump through
to register for the show – typical anticlimactic quest completion to be
sure. After roughly 15 seconds of searching, the people at the check-in
counter decided they didn’t have TTH badges for us so ended up giving
generic media badges instead. Generic quest rewards FTL.

Friday (PAX Day One)

PAX has built up quite the reputation for being a huge show
over the past few years, so I was somewhat surprised to discover that
“huge” in this case is more indicative of the caliber of games on
display much more so than overall floor space. I’m sure that once you
factor in all the event rooms and lecture halls there’s a ton of show
to be seen, but as far as the main exhibit hall itself goes, it was a
bit smaller than I expected. Mind you after 8 hours of scampering back
and forth between booths for our jam packed interview schedule I was
thankful of that fact.

Graphically, the developers of PAX were obviously going for a more
photorealistic approach than my preferred airline for this trip. That
being said, the level designers fell into the trap of having a ton of
assets to work with so they tried to stuff every single one of them
into a relatively small zone which caused things to be perhaps too busy
for your eyes to properly fix on any singular element for too long. In
an era that’s all about inserting points of interest to draw players
towards cool things off in the distance, this aspect of PAX was more
like a throwback to Victorian times when horror vacui was still in

The audio engineers could also learn a thing or two about ambient sound
placement. A perfect example would be the braniac decision to place the
private meeting rooms right next to the massive Rock Band stage. Our
first interview for the day was with Funcom to talk about… secret
things (check back on Thursday to find out exactly what I’m talking
about here, but you can get a teaser href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/73968">here). 
Even in the tiny meeting room Funcom had to use
a full PA system turned up to maximum volume just to be heard by people
sitting less than 5 feet away. Meanwhile the Beatles greatest hits were
setting the tone for an interview that had nothing to do with bright,
poppy sunshine by any far stretch of the imagination.

It was a great day overall though. Star Trek Online is href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/74106">looking pretty
awesome so far, and it was nice to finally meet Craig
Zinkievich face
to face. One of the best things about these events is seeing how much
developers like Craig truly enjoy what they’re doing and the games
they’re creating. While certain well known developers (who shall
respectfully remain unnamed) are clearly serving as little more than PR
robots, meeting people like Mr. Zinkievich reminds you that most of the
developers out there are gamers too, and are just as excited as you are
about new MMOGs.

Friday Night

The Aion launch party was pretty cool, and definitely just as
packed as the exhibit hall. Not only did it give people an opportunity
to switch into their epic armor sets after a long day of game show
grinding, but everyone walked away with a pretty cool bag-o-swag which
included special shirts and statues from the event among other things.
NCsoft are clearly behind the href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/aion/editorials/explainingwesternization">western
localization of Aion in a big
way, and hopefully it will all pay off for them come launch day.

Graphically the launch party was a mix of photorealism and quirky zone
design. The skyline view from the Space Needle was particularly well
done even if the art team went a little bit overboard on adding
lighting to distant structures. This kind of overkill on light sources
may look pretty, but it also tends to flatten things when viewed from a
great enough distance. As with the rest of PAX, the Aion launch party
was played in first person; this helped make certain quests like
retrieving potions from the bar easier if not somewhat routine, though
thanks to the wonky zone design of the interiors it was hard to really
get a solid group formed.


Part 2 tomorrow! In the meantime, check out all the href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/events/pax09">new coverage
from PAX 2009 and take your thoughts and comments
to our href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=46117">Loading...

Shayalyn's Epic Thread of
the Day

From our href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/forumdisplay.php?f=139">WoW:
General Discussion forum

you ever not help?

say you're playing World of Warcraft. You come across a night elf
struggling and dying repeatedly to the same six mobs who keep ganging
up on her. You know you could probably help, but that if you do she's
likely to cause your death, too. Do you help, do you walk away, or do
you stand back, point and laugh? href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=45975">Weigh
in on today's epic thread.

Awesome Quotes from the
Epic Thread

"I usually don't help.
They don't
learn anything from me swooping in and saving them with heals, or
tanking the mobs, or AoEing them. Not to mention the vast majority of
the time they're in the mess on their own accord.

- LiquidAppo

Have you spotted an Epic Thread on our forums? href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=32559">Tell

6 new MMOG home-grown articles today! 10 in
952 in

MMO Coverage from PAX 2009

  • The
    Future of Tyria: An Exclusive Guild Wars 2 Interview

    A lot can change in 250 years. In that span of time entire
    civilizations can rise up or fall, people’s belief systems can be
    shattered and devastating events can alter the course of history on a
    massive scale. At PAX 2009, Ten Ton Hammer had the opportunity to sit
    down with ArenaNet’s Jeff Grubb, Mike O’Brien and Daniel Dociu to
    discuss how 250 years has changed Tyria as we know it today, as well as
    some of the interesting shifts in how competitive play will be handled
    in Guild Wars 2.
  • LotRO
    Siege of Mirkwood Sneak Peak Interview Video with Jeffrey Steefel

    One big announcement at this year's PAX came from Turbine. Nine months
    after the Mines of Moria expansion, the studio has released the
    exciting news of a new expansion, Siege of Mirkwood. Ten Ton Hammer was
    able to get a few minutes with Jeffrey Steefel, Executive Producer, to
    talk to us a bit about the expansion. Jeffrey wasn't shy, and was more
    than happy to share some of the things players can look forward to with
    Siege of Mirkwood in this 46 minute video.
  • The
    Secret World
    - New CG Trailer & Image Gallery
    Funcom changed the way we'll look at a milkshake forever
    more with their first CG trailer for The Secret World, and the second
    trailer released at PAX 2009 is just as unsettling. Never thought the
    birds at your local playground could be scary? Think again. Or just
    watch the newest The Secret World trailer and check out the pre-PAX
    assets! More to follow this Thursday.
  • New
    Pirates of the Burning Sea Expansion Announced

    Details are sketchy and we don't have visuals or even a name for the
    new expansion, but Flying Lab Software's Rusty Williams revealed to us
    that another expansion for Pirates of the Burning Sea is in the works.
    For more info, check out our quick report from PAX 2009, with more to
    follow this week!
  • Images
    and Impressions of Global Agenda at PAX 2009

    Global Agenda was dressed to impress and certainly turned quite a few
    heads at this year’s PAX. Eager gamers got the chance to jump into the
    game for some intense 8v8 matches which included 3 different
    objective-based match types developer Hi-Rez had set up at each of the
    event's demo stations. 
  • Hands-On
    with Star Trek Online at PAX 2009

    Now that Cryptic Studios has the first major MMOG launch of 2009 tucked
    neatly under its belt with the release of Champions Online, the
    developer has been ramping up the presence of Star Trek Online in a big
    way. Ever since Cryptic first revealed that it would be picking up the
    development reigns on the online incarnation of the Trek universe, it’s
    been one of the major MMOG’s looming over the launch horizon that
    sci-fi fans have been itching to get some hands-on time with. This
    weekend at PAX 2009, many of those fans finally got their wish, and Ten
    Ton Hammer wasted no time diving into this hotly anticipated MMOG to
    get a feel for how ship to ship and away team combat is shaping up.

More Ten Ton Hammer Features:

  • Independent
    States: The Future of Indie MMOGs

    Ask any 10 gamers what constitutes an "indie MMO" and you'll probably
    get 10 different answers. But one definition that most can agree on is
    that an indie game lacks the financial support of a well-funded
    publisher. But do smaller budgets mean greater freedom? Ten Ton Hammer
    asked Nathan Richardsson, Executive Producer for CCP, developers of EVE
    Online, and Todd Harris, Executive Producer of Global Agenda, to share
    their thoughts on the bright future of independent MMOG development.
  • href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/aion/editorials/explainingwesternization">Aion
    - Explaining Westernization - Bringing East to West
    As MMO gaming grows throughout the world, gaming companies are
    utilizing the tools available to them and setting out to create games
    globally. No more "All your base are belong to us" translations and
    half attempts at localization, NCsoft is going above and beyond with a
    neat and tidy westernization of Aion. Find out what it takes to take a
    game across seas in this editorial!
  • World
    of Warcraft
    and Relationships

    Without a doubt World of Warcraft is a game that can consume a large
    portion of a player's time.While this gaming takes place in a virtual
    world the time spent glued to the computer can affect your real life
    relationships.It also quite easy when spending a large majority of your
    time gaming to form romantic relationships with your fellow gamers.This
    week Mem takes a look into these relationships and also gives some
    pointers on how to keep your real life relationships thriving.
  • Fifty
    Dragon Age Screenshots - Ogres, Magic, Origins,
    and Dragons
  • Dragon
    Videos - The Origin Stories


Hottest Content:

  1. The
    Future of Tyria: An Exclusive Guild Wars 2 Interview
  2. LotRO
    Siege of Mirkwood Sneak Peak Interview Video with Jeffrey Steefel
  3. Hands-On
    with Star Trek Online at PAX 2009
  4. Images
    and Impressions of Global Agenda at PAX 2009
  5. New
    Pirates of the Burning Sea Expansion Announced
  6. Independent
    States: The Future of Indie MMOGs
  7. Aion
    Images Detail Westernized Character Options
  8. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/champions/humor/queereye2">Champions
    : Queer Eye for the Superhero Guy #2
  9. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/rise_of_the_godslayer/craig_morrison">Age
    of Conan
    : Rise of the Godslayer Interview with Craig Morrison
  10. EverQuest
    Wedding Package Images from the Station Marketplace

Thanks for visiting the Ten Ton Hammer network!

- Reuben "Sardu" Waters and the Ten Ton Hammer team

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Star Trek Online 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.