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Often, something comes between you and your gaming enjoyment. Money? Perhaps. Significant other or family "us time"? Occasionally. Loading screens? Just about always. Today's newsletter looks at the concept that gave it its name, and in what ways the games industry in general and MMORPG developers in particular are cutting down on load times (and their ugly stepsister: travel times). It's all in an appropriately named newsletter for Memorial Day weekend: Loading... Take a Load Off.
are today's top 5 Pulse results:
- href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/eve">EVE Online (UP 2)
- href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/aoc">Age of Conan (down 3)
movers this week:
2: Sentinel's Fate (expansion)
- href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/81479"> LotRO:
Oath of the
Rangers (content update)
Legends (iMMOG - release date) size="-1"> href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/1004">
of Heroes - Issue 17: Dark Mirror
of Conan: Rise of the Godslayer size="-1">
Online: Tyrannis size="-1">
of Gods size="-1">
2010 - href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/1004">Mortal
2010 - href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/998">APB
(US release- July 2 in UK, EU)
2010 - Need for Speed World (release)
style="font-weight: bold;">Q2 2010
2010 - href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/2079">Final
Fantasy XIV size="-1">
style="font-weight: bold;">6/15 -
6/17 - href="http://www.e3expo.com/">E3
style="font-weight: bold;">6/25 -
6/27 - href="http://www.lfgexpo.com/">Looking
style="font-weight: bold;">7/22 -
7/25 - href="http://www.comic-con.org/">Comic-Con
style="font-weight: bold;">8/5 -
8/8 - href="http://events.station.sony.com/fanfaire/">SOE
Fan Faire 2010
style="font-weight: bold;">9/3 -
9/6 - href="http://www.dragoncon.org/">DragonCon
style="font-weight: bold;">10/22 -
10/23 - href="http://us.blizzard.com/blizzcon/?rhtml=y">BlizzCon
style="font-weight: bold;"> 3/24
3/26 (2011)- href="http://fanfest.eveonline.com/">CCP
style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">Win an
EverQuest II Prowler Mount
Congrats to the Loading... subscriber winners of the EQ2 Prowler Mount:
Didn't win? You still have a chance. Or rather: five chances! Tune into
Hammer Live tomorrow (Saturday, May 29th) at 7pm
EDT for another chance to
win one of these cool new mounts. Participants will need to be in the href="http://omfg.fm/?p=Chat">podcast's live IRC chat
for to enter the contest. winners of the podcast mount giveaway will be notified during
First up, we should always be grateful for all the folks in uniform that keep us safe and guarantee our freedoms, from the Armed Services to Policemen, Firemen, and all others who put themselves in harm's way so that we all might breathe free. Memorial Day weekend is a special time to reflect on those that paid the ultimate price and thank those that are or have been willing to in defense of our liberties, so our biggest and sincerest thank you to all of our readers who have served or currently serve in the military and uniformed services.
America, we're told, is somewhere between a "melting pot" and a "tossed salad" of cultures, ideas, and traditions. Perhaps nowhere is the melting pot concept better represented than in our notions of the Wild West, where just about every genre and concept of storytelling can find fertile soil (even sci-fi, as Firefly brilliantly showed). All the ingredients are in place to find out what humanity is made of in the absence of overarching authority, and though civilization is on the rise and the Wild West is dying in the setting of Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar San Diego painted us a great picture of what the west once was in a game that's been the talk of the Interwebs this week.
MMORPGs and Rockstar's brand of sandboxy RPG shooters have a surprising amount of shared history in the concept and design department. Grand Theft Auto III, for example, came out just twelve days after Dark Age of Camelot in 2001. What do these games have in common? Both featured incredibly huge and varied playfields, and loading screens between "zones" were few and far between. In DAoC the feat was accomplished by sparsely populated connecting areas between zones where graphics assets, player and NPC locations, etc. could be loaded over a short period of time. It was a revolutionary design concept and a blistering technical challenge, but today the idea of dynamically loading playareas permeates many MMORPGs, from entire games like WoW to large, 20-level sized single zones like Age of Conan: Rise of the Godslayer's Khitai and EverQuest II's Maj Dul.
The next massively multiplayer game using this dynmically loading concept is APB, and writing a new chapter in GTA's shared history with MMO gaming is Realtime Worlds. RTW's Creative Director David Jones was one of the co-founders of Rockstar North (Lemmings, Grand Theft Auto and Grand Theft Auto II). Realtime Worlds released the successful open-world shooter Crackdown in 2007 and has been hard at work on APB since the concept was acquired from Webzen in 2005. Less than a month from launch, RTW has taken the wraps off some of its Rockstar talent (pun intended) for the ramp-up to release, and a Q&A with David and other APB devs was one of the many highlights of my visit to their studios this week.
Another major highlight was finally getting my hands on the game in a largely lag-free test environment, and I was immediately impressed with the huge playareas and non-stop action of the game. The two "action districts" are incredibly huge and though I know it sounds like a marketing buzzphrase, the non-stop action of the game ranks with its incredible levels of customization as two of the game's best selling points. Players are literally assaulted with interesting things to do on a moment by moment basis, with nary a loading screen between missions and dispatches. Not to tease you too much, but I'll be sharing my hands-on impressions of the game in several upcoming articles and a video.
And now this dynamically loading playarea concept is well on its way to the next level. With our first glimpse of Rift: Planes of Telara, we heard a lot about dynamic events, and to paraphrase Scott Hartsman, "dynamic events" is kind of a starchy way to say that they hope to create a world where a variety of interesting things are happening around players all of the time. Perhaps the first evidence of dynamic events occurred in the Elder Scrolls series (first with Morrowind, then with Oblivion), but perhaps no other game to date has done it better (or at least, more often) than Red Dead Redemption, where a few well-placed shots can put a stop to an outlaw gang's hellraising trips through town and "strangers" ride up to you on a fairly constant basis, urgently seeking your help on a variety of problems. Dynamic events also take the form of a raging gun battle you come across or a lawmen chasing down a fugitive, where you can opt to take a side or simply not get involved.
Dynamically loading enviroments and dynamic events are two ways developers reduce the downtime associated with loading screens or mindless travel between points a and b, and represent one of the most positive, fun oriented steps RPGs have taken in recent years. But what do you think? Are you one of the old school types who loved training mobs to the zone line, seeing that magical LOADING... PLEASE WAIT with only a few hitpoints left? Would you prefer an intensely linear level-up path, with nothing to divert you from your quests and objectives along the way?
Zone into the Loading... forum to discuss this topic, and have a great Memorial Day weekend. Loading... returns next Tuesday.
Shayalyn's Epic Thread of
From our Articles, News & Events Discussion forum
Sins of a Solar Spymaster #42: Tyrannis - Where's the Excitement?
If you're an EVE Online player, you've likely experienced The Mittani's regular column at Ten Ton Hammer, Sins of a Solar Spymaster. (And if you haven't, then what are you waiting for? Ten Ton Hammer has some of the best EVE Online editorials and guides
on the Interwebz.) Ravo caught an April issue about the Tyrannis
expansion and some of the issues players are currently experiencing and
cared enough to create a Ten Ton Hammer account and comment. (We love
that, by the way. Lurking is sorta creepy.) Do you have something to
say about the state of EVE Online, too? Then come on out of the lurker
closet and say it.
Awesome Quotes from the
"I absolutely agree with the article. Not
only is the PI interface sh*tty and PI actually lacks anything fun, but
the amount of effort you have to put into it is amazing. At the highest
extractor productivity you have to babysit your colonies every 30
Have you spotted an Epic Thread on our forums? Tell
and Exclusive Content
Today at Ten Ton Hammer
3 new Ten Ton Hammer
articles today! 100 Ten Ton Hammer
in May! 571
The Impact of Story Pt. 2 - Guild Wars 2 Interactive World
here at Ten Ton Hammer have already taken a look at the personal side
of personal stories in Guild Wars 2. Today we've got a detailed look at
how the world plays a part in your character's personal story. We also
have a few comments on the newly released FAQ from ArenaNet on personal
FEATURES & GUIDES
EQ2 Crafting Guide Updates
Crafting: Getting Started - http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/54873
Crafting Level 10 and Beyond - http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/54874
Harvesting Rares - http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/54768
II boasts one of the most robust crafting system of any MMOG on the
market, which also means there is a lot to learn along the way.
Starting with the basics of becoming a crafter and taking you through
the tough crafting class choices, we have several crafting guides to
help you out. Check out the first nine levels, see what's in store for
you beyond level ten, and get the scoop on profitable rare harvesting
in each of our newly updated crafting guides.
StarCraft II - Protoss Gateway Units In-Depth Stats and Strategy
shields up and packing the toughest units right out of the gate...way,
the Protoss ground army is not to be trifled with. Zealots line up side
by side and cut down anyone who would try to sneak behind to their
fragile ranged support. Dark Templar sneak behind enemy lines and cut
down workers, and High Templar ensure that strength in numbers only
increases the number of graves your enemy will need! How can you use
all of these potent weapons to their fullest, though? We give you the
tactical edge on the Protoss Gateway forces!
STO: Starship Basics – Shields and Engines
combat is the heart of Star Trek Online, but the game does not clearly
define what makes a good starship as opposed to a bad one. What kind of
shield should I use? Are these engines better than those? What are all
those weird modifiers? Can I cook a grilled cheese sandwich on a Mark V
Combat Impulse Engine? (The answer is yes, but don’t let it sit for
longer than .0000002587 seconds or it’ll get burned.) Well, your pals
at Ten Ton Hammer are here to help you with the latest class on
Starship Basics – Shields and Engines.
WoW PTR Patch 3.3.5 - Glory of the Darkspear
PTR Patch 3.3.5 is here and the Darkspear trolls are on the warpath.
Driven from their home on the Echo Isles by the evil witch doctor
Zalazane years ago the Darkspear trolls are ready for revenge. Join
them in their epic battle by completing the newly active quest chain
Hottest Articles, Guides, and Features
- The Impact of Story Pt. 2 - Guild Wars 2's Interactive World
WoW PTR Patch 3.3.5 - Glory of the Darkspear
Talk: Top MMOG Devs Weigh
in on User-Generated
Ton Hammer Live Ep. 8 - style="font-weight: bold;">Neil
Kaplan Man of Many Voices
Many Reasons to Return to Guild
Wars: The War in Kryta Guide
Kryta Advances - style="font-weight: bold;">GW2
a Guild Wars 2
Ton Hammer's Guild Wars 2 Community Site Launches!
- Red Dead Redemption (Xbox 360) Review
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 Dark Age of Camelot Game Page.