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 . . .

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