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Black Friday 2011: World of Warcraft and StarCraft II Bundles

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This is the opportunity to get the right gift for a friend or family member for Christmas or earlier. Black Friday is coming and prices go down ridiculously.

Get World of Warcraft vanilla, Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm for only $80.00 (That’s 20 bucks each). Order the World of Warcraft Bundle and save $20.

The other offer is the StarCraft II Bundle. Get StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and pick your favorite Battle Chest: either the StarCraft or Warcraft III Battle Chest.

Simply follow step by step the instructions to apply the Black Friday offer to your cart at checkout.

Michele Morrow as Lady Sylvanas Facebook Reaches 5,000 Likes

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Scream Queen horror film actress Michele Morrow continues to sway more zombies from the Lich King’s grasp to join her cause in the Michele Morrow as Lady Sylvanas Facebook page.

The fanboy Facebook page has reached 5,000 Likes from fans like you who want the actress to take the role of Lady Sylvanas in the upcoming Warcraft film directed by Sam Raimi and produced by Legendary Pictures.

Michele is giving away a Two-month World of Warcraft game card signed by her.

Our Army has reached 5k. THANK YOU EVERYONE for all your support. In honor of this achievement, I am giving away this signed two month WoW game card to someone that leaves a comment on my Official Website, or the FACEBOOK post. The winner will be random and announced one week from today: November 19th. 10k… here we come.

Michele Morrow recently made YouTube TradeChat’s Top 10 Hottest Chicks who play World of Warcraft List. The video has over 100,000 views.

Bookmark Michele Morrow’s Official website to follow her latest press news and blog.

Michele attended BlizzCon 2011 and was interviewed by the WoW Insider/WoW Head/Gamebreaker.tv BlizzCon Fans Meetup show (at minute 1:23)


Watch live video from gamebreakertv on Justin.tv

**Rendition image by 3D artist Jarjara, retouched by Medievaldragon.

Blizzplanet Review: SteelSeries Diablo III Mouse

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

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

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

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

SteelSeries Diablo III Mouse Unboxing

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

Prepare for victory.”

 

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

 

SteelSeries Product Catalog

On display are the following SteelSeries Blizzard Licensed Products:

Product Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Specs

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

SteelSeries Diablo III Mouse Drivers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Locate and run the installer and follow the instructions.

Mouse Settings Interface

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

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

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

Conclusions

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

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

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

StarCraft II Region Linking on July 18

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Blizzard Entertainment has announced the new feature: StarCraft II region linking will take effect on July 18 to match with the start of Season 3. The merging of the following communities: North America and Latino America, Europe and Russia, Korea and Taiwan — will become three stronger communities. That means faster queues, and a bigger pool for ladder climbing.

Blizzard provided a FAQ to explain the new feature and how it might affect you.

We’re pleased to announce StarCraft II region linking, an exciting upcoming change that will connect a number of StarCraft II communities around the world for multiplayer matchmaking and communication purposes. In conjunction with the start of Season 3, we’ll be linking the European and Russian StarCraft II communities together; North America and Latin America will also be linked together, as will Korea and Taiwan.

Region linking will benefit players in the connected regions in a number of ways. First and foremost, a linked community means a larger pool of players to improve our automated matchmaker. Whether you’re an elite Grandmaster or a Bronze-league all-star, more players in the mix means that we’ll be able to find you a matchup more quickly and more accurately. Players will also get access to a broader range of custom map games, which in turn means wider audiences for mapmakers. Those of you who have friends in the linked region will also be able to add them to your Battle.net friends lists once the region linking is complete.

For the vast majority of players, the process will be seamless. Just log in, play, and say hello to all of your new friends (with a sneaky drop in their mineral line). For more information about region linking, check out the FAQ.

Cataclysm Patch 4.1: Rise of the Zandalari Trailer Revealed

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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.

World of Warcraft Action Figures Series 7 in Stock 3.18.2011

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Entertainment Earth has announced several World of Warcraft Series Action Figure Sets are now back in stock. Feel free to browse the available products, and order right away. They are in stock while supplies last.

The World of Warcraft Series 6 Set Set contains 3 Action Figures: Sylvanas Windrunner, King Magni Bronzebeard and Goblin Tinker Gibzz Sparklighter.

The World of Warcraft Series 7 Set contains 3 Action Figures: Human Paladin Judge Malthred, Orc Rogue Garona Halforcen and Worgen Spy Garm Whitefang

The World of Warcraft Premium Series 2 Set contains: Orc Warchief Thrall and Gnome Warlock Valdremar with voidwalker Voyd.

World of Warcraft Series 5 Set contains: King Varian Wrynn, Night Elf Hunter Althena Moonbreeze, and Scourge Ghoul Rottingham.

Check out the World of Warcraft Action Figure Store for additional products.

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