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

    
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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!

Star Citizen has now released alpha patch 1.15 to the live servers, increasing ship health across the board in an effort to make combat more interesting and eliminate one-hit kills. The patch also updated the game’s flight model to let ships retain more of their inertia when the thrusters stop firing, which comes as good news for those who were recently complaining about the unrealistic flight physics. We also got a detailed report on the game’s recent transition to the Wwise audio engine, which is a fascinating in-depth look at the tools developers use to put great sound effects into games.

This week’s progress on Star Marine has been slow but neccessary, as developers continued to work on animation transitions for characters and adjusted the spawn points on the maps to reduce spawn camping in their internal tests. The goals for the coming week include improving animations for ducking behind cover and ongoing work on client-server synchronisation bugs. If you absolutely can’t wait for the FPS module’s release, check out the exploration video below of the gold horizon level.

Path of Exile released balance patch 2.0.0G this week to reduce the difficulty of the new act four zones in the normal and cruel difficulty modes. Games with warbands and dangerous tempests will now grant additional loot, and a whole slew of gameplay bugs have been fixed. The patch also marked the launch of the Emberwake race season, which consists of 120 separate race events over the course of a month and promises unique prizes for participants. For those who like the idea of seasons and race events but aren’t sure where to start, Grinding Gear Games has released an information post explaining how to get involved and filled with helpful tips for beginners.

Following the recent release of new champion Tahm Kench, the new League of Legends season has been themed all around his home of Bilgewater. The new season kicked off with a huge flurry of updates, including a new all-random-all-mid map called Butcher’s Bridge. Players are assigned random champions and have to battle their way down the map’s only lane in a massive bloodbath. The update also included the live release of the long awaited revamped League of Legends HUD.

Pirate-themed champions Gangplank and Miss Fortune have been given visual and vocal overhauls alongside duelist champion Fiora, but not everyone is happy with the changes. Gangplank’s original voice actor expressed his dismay that a new voice actor was hired to re-record all of his lines and he wasn’t even told it was happening. Fans have also been in an uproar over the visual redesign of Fiora, who now appears to be older, with more modest clothing and a different hair style.

In the world of e-sports, professional player Yu “XiaoWeiXiao” Xian was suspended from competitive play for boosting another player’s account in exchange for money. Xian admitted to and apologised for his actions, claiming that he didn’t realise it was such a serious offence. Riot has suspended him pending an investigation.

Most games with large e-sports scenes usually end up with the same names being invited to the big tournaments year after year, but with a new game like Heroes of the Storm, it’s anyone’s game to play for. Blizzard has kicked off a series of open qualifier cups that will lead to the finals at BlizzCon, and anyone can sign up a team of five for a chance to win. A prize fund of $76,000 US has been set aside for the European qualifiers; from those, eight teams will go on to take a spot in the European championship tournament. The US qualifiers are being held as a series of monthly tournaments leading up to the main event at BlizzCon 2015.

While 14 of the teams competing in this year’s Dota 2 world championship were invited to attend privately from the competitive community, the two remaining slots were reserved for the winners of yesterday’s Wildcard tournament. CDEC Gaming, Vega Squadron, MVP Phoenix, and Team Archon went head to head last night in a best of three tournament to find out which two of them would advance to the grand finals and be in with a chance to win the six million dollar top prize. The record-breaking tournament takes place for the next two weeks, with group stages running from today until July 30th and the grand final taking place on August 9th.

hon-titlenewFollowing its recent break away from publisher S2 Games, Heroes of Newerth is now heading back into the competitive gaming scene with a vengeance. The fourth annual HoN Tour season is set to begin with several rounds of qualifiers on August 1st, after which all the competing teams will be put into divisions based on how well they did. The season will feature weekly matches within each division, with teams fighting their way up the ladder into the Gold and Diamond leagues where the big money is made.

The division structure allows teams with a wider range of skill levels to compete, and each season is also split into eight individual cycles to spread the prize money more evenly across the season. As with last year’s prize pool, the developers are putting in $70,000 in prizes and adding 25% of the sales from a set of exclusive cosmetic rewards and avatars. Last year’s crowdfunding efforts reportedly boosted the HoN Tour pot to over $430,000 US, and this year’s is expected to blow that out of the water due to the anticipated popularity of new stat-tracking avatars that count lifetime kills.

If Diablo III‘s Reaper of Souls expansion didn’t hook you in at release, it might be worth another look with the impending release of patch 2.3.0. The massive update adds a new zone that ties in with Diablo II‘s final area: The icy lands of Sescheron are those that Baal traversed on his way to Mount Arreat and the worldstone, and the land’s slain inhabitants were those who stood against Baal in Diablo II‘s penultimate cutscene.

It turns out that the fellow whom Baal delightfully exploded at the city’s gate was Chief Elder Kanai, the owner of a powerful artifact called Kanai’s Cube that was the origin of the famous Horadric Cube. In Patch 2.3.0, players will search the ruins of Sescheron for Kanai’s Cube, which has the ability to reroll legendary items or extract powers from them, upgrade set items, and convert gems and crafting materials. It can even remove the level requirements from an item so you can give it to a new character.

hearthstone

Controversy struck an NVidia Hearthstone tournament this week when participants alleged that some of the matches which hadn’t been streamed weren’t actually played at all. Instead, the teams reportedly just flipped a coin to decide the outcome. The Daily Dot reports that the tournament was organised in such a way that three months of matches were scheduled just to determine the seed order for the actual tournament. As it really wouldn’t affect the outcome of the tournament much, many participants allegedly agreed to forego the matches entirely. NVidia denies that coin flipping took the place of any matches, claiming that “all matches were closely monitored by the administrative staff.”

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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kofteburger
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kofteburger

Casuals..

kofteburger
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kofteburger

Interesting. I feel quite the opposite it’s the best kickstarter I backed.

Denngar
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Denngar

kofteburger I’ve played it, but the games are a bit long, which is a turn off for the TCG folks I play with. It’s why they’re hooked on Hearthstone (than, and it’s a Blizzard game). Maybe Nova Blitz will win them over though. No Blizzard, but Richard Garfield’s endorsed it (the guy that made Magic The Gathering), and they said matches are 3-5 minutes without just sitting there waiting to take turns. They’re over 1/2 way there: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dragonfoundry/nova-blitz-tcg-real-time-digital-trading-card-game

carson63000
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carson63000

kofteburger Possibly. Of all the Kickstarter games I’ve backed, it’s the one which has delivered the least entertainment and most disappointment to me.

kofteburger
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kofteburger

Am I the only one here who plays HEX?

Zulika_Mi_Nam
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Zulika_Mi_Nam

I see lots of DotaTV in my near future….esp since I am on it now.