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Russian WoW in Alpha testing


Blizzard has announced alpha testing for the new Russian version of World of Warcraft. The post on the WoW-Europe forums invitesRussian-speaking layers to join in a technical test connection and latency issues within the new version of the game. This will be followed by a localization beta that coincide with the release of patch 2.4.3. The announcement is posted in .

Dedicated forums are slated to be released next week for Russian WoW. Many questions remain unanswered. Hopefully in the coming weeks more information will be released. Currently a number of realms exist on EU servers that are inhabited by Russian-speaking players. Will there be free migrations for players on existing "Russian realms?"

Visit the Russian WoW teaser page for more information. (I think) Also keep an eye out for more news on Latin American WoW, which is currently under development.

Filed under: Realm News, Blizzard, News items, The Burning Crusade

Breakfast Topic: What Blizzard didn't announce at the opening ceremony

By now I'm assuming you've read the liveblog or seen the announcement post and heard: Diablo 3 is go.

By now you have probably also heard that there really weren't any other announcements at the opening ceremony. Don't get me wrong, Diablo 3 is awesome. But as much as we're Blizzard fanboys (and fangirls) here, we're all about the WoW first, and we need some WoTLK news to sustain us too -- and we still don't know what that mysterious "next generation MMO" in development is either -- it seems most people are assuming it's Starcraft now though. Me, I'm not convinced. After all, there's a Starcraft game in development too, so it could presumably be either franchise, or simply an updated World of Warcraft 2.

There's quite a few things that could come out about WotLK today and tomorrow, of course. I'm still hoping for an opening cinematic and an official release date to start. While we're at it, how about giving us a demo of the Dance Studio or Barbershop, or better yet, some other unannounced new major feature for the expansion? I might even settle for new skills, talent trees, or even a new battleground preview.

What are your expectations and hopes for news from the World Wide Invitational as it soldiers on?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Blizzard, News items, Breakfast Topics, Expansions, Wrath of the Lich King, Worldwide Invitational

Splash page changes as WWI opening ceremony begins, announces Diablo 3

As of 2:57 PDT, only about 2 hours after the last screen update, and with the opening ceremony for WWI well underway, the splash screen for blizzard.com and other associated sites has changed to a flash file. We're expecting it change over any second now, and will update this post when it does.

Edit: And the Heavens Shall Tremble.

It is official, everyone. Diablo 3 is coming our way.

You can see a still of the splash screen in our gallery, but be sure to watch it in all its glory on a Blizzard site as well.

Filed under: Events, Blizzard, News items, Worldwide Invitational

Blizzard posts Worldwide Invitational schedule

Blizzard has posted the official WWI schedule on their page, and there aren't a lot of surprises -- lots of tournaments, a few developer panels, and of course the requisite costume and dance contests (no soundalike contest this time around?). The opening ceremony starts everything off Saturday morning at 11:45 (that's Paris time, of course, which is 5:45am EST), and that's when we'll hear about whatever announcements Blizz plans to give us, whether they be new Wrath information, a new Diablo game (cross your fingers!) or a completely brand new IP.

One interesting thing is that the Nihilum live raid is an officially sponsored event -- for some reason I thought that, like their other events, it was an unofficial look at the high-end content, but it's right there on Blizzard's official schedule, and will likely be on their stage as well. That's an interesting connection between some of the game's best players and the actual developer.

It's almost here! Stay tuned for Worldwide Invitational news right here on WoW Insider all weekend, of course -- we'll have people live on the scene, and anything we know all weekend long, you'll know too. More details on our coverage are coming up soon -- it looks to be a terrific event in Paris, and we can't wait to see what Blizzard's got planned for us this time.

WoW Insider is on the ground in Paris at the Blizzard Invitational bringing you the big announcements and latest Wrath news as it happens. Check out our latest coverage!

Filed under: Events, WoW Social Conventions, Blizzard, Raiding, Worldwide Invitational

Blizzard's splash screen changes for June 27th: A "Lost" penguin and Death Knight imagery

Good Morning everyone! It is now June 27th, and as expected, Blizzard's splash screen has changed yet again to reveal more of the mystery behind what they may be announcing at the Worldwide Invitational, which begins tomorrow. What exactly they're announcing is still up in the air, but there have been some interesting revelations, especially concerning the mysterious purple monster everyone's been wondering about.

The new graphic, named ice5.jpg, doesn't seem to have changed the cracking ice much, but what has changed is the "eyes." There's now very little doubt that they are glowing eyes instead of snow flecks, and to be frank, they do look remarkably like the eyes of Arthas the Lich King from underneath his helmet -- although the ethereal feel of them and the strange ridges being formed in the vapor are also very reminiscent of the Protoss. Whether these ridges indicate Arthas' helmet or the face ridges of a Protoss or a demon might still be up for debate, but this overlay of Arthas on today's splash screen by Zach is very convincing -- the eyes match up pretty much exactly. Hopefully, we'll know for sure who it is tomorrow.

In addition, the new rune, located just above the breaking ice, is that of a snowflake, which brings to mind the Frost tree of the Death Knights (even if the frost rune shown on the official Death Knight page doesn't quite match up). Tipster Allen notes that the new rune looks a lot like a Norse Bind-Rune, specifically one known as a compass or the "Helm of awe," which is often used for invulnverability -- perhaps a Lost Vikings reference, or a nod to the Viking-like architecture seen in many screenshots of Northrend?

All This new imagery would seem to be a killing blow of sorts for a Diablo 3 announcement, but it is also worth nothing that the new frost rune is in the correct area for the Pentagram theory to continue to apply. In addition, all 5 runes have lit up, so if you weren't able to get a good look at them before, you certainly can now.

What's really sort of interesting, though, is what our purple monster friend reveals, which I'll discuss after the break.

Read more →

Filed under: Events, Blizzard, News items, Galleries, Rumors, Worldwide Invitational

Ron Pardo hints at a new game announcement at Paris GDC

Pardo at the Austin GDCAs you may recall, Rob Pardo was the keynote speaker at this week's GDC in Paris, only days before the Worldwide Invitational in the same city. He delivered a speech laden with a lot of insight into his and Blizzard's inner workings and philosophy, but not much in the way of new information about WoTLK, as Natalie reported yesterday.

However, Gamesindustry.biz is reporting that Pardo did let a rather major piece of information slip in the final Q&A session that wrapped up on the conference. It looks like there may be a new game announcement at the Invitational later this week after all. Someone asked Pardo to comment on the Diablo 3 rumors that have been whizzing around the net lately.

"So you want me to announce the game before our announcement?" he said. "No offense, but I think there's like 300 people here, and I'll be ripped apart by 8000 people there [at the Invitational] if I pre-announce it - but it's going to be really exciting. I think everybody here will be really excited about the announcement."

Luckily, among those 8000 people at the Worldwide Invitational will be three of our own, so you can expect WoW Insider will be on top of this announcement when it drops. In the meantime, be sure to check our in-depth analysis of the latest changes to Blizzard's splash screen, which is almost certainly a teaser for this announcement.

[Thanks for the forward, Centipede!]

Filed under: Events, WoW Social Conventions, Blizzard, News items, Rumors, Worldwide Invitational

Leaked WWI schedule hints at Diablo 3 announcement?


Ice on the official site or otherwise, I'm still holding out hope that we'll see a Diablo-related announcement at WWI (and not a Wrath of the Lich King beta/release announcement, as many are guessing). And here's a little more fuel for the speculation fire: DiabloII.net says they've received the official schedule for the event in Paris this coming weekend, and right after the main presentation, they say that Blizzard has planned a press conference. And basically, their argument is that you don't plan a press conference to announce an open beta of an expansion we've known about for almost a year -- you hold a press conference for a new Diablo game.

We should also note, though people have noticed this before, that Sunday, June 29th, is the eighth anniversary of the release of Diablo II, so this weekend has a lot of hack-and-slash-related significance as is. Of course, we won't know until WWI actually kicks off in Paris on Saturday -- WoW Insider will, of course, have correspondents on the scene to let you know exactly what Blizzard announces when they do.

And even if we don't get D3 this weekend, there's always BlizzCon.

[Via Blizzplanet]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, WoW Social Conventions, Blizzard, BlizzCon, Rumors

Arena Tournament Phase 2 begins

I'm actually a little excited. Phase 2 of the 2008 World of Warcraft Arena Tournament has begun! Start your engines and speculations now, folks -- which comps will make it to the top this time? Are we going to see a winner that looks like Frag Dominant? Or will the new Phase 2 winners basically be the same as Phase 1's winners?

Vhairi's been tracking the performance of classes in the tournament so far. For the last week or two, this round's competitors have been honing strategies, experimenting with comps, and switching things around a lot. Now that the dust has settled, teams are what they are. As a result, the data should be fairly meaningful again pretty quickly, and hopefully Vhairi will put out another update.

I can't wait to see how the class performance distribution will look in Phase 2 -- it might teach us something more about what to expect in WotLK for class balance. I don't think Phase 2 will be much different from Phase 1 however -- a lack of holy Pallies, scarcity of Hunters and Mages, and so on.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, News items, Arena

What will we find at BlizzCon?

BlizzCon was announced on Monday, and ever since, there's been a question bouncing around the back of my mind: just what is it for? Blizzard doesn't just host an event because they love us or because they feel like it -- they host events to release news. WWI last year was where Starcraft II was announced, and Wrath of the Lich King got announced at the previous BlizzCon.

We do know that we're expecting Wrath in "the second half" of the year, and whatever we see at BlizzCon could depend on when that releases. If Wrath appears in August (before BlizzCon in October), we might be seeing the announcement of the next expansion (probably the Maelstrom or the Emerald Dream, or both) in Anaheim: Blizzard has said that they want to release them faster, and there'd be no time like BlizzCon to get an announcement out. If Wrath doesn't show up until November or December, though, Blizzard could use their convention to announce brand new features we haven't heard about yet -- maybe another Hero class?

Of course, we could be grinding the wrong quest mobs entirely -- remember that BlizzCon is about Blizzard, not just World of Warcraft, so anything they announce might have nothing at all to do with their MMO. Diablo 3, anyone? Or maybe they do just want to hang out with their fans and get some good press before the big release. We won't know for sure until they open the doors at the convention center in October.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, WoW Social Conventions, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Expansions, BlizzCon, Wrath of the Lich King

IGN liveblogging Starcraft 2 announcement

Charles Onyett of IGN is in Korea right now liveblogging the Starcraft 2 announcement. Here's what I've pulled out of his hurried updates so far.
  • Game is playable (pray for a demo at Blizzcon), but nothing is final.
  • Protoss Zealots have their psi blades and shield, along with a new charge ability. There's a new Protoss unit called an Immortal, with a shield that activates when damaged-- looks like they're already implementing Paladins then.
  • A new Protoss unit called a Stalker can blink around-- Blizzard wants Protoss to quickly put an army anywhere on the map.
  • Three more new Protoss units: Colossus has long legs and can move quickly, Warprey is a flying unit that does more damage the more it focuses a ray on a target, and a Pheonix can overcharge weapons, but have a cooldown afterwards.
  • Zerglings can now become suicide bombs in a kind of rolling form.
  • There's a physics system in the game-- destroyed units can roll down ramps.
  • System can handle at least 100 units at a time, and looks "similar to SC1 - both in unit and map designs." It must be 3D, though. Right?
Still more to come, including hopefully video of the event. An opening cinematic was shown as well-- shouldn't be too long before we see that online.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

It's Starcraft 2


Yup. Apparently Blizzard makes RTS games now, because they just announced Starcraft 2 in Korea.

Prepare to be zerged, protossed, and maybe even terraned, plus who knows what else they'll come up with. More to come. Lots more.

Get all your Starcraft 2 info right here.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

Authentication system down for an hour tonight: important?


Ok, now maybe we're getting a little paranoid about this, but look: Blizzard is performing a one hour maintenance on the authentication system this evening, according to the login screen. It starts at 11:00 PDT, and thus will go to midnight PDT...

... which is exactly when their announcement is supposed to happen! Coincidence?!?!?

All right, so maybe it is. But when have they ever done maintenance on a Friday night, huh? Maybe, they're adding a new game (like, oh I don't know, a new MMORPG) to the authentication system, and that's why they have to bring it down. Did you ever think of that?

Yes, the speculation is running a little wild, but the announcement in Korea is just hours away. We just can't wait!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Realm Status, Blizzard

Upcoming Blizzard announcement to be a new Starcraft?


With the countdown continuing on Blizzard's homepage, there's plenty of speculation on what Blizzard is cooking up. Warcraft 4? Starcraft 2? Diablo 3? I'm staying out of the speculation game, myself -- as much as we might guess and hope for a specific product, Blizzard is good at throwing us surprises. However, the Starcraft 2 rumors are growing in volume, fueled by the recent discovery of a Starcraft2.com page owned by Blizzard Entertainment which redirects viewers to Blizzard's main site. Gamespot went live with the story on Tuesday, and since then I've heard it just about everywhere. Reports of it are crowding my inbox. Barrens chat can't stop talking about it. And Blizzard rumors even seem to dominate OOC chat in Lord of the Rings Online. But is this really a sign that we're going to be hearing all about Starcraft 2 this weekend?

My magic 8-ball has informed me signs point to no. Or even if Starcraft 2 is what we're going to hear -- this isn't really a sign of it. The domain record from Network Solutions tells us that Blizzard has owned Starcraft2.com since 1999 and the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine shows the page redirecting to Blizzard's main home page since at least 2002. Starcraft2.com is neither new nor has it recently changed. No, Blizzard doesn't own Diablo3.com (it's a Diablo 3 news site), Warcraft4.com (an advertisement site), WorldofStarcraft.com (a German WoW site), or WorldofDiablo.com (a German Diablo site). But does the fact that they've owned Starcraft2.com for eight years now mean anything relevant to the coming announcement? I think not.

[Thanks to numerous tipsters]

Filed under: Blizzard

Blizzard's site updated to Diablo


Well when Blizzard first changed their Blizzard.com splash page, I, like many players, wondered if the game they're planning to announce on May 19th had something to do with the first two Warcraft games. But here's practically proof that that isn't the case-- they've updated their page now to Diablo (released in 1996), with a nice quote from Deckard Cain.

So it looks like we're going to get a countdown of Blizzard over the years. The announcement is coming this Saturday, and I count four days in between now and then (and four games left in the countdown), so it seems that by the time we hit WoW, Saturday will be upon us and we'll know what Blizzard is planning to do next. I'm just wondering what cool quote they'll use for WoW-- there's no way they'd do it, but "Mgurrurggugrle" would make me laugh a lot.

At any rate, speculation can shift away again from another Warcraft RTS, and back to Starcraft II or Worlds of Starcraft!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Blizzard, News items

Something's coming [UPDATE]


Recently the Blizzard website main page switched over to this new splashpage. It's intriguing. Since we know that something is indeed coming, this only confirms that there will actually be an announcement of some significance on May 19th.

Looking at the graphic I noticed a few things. First, The Burning Crusade is not listed separately. This leads me to believe that the announcement isn't simply an expansion, but an entirely new game. Oh, the curiosity burns within me. What will it be? Also, I see that the games Warcraft: Orcs and Humans and Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness are highlighted, but not Warcraft III or World of Warcraft. Perhaps this is a game that is centered around the first two games in the Warcraft canon. Is it World of Starcraft as the leaks have said, or is it Diablo III? Is it something else? Why can't it be the 19th already!


[Updated 5/13/2007 7 pm EST]

In searching through forum posts about this topic, I came across a fabulous summary by Colrum of Shadowsong who references some interesting tidits on Blizzplanet. They are citing recent events, such as the hiring of RTS guru Dustin Browder in 2004 and the May 2007 release of a new Starcraft novel, as evidence that we may be seeing a new Starcraft RTS rather than an MMO. Take this how you will, but it sounds very plausible to me.

Also of note, several people have said that this graphic is a countdown page. This is substantiated by the HTML source code which labels the image as "day1.jpg." Looks like we will have a countdown similar to the Worldwide Invitational website. It only remains to be seen what that question mark reveals on the 19th.


[via Adrian]

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

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