Not So Massively: RUST assigns random genders; US Senator facilitates e-sports visas

    
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Star Citizen rebalanced thrusters, hitpoints and weapons in its latest alpha release to the public test server, and the upcoming Star Marine FPS module showed its latest progress. Prompted by NASA’s recent flyby of Pluto, Elite: Dangerous compared its simulation to the real thing. Destiny revealed details of a huge balance patch that will change practically every weapon in the game and should make PvP more interesting. Path of Exile announced its new Emberwake race season, with over 120 race events and a series of in-game prizes to be won. And survival game RUST is in the news again with its plans to randomly assign a gender to each player in an upcoming patch.

League of Legends was forced to temporarily suspend ranked play this week when an instant recall exploit was discovered. Heroes of the Storm revealed the impressive winners of its recent ultiamte fanart competition and released its new immortal character Leoric, The Skeleton King. Valve revealed the prize pool split for Dota 2‘s upcoming tournament, The International, and got a US Senator involved to secure visas for two Russian players. SMITE revealed more details of next year’s world championship to be held in Atlanta and promised that $2 million in prize money will be spread across small tournaments throughout the season.

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!

Star Citizen Alpha v1.1.5 released to the public test universe this week, introducing some big changes for the playable dogfighting portion of the game. Squadron Battle and Battle Royale maps have been increased to a limit of 16 players, the launcher has been overhauled, and Merlin and Scythe are now flyable. Players who weren’t happy with the game balance will be happy to hear that one-hit kills have been reduced with a 100% increase in all human player ship health, CS missile damage was nerfed, and ship thrusters have been rebalanced.

The latest progress report from the Star Marine team shows considerable progress. The animation team has nailed down its final workflow and is working its way through tons of transitional animations, but ladder animations are still becoming desynchronised in multiplayer. The game design team has been working on a game mode that simulates the combat we can expect from the Persistent Universe, and the level designers have been fixing areas of the game maps that cause framerate drops.

The big issues still preventing Star Marine’s release include ongoing problems with netcode, a bug with positional audio reporting in the new sound engine, and several animations and sound effects that still need to be completed. Check out the latest episode of Star Citizen‘s Bugsmashers show below for a little bit more insight into the kinds of crazy bugs that game developers have to deal with before release.

Path of Exile announced the first new race event season following the release of its recent expansion, The Awakening. The Emberwake race season is a schedule of 120 separate race events scheduled to run between July 24th and August 20th, some lasting as long as two hours and others as short as 12 minutes. Each participant creates a new character for every event and earns in-game rewards for reaching certain level ranges without dying, with the top 20 players given bonus in-game prizes.

Developers also revealed the winners of two new Alienware laptops in last week’s boss kill event and delved into some of the fantastic things players have created for the game in a new Community Showcase article.

leagueoflegends

Riot Games was forced to temporarily suspend all ranked play in League of Legends recently when players became aware of a bizarre glitch that let them instantly teleport back to base. The bug was discovered someone playing champion Riven who hit a certain sequence of keys quickly by mistake and figured out how to reliably reproduce the error, prompting Riot to disable Riven in competitive play. Players then discovered that the glitch could be replicated on many other champions by hitting different combinations of keypresses, revealing that the bug was with the recall spell itself. Riot disabled all ranked play while a fix could be tested and deployed to the live game, and ranked mode has now been re-enabled.

heroesofthestormThe three top prize winners of the Heroes of the Storm ultimate Fanart contest have now been revealed, and there are just two days left to enter the Movie, Talent, and Original Art competitions. This week also saw the release of previously announced Diablo character Leoric, the Skeleton King. We got our first hint of Leoric’s gameplay at E3 2015, including details of his unique ability to travel the map as a wraith after death rather than just waiting to respawn. We now know that each of Leoric’s main abilities can be used in both Skeleton and Wraith forms, with different effects in each.

Leoric can deal damage in an arc and slow enemies with Skeletal Swing and drain health from enemies to heal himself with Drain Hope. Skeleton Swing deals no damage while you’re in wraith form but still slows enemies, and Drain Hope no longer drains life but decreases your respawn timer. Leoric’s third ability is Wraith Walk, which lets him temporarily leave his body as an unkillable wraith and move with bonus speed to chase down an enemy. When the ability ends or is cancelled, Leoric’s skeleton teleports to the location of his wraith.

elitedangerousWith NASA’s recent flyby of Pluto gripping the world, the latest Elite: Dangerous newsletter took the time out to compare Elite‘s simulation of Pluto with the real thing. The simulation correctly predicted that Pluto’s surface wouldn’t be as cratered as objects like the Earth’s moon, but got some of the details wrong. Aside from being a different colour, the real Pluto’s surface has significantly more texture than Elite’s version, plus some huge mountains.

Developers noted that simply replacing the texture with a new one based on the photos of Pluto isn’t feasible. The texture is the result of a complex simulation. and if the game will eventually let us get close to planets. then it’s going to need data from the simulation to construct the landscape. If NASA manages to put together a heightmap of the planet, however, developers could use that instead for a more true representation of the dwarf planet.

The full prize pool breakdown is looking good for Dota 2‘s upcoming record-breaking world championship tournament, The International. The total prize pool currently stands at almost $17 million US and rising, with over $6 million now set aside for the first place winners of the tournament. The prizes get incrementally smaller from there, with the second-place winner taking home an impressive $2.6 million, and third-place still winning over $2 million. The minimum prize for those who make it into the tournament or have been invited currently stands at around $50,846, so even the losers won’t go home empty-handed.

This year’s journey to The International was almost cut short for two professional players currently based in Russia. Natus Vincere’s Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev and Vega Squadron’s Andrew “Mag” Chipenko were both denied visas to enter the US for the purposes of competing in the tournament. Valve reportedly contacted US Senator Maria Cantwell on the players’ behalf to see if anything could be done to expedite matters. It emerged that their visa applications had been denied because the US consolate in Moscow was unfamiliar with The International. Butaev has since reported that his visa application has been accepted.

Further details of the next SMITE world championship tournament have been released, with the tournament set to take place between January 7th and January 10th next year at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta in the US. The event will be split into the official PC world championship tournament and a new Xbox One invitational tournament. The prize pool for the world championship will be capped at $1 million US, with a further $2 million to be split across smaller tournaments throughout the entire season. Hi-Rez Studios hopes that this approach will make SMITE a more sustainable and stable career option for e-sports professionals.

If you’ve been playing Destiny‘s Crucible PvP mode and are using any weapon other than Thorn, it turns out you’re a sucker. Players have been complaining for some time that everyone in Crucible uses Thorn, and Bungie confirmed that this week with a graph showing that over twice as many players use Thorn compared to the next most popular exotic weapon.

This is just one of the many balance issues that players have been complaining about, and Bungie has definitely taken notice. A comprehensive set of balance changes is on the way for practically every weapon type, including steeper damage falloff for auto rifles at long range and significant nerfs to the accuracy of hand cannons used at long range. The patch also tweaks pulse rifles, shotguns, fusion rifles, sniper rifles, scout rifles, and rocket launchers, and comes with some specific changes to exotic weapons such as Thorn.

rusttitleYou may remember RUST as the survival game that sparked controversy when it added different skin tones to the game but assigned them to players based on their Steam IDs rather than letting players customise their own characters. The game also resurfaced recently with the news that a players’ genital size and other attributes are similarly generated based on their steam ID.

While there are now skin tone and physical differences between characters in RUST, right now everyone is given a male persona. Developers recently said that they’re working on a female character model for the game, and this week we predictably found out that gender will also be randomly assigned based on your Steam ID. Some players worry that this may lead to in-game gender discrimination in the same way the race update did, while others think of it as a social experiment.

inothernews

Every week, Brendan Drain scours the net to bring you all the latest news from from the world of MOBAs, lobby-based games, and other online multiplayer games that aren’t quite MMOs in Not So Massively. If there’s anything you want to see covered here, post a comment or send mail to brendan@massivelyop.com to let him know!
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Denngar
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Denngar

Dystopiq Probably breast size.

officeape
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officeape

I’ve played roughly 70 – 75 hours of Rust. I like the game. What I like most about it is that I have the choice to play it as I wish. Choice seems to be a big part of the game’s allure, and I feel that assigning someone a gender goes against the spirit of the game. When you start telling someone *how* to play in a sandbox, I feel like you’re missing the point.

bradflewelling
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bradflewelling

The skeleton king was not released FYI, just a video of him.

Dystopiq
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Dystopiq

Will it have randomly generated vajayjays?

Armsbend
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Armsbend

The heroes artwork looked more like professional artwork to me.

Nyphur
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Nyphur

deekay_zero Coincidentally, I did my masters thesis on terrain generation and heightmaps and built a procedural planet renderer for Predestination using data from sources like NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission. While it’s technically possible to process various types of aerial photograph to produce something resembling a heightmap, it’s considerably more difficult to do this for a planet and there are also large areas of Pluto that the new photos don’t cover.
It would be more feasible for the devs to make the heightmap manually and try to make it match up visually with the images of Pluto, or tweak the simulation parameters for Pluto until it produces something approximating the photos. The easy option would be if NASA produced its own height dataset of the planet’s surface like the ones they’ve released for Earth, Mars, and the Moon, but New Horizons was just a single fly-by so it can’t get anything like that.
I can understand why they wouldn’t want to manually build a new heightmap of Pluto as it’s an awful lot
of work just for one dwarf planet, but they’ve even got the basic colour
wrong so I think they should at least tweak its parameters and re-generate it to see if they can get a closer visual match with the real thing.

schlag sweetleaf
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schlag sweetleaf

MikedotFoster

Dystopiq
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Dystopiq

You misspelled ultimate right after Heores of the storm.

MikedotFoster
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MikedotFoster

Randomly generated dongs are probably my favorite thing the games industry has invented.