Whoa? Blizzard acquires Swingin’ Ape Studios

Incredible news.  Blizzard has acquired Swingin’ Ape Studios for an undetermined amount.  The current developer studio of Starcraft: Ghost, composed of few of the employees that formerly created Starcraft belongs now to Blizzard.

BLIZZARD ENTERTAINMENT® ACQUIRES SWINGIN’ APE STUDIOS

IRVINE, Calif. — May 16, 2005 – Blizzard Entertainment® today announced that it has completed the acquisition of acclaimed console developer Swingin’ Ape Studios. Widely regarded as an innovative and accomplished development studio, the Swingin’ Ape team boasts some of the industry’s most-talented developers, with more than 50 games’ worth of collective design and development experience across all major platforms.

Under the agreement, Blizzard will retain Swingin’ Ape’s team of more than 40 developers, as well as acquire the studio’s proprietary development technologies. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“The acquisition of Swingin’ Ape Studios takes us one step closer to realizing our goal of becoming a top-tier console developer,” stated Mike Morhaime, president and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment. “With Swingin’ Ape’s talented designers, programmers, and artists, we’re confident we’ll be able to create console games that meet the quality standards we’ve established for every Blizzard title.”

As part of Blizzard Entertainment, Swingin’ Ape Studios will establish the foundation for Blizzard’s new console team and will continue development on StarCraft: Ghost™ in that role. Plans for future console games will be announced at a later date.

Steve Ranck, president and co-founder of Swingin’ Ape Studios, expressed the team’s excitement at joining the Blizzard family. “We’ve long admired the quality and attention to detail that Blizzard puts into each of its PC titles,” said Ranck. “Our approach to game design is very similar, so we expect this to be a seamless transition for us.”

Ranck will assume the title of vice president of console development for Blizzard’s new console team and will report directly to Mike Morhaime. The team will remain in its Southern California office, located within a few miles of Blizzard’s Irvine, CA headquarters.

International Battleground Test Servers Soon

Blizzard UK just announced that they are preparing to launch the Test Servers anytime soon during the upcoming days.  This is good news.

We’re happy to announce that we are now just a few days away from being able to deploy the first round of public test realms for our international audience. Due to the need to conduct as much testing of our initial Battlegrounds content as we can, the schedule calls for the next major content patch to go live on the US public test realms shortly. We will then roll out the public test realms for Korea and Europe as soon as the hardware setup and configurations are completed.

To conduct a targeted test of specific character classes for the Battlegrounds, we will be providing testers in Europe and Korea with access to a variety of high-level, fully equipped characters to choose from. More information on how players can access the test characters and the public test realms will become available as we get closer to launch. Assuming everything goes smoothly for this round of testing, we plan to deploy public-test-realm content for future patches simultaneously in Europe, Korea, and the US. We’re excited to see players from around the world on the test realms in the days ahead, and we look forward to hearing your thoughts on the new PvP Battlegrounds

UPDATE: Caydiem confirmed that Alterac Battlegrounds is meant for up to 40 vs 40 players, while future Battleground locations like Azshara and others will be for smaller groups:

While Alterac Valley is meant for 40 vs. 40, the second Battleground we’re releasing is meant for smaller, faster play… it might appeal to you.

Wow Easter Eggs

I am gathering a lot of Easter Eggs shared by fans in the World of Warcraft forums in USA and Europe.  It is taking some time as the European forum has over 33 pages of it.  I am also searching online for the references, links and quotes.  Expect it here some time tomorrow.

Blackwing and Zul’Gurub are next!

Jeff Kaplan(Tigole), Quest Designer, informed the community that Blackwing and Zul’Gurub are the next instances to be released shortly in the upcoming months.  He also comments on the maximum player cap allowed in both instances.

Tigole:
Blackwing Lair is going to be capped at 40 people. The zone will be tuned to be extremely difficult to present a challenge to those guilds who have experience with content such as the Molten Core and Onyxia.

But rest assured, we have been listening closely to the community’s desires for a more “casuaul” friendly raid zone. So the zone we’re working on after Blackwing Lair will be tuned for a raid somewhere around 15-25 people (most likely 20). Ultimately, playtesting will determine the final cap. Also, we want the zone the be doable much more frequently than our “hardcore” raid content. So most likely it will have a reset of 1-3 days. We’re also trying to make the zone require less time than Molten Core. This zone is called Zul’Gurub and is located in North Eastern Stranglethorn. As it gets closer to the time of release, we’ll be releasing more information. But I think this zone will be a very attractive stepping stone for smaller guilds into the higher level raid content.

Warcraft: Lord of the Clans Summary

If you haven’t read this Warcraft novel for reasons like you don’t know what it is about or for lack of interest, then we have a small summary of the book.  If you do not like spoilers, do not read it.  If you at least wish to find out what the book is about before you purchase it, then take a look.  We will soon have an interview with the writer of Warcraft: Lord of the Clans … Christie Golden.  The book is about the life of Thrall after he was found as a baby and risen by a human, and how he grew up to become the Warchief of the Horde.

Glynnis Talken: USS Scottish Festival and Games

Glynnis Talken will be at a Public Book Signing in California.  She was the voice actress of Kerrigan in Starcraft and Broodwar and some Diablo II characters like the Rogue.  Blizzard fans are welcome to visit her.  You can bring along any Blizzard games books, posters, and whatnot and she will sign it.  You can take a photo with her and give her a hug.  Don’t forget sharing some photos with us.

  • Event: USS Scottish Festival and Games
  • Date: Saturday and Sunday, May 28th and 29th
  • Location: Pomona Fairplex in Pomona, California

    If you wish to find out where to buy tickets and directions to get there visit the Official Homepage of the USS Scottish Festival and Games.  Map Here

    Read her May Newsletter below . . .

  • Jason Hayes’ Music to be played in CA and Germany

    Jason Hayes’s music will be featured in the Symphonic Video Games Concert 2005 series, an event featuring full orchestral performaces of some of the industry’s best and most popular game music. There’s a segment dedicated to the Warcraft series.  In 2005, the FILMharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Andy Brick, will perform together with the famous percussion player Rony Barrak and the guitar players from the award-winning rock band -123min. Rony Barrak is well-known for his work together with Sarah Brightman and Vanessa Mae.and the first show will be:

    Video Games Live Concert 2005

  • Date:  July 6, 2005
  • Time: 8:00pm
  • Location:  Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, CA

    You can buy the tickets for this event Here.  Prices range from $1 to $115.  If you need the directions on how to find the Hollywood Bowl, go Here.

    More details below . . .

  • Hellgate: London Gamestar Preview

    We got ahold of a copy of the Gamestar Magazine from Italy featuring an article of Hellgate: London.  Please, be aware that the translation from Italian is harshly vague and there may be misinterpretation.  Gamestar.it authorized Blizzplanet to translate some details from their Magazine.  We hope that it offers you additional details about the exciting new game Hellgate: London. The 8 images accompanying the summary are property of Flagship Studios and Gamestar.it (IDG Communications).  You can read our 2-pages summary Here
         

    Warcraft III Minimap: Shrine of the Ancients

    New Frozen Throne bonus map available from Blizzard.  There once existed a shrine to the ancient gods of yore, but all that remains is a ruin of rubble, sand, and ore. Though legends persist of creatures from the sea, that have surfaced to guard the treasures of an era long before. Download Shrine of the Ancients a new Bonus map

    Wow takes over Europe Charts

    Blizzard UK has set loose a Press Release announcing the takeover of European Gaming Charts as the #1 game on the top.

    “World of Warcraft? has reclaimed the #1 spot on game charts across much of Europe this week, following the release of additional boxes into European retail stores on April 15th.  The successful subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) from Blizzard Entertainment? is the #1 game on the PC charts in Germany, France, UK, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Benelux.”

    Hellgate: London at Gamespot

    Gamespot interviewed Eric Schaefer to get a close look to Hellgate: London in its current stages.  There is a video we recommend to watch.

    Eric Schaefer:
    Hellgate: London will support many modes of single-player and online play. Most importantly, we will be providing a destination where players can congregate in large or small numbers within the world. Here, they will be able to group up for adventures, trade items, or just hang out and chat. Plans for competitive modes are just being discussed now, but our main emphasis will be on supporting cooperative adventuring.

    Hellgate: London Preview

    We got ahold of a copy of the Gamestar Magazine from Italy featuring an article of Hellgate: London.  Please, be aware that the translation from Italian is harshly vague and there may be misinterpretation.  Gamestar.it authorized Blizzplanet to translate some details from their Magazine.  We hope that it offers you additional details about the exciting new game Hellgate: London. The 8 images accompanying the summary are property of Flagship Studios and Gamestar.it (IDG Communications).  You can read our 2-pages summary Here
         

    Warcraft Manga Meet-the-Author Event

    Ordinn had word that Blizzard’s VP of Creative Development Chris Metzen and author Richard A. Knaak were featured speakers at the L.A. Times Festival of Books this past weekend. Their panel discussion centered on their newest project, the first installment in a series of manga titled Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy.  We reported this event to our audience few days ago.  Hopefully some of you were able to meet them.  If so, do no hesitate in submitting your own screenshots to Blizzplanet.s

    After the presentation, fans had a chance to ask Chris and Richard about some of their past collaborations as well as their current manga project. One lucky attendee walked away with a copy of the World of Warcraft Collector’s Edition!
         

    Wow Linux in the future

    Eyonix commented that a Linux version of World of Warcraft could be a possibility in the future.  There seems to be some issues of an internal Linux testings connecting to the server.  Blizzplanet initiated the Wow on Linux petition sometime ago.  Blizzpub facilitated to us a script to gather signatures for the petition for Blizzplanet under the condition of hosting the script themselves—until Blizzpub … removed our participation or any reference about Blizzplanet involved in the petition.  Yet, we are glad that a Blizzard Representative have given good feedback reporting a possibility of a Wow Linux client in the future.  Read more details at the Official Wow Forums.  Another post by Eyonix about Wow on Linux Here

    You know it is true Crast.

    Wow Linux Petition Online Here

    Flagship Studios Unleashes Hell at E3

    Flagship Studios is going to be at the 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo—by the Namco Hometek booth South 824—to showcase Hellgate: London.  Fans will be able to play the game at the booth.  Make sure to submit your screenshots of the event if you participate in the E3 2005.

    – Visit E3expo official website for directions.
    – Read a 4-pages preview at IGN
    – Official Press Release below:

    Ascent Guild: Ragnaros bites the dust

    Believe it or not, Ascent Guild claims to have slain Ragnaros in Molten Core.  They show a screenshot to prove it.  The guild promised to show soon a video.  Check out the phat loot Here. Congratz and bows to Ascent Guild!

    South Silithus Temple

    A fan submitted a few screenshots of a mysterious temple in the southern side of Silithus.  If you haven’t explored Silithus during the current patch, you have missed the introduction once more of the Anubis Obsidian statues(from Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne).  In closed beta, the Anubis Statues guarded the Great Wall of Silithus. With the introduction of Retail, the guardians were removed.  This patch added a roaming Anubis statue named Setis.  It may be a hint that Arthas the Lich seeks to assimilate—into the Scourge, the ancient Azj’Aqir kingdom, ancestors of the Silithid, and cousins of the Northrend Azjol-Nerub Empire of Spiders.  The fan mentioned there is an instance inside the temple.

    Librams Enchant Guide

    Blizzplanet has a new Libram Enchant guide for World of Warcraft players that have problems with understanding or completing the Librams.  These Librams offer to all Classes a special Enchantment on Head and Leg gear.  The guide written by Zvix from the Cult of the Titans Guild, will help you identify the items required and where to find such items.  Tell your friends!

    Diablo Fan Art Contest Winners Announced

    The Diablo Fan Art Competition has come to a conclusion and Blizzard announced the 10 winning art compositions of the Diablo Fan Art contest here.

    “Each piece sheds some light on what demonic creations inspire and haunt each of their respective artists? minds and we are excited to give you a chance to be privy to their foreboding talents. In addition, we?d like to also highlight the five Honorable Mentions that grabbed our attention and warranted an honorary place of resting in this gallery of the dark and unholy. Congratulations to all the winners, and for the rest of the artists that took the time to submit their work, thank you all for participating. We received many high-quality submissions and we hope to have you all participate again in the future!”

    Honor System Rewards

    Blizzard has release three new pages of content available in the Honor System Rewards, covering armor sets, weapons and special mounts that you may acquire as your ranks grow.  Take a look at the screenshot samples.

    Armor Sets
    Weapons
    Special Mounts

    New Jobs at Irvine—4-23-05

    New Position – Senior 3D Environment Artist
    Blizzard is looking for a talented, skilled and experienced Senior 3D Environment Artist to help the World of Warcraft team build beautiful and effective worlds. If you have a solid grasp of form, color and light and have skills in illustration, modeling, texturing, animation and concept drawing, then please refer to our Senior 3D Environment Artist posting for more information.
    http://www.blizzard.com/jobopp/senior-3d-environment-artist.shtml

    New Position – Concept Artist
    Blizzard is looking for a supremely talented Concept Artist to illustrate the wide range of characters, creatures, weapons, architecture and environments that make up World of Warcraft. If you feel you understand the visual art style of World of Warcraft, have a great feel for form, structure, color and light and that you have an amazingly creative imagination, then please look to our Concept Artist positing for more information.
    http://www.blizzard.com/jobopp/concept-artist.shtml”>
    http://www.blizzard.com/jobopp/concept-artist.shtml
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    Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy# 1 Available

    Check out the first manga set in the Warcraft universe. Follow the adventures of Kalec, a blue dragon in human form, and Anveena, a maiden with mysterious powers, as they quest to save the High Elven kingdom from the forces of the Undead Scourge. Dragon Hunt is the first of a three-volume set and is available now at Blizzard Store.  The storyline is based on a World of Warcraft-timeframe after Sylvanas and the Forsaken created Undercity.  Click the image to the left for a bigger version.

    War of the Ancients: The Sundering on August!

    From Richard A. Knaak—Newszine(requires Acrobat Reader):

    THE DEMON SOUL is now in its 3rd printing and DAY OF THE DRAGON its eighth. I stand corrected on the final volume, THE SUNDERING. It WILL be out in August! Yes, that?s August! So much for the author knowing…. smile
    I?m just finishing up with the galleys for it now and I?ve seen the cover, another terrific piece by Bill Petras of Blizzard. You?ll be seeing it here, soon.

    And would anyone be interested if I published a chapter from it in the newszine?  Speaking of printings, DRAGON HUNT is already going into its second, just a month after its initial release! Also, for those of you out near Los Angeles, check out my Appearances Page for important and very imminent news!  I was also recently interviewed by NEO, a UK anime and manga magazine
    and WORLD OF WARCRAFT RADIO. I believe an audio of this can be downloaded at the site, http://www.wcradio.com(April 3 archive)

    Diablo Novel Soon by Richard A. Knaak

    Richard A. Knaak had mentioned this book in our last interview, and now there is more concrete info released on his new Newszine.
    Richard A. Knaak comments:

    MOON OF THE SPIDER is well underway, with the first chapters already okayed by Blizzard. The story takes Zayl and Humbart to Westmarch, where he meets the noblewoman Salene Nesardo, her brother Sardak, and the giant bodyguard Polth. What starts as a request to discover the truth over her husband Riordan?s business dealings proves a far more treacherous and ancient plot. What is Lord Aldric Jitan seeking in the ruins of the estates of the Sons of Rakkis and who is Karybdus? I?ll soon be announcing the trilogy title…

    Wow Patch 1.4 Released!

    The new content patch, including the all-new Player vs. Player Honor system, is now live and available on all realms. Some of the major features include:

  • PvP Honor System
  • Children’s Week Event
  • Gurubashi Arena Event
  • Elemental Invasions
    The full patch notes are available here.  Also check out the new PvP Honor rewards pages! You can find more information regarding the various weapons, armor, and mounts you can earn by achieving victory in PvP battle!