The ever-spinning thought in our minds for the past few days after it was revealed Blizzard would make a major game announcement on May 19th at the Blizzard Games Invitationals in Seoul, South Korea. What game is Blizzard going to announce? With Blizzard you should expect the unexpected.
Even when our high hopes and almost certainty is that it will be Starcraft 2. But we have been there, done that … in the past.
Back on September 22, 2002, everyone went nuts trying to figure out what was behind the blurred images updated every hour for 24 hours. Very cleverly hidden and encrypted code could be found in the HTML. When decoded clever fans started to find clues … Ghost quotes such as: “Did you call the Exterminator?”, “You called the thunder, now reap the whirlwind”. Everyone went bald after pulling their hairs … it was Starcraft 2 !!!
The game was announced at Tokyo Game Show 2002 of all places … the world was watching Blizzard. However, it wasn’t Starcraft 2. It was a Console Game (only). This time it is Seoul, Korea. Will it really be Starcraft 2? Or should we start reading literally the Blizzard PR that Starcraft will be revisited at a later time? Will it be Starcraft 2 the game to be announced on May 19th? This are a few questions some of us might be pondering.
WHY STARCRAFT II ?
The answer is simple. Starcraft was released on April 1, 1998. It is the most expected game in the Blizzard IP Catalog, with hordes of fans craving for it. Not just for its RTS value, but for its enigmatic storyline wrap-up in Starcraft: Brood War expansion, where Zeratul found a Terran Camp in an uncharted world. Duran said:
“I am a servant of a far greater power. A power that has slept for countless ages. And is reflected in the creature within that cell. This creature is the completion of a cycle. It’s role in the cosmic order was preordained when the stars were young. Behold the culmination of your history. Your violence, young prodigal, is typical. As is your inablility to comprehend the greater scheme of things. You can destroy all of the specimens here. It will do you no good. For I have seeded the Hybrid on many, many worlds. You will never find them all before they awaken… And when they do… your universe will be changed… forever.”
This pretty much opened room for a Starcraft II Storyline with the addition of the Hybrid race led by Duran, clashing with the Queen of Blades Kerrigan and her Zerg, the Protoss and Terrans. An announcement made on May 19th, would mean an Alpha Hands-on showcase at Blizzcon 2007 on August 3rd, a closed beta around October-November range and a game release at … you heard it … the 10th Anniversary of Starcraft. With the technology and massive budget Blizzard has gotten from World of Warcraft subscriptions, the acquirement of 1,500 AMD Optetrons (Dailytech) a couple of years ago—it is very possible Starcraft II would become a MMORTS. Do you think World of Warcraft will really use all 1,500 Optetrons? The old Starcraft is client-side. Every patch someone goes and creates a third-party hack. Going MMORTS, gameplay would be governed server-side which gives Blizzard more freedom to monitor and ban TOS/EULA Violating accounts and to manage hack-free tournaments and E-Sports support.
WHY DIABLO III ?
Back on 2003, Blizzard North was developing two unannounced projects. However, on June 31, Blizzard North Executives resigned. A month later, thirty employees resigned. This caused an upheaval on development that cascaded into canning one of the games, and later resulting in Blizzard North offices at San Francisco to be shut down nearly a year after. All remaining personnel was relocated to Irvine Headquarters, where the Diablo team is still active. The past couple of years we have seen job openings specifying the hired employee would work at the “Diablo Team”. So we know Diablo III is a good candidate. It’s been four years since it was revealed Blizzard North was working on two projects.
“This is a pure collaboration between myself and Chris Metzen/Blizzard. All that is written is passed by him and the others there. This will be canon and has adjusted earlier info. The ramifications here will be used for any future project … and I ain’t writing for a dead game. ”
Important to note: Recent novels have become tie-ins to new game announcements as a intro. World of Warcraft: Cycle of Hatred is set a year before the MMO to explain the setting of Orgrimmar and Theramore’s current tensed peace. World of Warcraft: Rise of the Horde novel – by Christie Golden, as setting for the Draenei race backstory; and Warcraft Manga: The Sunwell Trilogy by Richard A. Knaak (adding Kalecgos, Anveena, Jorad Mace and Tyri) as setting for Silvermoon City’s Blood Elves backstory —served as intro to Burning Crusade expansion. Starcraft Ghost: Nova novel by Keith R.A. DeCandido was scheduled to ship the same day the console game was meant to ship—according to our interview with the author, before the game was postponed.
The Diablo: The Sin War novel reveals the origin of Sanctuary, the origin of Rathma and Necromancy, the introduction of Lilith and Lucius as offspring of Mephisto and much more. The road to Diablo III has been mapped in this awesome novel. I read the first part or the trilogy a week before the interview courtesy of Pocket Star Books, and plan to read book two soon.
A Diablo III is a good possibility either on May 19th or at BlizzCon. Knowing Blizzard, Diablo III could be a RPG or a RTS. After all, they planned to make a RTS title into a Console FPS. And Warcraft into a MMO. It wouldn’t surprise me if Diablo III went RTS.
Diablo III RTS? Are you @#$% crazy?—I heard a few people snap just now. I send you once more to read the novel. The Worldstone’s purpose was two-fold. To cloak sanctuary from Heaven and Hell, and it was modified by the creator of Sanctuary to power down the offspring of angels and demons, the nephalem.
With the worldstone gone, most of humanity will be powered up. Armies of heroes (RTS units) set to save Heaven … or take sides with Hell? Pick the novel. I have said too much.
Hopefully, it remains an RPG/Hack’n Slash.
WHY WARCRAFT IV ?
Many fans always frown upon listening Warcraft IV. The general thought is why make a Warcraft IV when there is a MMORPG? Or … It would take players away from the MMORPG, or conflict with.
This is a why a Warcraft IV is a very high possibility. RTS expansions or new sequels to Warcraft would mean expanding the lore of World of Warcraft in ways that can’t be possible in the MMORPG. Even continuing questlines of the MMO into the RTS is plausible. Imagine rescuing the King of Stormwind, recovering the Schythe of Elune from the Dark Riders, or even going to Northrend, the Emerald Dream or content of future World of Warcraft expansions laid in the RTS as an intro to upcoming MMORPG expansions?
An RTS Sequel would just serve to expand the lore, as material to upcoming MMO expansions. The current setting of the Burning Crusade is thanks to Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal—where Khadgar, Alleria, Turalyon, Danath Trollbane and Kurdran went to Draenor after Teron Gorefiend stole the Book of Medivh and other artifacts of power. With the artifacts, Ner’Zhul opened in desperation various rifts or portals to other worlds. Metzen said at BlizzCon 2005 that they plan to add at least seven worlds (planets) to the MMORPG … future expansions, accessible through the rifts opened by Ner’zhul. If you didn’t play that game, fear not. Read our Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness Map Campaigns transcript, map by map.
The Warcraft II RTS Expansion served as plank to launch the MMO. Warcraft IV could do this for upcoming MMORPG expansions, expanding its current and future content and lore. Warcraft III: Frozen Throne introduced a new feature not previously seen in previous Warcraft games. A quest system with connected linked-maps, which saved your progress as you moved from map to map. This is how MMO questlines could be added into the RTS.
WHY STARCRAFT: GHOST ?
Starcraft: Ghost had ups and downs. It had more delayed release dates than a swiss cheese has holes. Fans played a demo at BlizzCon 2005. We saw the GameCube version drop from the list, remaining a PS2/Xbox Console game. Then, Starcraft: Ghost was pulled away with a “POSTPONED” notice. People has thought this game is canned suffering the fate of Warcraft Adventures. However, the keyword here is “postponed”. That means production was halted and will resume development at a later date.
So let’s analyze what happened here, by reading the Press Release:
IRVINE, Calif.—March 24, 2006—Blizzard Entertainment Inc. today announced plans to focus the company’s console-development efforts on the next generation of console platforms. As part of this shift in focus, Blizzard? will indefinitely postpone production on StarCraft: Ghost(TM) while evaluating opportunities for utilizing the additional power of the new and upcoming console systems.
The date is a key. March 24th. This press release was issued out barely a week after Microsoft unveiled its first Community Technology Preview of XNA Build on March 14, 2006.—check Wikipedia for details of XNA. That XNA event took place 10 days before the Press Release announcing postponement of Starcraft: Ghost. And reading into the press release Blizzard has been exploring XNA and Xbox 360 capabilities.
Could Starcraft: Ghost have resumed development behind our backs?
I really wish to play all four games … but between you and me? I want Starcraft II. See you on May 19th.