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Not So Massively: SimCity is not an MMO


Doubts were cast on SimCity's always-online requirement this week when a player managed to hack the game into playing completely offline despite developers saying it wouldn't be possible. Maxis General Manager Lucy Bradshaw also caught a lot of flack from gamers this week for claiming that the game was in many ways an MMO. Petroglyph's Victory Kickstarter that we announced last week has now been cancelled, making the future of the game uncertain.

League of Legends revealed its plans to finally update two-year-old champion Karma and release new champion Zac, who is literally a pile of green goop. Guardians of Middle-Earth published iconic character Saruman as a new piece of DLC, and SMITE added new god Aphrodite, who heals and supports her teammates with hugs and kisses.

In addition to fixing some major bugs, Diablo III's recent patch 1.07a was shown to have nerfed many popular Wizard builds, including critical mass Energy Twister and Meteor builds. Path of Exile's latest patch added a new Cyclone skill that's reminiscent of the Diablo II Whirlwind skill and introduced three fun new game types for this season's upcoming race events.

SimCity title image
Following SimCity's botched launch last week, Maxis General Manager Lucy Bradshaw made the bold statement that SimCity was in many ways and MMO. The remark has spawned outrage from fans as the game was sold to them as a singleplayer experience and doesn't have enough of a global persistent environment to qualify as massively multiplayer. Players have suggested that Maxis is using the MMO statement to write off the launch server issues as something typical of an MMO's launch.

Throwing yet more fuel on the fire this week, an insider at Maxis is rumoured to have revealed that the server wasn't required for any computation. Maxis previously gave an interview statement claiming that the server was integral to the game's operation, which was later found to be false when a player modded the game to work offline.

Maxis has also been criticized for claiming that the game simulates individual lives for each of your city's inhabitants, as players have since discovered that the Sims don't have individual lives or even passable AI. The Sims have been shown to simply go to the nearest empty house after work rather than their own home, and they will always pick the shortest route to a destination regardless of traffic. It's not clear whether advanced simulation features were disabled to decrease server load or were never in the game to begin with.

Victory title image
Last week we announced that Petroglyph had taken its new World War II RTS Victory to Kickstarter. Though the campaign had an initial burst of pledges in its first few days, it didn't look as if it was going to reach its lofty goal of $700,000. Rather than continue the campaign to the end in order to gather a following for a relaunch, Petroglyph cancelled the project early this week.

In the campaign's closing announcement, developers said that they had "listened carefully to what the Kickstarter community has said" and that it had given them "many ideas of games [they] could do in the future." Even though Victory appeared to be quite far along in development, this seems to indicate that Petroglyph plans to move onto other game projects instead. Paradoxically, the closing announcement also claimed that multiple game publishers had expressed interest in Victory and that the team hoped to release it with their help.

League of Legends title image
After years of releasing new League of Legends champions, Riot Games has become adept at designing interesting game mechanics and abilities. Unfortunately, sometimes old champions can be made obsolete by new arrivals and gameplay changes. Released in February 2011, Karma is one such character; the ranged support champion was most often used as a burst damage mage and was notoriously difficult to place in any competitive team setup. Most of her power came from her ultimate, meaning she could be extremely potent for a short time but then had to play it safe during the ability's cooldown.

Fortunately for Karma players, this outdated champion is the next in line for a full mechanics update and ability rework. The biggest changes are that the Spirit Bond ability is gone and that the cooldown on Karma's ultimate ability, Mantra, will now decrease every time she lands a basic attack or ability on an enemy champion. In combining these with other ability reworks, Riot is hoping that this will make players play Karma more aggressively. Riot will be running an Ask Me Anything thread on the Karma revamp tomorrow.

In addition to the rework, Riot also revealed hilarious-looking new champion Zac this week, an amorphous blob whose visual design has a bit of an Earthworm Jim vibe. Zac's basic attacks cause blobs of himself to fall off onto the ground, which he can then pick up for small health boosts. His other moves include a Dhalsim-style stretchy arm punch, the ability to blow himself up to spread goop everywhere, and an ultimate that lets him bounce around the map like a piece of flubber. If that doesn't sound like hilarious fun, I don't know what does!

Diablo III title image
Diablo III's patch 1.07a went live this week, fixing a few bugs and crashes but also changing the amount of Arcane Power on Crit returned by the Wizard skills Disintegrate, Energy Twister, Meteor, and Ray of Frost. These changes may have a huge impact on critical mass builds, which currently pair high Arcane Power on Crit with skills like Energy Twister and Meteor for essentially resource-free casting.

Path of Exile title image
Path of Exile added some interesting new race events to its Season One calendar this week. The new event types include a Multiproj mode that makes all ranged monsters fire four additional projectiles per shot, a Blood Magic mode that causes all players to spend life instead of mana, and a mysterious Ancestral mode that developers promise will be a lot of fun. Patch 0.10.3 also went live this week, increasing the drop rate of maps and introducing a new Cyclone skill that is basically the same as the Barbarian's Whirlwind skill from Diablo II.

Guardians of Middle-Earth title image
Guardians of Middle-Earth released new DLC character Saruman this week, who has to be purchased separately and isn't part of the season pass. Saruman is an enchanter with an explosive shield spell and abilities that deal massive damage over time.

SMITE title image
While most of SMITE's gods are tough warriors and serious spellcasters, new character Aphrodite adds a touch of whimsy to the battlefield. The goddess of beauty is a ranged support mage who can latch onto another player as her soul mate and grant him powerful bonuses. Aphrodite's passive ability grants a portion of her mana gains to her soul mate, a condition that she can assign to any ally by hitting him with her Kiss ability. Hitting an enemy with Kiss stuns him and grants Aphrodite's soul mate bonus damage against the stunned target as he goes into a jealous rage.

Using her Love Birds ability, Aphrodite calls forth a flock of birds that heal her soul mate and damages enemies struck. Aphrodite's ultimate ability grants a few second of invulnerability to both herself and her soul mate and cancels all crowd control effects. For those with the teamwork and coordination to use it well, this could really turn the game around.

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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