Online gaming and e-sports are getting bigger by the day, and there are literally hundreds of popular online games out there that don’t really fit into the MMO category. Join me each week for Not So Massively, where I gather together the top stories from the biggest MOBAs, competitive card games, first person shooters, and other popular online games in one place.
It’s been a huge week for online gaming and e-sports, with Fox Sports Australia and BBC Three both now showing e-sports and Elite: Dangerous announcing a $100,000 tournament. Star Citizen released an awesome new map tool this week and more persistent universe type gameplay was revealed at CitizenCon 2015. Bungie talked about why it got rid of Peter Dinklage’s voice acting from Destiny, and clues about Half-Life 3‘s development have surfaced in a recent Dota 2 game engine update. We also heard that things aren’t going well for Grey Goo developer Petroglyph, Riot Games has forbidden a company from sponsoring League of Legends teams, and the Splatoon octoling hacker has been banned.
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This year’s main presentation at CitizenCon was an understandably emotional affair, kicking off with marketing manager Sandi Gardiner reading out a personal letter to the community that she wrote after recently becoming the target of an anonymous media smear campaign. Chris Roberts then recapped on the development story so far and the various development milestones that have been reached. He also confirmed that the company has been growing despite the recently announced layoffs and now employs 270 staff worldwide.
We got to see an updated video of the internal build of the game that includes ship combat and travel in the persistent universe, space-walking into abandoned space stations, and more. The first version of the Star Map has also now been released as an impressive web-tool that you can play with right now, including all the known star systems and jump points. We also got a behind-the-scenes look at the performance capture technology used in singleplayer game Squadron 42, which we’ve learned will feature the actor Gary Oldman in the role of the Fleet Admiral Bishop.
If you need more proof that e-sports are really starting to hit the mainstream media, you may be interested to know that Fox Sports Australia showed live coverage of CounterStrike: Global Offensive this week. The channel showed footage of the $55,555 AUD Crown Invitational tournament finals, and some regular sports fans were less than impressed.
Destiny‘s big version 2.0 update has been in the wild for about a month now, and this week Bungie looked back at the recent Sleeper Stimulant event and the current state of game balance. Shotgun perks were rebalanced to make sure they weren’t too effective at long range, but the Shot Package perk continues to be a problem. The perk will soon be removed from all shotguns, but developers say that shotguns as a whole will still be effective without it. Developers also responded to feedback on the recent Sleeper Stimulant live event that had the entire community farming for fusion rifle relics and solving puzzles. The live team responsible for the event is now growing and more quests of this type are expected to be released on an ongoing basis.
Destiny fans will remember the media buzz around Game of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage voicing the part of the player’s companion bot Ghost in the Taken King expansion, and the backlash when he was later replaced in this role by Nolan North. Creative Director Luke Smith discussed the events that led to replacing Dinklage‘s recorded lines in an interview stream with Games Radar this week. Smith explains that the writing for the little robot companion Ghost evolved throughout development as the studio explored what the character could become, and that the character didn’t initially have the strong writing it needed. The studio has previously blamed Dinklage’s replacement on his lack of availability, the desire for consistency with new content that required additional Ghost dialogue, and critical fan reactions to his voice in the expansion’s alpha.
Dota 2 players noticed this week that a file named hl3.txt had accidentally been added to the latest Dota 2 Reborn update. The file appears to be part of a help file for Valve’s map design tool Hammer, and since Dota 2 is now running on the new version of the Source engine, it makes sense that the file may have been added as part of an update to the base engine. The contents of the file hint at interesting features such as procedural spawn templates, ziplines, and NPC quests, prompting renewed discussion about Half-Life 3. Of course it’s no secret that Valve has been developing Half-Life 3 for some time now, but this is the first significant potential insight into development that we’ve had access to.
Elite: Dangerous announced a new Close Quarters Combat tournament with a total prize pool estimated at $100,000 US. This pool includes the cost of flights and accommodation as well as prizes for the qualifiers, and the winner of the final will walk away with $15,000 in cash. Full details of the event are still forthcoming, but we’re told that it will be open to players on PC, Mac, and XBox. Elite also teased players this week with a short video demonstrating the scale of its planetary landing gameplay and the detail in its terrain system.
If you’ve been following online RTS Grey Goo since launch, it can’t have escaped your attention that the online playerbase isn’t particularly big. The game released in January to positive reviews and has sold an estimated 120,000 copies to date, but currently has a daily peak of fewer than 90 concurrent players. The low player activity set in very soon after launch and led many to question whether the game had long-term staying power and why it has a price point of $50, but developer Petroglyph has pushed ahead and even recently launched a $75,000 tournament.
Gamasutra reports that things aren’t looking good for Petroglyph after all, with upwards of 20 staff at the studio allegedly losing their jobs this week. The job losses reportedly affect mainly the company’s production and art departments and are a response to the studio’s low income. Petroglyph has been through setbacks like this before, having failed to make it big with its MOBA Rise of Immortals back when the MOBA market was still in its infancy. Petroglyph hasn’t confirmed the layoffs but is moving ahead with the Grey Goo tournament and upcoming content as planned.TV channel BBC Three in collaboration with BBC Sport. The quarter finals of this year’s LCS are taking place in Wembley Arena in London, and will be covered live by BBC Radio 1 DJ and gamer Dev Griffin and a team of gaming casters. Several massive parties have been organised across Europe for the finals, and Coca Cola is sponsoring a scheme that will see the finals streamed live into cinemas across Europe.
The 2015 Ranked Season comes to a close in just under a month, and final prizes have now been announced for those who competed in ranked matches throughout the season. Bronze players will only get a special summoner icon, while higher ranks unlock further cosmetic rewards and a special skin for champion Sivir. Anyone with an active chat restriction or ban when the season ends on November 11th will not be elligible for any rewards. Those who were banned during the season for account boosting or received a game ban of 7 days or more from August 10th onward will also get no rewards.
This week we also heard the news that Riot Games has issued a sponsorship ban to third-party game key retailer G2A in response to the company refusing to remove sponsorship of LoL account sales and elo boosting services from its site. Professional teams are no longer allowed to accept sponsorship from G2A or display the site’s logo on their merchandise.
The evidence is mounting that the Octoling hack rumour we recently reported on was true and that the perpertrator may now have been banned. Splatoon is unusual for an online game in that your character and stats are stored locally and can be backed up onto a USB pen drive and even modified with a hex editor. Some players reportedly discovered that they could edit their characters to turn them from Squidlings into the as-yet-unplayable Octolings and to equip weapons that are in the code but have yet to be released. The player who is credited with originally discovering the octoling hack reports that she and at least one other person have been console banned for cheating online. Hints have since emerged that octolings may actually be coming to the game soon for all players anyway.
Splatoon’s new SplatNet web service is also now online, allowing players to see stats about their matches and stay in touch with in-game friends. You can set what times you’ll be online so your friends can synchronise their play time with you, set up automatic tweets to announce when you’re playing Splatoon, and see which of your friends are currently in-game. You can also see where you come in this week’s ranking among your friends, and browse your gear and weapons from a web browser.
- Heroes of Newerth released patch 3.7.11.
- Longtime LoL pro player Marcus “Dyrus” Hill retired from the sport.
- A Hearthstone player posted a video of a 100,000 damage Pyroblast.
- Team Fortress 2 is running a month-long community-made Invasion event.
- Dungeon Defenders II discussed its Ascension patch ahead of tomorrow’s “open alpha” release.
- Diablo III is running a public test realm event.
- Heroes of the Storm officially released new character Lt Morales.
- Path of Exile looked back at its two year history of challenge leagues in an interesting post-mortem analysis.