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Not So Massively: Free Firefall manga, MOBA news, and D3 server woes


There's no shortage of MOBA news this week, as Valve announced that Dota 2 will be free-to-play and Warner Bros. unveiled its new Lord of the Rings-themed MOBA, Guardians of Middle Earth. League of Legends ran its first invitational player-vs.-developer tournament in Las Vegas this week and released details on upcoming champion Draven, the Glorious Executioner. Heroes of Newerth published its first community-driven balance patch, and Rise of Immortals announced details on upcoming melee mage Kreed.

Diablo III faced its worst week of server stability yet, with sporadic auction house availability and frequent unscheduled maintenance periods lasting several hours each. Some players have been reporting success in getting a refund for the game, and Blizzard's Korean office was even raided by officials when the company declined to give refunds in that country.

The Path of Exile team announced that the game will be entering open beta in mid-August and that once the game is in open beta, characters will not be wiped. Red 5 Studios unveiled a new Firefall manga, written by Ender's Game author Orson Scott Card, which the company will be releasing online completely free.

Dota 2 title image
The big news for Dota 2 this week is the announcement that the game will be free-to-play and supported by a microtransaction store. Given Valve's financial success with Team Fortress 2 since it went free to play, no one should be surprised. Valve took the announcement as an opportunity to clarify that Dota 2 will not be using a pay-to-win scheme and that the store will contain only cosmetic items that won't affect gameplay. All heroes will also be free, as Valve believes restricting players' access to heroes could be destructive to game design.

Over 80% of the items that will be in the store on launch have been designed by players as part of the Steam Workshop that gives 3-D modelers a profit share from items they design. So far over $3.5 million US has been paid out to Steam Workshop members for their Team Fortress 2 hat designs. If you're a 3D modeler, you can join the Steam Workshop now and get started on making Dota 2 items.

Diablo III title image
The Diablo III servers have been in their worst state since launch this week, with the European servers hit hardest of all. Players have been experiencing crippling lag, unpredictable disconnects, and the dreaded Error 37 in droves. It's been impossible to trade commodities like gems and crafting materials on the auction house all week, and the auction house has been taken down for hours at a time without explanation or notice. Maintenance periods lasting anywhere up to six hours a day without prior warning have continued, and this week's patch deployment did little to help matters.

Players requesting refunds have been advised that Blizzard may be under legal obligation to honour those requests in the US and EU and that they should submit a support petition about the issue. Blizzard's Korean office was even raided by the Seoul FTC when it became clear that refunds were not being given in that country.

Last week we showed a video of a player killing the Act 1 end boss on Inferno difficulty in just nine seconds using a Witch Doctor build that combined mana-hungry skills with huge mana regeneration. This week, famous gamer Athene, who is close to raising $1,000,000 US for children in Africa through his Operation ShareCraft campaign, beat the record by killing the same boss in three seconds with his eyes closed.

Guardians of Middle Earth title image
It seems like studios are trying to get a cut of League of Legends' success by developing their own MOBAs with recognisable characters. This week, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment announced Guardians of Middle Earth, a Lord of The Rings-themed MOBA currently being developed by Monolith Studios. Interestingly, Guardians of Middle Earth will be released on XBox 360 and PS3, with no word yet of a PC release. Players will get their first look at the game this week at E3; until then, all we have is the cinematic trailer below.

League of Legends title image
League of Legends celebrated hitting over 3,000,000 FaceBook fans with a weekend of double IP and XP this week and released details on its next champion. If you thought Darius' axe was big, check out the colossal blades wielded by Draven, the Glorious Executioner. Unlike his brother Darius, Draven is a ranged attack damage carry whose abilities center around throwing two massive spinning axes.

On hitting a target, each axe will bounce into the air and Draven can catch it to automatically ready a new spinning axe and reset the cooldown on his Blood Rush ability. As Blood Rush provides movement speed and attack speed, accurate axe-throws and positioning will make Draven an absolute monster on the battlefield.

This week Riot also announced a special livestreamed invitational tournament in Las Vegas pitting five of the world's best League of Legends players against the five best Riot employees. Unfortunately, the tournament was announced late the night before the tournament and Riot didn't provide a link to the stream channel, leading to some confusion. You can catch a recording of the tournament below:

Heroes of Newerth title image
Heroes of Newerth has come under fire in the past for not balancing the game or listening to players, but S2 Games challenged that view recently with the release of the community-backed Mid Wars game mode. This week S2 continued that trend with the release of a new community balance patch that's been in the work for a long time. The patch tweaks 30 heroes and 3 items, though most of the hero tweaks are just tiny 0.05-stat-per-level changes.

Bound eye now works properly when picked up by the enemy team if a player drops it before he dies, and it's now impossible to put one on a courier. Hellflower's duration was decreased from 5 seconds to 4 seconds, and Pickled Brain was increased in cost by 100 gold. The patch used a light touch on balance changes but indicates that the team is open to a more collaborative design process that involves fans.

Rise of Immortals title image
Petroglyph revealed the next immortal in Rise of Immortals this week, a mage who interestingly focuses on close-range combat. Kreed, the elementalist, is a melee damage-dealer who pairs a teleport ability with area-effect spells centred on himself. It's rare to see a melee mage, and it will be interesting to see how Kreed works out. Petroglyph also released an immortal spotlight on hybrid healer and damage-dealer Psychozen this week, showing each of his abilities and a suggested support item build.

Path of Exile title image
Grinding Gear Games announced this week that its upcoming dungeon-crawler Path of Exile will enter open beta in mid-August. While fans are anxious to play the game, developers are very wary of releasing the game for public consumption before it's ready. One final character wipe will happen when the game enters open beta, and from then on your progress will be permanent. Since Path of Exile is a free-to-play game, that essentially means the game will be released and fully playable at that date.

Firefall title image
Upcoming free-to-play cooperative online shooter Firefall has spared no expense to get fans interested in the story, going as far as to hire award-winning Hollywood effects artist Steve Wang to work on costumes for trade shows. This week more big names join the team with the announcement that an official Firefall manga titled Affinity is just around the corner. With a story written by Ender's Game author Orson Scott Card, the manga is being drawn by artists at Udon Comics, the team behind the Street Fighter comics.

Red 5 Studios will be giving the manga away online for free, anticipating that it will release around two pages per week up to a total of 80 to 90 pages. The first page is due to be published tomorrow on the official Firefall website. If you can't wait until then, check out the video below for a preview of the comic's graphic style and story.

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

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