Not So Massively: Clockwork girls, ban tribunals, and runestones

Welcome to Not So Massively, our weekly roundup of the top news from popular multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBAs) and other multiplayer online games that aren't quite MMOs. Published every Saturday, the column covers games such as League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth, Defense of the Ancients, Bloodline Champions, and more.

With the growing popularity of MMOs, it's great to see developers borrowing ideas from them and making them work in other online game formats. A growing number of online games are being released featuring elements of online persistence, iterative development, and character progression that we've come to expect only from MMOs. In last week's Not So Massively, we reveled in League of Legends' dubstep, got technical with Heroes of Newerth's new hero Martyr, and looked at Bloodline Champions' new match replay system. We also introduced Rise of Immortals' immortal Aislynn and looked at the huge Realm of the Titans content update arriving just in time for closed beta.

In this week's Not So Massively, we introduce Ubisoft's upcoming online FPS Ghost Recon Online, look at Bloodline Champions' huge patch 1.2 update, and peruse development plans for the Rise of Immortals cash shop and its co-op PvE. This week is also a big week for League of Legends, with the player-mediated banning Tribunal now in live testing and the awesome new clockwork champion Orianna on the way.

Skip past the cut for all this week's news from the land of not-quite-an-MMO-but-pretty-close-to-it.

This was a busy week for the League of Legends crew, which has been hard at work on upcoming champion Orianna in addition to putting the finishing touches on the Tribunal system. This week we got a first look at the mechanics behind Orianna, the clockwork girl. Although there's no champion spotlight video for Orianna yet, Riot has published a full list of her abilities, a few action screenshots, and the lore behind the character.

Showcasing the LoL community once again this week was Summoner Showcase #30, which featured the community's recent creative efforts. This week's showcase features an awesome metal cover of the League of Legends theme, Anarki3000's latest fan art, an adorable Caitlyn cosplayer, Mundo fanart depicting him as a zombie, and an interactive roleplaying story taking place on the forum.

Antisocial behaviour is a problem that afflicts every online games, and as was true of Defense of the Ancients before them, MOBAs seem to take the worst of it. As MOBAs are team games in which one player's poor performance can lose a match for his team, it's no wonder that the communities can get so bad. LoL is often said to have a fantastic community for a MOBA, but even it suffers from antisocial elements. Refusing to accept that this problem is inherently intractable, Riot Games released the Tribunal.

We first heard of the Tribunal back in January, and this week the idea saw a massive step forward toward implementation. When the system goes live, players will be able to file reports against antisocial players who deliberately ruin a match or spout abuse in chat. Other players will be invited at random to log into the Tribunal webpage and vote anonymously on whether the player in question deserves to be banned or pardoned. The system is currently in an open testing phase in which Riot Games is estimating the effectiveness of the voting system in determining guilt. If you're interested in finding out more about the Tribunal system, check out the Tribunal FAQ video, embedded below:



In recent years, the line between MMOs and traditional online games has been significantly blurred. First-person shooters began including level systems, perks, unlockable upgrades, and other elements of persistence normally associated more with an MMO than a match-based shooter. Ghost Recon Online is Ubisoft's latest foray into the free-to-play online game market. The microtransaction-based shooter is scheduled for release later this year, with closed beta kicking off this summer. If you're interested in getting into the beta, head over to the official Ghost Recon Online website and sign up.

In the early hours of Tuesday morning of this week, Heroes of Newerth came under fire. The master servers were hit with a massive DDOS attack, preventing players from logging into the game. S2 Games worked with specialists to end the attack and get the server back up and running, but three hours later they were hit with yet another DDOS attack. At the time of writing, the EU login system is working but players are still reporting disconnects and intermittant access to the game. Rumours on the forum have blamed the attack on parties in India and Brazil, but S2 staff member Toolzs was quick to point out that the attacks have nothing to do with the countries in question.

Patch 1.2 has finally arrived for Bloodline Champions, bringing with it the start of Season 2 and a whole host of changes. Possibly the biggest addition in the patch is the release of the brand-new Grimrog bloodline, a new healer character with the ability to curse enemies, buff allies, and deal some impressive melee damage. The new bloodline was revealed earlier this week over at PC Gamer and is now available for preview purchase.

The big news in patch 1.2 is definitely the replay system, the first iteration of which has finally gone live. This allows players to save recordings of matches to their game profiles; other players can then download and watch the replays in their game clients. As announced, the ability to save replays is unfortunately not free and will require players to purchase a replay pass. Owners of the champion or titan editions of the game will get a pass for free. Lastly, the Facebook app through which players can invite their Facebook friends to pick up a free trial has been disabled due to ongoing problems. Other ways of inviting players to a free trial are still functional.

Petroglyph has published its Rise of Immortals producer's letter for the month of May, detailing the current state of development and plans for the coming month. This month's letter delivers the current state of the closed beta, which has been growing in size rapidly due to the interest generated by immortal reveals and beta key giveaways. A microtransaction store was added to the closed beta this month, and Petroglyph is keen to get feedback on pricing. Immediate plans for the future include creating a new 3-player co-op PvE map and adding some smart AI to all PvE maps.

Keeping up with its new video podcast tradition, the Rise of Immortals team has published its second closed beta developer podcast. In this cheese-themed edition, Petroglyph's community manager, producer, technical/effects artist and lead game designer talk about recent developments on the game. They give more details on the microtransaction system and the new PvE co-op maps and answer questions from the community. If you're following RoI's development, check out the full developer podcast embedded below.



We took a first look at Blizzard Entertainment's upcoming action RPG Diablo III last week in the wake of news about the game's closed beta schedule. This week, Blizzard has teased fans with information about a new runestone customisation mechanic we can expect to see when the game goes live. Character customisation has always been a big part of previous Diablo games, with different skill builds and gear choices imparting many different gameplay styles to characters of the same class.

Five different runestones will be available, from crimson, indigo, and obsidian to golden and alabaster. Runestones can be added to any of the 20 skills each class has access to, changing the way the ability looks and modifying its function. For example, a crimson runestone added to a Barbarian's whirlwind attack will increase the attack's area-effect damage, while a golden runestone will reduce its fury cost. To showcase the runestone system, Blizzard has published a series of videos showing their effects on various abilities.

Join us every Saturday for Not So Massively, our roundup of the top news from popular online games that aren't quite MMOs. If you think there's a game we should be covering in Not So Massively or you've found some interesting news you think deserves attention in the next roundup, please mail the details to brendan@massively.com.
This article was originally published on Massively.