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Zero, our esteemed moderator, travelled to Irvine, California to represent StarCraft: Legacy for the recent StarCraft II press event. He has written his thoughts on the day-long adventure in an editorial. The layout of the day is covered as well as thoughts about the Zerg race as it feels now. As an Editor's note, some aspects of StarCraft II have already changed since the Irvine Press Event. Namely, Reactors simply double the queue space (as opposed to allow dual construction) and Roachs are melee currently.

You can read the lengthy article here. Enjoy.

Source:
Editorial - My Day at Blizzard

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Today Blizzard released the second episode of their podcast.  This BlizzCast, much like the previous, gives us an in-depth view of Blizzard Entertainment's development process, this time focusing on lore. In BlizzCast Episode 2 Karune interviews Chris Metzen, Vice President of Creative Development and creator of the original StarCraft storyline.  

Karune wrote:
Welcome to our second episode of BlizzCast! We have doubled the length of our second BlizzCast at the popular request of the community, which will begin with an in depth interview of Chris Metzen, our Vice President of Creative Development and creator of our original Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo storylines. In addition, Geoff Goodman, one of our World of Warcraft Designers will be elaborating on Magtheridon's Lair changes in Patch 2.4, which includes new itemization changes. Lastly, we are also adding a new community questions and answers section, to make sure your voices are heard and your questions are answered, by none other than the people making your favorite Blizzard games. Be sure to view the transcript to see all of the artwork.


The BlizzCast is 50 minutes long, twice that of the first episode.  However, it is mostly filled with information about Blizzard's conceptual development process.  Even though no new lore information is released, Andy Chambers still clarifies the red dot that appears on the bottom planet graphic of the StarCraft II website.  The BlizzCast transcript page also contains new HD Terran and Protoss artwork.

Source:
BlizzCast Episode 2

Today Blizzard executives Mike Morhaime, Rob Pardo and Frank Pearce took the stage at the DICE Summit to discuss the history of Blizzard. The three spent some time talking about projects that have been canceled over the years, and showed a list of these games - many unknown:

Games People Play, Crixa, Shattered Nations, Pax Imperia, Denizen, Warcraft Adventures, Nomad, Raiko.



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The most interesting thing about this list is the absence of a game considered dead - StarCraft: Ghost. Where is it?

The fact that Blizzard hasn't officially scrapped Ghost continues the wave of rumors about a possible comeback of the console FPS. Who knows?

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IGN recently wrote an article on the DICE summit, including some interesting quotes from BlizzardFrank Pearce (Senior Vice-President of Product Development) said:
Quote:
We're kind of like a cockroach. We keep surviving while everything else changes

There you have it, you'd step on one, but would you stop playing Blizzard's games?!  I didn't think so.  There was also mention of Blizzard's policies that allow them to have, by many accounts, a perfect development track record:
Quote:
One of Blizzard's longstanding credos is ""gameplay first,"" a philosophy that the company hopes makes its games fun and infinitely playable, even if that means spending more time on titles than fans, executives and even the development team might like.

""It's one of the things that makes us infamous for never hitting our ship dates,"" Pardo said.

The company's quest for gameplay perfection manifests itself at crunch time, when the Eye of Sauron falls on any game nearing completion. Flashing a picture of the Eye from Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Blizzard group said the company uses the Eye metaphor to keep near-finished games on track.

It's a viewpoint that even resulted in the company pulling programmers working on still-unannounced Starcraft II to help finish World of Warcraft. Finally, Starcraft fans have a concrete reason to blame WoW for their eternal wait.

Let's hope they do the same thing with WotLK developers to get StarCraft II finished on time.  Anyway, a nice short article to get your direct-to-Blizzard fix, go have a read.

Sources:
Kotaku.com - Blizzard Has Canceled More Games Than You Know About.
IGN's Article on the DICE Summit


Finally, 2007 has come to a close; it's been a wonderful year to be a fan of Blizzard Entertainment. Over the past year, many major events have taken place: there have been new game announcements, there's been real discussion and interaction between fans and developers, there has been a game release, discussion about unannounced and games, and finally Vivendi Games and Activision merged to form Activision Blizzard.

Major Announcements:

The fans of the StarCraft universe were beginning to lose hope, nine years of no announcements heralding a sequel, of getting elusive answers to direct questions, and of waiting! In May, hope was dwindling, but we were vindicated and rejuvenated with the announcement of StarCraft II at the World Wide Invitational in Korea. Fans flooded the Blizzard site and the newly released starcraft2.com for more information on the long-awaited continuation of the original StarCraft saga.

Another major announcement during the year came in August when the next expansion to World of Warcraft. Titled "Wrath of the Lich King", it was announced in California at BlizzCon. There will be no new races, but there will be new classes, including the Death Knight, which will be available to all races. The level cap has once again been raised by ten, making the highest attainable level, eighty. There will be new areas to explore, new mounts, new instances, and so much more!

Major Releases:

There has only been one major release by Blizzard in the year 2007. That game was World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade, which was the first expansion to the ever-popular MMORPG. Allowing the player to level up to the maximum of 70 from 60, and with the addition of two new races: the Draenei and the Blood Elves, the long awaited expansion became a loved and very popular hit in the gaming world, once again, adding popularity to the ever-expanding Blizzard company.

BlizzCon:

In 2007 the second ever BlizzCon was held in Anaheim, California and was even more successful than the first back in 2005. Although the game had not been announced at BlizzCon, StarCraft II was one of the major focuses of the convention. For the first time, players outside of Blizzard were allowed a hands-on experience with the sequel in either a 2v2 match, playing as either the Protoss or Terrans, or a sample single-player mission. Also focusing on SCII, Dustin Browder gave the fans the long awaited demo of the Terrans, demonstrating the power of the revised Terran faction in action. With the announcement of the new expansion Wrath of the Lich King, World of Warcraft presence, as always, was felt. Much like StarCraft II, the public was allowed to play by transferring their own characters over to the world of Northrend and explore the new dynamic regions that the developers at Blizzard had created. An often-overlooked topic was raised at BlizzCon -- the World of Warcraft movie. It secrets were explored as much as some of us would have liked, but the current information that has been released tells us that the movie will be told from the Alliance's perspective and will be geared towards an older audience with a PG-13 rating. It is currently set to be released in 2009. Wrapping up the show was an exclusive performance by the now fully leveled Level 70 Elite Tauren Chieftains (made up of Blizzard Staff) and a special performance of all Blizzard related tracks by Video Games Live.

Unannounced:

They have not officially been announced, but they have been confirmed -- Project "Hydra" and a new MMO. It is possible that they are one and the same, which is seen in the comments of the community. Some say that the new MMO is going to revisit the Diablo world, while "Hydra" is a new RTS. Although this idea is not as popular, the idea of a StarCraft MMO has popped up. Nothing official has been said about these games, or game, but we expect to get more information on it later in 2008.

Other:

Other happenings in 2007 have been more recent. After StarCraft II announcement in May, Karune, Blizzard new RTS Community Manager, has issued regular Q&A, which answers questions posed by the community and answered by the developers themselves. Throughout the months, this has evolved to include a "Chat with Devs" section, which gives a look into a certain, specific aspect of the game such as the status of a certain unit. Karune also kicked off the Community Monthly Discussion Topic in September, which included the following: the Mothership, Battle.net features, the Ghost, and most recently, the Artistic Direction of StarCraft II. The StarCraft II site, as well as the Wrath of the Lich King, has been updated occasionally, giving the fans an update on the progress of the game.

Even though the long-awaited patch to Warcraft III and its expansion has not been released (although Karune has said to expect one in early 2008), World of Warcraft received many patches, the most recent being 2.3. The patches have included many bug fixes and new interface and quests have been implemented.

One of the more recent events in the gaming world as a whole is the announcement of the merging of Activision and Vivendi games, making it the largest gaming company in the world. Some are hoping that with Activision's major foothold in the console gaming market, Blizzard will continue it indefinitely held next-gen console game: StarCraft Ghost. This merger however, does not significantly change any of Blizzard operating policies; its logo, releases, games, etc. will remain untouched.

As everyone can see, 2007 has been one of Blizzard's publicly busiest years. With three or more games in production and no-doubt, other projects as well, Blizzard is sure to deliver in 2008. From all of us here at StarCraft: Legacy - Happy New Year!

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Recently, SonsoftheStrom, a showcase of some of Blizzard's best artists (including Samwise and Metzen), announced the inclusion of another artist. Drawgoon, aka Peter Lee, an artist that many of you will recognize from his StarCraft II concept work, has been afforded this honor. Did I mention he thinks StarCraft is one of the greatest games in the world?

Here are some samples of his work, Protoss Ruins and a Zerg Base:

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We're quite excited to see what else gets released by this extremely talented artist!

Sources:
Drawgoon's SonsoftheStorm Profile
Drawgoon's SonsoftheStorm Gallery

Update: IGN has just published an interview with Mike Morhaime concerning the merger.

From the interview:

Quote:

IGN: It sounds like there are plenty of advantages to the deal. Is there anything about being part of an even larger company that you feel you'll need to watch out for in the future?

Mike Morhaime: There isn't really anything right now. I think the biggest change for us is more spotlights from financial press, which we really haven't had to deal with in the past because we've been really insulated from that in the past. One of my jobs as CEO of Blizzard Entertainment is to insulate the developers from that distraction so we can focus on making games like we always have.


Source:
Mike Morhaime's Merger Interview with IGN

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Today, the French telecommunications conglomerate, Vivendi Universal ( parent company of Blizzard Entertainment) announced that its gaming holdings would be merging with Activision (Guitar Hero III, Spiderman 3). Vivendi is to contribute Vivendi Games valued at $8.1 billion (this includes Blizzard Entertainment, plus $1.7 billion in cash in exchange for approximately 52% stake in Activision Blizzard (the new company) at closing; Total Transaction Valued at $18.9 Billion.

From the Activision Blizzard FAQ:

Quote:
How will this impact Blizzard's games?
A: This will not impact Blizzard's games. We remain committed to providing the same high-quality game content and support that we always have. Development on Wrath of the Lich King and StarCraft II, as well as on our unannounced games, is continuing as normal.

Will there be any visible differences in Blizzard's logo or packaging/marketing materials as a result of this deal?
A: No, there won't be any changes to our company name, logo, packaging/marketing materials, or anything else along those lines.

Will there be any management changes at Blizzard as a result of this deal?
A: No, there won't be any management changes at Blizzard as a result of the combination.

Will Activision and Blizzard now share development teams?
A: No, both of our companies will continue to operate as they have previously with regard to game development.

Will the release schedules for any Blizzard games be impacted?
A: No, the transaction will not have any impact on our games, our day-to-day operations, or our release timelines.


This has shocked the gaming community and responses have been very mixed. Luckily, it seems like Blizzard will still retain its relative independence and no game plans have changed. We'll be closely watching to see what, if any, effect this has on the development or publishing of any Blizzard title, including StarCraft II.

Sources:
Activision Blizzard - Official Details
Official Blizzard Press Release
Blizzard's Merger FAQ
Reuters Article
Business Wire Article

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