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Not So Massively: Of Hobbits and space ships


David Braben released a new update on the development of upcoming sci-fi sandbox game Elite: Dangerous, while the success of the game's Kickstarter campaign still remains uncertain. Star Citizen's developers revealed several of the game's ships; developer Chris Roberts made the bold claim that the studio will "compete with any AAA game out there."

To celebrate the recent cinema release of The Hobbit, console MOBA Guardians of Middle-Earth revealed its Hobbit-themed DLC that lets you play as Bilbo Baggins and includes a new playable map of The Shire. Dota 2 revealed its own new DLC with the impressive winners of its fan-designed hero skin contest and passed the 200,000 peak concurrent user mark despite still being officially in beta. Likewise, despite having just entered beta itself, Rise of Immortals announced that its first official winter tournament is scheduled for next month. League of Legends also celebrated the winter holiday with an adorable gingerbread baking contest.

Blizzard has been catching some flack for the lack of promised PvP features in Diablo III, and now it looks as if we won't even be getting information on the patch until next year. Blizzard has also unofficially got a version of the game running on non-PC hardware, which could signal a possible upcoming console release. Path of Exile continued to gear up for its January release with load-testing events and a series of new ladder events. And Torchlight II's developers round out the year with a look back at the game's development and some hints as to what might come next for the franchise.

Not So Massively title image
Diablo III is one of the most-searched terms of the year
If games were having a popularity contest, then Diablo III just won by a landslide. Google Zeitgeist posted the most-searched-for terms of the year across the world, and Blizzard's action-RPG clicked in at number five.
Blizzard running Diablo III on consoles internally
The good news is that Diablo III is now available to play on consoles. The bad news is that you'd have to apply and get accepted for a job with Blizzard to see it.
Star Citizen's Roberts: 'We'll compete with any AAA game out there'
Star Citizen wasn't always first on Chris Roberts' to-do list as he pondered his eventual return to the video game industry. The Wing Commander guru originally thought he'd need to make some sort of console game to reestablish himself while developing Star Citizen's technology concurrently.
See more pics of Star Citizen's Constellation (and its detachable starfighter)
Last month we reported on Star Citizen's Constellation Mark III, a freighter that boasts its own detachable snubfighter. Today Cloud Imperium has updated the comm-link portion of its website with some additional renderings of both ships.
Roberts shows off Star Citizen's Freelancer ship
Even though Star Citizen's official fundraising drive ended a while back, the title continues to rake in donations from interested space sim fans (over 100,000 of them in fact).
Elite: Dangerous dev diary talks about plans for development
Elite: Dangerous is about halfway to its Kickstarter goal with 21 days left, and it's indubitably time for another dev diary! Frontier Developments founder David Braben took to YouTube to talk about the long-term development plan for Elite: Dangerous.
Elite: Dangerous video dev diary discusses roles, demonstrates dogfight
Last month, we learned that David Braben, founder of Frontier Developments, launched a Kickstarter campaign for the development of Elite: Dangerous, a successor to the deep sci-fi sandboxes Elite and Frontier: Elite II.

Elite: Dangerous title image
David Braben's Elite and its sequel, Frontier: Elite II, have passed into gaming history as two of the titles that inspired the sci-fi sandbox genre. EVE Online might not be around today if it weren't for Elite, and yet many publishers still refuse to put their money behind sandbox games. When crowdfunding website Kickstarter opened to UK projects last month, David Braben launched a campaign for Elite: Dangerous, an ambitious project aiming to create a modern sequel to the iconic Elite titles.

Braben asked for just over two million dollars to fund development, and the initial response was overwhelming. Pledges have unfortunately slowed down since that initial push, and the project its now trending to just 90% of its goal. Hopefully a burst of pledges at the end will push Elite: Dangerous over the line, but for now, development is continuing at a rapid pace. In a recent video update below, Braben discussed his development plans in a frank and honest manner.

Guardians of Middle-Earth title image
In celebration of the release of The Hobbit in cinemas, Lord of the Rings-themed MOBA Guardians of Middle-Earth announced its first DLC: The Hobbit Selection. This DLC includes playable characters based on Bilbo Baggins and Bert the Stone Troll. If playing as Bilbo isn't enough to tempt you, the update also comes with The Shire as a new playable map.

League of Legends title image
League of Legends has hosted some pretty creative contests in the past, encouraging players to submit everything from costume photos to fan-art, but this year's holiday contest may just be the most adorable one yet. Players are challenged with creating gingerbread sculptures of their favourite League of Legends champions, maps, or items, and the example gingerbread Teemo looks just too cute to eat. Head over to the official contest page for the full rules and entry requirements.

Dota 2 title image
Dota 2 recently gave fans the chance to design cosmetic items for the Dota 2 store with its Polycount contest. Valve has been revealing the winning entries all this week, including some that are so good that they almost put the official character models to shame. The runner-up winners include complete makeovers of characters Templar Assassin, Meepo, Witch Doctor, Crystal Maiden, Naga Siren, Beastmaster, Doom Bringer, Dazzle, Shadow Shaman, and Sniper. The overall winner is the Rider of the Storm skin for hero Disruptor.

In unrelated but impressive news, Dota 2 also passed the 200,000 peak concurrent user mark this week. This follows every Dota 2 player being given invites to send to his or her friends, a move that certainly threw a lot of fresh meat into the grinder.

Rise of Immortals title image
Rise of Immortals will have its first official game tournament since the Battle For Graxia game update on January 3rd. Full details of the Frozen Battlegrounds winter tournament haven't yet been revealed, but signups are already open for those who want to throw their hats in the ring. All we know so far is that tournament entrants are expected to be level 25 and the game will be played on a newly updated 5v5 map.

With Battle For Graxia only recently entering beta, players have expressed concern that there may not be enough level 25 players yet to make a compelling tournament. Developers responded that players have over a month to get ready for the tournament and that the requirement will be changed if there aren't enough signups.

Diablo III title image
Blizzard has been officially hard at work on Diablo III's PvP arenas recently, but unofficially there's been a side-project to try to get the game running on consoles. The console control scheme was tested and working before launch, but getting the game to run on non-PC hardware is a massive technical challenge. Developers revealed that they now have a prototype of the game actually running on a non-PC platform in the office. Though it's not official yet, things look good for a future console release.

Lead Game Designer Jay Wilson has been catching some flack recently for first promising a devblog on PvP would be released "very soon" and then retracting that promise. Now he admits that Blizzard is "unlikely to post a PvP update until the end of the month," a statement that indicates that we probably won't be getting PvP arenas until some time next year. PvP arenas were never officially promised by the end of the year, but Jay himself said that he hoped it would be the case.

Path of Exile title image
There's a lot going on behind the scenes at Grinding Gear Games as developers prepare for next month's Path of Exile open beta. The team has promoted several more community members to forum moderator status, and all this week has been running load-testing with bots to ensure server stability when the doors open next month. Developers have also scaled up the weekend ladder events to a full week of races, including a hilarious "cut-throat" mode in which players can invade each other's games and kill each other to steal items and experience.

Torchlight II title image
Torchlight II released earlier this year to favourable reviews and a heap of sales, but that's not the end of the Torchlight story. In a new holiday developer podcast, Runic Games took a look back at the past year of development and ahead at what comes next for the Torchlight franchise. The original plan was to make an MMO, but the devs realised that the team wasn't really large enough or well-funded enough to make that work. Runic decided instead to make Torchlight II a bigger and better game in the same style as the first.

There are a few nuggets of gold in this podcast, and it's definitely worth having a listen to if you want to get an inside look into game development. Developers lamented that a console port is unlikely as the current generation of consoles are simply too limited -- Torchlight I barely squeezed into the XBox 360, and the sequel is bigger in every way. Runic Games has also elected to stay as a small studio so that the developers can keep doing the projects they want. Developers also discuss multiplayer, bug-fixes, babies and beta disasters.

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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