Not So Massively: Behind the scenes of FPS and MOBA development

Not So Massively title image
Heroes of Newerth's Patch 3.0 was released this week, updating the game with new graphics and adding bots. The revamp is part of a move to capture gamers who are unfamiliar with the MOBA genre by lowering the barrier to entry. Upcoming MOBA Sins of a Dark Age detailed its own plans to revamp the MOBA genre with its new Realm Quest feature in a new development diary this week. Third-person MOBA SMITE continued beta development with the introduction of its new melee magical tank, Vulcan, the Smith of the Gods.

League of Legends officially started its third competitive season this week, complete with a new Championship Series website and live matches scheduled every week. Online FPS Blacklight: Retribution prepared for its upcoming competitive games with updates to the weapon recoil system, and Firefall announced plans to solve its PvP balance issues with standardised "regulation" PvP gear. We also got a look behind the scenes of upcoming co-op FPS Warframe, which lets players run along walls like ninjas.

Bloodline Champions showed more signs of reaching the end of its lifetime this week as developers shut down the game's Russian servers. Online FPS Bullet Run abruptly reached the end of its own life this week when Sony Online Entertainment announced the game will close its doors on March 8th. The announcement came as a surprise to many who weren't even aware of the game's release. Path of Exile's playerbase continued to grow this week, reaching a peak of over 70,000 players and causing some server stability problems.

Heroes of Newerth title image
Patch 3.0 has landed in Heroes of Newerth, completely revamping the game with all-new graphics and a new co-op mode that lets players train against bots. This should help new players get over the MOBA genre's steep learning curve and let existing players test new strategies and builds without risking another player's stats. To further help new players get into the game, developers have released a series of tutorial videos explaining the genre's core concepts: Map Awareness, Lane Control, Jungling, Items, and Hero Composition.


Sins of a Dark Age title image
Upcoming MOBA Sins of a Dark Age aims to update the genre with its new realm quest feature that adds tactical events to the standard three-laned gameplay. In this week's development diary, Ironclad Director Blair Fraser discussed the role that Realm Quests will play in competitive games and showed some current closed beta game footage.


SMITE title image
This week's SMITE God Reveal introduced new melee magical tank Vulcan, the Smith of the Gods. True to his title, Vulcan is a master weaponsmith able to deploy several different types of turret on the battlefield. The Thumper XVI turret deals magical damage in a large area and slows enemies it hits, and the Inferno Cannon shoots fireballs in a cone. Vulcan's passive ability adds a portion of his defensive stats to his turrets and makes nearby turrets regenerate.


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League of Legends kicked off its third competitive season this week with the official opening of its new e-sports website. The results of the North American and European qualifiers are in, and the new League of Legends Championship Series is now live. To start off this year's jam-packed season, you can tune into live matches every week for the next month.


Bloodline Champions title image
Bloodline Champions officially closed its Russian servers this week and added a system to let affected players transfer to the US and EU servers. How this will affect the game remains to be seen; the influx of players may help the struggling US and EU server population levels, but Russian players also tend to have very high latency.

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Blacklight: Retribution made some changes to its recoil system this week to help support hardcore competitive gaming. The recoil will no longer point a weapon straight up but instead will move in a predictable unique way for each weapon, so competitive players will be able to learn the firing pattern of their favourite guns and manually compensate for the recoil. Some players have complained that this update makes accuracy less important and unbalances the game in favour of automatic weapons.

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Back in 2011, we received news of a new free-to-play online FPS named Hedone. The game was already entering its second closed beta by the time we heard of it and had released only a few screenshots to the public. Developer Acony later signed a deal with Sony Online Entertainment, rebranded the game as Bullet Run, and continued beta testing.

That was the last we heard of the game until this week, when SOE announced that it will be closing the servers on March 8th. The closure may be in part due to a lack of advertising, as the closure has prompted confused responses from gamers who had never heard of the game or didn't realise that it had even launched.


Firefall title image
Finding loot and crafting gear are core parts of the MMO PvE experience, but what makes good PvE progression can cause havok with PvP balance. Red 5 Studios has experienced this problem lately with Firefall as players who have been playing for a long time can get a big advantage in PvP by crafting superior gear. The studio has elected to solve the problem by introducing standardised "regulation" PvP gear and disallowing all other gear in PvP.

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Upcoming online FPS Warframe aims to turn the traditional shooter on its head with co-op PvE raids and ninja-like combat. Players use powerful battle suits called warframes to augment their strength and speed, unlocking special powers like the ability to teleport. This week's development update discusses beta patch 6.0, which introduces several new map environments and the ability to run along walls. Creative Director Steve Sinclair even makes the bold claim that "advanced Warframe players are not even going to touch the floor any more."


Path of Exile title image
Path of Exile has been in open beta for just over a week, and developer Grinding Gear Games took the opportunity to discuss the current state of the game, the servers, and future patches. Several realm crashes have already been found and fixed since launch, but some crashes still occur at peak times and European players have been experiencing some lag and disconnections. Over 70,000 people play the game at peak times, with a total of 287,000 daily active players.

Development plans for 2013 include PvP improvements, new endgame areas, dozens of new skills and hundreds of unique items. The next patch will include sound improvements, some new endgame map updates, and different icons for each gem.

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.