The StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm single-player campaign has shattered all my wild expectations. Even all my predictions based on the “Vengeance” Trailer were utterly wrong.
Wings of Liberty had a great story, but Heart of the Swarm is simply awesome. That on itself is a feat, considering it is the Zerg episode in the StarCraft II trilogy, and zerg do not talk, right?
Kerrigan the Queen of Blades has several supporting characters that assist her throughout her campaign to dispense vengeance upon Emperor Arcturus Mengsk. These zerg are Zagara the broodmother, Dehaka, Izsha, Abathur (Evolution Pit), and another servant I wouldn’t want to spoil.
In Wings of Liberty, Jim Raynor had the Cantina, the Bridge, Engineering and the Lab to move around aboard the Hyperion in terms of UI Navigation for the player. I remember the developers arguing about how to approach this, and it hadn’t been set in stone yet back then. Zerg do not socialize nor drink alcohol, the Engineering and Lab’s purpose is basically one and the same for the Zerg.
The StarCraft II Team narrowed it down to the most important aspects of the Zerg: what qualifies as a Bridge, the Evolution Pit, and Kerrigan’s Talent tree.
The bridge is the mouth of a zerg Leviathan — a massive space-traveling whale (reminds me of the Brood’s Acanti — X-Men). As players progress through the story, more support characters appear at the bridge and players can interact with them. It’s very entertaining to click these characters to access an in-game cutscene between Kerrigan and the support character. Lot of lore to learn from them in each mission.
The Evolution Pit
After each mission, players usually see a new cutscene at the Evolution Pit between Kerrigan and Abathur. He was created by the Overmind from the genetic pool of different species to oversee the evolution of the zerg into perfect weapons of strength and essence.
Players should go here to upgrade units like the Zergling, Hydralisk, Roach, Baneling, Ultralisk, Mutalisk and the Swarm Host — as each unit becomes available.
Upgrade points can be acquired by completing the bonus objectives of each mission. These unlock new evolution missions which allow you to test two different strands of each unit in combat. At the end of these evolution missions, the player is given the option to choose which of the two strands to keep for future missions. Choose wisely. The choice is permanent.
Kerrigan’s Talent Tree
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm borrows — to some degree — from the Warcraft III Hero system and the World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria talent tree system. I gotta admit it makes sense. Kerrigan is the Heart of the Swarm. She takes center stage in this zerg-centered episode in the trilogy.
Kerrigan is playable in most of the Heart of the Swarm single-player missions. In addition, there are certain missions where support characters become playable heroes when Kerrigan isn’t available. Each support character hero with its own unique abilities.
Players get access to the Kerrigan Talent Tree tab through the zerg Leviathan bridge UI — which is located at the bottom of the screen. Initially, players may choose one out of two talent options, but eventually a new column is added — giving players the ability to choose one out of three options per row.
In each mission, Kerrigan earns experience points, but completing bonus objectives adds a large chunk of experience. Not easy to complete these bonus objectives, but for those who are daring and have lots of time to invest, go for it. Kerrigan can grow up to level 70.
Some of the talents add a new attack icon to the Kerrigan unit, while other talent options function as a passive adding special traits to Kerrigan (like spawning two Banelings when Kerrigan is hit) or special traits to zerg units or even to zerg structures.
Personally, I like Kinetic Blast, which one-shots any enemy unit except for Battlecruisers (but those get around 70% damage though). Mend heals Kerrigan for 150 life and friendly biological units nearby get healed for 50 life, plus another 25 life regenerated over 15 sec. My favorite though is accessible near the final missions and helps so much … Apocalypse. With this AOE ability Kerrigan can wipe anything within a large radius including buildings.
That’s like having your own silo and nuke in the palm of your hands. The catch is it has a 3 sec casting time, and Kerrigan is under heavy attack during this cast time in some situations. Apocalypse Deals 300 damage to enemy units and 700 damage to enemy structures in a large area. It has a 300 sec cooldown and costs 100 energy. I wouldn’t be too worried about spending energy. In Heart of the Swarm, Kerrigan has only 100 energy, but the energy regeneration is very fast allowing you to cast different abilities within 2-5 seconds. There are certain situations where you can simply send Kerrigan to wipe a group or raid a base all by her own with some patience (cooldowns), and micro skills.
The Kerrigan Talent Tree feature is more simple and straightforward than the Mists of Pandaria talent tree. You can view the stats of each talent and when you are ready to choose one, simply click that talent and hit the [back] button. No need to click buttons to confirm you want that talent and there is no such thing as respec limitations. Simply choose another option.
All your talent choices will be active once you start your next mission. Whoever designed this Talent Tree, did an amazing job. I might actually try other talents when I run the entire single-player campaign to hunt for achievements.
In Wings of Liberty, the Archives is accessed by clicking the computer console in the back of the bridge room. The Archive UI is kinda too crammed in and compact for my taste. It looks great, make no mistake, but in terms of flexibility and comodity the missions list is too small and narrow forcing you to scroll down a lot to find your desired mission or cinematic.
In Heart of the Swarm, the Archive can be found at the bottom of the Leviathan bridge alongside other navigation UI options. Now when you click the Archive and the page opens up — wow! Blizzard uses a large chunk of the page height to display all the missions and cinematics. Much better: the right pane is wider and gives you an image preview of what the mission or cinematic contains. It helps you understand and/or remember what that mission was about. I can’t say the same for the Wings of Liberty’s Archive where I sometimes wondered where to find a specific mission or cinematic because the title didn’t help much.
Just a sign that the StarCraft II Team nailed every possible setback in the prior system, and polished the Heart of the Swarm UI thoroughly thinking about the player.
Creative Team – Heart of the Swarm Storyline
I am speechless. Brian Kindregan, Chris Metzen and anyone else involved in the storyline — you guys blew away all my expectations, conspiracy theories and predictions. To set the record straight, my “Vengeance” trailer predictions were completely smashed into oblivion. Utterly wrong in all predictions.
Heart of the Swarm starts where the comics left off. Kerrigan is undergoing her last tests. Jim Raynor enters the lab and asks Kerrigan to forget her path of vengeance, and to not give up on their relationship. Shortly after, Terran Dominion battlecruisers show up on the sky and deploy pods which penetrate the hull to infiltrate the lab. What happens next is for you to find out.
I don’t think I wish to spoil the storyline here. At least not yet. Kerrigan has a powerful reason to seek out the rampant zerg broods and to get them back under her control. One of her two motivations is to fulfill her vengeance against Emperor Arcturus Mengsk.
I was pleased to see Zeratul, though briefly, with Kerrigan. I don’t think this is a spoiler because we have seen Zeratul and Kerrigan in the Vengeance Trailer. Zeratul doesn’t even defend himself when Kerrigan (human form) assaults him. As seen in our Protoss Campaign transcript, Tassadar showed Zeratul a vision of the future the Overmind foresaw. In this future, Kerrigan had been slain at planet Char. The hybrids and their master had set the universe ablaze, and only one distant world remained as the last bastion of what remained of the Protoss civilization. In those desperate final moments, Zeratul, Hierarch Artanis and High Executor Selendris fought to the bitter end. The Fallen One revealed only one could have stopped his plans: Kerrigan. In their arrogance, the Protoss thought her to be the real threat.
It is no surprise that Zeratul would want to swallow his pride and to seek Kerrigan. As with Wings of Liberty, Zeratul appeared briefly in Heart of the Swarm. His wish: to show Kerrigan her next path. A path she most focus on in order to fulfill her role in altering the Overmind’s prophecy.
At first, Kerrigan is reluctant in chasing this path suggested by Zeratul. She doesn’t believe in the prophecy and she doesn’t wish to be a toy in its schemes. Zeratul is very convincing anyhow. Chasing down the path laid by Zeratul will allow her to fulfill her vengeance against Emperor Arcturus Mengsk. That’s enough for Kerrigan. Thus, she embarks into deep space to seek what Zeratul suggested. A planet many fans have no doubt wished to one day visit, or at least to learn more lore of.
Somewhere in their minds, Fans are going to scream like 5-age girls in excitement when this mission pops in their Heart of the Swarm single-player campaign.
I did never ever expect to see any of this lore happening. Blizzard Entertainment surprised me, and the reason Kerrigan must go there meshed so very well with the prophecy and how she might be able to beat the Hybrids’ master. I loved this twist.
There are two aspects of the lore in Heart of the Swarm I want to briefly mention without blowing Spoilers directly. Those who read StarCraft II: Flashpoint, concerning Narud and the Moebius Factor, that’s going to be wrapped up in Heart of the Swarm. I’m not going to say anything further. That’s for you to find out and unravel.
Another non-spoiler sort of spoilerish thing I want to share — did that make sense? — is another continuity nod. This one hails from a secret mission only found in the StarCraft 64 (Nintendo). Yup! It is canon, fanboys. You will see … you will see. Bet some fans are gonna do some homework to find out.
I really have to thank Chris Metzen a million more times for bringing back Robert Clotworthy to voice Jim Raynor. This iconic character represents the potential hero within all of us. No matter how hard life is, and how injustice crushes us to a pulp. One draws strength from anything that’s important to us. We stand up, clear the dust, and We fight for our dreams — and dispense indiscriminate justice.
Robert Clotworthy is the heart of Jim Raynor. His voice. Robert isn’t replaceable. Robert is the soul of Jim Raynor, and the soul of all the millions of fans who love StarCraft. Thank you, Chris for listening to the fans.
Jim Raynor doesn’t have a lot of screen time in Heart of the Swarm, considering this is the Zerg campaign and Kerrigan is the main character and the driving force of this second episode. Yet, I feel Robert’s voice drew out the right tinges to set Kerrigan’s humanity and essence afloat. There’s care and love in his tone. Just because he sounds soft, doesn’t mean he isn’t the usual Jim Raynor. We get to see his dark humor and sarcasm the way only Robert can do it.
Real people out there have real-life difficulties and regrets in their lives. Those in the military — far away from home. Far away from family. Those who are unemployed like me. Those who have disabilities. Those who are socially or politically oppressed (name your applicable country here). I can mention many others who fit the bill. I fall into the unemployed and disabled categories (without the benefits of one at the moment). Add to that homeless. It’s been nigh two years.
It’s been a very mean and hard year and a half. Other person would be deeply frustrated and depressed. I gotta admit I have tasted some of that. Yet, gaming and daily updating a fansite keeps my mind soothed, and busy.
I live and experience sci-fi and fantasy worlds with characters that breath and shine hope and feelings that I have felt before, and feelings I have never experienced before, but my heart feels theirs as my own. I assimilate and evolve through living these experiences and emotions that story writers share with readers.
I played through Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm, and got deeply inspired by the iconic Jim Raynor character. He taught me that no matter how problems rain and pour down on you like acid, your heart and soul shall not be broken by nothing nor by anyone. That you shall always have hope that one day things will be better. You don’t need to be a religious person to learn that from Jim Raynor — from Robert Clotworthy — the soul of Jim Raynor. You are both a true hero. In our hearts. The players’ hearts. A hero to the real-life human beings behind the screen. Behind the keyboards. You teach us how to fight. A fight worth fighting for.
Back to the Voice Over topic, the entire expansion was mostly Tricia Helfer (Sarah Kerrigan). I will always have to bring it up, I can’t help it. I regret not hearing Glynnis Talken in her role as Kerrigan.I grew fond of Glynnis as much as I did Robert. Yet, I can’t deny Tricia Helfer has done an amazing job voicing Kerrigan, giving her certain tinges to the character that sound attractive and compelling.
There are scenes that demand that she is sweet and girly. Sometimes she has to cry and regret her actions or the fate of others she cares for. She got to be even manlier than Xena the Warrior Princess when she goes rage-mode during a fight. Tricia dominates all those shades of the emotional spectrum. I dig her.
Emperor Arcturus Mengsk (James Harper), Valerian Mengsk (Josh Keaton), Matt Horner (Brian Bloom) and Zeratul (Fred Tatasciore) do not appear often in Heart of the Swarm, but I admire their voices and personalities. I wouldn’t want any other actor replacing them ever. Hopefully, we see them in StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void more often.
The voices of the zerg support characters that accompany Kerrigan in the Leviathan bio-vessel and those in other zerg planets impressed me. Each has their unique personality and manner of speech. It’s not easy to talk like an alien zerg, or heck — it’s not easy to read a script that while it’s in english, the grammar is so messed up — bordering into non-sense, it would be hard to read and catch it on the first go. I imagine it took them hours of recording time and several attempts to get it right. Especially, Abathur and Dehaka who are the hardest ones, but Zagara and Izsha sound lovely, too. My respects. Great voices. Kudos to the VO Team.
Senior VP Art & Cinematic Development Nick Carpenter and his Team nailed Heart to the Swarm’s soul with these cinematics. There are sad moments. There are intense adrenaline-driven battles. There are romantic/nostalgic scenes between Jim Raynor and Kerrigan. Moments of blind rage suddenly shifting into regret and then into mercy. Those moments are captured in the cinematics and in-game cutscenes and transmitted into the fans’ brain and down their spine with a thrill. The Cinematics Team and the Voice Over Team captured all the real-life emotion spectrums of what is to be a human being.
The story and the visual animation and facial gestures boost the overall experience fans demand and expect from Blizzard Entertainment and its Cinematic Team. Though we always take it for granted, the Cinematic Team always surprise us with the “ohhhhh!!!’s”, “OMG!!!’s””, “Holy @#%!!!’s”, and “Wowww!!!’s”.
There are three Cinematics where Kerrigan uses her telekinetic and psionic powers to render her opponents into smithereens: The cinematic showing a mega-beat up Kerrigan gives Zeratul, the “Shifting Perspectives” cinematic, and the final cinematic are simply mind-blowing. Those three definitely need a BAFTA Award nomination. I really wish I could describe them in detail, but I’d be spoiling critical elements of the story.
The “Get it Together” Cinematic, where Jim and Kerrigan kiss. It’s such a powerful and special scene. The Terran Dominion Battlecruisers launch pods to infiltrate and raid the Umojan Protectorate lab in search of Kerrigan. She’s found, Jim Raynor comes to the rescue, but it turns out she took care of the invaders all by herself. This is not a damsel in distress. She takes care of business. In her anger, she mouths out she’s bringing payback to Emperor Mengsk, but Raynor comes from behind and grabs her by the arm pulling her and forcing her to turn around 180 degrees to face him. She looks into his eyes. Her rage is soothed, and she melts into his eyes. Raynor asks her to get it together. She softens up. That scene was kinda cute and sexy.
Jim Raynor wants to escort her to the dropship, and opens up the gate like a gentleman to let her exit the room. This is a very human Kerrigan. One who is deeply in love. They kiss. I felt a thrill through my spine. One who acknowledges and respects all the sacrifices Jim Raynor went through to rescue her and to bring her back. There is humor and sexual innuendo to boot. That cinematic is definitely among my favorite ones in Heart of the Swarm.
One cinematic that made me angered was the “Conscience” Cinematic, but that had nothing to do with the quality of the cinematics. The outcome of what happens at Planet Char is what bothers me. Such a waste. Yet, there is a shift of three mood-states happening within seconds apart that really touches the player’s heart to the core. First anger for what happens. Then, Kerrigan’s face turns from one of rage to one of regret. She looks fragile and human as she closes her eyes and her brows frown after what she did — displaying regret. Then a glow on her face shows her determination. One only realizes what just happened after hearing the radio transmission. Something one might never have imagined the Queen of Blades feeling ever again: Mercy. One can quickly feel portrayed in that scene. That reflects our daily life. That was a powerful scene. I loved it.
To wrap up, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm is an awesome gameplay experience with new and exciting lore to match. If you haven’t upgraded to the StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm (Standard Edition) yet, I encourage you to do so. The Collector’s Edition is still available while supplies last– by the way, and both are elegible for FREE Super Saver Shipping.
It’s been nearly 6 months since Mists of Pandaria launched. How different are things now that people are playing?
I’d say that for the most part our values have stayed intact in terms of what we were trying to accomplish with Pandaria and what we ended up delivering in terms to how it feels and the breadth of content and all the stuff there is to do. That kind of thing. I think looking back and trying to evaluate it from a… if we can go back in time and do things differently there’s not really a huge list of things that we would probably do differently. The most notable would probably be a little bit… a slight change to how our reward structure in the end game worked as it relates to how mandatory daily quests felt.
One of the things you guys are really pushing with this expansion is getting content out quicker than you have in the past – how has your process internally changed in the last year or 2 for you guys to accomplish this? Is this pace something we can expect throughout this expansion and into the next expansion?
It’s certainly something we plan to keep doing. In fact we’re hoping that our capabilities continue to expand as this goes on. Hopefully this is the slowest you will ever see us in the future. So what we’ve done, part of it is structural, and part of it – well, I guess ultimately it is all structural. Essentially part of what we’ve done is separate part of the team into it’s own group that works on the odd numbered patches like the 5.1 and the 5.3. So there’s some team members dedicated to that content, 5.1, 5.3, possibly a 5.5. And then the rest of the team works on those big tiers, the 5.0, 5.2, 5.4, etc. So that’s part of what’s helped us achieve that. Also just staffing up a little bit more, we’ve continued to grow the team over time. We’re at an all time high with as many people as we have on the team and we expect to continue to increase that as time goes on.
Warlocks now have a special quest with green fire – this kind of reminds me of those old quests in Vanilla for certain classes where you did something and were rewarded with something class specific (like the old Warlock and Paladin mounts) – will you be bringing in special quests for other classes like this? Or is this a one time shot?
Well, we certainly want to. We really like that kind of thing. It adds some cool distinctive flavor to each class and any classes we’ve been able to do it on. It’s hard for us to commit to when we might be able to do it for any given class because it’s based on kind of time availability, people availablity as far as designers able to make things happen. There’s definitely a cost also with anytime a designer is spending time creating a quest for one particular class specifically that’s 10 other classes that aren’t getting content from that person. Hopefully we can do more of this as our capacity goes up but it’s hard to predict. When it makes sense and when we have a cool idea it’s definitely something we would keep chasing.
What starts the Warlock chain on live? On the PTR it was a pretty common drop from infernals – what will we need to get the drop from on live?
The way we have it set up for the spawns on the Isle of Thunder to be able to drop it. It’s certainly a lottery type of thing at first or something you can potentially buy from someone else. Then as time goes on we will increase the availability.
Players can have a farm in patch 5.2. Any plans for player Housing?
It definitely brings us closer. Obviously player housing is still a big jump from that and one of the bigger challenges is figuring out what player housing means with what you get to do with it and what makes it cool and that kind of stuff. But the tech does move us closer to it. What we’ve always said in the past is it’s something we constantly talk about from expansion to expansion and it’s certainly something that we’ll talk about again.
Do you have any plans with the farm for the next expansion?
It’s a little early to say definitely, but most likely the current farm will be left behind for something new in the new expansion For any information on that you’ll have to wait and see.
How are work orders going to work in the farm?
That’s a good question and honestly probably better for one of our profession guys to talk about because I know they’ve been doing some late stages of iterating on it. I would say that some of the information I have on it might be a bit dated at this point. The general idea there is being able to do things with your farm to get the work orders and complete them for the NPCs and get rep out of it. The exact details though of how that works out I probably have some dated info.
Will the farm’s work orders be available to all factions daily?
I don’t think it’s going to be available for everything daily, I believe it’s going to be on some kind of rotation, but again, this is totally a subject I might have dated info on.
Are there any plans in patch 5.2 with the raid bonus roll loot system?
Definitely. We’re also looking to give you valor for that and also increasing the amount of gold, right? There’s some point in which the gold becomes interesting to at least more people, some people though may have so much gold it’s never interesting, but that along with valor I think has a lot of potential to make it feel better.
Which tiers will benefit from this bonus roll loot system?
All raid tiers. Particularly in 5.2 the adjustments to older stuff are going to be pretty modest at first, but the bonus roll system in general is something we want to make feel really cool and rewarding. So even if you get the booby prize that that still feels pretty cool. One of the things we’ve also talked about is the potential to get some of that old goody bag kind of stuff like those older mounts you used to be able to get by let’s say running Stratholme over and over again for the Baron’s mount, that kind of thing. Sort of a grab bag of stuff we’ve used from time to time in the dungeon finder to incentivize tanks and all that.
Will the Isle of Thunder be similar to the gates of AQ in terms of if a realm hasn’t unlocked it they will eventually get unlocked after a certain amount of time?
There will be a point in which it becomes very easy for it to unlock to where it’s almost inevitable for it to unlock but not literally on a pre-set time schedule. It will still take some player activity to be able to unlock it. Eventually it will get to the point there where that’s very trivial.
Now that the game has been out for 6 months, how have challenge modes been doing? Are they working the way you guys hoped they would? Are there any plans to do more with them?
I would definitely say they’re working the way we planned them to. I actually think they’re extremely cool content and I’ve had the opportunity to do them myself. I’m still working on getting all my golds but I’ve been able to do some of them and get some gold medals so far, some silvers, and all of that good stuff. We’re certainly confident that it’s fun content. We don’t really expect it’s something most players will do so we’re not expecting to see the huge volumes of players doing them just because of the tuning involved and how soft the rewards are in terms of the touchy feely stuff like neat looking armor, mount, title, that kind of thing. I’m really kind of happy with how that feature turned out and plan to keep doing that in the future or at least as it currently stands. No real significant changes in mind, not until a lot of players start feeling like “been there, done that” which I think will still be quite a while.
I was wondering if you could elaborate a bit on the fabled treasure vaults of the first emperor? Could you explain how that works for those who may not be familiar with it?
As players do their 5.2 island content they’re going to come across keys that will allow them into the treasure vault of the Mogu emperor. That’s a single player scenario that kicks off with you talking to the Pandaren. They get you into the actual vault and you have a timer and the entire scenario is designed as a puzzle where you will progress through the scenario, try to unlock chests, and grab as much gold as you possibly can. There are other goodies in there along with gold. You’ll be navigating your way through avoiding traps and avoiding as many monsters as you can in order to spend as much time as you can getting stuff. If you get all the way into the final room that’s where a lot of extra bonus goodies are that you can try to scoop up. It’s an interesting time challenge that players will have the opportunity to do every so often. We really expect that most players that participate in the island content will get to do them fairly regularly – meaning on a weekly sort of basis not every few minutes or something like that.
10 man raids seem to be the defacto raid groups now a days – with thunderforge weapons and making them drop more often you have given some incentives for people to do 25 man raids again, but it doesn’t seem like it’s enough. Are you planning on doing more in the future to try to entice players/guilds to do more 25 man raids over 10 mans?
I can’t say that we’re happy with where things are at yet because we haven’t been able to see the thunderforge stuff in action. So we’ll see how that shakes out first before we make decisions. The thunderforge items are less about trying to get existing 10 man groups to switch over to being 25. It’s almost more about getting the existing 25 man groups to feel better about the fact that they carry a higher organizational burden. We’re not interested in trying to shift the population from 10 to 25, it’s really more about making it feel like it’s satisfactory when you are a 25 person raider.
Ghostcrawler hinted at an unannounced feature in this expansion that is going to really change how WoW is going to be played, much like the LFR feature – can we get a hint on when we might see this feature and what it might pertain to?
We will probably see it in the 5.4 neighborhood if we are able to get it done in time. As far as hints a lot of players in the past have suggested that they be able to do older content so it’s probably something that goes along those lines.
Out of all the things being introduced in Patch 5.2 – what is your favorite thing being brought in and what are you most excited for players to experience in this patch?
That’s really tough. Because it’s really the whole package that I think makes it such and awesome patch. It’s a huge amount of content in all different kinds of areas in terms of there’s outdoor world content, there’s raid content, there are scenarios with solo like the treasure hunting. I would say in terms of what gets me the most excited as a cool new concept it would be the treasure room. I think that’s going to be a lot of fun for players. In terms of what will probably bring the players most overall satisfaction and value – if you’re a raiding player it will probably be the raid tier which is definitely a big awesome one. If you’re the type that really enjoys the story stuff then the 5.2 island is for you.
Very awesome. Thank you for coming here and talking to us again about this patch. I know a lot of people are really excited about it and so am I.
Right on. Very cool. Take care.
Here are other Patch 5.2 interviews from around the World of Warcraft Fansite Communities:
The first thing to note about World of Warcraft: Dawn of the Aspects is its format. All Blizzard Entertainment novels to date have been printed as Mass Market Paperback (pre-2008), or Hardcover. They are also sold as eBooks, and rarely but we also see them as audio books.
Dawn of the Aspects, however, is presented to Blizzard fans as a 5-part digital book. The very first eBook spun from Blizzard Entertainment was Diablo: Demonsbane by Robert B. Marks (currently reprinted in the pages of Diablo Archive). Demonsbane originally saw low sales in 1999. The eBook market wasn’t that big then until Amazon launched Kindle, and later tablets boomed with the Apple iPad and other brands.
Most recently we have seen Blizzard VP of Creative Design Chris Metzen and Flint Dille delve into the tablet market with IDW Publishing’s Transformers: Autocracy, which originally shipped as a 12-part digital comics. I am a Metzen fanboy … of course, I read all 12-issues. A year after, the 12-part digital comics was printed as a hardcover. Will this be the case with Dawn of the Aspects? We’ll have to find out a year from now.
Their digital comics was so successful, they have teamed up to launch another 12-part Transformers: Monstrosity #1 (March 1, 2013).
Is going digital-only a smart strategy for Blizzard Entertainment to introduce Dawn of the Aspects and new stories?
The answer is complex to ponder and to analyze. I’ll go with the guts version. The lore fans out there love to read stories based on Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo. However, we don’t always have the time to read through 318 pages when we have real life matters, daily quests, valor points to earn, and raid schedules to fulfill.
So now we have Blizzard introducing yet another publishing format to how they present stories to the fans: A 5-part eBook. The tablet market is there, and lore fans most likely have a tablet, and those who don’t can still read this digital book on their internet browser. It takes less than 2 hours to read.
I just finished reading World of Warcraft: Dawn of the Aspects (Part 1). As I read the last page, I was left with this craving sensation that I have already experienced when reading a Marvel Comic Book. And what an amazing cliffhanger to end this first part of the story. I can’t wait for the second part to be available.
In a desperate bid to defeat Deathwing at the Maelstrom, the dragon aspects lost their powers. With the primordial guardians of Azeroth neutralized, it’s now the Age of Mortals. The future of Azeroth now lies on mortal hands.
What happened with the dragon aspects after the Fall of Deathwing, and why they aren’t present in Mists of Pandaria?
Richard A. Knaak addresses this enigma in World of Warcraft: Dawn of the Aspects (Part 1 of 5).
The blue dragonflight has disbanded and gone their separate ways to live as individuals.
The shrines of the Wyrmrest Temple have no purpose now. The dragonflights are in disarray. However, it’s the one last meeting place the dragon aspects choose to talk about the present affairs.
Chromie reports the timeways are in flux after the use of the Dragon Soul. Nozdormu interjects: “The timeways are no longer our concern! They are beyond my ability to control. From here on, the younger races and the younger races alone will deal with both them and whatever paths to the future they lead to.”
Merithra reports the nightmare stirs in the Rift of Aln (as seen in World of Warcraft: Stormrage.) Ysera says it’s a task only the druids may take care of.
Something this story clearly marks in our minds is that the Wyrmrest Accord is no more.
Nozdormu, Ysera and Alexstrasza don’t even acknowledge their former Aspect title. They are just like any other dragon. See no need to continue the accord.
Richard A. Knaak briefly mentions some events from Christie Golden’s novel World of Warcraft: Jaina. The theft of the Focusing Iris.
Khagdar has asked Kalec to join the Kirin Tor.
After the summit at the Wyrmrest Temple, the dragons convene to meet one more time a month from now to officially disassemble the Wyrmrest Accord.
Moments after the meeting, Kalec senses something, and begins digging beneath Galakrond’s skeleton. An octagonal-shaped magical relic triggers Kalec to see through Malygos’ eyes in a distant era before the Titans blessed the Dragon Aspects.
A time when they were mere proto-dragons roaming the skies, hunting food in the northern lands now known as Northrend.
This first part of five, offers a pretty good tease of what one might expect throughout the story.
The author shifts often to the far past, and then back to the present as Kalec awakens from his visions.
Kalec witnesses the moment Malygos and Neltharion became blood brothers.
There is another continuity nod from the Tokyopop manga titled “Warcraft Legends”. Kalec finds the spirit of Buniq (a female Taunka). She was Akiak’s mate in Taunka’le Village. She had come to Galakrond’s Rest in the manga where she met her demise.
There is much more that will itch Warcraft lore fans’ curiosity and thirst for more. Undead proto-dragons that far back in the past of Azeroth?
The octagonal-shaped relic turned out to be part of another bigger object that resembled a human-like hand. Red Herring alert!!!
It’s not mentioned in this part what the hand belonged to, but lore fans might remember that early humans — the Azotha, had a legend of Tyr (WowWiki), who sacrificed his hand fighting against a great evil. Tyr replaced the lost hand with … a Silver Hand … as in the figure commemorated by the Order of the Silver Hand.
In Wrath of the Lich King, one of the quests sends you to each of the temples high in the peaks. It’s revealed that Tyr was one of the Watchers of Ulduar, along with Freya, Thorim, Mimiron and Hodir.
On June 2010, during the Ask the Devs # 1 Q&A, a fan asked: “Building off that- whatever happened to Tyr?”. Bornakk responded: “The watcher Tyr was not in Ulduar when adventurers finally freed the titan city from Yogg-Saron’s influence. If anyone knows where Tyr is now, he or she isn’t speaking up.”
It’s wild speculation at this time, but this novel might be the way Blizzard Entertainment reveals more info about this obscure character responsible for the guidance and protection of the early Azotha (Human tribe).
Going this far back in time, there is a pretty chance we might get to hear about the Titans, Yogg-Saron and the Watchers of Ulduar, the Nerubians and the Curse of Flesh? Only time will tell. Each part of this novel will be released in a monthly basis. So stay tuned for the next installment.
DJTyrant attended the Gallery Nucleus exhibition event featuring the Insight Editions Art of Blizzard Entertainment book launch. On behalf of Blizzplanet, DJTyrant interviewed Nick Carpenter (VP of Art and Cinematic Development) to discuss details of the development of this book from early concept stage to publishing.
Nick Carpenter also talks about the design of the Crown of Glory — given to employees who have reached their 20th anniversary working at Blizzard Entertainment
The Diablo III: Heroes Rise, Darkness Falls is a digital-only eBook — a rare format Blizzard Entertainment is currently pushing for the first time since year 2000. The first ever eBook from Blizzard was Diablo: Demonsbane by Robert B. Marks (Garwulf’s Corner). It was a time when the eBook format had just been born recently, and there wasn’t a big audience as nowadays with the boom of Kindle devices, iPad, Marvel Digital, and Comixology.
It reminds me a lot to how Chris Metzen and Flint Dille introduced Transformers: Autocracy to the fans of that universe. I was swayed into the 12-issue digital-only comic book not only because it was written by Chris who I am a loyal fanboy of, but through him I was able to re-experience one of my favorite childhood characters and sci-fi universes of the 80s when I was a teen.
A year after Transformers: Autocracy went live in the digital waves, IDW announced the Transformers: Autocracy (Hardcover).
It’s unknown if Blizzard Entertainment will go that route a year from now with Diablo III: Heroes Rise, Darkness Falls.
In the meantime, even if you don’t own a Kindle device you can still read this digital book straight from your internet browser via the Kindle Cloud. All you need is the Adobe Acrobat plug-in installed. Chances are you already have it installed. However, it’s a good idea to update it.
After you order the digital book, go to this URL: https://read.amazon.com to read it from your Firefox or Internet Explorer browser. You will see the eBook there. Or follow this instructions (view images).
Wayfarer (Cameron Dayton – Transmedia Consultant, Story Developer & Writer)
Unyielding (by Matt Burns – Blizzard Associate Publishing Developer)
Doubtwalker (by Matt Burns – Blizzard Associate Publishing Developer)
Firefly (by Michael Chu – Diablo III Quest Designer)
In the digital book, there are Black & White illustrations by John Polidora (Senior Illustrator/Concept Artist/Visual Development Artist at Blizzard Entertainment) placed at the first page of each story. The class sigil illustration is placed at the end of each story, too.
You will ask yourself: “Well, why would I pay $7.99 for something I can read straight from the Diablo III Website?”
You can set the Kindle Cloud to download what you purchased and to set an offline mode. In addition, there are two stories in this digital book never seen before, which expand the Diablo universe.
These two stories are:
Theatre Macabre: The Dark Exile
Theatre Macabre: The Dark Exile
Theatre Macabre: The Dark Exile is written by James Waugh (New York Times Best Selling Co-Author of World of Warcraft: Curse of the Worgen). The story hasn’t been read before in the official Diablo III website.
After reading this story, I was amazed at the lengthy dialogues between the characters. So much dialogue.
At first, I couldn’t wrap my mind around a theater theme and playwrights within the World of Sanctuary. Reminded me of Shakespeare and Dante’s Inferno for a sec. I was skeptic. Mea Culpa.
That didn’t last long though. The more I read, the more I wanted to keep going forward.
Behind all the theater stuff lies a story of the Dark Exile from a perspective we haven’t seen before. It was a mechanism to tell a grand story which reveals things not completely answered in Diablo II and Diablo II: Lord of Destruction.
Duriel and Andariel’s reasons to be in Sanctuary for example.
The story might also reveal who the Priests of Zakarum served, and what led to their corruption. Should be a must-read.
The Hunger is written by Erik Sabol (2009 Blizzard Global Writing Contest runner-up). It’s a new story we haven’t read in the official Diablo III website.
I have a mix of thoughts after reading this story. It’s about a woman who pays a wagon rider pretty well to take her cargo through the desert of Aranoch. I have to criticize we don’t know who the woman is nor her background or affiliation.
Each dialogue is short, and focuses more on fast-paced action. The story intrigued me. Out of the blue, the story ends – and I was left with this hunger to read more and figure out what really really happened in the story or what the point or goal was.
It’s a scary story, and definitely Rated M with gore and creepiness. For some reason, I was left with the feeling that we might see more about Rigley in the Diablo III expansion or elsewhere. Felt like a cliffhanger. Time will tell.
I’m game for more Diablo III themed stories. I got into reading Blizzard stories outside their video games after my very first IRC Chat interview with Richard A. Knaak back in 2003. It was a funny interview because I was asking him questions about Warcraft: Day of the Dragon (2001) without having read the book. Shortly after the interview I read the book. I couldn’t but start collecting all the books based on each Blizzard video game available at the time, and to religiously purchase every new publication from the pen of Blizzard Creative Team writers or the mainstream freelance writers whether they were books, manga, comic books or digital versions. Be it Warcraft, StarCraft or Diablo themed.
Reading the stories expands so much your knowledge of the video game, and gives a special depth to your gameplay experience. Ever since the Burning Crusade expansion, Blizzard Entertainment added another edge to storytelling with the help of Christie Golden.
Blizzard synchronizes these books and the in-game quests in ways that compliment and enhance your overall experience. In World of Warcraft: Rise of the Horde you would read about the Ata’mai Crystals, Velen and the Draenei, Oshu’gun in Nagrand — and you’d play the video game and go like — “Wow, I’m playing a quest about what I read in Christie’s novel!” — “Holy! I know this place, or that character!”
Every single novel and game expansion have been woven to tie-in, thereafter. I love that.
Now we have the first digital book ever since Diablo: Demonsbane, in an era where digital books are so mainstream. The question is … will Blizzard Creative Team be bold enough to bring these story elements into Diablo III or its upcoming expansion?
How do you translate these short anthology stories into in-game content? Especially, when Diablo III has been around a long time now.
I think Blizzard should consider adding new quests to Diablo III via patches. The venue is there. Every time I roam the lands of Sanctuary is a different experience. You’ll find random optional quests. For example, The Matriarch’s Bones or the Jar of Souls Event. These are random.
New Journals dropping from monsters or libraries hinting at events happened in Diablo III: Heroes Rise, Darkness Falls. Something reminiscent of the Ashbringer stories found throughout the world long before there was an actual Ashbringer in-game, serving as a hint of things to come in the Diablo III expansion.
That’s what I’d like to see in this new wave of digital book tie-ins.
This new mouse features a 2.4GHz wireless technology to increase performance. Plug the micro-USB into one of your ports to recharge your wireless mouse. No need to wait for a recharge anymore before using the wireless mouse, allowing for continuous and uninterrupted gameplay.
The software informs the user how much battery life is available, allows the change of CPI settings, polling rate and macros.
The performance is solid, the integration with WoW is the best you’re going to find, the quality of the mouse is superb and I’ve had great luck with SteelSeries mice. It’s also the best damn wireless mouse I have ever used.
Extended battery life, with wired option for emergency charging while gaming
16 Hour Battery Life
Charging dock that showcases the mouse
Onboard memory for pre-pairing mouse & receiver
Illuminated laser etched logo
Pro grade 8200 CPI Laser Sensor, 150 IPS, 30 G acceleration
The World of Warcraft Wireless MMO Gaming Mouse by SteelSeries and Blizzard Entertainment features advanced 2.4GHz wireless technology, a beautifully crafted charging stand and the ability to go both wired or wireless for endless adventures. With a comfortable, ergonomic design, and unmatched software functionality, this mouse is a must-have weapon for all MMO players.
Built for players of all types–be they casual fan or dedicated raider, rookie or guild leader–the World of Warcraft Wireless MMO Gaming Mouse is designed to enhance your game play. Sophisticated software functionality lets you easily customize the mouse to suit your individual play style.
An Epic Pedestal for a Superior Weapon
The charging station is an epic pedestal that illuminates with the same brilliant blue that is features on the mouse. Emblazoned with illuminated runes, the charging base is also the wireless receiver and the home for your mouse when not in use to proudly display your mouse.
Wireless or Wired–Your Choice
Whether you prefer wired mice or simply ran low on battery life at a crucial moment, the mouse is capable of being connected via USB cable to continue gaming while simultaneously charging.
11 Programmable Buttons
Tested by World of Warcraft gamers and co-designed with Blizzard Entertainment, the new Wireless MMO Gaming Mouse has 11 programmable buttons, ergonomically positioned for comfortable gameplay.
The intuitive drag-and-drop interface of the SteelSeries software empowers users to program all 11 buttons with more than 130 preset game commands, and create custom macros and/or use the in-game macro scripting language.
Charge Your Battery While You Play
The SteelSeries World of Warcraft Wireless Mouse achieves an incredible 16 hours of intensive gameplay and even more during casual gaming. What’s more is that even if you should game beyond the life of the battery, simply plug the USB cable into the mouse and keep playing in wired mode while you charge the mouse.
Configure Your Settings in the Game
Plug in your mouse. Start your game. Configure all of your mouse settings from illumination to macros to button assignments directly from the World of Warcraft interface.
Illumination and Pulse
The World of Warcraft Wireless MMO Gaming Mouse offers illumination on both the mouse and charging stand featuring 4 levels of pulsation including Low, Medium, High and Off. So there’s sure to be a combination to suit every mood and occasion.
Whats in the Box?
Steelseries World of Warcraft Wireless MMO Gaming Mouse, charging station pedestal, and USB cable.
During my visit to the New York Comic Con 2012, Simon & Schuster representatives hooked me up with a copy of StarCraft II: Flashpoint by New York Times Best Selling author Christie Golden.
I finished reading the book, and it’s very hard to contain myself, and not spoil things. I’ll do my best not to reveal the entirety of the plot, but at least enlighten you with an attempt to spark in you the interest to read this book.
StarCraft II: Flashpoint literally bridges the gap between StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm.
I’m almost convinced the expansion will start off with Sarah Kerrigan leaving the Umojan Protectorate to start her search for the Zerg.
The Umojan Protectorate is a non-Terran Dominion territory that many fans have probably wanted Blizzard to put into the spotlight in-game as it has in the Tokyopop StarCraft: Frontline manga. One can only hope.
The first chapter introduces readers quickly into the exact moment two seconds after Jim Raynor shot his handgun at Tychus Findlay.
The novel gets to portray what the game nor the StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty final cinematic could.
What was going on through Jim Raynor’s thoughts right after shooting his best friend. His reaction to seeing Sarah’s face as he carried her body outside the cave, as he looked into the horizon of Char’s surface.
Valerian Mengsk meditates aboard the Bucephalus battlecruiser, orbiting planet Char. Ignorant of what’s happening down there. Whether Jim survived, whether the Xel’Naga artifact worked, or if Sarah had been reverted into human form or not, or if she survived the transformation.
I was surprised to read the idea the Xel’Naga artifact could change the Queen of Blades back to human form was actually an idea proposed behind-the-scenes by Jacob Ramsey. This piece of information was never mentioned in-game in Wings of Liberty.
However, it makes sense. Single-player lore fans no doubt wondered at some point how Valerian knew so much about the Xel’Naga artifact and what it could do to Kerrigan.
This is the perfect reasoning. Jacob Ramsey is not only the best archeologist in terms of ancient Protoss and Xel’Naga ruins and objects, but as read in StarCraft: The Dark Templar trilogy, his brain hosted the mind of a Protoss Preserver named Zamara; and learned her knowledge and that of countless Protoss’ memories throughout history.
Personally, I would have liked to see Jacob in-game in Wings of Liberty to provide the background and purpose of the Xel’Naga artifact. Nevertheless, StarCraft: Flashpoint does a great job filling readers in on what transpired behind-the-scenes in StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty’s plot.
As Brian Kindreagan recently said: “We will always struggle with the fact that we get only a few lines of dialogue in this fast-paced, dynamic game to explain concepts that could fill 50 pages in a novel (such as the Overmind’s backstory, or the earlier discussion of free will). We’ll never be able to explain things in as much detail as I’d like, and will instead have to rely on the player to consider what we’ve shown and to interpret it. Narrative games are not films, and they are not novels.”
Not all stories mesh well in-game as it can in a novel. The novels have more room to flesh out things. Nobody wants to sit tight listening or watching cutscenes for 5 minutes. Gameplay comes first and foremost.
Raynor’s dropship lands within the Bucephalus battlecruiser, Valerian’s flagship, to offer medical treatment to Sarah Kerrigan. Things get a little jumpy as Raynor doesn’t trust Valerian, and Valerian very well knows what Raynor is capable of for her safety.
However, what readers will find in chapter three is pure gold. You have never seen Prince Valerian Mengsk like this before. His true intentions throughout previous novels and throughout StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is revealed. Is he as treacherous as his father? Or is he a different person?
I was hoping to see a sliver of the Queen of Blades somewhere in Sarah, but the author is blunt and straight to the liver. This is no longer the Queen of Blades. We truly face Sarah Kerrigan’s humanity — mind and soul.
I realize not everyone who plays StarCraft II, plays World of Warcraft or have read Christie Golden’s novels based on Warcraft. Many do. I have read all the Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo novels. Call me a lore buff.
I can tell you upfront. I love the twists, humor and the plot creativity of Christie Golden in StarCraft: Flashpoint. It feels much different than her work in the Warcraft universe, but she brings with her several years of experience writing Star Trek novels, and she got a deep and mature knowledge of the StarCraft universe, its characters, lingo and the locations throughout the Koprulu Sector.
I really hate to read novels that look more like poetry in motion than a novel — you know, describing something simple in so many fancy and sweetened words that it takes three pages to say it. That style doesn’t mesh well with sci-fi. Christie is fluid, and constantly pumping action from page to page. The story moves forward at a good pace.
Christie Golden added several continuity nods throughout StarCraft: Flashpoint. Some of these nods come in the shape of adult language or lingo often seen around Keith R.A. DeCandido stories such as StarCraft: Ghost–Nova, StarCraft: Ghost–Academy and StarCraft: Ghost–Spectres.
There are several flashbacks in this novel from the point of view of Jim Raynor — visiting the memories of the moment Sarah requested an evac, but Mengsk belayed the order and abandoned her to the Zerg. Lots of these flashbacks are based on factual continuity as sort of behind-the-scene stories players never got to see in the original StarCraft single-player missions.
Sarah at some point recalls when she first met Jim Raynor and Michael Liberty in Antiga Prime. The dialogue from the original StarCraft game is used word by word, which is a very nice touch. That scene where Jim and Sarah meet for the first time is very iconic when he realizes she is a telepath after she calls him a pig.
There are other flashbacks to year 2500, where the reader gets really close to Jim Raynor’s mind and heart witnessing the little things that made him truly love this woman.
I also liked to see some of the Hyperion characters found in-game make more than just cameos: Dr. Egon Stetmann and Chief Engineer Rory Swann.
The in-game cutscene showing the Cantina fight between Jim and Tychus is referenced. Some in-game funny moments such as Matt Horner’s embarrassment with his Deadman’s Port wife — this is the pirate space junkyard planet players are acquainted with.
The novel displays the accurate dialogues between Raynor and Valerian as seen in StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty through flashback.
In another scene, Valerian is at the Hyperion cantina and he’s wondering about the jukebox wrapped above on the ceiling, and smirks at listening to the song “Suspicious Minds”.
I really love to read consistency, continuity, and nods to previous games and StarCraft novels. Christie Golden doesn’t ignore those small details. That’s something fans of the game will truly appreciate.
We even get to have a name for the engineering assistant folks standing around at the Cantina in-game including Bartender Cooper. The bartender’s name is mentioned in-game by one of the guys sitting by the tables in the Cantina when players click on him several times: “Man, old Cooper sure makes a mean Mai Tai.”
StarCraft: Flashpoint also reveals the first time Raynor met Matt Horner before Mengsk’s betrayal on Sarah.
There is also a nod to Chris Metzen’s story (Homecoming) in StarCraft: Frontline. Jim Raynor’s son and former wife are mentioned a few times.
There is one Raynor’s Raiders traitor who might not return as part of the Hyperion’s crew in StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, but I got a feeling we might see him at some point.
Christie Golden’s writing is non-stop action, with spiraling emotions, plenty of humor, and readers will find the many unpredictable turns very exquisite and satisfying.
Cherry on top — we learn more about Narud and the Moebius Foundation.
I recommend reading it on a Saturday morning. Once you start reading, you will hardly have a chance to play or do domestic chores. You won’t be able to stop reading till the end with all the action and suspense.
I can hardly wait to play through the StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm single-player.
StarCraft II: Flashpoint goes on sale on Tuesday, November 6th, 2012. If you haven’t yet, pre-order StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm. However, make sure to order it separately so both items ship individually.
Cam Fraser – Raynor’s Raiders marine
Matt Horner – captain of the Hyperion battlecruiser
Lisle – stayed behind to protect the Xel’Naga artifact.
Haynes – stayed behind to protect the Xel’Naga artifact.
Lily Preston – medic
Pilot Wil Merrick – Dropship Fanfare pilot
Prince Valerian Mengsk
Everett Vaughn – captain of the Bucephalus battlecruiser
Emil Narud – scientist / leader of the Moebius Foundation
Emperor Arcturus Mengsk
Marcus Cade – Hyperion navigator
Dr. Frederick – Bucephalus doctor
Egon Stetmann – Hyperion lab scientist
Rory Swann – Hyperion Chief Engineer
Annabelle Thatcher – Hyperion engineering assistant
Earl – Hyperion engineering assistant
Bartender Cooper – Hyperion Cantina
Mira Han – Matt Horner’s wife at Deadman’s Port
Captain Roger Merriman – Herakles battleship
Scutter O’Banon – former leader of Deadman’ Rock
Ethan Stewart (mentioned) – former leader of Deadman’s Port, later Kerrigan’s zerg-infested consort in StarCraft: The Dark Templar trilogy
Phillip Randall (mentioned) – Scutter O’Bannon’s butler and assassin
Lieutenant Travis Rawlins – Bucephalus battlecruiser’s navigator
Scarlip – Deadman’s port thug
Yeats – Deadman’s Port doctor
Becker – Deadman’s Port doctor
Captain Sharyn Moore (flashback) – Captain of the Cormorant (old merchantman vessel) that transported Jim and Sarah to Orna III. Matt Horner’s former captain and ship.
Boots (mentioned) – Sarah’s pet for three weeks.
Dr. Orville Harris – chief scientist at the science facility of Orna III
Gary Crane – one of Mira Han subordinates at Deadman’s Port.
Liddy (flashback) – Jim Raynor’s former wife. Died of cancer. (StarCraft: Frontline Vol. 4 — Homecoming by Chris Metzen).
Dr. Phan – Ornan III
Dr. Elizabeth Martin – Ornan III
Dr. Chantal de Vries – one of the many doctors in the Space Station Prometheus who toured Dr. Stetmann.
Nancy Wyndham – doctor at the Space Station Prometheus
Joseph Reynolds – doctor at the Space Station Prometheus
Adrian Scott – doctor at the Space Station Prometheus
Elias Thompson – chief engineer of the Bucephalus.
Vrain, Osgood, Warren, Tseng and Mitchell – Narud security guards at Space Station Prometheus
Varley – White Star navigator
Bucephalus gorgon-class battlecruiser
White Star – Emperor Arcturus Mengsk’s flagship battlecruiser
G-2275 (mentioned) – gas giant, technological hub of the Confederacy. Raynor and Sarah were at its moon after the victory at Antiga Prime. They retrieved the plans to create upgraded Goliaths.
Orna III – science facility doing covert experiments on their citizens such as gene-splicing, brain modification, telepathic experimentation, disease testing.
Paradise – Deadman’s Rock town
Shilo (mentioned) – Jim Raynor’s homeworld
Kirkegaard Belt (known as Kick-You-Good Belt)
Space Station Prometheus – Moebius Foundation secret lab located within the Kirkegaard Belt
Valerian brought 25 battlecruisers to planet Char. Only fourteen survived the Zerg. Some of the battlecruiser names: Aenas, Amphitrite, Metis, Eos, Patroclus, and Meleager, Antigone, and Herakles.
Battlecruiser type mentioned: Minotaur-class and Behemoth-class.
Blizzplanet interviews today both New York Times bestselling co-authors of World of Warcraft: Curse of the Worgen … Micky Neilson (Blizzard Publishing Lead) and James Waugh (Blizzard Senior Story Developer).
World of Warcraft: Curse of the Worgen has gone to printing again as a trade paperback to reach the hands of fans who enjoy the lore of Warcraft. I personally read the Comixology version of the original 5-part issues back on 2010-2011. Now that this story has been reprinted as a trade paperback, I wanted to reach both co-authors to give fans (who haven’t yet read this story) a better scope of what to find within the trade paperback, and why you shouldn’t miss reading it.
Curse of the Worgen captures some of the key moments that players experienced in the Cataclysm expansion’s Worgen starting location. How was the process of matching together your story in this comic book with the in-game quests — considering the expansion’s iteration process? — For example, The Jade Forest had a complete overhaul mid-beta. Things might change overnight.
James: The beauty of developing this sort of content with in-house writers (Micky and I) is that we can be agile and are closer to the source when those changes happen. For Curse of the Worgen, the World of Warcraft team was building out the Worgen starting zone while Micky and I were writing and developing the story. This synergy was invaluable to both parties. The team was building out the zones and creating much of Gilneas—remember, no zones were ever built, the history was limited to manuals and a few books and cameos from Greymane—so in many ways they were building Gilneas for the first time.
Writing a non-game story you end up asking very different questions in order to further develop it. The questions that would help Micky and I create Curse of the Worgen came to answers that ended up informing choices the design team made and vice versa, design decisions they’d make would lead to ideas we’d never think of normally. Funny enough, at the same time, I was writing the Genn Greymane short story for the Leaders of Azeroth fiction project we did. I was going to explore Genn’s history, which of course, as the leader of his people, was Gilneas’s history. This ended up being a perfect storm, as an idea would come into fruition in the short story, get approved by Metzen, and then inform the game, and comic series. It was a pretty unique holistic experience that I don’t think could have been done if the writers of the comic were not part of the team building the fiction for the IP and a building away from the design team.
Looking back a year later, given the iteration process you mention above, we really pulled off something unique, giving you three distinct chapters of Genn Greymane’s story that paint a larger portrait.
Micky: It was an amazing experience, and a great example of cross-media storytelling. When it works, it’s beautiful. There are so many things that can go wrong. Communication is paramount. You have to be talking to the right people on the game side, and the game devs have to be willing to work with the authors and take the time to read and provide feedback. It’s a relationship. Without that close collaboration, the reader can tell, even if they’re not lore experts, that something is wrong. There will be inconsistencies and people will respond to that, and readers will lose trust in the product.
We strive to ensure that the experience of reading the comics, books, short stories, etc. is congruent with the story, tone, and environment of the game. As James mentions, the dev team was great to work with—very motivated, and dedicated to making it all sync up.
Who is Halford Ramsey?
James: Halford is really the creation of the one and only Micky “Superfly” Neilson. We talked about a way into this story at length. We knew we wanted to convey all the lore about the creation of the worgen and we knew we wanted to tell a story about the events of Gilneas, but we really needed a way to tether these ideas together. The Gilnean aesthetic theme is very Victorian England; and as a kid I watched a lot of Sherlock Holmes (the Jeremy Brett version)—great stuff if you haven’t seen it. I don’t know if it was Micky or I who first suggested the idea of a detective, but because of my Holmesian affinity and the tone of the Gilnean civilization, it became the key to figuring this story out. We decided that we’d move forward with a Holmes-like character; a logician. What was important to me, as to any writer crafting a linear story about a character, was figuring out what his character arc would be and letting that dictate his story. We both thought it had something to do with his rigid, analytical nature needing to change. Micky seemed to have an instinct on this and went off and wrote up a document about Halford, creating his sister, and what cut him off emotionally.
I don’t think we had the whole picture of what we created until it came together in the outline, but if the worgen experience was about finding balance, a man stuck in logic that needs to connect with his human/animal side ended up really resonating with the night elf story, the game, and the larger themes we were chasing with the worgen. But, the name, the details of the character backstory, that’s all Micky’s.
Micky: Halford was a lot of fun to write. I wanted him to be a bit of an anti-hero that would grow on people. He’s candid, he’s condescending, he’s unapproachable in many ways, especially emotionally, but he’s also a deductive genius and the further you dig into his character the more you understand where he’s coming from.
The journey of Halford finding the humanity in not only himself but in others as well was one that felt compelling to James and I, and we believed that if we could make that emotional connection with the character, readers would connect with him as well. Sherlock Holmes was certainly a big influence. I would love to explore Halford’s character more in the future.
Oh, and a fun bit of trivia: his first name is taken from the last name of the lead singer of Judas Priest, Rob Halford.
What will fans learn in this comic book about the Scythe of Elune?
James: Very important things! You must read it. I can’t tell you. Maybe Micky will. Maybe not. But things so important you must pick this book up! Do it. Do it NOW! It’ll change your life. . . . Or tell you the history of the scythe, one or the other.
Micky: The Scythe of Elune was one of those in-game items that was just begging for more background. The origins of the scythe are fully explored in Curse of the Worgen. Interestingly, we were also developing the story for the Alliance graphic novel World of Warcraft: Dark Riders at the same time. Dark Riders has been in development for a while; the colors are looking absolutely amazing and it’s going to be one fantastic book. For anyone who’s interested in the scythe, Curse of the Worgen is a great place to start.
How was the coordination between the two of you to write this story? Did you have to split topics and ideas, and mesh them together?
James: We did several meetings with Chris Metzen and Alex Afrasiabi to talk about the origin of the worgen. Alex was using a link to druidism as the root cause and had a ton built out game-wise. We liked the idea that maybe worgen were a corrupted version of a banned form. Malfurion had years as a druid to experiment that we hadn’t touched on fictionally, who knows what he tried during them? There may be a duck-billed playtypus form you just haven’t seen yet because it was banned. I digress.
After that, Micky and I did a lot of talking. There may have been beers involved. There may have not been. I don’t remember, so probably the former. We began to really talk about the themes we were seeing in our new lore and in the game and the story went from there. Halford appeared somehow. We did an outline, iterated with the dev team, and then came the task of writing. We decided we’d split up the timelines on our first pass and trade to the other person to rewrite their scenes. So, I’d write my timeline’s scenes, send to Micky, Micky would do the same. I’d edit him, he’d edit me. We’d put it together and do a pass in tandem. Then we’d send to Chris Metzen and get his notes and revise from there. It worked out pretty well. Though I believe there was an issue where this process led to us needing an extra page and for the life of us we couldn’t trim the story down to get it – we were already trying to be as economical as possible with dense material. Wildstorm was kind enough to give us an extra page for the book. Thanks DC! Won’t happen again.
Micky: James has a great story sense and he shares my philosophy regarding the importance of characters. We found a rhythm early on. Once we had the concepts nailed down, the writing process went pretty smoothly. The biggest decision we had to make at the outline stage was where to end the story. The Gilneas events in the game proceed beyond what we explored in the book.
Ultimately, we looked at the themes and the character arcs, as well as the amount of ‘page space’ we had to tell the story, and felt that we could still tell a complete story even if we ended it a little early. At the point where Genn, Halford, and the others are preparing to storm back into Gilneas, the main character arcs had reached their conclusions and the overall themes had been greatly explored. With the outline figured out, the rest fell into place. James had a clear idea of what the back story with Arvell, Belysra, and Ralaar would be and I had a direction for the Starlight Slasher storyline and Halford’s character, so splitting up the A and B storylines worked really well. And yes, alcohol consumption was part of the process!
What were your goals with “Curse of the Worgen”?
James: To try to get a taste of Micky Neilson’s New York Times Bestselling thunder! Actually, my goal with any story is to make you feel something. For linear narrative, I want a character change due to story circumstances beyond what they think they can handle –ultimately become better people (or worgen) from the experience of overcoming. I think we’re all trying to do that in the real world day in and day out and fiction allows us to see that it’s possible and inspires us to try harder. Sure that sounds a bit lofty; this is a comic book with purple, long eared people, after all, but it’s the only reason to tell a story in traditional mediums like this when we already have a game.
We wanted to do what the game couldn’t, and that’s really dig out character. As for the transmedia goals: We wanted to tell the origin of the Worgen, we wanted to set up franchise characters like Genn, and we wanted to tell the story of the Scythe of Elune. All of that stuff really fleshes out the world and is entertaining content. But I’m hoping that it’s accessible and lingers because of the heart.
Micky: As James mentions above, character and theme are always the top goals of our fiction. Beyond that, we really had an opportunity to explore the origins of the worgen and the Scythe of Elune at a level of detail that wouldn’t be possible in the game. There were also many unanswered questions relating to Gilneas. It was this incredible new territory—“new” simply because it had been walled off for so long. It was undiscovered country, and for a writer that’s like catnip.
On top of all that, James and I had been wanting to work on a project together, so with all those factors aligned we were in a great position to accomplish several goals with the project.
There seems to be a recurring complaint among readers of Curse of the Worgen who wish this cleared out. There is a conflicting name between the comic book and the in-game NPC: Belrysa Starsong and Belysra Starsong? Are both the same persona, or was this a typo? Any chance the NPC name could be corrected by the developers?
Micky: That was an error that I am happy to say will be fixed. They are indeed the same person.
Are there any plans for Halford Ramsey in future stories: novels, comic book sequels, online novella, or in-game?
James: I’m looking at you, quest designers! I think we’d all love to see Halford Ramsey quests. As for other content, none at the moment, though he’s a character I’m sure Micky and I would love to go back to one day. Maybe we’ll do a detective series with Halford Ramsey! . . . maybe not.
Micky: Halford’s a lot of fun. I think it’s really just a matter of finding the right story, the right fit. I have a few ideas of where Halford could go from here. With a detective character like that, there are almost limitless opportunities.
The Ashbringer hardcover and the Sunwell Trilogy hardcover had bonus material. In the case of the Sunwell Trilogy it retold the founding of Quel’Thalas with Dath’Remar Sunstrider. Is the Curse of the Worgen paperback including bonus material, too?
James: Not that I know of. We did a bonus/coda story for the hardcover that should help hardcore players understand quest lines relating to the Scythe.
Micky: The bonus material was the Velinde story in the back of the hardcover, which will be included in the softcover. It was a loose end that we were able to tie up, which was extremely gratifying!
Do you think the storyline carried over well into the game?
James: The dev team did a kick-ass job. Gilneas was a blast and I was really proud to see Belysra in game along with specific story points we talked out. Even cooler was seeing the moments in game that wrapped around the events in the comic. It seems to all fit together in a way that you really can only cross your fingers and hope for when you do this type of stuff.
Micky: The biggest benefit early in the process was really just answering the question of where the worgen came from. There were a lot of ideas, but the more we talked about it, the more the druid angle made sense. Then we were able to make connections to Goldrinn, who we had explored in the WoW monthly comic, as well as Malfurion and even the Emerald Dream. Where the worgen came from and how they came about were big questions that the designers needed to have answered so they could move forward, so the process of creating the comic certainly did inform the design of the game content. And yes, I believe it worked out really well!
Do you both have plans to publish more novels, and graphic novels in 2013? (Share titles or topics of upcoming untitled stories to keep an eye for)
Micky: Things to keep an eye out for: If you haven’t read World of Warcraft: Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War yet, check it out to get details regarding the fall of Theramore. Also, World of Warcraft: Pearl of Pandaria is out right now and provides backstory and cultural flavor for WoW’s newest playable race, the Pandaren. Also, you’ll soon be hearing more about an anthology of short stories which will include, for the first time ever, Blood of the Highborne (a story I wrote many moons ago detailing the origins of the Blood Knights). Beyond that, we’ll be making a few exciting announcements at a panel at this year’s New York Comic Con, so stay tuned!
Have you thought of the possibility of increasing the amount of stories published per year to expand the universes? Is this feasible?
James: We’ve really upped the ante over the last few years, putting out a lot of content. It’s something Blizzard does for our players and I think it makes our worlds and characters richer and gives people more to experience. I’m not as actively involved in the publishing development these days; I’m working on the games, but I think we’re doing a good amount. These things are not so easy to pull off as we really try to make sure everything fits and that takes a lot of coordination and time.
Micky: The main thing is maintaining quality. We put a lot of time and effort into each story, so there’s also the issue of bandwidth. The plan for 2013 is to focus on telling absolutely the best stories we can tell, and to continue expanding these worlds, within the games and beyond. That being said, we do have a lot of content that we’re working on, and it’s all exciting stuff. 2013 is going to be our best year yet!
Thanks Micky Neilson and James Waugh for discussing details of this story. Hope to read many more. Many thanks to Lyndsi for making this interview possible.
World of Warcraft: Dark Riders — mentioned by Micky Neilson above is a DC Comics graphic novel (Hardcover) by writer Mike Costa and artist Neil Googe. Release date: April 23, 2013. Pre-order now.
Don’t forget to check out the Blizzard Publishing Panel held at the New York Comic Con. Blizzplanet was there and shares video of the panel where Micky Neilson, Dave Kosak and Michael Stackpole revealed the new novel product line up for 2013.
Several Blizzard Entertainment developers and community managers answered questions to fans during the Best Buy developer chat held
Zarhym: Hello, all, and welcome to the World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Developer Chat, presented by Best Buy! Blizzard community manager Crithto and I will be helping facilitate the discussion today and filter as many of your questions as possible for our developers to answer.
Crithto:: That’s right! Thank you, Zarhym, and welcome everyone. On the panel to answer your questions today we have World of Warcraft lead designers Greg Street, Cory Stockton, Dave Kosak, and Ion Hazzikostas. Questions are pouring in and our developers are preparing their initial responses, so let’s get started!
Is the second son of Deathwing going to be the Second Prince? The achievement two Princes says that Wrathion and another ‘Prince’ will settle something important, is that true?
DaveKosak:: “Two Princes” is a placeholder name that may or may not reflect the final achievements in later patches. Suffice it to say, Wrathion’s story will continue!
What was the idea with Monk healing? what mix of elements inspired it and defined it?
GregStreet:: Mostly we wanted it to feel different from existing healers, so there is an emphasis on a channeled spell as the main heal. We also wanted to emphasize movement and damage-dealing to heal, because those were core to the monk class.
Do you feel the way of nerfing Dragon Soul, by nerfing the bosses. Was more successful than the Icecrown Citadel version, by buffing the players health and damage?
IonHazzikostas: Yes, one of the awkward things about the Icecrown Citadel buff was that, over time, it caused players to feel weaker when they were doing anything other than raiding Icecrown. It also had some potentially distorting effects, benefiting some specs and roles more than others. Weakening the enemies instead, as we’ve done in Dragon Soul, is more in keeping with how we’ve traditionally handled our tuning adjustments, going all the way back to Vanilla raids.
Where is N’Zoth? He was mentioned at Blizzcon, then was talked about in Dragon Soul. What is going on with him?!
DaveKosak:: N’zoth is still lurking. The Titans couldn’t defeat it… maybe someday we’ll get our chance? Don’t expect to hear anything about him in Pandaria, though!
drwuky: Hello. If someone from a CRZ hits Level 90 as first player on my realm, will he get the Realm First! Level 90 achievement for my realm or for his realm?
IonHazzikostas: His realm
. parrjj01: It seems like PVP never gets much attention from the developers during these type of events. As a hardcore lover of PVP and the many people that are in my guild, we have really gotten frustrated, bored, etc with how PVP is handled. Will you guys ever be implanting anything like how LFR system works. Were there will be healers on each side, for a better chance of your team succeeding? I don’t know about anyone else but I really hate being on my side with 0 healers and the horde have 4 in E…
GregStreet:: Our BG queueing system was built a long time ago. Since that time we’ve engineered the much more powerful system that we use for Dungeon Finder and Raid Finder. We’d now like to reengineer that system to work for BG queues as well, which would give us the ability to better balance healers, item levels, and perhaps even pre-made vs. PUG. No promises, but it’s something we’re working on.
The Theramore event was a little… Underwhelming. Developers have previously stated they spent more time on the content in Pandaria than the Theramore event. Will we see more diversity and excitement in the scenarios in Pandaria?
DaveKosak:: There’s a LOT of diversity in the scenarios. For example. there’s a monkey pirate island where you’re running around fetching up brew and fighting randomized bosses, and other insanity. We really tried to experiment with some different mechanics, and we got bolder as development continued.
Gehn: Any chance we will ever see attunements or rep based dungeons again or is that strictly a in-the-past type thing?
IonHazzikostas: There’s something a bit like a traditional attunement in the 5.0 raids: Players must defeat Grand Empress Shek’zeer in the Heart of Fear raid before they may begin the Terrace of Endless Spring raid. It’s definitely something we’re open to exploring further in the future.
Hi. I’ve had a lot of concerns regarding hit / expertise with tanks. Currently in MoP it seems tanks would reforge most their defensive stats into hit / expertise. It’s extremely annoying design
GregStreet:: We felt like previously tanks could just ignore even hitting targets because threat was easy to maintain and survivability was based entirely around cooldowns. Now you’ll need to hit the target, but you’ll gain resources for doing so, so we hope the experience is more engaging to tanks. More *fighting* less standing there.
Will the ability to obtain legendary mats on LFR mode make it required for raiders, at least until they complete the quest?
IonHazzikostas: “Required” is one of those tricky words. We understand that for many players anything that gives even an incremental power gain is seen as mandatory. Progress on one portion of the early steps of the legendary questline may be made in LFR mode, so players who want to obtain their gem from Wrathion as quickly as possible will likely benefit from doing LFR alongside their Normal or Heroic raiding. LFR wings will unlock incrementally, after Normal mode, so when someone in a top progression guild is defeating up to 16 bosses when Heart of Fear and Terrace open, doing LFR will only add 6 to that total (from Mogu’shan Vaults LFR). While in the long run, we’d like to minimize players’ obligation to run LFR if they are part of progression raiding guilds, that’s challenging at the start of an expansion when everyone is using the same dungeon blues. We hope it’ll be different for future tiers. Finally, the true power of Wrathion’s gem lies in the combined effect of the weapon and the gem itself; an LFR player’s Sha-touched weapon will be significantly less powerful than a Heroic raider’s.
As the Cataclysm Expansion is now over. As a team what were your take aways both good and bad?
DaveKosak:: From a quest perspective, we thought that the storytelling in Cataclysm was very strong, but that the zones were very linear. For Pandaria, we wanted to swing the pendulum the other way and open up the game more, rewarding exploration. I think we found a much better balance. Kun-lai Summit, for example, is pretty open-ended, even though it’s got some great stories in there. That’s just one example – we’re always learning from expansions. The other big takeaway was that we wanted more things for players to do, depending on what sort of challenges they want. Challenge Modes, Pet battles, and the new Daily Quest structure all appeal to different people, hopefully with the goal of giving everyone more content no matter what your playstyle!
How much game time do you think will we get in exploration of the continent of pandaria?
CoryStockton:: We really packed in the content with Mists, that being said the amount of time it takes you is really going to depend on your playstyle. We have so many different things for players to do. Quests, reputations, dailies, scenarios, pet battles…. The idea is to let players make progress doing whatever kind of activity they like best.
Amd11394: Prior to patch 5.0.4, When we still had the cataclysm ‘revised’ talent trees, Elemental shamans gained an addition to one of their talents entailing that when flame shock was dispelled we gained a temporary buff entitled ‘Lave Flows’ This most recent patch, with the new Mists ‘revised’ Talent trees highlighted the removal of the cataclysm talent system, and with it went Lava Flows, what is your reasoning for removing this valuable ability?
IonHazzikostas: Defensive dispels are significantly more limited in 5.0 than they were previously. Passives like Lava Flows were designed as an answer to an environment in which defensive dispel magic was spammed constantly, and it was nearly impossible to get a buffed Lava Burst off against an attentive dispeller who could remove your Flame Shock while you were casting the spell. With an 8-second cooldown on dispels now, a healer who dispels a Flame Shock may find that they are unable to dispel the Fear or Polymorph that targets another teammate immediately thereafter. We’ll keep an eye on the evolving PvP metagame in light of the new dispel changes, and consider re-adding something like Lava Flows if it proves necessary.
drwuky: Will the storyline of the Sha continue with Patch 5.1 or later patches?
DaveKosak:: For the most part, the Sha issues will be tackled by players in 5.0. BUT… not everyone wants to let sleeping Sha lie. Someone might start stirring up trouble beginning with the patches…
samich: Can we expect mailboxes on the wandering isle on release? was the removal of the one that was there for quest testing purposes?
DaveKosak:: Pandaren Neutrality caused a lot of design issues we had to solve. Mail ended up being a headache. What was easiest — for us AND for our users — was to remove mail entirely until you choose a faction. That’s nice and clean and prevents a lot of issues people saw on the beta. So, no mailboxes on the Wandering Isle – sorry!
I know you guys recently changed the LFR loot (weapons) from the last boss in a LFR instance, are you guys going to do any other changes to LFR to make heroic raiders not feel as they have to raid 2 formats a week to be competitive?
IonHazzikostas: As I mentioned in reply to an earlier question, it’s a goal of ours but it’s a tough one to realize in a world where everyone is starting out in dungeon blues and looking to get their hands on any and all epics. It’s our expectation that by the time Heart of Fear and Terrace of Endless Spring LFR unlock, most heroic raiders will have replaced their dungeon gear and have less to gain from also running LFR mode. In future raid tiers, people who are already in Heroic gear from the prior raid zone should not find the next tier’s LFR gear to be an improvement over what they have.
Will there be an appearance of the Burning Legion in the end of MoP?
DaveKosak:: The threat of the Burning Legion is still out there, and it’s very much a threat to Azeroth. The mortal races are mostly focused on the current war, but not everyone has forgotten about what’s out there and the challenges to come… Wrathion, in particular, is already trying to look ahead.
Would say that the new challenge mode dungeon gold times are going to be the “Gladiator” equivalent of PVE?
IonHazzikostas: That would be our hope. Seeing someone sporting a set of challenge mode armor in town should be akin to seeing someone on a Gladiator mount — you know they did something extremely skillful to earn it, and it’s not the sort of reward you can outgear and obtain later on.
CoryStockton:: That’s probably a pretty close comparison. Beyond gold times we will have server and guild leaderboards too. That’s probably where the highest level of competition will be.
Christie Golden mentioned in an interview that she worked closely with the quest team when she wrote Tides of War to make sure everything was very close. However, there are some notable differences between the book and the scenario during the Alliance side of it. Did the storyline of the scenario change late into the book’s writing?
DaveKosak:: We worked hard to sync with Golden during development. The Alliance side of the scenario went through LOTS of iterations, including when it happened (before the attack? During the attack? After the attack?) Ultimately we went with the one that gave us the greatest gameplay. We want the events of the book and game to match as closely as possible, but we want the best book possible and the best game possible, so they won’t be word-for-word identical. This can create some fun arguments. “Well, according to this book…” “YEAH, but I WAS THERE, MAN!” We work hard to make sure the discrepancies are minor, but we definitely don’t struggle for perfection.
Will we ever see cross-server mail or non-boa cross faction mailing feasibly within the 5.0 content?–Gorebane of Eonar
CoryStockton:: It’s on our list and something we really want to do. It’s really just a matter of the engineering time it takes us to get it in.
im_a_rockstar: WoW has always been a mostly raid or die game. The changes in MoP to Justice Points, the item level difference on gear obtained outside of raid, are kind of steps backwards away from alternatives, pushing us back to having our only choice to be a raid. Are there any plans to give the non-raiders / people with random availabilities any form of meaningful character progression in terms of player power, besides only raids?
IonHazzikostas: We have a number of gear acquisition routes that do not involve raiding. We’ve broadened the avenues for acquiring Valor Points, which can now be earned by doing dungeons, daily quests, scenarios, and so forth. That gear will be at least item level 489 (compared to 476 from LFR). There’s also crafted gear. And of course future content updates will continue to provide upgrades outside of raiding. All of that said, I’d encourage you to check out the new raids as well — the addition of the LFR system makes them more accessible than ever.
NinjaFox: To Dave Kosak: The reddit AMA gave some teasers that Sylvanas, Vol’jin, and Thrall (specifically in 5.1) would be integral parts to the story. Rexxar and Koltira were also mentioned. On the Alliance side, other than Varian, Anduin and Jaina are there any notable leaders/lore figures we can expect to see active through the Pandaria storyline?
DaveKosak:: Great question! Many of the Alliance leaders will come into play. Tyrande has a couple of moments in 5.1. We also want to do more with the dwarven storyline (we’re still kicking around ideas of how best to do that.) The trick is making sure those characters have meaningful moments. We’ll definitely spend a lot of time with Jaina and King Wrynn.
DeathFish1: With the creation of the farms at Halfhill, the base structure for player and guild housing has subsequently been created as well. Is this the direction you have chosen to go with for player housing or was this even considered as an option. One very good point about this option is that multiple locations for housing can be placed throughout the game world, preventing the issue of removing players from the world.
CoryStockton:: To DeathFish1 It’s certainly a baby step in that direction. We are really excited to see how players react to it in Mists. We already have lots of ideas on how we can expand this kind of content in the future too!
DaveKosak:: (Love the name, Deathfish!) when we think about things like player-housing, we really want to look at how this can contribute to gameplay. The farm is awesome because it ties into a lot of systems, it creates some fun crafting opportunities, it impacts the economy, etc. It’s a great experiment for us because if it’s popular, it gives us a lot of data into how to create this type of content in the future.
Gosu: What is the design philosophy behind PvP balance and how satisfied are you with PvP balance in Mists of Pandaria?
Ghostcrawler: One of the main ones was to allow more cross-over of gear at the lower end but not the upper end of content. (In 4.0 it was more of the opposite.) It’s not fun to die in PvP over and over until you get decent gear.
How come with this expansion you choose to go with Pandas and not something that was already in the game, such as The Emerald Dream, maybe going into the Dragonflights, or even something more with The Demonic legion.
IonHazzikostas: The pandaren are a race we’ve been looking to introduce into the WoW universe for some time now, since their introduction as a neutral hero back in the Warcraft 3 expansion. They were originally a top contender for the Alliance race back in Burning Crusade, but we ended up going with the draenei at the time because they better fit the Outland-focused story we were trying to tell, and because it didn’t feel right forcing a historically neutral race like the pandaren into one specific faction. When we were looking to make an expansion centered around themes of exploration and discovery against a backdrop of Alliance-Horde conflict, the pandaren just seemed like the right fit: Noble and enigmatic race caught in the middle of the war between the Alliance and Horde as it spirals out of control, forced to choose sides as the outside world descends upon their homeland.
The Rogue’s shadow blades visual effect is lacking, and needs more of a pop. Paladins get Ashbringer; could rogues get something equally cool looking?
IonHazzikostas: We agree that some rogue visuals (Shadow Blades, Shadow Walk, etc.) could use some more love. That’s something we’d like to do in a future patch.
bocasha: In Pandaria will we see another 9 month period where we will have no new stuff coming out?
CoryStockton:: We are doing everything within our power to avoid this. We all feel that 9 months without content is pretty much unacceptable to our players. A glimmer of hope: we are already knee deep into both patch 5.1 and 5.2. Our plan is to deliver these much faster than anyone is expecting.
When will we see Sargeras, it’s one of the reasons I’ve stuck around for so long…
DaveKosak:: Sargeras would be one monstrous raid boss! He’s one of the most iconic, key villains of the franchise. Believe me, when he comes to Azeroth, you’re going to feel it LONG before he even gets there.
khalanil: Have you thought about implementing zones or battlegrounds where players are normalized by level, similar to the gear level normalization in the upcoming challenge mode dungeons? This could allow players to quest or PVP with lower-level friends, and it could be fun to see a trio of level 20s take down a level 90.
DaveKosak:: This is a tremendous question, because it’s something we’ve been talking about and exploring. With Challenge Modes, we now have tech to scale your item level, so that we can guarantee the right level of difficulty. Having this tech opens lots of doors for us down the line. We don’t have anything to announce, but it’s a step toward a lot of the features you’re describing.
parrjj01: I really love the real ID system, which has helped me communicate with my cousin who lives in Hawaii. The only downfall is, he’s horde. Neither of us want to change fractions but we’d love to run toghther doing something. Will you guys ever consider letting us ‘group’ together and duke it out in battlegrounds, but disabling chat (even in real ID terms) so the no communcation rules still apply?
Ghostcrawler: We don’t have huge design problems with letting you play with friends from other factions. The biggest challenge is the game was never designed with the concept of letting you be allied with the opposing faction, so it would be a tremendous amount of work. I won’t give up hope for it though! (We always joke about a tauren having the Hallow’s End 2D gnome mask when you’re grouped with him.)
Can one stand anywhere in Orgrimmar(including right next to the questgiver that sends you to the gunship) when MoP is activated or do we have to be outside the Garrosh building? Good to know for us who are rushing as fast as we can!
Ghostcrawler: If you are online, you should get the quest pushed to you no matter where you are. We don’t want to over-promise though. This is technically challenging stuff and it might be the case that we need everyone to relog. /crosses fingers
The story of Tides of War is really interesting. I don’t think players can get engaged if they have no idea what’s happening, the bomb dropping is really anticlimactic. I felt a bit disappointed so little got included in the scenario. Was this because of lack of time, of developers or because you rather keep all that info in the novels.
DaveKosak:: I’ve been watching the Theramore feedback closely, and this comment seems pretty universal. We tried to keep everything all in the scenario, to make it really self-contained, but not burden it with lots of story that you have to slog through every time you played the scenario. It’s pretty clear from the feedback that people wanted more story. We should’ve surrounded the scenarios with more quests or explanations to help round out the story for the people who wanted to know what exactly was happening. Lesson learned!
Dude7198: Will there be a Realm First achievement that involves Pet Battles?
CoryStockton:: We did not make any realm first achievements for pet battles. Our intention for the feature is that its more of a casual activity and a realm first just did not feel like a good fit.
Nobody I know is impressed with the promise of an extra piece of loot for normal 25 mans. What we would be impressed with is separate realm first achievements for each raid format. Any chance of seeing something like this?
IonHazzikostas: Possibly. On several servers that have one top 25-player guild that’s far above the rest of the server in progression, that might turn into incentivizing them to split up the week after their 25-player Realm First to snag the 10-player one. Not sure that’s great gameplay for anyone. That said, we recognize that there’s interest in making it a bit easier to distinguish between 10-player and 25-player kills in statistics or achievements.
Were the stained glass windows in Ulduar foreshadowing of the Sha? They look very similar to the Sha.
DaveKosak:: I’d like to say we planned that. [Long pause] But I would be lying. I think it’s just a happy coincidence that fits wonderfully into our lore.
When will transmog rules be loosened up a little. Main hand/one hand weapons, for instance.
Ghostcrawler: If I had to guess, we will loosen them at some point. We would probably wait until some time after the MoP launch when players will appreciate it more. It’s easy for smaller features to get lost when there is so much new content. The designers will discuss it soon ™.
We saw some of the animations on the challenge mode gear, will the druid set animations be visible when the druid is shapeshifted?
CoryStockton:: The custom effects are based on the armor itself so they will only be visible when you are in caster form.
Will content come at a faster rate in MoP? It seems that we might be pushing thought content at a much faster rate.
DaveKosak:: That is definitely our goal! As we speak the quest team is simultaneously working on patches 5.1 and 5.2. Our hope is to keep the story and content rolling forward. It’s definitely a focus for the team – I can’t make any promises, but I guarantee we’re trying and I hope you’ll notice the results!
CoryStockton:: I know we sound like a broken record on this but we are really pushing hard to deliver content to you guys faster than ever with the Mists patch cycle. As Dave mentioned, we are already making awesome progress on the first set of patches.
Zawani: Hey, I had a question regarding arms warrior pve rotation. It feels like there is to much ring involved with the rotation very rarely do I get more than 2 stacks of taste for blood and sometimes I can use overpower 5 or 6 times without a single proc of it, which then will leave me rage starved and without buttons to press, I was wondering if you could lower the damage bonus of the buff or damage of OP while also increasing the proc chance as well.
Ghostcrawler: Think of getting a high stack for Taste for Blood as a random bonus, much like getting enraged from a bunch of crits in a row. You shouldn’t hold your whole rotation waiting for a 4 or 5 stack, because it won’t happen that often. If you’re at risk of rage capping, try to Slam. If you don’t have the GCD to Slam then it’s probably worth just using the Heroic Strike unless you think you’ll be able to Colossus Smash really soon.
Will we ever see Magni Bronzebeard return from being frozen under Ironforge?
DaveKosak:: Magni is like the definition of BLING. :smileyhappy: If we continue his story, we’ll make sure to handle it in-game. I wouldn’t count on seeing him return during the Pandaren story arc, though.
Greg just said on twitter that the 25s versus 10s situation was handled in the AMA a lot, but nothing came from that apart from an understanding that 25s do have it harder now and could use some more compensation, Don’t you have concrete plans for that, more than the tiny bit of extra loot 25s will have? The issue will only get even more pronounced the next weeks during progression.
IonHazzikostas: It’s something we discuss frequently internally. We don’t have anything final to announce just yet, but we love 25-player raiding and intend to do what we can to preserve it.
Windwalkers have been very upset with a couple things in particular with their spec. The first is Fists of Fury, we don’t like being rooted and channeling an attack when our kit is supposed to be mobile. Can we please get this mechanic revisited? As well, we don’t have literally any useful raid utility. Zen meditation is very weak. Will this be addressed at all post-launch?
Ghostcrawler: “Mobile” doesn’t mean “never, ever stops moving.” Like many specs, Windwalkers will do more damage when stationary but can still do some damage when moving. Deciding when you should FoF and when you can’t is one of the decision points that separates good monks from great ones. We’re not inclined to change it at this time. As far as raid utility goes, we’re really reluctant to hand more “must have” buffs. We don’t want Windwalkers to be mandatory, especially for smaller, 10-player raid groups. If they are never taken at all, we’ll take some kind of action, but I’d be very surprised if that’s the case.
Are there plans on fixing the broken Engineering Flying Machine that has been broken since patch 4.1?
CoryStockton:: We will look into this and make sure we get it fixed.
Is there a chance we might see class specific factions developed more? Kirin Tor, Ebon Blade, Argent Bros, Ravenholdt…Could we see something similar arise for Warriors, Hunters etc?
DaveKosak:: We’re cooking up some cool Warlock stuff we can hopefully announce soon. In a more general sense, we LOVE class-specific content, but to do it right takes development time (believe me, I have to somehow schedule all this stuff.). When it came down to deciding between more zones of content and more faction content OR class-specific stuff, we opted to create more content for everyone. But, again, we love class-specific content, we’ll try to squeeze in some cool challenges for the various challenges in the patches to come…
Are we going to get more story-telling in scenarios? The Theramore scenario was lackluster compared to the book, key story elements haven’t even been address in-game yet.(Kirin Tor leader)
DaveKosak:: I addressed this earlier, but keep in mind that we want scenarios to be replayable. We definitely didn’t want to burden them with tons of story that you have to wade through every time you play it. As I said for Theramore, people obviously wanted more context, which probably was best served by some one-time quests on either end of the scenario. That’s a lesson we’re pulling forward. :smileyhappy:
Will Wintergrasp ever be added as a max level battleground?
Ghostcrawler: Potentially, if there is enough demand for it. We would introduce it as you suggest as a true Battleground to avoid faction imbalance issues.
Beside the lifting on the mist with the clock strikes midnight on the 25th. We have come to expect events to complement the expansion. They have been fascinating and very fun. Should we expect events over the next 6 days? Or was the Scenario it?
CoryStockton:: The Theramore scenario is intended to be a preview of what players can expect from scenarios in Mists. It is by no means a launch event and thats intentional. We made a call early on to put that time into developing more content for Mists that will last and not be over in a week.
I loved the “Visions of the Past” quest-line in Vashj’ir. Will we see anything similar in upcoming content?
DaveKosak:: This is the “Battle-Maiden” questline, where you got to play as a naga badass for a while. I think these are a great break from the standard gameplay if they’re well-designed, but we would want to use them sparingly. (After all, it’s not WoW if you’re not playing your class and kicking butt!) That said, there’s a couple fun moments in Pandaria that have similar gameplay. In the Valley of Four Winds, you get to play as Chen Stormstout for a little bit. After kicking around a lot of ideas, we ultimately decided to give you a single ‘Chen-Fu’ button that makes him randomly do awesome kung-fu moves. It’s a short sequence, but it’s fun for storytelling and gives you a chance to Chen it up.
Gehn: Any updates on future guild leveling past 25?
CoryStockton:: We are totally open to increasing guild levels and the associated rewards but only when the game feels like it needs more of that content. A large number of guilds are still nowhere near level 25 so Mists did not feel like a good fit to add more guild levels.
Mists of Pandaria features an ambitious number of 18 raid bosses and I’m very excited about that. I’m curious though as to how many bosses we can expect to see in future tiers? Firelands and Dragon Soul felt like small tiers with only 7 or 8 encounters in the tier.
IonHazzikostas: We like big raid tiers too, and will do our best to continue delivering them. We’re planning for the next tier after Heart of Fear/Terrace to be a fair bit larger than Firelands or Dragon Soul were.
Whats would your answer be to the players who feel that by making multiple classes bring similar buffs and abilities, that the classes are losing their ‘uniqueness’? Introducing combo points to ShadowPriests/Ret Paladins for example
IonHazzikostas: Ultimately, there are only so many distinct resource mechanisms, and many of them are not great from a gameplay perspective. We’d rather differentiate our classes and specs on the basis of their overall feel and unique capabilities such as Death Grip for Death Knights or shaman’ totems. I don’t think many people are likely to mistake a shadow priest for a rogue just because they build up a resource and then consume it to deal damage.
Will the gear in Theramore’s Fall 85 version be available in the 90 version?
CoryStockton:: The gear and the rewards for the 85 version are only available now. The 90 version has standard scenario rewards (Valor and a chance at a dungeon blue)
Lansuer: Where do you see races that are neutral leaning like the Blood Elves going within the Horde? They seem rather separate from the Horde story since Cata’s launch.
DaveKosak:: Stick around for patch 5.1 – we pick up the Blood Elves’ story and propel it forward. Finally, a chance to interact with Lor’themar! Most players don’t even know who he is. :smileyhappy:
What are your thoughts on healing classes in MoP? Are you seeing the type of balance you want in the new expansion between all classes/specs? I ask because we are seeing a lot of blending of healers into one unit, instead of variety. All healers can do everything now to state it plainly which is making certain classes stronger choices than others for non-healing reasons. Sure some do slightly better in certain situations, but the classic archetypes are no longer as valid. It removes the need fo…
Ghostcrawler: We strive for harmony with the healer design. If healer niches are too well-defined, then you are encouraged to stack Resto druids for one fight and then Holy paladins for the next fight. We’d rather see a diversity of healers. As far as healer balance is currently, we’re pretty happy with it at 90. We still need to see Disc priests really figure out all of the nuances of Spirit Shell and we want to make sure all of the healers are really strong for Challenge Mode gold runs.
drwuky: Will you guys decrease the experience needed from 88-89 and 89-90 or increase the experience gained in Townlong Steppes and Dread Wastes before release? At the moment you can NOT hit Level 89 if you start with Level 88 and 0% experience in Townlong Steppes (~10% experience missing) and also Level 90 is impossible with Dread Wastes quests only (~5% experience missing). These are datas with the 10% experience guild perk and yes, I’ve got both zone completed achievements.
CoryStockton:: We are still actively tuning the XP. We will look into it.
Velenor1: Question for Dave Kosak. I have always wondered why the Alliance has continuously frowned upon the Scarlet Crusade. Their main purpose was to simply eradicate the undead. With their return in MoP, we are tasked with eliminating them -again- with the aid of Lillian Voss. Why is it that we have turned their organization down for so long when we more or less have the same goals in mind?
DaveKosak:: The complexities really aren’t in the game, but the Scarlet Crusade was very much a rogue organization. Great priests and warriors who would’ve otherwise served the Alliance disappear into the crusade, who serves its own ends. (In Northrend, it was clear their leadership had succumbed to demonic influence. It’s hard to make up for that.) To be honest, the main reason to revisit the Crusade in 5.1 was a gameplay reason and not a story reason – it was a favorite dungeon that we really wanted to revisit with new mechanics. We didn’t think a lot of story was needed.
Question from Munich, Germany. As the Octoberfest here and Brewfest in WoW are coming up, I wondered whether anyone at Blizzard did “field research” for designing Brewfest at the real Octoberfest ? The costumes and music are done really well.
CoryStockton:: We do field research on Brewfest every Friday. :smileyhappy:
DaveKosak:: Sorry – meant to say 5.0 in that last question
Why is the theramore event so boring? Its way too easy and if you didn’t read the book then you have no idea what’s going on, you also wouldn’t know why Jaina isn’t dead and why azeroth isn’t completely destroyed. Do you think it would’ve been smarter to put more lore in the scenario and would’ve made it more fun?
Zarhym: Dave already spoke to the story part of your question (if you missed it Best Buy will be providing a full transcript after the chat). To address your concern of difficulty, we agree it was too easy on release. We pushed a hotfix recently that increased the HP of all enemies in Theramore’s Fall. The fact is that Scenarios in Mists will be more tailored for players in quest gear and dungeon blues. But players at level 85 were steamrolling through it in Dragon Soul gear, and the hotfix was to compensate for this a little.
Do all designers use the same in-house editor? Or do you have different tools for different jobs? How do you handle collisions in your edits?
IonHazzikostas: We all use a massive proprietary tool called WoWEdit, which has been showcased a couple of times at Blizzcons in the past. We all use this tool to create and edit everything from creatures to spells to quests, and our level designers use it to actually shape the terrain of the outdoor world. At the end of the day, there are countless columns and rows in tables that define the properties of the game world and the players and monsters that inhabit it. We’re only able to do the work that we do because of our amazing Tools team, a dedicated group that is constantly refining and updating our editor to enable us to create content more quickly and with fewer bugs.
On the World of Warcraft website, it lists tradeskill patterns, plans, etc. that the player is missing. Some of those items are no longer in game. Are there any plans to reincorporate those missing plans back into the game so the players have an opportunity to try to get all of their missing tradeskill plans?
Ghostcrawler: I’d hate to add back plans with no real game purpose just for sake of completeness. To be honest, I’d rather get rid of more of the older recipes that don’t have a strong purpose.
Compared to designing dungeons, how difficult is it to design scenarios? Does it take more or less resources to make scenarios?
Ghostcrawler: The biggest challenge for us was just figuring out what scenarios should be. How long should they last? Should they be hard? How much variability should they have from run to run? Now that we’ve gone through that process, they should take much less time to design than dungeons. The biggest time expenditure on dungeons is the amazing art that goes into them.
Amd11394: Considering Dispels remove ALL magic effects, even if they dispelled Fear the Flame shock would go with it, regardless of if they intended to dispel it or not. Would this not constitute it’s reinstatement?
IonHazzikostas: Guessing this is a follow-up to my earlier reply. I meant that if you dispel Flame Shock off yourself, or off Teammate A, maybe you can’t dispel Teammate B’s Fear or Polymorph a few seconds later, and now they’re stuck in CC for its full duration. In general, we expect that players have to be much more careful about how and when they use their magic dispels.
Rogues are famous for using daggers, and that’s all that we seem to be able to use, but I like to play Combat Spec, and it’s described as being a swashbuckler spec. As such, I’d like to use 1handed swords along with daggers, but there are next to no 1handed rogue compatible swords, will we ever get to use swords as part of a rogue’s arsenal? Afterall, there is no longer a block on what weapons a rogue can use on their abilties.
Ghostcrawler: It’s less of a design concern and more about how many different items we can drop. Things like e.g. Intellect axes don’t have a lot of customers, so we just don’t make them very often. This might be the kind of thing that transmog can eventually help address too.
basketballer259: I assume I ask this question on behalf of thousands of vanilla WoW fans: Do you ever plan on bringing back “Server-wide” Events? An example would be the Opening of AQ, which allowed the entire server to collaborate their efforts. An event of the same theory would be an incredible experience for all players to witness. It was incredibly rewarding when the whole server gathered enough materials for the opening ceremony!
DaveKosak:: From the standpoint of, “Everyone gather at the same place at the same time to see a big event and if you miss it its gone forever assuming you all don’t crash the server,” then no, no more events like that. :smileyhappy: BUT, we love the feeling of server progression, similar to the Isle of Quel’denas. Is there a way to build that progression into the game such that players who come in a couple months later don’t miss out on all the fun? We think there is. And we’re planning something that we’d like to try in the 5.0 patch cycle… so stay tuned! [No guarantees here, but we’re actively tinkering with something.]
Shnitzel: With the pet battle system, pets which you can acquire multiples of, have lost the ‘Already Known’ tag. This is pretty annoying when shopping for pets for example, as you constantly have to search through your journal (“Do I have the red tickbird or the white one?”). Will this be changed? perhaps add an ‘Already Known’ tag in a different color?
CoryStockton:: Sorry for the inconvenience on that, we have already redesigned the tooltips to fix this in patch 5.1.0. Tooltips will display if you already own the pet in addition to how many.
Have you thought of introducing titles to reward realm 1st times for the new challenge mode dungeons. Something similar to how the PvP titles work now.
CoryStockton:: We actually have! The idea was that you would only have the title for as long as you held the top time. Main issue we ran into was that the title could be changing hands so fast that you might only have it for a few seconds. It’s an awesome idea though and we want to explore it more.
Can we have a rough timeframe on when we can expect the Trials of the High King questline to be implimented? Are we taking around patch 5.1 or something closer to the Siege of Orgrimmar patch?
DaveKosak:: Varian Wrynn’s first trial will happen in 5.1. But to set expectations, the development of Varian’s character happens across the entire patch cycle and beyond – it doesn’t all happen in one event or one scenario. His trials are many.
Transmog has become a very important part of my gaming fun. Will we be able to farm Dragon Soul LFR recolor gear at level 90, since the LFR tool won’t work for it at that level ? This goes for future expansions and MoP content, of course.
Ghostcrawler: We aren’t going to support Raid Finder for content that is much lower level than your character, but we are going to allow you to enter old raids solo without being in a raid in a future patch (ideally the next major one, but standard no promises). That should facilitiate a lot of transmog farming.
The Reliquary is an interesting faction (at least in my opinion), but it hasn’t been really visible in Cataclysm. Any chance we’ll see them in Pandaria, as a counterpart to Brann ? Or at least some way to get their tabard ?
DaveKosak:: No plan for a tabard, but starting in 5.1 they’re going to start poking around Pandaria for relics…
Were Ogres ever thought of as a playable race, at one time? (Greg marry me /kiss) Irth
Ghostcrawler: Yep. We considered them for Cataclysm instead of goblins. Figuring out the females and the two-headed mages would be (fun!) challenges. Maybe someday.
Zarhym: Way to ignore that marriage proposal follow-up, Ghostcrawler. ;p
Cueball: First: Hi guys, including Zarhym (didn’t know you’d be here). Anyway, is there anything to Jaina’s words that it is “time to bring Dalaran down” to the land and that she is still in support of fighting against the Horde?
DaveKosak:: Jaina’s story will continue starting in patch 5.1. We’ll try to catch players up with where she is at the end of the book, and then move on from there.
With the introduction of Pet Battles, do you think we can see pets dropping in raids again? There hasn’t been a pet drop in a raid since Karazhan IIRC so a prime example in today’s standing could be Ragnaros dropping Mini Ragnaros instead of it being on the store.
CoryStockton:: I don’t see why not! We just need to make sure it’s a good fit with the content.
Is there any plans to allow players to have more then one Death Knight per server?
Ghostcrawler: We agree that it feels like an antiquated rule at this point. We’ll see how hard it is to remove that restriction.
sdk: I am wondering about the incentives to 25 man. This game is a social game so why does it seem that 25 man guilds are dieing off and they are going to 10 mans. Paragon recently posted that they were going to 10 man. Is there any other way to fix it so that people are drawn to do 25 mans because they want to raid with friends and get the good gear?
IonHazzikostas: In Paragon’s specific case, I suspect they’d find no lack of capable people more than willing to raid with them, but maintaining a Finnish-speaking roster is a core part of their guild culture, and they’ve made what was no doubt a very difficult decision to scale down to 10-player raiding rather than compromise that culture. As I noted in the Reddit AMA, ultimately there are heavier logistical burdens, particularly placed on the officers and raid leaders, in sustaining a 25-player roster versus only needing 10 players. We’re actively discussing ways of ensuring that 25-player raiders feel properly incentivized and rewarded without necessarily elevating one raid size over the other. We definitely welcome ongoing community discussion and feedback on that topic.
Alablaster: As Developers, what was your biggest hurdle in building the new features we will see in Mists and how did you overcome them? Also I want to send kudos out to the art team – the beta was visually stunning!
CoryStockton:: Our biggest issue with new features is adding more complexity to the game. It’s somethign we struggle with every expansion. I will pass your kind words on to the art team too!
Wamogri: Will the baby shark pet ever get added back into the game?
CoryStockton:: Yes! That’s what those sweet new water bubbles are for!
Recently in Twitter Ghostcrawler mentioned the possibility of making subraces such as Maghar orcs and Wildhammer dwarfs available with the player character model updates, how high chance is there that this would also allow us to play as Broken or Taunka?
Ghostcrawler: If we ever opened up more races, I suspect we’d be pretty liberal about it, but to be clear, that feature is no more than a twinkle in some designer’s eye at this stage.
artimadours: Are there any plans to allow for heirloom items to be sent cross realm?
CoryStockton:: We want this as bad as you guys do. It’s on the list and we are looking into it.
Nize: You mentioned in a previous Q&A that legendary weapon components would be done in a manner to lessen drama within in a guild. One step was the implementation of components achievable through LFR. My question is how will components from normal and heroic raids be distributed. Will it be distributed similarly to how Deathwing’s essences or new LFR are, or will the raid leaders still choose who to give those components to?
Ghostcrawler: In 5.0 it’s not a competitive issue at all. In Raid Finder, it’s a random drop for some players. In Normal and Heroic there is a chance of a drop, at which point it is multi-lootable and every player on the quest will get it.
There has been some speculation as to whether Turalyon and Alleria might make a triumphant comeback in Mists of Pandaria. Any comments on this, or are they saved for a later expansion pack? The Alliance sure could use something to turn the tide of war.
DaveKosak:: There’s no plan to continue their story in Pandaria … and also, I think the Alliance can take this!
Are we going to have the ability to remove players who dc or log off from scenario groups and add in new players from the queue?
CoryStockton:: Not at launch but we hope to have it in for the 5.1 patch. We understand the concern.
lilm123: Do you guys plan on giving out title for challgenge modes, like how you do for PvP (0.0% – 0.5%: Gladiator 0.5% – 3%: Duelist 3% – 10%: Rival 10% – 35%: Challenger)
IonHazzikostas: If and when we move on to future challenge mode “seasons”, titles to recognize players’ past accomplishments are definitely something we’ll consider.
With all these new changes to get players out into the world (great idea), is it a goal of the development team to possibly bring back World-PvP? Coming from someone who plays on a PvP Realm, I would love to relive the old days of huge scale open world PvP battles. I’m sure many others feel the same way.
Ghostcrawler: We are trying to encourage it. Spots like the Black Market and the shrines (the faction “cities” in the Vale) will probably have a lot of PvP on PvP servers. Remember, guards are much weaker on PvP servers now and there are no sanctuaries in Pandaria.
At the end of the Klaxxi questline, the mantid mentioned that at one point in time, they worshipped Y’shaarj, an old god. However, he was slain by the Titans and was split into “shadows of his former self”. Is he, in some way, in relations with the Sha and will we see Y’shaarj in future content patches?
DaveKosak:: Y’shaarj breathed love and exhaled hate, inhaled peace and breathed violence… Plus, his name was y’SHAarj. It’s pretty safe to connect the dots. :smileyhappy: But Y’shaarj itself is very, very, very dead.
WIll we see a Heroic Version of Ragefire Chasm?
CoryStockton:: Certainly not out of the question. Heroic versions of classic dungeons have been some of our most popular content. We will keep doing them as long as people keem playing em’.
What exaclty (If you can answer without spoiling the story line!) has turned Garrosh Hellscream into the monster we all hate now?
DaveKosak:: Garrosh is not a monster. He has a very clear vision of the Horde, and the future of the orcs, and he gives very little thought to anyone who stands between him and that future. As he gets more powerful, and gets away with more, his vision becomes clearer. This has put him in conflict in the Alliance, and ultimately will cause problems within the Horde.
Ünseen: I love the little mana bomb received from the Theramoore scenario, but the cooldown is making it really hard to have fun with. Any chance this will be reduced to allow a bit more spammability? Maybe like a 30 second cd?
CoryStockton:: Glad you liked the reward! Unfortunately, that kind of mana power takes a long time to recharge!
The new LFR system you have in WoW now seems like a great way for people who dont have alot of time to donate to raiding guild environments a chance to see content that was most of the time closed to them, however im not a big fan of 25man raids. Is there any plans to add a 10man choice to the LFR system?
Ghostcrawler: We think 25 works better for Raid Finder. The ratios of DPS to non DPS more matches the player population and there is less risk of getting an unviable group. In 25s you can afford to have a few deaths and you can even pull if you’re backfilling a few players. Both really make you stop in your tracks on 10s. In 25, it’s easier to fade back into the group if you’re still not 100% confident in what you’re doing. In 10s, it’s harder to be a wallflower.
“Turalyon and Alleria” is it possible in anyway to know if there are any plans to continue their story? I had HUGE hopes to see them in game when BC came out and their SON poped out of nowhere saying they where alive. anything would do!… plz!?
DaveKosak:: Oh, their story will continue!!
How are group compositions gonna work into Challenge Modes? Surely every group would want to have a Bloodlust. And atleast a kings buff.
IonHazzikostas: Realistically, if you’re aiming for Gold, you’re going to want a shaman or a mage or a hunter in your group, though Gold is absolutely possible without using Heroism/Bloodlust or equivalent effects. Realistically that probably saves you 15-20 seconds at best, and we’ve seen groups beat some Gold times by more than that. When constructing a 5-player dungeon group, you’re inevitably going to have some strengths and some weaknesses in your composition, and players may find that the sorts of abilities they find invaluable are not the ones they’re used to viewing in that light. (Pop quiz — Which is likely to help you more in an 18-minute challenge mode run: Bloodlust, or an AoE stun that you can a couple of times a minute?)
Vaengence: Ok, I am going to be the one to ask the dreaded question, mainly because my guild members know that I continue to fight for them and have asked me to still chase this question. 25 mans – GC you have said it would be a good topic for a Watercooler, which is good, and recent tweets say not enough is being done for them.The only change we know about is the loot change and that is onl 1 item different for Normals from the majority of Cata which, excuse the sentiment here, seems a little underwhelmin…
Ghostcrawler: Sadly, we don’t have any details to announce yet, but we have a couple of ideas that should make the 25 players happy. We’ll talk about them when we’re confident that they are good ideas. Remember, the result can’t be that all the 10 players stampede back to 25.
DeathFish1: Any chance we will see the option to upgrade out current legendary to be maybe not the equal to the current ilvl but maybe raid finder ilvl or just a little below so that they are not just taking up space in out banks, or bags in the case of dragonwrath.
Ghostcrawler: Not sure we would let you upgrade a legendary, but we could potentially allow you to transmog them. Our reluctance has always been that Thunderfuy feels less special when you see 30 of them running around AV.
If some gamers are thinking about coming back to WoW to exp Mist of Pandaria content, is there any special program “come back” that will launch with the release?
CoryStockton:: Scroll of Resurrection is awesome for returning players!
Bolting: Have you changed your design philosophy of the quest flow in mists of pandaria? In previous expansions, moving to a new zone as soon as you are eligble left enough experience to cause no issues. Do you intend for all zones to be finished from beginning to end in order, and if so why did you feel the need to add breadcrumbs to the next zone prior to being able to go without issues further down the road?
DaveKosak:: To Bolting Pandaria is like a huge novel that you can read in any order. You can skip ahead to other chapters as soon as you’re eligible. It’s worth it to stick through a full zone to wrap up the storylines and maybe get some blue quest rewards, but you’re welcome to play through however you want. We definitely put in the effort to make this expansion much more open and non-linear.
Crithto:: That about wraps things up, everyone. Thank you so much for joining the Best Buy Dev Chat, sending us really great questions, and for your patience. On behalf of Greg, Cory, Ion, Dave, and Zarhym, we truly appreciate your time and passion for World of Warcraft. Have a GREAT rest of the week, and we’ll see you in Pandaria next Tuesday!
DaveKosak:: This was a lot of fun. Thank you everyone! Only days to go… Pandaria awaits! :smileyhappy:
CoryStockton:: Tons of great questions guys, that was a lot of fun! Can’t wait to see everyone in Pandaria in just a few days!
Ghostcrawler: We can’t wait for you guys to see all of the new Mists content. We are really proud of what we’ve been able to deliver with this expansion. It’s going to be good. Hugs, GC.
Dorothy-BBY: Thanks guys!
Zarhym: Thank you, everyone! For those who got here late or weren’t able to follow along for the whole chat, Best Buy will be providing a full transcript here momentarily: https://bbyurl.us/MistsofPandariaChat
Kyle-BBY: Great chat everyone! Thank you everyone for joining us and Blizzard for totally rocking!
Blizzplanet’s Eldorian and Medievaldragon had the opportunity to speak with New York Times best-selling author Micky Neilson and Sean “Cheeks” Galloway to discuss details of DC Comics’ World of Warcraft: Pearl of Pandaria graphic novel. The transcript is available afterwards. Listen to the interview. Subscribe to Blizzplanet Gaming (YouTube).
Hey there, Wacraft fans! I’m Eldorian from Blizzplanet.com
With me today is my partner in crime to help me ask some questions, Medievaldragon, and today the two of us will be interviewing the masterminds behind the book itself … Micky Neilson and Sean Galloway.
I just want to say guys thanks for taking your time out, today, talking to us about the graphic novel.
Neilson: Absolutely. Thank you.
Eldorian: First question for both Micky and Sean. For people who may not know who you are and what you do, Micky, what’s your title at Blizzard Entertainment and your general duties there? And Sean, what are past projects that you have worked on?
Neilson: The title is Publishing Lead, which means I run the Publishing Team. And the Publishing Team is responsible for Novels, Comics, Short Stories, a lot of lore-related Web Content, and some other fun projects that we get to work on.
Galloway: Past projects I have worked on was lead character designer for THE SPECTACULAR SPIDERMAN ANIMATED, the character designer for HELLBOY ANIMATED, I did covers for DC Comics for TEEN TITANS GO for two years, I did some design for HASBRO, MATTEL, and most currently I wrapped up a 3 year stint of leap frog designing a game for them called Leap School.
Eldorian: How did you become involved with this book?
Galloway: I became involved with the book, because Blizzard had reached out to me, as well as DC Comics and they asked me if I’d be interested, and I tried to do my take on their universe.
Medievaldragon: When in the timeline do the events of PEARL OF PANDARIA take place in relation to World of Warcraft: Cataclysm?
Neilson: The events actually take place before Cataclysm. They are a little bit before the events of WORLD OF WARCRAFT: STORMRAGE — as well as before the Emerald Nightmare stuff.
Medievaldragon: We’d like to know more about Table Taffy Studios since its foundation and the role it plays.
Galloway: Table Taffy was founded by me, and I brought in my buddie Ryan Benjamin to be part of that. Basically, Table Taffy is a group of creative artists that I hand-picked that could potentially expand over a larger volume the way I draw, and also to bring in other styles. So basically, the way that we played for the PEARL OF PANDARIA was that because it was such a big project, and we wanted to have an animation type of approach, the group of artists and I basically made sure that were able to capture my style throughout the whole graphic novel.
Eldorian: Pearl of Pandaria likely began its early development like a year or two ago. With all the iteration and revisions, why did you decide to keep the core of the story pre-Cataclysm?
Neilson: That’s a very interesting question. We started development on PEARL OF PANDARIA quiet a while ago. I want to say we did the brainstorming around the Burning Crusade era. So at the time that we were brainstorming the book, there were no plans for an expansion that would have Pandaren in it, or Pandaria in it.
At the time the book was really going to be a way to explore Pandaria, Chen Stormstout, and the Pandaren culture, because we didn’t believe that there was going to be an expansion. So the story was created back then, and it was written largely all before the events of Cataclysm, and then as the development of the book progressed, we finally found out that there would in fact be an expansion that would include Pandaria, and so we went back and we made some changes to the script.
Luckily, the majority of the story takes place on Azeroth. The first part and the last part are where you see the turtle, Shen-zin Su, which is separate from the island of Pandaria itself. But still that’s something that was being developed for the game. So we had to make a few changes there.
But it worked out, Sean and his team were really great about making artwork changes as well because as the game evolved, that became necessary at few points also.
Eldorian: How were you approached to work on Pearl of Pandaria and what are your early memories talking with Blizzard and DC Comics to draw the initial concept artwork?
Galloway: Basically, I was approached by Jeremy Cranford (Blizzard Art Director). He asked if I’d be interested in hearing about a project and if I liked what I heard if I’d be interested in coming down for a meeting.
Once he told me what the project was, of course I was onboard, wanting to be part of the project. So Blizzard and DC Comics setup a meeting where myself and the editors and the Creative Team at Blizzard sat and we discussed what my role would be for the book.
Of course, I was nervous, but I had an idea of how I’d like to try to approach the project with my art style, but I knew if I did it just the way I normally do it, it would be a little too clean — our art style, so that’s why we came up with the animation type of approach where we could attach the background with a more aggressive type of feel — but before we could go to that point, Blizzard and DC Comics wanted to see what kind of idea I had instead of producing new artwork.
I was already approaching that type of technique with my own personal properties: Bastion’s 7, and Gunshoes 4 Hire. So I sent them this stuff I was doing for my own projects, and it seemed everybody was onboard for that approach.
Once we kinda had an idea of what type of style we’d want to develop the book in, I showed them how I’d like to interpret their characters in my style. For the most part, it was pretty easy to draw them in my style; but there was always the fear: “would they reject it?”, but I had really good support with Blizzard and DC Comics with what I turned in.
Medievaldragon: Micky, who is Li Li Stormstout, and what’s her role in the story?
Neilson: Li Li is the window or the lense through which we see not only the Pandaren culture, but Azeroth as well. One of the many interesting things about Li Li is that she is young, and she is unbiased, and she is unprejudiced, and she has this wonderful innocence about her — especially when it comes to venturing out into the big bad dangerous world of Azeroth, and she’s certainly a bit naive as far as that goes, but she’s also experiencing everything to the upmost, and one of her earliest purposes and goals of this book was to serve a little bit of a travel guide to Azeroth .
Especially for folks who maybe haven’t played the game, or they haven’t played it in a long time, to be able to see the world of Azeroth through the eyes of Li Li; and she’s really the physical embodiment of the theme of the book.
There are a couple of themes:
1. Life is an adventure.
2. Acceptance for other cultures, beliefs and religions.
And so, we get to see all that through Li Li.
Medievaldragon: I really liked the character. In-game and also in the graphic novel — she has a manner of speaking it’s like slap talk. I’m not sure how to describe it. She’s very smarty.
Neilson: Right … Sassy. Sarcastic. Yea, she’s a lot of fun to write.
Medievaldragon: I was clicking her in the game and she starts talking really sarcastic and stuff. It was cool.
Medievaldragon: I heard in another interview that Li Li was based on your daughter?
Neilson: A little bit, yea. My daughter is age 9, and Li Li’s character is supposed to be kinda a tween age, but I certainly did model her behavior and some of her dialogue after my nine-year-old daughter.
Medievaldragon She’s so sweet.
Neilson: Thank you.
Eldorian: This is coming from the Scrolls of Lore — basically the forum that spawned the Red Shirt Guy. So this is going to be an interesting question. Just warning you now. One of the revisions of the concept art found in the back of the graphic novel was the change of the pandaren characters’ eyes from green to gold, and we think it kinda made sense to be jade-like since jade is part of the pandaren culture. We were guessing it was revised because green eyes are also associated with fel corruption and Blood Elves. Why gold eyes instead of the normal black eyes?
Neilson: The theory is very interesting one regarding fel corruption, and in a way, that’s kinda correct. Actually, what we found out in the development of the story was that some cultures, and I believe this is specific to some Asian cultures, believe that green eyes are a sign of demonic corruption — so that’s why when you say fel energy and fel being demonic you are not so far off the mark. So in the interest of being sensitive to other cultures, we went in and we decided to change the eye colors.
The MISTS OF PANDARIA cinematic actually had Chen with green eyes, originally, and they went in and they changed that; and we decided to request the change for PEARL OF PANDARIA — and another interesting little tidbit is that Sean and his team had already completed pretty much the entire book at that point — when we found out about this, and this speaks volumes about Sean and his team that they were dedicated enough to go back in and change just about every panel in the graphic novel and make that conversion from green to gold eyes.
Eldorian: *Sarcastically* That’s easy in Photoshop, right? Just find and replace colors?
Neilson: [laughs]. Find and replace.
Galloway: We were fans of working with many layers. Sometimes finding that red layer was very tough, but we are all in it to produce a great book, so it was a no-brainer. So we’d go back and make those changes.
Eldorian: At the end of Pearl of Pandaria, fans can visualize some of your early concepts and revisions. Could you share some of the core changes the project suffered throughout the evolution of the project?
Galloway: Everybody knows about the expansion, so we had done the first 10-pages, and then we put a hold on it so that we could have the pages reflect the new expansion, so there was that, and then design-wise for Chen it was just a matter of putting the ponytail on Chen to give him a nod to Samwise for creating such a fantastic race, and then for Rahjak I went all overboard and tried to redesign him — respecting what the fans’ reactions would be. So we pulled that back and designed more toward what fans are used to, but just in my style.
Medievaldragon: What can you tell us about the villains in the story? Why did you choose Zhahara, Brokk, Rahjak and Rumblefitz?
Neilson: That came from the early brainstorming sessions that I had with Chris Metzen and Samwise. We knew that we wanted to have new unique villains for Li Li to be going up against in the book, and those were characters that you just dont see that much in the game. I don’t remember the last time we saw a goblin alchemist. I think it might have been Warcraft III. I’m not even sure.
And the Blademaster they are not in the game, and if they are it’s very rare that you’d see these characters. We thought it would be very interesting to choose characters that you don’t see very often.
With Zhahara, you definitely see a lot more of the naga and sea witches and things like that, but she was more a part of the plot and that’s where her character arose from.
Eldorian: I was wondering, it seems like a Warcraft III neutral heroes party there. Was that intended?
Neilson: That was certainly a little bit of it, because one of the things we thought was — ok, “What kind of characters do we really love and that we connect with that we haven’t really been able to revisit in World of Warcraft?” — and that’s actually a big part of where the whole idea for the book came from. Being able to go into the pandaren culture. Like I said before, we wouldn’t be able to do that in an expansion, and so the villains were kind of a reflections of that and being able to explore those types of characters a little bit more.
Medievaldragon: Were you able to play World of Warcraft for the sake of getting acquainted with scenarios like Booty Bay, Ironforge, and the Valley of Heroes in Stormwind? Your renditions look really great and detailed. How was the research and learning process for you?
Galloway: Unfortunately, no. I had a busy schedule. I wasn’t able to. I was familiar with the project, but not as familiar as one should be for the project itself, so I brought in my Table Taffy studio mates to work on the project.
Dave played the game for quite some time, so they knew the property like the back of their hand. They had my back while were on the project.
Eldorian: The final pages of Pearl of Pandaria shows some changes made to the villains’ outfit and weapons. What was the process here, and how did it end up?
Galloway: Basically, as a designer you go in with a vision and respect to how the designs are. I’m very minimalistic when I draw to begin with. So working on this it stretchs me a little bit to add more details — which is great because I never really took the opportunity on my own personal stuff to do that.
Medievaldragon: I’m sure fans are pretty intrigued by the fel orc blademaster, Rahjak. He seems to have been originally a normal orc from Azeroth. What clan was he from?
Neilson: He’s a very interesting character, and another one that we sit down and we thought ok the blademaster was certainly a very cool unit type and one that we wanted to revisit, and then we thought “What’s even cooler than that?” … a fel orc blademaster. It’s just keeping cool over cool. We did a little bit of research on that, and the thinking is that he’s probably from the Burning Blade clan, and he went into Outland — and this is probably after Illidan was defeated, but he was able to figure out a way to have demon blood infused into him probably tying into [The Maker] (The Blood Furnace) and those questslines from the game.
In a very broad and general sense the idea was simply, he went to Outland, he figured out a way to be corrupted by demon blood, and he became a fel orc.
Medievaldragon: What’s his ultimate goal and motivations to undergo all these drastic changes in his body?
Neilson: His ultimate goal is to be the best fighter, the best combatant or martial artist on Azeroth. So to him, defeat is unacceptable, and he fought Chen at some point previous to the events of the book, and he was defeated by Chen, and so he couldn’t take that. He couldn’t accept that. So he decided then to kind of buff himself up even more by going to Outland and being corrupted, and he believed that that would raise him to the next level to be able to defeat Chen.
Eldorian: For those who haven’t watched The Spectacular Spiderman animated series, or Hellboy: Sword of Storms, Your art looks like a cel animation as seen in Disney animated films. what technique do you use in Pearl of Pandaria and what’s the process it undergoes?
Galloway: What is special about this book is that every page — the background is drawn separate from the characters. Any time, Blizzard and DC Comics would be able to utilize the art as clip art for whatever reasons that they want. That was the approach. Because there were some changes that needed to be made due to the expansion, it made it not as tough to make some edits.
So basically there’s a couple guys, myself and Derrick, that would be on backgrounds, some on layouts, and then a couple colorists because with this kind of process it’s like an assembly line. That way each page every day could be accomplished with all of us working together. We also had a studio mate who would come in and put the characters on model as well. It’s like animation on paper.
Medievaldragon: I think fans will enjoy some of Li Li’s adventures. She’s in search of her uncle Chen Stormstout going all around Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor. You managed to add some in-game elements like professions and the backstory of some holidays. How was the process of thinking, selection, and writing of these type of details into the story?
Neilson: It was all a part of the brainstorming process in just trying to pick out little areas where we could add history, and details and lore that didnt exist. One of my favorites is Brewfest, and being able to for the first time kind of explore where that came from, and how it all came about and everything else. The dwarves are always so fun to write for and to work with. The hard drinking, scottish characters are always a blast. So those kind of things it was such a fun project and being able to step away from what I normally do — books like the WORLD OF WARCRAFT: ASHBRINGER or co-writing WORLD OF WARCRAFT: CURSE OF THE WORGEN with James Waugh. They are very dark. They are very somber. It was a nice departure. It was very fun.
Eldorian: At the end of the book, it says fans should expect a continuation of Chen and Li Li’s adventures in a free online novella titled Quest for Pandaria. Will the online novella gap what happened between Pearl of Pandaria and Chen and Li Li’s appearance in-game?
Neilson: Yes, it does — and one thing I wanted to mention is the graphic novel PEARL OF PANDARIA. I think is now scheduled to be released on September 25th — so PEARL OF PANDARIA will be released a little bit after the first installment of QUEST FOR PANDARIA is posted on the website.
We’ll actually put up a message for people saying if you want to avoid spoilers we recommend that you read PEARL OF PANDARIA before starting QUEST FOR PANDARIA — which is going to be a four-part, a series of short stories.
It will detail the events that happened after PEARL OF PANDARIA, and leading up to the game and where you see them in the game.
Medievaldragon: Micky, there’s a cliffhanger in the story that is not concluded in Pearl of Pandaria, concerning the whereabouts of the Pearl and the Fisherman. Will this be concluded in Quest for Pandaria, or will fans have to wait an see in-game?
Neilson: The story of the Pearl will be continued in Quest for Pandaria!
Eldorian: This question is for both of you on the story and artistic aspects. Why should fans of the game get a copy of World of Warcraft: Pearl of Pandaria?
Neilson: For me it’s really different, and I fell in love with the character of Li Li, and I fell in love with the lot of the other characters. There is also a lot of history that is conveyed — a lot of history about Chen Stormstout, a lot of history about Pandaria and the turtle … Shen-zin Su. It’s sort of a time-capsule glimpse into Azeroth before the Cataclysm, before the game changed. So there’s all kinds of reasons, and of course, fantastic writing. Number one reason.
Galloway: Of course, that’s the number one reason. (chuckles)
Neilson: Hehehehe! … and good artwork too!
Galloway: It’s ok — why wouldn’t they want to pick it up? Like Micky said, the writing is fantastic, and his track record writing these books is fantastic too. I think fans would want to take their chance with the book. It’s different from what Blizzard has done in the past, and I think it’s a nice different approach to the property. We intended to approach it as if it were an animated feature. So we hope people will pick it up and enjoy it.
Eldorian: Thanks a lot for this interview, guys. It was a lot of great information. I really enjoyed hearing all of your answers. I just wanted to say it was a fantastic book, I loved it, and everyone should go out and buy it. Absolutely.
Blizzard Entertainment sent a copy of World of Warcraft: Pearl of Pandaria for review. I just opened the box, and got thrilled with the format of this DC Comics graphic novel product.
I haven’t seen anything like this before from DC Comics. The dimensions of the book resemble that of an iPad, thus comfortable to hold. An iPad is 9.50″ x 7.31″. The World of Warcraft: Pearl of Pandaria Graphic Novel’s dimensions are approximately 11.25 x 7.37″.
The front cover artwork of World of Warcraft: Pearl of Pandaria seen above is a book jacket you can remove and frame up if you wish to. This is how the book looks like without the book jacket.
The first chapter introduces the history of Liu Lang to set the background and starting point of this story for readers new to World of Warcraft and/or to the Mists of Pandaria expansion.
Liu Lang was the first Pandaren to leave Pandaria with the wanderlust of adventure. Originally, after the Sundering ten-thousand-years in the past the Pandaren thought the whole world had been destroyed, and because of the Mists none dared to explore thinking they wouldn’t find their way back home.
Liu Lang observed the dragon turtles would leave into the sea, but eventually returned to the shore they were born. Thus, with that wisdom, Liu Lang explored beyond the mists on top of Shen-zin Su.
The Pandaren laughed at Liu Lang and thought they would never see him again. Five years later, Liu Lang returned to Pandaria on a now grown turtle to share his adventures with fellow Pandaren. The turtle would return home every five years, and more Pandaren accompanied Liu Lang and as centuries went by the turtle became as big as an island.
Some of the lore in this graphic novel is exclusive and won’t be seen in the Mists of Pandaria expansion. However, the story of Liu Lang will be experienced by players who delve into the path of the Lorewalker. I recently shared my experiences in beta on where to find all the sites and achievements to reach exalted with the Lorewalker, and some videos that tell the lore of Liu Lang.
Micky Neilson joined Blizzard Entertainment in 1993. He’s got several video games story development experience under his belt, including: Warcraft III, The Lost Vikings II, World of Warcraft, StarCraft. He’s presently Lead Publishing at Blizzard with two graphic novels: WORLD OF WARCRAFT: CURSE OF THE WORGEN (co-written with James Waugh), WORLD OF WARCRAFT: ASHBRINGER (Number Two in New York Times Bestselling Graphic Novels List).
If you have read both graphic novels, you are in for a great story with PEARL OF PANDARIA. It’s written from the point of view of Li Li Stormstout, the niece of famous adventurer Chen Stormstout who we are acquainted with since his debut in the bonus orc campaign in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne (2003).
There’s definitely a message to be found in the context of the story aimed both at young children and [why not] adults. Sometimes we celebrate holidays, study history in school but do not live what we celebrate and commemorate.
Li Li is a dreamer and loves the stories of Liu Lang, but sees that her father and even the Elders of Shen-zin Su have forgotten what it is to leave the Wandering Isle and explore the world and enjoy every day of their lives in a continuous adventure.
She’s young, but not a coward. She refuses to live in a pedestal, and decides to leave the Wandering Isle to go in search of her uncle Chen Stormstout. I liked very much Micky’s approach and direction in this story.
According to Licensing Manager Kat Hunter, in the DC Comics website, this is an independent story outside the Mists of Pandaria expansion. While you might recognize some elements that appear in-game, the story takes place before the events Pandaren level 1-10 players will experience in the Wandering Isle’s starting location in-game.
One of the scenes when Li Li goes to Stormwind gives a glimpse into where in the timeline the story takes place, and it’s definitely not Mists of Pandaria-time, nor even Cataclysm-time. One guard is asking for volunteers to go to Northrend for the ultimate fight against the Lich King. Another scene reveals the fight against the Emerald Nightmare — which took place during World of Warcraft: Stormrage — hasn’t happened yet.
Li Li Stormstout is not an NPC in the Wandering Isle for example. You get to meet her as an NPC later on at level 86 in the Valley of the Four Winds alongside Chen Stormstout.
Sean “Cheeks” Galloway
Sean Galloway is the artist of the interior pages and front cover. Not everyone is used to comic books or animation, so it’s normal for people to like or dislike the artwork style.
Personally, when I saw the front cover a few weeks ago I had no idea who the artist was, but recognized the style right away. The artwork and the coloring resembles that in TV animated series and even Disney animated films. Knowing how Blizzard Entertainment works they will get the best in the industry. We have seen Simon Furman (The Transformers) behind the StarCraft comics series, Walter Simonson (Mighty Thor) behind the World of Warcraft comics series. All the awesome writers and artists in the Tokyopop Manga. You know the drill. Blizzard Creative Team is passionate about their projects and fans themselves of writers and artists that are involved in their personal geeky hobbies: Tabletop, fantasy stories, SciFi, etc.
I won’t lie. I have rarely watched american TV in the past 12 years since playing Blizzard games — kinda odd for someone who lives in New York City. Sean Galloway is a name that caught my attention though.
In the animation front, Sean Galloway is the founder of Table Taffy Studios and lead character designer for The Spectacular Spiderman animated TV series. Sean has been involved in Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms, Blood and Iron, Disney’s Tron Animated, Dreamworks’ Mastermind, G.I. Joe Renegades, and Scoobie Doo Mystery Inc.
As a comics penciler/artist he’s been involved in TEEN TITANS GO and the Teen Titans stories in WEDNESDAY COMICS. He’s also done video game and toy design. Some fans know him for his creator-owned properties: Bastion’s 7, Gumshoes 4 Hire and Little Big Heads.
In terms of World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, the artwork style sometimes might break what’s known as the “Warcraft Style” — which players are used to with Senior Art Director Samwise Didier, René Koiter, Glenn Rane, and other Sons of the Storm artists. However, considering the main character of this story is a little girl named Li Li, and the bulky shapes of the Pandaren — it made sense to go the TV animated series style which is welcomed by children, teens and adults in general, rather than one specific audience.
Some of us have been playing World of Warcraft since 2004-2006. Some might have by now a young kid at home which is ready to kick some indiscriminate justice at your side against the evils of Azeroth. World of Warcraft: Pearl of Pandaria makes a perfect gift to a son/daughter, nephew/nice (etc.) as a background story prior to playing World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria.
The coloring techniques are amazing and quickly you get to dig Sean Galloway and his team’s style. There are many landmarks and locations captured in this 128-pages graphic novel, including Booty Bay, Ironforge, Kharanos, Azshara, Westfall, Golshire, The Dark Portal, Stormwind, Stonetalon Mountains, and Orgrimmar — to name a few.
Wish to ask Micky Neilson or Sean Galloway a question? Post a comment below using your Facebook/Yahoo login. We will talk with them on Wednesday during an interview.
Li Li Stormstout
Zhahara Darksquall (Naga witch)
Elder Po Stormstout (Li Li’s father, Chen’s brother)
Shisai Stormstout (Li Li’s eldest brother)
Xiu Li (Long-lost Elder Po’s wife)
Rahjak (Fel orc blademaster)
Dark Iron Coren Direbrew
King Magni Bronzebeard
Rumblefitz (Goblin alchemist)
Fisherman Wanyo (pandaren)
Graphic Novel Credits
Written by: Micky Neilson (Blizzard Entertainment Publishing Lead) Art and Cover: Sean “Cheeks” Galloway Lettering: Saida Temofonte Blizzard Special Thanks: Chris Metzen, Sam Didier, Cameron Dayton, Doug A. Gregory and Glenn Rane Sean Galloway Special Thanks: Table Taffy Studio’s Derek Laufman, DJ Welch, Dario Brizuela, Caleb Sawyer, Hwang Nguyen and Ryan Odagawa.
Editors: Hank Kanalz& Sarah Gaydos Design Director: Robbin Brosterman Publication Design: Larry Berry VP-Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras President: Diane Nelson Co-Publishers: Dan DiDio & Jim Lee Chief Creative Officer: Geoff Johns Executive VP-Sales,Marketing and Business Development: John Rood Senior VP – Business and Legal Affairs: Amy Genkins Senior VP – Finance: Nairi Gardiner VP-Publishing Operations: Jeff Boison VP-Art Direction and Design: Mark Chiarello VP-Marketing: John Cunningham VP-Talent Relations and Services: Terri Cunningham Senior VP-Manufacturing and Operations: Alison Gill Senior VP-Digital: Hank Kanalz VP-Business Affairs, Talent: Jack Mahan VP-Manufacturing Administration: Nick Napolitano VP-Book Sales: Sue Pohja Senior VP-Publicity: Courtney Simmons Senior VP-Sales: Bob Wayne
Prince Anduin continues his education in the Exodar with Velen and the draenei — in continuity with the Leader Short Stories: “Velen: Prophet’s Lesson” by Marc Hutcheson.
Kalecgos and the blue dragonflight continue to regret Malygos’ demise, the Nexus War and the Hour of Twilight which is their responsibility due to Arygos’ betrayal and the use of the Focusing Iris to give life to Chromatus — as seen in World of Warcraft: Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects.
Garrosh Hellscream recently set a plan in motion to invade Ashenvale — in the pages of World of Warcraft: Wolfheart by Richard A. Knaak. However, it backfired when the Alliance got word of it and reinforcements came in kind through Theramore marching toward Southern Barrens, Stonetalon Mountains and Ashenvale to respond to Garrosh’s atrocities.
Players have experienced this war in-game in the Cataclysm expansion’s low-level quests.
Garrosh has learned from his mistakes and came up with a master plan to now not only invade Ashenvale, but to take the entire Kalimdor continent for the Horde.
Christie Golden fully benefits from her years of hands-on experience playing World of Warcraft. She is played up to level 75, but still has plenty of material to work with. She used elements from each expansion to add to continuity. Garrosh uses elements from questlines seen in Terrokar Forest (Burning Crusade), Vash’jir (Cataclysm), Coldarra (Wrath of the Lich King) and fused them to mastermind Garrosh’s ultimate plan.
Tides of War is an epic battle between the Alliance and the Horde — rated M, with all the violence, blood and gore.
I was literally surprised by the large amount of characters that either take center stage in the story, or make a cameo. It shows Christie Golden and the Blizzard Creative Team worked really hard with each character that appears in the story and to keep track of continuity.
I’m still unsure about two characters who made a cameo, as they were supposed to be dead long ago, but in general I counted at least 84 characters. Some are established known NPCs who make a cameo, others were created by Christie Golden as they don’t even show up in WoWHead, and few are merely mentioned (i.e. Arthas and Admiral Daelin Proudmoore).
The story mainly focus on the point of view of Warchief Garrosh Hellscream, High-Chieftain Baine Bloodhoof, Lady Jaina Proudmoore, and Kalecgos the blue dragon. Supporting characters who get some relevant screen time in certain chapters are King Varian Wrynn and Thrall.
It’s no longer a spoiler to mention the focus of this book is to lay the groundwork for the destruction of Theramore — coming up in Patch 5.0.4 on August 28th.
This heinous crime is the trigger that starts the war that eventually causes the Alliance and the Horde naval fleets to get stranded within the Mists of Pandaria.
Thus, Tides of War novel serves as a prequel to the events of the upcoming World of Warcraft MMO expansion pack, which is expected to launch in September 25th.
Many changes are to come in the expansion, and I am not truly convinced some of these changes are currently seen in beta servers.
Not only Theramore, which will now become a crater, but even Dalaran might have some changes as well. Significant ones.
The events set in this novel will change Jaina Proudmoore in ways we have never expected, that will put her down the path of hatred and revenge her father Admiral Daelin Proudmoore and her former lover Prince Arthas walked. Will she come to her senses, or seek to return the atrocities of the Horde back at them in kind?
Whichever path she chooses, it will certainly change her forever.
I finished reading the novel. It shook me to the core at an emotion level no other Warcraft novel has at this magnitude. There will be countless loses of life — NPCs we have interacted with since 2004, and characters some players have grown fond with in past Warcraft novels.
It’s been ages since the first time I beat Diablo II and Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. I can’t say I played religiously everyday, nor multiplayer. Still, I have fond times spending hours and days clearing every single cave, basement, and underground levels.
Some people rush through the quests to reach Diablo. I’m more a completionist, and I just can’t rush through. Takes longer, but satisfaction and victory thrill is felt tenfold.
It’s been over a decade, and we waited so long for this game to ship. After defeating Diablo III in Normal Difficulty, I can only say: It was worth the wait. Blizzard Entertainment’s creative team and the Diablo III team built something that feels like Diablo II, but improved so many areas of the game.
The storyline is awesome. I never saw many of these plots and characters coming. The story feels truly epic, be it quests, in-game lore books, or dialogues between the NPCs. I explored it all. From what I saw in the achievements, I barely missed a few in-game books.
I only found one flaw with the game, and that’s mostly because the Auction House is currently disabled until further notice. So hard to make space in your inventory and stash.
I’d say the cost for each stash 14 slots needs to decrease, and the cost of the tabs as well. The second tab costs 100,000. The third tab costs 200,000. That’s 300,000 — not counting the additional 10,000 per 14 slots.
At the time of finishing Diablo III, I only managed to get the second tab (100,000), and only have 50,000 gold (a quarter of what the third tab costs).
All my focus went into spending gold to buy 14 stash slots, and to buy the second stash tab, and all its slots. I was not able to invest in upgrading the Blacksmith. At all. Thus didn’t even use the Blacksmith’s recipes to build gear.
There’s a work around if you are running out of inventory space and stash space while you manage to get all three stash tabs. You have up to 10 character slots. Create two level 1 characters you won’t be using for a long while. Empty the stash onto both characters’ inventory — use them as bank characters so to speak. When the Auction House is launched, put all those items in those two bank characters for sale. Much better to use this method, than to trash stuff that might have potential value at the Auction House. Go, empty your inventory and stash to make space so you can keep farming Nightmare Difficulty items until the Auction House opens.
At level 32, I beat Diablo III Normal Difficulty wearing only what I looted from bosses and rare elites. Lot of yellow gear. No Blacksmith gear. I’m so glad I could experience the entire gameplay and storyline, and to be able to say indeed Darkness Falls, Heroes Rise. Mission accomplished. Yet so much work to do. Next step: Nightmare Difficulty.
Other than my suggestion to lower the stash costs, this game was worth the wait. Very polished, awesome scenarios, cool random events and game mechanics, and quests. Diablo III is everything Diablo II should have been, now in the flesh, made reality. I love this game, and truly hope to play it often in coop-mode. Big <3 to Jay Wilson, Christian Lichtner, Andrew Chambers, Kevin Martens, Jason Bender, Wyatt Cheng, and the remaining Diablo III Team.
I'm amazed by all the information found in-game about the story. Now I understand how important it is for fans to read Diablo III: Book of Cain and Diablo III: The Order. Reading those two books will prepare players to the video game’s storyline, and overall help them understand what’s going on, and who the characters and locations mentioned are.
Big kudos to Chris Metzen, Micky Neilson, James Waugh and the whole Creative Team for their truly epic story. As usual, there’s a cliffhanger. What’s next? As Jay Wilson mentioned throughout these past few years, there will be Diablo III expansions. Who do we fight now? There are some characters in the game whose whereabouts are still unaccounted for.
Update: Because of the ending, the repercussions are palpable, and yet unpredictable. Will the expansion be set several years in the future? Will Sanctuary have to fight in other worlds where the Burning Hells still have foothold? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I recommend reading Diablo: The Sin War Box Set (Kindle edition). To read the eBook on your PC/Mac computer or mobile device download the Kindle app.
Chronologically, Diablo: The Sin War is the earliest event in the Diablo story — about 3,000 years in the past. In this book, the Angiris Council voted against or in favor of humanity. The true origin of Sanctuary and the Worldstone are revealed too. Material that is widely used in the Diablo III quests, in-game books and NPC dialogues. Some important characters that play a role in the book trilogy: Trang’Oul, Rathma, Kalan, Lilith, Mephisto, Tyrael, Imperius, and Uldyssian.
Possible Expansion Characters – Spoilers
There are seven lieutenants of Azmodan. We only fight two: Ghom (Lord of Gluttony) and Cydaea (Maiden of Lust).
Those who are following us, all comments are moderated. Don’t worry, we can read all of your questions and comments in the admin panel.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 5:53 Medievaldragon
[Comment From Luís Luís : ]
Just came here to say I have it pre-ordered but I’ll just ask this: Have you read the previous books or were you working with Blizzards notes.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:01 Luís
Hi Luis–thanks for the question. Absolutely, one of my most important goals was to get this book right for the fans, and I read everything that has been published, read Blizzard’s documents, wikis, talked to fans…I spent several months just researching Diablo before we began the writing. In fact, you’ll see when you read the novel that there are a number of nods to former books and to those who know the history well–although it certainly not necessary to know that to enjoy the book!
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:03 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Luís Luís : ]
Side question: have you played the games?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:03 Luís
Yes, I sure have. I played the first two when I was younger, and I was lucky enough to play the beta when I visited Blizzard’s campus last year.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:04 Nate Kenyon
Welcome, Nate and Lyndsi. Thanks for coming. Diablo III: The Order is your debut to the Diablo franchise. You have a great background in Horror novels. Could you introduce fans to some of your previous works, style, and background?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:04 Medievaldragon
Sure. I’ve written four original novels, Bloodstone, The Reach, The Bone Factory, and Sparrow Rock. I’ve written a sci fi novella called Prime. And I’ve written a bunch of short fiction. I’ve also written a novel in the StarCraft universe, StarCraft Ghost: Spectres.
I consider myself a dark thriller writer, I guess. I’m less interested in genre, and more in each story itself–what does the story need to be told well? That said, I do tend to lean toward dark and creepy. 🙂
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:06 Nate Kenyon
It’s been twenty years since the destruction of the Worldstone, and Diablo III. When does Diablo III: The Order takes place?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:07 Medievaldragon
It takes place in between Diablo II and Diablo III –about ten years before the new game. Leah is eight, and Cain…well, he’s a pretty old man. 🙂
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:08 Nate Kenyon
Something fans might wish to know. Is this book canon, was the Blizzard creative team and you in contact throughout its development?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:09 Medievaldragon
Oh, absolutely. Blizzard is very intent on doing things the right way–and that includes their novels. We worked very intensely, hand in hand, from the beginning of the process. It’s actually an amazing experience to work with them–the creativity, the brainstorming and throwing ideas back and forth–really inspiring. They know their stuff, and it shows.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:11 Nate Kenyon
How did the plans to develop Diablo III: The Order come about and who from Blizzard assisted you?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:11 Medievaldragon
I had written StarCraft, and we really clicked on that project–they had read my novella Prime and loved it, and contacted my agent to ask if I’d like to write for them. The process for that book was eye opening for me, for all the reasons I’ve mentioned–the creativity, energy, freedom to create within such a fully realized world–and so doing Diablo was a natural next step.
If I listed everyone who assisted me it would take the rest of the night. 🙂 But people like James Waugh, Micky Neilson, Chris Metzen and many, many others were so essential to the process. And they are all great people!
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:14 Nate Kenyon
What did Blizzard wanted you to portray and flesh out in this book? In short, what was your mission? (or quest)
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:14 Medievaldragon
I had several. First, they wanted to “reboot” the franchise–use this book as an opportunity to do something darker, more horror based, gritty, while informing new fans as well as older ones about the back story and the lore. It was a chance to tell the core story from Diablo I up to Diablo III, while keeping a riveting current plot.
Another goal was to tell Cain’s story. He’s an iconic charater, everyone knows him–but nobody knows his real background, who he is and where he came from, his personal history. He’s never held center stage before. So one thing I really wanted to do was make him a fully realized character, with great trauma and guilt and the need for redemption.
We also needed to explain Cain and Leah’s relationship, and how that leads into Diablo III.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:17 Nate Kenyon
We actually have a question about writing freedom. Did you have creative freedom in Diablo III: The Order, or did you have to stick to Blizzard Creative Team’s guideline?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:18 Medievaldragon
The previous question, I see the need to clear that up for fans. In the Diablo III beta all we know is that Leah calls Deckard Cain uncle, but she’s Adria’s daughter. So it was a bit confusing for some fans.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:20 Medievaldragon
Blizzard had a story idea, and they knew what they wanted to accomplish with this book. But what I really love about them is they do give me quite a bit of freedom to expand upon that, to find things I want to explore and throw ideas out there. For example, Blizzard knew they wanted a quest novel, with Cain on the road looking for a lost group of Horadrim. They knew they wanted Leah in the middle of it, and they knew they wanted certain evil elements, shall we say. But I was able to develop the specifics of Cain’s history, and figure out some of the events that happen along the way. I created the secret that’s at the core of the novel, and where they end up. So it’s a true collaboration, and the only time they tend to say no is when the idea just doesn’t fit with something they want to do down the road, or really doesn’t work with existing lore.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:22 Nate Kenyon
Neinball asks: Besides the previous Diablo games and books, where did you draw inspiration for writing this novel? I always love hearing what other works the authors use when writing.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:22 Medievaldragon
I think it was really mostly about the existing properties and my own imagination and Blizzard’s ideas. I did listen to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack through much of the writing of it, to get me in that epic frame of mind…and I definitely drew some inspiration from the “road” novel format of King’s The Stand, as well as the duality of the good and evil in the novel. I wanted to set up The Dark One as Cain’s alter ego, of sorts, a man he could see himself in, and someone he might have become, in other circumstances.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:25 Nate Kenyon
How will reading Diablo III: The Order impact those who look forward to playing Diablo III?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:25 Medievaldragon
A lot. I think players will gain a much better understanding of a number of things. I don’t want to spoil anything, but a lot of groundwork is laid in The Order that leads up to the game. And of course Cain and Leah’s relationship is established in the novel. I think people will see the reasons for some things that they might not otherwise understand quite as clearly. It makes for a richer, more satisfying game experience.
That said, it could just as easily go the other direction. If they read the book after playing, they’ll gain those insights after the fact, and things might click in a different way. There are no real spoilers, so whichever way fans read and play, it’ll work out just fine. As long as they do read the book sooner or later!!! 🙂
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:28 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From jean jean : ]
Hello Diser know when will be the release of Diablo 3 in Brazil
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:31 jean
I’m not sure on that one…I’m sorry!
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:31 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Zülfü Topçu Zülfü Topçu : ]
what do you feel writing about something for diablo? and sorry my english i live in turkey..
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:31 Zülfü Topçu
It’s an incredible experience. I feel very lucky to have been able to contribute to such an enduring franchise that is so beloved by millions of people. It’s a thrill, to say the least.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:32 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Meh Meh : ]
How much time per day did you spend writing the book?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:32 Meh
I spent over a year of my life writing The Order, all told. The first few months were spent on intense research, developing the outline with Blizzard, brainstorming new ideas and coming up with character points. Once I started writing, it took about 4-5 months of writing a couple of hours or more a day to finish the first draft, and then another 3 months of rewrites with Blizzard to get it just right.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:34 Nate Kenyon
To Diablo III beta testers, Leah only has the Horadrim teachings and a bow in her arsenal to fight evil. However, due to her lineage she is more than meet the eye. Can you elaborate on that? (Note: fans will see a totally different Leah during the game storyline. The book prepares fans to some of that).
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:35 Medievaldragon
Leah is Adria’s daughter, and she has some talents of her own. Her travels with Cain introduce her to a number of things that strengthen her already remarkable resolve, and she learns much about the Horadric ways. Cain is a good teacher, and she has a natural ability for these things…she’s pretty unique, pretty special.
As for the bow, in The Order we see the origins of that. I won’t say anything more–you have to read the novel to find out!
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:36 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Zülfü Topçu Zülfü Topçu : ]
shall we read your book in turkey?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:36 Zülfü Topçu
I believe so, but you’d have to check with Blizzard on that to be sure…
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:37 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From hi hi : ]
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:37 hi
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:37 Nate Kenyon
Do readers need to have played the previous games to understand what’s going on in the book, or are there flashbacks to highlight key events?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:37 Medievaldragon
No, that was another goal of ours–we wanted to make sure this novel was accessible for both new fans and hardcore players, and even people who didn’t know the games at all. We did this through tight, intense flashbacks that focused on important plot points, both in the games and for the plot of The Order. I think it works pretty well, actually!
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:38 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Ashley Ashley : ]
Did you spend a lot of time with the Diablo III creators to help develop your story to make it as accurate as possible to the game?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:39 Ashley
Yes, I did–I spent time with them when I flew out there to have a creative working session with everyone, and I kept in constant contact with the Blizzard Creative team. I think readers will find a high level of detail that meshes with the game, and that helps them understand the game in a different way.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:40 Nate Kenyon
Note: all comments are moderated. We can see your submissions. Thanks for your patience. Nate will answer.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:40 Medievaldragon
[Comment From Adam Adam : ]
Is this book will be avalible in Polish leanguage?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:40 Adam
I believe so, but you’d need to check with Blizzard to be sure.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:40 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Meh Meh : ]
Oh! Did you ever, at any time experiance writer’s block and how did how deal with it if that was the case?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:40 Meh
I have experienced it to some degree before–it hits me during most of my projects to some extent. I just write through it. I find it’s not actually anything to do with what I’m writing, but more my state of mind–often I find that what I’ve written during those times, as much as I hated it then, ended up being some of my strongest work.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:42 Nate Kenyon
I created a monk named Mikulov (level 17 now). Loved this character, and how you portrayed his combat in the story. What can you tell us about Mikulov and his role in the story?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:42 Medievaldragon
Sure. I don’t believe Mikulov was in the final outline Blizzard and I worked on. But as I began writing the novel I just felt like I needed someone else. What I realized was that although I had taken great pains to include the D1 and D2 stories with various characters, I didn’t have a new character that would bridge the gap to D3. And I wanted a strong, physically gifted hero to contrast with Cain, who was an old man. I found that pairing fascinating to write–and when you add in an eight year old girl, it made for a really strange, and really interesting traveling group.
Mikulov is also driven by visions of the coming invasion, and his and Cain’s role in it. He’s on a mission of his own, and he becomes very important to the core of the story–and to Cain and Leah.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:45 Nate Kenyon
BTW I think its VERY cool that you’ve created Mikulov to play in D3!
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:46 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Zülfü Topçu Zülfü Topçu : ]
so nate can you sign your book for me this gonna be awesome for my diablo collection.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:46 Zülfü Topçu
thanks. In honor to your story. Amazing.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:46 Medievaldragon
I am happy to sign copies of The Order, if you contact me offline. I can be reached through my website.
Can you tell us more about hero classes included in the Diablo III game? Who is responsible for them and why can’t we see old characters besides the Barbarian? Which one is your favourite?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:47
The classes are all included on the D3 website. I can’t answer you about the old characters, I’m sorry–that’s a question for Blizzard, not me.
As far as my favorite? The monk, of course. 🙂 I loved the character I created in The Order, and I have to play the monk in tribute to him…
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:48 Nate Kenyon
Noticed there are a few cameos from past Diablo novels. Which Diablo novels and other sources did you read during your pre-writing research? i.e. Captain Hanos Jeronnan, Norrec, and Kara Nightshadow (Diablo: Legacy of Blood)
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:49 Medievaldragon
All of ’em. 🙂 Yes, there are cameos, intentional little “Easter eggs” I wanted to throw in for the fans who would recognize them. I thought that would be really cool, and I wanted to do it as a little tribute to some of the great novels that have been written in the Diablo universe.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:50 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Jeananne Jeananne : ]
I’m pretty excited to read it, thank you for dedicating so much time into writing. It’s exciting to know that there’s even more to the story line, now.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:50 Jeananne
I’m glad you’re excited! I think you’ll really love the novel. It was a labor of love for me, I really had fun and I think it shows.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:50 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From jason jason : ]
Is this a stand-alone novel, or does it pick up where another story left off?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:51 jason
It’s a stand alone, although of course it is true to the timeline of Diablo, and what had come before…
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:51 Nate Kenyon
Who are this Horadrim cell Deckard Cain is investigating?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:51 Medievaldragon
That’s a good question. I don’t want to spoil things for the reader. But basically Deckard comes across a growing number of signs that there is some kind of Horadric cell still operating in Sanctuary–although who they are, and what their goals are, remains unclear. He thinks that finding this cell holds the key to saving Sanctuary–and he’s going to do anything he can to find them, before it’s too late.
Let’s just say that when he does finally find them, there are some major surprises in store for him.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:53 Nate Kenyon
Hallideadly asks: Why have the other Horadrim remained hidden from Cain?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:53 Medievaldragon
Again, I don’t want to spoil the read…but they have their own reasons–some intentional, others perhaps not. Things are not always as they might seem in Sanctuary, as you know. 🙂
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:54 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From darksoujah darksoujah : ]
Cain is known to be a Wikipedia of some sorts; however, does he teach/pass down Horadrim techniques to Leah that even Cain himself cannot accomplish?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:55 darksoujah
Cain’s abilities are limited solely to those artifacts he can find, and his scholarly knowledge. He does pass down a number of important things to Leah–although in terms of The Order, we don’t see much of that, because she’s still very young. This novel takes place over a fairly short period of time, except for the flashbacks–and so it’s really focused on the beginning of their relationship, and how that bond began.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:56 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From DanStann DanStann : ]
Did you have much input about the Audiobook production? Did you help choose Scott Brick yourself or was he used because he had done some Blizzard audiobooks previously?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:57 DanStann
I did not have input into the audiobook, but I think the choice was a good one!!!
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:57 Nate Kenyon
Throughout all these years, the Diablo III team has seen a lot of iteration and gameplay changes to fit the story and the other way around. Zealousangel asks: Were there instances where you had to modify certain parts of the novel to fit the game storyline or viceversa?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:57 Medievaldragon
Yes, there were last minute changes to the game that had some impact on the novel. It was mainly about timelines, who knew what at a certain time, that sort of thing. We wanted to be careful not to reveal anything TOO huge, while hinting at things so that the novel really laid a foundation for the game. We were all very intent on getting things right, so we worked closely together as things evolved.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:59 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From DarkSouJah DarkSouJah : ]
Is it possible to buy the book directly from you and have it autographed?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:59 DarkSouJah
I don’t sell books directly, but I’m happy to figure out a way to have you ship your copy to me for a signature…just contact me through my website and we’ll work it out.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:00 Nate Kenyon
What aspects of the world of Sanctuary did you personally grew fond with?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:00 Medievaldragon
Many of them. I love the entire feel of the world Blizzard has created. There’s such an overall sense of dread, of mood–threats lurking just out of sight. I love the way magic and the supernatural exist side by side with humanity, and the worlds lurking just beyond the “mortal” soil. It’s a really fun, really creative universe to play in as a writer.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:02 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Sin Sin : ]
If I were to pick up your standalone books what should I lookout for that might finally reel me into horror fiction?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:02 Sin
That’s a good question. Sparrow Rock is one of my personal favorites of my own work. It’s a very, very intense and horrific thriller, with a major twist that I guarantee you won’t see coming. I’ve had more fans commenting on that novel than anything else I’ve done.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:03 Nate Kenyon
Eroldren asks: Are there other facets of the Diablo universe you would like to pursue after in the near future? Or is there another Blizzard book in the pipeline? — **Me personally? I wish to see more Nate Kenyon in Diablo.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:04 Medievaldragon
I’d love to do another Diablo novel. I think it’s a good fit for me. But I loved my StarCraft experience too. I’m really focused on characters, making them deep, real, people–and I think the Blizzard franchises offer some great opportunities there.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:05 Nate Kenyon
I’m sure we will work together again–nothing’s set quite yet, though…
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:05 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Jason Ozee Jason Ozee : ]
Where’s a good place to start if you want to read the books in order? The Sin War novels? Thanks in advance!
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:05 Jason Ozee
The Order, of course! In all seriousness, I do think it’s a great place to begin, because we wanted to tell the story of Diablo from D1 through D3. And it’s a great read–great, fun story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. But you can’t go wrong with any of the books, they’re all great.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:07 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Jason Ozee Jason Ozee : ]
I just bought Sparrow Rock on my nook–thanks for the suggestion!
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:07 Jason Ozee
Great! You’re gonna like this one… 🙂
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:08 Nate Kenyon
I can’t spoil the first act of Diablo III, but I wanted you and our visitors to know that Diablo III: The Order radically changed my perception of the game story. Specially the ending cinematic of Act 1. I think you captured the essence of Deckard Cain for us to further love and care for the old man at the personal and human level. Thank you.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:08 Medievaldragon
Thanks so much! That was a goal of mine, and I’m glad to know it worked for you. I want readers to really understand and come to love Deckard Cain–faults and all…
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:09 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Sin Sin : ]
For someone who just getting interested with horror books are there any general advice also for upstart writers who would like to explore into the horror / thriller genre?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:09 Sin
Well, if you mean what to read–you can’t go wrong with King’s early works–The Shining, The Stand, Salem’s Lot. Jackson’s Haunting of Hill House, brilliant. Matheson’s work. Peter Straub. Blatty’s The Exorcist. There are so many brilliant works in so many different styles.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:11 Nate Kenyon
What locations do Cain and Leah visit throughout the story? What are their importance?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:12 Medievaldragon
This is a quest or a “road” novel, so they visit quite a few different places. Many will be familiar to Diablo fans, like Caldeum, Kurast. Others are new, like Lord Brand’s village. I intended to build the feeling of horror and darkness as the novel went on–so each place they go tends to ratchet up the horror and despair, bit by bit.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:13 Nate Kenyon
TheDerpalator asks: Were you at all concerned about pleasing such a large group of passionate fans as you were writing? In other words, was it difficult to cater to a passionate fan base while staying true to your own creative process? Have you ever written a book for something so specific before?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:14 Medievaldragon
Very much so. I really, really wanted to get this right for the fans. That was hugely important to me, so I spent a lot of time making sure I knew the history and the Diablo universe. That said, I also knew I had to be true to myself and what I wanted to do with the novel–if I did that, I knew it would be a good book, and fans would be happy. So that was my focus.
The only other time I’ve done something like this was for StarCraft Ghost: Spectres, which I think turned out really well. That helped me feel more confident writing The Order.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:17 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Ladislav Ladislav : ]
I dont know a lot about Diablo story but I’d like to change this stance.. how should I became to get things from birth, maybe in chronological line..
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:17 Ladislav
The Order will give you a decent idea of the timeline, at least from D1 to D3. Book of Cain would also be helpful, I think…
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:18 Nate Kenyon
Any more questions? We are going to wrap up shortly.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:21 Medievaldragon
[Comment From Dewilcry Equilibrium Dewilcry Equilibrium : ]
so which character you suggest for new diablo players?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:21 Dewilcry Equilibrium
The monk, of course! 🙂 I love that character, both in the novel, and in the game. I think you’ll enjoy playing it…
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:21 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Sin Sin : ]
Have you consider expanding your tie-in fiction writing outside Blizzard and venture with other (game) IPs?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:23 Sin
If I was a witch doctor, I’d cast a special voodoo spell so Nate sticks with Diablo for quite a long time. ^_^
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:23 Medievaldragon
I haven’t thought much about it, Sin. I’ve had a couple of offers, but right now I’m so busy it’s tough to imagine. I’m finishing up my next original novel now, a thriller called DAY ONE that’s going to be amazing. And I want to do another project with Blizzard too.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:24 Nate Kenyon
Sounds good to me! 🙂
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:24 Nate Kenyon
Hope Chris and Micky are reading. ;p
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:25 Medievaldragon
They know…and I think we’re all pretty happy about how this book turned out.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:25 Nate Kenyon
ok, thanks for coming Nate, and Lyndsi. Fans should pick up Diablo III: The Order by Nate Kenyon at a bookstore near you or online.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:26 Medievaldragon
Well, I guess that’s it…thanks so much to everyone for talking with me, this was great!
Thanks everyone for coming. Hopefully, you have time to read this book before or after playing the game. There’s so much to learn from Diablo III: The Order. You will meet Deckard Cain at a personal level through his eyes and mind thoughts in ways never seen before. You will deeply fall in love with the character, and care for him and his mission. There aren’t really Diablo III spoilers. Nothing to lose. Jump in and immerse into the story. Just a warning. Beware of Belial and his web.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:36 Medievaldragon
Other Fansite Interviews
Other fansites had the opportunity to interview Nate Kenyon during the week Diablo III: The Order officially launched:
The short review: “I’m totally in love with Diablo III: The Order”. Ok, I have a couple of rants that a few trolls might also point out: Tyrael’s voice never talks to Cain (not even in dreams), and a pivotal moment could have had someone like Archangel Auriel (Hope), Trang’Oul or even a necromancer slipping in into the story to guide Deckard Cain in his most darkest time, but in general this book is a [must-have] to all Diablo III fans.
Curiously, there aren’t really Diablo III single player spoilers; except for maybe the epilogue which ties-in with one of the Acts. Even so, the epilogue happens probably 10-12 years before Diablo III.
While these might be spoilers, I think they might serve as key information to those wondering what the book is about. Don’t worry, these only comprehend about the first 50 pages of the book. You decide whether the topic interests you enough to buy the book, or not.
The prologue starts with Aderes Cain telling the story of Jered Cain and the Horadrim (as they hunt and imprison Diablo and his brothers) to a group of children, including her 11-year-old son: Deckard Cain.
This prologue serves as a foreshadowing or primer to understand Deckard Cain’s regrets for wasting so much of his younger life ignoring the stories and scripts about the Horadrim and the demons.
A young Deckard Cain who grew bored of the stories, angry for the loss of his father to disease, who wanted to pursue adventures and dreams away from Tristram — a place where nothing happened, and where he feared he would spend all his life working at a shop like his father. Typical attitude of a young rebel living in a farm, far away from cities.
After the prologue, sadly we jump forward in time to 1272 (59 years later). Deckard Cain should be around age 70.
It’s been ten years since the defeat of Baal and the destruction of the Worldstone (at the end of Diablo II: Lord of Destruction).
Deckard Cain journeys with the Paladin Akarat to the Vizjerei secret repository to search for scrolls that might give him knowledge about the End Days. Cain faces a demon who talks a mix of truths and lies, knowledge which Cain later uses to his advantage after the demon is swiftly defeated.
Deckard Cain travels to Caldeum to visit Gillian the Barmaid (check out her background at our colleague wikia site). She’s a well-known character from Diablo I (voiced by Glynnis Talken, alias Sarah Kerrigan). Adria left Leah to her care, and Cain wanted to keep tabs on the girl.
There’s a flashback (via Cain’s dreaming) of the events of Diablo I: mentioning Aidan, Gillian, King Leoric and Lachdanan.
Gillian sends Cain to bookseller Kulloom. Among the scripts found by Cain at the Vizjerei secret repository were Zakarum, Bartuc, and Horadrim texts. Kulloom hints at having heard of a Horadrim group. This revelation amazes Cain, who thought he was the last Horadrim, and sets to pursue any hints that may lead him to find them.
Nate Kenyon fleshes out the growing bond that unites Deckard Cain and a very young Leah. It’s touching how Leah changes dramatically her initial rebellious behavior to a caring one for the old man.
There are two main plots: the search for the Horadrim group in Kurast, and the one bound by prophecy.
A monk named Mikulov has read the prophecies of the patriarchs of Yvgorod. He has gathered scrolls from several locations around Sanctuary. Scrolls which have something in common: a time juncture that triggers the upcoming End of Days prophecy: The first day of the month of Ratham, the month of the dead.
On the side of the demons, Belial has powerful servants in Sanctuary with the gift of vision and prophecy. Several paths lead to different futures. Different outcomes. However, it’s intriguing none of them foresaw Mikulov in any of the visions — a monk who has visions of the future, too. He’s a wild card. Unexpected. Mysterious. Undetected in visions of the large tapestry of destiny. Intriguing.
After learning so much about Mikulov, and what he’s capable of doing, after playing Diablo III beta — I’m inclined to create a Monk character as my first Diablo III retail character. Mikulov rocks! It seems it won’t be the last we will see of him. I’m inclined to think we’ll see him in future novels. As Richard A. Knaak’s Zayl the Necromancer, many fans will truly get fond of of Mikulov the Yvgorod monk as one of the heroes of Sanctuary.
The author uses the moments Deckard Cain goes to sleep to give readers a quick intro to the lore of the previous three Diablo games (Diablo I, Diablo II and Diablo II: Lord of Destruction) via flashbacks tormenting Deckard Cain in his dreams. He sleeps often throughout a span of seven days.
Belial, the Lord of Lies is omnipresent throughout the story without making much of a screen time. There are spies everywhere. Anything or anyone can be the eyes or ears of Belial in subtle ways.
This book sets a pivotal point for readers to understand the Deckard Cain we will see in Diablo III. The book, of course, delves more into his weaknesses, and his personal regrets than the game itself.
Deckard Cain is a man that carries a heavy burden upon his shoulders. He blames himself for the sins of the past. As a young boy, he refused the Horadrim teachings shared down by his mother. He felt them to be mere unfounded stories.
He blames himself for the death of everyone in Tristram, and thinks Aidan wouldn’t have died if he had focused his young years to learn more from the Horadrim scrolls concerning Diablo and the other Prime Evils. However, how much of his self-doubt is his? How much are [lies]?
Diablo III: The Order is a tragic story of great proportions. I have never seen Deckard Cain so powerless, desolated, lonely, desperate, hopeless. Nate Kenyon delivered as a writer in this book revealing to fans (on-your-face) several facets of Deckard Cain we never knew of him, while capturing that essence of him we have grown fond with over a decade in the previous games.
Deckard Cain has reached rock bottom at a delicate juncture. And the sad part is Cain is out of time. The story locomotions toward a spiraling countdown. Each chapter, and each step taken, each day passed leading toward the first day of the month of Ratham.
A day Belial has designated for the death of the 8-year-old Leah, and the rising of the death — an army of the Mage Clans who died in a lost city of Kehjistan.
We’ll learn something new about Deckard Cain’s past. It seeps in slowly throughout the story. In stages.
Three powerful things will be used for the final showdown against Belial’s servants: hope (as their strength), courage, and a Diablo II item long-thought to be lost.
It’s safe to read the book before finishing the Diablo III single player. No spoilers there, except for a hint at the epilogue — at the end of the book, which ties-in directly with one of the Acts.
The book will change everyone’s perception of Deckard Cain. We’ll now see his most intimate thoughts and memories. His weaknesses, and his strengths through the mind-eye of the author: Nate Kenyon.
Is Deckard Cain a failure? A coward? Or a Heroe? Fans will see him like never before on both sides of the spectrum. For a first work in the Diablo universe, Nate Kenyon is welcome among the hall of legends alongside Richard A. Knaak. Hope to see more Diablo novels from both authors. Dark and gritty enough for old Diablo book readers, and informative to new readers who missed previous Diablo video games.
Share questions for Nate Kenyon at our following forum thread. (One copy of the book will be giveaway)
For more than ten years, Diablo has been one of PC gaming’s iconic and blockbuster franchises, with millions of players experiencing to this day all the adventure and terror in the world of Sanctuary. Now, DIABLO III: THE ORDER (Gallery Books, May 15, 2012; $26.00) will tie-in with the long-awaited release of Blizzard Entertainment’s all-new game, Diablo III. This original novel reveals the untold story of Deckard Cain, one of Diablo’s most popular characters.
Now a much older man, Deckard Cain is on a mission to find the remnants of a rumored Horadric cell, and must call upon all of his knowledge and wit to teach and inspire those around him even as they face danger and death at every turn. Can he lead the return of a ragtag group of Horadrim and their ideals to Sanctuary … or will they die out with Cain himself?
About the Author
Nate Kenyon is the author of StarCraft: Ghost–SPECTRES. He is a Bram Stoker Award finalist and he has had stories published in Shroud Magazine, Permuted Press’s Monstrous Anthology, Horror World, Dead Lines, The Harrow, and Legends of the Mountain State 2, and has several others forthcoming. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association and International Thriller Writers.
Aderes Cain (Deckard’s mother)
Gillian (cameo: Diablo II character, Caldeum barmaid, adoptive mother of Leah)
Leah (Age 8 )
Kulloom (Caldeum bookseller)
Belial, Lord of Lies
James (Caldeum blacksmith)
Mikulov (Ivgorod Monk)
Cyrus (owner of the Red Circle Inn in Lower Kurast)
Garreth Rau (scholar, one of the finest bookmakers in Sanctuary, leader of the Horadrim cell)
Captain Hanos Jeronnan (cameo – Diablo: Legacy of Blood)
Egil (Horadrim member)
Lund (Horadrim member)
Farris (Horadrim member)
Cullen (Horadrim member)
Thomas (Horadrim member)
Jordan (Horadrim member)
Anuk Maahnor (Bartuc’s captain)
Flashback or Mentioned
Farnham (lost his daughter to The Butcher)
Asheara (Diablo II character, Caldeum’s Iron Wolves mercenary leader)
Ratham (founder of the priests of Rathma)
Amelia (Deckard Cain’s wife, died 35 years earlier)
Thomas Abbey (Captain, Khanduras Royal Guard)
Kara (Necromancer) — looking back, while this character is only mentioned by Captain Hanos Jeronnan, and never appears in the story, she’s a canon-character from Richard A. Knaak’s Legacy of Blood along with her companion: Norrec. The book doesn’t mention her last name: Kara Nightshadow.
Vizjerei Secret Repository (Bartuc followers’ runes and a closed portal to the Burning Hells)
Flating Sky Monastery (Ivgorod)
Captain’s Table (Gea Kul Inn by Jeronnan)
The Black Tower (near the sea, Gea Kul)
Prologue: Tristram, 1213
Part One: Gathering Shadows
Chapter 1: Ruins of the Vizjerei Secret Repository, The Borderlands, 1272
It has a 50mm speaker unit surrounded by leather, with XL-sized ear cups which cancel out noise. I have a hard time listening to people talking to me while playing video games because the ear cup does an amazing job at what it was designed to do — giving you that much of an immersion into the video games music, special effects and ambient sounds.
I play Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, World of Warcraft, Diablo III beta, Crysis, and other video games with the Diablo III Headset.
I feel this SteelSeries Diablo III Gaming Headset gives me an extra edge while playing FPS games. The sound is so amazingly crisp and clear, I can hear people walking nearby — allowing me to prepare an ambush. I can more or less determine where other players are by listening the direction in which their shooting sounds come from.
Without the headset I can’t hear nearby movement nor determine the direction where people is shooting from as I do while using the Diablo III headset.
For those using FRAPS, you can record videos using FRAPS while the Diablo III Headset is plugged into the computer, and the sounds can be heard in the uploaded videos.
Ever spent $2.99 for a cheapo noname-brand headset from those 99-cents Stores? (guilty)
Ever got one of those $19.99+ Logitech headphones? (guilty)
How long have those lasted? A few months. Let me tell you what’s likely what caused 98% of your headphone’s malfunction. It’s the poor cabling protection.
The cabling is usually thin. As you handle it back and forth the cable bends, and the connection is lost between the jack and the ear cup receiver.
The Diablo III Headset (Siberia v2 D3H) is a diamond for anyone who wants the best sound quality, but the most important thing about this headset is its lifetime.
Cheap headsets usually malfunction within a few months. The secret of the Diablo III Headset (Siberia v2 D3H) is that it shares the same cable material as the Diablo III Mouse. The double-braided nylon cord prevents the internal cable from bending — the natural cause of the death of most other headsets.
The USB jack connector is gold-plated. The only benefits for gold-plated USB connectors is a better contact and that they do not oxidize or corrode, which of course extends the lifetime of the product another notch.
There’s a small box in the cabling that allows the user to adjust the volume of the headset’s sound, and it also has a slide-button to enable or mute the microphone.
The noise cancelling pull-out microphone is located on the left ear cup. You can pull out to use it, or hide it back in when not using it. Ideal for Skype and in-game chat via ventrilo.
Another wonderful feature of this Diablo III Gaming Headset is the length of the cable. The headset has a 1 meter (3 feet) cable, but a 2-meter (6.5 feet) extension cable comes along in the box to attach the headset’s USB connection. In total, you have a cable length of 3 meters (9.5 feet).
I am able to walk around the room to the small refrigerator and back without removing the headset. If you are listening to music, that’s great to be able to multi-task away from the computer.
The Diablo III-themed illumination around the back of the ear cups can be programmable.
The illumination intensity has the off, low, medium and high options.
Pulsation can be customized to steady, slow, medium, fast or trigger.
It’s Diablo-III themed, thus the illumination only has a solid red as a color option. No biggies.
The SteelSeries Engine driver icon sits accessible at all times in the bottom-right of the Windows Vista/7 quick launcher area. Drivers can be found at Steelseries.com/support/downloads
The Diablo III Headset software has an equalizer UI to change the intensity and depth of the sounds. You can create profiles for each game, and assign a specific profile to be triggered by the launch of a game/exe by browsing the game location in your computer.
The box has the golden Diablo III logo with a runic-like-embossed texture. The Blizzard logo and SteelSeries logo. Headset specifications and description.
The box is made of strong cardboard, and it’s designed to be opened easily.
The front of the box can actually be opened like a book. The frontal flap is kept closed with a tiny magnet hidden somewhere within the cardboard.
In the interior you can see Tyrael and Imperious artwork, as seen in the Diablo III: Book of Cain.
The text is localized in english, french, german and spanish:
“And the Heavens shall tremble. Enhance your senses and prepare to safeguard the mortal realm from the rising powers of the Burning Hells. Hear the world of Sanctuary the way it was intended.
Co-designed with Blizzard Entertainment, the official Diablo III Headset brings players an immersive audio experience through its optimized soundscape, clear microphone communication and an illuminated, Diablo III-themed design. hear your fate. Prepare for victory.”
Plug-and-Play: In-line controls with USB connection.
Long Lasting Comfort: Lightweight suspension design
I only have one cons. Just one. I am not able to record sound in the Windows Moview Maker’s Narration timeline while the Diablo III Headset is plugged into the USB, and it is not even displayed in the sound source options. I can only see my internal sound card.
Not a big deal if you aren’t into video making. All you need to do is remove the Diablo III headset.
I’m waiting for the price to go down to get a second headset for two family members who would no doubt love this as a gift.
You really need to get the SteelSeries Diablo III Gaming Headset. Best sound quality, best cabling material, great length allows you to walk around the room. Microphone, mic mute and sound adjustment buttons. Long lifetime. Diablo III-themed equalizer UI (via SteelSeries Engine) and product design. It’s awesome. Go. Get. It.
Note: Blizzplanet is giving away one Diablo III Gaming Headset. Check out our Diablo Dialogue web show hosted by The Bearded Gamer to learn how to participate to win one.
The artwork by Livio Ramondelli is awesome, and well-complemented by the coloring and special effects. You don’t see this level of visual F/X in comics very often consecutively from panel to panel in merely 8-pages. It’s pure raw action.
Letters by Robbie Robbins add an extra depth to the story using noise F/X such as CHA-KOOOOM, KRAAK, CHAMMK, BWAM and others with special fonts.
Transformers: Autocracy # 3 quickly puts the 12-part series into high-speed heartbeat-rate.
In this issue, everyone gets their answer about StarScream’s massacre in Megatron: Origin. There were no survivors to relay who perpetrated the assassination of the Senate of Kaon — as you can read in this image.
In the previous issue, Zeta Prime ordered his best officer Orion Pax (later to be known as Optimus Prime) to capture the Decepticon spy Soundwave.
Orion Pax and his autobots team are now hunting down the spy to prevent critical classified info from falling into the hands of the Decepticons.
The aerial defences of Iacon won’t allow an emergency evac, thus Soundwave has no other option than to run for it toward the Kaon border — identified as a Decepticon-controlled territory in continuum consistency with the events of Megatron: Origins.
As Metzen said in the Autocracy # 3 video teaser, you will see Soundwave making use of its cassette minions in a surgical way to make his escape. He uses all of them, thwarting the Autobots hunt. Soundwave is definitely one of the more interesting Decepticons. Flint Dille and Chris Metzen make him shine in this story.
Something curious about the citizens of Iacon is how much they fear Zeta Prime’s forces: the Autobots. Something you should put attention to. The citizens fear the Autobots as much as they do the Decepticons.
The only autobot remaining in the hunt is Orion Pax, and you know what that means. “Crack!!!”, It’s Clobbering Time!!!
The end of this issue just makes you wish you could read Autocracy # 4 already, craving for more.
I don’t know if Livio Ramondelli created this front cover artwork with this in mind, but the metaphorical vibes of this image are mind-boggling. That’s a close up on Soundwave with Orion Pax (Optimus Prime)’s reflection in the middle of Soundwave’s chest. See the decepticon insignia on Orion Pax?
Throughout the story, you will see Orion Pax and the Autobots feared as much by the citizens as they fear the Decepticons. Zeta Prime has reached a point where he will rather massacre an entire district than to let the Decepticons continue their hit-and-run terrorist tactics. Zeta Prime is like Machiavelli: The end result justifies the means.
This is definitely not the heroe Optimus Prime we know and love. This was a time of desperate conflict. Orion Pax had been deactivated prior to all this, and reactivated by Zeta Prime to be his best officer. There is a hollowness within Orion Pax, and his loyalty to the law enforcement clouded his vision to see the truth.
In issue # 2, readers can find out what Zeta Prime’s plans are. It’s genocide. Not only the Decepticons, but the innocent citizens who will serve as fuel to the Vamparc Ribbon weapon wielded by the Omega Destructors. As Metzen implied, Autocracy # 3 starts to pave the ground to the truth. Orion Pax was not in the Senate room to hear Zeta Prime’s speech. He was ordered to hunt Soundwave who managed to infiltrate the Iacon Citadel and fled with the recording of Zeta Prime’s plans.
What will happen if Orion Pax sees the video footage? Will he side with the Decepticons? Will he turn against Zeta Prime? This front cover has an interesting vibe.
You can read Transformers: Autocracy # 3 for only $.99 cents in your iPhone, iPad, or at Comixology (PC,Mac,Android).
Check out our interview with Chris Metzen concerning Autocracy # 3.
Autocracy # 3 Teaser Video
A few hours before Autocracy # 3 went on sale, Chris Metzen and Flint Dille posted a video in YouTube to tease the release of this issue. Check it out!
Last summer, during the BotCon 2011 celebrated in Pasadena, CA through June 2-5, Chris Metzen and Flint Dille revealed they would launch Transformers: Autocracy — an 8-page digital format comic book spanning 12-parts. It sets the ground that ignited what will later be known as the great civil war of Cybertron. A world ruled by Zeta Prime. This is where the Optimus Prime we love and cherish was forged. At the time, he was the best officer of Zeta Prime. But things weren’t black and white in this era, and back then Optimus Prime was still known as Orion Pax.
Transformers: Autocracy launched on January 18th, and it’s published every two weeks in Comixology (PC/Mac), and the iPad and iPhone mobile platform.
In the eve of the launch of Transformers: Autocracy # 3 (available Wednesday, February 15th) I had the awesome opportunity to ask Chris Metzen and Flint Dille some questions about the digital comics.
When did you get hooked up with Transformers, and what’s your geek out story around the franchise?
Metzen: Well the opportunity to write a Transformers story for IDW popped a few years ago now. It’s taken awhile to get it (all) together. Thankfully the editors at IDW have been very patient!
As for favorite geek-out? There’s no question (IMHO) that the franchise’s greatest moment (across all media) is the throw-down mega-fisticuffs slug-fest between Prime and Megatron in the animated film. “Why throw away your life so recklessly?” Heh. Still makes me smile like an idiot?
Which Transformers stories did you read as background for Autocracy prior to writing the 12-part story?
Metzen: Ooof. Everything I could get my hands on! I had been reading the ongoing series/All Hail Megatron/etc. since it started, but needed to brush up on all the one-shots. Loved Maximum Dynobots and the Last Stand of the Wreckers tales as well. There was a lot to take in and I see lots of places where we missed a few notable details. ? It was a lot to cram for. My biggest inspiration (apart from the animated film) is Furman’s body of work on Transformers. That man paved some serious ground.
Some people are confused with what little they have read in the past 16 pages (spanning Transformers: Autocracy # 1-2) and what they know from Megatron: Origins. Especially concerning Starscream. In Megatron: Origins, Sentinel Prime is still alive. Starscream fights alongside the Deceptions against the Autobots and kills Kaon senators in front of everyone. Yet, in Autocracy, Starscream is a delegate with freedom to walk among the Senate and Zeta Prime as if no one knows what he did. Are fans going to get a clearer picture of what’s going on, or is there a retcon?
Metzen: Ok, lemmesee if I can clear this up… (fingers crossed)…
Autocracy takes place AFTER Chaos Theory, Megatron: Origins and Spotlight: Blurr. You’ll see it’s AFTER everything IDW’s tackled in that era. It’s the story of the end of that era – and the start of the WAR we all know and love.
As for Starscream and the senate of Kaon – no one survived that (very brazen) attack and all video coverage was quickly disposed of. Decepticons are very clever… and thorough! Thus, Starscream’s role as a Decepticon is still largely under wraps as Autocracy gets underway (at least as far as Zeta and these remaining senators are concerned). That entire attack was covered up pretty quick – so one has a clear picture of exactly which Decepticons were specifically involved.
I’ll also go out on a limb here and address the other lingering break – Sentinel WAS Zeta’s immediate predecessor – NOT Nominus. That was my bad… the mention of him getting whacked at the start of Chaos Theory was etched in my head as I was scripting Chapter 2 and I referred to the wrong guy… (do I get a last cigarette before the firing squad does away with me?)…
Why did you choose to write a story set in that time period? Whose was the initiative to do so, yours or the IDW editorial team?
Metzen: Well, Flint and I had pitched a really cool ‘present day’ hook that took a deep look at Optimus and what made him tick. It had some heavy flash-back elements from the old days. Some of the themes and hooks we pitched seemed similar to those that were being developed for Chaos Theory (which no one had seen yet), so the editor, Andy Schmidt, walked us through what Chaos Theory was going to be. We were hooked – and knew immediately that our story would fit far better into that pre-war era. From there – Autocracy really started to find its feet.
What can you tell us about Zeta Prime and his extreme measures to combat the Decepticons?
Metzen: Well… I believe Zeta started strong and wanted to be a Prime that really maintained order and security for the people. But Megatron really stoked the fires of unrest. I think there was a crazy escalation between Zeta’s conventional tactics and the Decepticons’ terror tactics. Over time, he concluded that fighting fire with fire was the only reasonable response to what Megatron represented. He wasn’t always a monster – but he sure became one in response to an increasingly lawless and darkening world.
Sounds like there’s a good story to be told there… 🙂
Autocracy # 2 was very harsh. How does Orion Pax copes with his orders knowing his duty to Zeta Prime makes him a harbinger of mass destruction upon the very citizens he’s sworn to protect?
Metzen: He doesn’t know yet how bad things are. He doesn’t know the extent of Zeta’s plans (he wasn’t in the room to hear any of this). In general, since he’s having trouble FEELING/Hearing his conscience – one could argue he’s operating through intense tunnel-vision. He doesn’t yet see how bad things are out there in the world – or what that means to him personally.
Obviously, he was in the zone when he stood up to the Senate… clear-minded, compassionate, selfless… But when his ‘heart’ got ripped out… Well, he just ain’t been the same since. However, can you imagine how PISSED he’d be if he saw that video footage Soundwave made off with???
I have been a subscriber of Marvel Digital for a few years. I love the digital library concept. Let’s say that fans — best editors when it comes to continuum inconsistencies — find some retcons, or mistakes in Autocracy. Are you actually able to correct these in Transformers: Autocracy digital at any time? If so, how do you feel about having that sort of control?
Metzen: See answer above regarding said Sentinel/Nominus snafu… Hell yes, I’d like to FIX bits and pieces of this!!!! ? We’ll see about modifying digital content. Not sure what IDW’s plan is for that.
You are working on Diablo III, and both StarCraft II and World of Warcraft expansions, and the next-gen MMO. How do you stretch time to fit writing Transformers: Autocracy?
Metzen: Well, I recently bought a new Mac for home use, so the timing was perfect. And hey – where there’s a will, there’s a way!
There’s a lot of good and awesome critic in the forums around the Transformers: Autocracy’s digital format. It’s only 8-pages, but it crams in so much from panel to panel. The story rolls out. No pun. How does your experience in video game storytelling this past fifteen years converges with comic book storytelling?
Metzen: With 8-page chapters, there’s no room to screw around or get self-indulgent. We have to make every page, every panel, every line count – and tell this story as effectively and excitingly as we can. In that way, it’s not all that different from writing games – where a player/viewer’s time is a precious commodity. The pacing does keep things tight. 🙂
Chaos Theory, Autocracy, and other relaunch stories — all of them seem to be leading to a major event set in the present borrowing from events and characters from the long past. Is this really what’s going on? Will you be part of that project or follow up projects?
Metzen: Well, IDW’s big relaunch event was CHAOS – and the two new ongoing series (More than Meets the Eye and Robots in Disguise, respectively) are keeping their hands full. That’s the only mega event I’ve been aware of. As for more down the line… well, let’s see how Autocracy does as it picks up steam. 🙂
What should we expect to see in Autocracy # 3, and how do the events affect the remaining issues of this 12-part story?
Metzen: Well, Orion’s going to be busy hunting down Soundwave… shenanigans certainly occur.
Soundwave, Soundwave, Soundwave… for those of you who are fans of this character – buckle up! This is HIS chapter! (maybe my second biggest franchise geek-out…)
Blizzard’s roots started developing DC The Death and Return of Superman in 1994 and DC League of Justice Task Force for Super Nintendo in 1995. If Activision asked Blizzard to work on one of their IP, is that door open?
Metzen: Geez, I dunno. I think we’re doing pretty well with the franchises we’re currently developing. From a story perspective, we’ve still got miles and miles to go with each of them!
Grab a digital copy of the Transformers: Autocracy #3 for only $.99 cents via iPhone, iPad or Comixology (PC/Mac)
Note: Check back later for Flint Dille’s answers.
Transformers: Autocracy # 3 – Chris & Flint Teaser (Video)
Meet the Writers
Chris Metzen is Blizzard Entertainment Senior Vice-president of Creative Development — responsible for developing and expanding the Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo universes and directing the team of story writers for upcoming game content and licensed products such as novels and manga. Chris Metzen is loved by the lore community, and he has identified himself as a geek. The Transformers franchise is in a dear place near his geeky heart.
The Fall of Deathwing dungeon was masterfully made by the WoW Team and Creative Team in both lore and gameplay mechanics. This is the last major content patch of the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, closing a pivotal chapter.
That doesn’t mean this is the last patch of Cataclysm, or the last content. As history has demonstrated, Blizzard Entertainment will add a pre-World Event and World Event content to wrap up Cataclysm and tie-in what’s to come in World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria — the new expansion.
I have never been in a hardcore guild like those which chew World First Boss Kills Achievements without a sweat. Actually, between us, they do sweat a lot, but they won’t stop till they get the job done.
I remember the days where my old guild Untold Prophecy farmed Molten Core everyday, that was as hardcore as I could get back in 2004. Farmed Tower of Karazhan for countless months, defeated Kael’Thas, Lady Vashj, Illidan in Burning Crusade. I managed to kill Yogg’saron a couple of times before another guild disbanded.
In Wrath of the Lich King, after the guild disbanded in Ulduar, and after years of hard work in PUG teams, I only managed to get 10/12 at Icecrown Citadel. On September 15, 2011, I finally got the Defender of a Shattered World Achievement which includes all Cataclysm Heroics and the Raid Dungeons: Throne of the Four Winds, The Bastion of Twilight and Blackwing Descent.
Not bad for a casual raider. Around a week later, I felt confident to get back to Icecrown Citadel where — after two years — I laid the smackdown on the Lich King at level 85. I felt like I cheated, but no one is gonna erase the satisfaction.
My current guild has been in hiatus for about six months or so after our main tanks called it quit for real life matters. One of them serving military time. I have had to go back to solo powering up my character with daily heroic dungeon finder and valor points. Nowadays, my healer character’s item level is 375 and none of it came from my guild. I worked hard in PUG teams.
A couple of weeks ago, I used the new Raid Dungeon Finder introduced in patch 4.3 to enter The Siege of Wyrmrest Temple. The Fall of Deathwing raid dungeon was either not available or my item level didn’t meet the requirements. No clue which.
After a few PUG attempts, I got my Siege of Wyrmrest Temple Achievement (Dec 3, 2011). I never thought possible to achieve that in a PUG, but it happened. Not just once, I have cleared it a few times. It’s hard and had fun.
On the lore aspect, I truly loved the linear structure of the three 5-man dungeons. Blizzard Entertainment recently released a short story by Matt Burns (Charge of the Aspects) which ties-in with the new Caverns of Time dungeons in patch 4.3. I recommend reading that story which is a prelude to the new 5-man dungeons.
The Short Story shows Ysera and Thrall planning a way to defeat Deathwing. She reveals Thrall an idea or vision about using the Dragon Soul — however, the Demon Soul was destroyed during the Second War by Rhonin (as seen in the novel by Richard A. Knaak – Warcraft: Day of the Dragon).
Alexstrasza agrees, while the Dragon Soul brought pain and misery to her red dragon flight, the Dragon Soul is how it all started, and it should be the way to end Deathwing and the Hour of Twilight. This is how the idea is born to ask Nozdormu to help the Aspects retrieve the Dragon Soul from the past.
However, Ysera’s vision of the Hour of Twilight — as seen in the novel by Christie Golden (World of Warcraft: Thrall, Twilight of the Aspects) — is drawing near. Nozdormu is unable to open the timeways to the past. Thus, Nozdormu recommends to kill the leader of the Infinite Dragonflight … to kill his very own future self, in order to preserve life in Azeroth.
Think about that for a second. All this time, Nozdormu was shown by the Titans the moment when Nozdormu’s demise would happen. For milennia, It likely worried him. And now he’s the one to take the decision to kill his future self to protect Azeroth. The Hour of Twilight begins during the Fall of Deathwing Raid dungeon in Patch 4.3.
The moment Ultraxion enters the fray at the Siege of Wyrmrest Temple, if players aren’t able to defeat Ultraxion, the Dragon Aspects take the full brunt of the Hour of Twilight spell that causes 300,000 Shadow damage, and die — causing the death of all life in Azeroth, and the Ascension of the Old gods.
Nozdormu sends players into the future to the End Time. A period of time, after the Hour of Twilight where all life on Azeroth has been already extinguished. There, players must defeat the echoes of Jaina, Sylvanas, Baine Bloodhoof, or Tyrande (two random) in order to fight Murozond (the future version of Nozdormu who has fallen to madness by the Old gods).
The WoW Team added NPCs at the end of each 5-man dungeon to teleport you to the next dungeon — making it clearly a linear lore event. That’s awesome. You can also access each dungeon individually, or use the dungeon finder to play them randomly. So there are three choices to approach and circumvent them if you don’t wish to have a linear experience.
After End Time, once Murozond is dead, the timeways become open to travel back in time 10,000 years into the past during the War of the Ancients. The idea is to retrieve the Dragon Soul a few minutes before the Well of Eternity implodes and sunders the land underwater.
When players help Tyrande, Malfurion and Illidan to defeat Mannoroth, who is sucked into the portal along with the demons back to the Twisting Nether, Chromie appears on the scene giving players the option to continue the mission in a linear way. Now that you have acquired the Dragon Soul, Chromie sends you forward in time to the present where Thrall will welcome your arrival and take possession of your delivery of the Dragon Soul.
The Hour of Twilight dungeon have you escorting Thrall back to the Wyrmrest Temple. In the present, the Black dragonflight and the Twilight dragonfligt are attacking the Wyrmrest Temple. There are giant Old god-like creatures with massive tendrils coming out of the ground, Faceless Ones and Vile Oozes coming forth to prevent Thrall’s arrival to the Wyrmrest Temple.
Thrall is serving as the Earth Aspect to perform the ritual that will empower the Dragon Soul to affect and defeat Deathwing. It’s a nice touch to see Archbishop Benedictus as the final boss in the 5-man dungeon, as a continuity notch from Christie Golden’s novel. I ain’t going to spoil it for you, go read the book.
After this dungeon, you are ready to enter the Siege of Wyrmrest Temple raid — if you wish to experience the whole content in a linear way. I’m going to be blunt. It’s hard. However, the Raid Dungeon Finder also brings hardcore players who will take leadership to teach you what to do. Trust in them, and do your best. It’s no rocket science. It’s doable.
The Dungeon Journal is another great feature added by Blizzard Entertainment in patch 4.3 that let’s you read lore and tactical info about each boss, and what each spell does. Which spells are dispellable, and which can be interrupted. The Dungeon Journal and the Raid Dungeon Finder are Blizzard’s way to open up end-content to casual players. I got to say they have done a pretty good job. As a healer, it only takes me less than 10 seconds to get queued into the Raid Dungeon Finder. Sometimes a split second after I queue in.
Before I knew it, thanks to the Valor Point Quartermaster items, and a few loot from the new 4.3 Heroic dungeons I became flagged to join the Fall of Deathwing raid dungeon. I was totally glad to see the option enabled last night.
The Dragon Aspects: Kalecgos, Alexstrasza, Ysera and Nozdormu are at the top of the Wyrmrest Temple performing the ritual with Thrall to empower the Dragon Soul. Your job is to prevent the Black and Twilight dragons from interrupting the ritual. After several waves of drakes, Deathwing unleashes Ultraxion upon players. The ultimate Twilight dragon experiment who is meant to cause the Hour of Twilight by slaying the Dragon Aspects at this juncture.
After Ultraxion, a cinematic plays showing Thrall wielding the Dragon Soul to blast Deathwing. Deathwing’s eye zoom in on Thrall as he realizes he is holding the Dragon Soul. The blast is so powerful that a piece of his elementium armor comes out revealing part of his spine. Deathwing is severely injured, and flees away. Deathwing is in pain, but he makes a point to shake Thrall — Deathwing flies through the Horde Gunship — now we know how the Gunship in End Time got split in half.
The Dragon Aspects, Thrall and players come aboard The Skyfire (Alliance Gunship) in pursuit of Deathwing who seeing the defeat of Ultraxion and how easily Thrall injured him with the Dragon Soul decides to fly to the Maelstrom to cast the final Cataclysm spell that will shatter the world and cause a massive upheaval of volcanoes, magma, tsunamis, and earthquakes.
At mid-journey, Warmaster Blackhorn and his Twilight’s Hammer mounting Twilight drakes will attempt to stop you long enough to let Deathwing reach the Maelstrom. After Blackhorn’s demise, a cinematic kicks in showing human Sky Captain Swayze and orc Kaa’nu Reevs (Keanu Reeves, lol) parachuting down on Deathwing’s back.
After the cinematic, players glide down with parachutes on Deathwing’s back. Literally. There are a few mechanics here you should double-check with the Dungeon Journal in-game. The idea is to make the Hideous Amalgamation explode near the Elementium Plate protecting Deathwing’s Spine.
The blast causes the Elementium Plate to literally come off his spine. It has a amazing art animation. Once you have removed three Elementium Plates, the next cinematic kicks in.
Deathwing falls to his apparent death into the Maelstrom.
There’s a dialogue between the Dragon Aspects and Thrall, and you can loot a chest. However, the fight isn’t over. Deathwing’s body has been torn apart without the Elementium Plates holding his body together.
He’s become sort of an Old god with tendrils grabbing each rock around the Maelstrom. Players must attack each of these Limb Tentacles, and the Mutated Corruption tendrils. In between, there are waves of adds that must be quickly dispatched with AOE — recommendable to be done near the Limb Tentacles.
After all Limb Tentacles are destroyed, players fight the head of Deathwing.
Here I was with a full PUG raid joining the end-content dungeon that wraps up Cataclysm. How cool was that? In the range of one to ten? Thirty. It took me two years or longer to finally be able to kill the Lich King.
It took me a few hours last night to earn the Fall of Deathwing Achievement. Woot!!!!
It’s that easy folks. Start doing your homework (queue yourself into the Dungeon Finder and do the Random Hour of Twilight Dungeons) — get some item level 378 from there, and combine that with farming Valor Points to purchase item level 378 gear. Do a few Siege of Wyrmrest Temple raids and get some cool loot until the Fall of Deathwing Raid Dungeon option becomes enabled in your Raid Finder.
I got to admit the Fall of Deathwing raid dungeon was harsh to heal. Later I noticed I forgot to enchant, gem and meta my new acquired Helm, but I still managed to help the PUG team get the achievement. It was a great satisfaction to have killed Deathwing twice in a single night, rather than how long it took me to kill the Lich King.
Thanks to the WoW Team for opening up end-content to the majority of players, and shoe-kissing to the Creative Team for the awesome linear lore experience. I might have a couple rants here and there about Well of Eternity, but the experience was excellent either way.
That was the best ever World of Warcraft dungeon experience I have had in the last seven years since classic beta 2004. The game mechanics are unique and engaging.
Lore Enigma Analysis and Speculation
On the lore part, there is one big enigma that hasn’t been answered. I have come up with a personal conclusion to explain that enigma.
The End Time comes to happen in the present after Ultraxion kills the Dragon Aspects at the Wyrmrest Temple during the Siege.
The question is … what made possible the change of the End Time?
The Titans had foreseen the death of Nozdormu (aka Murozond). True. Thus, they had foreseen the death of the Aspects at the Hour of Twilight. End Time was meant to be the end of all things. Which means Thrall was not meant to get the Dragon Soul. What made possible the change of the outcome leading to the Hour of Twilight / End Time future?
This makes me think that someone outside time who has witnessed the future, and has no clouded perceptions like Nozdormu — who admits something is preventing him from seeing the future — has somehow managed to help the heroes avert the End Time and to start the Age of Mortals.
1. Ysera had a vision of the Hour of Twilight in that novel. How was she able to see a future event? Who did send her that vision?
2. Thrall reveals to the Dragon Aspects that Krasus was not in fact a betrayer of the Dragon Aspects, siding with the Twilight’s Hammer. Thrall tells them about a vision he had where Krasus is defending the Ruby Sanctum from a new Twilight viral strain that infested the red eggs, and all other eggs during a Twilight’s Hammer siege on Wyrmrest Temple and its sanctums. Krasus cast a spell that reached out to the other sanctuary portals to implode each portal. He sacrificed to prevent the eggs from turning into Twilight dragons — annihilating the dragonflights. Or so it seemed …
How did Thrall get this vision? Who gave him that moment of clarity to see what really happened with Krasus?
Sadly, Blizzard hasn’t revealed these two enigmas.
On top of that there is the third enigma: Did Krasus really die? His corpse was never recovered. Did he implode the Sanctums, or did he only collapsed the portals thus sealing off the sanctums as tesseracts / pocket universes? Another question to ponder: Did Krasus somehow know the Twilight’s Hammer would strike at that very moment and had a rogue plan of his own? Had someone who knew about End Time enlisted Krasus’ help to prevent End Time?
We have seen Krasus plan out schemes without the knowledge of his beloved Alexstrasza before. What if he was alerted of the Hour of Twilight by the same entity that sent Thrall and Ysera separately a vision? In order to accomplish this plan he had to fake out his death.
If this is the case, then the Creative Team has learned a thing or two from Marvel — and we know Chris Metzen is a hardcore fan of Marvel Comics. The Secret Invasion storyline took years in the making, and there were plenty of breadcrumbs left in comic issues for years hinting at the upcoming Secret Invasion (2008).
I have a little theory of my own about how Krasus could have learned of a future event for him to attempt to prevent it, and who may have had knowledge about the future to make the Hour of Twilight not come to pass.
Thrall went to the Caverns of Time to fulfill a special mission for Ysera. The Bronze dragonflight welcomed Thrall and recognized he was there on behalf of Ysera. Thrall’s mission was The Search for Nozdormu.
Not even the Bronze dragonflight has been able to find their master. Thrall traveled to other timelines and parallel Azeroths, but was unable to find Nozdormu on his own.
Eventually, Thrall would have returned back home without Nozdormu. Think about it for a second. Who starts the Dragon Soul 5-man dungeons? Nozdormu. It’s Nozdormu who sends you to the future to the End Time to face Murozond, to be able to retrieve the Dragon Soul from the past.
What if Thrall had not found Nozdormu in his Search through Caverns of Time? No one would have been able to prevent the Hour of Twilight. No one.
Blizzplanet and other Blizzard fansites had the opportunity to individually interview Blizzard Entertainment Publishing Lead and Senior Story Developer Micky Neilson over the phone. Eldorian forwarded most of the questions submitted recently by our visitors.
In our interview, Micky Neilson talks more about the mysterious Zoltun Kulle — for those who got to watch the BlizzCon 2011 Diablo III Lore Panel, and reveals the main theme of Nate Kenyon’s upcoming Diablo: The Order (Slated: May 29, 2012).
Read our interview with Micky Neilson to find out why!
Note: Post on twitter a comment about this interview using the hashtag #bookofcain plus @blizzplanet for a chance at a free Diablo III: Book of Cain giveaway. Deadline: Thursday, Dec 15, 2011. (example: @blizzplanet I <3 Blizzard, gimme #bookofcain)
Why is Deckard Cain so important in Diablo history?
Neilson: Why is Deckard Cain so important? Well, he’s one of the most identifiable characters. I would say that stems from him being chosen as the NPC you deal with the most in the series. So, I think as a character he resonated with fans early on so he had some longevity and some staying power. Over the course of the different games he’s become certainly a marquee character. He worked really well for this book specifically because he’s the guy gathering all the information, lore, text and all of that stuff. It really made sense that he’s the one to put this book together.
Where did the inspiration come from to make the Book of Cain a real item that people could buy?
Neilson: Early on the idea came from Chris Metzen as far as he came to the publishing team and said that he really wanted to do a book that is kind of a history of the universe and also an art book. He described it as a hybrid between a source book and an art book. So we went forward from there. As part of that process we had discussions if this is part of Cain’s journal from the game or something completely separate. So we went back and forth a few times and through the course of identifying what the book would be and kind of nailing down the vision of the book, we settled down on the in game artifact aspect of it. We felt like that was the better way to go. I mean as far as the cover and maintaining continuity within the IP it felt like a cool hook for it to be something actually within the game.
Does the Book of Cain take any information from previous Diablo books such as those written by Richard A. Knaak or Mel Odom?
Neilson: Yeah. There is definitely. A lot of the Sin War trilogy is covered in here. You can get kind of a condensed version of the events from the Sin War Trilogy, and it touches on some of the other books as well.
Given that this book is set as the source book for Diablo lore, does it contradict or change any of the major events that have taken place in the game? And if so can you elaborate and be specific on any of the changes?
Neilson: It does clarify a lot of things. We have a lore team who basically pour over all of this material. We knew going into the creation of this book that there were already some contradictions that existed in the lore and the history. So we took this as an opportunity to set the record straight. We definitely identified a few things. One specific example is Tal Rasha and the Soul Stone; and Zoltun Kulle being the one that suggested that the essence could be trapped within a human. There were already a couple of differing accounts and who made that suggestion. I think in one account it was Tal Rasha made the suggestion and another account that Tyrael made the suggestion. So we went in with a different option that Zoltun Kulle was the one who made the suggestion and the purpose of that was to set up that character more because he’s a main character in the next game.
Does Book of Cain go into any post-Sin War details after the trilogy by Knaak? A lot of the other lore in the games and other novels make it seem as if the Sin War didn’t end until a few hundred years before the events of Diablo 1.
Neilson: It does go into detail and we’re trying to nail down the timeline right now. I don’t remember if it nails down exactly how many years before the events of the game that the Sin War takes place but we are in the midst of nailing all of that down for a more refined timeline.
Book of Cain talks about the Angels, and Demons, but Does Trang’Oul get mentioned in the book?
Neilson: Trang’Oul is mentioned briefly. He actually has a gorgeous double page spread and as part of that there’s a little side bar written as a handwritten note from Deckard Cain. There’s a little bit of information, but it’s almost more like a teaser for Trang’Oul.
Are there any potential Diablo III story spoilers in Book of Cain for those who wish to read it before playing the game?
Neilson: There’s no spoilers for the game. Information in the Book of Cain certainly does inform what is in the game. When you read the book you will certainly be more informed of the lore perspective when you play the game.
Are there examples of Deckard Cain and Leah’s research throughout the years searching and piecing together the fragments of the new Prophecy about Azmodan and the comet?
Neilson: There is a lot of that covered in the book. The prophecy is kind of an amalgam that Cain put together on many different prophecies that exist. Some of the different cultures around Sanctuary have some of their own prophecies and a lot of these prophecies point to the comet and the end of days. Deckard Cain put together one all encompassing prophecy based on everything he’s read. So there’s the one he put together but there are a lot of different ones as well.
In Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, Tyrael opens a portal for Cain and the hero prior to the destruction of the Worldstone. Do we get to read about the explosion of Mount Arreat from the point of view of any surviving Barbarians? For example, the upcoming DC Comics Diablo mentions a survivor.
Neilson: We do have a section on the destruction of the Worldstone I believe, I’ll have to double check, but I believe it’s told from Deckard Cain’s perspective. So I don’t believe it’s told from the Barbarian perspective.
Does Cain mention Abd al-Hazir, and if so, does his research help Cain piece together the prophecy? Have they met or worked together?
Neilson: I don’t believe we mention Abd al-Hazir in here and if we do it’s just a really brief mention of the many sources Cain is drawing from. We don’t suggest in the book that they have been hanging out and sharing information.
Are all lands of Sanctuary featured, and given in-depth background story?
Neilson: There wasn’t enough space in the book to go in depth giving all the other information we put in the book. There is a section near the end of the book called Lands and Cultures that does cover all the main areas and cultures in sanctuary. It also covers all the new classes that will be showing up in Diablo 3.
Does Cain uncover new history of his Horadrim heritage and learn the background stories of NPCs/Bosses/lore figures met in the previous games? (for example: Leoric’s pre-Tristram reign, Warriv, Wirt, Anya, mythical stories of possible Tyrael encounters across time.)
Neilson: Yes. For sure we get into Leoric a lot more. We do touch into a lot of the history of the Horadrim, the hunt for the three, we get into a lot more detail as far as the events that took place back then. We’re also working on another book, Nate Kenyon is writing a book for us called The Order and that is really going to go into a lot more detail also into the history of the Horadrim and Cain’s involvement and how he learned about the Horadrim and the events at Tristram.
What was more interesting or challenging about compiling the lore for Book of Cain and working with Flint Dille?
Neilson: Flint Dille was great. Flint really understood the character so he nailed that character voice, that scholarly voice of Deckard Cain. I’d say the biggest challenge was just codifying everything. Just putting it all together identifying contradictions that existed and clarifying which direction we wanted to go. There’s a lot of history in the Diablo universe. It was a mammoth task just to put distinctly. What did we end up? 140-some pages? So just trying to the entire Diablo history in that amount of pages, and a significant amount of that was art, was not the easiest thing in the world.
What inspired this mythological background for the Diablo universe concerning Anu and Tathamet the dragon?
Neilson: A lot of that came from Chris Metzen and early on we had meetings and we talked about what would different mythology be for the universe. And we knew there was one we wanted to back and enforce as canon at least from Cain’s point of view and the information that he discovered. A lot of those ideas came from Chris Metzen, and we hashed out the rest of it in brainstorming sessions.
Is Tran’Goul somehow related to Tathamet considering both are dragons, but both seem to be different: the former good, the latter evil?
Neilson: I think there’s more information that will be revealed in the future about Trang’Oul – right now I can’t disclose anything.
How do you feel about the mood and story of the Diablo series? What do you think makes it stand from other dark fantasy universes?
Neilson: Interesting. So the biggest theme that we face with Diablo is heroism facing absolute terror. I really think that sets it apart. You have humanity that is caught in the middle between these cataclysmic forces of light and dark, but light and dark aren’t exactly what you expect them to be. The angels aren’t exactly what you expect angels to be – most of them want to destroy humanity. So it’s a really kind of an interesting dynamic and humanity has the ability to become powerful in its own right, and to upset the balance of the Eternal Conflict between the High Heavens and the Burning Hells. I think that is really a cool hook.
Thank you, Micky Neilson, Eric Yco, Bashiok, Lyndsi, and Blizzard Creative & Public Relations Teams for your awesome support to fansites and lore fans.
What’s exceptional about the GTX 560 Ti Classified version versus the normal GTX 560 Ti? Compare:
The normal GTX 560 Ti features only 384 Cores, 2048 MB GDDR5 memory on a 256-bit memory bus, 128 GB/s Memory Bandwidth, and supports only 2-SLI.
The Classified version features 448 CUDA Cores, 1.28GB GDDR5 memory on a 320-bit memory bus, 156 GB/s Memory Bandwidth , 6 Phase PWM, 3-SLI support.
The limited edition Classified version, at the same price point as the GTX 560 Ti, sounds like a good video card to play the latest games like Batman: Arkham City, and Battlefield 3 at max settings.
If this card can do wonders on these two newest games, it should play Diablo III, StarCraft II, and World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria pretty decent at max settings.
Gamers Daily News reviewed the GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 Cores Classified and gave it the Gold Award. It exceeded even NVIDIA’s suggested FPS performance. NVIDIA estimates a 15% performance increase compared to the normal version, but Gamers Daily News found through benchmarks it was really a 25% performance increase.
Personally, I find this card to be a bit expensive, but considering the free shipping, that’s a $8.64 saving (New York). It’s also around half the price of the EVGA GeForce GTX 580.
Some of you might be looking for a leet video card, at a mid-range price. Either of those are a good choice. Not only do you get Free Super Saving Shipping with both graphic cards, you also qualify for a Free Digital Copy of “Batman: Arkham City” ($49.99 value). Ain’t that cool?
Blizzplanet journalist and network manager Eldorian interviewed author Nate Kenyon by phone to dig more into the storyline of StarCraft: Ghost–Spectres, a novel many fans of the StarCraft Universe have been anxiously awaiting for almost three years and a half (title revelation: May 10, 2008).
The StarCraft: Ghost–Spectres was originally assigned to be written by Keith R.A. DeCandido. For reasons only the Asgardian Norns might know, the direction of the book landed on the good hands of Nate Kenyon, a Bram Stoker Award finalist for both Bloodstone and The Reach. Nate Kenyon’s most recent novels (The Bone Factory and Sparrow Rock) have received great recognition by the American Library Association’s Booklist Magazine and Publishers Weekly.
Blizzard Entertainment hosted a live phone call interview between Richard A. Knaak and Blizzplanet member Eldorian. Questions were hand picked by Medievaldragon from the Scrolls of Lore community. Thanks a bunch, folks. Many thanks to Blizzard Entertainment, its Public Relations staff and to the Creative Team.
Eldorian: “The sound quality is decent enough. I’d just remind people that this was done over a cell phone and the sound quality is a little distorted due to that.”
Transcript in english and spanish will come at a later time. Stay tuned. Listen to the phone call interview below:
The StarCraft Books Store contains all the novels available for those interested in expanding their lore knowledge.
The StarCraft Archive contains the following novels in a single tome:
In the distant future, a loose confederacy of terran exiles is locked in battle sixty thousand light-years from Earth, caught in the crossfire between two powerful alien races: the enigmatic protoss and the ruthless zerg swarm. Conflicts rage across the Koprulu sector as each of the three species fights for its existence among the stars.
LIBERTY’S CRUSADE: Behind the attacks of the zerg and the protoss lies the story of a lifetime, and investigative reporter Mike Liberty is determined to uncover it. But every new piece of information only deepens the mystery. Thrown into the middle of a war that may determine the fate of humanity in the Koprulu sector, Liberty reports on the escalating conflict and wonders whom he can afford to trust.
SHADOW OF THE XEL’NAGA: Bhekar Ro is a bleak, backwater world on the fringe of the Terran Dominion, and every day is a struggle to survive for the planet’s human colonists. Yet when a violent storm unearths an unfathomable alien structure, Bhekar Ro becomes the greatest prize in the Koprulu sector. Zerg, protoss, and terran forces turn the planet into a bloody battlefield in their haste to claim the lost secrets of the most powerful species the universe has ever known.
SPEED OF DARKNESS: All Ardo Melnikov ever dreamed of was living in peace on the verdant colony of Bountiful. That dream was shattered when the zerg attacked the colony and annihilated his loved ones. Now a marine charged with defending the worlds of the Terran Confederacy, he must come to terms with the painful memories of his past…and the unsettling truths that may dominate his future.
UPRISING: She is the Queen of Blades. Her name has become legend throughout the galaxy, and that legend is death for all who dare oppose the swarm. Nevertheless, Sarah Kerrigan was once human, and an extraordinary human at that. Forced to become one of the Terran Confederacy’s merciless psionic assassins, she carried out her orders without question until a twist of fate propelled her toward a destiny no one could have foreseen. This is the tale of Kerrigan’s shadowy origins — and the war that was fought for her very soul.
The Pre-Cataclysm world event phase 1 introduced new quests to discover the Twilight’s Hammer plot to sway Alliance and Horde citizens to join their cult through doomsayers spreading propaganda about the end of the world of Azeroth.
You may find here screenshots of the entire Alliance questline and video (available in 720p HD, 1080p HD, and lower resolutions).
During the Hallow’s End celebration, Blizzard Entertainment enabled the pre-Cataclysm world event which consists of elemental invasions and a Twilight’s Hammer questline. The cult has agents within the Horde and the Alliance, inciting the people with prophecies of doom and the end of the world of Azeroth.
Doomsayers located at the Drag in Orgrimmar announce an incoming cataclysm, where only those devout will ascend among the elementals and be eternal. All this talk will make more sense when you do the quests of Vash’jir when the Cataclysm expansion is launched.
The Twilight’s Hammer Cult is using the lifeforce of the demigod L’ghorek to transform cultists into Elemental Ascendants. This is what they mean with “ascending into a new way of life beyond death and been reborn” during the world event quests: “Cast off your lives of war and drudgery, be reborn in elements and claim your rightful place in this new world!”
The questline starts with Earthmender Norsala (The Earthen Ring) with the quest titled: The Situation So Far. Make sure to talk to Blood Guard Torek too. Both NPCs stand in front of the Orgrimmar Bank.
We have screenshots of each step through the entire Horde questline, and video (available in 720p HD, 1080p HD and lower resolutions).
Therazane the Stonemother got a new model in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm beta v22.214.171.12402. She was a lieutenant of the Old gods until the Titans imprisoned her in the Elemental Plane of Earth: Deepholm.
Before this beta build, Therazane’s model was the same as her daughter Theradras from the Maraudon dungeon. Now she has a very unique and interesting new model. While Theradras stands on her feet over wooden slippers, her mother Therazane gravitates magically over the ground like a massive planet. You can find her at Therazane’s Throne (northern Deepholm). Check out our screenshots and video below. Note: Video available in 1080p HD and 720p HD.
The Cataclysm Beta build 13189 introduced the Kor’Kron Annihilator. Once players reach Guild level 25 and obtain Guild reputation: Exalted, the special mount will be available from the Guild Vendor for 1125 gold.
Oh Shinies! Don’t you love the smell of easy loot? Setesh is one of the four constructs at the Four Seats section of the Halls of Origination in the second floor. His appearance is that of the egyptian deity of chaos: Set (greyhound face).
Setesh can’t be tanked. He is a caster and has a weird aggro table. He will cast up to three Chaos bolts to random players dealing approximately 10,000 chaos damage to each. His hands will glow green while he channels the 3 sec spell.
Within the first ten seconds, Setesh will walk to a corner of the room to cast Chaos Portal. A portal opens up and three type of mobs will spawn: Void Sentinel, Void Seeker and Void Wurms. Don’t panic. Ignore the adds. Some players recommend to kill the Void Seekers, but you will do fine ignoring them and simply focusing DPS on Setesh.
Setesh will open a second portal approximately 30-40 seconds later.
Setesh will often cast a spell that leaves a massive black and green lava spot on the ground. It is easy to detect it. You will see a large purple missile going your way before it lands. Similar to the purple missile cast by Faceless Ones in the Ahkahet: the Old Kingdom. Players standing on this green+black lava spot will get 10,000 damage per tick. Simply run away from it.
Setesh will sometimes stand still to channel a spell that creates several green bubbles within 20 yards around Setesh. It would be smart for melee dps to run away from Setesh while he channels that spell.
This boss is so easy it doesn’t require much of a strategy other than the obvious. The Tank only needs to aggro each mob that comes from the Chaos Portals on each corner Setesh moves up to open them. The healer should conserve mana and just to focus all heals on the tank in my opinion. All DPS players got to burn down Setesh and blow all trinkets and cooldowns. The boss dies within a 1:30 minutes range.
Oh, about the shinies … take a look at the heroic loot item lvl 346 after the video.
Chaos Bolt: a 3 sec spell cast on a random player dealing 8838 – 12547 Chaos damage.
Unknown: A massive green and black spot appears on the ground. Players standing on it will get over 10,000 damage over time.
Unknown: several green bubbles appear around Setesh while he channels the spell.
Chaos Portal: opens a portal which summons in void sentinel, void seeker and void wurm mobs.
Charged Fists: Increases physical damage.
Melee Swing: hits for 8654 – 12487 Physical damage.
Melee Swing: hits for 1710 – 2715 Physical damage.