Welcome to the 1,065th Edition of Loading...

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

For many gamers, myself included, the best computer games are actually more like hobbies, and MMOs aside, no game is more hobby-like than a flight sim. The state of development in the flight sim category over the past 10 years bears striking resemblance to that of MMORPGs, and one flight sim might hold a key to the future of MMOs. Can you create a game that can be played two completely different ways, so the hardcore types get theirs and the casual gamers get just a little more than they're looking for? We celebrate the second anniversary of one MMORPG that seems to be on the right track in today's Loading... Of Flight Sims and Hobbits.

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The Pulse

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:

  1. World of Warcraft
  2. EverQuest 2
  3. Age of Conan
  4. Warhammer Online
  5. Vanguard: Saga of Heroes

Biggest Movers in the Top 20 today :

  1. Ultima Online (down 3 to #16)
  2. Star Wars Galaxies (down 2 to #9)
  3. Lego Universe (UP 2 to #13)

Loading... Daily

I'll admit to anyone that I'm a sufferer of Peter Pan syndrome, especially when it comes to games. But as I get older, I get pickier - the games I play have to teach me something. When playing solo just for fun I gravitate toward sims, because whether it's Civ4, Sid Meier's Railroads, Silent Hunter 4, or Lock On: Modern Air Combat, you're going to learn something about geo-politics, history, or how to lock in your AIM-4s by setting your TAR to vertical scan mode during a tight-twisting dogfight. Tower defense games, puzzlers, and platformers just don't do much for me anymore. In a word, I'm looking for a hobby, not just a game.

I was reading up on DCS: Black Shark, a Russian attack helicopter sim that's been getting excellent reviews, and one of the most interesting features of the game is that it can be played in either arcade mode or as a grittily in-depth sim. Now, realism scaling has always been part of flight sims, but what's amazing is that the developer / marketing tandem behind the DCS games realized that there's multiple stratas of gamer out there, and that you can make one game and appeal just about equally to two different types of gamer. Lots of MMOs say they do this - appeal to both the hardcore and casual gamer, the PvP and the PvE gamer - but how many actually pull it off?

Flight sims are an interesting case study for the MMORPG industry anyway, just because the flight sim genre has been suffering from the "WoW effect" since well before WoW was born. There's about one dominant title for each era of combat aircraft and innovation has come to a relative standstill. There's just nowhere to go accept "more accessible" (e.g. Tom Clancy's Hawx) and doing that has a fair chance of alienating your core audience. DCS's solution was to go after both the core and the casual audience, and unlike most other attempts, seems to have succeeded on both levels.

As we celebrate Lord of the Rings Online's second anniversary today, I want to point out that this is one MMO that's trying to appeal to multiple levels of gamer and is actually doing a pretty good job while staying within the purview of the lore. We're all aware of freeps vs. creeps and LotRO's steep storyline immersion, but LotRO's making strides to capture the average MMO'er as well. We all made fun of the WAR's red circles last year but like it or not, guiding players to the next quest objective is now a prevalent feature in today's MMORPGs. LotRO might be the first MMO to have formally integrated this "objective arrow" into the default UI, instead of as a third-party addon. But, if you prefer to use your innate hobbit powers, you can always turn it off.

But that's just the tip of the LotRO second anniversary iceberg of goodness. Last night in Loading... Live, Senior Producer Jeffrey Steefel revealed that in Volume 2 Book 8, even though the job's not done in Moria, we'll also be going east (as the Ring inches southward) to assault Sauron's grand and incredibly evil pre-Mordor stronghold, Don Guldur, in southern Mirkwood. We also learned that small party instances are going to become a bigger part of the game with the new Skirmishes concept, which will dynamically react to your party makeup and actually allow you to command customizable soldiers in new instances. Much to the consternation of the audience last night, Jeffrey also announced that there will be a level cap raise this year, noting that Turbine has learned a great deal about how to introduce new levels in the wake of Mines of Moria.

And, though we're getting zero advertising consideration for this (just a bargain-wise FYI) now's a great time to check out LotRO with new anniversary pricing and a free week of play from today through April 30th. Prices include a special box cost ($9.99 - includes MoM and all updates and goodies) and, if you sign up, a $9.99 monthly subscription for as long as you keep it current.

What are your impressions of the LotRO 2nd Anniversary announcements? Do any combat flight sim fans think that the comparison of post-WoW MMOs to post-LOMAC flight sims is valid? You have the ball in the Loading... forum, or send me an email!

Shayalyn's Epic Thread of the Day

From our Articles, News and Events Discussion forum

Washington Post Columnist Takes a Shot at Gamers

wear jeans just about every day. They're comfortable. But Washington
Post curmudgeon George F. Wills thinks of denim as "the infantile
uniform of a nation in which entertainment frequently
features childlike adults ('Seinfeld,' 'Two and a Half Men') and
cartoons for adults ('King of the Hill')." He adds that "seventy-five
percent of
American 'gamers' -- people who play video games -- are older than 18
and nevertheless are allowed to vote."

I found this funny, and
I giggled at it in my infantile way while wearing jeans and watching
reruns of The Simpsons on YouTube...just before logging into Free
Realms. Of all the things in this world to be pissed off at, gamers in
denim never quite made the list.

So, put on your Brooks Brothers and grow the hell up...or come join the fun on Friday's Epic Thread.

Awesome Quote from the Epic Thread

wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if the MMORPGs from the past
couple of years, that didn't live up to expectations, were developed by
people that wore jeans. I have been saying for a while now that denim
is partly to blame for global warming, the reason why we can't have
world peace, and responsible for Vanguard being too brown.

- Annatar

Have you spotted an Epic Thread on our forums? Tell us!

5 new MMOG hand-crafted articles today! 120 in April! 507 in 2009!

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

  • Loading... Live #13 Vooncast - DDO Module 9 Dev Chat with Kate Paiz

    Dungeons and Dragons Online Senior Producer Kate Paiz joins us for Loading... Live Episode 13, which is all about DDO Module 9. Plenty of new content and features await both new and veteran players with this module, which will raise the level cap to a DnD "natural" 20. After warming up with this week's MMO news, we ask Kate some general questions about the upcoming module before turning the mic over to the audience for in-depth questions about how Module 9 will change DDO for the better. It's all in this week's Loading... Live!
  • Champions Online 'Swinging' Video

    How many MMO games have you ride a rhino, fly on a griffin, or buff for speed? Superheroes require, nay, deserve something more spectacular than a flying bat. Cryptic's Champions Online brings something new to the table in the form of a "swinging" travel power allowing players to make Spiderman like swings from building to building. Ten Ton Hammer has video of this power in action so grab your grapple gun and watch!
  • World of Warcraft: Gems and Enchants for your Mage

    Adding gems and enchants to your World of Warcraft Mage gear plays a huge role in your personal progression. But what gems and what enchants are the best? There are many available, so to help streamline the options a bit, David "Xerin" Piner has written a guide on how to get the most from your gear with gems and enchants. Find out how you can optimize your mage game, or as Xerin would say, zombie killing.
  • World of Warcraft: Gems and Enchants for your Warrior

    To be the best Warrior there is in World of Warcraft, one must choose wisely.  We must choose the right gear, the right skills, and more, but in this guide we will choose the right gems and enchantments.  Leave it to Stow to hold your hand through the dangerously expensive fields of gems in the Auction house and to pick out the one that's right for you to save time and money!
  • geeked: 'Look, It's a Distraction!'

    When in doubt, rely on the female anatomy.
    Ten Ton Hammer's very own satirical webcomic on all things geek-related is with two new cast members! You might even say they're the perkiest characters yet. Heck, one could even call them the two coolest cartoon twins to hit Geeked in 45 issues!
    Be sure to catch up on any issues of Geeked you've missed by visiting our Comics Portal. Don't forget to rate your favorites while you're at it!

    Hot Content - Or, what I took a fancy to:
  1. DC Universe Online VIP Interview - The Devs Answer Your Questions (Exclusive Premium Content)
  2. Exclusive Preview: Free Realms is your next Guilty Pleasure
  3. Free Realms: Fun New Game, or Insidious World Domination Plot?
  4. Star Wars Galaxies: The Making of Update 8 - Extreme Make-Over Hits Player Cities
  5. geeked: A Simple Wish
  6. Loading... Live! #12: EQ2 Game Update 51 Dev Chat with Bruce Ferguson
  7. Lord of the Rings Online Anniversary Giveaway!
  8. The Rigors of Beta Testing: The Past, Present and Future (Released for Standard Members!)
  9. Star Wars: The Old Republic Developer Weighs in on Beta Testing
  10. Exclusive Carbine Studios Game Update Interview with Eric DeMilt

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 Lord of the Rings 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.