When Hothead announced the third entry in its dungeon crawl SLASH role-playing series this past week -- titled solely "The Baconing," dropping its usual "DeathSpank" moniker -- we couldn't help but wonder what had happened to the series' main character to get him taken off title duties. Did series creator Ron Gilbert take the rights to the character with him, for instance?

As it turns out, there's a fairly simple reason behind the name change: "We haven't removed the words or name 'DeathSpank' from the title for any legal reason. In fact, the title was changed just by asking our fans," a Hothead rep told Joystiq. Aha! Still, we couldn't help but wonder why Hothead would voluntarily ditch the brand name that it stuck to the last two games, effectively walking away from the brand recognition it built up over the past two entries.

Hothead producer Mike Inglehart further explained to us that his studio wanted people to be able to play the new game even without having played previous entries in the series. "This new title isn't DeathSpank 3 or DeathSpank: The Baconing, instead it should be thought of as The Baconing." Inglehart added that "this is a standalone experience that will appeal to fans of the DeathSpank character, but also to gamers everywhere who love unique and engaging video games." Let's hope!

He also spoke to us a bit about The Baconing's co-op, confirming that, yes, the feature will return, noting that Bob from Marketing will be "joining the likes of Steve, Sparkles, and Tankko" as playable co-op characters. Bob may be in marketing, but he's described as "a sleek, business-minded hammerhead shark with devastating catch phrases and an incredible bite," not to mention his ability to "feast on the fallen to help his brother in arms." And, of course, he can pull a swordfish out for brutalizing should the situation call for it. But we all assumed that, right?

This article was originally published on Joystiq.