Not So Massively: Sci-fi sandboxes, LoL pre-season updates, and D3 bans

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In a flurry of sci-fi sandbox kickstarting this week, Star Citizen's crowdfunding campaign passed the million dollar mark and David Braben revealed plans for a sequel to the incredibly successful Elite series. Diablo III announced a wave of bans linked to the use of third-party launcher and botting software and revealed that an expansion is on the way.

Path of Exile
continued on the path to open beta this week with the announcement of a secure trade system and two closed-beta hardcore race events. League of Legends began preparations for its upcoming third competitive season this week as developers explored item balance and jungling changes on the way. Plans include making early game jungler ganks less viable and introducing new items for specialised builds.

Heroes of Newerth's voting system was made anonymous in this week's patch in an effort to prevent players from being singled out or pressured into conceding matches. Dota 2 released its hilarious Reverse Captain's Mode, which lets each team pick the heroes it wants the other team to play. Console MOBA Guardians of Middle-earth announced its release date this week and revealed two new heroes, Thráin and Gothmog. Finally, Prime World gave details of its persistent castle system, which may tie the game into Facebook.

Not So Massively title image
Star Citizen crowd-funding tops $3 million with 10 days to go
The news keeps getting better and better for fans of Chris Roberts' new Star Citizen space sim. Cloud Imperium just issued a press release trumpeting the fact that SC's crowd-funding initiatives have surpassed $3 million with 10 days to go.
David Braben is kickstarting a new multiplayer Elite sequel
Elite and its sequel Frontier: Elite II were arguably two of the most influential early space games ever made. They dropped the player into an immense sci-fi sandbox with just a tiny ship and a handful of credits.
Elite: Dangerous Kickstarter page updated with video, concept art
What is it with super-cool space sim reboots and their gooftastic titles? First it was Star Citizen, and now there's Elite: Dangerous, which, with a name like that, should probably feature a soundtrack by Kenny Loggins.
Blizzard's successful third quarter powered by Diablo III, new expansion mentioned
Acti-Blizz announced its financials for Q3 2012 and the company is sitting pretty. The $841 million in net revenue surpasses projections and its Q3 2011 counterpart.
Blizzard lowers the boom on Diablo III cheaters
Blizzard's had all it can stands, and it can stands no more. The studio is taking aggressive action against botters and cheaters in Diablo III, reporting that it's gone through "several rounds of account bans" against such players.
Firefall beta weekend schedule released [Updated]
If you've been watching Firefall from afar, salivating over news tidbits and dreaming of one day getting to actually play the game yourself, today is a very special day.

Diablo III title image
Blizzard announced a wave of Diablo III bans this week and clarified its stance on the use of third-party programs. Using any software that "obtains information about Diablo III that's not normally available to the player" will net you an account ban, as will anything that modifies the game files or changes how the client interacts with Battle.net.

Bans can also be handed out for using software that "provides access to features or abilities beyond what is allowed by the game's design," a rule that players have complained is ambiguous. The rule covers illicit bots and launchers but could potentially also cover advanced graphics drivers and the software that comes with gaming mice and keyboards.

During this week's Activision-Blizzard conference call to investors, it was revealed that Diablo III has now sold over 10 million units in North America and Europe. Interestingly, August's conference call gave the same figures of 10 million for the period ending in July. This means that either Diablo III effectively stopped selling at the end of July or August's announcement included trials, beta accounts, or players signing up from gaming centres in Asia. It was also revealed during the call that an expansion is on the way for Diablo III, but further details have yet to surface.

Path of Exile title image
Path of Exile continues its closed beta events this week with two four-hour hardcore ladder races. Participating players will make new characters for the events and race to see who can advance the furthest without dying in the allotted time; prizes will be given out to the top players. Preparations continue for the game's upcoming open beta, with a new secure trade system on the way to combat the potential threat of trade-scamming.

League of Legends title image
Competitive season three is on the way for League of Legends, and all this week, developers have been exploring the unique changes that will make it a season to remember. Season two's focus on early ganks and junglers is being repealed to take some pressure off the laning phase and make champions with no escape mechanisms more viable lane picks. The damage dealt by jungle creeps is being increased to make early ganks less viable as well, while new items keep jungling viable in the long term. Increased monster XP and gold also rewards players who focus on efficiently farming the jungle to power-level instead of ganking.

Season three's pre-season period begins soon and will see these changes introduced and tested before any of the serious competitive tournaments kick off. It's also an opportunity for Riot Games to revisit the game's underused and overused items for some serious rebalancing. Many items will have their stats and prices rebalanced, and new items will be introduced for players specialising in particular roles. Masteries and Summoner spells are also on the chopping block, with full details to be released in the coming weeks.

Heroes of Newerth title image
In an effort to cut down on the animosity between players in Heroes of Newerth, developers have made the game's voting system anonymous. Players will no longer see who called a vote to kick someone, concede the match, or pause the game. Responses to the change have been mixed, with some players defending their right to vote without pressure from teammates and others complaining that the lack of accountability could just lead to stealthier griefing.

Dota 2 title image
Dota 2 released Reverse Captain's Mode this week, a hilarious new game mode in which team captains pick the heroes they want the other team to play. While the new game mode seems to be a light-hearted gimmick, Valve has already launched a tournament to see how professional teams cope with terrible team setups.

Guardians of Middle-Earth title image
Upcoming console MOBA Guardians of Middle-earth announced its release date this week on Facebook. The game will come to PS3 on December 4th, 2012, and XBox 360 owners can expect a launch the following day on December 5th. With less than a month to go until launch, developers have also revealed another two characters in a new Battle Profile video on heroes Thráin and Gothmog.

Dwarven champion Thráin is Thorin Oakenshield's father and a flexible, all-around hero. Though his basic attacks are melee, he can throw his hammer as a ranged strike and has a shield ability to help him escape tricky situations. Orcish leader Gothmog may not hit very hard, but he uses infernal war machines to crush enemy towers from a distance. He can also place a banner on the ground that taunts nearby enemies to let his team push towers unimpeded.


Prime World title image
Upcoming MOBA Prime World has already revealed its interesting new Dragonwald and Outpost game modes, and this week developers explained the game's persistent castle system. Between MOBA matches, Prime World players can build their own castles to store their heroes and talents.

While you can gain new talents by playing MOBA matches, a well-developed castle economy will produce them for free and will continue to work while you're offline. You can even build within your castle special towers that give small passive bonuses to your heroes. The castle-building minigame is likely to be part of the Facebook and social integration that Nival announced back in 2011.

Join us every Monday 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.