Pre-Cataclysm Patch Data in Live Servers

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, World of Warcraft News

Nethaera announced new pre-Cataclysm data is available in live servers. The file is 1.58GB, and can be downloaded while playing the game, or after closing World of Warcraft. Your download preferences can be found by clicking the options button on the bottom-left of the WoW Launcher.exe.

Blizzard Quote:
The next major content patch is coming and sets the stage for Cataclysm with many great new changes, updates, and pure epic fun. We’ve packed it to the brim with so many new things that this patch proves to be the biggest one yet. In order to smooth the way, we have started background downloading the first segment of data for this patch. People who use the Launcher and have background downloading enabled will automatically start receiving the data. Other segments of data are forthcoming over the next few days.

To make sure you are pre-downloading data, make sure to run the launcher and see text that reads “Data for the next patch is available.” You should then see a message indicating when data will be downloaded. Click “Options”, then “Downloader Preferences” to make changes to when you background download data.

Diablo II Ladder Reset Announced - 9/28/2010

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, Diablo 2 News

Diablo II players should take care of their business (a mal paso darle prisa); and hurry the hell up [no pun], because ladder will be reset in two weeks. This is an opportunity for players who stopped playing months ago to get renewed battery charge to rush the new Diablo II ladder.

This new ladder season starts barely three weeks away from BlizzCon 2010, which developer Jay Wilson dubbed the best Diablo III news ever. Sync up your internal countdown timer along with millions of players around the wolrd, and spread the thrill.

Share your hell yea comments at the following official forum thread. Please, follow the forum guidelines, and offer constructive feedback.

[BLUE]The Diablo II ladder will be resetting on September 28. When reset, all ladder characters will be moved to non-ladder. To play in the new ladder season you will need to create a new character.[/BLUE]

Diablo II Ladder Reset Announced - 9/28/2010

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, Diablo 2 News

Diablo II players should take care of their business (a mal paso darle prisa); and hurry the hell up [no pun], because ladder will be reset in two weeks. This is an opportunity for players who stopped playing months ago to get renewed battery charge to rush the new Diablo II ladder.

This new ladder season starts barely three weeks away from BlizzCon 2010, which developer Jay Wilson dubbed the best Diablo III news ever. Sync up your internal countdown timer along with millions of players around the wolrd, and spread the thrill.

Share your hell yea comments at the following official forum thread. Please, follow the forum guidelines, and offer constructive feedback.

Blizzard Quote:
The Diablo II ladder will be resetting on September 28. When reset, all ladder characters will be moved to non-ladder. To play in the new ladder season you will need to create a new character.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm - Enter Garona Halforcen

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, World of Warcraft News

The half-orc/draenei Garona Halforcen character continues her journey to enact vengeance against Cho’gal. She is now a new NPC in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, located at the Bloodgulch (Dragonmaw village). This rivalry with Cho’gal is old, since the second war, but more recently Cho’gal captured her son Med’an — in the pages of the World of Warcraft comic book. Garona has come seeking visions from the Dragonmaw Seer, but quickly she grows tired of the riddles, and sends you to retrieve the Eye of Twilight to see into Cho’gal’s citadel.

Garona has a lengthy quest series in this region, and not a static NPC. She comes with you along the way, and — with phase technology — she appears at the Twilight Citadel to give further quests. If you go back at the Bloodgulch village, she won’t be there anymore until you are done with the quest series.

Garona is a character from Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness (RTS game, 1996), but her story was fleshed out in the pages of Warcraft: The Last Guardian (by Jeff Grubb, 2001). She was formerly an ambassador of Gul’dan, sent to meet with Medivh at the Tower of Karazhan. The most lethal rogue assassin in Azeroth — and it seems pretty well-known as you may remember in the Dire Maul library.

In Cataclysm, Garona is willing to risk anything and to use you for her personal vendetta. All she wants is a shot at killing Cho’gal.

What I love is how characters that only exist in the books, comic books and manga are slowly materializing as NPCs in the MMO. It’s a matter of time before Med’an and the new Council of Tirisfal makes its debut.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm - Enter Garona Halforcen

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, World of Warcraft News

The half-orc/draenei Garona Halforcen character continues her journey to enact vengeance against Cho’gal. She is now a new NPC in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, located at the Bloodgulch (Dragonmaw village). This rivalry with Cho’gal is old, since the second war, but more recently Cho’gal captured her son Med’an — in the pages of the World of Warcraft comic book. Garona has come seeking visions from the Dragonmaw Seer, but quickly she grows tired of the riddles, and sends you to retrieve the Eye of Twilight to see into Cho’gal’s citadel.

Garona has a lengthy quest series in this region, and not a static NPC. She comes with you along the way, and — with phase technology — she appears at the Twilight Citadel to give further quests. If you go back at the Bloodgulch village, she won’t be there anymore until you are done with the quest series.

Garona is a character from Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness (RTS game, 1996), but her story was fleshed out in the pages of Warcraft: The Last Guardian (by Jeff Grubb, 2001). She was formerly an ambassador of Gul’dan, sent to meet with Medivh at the Tower of Karazhan. The most lethal rogue assassin in Azeroth — and it seems pretty well-known as you may remember in the Dire Maul library.

In Cataclysm, Garona is willing to risk anything and to use you for her personal vendetta. All she wants is a shot at killing Cho’gal.

What I love is how characters that only exist in the books, comic books and manga are slowly materializing as NPCs in the MMO. It’s a matter of time before Med’an and the new Council of Tirisfal makes its debut.

Starcraft II Cheaters to Get the Banhammer Soon

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, StarCraft 2 News

Blizzard Entertainment has warned they will dispense indiscriminate justice to any cheater, exploiter and hacker ruining the experience for everyone else by rolling out the banhammer and closing accounts of anyone found violating the Terms of Service and EULA.

[BLUE]Blizzard Entertainment has always taken cheating in any form in Blizzard games very seriously, and that’s no different for StarCraft II. If a StarCraft II player is found to be cheating or using hacks or modifications in any form, then as outlined in our end user license agreement, that player can be permanently banned from the game. This means that the player will be permanently unable to log in to Battle.net to play StarCraft II with his or her account.

Playing StarCraft II legitimately means playing with an unaltered game client. Doing otherwise violates our policies for Battle.net, and it goes against the spirit of fair play that all of our games are based on. We strongly recommend that you avoid using any hacks, cheats, or exploits. Suspensions and bans of players that have used or start using cheats and hacks will begin in the near future.[/BLUE]

Starcraft II Cheaters to Get the Banhammer Soon

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, StarCraft 2 News

Blizzard Entertainment has warned they will dispense indiscriminate justice to any cheater, exploiter and hacker ruining the experience for everyone else by rolling out the banhammer and closing accounts of anyone found violating the Terms of Service and EULA.

Blizzard Quote:
Blizzard Entertainment has always taken cheating in any form in Blizzard games very seriously, and that’s no different for StarCraft II. If a StarCraft II player is found to be cheating or using hacks or modifications in any form, then as outlined in our end user license agreement, that player can be permanently banned from the game. This means that the player will be permanently unable to log in to Battle.net to play StarCraft II with his or her account.

Playing StarCraft II legitimately means playing with an unaltered game client. Doing otherwise violates our policies for Battle.net, and it goes against the spirit of fair play that all of our games are based on. We strongly recommend that you avoid using any hacks, cheats, or exploits. Suspensions and bans of players that have used or start using cheats and hacks will begin in the near future.

2010 Game Developers Choice Online Awards - Audience Awards Open

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, World of Warcraft News

The 2010 Game Developers Choice (GDC) Online Awards have announced the opening of the Audience Awards which allows fans to cast a vote for their favorite persistent online game.

The deadline to submit nominee suggestions is Sept 24th at 12am PDT. The winners will be announced at the Choice Online Award ceremony on Oct 7, 2010

World of Warcraft is currently nominated by the development community to the following categories:

1. The Best Community Relations Award

The Best Community Relations Award honors the currently operating online game that provides the highest quality community feedback and experience, including customer support, forum moderation and leadership, weblog and information updates, real-life events, and other community outreach.

Blizzard Entertainment is contending this award with Eve Online, Guild Wars, Free Realms and Wizard101.

2. The Best Live Game Award

The Best Live Game Award recognizes the best currently-operating online game, having been launched in North America for at least 12 months (before May 2009), and distinguishing itself by that exceptional new content through expansion packs, patches, or other updates in the last 12 months, as well as a vibrant player community, high-quality community management and network operation during that period.

Other games in this category are EVE Online, Dungeon Fighter Online, Farmville and League of Legends.

2010 Game Developers Choice Online Awards - Audience Awards Open

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, World of Warcraft News

The 2010 Game Developers Choice (GDC) Online Awards have announced the opening of the Audience Awards which allows fans to cast a vote for their favorite persistent online game.

The deadline to submit nominee suggestions is Sept 24th at 12am PDT. The winners will be announced at the Choice Online Award ceremony on Oct 7, 2010

World of Warcraft is currently nominated by the development community to the following categories:

1. The Best Community Relations Award

The Best Community Relations Award honors the currently operating online game that provides the highest quality community feedback and experience, including customer support, forum moderation and leadership, weblog and information updates, real-life events, and other community outreach.

Blizzard Entertainment is contending this award with Eve Online, Guild Wars, Free Realms and Wizard101.

2. The Best Live Game Award

The Best Live Game Award recognizes the best currently-operating online game, having been launched in North America for at least 12 months (before May 2009), and distinguishing itself by that exceptional new content through expansion packs, patches, or other updates in the last 12 months, as well as a vibrant player community, high-quality community management and network operation during that period.

Other games in this category are EVE Online, Dungeon Fighter Online, Farmville and League of Legends.

World of Warcraft: Shaman manga review

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, Blizzard Products News, Featured Stories, World of Warcraft News

World of Warcraft: Shaman is a new manga from TOKYOPOP. It’s written by Paul Benjamin (known as co-writer with Dave Shramek of the Starcraft: Frontline series, Weapon of War [Vol. 1], War-Torn [Vol. 3], Orientation[Vol. 4]). Pretty much you already love this writer if you enjoyed the Colin Phash storyline. This new WarCraft manga is part of a line of class stories based on key characters of the World of Warcraft mythos.

imageThe first one of these class series debuted with DEATH KNIGHT (by Dan Jolley and Rocio Zucchi) which dealt with the backstory of Thassarian. MAGE (by Richard A. Knaak) dealt with the Nexus War and the invasion of Dalaran’s Violet Hold, and how a young mage disciple helped thwart the initial invasion of Malygos and its azure flight.

All three class mangas, in synthesis, inspire you to question what makes your class special, what’s your class’ origins, motives and beliefs.

SHAMAN is definitely another home run in the series. It’s been probably the most awaited manga in the class series for a couple of reasons: it is a Cataclysm expansion tie-in; and its main character is well-known only by old Warcraft lore fans.

The “most awaited Warcraft manga” might be an exaggeration by most people considering this character has never been an NPC in the World of Warcraft MMO. That group of fans who read the World of Warcraft RPG: Dark Factions book by White Wolf Publishing stood on their toes when they heard a few months ago this character would be the main character of this manga.

The reason? High Shaman Muln Earthfury is the leader of the Earthen Ring. A Tauren. He is a legend among Warcraft lore fans. Like the Ashbringer, which started as hearsay among NPCs, fans went crazy elaborating theories and started exploring all of Azeroth in search of clues — for lack of info or a presence in-game. The Warcraft RPG book elaborated the backstory of the Ashbringer, and later Blizzard released the Naxxramas dungeon in Eastern Plaguelands. Later, Micky Neilson wrote the World of Warcraft: Ashbringer comic book (Wildstorm) and that Ashbringer legend has been fleshed out nicely in-game thereafter in Wrath of the Lich King.

At this point, Muln Earthfury has been a legend among fans. The long-wait is over folks. This is the real deal. Muln Earthfury lives, he is canon, and you will have more things to talk about him in wikis and forums. The question is … will we see Muln Earthfury as an NPC in the game? The answer: Yes.

Tokyopop Editor Troy Lewter sent me a copy for review. This manga is no fruit, but my mouth was watering all over when I was opening the package as if it were.

World of Warcraft: Shaman starts with a short recap of the War of the Three Hammers as an intro to how the earth trembled, 257 years ago, with the accidental summoning of Ragnaros into Azeroth. Sorcerer-Thane Thaurissan invoked a desperate spell and unbeknownst to him he summoned an elemental lord. Even Kalimdor felt the tremors of the earth, and the uneasiness of the elemental spirits around the world. Tremors that caused deep consequences and casualties to the Tauren.

The tauren Shotoa was born with a unnatural connection with the elemental spirits, in contrast with other shaman apprentices. The tremors of the earth took away the life of his apprentice. His raging emotions no doubt helped shape his view of the elemental spirits and to question his faith in the old traditions of the shaman. Shotoa determined the tauren should control the elemental spirits by force, to be their master, rather than imploring their help humbly.

The story goes fast-forward in the second chapter of this manga. Exactly 27 years after the Dark Portal was opened between Azeroth and Draenor. That places World of Warcraft: Shaman manga’s timeline in synch with World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King during the pre-Cataclysm world event. (thanks Omacron)

The story of Muln Earthfury begins here, in the Bloodhoof Village, teaching his disciple the ways of the Shaman. She is a young female orc named Kettara Bloodthirst. The manga gives you small glimpses into the recent past when Muln and Kettara first met (five years ago, year 22). After a centaur and elemental attack upon Bloodhoof Village, their savior turns out to be Shotoa — long thought dead when the earth itself swallowed him 257 years ago.

This manga challenges fans to question their knowledge about ancient shamanic traditions. Should the tauren implore humbly for the aid of the elemental spirits, or should they demand and control their powers by force of will?

Fans who have read the World of Warcraft comic book (by Walter Simonson, Wildstorm) know how the ordeal went with Med’an and Cho’gal, the Twilight’s Hammer in Ahn’Qiraj and the chaotic awakening of the elementals in an effort to weaken the barrier between Azeroth and the Elemental Plane. What we see in the printed stories soon or later become reality in the MMO, and as Cataclysm beta testers have learned, there are elementals raging chaos everywhere in the game, and Twilight’s Hammer inciting them against their enemies.

The Twilight’s Hammer helped Deathwing break the barrier between Deepholm and Azeroth at the center of the Maelstrom — as you will learn in Cataclysm quests. The elemental spirits are in turmoil and confused. The Earthen Ring is hard pressed as the elemental spirits ignore their call.

Will the shaman society embrace a new way, or continue their old traditions in the upcoming Cataclysm?

World of Warcraft: Shaman hits local and online bookstores on Tuesday, September 28th, 2010.

Artwork

If you loved the artwork of World of Warcraft: Death Knight, then you will love World of Warcraft: Shaman. Rocio Zucchio penciled both. She’s amazing. As you can read in the Rocio interview at the end of this manga, she has no time to play World of Warcraft. Yet, she’s hit the nail with the Tauren’s looks. It’s her first time drawing tauren, and her past experiences drawing previous Warcraft manga have helped her mature as an artist.

That short recap of the Three Hammers War really makes you wish she takes on a Dwarf manga. Those huge battle scenes with dozens of dwarves probably took her a while. So detailed. Michael Paolilli as usual does a great job with lettering and adding tonality, different shades, to each artwork. The manga is not just black lines on a white paper. They are thoroughly worked up with different shades of gray to mimic a painting.

Characters

Muln Earthfury: High Shaman of the Earthen Ring.
Kettara Bloodthirst: Muln’s apprentice female orc shaman
Zur’ak Firefist: male troll shaman (Earthen Ring)
Lenka: female tauren shaman
Krelna: female draenei shaman
Thrall: Warchief of the Horde, a member of the Earthen Ring.
Drek’Thar: Far Seer of the Frostwolf clan.
Oreg Earthfury: Great-Grandfather of Muln, and best friend of Shotoa.

World of Warcraft: Shaman manga review

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, Blizzard Products News, World of Warcraft News

World of Warcraft: Shaman is a new manga from TOKYOPOP. It’s written by Paul Benjamin (known as co-writer with Dave Shramek of the Starcraft: Frontline series, Weapon of War [Vol. 1], War-Torn [Vol. 3], Orientation[Vol. 4]). Pretty much you already love this writer if you enjoyed the Colin Phash storyline. This new WarCraft manga is part of a line of class stories based on key characters of the World of Warcraft mythos.

imageThe first one of these class series debuted with DEATH KNIGHT (by Dan Jolley and Rocio Zucchi) which dealt with the backstory of Thassarian. MAGE (by Richard A. Knaak) dealt with the Nexus War and the invasion of Dalaran’s Violet Hold, and how a young mage disciple helped thwart the initial invasion of Malygos and its azure flight.

All three class mangas, in synthesis, inspire you to question what makes your class special, what’s your class’ origins, motives and beliefs.

SHAMAN is definitely another home run in the series. It’s been probably the most awaited manga in the class series for a couple of reasons: it is a Cataclysm expansion tie-in; and its main character is well-known only by old Warcraft lore fans.

The “most awaited Warcraft manga” might be an exaggeration by most people considering this character has never been an NPC in the World of Warcraft MMO. That group of fans who read the World of Warcraft RPG: Dark Factions book by White Wolf Publishing stood on their toes when they heard a few months ago this character would be the main character of this manga.

The reason? High Shaman Muln Earthfury is the leader of the Earthen Ring. A Tauren. He is a legend among Warcraft lore fans. Like the Ashbringer, which started as hearsay among NPCs, fans went crazy elaborating theories and started exploring all of Azeroth in search of clues — for lack of info or a presence in-game. The Warcraft RPG book elaborated the backstory of the Ashbringer, and later Blizzard released the Naxxramas dungeon in Eastern Plaguelands. Later, Micky Neilson wrote the World of Warcraft: Ashbringer comic book (Wildstorm) and that Ashbringer legend has been fleshed out nicely in-game thereafter in Wrath of the Lich King.

At this point, Muln Earthfury has been a legend among fans. The long-wait is over folks. This is the real deal. Muln Earthfury lives, he is canon, and you will have more things to talk about him in wikis and forums. The question is … will we see Muln Earthfury as an NPC in the game? The answer: Yes.

Tokyopop Editor Troy Lewter sent me a copy for review. This manga is no fruit, but my mouth was watering all over when I was opening the package as if it were.

World of Warcraft: Shaman starts with a short recap of the War of the Three Hammers as an intro to how the earth trembled, 257 years ago, with the accidental summoning of Ragnaros into Azeroth. Sorcerer-Thane Thaurissan invoked a desperate spell and unbeknownst to him he summoned an elemental lord. Even Kalimdor felt the tremors of the earth, and the uneasiness of the elemental spirits around the world. Tremors that caused deep consequences and casualties to the Tauren.

The tauren Shotoa was born with a unnatural connection with the elemental spirits, in contrast with other shaman apprentices. The tremors of the earth took away the life of his apprentice. His raging emotions no doubt helped shape his view of the elemental spirits and to question his faith in the old traditions of the shaman. Shotoa determined the tauren should control the elemental spirits by force, to be their master, rather than imploring their help humbly.

The story goes fast-forward in the second chapter of this manga. Exactly 27 years after the Dark Portal was opened between Azeroth and Draenor. That places World of Warcraft: Shaman manga’s timeline in synch with World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King during the pre-Cataclysm world event. (thanks Omacron)

The story of Muln Earthfury begins here, in the Bloodhoof Village, teaching his disciple the ways of the Shaman. She is a young female orc named Kettara Bloodthirst. The manga gives you small glimpses into the recent past when Muln and Kettara first met (five years ago, year 22). After a centaur and elemental attack upon Bloodhoof Village, their savior turns out to be Shotoa — long thought dead when the earth itself swallowed him 257 years ago.

This manga challenges fans to question their knowledge about ancient shamanic traditions. Should the tauren implore humbly for the aid of the elemental spirits, or should they demand and control their powers by force of will?

Fans who have read the World of Warcraft comic book (by Walter Simonson, Wildstorm) know how the ordeal went with Med’an and Cho’gal, the Twilight’s Hammer in Ahn’Qiraj and the chaotic awakening of the elementals in an effort to weaken the barrier between Azeroth and the Elemental Plane. What we see in the printed stories soon or later become reality in the MMO, and as Cataclysm beta testers have learned, there are elementals raging chaos everywhere in the game, and Twilight’s Hammer inciting them against their enemies.

The Twilight’s Hammer helped Deathwing break the barrier between Deepholm and Azeroth at the center of the Maelstrom — as you will learn in Cataclysm quests. The elemental spirits are in turmoil and confused. The Earthen Ring is hard pressed as the elemental spirits ignore their call.

Will the shaman society embrace a new way, or continue their old traditions in the upcoming Cataclysm?

World of Warcraft: Shaman hits local and online bookstores on Tuesday, September 28th, 2010.

Artwork

If you loved the artwork of World of Warcraft: Death Knight, then you will love World of Warcraft: Shaman. Rocio Zucchio penciled both. She’s amazing. As you can read in the Rocio interview at the end of this manga, she has no time to play World of Warcraft. Yet, she’s hit the nail with the Tauren’s looks. It’s her first time drawing tauren, and her past experiences drawing previous Warcraft manga have helped her mature as an artist.

That short recap of the Three Hammers War really makes you wish she takes on a Dwarf manga. Those huge battle scenes with dozens of dwarves probably took her a while. So detailed. Michael Paolilli as usual does a great job with lettering and adding tonality, different shades, to each artwork. The manga is not just black lines on a white paper. They are thoroughly worked up with different shades of gray to mimic a painting.

Characters

Muln Earthfury: High Shaman of the Earthen Ring.
Kettara Bloodthirst: Muln’s apprentice female orc shaman
Zur’ak Firefist: male troll shaman (Earthen Ring)
Lenka: female tauren shaman
Krelna: female draenei shaman
Thrall: Warchief of the Horde, a member of the Earthen Ring.
Drek’Thar: Far Seer of the Frostwolf clan.
Oreg Earthfury: Great-Grandfather of Muln, and best friend of Shotoa.

Cataclysm: Ashenvale Q&A

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, World of Warcraft News

Blizzard has a new developer interview with Quest designers Eric Maloof and Steve Burke about the design of Ashenvale in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.

What was the original concept for the zone?

The concept for Ashenvale was to show the effects of the Cataclysm while taking the opportunity to streamline the zone’s level design. There were areas of Ashenvale that were pretty unfriendly in terms of accessibility and quest flow. The level designers and quest designers worked together to alleviate the problem areas and highlight the big changes.

Who will be using this zone (what levels/factions)?

Both Horde and Alliance players, roughly from levels 20–25. We anticipate that this will be a well-traveled zone in terms of general player flow.

Without giving up any spoilers, what’s the general storyline for this zone? How has it changed from the original design?

Among other catastrophes, an enormous volcano has erupted in central Ashenvale. As the night elves struggle to deal with the chaos caused by the Cataclysm, the Horde is seizing what it perceives to be a golden opportunity. Garrosh Hellscream’s forces are now bearing down upon the night elves and have overtaken several key positions that once served as Alliance strongholds. There is a definite feeling that the balance of power in this region now teeters on a goblin tripwire….

These changes also mean that Horde players will have much more to do in Ashenvale.

What do you think is the most exciting new feature of the zone?

Visually, it has to be the volcano. It’s stunning, and it provides a great landmark in a place otherwise known for its dense forest. Thematically, the tension present in the zone gives it a whole new feel. The Horde is barricaded inside the walls of Splintertree Post under a massive assault by the night elves and their allies. Meanwhile, Astranaar is desperately fighting off waves of Hellscream’s forces. Practically everywhere you go in Ashenvale, it’s impossible to escape the fact that it has become a warzone.

What goes into redesigning a zone like this?

A bit more than meets the eye, we think. Ashenvale is deceptively large, and previously there were many issues in terms of quest flow and Horde/Alliance content balance. Soon after we rolled up our sleeves and broke ground, we realized that our work was cut out for us. There were numerous quests we wanted to keep, but there were also a great many that no longer fit or didn’t play out efficiently. We also needed to create a variety of new quests, especially ones “For the Horde”™.

What was the most challenging aspect about implementing these changes?

It can actually be a bit tougher to come in and “do surgery” to an existing zone than it is to completely gut it and start from scratch. Given our ambitious time constraints, trying to determine what stays, what goes, and what other changes to make is certainly a challenge.

What should players do or go see first?

Horde players should visit the Mor’shan Rampart first. There’s a new Horde contingent there who is fighting hard to make sure that no night elves escape Hellscream’s onslaught — not that they’d make it far into the Northern Barrens! Alliance players who come down from Darkshore will want to help defend Maestra’s Post and Astranaar as both settlements struggle to keep from falling under Hellscream’s control.

Who seems to have the upper hand in the zone: the Horde, the Alliance, or the elementals?

The Horde and the Alliance are throwing themselves at each other on many fronts; neither has a clear upper hand here. The elementals in Ashenvale are a minor nuisance in comparison to the faction struggle.

Should we expect any changes within Blackfathom Deeps?

There are no significant changes planned for Blackfathom Deeps at this time.

What has happened to Silverwind Refuge?

The Horde has happened!

What has changed the most: the storyline or the terrain?

The amount of change has been pretty equal between storyline and terrain. The terrain is much less frustrating than before, and the visual results of the Cataclysm tell the story as much as the quests do. Story-wise, the theme hasn’t changed so much as its intensity has.

Thanks, Eric and Steve, for taking the time to tell us about the work you’ve done to evolve a classic zone in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm!

World of Warcraft The Official Magazine Round Trip to BlizzCon 2010 Contest

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, World of Warcraft News

Future US, the special-interest media company, is offering new subscribers of World of Warcraft: Official Magazine the chance to win a trip for two people to attend BlizzCon, hosted by Blizzard Entertainment. Taking place at the Anaheim Convention Center on October 22-23, 2010, BlizzCon is an annual celebration of the Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo franchises and the communities that surround them.

HOW TO ENTER

Today through September 30, 2010, new subscribers can submit an essay of one hundred (100) or fewer words describing why he/she would like to attend BlizzCon 2010, online at www.worldofwarcraftthemagazine.com. One Grand Prize Winner will be selected by a judging panel, comprised of editorial staff of World of Warcraft: Official Magazine, who will evaluate all eligible entries. Entries will be judged on the following criteria: equal parts originality, creativity, and consistency with theme. Judging will be completed by October 4, 2010. There is a limit of one entry per household and the contest is open to individuals only.

For fans of the World of Warcraft franchise, BlizzCon offers a unique opportunity to meet fellow players and the game developers in person, take part in casual and competitive tournaments, attend panels and more. Attendees at the show can stop by the booth to purchase single issues of the magazine or sign up for a full year for $39.95. New subscribers of World of Warcraft: Official Magazine will receive a free green Murkie plushie, while supplies last.

The contest is open to all new subscribers in the US, UK and Europe. There is also a no-purchase necessary submission option for US residents. The grand prize is a trip for two people to attend BlizzCon 2010, which includes roundtrip airfare, three nights hotel and passes to the event.

For more information on the BlizzCon trip for two contest and how to subscribe to World of Warcraft: Official Magazine, check out www.worldofwarcraftthemagazine.com, their Twitter and Facebook.

BlizzCon 2010 Contests Sign Up Announced

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, Diablo 3 News, StarCraft 2 News, World of Warcraft News

With BlizzCon 2010 fast approaching, it’s time to prepare in advance to be worth of $25,000 in prizes, or fame. Blizzard has announced that sign ups for all BlizzCon 2010 contests have begun. You can participate in any of the following contests: Costume, Dancing, Fan Art and Machinima. The clock is ticking. Sign up and start preparations.

Blizzard Quote:
Signups are now open for the BlizzCon 2010 Costume and Dance contests! Eligible entrants are invited to strut their stuff live on stage, with the festivities being hosted by our master of ceremonies, comedian Jay Mohr. You have until October 4 to sign up for the live contests, and you must sign up online if you want to participate. With over $25,000 in prizes for our Friday night contests, this is one you don’t want to miss.

Speaking of which, submissions for the Fan Art, Original Song, and Movie contests close in less than a month on September 27, so if you haven’t entered yet, you’d better get cracking!

If you aren’t attending BlizzCon you can still check out these contests, all panels and tournaments, and even receive extra goodies including the “Deathy” World of Warcraft in-game pet by purchasing a BlizzCon 2010 Virtual Ticket.

PAX 2010 - Blizzard is A-Coming

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, Diablo 3 News, World of Warcraft News

Blizzard Entertainment will have a few representatives answering questions to PAX 2010 attendees. World of Warcraft: Cataclysm and Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty will be playable at the NVIDIA booth.

Sadly, the Diablo III demo won’t be showcased at PAX, but if you are heading to BlizzCon at least you will have a more updated demo version than the one shown in previous events.

PAX 2010 kicks off through September 3-5 in Downtown Seattle, Washington. The uber bad news for you is if you didn’t buy a PAX ticket, don’t even waste your time walking to the front door because ALL tickets were sold out on August 28. There won’t be ticket sales at the front door.

Some of the PAX 2010 locations have been moved to a different place, so check out the official PAX website and read the 08/04/2010 update for instructions.

Review – Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 2

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, Blizzard Products News, Featured Stories, StarCraft 2 News, Starcraft: Ghost News

imageStarcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 2 hit the bookstores recently on August 3, 2010. The former author Keith R.A. DeCandido is no longer aboard as writer of the manga. He’s busy with Boom! Studios comic books; and for some months he was knee deep working with the U.S. Census 2010 — so at least we know he’s all good. We’ll miss him. He’s earned it.

Tokyopop’s David Gerrold (aka Jerrold David Friedman) took over the Starcraft: Ghost Academy mantle, and as you will soon find out, he’s quickly sync into the Nova universe. No surprise here. David Gerrold has written a Starcraft story before, which means he’s read the Starcraft Bible 101 and been in contact with Chris Metzen and the Blizzard Creative Team.

David Gerrold wrote the story titled “Fear the Reaper” in Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 4. He’s written several Star Trek novels and manga. He’s a celebrity among Trekkies as a matter of fact — don’t believe me? Guess who wrote the televised story of “The Trouble with the Tribbles” (Star Trek: The Original Series, TV) which aired on December 29, 1967. The original script was titled “A Fuzzy Thing Happened To Me…”

The artist Fernando Heinz Furukawa did a kick ass job through each page of the manga, specially the zerg scenes, but overall academy scenes were great. We’ll see more of him in Starcraft and Warcraft manga no doubt.

Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 2 explores the ongoing happenings within the Ghost Academy under Mengsk’s close watch. The ghost academy was formerly a Confederate program, and as such, Mengsk needs to protect his image before the people; and to make sure the academy is run by the book to avoid inhuman treatment scandals. (more below)
For those fans who love to keep track of the Starcraft timeline, at the end of Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 2, Emperor Mengsk is weeks away from celebrating the first anniversary of the Terran Dominion.

Mengsk controls every single word that airs on the UNN network, but there are pirated broadcasts sent by people working for Michael Liberty — and those do bite a dent into Mengsk’s reputation.

The manga starts with a UNN TV show titled “The Dominion and You” by reporter E.B. James [suspiciously sounding like EB Games]. He interviews the Ghost Academy director Kevin Bick in relation to the recent expulsion of Aal Cistler from the ghost academy. This took place at the end of volume 1.

It’s kinda funny to have two non-heroes take centerfold in the story. Kevin Bick runs the academy with unscrupulous drug experiments to research how ghosts’ abilities can be affected or increased. Some students are panbrained, brainwashed, and tortured in secrecy.

Aal Cistler by the other hand is a young playboy with wits who thinks his every whim comes into reality by paying the right price. He might not be too far from being right though — he’s the son of Emperor Mengsk’s finance minister — ouch. Not an enemy you would want to cross with in your path.

Aal isn’t a telepath, but he loves challenges. He came to the ghost academy to train, but was caught selling drugs to Lio Travski (a technopath, student). While the Ghost Academy knew about the drug addiction of Lio and that Aal was providing it, they allowed it to happen to study Lio’s performance under heavy addiction. When the ghost academy grew tired of Aal, they expulsed him from the academy and provided the UNN with camera recordings of Aal’s drug selling activities.

Aal, however, goes to the UNN to denounce he was framed, and the unusual training practices held at the ghost academy. The reporter E.B. James crucified director Kevin Bick in the show. The director got the message … Emperor Mengsk disapproves.

Mengsk controls everything the UNN says, so this was a direct on-your-face slap message to Kevin Bick to immediately detox Lio, and to stop underground experimentation with students. Most of this is in the Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 2 preview scans.

From what we have learned in Starcraft: Frontline, Mengsk is turning around the old-ways of the Confederate who used cruel brainwashing and aggression inhibitors to control the Ghosts, who were likely former criminals.

Mengsk is now using Wranglers [psi-sensitive agents with a PI 3.5] to hunt for kids and teens with latent telepathic abilities to train them as teams in the ghost academy under the excuse they are too dangerous to themselves and to the populace if not trained properly — because untrained ghosts attract the Zerg.

In reality, that’s a lie. Mengsk has used psi-emitters before to control the zerg, and he continues to do so underground without the knowledge of the public. Such was the case of the Colin Pash story in Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 1-4 — where wranglers are authorized to use lobotomized zerglings with a neural gadget to control them to hunt for the telepath kid.

The same can be proved with Starcraft: Ghost Academy when we see an unidentified terran vessel launching a drop-pod on planet Shi [of the Baker's Dozen] which contained a … zerg drone. Mengsk has much more under his sleeve than we originally taught — as you can see in Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty [Piercing the Shroud mission].

Why should you read this manga? It brings a fresh view into the ghost academy with at least four cliffhangers. Don’t you love cliffhangers? I do. They keep the plot in suspense. Sometimes you can foresee things, but sometimes the writer surprises you with a twist. That’s what keeps you coming back for the next volume.

GHOST ACADEMY

Nova Anabelle Terra, Gabriel Tosh, Lio Travski, Kath Toom and Delta Emblock of Team Blue continue their ghost training with high stake life-threatening missions within the academy where they must learn to use their abilities in a teamwork environment.

When you see an older Gabriel Tosh in Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, and see this younger Gabriel Tosh in the Ghost Academy and compare both — you can already see where the story is heading to. Tosh used to be an idealist teen who idolized and believed in Mengsk as a humble leader who works for the people and for the benefit of humanity.

What the Ghost Academy does is to train the best telepaths to service humanity and to unite it under the flag of Mengsk, who fights for freedom — Or so used to think Gabriel Tosh in his early days at the Ghost Academy.

Considering we will see more of Gabriel Tosh in Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm — now that Jim Raynor sided with him to free New Folsom’s Spectre prisoners — it would be nice to keep in touch with this character’s past and backstory, and how his loyalty to Mengsk shattered. We will learn more of that in Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 2 and Vol. 3 — and hopefully in the upcoming novel Starcraft: Ghost Spectres by Nate Kenyon (on sale November 1, 2010).

In this volume, we learn the two most important ghost trainees in observation by Superintendent Angelini are Nova and … Lio the technopath. No one else matters. Just those two. Thus … we should keep an eye on what plans Blizzard might have for Lio, if any. Will he be an ally when we next see him in future games, or will he be a dangerous enemy (knowing his special power set)?

Lio can telepathically control technology, he created an android that resembled his girlfriend, and he seems to be a powerful telekinetic — [in a scene he telekinetically floats some PDAs into the air and sorts them out to his teammates, and he also blocks incoming projectiles with a TK shield]. Now that he’s not under the influence of hab (a drug), he seems to have better control of his powers.

We get to see the influence that Team Red’s jealousy and rivalry has on Team Blue. Things get more complicated when Aal Cistler makes his triumphant return to the Ghost Academy and this time around he joins Team Red to make Nova and her team’s lives more pleasant … not.

With how Lio has been manipulated by director Bick and superintendent Angelini, one has to wonder … how such a powerful telepath as Nova and her teammates never detect the psi-screams of Lio when he gets panbrained? Why are all these odd things going on backstage without other telepaths knowing about them?

The answer is too complex to guess in its entirety, but the author gives you enough hints to figure out some of it … Colin Phash.

The Ghost Academy is using this boy’s ability to project his astral form away from his body as a surveillance system. Nova has been able to see his astral projection, but never manages to talk to him. However, there must be something else shielding other telepaths from the atrocious acts of the Academy’s leaders. Maybe a mysterious figure from the past? Likely someone we have heard of in Starcraft: Ghost Nova [Looks at the odd humanoid in Chapter 2: Shadows Before Them].

There was one male telepath as high-level a telepath as Nova and Sarah Kerrigan who is mentioned in DeCandido’s StarCraft: Ghost Nova book to be dead, but you never know. Maybe his body and brain were kept alive to serve as an instrument of the Confederates? Those cables coming out of the skull with no pupils on his eyes made me remember that deceased character. Matter of fact, that figure is never shown in Vol. 2, so we might learn who exactly this guy behind Angelini is. Maybe a half-cybernetic-enhanced Old Family slave of the Dominion? I might be seeing too much into it.

COLIN PHASH

Like in the first volume, the fate of Colin Pash continues to be unfold in short scenes that let you figure out how the Ghost Academy tutors do what they do with the students, and why the telepaths aren’t aware of what’s going on.

Colin Pash is the telepath child son of ex-Dominion Senator Corbin Pash. Colin was captured by the Dominion in the Starcraft: Frontline series. His father Corbin Phash now resides as a guest of the Umojan Protectorate, plotting to take revenge against Mengsk and to recover his son back. The story of Colin Phash is told throughout Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 1-4, and continues in Starcraft: Ghost Academy.

THE OLD FAMILIES

Another plot hanging in the manga is the fate of the offsprings of the Old Families. Ever wonder if any of the Old Families survived the Zerg invasion to Tarsonis? Let’s remind you a bit of old-school Starcraft lore … The invasion was caused by the Psi-emitter Arcturus Mengsk ordered Kerrigan to activate. Ya’ know, that Starcraft mission where Mengsk abandons Kerrigan to her fate before the Zerg.

As the invasion of the Zerg hit Tarsonis, the Old Families sent their offsprings to safety to planet Shi — the fourth planet in the Baker’s Dozen system: a collection of 13 mining planets owned by Arturro Calabas [one of the Old Families].

This story runs parallel with the main plot without interacting with each other; using the narrative technique of going back and forth in the timeline.

Every now and then, the narration about the fate of the offsprings of the Old Families takes you to a year before the present time [ghost academy Vol. 2's time which is nigh a year after Brood War]. Then to the present.

When least you know, you are taken to 8 months before the present, seven months, six months … so and so until we reach the point of a month before the present.

I love those interludes in stories to be honest. All that apparent, unrelatedness with the main plot comes to an end when the next ghost academy mission is scheduled to take place in the fifth planet of the … Baker’s Dozen. That’s a cliffhanger alright. That takes us straight into collision course with Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 3 [in stores March 1, 2011].

The aweful part of this manga is the long wait for the next one. Can’t you guys clone your staff to pump these babies monthly? I want more!!!

Special thanks to Troy Lewter (Tokyopop Editor) and Hope Donovan (Tokyopop Editor).

You can view the Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 2 preview here.

Flights, & Frights - Inside the Storm Exhibition Photos

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, Diablo 3 News, StarCraft 2 News, World of Warcraft News

As reported a few days ago, Blizzard Entertainment launched a museum expo in Taiwan titled “Flights, & Frights – Inside The Storm“. A fan named ddsnet posted on Flickr hundreds of photos from his visit to this exhibition for the less fortunate who couldn’t attend it.

The exhibition consists of concept art of Starcraft and Starcraft II, Diablo II and Diablo III, Warcraft III and World of Warcraft. You can also see the prototype sculptures of the Diablo III Overthrown diorama, the Tychus Findlay diorama, the new Starcraft II action figures, and World of Warcraft action figures.

Those who participated in past Blizzard Fan Artwork Contests should update their resumes. What’s better than winning Blizzard’s Fan Art Contest? Earning the zomg opportunity to get your artwork exhibited in an international museum.

Browse through hundreds of photos of this exhibition here.

Thanks, Flux