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Update: Tickets are on sale now! You can buy your ticket here.

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The BlizzCon website is available to the public. Blizzcon will be viewable as a Direct-TV pay-per-view, which will cost $35 for current Direct-TV customers and be free to new Direct-TV subscribers.

There will be three StarCraft II panels:
StarCraft II Gameplay wrote:
Join the StarCraft II designers as they break down the deep, exciting, and sophisticated gameplay of this real-time-strategy sequel in a live demonstration.

StarCraft Lore wrote:
Learn more about the StarCraft universe and how we conceive and develop the continuing story for our award-winning real-time-strategy series.

StarCraft II Art wrote:
Join Blizzard artists for a discussion about the style that makes the StarCraft universe so visually captivating -- and how that style continues to evolve with the development of StarCraft II.



The goody bag will feature many Warcraft items and interestingly enough, Zerg Creep:
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If you've ever been on the verge of finishing off a paladin, only to be foiled at the last second, you'll appreciate the 16" inflatable divine shield ball, complete with a paladin inside in the midst of hearthing away. Half of the goody bags handed out will contain the bubble-hearth ball, while the other half will have...

Frostmourne. The very name of Arthas runeblade strikes terror into hearts across Azeroth. Now it comes to you in a more convenient package, and you don't even have to travel to Icecrown Glacier to get it. As you go about your daily activities, whether they be raising legions of the undead or just brooding on your throne, carrying this 48Äù inflatable Frostmourne will grant you an extra touch of sinister majesty.

That just the beginning, though, as both the goody bags and the on-site store will be stuffed with sample products from our licensed partners and plenty more fun and unique Blizzard-themed trinkets, such as Diablo health and mana stress balls, pandaren brewmaster bottle openers, zerg creep, and much more.

And of course, a new BlizzCon brings with it a lovable murloc to welcome into your heart--but murlocs don't always come alone. This one has developed a taste for speed, and sits astride an exclusive polar bear mount, waving a BlizzCon flag. It the perfect way to cruise Northrend in style.


Sources:
Blizzard Entertainment - BlizzCon
Blizzard Entertainment - BlizzCon Panels

Throughout the week, Blizzard Entertainment employees have been in New York City attending various media events. They have taken part in many interviews and answered many questions. Specifically, Jay Wilson offered an official response regarding the recent, and popular, Diablo III Graphical Petition:

MTV Multiplayer wrote:

"There no going back now, [Jay Wilson] said during an interview in a Manhattan hotel where Blizzard was showcasing their newest games. "We're very happy with how the art style is. The art team's happy. The company's happy. We really like this art style, and we're not changing it.

But fans take note: The decision to add color to the macabre world of Diablo didn't come lightly. "It's actually the thing we struggled with the most, Wilson said. When Wilson joined the project two and-a-half years ago, the game was similar-looking to what fans of the old games might expect "darker, desaturated and a lot of brown and gray tones. However, translating the game from 2D to 3D with a dark color palette didn't make for the best gameplay experience. The first and second iterations of the art direction had a "modern, gritty look| but made it difficult to distinguish enemies from the environment. "When you have 30 creatures on screen, and four or five different types, target prioritization is a factor, he said. "You need to be able to tell those things apart fast, and you can't do that when your world is gray and your creatures are gray.


Stylistically, both the StarCraft and Diablo series are more closely related to each other than to the Warcraft series. This is an example of the friction between graphical realism and Blizzard style (cartoon overtones). While elements of Blizzard style appear in many places in StarCraft (e.g. the Marine), the references are trumped by the dark, gritty universe that exists.

The statements of the "Diablo III team about artistic direction apply to "StarCraft II directly. If you noticed, both names were in quotations. This implies that they are unfinished projects. If they are unfinished, some fans reason, the design choices can still be influenced by the public. And why not? The recent graphical overall (early March, 2008) demonstrates this. However, if the Diablo III team has stated that "there is no going back (Jay Wilson), then how will this impact StarCraft II art direction? Blizzard favours style over realism, a fact that was confirmed during the Worldwide Invitational in Paris. They use cartoon overtones, evident in Warcraft III and World of Warcraft, to establish brand identity. The gargantuan success of World of Warcraft is, in part, related to these stylistic and marketing choices. "Cartoon" style is associated closely to "Blizzard" in the current gaming industry. Otherwise, would a Night Elf Mohawk class be possible using the Guild Wars graphical engine?

Kotaku wrote:
"There's a philosophy that goes across all of our games, and that philosophy stays true from game to game... so it probably draws some comparisons," Wilson said. "One philosophy is that our artists feel like if they're just using photorealism, not creating a unique look for the game, not stylizing so that it's uniquely Blizzard, then they're not doing their jobs."


This is not to say whether the artistic direction is "right or "wrong, simply to question the role of the fan - and the consumer - in Blizzard. Is this a case of rightfully ignoring moaning and groaning? Is this a pattern of insensitivity in the context of cherished titles? Is this just business? One final question: do you think the fifty-two thousand fans will boycott the final product, and is that what it will take to "save a game? Consider this as you criticize, constructively or otherwise, Blizzard Entertainment.

Sources:
Online Petition - Renewed Artistic Direction for Diablo 3
MTV Multiplayer - "Diablo III Colour Controversy Update: Game Used to be Darker, But Dev Says 'There's no Going Back Now'
Kotaku - "Art Apocalypse: Blizzard's Wilson Talks Diablo III Design Decisions
DIII.net - "D3 Team on Art Direction


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Blizzard Entertainment has also discussed an "Achievement" system as well as the development of a "Blizzard Account" publicly:

MTV Multiplayer wrote:
When I spoke with lead "World of Warcraft designer Jeff Kaplan yesterday about the game new Achievement system, he revealed that eventually players will have a Blizzard Account that shows Achievements from other Blizzard games they've played, including the upcoming titles "Diablo III and "StarCraft II.

"Eventually, our plans are for the Achievement system to become an account-based system, he explained.

[...]

"Your 'WoW' score would be just one factor that will go into your Blizzard Level. And rather than call it a core,' we just wanted it to be like you're leveling up on Blizzard games. You'll have this Blizzard identity, and you'll be able to see things like 'Oh, this guy was great at Diablo III, but he never played StarCraft and he was mediocre in WoW. That sort of thing.


There has been no official announcement of a "free to play" Battle.Net because Blizzard is assessing the various options and income models available. The universal nature of a "Blizzard Account" supports the introduction of universal fees for Battle.Net. Basically, one fee could (potentially) allow you to access B.Net for any Blizzard title. This is speculation, as the existence of World of Warcraft on this system can also imply separate fees for games or the traditional "free to play" B.Net system.

Sources:
MTV Multiplayer - Blizzard Plans to Track Gamer Achievements Across 'WoW', 'StarCraft' and 'Diablo'"
StarCraftWire - Achievements in StarCraft 2 and Diablo 3


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Finally, the StarCraft2.com Community Page has been updated with fan submissions. Blizzard is, apparently, creating the infrastructure to develop the next generation of fan interaction.



Source:
Blizzard Entertainment - StarCraft II Community Page

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Blizzard Entertainment has released details for BlizzCon 2008.

Quote:
IRVINE, Calif. - July 29, 2008 - Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. today announced that tickets for its third BlizzCon gaming convention will go on sale August 11 and that live coverage of the event will be available as an exclusive DIRECTV pay per view event. BlizzCon is a celebration of the global player communities surrounding Blizzard Entertainment's Warcraft, Diablo, and StarCraft game universes. The event will take place at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California on October 10 and 11.


BlizzCon is a host to events, pannels, discussions, demos, announcements and more. The addition of Pay Per View video will allow fans to watch the events internationally; no more fumbling through faulty live feeds.

During BlizzCon 2007, StarCraft: Legacy attended the fansite community discussion. StarCraft: Legacy will be in full attendance to, as always, bring our viewers the best event coverage on the net!

Source:
Blizzard Entertainment - BlizzCon Press Release

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Our long-awaited conclusion of our Worldwide Invitational 2008 coverage is finally here! Our unit pages have been updated and you can access them from the WWI 2008 sidebar on the right. In addition, we also have a list of Zerg and Protoss Upgrades.

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LordofAscension has written a fully comprehensive, overarching review of the StarCraft II build at the 2008 Worldwide Invitational. Mainly focusing on the Protoss, the review gives us an in-depth assessment of StarCraft II strategies and feel:


The High Templar is one of my favorite units in StarCraft. It was with some apprehension that I tested these units out. Despite my anxiety and the horrible purple web-like animation for Psi Storm they still pack a massive punch - dealing up to 112 damage in the target area. Combined with the Nullifier's Force Field or a choke point, the High Templar shines. Players that had obviously played StarCraft extensively went right for the High Templar and explored the new strategies and mechanics that could be employed. One of the more interesting scenarios I experimented with was to bring in a of group two or three High Templar and a few Zealots in with a Phase Prism, deploy the Phase Prism, use the Zealots to Charge into a group of defending enemies and Psi Storm the entire area thus securing my position while my units were warping-in from the Warp Gates. This strategy became even more effective when I Blinked in Stalkers to help cover my position. Another variation of that tactic was to bring in nothing but High Templar and Nullifiers in with my Phase Prism and use Force Field to create chokes and Psi Storm them while the bulk of my force was warping-in. Both worked extremely well against either enemy - as long as you stayed away from the Zerg Creep (thus keeping both the Queen and the Spine Crawler out of reach).


Read the rest here.

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LordofAscension pulls through again and gives us his take on the resource system in StarCraft II:
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The last change that seemed to influence resource gathering was the fact that like WarCraft III, the maps are pre-scouted and are just covered by the fog of war. This means that even on maps which you don't know well, you know where to send your units to establish expansions, scout for the enemy, etc. This also means fewer mis-clicks and less time wasted accomplishing the same task. The larger effects of this lifted shroud of darkness remain to be seen - assuming that this wasn't just for the WWI build and all games will be begin with the map pre-scouted.

Read the rest here.

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ChaosSmurf discusses the Diablo III panels in full detail:

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There is also a focus on maintaining the random aspect of the original Diablo games. This includes, in addition to random loot, dungeons and monsters, a new feature called ""Adventures"". This is a system in which the developers have managed, via a clever piece of programming wizardry, to create completely random scripted events within a game world. For instance, were you passing through a forest, you may happen upon a clearing where evil cultists had begun to summon particularly deadly foes. This wandering, and thus finding of these random events, encounters and delicious loot, will be assisted by an ""opt-in"" style of storyline, where a player can avoid or participate in the storyline as much as he wishes.


A must read for anyone who didn't attend the panels themselves. Read the rest here.

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Dauntless gives us his take on the Zerg race and how they played at WWI 2008:


My second strategy however, involved fast teching to Roaches. When I had three Roaches, my Protoss opponent had five Zealots and a Stalker. Amazingly enough, I managed to pick off three of his Zealots, without loosing a single Roach, until he got reinforcements. Stalkers, Zealots and Roaches move at the same speed, so it was very possible to pull my strategy off. To make things clear, my strategy was to harass effectively with Roaches, and win the game by microing better than my opponent. As he got his reinforcements so did I. However the more Roaches I got the harder it was to micromanage them, but at that time I had weakened him so much it was already settled. Victory was mine, and the Roach rush proved successful.


Read the rest here.

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StarCraft:Legacy has conducted an exclusive Q&A between our staff that attended the WWI and members of Blizzforums:

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Are Zerg units actually disadvantaged by cliff-climbing and so forth, as some players on other boards suggested? - Nicol Bolas

Disadvantaged? eh that's a tough one to answer - do we think they'd benefit from one? Yes. But every race could/does benefit from one - the mechanic is very cool and we'd love to see something from the Zerg race do it. When we asked Karune/Samwise about it - their answer was that the Nydus Worm kind of made it a moot point - however in the build that we played there was no worm - it worked just like a Nydus Canal - and you did have to have creep for the exit (though the Overlord drop creep thing facilitated this), so we'll see what happens.

Do the Zerg feel like they have the AA/GtA capability to protect their Overlords/Overseers right now, especially during the transition into early Tier 2 since the Nydus Network now requires Overlords to act as escorts to drop the Creep to deploy? - XSOLDIER

Good question. The short answer is no. There were many people that had problems going up against big forces of air, like many Battlecruisers. Both Hydras and Corruptors failed massively. This is really something Blizzard has to work with. Smaller forces like harassment of the Overlords etc. wasn't really a problem considering how fast you have the speed upgrade. Overseers got better speed without upgrades.



Read the rest here.
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Finally, our Zerg Technology Tree has been updated to reflect the WWI '08 build:

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Karune made several posts on Battle.net, they can all be found here. Another gameplay video has been added to our WWI '08 video section.

Also, if you seek even more StarCraft II gameplay impressions from the Worldwide Invitational our friends at TeamLiquid have written up just that:

Team Liquid - From The Baneling's Lair
Team Liquid - Nyo's SC2 review

Be sure to watch StarCraft: Legacy in the coming days. We still have our upcoming live mIRC panel with members of starcraft.org and starcraft2forum.org. Also, if you have any more questions or concerns about the Worldwide Invitational or the latest StarCraft II build featured there, you can directly ask our staff that attended the event.

Online Welten recently interview Rob Pardo, Blizzard's Executive Vice President of Game Design, and he confirmed a fourth Blizzard project.

Quote:

A few months ago, you offered a job on the official Blizzard webpage, considering a Next-Gen MMO. A community manager added that it's about a game that hasn't been announced yet... so is there any new information on that, or is Diablo 3 the mentioned Next-Gen MMO?

No, obviously not, since it is not MMO. So we have another dev-team, that is...

So you have still one project...?

Yeah, there is still one "unknown" project...


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Our sources have revealed the mystery behind the evil, purple penguin.

The story behind the purple penguin is that an artist on the Wrath of the Lich King team drew it but had nothing to use it for. However, the Blizzard web team loved it so they wanted to do something interesting with it. The teaser was just a way to totally throw us off the trail.

Source:
Online Welten - Rob Pardo Interview

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Today Blizzard released the third episode of their podcast. This edition features interviews with Dustin Browder, the lead designer of SCII, Jeff Kaplan, Blizzard's lead designer of World of Warcraft, Joeyray Hall, Blizzard's Manager of Video Production, as well as a Q&A session with questions from the community.

Quote:
Karune: What elements of the original Zerg did you feel were crucial to maintain for StarCraft II?

Dustin Browder: So a lot of the things we really want to make sure we maintain is the feel in a lot of ways of the race. So the Zerg were very fast, very aggressive, very mean, very flexible, and strategically able to rapidly change their technologies on the fly, on the battlefield. All of these things, the speed, the aggression, the feeling of constant fear when you are facing them, that these things are hunting you, is really important to us for the Zerg. So a lot of it, is the feel stuff. There isnÄôt a specific thing that we felt you had to have, but we do have a lot of things from the original game. We feel like we have that feeling of aggression, speed, and adaptability. We also have some stuff in there that you have already seen already in some of the units are themes that we want to carry over more from StarCraft, which the original StarCraft had- A lot of infestation for the Zerg, we wanted to highlight that and use that a little bit more than it had been used in the original StarCraft.


Once again this BlizzCast is nearly an hour long. Along with the usual tidbits of information and interesting insights, there is some StarCraft II artwork showcased. All the pieces are zerg-based, ranging from what is obviously early conceptual art to some fully fledged drawings. A special mention goes to "Mr Pink Meats".

Source:
BlizzCast Episode 3

Blizzard has just announced it's third con, BlizzCon 2008. Here's the official release:

Quote:

PARIS, France. May 12, 2008 -- Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. today announced plans for its third BlizzCon gaming convention, to be held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California on October 10 and 11. BlizzCon is a celebration of the global player communities surrounding Blizzard Entertainment's Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo franchises. In response to the demand to accommodate more attendees, this year's event has expanded from two convention halls to three.

"Whenever we've been able to meet and interact with Blizzard gamers from around the world, it's been a great experience for us," stated Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. "We're looking forward to seeing even more of our players at this year's BlizzCon and delivering another entertaining and informative event for them."

BlizzCon will offer a wide variety of activities to help all attendees get the most out of the two-day event. In addition to serving as a gathering place for the different Blizzard Entertainment gaming communities, attendees will be able to enjoy:

Hands-on play time with upcoming Blizzard Entertainment releases
Discussion panels with Blizzard Entertainment developers
Competitive and casual tournaments for players to showcase their talents
Areas and activities devoted to licensed products such as the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game
Costume, machinima, and character sound-alike contests with great prizes
Commemorative merchandise based on the Blizzard Entertainment franchises
A silent auction
More exciting activities to be announced
Tickets for BlizzCon will go on sale in the next few weeks at a price of $100 USD per person. As the event draws closer, further details will be announced on the official BlizzCon website: www.blizzcon.com.


This is fantastic news. The increased floor space will be incredibly nice. In addition it will give us another look at StarCraft II and any other titles that are currently under development. You can bet that SC:L will be there to cover all the events, panels, and news. 2008 is shaping up to be an extraordinarily exciting year!

Sources:
Blizzard UK's Official Press Release
The Official BlizzCon Site

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Earlier today Blizzard completed and released its updated and improved online store. Not only is the site now graphically intense with a slick new interface but it also boasts the largest sitting selection of Blizzard merchandise, both published/produced by Blizzard and by almost all of their licensed partners.

In addition, Blizzard now allows you to register a "Blizzard Account" that is not only used to make purchases from their online store, but even if you aren't going to buy anything there are some major bonuses.

Firstly, your "Blizzard Account" now seems to be the main place for you to enter Blizzard's Beta-Test Eligibility Lists. Once an account is set up there is a feature in the e-mail settings to enter yourself into the Blizzard Beta Lottery, which will enter you into the potential beta pool database for upcoming game betas.

The second and most interesting new function now available to your "Blizzard Account" is the ability to download digital copies of Blizzard games that you have previously purchased. On the Games tab, inside your account, you're able to add your CD-Keys from StarCraft, StarCraft Battlechest, StarCraft Anthology (digital copies of SC and BW that are now available for purchase), Warcraft III, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, Warcraft Battlechest, Diablo II, Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, Diablo II Battlechest (Diablo II downloads will soon be available) and/or World of WarCraft (though the WoW client downloads are still handled through the WoW website) to validate that you own the games and then proceed with your digital download.

Between the recent updates to WC3 and SC removing the CD requirement and now digital downloads for games you've purchased, Blizzard is moving towards and experimenting with digital distribution. It will be interesting to see if Blizzard moves towards Valve's sucessful Steam digital distribution platform - now that would be interesting. It will also be worth watching to see if Blizzard ties more of their other functions to this new account. Will password recovery or game records/characters be accessable from this account in the future? Definitely make sure that you check this out.

Source:
Blizzard's Online Store

Blizzard Entertainment announced some innovations to Diablo 2, World of Warcraft, and StarCraft II:

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The announcement has a series of instructional diagrams for use.

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Agrarian culture be damned.

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Coming to the DS for Chirstmas 2008.

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Does anyone remember Diablo: Hellfire?


Please click the pictures above to navigate to the announcement page. You can view Blizzard's mainpage here. Regarding the title of this post, there is common concensus that Firstwatch Sergio is neither qualified nor willing to address Raynor is a professional demenour.

Sources:
Blizzard Entertainment

"In many places of the world, people are celebrating various forms of Easter. StarCraft: Legacy wishes you a happy weekend.


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Blizzard has released a Warcraft-esque map of Paris. You can orient yourself here. The mechanical Gryphon is highly suggested.


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StarCraft.org has released an article about the early products of Blizzard Entertainment.

AJ wrote:
While most often our forte is clearly defined as Blizzard Entertainment and the StarCraft universe, we thought it might be appropriate to ask; what games came before the StarCraft series, before the original WarCraft? No, Blizzard didn't just sprout out from nowhere to create many Game of the Year's. They started off like many small gaming companies, creating original, but not blockbuster games, before they made their boom in the gaming industry.


If you are interested in the basic origins of Blizzard, you can read the article here.


Sources:
Blizzard Entertainment - Worldwide Invitational
StarCraft.org - The Origins of Blizzard Gaming"

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