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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
  4. Stargate Worlds
  5. Star Wars: The Old Republic
  6. EVE Online (UP 2)
  7. Jumpgate Evolution (down 1)
  8. Star Trek Online (down 1)
  9. Guild Wars (UP 3)
  10. City of Heroes (UP 5!)

Biggest Sinkers and Floaters in the Top 20

  1. EverQuest 2 (UP 4 to no. 16)
  2. City of Heroes (UP 3 to no. 15)
  3. Guild Wars 2 (down 3 to no. 18)

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It's Friday, so it must be time for bad news. This week's bad news is brought to you by Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment, makers of Stargate Worlds, whose cash flow problems are getting so bad, they've prompted someone to post a website announcing how many days its been since CME employees have been paid. Rumors are running in all directions - this is a disgruntled spouse, some employees were paid yesterday, no one's been paid yet - but the official word (we had it first) from CME is as follows:

"At Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment, we have always been upfront with the media and our fans that we are a start up. Like many start ups, we face the same cash-flow issues that all pre-revenue companies face. We have maintained a core of dedicated investors, but the new economic realities are forcing us to seek out additional sources of funding and that's what we're doing." - Kevin Ballentine, Senior Marketing Manager

The phrase "new economic realities" only tells me one of two things, either CME is completely inept at financial planning or some part of those "core investor" obligations to CME were riding on the stock market. Perhaps they don't want to sell stock at a loss to cover what they promised, and if that's the case, shame on them. Nothing else changed that I can see; people and benefits didn't magically become more expensive, licensing fees don't grow untenable while you're in development, rent and interest payments on equipment don't balloon in a matter of months especially in this economy.

And for all of you who would prefer we softpeddle this news to make it easier on CME so they can make their game without challenges to morale, shame on you too. We're talking about people now, people that are our hope to develop SGW, not just the game itself. This is a terrible time of the year to be going without a paycheck, yet there are parents going to work every day either because they absolutely believe in a game and feel they'll be compensated when it starts making money or because they're not sure if they'll ever get their hard-earned money if they leave to collect unemployment. If you think that this sort of thing doesn't happen nowadays, you're sadly mistaken. Say you have enough money to hire a lawyer for back pay and win, you'll still go to the end of what's probably a long line of lenders.

If it sounds like I'm crusading, maybe I am. I'm wondering where the outrage is, honestly. And if a little bad press gets someone somewhere to open their pursestrings and pay what they owe, all the better.

If I come off as a rabblerouser without a forum thread, I have something of a "pre-revenue" money solution too, and I wish some MMO developer would try it out. It's simple really, in return for paying full price when pre-ordering the game, let people into beta. Let players be part of the solution both in terms of money and testing. If there's one thing that our premium beta member giveaway showed (no matter how much we argued and pointed at all the things premium members get besides one or even a dozen beta keys in the last year), it's that people will pay for beta access, and most of your beta players are planning to buy the game anyway.

You don't have to let them play the whole game or even most of it. Developing in "vertical slices" is all the rage nowadays, just let them progress a little in one way or another. You'll get focused testing and feedback you can use while designing other content for the game. Stargate Worlds seems to lend itself incredibly well to this approach - scale up the servers, shore up the Cheyenne Mountain complex, put a limited number of planets in the dialer program, and only let pre-order players play as the good humans for a while.

It's not a new solution - Stardock employed it to great effect with Sins of a Solar Empire. How do I know it worked out well for them? Besides Sins being an incredibly well-designed and addicting game, they're using the same prepay-for-beta approach for the expansion.

You guys usually see angles that I don't, so why hasn't an MMORPG developer tried the prepay-for-beta approach before? Is it publishers who can't abandon the console game rollout model? Developers who are afraid they'll never launch at all, strange as it sounds? Share your thoughts in the Loading forum, or my inbox is always open for comments.

Shayalyn's Epic Thread of
the Day

From our WAR: General Discussion Forum

Things in scenarios that drive me monkey drunk crazy

What drives you crazy in Warhammer Online scenarios? linuscalling
has a list, and it includes tanks who don't tank, healers who do, and
three other things sure to make a good WARmonger feel a little

Oh, and did I mention this thread has a dancing
monkey? It does. An honest to gods dancing monkey. And haven't you
always wanted a monkey? I've always wanted a Japanese macaque that I
could name Hu Flung Pu.


Awesome Quote from the
Epic Thread

"I understand that, as a healer, I am support. But when no one else
touches the objective I end up trying to do everything. It's just
stupid to wait around and watch as 2 tanks and 2 dps stand and look at
the flag (or bauble, or skull, or whatever). It's like a high school
dance all over again. I wish I could reach through the screen and slap
them in the head.

- slothmonster


Do you have a favorite Epic Thread? Let
us know

9 new MMOG hand-crafted articles today! 43 in December! 3017 in 2008!

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






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Real World News

Thanks for visiting the Ten Ton Hammer network and have a great weekend!

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

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Stargate Worlds 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.