Entries in starcraft 2 (10)

BlizzCast Episode 13 Released

After a roughly two-and-a-half month wait, BlizzCast 13 has finally been released. This episode (running time 52:09) is split up into two major parts, covering a little bit of everything:  

  • Starcraft II Beta Special featuring: Rob Simpson (eSports), Dustin Browder (game director – StarCraft II), Chris Sigaty (production director -- StarCraft II)
  • World of Warcraft and Diablo III Q & A featuring: Zarhym (World of Warcraft Community Manager), Bashiok (Diablo Community Manager)

Where Starcraft II is concerned, the team covers everything from how the beta helps them tune and balance the different races to Battle.net features and when we might first get our hands on the Galaxy Map Editor (hint: not until near the end of the testing phase).

Needless to say, the second half is of slightly more interest to regular Project Lore readers, as Zarhym and Bashiok cover a number of different questions culled from the community.

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Starcraft 2: Slashdance Ain't Just For WoW

Blizzard's always been known for adding in little easter eggs for their fans to find, from the iconic soundbites of over-clicking a unit to the Secret Cow Level in the Diablo series to cleverly-named cheat codes (Operation CWAL holds a very special place in my heart).

It's this sort of attention to personality and fun that allows you to do the Macarena in front of the Lich King -- Azeroth's most fearsome villain to date -- as he idly waits for your raid to engage him. Indeed, if there's one thing more fun than playing World of Warcraft, it's /dancing in the process. You can do it next to the fountain in Dalaran, you can do it in in the depths of Molten Core, you can do it while in Bear Form, and even in the middle of a war! No corner of the world is safe from random, wanton hip-shaking!

It was only logical, then, that Blizzard continue this trend by slipping it into every game they produce from here on out. One enterprising tester in the Starcraft 2 Beta found out that you could open up the chat box and type in everybody's favorite emote. This is what happened next...


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Starcraft 2 Closed Beta Imminent

Update: The beta client is now downloadable for people selected via Beta Opt-In. Keys will be sent out via e-mail.

Come for the World of Warcraft, and stay for the Starcraft 2 discussion! Those of you out there who love Blizzard products are probably already getting excited, and for the portion of readers who cut their teeth on the company's MMO first, there's no better time to start.

We announced not too long ago that Blizzard was looking to unleash the beta for the sequel to their genre-defining strategy game this month. Realize that this is an event roughly twelve years in the making. That's half my life-span!

People who played Starcraft as a kid have grown up, gone to college, gotten married, maybe had kids. And those who start their RTS journey by playing Starcraft 2 may not have even been born at the time of the first game's release!

And, to that end, think of all the unborn babies that will be spilled across keyboards and computer screens across the world once people have the beta in their grubby little hands.

Some are saying that very moment may occur later today, predicated primarily upon the launch of the Official Starcraft 2 Beta Forums.

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Blizzard's Battle.net 2.0 Preview

Blizzard's Battle.net 2.0 Preview

If you're reading this, or you play World of Warcraft, there's a good chance you're a big fan of Starcraft, as well. And if you've kept up at all with the upcoming sequel, you might know that the primary thing rumored to be holding up its release is the lagging development of Blizzard's next-generation online service, Battle.net 2.0.

Several pieces of evidence are pointing to the idea that the game (and, subesequently, the service) will finally be going into beta soon, which means that it is all that much closer to being implemented in our beloved MMORPG.

This being the future of the company's online service, it may be a good idea to start familiarizing yourself with its purported features. The website can be found here, but I'll list some of the primary tenets below (do keep in mind that never every single one will apply to WoW, at least not right now):

  • The "Always-Connected Experience:" This is Blizzard's term for 2.0's presence. Battle.net always seemed like a separate option for gamers before, but now it will be fully integrated into the structure of future titles.
  • Competitive Arena For Everyone: Starcraft 2's online modes are primarily competitive, but I would expect to see WoW's PvP elements eventually take advantage of Battle.net's matchmaking properties and stat-tracking to make Arena and Battleground matches run more smoothly.
  • Connecting The Blizzard Community: As previewed at BlizzCon, Battle.net 2.0 will support the ability to easily converse with friends cross-game. Main tank in the middle of a campaign mission in Starcraft 2? Send him a notice that you need him for a raid as soon as he's finished! Or you can just chat with your friends no matter what Blizzard game they're currently playing.
  • Mods And Community-Created Content: This is less of an issue for WoW players, as Blizzard doesn't allow people to unfairly modify the game, but it would be interesting if we eventually saw an officially-sanctioned add-on browser -- approved by Blizzard, and hopefully free from malicious viruses.

Some other bits of evidence leading to the upcoming beta? The extended Battle.net maintenance, the fact that the Starcraft 2 beta forums appeared briefly several days ago (before being taken down just as quickly), and information that has come out of this past week's Conference Call.

Certainly seems like something is up and, as someone who's been sitting on a beta key for quite some time now, I couldn't be more excited! How about you?

BlizzCon 2009: Battle.net Panel Summary

While focused primarily on its integration with StarCraft 2, the Battle.net panel revealed a number of service-based features that will also impact how we interact with our friends inside and outside of World of Warcraft. One of the key concepts of the new Battle.net is a universal account (called the Battle.net Real ID). If you've already merged your WoW account with the service, then you already have one of these, but you might be asking yourself what sort of advantages are offered by doing so. Currently, you can expect increased account security, as well as the ability to register your Blizzard games and download them at will from the internet, but the panel today revealed new aspects of Battle.net that will no doubt make the concept even more appealing. bnet1Having a Real ID (something that will likely become mandatory very soon) will allow you to chat with your friends cross- realm and cross-game. That's right, if your friends play on a different server or are even playing a completely different game, you will still be able to talk to them no matter what they are doing. Due to this new feature, you'll have to accept and send friend invites (a la Facebook) so that completely random people aren't sending you nasty messages. But it shows just how far ahead Blizzard is thinking. They know that when StarCraft 2 or Diablo III comes out, a lot of your WoW friends  might stop logging on for awhile. But through the cross-game chat system and "broadcast" feature, you can still ask them to fill in raid spots or ask who on your list might want to run some heroics. As WoW chat functions somewhat differently from those in other Blizzard games, it's not yet clear how certain restrictions will be handled, such as those relating to faction choice. Sadly, you likely won't be able to engage in Guild Chat just anywhere, although there are reports that there might be an iPhone app in the works allowing you to do just that. It also seems as though the achievement system will be consolidated under the new account structure. When you earn an achievement on one character, you've essentially earned it for all of your characters. No longer do you have to worry about trudging around Azeroth when you create an alt just to earn those pesky exploration achievements again. Once again, as the panel was focused primarily on StarCraft 2, it's unclear whether or not every new Battle.net feature will find its way into WarCraft, nor was a release date for the new service given. Launching with StarCraft, we may see its implementation before Cataclysm hits store shelves.

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BlizzCon is Almost Here, Are You Ready?

BlizzCon Here We Come! BlizzCon Here We Come! Blizzard is less than 24 hours away from opening the doors of the Anaheim Convention Center to its passionate fanbase to show off new products, progress on titles being worked on right now and rub elbows with fans and developers alike! If you're going to be at the convention, you want to make sure you have the best time you can have right? You probably are already here if you're taking a flight, have checked into your hotel and are ready to go! But we wanted to provide a few details for those who may have forgotten or simply didn't know about traveling and conventions. If you're in Anaheim Thursday you'll be able to pick up your badge starting at 4pm, make sure to bring your printed out barcode and ID (follow the directions on your email). You'll have until 10pm that night, but we recommend getting it done early so you can meet with some of the Project Lore staff (myself included) at the WoW Insider Party at the Anabella Hotel. And of course, it's not a bad idea to get some quality sleep the night before the convention, but you may want to explore a bit! There are many options open for you in Anaheim as there is Downtown Disney (no need for a Disneyland ticket!) which features some great restaurants, shops and a movie theater. Nearby is also the Anahiem Gardenwalk with more restaurants, shops and another movie theater if Disney isn't your thing. Also, if you're not from California you may have heard of it but you must make it a priority to eat at In N Out! If you end up there, make sure to check out their secret menu for an even better burger (or take the 10x10 challenge)! After you've filled up on food and hit the sack, you'll wake up to the big day! Friday the show opens up sometime around 11 (opening ceremonies are at 11:30). If you want a prime seat you will want to try to start lining up a few hours before if you're serious about it. If you still don't have your badge, you can of course pick that up anytime between 8am and 10pm. After the opening ceremonies you are open to do whatever you like! That's what is awesome about this convention! You get to choose what you want to do! Go hit up the BlizzCon Store (prepare for a wait though!) or other vendors (like our friends at J!NX). Not ready to shop? Visit any of the wonderful panels and hear from the devlopers themselves (check out the schedule here and map out what you'd like to see) or go play some StarCraft 2, Diablo 3, or the new WoW Expansion. There are also professional competitive players to watch, showcasing the best players in StarCraft, WarCraft 3, and WoW Arena. There will also be a live WoW Raid on Saturday, which is sure to be a sight to see! As much as the enjoyment of the convention depends on your attitude and the people you are with, there are things you can plan on, or have, that will help make sure your experience is enjoyable.

  • Bring comfortable shoes: there will be lots of walking and waiting, make sure they're broken in and not brand new, you DO NOT want blisters on your feet!
  • Bring water: you don't want to have to wait in line to get a drink and be thirsty while waiting, and you want to keep hydrated (not to mention bottled water is EXPENSIVE inside the convention center)!
  • Bring snacks/pack a lunch: lines are long for food inside the convention halls and pricey and you may not even enjoy the food! Make sure to at least bring some snacks or even get something to eat before heading to the convention center before starting the day (Subway keeps fairly well and is close to the convention center).
  • Plan out your day: after going to a few conventions, I noticed that my enjoyment of the show would increase if I had something planned out, you don't have to follow it exactly, but having a loose plan of what you'd like to do is good, but make sure you're flexible, especially if you're with a group, parent(s), or a significant other!
  • Check your realm meeting time: this should be in the goodie bag when you pick this up and is a great way to meet up with players on your server (Alliance and Horde alike) and can help you find a guild if you're looking for one!
  • Make sure you pack what you need: double check: clothes for each day you're there (think about packing an extra pair of clothes, just in case), deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, etc.
  • Patience: lines will be long, the best thing to do is to strike up a conversation with your fellow line waiters, chances are they're into our beloved WoW and you can relate to something in game with them.
  • Phones, Handheld Gaming Systems: these are great for those pesky lines and coordinating with friends to meetup, and who knows you might be able to strike up a quick game with a fellow attendee (I'll personally be bringing my iPhone and Nintendo DSi)
All in all though, have fun! Don't be afraid to say hi to people (if you see me, I'd love to talk WoW!) and just in general relax! This is supposed to be a fun convention and you have the power to make it that! Here also are some rough guidelines to when the best times are to hit up certain events at BlizzCon that tend to have longer lines:
  • Game Demo Stations: During the costume contest and closing ceremonies the lines have traditionally been very small to play StarCraft 2, Diablo 3 and WoW. These are the absolute best times to play. If what is announced at the opening ceremonies is playable, most of the people will flock to try it out immediately and the lines will be pretty long.
  • Blizzard Store: Later in the day, similar times as for the demo stations the lines tend to thin out and be much smaller, unless you're worried about an item selling out you can wait it out.
  • Panels: unless you feel the need to sit up front you can come as late as the panel starting to get a decent seat. If you want to ask a question sit nearest to the microphones (where Blizzard CMs will be standing as well to screen questions). The Guild panel may be an exception although they are in an actual hall this year as opposed to a small meeting room last year (they filled up well before their panel time and many people had to be turned away).
  • Tournaments: Earlier in the tournaments tend to have the best seats, but as it gets closer to the finals the seats tend to fill up (I sat on the floor for the StarCraft final last year) generally finding a seat around the semi-finals is your best bet to make sure you have a seat for the finals.
For those of you at home, if you've ordered the live stream make sure to have a nice comfy chair, drinks and snacks near by so you don't miss anything! If you haven't order the stream, be sure to follow your favorite blog with updates! There is also a free stream for the tournaments which are enjoyable to watch. Whatever you do this weekend, make sure you enjoy it as we celebrate the game, the culture and community of Blizzard games. So Project Lore readers, what will you be doing for BlizzCon? What panels look like the best to you? What do you think are can't be missed events? Did I miss anything that a con goer should be bringing?

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Blizzcon: How Much Will We Really See?

With the great shadow of Blizzcon looming on the horizon, how can we not get worked up about it? How can we not begin to wonder what goodies they're just waiting to unleash on us die-hard fans like front-liners at a GWAR concert? We expect to walk away from this thing tired, satisfied, and maybe just a little sticky! gwarpicBut laying restless in bed this morning, I began to think: Blizzard's got this huge expansion coming up, but they've still got at least one major piece of content to release for Lich King. Likewise, they stated they'd like to get a new expansion out every year -- an unrealistic goal for a company like this, but perhaps a year-and-a-half is within the realm of possibility. And then I remembered that they just pushed StarCraft 2 back into 2010. Having two major releases coming out back-to-back like that is virtually unheard of! That might push Cataclysm (as we assume the expansion to be named) to next Fall for a release date similar to Lich King two years previous. And that means that they've got until next Blizzcon to give us all of the real juicy details. I believe that most people, at this point, assume that there's going to be a deluge of information about Cataclysm this year, but that may be jumping the gun. No doubt we'll get something, perhaps a reveal of new races and some very early look at the content, a trailer even, but let's not forget that there is still the matter of the Lich King to resolve. If the rumors of Icecrown Citadel being enormous are true (not 31-boss big, of course, but I believe the intention of size was expressed), I expect we may hear a log more about how this expansion is going to wrap up before even going into the next one. Once again, I'm going mostly on conjecture here, but I do remember one of the Blues mentioning (when asked about how far off the Argent Coliseum would be) that their timetable was not as lengthy as we players might expect. And, indeed, we saw the release of 3.2 just three months or so after Ulduar. Now that opens the possibility of seeing the Citadel released by the end of the year or early next. If Cataclysm releases in the Summer, no biggie. But Fall 2010? That would leave a huge 9-10 month gap between content releases. That would mean that there may be some post-ICC release, a 3.4 if you will, that would function much like Sunwell at the end of Burning Crusade. If that's the case, we may begin to hear something about that content, as well. And really, when it boils right down to it, the end of the Lich King is potentially such a big deal, are they going to want us knowing a whole lot about the aftermath just yet (which learning about Cataclysm would probably entail)? My head's spinning just trying to consider all this and I hope you're all still with me at this point. But I'm currently of the opinion that we're going to get a real introductory look at the next expansion, with the remainder of Wrath content getting the bulk of attention at the show. Do I hope I'm wrong? Most certainly. I'd love nothing more than to experience the largest fangasm ever from the impending surge of information that could be coming our way. I'd die for Mike Morhaime to ascend to the stage and tell us that they're finished with Icecrown Citadel, the expansion's coming within six months, and that, Oprah-style, we all get a beta invite. But I also expect Blizzard to take as much time as they feel they need to complete their products, and considering their track record, that's what supersedes everything else. They're tackling more releases at this point in time than they ever have at once before. We're going to hear tons about StarCraft 2 and the revamped Battle.net. We'll get the dish about Diablo, too. Let's not forget there's also that "next-gen MMO" hanging on the horizon, as well. If they wanted to release all of these games on the same day, they could probably get away with it. So maybe it's not so far-fetched to consider the sequel to StarCraft and the new expansion to hit shelves so close to each other. After all, one shouldn't really cannibalize sales of the other... much. Don't worry for a second. Blizzcon will be packed to the brim with details, but with so many things to cover, I just keep coming back to the idea that Cataclysm's dynamite reveal may quickly be overtaken by the rest of the show's content. What do you guys and gals think? I know I presented a lot of possibilities above, a lot of variables to consider. This kind of idle thinking leads to a whole lot of brain spew (something else you'll see at a GWAR concert, by the way). Do you agree? Disagree? The way content is being handled, just what will we end up hearing about at Blizzcon? Maybe the reveal of new races and a quick overview? A teaser trailer for Cataclysm? Is Blizzard ready to show us that much of the game's future?

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Blizzard Opens eSports Channel

New Destination For SC, WC3, WoW Replays New Destination For SC, WC3, WoW Replays Since StarCraft hit Korea Blizzard has been a part of the eSports community, extending the range from FPS titles to RTS.  Their Sci-Fi epic still maintains a strong following, but the company has seen Warcraft III and World of Warcraft's Arena system gain a foothold in the realm of professional gaming as well.  With their last three titles becoming a major player - arguably dominant player part due to their longevity - it should come as no surprise that the developer wants to reap some sort of benefit.  Yesterday, Blizzard and ESL TV announced a new partnership, the Blizzard eSports Channel, to deliver professional eSports content to the masses. Not everyone possesses the desire to watch other people play a video game, but these aren't just other players, they are the best of the best.  If you're one of those gamers that strives for perfection at everything you do, then you should immediately bookmark the site.  Unlike many other professional gaming sites, the Blizzard eSports Channel isn't full of any fluff.  Sure, the site lacks any and all community features, but finding and sorting the vast amount of readily available content is a snap on the uncluttered and advertisementless website.  One of the big perks is that the content is from full-blown tournaments, meaning it will have professional commentary and analysis.  That, along with being able to sort by game, game type, name, date, archive or live footage makes the portal a powerful tool for pros in training. It's a good start for Blizzard, but I expect a bit more polished things from them, even if ESL TV did set it up.  More than anything, the website needs more descriptions of the videos.  If you're looking for specific battles, say an Undead vs Orc match or Terran vs Terran, you'd be hardpressed to figure it out via the "details" page.  This can either be solved by additional sorting capabilities or a basic tagging system.  To make matters worse many of the descriptions are in various languages, not a single or carefully chosen few.  Hopefully the site will continue to be refined, because you know StarCraft 2 will be added to it when it launches later this year *crosses fingers*. Although I love Warcraft III, I don't think I will do more than check the site after big tournaments.  My brother - a former sponsored WC3 player - has probably already begun devouring the 29 pages of Warcraft III replays.  I'd be cool if they added some WoW PvE content, specifically captures of the hardcore raid guilds like Ensidia running through something.  And why not?  They consider themselves professional after all. Now to watch more Grubby replays.  My Blademaster skills are terrible.

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Activision-Blizzard Loses Millions, Tigole Leaves WoW Team

Activision Blizzard!A few massive announcements came out of Activision-Blizzard yesterday.  The first few came during their business-laden earnings call with investors.  Turns out that one of the industry's premiere publishers did not have a great end to 2008, posting a loss of over $72 million.  Since Blizzard contributed over $1 billion (with a b) in revenue to the company, imagine how much money they would have lost if they hadn't merged with Vivendi Games.  Granted, Vivendi probably brought their own baggage to the merger, but I would hazard to guess that their cash cow would have covered their losses.

We have plenty more from the earnings call, though. Blizzard's CEO Paul Sams announced that the company would release a "frontline" title every year. When I heard that, I immediately got pissed off at the merger.  I figured it was the end of an era.  The shareholders had finally "won," forcing the company to release titles against their mantra.  While Kotick may spout that Activision would not mess with Blizzard's culture, such a decision must have been brought on by external forces. Then I calmed down, sobered up and thought about Blizzard's future rationally. Blizzard is currently working on StarCraft II - which is being separated into three different SKUs - Diablo III, a third unannounced WoW expansion (we assume), and a new unnamed MMORPG.  That is four distinct projects, spanning six separate releases.  Conceivably, they could stretch those titles out for the next few years, driving StarCraft fans nuts in the process. In reality, Blizzard actually has plenty of projects, in different stages of development, to cover their game-a-year strategy without damaging their reputation. For those StarCraft junkies out there, Sams confirmed that the company would make non-WoW revenue this year.  This puts the good money on StarCraft II's Wings of Liberty chapter seeing a 2009 release. The biggest bomb of them all did not come from the earnings call, but from Tigole.  The EQ2 guild master turned game designer has stepped down from his position on WoW's development team to move to the unannounced MMORPG.  To me, the move puts the game at the earlier stages of development. Why would they want such an experienced MMOG designer to come in at the end of the project?  Polish?  Unlikely. I believe he moved to the new team because Blizzard is finishing up the early design document stages and about to get into the nitty-gritty details.  Thanks for all the hard work Tigole! There is one thing I would love to see from Blizzard, a revival of their old console properties.  New titles for the Nintendo DS from The Lost Vikings, Blackthorne and Rock 'N Roll Racing franchises would be awesome.  It could even give Blizzard a chance to branch out into new IP without too much of a risk, while enabling them to put more titles into the market - something ActiBlizz's  shareholders would love on the balance sheets. What do you guys think?  Is Activision influencing Blizzard like I originally feared, or are Blizzard's ducks just lining up in a yearly fashion?  Would you like to see Blizzard return to their console past?  How will WoW fair without Tigole?

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Quick BlizzCon 2008 Recap

BlizzCon 2008BlizzCon has come and gone, but that doesn't mean I have been able to absorb the insane amount of information to come from the event. Tons of information and yet Blizzard Entertainment had a bit of a lackluster announcement to make this year – as it wasn't a new game. Instead we got news such as the unveiling of the third class for Diablo III, the Wizard, and the splitting of StarCraft II into three games.

I know this isn't ProjectStarCraft but I need a soapbox for a minute. What the crap is this? Blizzard claims that the main reasoning behind the trilogy is cost, stating that StarCraft II has become a far larger project compared to the first game. Thus, they have split the title into three editions, the “full” game will focus on the Terran campaign and be titled Wings of Liberty. Then we will have the Zerg title, Heart of the Swarm, followed by the Protoss' Legacy of the Void.

In fairness, Rob Pardo stated that the second and third games will feature fleshed out campaigns, featuring 26-30 missions each. He comments that the second two titles should be viewed as expansion packs, rather than the rest of StarCraft II. Pardo states “we really want them to feel like stand-alone products.” Personally, Blizzard didn't divulge enough information about the second and third releases to keep me happy. If the additions are full-fledged expansions like Relic Entertainment's Dawn of War expansions, which went so far as to add a new campaigns, new races and units, then I will gladly pay full expansion price. If Blizzard only delivers campaigns for the focused race, then I feel like we may end up paying ~$100 for a single game.  Time will tell as more information comes out.

Diablo and StarCraft aside, Blizzard hit us with plenty of World of Warcraft information. As I mentioned, I am still digesting it all, but have been excited by numerous headlines:

  • Patch 3.1 is already completed and will be the first content patch for Wrath. It will feature Ulduar raid instance.
  • Patch 3.2 is in the works and will feature an unknown instance.
  • Patch 3.3, the last patch for Wrath, will feature the Icecrown Citadel, Arthas and resolve the Ashbringer story.
  • Dual-Talent spec will allow players to switch between specs without going back to a trainer. Specs can be switched between raid pulls, but not during Arena matches.
  • Blizzard will be trying to create raids that are more accessible than Sunwell Plateau. Meaning, they believe it is too difficult.
  • Toying with the idea of awarding XP for PvP.
  • Battlegrounds are supposed to be brought back to the forefront of PvP.
  • Queuing to Battlegrounds and Arenas from anywhere in the world coming.
  • Strand of the Ancients, the upcoming Wrath Battleground, bumped to 15v15 with double the siege weapons.
  • Unrelated to WoW – Blizzard confirmed their upcoming MMO is a brand-new universe.

Echoes of Doom (Patch 3.0.2) is coming soon, are you ready for the changes?! Hit the recommended sites to the right for further details and coverage of BlizzCon 2008.

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