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Filed under: StarCraft 2

Do we need bigger friend lists?

This is a problem I hear about, but don't actually have, because I'm not a terribly friendly person. Try not to be shocked. But I do have some friends, and a lot of those friends are very friendly people (they'd kind of have to be to be my friends, I suppose) and they often complain that they're full up on friends. I'm not sure how one can possibly manage that many friends, but nevertheless there are folks who have completely used up all one hundred potential friends and want/need more. However, it seems they may have to wait a while. Bashiok had this to say on twitter:

This is one of those issues that makes me wonder. For one thing, the battle.net friends list actually extends past World of Warcraft - it has to be coded to work with Diablo III, Starcraft II, Hearthstone and soon Heroes of the Storm. That's a lot of different games with different code, and WoW is certainly the oldest of them. I can imagine the limits of the oldest game holding back the development. Still, for the friendly souls among us, I hope it gets solved soon.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Diablo 3, StarCraft 2, Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone Insider

Activision-Blizzard sues over StarCraft II cheats

Activision Blizzard logo
On May 19th Blizzard filed a suit with the Central District of California over the practice of players who create cheats for multiplayer mode in StarCraft II. In particular, the suit names the "ValiantChaos MapHack" as one of, but not the only, hack being targeted by the litigation. The suit claims that the cheats undermine the nature of multiplayer gameplay and "disrupt or impair the online experience for purchasers of the computer game."

The suit targets the programmers behind the hacks, demanding compensation for the copyright infringement inherent in the cheats' modifications of the game. As noted in the BBC report, this lawsuit recalls a similar one from 1990s, wherein Nintendo unsuccessfully sued the creators of the Games Genie, also on the grounds of copyright violation. That lawsuit, however, took place in the days before widespread online multiplayer gaming environments, and it will be interesting to see how much, or how little, this case echoes that one.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, StarCraft 2

5 things I'm amazed WoW still doesn't have

World of Warcraft's tenth anniversary is this year, and with that milestone we've seen a lot of changes, additions, and growth -- the game now spans 90 levels (soon to be 100) and sprawls across the original two continents, Outland, Northrend, Pandaria and places like Deepholm. We'll be traveling to an alternate dimension soon. The game has auction houses, flying mounts, the Brawler's Guild, Proving Grounds, dungeons, raids, scenarios, transmogrification ... a lot has been changed and added over the years.

Yet there are some things WoW never did that I admit, I expected it to do before now. With the level 90 boost incoming, they added one I was wondering about (and which our own Adam Holisky basically predicted based on what other games were doing) but there are still features other games have had over the years that WoW doesn't. Some have seemed like real no-brainers, while others might just be based on my own weird ideas. None of these are things I necessary want or think are good ideas, they're just things I expected.

1 - User Generated Content

When I read up on Neverwinter's user generated content, I immediately found myself wondering why World of Warcraft hadn't taken a bite out of that. The Warcraft RTS was so infamous for player created maps that it spawned a whole sub-genre of games (if you play League of Legends now, that game wouldn't exist without the original Defense of the Ancients mod to Warcraft III) and yet, we've never really seen anything like that in WoW. I understand why Blizzard might want tight control over the game's story and content, but even something where players could submit generated content to be evaluated has never manifested, and I'm kind of astonished. To be honest, after Neverwinter announced its Foundry, I expected something like it for WoW, but I was wrong.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Diablo 3, StarCraft 2

StarCraft II Arcade now free to play

Good news for Blizzard fans looking for more games to play -- the StarCraft II Arcade is now completely free. StarCraft II is not only well known for the game and tournament play, but also for its creative community. The game comes with a map editor that allows you to customize and craft your own creations, using Blizzard art assets and maps to put together whatever game your creative mind happens to dream up. These creations are all available as part of the StarCraft II Arcade, a massive index of player-created games.

So what's in the Arcade? Everything from custom maps and missions to StarCraft-themed versions of popular games like Bejeweled and Pictionary. Full access to all games in the Arcade was previously limited only to those who purchased StarCraft II. With the launch of patch 2.1, all games in the Arcade have now been made available to anyone with a Battle.net account -- even games that previously required the Heart of the Swarm. To access the Arcade, simply download and install the free trial version of StarCraft II, no purchase necessary.

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Filed under: News items, StarCraft 2

First pro-gamer recognized as an athlete by U.S. Government

A huge step forward has been taken for eSports as StarCraft II pro Kim "viOLet" Dong Hwan has been recognized as an athlete by the U.S. Government. As his sponsors, CSA, and TheDailyDot report, viOLet was one of the first to apply for the P-1A visa when it was opened to pro gamers five months ago. The visa doesn't allow him to permanently reside in the U.S., but does permit him to enter temporarily to participate in tournaments and the like, and is the same as is awarded to other athletes.

While this is undoubtedly a fantastic turn of events for a StarCraft II player whose career has been fraught with mishaps, it is the bigger picture that's really important here. This sets a precedent for eSports' recognition as something on a level footing with traditional sports. It allows pro-gamers to be categorized with traditional athletes, and will only serve to further the reach of eSports and gaming. The normalization of a historically stigmatized industry is nothing but good for gaming and gamers alike. Congratulations, viOLet!

Filed under: News items, StarCraft 2

WCS eSport trading cards coming to BlizzCon

Have you ever wanted to be on your own trading card? Well, now the gamers are getting their day in the virtual sun with a limited edition series of eSport trading cards highlighting the top StarCraft 2 players from the World Championship Series. BlizzCon attendees will be the first to see these cards in action, as they'll be handed out at StarCraft events on the show floor.

Not going to be at the con but still want some trading cards to call your own? You can enter online for a chance to win packs or a full set of cards. And if you live in the right place, packs will also be given out at BarCraft eSports viewing events around the world.

But all I want to know is: where's the Ghostcrawler trading card?

Filed under: News items, BlizzCon, StarCraft 2

Can't wait for more Warcraft? Check out the Alliance and Horde StarCraft 2 mod

Have you been waiting for Warcraft 4? And waiting and waiting? Then you'll be glad to know that intrepid modder StevenLuo has brought Warcraft aesthetics to StarCraft 2 using the SC2 Editor. The finished product, WOW RTS: Alliance and Horde (or WAH for short), features 2 factions, 16 units, 18 heroes, and 3 maps -- Lost Temple (2V2), Crossroads (1V1), and Ashenvale (1V1) -- which you can play on with others or against the AI.

Can't wait to get started? Launch the StarCraft 2 Arcade and search for WAH to bring up the maps. The initial download is 245MB, but once you have all the assets, the individual maps are pretty small. So what are you waiting for? Get Warcrafting!

Filed under: StarCraft 2

StarCraft Universe hits funding goal

In the midst of all the excitement over patch 5.4's release, you could be forgiven if you've forgotten about StarCraft Universe, the Upheaval Arts fan project to create an MMO-type game for StarCraft II. The plot of the game revolves around an alternate ending to StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, where Kerrigan couldn't stop the hybrid's assault and the Protoss were defeated. StarCraft Universe tells the story of the aftermath.

If that sounds intriguing to you, know that the project has hit its Kickstarter funding goal, so StarCraft Universe is on its way to fruition. For those of you who still want to contribute and earn some extra perks, there are a few hours remaining on the campaign, but don't delay, time is quickly running out. If you've been clamoring for a StarCraft-themed MMO, this is a project you'll definitely want to check out!

Filed under: News items, StarCraft 2

StarCraft II Art Tools Open Beta available

StarCraft II Art Tools Open Beta available
If you're a 3D artist looking for some new toys to get that creative streak going, Blizzard has just the thing for you. The StarCraft II Art Tools package is now in open beta, and includes plugins for 3DS Max, along with a ton of StarCraft II source art files, tutorials, and documentation to get you up and running. The art tools package isn't just a new toy from Blizzard -- it's the same tools that the StarCraft II development team used to create Heart of the Swarm.

The tools package allows artistic players to create new models, textures, particle effects, animations, or pretty much any other 3D art asset that you can dream up for the StarCraft II engine. This is, however, a beta -- so there may be bugs with the program. However, Blizzard of course has an official feedback thread for users to leave bug reports and suggestions for improvement. To participate in the open beta, simply visit the announcement page, download the program in either 32-bit or 64-bit version, grab the documentation, and get to creating!

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, StarCraft 2

StarCraft World Championship Series app available for Apple devices

starcraft header
If you're a fan of eSports and StarCraft in particular, you may be interested in the Blizzard WCS app available in the iTunes store for iPhone, iPad, and iPod. The app allows for streaming of live matches, videos on demand of prior matches, and other video extras including highlights and player spotlights, as well as news and match schedules. There's even a "spoliers alert" option for the results feed, in case you want to find out the long way! You can also share videos that you're streaming, and of course the app can plug into your preferred social media outlet so you can share your favorite eSports articles.

The app is currently free on the iTunes store, so if you've got an Apple device and are interested in the StarCraft World Championship Series, there's really no reason not to get it. As for us Android or other platform users, though, we are unfortunately out of luck!

Filed under: Blizzard, StarCraft 2

Review of WoW TD 2 for StarCraft II Arcade

WoW TD 2 is a tower defense map for StarCraft II Arcade. Designed by player PinkyBlue, it is playable even if you only have the StarCraft II Starter Edition, which is free. An interview with the designer can be found on the StarCraft II blog.

There are two difficulties to choose from for WoW TD 2: normal and hardcore. You can play the game cooperatively or by yourself. When you first enter the game, you choose the difficulty and what your tower builder is going to be. They range from a basic energy builder with no benefits up to an ArchAngel that can attack enemies as well as build units.

Most of the "towers" in the game are WoW-related units. Night Elf Archers, Orc Warriors, Goblin rogues are a few of your choices. The Night Elves are females that even have their bouncy idle animation.

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Filed under: StarCraft 2

Lich King easter egg discovered in StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm

Lich King in SC2 Image Editor
"There must always be a Lich King," Bolvar reminded us, and he really, really meant it. Across all realities, in every Blizzard intellectual property, there must be a Lich King. That's right, take a look at that screenshot up there. Yup, that's the Lich King, buried in a sheet of ice somewhere in the Koprulu Sector. Redditor Aunvilgod laments, "I'm just making a map, and I see this..." I'm not sure it's really any major source of concern, though, considering we have recent confirmation that the Zerg would curbstomp the Scourge in a brawl. Then again, that's only good news if you're Zerg. Terrans and Protoss might have a slightly different perspective.

Unsurprisingly, the thread is immediately flooded with cries for a Warcraft 4. I really don't think WoW is going anywhere anytime soon, folks, though I suppose fans can dream.

Filed under: Humor, StarCraft 2

Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm launch schedule

Starcraft II Heart of the Swarm launch schedule
Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm officially launches, as the image suggests, on March 12, but, with the game launching at midnight tonight, launch events have kicked off all over the world. The evening of March 11 is when celebrations began in Sydney, Australia, where, at the time of writing, the game has been available for purchase for a full eight hours.

Events are currently taking place in Europe, with activities underway and being broadcast live on Blizzard's official twitch channel right now. The European events include a tournament featuring well-known players such as Stephano, LucifroN, Grubby and White-Ra, who are competing live on stage, mixed in with developer interviews, exclusive content and more!

If you're too late to check out the European streams, which finish at 8pm EST, fear not, because the US events kick off at 9pm PST, with Day9 and Husky kicking off proceedings. There will be live show matches, displaying the new "take command" feature, and new custom games, and two attendees will have the opportunity to play with Suppy and ViBE in a 2v2 pro/am match.

Mike Morhaime, Chris Metzen, Chris Sigaty and Sam Didier will be in attendance at the US event, taking part in developer presentations, custom games and much more. Again, if you weren't able to make it to Irvine to attend the event, this will all be broadcast live via the official Twitch channel. Do check out Blizzard's launch pages for further information on any of the events.


Filed under: Blizzard, StarCraft 2

StarCraft: Kerrigan -- Hope and Vengeance free on Comixology

StarCraft Kerrigan  Hope and Vengeance free on Comixology
This week, we had patch 5.2 to contend with, but next week it's all about the launch of StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm for plenty of players. Blizzard has been slowly releasing promotional material for the new game, including a new cinematic and a pretty fascinating viral advertising campaign called Project Blackstone, which is still being updated as the time ticks down to Heart of the Swarm's launch. And now we have another piece -- a comic about Kerrigan and a glimpse at what she's been through that takes place at some point after she was rescued at the end of Wings of Liberty.

Kerrigan -- Hope and Vengeance #0 is a relatively short comic, but the art and writing is top-notch. And here's the kicker -- it's absolutely free. You don't have to pay for the comic, you simply plunk it in your cart, checkout and read. The comic is a fairly brisk 8 pages, but with a story by Cameron Dayton and some really stunning art by Zoddd, not to mention the absence of a price tag, this is a nice treat for StarCraft fans.

To my knowledge, this is the first time Blizzard's ever offered a free digital comic of this scope. And it does make one wonder.

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Filed under: Blizzard, News items, StarCraft 2

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Vengeance trailer debuts

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm launches March 12, 2013 -- are you ready for it? If you weren't already hyped for the next installment of the game, Blizzard has just released the new trailer shown above. Heart of the Swarm continues the story where Wings of Liberty left off, and follows the continuing tale of Sarah Kerrigan. Although the Xel'Naga artifact appears to have restored Kerrigan's human form, is humanity where her heart really lies?

As usual, the cinematics team have outdone themselves. If there's one thing Blizzard has always excelled at, it's producing some seriously amazing trailers. Check out the trailer in full above, and don't forget to pick up your copy of Heart of the Swarm March 12.


Filed under: Blizzard, StarCraft 2

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