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GamesCom 2013 interview – Josh Mosqueira talks about Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, Return of Pandemonium Fortress & Necromancers

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Diablo 3 News, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, Featured Stories, GamesCom 2013

Blizzard Entertainment scheduled Blizzplanet, Millenium.org, InDiablo and GamersOrigin to sit together with Josh Mosqueira to interview him about Diablo III: Reaper of Souls. Blizzplanet correspondent Arthur Lorenz (known as Handclaw) was there to participate in this private round of questions with the press.

  • The Crusader was originally going to be a Darker Paladin, but later the class took a life of its own into something different.
  • Bloodmarch is an area outside Westmarch where the Black Soulstone was meant to be buried.
  • The Pandemonium Fortress — where the Worldstone had rested for milennia — will be revisited in this expansion.
  • The Necromancers are not too happy with Malthael the Archangel of Wisdom Death upsetting the balance by raising the dead.
  • No new Follower/Companion, but they have extra lore background, new features, and side-quests.
  • The developers see how well the Hellfire Ring (obtained through the Infernal machine event) has been received by the players, and they are currently experimenting with account-bound items to extend that experience.

BlizzCon New Class Speculation

The developers didn’t want to spoil too much about the Necromancers topic (asked by Handclaw); but it is obvious there is more than meet the eye. One of the developers mentioned the Necromancers are all about balance, and what Malthael is doing at Westmarch definitely affects the balance.

In an MTV interview with Jay Wilson a few years ago (August 5, 2008), he mentioned the Necromancer:

Wilson: I wouldn’t be opposed to looking at old classes. We are trying to design [the Witch Doctor] class so that if we did bring back the Necromancer, there’s room for him. We’re looking out ahead of time at what our expansions are going to be, so we’ve got to keep room open for some of those other classes down the road.”

 

It might be possible to see Necromancer NPC or a Necromancer class. The Crusader might or not be the only class for this expansion. They just want to keep some big surprises for BlizzCon. Another possibility is that the ripples of damage upon the balance wrought by Malthael might be like a kick on the wasp’s nest for the Necromancer. Maybe the second expansion will place the Necromancers in a bigger role than before considering the Diablo: The Sin War and Diablo: Kingdom of Shadow Lore.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we could see Zayl the Necromancer and Kara Nightshadow (Diablo: Legacy of Blood) — both from Richard A. Knaak’s novels. Note: Legacy of Blood and Kingdom of Shadow are reprinted in the Diablo Archive (752 pages).

UPDATE: A fan linked to this article, and got a blue response:

Vaeflare: If you’re keen to see what the Necromancer has been up to since the events of Diablo III, you’ll be pleased to know that you’ll have the opportunity to meet up with him once more in Reaper of Souls!

Also as Josh Mosqueira stated the interview with King Konger and elsewhere, we do not currently have any plans to add another class to the expansion. We feel the Crusader class is a truly epic, and fitting addition to Reaper of Souls, and we’re excited to share more about it with you in the months ahead. :)source

 

Grimiku: Vaeflare confirmed it earlier, but there is no harm in saying again. You’ll get a chance to meet a familiar necromancer npc, but the only additional playable class in Reaper of Souls is the Crusader. We’ll have more information to share about the Crusader in the coming months, but this armored, battle-worn, veteran will be a mighty addition to hero roster of Diablo III. — source

 

GamesCom 2013 Interview

In this GamesCom 2013 interview, the developers also talk about Nephalem Runs and Loot 2.0. Bare with us — GamesCom is the biggest gaming convention in the world. The recording is noisy. You might need to adjust the sound volume.

Why the Crusader, and where did the inspiration for the Crusader come from?

For a few reasons. We had an idea of having a sort of very heavy armored character, so we explored that for a while and we thought of the angle of make it a sort of a dark paladin sort of class and that idea took a life of its own and we went very far with it, and it became something really different at this point. So, way we describe it is a warmachine-made man, what if a modern armored division tank was an evil warrior? So we came up with this idea of a mid-ranged melee character, he wears heavy armor, he crushes his enemies, he has a big heavy flail and he has a shield which is as much a weapon as it is a defense mechanism. In addition he has a lot of holy wrath based damage, that he does, so he has some ranged abilities, too. So it‘s a neat mix of ranged and melee and he has become very different from the paladin at this point. He has become the Crusader.

 

We already know that you are going to patch Loot 2.0 before the expansion gets released. Are you considering to add any other features like the Paragon 2.0, and such before the expansion is ready?

Yea, we are considering all of the features, and tinker out which is more appropriate. Anything that is broadly systemic like that tends to be added in the game anyway. There is no reason for us not to give it up free. Probably a lot of more stuff will be free before the expansion goes live.

 

Will there be any new companions or any new content for the Templar or the Scoundrel?

There is a lot of new content for the old companions. We didn’t add a new companion. We have this idea that more is not better. Better is better. It’s how we say it. We figured we did not do enough to make the existing companions deep — we had a lot of grand plans for them in the first game; We are giving them a lot of more stories, they are actually getting side-quests — in Act V as well. So they are getting richer back stories. You get to meet, for example, the Scoundrel’s brother.

That’s new. No one knows about that yet. That’s our official leak for today’s interview.

 

Can you explain Nephalem Trials?

The idea for the Nephalem Trials takes a lot of inspiration from the Jar of Souls event from Act I. We wondered how to create this kind of micro-challenges to help us survey the pace of gameplay, the idea is that when you explore the world you come across a Nephalem portal, you jump into one of these Nephalem Trials. There are many different variations — one of the classic ones — you end up fighting waves and waves of enemies and you have a time limit. Depending how well, how many monsters you kill within the time limit you will be rewarded with a number of resplendant chests. So it’s a cool way to add a challenge to the game and add some variety.

Storywise, players met some of the Nephalem spirits that have been left behind in the world of Sanctuary, in the first game. At certain point, all humans were Nephalem. All humans had powers. The first generations of humans ever born had that. Eventually, they lost their powers, and as they were losing it, the leaders left behind guardian spirits for if in the future the Nephalem arose again, they could get guidance. These are the spirits that help you run these trials.

 

The new expansion adds a new Act with a new story, How much gameplay time takes to play through the whole story?

We haven’t finished the Act yet. We are not done making it yet. So it’s hard to say exactly how long it is, but I think more than ever, the game doesn’t end when you kill Malthael and defeat him. The replayability has been quitely expanded. Loot Runs is the first time we are talking about here at GamesCom.

Loot Runs is just one of the systems by the way, and the way that it works is extensively random dungeons. We take every single tile that is in the game, including all the new exterior ones are now randomized in Act V. We combined those in about 15-minute long dungeons at multiple levels with a variety of monsters.

With this monsters you need to work together, you need to change your tactics, very dense populated. Random boss fights and random loot. We take the promise of Diablo’s randomness, make that within a 15-minute chunks to add more end-game gameplay.

 

Almost all items we saw in this expansions are account-bound. Is this because of enchanting or is there another reason for that?

That’s something that we are experimenting with. The Hellfire Ring is something we believe responded really well. So we are seeing how to extend that system. We hope to hear some feedback from players here at GamesCom.

You get better items, but it’s your better items.

 

What variation of environments are we going to see in the expansion — we have seen some like Westmarch, Bloodmarch — what can we expect?

We were just sorta teasing some of the zones, but we can’t mention them. So I’ll cover the Bloodmarch.

The Bloodmarsh is an area outside of the city of Westmarch. It’s a very cool area, it’s one of our more fun and dangerous looking zones we have in the game.

Actually you see some of it in the opening cinematic, where the Black Soulstone is buried. Where Archangel Malthael comes and steal it from Tyrael. It’s underneath the Bloodmarch, and it does exist in the game right now.

The other area you will be exploring is the Pandemonion Fortress. It’s sort of the heart of creation, and that’s going to be a really great counterpoint to the more gothic feeling of Westmarch. The players will really love the journey from Westmarch to the Bloodmarch to the Pandemonium.

It’s a place where the angels and demons have fought over forever.

 

A lot of people are missing the darker side of Diablo II in Diablo III. Is the expansion going to be darker?

Dark side. I mean, Diablo III opens with a zombie apocalypse. It’s the end of the world, and meteors falling, and the armies of Hell are coming. Explain dark side.

For many years now we have really wanted to do a city tileset. A random city. So it all works with the same Diablo randomness, but still feels like a real city.

We actually tried to do that for a while, in Diablo III’s development, but we put it aside. As soon as we began work on the expansion, that was the first thing we tackled. So apart from the fact that it was a city, we didn’t know whether we wanted to do Westmarch years ago; and Death as the villain, has sort of made it definitely very grim and dark. That was heavy and gothic anyway before Death arrived and invaded it.

It’s a marshal city. It’s founded by the Paladin order when they were on their first grand crusade bringing their Zakarum faith to the west with fire and a sword.

It was founded by Rakkis. The soldiers of Bastion’s Keep are actually from the city of Westmarch. So we knew that we wanted to do Westmarch for a while, and not in response to anything in particular from Diablo III.

It’s not a reaction, but more than anything else an opportunity for us. When we started thinking about the expansion, they wanted Westmarch, another wanted the Crusader. When the team came across the idea of really focusing on Malthael the Angel of Death kinda rocked everything together and really allowed us to deliver — not just a gothic setting — but sub-apocalyptic and anti-apocalyptic that’s happening. It helps put everything together. The complete package.

The whole expansion is not the same color scheme. It’s not the same heavy gothic feel either. We just mentioned two of the other zones, and variety is a very important part of the game. It’s about replayability.

For us gothic doesn’t necessarily mean just round, black and gray. Gothic is more about the feel.

 

Are you going to make improvements to the Battle.net?

We are working on a lot of improvements. We didn’t announced any one yet. We are still working on them, and want to know a little more about — be sure — before we can talk about them, but there is a number of improvements to Battle.net and social services coming.

 

Given the theme of the new expansion, with Malthael being the Angel of Death, will we meet any Necromancer? … because it sounds like it would fit quite a little.

I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but … (at unison) MAYBE! **MAYBE!!!***

Obviously, bad things are happening. There’s a lot of death, and I think the necromancers are drawn to death.

Necromancers are about balance. If the army of death are taking over the world, that’s not balance anymore; and they need to do something about it.

 

Regarding the cinematic, Tyrael is hiding the Black Soulstone with the Horadrim. Are we going to know more about the Horadrim?

Yea, before the expansion ships, you are going to know more about the Horadrim. Tyrael has refound the Horadrim order. So they are a new Horadrim. The character that you meet at the beginning of the demo, he is a new Horadrim character that we spent a lot of time getting to know as well. So the Horadrim has been reborn. Cain passed that mantle down to Leah, and then we all know what happened with her. So, that didn’t work. Right? — the Kevin Marten yells: “SPOILERS!!!”

Josh Mosqueira says: “I didn’t specifically say what happened to Leah.”

Kevin Martens responds: “Oh shit!”

Josh Mosqueira finishes: “She’s not taking over the Horadrim. Let’s just say that.”

 

Note: That was a bit confusing. Are they considering Leah’s fate at the end of Diablo III a spoiler, or are they fooling around because Leah is coming back from the … death. Coughs … Malthael is rising the dead. Or because the Necromancers bring her back? Hard to decipher their code-talk.

Special thanks to Arthur Lorenz aka Handclaw (Blizzplanet contributor) who interviewed the Diablo III team at GamesCom, and thanks to the Blizzard US/EU PR teams.

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GamesCom 2013 – Blizzard Press Event Video

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Diablo 3 News, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, Featured Stories, GamesCom 2013

Blizzplanet staff member Arthur “Handclaw” Lorenz attended GamesCom 2013 to witness the Blizzard Entertainment press panel held on Wednesday, August 21 at 11:30am CEST.

Arthur saw history unfold as Blizzard Entertainment unveiled the new expansion titled Diablo III: Reaper of Souls. The videos below contain the whole press panel. Check out the new Crusader class, Westmarch vistas and great features to be introduced in the expansion: level cap increased to 70, Unlimited Paragon Levels, Nephalem Trials, the Mystic, end-game Loot Runs, Improved Loot 2.0, a new Act, and much more.

Visit the official Diablo III: Reaper of Souls website.

Video # 1

Video # 2

Video # 3

Nephalem Trials

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Press Release – Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Unveiled

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Diablo 3 News, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, Featured Stories, GDC 2013

Blizzard Entertainment deployed a press release to go in detail about the new expansion titled Diablo III: Reaper of Souls which introduces a new class: The Crusader, and a whole new Act featuring the new villain: Malthael, the Archangel of Wisdom Death.

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Upcoming expansion to the fastest-selling PC game of all time playable at gamescom

“Death, at last, shall spread its wings over all . . .”

COLOGNE, Germany—August 21, 2013 – The defeat of Diablo, Lord of Terror, should have given rise to an age of hope. Instead, it has drawn out a shadowy being of immense power, whose malevolent purpose is yet to be revealed. Announced today at gamescom, Diablo® III: Reaper of Souls™, the upcoming expansion to Diablo III, opens a dark and terrifying new chapter in the ongoing conflict over the mortal realm of Sanctuary.

Malthael, the fallen Archangel of Wisdom, vanished after the events depicted at the end of Diablo II: Lord of Destruction®. In Reaper of Souls, he returns as the Angel of Death and seizes the Black Soulstone, which contains the essence of the Prime Evil. It now falls to the players to track down Malthael and stop him before he unleashes irreversible havoc on the world.

Fortunately, a new hero is ready to join the cause and bring Malthael to justice—the Crusader. Driven by a centuries-long quest to cleanse the corruption blighting their beloved Zakarum faith, Crusaders are warriors of righteousness who have been hardened through relentless, brutal combat with the foul evils plaguing eastern Sanctuary. In addition to wearing immensely heavy armor and wielding a wide range of cruel and punishing weapons, this new playable class in Reaper of Souls uses battle magic to strengthen allies and weaken foes. A natural walking tank, the Crusader adds power and versatility to any party of adventurers.

“From the beginning, Diablo has always been about the struggle between good and evil, and Reaper of Souls explores the darker notes of that conflict,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “This expansion also represents a big milestone in the ongoing evolution of Diablo III, with key enhancements to the core gameplay, along with a new act to experience, a powerful new character class, tons of new loot, and even more end-game options. We think players will love playing Reaper of Souls, and we can’t wait to get it into their hands.”

In addition to taking the story of Diablo III from the legendary city of Westmarch to the unhallowed halls of the Pandemonium Fortress in Act V and introducing the incorruptible Crusader class, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls increases the game’s level cap to 70. Players continuing on with their existing Barbarian, Witch Doctor, Demon Hunter, Wizard, and Monk characters will benefit from an array of fearsome new spells and abilities as they advance in level.

The expansion also accentuates the key features of the Diablo franchise, with a greater emphasis on randomized environments to explore; epic new quests; horrific new monsters to defeat; and substantial updates to the loot experience, enabling players to further customize their characters with new and improved multilevel Legendary items, new Blacksmith and Jeweler item-crafting options, and more.

Diablo III’s Paragon progression system is also being majorly upgraded for the expansion, adding even *more end-game character advancement and replayability. Two new game modes—Loot Runs and Nephalem Trials—are being added as well, providing fun and rewarding challenges for players to tackle when they’re not busy saving the world.

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is playable on the show floor at gamescom, and Blizzard will be revealing further details about the expansion at BlizzCon and beyond as development progresses. For further information related to today’s announcement and all the latest news about Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, visit http://www.diablo3.com/reaperofsouls.

With multiple games in development, Blizzard Entertainment has numerous positions currently available—visit http://jobs.blizzard.com for more information and to learn how to apply.

 
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GamesCom 2013: Blizzard Press Event – Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Revealed

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Diablo 3 News, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, Featured Stories, GamesCom 2013

Blizzard Entertainment revealed the Diablo III: Reaper of Souls expansion trailer at GamesCom during a press event held at 11:30am CEST.

The Crusader is a new mid-range melee class wielding a longsword and a shield. The class is based on the Diablo II Paladin. The demonstration shows a Death Maiden in the Cathedral of the Zakarum.

The Angel of Wisdom Malthael plays a big role in the story as a villain. He will command dead angels as the Archangel of Death to punish Sanctuary and the remaining demons of the Burning Hells.

Archangel Malthael sees humanity as the largest group of demons, and wants to eradicate them. Tyrael and the new Horadrim wanted to hide the Black Soulstone deep beneath Sanctuary; but Archangel Malthael stole the Black Soulstone. (as seen in the cinematic below)

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The level cap has increased to level 70 and the expansion will introduce a new ACT.

The expansion will also focus on upgrades to the Paragon levels. New monsters include the Summoner of the Death, The Seraph and the Death Maiden. — fallen angels.

A new artisan will offer transmo services to change the appearance of your armor for that of another armor like in World of Warcraft.

Paragon levels will now be account-wide rather than individual characters. There is no cap to Paragon levels (Unlimited Paragon Levels). A return of an attribute system which uses Paragon points.

The Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is now playable at GamesCom where attendees can play as the Crusader class.

The new environment setting is gothic-medieval in nature in the lands of Westmarch.

Handclaw is at the press event taking video of the press event for Blizzplanet. The video will be available at a later time. Stay tuned. Additionally, Blizzard Entertainment scheduled an interview slot for Blizzplanet on Friday, August 23 with the Diablo III (PS3) team.

Further details of the Diablo III expansion will be revealed at BlizzCon this upcoming November 8-9th.

Malthael, the Angel of Death, has seized the Black Soulstone. It falls to the heroes of Sanctuary to stop him before he unleashes its dark power on the world. Today at gamescom, Blizzard Entertainment announced Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, the upcoming expansion to the fastest-selling PC game of all time. See the press release to learn more about this dark new chapter in the ongoing struggle between angels and demons over the fate of mankind.

 

The news is spreading so quick the hashtag Reaper of Souls have started trending on Twitter along with the hashtag Diablo 3.

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Videos

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SDCC 2013 Interview – Micky Neilson on Diablo III: Book of Tyrael and World of Warcraft: Bloodsworn

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Products News, Diablo 3 News, Featured Stories, SDCC 2013, StarCraft 2 News, World of Warcraft News

Blizzplanet correspondent David Frazier interviewed Micky Neilson at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con on Friday, July 19th to forward a combination of SOL community and Blizzplanet questions about licensed products revealed at the Blizzard Licensing Panel, and about products that weren’t mentioned at the panel.

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PAX East – Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft Press Kit

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Diablo 3 News, Event Coverage, Featured Stories, PAX East 2013, StarCraft 2 News, World of Warcraft News

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Blizzard Entertainment Rob Pardo announced at PAX East a team of 15 developers was created exclusively to develop Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft planned to launch beta testing this Summer.

No one expected Blizzard to announce a free to play CCG game.

The game is slated for beta this summer and will be released later this year (2013). It will be released in PC and Mac first with an iPad release coming shortly after. No current plans it seems on Android or other mobile OS.

Official website revealed as well the beta signup page: http://us.battle.net/hearthstone/en/

As someone like myself who has played Magic: The Gathering since 1998, I can tell you that this game looks like an absolute blast. The MTG video games they have recently are quite fun and this seems to be along those lines. This game looks like something for casuals as well as competitive gamers. The booster packs are expected to cost around $1, but you’ll also be able to earn them – kind of the same way League of Legends and other free to play games work where you can slowly earn what you need or go ahead and pay up front.

We have an interview tomorrow for the new game. If you have any questions you’d like to see us ask add them below in the comments!

ANNOUNCEMENT VIDEO

FACT SHEET

Blizzard Entertainment’s Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a free-to-play strategy card game for Windows, Macintosh, and iPad. Designed to be deceptively simple and epically engaging for players of all backgrounds, Hearthstone features quick and lively duels that evoke the spirit of a friendly match played beside a crackling tavern fire.

Each player’s card deck centers around a hero representing one of nine iconic Warcraft classes, customized with a set of minions, spells, and/or weapons based on individual strategy and available cards. Players will be able to hone their skills in practice matches against the computer, and when they’re ready for the challenge, they can take on their Battle.net friends and other players in friendly duels. To further develop their decks, players will be able to acquire cards by crafting them and by winning or purchasing new card packs. With hundreds of unique cards to choose from, the potential card combinations and possible strategies are endless!

Game Modes

  • Play Mode: Duel opponents online to boost your medal ranking and earn packs of cards. Whether you’re a grizzled veteran, curious newcomer, or fall somewhere in between, our matchmaking system will pit you against worthy competition.
  • The Forge: Put your skills to the test in this mode where deck-building is half the fun. You’ll be presented with a series of card choices from which you must forge your deck, and then you’ll bring that deck into battle against other duelists. In addition to having a chance to win card packs as prizes if you duel well, all participants will keep the cards they selected for their Forge deck.
  • Practice Mode: Hone your skills and test out new deck ideas against basic or expert AI opponents, and unlock eight playable heroes in the process.

Key Features

Collection Manager: Peruse your ever-expanding card collection and build a variety of custom decks to suit all kinds of strategies. If you’re new to deck-building, you can also get guided help here on how to fill out your deck for competitive play.

Crafting: Disenchant those extra cards in your collection to receive arcane dust, the building block used to construct Hearthstone cards. You can then use this dust to craft the cards needed to complete one or more of your decks or your overall collection.

Friendly Duels: Want to challenge your buddy to a quick match (or just show off your shiny new cards)? Hearthstone is connected to Battle.net, so you’ll be able to fire up a game with a friend right from your friends list.

 

BETA TESTING

At the FAQ section below there are more details about beta. Beta testing starts this Summer 2013. You can sign up to participate in beta by going to the bottom of the page at the USA Heroesofwarcraft.com website or the Europe website.

Press Release

New free-to-play strategy card game for PC and iPad® lets you hang up your sword . . . and throw down your gauntlet

Hands-on demos at PAX East this weekend, beta test starting soon

BOSTON –(BUSINESS WIRE)– Pull up a chair across from an old friend at the tavern table and prepare for a few rounds of lively card-vs.-card warfare. Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. laid its virtual cards on the table today with the unveiling of Hearthstone™: Heroes of Warcraft™, a new cross-platform free-to-play game for Windows®, Macintosh®, and iPad®.

In Hearthstone, players build card decks centered around one of nine iconic Warcraft® character classes and duel each other for fun, glory, and the chance to win awesome new cards. PAX East attendees are able to go hands-on with Hearthstone this weekend, and Blizzard will begin beta testing for the game very soon—no, seriously.

“We’ve always loved collectible card games at Blizzard, so it’s been exciting to bring everything we love about the genre to life in Hearthstone,” said Mike Morhaime , CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment . “We’re putting a lot of focus into creating a fun new game that’s easy to pick up and play, but also has a lot of depth. We can’t wait to share it with everyone.”

Deceptively simple in design but epically engaging, Hearthstone will be instantly accessible to players regardless of their familiarity with Warcraft or collectible card games. Whether players prefer to wield magic or arms in battle, strike from the shadows or head on—or have never given any of that much thought—they’ll be able to jump right in, create a deck, and get in on the card-slinging action.

In addition to honing their skills in practice matches against the computer and taking on their buddies via their Battle.net® friends list, players can challenge each other in two competitive game modes. “Play Mode” features traditional head-to-head battles, with players facing off for a chance to increase their medal ranking and earn card packs along the way. And for a different type of challenge, players can enter “The Forge,” where they start each match by building a deck from a new set of cards, and then use that deck to duel other Forge participants. Aside from winning new cards, players will be able to round out their collections by purchasing new card packs or disenchanting some of their existing cards to craft the ones they’re missing.

With hundreds of cards to choose from, featuring a wide range of colorful Warcraft spells, weapons, and characters, players will have limitless possibilities for developing and fine-tuning their deck-building strategies. Further details about Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft will be announced as development progresses. To learn more about the game, stay tuned to http://www.PlayHearthstone.com. With multiple games in development, Blizzard Entertainment has numerous positions currently available—visit http://jobs.blizzard.com for more information and to learn how to apply.

 

Official Screenshots

Video Trailer

Jason Hayes announced via twitter that he composed the The Hearthstone: Warcraft of Heroes soundtrack.

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Hearthstone – Building The Fire

Blizzard employees/developers talk about the development of Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft and more about Team 5 and their role at Blizzard.

FAQ


What is Hearthstone™?

Hearthstone is a free-to-play digital strategy card game that anyone can enjoy. Players choose to play as one of nine epic Warcraft® heroes, and then take turns playing cards from their customizable decks to cast potent spells, use heroic weapons or abilities, or summon powerful characters to crush their opponent.

Why is Blizzard making Hearthstone?

We looooooove collectible card games and have been playing them since our Silicon & Synapse days. Creating a digital strategy card game felt like a natural next step for us, so we put together a small team and have been hammering away at Hearthstone for a while now. We’re excited to be working on something different from our other games, which we’ve wanted to do for a long time. Same goes for creating a game for iPad® in addition to PC. It’s been a thrill to work on Hearthstone and to finally be able to reveal it to the community, and we hope everyone has as much fun playing it as we’ve had building it.

Do I need to know anything about strategy card games or Warcraft to play?

Not at all! We’ve designed Hearthstone so that anyone can get into it, no matter how familiar they are with the Warcraft universe or collectible card games. The game will teach you everything you need to know as you play it.

What are the key game modes and features?

Hearthstone’s key game modes and features include:

  • Practice mode: Hone your abilities and test out new deck ideas against A.I. opponents of basic or expert skill levels, and unlock new playable heroes in the process.
  • Play mode: Duel other players to increase your medal ranking—which indicates your skill level and the level of opponents you’ll face (resets weekly)—and earn new card packs along the way. Whether you’re a grizzled veteran or curious newcomer, or fall somewhere in between, Battle.net® matchmaking will pair you up against a worthy opponent.
  • The Forge: Put your skills to the test in this mode where deck-building is half the fun. Assemble a new deck by choosing from a selection of cards provided for the match, and then duel other Forge participants for a chance to win card packs. The cards you select to build your deck with are yours to keep and can be added to other decks in your collection after your Forge duels are complete. Note that you must trade in a certain number of card packs to participate in a Forge match (further details to be announced later).
  • Collection Manager: Browse your ever-expanding card collection, disenchant cards for raw materials to craft new ones, and build a variety of custom decks to suit your shifting strategies.

What’s the difference between “basic” and “expert” cards?

Basic cards are the “starter” cards that form the foundation of each hero’s class, and are earned each time you play a game (you can have up to two of every basic card in the game in your collection).

Expert cards are cards that can only be found in card packs or created using the crafting system (certain achievements grant them as well). They’re distinguished by their rarity—common (white), rare (blue), epic (purple), or legendary (orange). Generally, the rarer a card is, the more complex it is . . . often providing you with new strategic options. You can have any number of expert cards in your collection, though only two of any common, rare, or epic card, and one of any legendary card, can be placed in a deck.

Both basic and expert cards have important roles to play in all decks, regardless of whether you’re just starting out or are a Hearthstone grandmaster.

What are the different types of cards in Hearthstone?

Once you’ve selected which hero you want to play as, there are three types of cards you can build your deck with in Hearthstone: spells, weapons, and minions. Each card falls into either the “basic” or “expert” card set (see below).

How much does it cost to play?

Hearthstone is free to play, and there are a number of different ways to acquire cards through gameplay. In addition, players will have the option to buy additional card packs through an in-game store using Battle.net Balance or other supported payment methods, such as major credit cards. However, there is no requirement to purchase card packs in order to play Hearthstone.

What are all the different ways a player can acquire cards?

Players will earn their first set of cards as soon as they start playing Hearthstone, and certain game modes and features will award additional cards through gameplay. In addition, players will have the option to purchase additional card packs through the in-game store using Battle.net Balance or other supported payment methods, such as major credit cards. Here are the different ways to get cards:

  • Practice Mode: Play against A.I. opponents representing different classes to unlock new heroes and basic cards.
  • Play Mode: By participating in traditional head-to-head matches, players have a chance to win card packs.
  • The Forge: Build a deck by selecting one card from each of a series of randomized card choices, and then play against other Forge participants. The cards you pick to build your deck are yours to keep—play well enough, and you could win even more. Note that you must trade in a certain number of card packs to participate in The Forge (further details to be announced later).
  • Crafting: Disenchant expert cards in your collection to receive arcane dust, and then use your collected dust to craft other cards of your choosing. Basic cards cannot be disenchanted.
  • Card Packs: Purchase card packs containing five random cards using your Battle.net Balance or a variety of supported payment methods. One of the cards will always be of “rare” rarity or greater; in some cases, you may find that one or more additional cards has also “upgraded” to a higher tier of rarity.
  • Achievements: Certain achievements in the game may grant additional cards.

How many cards are available in the game?

There are over 300 cards in Hearthstone. All of these can be earned, with some cards granted for dueling the A.I. or completing achievements and others found inside card packs that can be earned by playing in Play mode and The Forge. We plan to introduce additional cards over time.

Can I trade cards to other players or sell cards for real cash?

No, Hearthstone is not designed to support these types of transactions.

Can players choose to battle against their friends in addition to taking part in match-made duels?

Of course! You will be able to play against your friends via your Battle.net friends list.

On which platforms will Hearthstone be available?

Hearthstone will initially be available for Windows® and Macintosh®, with a version for iPad coming later.

What comes in a card pack?

Each pack comes with five random cards. Your chance to receive a particular card depends on its rarity: common (white), rare (blue), epic (purple), or legendary (orange). You’re guaranteed to receive at least one card of rare or better quality per pack. Each card in the pack also has a chance to upgrade to a “Golden” version of the same card.

How do I apply for the beta test?

Just visit www.playhearthstone.com to opt-in with your Battle.net account!

How will I get cards in the beta test? Do I need to purchase them with real money?

We do plan to test the in-game store during the beta test, and players will be able to purchase card packs using their Battle.net Balance or other Battle.net-supported payment methods. Players will also be able to obtain cards through Practice mode, Play mode, and The Forge.

The card pack price in the beta test does not necessarily reflect what the final prices will be at launch.

Will the cards I earn or purchase in the beta test carry over into the live game? What happens if I purchased beta card packs for real money?

Prior to launch your card collection will be reset, and any cards you acquired through a purchased card pack or earned during the beta test will be removed. However, any purchases you made during the beta test will be credited back to you in the form of new, unopened card packs at launch, equal to the value you spent during the beta test. Please note that these will not contain the same cards as those received from card packs in the beta test. Also, as a thank-you for testing out the in-game store during Hearthstone’s beta phase, everyone who purchased a card pack in the beta test will get a special gift.

I don’t live in the US; can I still participate in the beta test?

We hope to launch a beta test in other game regions after the initial beta-test launch in North America, but we don’t have any specifics to announce at this time. Stay tuned for updates.

Where will Hearthstone be available?

Our goal is to make Hearthstone available in the same regions supported by World of Warcraft, but we don’t have details to share just yet.

 

THE LAUNCH DETAILS (SO FAR)


When will Hearthstone be released?

We’re not sure yet—what we do know is that we’re going to take as much time as necessary to make sure Hearthstone is as fun and polished as possible.

How do I get Hearthstone?

Once the game is live, you’ll be able to download it free directly from Blizzard. We’ll provide further details, including how to purchase card packs, as we get closer to launch.

What ages are appropriate?

Hearthstone has not yet received its final rating.

On which platforms will Hearthstone be available?

Hearthstone will initially be available for Windows® and Macintosh®, with a version for iPad coming later.

Where will Hearthstone be available?

Our goal is to make Hearthstone available in the same regions supported by World of Warcraft, but we don’t have details to share just yet.

When will the iPad version be available?

Hearthstone will be available in the App Store as soon as possible after its release on Windows and Macintosh PCs.

Will Hearthstone be localized? Which languages?

We’re planning to localize Hearthstone in the same languages as World of Warcraft wherever possible. We’ll post the final language list as soon as we can.

I play World of Warcraft, too! Can I earn anything for my WoW characters by playing Hearthstone?

We’re looking into a few possibilities and hope to have more details to share in the future.

How do Hearthstone and World of Warcraft relate to each other?

Both games take place in the Warcraft universe, and World of Warcraft players will recognize a lot of aspects of Azeroth in Hearthstone. That said, you don’t need to even know what World of Warcraft is to have loads of fun in Hearthstone.

 

THE GAME MECHANICS

What makes Hearthstone different from other card games?

We’ve designed Hearthstone to be easy to learn so that anyone can get into it—but it’s also deep enough that even the most elite duelists will find it a challenge to master. Hearthstone is designed around short, action-packed duels that generally take 10–15 minutes to play.

How many players can play in a multiplayer game?

More than one, but fewer than three.

Which heroes are featured in Hearthstone?

You’ll be able to build a deck based on one of nine epic Warcraft heroes, each representing one of the original World of Warcraft classes: Druid, Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, and Warrior.

Wait, what about Monk? Where’s Death Knight?!

The roster of heroes represents the nine classes that were available at World of Warcraft’s launch. It’s still too early to discuss our plans for heroes aside from these, though the game will continue to evolve over time. So practice patience, young monk! And death knight, you’re immortal, so you can chill for now too, right?

Will additional content be available in the future?

We plan to add more content and additional cards as the game evolves, but we don’t have any details to share just yet. Right now, our focus is making sure the game is as fun and polished as possible right out of the gate.

How does Practice mode work?

In the game’s Practice mode, you choose to play against a computer-controlled hero of any class at one of two different difficulty levels. Challenging that hero will unlock it for play and expand the types of cards you’re able to add to your collection. Players will earn a fledgling Mage deck just by launching the game, but that’s only the beginning of the journey. . . .

Can I create new decks or modify my current deck?

Absolutely! Customizing the perfect deck to suit your play style or to counter a rival is a huge part of Hearthstone. As your card collection grows, the in-game Collection Manager will help you create, save, and edit multiple decks for whatever situation or play style you can think of.

What if I’m new at deck-building and need some help?

We want anyone to be able to get into Hearthstone and build a deck without having to understand all the nuances of deck building. To that end, we’re developing a feature that will examine your deck and card collection and provide suggestions for what you should add. You’ll be provided with brief reasoning behind these recommendations so that you can learn a little more about how to build a great deck.

What comes in a card pack?

Each pack comes with five random cards. Your chance to receive a particular card depends on its rarity: common (white), rare (blue), epic (purple), or legendary (orange). You’re guaranteed to receive at least one rare or better card per pack. Each card in the pack also has a chance to upgrade to a “Golden” version of the same card.

What is a Golden card?

All cards found in a card pack have a chance to be upgraded to a Golden card when the pack is opened. This upgrade will affect the appearance of the card but not its power.

Does Hearthstone support asynchronous play?

Hearthstone is designed to be a fast-paced experience. That being said, we recognize that players may want to play the game in short bursts with their friends over a longer period of time, so we’re looking into the possibility of supporting asynchronous play.

How does The Forge work?

You’ll be able to enter The Forge by trading in unopened card packs (further details to be announced later). These packs can be earned free in Play mode (or won in previous Forge games that you might have played), or you can purchase them from the in-game store. Once you are in, you will build a special Forge deck, choosing one card at a time from a series of card options until you have a full deck of 30. You’ll then duel with that deck against other Forge participants until you win or lose a specific number of matches. At the end, you keep all the expert cards that were in your deck—and depending on how well you performed you could win additional card packs.

How do I disenchant and craft cards?

Expert cards can be “disenchanted”—giving the player a resource called arcane dust but destroying the card in the process. Once a player collects enough dust, they can use it to create any card in the game, including Golden cards, permanently adding that card to the player’s collection. The amount of dust received and/or the cost of the card created depends on the card’s rarity (common, rare, epic, or legendary).

Only expert cards—that is, cards that come in card packs or are earned through playing in The Forge—can be disenchanted. Basic cards (i.e., cards with no rarity indicator) cannot be disenchanted.

 

THE TECHNICAL STUFF

How do I pay for cards?

On Windows and Macintosh PCs, players will be able to purchase card packs within the game using their Battle.net Balance or any other Battle.net-supported payment method attached to their account.

On the iPad, players will be able to make purchases using the payment methods they’ve associated with their AppleID in the App Store. The exact process will differ slightly for each region. We’ll provide further details as we get closer to launch.

What are the system requirements for Hearthstone?

We’ll announce specific system requirements closer to launch.

Will I be able to add friends in Hearthstone and chat with people?

Yes! The folks in your Battle.net friends list (both BattleTag and Real ID friends) are available for games or conversation. Players will not be able to chat with anyone who is not on their friends list. However, players will be able to choose from a variety of emotes for basic communication during games.

How can I communicate with opponents during a game who are not on my friends list?

We have an emote system that lets you communicate in a safe way with random folks you are playing with online. You can thank or congratulate or threaten your opponent with the voice of the hero you are playing.

Are you supporting Android tablets?

Hearthstone will launch on Windows, Macintosh, and, later on, iPad. We’re looking into the possibility of supporting additional platforms in the future, but we don’t have any further info to share at this time.

Will Hearthstone run on my iPhone?

Hearthstone is for Windows and Macintosh PCs and iPad only.

Do you need a Battle.net account to play Hearthstone?

We’re still working out the details for iPad, but you will need a Battle.net account to play Hearthstone on PC. If you don’t already have a Battle.net account, you can create one at http://www.battle.net.

Do you need a World of Warcraft account to play Hearthstone?

Nay, ye do not!

Will there be parental controls for Hearthstone?

Yes. Parents will be able to use Battle.net’s Parental Controls system to restrict their child’s ability to purchase additional card packs within Hearthstone.

 

THE BETA TEST

How will I get cards in the beta test? Do I need to purchase them with real money?

We do plan to test the in-game store during the beta test, and players will be able to purchase card packs using their Battle.net Balance or other Battle.net-supported payment methods. Players will also be able to obtain cards through Practice mode, Play mode, and The Forge.
The card pack price in the beta test does not necessarily reflect what the final prices will be at launch.

Will the cards I earn or purchase in the beta test carry over into the live game? What happens if I purchased beta card packs for real money?

Prior to launch your card collection will be reset, and any cards you acquired through a purchased card pack or earned during the beta test will be removed. However, any purchases you made during the beta test will be credited back to you in the form of new, unopened card packs at launch, equal to the value you spent during the beta test. Please note that these will not contain the same cards as those received from card packs in the beta test. Also, as a thank you for testing out the in-game store during Hearthstone’s beta phase, everyone who purchased a card pack in the beta test will get a special gift.

Will my progress in the beta test—unlocking heroes, earning cards, my ranking—carry over to the final game?

No way! In the interest of fairness, everything will be reset after the beta test ends so that players can be on equal footing when the game launches.

How do I apply for the beta test?

Just visit www.playhearthstone.com to opt-in with your Battle.net account!

I don’t live in the US; can I still participate in the beta test?

We hope to launch a beta test in other game regions after the initial beta-test launch in North America, but we don’t have any specifics to announce at this time. Stay tuned for updates.

© 2013 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. Hearthstone is a trademark, and Warcraft, Battle.net and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. in the U.S., and/or other countries. Windows is a trademark of the Microsoft group of companies. Mac and IPad are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc. All other trademarks referenced herein are the properties of their respective owners.

 

Press Kit Artwork

Press Kit Minion & Class Cards Art

Press Kit Heroes (Full)

Blizzplanet – PAX East Coverage

Blizzard Entertainment invited Blizzplanet and other gaming sites to the PAX East Game Announcement Event. Here are some of our interviews and press media kit coverage.

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Blizzplanet Gaming: The Bearded Gamer Returns

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

Chris “The Bearded Gamer” Arnone and the M Productions cameraman have returned from well-deserved vacations. The Blizzplanet Gaming videocast’s Blizzard Weekly News has now a new format. The new show will report World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, and Diablo III weekly news. Of course, anything concerning Blizzard All-Stars, Next-Gen MMO Titan and whatever Project Blackstone turns out to be.

Launch the video by clicking this image.

In this show Chris talk about the following topics:

WoW news

New Pet to purchase – the Cinder Kitten
Mounts are 50% off (ended already)
Patch 5.1 releases

Sc2 news

Battl.ent World Championships
MLG Fall Championship
Heart of the Swarm gets a release date

Diablo news

Patch 1.0.6 and patch 1.0.7
PvP Blog Delayed
Diablo statue now on sale at Sideshow Collectibles

Other

Project Blackstone URL purchase by Blizzard

Keyboard Confessional (we need to find a new name):
What are your thoughts on making StarCraft 2 multiplayer Free to Play?

bearded-gamer-warcraft

Blizzplanet: The Week of Warcraft Web Show Episode # 1

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

Our pilot episode of our weekly Warcraft show goes over the latest news in the Warcraft universe and licensed products. This particular show is a bit rough around the edges with several little mistakes but we’ll continue improving the quality as we go.

In this show Chris Arnone (The Bearded Gamer) talks about the new UI feature to report players, our speculation that Mists of Pandaria release date, JINX World of Warcraft Spring 2012 collection, Mega Bloks Barrens Chase Preview. — go to YouTube and subscribe to BlizzplanetGaming Channel.

Errata: There was a mistake in the show where Chris says “Staghorn” instead of “Shaghorn”. He doesn’t write the script, so it’s not his mistake. Apologies.

Web Show Notes

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Blizzplanet’s StarCraft Summary Web Show Episode 1: MLG, NASL, TwitchTV partner with CBS Interactive

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Featured Stories, StarCraft 2 News

Chris Arnone (The Bearded Gamer) talks in our first StarCraft Summary Web Show about the StarCraft units recently trimmed from the game, and speculation on when StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm beta might launch, RISK: StarCraft, North American Star League starts this week, and more.

Our Web show producer, Eldorian said: “A brand new show that Blizzplanet is producing in partnership with The Bearded Gamer. We plan on going over the past weeks news of StarCraft and the eSports world.

This is our pilot episode and some things are still a bit rough around the edges. We love feedback and are working to keep improving each week.”

Show notes:

barrens-chase-exclusive

Blizzplanet Preview: MEGA BLOKS World of Warcraft Barrens Chase Set

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

Mega Brands has been ramping up the information spree about the MEGA BLOKS World of Warcraft sets over the past few months.

A few months ago (February), during my visit to the Toy Fair 2012 in New York City, a Mega Brands representative gave me a tour in their booth to take a look at the MEGA BLOKS World of Warcraft Sets. The following link contains our video.

On March 30th, Blizzard Entertainment officially announced the MEGA BLOKS World of Warcraft Season 1 would ship this upcoming Summer 2012, and provided a preview of some of the launch sets to be available this Summer.

Today, Mega Brands sent Blizzplanet a sneak peek preview of the MEGA BLOKS World of Warcraft set:
91025 – Barrens Chase (128 piece set)

Buildable “two-fer” mount set featuring the exclusive X-53 touring rocket and Darnassian Nightsaber. Includes flags and faction figures to build and customize.

 

I wonder how long will it be before the Machinima enthusiasts start uploading animated videos of MEGA BLOKS World of Warcraft sets in YouTube with epic stories.

Note: This is only a prototype image, and the final product might be different. For updates follow MEGA BLOKS on Facebook and Twitter.

Machinima Reference

evga-geforce-gtx-680

New Video Card Before Diablo III?

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Diablo 3 News, Featured Stories, StarCraft 2 News, Technology, World of Warcraft News

Some fans might have in mind a thought lurking back and forth these past weeks: To get a new video card, or not.

At this point, it’s a personal choice. Blizzard Entertainment supports a wide-range of low, mid and high-end graphic cards.

According to the Minimum System Requirements, you should have a graphic card ranging:

Mac Computers

  • NVIDIA® GeForce® 8600M GT
  • ATI Radeon™ HD 2600

PC Computers

  • NVIDIA® GeForce® 7800 GT
  • ATI Radeon™ X1950 Pro

This article is partially a “reality-check” call to Diablo III fans.

For Mac users: The GeForce 8600M was released on May 2007 for MacBook Pro. The ATI Radeon™ Mobility HD 2600 was released on May 14, 2007.

For PC users: the GeForce 7800 GT was released on August 11, 2005. The ATI Radeon™ X1950 Pro was released on October 17, 2006.

If your video card is in this range, you are pretty much covered. Congratulations!

If this reality-check smacked you on the face, and your computer is not able to run Diablo III, then I’ll show below some current alternatives available.

For PC users, I always recommend EVGA video cards. They have a 24/7 Technical Support, 3-year Warranty, a great forum community for questions — and of course, these video cards support DirectX 11, and PhysX ready.

One solid question fans who haven’t ever bought a video card might have is whether “X” new video card is compatible with their current motherboard’s PCI slot, or if their power supply can handle it.

The latest NVIDIA and AMD RADEON cards require a minimum of PCI-E 2.0 16x and a 400 Watt power supply +12 Volt / 24 Amps. Some models may have different requirements. High-End cards (expensive ones) might require motherboards with PCI-E 3.0.

When the retail/online stores don’t have this type of info, it’s a good idea to visit the manufacturer’s website to look at the specification page (usually available as a PDF download).

Latest EVGA NVIDIA GeForce Cards

DirectX 11 supported graphic cards (released: 2011-2012)

Model Core Clock Memory Memory Bit Effective Memory Shader Clock Price
EVGA GeForce GT 520 810 MHz 1024 MB 64-bit 1400 MHz 1620 MHz $54.74
EVGA GeForce GT 440 810 MHz 1024 MB 128-bit 1600 MHz 1620 MHz $79.99
EVGA GeForce GTX 550 Ti 951 MHz 2048 MB 192-bit 4356 MHz 1903 MHz $169.99
EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Superclocked 850 MHz 1024 MB 256-bit 4104 MHz 1700 MHz $189.98
EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti Superclocked 900 MHz 1024 MB 256-bit 4212 MHz 1800 MHz $249.99
EVGA GeForce GTX 570 Superclocked 797 MHz 1280 MB 320-bit 3900 MHz 1594 MHz $314.99
eVGA GeForce GTX 580 SuperClocked 772 MHz 1536 MB 384-bit 4008 MHz 1544 MHz $429.99
EVGA GeForce GTX 680 1006 MHz 2048 MB 256-bit 6008 MHz - $689.99
EVGA GeForce GTX680 SuperClocked 1058 MHz 2048 MB 256-bit 6208 MHz - $659.98

Latest AMD RADEON Graphic Cards

DirectX 11 supported graphic cards (released: 2011-2012)

Model Core Clock RAM Memory Bit Memory Clock Price
XFX Radeon HD 6450 625 MHz 2GB 64-bit 800 MHz $57.99
XFX ATI Radeon HD6670 800 MHz 1GB 128-bit 1600 MHz $71.60
XFX Double D HD 7770 1000 MHz 1GB DDR5 128-bit 4.5 GHz $169.99
ASUS HD 7850 870 MHz 2GB 256-bit 4840 MHz $260.82
Sapphire Radeon HD 7870 1.0 GHz 2 GB 256-bit 4.8 GHz $359.99
XFX HD 7970 Black Edition 1000 MHz 1024 MB 384-bit 5.7 GHz $539.99

Do you have a tip or suggestion for other fans searching for a new graphic card? Let us know in the comments. Your feedback is always welcome.

Verdant Belt

Valley of the Four Winds Exploration Video – World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Featured Stories, World of Warcraft News, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

The Valley of the Four Winds is currently available for testing in the World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria beta. The zone looks a bit like Nagrand without those huge canyons.

The video starts with the last quest of The Jade Forest talking to Fei the Jade Serpent.

She flies you to the Valley of the Four Winds where you meet Chen Stormstout and his niece Li Li.

Chen asks to stay at the Pang’s Stead. It’s the first time he comes to Pandaria and he doesn’t even know where he’s going. He just wants to explore the land.

Those who level up alt characters or newcomers can gear up items ilevel 372 through a vendor located at Pang’s Stead. Talk to Claretta (Assorted Weapons and Armor). The items are purchased with gold rather than Valor/Justice points.

Throughout the questing experience in this zone, Chen will be moving from place to place with you, meeting other pandaren and helping each in their current situations.

Sometimes Chen will go on his own, and leave you to take care of Li Li who also wants you to tour her throughout some areas of the zone, and you get to help those people too.

It’s more dynamic in Mists of Pandaria to do quests, when the NPCs come along with you.

This zone seems fit for leatherworkers, fishers, tailors (The Silkmasters)

The first video explores half the map including the following locations:

  • Thunderfoot Acres
  • Thunderfoot Ranch
  • Grassy Cline
  • Sunsoaked Meadow
  • New Cifera
  • Gilded Fan
  • Halfhill
  • The Gilding Stream
  • Mudmug’s Place
  • The Twisted Warren (Virmen lair at Sunsoaked Meadow)
  • The Silkmasters
  • Plain of Thieves
  • The Grand Granary
  • Sunsong Ranch
  • Verdant Belt
  • Fruited Fields

Note: Video available in 1080HD (2GB), and 720HD. The second video will be up tomorrow — takes me 5 hours to upload via wireless.

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Activision Blizzard 2011 Q4 Conference Call – Mike Morhaime – Full Transcript

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

This is a full transcript of the speech by Blizzard Entertainment CEO Mike Morhaime during the Activision Blizzard 2011 Q4 Financial Results Conference Call. Let’s start with a few quotes by Activision Blizzard Bob Kotick.

Bob Kotick: 2011 is another record year for Activision Blizzard. In 2011, we generated nearly $1 billion in operating cash flow. And over the last 3 years, we’ve generated over $3.5 billion in operating cash flow, and we’ve returned more than $3 billion in value to our shareholders through dividends and stock repurchases.

In the U.S. and Europe, we remain the largest and most profitable third-party interactive entertainment company and the largest and most profitable third-party interactive entertainment digital publisher. We again delivered better-than-expected financial results and achieved multiple financial and operational records, as we have for the last few years. We achieved record operating margins and record EPS, which grew more than 17% over the prior year, and as I mentioned, we generated nearly $1 billion in operating cash flow, which allows us to continue to invest thoughtfully in our future growth and return capital to our shareholders.

With that in mind, we’re increasing our dividend 9% to $0.18 per share, and our Board of Directors has authorized a new $1 billion stock repurchase program. Our strong performance is a testament to the hard work and incredible talent of all of the Activision Blizzard employees around the world. Their commitment to excellence, teamwork and inspired creativity continues to drive our superior performance.

Today, we’re going to highlight a few important achievements from 2011 and provide some greater detail about our plans for 2012 and beyond, including our strong lineup, our expansion into new markets and new business models, and our development initiatives for new platforms.

2011 was a very competitive year. There were many great products released, and gamers had more entertainment choices on more platforms than ever before. Despite these choices and new competitors, Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft remains far and away the world’s largest online subscription-based massively multiplayer game, ending the year with 10.2 million subscribers. World of Warcraft has a very loyal group of players and later in the call, Mike Morhaime will share some of this year’s plans for the franchise.

We expect growth from Blizzard. In addition to World of Warcraft, which provides a strong foundation, Blizzard plans to launch at least 2 titles this year, including Diablo III with its real money auction house. Business pipeline has never been stronger, including World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, the Blizzard DOTA, and the next-generation MMO.

Morhaime: I want to quickly recap our activity from 2011. We launched both StarCraft II and World of Warcraft: Cataclysm in China and introduced the localized version of World of Warcraft with the fast-growing brazilian market. We also announced the expansion sets for StarCraft II, World of Warcraft, and kicked off the beta test for Diablo III. We’re preparing to launch multiple titles in 2012. And with next BlizzCon scheduled for 2013, our development teams are focused on bringing these games to players as quickly as possible.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

Moving on to financials. In large part due to the record-breaking Cataclysm launch in 2010, our results in both Q4 2011 and the year are down versus prior year. Despite not releasing a new game, we still posted approximately $500 million in operating income for 2011 while investing in our strongest pipeline of games ever.

Subscriber numbers for World of Warcraft ended 2011 at approximately 10.2 million, with no significant change relative to the prior quarter. We released a major update in November, which included new dungeons and raids, as well as new features that made our exciting raid content more accessible to a broader audience.

This content update has been well received by the community, and we believe it has contributed to retaining our players in the wake of competitive launches. Another initiative that has been very successful is the World of Warcraft Annual Pass.

This program was announced at BlizzCon this past year. Under its terms, players who commit to being a World of Warcraft subscriber for one year will get a free copy of Diablo III, unique digital items in World of Warcraft, and other benefits. To date, we have signed up more than one million players in the West for the World of Warcraft Annual Pass.

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

Some of you may have seen recent news about the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria. Last week, we began inviting global press to visit our office to get a hands-on look at the game.

The press visit will take place next month, and our players will be able to read the latest news on the game on March 19.

We’re looking forward to showcasing the game to our community and collecting more feedback as we prepare for the upcoming beta for Mists of Pandaria.

Diablo III

I mentioned earlier that we began beta testing for Diablo III last year. After receiving feedback from the community and our internal teams, we’ve implemented changes to the game, which we believe will greatly improve the game experience and ensure that the final release will live up to our high expectations.

We have also been testing the auction house functionality. This testing will help ensure a smooth rollout of this feature with the retail launch so our players can safely and securely trade items with each other. Given the popularity of the Action/RPG genre and the keen interest in Diablo III, we expect this launch to be a big opportunity for Blizzard. We can also confirm that we are targeting a Q2 launch for Diablo III. We expect to announce more details about the release schedule in the coming weeks.

StarCraft II

2011 was definitely a banner year for eSports. One of the most popular leagues in the world, Major League Gaming, posted their more successful year ever. MLG has served more than 3.5 million unique viewers over the course of the year, with much of that viewership driven by StarCraft II.

We believe that the excitement for eSports drives longevity and demand for our games. And with the recent announcement of our Battle.net World Championship season, we’re looking forward to taking an even more visible leadership role in this space.

As part of the Battle.net World Championship initiative, Blizzard will work with eSports partners to create grassroots open tournaments at the national level to boost engagement in countries around the world. The reaction from our community on this initiative has been very positive, and we are looking forward to another exciting year for eSports.

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm

In the midst of all the eSports buzz, the StarCraft development team has been making great progress on the new expansion, Heart of the Swarm. The feedback we collected on the campaign and multiplayer content from this past BlizzCon has been invaluable. We will share more news about Heart of the Swarm in the coming months.

Blizzard DOTA

Finally, we continue development work on Blizzard DOTA, a new free-to-play online game which we showcased at the last BlizzCon. Blizzard DOTA is being created using the StarCraft II engine and is based on an online gaming style that’s become quite popular in recent years.

We believe Blizzard DOTA has unique design elements that will distinguish it from competitors. More importantly, our game will feature well-known heroes and characters from all Blizzard franchises in the game, giving it instant recognition and appeal among Blizzard gamers. As with Heart of the Swarm, we’re looking forward to sharing more news about Blizzard DOTA at a later date.

Conclusion

We expect 2012 to be a big year for Blizzard, with easily our strongest pipeline of games ever. With multiple titles expected to launch in 2012, we’re committed to bringing our players what they want most, new gaming experiences in all their favorite Blizzard universes. And I speak for everyone at Blizzard when I say that we all can’t wait to join them on Battle.net in the battlefields of Blizzard DOTA, Diablo III, Heart of the Swarm and Mists of Pandaria.

Gallery

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Heal Lady Sylvanas Contest – Wyvern / Gryphon Hatchling Prize

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzPlanet Site News, Featured Stories, World of Warcraft News

Several weeks ago, horror film actress Michele Morrow had surgery a few hours after her visit to Blizzard Entertainment HQ. She told me a few days later about a cute phenomena. Several WoW fans emailed her screenshots of their characters healing Lady Sylvanas in Undercity with bandages.

Note: Michele Morrow (dubbed the Scream Queen of horror films) is known to be interested in the role of Lady Sylvanas in the upcoming Warcraft film, directed by Sam Raimi.

Contest

1. Launch World of Warcraft. Grab some First Aid bandages and heal Lady Sylvanas in Undercity (Horde only). Note: Alliance can just target Echo of Sylvanas and cast a band aid on her. For as long as you are targeting her, and the band aid graphic is playing on the screenshot that counts for this contest.
2. Take a screenshot
3. Submit the screenshot at the following forum thread (use the attachment feature or flickr).

Deadline

February 28, 2012 at 11:59pm EST

Prize

The winner will be able to pick one of these options:

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Welcome to Blizzplanet vBulletin Forum

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzPlanet Site News, Featured Stories

Eldorian spent several hours and days working on the new Blizzplanet forum. Feel free to register an account, and to help us build a great Blizzard gaming community. Discuss anything about Blizzard, Diablo III, StarCraft II or World of Warcraft.

Upcoming Q&A and giveaways will be launched from within the new forum. You can see the Forum link at the top of the webpage — for future reference.

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Diablo 15 Year Anniversary: Diablo III Almost Done

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Diablo 3 News, Featured Stories

Jay Wilson and Chris Metzen (Senior Vice-president of Story & Franchise Development) talk on video about their experiences with the development of Diablo along the years, in celebration of the 15th Anniversary of Diablo. Both look totally badass sitting on an old-style chair with a Tristram Cathedral background setting replica. The quality of the video looks like one you find in a hollywood film.

Blizzard Entertainment also provided an awesome Extended Diablo Retrospective telling a chronology of the development of Diablo throughout these fiften years. It’s definitely a great content to watch, and it shows the level of quality the people behind this documentary put to release it by the anniversary. This is not something you put together in a couple of weeks.

The highlight of it all is listening to Chris Metzen talk to the Diablo fans with such a passion, and of course, Jay Wilson drawing a smile on his face as he says: “We are almost done with Diablo III, and that’s a fitting celebration of the 15th year anniversary for Diablo.”

You better check it out here. Below is a transcript of the interviews.

Chris Metzen

Chris Metzen: What up Diablo players! Hey guys, happy Anniversary. Fifteen years of Diablo, pretty crazy, we’ve come a long way.

We’re very excited about Diablo III coming up. We think you’re going to like it a lot. On a personal level, it’s been really, really rewarding to get back into the Diablo franchise, and be able to help develop this story.

I’ve long felt that it’s potentially the most interesting franchise we’ve built. I just think that Diablo has potentially a level of soul that the others can’t quite reach.

This innate world where the clash between light and darkness is so evidenced and foreground in the player’s path, and I think that we put every ounce of our passion and energy into Diablo III.

And I think in particular this time around I’m so excited about our cinematics, and the way they help tell the game’s story, and I think it’s some of the most compelling and certainly visually stunning work we’ve ever done.

I think people are going to fall into the world like never before, and be engaged with this story like never before.

So it’s been a very, very rewarding process from the creative standpoint. I think it’s absolutely the sharpest chapter of Diablo yet.

So guys, once again, happy Anniversary. Thank you for your support all these years, and I hope you’re very, very excited about Diablo III.

I can’t wait to adventure with you throughout the world of Sanctuary.

Jay Wilson

Jay Wilson: Fifteen years of Diablo. I’ve been there since the beginning as a member of the community.

The last six years as a developer. And I have to say, one of the greatest things I found in making the transition was the incredible support and passion that we get from our community.

We’re really worked hard to make a game worthy of all of you. You’ve given us such great feedback; such great support, and really made us feel like you will always help us find the right path, the right choices to make sure it’s the best game it can be.

My relationship with Diablo started, I was playing Warcraft II, and I remember looking on the back of the CD case, and there was this advertisement for this game called Diablo.

And I remember leading up to just the release of the original Diablo. In my house, my wife was not allowed to say it at normal volume. It was always spoken of in hushed tones. And then the day that it arrived, and we all took several days off and gonna burn through the game.

It was really getting it that first time and seeing it. That was one of the most memorable moments for me, with the original Diablo.

One of the great things about all the Diablo games, is how they’ve kind of moved forward with the original Diablo.

It was a very simple, straight forward game. And the second game really managed to maintain that, keep the simplicity.

A lot of games when you make sequels they tend to make the game more complex. But Diablo II kept that simplicity but added things like the skill trees, which really changed how you built characters in pretty much all action RPGs to follow.

Working on Diablo III, one of the things we tried to focus on was, We wanted to keep the game really simple but add a lot of more depth to all the mechanics.

We didn’t add anymore controls, we didn’t make the game anymore complex, but we made the controls and the elements that were already there. Have a lot more depth to them.

So it’s one of the things we’ve tried to hold onto with Diablo III. Is to make sure that it’s got that really simple facade, that hides that really rich deep game underneath.

We are almost done with Diablo III, and that’s a fitting celebration of the 15th year anniversary for Diablo. So, we are getting it to you as soon as we can.

Thank you so much for how much raw energy and passion that all of you have brought to the Diablo games, and we hope that Diablo III really lives up to all your expectations.

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Blizzplanet Review: Diablo III: Book of Cain

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Product Reviews, Diablo 3 News, Featured Stories

Materials | Review | Press Letter | Content List | Credits | Gallery

Diablo III: Book of Cain is the official Diablo universe lore source book written by Flint Dille (The Transformers) with the collaborative assistance of Chris Metzen, Micky Neilson and Matt Burns from the Blizzard Entertainment Creative Team.

Blizzplanet got a copy of Diablo III: Book of Cain, courtesy of Insight Editions and its publicity manager, Carlie Demelo. Special thanks to her for the giveaway copies for our visitors.

I’ll begin the review of Diablo III: Book of Cain. Take a seat, and buckle up.

Materials

Insight Editions took very special care of the publishing process, production and appearance aspect of Diablo III: Book of Cain.

When you hold this book on your hand, you will notice the excellent care to details over its materials. The cover has the Diablo skull and all the stylish ornamental embroidery. All the outer-edge of the skull and the ornamental images are embossed. Embossing is made by letterpress machines which raise the level of the image using pressure and heat. The eyes and mouth are debossed causing a recession or hole appearance. You can feel the lines and holes with your fingers making the Diablo skull design sort of 3D, both visually and tactile. The cover treatment is a matte finish with both embossing and debossing.

The red rectangle with the Diablo III: Book of Cain logo is actually not part of the cover itself. It’s a separate removable paper, or belly band, wrapped around the cover flaps. The belly band is loose on the front cover, but it’s firmly held on the back cover.

What’s holding the belly band tight there? An envelope glued on the interior of the back cover, with a sticker in the shape of a candle seal. The candle seal resembles the image shown in page 145, which I’m guessing is the symbol of the Great Families of Xiansai (I might be wrong).

“What’s in this envelope?” — you ask. Within the envelope is a folded poster of the Sanctuary Map. The map itself is a die cut with irregular edges along its border — obviously a real-life old scroll replica.

When you see the side of the book where all the pages are, and pass your finger through its thickness, you will feel a sandy texture on your fingertips. It looks like rugged cardboard to give it a old paper feel of ancient scrolls.

Taking a single page between my fingers, I could see what gave that texture. The edge of each single page has been cut in irregular shapes giving it a feathered appearance. If you slide your finger along the edge of the page you won’t feel the straight line cut of normal pages, it’s a rugged surface. I’m told this is known as deckled edges.

Each page has a yellow-orange 2D texture to resemble papyrus or ancient scroll paper.

Insight Editions wanted this book to delicately resemble a real world replica of the in-game Book of Cain item. I’m completely astonished with the material and printing processes of Diablo III: Book of Cain. This is a book leaking design excellence, as you would always expect from a Blizzard licensed product.

Quick Look Inside

Usually, books have a page with the name of the publisher, the writer and all the credits, the publishing year and copyright notices, and even a introduction message or dedicatory. Blizzard licensed books, in specific, usually have a glossary and/or reference list telling you all the books where determined topics originate from in continuity in the last pages.

Insight Edition went in a different direction.

The first page says: “Take heed, and bear witness to the truths that lie within. For they are the last legacy of the Horadrim.”

There’s no credit page, or copyright notices nor a content list in the initial pages.

You will see the title … Diablo III: Book of Cain in the initial pages; where the only thing written is: “text by Flint Dille” and “Insight Editions”.

After that page comes the letter addressed to Leah by Deckard Cain which she is meant to read after his death. This is the page Insight Editions recently shared in public during the 12 Days of Diablo III: Book of Cain. That was only page one of three. The letter offers more details.

At the end of the book you will see another letter to Leah. Finally, the last page contains the copyright notices and credits.

Materials | Review | Press Letter | Content List | Credits | Content List | Gallery

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Blizzplanet Interviews DC Comics Diablo: Sword of Justice writer Aaron Williams and artist Joseph Lacroix

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Products News, Diablo 3 News, Featured Stories

Blizzard Entertainment recently provided Blizzplanet the opportunity to interview writer Aaron Williams and artist Joseph Lacroix to ask questions about the Diablo: Sword of Justice 5-issue mini-series published by DC Comics.

What’s your background as an illustrator?

Lacroix: I’ve been an illustrator and comic book artist since around 2000. Before working on Diablo my previous works included L’encyclopédie du mal (Encyclopaedia of Evil), and a story in three volumes called Pythons. Both stories are dark fantasy/sword and sorcery. I like monsters and grim, macabre atmospheres.

How did DC Comics approach you to illustrate the Diablo mini-series?

Lacroix: Blizzard got in touch with me last spring. Then all was set pretty fast, I did some sample drawings then started designs on main characters.

How did you feel when you were asked to take this project?

Lacroix: I was surprise and amazed. I am huge fan of Blizzard games and comics. For me it was a dream come true.

Have you played Diablo before, or do you keep in contact with Blizzard Art Team for concept art references of locations, landmarks, and characters?

Lacroix: Yes, I played Diablo II after it had been out for a little while. I have very strong memories about it: a long descent into the Burning Hells… the more I went down into the deeper levels of a dungeon the more everything became darker, more dangerous, and more terrible. I do refer to concept art and in game graphics that I have received from Blizzard every day. For example, if I need to visualize the spell of a wizard or the details of the suit of an historic character of the game. I had access to many pictures and graphic works of Diablo III and I was quite impressed.

Did you design Tyrael’s sword, or did Blizzard provide the art?

Lacroix: No, it was provide by Blizzard, it is official design of Diablo III.

Which illustrators have inspired you?

Lacroix: I’m a fan of comic books. Reading them lead me to discover the art of Mike Mignola, Bernie Wrightson and Alex Toth, and it was then that I realized I really wanted to work as a comic book writer and artist. I am also very inspired by European comics artists such as Dino Battaglia, Hermann, Moëbius and older illustrators like Ivan Bilibine, Gustave doré and Daniel Vierge. I am also very passionate about the painting of Jerome Boesch, Brueghel and the etchings of Albretch Durër. . . but I am afraid it is not very obvious in my art.

How did you hone your specific art style?

Lacroix: Working on Sword of Justice demands more precision in the line, more dynamic in the direction, and darker when inking. I needed to be more precise because some elements come directly from the game: sets, characters, suits, accessories. It was more dynamic because narration in US comics is different from French traditional comic books. American comics are smaller, with less panels, and everything has to happen fast: fights, sets, time changes etc.

And it was darker because Sanctuary is a universe made of dust and ruins, where the existence of men is always threatened. The sun does not shine often and when it does, it burns. Sanctuary is a realm of constant fear and darkness.

Which Diablo artwork gave you the most challenge?

Lacroix: When I was doing some early design tests, the big challenge was the barbarians. They have to be wild, powerful and mean. In the comics they are also very big. It was very fun to draw and I have made some good sample drawings that I wish would be in the trade paperback.

Which of those you illustrated is your favorite Diablo character and location to draw?

Lacroix: I love monsters, and the bestiary of Sanctuary is full of them. In the next issues, they’re going to pop up from almost everywhere! I also had a very good time drawing the Black Marsh near the Forgotten Tower in the second issue.

What upcoming projects do you have after Diablo?

Lacroix: Nothing for sure right now. But I wish to continue working on comics in general.

Aaron Williams


Will we see any major Diablo characters beside Tyrael?

Williams: It’s mostly limited to some small cameos by familiar creatures, locations, and races. Since this mostly takes place in Jacob’s home city in the Dreadlands, there wasn’t much opportunity to try and include some previously explored characters. Future installments, if they come to fruition, might have some, but as the game was being developed as this story was being written, taking Jacob and company into places that were going to appear in Diablo III was avoided. For example, in one draft, I had Jacob heading to the Forgotten Tower. If he’d done what I’d written there, players would wonder why there wasn’t the aftermath of the encounter visible, or why he’d gone there and not seen something painfully obvious when you play the game, etc.

When is the comic taking place in relation to Diablo II and Diablo III?

Williams: It’s happening about 20 years after the end of Diablo II. It doesn’t quite answer the question of what became of Tyrael, but it does chronicle what happened to his sword and some of the aftermath of the mountain’s destruction.

Which are the most important locations the events in your story focus on?

Williams: I’d say mostly the Dreadlands, and an area near the Arreat crater (though not the crater proper). Jacob does a fair amount of travelling before returning to his homeland, and we get to see some ruins near the aforementioned Forgotten Tower, the streets of Lut Gholein, and a strange cave about a day’s hard walk from the city.

Who is the woman in the cover of Diablo issue number 2? The one who watches over Tyrael’s sword.

Williams: That’s Shanar, a wizard character who kind of got snared by the sword while she was looking for it. Jacob taking it up releases her, and she tries to make sure he’s aware of just what he’s carrying and what might be influencing his actions. She’s really familiar with Jacob’s background (thanks to the sword; you’ll see why in issue #2) and is probably one of the more practically-minded characters in the whole story.

Will there be a big bad demon lord involved in the story? Or perhaps an angel?

Williams: It wouldn’t be Diablo without a demon, or at least a demonic scheme, would it? I don’t want to give away the plot, but there are definitely infernal influences at work, and there’ll be a nice payoff in the fifth issue.

Are you going to feature flashbacks to briefly view past events that fit with your story, or do you stick to present events?

Williams: There are a few more flashbacks in the offing, but the bulk are in issue 1 and the beginning of 2. There’s another one later on, but it’s not one from Jacob’s life… though he gets a front-row seat. And I think the only other of any length takes place towards the end when a new character has her own story to tell, which will hold interest not only to those in the story, but to a previously hidden facet of barbarian history.

How will the mini-series affect the Diablo III story?

Williams: That’s another one that Blizzard’s powers that be know more about than I do. I did hear in several of our conversations that they wanted to make sure anything I introduced could work in-game, so I’m betting one or more major elements/locations will make an appearance somewhere.

Any anecdotes while working with Blizzard’s Creative Team?

Williams: I wasn’t able to take them up on their generous offer of a visit to their offices (I’m a relatively new daddy, and our son is a handful), which cut down on the chances for hijinks to ensue. I was kind of amused at the lore’s demarcation between what’s “in-game only” and what’s “not really used in the fiction.” In an early draft, I came up with what I thought was a nice facet to Jacob’s home city’s descent into darkness. Portal scrolls were forbidden so no one could breach the walls, and the waypoint would’ve been buried like a Stargate for the same reasons. It turns out those methods of travel really aren’t part of the lore where fiction is concerned. I guess I should have known, or half the stories would be like episodes of “Star Trek” where most of the plot centers around the transporters breaking down or Kirk losing his communicator.

Have Joseph LaCroix and you been in contact to discuss certain scenes, or does he have full art freedom to interpret your story?

Williams: He has complete freedom as far as I’m concerned. In the scripts, when something on the complicated side needs to happen (say, a particularly intricate bit of swordplay), I may give suggestions or say something like “the point of Jacob’s sword needs to stop an inch from the goatman’s snout for the ‘you want a third nostril?’ line in the next panel to work.” How that plays out is totally up to Joseph. The same for any architecture or what would be “effects-heavy” scenes. I figure my job is to just note what’s plot-relevant, and making it incredibly awesome-looking is best left up to the hands behind the pens.

How do you feel teaming up with him?

Williams: I think his art is a fantastic fit. He’s got a great style that manages to convey an otherworldly “Grimm Fairy Tale” vibe while maintaining a great contrast between the magical and the mundane. The only resentment I might feel is he’s yet another person in the comics industry that reminds me how boring my last name is.

Have you played Diablo games before, or plan to play Diablo III?

Williams: Yes and yes. I’ve got the Battle Chest close by (and after I’m done typing this, I’m itching to re-install it yet again), and I’m seriously considering upping my supply of the numerous caffeine-based products available via the Internet in preparation for Diablo III. The only other thing I have to work on is suppressing any vocalizations I might usually make in times of triumph or despair while playing so my family doesn’t suspect that I’m either playing a game or getting too emotionally involved in my computer’s applications.

Order Diablo: Sword of Justice

Click the images to order a copy of Diablo: Sword of Justice # 1 and # 2.

Other Diablo III Fansites Interviews

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Blizzplanet Interview: Blizzard’s Micky Neilson Talks Diablo III: Book of Cain

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzplanet Interviews, Diablo 3 News, Featured Stories, Interviews

Blizzplanet and other Blizzard fansites had the opportunity to individually interview Blizzard Entertainment Publishing Lead and Senior Story Developer Micky Neilson over the phone. Eldorian forwarded most of the questions submitted recently by our visitors.

In our interview, Micky Neilson talks more about the mysterious Zoltun Kulle — for those who got to watch the BlizzCon 2011 Diablo III Lore Panel, and reveals the main theme of Nate Kenyon’s upcoming Diablo: The Order (Slated: May 29, 2012).

Insight Editions will release Diablo III: Book of Cain on December 13th, 2011. Grab your copy. It has become Amazon’s # 1 Graphic Novel Best Seller.

Read our interview with Micky Neilson to find out why!

Note: Post on twitter a comment about this interview using the hashtag #bookofcain plus @blizzplanet for a chance at a free Diablo III: Book of Cain giveaway. Deadline: Thursday, Dec 15, 2011. (example: @blizzplanet I <3 Blizzard, gimme #bookofcain)

Interview

Why is Deckard Cain so important in Diablo history?

Neilson: Why is Deckard Cain so important? Well, he’s one of the most identifiable characters. I would say that stems from him being chosen as the NPC you deal with the most in the series. So, I think as a character he resonated with fans early on so he had some longevity and some staying power. Over the course of the different games he’s become certainly a marquee character. He worked really well for this book specifically because he’s the guy gathering all the information, lore, text and all of that stuff. It really made sense that he’s the one to put this book together.

Where did the inspiration come from to make the Book of Cain a real item that people could buy?

Neilson: Early on the idea came from Chris Metzen as far as he came to the publishing team and said that he really wanted to do a book that is kind of a history of the universe and also an art book. He described it as a hybrid between a source book and an art book. So we went forward from there. As part of that process we had discussions if this is part of Cain’s journal from the game or something completely separate. So we went back and forth a few times and through the course of identifying what the book would be and kind of nailing down the vision of the book, we settled down on the in game artifact aspect of it. We felt like that was the better way to go. I mean as far as the cover and maintaining continuity within the IP it felt like a cool hook for it to be something actually within the game.

Does the Book of Cain take any information from previous Diablo books such as those written by Richard A. Knaak or Mel Odom?

Neilson: Yeah. There is definitely. A lot of the Sin War trilogy is covered in here. You can get kind of a condensed version of the events from the Sin War Trilogy, and it touches on some of the other books as well.

Given that this book is set as the source book for Diablo lore, does it contradict or change any of the major events that have taken place in the game? And if so can you elaborate and be specific on any of the changes?

Neilson: It does clarify a lot of things. We have a lore team who basically pour over all of this material. We knew going into the creation of this book that there were already some contradictions that existed in the lore and the history. So we took this as an opportunity to set the record straight. We definitely identified a few things. One specific example is Tal Rasha and the Soul Stone; and Zoltun Kulle being the one that suggested that the essence could be trapped within a human. There were already a couple of differing accounts and who made that suggestion. I think in one account it was Tal Rasha made the suggestion and another account that Tyrael made the suggestion. So we went in with a different option that Zoltun Kulle was the one who made the suggestion and the purpose of that was to set up that character more because he’s a main character in the next game.

Does Book of Cain go into any post-Sin War details after the trilogy by Knaak? A lot of the other lore in the games and other novels make it seem as if the Sin War didn’t end until a few hundred years before the events of Diablo 1.

Neilson: It does go into detail and we’re trying to nail down the timeline right now. I don’t remember if it nails down exactly how many years before the events of the game that the Sin War takes place but we are in the midst of nailing all of that down for a more refined timeline.

Book of Cain talks about the Angels, and Demons, but Does Trang’Oul get mentioned in the book?

Neilson: Trang’Oul is mentioned briefly. He actually has a gorgeous double page spread and as part of that there’s a little side bar written as a handwritten note from Deckard Cain. There’s a little bit of information, but it’s almost more like a teaser for Trang’Oul.

Are there any potential Diablo III story spoilers in Book of Cain for those who wish to read it before playing the game?

Neilson: There’s no spoilers for the game. Information in the Book of Cain certainly does inform what is in the game. When you read the book you will certainly be more informed of the lore perspective when you play the game.

Are there examples of Deckard Cain and Leah’s research throughout the years searching and piecing together the fragments of the new Prophecy about Azmodan and the comet?

Neilson: There is a lot of that covered in the book. The prophecy is kind of an amalgam that Cain put together on many different prophecies that exist. Some of the different cultures around Sanctuary have some of their own prophecies and a lot of these prophecies point to the comet and the end of days. Deckard Cain put together one all encompassing prophecy based on everything he’s read. So there’s the one he put together but there are a lot of different ones as well.

In Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, Tyrael opens a portal for Cain and the hero prior to the destruction of the Worldstone. Do we get to read about the explosion of Mount Arreat from the point of view of any surviving Barbarians? For example, the upcoming DC Comics Diablo mentions a survivor.

Neilson: We do have a section on the destruction of the Worldstone I believe, I’ll have to double check, but I believe it’s told from Deckard Cain’s perspective. So I don’t believe it’s told from the Barbarian perspective.

Does Cain mention Abd al-Hazir, and if so, does his research help Cain piece together the prophecy? Have they met or worked together?

Neilson: I don’t believe we mention Abd al-Hazir in here and if we do it’s just a really brief mention of the many sources Cain is drawing from. We don’t suggest in the book that they have been hanging out and sharing information.

Are all lands of Sanctuary featured, and given in-depth background story?

Neilson: There wasn’t enough space in the book to go in depth giving all the other information we put in the book. There is a section near the end of the book called Lands and Cultures that does cover all the main areas and cultures in sanctuary. It also covers all the new classes that will be showing up in Diablo 3.

Does Cain uncover new history of his Horadrim heritage and learn the background stories of NPCs/Bosses/lore figures met in the previous games? (for example: Leoric’s pre-Tristram reign, Warriv, Wirt, Anya, mythical stories of possible Tyrael encounters across time.)

Neilson: Yes. For sure we get into Leoric a lot more. We do touch into a lot of the history of the Horadrim, the hunt for the three, we get into a lot more detail as far as the events that took place back then. We’re also working on another book, Nate Kenyon is writing a book for us called The Order and that is really going to go into a lot more detail also into the history of the Horadrim and Cain’s involvement and how he learned about the Horadrim and the events at Tristram.

What was more interesting or challenging about compiling the lore for Book of Cain and working with Flint Dille?

Neilson: Flint Dille was great. Flint really understood the character so he nailed that character voice, that scholarly voice of Deckard Cain. I’d say the biggest challenge was just codifying everything. Just putting it all together identifying contradictions that existed and clarifying which direction we wanted to go. There’s a lot of history in the Diablo universe. It was a mammoth task just to put distinctly. What did we end up? 140-some pages? So just trying to the entire Diablo history in that amount of pages, and a significant amount of that was art, was not the easiest thing in the world.

What inspired this mythological background for the Diablo universe concerning Anu and Tathamet the dragon?

Neilson: A lot of that came from Chris Metzen and early on we had meetings and we talked about what would different mythology be for the universe. And we knew there was one we wanted to back and enforce as canon at least from Cain’s point of view and the information that he discovered. A lot of those ideas came from Chris Metzen, and we hashed out the rest of it in brainstorming sessions.

Is Tran’Goul somehow related to Tathamet considering both are dragons, but both seem to be different: the former good, the latter evil?

Neilson: I think there’s more information that will be revealed in the future about Trang’Oul – right now I can’t disclose anything.

How do you feel about the mood and story of the Diablo series? What do you think makes it stand from other dark fantasy universes?

Neilson: Interesting. So the biggest theme that we face with Diablo is heroism facing absolute terror. I really think that sets it apart. You have humanity that is caught in the middle between these cataclysmic forces of light and dark, but light and dark aren’t exactly what you expect them to be. The angels aren’t exactly what you expect angels to be – most of them want to destroy humanity. So it’s a really kind of an interesting dynamic and humanity has the ability to become powerful in its own right, and to upset the balance of the Eternal Conflict between the High Heavens and the Burning Hells. I think that is really a cool hook.

Thank you, Micky Neilson, Eric Yco, Bashiok, Lyndsi, and Blizzard Creative & Public Relations Teams for your awesome support to fansites and lore fans.

Order Diablo III: Book of Cain now (Release date: Dec 13, 2011) or gift it to a friend or family member.

We recommend reading our BlizzCon 2011 Diablo III Lore Panel Transcript to learn more about Zoltun Kulle, and other mentions of Diablo III: Book of Cain made during the Panel.

Other Fansites – Diablo III: Book of Cain Interviews

Links of Interest

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Blizzplanet Giveaway: SteelSeries QcK Limited Series Diablo III Logo Gaming Mousepad

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Products News, Diablo 3 News, Featured Stories

Update: Keitaro won the Diablo III Logo Mousepad. Congrats.

We have now the SteelSeries QcK Diablo III Gaming Mouse Pad to giveaway to one of our visitors. SteelSeries rocks!

To participate simply post ONE comment in this page. Only one. We are using the Disqus comment system, which allows you to login using your Facebook, Twitter, Google or Yahoo username and password. No need to register. You also have the option to register at Disqus to change the username displayed on our comments. If you don’t do that, the real name used in any of those accounts will show up. With that privacy tip out of the way, now I wish to warn participants about something we are aware of going on in the previous giveaways.

Mith, who takes care of Blizzplanet’s server along with Eldorian is who picks the winner. He has detected several entries from single individuals. Please, don’t do that. There’s going to hinder your chances to win. Mith is watching.

Warning: Don’t drink or eat while reading this — At your own risk: Another thing that will get you disqualified is if you laugh at my pink quilt (sighs). I’m straight — for the record. I SAID DON”T LAUGH, jacknabit!

Eldorian’s note: If you could make sure to include an email address in your Disqus account it will make things a million times easier to contact you if you win. If we can’t contact you then it makes it difficult for us to tell you that you’ve won.

The winner of the Monk Gaming Pad was eitjayar! Congratz buddy.

I recently posted the SteelSeries Diablo III Gaming Mouse Review located here. Check it out.

Purchase Yours

Don’t want to narrow your chances with a giveaway? Buy it yourself. These Diablo III mousepads will make a perfect match with your SteelSeries Diablo III Mouse and Headset.

 

Description

The SteelSeries QcK mousepad is made of high quality cloth material, providing a precise and consistent glide. This combination of the high quality cloth material and an optimized textured surface, guarantees both smoothness and glide. The SteelSeries QcK feature a specially designed non-slip rubber base which prevents the pads from sliding, no matter what surface the mousepad is placed on.

Working with the industry’s leading game publishers, SteelSeries creates gaming peripherals designed to enhance in-game performance and deliver an immersive experience. The SteelSeries QcK is optimized to achieve precision and accuracy with both optical and laser mice and features vibrant , full color artwork from the game.

From day one, SteelSeries has been focused on making high performance gaming gear used by the most demanding, top professional eSport gamers worldwide and peripherals that provide superior quality and a competitive edge to gamers of all skill levels. We believe, as most gamers do, in winning, not trying!

 

 

Gallery

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Blizzplanet Review: SteelSeries Diablo III Mouse

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Featured Stories, Uncategorized

SteelSeries played catch with Blizzplanet and threw us a fast-ball special. Patiently and eagearly, I have been checking downstairs at reception to see if the shipped goodies had arrived. SteelSeries had told me the box was on its way the day the SteelSeries Diablo III Gaming Mouse and the SteelSeries Diablo III Gaming Headset were out on sale.

The reception had removed the paper to verify which rooms had mail and I was already leaving when out of the corner of my eye I saw a logo. It took my brain a few seconds to post-process once the window was out of view. I then back-paddled to check out whatever my eye caught. There it was. It was on the counter table standing tall on its side,  a huge box with the SteelSeries logo.

Immediately, I told the receptionist that was for me. I took the box home, and started to unpack the contents.

My ego deflated when I saw the large box was half empty. I don’t know which thought won in my head: “Why ship it in such a large box to have it half empty?”, or “Zomg, they could have added some extra ones to fill up the other half (grins)”; but don’t listen to this troll’s back-of-my-mind arguments. All those nonsense thoughts evaporated, and my ego inflated at a dangerous rate when I looked at the bottom of the box …

SteelSeries Diablo III Mouse Unboxing

All the photos you will see in this page are taken by me at the moment of unboxing this product. The SteelSeries Diablo III Gaming Mouse and the SteelSeries Diablo III Gaming Headset boxes were there staring back at me.

The box is made of hard cardboard to protect the content. It can be used later to store your eSport Professional Mouse, and fits easily in a backpack. Imagine taking this box out of your backpack in front of your friends. Their jaw will drop definitely. You can’t deny you love to do that. You, evil you.

 

What’s behind the box? Basically a round up on the specs in four languages: English, French, German and Spanish.

1. Optimal comfort with an ambidextrous shape and size, making it versatile for all types of gamer grips.
2. 7 ergonomically placed programmable buttons.
3. World’s most durable switches – guaranteed lifespan of 10 million clicks.
4. Programmable Diablo III®-themed illumination options.
5. Durable, double-braided nylon cord with a gold-plated USB connection.
6. Quick and effortless remapping of mouse buttons with Drag & Drop, pre-defined game actions/functions/skills as well as illumination settings. All of which are easily configured in an intuitive Diablo III®-themed driver available for Windows and Mac OS X users.

 

 

As I attempted to open the box, I noticed the front of the box actually opens up like a book to show the interior letting you see the mouse covered by a plastic, and on the left side of the inner-book-cover is an artwork of Tyrael. I was dumbfounded. How did the cover didn’t come out loose whenever I kept moving the box around to see the back and side? Took me a bit to figure it out. It keeps itself closed because the packaging designer added a magnet for flavor which keeps it tight closed.

The text is localized in the same four languages: “The fast-paced action of Diablo III requires quick response times and a weapon that will withstand the fury of the Prime Evils. Co-designed with the creators of Diablo III, the SteelSeries Diablo III mouse is built to aid you in your quest against the forces of the Burning Hells. An ambidextrous shape, a comfortable grip, and oversized pressure points all help ensure a smooth glide for quick movements. The SteelSeries Diablo III Mouse has been engineered and designed to survive and conquer the relentless punishment of the Burning Hells, with a guaranteed lifespan of 10 million clicks — 3x more than an average mouse.

Prepare for victory.”

 

Inside the box, you will find a re-sealable bag with the Quick Start Guide, a folded catalog containing several Blizzard Licensed Products, and SteelSeries products; and a SteelSeries sticker.

 

SteelSeries Product Catalog

On display are the following SteelSeries Blizzard Licensed Products:

Product Review

First, let’s go to the basics of what a gaming mouse should be and do for your personal taste.

Ambidextrous: The majority of mice I have purchased in the past have had an ergonomic shape designed for right-hands, and usually small in size for my big hand. As you have read, the Diablo III Mouse has an ambidextrous design, so It’s taking me a bit to get used to this big mouse.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. There are many players who use the left hand to play, and this mouse does justice to both. SteelSeries doesn’t discriminate or penalize one or the other. Ambidextrous for the win. You win.

Comfortability: The Diablo III Mouse is comfortable. It takes a while, and a bit of use to get used to it. I have been using it for a while, and my hand and wrist don’t feel exhausted. I also have to say that the SteelSeries QcK Diablo III Gaming Mouse Pad makes the Diablo III Mouse slide back and forth smoothly and precisely.

That not only comes handy with video games such as Diablo III, but for your day-to-day applications like Adobe Photoshop CS.

Durability: As soon as SteelSeries announced the SteelSeries Diablo III Gaming Mouse a few months ago, around the Summer, I have to be honest … I fell in love with it.

I have a story about my consumption of mice over the past decade. In the initial years, when I had a Mac G4 Tower, and later the HP Pavillion I used to spend a bit over $20.00 in mice. Usually Logitech Mice. Some of them with several programmable buttons. I grew intensely fed up of those. Gamers are a special breed of computer users. We multi-task between gaming, and fragging the heck out of players in Half-Life, Doom, Team Fortress, and other FPS/Deathmatch games; chatting on AOL, YIM, MSN, GTalk, ICQ; browsing soundtracks; viewing Marvel/DC comics Online, and working on our favorite flavor of software applications.

Bottomline, we punish the mice like no one else. Soon or later, my Logitech mice became unresponsive and ended up in the trash can. After 2005, a year and a half into World of Warcraft — I was in the 2004 beta in case you wonder — I ended up giving up on Logitech and consequently on any company who ever sold a Mouse over $10.00. That’s right. All of them. These past six years I haven’t consumed anything but cheap mice ranging $2.99 – 8.99. Different companies. It didn’t matter to me.

The reason? Mice Durability. As a gamer the mice are punished so, that I end up replacing my mice once or twice a year. It doesn’t matter if the mice are 2.99 or $69.99 … all of them have the same flaw: the thin cord. That’s all this story leads to. The thin cord. As gamers, we keep moving the mice all around the place. Sooner or later, the bending that thin cord back and forth will cause the interior cabling to wear off and break.

Have you experienced this? When the mice stops working and the laser goes off. You play around with the cable inch by inch and suddenly the laser turns on. That’s the thin cable bending at a certain point causing the internal cable to stop communicating with the mouse. There goes your expensive mice. Straight into the trash can.

Going back to when SteelSeries announced the SteelSeries Diablo III Gaming Mouse, I fell in love straight there. Upon close inspection of the photo what caused me to jaw-drop was the cabling. It looked like a cobra. A thick cable shielding protecting the inside from the rigorous mistreatment and punishment we gamers give mice.

I really need to smack this one at your face again, even if it’s there in the Mice specs I posted above. Read and sing along with me folks: “Durable, double-braided nylon cord with a gold-plated USB connection.

Mozzart and Beethoven come short against SteelSeries. That single sentence there is music to my ears. This is what I have been waiting for for a decade to make me come out of my self-exiled retirement from Professional Mice. I might end up buying another one at some point for my elder parent, who’s also a gamer. She also wasted about a couple of mice a year.

I am not able to give you the experience of touching this cable, but the SteelSeries description gives you an idea of what to expect from this product. It’s a solid cable. If you attempt to bend the cord, you will notice a very strong and solid opposition to do so. You can’t harm it unless you really try hard. Period.

Another bonus. After I removed my cheap mouse, I compared the length of its cable against the Diablo III Mouse. I jaw-dropped. The Diablo III Mouse’s cord is a full feet longer. You heard it: “12-inches longer” than your average mouse cord. The Diablo III Mouse’s cord-length is 2 meters (6.5 Feet).

Aesthetics: It’s Diablo III-themed. Heck, do you need another reason to love its looks? The mouse-wheel is wider than anything I have ever seen — and trust me, at a rate of nigh two mice a year for a decade I have seen my share of mice (over 20).

The outer-layer of the wheel has a rubber with the shape of scales. Think of Deathwing-like spinal cord scales. Perfect for scrolling and traction against your fingertip. Many of those cheap mice I used to have kept sliding and skipping with their awful or lack of traction.

I’m having problems with the buttons on the right side of the Diablo III mouse. As I wrote this article, I kept accidentally pushing the side button with the fourth finger (right-hand). I had programmed it to hit the “4” keyboard button. Thus, the SteelSeries Engine macro would type “4” while I typed this article. Then I realized … this is an ambidextrous mouse. Decided to clear the macro for that button, and it hasn’t given me further issues. My fingers are kinda long and big, so no blame there.

Now on the most obvious aesthetics, who doesn’t love to see that Diablo III Logo illumination humming on and off. Watch my video in the dark to see the Diablo III logo illumination (Note: Lower your sound. Loud music. Switch video quality to 720HD, and click the fullscreen button to see the programmable buttons UI)

Gameplay: I might update this review later to offer in-depth feedback. So far I programmed the two buttons on the left-side of the Diablo III Mouse to activate macros. I don’t really have to type a macro perse. All I do is choose the button in the SteelSeries Engine UI, and press the button I wish to program that button with. In this case, the button “1” and “2” on my keyboard correspond to the Diablo III Beta spell bar.

It felt fantastic to be able to cast Electrocute with the left-button using my index finger, Wave of Force with the right-button using my middle finger, and suddenly shoot an Arcane Orb and Shock Pulse with my thumb finger.

Noise: A fan asked me about the noise made by all the clicking in a click-intensive game like Diablo III, concerned about his wife. I used a Logitech Mouse (my parent’s), a cheap Orange mouse, and the SteelSeries Diablo III Mouse to test clicking. Curiously, the Logitech mouse barely made any clicking noise. However, the thin cord of the Logitech means the mouse won’t have a long lifespan with Diablo III. The double-braided nylon cord in the SteelSeries Diablo III Mouse, thus a longer lifespan, alone makes it a better investment.

SteelSeries needs to work a bit on click-noise design to counter Logitech, but to be fair the SteelSeries Diablo III mouse was designed in such a way, that most of the sound decibels from clicking seem to be cancelled out. The noise is mostly internal. The cheaper mouse had a more aggressive external clicking noise. Here’s an MP3 sound recording (WMA here) of the cheap mouse vs the SteelSeries Diablo III Mouse. It was recorded with the SteelSeries Diablo III Headset’s built-in extendable microphone.

Additional Specs

  • Frames per Second: 12000
  • Inches per Second: 150
  • Counts per Inch: 100-5700
  • Acceleration: 30 G
  • Sensor Data Path: True 16-bit
  • Lift Distance: ~2 mm
  • Buttons: 8
  • Cable: 2 m / 6.5 Ft (braided)

SteelSeries Diablo III Mouse Drivers

The Quick Start Guide seen in one of the photos only has two readable pages, so no need to brainstorm and read lots of pages. Most of the pages are localizations in other languages.

To get started, once you removed the mouse from the packaging, connect the USB connector into an available USB port in the back or front of your PC or Mac computer / laptop.

The mouse will be operational right away after Windows auto-installs a basic driver. However, you must go to http://www.steelseries.com/downloads

Your browser might prompt a frame stopping the redirection. Click the OK button if your browser does that to redirect to the appropriate Download page. Otherwise go to the website manually and hover your mouse over the “Support” link at the top of the page, and select “Downloads”.

A list of images will show up detailing each product. Somewhere around the middle you will see the Diablo III Mouse image. Click it, and below it a small frame will appear showing you two different drivers for your mouse: Mac or PC. Make sure to download the correct driver.

The driver is around 28MB, and it might take around five minutes to download depending your internet connection speed.

Locate and run the installer and follow the instructions.

Mouse Settings Interface

Once done, the SteelSeries Engine driver tray icon will appear at the bottom-right of your screen (on Windows OS).

Clicking the Open SteelSeries Engine will popup the interface (UI). Choose open image in a new tab to see the original size.

The Statistics tab keeps record of how many times you have clicked each individual button. So far, I have clicked the left button 29483 times. The right button: 2196 times. You can set a timer by pressing the start button to start recording how many clicks you perform in a specific timeframe.

Conclusions

I definitely look forward to get a second SteelSeries Diablo III Gaming Mouse. It’s been two days using it for gaming and day-to-day tasks. It looks badass, and provides a firm grip.

This device has returned my faith in professional peripherals. The cord looks like it’s going to last me several years, which in turn protects your investment. A mouse costing $69.99 should last longer than a cheap mouse. The mice cord and its durability marks the difference between a cheap mouse and a professional mouse. SteelSeries got the formula right with the Diablo III Mouse.

Next up, Blizzplanet will review the Diablo III Headset on Tuesday, and giveaway a SteelSeries QcK Diablo III Mousepad. Stay tuned.

atvi-q3-2011-slideshow-13

Transcript: Activision Blizzard Third Quarter Calendar 2011 Results Conference Call

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

This is a transcript of the discussion by Blizzard Entertainment CEO Mike Morhaime at the Activision Blizzard Q3 2011 Financial Results Conference Call held on November 8, 2011 at 1:30pm PDT.

Our visitors can also view the slideshows presented at the event and listen to the voice recording which comprehends Mike Morhaime’s speech and the live Q&A with investors and shareholders.

Highlights

  • Diablo III Real-Money Auction House will be tested in beta very soon.
  • World of Warcraft localization version to hit Brazil on December 6th.

Transcript

Mike Morhaime: Blizzard has just enjoyed another successful BlizzCon a few weeks ago sharing exciting news with 26,000 live attendees and more than a million online viewers from 144 countries around the world.

We made several big announcements. This included the world premiere of our new World of Warcraft expansion: Mists of Pandaria, and a showcase of the multiplayer side of our upcoming expansion StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm.

We also featured our upcoming Blizzard DOTA free-to-play online game, and generated even more excitement for Diablo III.

We hosted packs of crowds for our most exciting eSport tournaments yet; and finally we announced our World of Warcraft Annual Pass. I’ll go into more detail on everything in a moment.

First, I wanted to touch on our results for the past quarter. Our revenues for the first quarter of 2011 are down versus last year, which included the record setting launch of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty.

World of Warcraft finished the quarter with 10.3 million active subscribers worldwide — which is down from our previous quarter.

While the majority of these declines are coming from the East. World of Warcraft continues to be one of the most popular online games in China, and remains by far the most popular subscription-based MMO in the world.

That said, we know there are improvements we can make in game content. The level up content in Cataclysm is some of our best works, but it was consumed quickly compared to our past expansion set: Wrath of the Lich King.

Once players reached max level, the end game content in Cataclysm is more difficult. Balancing this content for our diverse playerbase can be very challenging.

Our development team is constantly analyzing the game and we continue to explore ways that we can adjust the game to better satisfy both hardcore and casual players.

To that end, our next free major content update for World of Warcraft is already in testing, and will be available for the players in upcoming weeks.

This is our largest update since Cataclysm launched. We’ll include our biggest and best rated content ever featuring the iconic dragon Deathwing, as well as a new Raid Finder feature.

The Raid Finder will make it easier than ever for casual players to experience end-game content, and it will open up a big part of the World of Warcraft to more of our players.

Looking beyond our next content update, the development team is already hard at work on our next expansion set: Mists of Pandaria.

We introduced the Pandaren race to the Warcraft universe with Warcraft III, and players have always been eager to see them introduced to World of Warcraft.

We’re finally making them a playable race in Mists of Pandaria, and the announcement trailer has already collected more than 2 million views on YouTube.

We’ll be introducing a number of new features to this World of Warcraft expansion set, but one that has gotten a lot of possitive buzz from players and press is our new Pet Battle System which we believe will be very appealing to casual players.

For hardcore players we have plans to focus the story heavily on the Horde and Alliance conflict. Combined with some new PvP features, we believe the new expansion will have a lot of appeal for our diverse audience.

Aside from the new expansion set, we made another exciting announcement at BlizzCon: The World of Warcraft Annual Pass.

The Annual Pass is the initiative we created to reward the loyalty of our current subscribers as well as welcome back past players.

It’s very simple. If you make a 12 month commitment to World of Warcraft, we give you Diablo III for free, along with an invitation to the next World of Warcraft beta and an exclusive in-game mount.

This is a limited-time offer that is only available to players who have created a World of Warcraft account as of October 18th. We have seen a tremendous response to this promotion and we believe it’s a great way for us to leverage the size and passion of our World of Warcraft playerbase to drive even more momentum around Blizzard games.

We have other marketing plans in the coming months for World of Warcraft, but we are not ready to share details yet.

Closing our discussion on World of Warcraft, we have recently announced a new localized version of the game will hit the Brazilian market on December 6th.

As we’ve mentioned in the past, Brazil is one of the fastest growing markets in terms of online connectivity, and it’s already in the Top 10 countries in terms of Broadband users.

We’re looking forward to seeing our expansion in Brazil, our new content updates, and other initiatives which contribute to the growth of World of Warcraft.

Moving on to StarCraft II, we showed off the multiplayer aspect of StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm at BlizzCon for the first time.

Players were very excited to play the new units, and the game has generated a ton of buzz.

The new trailer that we released for the game has also gotten a lot of press and attention with more than a million views on YouTube.

In addition to Heart of the Swarm, the StarCraft II development team has been hard at work on a new Free-to-Play online game: Blizzard DOTA.

This game was created by our development team using the StarCraft II engine and we debuted a new version of it at BlizzCon. Blizzard DOTA has gotten a lot of positive interest from Press who attended the show, and will be our entry into a increasingly popular genre of online games.

The newer games in the market operate on free-to-play basis, with micro-transaction elements. With that in mind, we’re currently exploring what type of business model will have for Blizzard DOTA, and we’ll look forward to share more details about the game in a near future.

On the Diablo III front, we’re still targeting an early 2012 launch. We’ve been collecting great feedback from our ongoing beta test, and Blizzcon; and the team is using that feedback to continue polishing and improving the game.

We have also been testing the Gold-based Auction House functionality through the beta, and we’re gearing up to test the Real-Money Auction House system very soon.

We’ve very high expectations for Diablo III. The buzz surrounding the game continues to be tremendous, and our new trailer of the game at Blizzcon was one of the highlights for the show.

In closing, 2012 is shaping up to be one of the busiest and most exciting years in Blizzard history. We plan on having at least two major releases, and as BlizzCon demonstrated, we have a lot of great games coming down the pipeline.

We continue to invest in development and customer service to support long-term growth, but for now the company is focusing on execution and giving great games out to players.

 

 

Conference Call Q&A

Answering questions to shareholders were Mike Morhaime, Thomas Tippl and Robert Kotick.

Brian Pitz – UBS Investment Bank

Pitz: Can you give us some additional color on what’s happening to engagement and subscriber levels for World of Warcraft, particularly following that big expansion pack announcement? Where do you think the subscribers are actually going? And I’ve got a quick follow up.

Morhaime: Okay. Well, as you know, we don’t provide a forecast on subscribership levels. But I’ll say is that the announcements at BlizzCon were incredibly well received. There’s a lot of excitement around the expansion and the upcoming content in the next patch, which will be introduced in the next couple of weeks. It is currently in test on our public test realm, and we’re very excited about that content. I guess, I can say this, the majority of the declines were in the East. China still represents more than half of our global player base and, historically, December has been a very good month for subscriber trends. We have a number of initiatives planned. We plan to be very aggressive in terms of our marketing promotions, and we’re looking forward to the end of the year.

Pitz: Great. And maybe this is a question for Thomas, as well. How should we think about the Diablo III promotional offer that’s being provided with the annual subscription option?

Tippl: From our perspective, the reception to the offer has been phenomenal. As you would expect, I think, it’s a tremendous value offer for existing and lapsed players. So we’re not surprised. And I think it’s going to continue to help broaden and deepen the engagement of the Blizzard community overall, and I think that’s particularly desirable to us because as we look into the future, I think we recognize there’s more competition heading into the MMO genre overall, because it’s a very attractive genre. And so we want to make sure we continue to offer our players, not only the best content but also the best value.

Pitz: And should we assume that’s a margin neutral event for the most part?

Morhaime: The more interest that we drive towards Diablo III, we think the more interest our players will continue helping to drive for us Diablo III.

Tippl: I think from a margin perspective, I think that it still remains to be seen. As you know, Diablo III launches with a real money auction house. So it provides an opportunity to potentially generate high margin revenues from additional Diablo players which we might not otherwise get to. But I think obviously, that’s still early days, and we’ll find out about that once we use the product in the market.

Neil Doshi – Citi

Doshi: I had a question about the Blizzard operating margins. It looks like margins have been coming down from the traditionally high 50% range to now kind of 40%. How would you think about margins going forward? And would we continue to see continued pressure on Blizzard margins? Or has most of the development been done there, and we can hope to expect margins get back in that 50% range?

Tippl: I don’t think it’s a surprise that this year the margins are down because we are developing a whole host of products within Blizzard. Effectively, we have 5 products in development, none of which has launched this year. So you got all of the development costs and none of the revenue. So next year, we are seeing at Blizzard, as Mike mentioned earlier, a minimum of 2 releases. So I think with that kind of additional leverage on the top line, I think you will see those trends reversing.

Kotick: And things like the auction house, we haven’t shared a lot of detail about what the margin strategy looks like, but obviously, it’s a very high margin component of the overall franchise.

Morhaime: Yes, I think it’s a difficult comparison this year because if you look at last year, we had 2 major launches. This year, zero.

Doshi: On the Diablo beta, what learnings have you found so far from the players’ community and how’s the auction house testing going relative to your expectations?

Morhaime: Feedback and testing have been extremely positive in the beta. Keep in mind, the amount of content that we’re exposing to players is very limited because we do want to save the vast majority of that content for the actual release. But even within that small amount of content, people are playing it over and over, experiencing with the various characters, and we’ve been reading the feedback and talking to people at BlizzCon. One of the most common questions that I got asked at BlizzCon was just, hey, they want to get their friends into the beta, how do they do that? Of course, it’s very difficult to do.

Jeetil Patel – Deutsche Bank

Patel: As you look at the Diablo, Warcraft bundling strategy, I guess, the idea behind that is to get as many users on Diablo and the real opportunity from a modernization standpoint will be auction house in terms of the transactional flow there. I’m curious how much do you think there’ll be in terms of the cannibalizations of the pre-packet offer sale through the bundling strategy? On Warcraft, 10.3 million subscribers, what’s your best guess as to where that number kind of settles in at as we look out over the next 12 months or so?

Tippl: On Diablo, I think that benefits that we see from the Diablo are really two-fold. I think one, it’s going to, because it requires a 12-month subscription to World of Warcraft, it’s going to extend the subscriber life. And as a result, it’s going to generate more revenues, more high-margin revenues at World of Warcraft. And in addition, as Mike and Bob had mentioned earlier, we also think that the larger the Diablo community is and the larger the marketplace around Diablo’s real money transaction auction house is, the greater the opportunity to also generate income and have a long tail behind Diablo. And then on the subscribers, Mike mentioned earlier, we’re not providing any subscriber forecast. We haven’t done so in the past. We’re not starting right now. I think we’re providing you a financial forecast, which includes, as always, prudent proven assumptions around all of our variables that go into our financial plan.

Patel: Maybe if you look at Auction House going backwards to the prior Diablo or maybe what you’re seeing in early testing, can you talk about how many transactions the average player typically does in a given month? Is there any way to quantify that?

Tippl: There isn’t really, because the experience that we are going to offer is going to be so much better than anything players were able to see in the past on Diablo. So where we are really looking is. I think, the general acceptance of gamers for our different types of business models existing in the past in terms of more micro-transaction base has increased substantially over time. So we are really looking more for benchmarks really outside of currently relevant micro-transaction-based games. And as you know, those trends have been very encouraging. But for us, we’ll have to see until we get into the marketplace. I mean, if we didn’t think it’s a significant opportunity, we wouldn’t be doing it.

Morhaime: So let me just add to that. It’s really impossible to extrapolate behaviors from the limited beta experience we’re offering to the more open-ended ultimate Diablo III experience. But if you look at Diablo II and even Diablo I player behaviors, there was a big need to trade items between players, and we found that a lot of our players are going to third-party sites to perform that trading. And so, the main reason that we’re doing this is to provide them a safe and secure environment to perform that trading. We think it’s going to make for a better game. We think it’s going to lead to longer engagement with the game, but in terms of the volume, I think it’s very difficult to predict.

Eric Handler – MKM Partners

Handler: Just out of curiosity, when you’ve had big patches before with World of Warcraft, what type of subscriber uplift do you typically see?

Morhaime: Well, historically, with the content updates that we’ve done, it’s really not intended to go out and drive new user acquisition, that’s a whole other strategy. But it does drive engagement with the game, and so that will impact churn, if we do it successfully and eventually will drive win back, as players tell each other about the content they’re enjoying. We’ll hopefully see a lift in our ability to win back players that may have already churned.

 

 

Recording

 

 

Slideshow Gallery

 

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Blizzplanet: BlizzCon 2011 Panels Transcript Archive

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, Diablo 3 News, Featured Stories, StarCraft 2 News, World of Warcraft News

Over the next two weeks, this hub page will grow as we add more BlizzCon 2011 updates. This is a transcript archive to read the BlizzCon 2011 panels. There were around 20 panels led by Blizzard Entertainment developers covering World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm and Diablo III.

Those who wish to can still order the BlizzCon Ticket Livestream at the official BlizzCon website. All VODs will be available for view until November 20th, 2011. Additional links: Blizzard, BlizzCon Homepage, BlizzCon Twitter.

Blizzplanet Articles

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria – Press Kit

This section gathers all the material Blizzard Entertainment provided Blizzplanet network manager Eldorian at the BlizzCon 2011 Press Room.

World of Warcraft: Intro to Mists of Pandaria

Browse through the Transcript Archive of each panel.

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Class Talent Panel

Dungeons & Raids Panel

Diablo III – Press Kit

Diablo III – Panels

StarCraft II Press Kit

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm – Panels

Browse through the transcript archive of each panel. (coming soon)

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Awesome Sauce … Diablo III Cinematic Sneak Peek

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, Diablo 3 News, Featured Stories

Blizzard Entertainment has unleashed a never-seen-before Pre-BlizzCon image teaser of the Diablo III Cinematic!

“Peer not into the shadows of the Hells …”

“… for there is always something peering back.”

“Man’s pleasures give way to pain. His truths are buried in the shroud of lies. It is this time when Hell shall reign. While all of man dies.” – From the Guhawj Cave Inscriptions in Kehjistan, inked in blood by an unknown author.

To quote Tychus Findlay: “Sweet Mother of Mercy.” Leah better have a few tricks up her sleeve, or have a good set of legs to run like Speedy Gonzalez. That’s some fugly demon bastard. For some reason it reminds me the Butcher. Check out the Diablo Facebook and don’t forget to click “Like”. Ata’boy!

After the defeat of the three brothers: Diablo, Mephisto and Baal — centuries before Diablo I — Azmodan and Bellial have been at a Civil War in the Burning Hells. Connecting the dots, this cinematic teaser image might suggest Leah found this foul demon while investigating the hole on the ground left by the meteor, which swallowed her uncle Cain. It’s likely the meteor that fell from the sky upon the cathedral of Tristram might really be Belial. A few weeks ago, I posted a Diablo III beta screenshot where Deckard Cain hints Belial has come to Sanctuary.

In Diablo III beta, Deckard Cain clearly says: “The Horadric Scrolls spoke of the dead rising and the Lord of Lies. The Prophecy of the End Days says that at the end of all things, the first sign shall appear in the Heavens!”

Has the Civil War finally ended? Was Azmodan the victor? For those who haven’t read much into the Diablo lore, the civil war begun because the three brothers had set their sight on the Nephalem (the children of the renegade angels and demons inhabiting Sanctuary), instead of focusing the hordes of demons on their eternal conflict against the High Heavens and the Angiris Council.

With the three brothers off the chess board, Azmodan and Belial fought each other to claim reign over the Burning Hells. Once the victor take command of the Burning Hells, it’s assumed he will unleash an invasion upon the sacred lands of the High Heavens.

It’s speculated Azmodan exiled Belial into Sanctuary, thus — the meteor falling through the sky. Or was it Belial the victor, and Azmodan the fallen one? Only time will tell.

To taste a bit of lore, read The Dark Exile story from the original Diablo Game Manual.

For a full injection of the Diablo Universe lore — pre-order the upcoming Diablo III: Book of Cain — narrated from the point of view of Deckard Cain.

We recently posted photos, videos and sneak peek of Diablo III: Book of Cain during our visit to the New York Comic Con.

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Blizzard Launches Diablo III Beta Key Sweepstakes

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Diablo 3 News, Featured Stories

Blizzard Entertainment has gone nuts and have opened the gates of hell — I mean the gates of beta keys wide open. Two-Thousand BETA KEYS — holy moly, your chances to win are bigger than any other Blizzard contest you have participated ever.

Update: Before going “Yeeha!”, read the rules and eligibility page. Here’s the most crucial part: “This Blizzard sweepstake is only open to residents of United States, (excluding U.S. Territories and possessions), Canada (excluding Province of Quebec), Mexico, United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Italy, Turkey, Switzerland, Hungary, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Spain, Poland, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Ireland and Taiwan.” *Thanks, Nightblade.

Wanna get a beta key? Follow this Facebook link.

Diablo Facebook: Want to lead the charge against the minions of the Burning Hells before the game releases? Then join the fight for the fate of Sanctuary by entering the Diablo III Beta Key Sweepstakes!

For a limited time, those who follow the official Diablo Facebook Page from Blizzard Entertainment can enter for a chance to win admission into the Diablo III beta test!

Blizzard Entertainment is giving away 2000 keys for the exclusive Diablo III beta test over the next four weeks. If you want to lead the charge against the minions of the Burning Hells before the game’s official release – follow Diablo on Facebook and enter the drawing now for your chance to win.

Blizzard: Want to lead the charge against the minions of the Burning Hells before the game releases? Then join the fight for the fate of Sanctuary by entering the Diablo III Beta Key Sweepstakes!

Starting October 17, we’ll be randomly selecting 200 winners each week to receive a key to our exclusive Diablo III beta test. In addition, every fourth winner chosen will receive a second key to share with a friend! Drawings will occur every Monday for eight weeks for a total 2,000 keys.

Interested? Good! Signing up is easy. Simply follow Diablo on Facebook and complete our official entry form between now and December 12 for your chance to win. For more information about how to participate, check out the sweepstakes rules and eligibility page. Good luck!

source

Check out the Rules and Eligibility page:

Official Rules

1. Eligibility. BLIZZARD ENTERTAINMENT, INC., A DELAWARE CORPORATION (referred to herein as “SPONSOR”) IS THE SPONSOR OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES. THIS SWEEPSTAKES (THE “SWEEPSTAKES”) IS OPEN ONLY TO RESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES (EXCLUDING THE U.S. TERRITORIES AND POSSESSIONS), CANADA (EXCLUDING THE PROVINCE OF QUEBEC), MEXICO, ARGENTINA, THE UNITED KINGDOM, GERMANY, AUSTRIA, ITALY, TURKEY, SWITZERLAND, HUNGARY, FRANCE, BELGIUM, LUXEMBOURG, SWEDEN, FINLAND, NORWAY, SPAIN, POLAND, SERBIA, CROATIA, BULGARIA, CZECH REPUBLIC, BELARUS, UKRAINE, RUSSIA, IRELAND AND TAIWAN, WHO ARE OF THE AGE OF MAJORITY AS OF OCTOBER 11, 2011, AND WHO ARE NOT RESIDENTS OF THE PROVINCE OF QUEBEC, CANADA. IF YOU DO NOT MEET THESE REQUIREMENTS, YOU ARE NOT ELIGIBLE TO ENTER OR WIN A PRIZE IN THIS SWEEPSTAKES. Sponsor directors, officers and employees of Sponsor, its respective parents, affiliate companies, subsidiaries, agents, professional advisors, advertising and promotional agencies (collectively, “Released Parties”), and immediate families (spouse, parent, child, sibling and their respective spouses, regardless of where they reside) and household members, whether or not related, of each are not eligible to enter or win any prizes. All applicable laws and regulations apply. Sweepstakes is void where prohibited. Limit one entry per drawing during Sweepstakes, and an individual entrant may only win one prize during the Sweepstakes.

2. Disclaimer. Released Parties are not be responsible for: (a) lost, late, incomplete, inaccurate, stolen, misdirected, undelivered or garbled entries; (b) lost, interrupted or unavailable network, server, Internet Service Provider (ISP), website, or other connections, availability or accessibility or miscommunications or failed computer, satellite, telephone or cable transmissions, lines, or technical failure or jumbled, scrambled, delayed, or misdirected transmissions or computer hardware or software malfunctions, failures or difficulties, or © other errors or difficulties of any kind whether human, mechanical, electronic, computer, network, typographical, printing or otherwise relating to or in connection with the sweepstakes, including, without limitation, errors or difficulties which may occur in connection with the administration of the Sweepstakes, the processing of entries, the announcement of the prizes or in any Sweepstakes-related materials. Released Parties are also not responsible for any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by site users, tampering, hacking, or by any equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Sweepstakes. Released Parties are not responsible for injury or damage to participants’ or to any other person’s computer related to or resulting from participating in this Sweepstakes

3. Sweepstakes Period. The Sweepstakes shall commence on October 11, 2011 at 12:01 AM Pacific Time (“PT”), and end on December 12, 2011, at 11:59 PM PT (“Sweepstakes Period”).

4. How to Enter the Sweepstakes. To enter the Sweepstakes, a qualified entrant will need to complete the entry form located at www.facebook.com/Diablo.

5. Prizes. Each Tuesday during the Contest, Sponsor shall randomly select One Hundred Fifty (150) qualified entrants who will receive one (1) Diablo III Beta Test Key, and fifty (50) qualified entrants who will receive two (2) Diablo III Beta Test Keys.

UPDATE: A Blizzard Representative responds the reasons some countries are left out. Basically, each country has their own laws which prevent Blizzard Entertainment from opening up giveaways and contests.

      Hey Aice, I can perfectly understand your point here. You’re correct, some countries are usually not able to take part in some of our promotions / offers / deals / sweepstakes.

First of all, I would like to point out that there is no benefit to us to not offering these promotions in all European countries. We always try to reach out to all of our players and we definitely don’t want to keep countries out of the loop. Unfortunately, this isn’t always our call.

Every country has different legal restrictions, and this restrictions will determine if a particular offer or initiative will be available to a specific country.
I cannot go into details because there are just too many examples, it’s impossible to examine them on a case by case basis.

Long story short, some of our initiatives are classified as “gambling” in some countries, as “pyramid schemes” in others, and so on. Some laws just state that any promotion, deal, or offer that allows additional benefits to be gained as a result of bringing further people to the game would be classed as unacceptable.

As you can imagine, it’s a difficult situation, but we’re definitely aware of the fact that all of our players would like to have the opportunity of taking part in our initiatives.

We don’t care about the number of players we have in a specific country, we just want to involve as many people as possible.

If you believe that we may be missing out a country that would indeed allow this kind of scheme without issue then you’re welcome to contact our legal team purely to draw their attention to the situation.

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Blizzplanet Interview: StarCraft: Ghost — Spectres Interview with Nate Kenyon

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

Blizzplanet journalist and network manager Eldorian interviewed author Nate Kenyon by phone to dig more into the storyline of StarCraft: Ghost–Spectres, a novel many fans of the StarCraft Universe have been anxiously awaiting for almost three years and a half (title revelation: May 10, 2008).

The StarCraft: Ghost–Spectres was originally assigned to be written by Keith R.A. DeCandido. For reasons only the Asgardian Norns might know, the direction of the book landed on the good hands of Nate Kenyon, a Bram Stoker Award finalist for both Bloodstone and The Reach. Nate Kenyon’s most recent novels (The Bone Factory and Sparrow Rock) have received great recognition by the American Library Association’s Booklist Magazine and Publishers Weekly.

Listen to the phone interview, and don’t forget to order StarCraft: Ghost–Spectres.

Interview

Other interviews around the web: