Blizzard North Lead Designer Gone?

It is a mystery what’s going on at Blizzard North.  Rick Seis, former Lead Designer of Blizzard North, has joined Castaway Entertainment—founded by ex-Blizzard North employees back in 2003. Recently, Blizzard announced the shutdown of Blizzard North in San Francisco, relocating employees to the main headquarter in Irvine.  It is not been confirmed if there were layoffs or if in this particular case Rick Seis chose to accept the Castaway offer on his own.

” REDWOOD CITY, CA ? September 6, 2005 – Castaway Entertainment is proud to announce that former Blizzard North studio lead Rick Seis has accepted the position of Technical Director and lead programmer for their current unannounced project.

?I?m delighted that I will be able to rejoin friends and former coworkers from Blizzard North,? remarked Rick ?and I look forward to reuniting with several others from that team very soon.?

Before joining Castaway, Rick held the position of development team lead at Blizzard North, the company responsible for the creation of the highly successful Action-RPG series Diablo. Prior to this position, Rick, who joined Blizzard North in 1994 as one of the company?s first employees, served as both a senior programmer on the original Diablo and the lead programmer of Diablo II. He has also functioned as the company?s director of technology.

?We are very excited about acquiring more of the most important resources of Blizzard North: the people that comprised the team there were by far their most valuable assets,? stated Michael Scandizzo, president of Castaway Entertainment. ?With the team we have built, we will be able to maintain the quality of development Blizzard North fans have come to expect.?

Castaway Entertainment, LLC is an independent video game development studio focused on developing world class RPGs for the PC and next-generation console systems. Headquartered in Redwood Shores, CA, Castaway is a growing company founded in 2003 by a team of experienced and talented game developers from across the industry.

Currently developing our own multi-platform next-generation action RPG, we are looking for a publishing partner to bring this high quality game to the shelves.”

New Areas in Silithus Map?

A fan in the Official Forums made a new find in the Maps section of WorldofWarcraft.com Site.  The map of Kalimdor has been changed to reveal a new extended area to the west of Silithus.  Checking the Map of Patch 1.7 in the Test forums doesn’t show this new map, which seems strange.  Blizzard announced in the Battleplan part 2 that patch 1.8 will have new quest series and that Silithus would be a major quest hub.  The outdoor area of A’Quiraj will have 20-players raid content—which might explain why the Kalimdor map has been extended with new land areas off the western coast of Silithus.

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Wow: Battleplan part 2

The new Battleplan announcement by Wow Lead Producer Shane Dabiri reveals that BlizzCon indeed will share with fans a lot of content planned for Wow Expansion.  Ah’Quiraj will have an outdoor content for 20-players while the indoor will have an instance for 40-players which Dabiri claims will be a tier above Blackwing Lair.  Quests for Silithus will be added in patch 1.8 that will tie in with quests for other instances.  We are promised that AhQuiraj will be a quest hub for future content quests.

“Beyond the doors of Ahn?Qiraj, Silithus is being fleshed out as a major quest hub with episodic storylines that extend into its depths and past its borders. Players have frequently requested more small-party and solo content, and we?ve focused our efforts to meet those desires around Silithus. Everyone should definitely check out the new quest and storylines when the Silithus content is released in patch 1.8.”

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Patch 1.7 Bug Fixes & Classic MP3 Releases

Few interesting news from World of Warcraft website:  A Bug fixes list of what is been addressed in the Test Servers for patch 1.7 was released possibly in the attempt to cooldown fans who are impatient and want to know why the patch has not been released.  The answer is that the Test Server is simply for testing to find bugs, and hoping that players will cooperate informing the bugs.  The feedback helps the Dev team to fix them before the patch goes out into the Live Realms.  Second news is the release of a new Classic Warcraft Music MP3.

New York Times: Wow Owning the Market

New York Times has written an article about the boom of Massive Multiplayer Online Games with the launch of World of Warcraft, but with the concern that the game might be hurting other companies in the genre.

“World of Warcraft is completely owning the online game space right now,” said Chris Kramer, a spokesman for Sony Online Entertainment, buyer of Matrix Online and one of Blizzard’s chief rivals. “Look, Matrix Online is good, but it’s like being in the early 90’s and trying to put a fighting game up against Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter; it’s just not going to happen. There are a lot of other online games that are just sucking wind right now because so many people are playing WOW.”

EFF Criticizes BNETD Court Decision

The Electronic Frontier Foundation(EFF) strikes back at the decision of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to give a victory to Blizzard Entertainment on the legal case against BNETD:

The court ruled that Congress? explicit protections for reverse engineering and add-on innovation in the highly controversial DMCA are too narrow and weak to protect innovators from lawsuits when the software they create is used for illegal copying, even if the copying occurs without the knowledge or participation of the program?s creators. The court also ruled that clicking on a EULA?s “I Agree” button, common when installing almost any software product purchased today, can be used to force both consumers and competitors out of the marketplace for add-on innovation.

Additionally, Gamespot got a reply from Paul Sams—Blizzard VP of Business Operations after the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled their decision.  The link provides some more of his comment.  Here is an excerpt:

We have worked hard to provide gamers with a free and secure environment on Battle.net, and this ruling further validates that we are justified in protecting our service and our players. In addition, it represents another major victory against software piracy.”

Jeff Grubb: Submit your question for Q&A

All fans of Jeff Grubb, writer of D&D and Wizards of the Coast, feel free to share your questions for the Q&A to take place at RP-PvP.com Public IRC Chat.

The topic can be anything from Warcraft: The Last Guardian, Warcraft RPG Books, Magic: The Gathering – Ice Age, Star Wars, D&D: Manual of the Planes, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms or any of his previous and current projects. Post your entry here

Jeff Grub is an addict player of World of Warcraft in his spare time. We humbly hope he joins the RP-PVP Servers when they are launched in the US =]

Hellgate: London Q&A: Beta on the horizon?

Hellgate Guru ran a Q&A with Flagship Studios CEO Bill Roper, and it seems that the Hellgate: London Alpha or Beta might be somewhere around the corner.

“Hellgate Guru: For my last question: we’d all like to know how far the game is into development, and when can we expect to see a playable alpha/beta of the Hellgate: London?

Bill Roper: We’re in the phase of development where we are generally dumping in lots of content. We’ve defined the “acts” of the game, roughed out how we’re moving the story along through those levels, and have huge lists of tasks we’re ticking off one by one. As for timing on an Alpha and Beta – stay tuned!”

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