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Before I really let loose in this column I always mull over how it will affect others. I'm a sensitive guy. With that in mind I thought it might be time to come up with a disclaimer for the column lest those that don't deserve the hate-mail receiveth it.

The views expressed in Loading... are not necessarily those of TenTonHammer.com, it's agents, garden gnomes, Kirstie Alley, Tom Cruise, Vin Diesel or men who play female characters in World of Warcraft, hereafter referred to as "Manginas". The following program contains scenes of violence, harsh language and sexual content which may not be suitable for younger children.

First and foremost, Happy Birthday to the one and only Phil Comeau, Director of somethingorother at TenTonHammer.com!

I had to sleep on the Loading... topic today. It's never a good thing to write when you are annoyed or otherwise aggravated by a topic. It is difficult to see all sides of the story. After a good night of sleep I believe I had it right all along and it isn't pretty. Imagine Star Jones at an all-you-can-eat buffet or Tom Cruise at a home decorating show focused on closets. Hold that picture in your mind. That's where we are going folks.

It's a topic deserving of a Samuel L. Jackson rant. It's more in your face than Snakes on a Plane, but everyone is afraid to discuss it in case the party involved doesn't talk to them any longer. Guess what? I won't talk to them now, so I've got nothing to lose, and thus it turns to me to spill the beans.

There are very few developers in the MMOG space that think they are "Rock Stars" and by "Rock Stars" I mean believe they are entitled to special treatment or are superior to their peers.

One such developer took a MUD or text-based multi-user dungeon and stuck graphics on top of it. At launch that game was so incredibly shoddy that the servers wouldn't stay up for an hour at a time. It was the only game in town and so, people played it, despite its shortcomings. EverQuest eventually ironed out the major bugs and became a huge success, prompting other developers to enter the MMOG market.

And enter the MMOG they did! A market which has grown faster than the U.S. national debt. A market that is still growing! A market that includes a game in development called Vanguard: Saga of Heroes.

Vanguard, home to Brad McQuaid of EverQuest fame was originally to be published by Microsoft. Somewhere along the line the good folks at MS decided that Vanguard wasn't going to be what they expected it to be and passed it over to Sony Online Entertainment who appear content to be the co-publisher along with Sigil Online Games, McQuaid's current company.

Fast-Forward to February 18, 2005. Sigil takes a stand against gold farmers and promptly has many of its affiliate sites purchased by IGE. Read this thread to get the details. You would think that this would prompt Sigil to act responsibly when dealing with the sites that backed them up during the IGE buyouts. You would think that, but you would be wrong.

Since January, though we have requested desperately, we have received one piece of content from Sigil, an interview with their PR person. I can understand that with a change of publisher that assets would be locked down. No worry, until I see this: Forum Thread on Fires of Heaven Guild Site. Aradune is McQuaid. If you don't know who FoH are there isn't enough space in 100 columns to explain it. Short story, they had a guild filled with excellent players and a guild leader who cried all the time about how EverQuest wasn't a very good game. He now works at Blizzard. Sweet irony.

Another site that covers Vanguard is Silky Venom, owned by a lawyer who works for Sigil, this site is allowed to post beta information, or so they say here. So, affiliates who produce 5+ pieces of Vanguard a week, every week, get nothing and are told that they cannot, under penalty of death mention anything about the beta, but a guild site gets assets and posts from the lead developer while the developer's lawyer can post openly about his beta observations. What's wrong with this picture? Sigil is akin to a cannibal calling itself a "people person." Why are networks like TenTonHammer going to continue to waste time and resources covering Vanguard? The answer, maybe they are not.

We no longer live in the world of the one-trick pony. EverQuest had no competitors, but today there are dozens of them. MMOG networks, like everyone else, have finite resources. We can just as easily cover Tabula Rasa, Gods and Heroes or StarGate Worlds as Vanguard and those developers are responsive to what keeps a MMOG network alive, traffic.

We don't expect to be the favoured destination of every developer, but we do expect to be treated fairly if we are spending money to cover a title. If the developer isn't going to provide us with assets then the chances of the site being profitable are zero. In which case our decision is easy, close the site and cover a title that will be profitable.

I have no doubt that Vanguard's pedigree will sell a boatload of copies. I have high hopes that Vanguard will be an enjoyable game, but if their treatment of networks supposedly "affiliated" with them is any indication I fear for the paying customers. It's as simple as, "TenTonHammer produces lots of great content without us giving them anything, so why give them anything? We had better boost exposure on some other sites."

Though our Vanguard site is unarguably the affiliate site that generates the most Vanguard traffic on the Internet, it is also a neglible part of our overall network traffic. If we turned it off today, or ironically, sold it off, we wouldn't even notice the loss. As of this moment, we'd be better off for it.

My condolences to April Jones, the Sigil PR represenative who is stuck between McQuaid's willy-nilly distribution of assets and the rules that she is required to follow.

Sigil, I know you guys read this... it's time to wake up and start supporting the networks that have supported you.

Are you excited about Vanguard? Is there a game that you feel should receive coverage by TenTonHammer.com that isn't?
Post a comment at the bottom of this blog. If you are shy (or female and sending in naughty pictures) you can E-Mail me.
Every good guild needs a home. A home free of gold ads, secondary market farmers. Look no further than GuildPortal.com.

Exclusive new TenTonHammer.com Content!
Let us entertain you or at the very least waste some of your time at work.
08.16.2006 Exclusive Content
  • Auto Assault: Q&A With Project Lead, Herman Peterscheck"It's been sour timers for the folks behind the self-proclaimed "most destructive MMO ever" - Auto Assault. While reviewers lambasted the game (mostly for age-old niggles that can be found in any other MMORPG, including that one- I can't remember the name, honest - that has a subscriber base of over 6 million), it soon became obvious that Auto Assault's biggest problem was neither the faux physics jumping behavior in the first-person city perspective nor an arduous crafting system. Put succinctly by Hermann Peterscheck, Auto Assault Project Lead, below: "Nobody's playing because nobody's playing."
    Why the MMO market, proportedly as obsessed with destruction and "face melting" as it is, in reality, hooked on orcs and elves, didn't initially take to Auto Assault's brand of online carnage is anyone's guess. Though (fanboy pallor aside) this is one clone-spurning MMO we at Ten Ton Hammer especially wanted to see take off, the past is in the past. We're not here to put nails in coffins or eulogize NetDevil's strong continuing efforts, and Hermann was kind enough to talk to us about Auto Assault's future."
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online: Top 10 Things Turbine Should Fix"Tonight we bring you two entries for DDO Top 10 Week at Ten Ton Hammer! This list compiled by Darkgolem addresses the ten problems with DDO."
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  • Vanguard: Saga Of Heroes - Prelaunch Crafting FAQs"Crafters rejoice! If you've been wanting to learn more about the Vanguard: Saga of Heroes crafting system, look no further than our pre-launch guide. We've gathered information from dev posts and interviews, refined the information, and assembled it into a sleek FAQ format. No speculation was used in the making of this guide (and no small furry animals were harmed). Our information comes straight from the Sigil mountain. Check it out!"
  • World of Warcraft: Guide To Teldrassil"Teldrassil, a lonely yet hauntingly beautiful island in Northern Kalimdor, is where the Night Elves of the Alliance faction begin their story. At WoW - Ten Ton Hammer, we offer the "cliff's notes" to that story, tailored to young Night Elves who are eager to leave behind Teldrassil's claustrophobic confines and /dance straight into the action on the mainland."
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    * Updated Pet Skill Tables

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Vin Diesel Fact of the Day - Vin Diesel knows how much wood a woodchuck can chuck.
Now on to the real world. You can't make this stuff up. [Thanks Matt for the story links]

As always, thanks for visiting TenTonHammer.com,
-- John "Boomjack" Hoskin
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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.