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Steam empowers studios to permaban players

Forget modgate — the next controversial decision by Valve might already be here. The company announced that it will be allowing game studios to identify disruptive or cheating players and target them for permanent bans from that particular game on Steam.

Valve explained its reasoning behind the so-called game ban: “In order to ensure the best possible online multiplayer experience, Valve allows developers to implement their own systems that detect and permanently ban any disruptive players, such as those using cheats. Game developers inform Valve when a disruptive player has been detected in their game, and Valve applies the game ban to the account.”

Affected players will need to contact the developer rather than Valve to appeal such bans.

[Source: Steam via Eurogamer]


Perfect World to become privately owned

Perfect World is no longer a publicly traded company, as founder Michael Yufeng Chi made a deal to take the company private.

Chi will take over Perfect World by merging it into a new company, Perfect Peony Holding Co., which is located in the Cayman Islands. Current investors will receive $4.04 a share as part of the buyout. The deal is made possible by a $900 million loan from a Chinese bank, is approved of by the board, and will go forward later in 2015.

Perfect World Entertainment, the game division of Perfect World, recently made the headlines due to a series of layoffs worldwide.

[Source: Washington Post. Thanks to Paraxes for the tip!]


Guild Wars recalls what a long, strange trip it’s been

As you might have already been aware, today is the original Guild Wars’ 10th anniversary. To mark the occasion, Community Manager Gaile Gray wrote up a post in which she walks down memory lane to talk about the formation of ArenaNet, the debut of Guild Wars Prophecies, and the game’s subsequent updates.

“I think it says a great deal about the company’s founding philosophy that — years before the release of their game — they were thinking not solely of development but were also thinking about how to communicate with their future players and fans,” Gray notes.

The article covers several quotes from current and former ArenaNet team members while noting some of the game’s important milestones. With 10 years of Guild Wars behind us, what are some of your favorite memories from the game?

[Source: Guild Wars 2]


Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown launches today

After quite a while in early access testing and a significant name change that appears to have displaced much of the “online” component of the game, Shadowrun Chronicles is officially launching today with its first campaign, Boston Lockdown.

The launch is accompanied by several balancing changes, a polishing pass, and plenty of bug fixes. Players can form a team of “runners” to tackle missions with turn-based combat in this cyberpunk setting. While it can be experienced completely solo, there is an option to join up with other players in hubs for a co-op run.

The standard version of Shadowrun Chronicles is $40 while the deluxe version will run you $60.

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Dev polls community about bringing back original Darkfall Online

Are you unsatisfied with the way that Darkfall Online has progressed after transforming into Unholy Wars? There may be a window of opportunity to undo all of that and bring the game or at least a copy of the game back to what it used to be — if that’s a concern of yours, of course.

Aventurine’s Axilmar put out a poll to the community on Reddit asking whether players want the game to revert back to its former state: “This an informal poll of mine, not a company one, since the last few days I’ve read many posts that say ‘bring back DFO.’ So, I’d like to see if there is actually any real interest in bringing back DFO. If there is, i.e. if there are many upvotes, let’s say over 5,000, so as that one can support this as a business proposal, I will ask my managers to check this out.”

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Not So Massively: LoL’s Reddit controversy, HotS’ Heroes of the Dorm

If ever we needed evidence that e-sports are fast becoming more like real-life sports, this week’s MOBA news provided it. Dota 2 announced that a new seasonal Major Championship league will fill in the gap between world championships and that there will be strict transfer windows for teams just like in real life sports. Top North American League of Legends player Hai Lam retired this week due to an injury, and controversy unfolded over potential cheating in this week’s IQCI Finals. Heroes of the Storm got an official launch date of June 2nd following an April 19th open beta, and its ESPN-sponsored Heroes of the Dorm tournament finals were completed.

Hundreds of Grand Theft Auto 5 players’ accounts have been reportedly compromised due to a security breach at an unknown website, but Rockstar insists that its Social Club servers have not been breached. Path of Exile started the beta for its upcoming expansion, The Awakening, and SMITE revealed its next character is Mayian death god Ah Puch. Elite: Dangerous spoiled us with details of its Powerplay territorial warfare update that lets players pick a side in an ongoing interstellar war. Star Citizen showed off its plans to let players manually load and unload cargo and then sailed past the $80 million mark by selling MISC hull hauler ships.

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.

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Russian version of Lord of the Rings Online closes June 1st

If you were hoping that the Russian version of Lord of the Rings Online would last forever, we have some sad news for you today. The game’s localized servers will be shutting down on June 1st, with new account registration already disabled and all cash shop items discounted to cost just 1 mark. There’s also an NPC to power your character up in case you weren’t already at maximum level for whatever reason.

It’s not clear at this time whether was unwilling or unable to reach an agreement with Warner Bros. for extending the license for the game. Bonuses are being offered for Russian players affected by the shutdown in the other games that maintains.

[Source: MMO Fallout]


Star Citizen’s cargo system sounds quite amazing

If your gaming preferences begin and end with combat, you might find the latest Star Citizen design blog pretty boring. If, on the other hand, you value non-combat gameplay and wish that the MMO industry valued it, too, Star Citizen’s cargo system may pique your interest.

Cloud Imperium’s virtual world will allow players “to more fully interact with their environment than any previous space game.” Cargo will be used both to customize your surroundings and to build a shipping empire or work the black market. The blog outlines how previous genre games have separated the pilot from the cargo with icons and menus, whereas Star Citizen will allow “maximum interaction directly with in-game objects.”

The developers have created a system called Grabby Hands — detailed in four separate videos — that enables extensive interaction without the need to create unique animations for each object in the game.

[Source: Design blog; thanks Cardboard, Cotic, Rioinsignia, fastcart, and Darkwalker75]


French MMO DOFUS heads to tablets and the big screen

You might think a game launched in 2004 not named World of Warcraft might be curbing its ambition here in 2015, but if you’re talking about French MMO DOFUS, you’d be mighty wrong. Ankama and Wizcorp this week announced that the game is due for a tablet version with a refreshed mobile UI. The downside is that it won’t be “synchronized with the desktop and streaming version, available on dedicated servers,” meaning tablet players will be starting fresh.

Desktop players have a new update of their own to look forward to; Raiders of the Temples of the Twelve launched this week and infested the game with brand-new bounty monsters.

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The Powerplay update will change how you play Elite: Dangerous

The next big update for Elite: Dangerous centers around the Powerplay system, and it’s enough to change the way you see the game world. Powerplay allows players to ally themselves with various galactic powers, at which point their actions begin to directly influence the nature of the galaxy and the local power structure. Every faction has its own ethos and way of taking control of systems, and players can take part in that while earning rewards for protecting factional interests and furthering the cause.

Players will also have access to two new ships, an overhauled mission system, and new drones for tasks such as collecting cargo. It promises to be a pretty significant shot in the arm for the game, justifying a rather bullish prediction that Frontier Developments has made that estimate 22 million GBP in revenue by the end of the financial year.

[Source: Newsletter, London South East; thanks to Cotic and Colin for the tip!]


Koster on Star Wars Galaxies’ combat and social connectivity ‘glue’

MMO designer Raph Koster is back with yet another post-mortem on Star Wars Galaxies, this one the second part of his “living society” discussion. Get your HAM bars and stimpacks and carbines at the ready, folks, because this episode begins by explaining the game’s combat.

I adored it, but Star Wars Galaxies’ combat was the sort of combat that you played in spite of how bad it was. “Combat in SWG was a disaster,” Koster agrees.

He reveals that combat was always intended to be “at the heart of the game” and that SOE chose RPG combat over action combat “for the sake of a larger audience.” The studio was hoping for a tactical card game feel, but it didn’t work.

“With the loss of long-range server updates (the result of a lack of CPU power on the deployment servers), the distinctions between the professions turned to mush. HAM never had any bounce, and timing attack made no sense. You could incapacitate yourself with a special.”

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Guild Wars 2 talks up PvP tourneys, app development challenge

ArenaNet can’t stop talking about competitive Guild Wars 2 PvP here lately, and today brings us a blog post focused on the World Tournament Series Championship. The next set of champions will be crowned at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany on August 8th.

Prior to that, there are qualifiers and ESL matches galore in which teams will need to place highly to secure an invitation to Cologne. The full post has all of the eligibility requirements as well as some verbiage about playing for $50,000 USD.

In other GW2 news, ANet has partnered with Overwolf to create a contest for coders that will reward the top 20 app developers with “over $15,000 USD in prizes.”

[Source: Announcement post]


Elder Scrolls Online’s PS4 beta starts tomorrow

If for some reason you want to play Elder Scrolls Online on a console (I dunno, maybe you hate UI mods and bleeding edge graphics?), you don’t have much longer to wait. ZeniMax’s themepark MMO officially launches on June 9th. If you’re a PlayStation 4 owner, you’ve got even less time to wait, since the beta starts tomorrow.

You’ll need an invite, and those started going out today, according to the PlayStation blog, so check your inbox. The beta test grants access to the full version of the game, but it’s worth noting that your progress will not carry over past launch.

[Source: PlayStation blog]


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