Flux (Diii.net) and I shared a room at the hotel. When I entered the room, late night on Saturday after Blizzcon 2009 ended, he showed me a large paper. He walked by a restaurant, and an employee asked him if he was at Blizzcon. When Flux said yes, he handed him the Restaurant menu.
Flux gave me the menu to scan it for our audience. He considered it quitely funny, and indeed it is. The McCormick & Schmick’s Restaurant went through all the trouble to rename most of their menu and print it to catch attention from Blizzcon 2009 visitors. The menu got tons of references from Diablo, World of Warcraft and Starcraft II.
You can find this restaurant at 321 West Katella Avenue. Suite 109. Anaheim, CA. 92802
Featured Species: This Halibut was captured with a spear off of Gulf of Westmarch by Deckard Cain on the “Stay a while and Listen”.
Kurast, Sea Scallops
Kurast, Bay Scallops
Dreadlands Rainbow Trout
Lachdanan’s Duck Confit Tacos with Serrano Cream
Pepin’s White Ale Steamed Manila Clams
14 oz. New York Strip Steak (also known as Wirt’s Leg)
Lut Gholein, Ono
Tilapia Cashew Twin Seas, Khanduras
A Recipe taken from “The Horadrim Monastery Cook Book
Farham the Drunk’s Creation
From the Kitchen of Tristram Village:
Dreadlands Trout (Almond Crusted with Chive Beurre Blanc)
Mahi-Mahi (Cajun Maple Marinated, Orange Beurre Blanc)
Dark Wanderer Sea Scallops
King Leoric Wild Swordfish
Check out other games’ references in the menu after the break.
Noob Entries and Sandwishes
Orcish Pancetta Wrapped Jumbo Prawns with Thai Barbeque Sauce
Korean Style Beef Short Ribs with Stormwind City Marinade
Nazjatar Raw Bar (Lots of Seafood options)
Dark Portal Steak and Stuffed Shrimp Combinations
Ner’zhul’s Creme Brulee
Eld Druids Lobster Ravioli
Death Knight Filet Mignon
Grizzly Hills Blueberry Shortcake
Zerus Atlantic Salmon (*Zerus is the Zerg homeworld)
The Overmind’s Atlantic Salmon Zerus—stuffed with crab, bay shrimp, Brie Cheese, Chive Lemon Butter. A Favorite amongst the Zerg Swarm.
Gerard DuGalle Barramundi (Queensland, Australia)—served every Monday aboard the DSS Aleksander
The Federal Confederacy Atlantic Salmon
Chau Sara Tilapia Parmesan
Raynor’s Ling Cod Fish and Chips (Hand battered Ling Cod with Tartar Sauce and French Fries)
Omacron from WCRadio and Scrolls of Lore interviewed Christie Golden at Blizzcon 2009. I recorded it on video. Christie reveals the upcoming yet-to-be-titled World of Warcraft trilogy is a tie-in of … Cataclysm.
We were at the WoW / Diablo III Press-only Q&A on Saturday between 5-6pm asking questions to J. Allen Brack and Jay Wilson. Room 208a was packed with press members of various fansites. However, I managed to ask Jay Wilson the following:
In Diablo II, we were able to see the fate of the three heroes of the first Diablo game: the Warrior, the Sorceror and the Rogue. All went mad and turned to evil. Will the Diablo II heroes appear in Diablo III? Will we get to see what their fate was in these past 20 years?
Pretty much the answer was that we will see at least one of the Diablo II heroes in Diablo III. He didn’t want to comment much on this at this point. As you know the Barbarian in Diablo III is the same one from Diablo II, 20 years older. And now we got confirmation of yet another hero making a cameo in Diablo III. Who do you think this hero will be?
The Necromancer, the Assassin, the Amazon, the Druid, the Paladin, or the Sorceress? Will he be a quest giver or have gone mad or succumbed to evil? I guess we just opened a pandora’s box that will make us itch in curiosity for time to come.
We are still processing some Diablo III panel videos that DIRECTV didn’t cover. I am currently uploading 5GB worth of HD Video (5 files) to the IncGamers server of which nigh 50% is done. Tamer and Rush will edit them, and once they are ready we will post them on the front page.
You will like to hear what Jay Wilson said about Trading in Diablo III. That was one of the few questions I managed to pitch his way.
I visited the Pocket Books booth on Saturday at 4pm to record on video the book signing session held by Christie Golden. Jaime Costas and her husband organized a raffle to give away 40 copies of the World of Warcraft: Arthas Collector’s Edition. The place was crowded with fans that were excited to meet her.
Below are some photos as a sneak peek until I prepare the videos. Photos explained from left to right … The first photo is Maticus (Worldofwar.net) and J. Allen Brack (WoW Producer Director); second photo is Medievaldragon and J. Allen Brack. The third photo from left to right: Jaime Costas (Pocket Books), Christie Golden, Medievaldragon, Richard A. Knaak and TOKYOPOP Editor-in-Chief Rob Tokar.
On this batch, Medievaldragon and Nethaera (WoW Community Manager). On the second one, with Karune (Starcraft II Community Manager). Third one: Greg Street (Ghostcrawler), Medievaldragon, and on the far right: Patrick Magruder (WoW Lead Gameplay Programmer). Need to double check the developer on light-gray shirt.
I’m back home. Blizzcon was a blast. I’m a bit bummed I missed some of the panels I wanted to check, but the IncGamers network needed me to record video of some panels that DirecTV were not covering such as the WoW Class Panel, the WoW / Diablo 3 Press Q&A, and Game Systems Panel.
On the Starcraft II end, Blizzard shocked fans cold revealing that Glynnis Talken is no longer the voice of Kerrigan the Queen of Blades. The honors go to Battlestar Galactica actress Tricia Helfer who has voiced for Command and Conquer 3: Kane’s Wrath, Spiderman: Web of Shadows, and Halo 3:Orbital Drop Shock Trooper.
As a Blizzard fanboy, I haven’t had many grudges over decisions the developer teams have taken over their games in the past seven years. The Sargeras / Eredar oops, the Draenei spacegoats crashing on Azeroth—I forgive all that, and digest it as new lore even if they are retcons. The nerf galore on classes, ok—not world shattering. We move on, and adapt. The Diablo 3 art direction? Who cares the game is AWESOME.
But … not hiring Glynnis Talken to voice Kerrigan the Queen of Blades? I’m not happy folks.
I don’t have a in-depth knowledge of this since I missed the panel, but Maticus from Worldofwar.net told me Ghostcrawler revealed Attack power, defense, MP5, and penetration … all of that will be gone from player’s gear stats in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. Even Hunter’s Intellect will be gone, replaced by a new feature named Focus.
There is probably more changes. I really have no idea what Blizzard has planned to replace all of those stats with.
Finally had a break to play World of Warcraft: Cataclysm at the press room for about an hour. And got to write down some stuff that might be of interest to you guys: The racial skills of both the Worgen and the Goblin playable races.
Two Forms (Racial) Instant. Turn into your currently inactive form. 1.5 sec cooldown.
Viciousness (Racial passive) Increases all damage done by 1%.
Aberration (Racial passive) Reduces the duration of all Curses and Diseases used against you by 15%.
Flayer (Racial passive) Skinning skill increased by 15 and allows you to skin faster.
Darkfight (racial) instant. 3 min cooldown. Activates your true form, increasing movement speed by 70% for 10 sec.
The Worgen has the option to be either one of these classes—believe it or not: Warrior, rogue, priest, hunter, death knight, mage, warlock, and druid.\
Pack Hobgoblin (Racial) Instant. 30 min cooldown. Calls in your personal servant, allowing you bank access for 1 min.
Best deals anywhere (Racial): Always receive the best possible gold discount, regardless of faction.
Better living through chemistry (Racial) Alchemy skill increased by 15.
Rocket Barrage (Racial) 30 yrd range. Instant. 2 min cooldown. Launches your belt rockets at an enemy dealing 38 fire damage.
Rocket Jump (Racial) Instant. 2 min cooldown. Activates your rocket belt to jump forward.
Time is money (Racial) Cash in on a 1% increase to attack and casting speed.
What do you guys think about each race and their racial skills?
StarCraft II continues the epic saga of the Protoss, Terran, and Zerg. These three distinct and powerful races will clash once again in the fast-paced real-time strategy sequel to the legendary original, StarCraft. Legions of veteran, upgraded, and brand-new unit types will do battle across the galaxy, as each faction struggles for survival.
Featuring a unique single-player campaign that picks up where StarCraft: Brood War left off, StarCraft II will present a cast of new heroes and familiar faces in an edgy sci-fi story filled with adventure and intrigue. In addition, Blizzard will again offer unparalleled online play through Battle.net, the company
StarCraft II is the ultimate competitive real-time strategy game, and the sequel to the hit original, StarCraft. The game will include three completely distinct and balanced races, the protoss, terran, and zerg, which have been overhauled and re-imagined with a number of new units for each, as well as new tricks for some of the classic units that are returning.
When is the game coming out?
Our release target for StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is the first half of 2010. As with all Blizzard Entertainment games, we will take as much time as needed to ensure the game is as fun, balanced, and polished as possible.
When will you begin the beta test for StarCraft II?
Diablo III is being developed as the definitive action role-playing game, and a true continuation of the Diablo series. Players will create a hero from one of five distinct classes, such as barbarian, witch doctor, wizard, or monk, each equipped with an array of spells and abilities. As these heroes adventure through rich and varied settings, unraveling an epic storyline and engaging in combat with hordes of monsters and challenging bosses, they
An ancient evil lies dormant within Deepholm, the domain of earth in the Elemental Plane. Hidden away in a secluded sanctuary, the corrupted Dragon Aspect Deathwing has waited, recovering from the wounds of his last battle against Azeroth and biding his time until he can reforge the world in molten fire.
Soon, Deathwing the Destroyer will return to Azeroth, and his eruption from Deepholm will sunder the world, leaving a festering wound across the continents. As the Horde and Alliance race to the epicenter of the cataclysm, the kingdoms of Azeroth will witness seismic shifts in power, the kindling of a war of the elements, and the emergence of unlikely heroes who will rise up to protect their scarred and broken world from utter devastation.
Blizzard Entertainment’s third expansion to World of Warcraft forever alters the face of Azeroth, as the destruction left in Deathwing’s wake reshapes the land and reveals secrets long sealed away. Players will be able to re-experience familiar zones across Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms, areas rewrought by the cataclysm and filled with new opportunities for adventure.
In an effort to survive the world-shattering cataclysm, two new playable races—worgen and goblins—will join the struggle between Alliance and Horde. As players journey to the new level cap of 85, they’ll explore newly revealed zones, acquire new levels of power, and come face to face with Deathwing in a battle to determine the fate of the world.
Two New Playable Races: Adventure as one of two new races—the cursed worgen with the Alliance or the resourceful goblins with the Horde.
Level Cap Increased to 85: Earn new abilities, tap into new talents, and progress through the path system, a new way for players to customize characters
Classic Zones Remade: Familiar zones across the original continents of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms have been altered forever and updated with new content, from the devastated Badlands to the broken Barrens, which has been sundered in two.
New High-Level Zones: Explore newly opened parts of the world, including Uldum, Grim Batol, and the great Sunken City of Vashj’ir beneath the sea.
More Raid Content than Ever Before: Enjoy more high-level raid content than previous expansions, with optional more challenging versions of all encounters
New Race and Class Combinations: Explore Azeroth as a gnome priest, blood elf warrior, or one of the other never-before-available race and class combinations.
Guild Advancement: Progress as a guild to earn guild levels and guild achievements.
New PvP Zone & Rated Battlegrounds: Take on PvP objectives and daily quests on Tol Barad Island, a new Wintergrasp-like zone, and wage war in all-new rated Battlegrounds.
Archaeology: Master a new secondary profession to unearth valuable artifacts and earn unique rewards.
Flying Mounts in Azeroth: Explore Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms like never before.
World of Warcraft: Cataclyms has shocked fans all across the globe. No one saw coming how Blizzard would deal with a complete overhaul of Azeroth as we know it. Some areas are volcanic lava lands, while other known deserts such as The Barrens and Desolace are now partial forests. Some places are split in half, others sundered underwater.
We got here some screenshots for you straight from our Press Kit CD courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.
You can watch here the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm video shown at Blizzcon 2009. This is cataclysm and shocking to say the least. The world of Azeroth has changed in ways we did never imagine Blizzard would ever dare going. You can really say you didn’t see this coming.
The Diablo III Monk Class gameplay video is just amazing. This monk comes from a highly structured theocratic society well-known by Sanctuary citizens. They fight using a mix of combo skills based on martial-melee and holy magic decimating their opponents. When a large group of mobs surrround him, all you can see is a splash of red blood across the screen. Yea, what you might say by now is: AWESOME!
IT’S OFFICIAL FOLKS!!! World of Warcraft: Cataclysm was unveiled by no other than our beloved Chris Metzen (VP of Creative Design). Deathwing is back, and the face of Azeroth has changed. Old villages are now destroyed, lava runs amok everywhere in Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms. The Goblins (Horde)and Worgen (Alliance) are officially new playable races. Gilneas Greymane Wall collapsed during the cataclysm. The residents are now cursed with the worgen state.
We can now fly in Azeroth.
I will now start uploading our press kits full of screenshots and details. Check back shortly. Grim Batol is in development based on the story from WoW: Night of the Dragon.
Mount Hyjal present is a new dungeon or zone. Hyjal is under siege by Ragnaros sending his elemental army to burn the World Tree. Malfurion Stormrage is back from the Emerald Dream.
The Barrens Split is broken in half by the middle. Naralex is trying to regrow life into the Barrens in early quests in Wailing Caverns, well he was successful, you can see Barrens with life, and forests. While other areas are lava-like.
Uldum is a new dungeon. There will be a cat-like race inside.
New Blackrock Spire dungeon.
Twilight Highlands is the Twilight’s Hammer base of operations. The Twilight Dragonflight has risen.
Tol Barad is introduced as a prison isle.
Three new PvP battlegrounds. One is Tol Barad and another in Gilneas. New Arena Maps.
Desolace looks full of vegetation in some areas. The druids seem to be doing their work around some areas after our experience in low level quests.
All IncGamers fansites are logged into the live blog from Blizzcon’s Press Room. Join the chatting, and as new stuff happens Flux (diii.net), Maticus (Worldofwar.net), Elly, Rush, Leord (StarcraftWire.net) and me will be on top of things.
Thursday was a fun day for all fansites who attended the Fansites Summit at the Blizzard Entertainment campus.
All fansites waited together at the Marriott Hotel’s lobby awaiting the arrival of the bus. Bashiok took the lead and gave everyone their NDA sheets, and some free Breakfast tickets for the local Cafe del Sol restaurant.
From there we traveled to the campus where the awesome Wolf Rider statue welcomed us. We immediately moved to the Theather room where no recordings or photos were allowed as said by our NDA—so if you get to see any photos of that, someone is in trouble.
Bashiok started by loading Diablo III onscreen and playing a male Wizard in what looked like Act II in a desert. By the NPC dialogue, it was near Caldeum.
Caldum Guard: It’s not safe here. We need to move.
Asheara: Alcarnus is lost. There’s no hope.
Caldeum Guard: No sign of them, Captain.
Asheara: The desert is overrun.
Didn’t get to catch much of the dialogues, but that pretty much let’s you know the situation.
Objective: Follow the road to Alcarnus.
We got to see many monsters in the area such as the Sand Wasp in various sizes. There is voice over every few seconds throughout your journey, making it a pleasant and more vivid experience as you travel through the canyon.
You find optional quests too. One of them asks you to find the outlaw camp. However, some of this characters you find may be a trap. Bashiok got to talk to a weeping girl and suddenly the screen fill up with monsters from all directions.
The inventory was redesigned from what we have seen before. Now it holds items that take only one slot, but some items take up to two slots like in Diablo II to show off nice art where it’s worth.
Bashiok reached a place named the Howling Plateau. Here we saw a monster named Lacuni Warriors, Lacuni Huntress, Fallen Overseer, and other varieties, and more Sand Wasps. At some point, Bashiok loaded a female Witch Doctor. We saw a unique that almost kills Bashiok’s: Blade Jade.
We saw the three Skill trees: Zombie, Spirit and Voodoo.
One of the few we got to see said Spirit Vessel: Gain 20 mana whenever you pick up a health globe (rank 2/5). Next level gain 30 mana.
Some items will be unidentified, but if you have scrolls of identify, you only need to click the item (I’m guessing with the left-button but may be wrong) and it auto-identify.
We saw the ability that fears mobs. A huge witch doctor ghostly figure appear above the female witch doctor and moves his hands around with a threatening pose animation. Looks pretty nice. Mobs run in fear in all directions. Another ability causes a corpse to come out of the ground to spew corpse spiders to attack your enemies.
We got to see Fallen Hound in the area named Canyon RIm Mines. Here we got to see for the first time a waypoint. It looks like a stony floor with a swirl. When you step in you are teleported to some areas. In this case a ruins.
Bashiok showed us the skill trees again and explained that their new system allows to diversify your class in comparison with other players. The philosophy is that you can place skill points in any of the three trees simultaneously and for as long as there is 2 points in Zombie tree, one point in Spirit tree and two points in Vodoo tree (for example) completing a total of 5 points in Tier 1, you automatically unlock Tier 2, and you can continue spreading your points. Once you reach the limit across all trees, you unlock Tier 3, and so on. That’s pretty cool because it doesn’t hamstring your capability to spend and mismatch points where you wish, nor need to spent a bunch of points in a single ability to unlock the next tier.
You can now drag any of the spell icons from any of the skill trees into the spellbar UI. Respecs will be available in Diablo III as mentioned a few weeks ago.
We got to see a special monster named Champion Lacuni Huntress with a blue tag. Below its name it said (Frozen).
We saw the return of shrines. He found a desecrated shrine, and somehow restored it granting him a special buff. Bashiok says if you get one of these buffs you should use them immediately upon any monsters around you. It lasts a minute or less. Some of these buffs may be skill amount bonus, damage bonus, and such.
We saw a new monster that can be a pain in the neck for how annoying it is. Bashiok assures it is easy to learn the mechanics after a while. The Dune Dervish is a very tall and thin monster. Once you aggro, he starts spinning and that’s bad for you.
While this happens, many other monsters attack you, including a Fallen Shaman who ranges you while you are dodging all the monsters and trying to get the heck out of the Dune Dervish’s way. The annoying part of this monster is that if you don’t kill him within the first three seconds, any spells you throw at him are reflected back at you, and that’s a no-good thing to happen with all the damage you are getting. Basically, you get owned. May be a good idea to have healing pots just in case. They are nasty.
We got to see some new witch doctor spells from the skill trees such as Fetish Army which allows you to summon 15 freaking Fetish guys—you know those little annoying tribemen from the jungle act in Diablo II. Parasite converts any mob into a zombie to fight for you. Gargantuan is a buffed up zombie dog, Grasp of Dead, Sacrifice, Mass Confusion, Spirit Barrage, and Horrify among others.
After the Diablo III demonstration, we separated into groups for Franchise specific tours. We walked throughout the World of Warcraft team offices.
Then we had lunch at the cafeteria with developers from each game who were open to questions.
From the Diablo III team Nate Bowden (Environment Artist), Dave Adams (Lead Level Designer), and Chris Haga (FX Artist).
From the WoW Team was Greg Street (Ghostcrawler) and Patrick Magruder (Lead Gameplay Programmer)
5:41pm PDT: Seems I misunderstood Eldorian. Told him I would rather spend the next couple of hours updating you guys. I will start uploading stuff shortly, and writing up a summary of what went down over at the Blizzard campus.
5:30pm PDT: It’s been a fun day with all the fansites invited by Blizzard Entertainment. All those with press badges had the chance to visit the campus in Irvine. We witnessed a powerpoint presentation led by Bashiok and Karune.
Bashiok played Diablo 3 in a huge theather screen showing off the male wizard and the female witch doctor. I will have some short updates about it once I come from some commitments. Eldorian is waiting me right now at his room to hang out. There is a party organized by WoW.com where everyone seems to be heading to at the Annabelle Hotel.
I do have photos from the outdoors of Blizzard, and the cafeteria. We couldn’t take photos or record anything at the presentation sadly. However, it was very cool to see some Diablo 3 gameplay and some of the plans Blizzard has in store for fansites.
All fansites will have a official logo to place on the corner of the website … for example: Official Starcraft Fan Site. Same for WoW, Warcraft, Diablo 3 and the big interrogative which was not answered … Official Battle.net Fan Site. huh? Hmm …
So from what little bits we could get from the Blizzard folks something big about Battle.net will be announced between 3:30-4:30pm on Friday. The lack of WoW content in the presentation, and some master dodging of questions by Nethaera points by guess to a new expansion. Gosh, is it hard to get anything from Nethaera … lol. Such a tease.
Some bit that is unconfirmed by funnily answered when I asked if there would be a new Diablo 3 class reveal—there was a lot of dodging that question, but in murmur I heard a—- maaaaybe. So let’s see what tomorrow brings from Mike Morhaime at the presentation, and subsequent panels.
Blizzard removed the Blizzcon 2009 event schedule posted earlier this morning, and has replaced it with a more comprehensive updated schedule—this one looks like the final one that is usually printed and given to fans within the Goodie Bag. This is what Nethaera said:
The actual schedule is yet to be posted up. Please do not panic. Your sunglasses are designed to protect you from seeing that which may cause said panic. Make sure to pack your towel and your babel fish.
Another water-based joke? Hmm. I won’t say anything since people lately say I look too much into things, or “stretch”. Thanks, Handclaw.
IRVINE, Calif., Aug 18, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE)—Blizzard Entertainment’s two-day gaming festival, BlizzCon(R) 2009, begins on Friday, August 21, at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. The convention celebrates Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft(R), StarCraft(R), and Diablo(R) game universes and the communities of players surrounding them. Attendees of the sold-out show will be able to play the latest versions of Blizzard Entertainment(R) games as well as speak with developers in discussion panels, participate in tournaments and contests, and meet with fellow gamers and friends.
The show will close on Saturday evening with an epic concert featuring the Prince of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne. In addition, Blizzard Entertainment’s own Warcraft-themed metal band Level 80 Elite Tauren Chieftain will be performing, and Jay Mohr has returned to act as the master of ceremonies for the community contests taking place on Friday.
Those unable to attend are still able to purchase a “virtual ticket” to the show, featuring more than 18 hours of live coverage as well as the exclusive BlizzCon 2009 World of Warcraft in-game pet. This package is available both via Internet stream in over 100 countries and in HD through DIRECTV(R) satellite television service. Visit the official BlizzCon website, https://www.blizzcon.com, for more information on the virtual ticket, or to read daily coverage of the show’s highlights.
“With each BlizzCon, we strive to offer a truly unforgettable weekend of entertainment for every attendee, as well as those joining us from home,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We look forward to meeting players and sharing the latest news about Blizzard games with them, and we appreciate the contributions of our partners in helping us make this year’s show our biggest and best yet.”
BlizzCon would not be possible without the enthusiasm of Blizzard Entertainment gamers around the world and the generous support of the event’s sponsors, who provide demo station hardware and peripherals, contest prizes, and more. This year’s platinum-level sponsors are ASUS, DIRECTV, Intel, Mountain Dew, NVIDIA, and Razer; the gold-level sponsors are Cisco, Dell, Kingston, SteelSeries, and Vasco.
Anyone attending BlizzCon who is interested in pursuing career opportunities at Blizzard Entertainment should bring their resumes, demo reels, art portfolios, or business cards, as the global staffing team will be on hand to accept materials and discuss any job-related questions.
Blizzard Entertainment has released the Blizzcon 2009 schedule for Friday and Saturday plus a WoW-style Floor Map of the Anaheim Convention Center where you can spot which Stages are for Diablo 3, Starcraft II and World of Warcraft.
On this page you’ll find the locations and times for the major events that will take place during the convention, such as hands-on gaming, tournaments, contests, and of course the developer panels where Blizzard’s game designers talk about the many aspects of making a great game.
Do you have a Blizzcon ticket and decided not to go to the Laguna Art Museum VIP Benefit Dinner? They now have a new discount offer for those who already have a BlizzCon ticket. Not only can you talk to developers during this dinner, you get an exclusive signed Blizzard Art to take home. If you do want a Blizzcon ticket visit the previous offer here.
Already have your BlizzCon 2009 ticket?
Now you can join us the eve of BlizzCon for the Blizzard/Laguna Art Museum VIP Benefit Dinner and have the chance to meet and mingle with Blizzard executives!
Laguna Art Museum VIP Benefit Dinner
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Hi, I am Medievaldragon. I had the opportunity to visit the Blizzard Entertainment Headquarters to play the Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty single player campaign. I barely played through six missions, but I can tell you it was an AWESOME experience from a lore nerd point of view.
After hours playing the game, I asked Chris Metzen, Blizzard’s senior vice-president of Creative Design many questions about the single player and its relevance with the printed media such as the novels, manga and comic book. Here is our interview coverage with Chris Metzen.
I was playing the single player, and I saw something very interesting. The mission is titled Tooth and Nail. It is set in the protoss shrine-world Monlyth. I noticed these protoss are the Tal’drim tribe, which is interesting because this is the name of the tribe in Starcraft: The Dark Templar trilogy by Christie Golden—shown in book two: Shadow Hunters.
The Tal’drim in this book are however known as The Forged. They were among the protoss who were abandoned and left behind during the Invasion of Aiur. Most of the protoss evacuated through the warpgate to reach Shakuras, and to avoid zerg from reaching Shakuras, they sealed the gateway leaving behind many protoss to their own fate.
Jim Raynor and Fenix stayed behind to make sure the Zerg wouldn’t reach the gateway. These protoss survivors were deeply affected emotionally reliving their abandonment by the Xel’Naga, left behind to despair. Their faith in the Khala was affected, and they eventually rejected the sanctity of the Khala.
The Tal’drim survived thanks to a mysterious patron who protected them from the Zerg, deep in the forbidden caverns of Aiur. This patron granted the Tal’drim known as The Forged a special drug named Sundrop which inhibits chemically the Khala without cutting off their head appendages. In short, the Tal’drim are effectively blocked from their psychic commonality with the other protoss survivors in Aiur known as Those who endure, and are unable to read their thoughts. It’s as if the Tal’drim had devolved to be like those protoss from before the Aeon of Strife, before the Khala was taught by Khas.
My question to you is, Are these other Tal’drim protoss in Monlyth also under the influence of Dark Archon Ulrezaj?
Metzen: How do I answer that. Are the Tal’darim influenced by Ulrezaj?. That’s still playing out. To some degree it’s the same group, but the group might be larger than what you saw in SHADOW HUNTERS specifically.
In the first two missions set in Mar Sara, players have access to the Joey Ray’s Bar and can interact with Jim Raynor who is drinking. There is a piece of newspaper attached to the bulletin board on the wall and you can interact with it. It says the Zerg has returned to invade the fringe-worlds and Emperor Arcturus has recalled the Terran Dominion forces to return to the core-worlds, leaving the fringe-worlds to fend on their own.
Jim Raynor heard the call for help, and rescued 800 civilians, including an orphan girl, from a place known as Meteor Station – a Kelmorian Mining Post. The lore fan-spider-sense in me tingled wildly. This is quite interesting, because the only place the fans have ever heard of this place: Meteor Station, was in the short story by Grace Randolph titled Last Call. This short story is from the Starcraft: Frontline Volume 3 by Tokyopop. Are we going to meet some of these characters, locations and plots from the mangas in the Single Player?
Metzen I think in general with the novels we’ve been doing recently with Christie Golden and definitely a lot of the manga short stories we’re definitely trying to season the game and the ancillary fiction with as much ideas, either in cross-pollinated ideas as possible. We always like taking little hooks from one thing or another and translating into those different medium stories. It just feels a little more contiguous ultimately. It’s kind of interesting that these names and these ideas are being leveraged across the board.
So I think with the Tal’drim specifically there is definitely a tie there to the events happening in the Dark Templar trilogy but it’ll probably play itself out on a much longer basis.
I am definitely loving all these lore references found throughout my single player hands-on experience, While in the Hyperion, I visited the Cantina Room and met Mr. Graven Hill, the local black market pirate. Jim Raynor can hire different Kel-Morian mercenaries from him to help you in some of the tough missions for a price. This really excites me for a very good reason. I am a subscriber of the Starcraft comic book by Wildstorm comics.
As it stands, in the comic book, the War Pigs are working for the Terran Dominion, and they have been ordered to hunt down and kill Jim Raynor. However, I am guessing that at some point if the Terran Dominion abandons the War Pigs to the Zerg like they did with General Duke, and Sarah Kerrigan, and like they are doing in the present with the fringe-worlds, the War Pigs might take a turn and join the rebels as mercenaries. Are we going to eventually hire the War Pigs in Starcraft II at the Cantina?
Metzen: Interesting, will we meet the War Pigs in StarCraft 2? I think, as it stands, they don’t make an appearance in Wings of Liberty specifically. But we’ll keep it in mind, because we’ve been enjoying where the comic series has been going and there’s potentially a lot of rich characterization there so we’ll see down the road.
During my tour through Blizzard’s Starcraft II offices I saw on the wall a poster of various character animation portraits that will be used in the game’s interface. I saw Starcraft: Ghost’s Nova’s portrait. I also saw Gabriel Tosh in the mission titled Mining Your Own Business set in the planet Redstone III. I am psyched to see this character too because he is going to appear in the Pocket Books novel titled STARCRAFT: GHOST SPECTRES by Keith DeCandido on sale March 30, 2010 and he also appears in the Tokyopop manga titled STARCRAFT: GHOST ACADEMY on sale January 1, 2010.
I also saw Reporter Kate Lockwell in the single player, a character that also appears in the STARCRAFT: FRONTLINE manga. Are we going to see Nova and Colin Phash (the telepath boy)? This boy was introduced in the short story War-Torn in the Starcraft: Frontline Volume 2 and 3, and has been confirmed to appear in Starcraft: Ghost Academy too. Since we are seeing Gabriel Tosh from that manga in the game, are we going to see Colin Phash in the single player?
Metzen: I’m not as sure about Phash making an appearance in the game specifically but I think we’ve said before Nova’s certainly a character that is near and dear to us and we’ve got plans for her [in] the Ghost Academy manga and the upcoming novels Spectres as well. So, yea, we’ve worked a little cameo of Nova in but I’d had to give away exactly how she plays into the story. It’s pretty cool [and] it’ll feel worthy for those fans of the character that never actually got to play her in her own title.
During my single player hands on experience I read in a piece of newspaper the name Michael Liberty. That really intrigued me. This is the same reporter who debuted in the Pocket Books novel Starcraft: Liberty by Jeff Grubb. He has made a few cameos in Starcraft: Queen of Blades by Aaron Rosenberg and in the Tokyopop manga short story titled Newsworthy by Grace Randolph in the Starcraft: Frontline Volume 2. Are we going to see Michael Liberty reporting news from the rebels’ side through clandestine broadcasts on the TV screen at the Cantina Room?
Metzen: I think Liberty actually does not show up in this campaign. We had talked about it a lot earlier on but because he’s so extreme in his views where he’s so anti-government that we needed leverage, we kind of needed to create a new reporter that was a little more even in the kind of stories that she could report. But I still hold out hope that we’re going to get Liberty in because he’s potentially a really cool character to use.
There is an interesting concept played out through the short story Do No Harm by Josh Elder. A Terran Dominion scientist has been capturing Protoss and experimenting with their DNA to create a Human-Protoss hybrid prototype. There have been other previous prototypes, but this one in particular is pretty strong and uses Ghost technology to stealth. The Terran Dominion plans to create an army of these hybrids to protect the core-worlds. Are we going to see a follow-up of this play out into the Single Player? This guy is pretty much the Rexxar of Starcraft.
Metzen: I think that one, for now, is kind more of a one-off. I don’t think there’s any plans to follow up on that theme anytime soon in terms of the game itself, in terms of the game story. But I dig that story a lot that I think it’s more of just a really cool story by itself.
I remember you said in Blizzcon 2007, there were plans to add a planet encyclopedia into the Star Map where players could have the opportunity to learn some lore about each planet. Is that still the plan? I didn’t get to see much of that in the single player build I just played.
Based on the build that you guys have been playing today we’ve pulled back a degree of that. Most of that was a design decision, a UI decision, [where] we wanted the interface to be as clean as possible. The current iteration is very much the one we’re running with barring some minor changes that could happen, but I think we’ve pulled a little bit more away from the grinding Encyclopedia Galactica idea that you were talking about. It just didn’t take the shape that we were anticipating.
In this instance I think “less is more”. We’ve still got a lot of lore based on a lot of the planets and their histories and their unique environments and things like that so a lot of that does inform the story and then per some of the blue screens or whatever there’s some data there that gives you a sense of the context of each planet but it probably won’t take as grand a shape as some of the things we were chasing earlier on.
In Starcraft: The Dark Templar trilogy, book three: Twilight we learn that Zeratul has been moving from place to place these past four years using the Xel’Naga gateways that are revealed to be spread all across the galaxy. Jake Ramsey and Zamara were stranded in a snowy planet for example, before entering the coordinates to reach a tropical planet where they find Zeratul’s ship. Is it me, or are there breadcrumbs in the novel hinting that we will explore other star systems in the single player by using these Xel’Naga gateways?
Metzen: I think at some point it’s reasonable that we’ll use those Xel’Naga gates and explore the unexplored. It’s hard to answer in terms of giving anything away for StarCraft II but we wouldn’t have built them [laughter] if we weren’t going to use them.
That’s interesting. You know, I don’t know off the top of my head. I don’t think I’m the guy to answer that one. [coughs, I’m not authorized to …]
[we all laugh—this is a joke between Metzen and I referenced back to our previous video interview during the New York Comic Con 2009 (February) when I asked him about Gilneas. They have big plans for Gilneas, but he couldn’t say anymore because there were snipers on the roof that you know … would shoot him. As he said this, he was looking at the roof—the snipers referring to Blizzard Public Relations Department.]
What has been your personal experience trying to cram up all this lore from the novels, the manga and the comic book into the single player as one solid integrated continuity of the Starcraft universe? We know that you had to split the Starcraft II single player game into three separate episodes: Wings of Liberty, Heart of the Swarm, and Legacy of the Void to fit all the lore.
Metzen: Right. How do I respond. I think we haven’t gone out of our way to cram all the lore from comics and all that stuff into the game. Really we’ve been building the game’s story for so long that things like the Dark Templar trilogy or all the things you see in the manga really have just kind of organically spun out of what we were building anyway.
The trick to StarCraft II now being in these three installments is that there was a lot to play with in the first place. We had 10 years worth of expectations and stories we wanted to chase and arcs of these characters that we wanted to explore. So we came packing with a lot of ideas, and the idea of separating each of these chapters into their own boxed product essentially allows us to really round out each race’s stories without having to throw a bunch of stuff out.
We actually get to say everything [that] we set out to say in terms of story and we’re very proud of how Wings of Liberty has come off and I love the ending. I can’t talk about it, obviously, but I really love Raynor’s arc and I feel everything [that] we wanted to engineer into his great journey – in his way, his redemption for what he feels are past mistakes – I really feel that we got all that in there.
While it might start on a bit of a lower note, this is not necessarily a super human guy at the height of his game at the start of the game, he definitely finds his feet very quickly and becomes the man we need and expect him to be over the process of Wings of Liberty. It’s just been very cool to see all that come together and have all the other Ancillary lore really inform the story as its taking shape as well.
Special thanks to Chris Metzen, Shon Damron, CW, Karune and Bob Colayco for inviting me to this single player press event. And to Troglodyte from StarcraftWire.net for compiling the transcript.
Blizzard has announced three of the items available in the Blizzcon 2009 Goodie Bag: The Jim Raynor Noobz Vinyl Toy, the Blizzcon 2009 card (which includes a beta key code and Grunty Murloc in-game pet code); and a new Starcraft II-themed Blizzard Authenticator.
Blizzard revealed three new Noobz Vynil Toys that may be purchased at the Anaheim Convention Center by the Blizzard Store.
StarCraft II’s Jim Raynor, terran hero, outlaw, and leader of Raynor’s Raiders, will be making a rare exclusive appearance at this year’s BlizzCon. Standing 625 inches tall, dressed in his signature StarCraft II battle suit, and sporting an oversized Gauss rifle, Raynor is the debut piece in a new line of Blizzard Entertainment-inspired designer vinyl toys known as n00bz. The Raynor figure can be found exclusively inside this year
Karune has just dropped the ball on fans revealing several Starcraft II units have gotten a new art barely eight days away from Blizzcon 2009. The zealot has an amazing new look according to Karune. We may have many surprises to report to you once Blizzard gives us their Blizzcon 2009 Press Kit. Keep an eye on StarcraftWire.net for updates straight from the show floor.
On another note, Karune responded in our thread about the New Voice of Kerrigan. It seems Karune hinted that Karen Strassman is not the final voice of Kerrigan, but one of the actresses that have been auditioned. At least not final yet. Could this mean another actress could take the mantle? Or could this mean we may still have hope that Glynnis would be chosen for the role?
Additionally, map makers might drool after learning the Starcraft II team is considering third person shooter capability (trigger / camera options) and other classified stuff into the Galaxy Map Editor. Now that’s some very cool news there. UMS gaming will be an exciting and amazing experience.
On a side note, going along with the Galaxy Map Editor can do anything trend, I hear it may even be able to create a third person shooter style custom game Anyone miss those StarCraft paintball games? Our devs internally have already tried out some pretty clever side projects that have been quite successful.
This is your last call to get tickets for the Laguna Art Museum VIP Benefit Dinner. Follow the links below to get further details on what this event is and how you can acquire tickets. The goodies for the price of this ticket may be worthwhile to many fans who coundn’t buy a Blizzcon ticket.
There are still a few tickets available for this great event, but quantities are limited. To purchase your ticket, please go to the Laguna Art Museum