Blizzard is once again flinging open its doors and welcoming holiday card designs in its annual Holiday Card Contest. All you have to do to enter is design a holiday card with a Warcraft, StarCraft, or Diablo theme using the template provided on the official contest page. The cards will be judged for originality, design, humor, and holiday cheer.
As always, the prizes are sweet, including the Marauder StarCraft II Gaming Keyboard, the Banshee StarCraft II Gaming Headset, the Spectre StarCraft II Gaming Mouse, and the StarCraft II Zerg Edition Messenger Bag. And for all those artists out there, the first place winner will also receive a Wacom Bamboo Create Pen Tablet, perfect for scribbling up all kinds of artistic creations.
Check out the contest page for the template, full rules and prize list, and take a look at last year's winners while you're there. If you're planning on entering, better get started -- entries must be received by Dec. 13, 2011.
Eurogamer.net recently sat down with Blizzard Senior Vice President of Creative Development Chris Metzen. They talked about the story for all three of Blizzard's big franchises and the ins and outs of creating stories and heroes for each one.
On Warcraft, Metzen waxed philosophical on creating a meaningful story for 11 million fans who are each carving out their own individual stories on their own characters, and on translating that story culturally as well linguistically between all the different cultures of the people who play WoW. As Metzen observed, a story that goes over well in North America may fall flat in China. He also talked about making lore decisions and balancing the needs and wants of the players and the writers. Sometimes the players want you to go right when you want to go left, and it is a challenge, he says, to decide which way to go.
So how does a writer fit into World of Warcraft? If you ask Chris Metzen, they are the cheerleaders, torchbearers and keepers of the flame, responsible for the keeping the heart in the game. In a presentation at GDC Online in Austin, Texas, Metzen talked a bit about the balance between writing and gameplay and the job of a writer at Blizzard.
Though lore has taken more of a front seat in Cataclysm, it's ultimately the gameplay that comes first with Blizzard, even before the story. According to Metzen, if you don't make it fun in the first 3 minutes of gameplay, you've failed. If the gameplay is a turn-off, it doesn't matter how wonderful the story is -- people still aren't going to want to play it. The presentation is an interesting look at some of the less-highlighted aspects of game development, and Gamasutra has coverage of the whole presentation. For those interested in what the job of a writer looks like at Blizzard Entertainment or wondering what goes on when creating a story as massive as Warcraft, it's a really interesting read.
But that's not all from GDC Online -- Blizzard writers also got together to discuss great gaming moments and the challenges of game design. The coverage of the event discusses more about the writing process, fan feedback, and creating memorable stories. Check out the full story over on Gamasutra as well.
Blizzard's Chris Metzen graced the floors of the San Diego Comic-Con today to talk Blizzard licensing partners and show off some awesome new merchandise coming this year featuring Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo wares. Diablo merchandies looks to include knee-high Diablo socks, a Diablo face belt, new shirts, and two hoodies modeled after Diablo's demon hunter class and the angel Tyrael.
StarCraft's line is expanding with new shirts, a first look at the MegaBloks Viking, a leather wallet, and StarCraft: Ghost: Spectres, which has been confirmed by Metzen to be a novelization of StarCraft: Ghost, the game that was and then never was.
Warcraft's wares continue along a familiar path with a slew of new T-shirts as well as what appears to be a beverage called the Forsaken Elixir of Undead ... I really have no idea, since it's most likely a joke slide. Metzen also previewed the covers for the forthcoming original graphic novels Horde and Alliance, coming out later this year.
The Memories of Blizzard contest, which asked you (all of you, really) for videos containing your memories of Blizzard games over the past 20 years, has announced the lucky winners. Who won for their efforts in crafting videos of their memories? Well, I'll tell you. (He's going to tell, he's going to tell.) Stop singing, please.
Blizzard has quietly begun giving players with active StarCraft 2 accounts free 30-day WoW accounts. Verified by several sites and lots of SC2 players, Blizzard just flipped the WoW switch on many players' Battle.net accounts, inviting them to come join the world of Azeroth.
Battle.net is a great asset to Blizzard, as it allows the company to easily facilitate subscriptions from all its games and create potential customers to its other games through the common account. Giving away WoW subscriptions is an easy and practically costless move that might get even more people hooked. If you know any StarCraft 2 players who haven't set foot in Azeroth yet, maybe it's time that they gave the game a whirl. WoW Patch 4.1 is on the PTR, and WoW Insider has all the latest news for you -- from previews of the revamped Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub to new valor point mechanics and new archaeology items.
Sometimes you'd like to know that there are other MMOs out there, right? It's not all WoW, all the time! Our sister site Massively can provide you with everything you need to know about all of the other MMOs around -- past, present and future.
StarCraft II turned into World of StarCraft by enterprising fan
World of StarCraft is, by all indications, high on the list of desirable games that have never been announced or even hinted at. It's certainly a universe ripe for development, and it's not as if Blizzard doesn't know anything about running an MMO. But why wait for an official release when you can put the game together yourself?
The latest RIFT news If upcoming MMO RIFT has caught your attention, the past week had a number of RIFT-related news stories that might strike your fancy. New beta additions? PvP details? New class reveals? Massively has it all.
First Impressions: Battlestar Galactica Online Last year, developer Bigpoint announced that Battlestar Galactica Online was being developed as a free-to-play browser MMO. Just last week, Massively was able to get its hands on the game and take it for a spin.
Hello Kitty Online meets Manhattan
Hello Kitty Online is near and dear to our hearts here at WoW Insider. We were all excited to hear about the latest HKO update. Hello Kitty Online visits New York City, where the locals have gone missing for mysterious reasons. Find out what happened, and cheer up the victims!
Week in Review: It's all about souls Don't let WoW Insider do all of the talking when it comes to Massively's best content of the week. The Massively staff themselves have picked out what they think is the best content their site has to offer in their own weekly roundup.
Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Running parallel to the games we love and enjoy is a world full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?
The following is an opinion piece dealing with Blizzard's ongoing litigation. The opinions and views expressed are solely those of me, Mathew, the columnist.
You might have heard that Blizzard and its lawyers have recently started new litigation against three StarCraft 2 hackers in District Court. To a lot of people, this looks like another case of Blizzard going after more hackers for screwing with the online experience. To me, I see Blizzard's lawsuits as positive EULA-builders with huge benefit to the independent game market. It sounds crazy, but less so when you think about the concept of buying precedent.
Blizzard released Lost Vikings almost two decades ago and has been making games ever since. Obviously proud of the company's history, BlizzCon has an arcade to play the older titles. The games, their years of release and their promotional posters are in the gallery below.
BlizzCon 2010 is upon us! WoW Insider has all the latest news and information. We're bringing you liveblogging of the WoW panels, interviews with WoW celebrities and attendees and of course, lots of pictures of people in costumes. It's all here at WoW Insider!
Nethaera (Blizzard community manager) posted answers to some of the common Real ID questions and concerns on the forums today. With the PR disaster that was Blizzard's original Real ID on the forums concept, a follow-up aimed at easing tensions in the community -- even after the retraction -- was to be expected. While Blizzard offered some good news on things people have been requesting, they also dodged other points for the moment in true Blizzard style.
Some highlights from the announcement:
no current plans for an online handle to be used in game with Real ID instead of your name
feature to disable your name's appearance in Friends of Friends list coming around the time of StarCraft II
plans for some sort of unique ID on the WoW forums
Ever wonder what happens to raid bosses when they get bored? For Thaddius, it seems he has been spending some time moonlighting over in StarCraft II. While he was there, it also seems like he's picked up a few more tricks and upgraded his armor. After all, Naxxramas was only a setback!
IIam4 used Thaddius as an inspiration for his entry into the custom ability contest on SC2Mapster by recreating his Polarity Shift. While he was recreating this ability, he also decided to add a few new features of his own.
Shocking Grasp A random target will be paralyzed and take damage over time. If any other unit comes within range of the afflicted unit, Shocking Grasp will jump. This can create a chain reaction.
Spawn Volatile Spark Two volatile sparks are spawned, serving as summoned adds that should be DPSed down right away.
These abilities combine to create a very interesting and creative boss battle using the StarCraft II editor. The amount of micromanagement required to keep all of your units alive adds a nice level of complexity to the boss encounter. I personally like that Thaddius is a giant Maruader unit. This video is a nice showcase of the tools that were available even in the beta and exactly what could be done with enough motivation.
StarCraft II is set to release on July 27, 2010. While I'm absolutely certain it will be a fantastic game in its own rights, I can't help but wonder if we will see any more player-created World of Warcraft crossovers with the tools that are shipping with SC2. Can you imagine a campaign where the end boss is casting Defile while you try to micromanage all of your units safely around it? How about navigating your troops into position for a Shatter or managing Burning Adrenaline. Maybe a little Doomfire for good measure! This could bring a whole new level of fun to Tower Defense and Mastermind-style game mods!
So, if you could recreate any one boss or ability from WoW in a StarCraft II fight, what boss would it be?
Video Games Live, the wildly popular traveling concert series that performs music from major video games, is visiting a new venue this August: the television. VGL was founded in 2002 by video game composers and game industry veterans Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall. Since its inception, the symphony performance has prided itself on introducing the experience of a live orchestra performance to an entirely new generation of listeners; most attendees are viewing the symphony for the first time. In addition, it's a celebration of the gaming industry, the creative process of designing music for video games, and a showcase for art of video game music to both gamers and non-gamers.
The concert series literally travels the world, performing in countries such as Canada, Mexico, Brazil, England, Scotland, France, Taiwan, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal and most of the United States (including, of course, BlizzCon). Both because of the subject of the concerts and because of the quality of entertainment, concerts can easily sell out. Thankfully for those of us who haven't been able to afford the cost or simply live nowhere near the touring locations, PBS will be airing a 90-minute Video Games Live special, consisting of never-before televised live musical performances from the Mario, Zelda, Sonic, Halo, Final Fantasy, Castlevania, God of War, Civlization, Chrono Cross and Guitar Hero franchises, including a musical journey through classic gaming. And of course, music from both Warcraft and StarCraft will be making an appearance as well.
For those who don't catch the televised performance, there will also be a CD and DVD/Blu-ray release that coincides with the nationally televised special, including over three hours of bonus material. Check out the trailer above for more details about what is sure to be a gorgeous night of entertainment!
Blizzard appears to be cleaning house in preparation for its StarCraft II release as well as its Battle.net revamp. In a recent announcement on the service's forums, Blizzard rep Bashiok revealed that over 300,000 accounts were punished for violations of the terms of service for Warcraft III and Diablo II for using hacks and illegal third-party tools (which are essentially hacks).
For those of you who have had past experience with Battle.net, these numbers probably don't surprise you. The network has had a long reputation of being fairly easy on people using hacks as Blizzard tends to save up over a long period of time in order to do a massive batch of bans at once. This means that those who are using hacks have a long period of time to abuse the system before anything is done about it. The hacks for some games were rampant enough that other players began using hacks that detect other hacks. Regardless of the reason behind using a hack, it is still against the terms of service and means if you get caught, you're out.
Blizzard has just recently announced StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty's collector's edition. Normally this isn't something we would talk about here on WoW.com, but the contents make it worth mentioning. Specifically, WoW players will receive a Thor mini-pet, seen to the right. For those of you who don't follow StarCraft at all, the Thor is a new ubermech unit for the Terran faction. It's not only voice acted by Chris Metzen, but the pilot of the unit is based directly off him. One of his old aliases is Thundergod, after all. The Thor is big and it's bad-ass, and that's about all that you need to know. I wonder if it will interact with Grunty and the Zergling?
BigDownload has the full scoop on the contents of the collector's edition. There's great value there, even for people who don't play WoW. The collector's edition also includes a 2GB flash drive made to resemble Jimmy Raynor's dog tags, a 172-page art book, a behind the scenes DVD and more.
People are getting actual StarCraft II beta invites, but that doesn't mean that all beta invites (or any other emails that look like they are from Blizzard) are real. If you got an email saying that you have been invited to StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, don't click anything in that email. Instead take the following steps:
Type battle.net into your browser (no typos) and it will go to the secure battle.net site appropriate to your region.
Enter your account info.
Under Manage My Games, choose Add or Upgrade a Game.
Enter the Beta Key provided in the email where it says Enter Game Key.
Press Add Game.
If you are able to successfully add the game to your library, then you received a real beta invite. If the email tells you to go someplace else for the beta key or the key provided did not work, then you received a phishing email.