Destiny‘s ex-composer Martin O’Donnell won a major court case against his former employer, giving him back shares in the company that are now worth a considerable sum. Diablo III players discovered an exploit that allows players to equip multiple passive effects from the Hellfire Amulet and answered dozens of player questions in a Q&A. Dota 2 launched its Reborn update along with a new Dota Level system but accidentally added a balance-breaking bug in the process. Path of Exile brought back the Build of the Week series and launched a hideout design competition. SMITE released on Steam and quickly became one of the top 25 peak played games on the platform.
Heroes of the Storm detailed its new reporting options in a new devblog, including details of a silencing system that increases the punishment exponentially against repeat offenders. League of Legends came up with its own new punishment mechanic for toxic chat, and has given all previously chat-restricted players a clean slate for season five. Star Citizen tackled similar harassment problems within its community by restricting most forums to paying players. And Serellan, the studio behind failed tactical shooter Takedown: Red Sabre, announced its new squad-based first person shooter Epsilon.
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!
Ex-Destiny composer Martin O’Donnell has won a major court case against Bungie, his former employer. O’Donnell was the original creator of the musical score for the Halo series and Audio Director on Destiny, creating a suite of music named “Music of the Spheres” that was to serve as the core music for the entire game series. O’Donnell was later fired following a disagreement over creative use of the music prompted by publisher Activision replacement of his music in the game’s announcement trailer with its own track.
Bungie then tried to illegally strip O’Donnell of his shares in the company and deny him his rights as a shareholder, and the matter has been subject to legal arbitration ever since. This recent win overturns Bungie’s dodgy dealings with O’Donnell’s shares, providing him with all of the opportunities he was denied to sell or use his shares during the legal battle and possibly back-dated dividends from the successful Destiny franchise. Court documents showed that Destiny sold 6.3 million copies in its first month, so it looks like Martin O’Donnell could be in for one hell of a payday.
Players discovered an exploit with the Hellfire Amulet in Diablo III that allows players to equip every passive ability accessible to their class. Community Manager Nevalistis announced that a hotfix is on the way for this bug and that those found to have exploited it to advance unfairly in the Season Four ranks will be punished. The developers have also released a transcript of their recent Reddit Q&A session on Patch 2.3.0 and the future of Diablo III, answering questions on everything from loot rarity and class balance to lore and game bugs.
Dota 2‘s Reborn update officially launched this week, upgrading the game to Source Engine 2 and adding new features like custom game modes and support for watching twitch streams in-game. As part of the Reborn update, Valve released a new Dota Levels system that functions much like Steam’s cosmetic XP and level system. Players earn trophies as they play Dota 2 matches, complete challenges in the game, or take part in various events; those trophies will now give trophy points, and every 100 points gives you a level.
Not everyone is happy with the new client, particularly with its new user interface that uses most of the screen space for advertising and squeezes important elements such as party chat and your friend list into a small bar at the bottom of the screen. One player even took it upon himself to mock up a new design that makes better use of the available screenspace. The patch also introduced a bug that changed the balance of the game by making the Dire ancient monsters stack automatically, but Valve was able to hotfix it shortly after release.
Verbal abuse and chat harassment run rampant in online gaming, and nowhere are they more visible than in the competitive world of team-based MOBAs. In an effort to curtail abusive chat in Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard is adding new reporting options to reflect the various types of misconduct a player can exhibit during a match, from intentional feeding and cheating to straight-up harassment. Players who receive several reports in the spam or abusive chat categories will be investigated and can be silenced in future matches.
Silenced players can still talk to friends and those who join their parties but will no longer be able to whisper other users or talk in general chat channels, game lobbies, or allied chat in-game. The first silence a player receives will be 24 hours in duration, and the duration will double each time he’s punished. There’s no upper limit, and there are no plans to have the punishments expire, which means a player who doesn’t reform after five punishments will face over a month in silence duration on his next infraction.Riot Games has recently been taking a very hard line on offenders. With MOBAs increasingly being taken seriously as e-sports, studios are having to make a considerable effort to instill the values of sportsmanship into the playerbase. Riot’s most recent scheme was designed to curtail offensive language by instantly chat-restricting the offender and providing a report card, but recent threats of removing season rewards from chat-restricted players proved a little too hardcore.
Developers have now removed that punishment in favour of a new virtual time-out system. Offending players are now given an immediate warning when they’ve engaged in toxic behaviour and are forced to play several non-ranked matches without offending before they can return to the ranked match queue. As a result of adding the new system, Riot has decided to wipe the slate clean for anyone who’s been chat restricted during season five and has promised that they will get season rewards. This week also saw the announcement of a new set of futuristic cybernetic skins as part of something called Project Overdrive.an experimental Brazillian server gateway this week that will hopefully reduce lag for those playing from South America. The new gateway isn’t in the dropdown list, but you can activate it by typing in Brazil manually. This week also saw a community favourite come back with the first new episode of the Build of the Week series released in about six months. The Hideout of the Week series may also be returning, as community manager Bex has announced a new competition that asks players to design a new hideout with a cohesive theme. release of the game on Steam, after which it immediately shot to within the top 25 actively played games with around 18,000 peak players each day.
If you’ve been on the Star Citizen forums recently, chances are you’ve run into a few trolls. Forum moderators even recently called out a serial troll with a full public breakdown of his misconduct after he explicitly gave permission for them to do so. To combat a recent rise in harassment and sock-puppet accounts, developers have made the decision to restrict most of the forum to paid players only.
The big code merge is now complete on the Star Marine FPS module, so the codebase is now updated to Cryengine 3.7 and the code for the social and FPS modules have been successfully merged together. The codebase is now in code review as the team fixes small merge conflicts and continues working on bugfixes and content for Star Marine. The latest 10 for the Chairman update answers questions on multicrew ships, bars in the persistent universe, and limitations on the number of players in each server instance.
Developer Serellan LLC announced its new squad-based first person shooter Epsilon this week with the video below of pre-alpha game footage. The shooter is based around a police unit that deals with human trafficking and will reportedly feature a planning phase in which players will see schematics of the building and can formulate a strategy, similar to mechanics in the original Rainbow Six. There’s no word yet on whether the game will be crowdfunding its financial support, but developers have announced that it will have a long Early Access period of development before release.
Serellan is best known for its previously crowdfunded squad-based first person shooter Takedown: Red Sabre, which raised $221,833 on Kickstarter in April 2012 and was launched in an unfinished and extremely buggy state in September 2013. The game was universally panned by critics, with only 37% positive reviews on its later Steam release and a metacritic score of 34%. Company owner Christian Allen published a frank postmortem analysis of the project in October 2014, including details of problems with the QA teams, an angel investor pulling out, and other major stumbling blocks that the team has learned from. The studio has also promised to give a free copy of Epsilon to every backer of Takedown.
- Hearthstone‘s Ben Brode discussed the threat of power creep and alienating new players.
- Armored Warfare released a trailer for its new Lost Island map.
- Splatoon released the Nozzlenose weapon that has a slow fire time but packs a huge punch.
- Destiny released its appropriately-named Mayhem Clash game mode.
- Elite: Dangerous got a release date on XBox One of October 6th 2015.
- Block ‘n’ Load detailed its plans to switch to a free to play business model.
- Star Wars: Battlefront discussed its Drop Zone game mode in a new devblog.