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Russel Brower @ Video Games Live in Louisiana in April 1, 2010

The Video Games Live (VGL) is coming to Louisiana on April 1 to perform music themes of several video games with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra at the Kenner Pontchartrain Center for a nationwide television special which will start airing July 31, 2010 on PBS as well as a companion DVD, Blu-Ray and album. It’s advertised to be the biggest Video Games Live production ever staged, with more special effects, screens, and special guests.

Among the special guests invited to the event is no other than Blizzard Entertainment’s Director of Audio/Video Russell Brower, to play World of Warcraft music themes on-stage at the Video Games Live event.

If you got your copy of the Echoes of War music discs, it would be a great opportunity to get the cover signed by one of your favorite Blizzard music composers. Send us your photos and video if you go to the event to post them in the front page.

Video Games Live (featuring the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra)
Thu, Apr 1, 2010
08:00 PM

You can get tickets to this event here

THE KENNER PONTCHARTRAIN CENTER (Map)
4545 Williams Boulevard
Kenner, LA 70065-1449

BlizzCon 2010 Announced

Blizzcon has officially been announced by Blizzard Entertainment to happen at the Anaheim Convention Center through October 22-23.

Blizzard Quote:
IRVINE, Calif.– Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. today announced plans for its fifth BlizzCon® gaming convention, to be held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California on Friday, October 22 and Saturday, October 23, 2010. BlizzCon is a celebration of the global player communities surrounding Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft®, StarCraft®, and Diablo® universes.

BlizzCon offers us a great opportunity to meet with our players and share our enthusiasm for gaming with one of the most passionate communities in the world”

“BlizzCon offers us a great opportunity to meet with our players and share our enthusiasm for gaming with one of the most passionate communities in the world,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We’re looking forward to providing another great show filled with entertainment, competition, and the latest information about Blizzard Entertainment games.”

In addition to serving as a gathering place for Blizzard Entertainment gaming communities, BlizzCon will offer attendees a chance to enjoy:

  • Hands-on play time with upcoming Blizzard Entertainment games

  • Discussion panels with Blizzard Entertainment developers
  • Competitive and casual tournaments for players to showcase their talents
  • Community contests with great prizes
  • Commemorative merchandise based on Blizzard Entertainment’s game universes
  • More exciting activities and attractions to be announced.

The previous BlizzCon was held in Anaheim in August 2009. Tickets to the event sold out in minutes, and some of the highlights included the announcement of World of Warcraft®: Cataclysm™, the unveiling of a new playable class in Diablo® III, the first public hands-on with the single-player campaign of StarCraft® II: Wings of Liberty™, and a closing concert featuring rock legend Ozzy Osbourne.

Further details about BlizzCon 2010, including ticket availability and pricing, will be announced on the official BlizzCon website, http://www.blizzcon.com, as the event draws closer.

To keep pace with the continued growth of World of Warcraft as well as development on other Blizzard Entertainment games, the company is currently hiring for numerous open positions. More information on available career opportunities can be found at http://www.blizzard.com/jobs.

Vote for Blizzard in The Escapist’s Showdown poll

Bashiok and Xordiah invite fans to vote for Blizzard in The Escapist’s March Mayhem Developer’s Showdown 2010 poll.

Blizzard Quote:
We’d appreciate your vote!

Popular gaming website The Escapist is running their March Mayhem Developer’s Showdown 2010, in which 64 of the world’s games creators are pitted against each other. Readers will vote for their favorite developers in a series of head-to-heads. To show your support for Blizzard, you can head over and vote – but don’t delay! Each round only lasts 48 hours, and the first started today, March 17, at 9:00 AM PDT.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/532.179651-Poll-Round-1-West-2-Blizzard-vs-15-The-Behemoth

JINX WoW Spring 2010 T-Shirts - New Diablo III and Starcraft II T-Shirts

J!NX has launched the exciting World of Warcraft Spring 2010 T-Shirts line up, the Diablo III T-shirt and Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty T-Shirt. It’s time to re-stock your T-shirt collection. Click on the images beneath to order your T-shirts. Available for Men and Women in several sizes while supplies last.

T-Shirts available this season are:

  • Sen’jin Headhunters

  • Horde Spray
  • Alliance Spray
  • Priest Legendary Class
  • Exodar Vindicators
  • I Fight Like A Girl
  • Diablo III
  • Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty

Activision Blizzard slips plans for more Diablo games

Activision Blizzard released their Form 10-K Annual Report for the fiscal year ended on December 31, 2009 to inform their investors several strategies to milk [increase the revenue] of all the franchises across their portfolio.

While not all players know much of finances, NASDAQ, or Exchange Commision babble, this fiscal year report slipped an interesting clue at what’s cooking behind the neosteel-reinforced walls of Blizzard Entertainment.

The overview section of this Activision Blizzard investors document might imply the Irvine studios has more than one Diablo game on its tinker table. In short, Diablo III might not be the only Diablo game in development, or there are early plans for more in the future. Here is an excerpt from the report released on March 1, 2010.

“Blizzard has released two expansion packs to  World of Warcraft;  World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade  and  World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King. Blizzard is currently developing new games, including a new expansion pack to the World of Warcraft franchise  , Cataclysm  ,  StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty,  which will be released with the new and improved Battle.net, and [sequels] to the Diablo franchise.”

There is another quote that commits to produce more MMOs in order to retain the customer base amd to prevent them from moving on to one of the competitors.

In the past, some players have theorized Blizzard would never cannibalize their own MMO flagship, World of Warcraft, but more than cannibilize, they would be retaining and recycling their own subscribers; while at the same time cross-promoting their porfolio of games through the new Battle.net built from the ground up to interlace all their game communities into a single solid one with social-networking in mind. Here is another quote from the Activision Blizzard report:

“To remain the leader in the MMORPG category, it is important that we continue to refresh World of Warcraft or [develop new MMORPG products] that are favorably received by both our existing customer base and new customers.”

Blizzard Entertainment is currently developing a Next-Gen MMO that hasn’t been officially titled nor unveiled. It’s likely to be announced in a future Blizzard Worldwide Invitational. Both, Starcraft II and Diablo III, were formerly unveiled there, and Blizzard offered a playable demo at BlizzCon.

The nature of the Next-Gen MMO is unknown, but Blizzard has stated its experience and gameplay differs from what players are accustomed in World of Warcraft, enough to make them two different beasts that would hardly compete with each other.

Blizzard Entertainment is currently developing five games:

1. World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
2. Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty
3. Diablo III
4. Untitled Next-Gen MMO
5. Brand-new IP game (unofficially confirmed to IncGamers a few months ago to be using the World of Warcraft engine for testing purposes until they hire a programmer to craft its own engine. Some might speculate it’s a third MMO).

Blizzard Entertainment, among other things, is known for expanding the experience immersion of their customer base by licensing their IPs and co-developing the stories. Blizzard’s Creative Design team, led by Chris Metzen and Mickey Neilson, and companies such as Pocket Books, TOKYOPOP and Wildstorm work together to bring the WarCraft, StarCraft and Diablo universes to the novels, mangas and comic books markets.

These are not products based on stand-alone stories separate from the games.  Blizzard actually make these stories tie-in with the games’ upcoming content.  Once these novels go on sale, months later the developers introduce the characters and plots of these books into the game.

The WarCraft: The Sunwell Trilogy by Richard A. Knaak introduced five new characters: Kalecgos, Anveena, Jorad Mace, Dar’Khan, and Tyrigosa.  Characters who debuted months later in the World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade expansion.

The same author introduced another character from said manga known as Trag Highmountain into the WarCraft Legends manga series — a Undead Tauren Death Knight. Months later, Blizzard Entertainment introduced that character as an NPC in the Argent Tournament content patch.

World of WarCraft: Rise of the Horde by Christie Golden was a tie-in with the Burning Crusade expansion introducing many of the characters, locations and plots to be found in the game. The Developers were inspired by the novel to develop some quests, and even the Talbuk mount — made up by the writer — was introduced into the game.

However, there was an instance in which Blizzard Entertainment planned to release the StarCraft: Ghost FPS game and its novel tie-in StarCraft: Ghost Nova simultaneously — as revealed by its writer Keith R.A. DeCandido in an en early interview with me.  The game was postponed on March 2006, a few months after our interview, but Blizzard decided to release the book later that year.

Pocket Books launched StarCraft: The Dark Templar barely a couple days after Blizzard Entertainment officially announced StarCraft II at the 2007 Blizzard Worldwide Invitationals  in Seoul, South Korea. There are some extraordinary parallels between these novel tie-ins and upcoming or current games and expansions.

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King by Christie Golden hit the New York Times Bestselling List twice on April 2009, just a few months after the expansion was released. The content of the book was a tie-in with the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. While it mostly retold the WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos and WarCraft III: Frozen Throne from the point of view of Arthas, there were mentions of characters introduced in the World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King expansion such as Matthias Lehner (Arthas Menethil’s child self), Marwin and Falric, and a vision of the future [divined by Arthas the Lich King] where he heard laughter from the depths of the Great Sea, and a posterior cataclysm.

Four months after this book was on sale, Blizzard announced at BlizzCon 2009 the World of WarCraft: Cataclysm expansion, highlighting the new underwater zone and a new revamped Azeroth shaken to its core after the earthquake caused by the emergence of Deathwing from the Elemental Plane of Earth: Deepholm. Can you see the parallels and tie-ins between the novels and the games?

Blizzard continues to awe fans with their game/book’s plot tie-in marketing strategy. A few days ago, Blizzard and Pocket Books launched World of WarCraft: Stormrage by Richard A. Knaak, marking the return of Malfurion Stormrage and the revelation and semi-conclusion of an old and long-overdue plot intrdouced in the World of Warcraft MMO since 2004: the Emerald Dream’s Nightmare. This novel story is set after the Patch 3.3: Fall of the Lich King and before the World of WarCraft: Cataclysm expansion, narrowing the gap between both expansions.

There’s a new book expected later this year titled World of WarCraft: The Shattering by Christie Golden which reveals the plot that leads to the World of WarCraft: Cataclysm.

Back in 2004, the early Alliance quests in World of WarCraft revealed the King of Stormwind was missing. On 2008, his whereabouts were revealed not in-game, but in the Wildstorm and DC Comics World of WarCraft comics book. Shortly after, King Varian returned to his throne in the game demonstrating how clinical Blizzard Entertainment is about making the stories and continuity in printed media and the MMO to be one and the same.

A new Starcraft II tie-in novel titled StarCraft: Heaven’s Devils is expected in April 2010 by William C. Dietz.

Blizzard Entertainment is going to make a game announcement anywhere within the next two years to reveal what the Next-Gen MMO is about. If the marketing trends between games and novel tie-ins are to be considered, the fact that three manga and one novel based in StarCraft: Ghost are scheduled — a game postponed four years ago — that should mean something.

TOKYOPOP’s schedule: StarCraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 1 launched on December 2009, Vol. 2 (August 2010) and Vol. 3 (Spring 2011). Pocket Books plans to release StarCraft: Ghost Spectres on November 2010.

Might the upcoming Next-Gen MMO be a resurrected StarCraft: Ghost Online? That certainly fits an MMO much different than the World of WarCraft MMO’s fantasy genre and gameplay style, as hinted by Rob Pardo not long ago.  Pardo has mentioned several times in the past two years he is confident they will reestablish development of StarCraft: Ghost. It’s just a matter of when.

The Activision Blizzard Form 10-K Annual Report adds a new equation to the enigma that is the Next-Gen MMO.  The report used a plural implying there is more than just Diablo III in their development pipeline. Are they refering to a Diablo IV or a Diablo Next-Gen MMO? While people will always deny that possibility, one has to remember WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos and World of WarCraft were in development simultaneously by two different teams before both games were officially announced.

Back in August 2008, Jay Wilson told MTV the following statement:

“We also tried to focus a little more on bringing characters back, and not just from ‘Diablo II’ but from ‘Diablo I,’” he said. “We feel like a lot of the focus is on ‘Diablo II’ but ‘Diablo I’ started it all and has a lot of really good stuff on the gameplay side and on the character side. So people can expect to see characters from ‘Diablo I,’ more characters from ‘Diablo II,’ and characters from some of the books. We’re definitely going to bring a few of them in.” And while “Diablo III” ends the trilogy, fans needn’t worry — it’s not the final curtain for “Diablo.” “We’re not saying this is the end of the ‘Diablo’ universe, but we are trying to bring this storyline to a close,” Wilson said. “It’s not just ‘Diablo III’ — we’ve got plans beyond.”

It is highly possible there are plans for Diablo IV or an MMO, if the Diablo game goes the route seen with WarCraft III / World of WarCraft.

WarCraft III and its expansion Frozen Throne introduced the new lore that would set the groundwork for the MMO quests, rich characters and locations.

Diablo III will heavily use material such as characters, plots and locations not only from the original Diablo game and Diablo II, but from the novels too. The Diablo universe is no longer a battle between the High Heavens, Sanctuary and the Burning Hells.  Back in 2006, Richard A. Knaak introduced the groundwork for Diablo III and beyond with Diablo: The Sin War trilogy.

During a public Q&A I organized to ask the author details of this trilogy he slipped a massive hint that Diablo III was in development at the time — nigh two years before its official announcement.

How much of the book is creation of yours, and how involved is Chris Metzen behind the canon storyline of Diablo: The Sin War Trilogy? Do you think the ramifications of this book impact the storyline of Diablo 3 the game?

“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. I am not writing for a dead world … but a world with dead. ‘nuff said!”– replied Knaak, Oct 2006.

Here is an excerpt straight from the Diablo: The Sin War trilogy which reveals there are more worlds out there beyond Sanctuary that might be open for exploration during the battle between the forces of angels and demons.

“The gateway was nearly complete, and then the voices struck him from all directions. You cannot! You cannot! You cannot! At the same time, the gateway disintegrated despite his best efforts to keep it from doing so. Filled with an unaccustomed anger, he confronted the voices. This is my burden! This is my duty! You have no say in this, none of you! There was a moment of silence, and then, together, they responded, But we do … this goes beyond Sanctuary now. Beyond all of us who stand sentinel.

The dragon Trag’Oul grew wary. How so? How can that be?.

Their words struck him as nothing else could. Because the war is coming to Sanctuary, and if you interfere with what the Balance demands, it and all existence may be forfeit.”

They left him, then, all the others who stood guard as he did over their separate worlds, left him with the knowledge that it was his Sanctuary whose imminent fate might decide theirs. — The Veiled Prophet, page 168.

Whether the Next-Gen MMO turns out to be StarCraft: Ghost Online, Diablo: Sanctuary Online or something else, one thing is clear. Blizzard Entertainment is the best at what they do enriching their worlds with tie-in novels.

Upon reaching Blizzard Entertainment today for an official statement concerning the 10-K Annual Report’s slip (i.e. and [sequels] to the Diablo franchise) Blizzard’s response is:

Blizzard Quote:
We appreciate the interest, but we don’t have any new announcements to make. For the Diablo franchise, our full focus is on Diablo III.

Source: Activision Blizzard 10-K Annual Report

BlizzCast # 13 Q&A Goes Live

BlizzCast # 13 is now live with Q&As for each Blizzard game franchise.  For Diablo III, there were questions ranging phase technology, skill respec, class resource systems (i.e. Fury, Mana, etc.), bind on equip and bind on account items, gold and durability..

Only the Witch Doctor’s mana resource system is solid, the other classes still need some work.  The Monk’s resource system, however, is the more rounded up in comparison with the Barbarian’s which was the very first class announced. Odd?  Sadly, Bashiok doesn’t reveal what the Monk’s resource system is. The Wizard’s is the hardest for the Dev Team to nail down.

There will be a new revision of all classes very soon—which rises the question: Will there be a new BlizzCon or WWI on 2010? There have been rumors and false alarms with the Las Vegas and Anaheim Convention Centers’ listings and sudden unlistings.

Gold, Durability and Repairs didn’t appear in the early demos played at BlizzCon and WWI—and that doesn’t mean there won’t be any in Diablo III, it only means they are going to work on these mechanics after they are done with the five classes.

Those who played in World of Warcraft closed beta might remember that far in development there was no repairs or durability.  It was introduced in a later beta patch. To give you an idea how long it took for them to introduce repairs and durability, I was level 60 and raiding Blackrock Depths when it was first introduced in a patch. Sometimes it makes sense to worry about it and add these type of mechanics later in the development cycle.

It is unknown at this point if there will be bind on equip and bind on account items, but it is not totally ruled out.

Blizzard Quote:
In our thirteenth BlizzCast episode, we focus on the recent start of the StarCraft II beta! An interview with the StarCraft II’s production director and game director discusses what beta testers and the overall StarCraft community can expect in the latest multiplayer version of the game. The developers also provide some insight into other topics such as the single player campaign, eSports, and macro mechanics. In our second segment, World of Warcraft and Diablo community managers take you through a Q&A segment sharing exciting information about how the future of those series are shaping up.

Check out BlizzCast 13 now: http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/community/blizzcast/archive/episode13.html?rhtml=y

There is some enigma left out and implied somewhere by Bashiok concerning whether Diablo III will use phase technology. Diablo III is not an MMO, so phase technology as it exists in an MMO is not possible in Diablo III which has been built from the ground up to be like Diablo II. Once you leave that instance, and join a new one, everything you did before is reset.  There’s something lingering around the term of instance and phase technology as you can see in this part of the BlizzCast # 13. I remember asking Jay Wilson at the Blizzard’s cafeteria if they had used phase technology in Diablo III, and the answer was no.  Could it be used in certain situations? Bashiok’s answer makes you wonder:

This answer really makes you wonder if phase technology will be used in specific ways to show changes in the landscape—i.e. you get quests at a city, and a few acts later said city is under siege and when you get back to it, it is ablaze and some NPCs are death, while others are terrified and offer you new quests to deal with their new status quo. That would be an interesting way to use it.

Blizzard Quote:
Bashiok:  I’m just kidding. World of Warcraft for those that don’t know, I don’t know who wouldn’t know, but phasing is a way for the game to separate how different players see the world at the same time. They’re all interacting in an MMO persistent world and phasing is used to split up those players to allow them to see the world change and their actions take root in the lore of the world. We’re not a persistent MMO, Diablo III is not a persistent MMO. It’s much more like Diablo II where you load up a game and there’s an instance of that game and then you leave that game and if you start a new game, everything is more or less reset to where you were. It’s very Diablo II-esque so we really don’t need phasing to advance world states because it’s not necessary in the same way to treat different players differently while in the same world. There’s an answer hidden in there somewhere. But anyway…

Jace Hall Season 3 Episode 2: Diablo III Female Monk Artwork Unveiled

Well guys. Good news and bad news. Let’s give you the bad news first. Medievaldragon has to humiliate himself and apologize to that despiseab— I mean, awesome dude known as Jace Hall.

The good news … I knew it !!! Jace Hall Show did unveil the Female Monk artwork during his visit to the Diablo III Team offices. And she looks gorgeous with her short hairstyle as described by Bashiok a few months ago.

The first Blizzard scene starts at minute 04:00. The Diablo III team is discussing when suddenly Chris Metzen (Senior Vice President of Creative Design) shows up into the room and everyone gets pissed off shouting Geez. Chris Metzen isn’t very welcome around there. The crowd-breaker.

Metzen: “What in the world? We got a WoW meeting going on upstairs. I need the Gun!

Wilson: I can give two [beep] about World of Warcraft dude. This is Diablo III’s time.

Metzen: What game’s keeping the lights on, BRO? Diablo III? [ROFL that was a cheap shot down below the belt]

Steve Parker (Senior Producer): He wants to use the decision gun.

Jace Hall: I don’t understand.

Metzen: Like … 6 years you guys been building this thing? You know, just give me THE GUN. Thirty developers upstairs.

Jay Wilson unceremoniously removes his pirate hat and throws it on the table toward Chris Metzen and Steve Parker handles the Gun to him.

Chris Metzen dons the pirate hat on his head, and cocks the gun twice in the air and shoots the gun toward the chalkboard across the room landing on the O-Like D2 circle.

Metzen: Take this shot!

04:37 – Holy cow!!! This is PURE EPICNESS, BRO. You have never seen Chris Metzen like this. He should be in the flipping World of Warcraft film as an actor. Awesomeness!!!

While everyone is loud about Metzen hitting the bullseye, he quickly takes advantage of this distraction to retreat with the Pirate hat and the decision gun like if he had hit the Sprint button in real life, leaving the Diablo III room.

Everyone is pissed off again, and Jay Wilson goes bananas yelling This is my project, I want my [beep] hat back.

04:50 – One of the developers points his finger toward Jace Hall and says: “He’s got a hat.” [uh-ohh]

The second Blizzard scene starts at 06:44 and Jay Wilson shows Jace Hall what we have been waiting for dudes … [drumroll] … three exclusive artworks of the Diablo III Female Monk.

Rumor: BlizzCon 2010 Listed by Anaheim Convention Center

Update 5:30pm EST: I reached Blizzard Entertainment and this is the official response. Our IncGamers main website is echoing the same official response:

Blizzard Quote:
Blizzard Entertainment has not announced any details about the next BlizzCon. We recommend that players refrain from making any BlizzCon-related travel plans at this time.

Update 4:44pm EST: Within a few minutes, the page no longer exists. It has been removed. I took video of my monitor to show you the page, and what happened after I reloaded the page. Will put the video up sometime later.

Original Story 4:22pm EST: The Anaheim Convention Center in California has been the official stage in the past years for the Blizzard Entertainment mega-convention known as Blizzcon. Last year the Anaheim Convention Center welcomed over 25,000 players who traveled from all around the world to meet the Blizzard Entertainment developers, play Starcraft II and Diablo III demos, and to hear what the new World of Warcraft expansion [Cataclysm] was all about.

A few months ago, there was a massive response to the rumor that BlizzCon 2010 would take place at Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Convention Center quickly responded it had been a misunderstanding and the page should never have gone online, as it was a placeholder that was never confirmed or secured by Blizzard Entertainment.

Eldorian (Blizzplanet) has discovered something of interest. The Anaheim Convention Center had not shown any schedules for Blizzcon on its official website up to this point. Now the website currently lists Blizzcon to happen on October 22-23, 2010.

This however, might not be a final date so don’t jump on your horses with this to book flight and hotel reservations just yet. We will have to wait for an official response from Blizzard Entertainment. There is a chance this is another placeholder or automatic renewal that shouldn’t have appeared online. There’s no guarantee that a BlizzCon might be held this year. However, there’s still one more Diablo III Class to be unveiled. There’s no better place to announce this new class than at BlizzCon or at the Blizzard Worldwide Invitationals. None of these events have been confirmed or announced by Blizzard Entertainment as of the time of this post.

Starcraft II might be in beta by the time BlizzCon takes place, and the showcasing of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm’s latest demo is a no brainer. Could there be an announcement of the Next-Gen MMO or the new IP this BlizzCon?


Diablo III Screenshots 02-01-2010

Blizzard released 10 new Diablo III screenshots featuring the Barbarian, the Witch Doctor and the Monk traveling through the desert and some desert dungeons. We can see a few new mobs. One resembles the naga, and the other ones look like spider-like humanoids.

Some fans will have different opinions, but I gotta say I hope this blood is a placeholder. In screenshots it doesn’t look good. Regardless, it is clear that Diablo III will be a game of complete carnage soaked in blood.

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