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War Thunder exec fired after pressuring YouTuber to sign contract

A heated exchange between one avid War Thunder YouTuber and the game’s producer has seemingly resulted in the producer losing his job for overreaching his authority.

Multiple Russian blogs have reported that Russian YouTuber Kirill Fyodorov got into a tiff with Gaijin Entertainment over his coverage of the game and ownership of the channel. Producer Pavel Kulikov had Fyodorov’s channel taken away, citing copyright infringements, and subsequently attempted on several occasions to coerce Fyodorov to sign a contract with an NDA and an agreement to produce only positive videos on War Thunder.

Fyodorov says he refused Kulikov’s demands, and after some back-and-forth between the pair, Gaijin CEO Anton Yudintsev apparently stepped in to put an end to Kulikov’s actions. Kulikov was fired from the company, and Fyodorov’s YouTube channel was restored with an apology from the studio.

Source: Status Report, Kanobu.ruMein MMO. Thanks to Giliding Mouse for the tip!


Not So Massively: HoN Tour season four; cheating in Hearthstone and League of Legends

It’s been a busy week for online gaming, with Star Citizen releasing alpha patch 1.15 and delving into the details of its new audio engine, and Path of Exile starting its Emberflare race season. League of Legends kicked off a pirate-themed fourth competitive season with a new Butcher’s Bridge all-mid map and revamps for champions Gangplank, Miss Fortune, and Fiora. And Diablo III gave players a brief preview of its upcoming patch 2.3.0, which adds content and zones that tie in with Diablo II’s act five zones.

In the world of e-sports, professional LoL player Yu “XiaoWeiXiao” Xian was given a suspension for boosting another player’s account in exchange for cash, and the two wildcard places in Dota 2‘s world championship tournament were decided. Heroes of the Storm kicked off a series of qualifiers with cash prizes leading up to its big tournament at Blizzcon. Hearthstone players claimed that some matches in a recent tournament were decided by flipping a coin instead of actually playing. And veteran MOBA Heroes of Newerth announced the fourth season of its HoN Tour league, which is expected to have over $430,000 US in prize money.

Read on for detailed breakdowns of the stories above and other news from the wider world of online gaming in this week’s Not So Massively, and don’t forget to subscribe to the RSS feed for weekly updates!

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Turbine to announce LotRO server closures on August 3

Turbine has published a blog post detailing Lord of the Rings Online’s upcoming server transfers, server consolidation, and data center move. The company hasn’t announced which servers will be affected yet; that information will be released on August 3rd. If you happen to be on one of the shards scheduled to close, you’ll get a title, a housing banner, and a cloak as remembrance gifts.

The whole process will basically take the rest of 2015, as it is “a monumental effort and we want to do it as correctly and painlessly as possible,” Turbine says. Impacted servers will officially be unavailable as of January 2016. Click through the link below to read the fine print as well as details about the new transfer features coming to the game launcher.


Pantheon’s Brad McQuaid on mass market MMOs, Smed’s resignation

Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen’s Brad McQuaid has a word or two (thousand) to say about the ongoing debate as to what constitutes an MMO and how games should be targeting audiences. And like the man himself, McQuaid’s opinions are sure to be divisive.

“I think the days of trying to develop a massive, super-expensive MMO in an attempt to appeal to as many people as possible, the ‘mass market,’ [are] over and can even be harmful to the entire online genre,” he posits. “The future should not only be a variety of MMOs to choose from but also a variety of styles to choose from, allowing players to play games without compromise… enabling gamers to choose an MMO that really entertains them and that has features, mechanics, and yes, revenue models they find both desirable and compatible.”

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Star Trek Online’s lead writer departs Cryptic

If you’ve spent any time with Star Trek Online fans, then you’ll know that there’s a widespread appreciation for the game’s deep and consistent storytelling. This is almost single-handedly thanks to Christine “Kestrel” Thompson, who has been the head writer for the title for seven years.

Sadly, Thompson announced last Friday that she was leaving her position and Cryptic Studios: “After eight years at Cryptic and almost seven years as the writer of Star Trek Online, it’s time to turn over my tricorder and move on to other worlds and new stories. It has been an honor and a privilege to write for a universe this deep and amazing and to be a part of the STO community. Thank you so much for the chance to be a part of your universe.”

Thompson did not say where she’s headed but did promise that she’d continue to play the game.

Source: Official forums. Thanks to The_Grand_Nagus for the tip!


Make My MMO: July 25, 2015

This week in MMO crowdfunding news, Project Gorgon returned to Kickstarter. Veteran developer Eric Heimburg clearly believes in his fantasy sandpark, and why not? Gorgon combines the best of old and new school gaming, with a heavy focus on discovery, exploration, and immersion.

In other newsStar Citizen boss Chris Roberts briefly stirred the hornet’s nest when he called B.S. — literally — on those who say that the sci-fi space sim has an acute case of feature creep. Apart from that, though, it was an uneventful week! You can catch up on that story and the rest of the week’s crowdfunding news after the cut.

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The Game Archaeologist: Kingdom of Drakkar

Kingdom of Drakkar, also known as Drakkar or even Kingdom of Drakkar II, is a really odd duck among the annals of MMO history. While being very small potatoes for the industry as a whole throughout its entire lifespan, it is notable for an extraordinary long run (it began in the 1980s, people!) that’s traversed through several format changes and handlers.

I’ve seen Drakkar described, somewhat unkindly, as a “shoddier Ultima Online,” but I think that is a surface judgment that doesn’t take the effort to get to know the game or its legacy. There must be something to this game if it’s been around for three decades, yes? Let’s find out!

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Ambitious Project Gorgon is back on Kickstarter

Third time’s the charm for Project Gorgon’s Kickstarter, right? We hope so, as the ambitious indie fantasy sandpark is asking for a modest $20,000 to further its development. Unlike most Kickstarter MMOs, Gorgon has already been greenlit on Steam. The game’s alpha is also freely available to the public, so there’s nothing stopping you from seeing whether or not Asheron’s Call veteran Eric Heimburg’s feature-rich sandpark mashup is worthy of your time and money.

Gorgon has “a heavy concentration on discovery and exploration,” according to the Kickstarter intro vid. The game’s other big thing is immersion, and in addition to a robust skill-based progression system, the title features player-managed shops and stalls, player-created quest content, story-focused live events, and shopkeeper NPCs whose inventory depends on what other players sell them.

Source: Kickstarter; thanks everyone who tipped us!


Betawatch: July 24th, 2015

John Smedley is no longer with us, by which I mean that he is still entirely alive and has not left us in the least, he’s just no longer Daybreak’s CEO. But his legacy is improving the bear AI in H1Z1. Except that that isn’t really his legacy, and that also wasn’t the focus of that patch. So pretty much none of that was accurate.

Look, I have to use what I can for this week’s opening. The beta world has been quiet, it’s like everyone in the world is off doing something else this time of year or something.

Is that really everything? Huh. Well, we do have that usual list of games just below the break. Let us know if something jumped test phases without us catching it in the comments below, dear readers.

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Star Citizen adds new flyable ships, highlights audio upgrades, and more

Star Citizen added the Merlin and the Scythe to its dogfighting module today, courtest of the 1.1.5 patch. The dev team also upped the number of players supported by Battle Royale and Squad Battle modes to 16 and made various balance tweaks aimed at retaining momentum, which means that combat now “skews a little further toward planning an attack and reacting against your opponent.”

Cloud Imperium also published an article about Star Citizen’s soundscape, presenting its first iteration of Wwise audio for the game and saying that it has “spent some months first migrating our content from our previous middleware solution, then refactoring and reengineering how audio is implemented within CryEngine.” It’s a bit of a tech-head article, and CIG notes that terms like pipeline, workflow, and iteration are to be expected.

Finally, CIG released a video called Game Commander which presents an informal look at creator Chris Roberts‘ day-to-day activities. You can view that after the cut.

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MMO Burnout: Why I want an Assassin’s Creed MMO

I play a fair amount of single-player stuff when I’m not playing MMOs, and at the risk of outing myself as one of those infernal dudebros, I love the Assassin’s Creed franchise. And I do mean love. I’ve got an Altair poster in my office and an Ezio action figure on my desk. I even own all of the series’ portable and mobile games, the latter of which is firmly against my religion.

I know that Unity had more than its share of technical issues, and I know that Ubisoft is no one’s favorite thanks to annualization and its Uplay DRM. But I can’t help it. Assassin’s Creed kicks holy ass and I want an Assassin’s Creed MMO.

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Phantasy Star Online 2 is IP-blocked again in the west

If you’re a western fan of Phantasy Star Online 2, I’m sorry. SEGA still doesn’t care to take your money, apparently, because the company’s on-again-off-again IP blocking scheme for PSO2 is on again. A few days ago, the IP block for customers outside of Singapore was lifted, enabling fans around the world to partake of publisher Playpark’s PSO2 service. Prior to that, you had to use a VPN if you wanted to play the game.

As of today, though, the IP block is back and customers outside of Southeast Asia are relegated to third party translation apps and IP block circumvention techniques.

Source: Reddit; thanks AJ, Scott, and Cicero!


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