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Not So Massively: E3 was full of interweb games


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.

E3 2011 was packed full of news from the wide world of gaming, with an absolute ton of new information on upcoming MMOs. Not all the online games showcased at E3 fall neatly into the category of MMO or non-MMO, but Massively was there to get the scoop on them nonetheless.

Last week, we got to grips with League of Legends' new champion Orianna and took an in-depth look at Heroes of Newerth's completely overpowered new hero Amun Ra. We also introduced the Rise of Immortals 3vE map layout and Realm of the Titans' new hero Abraxas, then we highlighted Karma Online's upcoming closed beta.

In this week's Not So Massively, we chatted to devs on the floor at E3 to bring in-depth looks at popular free-to-play MOBA League of Legends and upcoming sci-fi action game Vorp!. Realm of the Titans has also added a new Crystal upgrade system this week, which allows for permanant character upgrades that persist between matches. Finally, Petroglyph's community manager joins the MOBA Champions podcast to give some inside details on the development of Rise of Immortals.

League of Legends has grown dramatically in the past year, from initially humble beginnings to being one of the top games played on Xfire. The free-to-play MOBA is supported by a microtransaction-based cash shop, but Riot Games is careful not to sell items that would have an influence in the game. Sales of new skins and cosmetic items fund ongoing development on new champions, which are released every two weeks. "We're really all about player engagement," explained Senior Producer Travis George. "We try to really just listen to our fans, give them what they want, don't ask them to pay for it, and they reward us by telling their friends."

"We don't want people spectating games and giving positions away or tactics. We delay it about 10 to 15 seconds."

Travis suggested that Riot Games is trying to actively push e-sports and competitive play, with a huge tournament for the end of season 1 taking place at Dreamhack 2011 in Sweden. Dreamhack is the world's largest LAN party event and acts as a stage for competitive tournament play with massive real cash prizes on the line. To facilitate the game's use in competitive play, developers are planning to add a spectator mode, which allows players to watch tournament games live. "You can see that there's a delay on it," explained Travis. "That's totally intentional. We don't want people spectating games and giving positions away or tactics. We delay it about 10 to 15 seconds."

Naturally, competitive gameplay lends itself to the occasional lost temper and even deliberate griefing. In a game like LoL, you're reliant on teammates and may lose a match due to their mistakes or malicious actions. To help counteract the rising antisocial element in the game, Riot introduced the Tribunal, a crowdsourced moderation tool designed to let the community police itself. "It's been really successful," Travis told us, adding that "the biggest complaint so far is that we can limit the number of cases that you can review per day."

Last month we introduced you to Vorp!, the Asteroids-esque multiplayer shooter from END Games. It's an unusual f ormat for an online action game, especially one based in Facebook. Massively met up with developers from END Games at E3 to get the details on how development is proceeding and what the gameplay will be like in Vorp!. Chief creative officer Ryan Seabury likened the game's upcoming Defense of the Ancients mode to League of Legends in space with physics simulation. Basing the inspiration for gameplay loosely on DotA, the game will feature a variety of ships and pilots with different abilities.

The game will feature heavily position-based action gameplay. For example, the Jabberwocky is a melee ship with a massive saw blade attached to the front, and so it must be attacked from behind if you wish to avoid damage. Ships will use the same energy pool for weapons and defenses, meaning you'll have to make tactical choices on how aggressively you can get away with playing without being turned into a thousand tiny shards. As firing weapons depletes valuable defensive energy reserves, every shot counts and angles of attack will need to be carefully considered. This mechanic produces interesting gameplay for ships like the Hirudo, which is constantly draining energy and must feed on the energy of other ships to avoid running empty and blowing up.

Vorp! will be free to play, but players will be able to unlock additional ships and pilots by purchasing them with the rare element Bang!. Bang! can be bought for real money, and a small amount is automatically awarded to players for free at the end of each successful gameplay session. Players who invest a lot of time into the game will feasibly be able to unlock everything in the game for free. Additional abilities can also be purchased for Bang!, such as the ability to occasionally teleport to a safe home base or instantly recharge all energy.

In addition to DotA mode, Vorp! will feature a story-based campaign mode to introduce new players to the game mechanics and ships. The game is currently in the alpha stages, but END Games has decided to open it to the public for feedback. You can play survival and deathmatch modes right now on facebook, and DotA mode is going live in a few weeks. As Vorp! is based in the Unity 3D engine, it's also simple to port the game directly to almost any device. PC, Mac, browser, iPad and even smartphones could see Vorp! release when the game eventually goes live.

With several weeks of the Rise of Immortals closed beta behind them, developers at Petroglyph have been collecting tons of feedback from testers. At this stage in development, everything from gameplay balance to microtransactions and the level of persistence between matches is up for debate and change. Petroglyph community manager Matthew Anderson gave an exclusive audio interview with MOBA Champions this week, in which he gave further details on the current state of the RoI beta and how development is progressing.

Matthew confirms that most of the game is going to be free and that the microtransaction options are still being decided based on beta feedback. He also talks a bit about the level of persistence characters will feature, confirming that there will still be levels that reset to 1 at the start of every match and most items won't last beyond the current match. For a sneak peek into the game's development and some long-awaited gameplay footage from the closed beta, check out the MOBA Champions video interview, embedded below. For part two and further information, head over to MOBA Champions.

Developers at Aeria Games revealed a new upgrade system this week for their upcoming MOBA Realm of the Titans. Adding an unusual level of persistence to the game, the crystal system gives players permanent upgrades for winning matches. After each match, players who fared well in the game will be given battle points to spend on crystal upgrades. Benefits achiveable through the system include special skills that can be added to any hero, mana cost reductions, cooldown reductions, and attack range increases.

While MOBA fans have been encouraged by increased persistence in their favourite genre, this new system is likely to create a massive divide between good players and poor ones. The game is set to enter closed beta soon, and we'll finally get a glimpse at how this system changes typical MOBA gameplay.

Gallery: Realm of the Titans | 15 Photos

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

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