Rumours over former World of Warcraft designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street's reasons for quitting were quelled when it was revealed that he's now a lead game designer at Riot Games. League of Legends also kicked off its 2014 competitive season with the first round of the Legends Champion Series. Dota 2 extended the deadline for its 3-D modeling competition until tonight, and Russian MOBA Prime World revealed plans to merge its English and Russian servers together.
Star Citizen's head honcho Chris Roberts answered more questions from fans this week, touching on topics from character death and contracts to NPC AI and playable alien races. The next stage of the Elite: Dangerous alpha was revealed to be a focused test of the multiplayer ship combat gameplay, but its release will cause the first beta stage to be delayed.
Diablo III enabled background downloading for its upcoming Patch 2.0.1 and the Reaper of Souls expansion, allowing players to download the game's 6GB pack of artwork and models ahead of launch day. The treasure hunters among you will also be happy to hear that dozens of legendary and set items have been significantly buffed in the latest public test realm patch. And a new infographic published on Path of Exile's hardcore new-year race shows that over 25,000 characters were made for the event and just over half survived the entire week.
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Greg Street is now lead game designer at Riot Games Greg Street, also known as Ghostcrawler, was the lead systems designer for World of Warcraft for much of the fantasy MMO's life. When he left Blizzard late last year, the rumor mill exploded with speculation on where (and why) one of WoW's most familiar and visible developers might be going.
The internet almost exploded this week as it was revealed that former World of Warcraft designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street has taken a position as lead game designer at Riot Games. The company has also managed to poach talent from MMO developer CCP Games and other companies over the past year, fueling speculation that Riot may be working on another project.
The 2014 competitive League of Legends season got off to a great start this week with ranked games opening for business and the Legends Champion Series now firmly underway. The favourites for this year's World Championship title include SK Telecom T1 K, which came out of nowhere last year to take the first place in both the Korean Regionals and the World Championship. In addition to claiming last year's $1,000,000 top prize, SK Telecom has the distinction of being completely undefeated so far in the Championship series.
A few weeks ago, Valve announced a new 3-D modeling competition that encouraged players to design spring-themed items for Dota 2. The deadline for submissions was originally January 15th, but Valve has decided to extend that until January 20th to give any last-minute entrants a chance. Over 380 models have been entered to the competition so far, and the best will be showcased during the spring period. As with every Dota 2 item created through the Workshop, the original creator will get a cut of the proceeds from each item sale.
Russian MOBA Prime World has been testing the waters in Europe and North America for several months, and now there are plans in the works to merge the English and Russian servers together. The update will hit in early February and will match English teams against their Russian counterparts if no suitable English teams can be found.
This promises to dramatically reduce queue times, but players may experience increased latency in those matches. In order to make the two games compatible, developers will ensure that all of the content currently available for the Russian servers will be delivered to the US and EU players in a single patch, including new talents and a new map. The game will then officially release in mid-February.
In a new edition of the Ten for the Chairman series, Chris Roberts answered questions from backers on topics ranging from character death and contracts to threatening NPCs and alien races. Star Citizen aims to add a form of permadeath in which your character leaves all of his items and allegiances to a benefactor in his family. Roberts revealed that your character's citizenship may not pass on to this benefactor when you die but that there will ways to easily regain citizenship.
A system will be implemented to handle formal contracts between players, and players in a contract can give each other ratings on how trustworthy they've been. Roberts didn't specify whether any systems will be put in place to prevent rating fraud, but he did note that he wants players to be able to run escrow services to make contracts more secure.
Players will be able to threaten NPCs to eject their cargo, and the NPC ships will have AI that reacts much as a player would. Roberts clarified that the goal is to make it so that you won't know whether a ship is player-controlled or an NPC until it's up close. Playable alien races are also definitely on the table for expansions but won't be in the first release of the game.
In a post on the Frontier backer forums, Executive Producer Michael Brookes confirmed that the second phase of the Elite: Dangerous will be released at the end of January. This alpha phase will focus on multiplayer combat and will be the first test of the server technology behind Elite, but there's no word yet on whether ship customisation will be part of it. A video and newsletter with more details will be coming later in the week.
Blizzard enabled background downloading for Diablo III's upcoming 2.0.1 patch and the Reaper of Souls expansion this week. The expansion is scheduled for release on March 25th and is around 6GB in size, so developers have enabled background downloading now to ensure a smooth launch. Though the expansion's game mechanics and item stats are still being worked on, the download includes mostly art assets and models that won't change from now until release.
The latest Public Test Realm patch includes a huge list of changes for each of the five classes and balance tweaks for monsters and items. The stats on dozens of legendary and set items have been improved to encourage item-hunting, and vendor-bought items can no longer be salvaged. The Witch Doctor's damage has been reduced across the board, and the other classes have received more tweaks based on feedback.
To celebrate the new year, Path of Exile ran a special one-week race event to see how much XP players could gather in a limited space of time. Grinding Gear Games has now compiled some interesting statistics from the event into an infographic, showing the breakdown of levels achieved and classes used. Of the 25,835 characters created for the event, only two them reached the top achieved level of 90, 1% hit level 75, and only the top 10% broke the level 47 barrier.
A total of 12,210 characters died during the event and were removed from the race. Though the distribution of classes created for the event was roughly even, 35% of the highest level characters that survived the competition were Scions, and only 2.4% were Shadows. Developers will be using the stats gathered during this race to examine whether balance changes are needed for particular classes or zones.
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