Not So Massively: HOTS’ ranking woes, LoL’s server move problems


League of Legends finished setting up its new North American server in Chicago, reducing ping times for east coast players but dramatically increasing them for those on the west coast, Hawaii, and Alaska. As Heroes of the Storm‘s competitive scene continues to grow, players are unhappy with the new matchmaking system that uses hidden stats and the new rank placement system that is giving inconsistent results. CounterStrike: Global Offensive broke League of Legends‘ record for the most Twitch viewing hours for a game in a single day, and players discovered a strange bug that could explain some of the game’s apparent hit registration problems.

Star Citizen released the first step in its persistent universe with the addition of its social module this week, and laid out its plans to expand the system with a new asteroid mining station social zone and working shop facilities. Diablo IIII released its highly anticipated patch 2.3.0, adding Kanai’s Cube to the game and overhauling crafting and rifts. And Armored Warfare announced its new base-building mechanic that gives each player his own military base that provides various passive bonuses.

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!


League of Legends has now completed its big North American server move to a more central location in Chicago, drastically improving lag for players on the east coast of the US. West coast players are reporting significant increases in ping, but Riot says that this will be “mitigated by connection improvements in the form of better overall stability and reduced packet loss.” The previous server gave east coast players roundtrip times of over 80 milliseconds, which was a huge problem in a game where reaction times are expected to be faster than this. Riot reports that the new server has brought the vast majority of players down to below the 80 millisecond threshold. As a bonus side-effect, Europeans playing on the North American server are also reporting greatly reduced lag.

The server move has not been universally positive, as many west coast players are feeling the effects of the increased roundtrip time on their gameplay. Some are reporting that the timing now feels off on all of their ability combos, and that they feel as if they’re dying in situations that they would normally have been able to avoid. This may even filter into the professional gaming scene as players need to practice in very low latency environments in order to compete in LAN tournaments; it’s no surprise then that the LCS has historically had more west coast players than central or east. Areas such as Hawaii and Alaska are also now seeing ping times of over 150, making competitive play there extremely difficult. Many players are now asking why Riot doesn’t keep the old server running and split the North American server in two as many other online games do.

heroesofthestormWhile Heroes of the Storm initially positioned itself as a more casual MOBA and promised shorter matches on a variety of interesting new game modes and maps, it’s beginning to develop a growing e-sports scene. The MSI MGA 2015 Global tournament is taking place right now at PAX Prime with a prize pool of $50,000, and the ESL Gaming Network has run several smaller cash prize tournaments. Blizzard itself has even put $500,000 on the line for its Road to BlizzCon World Championship tournament series and promised to continue working on the game’s more competitive-focused features such as the ranked matchmaking system.

The most recent patch changed the way individuals and pre-made teams are matched in queues and reset everyone’s existing rank. Each player now has to play through 20 placement matches to determine where his or her new rank will begin, and not everyone is happy with where he or she has landed. Some players are reporting that they’ve won every single one of their placement matches and been given a poor rank, and players who played all of their placement matches together are even ending up with completely different ranks. Part of the problem is that the matchmaking system doesn’t just use visible rank but also a hidden MMR stat, and that stat wasn’t reset when the ranks were. Players are finding the interaction between rank and the hidden MMR score confusing, and it’s clearly producing unintended effects.

csgoCounterStrike: Global Offensive‘s recent ESL One Cologne tournament has broken Twitch’s record for the most watched game in a single day, stealing the top four spots on the list with 7.4 to 8.9 million viewers each day. The previous record holder was League of Legends with 6.1 million viewers on the day of the 2015 LCS Summer Finals. The record viewership has been attributed partly to the stream format, which involved rebroadcasting the event throughout the day for those in other timezones and those who may have missed the action live. CS:GO also uses item drops to encourage viewership, which go into a viewer’s Steam inventory and can be sold for Steam credit.

Have you ever played CS:GO and swore that your just hits stopped registering on enemies half way through a match? Player Clyq may have discovered an interesting bug with the game’s clock correction mechanism, which is supposed to kick in when your ping hits 200ms or above. In tests, he found that the clock correction didn’t return to normal when his ping went back below 200ms, and that his his well-aimed shots on moving targets began missing on the server. Resetting the clock correction mechanism seemed to fix the problem. Clyq surmises that ping spikes on loading the map, alt-tabbing, or due to a random bout of packet loss or momentary wifi dropout could cause the clock correction mechanism to kick in and affect your timing for the rest of the match.

starcitizenStar Citizen released its Social Module to the live servers on schedule this week, bringing the alpha up to version 1.2. Players can now exit their hangars and walk around ArcCorp’s Area 18 facility, chatting and interacting with up to 24 other players. This is the first major step in developing the MMO-like persistent universe portion of the game and will serve as a testing ground for networking and gameplay features as the game is developed. The social module will help developers work out bugs and optimisations in a controlled test environment, and it’s hoped that the approach of getting players involved early will lead to the final game supporting a larger numbers of players on release.

The Social Module itself will now be added to over time as new parts of the persistent universe are completed, the most important and challenging of which is to have persistent characters and items moving between servers. We can then expect working shops, intelligent NPCs, and new playable environments such as the Nyx asteroid mining outpost to begin appearing. As a bit of teaser on that last point, developers released the preview video below on the Nyx’s external landing zone and parts of the internal structure within the asteroid.

diablo3Diablo III has now released its much anticipated Patch 2.3.0, adding the powerful artifact Kanai’s Cube and overhauling crafting and greater rifts. Crafting has been simplified with the removal of crafting material tiers, the cost of crafting rare items has been greatly reduced, and there are now only nine different types of each gem. There are also quality of life improvements for Bounties and Rifts, and a bunch of new legendary and set items. As the patch has been released, season four is now live.

armored-titleArmored Warfare announced that an interesting new Base mechanic coming to the game in its upcoming version 0.8 patch. Each player will get his or her own military base that starts with just a command bunker and a lot of empty space but which will eventually grow into a full military outpost. The base building mechanic is similar to social and mobile base-building games, with new buildings taking several minutes of realtime to construct and a limited allottment of free materials being delivered to the player daily.

There’s no word yet on whether Base mechanic will have microtransactions, but if it’s anything like similar mobile games, then it’s possible we could see options to buy additional shipments of materials or to instantly complete buildings without waiting. The Base mechanic appears to be an optional component of the game that unlocks passive bonuses to XP and reductions to the cost of upgrades. Developers are planning on adding new ways to collect and earn raw materials in the future.


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 to let him know!
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