Arathi Basin Preview in Korea

World of Warcraft Korea has been chosen for the exclusive preview of Arathi Basin Battlegrounds to be released in patch 1.7.0—within next few days, the North American and Europe websites will show the preview.  When a preview is made, it is given to one of the Wow Centers as an exclusive.  This time it was Korea’s turn.  Stay tuned for the American version.

Devilsaur invades Orgrimmar

I have seen images and videos of Lord Kazzak causing mayhem in Stormwind, but seriously, I don’t know whether applaud these 10 players from Guild: O o t S Realm: Tichondrius or whether ask them to get a life.  They trained the Devilsaur from Un’Goro all the way up to Orgrimmar going through Thousand Needles, Feralas, Desolace, Stratholme, The Barrens, up to Durotar.  Now . . . that, my friends, is either a waste of long time or an out of proportions adventure.  Take a look at the Screenshot of the Devilsaur entering Orgrimmar City.  There is a bunch of screenshots showing the Devilsaur walk through all Kalimdor zones up to Durotar.

BlizzCon Invitational Prizes Announced

When the world’s best Real-Time Strategy players descend on Anaheim this October, there will be more than just honor at stake. Blizzard announced that the champions of the StarCraft and Warcraft III invitational tournaments will be able to look forward to taking home a check for $10,000 to accompany their winner’s trophy. The runner-up in each tournament will be awarded a $3,000 prize. Be sure to check back soon for more information on the identities of the 16 participants that will be invited from all across the globe to compete for these cash prizes.

Diablo 2: Ladder Reset Announced!

With the release of the recent new Patch 1.11,  a new Ladder season has arisen for Diablo 2.  Players are welcome to climb to the top of the Ladder starting this Monday, August 8th.  The current season will not end til the weekend is over, so get out there and clash blades with Diablo, Mephisto and Baal before it all ends!  For more information on the Diablo 2 Ladder, check out our D2 FAQ.

Jason Hayes: Modding Community

Jason Hayes has announced a new feature in his website to be launched within few days, where the Modding Community of Starcraft, Warcraft and Diablo universes may find valuable assistance.

Jason Hayes: “The brand new “Mod Projects” forum – a section dedicated to the burgeoning mod community! This will come online in the next day or two. It will be a great place for mod makers to come in order to find composers for their projects, and for composers to discover opportunities to write music for mods.”

Jason Hayes: Modding Community

Jason Hayes has announced a new feature in his website to be launched within few days, where the Modding Community of Starcraft, Warcraft and Diablo universes may find valuable assistance.

Jason Hayes: “The brand new “Mod Projects” forum – a section dedicated to the burgeoning mod community! This will come online in the next day or two. It will be a great place for mod makers to come in order to find composers for their projects, and for composers to discover opportunities to write music for mods.”

Zul’Gurub Preview at WOW Europe

Wow Europe has a preview of Zul’Gurub Instance to be released soon in patch 1.7.0

Over a thousand years ago the powerful Gurubashi Empire was torn apart by a massive civil war. An influential group of troll priests, known as the Atal?ai, called forth the avatar of an ancient and terrible blood god named Hakkar the Soulflayer. Though the priests were defeated and ultimately exiled, the great troll empire collapsed upon itself. The exiled priests fled far to the north, into the Swamp of Sorrows, where they erected a great temple to Hakkar in order to prepare for his arrival into the physical world.

Rumor Advocate: Blizzard North Unannounced Game Analysis

There is been a lot of rumors going on for last two years, concerning Blizzard North’s non-announced project, after Blizzard North executives resigned back on June 31, 2003.  Blizzplanet has in the past started rumors that have turned out true, as in the case of Starcraft Going Multiplayer, two months before it was publically announced—as you may confirm at VoodooExtreme(IGN).

We are going now to analyze the evidence offered through past interviews and comments from Blizzard Employees to reach a veredict.  This time the hammer drops on Blizzard North’s Unannounced project.  You, the Juror, will have the final deliberation.

EXHIBIT A

Going back in time—on February 7, 2004, an article by HollywoodReporter mentioned the following:

“According to industry observers, the departure of 25-30 Blizzard staffers in the past 10 months has prompted the San Mateo, Calif.-based Blizzard North development studio to merge its two teams into one and to cancel one of its two unannounced projects.”

EXHIBIT B

I have had that HollywoodReporter article in mind constantly for months, as well as the words said by a Blizzard employee on the World of Warcraft Beta Forums on February 10th, 2004.  Although the Beta Forums are forever gone, there was a Forum Watcher script at Wow.Ethrex.com that would capture Blizzard Employee’s posts.  Here is the bold words from GFraizer concerning the game that was cancelled:

” It was Blizzard North so it was a Blizzard North type game. Blizzard North has made Diablo I, Diablo II, and Diablo II: Lord of Destruction..”

Synopsis:

  • From the HollywoodReporter article we know that Blizzard North was working on two projects by 2003 and one of the games was cancelled, moving the remaining staff to the second team.
  • And a Blizzard Employee, three days after that article, hints that Diablo 3 might have been the canned game.

So we are back at square one.  What is Blizzard North’s unanounced project?  Whatever the game is, it is been cooking for over two years now.

EXHIBIT C

Just few months ago, as reported by Gamespy, Dustin Browder, game design director for EA’s Battle for Middle-earth announced his leave from EA, and his new position as a Blizzard Employee to be effective on March 14th, 2005. Browder is under direction of Rob Pardo on an unveiled game. Browder didn’t know at that point what game he would be working on.

EXHIBIT D

Taking a look at MobyGames, Dustin Browder has high expertise in developing RTS and Action type of Games like:

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Battle For Middle-Earth (2004)
  • Command & Conquer: Generals (2003)
  • Command & Conquer: Generals: Zero Hour (2003)
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Dominion Wars (2001)
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 (2000)
  • Battlezone (1998)
  • Vigilante 8 (1998)
  • Heavy Gear (1997)
  • MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries (1996)
  • MechWarrior 2: Ghost Bear’s Legacy (1995)

EXHIBIT E

Curiosly Dustin Browder was assigned to work at Irvine, not at San Francisco-studio.  Recently, Blizzard North was shut down, relocating employees to the headquarters in Irvine—where Dustin Browder is Senior Designer at.

EXHIBIT F

Finally, Gameinformer recently interviewed Blizzard on July 18th, 2005, asking the following:

“Q: Will there be a StarCraft II? When?

A: Although we have not made any announcements and do not have a development or release timeline, we do fully intend to revisit the world of StarCraft on PC at some point in the future.”

Having in mind EXHIBIT A through EXHIBIT F, we have somewhat a big picture of the scene.  Blizzard North’s unannounced game is an RTS game and it is not Starcraft 2.  Another rumor has been that Diablo would be launched as a RTS game, but EXHIBIT B basically squashes that rumor. So we have now Starcraft 2 and Diablo III removed from the case.  That would leave only two possibilities: Warcraft 4 is one, but having a huge success with over 3 million paid subscribers on the popular MMORPG World of Warcraft would make a Warcraft 4 very unlikely, since Blizzard doesn’t usually create games that may affect the sales of another game.  Take in consideration that World of Warcraft Expansion was confirmed recently by Shane Dabiri on his Wow Battleplan Press Release.

The Irvine Team designated for Warcraft RTS games, is who works on Starcraft, but that team was moved to work on World of Warcraft after the release of Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne.  Most likely that team is now working on the World of Warcraft Expansion as we speak, while the second Irvine Team is developing new content for the current World of Warcraft: Zul’Gurub is scheduled for patch 1.7.0 and Ah’Quiraj instance in Silithus is scheduled for patch 1.9.0

That leaves both Irvine teams busy.  In the past, Blizzard has always answered they plan to revisit the world of Starcraft for PC sometime in the future.  But at the Gameinformer interview Blizzard was very precise and specific saying there is no current development of Starcraft 2 at this moment.

Now the question is why was Dustin Browder, an RTS developer, moved to Irvine as Senior Designer when the Warcraft 3/Starcraft Team is possibly working on the World of Warcraft Expansion.  Blizzard North staff was relocated to Irvine to get all of their teams to have regular, direct input on each other’s projects.  If Dustin Browder is working on a Blizzard North project from Irvine as Senior Designer, having the team relocated to Irvine makes things easier.

Many fans may doubt that Blizzard North may create games other than Diablo, but in reality, Blizzard North has contributed to all other Blizzard games.  In an interview we had with Mike Huang—ex-Blizzard North employee—back on January 2004, he told us that as a Blizzard North employee they had to offer feedback to all games.  Mike Huang was who gave the idea to a Starcraft programmer to make Protoss Buildings be powered by Pylons.  He revealed to have worked on Warcraft 3 and even on World of Warcraft, which means Blizzard North isn’t simply a Diablo only studio.  If Blizzard requests them to work on “X” project, they have the capability to do it.

That leaves only one possible answer for Blizzard North’s unannounced game:  An RTS game based on a New creative universe not related to Starcraft, Warcraft and Diablo series.  A new Franchise.  A possible announcement of this mysterious game could be made at BlizzCon 2005 through October 28-29.

Wow Password Trojan: Norton Anti-Virus Update

Everyone who owns Symantec Norton Anti-Virus, please, make sure to download and install the latest update of your software.  The new update, as of August 1, detects a new trojan that attempts to steal your World of Warcraft Account Password.  Among the consequences of a security breach of your computer, your World of Warcraft account could be perma-banned by Blizzard if the trojan creator caused mayhem with your account by violating any EULA or Terms of Use; your items and gold may disappear; and/or your credit card number(Partially—first 4 numbers and last 4 numbers) and personal info like home address and phone number may be in jeopardy as well.  You may visit Symantec website to see the new Trojan definition concerning
World of Warcraft Password Trojan

“PWSteal.Wowcraft is a password-stealing Trojan horse that attempts to steal the password to the “World of Warcraft” game and send it to the creator of the Trojan. “

We recommend players to read the Removal Instructions on their website to following directions on how to disable System Restore(Windows ME/XP) before running Norton Anti-Virus.
Special thanks to Redrock for the buzz!

Blizzard North Shuts Down Offices

IRVINE, California—Aug. 1, 2005—Blizzard Entertainment? today announced its plan to centralize its PC development teams at the studio’s Irvine headquarters.

As part of this initiative to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of its teams, a majority of the staff from Blizzard’s Northern California office will have an opportunity to relocate to the company’s Irvine office, where they will continue work on an unannounced project.

“We’re looking forward to having our PC development teams together in Irvine,” stated Mike Morhaime, president and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment. “In addition to improving our efficiency as a company, the relocation also represents an opportunity for all of our teams to have regular, direct input on each other’s projects.”

Blizzard does not believe that these changes will cause significant delays on any of its projects in development. The company released its subscription-based massively multi-player online role-playing game, World of Warcraft?, at the end of 2004 and is continuing work on StarCraft: Ghost(TM), its upcoming tactical-action console game set in the award-winning StarCraft? universe. Plans for future products will be revealed at a later date.

World Event Nostalgia

Caydiem—World of Warcraft Community Manager—wrote a long PR response to a player who requested an explanation concerning lack of World Events like the one provided at the end of Public Beta.  Apparently those days will make many long nostalgia.  Read Caydiem’s note below . . .

Bonus: We collected nearly 140 screenshots of the Beta Finale event, check out the 3 galleries.

 

Diablo 2 Patch 1.11 is now LIVE!

The Lords of Terror, Hatred, and Destruction lurk once more in the bowels of the world, their vile blood galvanized with the thirst for revenge against the Heroes who have thwarted their dark reign. Can the stalwart Paladins, lightning-quick Assassins, and ferocious Barbarians rise to this new challenge? The call has been made, so come join the adventure once again!

  • Click here for more details on Diablo 2 Patch 1.11.
  • Click here to check out the Patch 1.11 Wallpaper.

Judgehype Q&A with Blizzard Europe

Our friend-site Judgehype in France had a Blizzard Developers Q&A concerning World of Warcraft.  We recommend you to read the English version of the interview Here

JudgeHype: Some Professions and Classes are facing inventory storage issues. E.g. the Warlock class (due to Soulshards) or some gathering professions (such as Herbalists). Is it conceivable to provide special bags, which may be created by players, in order to bring a solution to this issue ? Similarly, would it possible to create some kind of keys holder, which would be useful to store together all the required instances keys.

Blizzard: We are working on specialized bags that can only hold, for example, quest items, soul shards, keys, and profession-based materials. We haven?t decided exactly which kind of bag will be available, but our first goal is to have soul shard bags and key rings.

The Alliance/Horde characters proportion is apparently quite messy on some servers. This mainly poses a real issue on the PvP servers, due to the queuing linked to Battlegrounds, which is often pretty long at the Alliance side, while at the Horde side they have to play in inferior number. Even if the players understand pretty well that a perfect balance can’t be achieved, could you give us an example for measure that could be applied in order to bring a solution to this on some Realms ?

We are working at a number of different initiatives. It?s a complex problem, so unfortunately, we don?t have more detailed specifics at this time.

Hunter Talents Tree Preview

Blizzard has now a new preview featuring the Hunter Class Talent changes for the next patch 1.7.0

Curious about the changes to Hunter talents in the upcoming content patch? Wonder no longer! In this interactive preview of the changes, you can view the progression, read up on the new abilities and enhancements within the various trees, and experiment with new builds!

The preview team has implemented new web feature: the talent calculator!  In the coming days, all classes will be available, allowing players to plan out their progression and save it. Stay tuned!

Diablo patch 1.11 in the Horizon!

Great evil has returned to the world of Diablo 2. Will you answer the call to save Sanctuary?  Blizzard has announced a new patch for Diablo II.  Patch 1.11 is coming …  Now the question is whether all this hype is herald to more exciting news.  Blizzard North has been working on a game, as announced in 2003.  BlizzCon could be a special event for any announcements.  Keep your fingers crossed!  Now it is time for some drooling, check out the screenshots below:

VGTour Ladder Invitation

We were informed of a new VGTour ladder—Vile Gaming Tour—on Battle.net, organized by IA-NewB.  The VGTour ladder is based mostly on US West realm and is entering its 4th season. Vile Gaming Tour founder, Spartan, was recently interviewed on GosuGamers.net.

The VGTour is trying to provide a solid ladder on West for all the skilled west players to compete on and determine who is really the best. The event has two ladder sections, one for high money and one for low money maps, so that ALL gamers on bnet can participate.  Read the interview for more in-depth details.

Music4Games Interviews Jason Hayes

The Editor of Music4Games has informed us about their interview with Jason Hayes, World of Warcraft Lead Composer, regarding Video Games Live and GC concert performances of his music:

Music4Games:How does it feel to have your music selected
          for the GC Game Music Symphony Concert?

          Jason Hayes: I’m very honored to be a part of this spectacular
          concert event! To have music performed at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig,
          a city so renowned for its rich music history, is a real thrill
          for me.

Music4Games: What other projects are on the horizon after the live
          concerts?

          Jason Hayes: I’m going to be in high production mode on the
          album for the next few months, and I’m also currently starting a
          brand new game from NCsoft. Right now, all the details are completely
          undisclosed, but I’m hoping that some information will be released
          about it soon. I think it’s really going to be incredible!

Blizzplanet interviews Bill Roper

Although, this game is not a Blizzard game, we are about to launch our Hellgate: London Fansite.  In preparations for our new Network site,  we interviewed Flagship Studios CEO Bill Roper—former Blizzard North CEO— concerning the E3 2005 highly-awarded Action-RPG game Hellgate: London. The interview focused mostly on concerns about this game that will answer many questions to a wide spectrum of players, from Modding Community, Mac and Linux Communities, to hardcore Multiplayer FPS players. Read our interview

BlizzCon: StarCraft Map Contest!

Blizzard is inviting the StarCraft map-making community to design and create the maps that will be used during the invitational tournament that will take place at BlizzCon. The contest details, rules, and submission process can be found here on the contest page.

WoW: Rise of the Living Dead Part 2 Movie

Blizzplanet and XFire bring you WoW: Rise of the Living Dead Part 2 Movie—created by Dogs of Warcraft guild and Sleeping Dog Productions.  The acclaimed World of Warcraft in-game movie was applauded by Caydiem, Community Manager.  Check it out on our Wow Movies section.  Feel free to submit your movies to us.

BlizzCon Tickets Available!

Tickets to BlizzCon, Blizzard’s inaugural player convention, are now on sale. If you are interested in attending, you can buy tickets here. If you’d like more information about BlizzCon and what awaits you at the show, please be sure to visit the BlizzCon Web site.

Blizzplanet has access to 6 tickets that are not part of the ticket limit of 4,400.  We are allowed to give these tickets to our visitors, willing to buy them, in case BlizzCon tickets are sold out.  In the event tickets are sold out, simply contact me Here.  Our allocated BlizzCon Tickets are available until 8am PDT on July 29, 2005.  If you live near Anaheim, California, and want one of Blizzplanet’s tickets, feel free to contact me. I personally can’t attend to the event since I live in the Eastern coast.  Some of the highlights of BlizzCon include:

  • Q&A panels with the World of Warcraft?  and StarCraft: Ghost developers
  • BlizzCon Invitational Tournament featuring top Warcraft III and StarCraft professional gamers from around the world
  • A separate LAN area stocked with PCs loaded with Blizzard games
  • Contests in which die-hard gamers can compete for great prizes
  • Custom BlizzCon merchandise in the BlizzCon store
  • A special closing-night concert featuring a to-be-announced band

World of Warcraft Launches in Singapore

World of Warcraft continues to take the world by storm as it launches in yet another territory in Asia. On July 21, World of Warcraft goes on sale in Singapore, making the island nation the third territory in Asia to support World of Warcraft and the sixth region worldwide, after North America, Australia and New Zealand, Korea, Europe, and China. We welcome our friends from Singapore into the world of Azeroth and look forward to many great adventures together. Read more here.

GameInformer interviews Blizzard

GameInformer interviewed Blizzard and their new console division Swingin’Ape Studios about Starcraft: Ghost.  Although no release date has been confirmed, Blizzard presumes the game might be ready by the first half of 2006.  Two new things are revealed about Starcraft II, the Starcraft franchise has sold 9 million copies to date, and there is no current development of Starcraft II yet.  Blizzard does have a concern on revisiting the franchise with a sequel.  With the sales of the original series, I am very impressed they haven’t started Starcraft II development with such a success record.  Starcraft: Ghost, as stated by Blizzard, is not Starcraft II, and when Blizzard is ready to make an announcement of Starcraft II, the media will be informed.  Additionally, Blizzard told GameInformer that there are plans for more Console games made by their recently acquired Console Division.  We should keep a close eye on BlizzCon 2005(October 28-29) for any new announcements.  Starcraft: Ghost’s release date could possibly be revealed at Blizzcon; and furthermore, it is no secret that Blizzard North has been working on a game—as revealed few months after the executives resigned on 2003.

GameInformer has 3 new Movies of Starcraft: Ghost.  The first movie is a 3D animated cinematic showing Marines, and Firebats fighting an Ultralisc, and additionally two movies showing Single Player and Multiplayer action.  The Multiplayer movie looks promising and hot!

New Warcraft Classic Mp3

GFraizer added a new Download of the classic Intro music soundtrack from Warcraft II.  This will bring pleasant old memories indeed.

Wow reaches 3.5 Million Players

Blizzard has sent a Press Release announcing that World of Warcraft has reached 3.5 Million Subscribers worldwide and after the launch in China, 1.5 Million Chinese subscribers have joined World of Warcraft.  Read the Press Release below …

4 New Wow Movies

Elite Chaos has submitted 4 new movies of their adventures in Blackwing Lair, Onyxia, and Molten Core.  A video shows the whole Ragnaros Event until his dead, and lastly the Horrigan PK movie shows some Cow hunting season spree of a Warrior with his Spinal Reaper, no pun intended to the poor Tauren that get owned. Check out our Wow Movies section

Blizzard Survey: To Go DS/PSP or not?

The latest Blizzard Insider newsletter enquires as to whether readers would be interested in purchasing Nintendo DS or Sony PSP versions of Diablo II, Starcraft and Warcraft providing a wireless multiplayer mode was included.  Read more at GamesIndustry.biz Article