Blizzard Entertainment hosted a live phone call interview between Richard A. Knaak and Blizzplanet member Eldorian. Questions were hand picked by Medievaldragon from the Scrolls of Lore community. Thanks a bunch, folks. Many thanks to Blizzard Entertainment, its Public Relations staff and to the Creative Team.
Eldorian: “The sound quality is decent enough. I’d just remind people that this was done over a cell phone and the sound quality is a little distorted due to that.”
Transcript in english and spanish will come at a later time. Stay tuned. Listen to the phone call interview below:
Order your copy of World of Warcraft: Wolfheart — available as Hardcover, Kindle, or eAudio.
A Blizzard representative acknowledged the filing of Mists of Pandaria to GameSpot, replying the following statement: “We appreciate your interest in our trademark filings, but we’re not ready to reveal any details at this time.”
The breaking news has gone all around the world with a lot of buzz and speculation, but Blizzard Entertainment won’t reveal any details until either BlizzCon 2011 (to be held at the Anaheim Convention Center through October 20-21) or at a later time when they are ready.
For those who can’t attend the BlizzCon event in person, Blizzard recently announced BlizzCon Virtual Tickets are on sale now. You have two options to watch the developer panels: watch the video livestream online, or you can watch it on TV via DirecTV.
Baseless Speculation: Gotta Love Fans’ Imagination
Some people speculate that Mists of Pandaria might be the next World of Warcraft expansion after Cataclysm. The Pandaren nation is been known as Pandaria since Warcraft III: Frozen Throne (Orc campaign) after Chen Stormtout and Rexxar met in Durotar.
Curll (a forum member of Scrolls of Lore) started to play connect the dots speculating that the upcoming Christie Golden novel featuring Jaina Proudmoore might have something to do with her Kul’Tiras / Theramore naval fleet exploring the seas of Pandaria. This has not been confirmed.
I also heard a fan suggest that Queen Azshara and the naga, working for the Old gods, might be in search of an item of power in Pandaria. That would make sense twofold. Pandaria is surrounded by sea, and we do know the Veiled Sea — located west of Kalimdor — has presence of Naga throughout the coasts of Darkshore, Azuremyst, Bloodmyst, Ashenvale, Desolace and Feralas.
In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, the naga needed an artifact to summon Ozumat and the faceless ones. You might recall the Battlemaiden quests in the Shimmering Expanse.
We barely know anything about Pandaria except the Pandaren are from there. The Cataclysm caused Uldum’s cloaking system to malfunction. Pandaria might have one of those Titan bases like Uldaman, Ulduar and Uldum. Or one of those research structures like Un’Goro Crater and Sholazar Basin. Maybe the Cataclysm caused problems there too, powering down or weakening its defenses like Deathwing did with Uldum.
What if Queen Azshara needs an artifact from there for the final steps to bring about the release of the Old gods?
Ain’t a collection of artifacts a bit silly? Not really. In Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal expansion (RTS, 1996), Ner’zhul sent the death knight Teron Gorefiend to Azeroth to retrieve four items of power in order to open portals to other worlds in Draenor: The Book of Medivh, the Scepter of Sargeras, the Skull of Gul’dan and the Eye of Dalaran.
It wouldn’t be surprising if Queen Azshara needed similar items of power from Titan bases to free the Old gods.
Pandaria: An Isle or a Small Continent?
There may be many arguments and speculation about this, but the truth is there is no canon lore on Pandaria. The only source of info about Pandaria was published in the Warcraft RPG books which Chris Metzen deemed non-canon during a Blizzard panel.
With Pandaria having an asian vibe to its theme, it’s possible that Pandaria is a cluster of islands rather than a single island. In real life, some of the biggest archipelagos are: Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
However, Pandaria could be as big as Northrend (which is smaller than Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms). In real life, we could coin Australia as an example. It’s a massive isle, but it is deemed a continent.
World of Warcraft Expansion … or Something Else?
It might be a new World of Warcraft Expansion, but not necessarily. Let’s focus on little breadcrumbs which might be interpreted as a possibility that Mists of Pandaria might be an expansion.
Magistrix Verdande (another Scrolls of Lore forum member) brought up a screenshot from his Tarecgosa questline. The quest for the epic caster weapon in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.
The world of Azeroth is seen from a asterioid cluster. For the first time, the planet is seen with a strange mists over the Veiled Sea — the other side of the planet opposite to where the Maelstrom is located.
This could be interpreted as a hint or breadcrumb left by a developer. Remember in Wrath of the Lich King when the Planet Azeroth hologram seen in the Ulduar observatory room showed a Kalimdor split in half? It was very likely a breadcrumb of things to come.
In Cataclysm, Kalimdor was hit hard by the earthquakes, and Thousand Needles is now underwater. This effectively sundered the area in the half portion of Kalimdor. Now the map looks exactly like the Azeroth hologram in Ulduar.
Could this new updated globe of Azeroth in Tarecgosa’s questline hint at … the Mists of Pandaria? I don’t know about you, but after looking at this image It’s hard to vote bogus.
Except watching the video, the mist in that screenshot doesn’t move at all while the globe rotates. The mist can later be seen over Eastern Kingdoms and the Maelstrom. So, I’m sorry. Video wins: Very Bogus.
On a final note, concerning World of Warcraft, isn’t it somewhat curious that the western sea of Kalimdor is known as The Veiled Sea, but the eastern side of Eastern Kingdoms is named The Forbidden Sea? If there was absolutely no land masses in between Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor (the other side of the planet) wouldn’t it make sense to name the entire sea the same way? Unless there is a mass or masses of land dividing both seas?
For the skeptical on this being an expansion to World of Warcraft, there is a very slight chance this could be Warcraft IV: Mists of Pandaria.
On the other hand, what if Mists of Pandaria is not a World of Warcraft expansion nor a Warcraft IV RTS game.
One should also consider a spin-off game. Has anyone considered the thought that Mists of Pandaria might be Titan? When I heard the name Mists of Pandaria, I gotta say, I did think of a World of Warcraft expansion and of Warcraft IV. However, another silly thought made me chuckle in my mind.
I thought of a spin-off game based on the Pandaren — think of a Facebook, iPad, iPhone, PC and Console type of game + Angry Birds or The Lost Vikings. Of course, not exactly like Angry Birds, but something that people could have fun with and play a few minutes or hours socially.
Wouldn’t that be something fun to play? Pandas are cute.
DJTyrant attended the Diablo III Beta Press Event on behalf of Blizzplanet, and now shares with fans all his experiences while playing the Diablo III beta at Blizzard Entertainment’s Headquarters in Irvine, CA.
DJTyrant: “Blizzard ushered those of the press into the theather and showed us a brief two minute clip of a rough 2D animated version of the opening cinematic. There was sound and voices included, but the 3D animation either wasn’t complete, or in a form that they were ready to share with us and we also couldn’t record it. Blizzard then brought Chris Metzen up and talked about the lore of Diablo 3 and caught us up on what happened with D1 and D2. The direction of the story will be around Deckard Cain, 20 years later and he put together a journal that prophesies that the fight isn’t over against evil.
The story starts in a new Tristram which is still rebuilding 20 years after the events of Diablo 2. Fire is falling from the sky and the risen dead are rising from the grave, which brings the players into the game, asking the question of what the fire is, is this the beginning of the end?
Leah, who we’ve seen quite a bit in the trailers so far, is then brought into the story who is the adopted niece of Deckard Cain. She has spent her life searching through old ruins and burial grounds. Her role in the story is to fill in the gap between what Deckard Cain knows and the players don’t. Blizzard explained that she fulfills the need for an everyday man knowledge from Deckard Cain through someone the players can identify with.
Discussion about the combat system and gameplay systems proceeded forward from this point as a lot has changed since the last time Blizzard has publicly talked about the game. There was a lot of discussion at last BlizzCon about how the talent/spell system had gone through many iterations, now it has been completely tuned down to a much simpler system where you pick the spells you want, and you can equip 6 active skills, with two being selectable at the start with new slots being unlocked at 6, 12, 18, 24 for a total of six active skills. Also added are passive skills unlocked at levels 10, 20, and 30 for three total. Every level a new skill is unlocked and with the active skills you can swap out at any time.
The rune system was also discussed, and will be used to create different builds for each class with the lack of a talent tree system now. The example that Jay used was the battle mage, or melee wizard, (in this case the Wizard class). Items are dropped in the world that modify skills and abilities.
And then the discussion about the new Battle.net features, which can be detailed here:
Battle.net & Auction House Features
Blizzard dropped a bombshell in the press event announcing an auction house and online-only gameplay for Diablo 3. The big news of the in-game auction house is that it will be regional, and feature in some regions, the ability to buy and sell items for real world money, yes you heard that right Diablo 3 items for REAL WORLD MONEY. Blizzard will facilitate the transactions in-game.
The key to the new auction house is that Blizzard is facilitating a need for the players to buy and sell items with real world money, which was prevalent in Diablo 2. The currency auction house will be supported in as many countries as they can get it up and running in.
To get people involved with the real money auction house they are offering a set number of auction posting free per week. It will be run through the in-game client and you will be able to sell items, gold, and components through the AH, with the possibility of selling characters at some point in the future. Auction listings above and beyond that will be a flat rate per item listed whether or not the item sells, helping make sure items that players list items that would be useful or beneficial.
The players will be able to cash out in two ways, through a Blizzard eWallet, that will directly put the money into your battle.net account which can be used for any number of items on the store (even WoW time). You will also be able to cash it out to a bank account through a 3rd party service, with details being withheld at this time as to a specific service that that may be.
Other key points:
- Auto bidding and instant buyout
- Smart search by class
- Shared Stash (between characters)
- Secure Item Transfers
- Facilitate player trades – not a Blizzard Store
- Players will be anonymous during trades
- Will also have a gold auction house and in-game trading
- Hardcore characters will not be able to use the real money auction house
As far as Battle.net goes for gameplay:
Always connected to friends, persistent friends list. Always connected to the game, online only, persistent characters, and no local characters (prevent modification).
Play together, stay together.
- Public Game Finder
- PvP Matchmaking
- Quick Join Friends – advertises game to friends list, drop-in to friends games
- Dynamic Co-op – feel very fluid between 1p, to co-op, any point you can open game to friends, etc, dynamically adjusts difficulty.
With more details about Diablo 3 out in the open now there will be tons of discussion about these new features and gameplay decisions Blizzard has made.
Witch Doctor Preview
All classes were playable in the D3 beta build we played at Blizzard HQ, so I decided to check out the Witch Doctor. Probably one of the most versatile of the classes it can be played in a variety of ways. You can play as a very caster oriented class, or as a very heavy pet oriented class.
I tried a mix of two to see how viable it was and chose poison dart and poison toads. Poison dart is a ranged attack that poisons the target, and poison toads are released three at a time and randomly move around to explode on three targets. This allowed for a lot of ranged control and helped keep me safe in most fights without too much trouble. Both spells were extremely mana efficient, but I’m not sure if this was due to the nature of the beta, or how it is designed to be in the final product.
Other builds/styles of play that I tooled around with involved using the summon zombie dogs which are three permanent pets that fight for you, and using a grip spell that was an AoE spell that holds enemies in place (which works well in sync with poison frogs).
Overall the class was really fun to play and very dynamic. I see quite a number of different builds and ways to play the class.”
Melee class, uses rage
Leap, generate rage usable ~10 seconds
Ground Stop, enemy stun
Ancient Spear, pulls enemies close into melee range
Wrath of the Berserkers, gets giant, and gets tons of bonuses;
Pet Class, voodoo, creepy crawly pets (spiders, snakes, toads, zombies, etc.) mind control (when fighting WD don’t know what’s real or not), mana
Firebats, flamethrower with bats!
Soul Harvest, for every enemy nearby, gets stacking buff that increases damage
Big Bad Voodoo, fetish shaman any pets or allies get attack speed increase
Hex, a shaman who turns monsters into chickens
Fetish Army, little fetish dudes that will fight for you last ~20 seconds
Gargantuan, big tough brawler pet, really tough
Mage archetype class, prodigy, wizards in Diablo universe used deragatory term that they shouldn’t be delving in stuff they shouldn’t be.
Arcane Power, fast regenerating resource, has cooldown abilities
Electrocute – can jump between targets, even non-enemy targets, main stay spell
Diamond Skin – Allows her to conjure diamonds and take heavy damage for a short period
Stop Time – slow enemies and projectiles within bubble, allows for control
Meteor – Takes a few seconds to impact, but massive AoE damage
Disintegrate – powerful sweeping ability
Archon – transforms and completely new abilities, enhanced version of disintigrate, etc. When you kill an enemy ups the duration of archon
Spirit, defensive focused resource, base attacks generate spirit, precious resources, attacks have three stages to feel dynamic, can mix up abilities
Deadly Reach, hit enemies right before they reach you, control position
Exploding Palm, third hit is $$ applies a DoT, and if it kills them they explode + do damage to area
Mantras, ability unique to monk, buff extends to her and allies, big dodge bonus
Tempest , can’t get surrounded, slows enemies in path
Inner Sanctuary, monsters can’t pass through and creates choke points, etc. Allows for high control.
Seven sides strike, big spirit spender, invulnerable for short period of time does massive damage to groups of enemies.
Conventional ranges class, bows, crossbows, shadow magic, gadgets and traps.
Sentry, puts up a crossbow turret
Spike Trap, slices enemies up
Smoke Screen, invisible for a few seconds, gets out of combat
Mark for Death, mark enemy to get pwned
Check out Blizzplanet’s 2011 Diablo III Press Event Coverage for more.
Blizzard Entertainment invited Blizzplanet to the Diablo III press event held in Irvine on July 27, 2011. DJTyrant had the opportunity to listen to the developers introduce attendees all the details about the upcoming beta testing and the updated changes to some of the game systems.
Check out the links below to browse through the content coverage obtained during the Diablo III Press Event.
Diablo III Beta
- Diablo III Beta Overview
- Diablo III Beta FAQ
- Diablo III Press Event Roundup and Gameplay experiences
- Diablo III Beta B-roll video
- Diablo III Gameplay Screenshots
- Diablo III New Tristram Concept Art
- Battle.net Interface and Friend Lists Screenshots
- Diablo III Class Crests Artwork
Post-Press Event Blizzard Follow-Up
Several fansites and gaming networks attended the Diablo III Beta Press Event which took place at Blizzard Entertainment’s headquarters in Irvine, California on July 27, 2011. You might find appealing their own points of views and opinions.
- The Worldstone Keep
- G4TV also (part 2)
- GameKings (Dutch)
- PowerUnlimited? (Dutch)
- Multiplayer MTV
- Eurogamer: How and Why of the Auction House
- G4TV: Chris Metzen on Diablo III Lore
- MTV: Robert Bridenbecker on Online requirement feedback
Boyarksy on Diablo III Storyline recap and spoilers? (Diablo: The Sin War Trilogy)
- The Cash Money Auction House – Rob Pardo
- Hands-On Preview Real Money in a Virtual World – Jason Bender
- Diablo III Q&A With Leonard Boyarski
- The Story So Far – Leonard Boyarsky
- Auction House: Blizzard Explains Why — Rob Pardo
- Beta Testing – Jay Wilson
- Gameplay Preview – Rob Pardo
- Beta Preview with Blair Herter
- Interviews (French only)
- Coop, End Game and Console Plans – Jay Wilson
- Why Skill Points Were Removed – Jay Wilson
- Gameplay AI – Jay Wilson
- Rune Changes – Jay Wilson
- PvP – Jay Wilson
- Skill Points System No More – Jay Wilson
Wall Street Journal
A brief moment so I can clean up my tears. After several years checking Amazon, and some book publishers on a daily basis for any new products, especially Diablo products, one has finally pop up on radar range.
Today a new Diablo product is listed in Amazon. It’s not a novel, but because of the existence of this product we might speculate the gates for upcoming Diablo novels is now open, with approval from Blizzard to start flooding bookstores by 2012+.
Insight Editions, the publisher of The Cinematic Art of World of Warcraft: The Wrath of the Lich King, has announced the upcoming Diablo III: Book of Cain. This hardcover contains 144 pages and hits bookstores on November 15, 2011. Care to speculate a Q4 release date for Diablo III?
Blizzard executives and developers have shared their wish to ship in Q4 2011, without an official commitment to do so noting they won’t sacrifice game quality for a set date and it will ship when it’s done.
In Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo® and Diablo II, the recurring character of Deckard Cain delivered quests, accompanied the brave adventurer, and, as the last of the Horadrim, provided a link to the greater history of the world of Sanctuary. Ever mysterious during these appearances, Cain hinted at a larger story, providing snippets of it in his notebook. Diablo III: Book of Cain is Cain’s formal record of this greater tale—a dissertation on the lore of the Diablo universe, told by one who has witnessed and participated in some of the epic events that make up the eternal conflict between the High Heavens and the Burning Hells.
Designed as an “in-world” artifact from the Diablo universe, Diablo III: Book of Cain includes Cain’s revealing meditations, as well as dozens of sketches and color artworks depicting the angelic and demonic beings who wage constant war with one another.
For players of the eagerly anticipated Diablo III, this mysterious tome will provide a deeper understanding of the franchise and its storyline.
Pre-order Diablo III: Book of Cain now.
Note: Marketing of the games and the novel tie-ins seems to be very predictable. Even if the official release date of a Blizzard Entertainment video game has not been announced, one can draw a conclusion based on the announced release date of novel tie-ins. These release dates are listed by bookstores far in advance (pre-orders). Some of the novel release dates end up in bookstores a month before the game ships, some novels do so a month after the game ships. Based on the release date of Diablo III: Book of Cain (November 15), one can extrapolate Diablo III might ship in the range of October, November, or December 2011 (more or less). World of Warcraft: Arthas being the exception. Examples below:
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm — (December 7, 2010)
- World of Warcraft: The Shattering (October 19, 2010)
- World of Warcraft: Stormrage (November 30, 2010)
World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King — (November 13, 2008)
- World of Warcraft: Arthas, Rise of the Lich King (April 21, 2009)
World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade — (January 16, 2007) Note: Burning Crusade suffered a delay from its original December 2006 release date
- World of Warcraft: Rise of the Horde (December 26, 2006)
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty — (July 27, 2010) Note: StarCraft II development was announced in Seoul, South Korea on May 19, 2007
- StarCraft: The Dark Templar Trilogy, Firstborn (May 22, 2007)
- StarCraft II: Heaven’s Devils (April 6, 2010)
StarCraft: Ghost (last known release date before postponement: April 2006)
- StarCraft: Ghost Nova (according to my interview with Keith R.A. DeCandido the novel was meant to ship simultaneously with the game)
It’s official. During the Activision Blizzard Q1 2011 Financial Results conference call held today at 1:30pm PDT (4:30pm EST), Blizzard Entertainment CEO Mike Morhaime officially announced Diablo III beta testing will commence this upcoming Q3 2011. It was not specified if it’s a fiscal Q3, or otherwise. One could extrapolate Diablo III Beta might start in early July, after the Diablo II anniversary, which coincides with the Diablo III official announcement held in Paris at the 2008 Blizzard Worldwide Invitationals. Here is the quote from Blizzard Entertainment CEO Mike Morhaime during today’s Activision Blizzard Q1 2011 Financial Results conference call:
Morhaime: “On the Diablo III front, I’m pleased to report that we began internal company live testing last week. The game is looking great, and we are currently targeting a Q3 Launch for external beta testing. The development team is working hard to try and launch Diablo III this year. But I want to be clear that we do not have an official release date or window yet. As always we won’t compromise the quality of the game in order to hit a window.”
Note: Check back later today and tomorrow for the full transcript and recording sample.
Morhaime: Blizzard Entertainment has come up with the most successful year ever in 2010 shipping two record-breaking games in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm and StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. As we drive deeper into 2011, we are looking to build off that momentum by providing even more epic experiences to our players; and we are also working hard on our exciting pipeline of new games.
On our financial side, we got $357 million dollars in revenue and $170 million dollars in operating income. We’re pleased with the growth in the Blizzard community over the past year, and expect to grow further with the upcoming launch of Diablo III.
Looking at the World of Warcraft side of business, we were pleased to see record sales on the Cataclysm launch in Unites States and Europe which helps drive global subscribership. During the first quarter of 2011, as players have eagerly consumed the new content, we have seen subscribership return to pre-launch levels in the last.
We finished the quarter with 11.4 million subscribers worldwide. Moving forward our objective is to continue delivering new content to players in all regions to further energize our community. Our partners at NetEase are continuing to drive toward launching World of Warcraft: cataclysm later this year, which should reinvigorate that community with some new exciting content.
For all our other regions, we recently launched the first content update for Cataclysm. This update includes new dungeons, special rewards for guilds, and a feature to help players find a guild to join. Player feedback has been positive and as a result we have seen an increase in player engagement and higher daily concurrency.
In addition, we have another major update already in testing that includes new raids and quests content, as well as an exciting new dungeon journal that will make raids and dungeons more approachable for all players.
I also have some news to share in regards to our [?] services. We recently launched several [?] for World of Warcraft players in China, allowing our chinese community access most of the services available to players in other regions.
We also launched a mobile guild chat system. This new feature allows subscribers of our Premium World of Warcraft Remote Service to chat with their guildmates through mobile devices.
Finally, we announced a new premium mount that will be offered in the Blizzard Store in a near future.
Moving on to StarCraft II, the first quarter was an eventful one for this franchise. In addition to releasing new ladder and costume map content for our players, we also launched the game in China. Already, the China region is one of our largest communities for StarCraft II in terms of concurrency, and [effort?] is up to a great start in the region.
We’ve signed with several partners to run StarCraft II Tournaments in China, as well as a Chinese broadcast partner to televise Korean GSL matches in Chinese. As we look to the future of StarCraft II, the development team is also hard at work on the first expansion: Heart of the Swarm. We’ll be showcasing that game to worldwide press later on this month.
On the Diablo III front, I’m pleased to report that we began internal company live testing last week. The game is looking great, and we are currently targeting a Q3 Launch for external beta testing. The development team is working hard to try and launch Diablo III this year. But I want to be clear that we do not have an official release date or window yet. As always we won’t compromise the quality of the game in order to hit a window.
Lastly, I want to talk a little bit about BlizzCon. Tickets will be going on sale later this month, and as in the past we expect it to sold out quickly. We also offer the show via internet stream and DirecTV Pay-Per-View to reach our players who can’t make it out to the show. Last year we had more than 95,000 paid viewers join us via DirecTV or the live internet stream.
As always, we look forward to sharing exciting news with our community at this year’s show.
Thrilled? Excited? So are we. Get your official Diablo III T-shirt to celebrate Diablo III Beta details finally coming your way.
Wanna buff up your Diablo lore in advance? Check out all the Diablo novels:
Awaken, Diablo III fans! As I have repeated diligently over the past few weeks, Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime is to reveal details of the Diablo III Beta on Monday, May 9th at 1:30 pm Pacific Time (4:30 pm Eastern Time) during the Activision Blizzard First Quarter 2011 Financial Results conference call.
On February 9th, during the Q4 2010 Results conference call, Mike Morhaime indicated details of Diablo III beta would surface at the next conference call, which takes place in less than 48-hours from now.
“As for Diablo III, development continues to go well, and we’re very excited about the game. Our most recent public showcase for Diablo III was at the G-Star show in Korea, where demo stations attracted huge lines of players. I’m looking forward to sharing some more news about the game and our upcoming beta on the next call,” said Mike Morhaime on February 9th, 2011. “Finally, I wanted to remind everyone that we just announced our BlizzCon show for 2011, which will be taking place on October 21 and 22 at the Anaheim Convention Center. Our shows keep getting better and better every year, and we are looking forward to meeting with our players and sharing exciting news about Blizzard at the event.”
Speculation on when Diablo III Beta might start has less than 48-hours lifespan. Mike Morhaime is likely to provide an approximate or official date for the launch of Diablo III Beta. Let’s flashback in time to the moment Mike Morhaime revealed an approximate timeframe for the launch of StarCraft II beta. It was during the Activision Blizzard Q4 2009 conference held on February 9, 2010. Mike Morhaime was true to his announcement and StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty Beta Testing began on February 17th — just 8 days after his speech.
This was the statement provided by Mike Morhaime concerning the launch of StarCraft II Beta Testing:
“I do have an exciting news regarding Starcraft II. We are slated to be in close beta testing later this month. The beta test will be conducted in a global scale, including thousands of testers in North America, Europe, Korea, Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand.
We expect a tremendous response from our players, and we are eager to begin this phase of development as we enter the final stretch before release.”
With bits of past examples echoing through time, one might speculate that Diablo III Beta Testing might begin very soon. Can Diablo III fans expect beta in late May? On June? Find out this coming Monday at 1:30pm PDT / 4:30pm EST.
Blizzplanet will provide a short transcript and some of the slideshows to be provided during the conference call for those unable to tune in the online broadcast.
Thrilled? Excited? So are we. Get your official Diablo III T-shirt to celebrate Diablo III Beta details finally coming your way.
Wanna buff up your Diablo lore in advance? Check out all the Diablo novels:
Blizzard Entertainment recently released Patch 4.1 and the Rise of the Zandalari Trailer is available.
In addition, the Blizzard Insider newsletter has reached fans’ emails. It contains an interview with Scott Mercer where he explains how The Rise of the Zandalari came about as the central theme of Patch 4.1’s major content.
- How did Rise of the Zandalari come about?
Scott Mercer: Well, it’s always a good time for trolls! No, just kidding, there’s more to it than that. The idea first came up after the launch of 4.0 when we reintroduced 5-player versions of Shadowfang Keep and Deadmines. The classic dungeons ended up being a big hit with players, so we knew we wanted keep the momentum going by remaking more dungeons. Zul’Gurub was an obvious choice as it was a long-time player favorite, and many people were sad to see it go when Cataclysm launched. We started revamping it as soon as we could. Much later, when work on Zul’Gurub was nearing completion, we decided to add Zul’Aman to the lineup as well. The team felt Zul’Aman was one of our best raid dungeons of all time, but that it launched late in the Burning Crusade expansion cycle, so not that many players got a chance to experience it when it first came out. It was really the “hidden jewel” of Burning Crusade raiding. We’re hopeful that bringing it back as a 5-player Heroic will open it up and allow a much larger portion of the player base to try out the encounters.
Can you give us any indication of the how the major bosses and features of Zul’Aman and Zul’Gurub will be updated for the patch?
Scott Mercer: Zul’Aman was ahead of its times in a lot of ways, and it actually adheres pretty closely to the encounter design philosophies we use today. For that reason, we didn’t feel the need to change the encounter mechanics too much aside from a few tweaks here and there needed to retune it for 5 players instead of 10 or 20. On the other hand, Zul’Gurub needed to change a lot to bring it in line with our current thinking on encounter design. For starters, we simplified the dungeon layout by closing off some of the wings with doors or fallen debris. This should make progression through the dungeon more streamlined and obvious. We’re also completely redoing the non-boss NPCs in the dungeon to make them easier to clear with a 5-player group. A lot of the Zul’Gurub boss lineup is changing as well, and players can even expect to see some new faces in the crowd.
Were there any specific challenges in taking a 10 or 20-player raid instance and revamping it for 5 players?
Scott Mercer: Knowing that there will only be five players at an encounter introduces some constraints that aren’t there for larger raid encounters. For example, you can’t use tank switching mechanics when you know that most 5-player groups are only going to have one tank. In the same vein, events that require a lot of crowd control aren’t going to work either; there just aren’t as many players available for crowd control as you would have in a 20-player raid. We also had to be careful to limit encounter mechanics that could potentially disrupt or lock down the healer. These kinds of mechanics tend to be much more devastating in 5-player groups, mostly because there are no other healers available to pick up the slack. Of course, I’m not saying players aren’t going to see any disruptive mechanics at all, I’m just saying we had to use them much more carefully than we would with larger raid encounters.
You discussed how several of the encounter mechanics are changing for the revamp. Can you give us any specific examples?
Scott Mercer: Sure, take Akil’Zon, the eagle boss in Zul’Aman. He used to interrupt players by launching them straight into the air, which could be devastating in a 5-player encounter if he chooses the healer or the tank, so we changed this mechanic slightly. Now his summoned eagles pick players up and try to fly off with them instead. The player that gets picked up can still act and cast normally, even while being carried away. So the group just has to make sure the eagle dies before it carries the player away. This works better, because the eagle mechanic still creates a sense of urgency without completely disrupting the targeted player.
Let’s talk phat loot! What kinds of rewards can players expect from the new versions of Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman?
Scott Mercer: The bosses drop epic quality item level 353 loot, which we hope will help players gear up for Cataclysm raiding. We also reworked the Edge of Madness event as an optional boss encounter which requires the archaeology profession to activate. At a certain point, an archaeologist can release one of four randomly chosen troll spirits, each with unique loot. We’re also releasing new versions of the special mounts that used to be found in Zul’Aman and Zul’Gurub. Players who successfully complete a timed run of Zul’Aman can get the new version of the war bear. Anyone who has the old version of a mount can still get the new version. Also — though this isn’t really part of the dungeon itself — we’re adding a new mini-raptor pet for people who do the Stranglethorn Vale lead-in quests. Oh, and of course, Mojo the toad can still be found in Zul’Aman.
Going forward, can we expect more raid dungeons from past expansions and patches to be revamped as 5-player Heroic dungeons?
Scott Mercer: We definitely want to, but there are a few technical limitations we will have to solve first, especially with some of the older dungeons. That said, we know players like the classic dungeons and we’re open to updating just about any instance that has memorable encounters, especially if the dungeon as a whole meshes well with our current philosophy of encounter design. Several dungeons in particular keep coming up as potential candidates for 5-player Heroics. I’ve heard Scarlet Monastery and Scholomance discussed a few times. We also think it would be cool to revamp Blackrock Spire and Blackrock Depths given their obvious tie-ins for the storyline of Cataclysm. Nothing’s been ruled out yet, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see which ideas rise to the surface and we move further into Cataclysm.
Finally, you should read a new entry to the Leader Short Stories section by creative writer Brian Kindreagan. Learn more about Vol’jin: The Judgment.
18 Diablo III updates are expected throughout the challenge, one every 25,000 ‘Likes’. If anything, the awesome-sauce Fallen-Shaman ain’t a bluffer. Today, to encourage fans to spread the word and to invite friends and family to ‘Like’ Facebook, Blizzard Entertainment has provided Blizzplanet and other fansites with three exclusive ‘High-Resolution’ screenshots from Diablo III. The smaller versions were posted at the official Diablo Facebook page.
Blizzard Entertainment has deployed the World of Warcraft Patch 4.0.6 into Live Realms. Fire up the launcher.exe shortcut in your desktop to start downloading the patch which is shy of 150.5MB file size. Took me less than 10 minutes to download in a wireless modem, so you should be good to start playing shortly after.
This patch is definitely great in several aspects:
- Extensive changes and bug fixes to all classes.
- Random Heroic dungeons via LFG Tool now grant 140 Justice Points up from 70.
- Halfus in Bastion of Twilight now casts Shadow Nova less frequent in 10-man dungeons (YAY!)
- Several Dungeon bosses and mechanics have been adjusted slightly and conveniently — it will be less of a headache to PUG.
- Some professions get new recipes, so check them out.
- Several quest, races, PvP, items, Guild and UI changes.
If it wasn’t for the lack of a new dungeon, this could easily be confused with a major content patch. Lot of work put into this patch.
Below are the Patch Notes:
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm patch 4.0.6 is set to be released on all North American realms today. Below you’ll find the official patch notes. Check back soon, as we’ll be posting an announcement here once the patch is live.
World of Warcraft Client Patch 4.0.6
Table of Contents
Dungeons & Raids
Quests & Creatures
General Bug Fixes
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm patch 4.0.6 is set to be released on all North American realms today. Below you’ll find the official patch notes. Check back soon, as we’ll be posting an announcement here once the patch is live.
World of Warcraft Client Patch 4.0.6
Table of Contents
Dungeons & Raids
Quests & Creatures
General Bug Fixes
Nethaera posted all the Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty Cheat Codes available in the single player campaign. No more guessing, or unsuccessfully browsing the net for them. All Cheat Codes have been revealed by Blizzard Entertainment.
Caution: Before using cheat codes it’s important to understand that using them will prevent additional achievement gains you might have earned through normal play until either a new campaign is started or a prior save is loaded (one from before the use of the first cheat).
|TookTheRedPill||Disables Fog of War|
|Bunker55AliveInside||Disables the need for Supplies (Food)|
|TerribleTerribleDamage||Enables God Mode|
|SpectralTiger||Adds 5000 Minerals to the Available Resources|
|RealMenDrillDeep||Adds 5000 Gas to the Available Resources|
|WhoRunBartertown||Adds 5000 of each Resource to the Available Resources|
|SoSayWeAll||Allows the use of all Tech|
|IAmIronMan||Instantly Allows all Upgrades|
|CatFoodForPrawnGuns||Enables Fast Builds and Fast Upgrades|
|HanShotFirst||Disables Cooldowns on Spells|
|TyuHasLeftTheGame||Disables Victory Conditions to Allow Continued Play|
|NeverGiveUpNeverSurrender||Enables Continued Play After a Defeat|
|ImADoctorNotARoachJim||Enables Fast Unit Healing|
|MoreDotsMoreDots||All Units and Buildings are Free to Build (No Cost)|
|Story Mode Cheat Codes||Description|
|WhySoSerious||Adds 5 Million Credits|
|LeaveYourSleep||Opens all Missions (Ability to Jump to Missions)|
|EyeOfSauron||Allows Access to all Cinematics|
|StayClassyMarSara||Allows Access to all UNN TV News Broadcasts|
|HoradricCube||Opens all Research Options|
|Jaynestown||Adds 5000 Terrazine to the Available Resources|
|Easter Egg Cheat Codes*||Description|
|OverEngineeredCodPiece||Plays the Song Terran Up the Night|
*Unlike other cheat codes, using the Easter Egg Cheat Code, “OverEngineeredCodPiece” will not prevent achievement earning.
Please note: All of these cheat codes have been added deliberately to the game and unlike third-party hacks or cheats won’t flag an account for suspension.
Those who have religiously downloaded every patch in the background for the past weeks and months will only download about 29MB today. When I launched the game I was welcomed with the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm cinematic shown in national TV during the NFL game (Cowboys vs Vikings).
The loading screen is no longer Wrath of the Lich King’s Sindragosa. Now it shows Deathwing on Stormwind’s towers as seen in beta.
12pm EST – Servers are still down at noon EST. We’ll see what’s up once servers are back up. Rumors have been that the shattering will be today due to the long maintenance schedule. If so, that means those of us who downloaded every patch are set to go. Those who had background download disable are gonna regret they did so (i.e. over 4GB of data). More when servers go up.
World of Warcraft Client Patch 4.0.3
The latest test realm patch notes can always be found at
The Shattering of Azeroth
In the frigid wastes of Northrend, the final battle against the merciless Lich King ended in victory for Azeroth’s defenders. Upon returning home, veterans of the unforgiving conflict against the Scourge were showered with praise for their valiant sacrifices, while the honorable dead were mourned. Yet as hope flared anew in the wake of the Lich King’s fall, Azeroth’s native elemental spirits grew confused and erratic, setting off a series of deadly natural disasters. Horde and Alliance leaders scrambled for clues about the troubling state of the world, but nothing could have prepared them for what was to come.
Without warning, the corrupted Dragon Aspect, Deathwing, erupted from the stone heart of Deepholm, the domain of earth within the Elemental Plane. Jagged fissures were torn across the earth, and monstrous waves pummeled coastal regions. From Thousand Needles to the Blasted Lands, the surface of Azeroth was reforged through violent upheavals. Now, the Horde and the Alliance must defend their homes against Deathwing and his minions, burdened by the unsettling fact that the world as they know it has changed… forever.
- Azeroth Shattered
- Deathwing’s return has had an immeasurable impact throughout the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor. Players will notice drastically altered terrain, thousands of new quests from levels 1-55, and updated level ranges for some zones to improve the questing flow.
- New Race/Class Combinations
- In the wake of a world on the brink of destruction, members of the Horde and Alliance have taken to new cultures and studies, mastering crafts previously foreign to them. Many existing playable races now have new class combinations. Check the official World of Warcraft: Cataclysm website for a breakdown of the new combinations.
- The World of Warcraft: Cataclysm cinematic trailer and login screen have been added to the game.
- Experience required to gain levels 71 through 80 has been reduced by 20%, which increases leveling rate by 25%.
- Due to several talent revisions for select classes, druids, paladins, priests, and shaman have had their talent trees reset.
- The damage and healing done by players from levels 1-79 has been retuned, with the base points of almost all spells and abilities reduced. This was done to bring combat times at low levels to a more reasonable length. For most abilities that deal weapon damage, the weapon damage percent now rises per level until level 80, and starts at a lower percent.
- Healing Rain, Efflorescence, Holy Radiance, Holy Word: Sanctuary now have a diminished effect when healing more than 6 players at once.
- Mortal Strike, Furious Attacks, Wound Poison, Widow Venom, Permafrost, Improved Mind Blast, Monstrous Bite, and Legion Strike now reduce healing by 10%, down from 25%.
- Effects which are broken from taking too much damage (Fear, Frost Nova, Entangling Roots, etc.) now break automatically from about half as much damage taken as before.
- Death Pact now heals for 25% of maximum health, down from 40%.
- Death Strike now heals for 25% of damage taken in the last 5 seconds, down from 30%, and will heal for a minimum of 7% of maximum health, down from 10%. The tooltip may not yet be updated to reflect this change.
- Icebound Fortitude now provides 20% damage reduction, down from 30% (now 50%, down from 60% when talented), and has a 3-minute cooldown, up from 2 minutes.
- Talent Specializations
- Rune Tap now heals for 10% of maximum health, down from 15%. The tooltip may not yet be updated to reflect this change.
- Glyph of Rune Tap now heals for 5% of maximum health, down from 10%.
- Bug Fixes
- Frost Fever critical strikes now apply the correct amount of bonus damage.
- Bear Form now provides 10% bonus health, down from 20%.
- Nourish no longer consumes Omen of Clarity.
- Rejuvenation has had its mana cost increased by 30%.
- Soothe now has a 1.5-second cast time.
- Swipe (Cat Form) can now be used even if the druid does not have a primary target selected.
- Thorns: beginner tooltip revised to no longer imply the spell could be kept up at all times. In addition, Thorns damage has been reduced by 60%.
- Talent Specializations
- PvP set bonus redesigned. While not in an Eclipse state, critical attacks against the druid restore 5 Solar or 7 Lunar energy, whichever is more beneficial. This effect can only occur once every 6 seconds.
- Brutal Impact now increases the mana cost of spells on the victim by 5/10% for 10 seconds, down from 15/30%.
- Leader of the Pack now heals for 4%, down from 8%.
- Survival Instincts now provides 50% damage reduction, down from 60%, and its cooldown has been lowered from 5 minutes to 3 minutes.
- Swipe (Bear Form) damage has been reduced by 20%.
- Vengeance is no longer cleared on exiting Bear Form, and instead is cleared upon entering Cat Form.
- Empowered Touch now procs from Healing Touch as well as Nourish.
- Heart of the Wild: the Bear Form Stamina bonus from this talent is now 2/4/6%, down from 3/7/10%.
- Malfurion’s Gift no longer has Fury of Stormrage as a prerequisite talent.
- Natural Shapeshifter now also increases Tree of Life duration by 5/10 seconds.
- Revitalize is now a 2-point talent, down from 3. It provides a 20% chance to return 1/2% of the druid’s total mana on periodic heals from Lifebloom or Rejuvenation. This effect cannot occur more than once every 12 seconds.
- Swift Rejuvenation is now a 1-point talent, down from 2. The global cooldown reduction this talent provides to Rejuvenation remains 0.5 seconds.
- Symbiosis: heal-over-time spells (Rejuvenation, Regrowth, Lifebloom) can no longer benefit from this Mastery merely by refreshing themselves. A different heal-over-time spell must be present.
- Glyph of Healing Touch now reduces the cooldown on Nature’s Swiftness by 10 seconds after using Healing Touch, up from 5 seconds.
- Glyph of the Treant (new) allows druids to keep the original treant Tree of Life look… if they must. Must they?
- Bug Fixes
- Blood in the Water now refreshes Rip to the correct value.
- Flight Form now properly appears in the trainer window before Expert Riding is learned.
Blizzplanet staff members Eldorian, Miaari and Omacron attended BlizzCon 2010 to bring our loyal visitors exclusive coverage of Diablo III, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm and Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty content revealed at the event, and one-on-one interviews with the developers. Beneath you may find links to our coverage.
- The Day Before BlizzCon 2010
- BlizzCon Day One Recap
- Diablo III Fifth Class Revealed
- Diablo III Demon Hunter Cinematic Trailer
- Official Diablo III FAQ
- 10 Diablo III PvP Screenshots
- Diablo III Demon Hunter Gameplay Screenshots
- Diablo III Demon Hunter 20 Minutes Gameplay Video (B-roll)
- Diablo III Gameplay Panel Transcript
- How the Demon Hunter Class Was Conceived
- Blizzplanet interviews Diablo III Art Director Christian Lichtner and Lead Systems Designer Jason Bender
- Warcraft Quests & Lore Panel Transcript (Red Shirt Guy)
- BlizzCon Brings Global Gamers Together (Press Release)
- Blizzplanet interviews WoW Lead Content Designer Cory Stockton
GAMING SITES COVERAGE
The Bastion of Twilight (25) raid dungeon was opened for nigh three hours to allow beta testers a shot at the first boss: Halfus Wyrmbreaker.
The trash mobs at the Bastion Antechamber require insane crowd control, especially the Twilight Crossfire (wyvern sting) and the Twilight Dark Mender (healer/dps mobs).
The first pull only has four mobs: two Shadow Knights and two Crossfire. After that first pull things get interesting. A stationary group composed of eight enemies: Twilight Soul Blade (x 2), Twilight Dark Mender (x 2), Twilight Crossfire (x2) and Twilight Shadow Knight (x 2).
No Enough mobs? The two patrols walking along the Antechamber are composed of the same variety except one extra Shadow Knight and an extra Dark Mender into the mix. That’s ten mobs.
Two groups patrol the length of the antechamber and require coordination and timing. No sap, sheep or hex. Otherwise the second patrol will path and aggro. These should be pulled into the zone-in tunnel, because there are defensive systems on each side of the room that will auto-attack from afar.
The following information is interpreted from the video’s combat log considering direct damage, blocked damage, and resisted, absorbed or overkill damage.
Twilight Soul Blade: These are the big orcs. They are immune to any type of crowd control. 7220 K health.
- Melee Swing: 23576 – 37628 Physical damage.
- Dark Pool: 2160 – 7200 Shadow damage while standing on Dark Pool (a dark purple void on the ground).
- Soul Blade: Seems to be a weapon proc that causes 9000 Shadow damage.
- Blade Barrier: unknown
Twilight Shadow Knight: 5424 K health.
- Melee Swing: 14495 – 24164 Physical damage
- Devastate: 9741 – 13916 Physical damage.
- Sunder Armor: Stacks on player up to three times and can be refreshed by Devastate. Afterwards, the tank got hit by a 40587 melee swing.
- Dismantle: No data. Doesn’t show any damage.
- Shield Mastery: Unknown.
Twilight Dark Mender: Caster dps and healers. Must be crowd controlled immediately. 5424 K health and 178 K Mana.
- Hungering Shadows: Affects five players with purple rays. No data.
- Dark Mender: Heals the caster for 406823 health. Data shows the Dark Mender healed the Twilight Soul Blade for 577639 – 649843 health.
Twilight Crossfire: Dwarf hunters with wyvern stings. Crowd Control them asap. 5424 K health and 178 K mana.
- Melee Swing: 17773 – 27984 Physical damage.
- Wyvern Sting: 5760 – 6400 Nature damage.
- Multi-Shot: 24404 – 47511 Physical damage.
- Rapid Fire: Increase weapon damage speed.
After the three separate groups are taken care of, you must pull the groups of 10 High Elves on the sides of the room. These are named Twilight Phase-Twister. Don’t fight them in the open. Pull them to the tunnel too. Those radiant yellow orbs are actually defensive systems which shoot a beam at a single player within range causing over 15,000 damage a tick until the player dies or moves out of range. Once that group dies, the static orb disappears.
- Melee Swing: 6860 – 13418 Physical damage.
- Twist Phase: Afflicts a single target. No data shown in combat log.
This first boss is seriously going to require very well geared people. Even with so many pre-mades with gear item level 346, it was impossible to beat the boss before enrage. According to the raid leader’s calculations, every player should have 17.8 K DPS to beat the boss. Several players were beneath the 15 K mark.
There are a couple phases that need to be studied with beneficial elements which might help your raid considerably. From what I have heard, each week, a different set of drakes will be used in this fight by Halfus.
In my testing, I saw a nether scion and a group of orphaned emerald whelps. Both can be interacted with before aggroing the boss to guide you on what to do to benefit your raid.
Nether Scion: If one such as I can be captured by that lumbering oaf, then you must be brave indeed to venture here. If you can distract Halfus and break the chains binding me then I will fight alongside you. My ability to blind the eyes of an enemy will help you withstand Halfus’ Frenzied Assault.
- Aura of Nether Blindness: Nether fog surrounds the dragon, imparing enemies’ vision and reducing their chance to hit, attack speed, and damage done by 15%.
- Bind Will: Magical bonds force this dragon to obey Halfus.
ORPHANED EMERALD WHELPS
Orphaned Emerald Whelp: We must avenge our mother! Distract the monster who slew her, free us from this cage, and we will fight by your side. OUr ability to reduce the damage an enemy inflicts will help you survive the Proto-Behemoth’s Scorching Breath.
- Melee Swing: 30707 Physical damage
- Atrophic Poison: Affects Proto-Behemoth lowering its Scorch Breath’s Fire damage output.
- Fire Barrage: 17524 – 30217 Fire damage to all nearby players.
- Scorching Breath: 2080 – 2600 Fire damage a tick.
- Melee Swing: 14513 – 50701 Physical damage. (small numbers reflect damage taken by the tank after absorbing damage)
Blizzard Entertainment has rebuilt the world of Azeroth from scratch, added two races, and rebooted low level quests, but that’s not the only thing the house of ideas came up with to keep old customers home, and to bring back goners.
The Guild Perks are a powerful feature to charm players. These are obtained by leveling your Guild Reputation. As your guild levels, all members get a new spell reward which can be found in the spellbook. To the right edge of the spellbook, the last button is the Guild spell list. Most are passive spells, but some can be dragged into your spell bar.
As a beta tester, I have explored and tested some of these features. They are lovely. Personally, I love those you use constantly in dungeons: Mass Resurrection and Have Group, Will Travel.
Paladins no longer have Divine Intervention (Ouch!). Thus you need other ways to recover from a wipe. Let’s say everyone wipes and a warlock failed to renew a soulstone on a priest, druid or paladin. There’s no shaman in your 5-man dungeon. You are all the way at the end of Grim Batol — which is a lengthy dungeon. However, your Hunter, or Mage used their ability to get out of combat. Be it Feign Death, or Invisibility. His guild is gosu and leveled up enough to get Mass Resurrection. Lo and behold, a mage or hunter mass resurrecting the group.
What about those groups or raids without a Warlock to summon people? Or too far away to walk back to the Summoning Stone. No problem. Any guild member of any class with the guild perk Have Group, Will Travel can click the spell button to summon everyone in the raid group to where he stands with a single click.
Remember those annoyi– err tedious — walks from the graveyard to Deadmines’ zone in plus the long walk within the dungeon itself to the point where your group wiped? There are some similar dungeons like Maraudon and Blackrock Depths with long, long tunnels before you reach the zone in. That’s a thing of the past for those who help their guilds level up. One hell of a nice guild perk is The Quick and the Dead. It allows players to run at 100% speed in ghost form. You have never experienced running and jumping the tunnels of Deadmines at blazing speeds.
Other perks help your guild members increase reputation, experience, tradeskill items per attempt, mount speed, vendor prices, and oh my, so much more. Aren’t you already salivating to get your hands on the Cataclysm expansion? Take a look at the list of Guild Perks below:
|Bartering: Reduces the price of items from all vendors by 5%. (Obtained at guild lvl 24)|
|Bountiful Bags: Increases the quantity of materials gained from Mining, Skinning, Herbalism, and Disenchanting. (Obtained at guild lvl 23)|
|Cash Flow (Rank 1 / 2): Each time you loot money from an enemy, an extra 5% / 10% money is generated and deposited directly into your guild bank. (Obtained at guild lvl 10 / 16)|
|Chug-A-Lug (Rank 1 / 2): The duration of buffs from all guild cauldrons is increased by 50% / 100%. (Obtained at guild lvl 10/22)|
|Fast Track (Rank 1 / 2): Experience gained from killing monsters and completing quests increased by 5% / 10%. (Obtained at guild lvl 2/6)|
|For Great Justice: Increases Justice points gained by 10%. (Obtained at guild lvl 18)|
|G-Mail: In-game mail sent between guild members now arrives instantly. (Obtained at guild lvl 17)|
|Happy Hour: Increases the number of flasks gained from using a flask cauldron by 100%. (Obtained at guild lvl 20)|
|Hasty Hearth: Reduces the cooldown on your Hearthstone by -15 minutes. (Obtained at guild lvl 8 )|
|Have Group, Will Travel: Summons all raid or party members to the caster’s current location. 5.24 sec cast. 2 hour cooldown. (Obtained at guild lvl 21)|
|Honorable Mention (Rank 1 / 2): Increases Honor points gained by 5% / 10%. (Obtained at guild lvl 13 / 19)|
|Mass Resurrection: Brings all dead party and raid members back to life with 35 health and 35 mana. Cannot be cast when in combat. (Obtained at guild lvl 25)|
|Mobile Banking: Summons a Guild Crest that allows access to your guild bank for 5 min. Only guildmembers with guild faction of friendly and above are allowed to use a Guild Crest. 2.62 sec cast. 1 hour cooldown. (Obtained at guild lvl 11)|
|Mount Up: Increases speed while mounted by 10%. Not active in Battlegrounds or Arenas. (Obtained at guild lvl 3)|
|Mr. Popularity (Rank 1 / 2): Reputation gained from killing monsters and completing quests increased by 5 / 10%. (Obtained at guild lvl 4/12)|
|Reinforce (Rank 1 / 2): Items take 10% / 20% less durability loss when you die. (Obtained at guild lvl 7/9)|
|The Quick and the Dead: Increases health and mana gained when resurrected by a guild member by 50% and increases movement speed while dead by 100%. Does not function in combat or while in a Battleground or Arena.|
|Working Overtime: Increases the chance to gain a skill increase on tradeskills by 10%.|
World of Warcraft: Shaman is a new manga from TOKYOPOP. It’s written by Paul Benjamin (known as co-writer with Dave Shramek of the Starcraft: Frontline series, Weapon of War [Vol. 1], War-Torn [Vol. 3], Orientation[Vol. 4]). Pretty much you already love this writer if you enjoyed the Colin Phash storyline. This new WarCraft manga is part of a line of class stories based on key characters of the World of Warcraft mythos.
The first one of these class series debuted with DEATH KNIGHT (by Dan Jolley and Rocio Zucchi) which dealt with the backstory of Thassarian. MAGE (by Richard A. Knaak) dealt with the Nexus War and the invasion of Dalaran’s Violet Hold, and how a young mage disciple helped thwart the initial invasion of Malygos and its azure flight.
All three class mangas, in synthesis, inspire you to question what makes your class special, what’s your class’ origins, motives and beliefs.
SHAMAN is definitely another home run in the series. It’s been probably the most awaited manga in the class series for a couple of reasons: it is a Cataclysm expansion tie-in; and its main character is well-known only by old Warcraft lore fans.
The “most awaited Warcraft manga” might be an exaggeration by most people considering this character has never been an NPC in the World of Warcraft MMO. That group of fans who read the World of Warcraft RPG: Dark Factions book by White Wolf Publishing stood on their toes when they heard a few months ago this character would be the main character of this manga.
The reason? High Shaman Muln Earthfury is the leader of the Earthen Ring. A Tauren. He is a legend among Warcraft lore fans. Like the Ashbringer, which started as hearsay among NPCs, fans went crazy elaborating theories and started exploring all of Azeroth in search of clues — for lack of info or a presence in-game. The Warcraft RPG book elaborated the backstory of the Ashbringer, and later Blizzard released the Naxxramas dungeon in Eastern Plaguelands. Later, Micky Neilson wrote the World of Warcraft: Ashbringer comic book (Wildstorm) and that Ashbringer legend has been fleshed out nicely in-game thereafter in Wrath of the Lich King.
At this point, Muln Earthfury has been a legend among fans. The long-wait is over folks. This is the real deal. Muln Earthfury lives, he is canon, and you will have more things to talk about him in wikis and forums. The question is … will we see Muln Earthfury as an NPC in the game? The answer: Yes.
Tokyopop Editor Troy Lewter sent me a copy for review. This manga is no fruit, but my mouth was watering all over when I was opening the package as if it were.
World of Warcraft: Shaman starts with a short recap of the War of the Three Hammers as an intro to how the earth trembled, 257 years ago, with the accidental summoning of Ragnaros into Azeroth. Sorcerer-Thane Thaurissan invoked a desperate spell and unbeknownst to him he summoned an elemental lord. Even Kalimdor felt the tremors of the earth, and the uneasiness of the elemental spirits around the world. Tremors that caused deep consequences and casualties to the Tauren.
The tauren Shotoa was born with a unnatural connection with the elemental spirits, in contrast with other shaman apprentices. The tremors of the earth took away the life of his apprentice. His raging emotions no doubt helped shape his view of the elemental spirits and to question his faith in the old traditions of the shaman. Shotoa determined the tauren should control the elemental spirits by force, to be their master, rather than imploring their help humbly.
The story goes fast-forward in the second chapter of this manga. Exactly 27 years after the Dark Portal was opened between Azeroth and Draenor. That places World of Warcraft: Shaman manga’s timeline in synch with World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King during the pre-Cataclysm world event. (thanks Omacron)
The story of Muln Earthfury begins here, in the Bloodhoof Village, teaching his disciple the ways of the Shaman. She is a young female orc named Kettara Bloodthirst. The manga gives you small glimpses into the recent past when Muln and Kettara first met (five years ago, year 22). After a centaur and elemental attack upon Bloodhoof Village, their savior turns out to be Shotoa — long thought dead when the earth itself swallowed him 257 years ago.
This manga challenges fans to question their knowledge about ancient shamanic traditions. Should the tauren implore humbly for the aid of the elemental spirits, or should they demand and control their powers by force of will?
Fans who have read the World of Warcraft comic book (by Walter Simonson, Wildstorm) know how the ordeal went with Med’an and Cho’gal, the Twilight’s Hammer in Ahn’Qiraj and the chaotic awakening of the elementals in an effort to weaken the barrier between Azeroth and the Elemental Plane. What we see in the printed stories soon or later become reality in the MMO, and as Cataclysm beta testers have learned, there are elementals raging chaos everywhere in the game, and Twilight’s Hammer inciting them against their enemies.
The Twilight’s Hammer helped Deathwing break the barrier between Deepholm and Azeroth at the center of the Maelstrom — as you will learn in Cataclysm quests. The elemental spirits are in turmoil and confused. The Earthen Ring is hard pressed as the elemental spirits ignore their call.
Will the shaman society embrace a new way, or continue their old traditions in the upcoming Cataclysm?
World of Warcraft: Shaman hits local and online bookstores on Tuesday, September 28th, 2010.
If you loved the artwork of World of Warcraft: Death Knight, then you will love World of Warcraft: Shaman. Rocio Zucchio penciled both. She’s amazing. As you can read in the Rocio interview at the end of this manga, she has no time to play World of Warcraft. Yet, she’s hit the nail with the Tauren’s looks. It’s her first time drawing tauren, and her past experiences drawing previous Warcraft manga have helped her mature as an artist.
That short recap of the Three Hammers War really makes you wish she takes on a Dwarf manga. Those huge battle scenes with dozens of dwarves probably took her a while. So detailed. Michael Paolilli as usual does a great job with lettering and adding tonality, different shades, to each artwork. The manga is not just black lines on a white paper. They are thoroughly worked up with different shades of gray to mimic a painting.
Muln Earthfury: High Shaman of the Earthen Ring.
Kettara Bloodthirst: Muln’s apprentice female orc shaman
Zur’ak Firefist: male troll shaman (Earthen Ring)
Lenka: female tauren shaman
Krelna: female draenei shaman
Thrall: Warchief of the Horde, a member of the Earthen Ring.
Drek’Thar: Far Seer of the Frostwolf clan.
Oreg Earthfury: Great-Grandfather of Muln, and best friend of Shotoa.
Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 2 hit the bookstores recently on August 3, 2010. The former author Keith R.A. DeCandido is no longer aboard as writer of the manga. He’s busy with Boom! Studios comic books; and for some months he was knee deep working with the U.S. Census 2010 — so at least we know he’s all good. We’ll miss him. He’s earned it.
Tokyopop’s David Gerrold (aka Jerrold David Friedman) took over the Starcraft: Ghost Academy mantle, and as you will soon find out, he’s quickly sync into the Nova universe. No surprise here. David Gerrold has written a Starcraft story before, which means he’s read the Starcraft Bible 101 and been in contact with Chris Metzen and the Blizzard Creative Team.
David Gerrold wrote the story titled “Fear the Reaper” in Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 4. He’s written several Star Trek novels and manga. He’s a celebrity among Trekkies as a matter of fact — don’t believe me? Guess who wrote the televised story of “The Trouble with the Tribbles” (Star Trek: The Original Series, TV) which aired on December 29, 1967. The original script was titled “A Fuzzy Thing Happened To Me…”
The artist Fernando Heinz Furukawa did a kick ass job through each page of the manga, specially the zerg scenes, but overall academy scenes were great. We’ll see more of him in Starcraft and Warcraft manga no doubt.
Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 2 explores the ongoing happenings within the Ghost Academy under Mengsk’s close watch. The ghost academy was formerly a Confederate program, and as such, Mengsk needs to protect his image before the people; and to make sure the academy is run by the book to avoid inhuman treatment scandals. (more below)
For those fans who love to keep track of the Starcraft timeline, at the end of Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 2, Emperor Mengsk is weeks away from celebrating the first anniversary of the Terran Dominion.
Mengsk controls every single word that airs on the UNN network, but there are pirated broadcasts sent by people working for Michael Liberty — and those do bite a dent into Mengsk’s reputation.
The manga starts with a UNN TV show titled “The Dominion and You” by reporter E.B. James [suspiciously sounding like EB Games]. He interviews the Ghost Academy director Kevin Bick in relation to the recent expulsion of Aal Cistler from the ghost academy. This took place at the end of volume 1.
It’s kinda funny to have two non-heroes take centerfold in the story. Kevin Bick runs the academy with unscrupulous drug experiments to research how ghosts’ abilities can be affected or increased. Some students are panbrained, brainwashed, and tortured in secrecy.
Aal Cistler by the other hand is a young playboy with wits who thinks his every whim comes into reality by paying the right price. He might not be too far from being right though — he’s the son of Emperor Mengsk’s finance minister — ouch. Not an enemy you would want to cross with in your path.
Aal isn’t a telepath, but he loves challenges. He came to the ghost academy to train, but was caught selling drugs to Lio Travski (a technopath, student). While the Ghost Academy knew about the drug addiction of Lio and that Aal was providing it, they allowed it to happen to study Lio’s performance under heavy addiction. When the ghost academy grew tired of Aal, they expulsed him from the academy and provided the UNN with camera recordings of Aal’s drug selling activities.
Aal, however, goes to the UNN to denounce he was framed, and the unusual training practices held at the ghost academy. The reporter E.B. James crucified director Kevin Bick in the show. The director got the message … Emperor Mengsk disapproves.
Mengsk controls everything the UNN says, so this was a direct on-your-face slap message to Kevin Bick to immediately detox Lio, and to stop underground experimentation with students. Most of this is in the Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 2 preview scans.
From what we have learned in Starcraft: Frontline, Mengsk is turning around the old-ways of the Confederate who used cruel brainwashing and aggression inhibitors to control the Ghosts, who were likely former criminals.
Mengsk is now using Wranglers [psi-sensitive agents with a PI 3.5] to hunt for kids and teens with latent telepathic abilities to train them as teams in the ghost academy under the excuse they are too dangerous to themselves and to the populace if not trained properly — because untrained ghosts attract the Zerg.
In reality, that’s a lie. Mengsk has used psi-emitters before to control the zerg, and he continues to do so underground without the knowledge of the public. Such was the case of the Colin Pash story in Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 1-4 — where wranglers are authorized to use lobotomized zerglings with a neural gadget to control them to hunt for the telepath kid.
The same can be proved with Starcraft: Ghost Academy when we see an unidentified terran vessel launching a drop-pod on planet Shi [of the Baker’s Dozen] which contained a … zerg drone. Mengsk has much more under his sleeve than we originally taught — as you can see in Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty [Piercing the Shroud mission].
Why should you read this manga? It brings a fresh view into the ghost academy with at least four cliffhangers. Don’t you love cliffhangers? I do. They keep the plot in suspense. Sometimes you can foresee things, but sometimes the writer surprises you with a twist. That’s what keeps you coming back for the next volume.
Nova Anabelle Terra, Gabriel Tosh, Lio Travski, Kath Toom and Delta Emblock of Team Blue continue their ghost training with high stake life-threatening missions within the academy where they must learn to use their abilities in a teamwork environment.
When you see an older Gabriel Tosh in Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, and see this younger Gabriel Tosh in the Ghost Academy and compare both — you can already see where the story is heading to. Tosh used to be an idealist teen who idolized and believed in Mengsk as a humble leader who works for the people and for the benefit of humanity.
What the Ghost Academy does is to train the best telepaths to service humanity and to unite it under the flag of Mengsk, who fights for freedom — Or so used to think Gabriel Tosh in his early days at the Ghost Academy.
Considering we will see more of Gabriel Tosh in Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm — now that Jim Raynor sided with him to free New Folsom’s Spectre prisoners — it would be nice to keep in touch with this character’s past and backstory, and how his loyalty to Mengsk shattered. We will learn more of that in Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 2 and Vol. 3 — and hopefully in the upcoming novel Starcraft: Ghost Spectres by Nate Kenyon (on sale November 1, 2010).
In this volume, we learn the two most important ghost trainees in observation by Superintendent Angelini are Nova and … Lio the technopath. No one else matters. Just those two. Thus … we should keep an eye on what plans Blizzard might have for Lio, if any. Will he be an ally when we next see him in future games, or will he be a dangerous enemy (knowing his special power set)?
Lio can telepathically control technology, he created an android that resembled his girlfriend, and he seems to be a powerful telekinetic — [in a scene he telekinetically floats some PDAs into the air and sorts them out to his teammates, and he also blocks incoming projectiles with a TK shield]. Now that he’s not under the influence of hab (a drug), he seems to have better control of his powers.
We get to see the influence that Team Red’s jealousy and rivalry has on Team Blue. Things get more complicated when Aal Cistler makes his triumphant return to the Ghost Academy and this time around he joins Team Red to make Nova and her team’s lives more pleasant … not.
With how Lio has been manipulated by director Bick and superintendent Angelini, one has to wonder … how such a powerful telepath as Nova and her teammates never detect the psi-screams of Lio when he gets panbrained? Why are all these odd things going on backstage without other telepaths knowing about them?
The answer is too complex to guess in its entirety, but the author gives you enough hints to figure out some of it … Colin Phash.
The Ghost Academy is using this boy’s ability to project his astral form away from his body as a surveillance system. Nova has been able to see his astral projection, but never manages to talk to him. However, there must be something else shielding other telepaths from the atrocious acts of the Academy’s leaders. Maybe a mysterious figure from the past? Likely someone we have heard of in Starcraft: Ghost Nova [Looks at the odd humanoid in Chapter 2: Shadows Before Them].
There was one male telepath as high-level a telepath as Nova and Sarah Kerrigan who is mentioned in DeCandido’s StarCraft: Ghost Nova book to be dead, but you never know. Maybe his body and brain were kept alive to serve as an instrument of the Confederates? Those cables coming out of the skull with no pupils on his eyes made me remember that deceased character. Matter of fact, that figure is never shown in Vol. 2, so we might learn who exactly this guy behind Angelini is. Maybe a half-cybernetic-enhanced Old Family slave of the Dominion? I might be seeing too much into it.
Like in the first volume, the fate of Colin Pash continues to be unfold in short scenes that let you figure out how the Ghost Academy tutors do what they do with the students, and why the telepaths aren’t aware of what’s going on.
Colin Pash is the telepath child son of ex-Dominion Senator Corbin Pash. Colin was captured by the Dominion in the Starcraft: Frontline series. His father Corbin Phash now resides as a guest of the Umojan Protectorate, plotting to take revenge against Mengsk and to recover his son back. The story of Colin Phash is told throughout Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 1-4, and continues in Starcraft: Ghost Academy.
THE OLD FAMILIES
Another plot hanging in the manga is the fate of the offsprings of the Old Families. Ever wonder if any of the Old Families survived the Zerg invasion to Tarsonis? Let’s remind you a bit of old-school Starcraft lore … The invasion was caused by the Psi-emitter Arcturus Mengsk ordered Kerrigan to activate. Ya’ know, that Starcraft mission where Mengsk abandons Kerrigan to her fate before the Zerg.
As the invasion of the Zerg hit Tarsonis, the Old Families sent their offsprings to safety to planet Shi — the fourth planet in the Baker’s Dozen system: a collection of 13 mining planets owned by Arturro Calabas [one of the Old Families].
This story runs parallel with the main plot without interacting with each other; using the narrative technique of going back and forth in the timeline.
Every now and then, the narration about the fate of the offsprings of the Old Families takes you to a year before the present time [ghost academy Vol. 2’s time which is nigh a year after Brood War]. Then to the present.
When least you know, you are taken to 8 months before the present, seven months, six months … so and so until we reach the point of a month before the present.
I love those interludes in stories to be honest. All that apparent, unrelatedness with the main plot comes to an end when the next ghost academy mission is scheduled to take place in the fifth planet of the … Baker’s Dozen. That’s a cliffhanger alright. That takes us straight into collision course with Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 3 [in stores March 1, 2011].
The aweful part of this manga is the long wait for the next one. Can’t you guys clone your staff to pump these babies monthly? I want more!!!
Special thanks to Troy Lewter (Tokyopop Editor) and Hope Donovan (Tokyopop Editor).
You can view the Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 2 preview here.