League of Legends launched a new system to hand out immediate automatic bans for chat infractions this week, leading to many claims of unfair bans and false positives. The LoL player who stalked and harassed female gamers pled guilty to a string of serious offenses this week in court. Dota 2 finalised the teams for the qualifiers of its upcoming world championship tournament, and the community mourned the passing of beloved player ProfessorFiercE. Diablo III players Patrick Nepomuceno and Michael Stinger were convicted of computer misuse offences this week for their theft of virtual items back in 2012.
Petroglyph launched its new tank-based MOBA Victory Command on Steam Early Access. Swedish developer Ghost Games announced plans to reboot the Need for Speed franchise with a focus on storyline and an online open world. Path of Exile deployed the first test of its Deterministic Lockstep mode in a new expansion beta patch, and so far players are reporting desync-free gameplay. Heroes of the Storm has now entered open beta ahead of its June 2nd release date, and Blizzard defended its decision to remove Tychus’ signature cigar in order to maintain the game’s Teen rating.
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!
Riot Games brought its new automatic ban system online for the first time. The new system tries to detect harassment and other rule-breaking behaviour in the chat logs of a reported player and then hands the offender a punisment and a report card explaining his offense within 15 minutes of the reported match. The player response to the new scheme has been mixed, with many supporting the initiative and others sharing screenshots of their report cards and claiming that they’ve been unfairly punished.
Riot claims that many of the offending report cards are fakes that have been photoshopped, but players have begun sharing direct links to their report cards hosted on Riot’s own servers. While stories of false positives resulting in bans have left many players feeling as if it may not be safe to chat at all any more, Riot maintains that the rate of false positives is less than 0.1% and it has a full-time appeals team ready to rectify mistakes. It’s been pointed out that even behaviour such as gloating at the end of a match is considered toxic and is against the Summoner’s Code, so it could be sufficient to earn a 14-day ban.
In more serious news, the 17-year-old League of Legends player who stalked and harassed female gamers online has pled guilty to 23 counts of extortion, public mischief and criminal harassment. The teenager reportedly found female gamers online and attempted to befriend them, then retaliated if he was rejected. His crimes include ruining a girl’s entire family’s credit rating, hacking into private email accounts, posting the family’s credit card information online, and prompting armed SWAT responses against his victims.
Remember when Petroglyph tried to kickstart a new tank-based MOBA called Victory? The studio originally asked for $700,000 to create its World War II-themed online game that promised to blend RTS gameplay with faster-paced online action of MOBAs, but it cancelled the campaign after it got less than $30,000 in pledges over the first 10 days. The studio was forced to lay off 30 staff but went on to develop online RTS Grey Goo. Victory appeared to be put on hold, but now it’s back on the table thanks to Steam’s Early Access programme and publisher PlayGrid.
Now rebranded as Victory Command, this project originally rose from the ashes of defunct MMORTS End of Nations. Petroglyph was originally contracted by publisher Trion Worlds to develop EoN but was released from the contract when Trion decided to take development in-house. Petroglyph intended to pour its RTS experience into creating its own new title with Victory, and now the studio is finally getting its chance to do just that. An early version of Victory Command released this week on Steam Early Access for a full $20 purchase price, but developers have now made the early access version free.
The DotA and Dota 2 communities were in mourning this week as much-loved player ProfessorFiercE passed away. FiercE was a long-time pro player in the original Defense of the Ancients mod and was highly regarded for his comprehensive Dota 2 instructional videos.
The teams have been finalised for each of The International’s four regional qualifiers, including one team in each region selected by an open qualifier. Each region now has 10 teams in the running, which will be whittled down to just two teams through a series of round robin group stages throughout the next two weeks. The top team in each region will secure a place in the grand final, and the runner-up teams in each region will then compete against each other in a Wild Card series to secure the final two spots in the grand finals. These six teams will join 10 hand-picked competitors in the week of August 3rd to fight over a growing prize pool that now stands at around $9,000,000 US.
Diablo III players Patrick Nepomuceno and Michael Stinger lost their legal battle with Blizzard this week over the theft of virtual items in the game. The pair reportedly stole over $8,000 worth of rare items from players’ accounts by tricking people into downloading a trojan, a piece of software that gives someone else remote access to your computer. They used the trojan to control their victim’s characters from their own computers and make them drop valuable gear, which the two players then swiped. The offenses took place during the summer of 2012, but it wasn’t until December of that year that the consequences became known: The FBI showed up at Michael Stinger’s house and he was arrested for hacking offenses.
While Blizzard replaced the stolen items, the studio also pressed charges against the two offenders on behalf of their victims. Prosecutors initially alleged that the stolen goods had been sold for over $8,000 on the Diablo III Real Money Auction House, which would have made this crime a felony and led to significant jail time. Stinger claimed that both he and his accomplice were banned before they could collect on their ill-gotten gains, which may have saved them from jail time. They pled guilty to misdemeanor “unauthorized impairment of a protected computer” and were both given several years probation and ordered to pay Blizzard the $5,654.61 spent investigating their crimes.
If you remember the original Need for Speed games fondly, then you might be in for a pleasant surprise. Swedish developer Ghost Games is working on a complete reboot of the series that promises to get back to the game’s roots and away from the direction that the Underground and Most Wanted brands have headed in. The new game will focus on “deep customisation, authentic urban car culture, and an immersive narrative that pulls you through the game.” It will also feature “a nocturnal open world” that promises to turn the singleplayer campaign into a seamless online multiplayer experience. This is likely to be similar to Need For Speed Rivals’ AllDrive feature.
In his third State of the Beta post, Path of Exile developer Qarl discussed recent and planned changes to the game’s upcoming expansion beta. The latest patch included a working version of the desync-free Deterministic Lockstep mode, but developers warn that it’s intended exclusively for players with consistently low latency internet connections. If you get a lag spike, your game will appear to stall and then rapidly catch up.
A few bugs have been found with how the system interacts with skills such as Bear Trap and Dominating Blow, but the system otherwise seems to work exactly as promised. New servers have been launched in Frankfurt, London, California, and Washington, D.C., to help players reduce their latency to the nearest server and take advantage of the desync-free experience.
Heroes of the Storm officially entered open beta this week ahead of its upcoming June 2nd free-to-play launch. There will be no server wipe when the game goes live, so you can get a head-start on release by jumping in now. Players can now select whether they want to log into the American, European, or Asian servers and will have separate ranks and unlocks in every region. This might be useful if you still want to play when the game is undergoing its daily maintenance cycle.
The Heroes of the Storm community saw some drama this week when Blizzard removed character Tychus’ signature cigar. The move led to players on Reddit complaining about censorship, but Blizzard confirmed that it was necessary to let the game maintain its Teen rating across the world.
- Infinite Crisis unlocked all champions and costumes until tomorrow morning to give players a taste of what the game has to offer.
- Indie Smash Bros style combat arena game Brawlhalla released patch Beta v 1.10.1 this week.
- New MOBA Games of Glory announced that it’ll be coming to Steam soon.
- Online FPS Survarium released its new post-apocalyptic London zone.
- Games Workshop announced its new 3-D card game Warhammer: Storm of Magic.
- Robot-building MOBA Robocraft released its Electro-mandia update.