Welcome to the 1,049th Edition of Loading...
Loading... is the premier and only MMORPG news and commentary daily newsletter from Ten Ton Hammer.
In today's Loading... we take a look at Blizzard's heavy-handed policy to strike down paid third-party add-ons in World of Warcraft. Was there a better way? Also, we have an exclusive interview with Nexon's Min Kim, the man behind Mabinogi, and two other articles to keep you entertained or at least waste some of your time at work. Enjoy this and our daily epic thread and real world news links in today's Loading... Subtracting Add-Ons.
Play World of Warcraft? Jay "Medeor" Johnson's weekly WoW newsletter "The Overpull" keeps you entertained and informed on all the latest developments in WoW. Sign up!
You vote with what you view at Ten Ton Hammer, and the result is the Ten Ton Pulse (What is Pulse?).
Here's today's top 5 Pulse results for today:
- World of Warcraft
- EverQuest 2 (UP 1)
- Warhammer Online (UP 2)
- Lord of the Rings Online (UP 5)
- Star Trek Online (down 3)
Biggest Movers in the Top 20 today :
Loading... no add-ons needed for proper enjoyment of this newsletter.
One retraction from yesterday's Loading... - WoW Radio (WC Radio) is in no way affiliated with Zam or Zam's Online Gaming Radio. My apologies for the error, but their going "Communist" yesterday to celebrate WoW's new add-ons policy as a tongue-in-cheek April Fool's Day prank got me thinking about and discussing the issue yesterday.
In the short history of mainstream MMOs, no game has given more flexibility and functionality to third-party UI addon developers than World of Warcraft. You can easily argue that no game has needed more help with the default UI than WoW too. Addons in WoW do everything from monitor aggro to combine your inventory bags into one screen to point you at the next objective in your quest. The last I mentioned, QuestHelper and its clones, might be viewed as cheating, or at least antithetical to the spirit of questing, and you might imagine that Blizzard might have something to say about addons that transform a game into a simple set of instructions (funny how things come full circle).
Add-ons you copy into your game directory communicate with the game via a set of API hooks that Blizzard could turn off at any time. They won't, since UI add-ons are simply too big a part of the game now. This was by design, the official policy towards UI development as of last BlizzCon (and I'm paraphrasing) was that Blizzard doesn't have the manpower to fully integrate the wide world of UI add-ons into the client and even if they did, they wouldn't. Having to choose or not choose a feature currently provided by an addon is a level of sophistication beyond what they want in their base client. So, as it stands, add-on developers are allowed free rein to use these hooks to create their addon - the burden is still on Blizz to keep exploit-prone aspects of the game out of the API.
So its not the functionality of the addons that Blizzard calls into question with the new add-on development policy revealed late last month, the most controversial aspect of which is prohibiting players from having to pay for the add-on or a premium version of the add-on.
I think all of us can understand why Blizzard might be a little peeved. Say you owned an amusement park, the kind that charges admission at the gate for an all-day ride pass. Someone comes in and, without your asking them to, makes the rollercoaster faster and the tilt-a-whirl more whirly (within your safety parameters) and charges a per-rider premium without your permission. You're still getting paid, of course, and your amusement park is better for their efforts, but they're profiting off the rides you purchased, built, and still assume all the risk for.
The innovators could argue that by not stopping them as they worked, it was a sort of implied consent and, to be fair, they deserve some kind of recompense for their efforts. But the old legal adage hasn't changed: property is still nine-tenths of the law, and the price of admission didn't buy you the amusement park, the fee just "licensed" it for your use according to the owner's terms and conditions. If the innovators had entered into a contract; create improvement x for y benefit, they'd have a case.
Still, even if this came to a legal battle (it won't) it'd be sort of a pyrrhic victory for Blizzard. They're the black hat on this one no matter how they play it. These add-ons obviously have value to players - I'd venture to guess that Carbonite was very profitable before this announcement came out - and by forcing add-ons to be free this late in the game they've divorced future add-on development from the profit motive, which is an iffy proposition. Worse, they've formally devalued the efforts of add-on developers - development of any kind is fun to a point, and after that it's drudgery. Will we see the same top-notch add-on efforts in the future if there's never a possibility of making money? Not likely, unless Blizzard is quietly hiring these devs or paying them to use their functionality in the client.
With Blizzard's efforts in the micro-transaction realm lately (with character transfers, gender makeovers, etc.), you have to wonder if they couldn't turn this to their and the add-on developers advantage - maybe set up an iTunes app store-like approach that allows them to post and promote only approved add-ons and take a cut while the developers get the bulk of the receipts. A client tie-in would allow add-ons to be safely and automatically updated and allow Blizzard to monitor add-on usage to determine which add-ons are the best candidates for future adoption into the game. It's more work all around, but everyone wins.
Shayalyn's Epic Thread of the Day
From our Tavern of the Ten Ton Hammer forum
Death to the GTA Player?
Maggie "AutumnKiss" Olsen, community manager for Vivox's voicechat and event client, Voon, posted this hot topic in our Tavern of the Ten Ton Hammer forum. She quotes an article from the Telegraph,
a British newspaper, which details the tragic story of a man who
stabbed the mother of his three children. It seems the slain woman was
addicted to the family's PlayStation...and Grand Theft Auto.
it doesn't matter that Jack Thompson has been disbarred; people still
want to blame video game violence on real world violence. From the
tragedy bizarrely lies with the purchase of the PlayStation."
course. You buy a PlayStation and your family is destined to become
homicidal. And firing up Grand Theft Auto is like inviting the devil to
dinner. (Although the story makes it clear that it was the victim who
was addicted to GTA here, not the murderer. But that's close enough.)
Clutch a game controller, or allow a family member to clutch one, and
next thing you know you're clutching a knife.
Join the discussion!
Epic Quote from the Epic Thread
"Wouldn't have happened with a 360. "
Have you spotted an Epic Thread on our forums? Tell us!
3 new MMOG hand-crafted articles today! 14 in April! 401 in 2009!
New MMOG Articles At Ten Ton Hammer Today [Thanks Phil Comeau for links and Real World News]
Exclusive Interview with Nexon's Min Kim
It's hard to deny the powerful presence of Nexon in the free-to-play market. The company's wildly successful MapleStory was one of the first titles supported by microtransactions to shoehorn its way into the West.
Can Aion Take North America by Storm?
Aion: The Tower of Eternity has been live in Korea for months and the time for its arrival in the North America is getting ever closer. In this week's edition of Forever Fantasy, Dalmarus asks the tough question that everyone has been thinking, but was afraid to ask. Can Aion be a smash hit and stop the streak of Asian duds? The answer may not be as clear-cut as you believe.
Mortal Online Beta Gameplay Footage
In honor of Mortal Online's recent beta announcement, the folks at StarVault sent over 5 minutes worth of high quality first person perspective ripped straight from the beta. Starting with an impressive landscape flyover and a walk through the starting area, you'll see some intense melee and magic combat, a harrowing dungeon crawl, a look at mounted combat (very cool), and lots of blood and even a few decapitations (hence the age gate). Enjoy the latest Mortal Online gameplay video, and be sure to sign up for the beta!
Hot Content - Or, what I took a fancy to:
- The Symbiosis of Ship, Captain and Crew in Star Trek Online
- geeked: Patience is a Virtue
- Exclusive Star Trek Online Interview with Craig Zinkievich
- Exclusive Interview with Champions Online's Bill Roper
- Paul Barnett's GDC Blog #3 - Elvis is in the GDC
- Ether Saga Dev Diary #2 - The Quests
- Sins of a Solar Spymaster #5: How to Infiltrate a Hostile Alliance
- geeked: "Paul Sitting"
- Warhammer Online: Paul Barnett's GDC Blog # 2 - WAR Pants
- Beginner's Look at Darkfall - Or, How to Get Ganked
Real World News
X-ray shows how man accidentally swallowed scissors
Wife is amazed at the shear stupidity of it, but admits he always like to be on the cutting edge of things.
Man charged with obscene act on plane
Arrested for making his cockpit accessible, inviting hijacking off attempts.
Man cries after attempt to rob liquor store fails
"There's no crying in attempted robbery!" says Tom Hanks
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 World of Warcraft Game Page.