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Blizzplanet Preview: MEGA BLOKS World of Warcraft Barrens Chase Set

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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

New Video Card Before Diablo III?

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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.

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

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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.

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Press Event – Blizzplanet Interviews Dave Kosak

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Eldorian interviewed Dave Kosak (Lead Quest Designer, Mists of Pandaria). Eldorian forwarded several questions provided by our forum community. (Duration: 19 minutes) — Note: sound technical issues. Rise your volume if possible. Will add the transcript during the week.

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

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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

Heal Lady Sylvanas Contest – Wyvern / Gryphon Hatchling Prize

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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:

Welcome to Blizzplanet vBulletin Forum

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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.

Diablo 15 Year Anniversary: Diablo III Almost Done

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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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