Well first to clarify the term "splashscreen", that is actually a graphic image that GRUB will put on the screen if grub.conf is configured to do it (and it usually is). Then it writes the countdown and/or the GRUB boot menu in front of that image. That's been around for a long time and is still there in today's Fedora.
Then next comes the messages related to booting. And a while back like you said, Red Hat and later Fedora used the Red Hat Graphical Boot (RHGB) to hide all of that stuff. It was usually a colored background with a little box with a progress bar and a sort of spinning cursor known as a "throbber". Okay?
Nowadays, starting with Fedora 10, that RHGB thing has been replaced by something called "Plymouth". It starts a little earlier and has some video requirements, but it does the same thing (hide the startup messages). Now if your video situation doesn't support it, and can't be tweaked to support it (there are some simple things to try), then you will instead see a text-based progress bar at the bottom of a black screen. It's not pretty, but it works.
Lastly, you can always turn the whole thing off and go really way back to just watching the classic spew go by at startup. Lots of people like that.
P.S.: None of this stuff has anything to do with Gnome. So I may have misunderstood the question. If so, I apologize. At least I bumped your thread for you.