Last summer, during the BotCon 2011 celebrated in Pasadena, CA through June 2-5, Chris Metzen and Flint Dille revealed they would launch Transformers: Autocracy — an 8-page digital format comic book spanning 12-parts. It sets the ground that ignited what will later be known as the great civil war of Cybertron. A world ruled by Zeta Prime. This is where the Optimus Prime we love and cherish was forged. At the time, he was the best officer of Zeta Prime. But things weren’t black and white in this era, and back then Optimus Prime was still known as Orion Pax.
Transformers: Autocracy launched on January 18th, and it’s published every two weeks in Comixology (PC/Mac), and the iPad and iPhone mobile platform.
In the eve of the launch of Transformers: Autocracy # 3 (available Wednesday, February 15th) I had the awesome opportunity to ask Chris Metzen and Flint Dille some questions about the digital comics.
When did you get hooked up with Transformers, and what’s your geek out story around the franchise?
Metzen: Well the opportunity to write a Transformers story for IDW popped a few years ago now. It’s taken awhile to get it (all) together. Thankfully the editors at IDW have been very patient!
As for favorite geek-out? There’s no question (IMHO) that the franchise’s greatest moment (across all media) is the throw-down mega-fisticuffs slug-fest between Prime and Megatron in the animated film. “Why throw away your life so recklessly?” Heh. Still makes me smile like an idiot?
Which Transformers stories did you read as background for Autocracy prior to writing the 12-part story?
Metzen: Ooof. Everything I could get my hands on! I had been reading the ongoing series/All Hail Megatron/etc. since it started, but needed to brush up on all the one-shots. Loved Maximum Dynobots and the Last Stand of the Wreckers tales as well. There was a lot to take in and I see lots of places where we missed a few notable details. ? It was a lot to cram for. My biggest inspiration (apart from the animated film) is Furman’s body of work on Transformers. That man paved some serious ground.
Some people are confused with what little they have read in the past 16 pages (spanning Transformers: Autocracy # 1-2) and what they know from Megatron: Origins. Especially concerning Starscream. In Megatron: Origins, Sentinel Prime is still alive. Starscream fights alongside the Deceptions against the Autobots and kills Kaon senators in front of everyone. Yet, in Autocracy, Starscream is a delegate with freedom to walk among the Senate and Zeta Prime as if no one knows what he did. Are fans going to get a clearer picture of what’s going on, or is there a retcon?
Metzen: Ok, lemmesee if I can clear this up… (fingers crossed)…
Autocracy takes place AFTER Chaos Theory, Megatron: Origins and Spotlight: Blurr. You’ll see it’s AFTER everything IDW’s tackled in that era. It’s the story of the end of that era – and the start of the WAR we all know and love.
As for Starscream and the senate of Kaon – no one survived that (very brazen) attack and all video coverage was quickly disposed of. Decepticons are very clever… and thorough! Thus, Starscream’s role as a Decepticon is still largely under wraps as Autocracy gets underway (at least as far as Zeta and these remaining senators are concerned). That entire attack was covered up pretty quick – so one has a clear picture of exactly which Decepticons were specifically involved.
I’ll also go out on a limb here and address the other lingering break – Sentinel WAS Zeta’s immediate predecessor – NOT Nominus. That was my bad… the mention of him getting whacked at the start of Chaos Theory was etched in my head as I was scripting Chapter 2 and I referred to the wrong guy… (do I get a last cigarette before the firing squad does away with me?)…
Why did you choose to write a story set in that time period? Whose was the initiative to do so, yours or the IDW editorial team?
Metzen: Well, Flint and I had pitched a really cool ‘present day’ hook that took a deep look at Optimus and what made him tick. It had some heavy flash-back elements from the old days. Some of the themes and hooks we pitched seemed similar to those that were being developed for Chaos Theory (which no one had seen yet), so the editor, Andy Schmidt, walked us through what Chaos Theory was going to be. We were hooked – and knew immediately that our story would fit far better into that pre-war era. From there – Autocracy really started to find its feet.
What can you tell us about Zeta Prime and his extreme measures to combat the Decepticons?
Metzen: Well… I believe Zeta started strong and wanted to be a Prime that really maintained order and security for the people. But Megatron really stoked the fires of unrest. I think there was a crazy escalation between Zeta’s conventional tactics and the Decepticons’ terror tactics. Over time, he concluded that fighting fire with fire was the only reasonable response to what Megatron represented. He wasn’t always a monster – but he sure became one in response to an increasingly lawless and darkening world.
Sounds like there’s a good story to be told there…
Autocracy # 2 was very harsh. How does Orion Pax copes with his orders knowing his duty to Zeta Prime makes him a harbinger of mass destruction upon the very citizens he’s sworn to protect?
Metzen: He doesn’t know yet how bad things are. He doesn’t know the extent of Zeta’s plans (he wasn’t in the room to hear any of this). In general, since he’s having trouble FEELING/Hearing his conscience – one could argue he’s operating through intense tunnel-vision. He doesn’t yet see how bad things are out there in the world – or what that means to him personally.
Obviously, he was in the zone when he stood up to the Senate… clear-minded, compassionate, selfless… But when his ‘heart’ got ripped out… Well, he just ain’t been the same since. However, can you imagine how PISSED he’d be if he saw that video footage Soundwave made off with???
I have been a subscriber of Marvel Digital for a few years. I love the digital library concept. Let’s say that fans — best editors when it comes to continuum inconsistencies — find some retcons, or mistakes in Autocracy. Are you actually able to correct these in Transformers: Autocracy digital at any time? If so, how do you feel about having that sort of control?
Metzen: See answer above regarding said Sentinel/Nominus snafu… Hell yes, I’d like to FIX bits and pieces of this!!!! ? We’ll see about modifying digital content. Not sure what IDW’s plan is for that.
You are working on Diablo III, and both StarCraft II and World of Warcraft expansions, and the next-gen MMO. How do you stretch time to fit writing Transformers: Autocracy?
Metzen: Well, I recently bought a new Mac for home use, so the timing was perfect. And hey – where there’s a will, there’s a way!
There’s a lot of good and awesome critic in the forums around the Transformers: Autocracy’s digital format. It’s only 8-pages, but it crams in so much from panel to panel. The story rolls out. No pun. How does your experience in video game storytelling this past fifteen years converges with comic book storytelling?
Metzen: With 8-page chapters, there’s no room to screw around or get self-indulgent. We have to make every page, every panel, every line count – and tell this story as effectively and excitingly as we can. In that way, it’s not all that different from writing games – where a player/viewer’s time is a precious commodity. The pacing does keep things tight.
Chaos Theory, Autocracy, and other relaunch stories — all of them seem to be leading to a major event set in the present borrowing from events and characters from the long past. Is this really what’s going on? Will you be part of that project or follow up projects?
Metzen: Well, IDW’s big relaunch event was CHAOS – and the two new ongoing series (More than Meets the Eye and Robots in Disguise, respectively) are keeping their hands full. That’s the only mega event I’ve been aware of. As for more down the line… well, let’s see how Autocracy does as it picks up steam.
What should we expect to see in Autocracy # 3, and how do the events affect the remaining issues of this 12-part story?
Metzen: Well, Orion’s going to be busy hunting down Soundwave… shenanigans certainly occur.
Soundwave, Soundwave, Soundwave… for those of you who are fans of this character – buckle up! This is HIS chapter! (maybe my second biggest franchise geek-out…)
Blizzard’s roots started developing DC The Death and Return of Superman in 1994 and DC League of Justice Task Force for Super Nintendo in 1995. If Activision asked Blizzard to work on one of their IP, is that door open?
Metzen: Geez, I dunno. I think we’re doing pretty well with the franchises we’re currently developing. From a story perspective, we’ve still got miles and miles to go with each of them!
Grab a digital copy of the Transformers: Autocracy #3 for only $.99 cents via iPhone, iPad or Comixology (PC/Mac)
Note: Check back later for Flint Dille’s answers.
Transformers: Autocracy # 3 – Chris & Flint Teaser (Video)
Meet the Writers
Chris Metzen is Blizzard Entertainment Senior Vice-president of Creative Development — responsible for developing and expanding the Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo universes and directing the team of story writers for upcoming game content and licensed products such as novels and manga. Chris Metzen is loved by the lore community, and he has identified himself as a geek. The Transformers franchise is in a dear place near his geeky heart.
Blizzplanet and other Blizzard fansites had the opportunity to individually interview Blizzard Entertainment Publishing Lead and Senior Story Developer Micky Neilson over the phone. Eldorian forwarded most of the questions submitted recently by our visitors.
In our interview, Micky Neilson talks more about the mysterious Zoltun Kulle — for those who got to watch the BlizzCon 2011 Diablo III Lore Panel, and reveals the main theme of Nate Kenyon’s upcoming Diablo: The Order (Slated: May 29, 2012).
Read our interview with Micky Neilson to find out why!
Note: Post on twitter a comment about this interview using the hashtag #bookofcain plus @blizzplanet for a chance at a free Diablo III: Book of Cain giveaway. Deadline: Thursday, Dec 15, 2011. (example: @blizzplanet I <3 Blizzard, gimme #bookofcain)
Why is Deckard Cain so important in Diablo history?
Neilson: Why is Deckard Cain so important? Well, he’s one of the most identifiable characters. I would say that stems from him being chosen as the NPC you deal with the most in the series. So, I think as a character he resonated with fans early on so he had some longevity and some staying power. Over the course of the different games he’s become certainly a marquee character. He worked really well for this book specifically because he’s the guy gathering all the information, lore, text and all of that stuff. It really made sense that he’s the one to put this book together.
Where did the inspiration come from to make the Book of Cain a real item that people could buy?
Neilson: Early on the idea came from Chris Metzen as far as he came to the publishing team and said that he really wanted to do a book that is kind of a history of the universe and also an art book. He described it as a hybrid between a source book and an art book. So we went forward from there. As part of that process we had discussions if this is part of Cain’s journal from the game or something completely separate. So we went back and forth a few times and through the course of identifying what the book would be and kind of nailing down the vision of the book, we settled down on the in game artifact aspect of it. We felt like that was the better way to go. I mean as far as the cover and maintaining continuity within the IP it felt like a cool hook for it to be something actually within the game.
Does the Book of Cain take any information from previous Diablo books such as those written by Richard A. Knaak or Mel Odom?
Neilson: Yeah. There is definitely. A lot of the Sin War trilogy is covered in here. You can get kind of a condensed version of the events from the Sin War Trilogy, and it touches on some of the other books as well.
Given that this book is set as the source book for Diablo lore, does it contradict or change any of the major events that have taken place in the game? And if so can you elaborate and be specific on any of the changes?
Neilson: It does clarify a lot of things. We have a lore team who basically pour over all of this material. We knew going into the creation of this book that there were already some contradictions that existed in the lore and the history. So we took this as an opportunity to set the record straight. We definitely identified a few things. One specific example is Tal Rasha and the Soul Stone; and Zoltun Kulle being the one that suggested that the essence could be trapped within a human. There were already a couple of differing accounts and who made that suggestion. I think in one account it was Tal Rasha made the suggestion and another account that Tyrael made the suggestion. So we went in with a different option that Zoltun Kulle was the one who made the suggestion and the purpose of that was to set up that character more because he’s a main character in the next game.
Does Book of Cain go into any post-Sin War details after the trilogy by Knaak? A lot of the other lore in the games and other novels make it seem as if the Sin War didn’t end until a few hundred years before the events of Diablo 1.
Neilson: It does go into detail and we’re trying to nail down the timeline right now. I don’t remember if it nails down exactly how many years before the events of the game that the Sin War takes place but we are in the midst of nailing all of that down for a more refined timeline.
Book of Cain talks about the Angels, and Demons, but Does Trang’Oul get mentioned in the book?
Neilson: Trang’Oul is mentioned briefly. He actually has a gorgeous double page spread and as part of that there’s a little side bar written as a handwritten note from Deckard Cain. There’s a little bit of information, but it’s almost more like a teaser for Trang’Oul.
Are there any potential Diablo III story spoilers in Book of Cain for those who wish to read it before playing the game?
Neilson: There’s no spoilers for the game. Information in the Book of Cain certainly does inform what is in the game. When you read the book you will certainly be more informed of the lore perspective when you play the game.
Are there examples of Deckard Cain and Leah’s research throughout the years searching and piecing together the fragments of the new Prophecy about Azmodan and the comet?
Neilson: There is a lot of that covered in the book. The prophecy is kind of an amalgam that Cain put together on many different prophecies that exist. Some of the different cultures around Sanctuary have some of their own prophecies and a lot of these prophecies point to the comet and the end of days. Deckard Cain put together one all encompassing prophecy based on everything he’s read. So there’s the one he put together but there are a lot of different ones as well.
In Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, Tyrael opens a portal for Cain and the hero prior to the destruction of the Worldstone. Do we get to read about the explosion of Mount Arreat from the point of view of any surviving Barbarians? For example, the upcoming DC Comics Diablo mentions a survivor.
Neilson: We do have a section on the destruction of the Worldstone I believe, I’ll have to double check, but I believe it’s told from Deckard Cain’s perspective. So I don’t believe it’s told from the Barbarian perspective.
Does Cain mention Abd al-Hazir, and if so, does his research help Cain piece together the prophecy? Have they met or worked together?
Neilson: I don’t believe we mention Abd al-Hazir in here and if we do it’s just a really brief mention of the many sources Cain is drawing from. We don’t suggest in the book that they have been hanging out and sharing information.
Are all lands of Sanctuary featured, and given in-depth background story?
Neilson: There wasn’t enough space in the book to go in depth giving all the other information we put in the book. There is a section near the end of the book called Lands and Cultures that does cover all the main areas and cultures in sanctuary. It also covers all the new classes that will be showing up in Diablo 3.
Does Cain uncover new history of his Horadrim heritage and learn the background stories of NPCs/Bosses/lore figures met in the previous games? (for example: Leoric’s pre-Tristram reign, Warriv, Wirt, Anya, mythical stories of possible Tyrael encounters across time.)
Neilson: Yes. For sure we get into Leoric a lot more. We do touch into a lot of the history of the Horadrim, the hunt for the three, we get into a lot more detail as far as the events that took place back then. We’re also working on another book, Nate Kenyon is writing a book for us called The Order and that is really going to go into a lot more detail also into the history of the Horadrim and Cain’s involvement and how he learned about the Horadrim and the events at Tristram.
What was more interesting or challenging about compiling the lore for Book of Cain and working with Flint Dille?
Neilson: Flint Dille was great. Flint really understood the character so he nailed that character voice, that scholarly voice of Deckard Cain. I’d say the biggest challenge was just codifying everything. Just putting it all together identifying contradictions that existed and clarifying which direction we wanted to go. There’s a lot of history in the Diablo universe. It was a mammoth task just to put distinctly. What did we end up? 140-some pages? So just trying to the entire Diablo history in that amount of pages, and a significant amount of that was art, was not the easiest thing in the world.
What inspired this mythological background for the Diablo universe concerning Anu and Tathamet the dragon?
Neilson: A lot of that came from Chris Metzen and early on we had meetings and we talked about what would different mythology be for the universe. And we knew there was one we wanted to back and enforce as canon at least from Cain’s point of view and the information that he discovered. A lot of those ideas came from Chris Metzen, and we hashed out the rest of it in brainstorming sessions.
Is Tran’Goul somehow related to Tathamet considering both are dragons, but both seem to be different: the former good, the latter evil?
Neilson: I think there’s more information that will be revealed in the future about Trang’Oul – right now I can’t disclose anything.
How do you feel about the mood and story of the Diablo series? What do you think makes it stand from other dark fantasy universes?
Neilson: Interesting. So the biggest theme that we face with Diablo is heroism facing absolute terror. I really think that sets it apart. You have humanity that is caught in the middle between these cataclysmic forces of light and dark, but light and dark aren’t exactly what you expect them to be. The angels aren’t exactly what you expect angels to be – most of them want to destroy humanity. So it’s a really kind of an interesting dynamic and humanity has the ability to become powerful in its own right, and to upset the balance of the Eternal Conflict between the High Heavens and the Burning Hells. I think that is really a cool hook.
Thank you, Micky Neilson, Eric Yco, Bashiok, Lyndsi, and Blizzard Creative & Public Relations Teams for your awesome support to fansites and lore fans.
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:
Adrianne Curry is among the known celebrities who have fallen in love with World of Warcraft and play other games. She was the first winner of the America’s Next Top Model reality TV show, but don’t think that catapulted her into fame. She had to open her way into modeling on her own after moving to New York where she joined the agency Wilhelmina Models. Among other magazines, she has appeared in Maxim and People. On TV she appeared in Dirt — a television series starring Courteney Cox; and in Half & Half (2003).
Just today, Adrianne Curry was selected among the Top 20 Hottest Brunnettes by Maxim. (some light nudity, exercise discretion)
Medievaldragon: How was your experience like getting into the world of modeling?
Adrianne: It was a tough one. I was turned down by many agencies who all said my look was more New York than Chicago (where I was currently living). My rise into modeling was much different than most. I auditioned for a new reality show called America’s Next Top Model. I beat out over 32,000 girls to be selected for the semi finals. out of 20 girls, only 10 were selected, including myself. I then went to work and came out as the winner in the end. That was July 2003
MD: Basically you had to get on your own feet to impulse your modeling career. Did you find modeling opportunities right away?
Adrianne: Many opportunities opened, but many shut. A lot of clients were not fans of the show and didn’t want to even see me. Some clients did want to see me, but not because they wanted to work with me. They would drag me to castings just to ask me show questions. However, I did get to move out to NYC, on my own dime, and try my hand at the trade. I realized very quickly I would never become a successful fashion model having come from top model.
MD: Could you mention your latest, current and upcoming projects for old and new fans interested?
Adrianne: Recently I have been working on behind the scenes stuff. I was an associate producer on the My Antonio show that aired on VH1 this past Fall. I have two shows in development, one I created myself! But, till we are ready to promote publicly, my lips are sealed.
MD: How did you get into gaming? What were the first games you played, and the best?
Adrianne: I was always into games. I used to play Kings Quest, Myst, Duke Nukem, Quake, DOOM, Wolfenstein 3-D and many others. I guess I got into video games the most when I was with my ex-boyfriend in my teens. All he did was play all day long. if I didn’t play, I would be ignored. We played a lot of Medal of Honor, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Halo, and many others.
MD: Have you been invited by Game Studios to showcase a game at a convention, done game gigs, or would consider proposals from game studios?
Adrianne: I have never been asked to do anything related to video games. if I was, I would be more than happy to. Sounds like a dream job to me!
MD: You have a lvl 45 Night Elf Warrior and other characters. What is it in the game that has hooked you into World of Warcraft?
Adrianne: I am hooked to Warcraft because it reminds me so much of Lord Of The Rings. I love to quest, pwn hordies, and run around with my WoW Pimp, my level 80 Pally friend CaptinMorgin
MD: Which World of Warcraft dungeons have you visited and which caused you the most awe?
Adrianne: The one you have to go through the Burning Steppes to get to [Blackrock Depths] is pretty cool, it’s like a torture dungeon. I also like the one outside Tanaris. Zul’farrak is all outside and above ground.
MD: What if Blizzard invited you to do voice over for the game, or to participate in the World of Warcraft film?
Adrianne: … I would die. Too bad the Succubus already has a voice and smacks her ass, that would have so been me.
MD: [Pictures Adrianne Curry playing a Succubus smacking her whip around in the Warcraft film alongside her hubbie Christopher Knight as a Warlock] By now the whole world knows what your WoW character is after you disclosed it in Twitter, Have you attached a Blizzard or Mobile Authenticator to your account? What do you think about that little account security gadget and the Core Hound Pup pet?
Adrianne: No. If someone wants to steal my account, do so. I feel bad for them. I’m a eff-ing NOOB. I think they are good ideas for people who really care that much, luckily, I dont.
MD: What do you think about all those trolls calling you a noob for been level 45?
Adrianne: Gee like if they didn’t go through the same leveling experience.- I don’t care. I didn”t play for years on purpose because I was scared I would lose my life. I was right. Now that I am a level 45, I’m starting to get a little more warcraft respect. ; )
MD: So true. Everyone started leveling up in order to reach lvl 80. I have a couple lvl 80 characters, a lvl 72 Death Knight and a bunch of lvl 35 classes. My mother has a lvl 62 Orc Hunter, so I have to accompany her around in her adventures. Did you go to Blizzcon or planning to go next time? Have you heard good feedback about it? There were over 25,000 fans there.
Adrianne: I would love to go, but have yet to attend. I think it would be wicked sweet to dress like my character for one. My toon is an absolute slutty powerhouse of pain.
MD: I read you were at a few geek conventions this year dressed in costumes. Which conventions do you plan going on 2010, and What would you disguise of if you went to the next Blizzcon?
Adrianne: I like Wizard Worlds, but I really like costumes that hide who I am. So, I may be at more conventions than reported.
MD: Hope to see you at New York Comic Con and Blizzcon. Thanks. You can follow Adrianne Curry on her Twitter @AdrianneCurry
For months there have been a few celebrities who have openly revealed in interviews they would love a role in the upcoming Warcraft film, to be directed by Sam Raimi. The first one was Brandon Routh (Superman Returns), and now an actress has done so. A few days ago, Michele Morrow revealed to Fangoria during their interview her interest in the Warcraft film. I reached her to learn more about her career, and her interest in games. I was surprised to hear she is a guild leader in World of Warcraft and currently tackling Saurfang Jr. in the Icecrown Citadel.
The actress is in love with the story and characteristics of Lady Sylvanas Windrunner, the leader of the Forsaken, and she admits she would love to earn the role in the upcoming Warcraft film. That’s not just words. Her agency, L.A. Management will back her up once auditions are called by the production.
Michele Morrow has been actress in Basement Jack (2009), Bled (2009), The Seer (2007), True Love (2007), Alias (2006), Slaughterhouse of the Rising Sun (2005), Ashley’s Ashes (2009) and VideoDome Rent-O-Rama (2009) — among other films, especially Horror, Thriller and Drama films.
Medievaldragon: Hi Michele, you have talked widely about your gaming life in some of your film interviews. Which games have you played?
Michele: I got an NES at age 10 and was the only kid on the block with one for a few months, so my roots are in Zelda, Mario, Tetris, Ghosts and Goblins consumed most of age 12.
Currently I play Bioshock, God of War (beat II but never played the original til now) and I’m stoked for both of the sequels due out this spring. I saw God of War III at E3 this year and it looks sick. I love Lumines on Xbox when I need that Tetris on drugs fix, and World of Warcraft.
Medievaldragon: When and How did you start playing World of Warcraft?
Michele: Crappy story actually a couple years back, I screwed up my neck in a stunt accident for this slasher movie called BASEMENT JACK. I jumped on an Air Ram it shot me up and out about 15 feet and I landed on my head. I’m VERY lucky to be recovered and not dead or paralyzed. I was in a neck brace for about a year. During that time I got a copy of The Burning Crusade.
Medievaldragon: A career as an actress is probably harder than other types of jobs like a normal 9am-5pm office work, or other freelance jobs. Your mind needs to be awake and alert, you need to read a lot and memorize your script lines. You need to go to the gym, eat healthy, stay fit, and train on whatever your role requires (horse riding, gun shooting, swords, etc.) lot of work. How do you manage your time between your acting career and leading a raiding guild?
Michele: HAH! Wow, someone is actually asking me that. Yes. I’ll tell you when I finally recovered from my injury, it wasn’t easy to pry away from, having to weave my normal life and work-out schedule back in. Its sorta hilarious how obsessed people get about this game. I mean, I even had dreams about the game. Although, that happened with Bioshock too. I guess that’s when you know a game is good. It seeps into your dreams. You’ll be at some dream supermarket buyin dream beer and a cartoon Orc will be behind the register saying: Ooooprah!, and im like WTF get out of my DREAM.
Medievaldragon: What have you liked the most about World of Warcraft through your level 1-80 experience?
Michele: I guess the thing I liked the most 1-80 as a new player, was how the game naturally unfolded for me. I liked the stories. In some ways it feels like reading an interactive book. It’s a pretty incredible experience for a first timer, make sure to play with some big headphones and just zone out for awhile. It can be a bit tedious for starting alts, but relaxing all the same, especially with lvl 80 raiding pressures.
However, at level 80, it’s a new game. I co-lead a raiding guild on Thorium Brotherhood – I know, RP server, but honestly its no different from a PvE server just don’t go to Silvermoon City at midnight dressed as a pirate and you’ll be alright. I have a toon on Mug’thol as well and very much enjoy PvP servers, I’m just glad I didn’t start out on one lol.
Medievaldragon: The other day you told me how much you love the lore behind Lady Sylvanas and Jaina Proudmoore. What do you enjoy out of all the lore diversity and rich characters in World of Warcraft?
Michele: I love Sylvanas and Jaina. I think I most enjoy the fact that Warcraft has very powerful female matriarchs. I mean, even Lord of the Rings. I grew up on that had very few important women. Most of them filled the stereotypical chick roles, love interests, healers, mothers. Galadriel is one of the few that really stands out for me. And the Narnia series, although rich with female characters, mostly don’t let women in battle.
But it has always been this way. Helen of Troy launched a battle only by being abducted and I think I remember something about the dude sacrificing his daughter to get sweet winds for his travel to save Helen. the whole sacrificing virgins thing lol. I realize that some people believe that true power comes through the female roles through healing and comfort and reflection. And, wisdom generally comes from old men with long beards. I don’t disagree with any of that, but it’s pretty awesome that Warcraft lore features female heroes and leaders who struggle with similar issues that the men do.
Women fall too like Azshara – and not because they were being slutbags, or because they were virgins, or because they were kidnapped. They fail because they are flawed. Or they teach because they know how to lead. Sylvanas has the coolest story for me, hands down death by Frostmourne, mutilated and tortured, used against her own people, only to regain her free-will and build the Forsaken with the sole purpose of hunting down Arthas. I love her grit, her courage and her potential of fallacy. But Jaina is pretty rad too. She’s a gifted mage, a major leader, and big advocate for peace. Not only that, but she was engaged to Arthas so that’s crazy.
Medievaldragon: Do you think stories such as these should be engaged by film directors more often?
Michele: Absolutely they’re why I became an actress. I grew up in a neighborhood called Camelot where all the streets were named after the knights of the round table, we lived on King Arthur Drive. Everything seemed so lofty and magical when I was a kid. I loved Star Wars, The Neverending Story, The Dark Crystal movies were imagination land. They were an escape from real life. I think the only reason these movies don’t get made as much it’s because it’s a lot of money to make big epic features. I’m pretty sure each one of The Lord of the Rings & Harry Potters cost about $100 million to make. They did make an insane amount of money in return, but I’m sure it’s hard to get people to fork over that kind of cash.
Medievaldragon: Have you seen a lack of films based on fantasy worlds beyond Lord of the Rings from 2000-2010?
Michele: Well, the Narnias, Harry Potters probably can all be categorized as the like. I think we saw a lot of comic book movies that cross-promoted the fantasy demographic.
Medievaldragon: Your previous film roles are focused mostly in the Terror genre, have you considered other genres or have you been invited to play roles in those?
Michele: I’ve done comedies and drama, but horror is certainly the genre I’ve worked the most in. I’m open to any genre that has a strong story attached. It’s all about the story.
Medievaldragon: Why do you wish the role of Lady Sylvanas Windrunner in the Warcraft film?
Michele: To be honest, I’d be happy to play any of the characters in the movie. But, Sylvanas, I love her because she’s determined. She’s insidious. She’s arrogant and spiteful, but you can’t really blame her. She’s very tortured. http://www.wowwiki.com/File:Sylvanas.jpg I love this imagination of her. She truly takes her own council.
Medievaldragon: Have you played Warcraft III or have you read its facsimile World of Warcraft: Arthas, Rise of the Lich King? That’s where her story as a cunning and stubborn High Elf Ranger and all the drama with Arthas as her biggest nemesis starts at. What about her rich past did catch your attention the most?
Michele: She’s really effing brave. And she’s been through hell. To be honest, its not far off from many of the horror movie roles I’ve played. Karen Cook in Basement Jack is a lot like her. At 18 years old she finds her entire family slaughtered, posed around the dining room table, tied to glasses and silverware, with the dog as the main course. It’s a horrific thing to imagine. She has an epic battle in the basement with the killer and narrowly escapes. 11 years later she has sharpened her combat skills, and he gets let out of a mental institution. Now she’s hunting him – and he’s happy to kill her. She’s sorta on another level you are able to see her as a tragic hero, it kinda takes gender away, it’s past that, if that makes sense. You can see her mind working, always thinking, always one step ahead. She’s smart and beautiful and tragic and courageous all at once.
Medievaldragon: What new things have you learned about Lady Sylvanas in your raid advancement through Forge of Souls, Pit of Saron, the Halls of Reflections and Icecrown Citadel that you feel have allowed you to learn this character inside and out?
Michele: Mostly I really dislike her voice over lol. I have an alliance toon and get to see Jaina do something similar so its not super unique enough to learn anything more than I already did from the 5 mans. But it is cool to see the story progress. Besides, I’m mostly only thinking about the 10,000g I can make from that Battered Hilt drop to pay any attention lol.
Medievaldragon: What do you think about World of Warcraft: Cataclysm?
Michele: You know, I’m sure however all the details will undoubtedly change, it’ll be cool. This MMO is more popular than any other of all time, I think the guys at Blizzard know what they’re doing. I have a high amount of faith in their imaginations based on what they’ve produced so far.
Medievaldragon: If you were a WoW developer, what would you do to further enrich the world of Azeroth and the player’s gameplay? (story, features or fixes)
Michele: ALTERAC VALLEY! HELP!! People do not know how to play. Period. They just run to the group and fight in the road and make me want to tear out all my hair. Has anyone noticed that AV Chat has become like Trade Chat but with more insults? Which is awesome and annoying all at once.
Mmmaybe in CATACLYSM, the earth shakes up Alterac Valley and the battleground gets a facelift. Maybe even do some sort of strat guide or in-game tutorial for people when they queue for the first time. Redesign the map because its not clear enough for new players, they’re all like "Towers? Bunkers? Cap what? Who’s Bal?" — except they don’t ask for fear of ridicule lol. Because regardless of the infinite resources they could find online by simply minimizing their screen, they won’t lol. The double honor thing for defending is a start, but you really do miss out on a lot of action. Maybe they can up that reward to encourage better game play. The other Battlegrounds are much smaller and easier to catch on to, there’s just too much going on in AV for the legions of noobs.
Medievaldragon: Which recent and upcoming films or TV projects fans can find you working on?
Michele: I have a film in the summer shooting in Tennessee, its currently untitled but revolves around a meth addict. I’ll be starring next to Katrena Rochell from the upcoming Kickass. I’m also producing a reality show about a big cat rescue facility called Cat Tales Rescue with my childhood best friend, Jan-Michael Gambill who is a professional tennis and another wow player. Pilot season is coming up as well, so anything can happen. I recently heard Spidey got pushed back too, so maybe Warcraft?!?!? fingers crossed
Medievaldragon: Which have been your biggest achievements both in your persona life and in your career?
Michele: My biggest achievement has yet to surface in my career, I am sure. But so far, personally I’m proud of my recovery from my neck injury, that I didn’t let it stop me. It’s so easy to quit, and I’ll tell you, I did get close to giving everything up. I gained 25 pounds, I lost two movie roles, and fairweather friends certainly slunk into the shadows. When you hit the bottom, you can either sulk there forever or pick yourself up. Determination can do a lot for a person.
Medievaldragon: I listened to your Voice Over Reel. Awesome. Have you done voice over for games or would consider proposals for them?
Michele: Thank you Besides my demo, I also did a voice over for G4′s X-Play. I would love to do voices for games! That would be so stupidly fun.
Medievaldragon: Thanks, It was great having you, Michele. Hope you get the role of Sylvanas in the Warcraft film. What do you think guys?
Blizzplanet and Starcraftwire.net will have a live chat open to all our fans and visitors to talk and interact with the Tokyopop writers involved in Starcraft: Frontline Volume 4.
As you can see in our Starcraft II Single Player Press-Hands-On Coverage, I interviewed Chris Metzen. He elaborated on the tie-in between the novels, the Starcraft: Frontline manga series and the single player. All the stories of the manga were already part of the single player lore rather than the other way around. In short, it is highly recommended to get your hands on these manga stories to get acquainted with the single player plots.
You will have the opportunity to interact with six writers and the editor Hope Donovan. It is not confirmed yet, but we might have the grace to have Chris Metzen along (I will have a definite answer in a few days, so stay tuned). Chris Metzen is one of the writers in Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 4 with the story titled: Homecoming—which tells the story of Jim Raynor’s return to Mar Sara prior to the events of the Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty single player.
Watch Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 3 Sneak Preview here and Vol. 4 here.
Richard A. Knaak revealed a few details about the upcoming Pocket Books novel titled World of Warcraft: Stormrage (on sale February 23, 2010). Chris Metzen and Micky Neilson said in our interview back on February that this book would deal with the Nightmare in the Emerald Dream and Malfurion Stormrage. Will we get to see some tie-in with the events behind Cataclysm?
Hi, I am Medievaldragon. I had the opportunity to visit the Blizzard Entertainment Headquarters to play the Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty single player campaign. I barely played through six missions, but I can tell you it was an AWESOME experience from a lore nerd point of view.
After hours playing the game, I asked Chris Metzen, Blizzard’s senior vice-president of Creative Design many questions about the single player and its relevance with the printed media such as the novels, manga and comic book. Here is our interview coverage with Chris Metzen.
I was playing the single player, and I saw something very interesting. The mission is titled Tooth and Nail. It is set in the protoss shrine-world Monlyth. I noticed these protoss are the Tal’drim tribe, which is interesting because this is the name of the tribe in Starcraft: The Dark Templar trilogy by Christie Golden—shown in book two: Shadow Hunters.
The Tal’drim in this book are however known as The Forged. They were among the protoss who were abandoned and left behind during the Invasion of Aiur. Most of the protoss evacuated through the warpgate to reach Shakuras, and to avoid zerg from reaching Shakuras, they sealed the gateway leaving behind many protoss to their own fate.
Jim Raynor and Fenix stayed behind to make sure the Zerg wouldn’t reach the gateway. These protoss survivors were deeply affected emotionally reliving their abandonment by the Xel’Naga, left behind to despair. Their faith in the Khala was affected, and they eventually rejected the sanctity of the Khala.
The Tal’drim survived thanks to a mysterious patron who protected them from the Zerg, deep in the forbidden caverns of Aiur. This patron granted the Tal’drim known as The Forged a special drug named Sundrop which inhibits chemically the Khala without cutting off their head appendages. In short, the Tal’drim are effectively blocked from their psychic commonality with the other protoss survivors in Aiur known as Those who endure, and are unable to read their thoughts. It’s as if the Tal’drim had devolved to be like those protoss from before the Aeon of Strife, before the Khala was taught by Khas.
My question to you is, Are these other Tal’drim protoss in Monlyth also under the influence of Dark Archon Ulrezaj?
Metzen: How do I answer that. Are the Tal’darim influenced by Ulrezaj?. That’s still playing out. To some degree it’s the same group, but the group might be larger than what you saw in SHADOW HUNTERS specifically.
In the first two missions set in Mar Sara, players have access to the Joey Ray’s Bar and can interact with Jim Raynor who is drinking. There is a piece of newspaper attached to the bulletin board on the wall and you can interact with it. It says the Zerg has returned to invade the fringe-worlds and Emperor Arcturus has recalled the Terran Dominion forces to return to the core-worlds, leaving the fringe-worlds to fend on their own.
Jim Raynor heard the call for help, and rescued 800 civilians, including an orphan girl, from a place known as Meteor Station – a Kelmorian Mining Post. The lore fan-spider-sense in me tingled wildly. This is quite interesting, because the only place the fans have ever heard of this place: Meteor Station, was in the short story by Grace Randolph titled Last Call. This short story is from the Starcraft: Frontline Volume 3 by Tokyopop. Are we going to meet some of these characters, locations and plots from the mangas in the Single Player?
Metzen I think in general with the novels we’ve been doing recently with Christie Golden and definitely a lot of the manga short stories we’re definitely trying to season the game and the ancillary fiction with as much ideas, either in cross-pollinated ideas as possible. We always like taking little hooks from one thing or another and translating into those different medium stories. It just feels a little more contiguous ultimately. It’s kind of interesting that these names and these ideas are being leveraged across the board.
So I think with the Tal’drim specifically there is definitely a tie there to the events happening in the Dark Templar trilogy but it’ll probably play itself out on a much longer basis.
I am definitely loving all these lore references found throughout my single player hands-on experience, While in the Hyperion, I visited the Cantina Room and met Mr. Graven Hill, the local black market pirate. Jim Raynor can hire different Kel-Morian mercenaries from him to help you in some of the tough missions for a price. This really excites me for a very good reason. I am a subscriber of the Starcraft comic book by Wildstorm comics.
As it stands, in the comic book, the War Pigs are working for the Terran Dominion, and they have been ordered to hunt down and kill Jim Raynor. However, I am guessing that at some point if the Terran Dominion abandons the War Pigs to the Zerg like they did with General Duke, and Sarah Kerrigan, and like they are doing in the present with the fringe-worlds, the War Pigs might take a turn and join the rebels as mercenaries. Are we going to eventually hire the War Pigs in Starcraft II at the Cantina?
Metzen: Interesting, will we meet the War Pigs in StarCraft 2? I think, as it stands, they don’t make an appearance in Wings of Liberty specifically. But we’ll keep it in mind, because we’ve been enjoying where the comic series has been going and there’s potentially a lot of rich characterization there so we’ll see down the road.
During my tour through Blizzard’s Starcraft II offices I saw on the wall a poster of various character animation portraits that will be used in the game’s interface. I saw Starcraft: Ghost’s Nova’s portrait. I also saw Gabriel Tosh in the mission titled Mining Your Own Business set in the planet Redstone III. I am psyched to see this character too because he is going to appear in the Pocket Books novel titled STARCRAFT: GHOST SPECTRES by Keith DeCandido on sale March 30, 2010 and he also appears in the Tokyopop manga titled STARCRAFT: GHOST ACADEMY on sale January 1, 2010.
I also saw Reporter Kate Lockwell in the single player, a character that also appears in the STARCRAFT: FRONTLINE manga. Are we going to see Nova and Colin Phash (the telepath boy)? This boy was introduced in the short story War-Torn in the Starcraft: Frontline Volume 2 and 3, and has been confirmed to appear in Starcraft: Ghost Academy too. Since we are seeing Gabriel Tosh from that manga in the game, are we going to see Colin Phash in the single player?
Metzen: I’m not as sure about Phash making an appearance in the game specifically but I think we’ve said before Nova’s certainly a character that is near and dear to us and we’ve got plans for her [in] the Ghost Academy manga and the upcoming novels Spectres as well. So, yea, we’ve worked a little cameo of Nova in but I’d had to give away exactly how she plays into the story. It’s pretty cool [and] it’ll feel worthy for those fans of the character that never actually got to play her in her own title.
During my single player hands on experience I read in a piece of newspaper the name Michael Liberty. That really intrigued me. This is the same reporter who debuted in the Pocket Books novel Starcraft: Liberty by Jeff Grubb. He has made a few cameos in Starcraft: Queen of Blades by Aaron Rosenberg and in the Tokyopop manga short story titled Newsworthy by Grace Randolph in the Starcraft: Frontline Volume 2. Are we going to see Michael Liberty reporting news from the rebels’ side through clandestine broadcasts on the TV screen at the Cantina Room?
Metzen: I think Liberty actually does not show up in this campaign. We had talked about it a lot earlier on but because he’s so extreme in his views where he’s so anti-government that we needed leverage, we kind of needed to create a new reporter that was a little more even in the kind of stories that she could report. But I still hold out hope that we’re going to get Liberty in because he’s potentially a really cool character to use.
There is an interesting concept played out through the short story Do No Harm by Josh Elder. A Terran Dominion scientist has been capturing Protoss and experimenting with their DNA to create a Human-Protoss hybrid prototype. There have been other previous prototypes, but this one in particular is pretty strong and uses Ghost technology to stealth. The Terran Dominion plans to create an army of these hybrids to protect the core-worlds. Are we going to see a follow-up of this play out into the Single Player? This guy is pretty much the Rexxar of Starcraft.
Metzen: I think that one, for now, is kind more of a one-off. I don’t think there’s any plans to follow up on that theme anytime soon in terms of the game itself, in terms of the game story. But I dig that story a lot that I think it’s more of just a really cool story by itself.
I remember you said in Blizzcon 2007, there were plans to add a planet encyclopedia into the Star Map where players could have the opportunity to learn some lore about each planet. Is that still the plan? I didn’t get to see much of that in the single player build I just played.
Based on the build that you guys have been playing today we’ve pulled back a degree of that. Most of that was a design decision, a UI decision, [where] we wanted the interface to be as clean as possible. The current iteration is very much the one we’re running with barring some minor changes that could happen, but I think we’ve pulled a little bit more away from the grinding Encyclopedia Galactica idea that you were talking about. It just didn’t take the shape that we were anticipating.
In this instance I think “less is more”. We’ve still got a lot of lore based on a lot of the planets and their histories and their unique environments and things like that so a lot of that does inform the story and then per some of the blue screens or whatever there’s some data there that gives you a sense of the context of each planet but it probably won’t take as grand a shape as some of the things we were chasing earlier on.
In Starcraft: The Dark Templar trilogy, book three: Twilight we learn that Zeratul has been moving from place to place these past four years using the Xel’Naga gateways that are revealed to be spread all across the galaxy. Jake Ramsey and Zamara were stranded in a snowy planet for example, before entering the coordinates to reach a tropical planet where they find Zeratul’s ship. Is it me, or are there breadcrumbs in the novel hinting that we will explore other star systems in the single player by using these Xel’Naga gateways?
Metzen: I think at some point it’s reasonable that we’ll use those Xel’Naga gates and explore the unexplored. It’s hard to answer in terms of giving anything away for StarCraft II but we wouldn’t have built them [laughter] if we weren’t going to use them.
That’s interesting. You know, I don’t know off the top of my head. I don’t think I’m the guy to answer that one. [coughs, I’m not authorized to ...]
[we all laugh—this is a joke between Metzen and I referenced back to our previous video interview during the New York Comic Con 2009 (February) when I asked him about Gilneas. They have big plans for Gilneas, but he couldn’t say anymore because there were snipers on the roof that you know ... would shoot him. As he said this, he was looking at the roof—the snipers referring to Blizzard Public Relations Department.]
What has been your personal experience trying to cram up all this lore from the novels, the manga and the comic book into the single player as one solid integrated continuity of the Starcraft universe? We know that you had to split the Starcraft II single player game into three separate episodes: Wings of Liberty, Heart of the Swarm, and Legacy of the Void to fit all the lore.
Metzen: Right. How do I respond. I think we haven’t gone out of our way to cram all the lore from comics and all that stuff into the game. Really we’ve been building the game’s story for so long that things like the Dark Templar trilogy or all the things you see in the manga really have just kind of organically spun out of what we were building anyway.
The trick to StarCraft II now being in these three installments is that there was a lot to play with in the first place. We had 10 years worth of expectations and stories we wanted to chase and arcs of these characters that we wanted to explore. So we came packing with a lot of ideas, and the idea of separating each of these chapters into their own boxed product essentially allows us to really round out each race’s stories without having to throw a bunch of stuff out.
We actually get to say everything [that] we set out to say in terms of story and we’re very proud of how Wings of Liberty has come off and I love the ending. I can’t talk about it, obviously, but I really love Raynor’s arc and I feel everything [that] we wanted to engineer into his great journey – in his way, his redemption for what he feels are past mistakes – I really feel that we got all that in there.
While it might start on a bit of a lower note, this is not necessarily a super human guy at the height of his game at the start of the game, he definitely finds his feet very quickly and becomes the man we need and expect him to be over the process of Wings of Liberty. It’s just been very cool to see all that come together and have all the other Ancillary lore really inform the story as its taking shape as well.
Special thanks to Chris Metzen, Shon Damron, CW, Karune and Bob Colayco for inviting me to this single player press event. And to Troglodyte from StarcraftWire.net for compiling the transcript.
On June 13th, Christie Golden had a public appearance and signing schedule at the Book Revue in Huntington, New York—where she also read a few pages from the World of Warcraft: Arthas, Rise of the Lich King hardcover book. This book made the New York Times Bestseller Hardcover List twice in a row barely four days after its official launch into bookstores.
I had the opportunity to ask Christie Golden what her feelings were after hearing how successful the sales of her ARTHAS novel was, and interviewed her to ask questions about Starcraft: The Dark Templar, Twilight. Most of the questions were submitted by the lore community. Christie Golden answered all of them.
I read this book, and I can tell you it is amazing. Many things are revealed. There are a few cliffhangers that will be answered in Starcraft II eventually. And you will learn the shocking truth of the Xel’Naga and the purpose of their experiement with the Protoss and the Zerg. There are many twists awaiting you. Your crave for the Starcraft II single player will be increased a hundredfold.
Watch our video interview with Christie Golden for some teasers.
I had the opportunity to travel to Huntington, New York to witness the World of WarCraft: Arthas event held there by Christie Golden at the Book Revue Bookstore. I had a brief time to ask her questions about the upcoming StarCraft: The Dark Templar, TWILIGHT—the last book of the trilogy that hits bookstores on June 30th. The community-submitted questions for the most part were answered. There is something in the video that fans who fill up wikis need to edit. It has been decided there won’t be a Warcraft Trilogy. All three books will be stand-alone books. The event organizer was very kind to let us do the interview in a secluded office to minimize background noise, and allowed me to take video of the speech and book signing. I appreciate it.
After the interview, Christie read many pages from World of WarCraft: Arthas to the audience that came to see her. She read the prologue and the scene where Arthas was ordained at age 19 into the Order of the Silver Hand. Next, she let the audience ask questions about the book, followed by the book signing session. I can tell the crowd was excited and happy to meet and shake hands with Christie Golden. There were people of all ages there: children, teens, young adults, over age 40. All young at heart, and World of Warcraft players. There was no age barrier. All were one.
A fan myself, I was thrilled to be there. I have to thank Nethaera and Jaime Costas (Pocket Books) too. Jaime came to meet Christie in person for the first time, and to bring us both a fresh copy of StarCraft: The Dark Templar, Twilight. I was so excited and thankful. Brought it to the table to get it signed by Christie, and she was like: “… wait a minute. This is Twilight?!” It was a fun moment. Right then Jaime gave Christie her copy of Twilight. I can tell how much she loves her work on Twilight. She was so excited to hold the book on her hands.
Christie loves all the artwork Glenn Rane has done for the covers of her books, and admitted she and her husband have framed these high-quality posters that Blizzard has provided them. “They look awesome!”—she said. Christie Golden will be at BlizzCon in Anaheim, CA. Make sure to bring along your books or you can purchase them on the Blizzard Store within the Anaheim Convention Center.
I took video of the reading of pages from ARTHAS, some of the Q&A with the audience and the book signing. I divided the four videos into chunks of nigh 15-20 minutes each for those who would like to watch them.