Saturday, May 19, 2007

Blizzard Tells us to Wait for Starcraft 2

"Should've stuck to Starcraft." The announcement Blizzard promised us was Starcraft II.

The low-down:

  • No Release Date.
  • RTS (not MMO).
  • For PC & Mac. No Console version.
  • Same races. New Units.


Selected Quotes (From Press Release and Game FAQ):
  • Designed to be the ultimate competitive real-time strategy game...
  • StarCraft II will include a unique single-player campaign, as well as fast-paced online play through an upgraded version of Blizzard's renowned online gaming service,®
  • At this point, it's too early to provide an initial estimate on the release date. As with all Blizzard games, we will take as much time as needed to ensure the game is as fun, balanced, and polished as possible.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Blizzard to tell us what to Wait for Next

I'm going to go out on a limb. I'm going to make a crazy guess, er, "prediction." The Blizzard announcement will be Diablo-related.

(Stay tuned for my post tomorrow which is either going to be "OMG, I was right???" or, more likely, "Should've stuck with Starcraft." Followed immediately by a lament for whatever release year we're given for it ... 2008, 2009?)

Tomorrow, at their 2007 Worldwide Invitational in Seoul, South Korea, Blizzard will announce whatever their next project is.

Their website is counting down as a big event and hints that it's either a continuation of an existing franchise or the launch of a brand new one:

All roads point to Starcraft:

  • The announcement is being made now (May) in South Korea (where Starcraft enjoys perpetual popularity) rather than at Blizzcon which is just a few months later (August).
  • We've seen more Starcraft hints than Diablo Hints.
  • We already know there was a desire to expand the Starcraft universe with the started but cancelled console game Starcraft: Ghost.
  • Even the folks at
    ...have been tipped off by numerous connected people it will be StarCraft 2. We had another tip-off yesterday from a source close to Vivendi, who wishes to remain anonymous, that Diablo III is still in development.
  • I would also like to point out WoWInsider's research into some of Blizzards URL's which indicated Blizzard has owned for several years. Other people snapped up the urls for other potential franchise sequels.

However, there is one thing that keeps me from 100% expecting Starcraft. My belief that Blizzard has been working on Diablo 3 longer than Starcraft 2 (for PC).

Early in 2006, there were several jobs posted at Blizzard to work with "The team behind Diablo I and II" ... "to work on an unannounced PC Project." (Note, look for a future Hellgate: London post for more on this.)

Gaming Steve's article on this "intentional leak" has kept the pilot light on for me in the hopes I'd see a Diablo III sometime soon. He even gave rather specific information on what to expect.

Maybe all those Starcraft Ghost console developers were reassigned to a PC project. But even if they were, I think the Diablo jobs came first.

I know my rationale is for crap, but where's the fun in predicting safe, right?

Oh, hmmm, that Starcraft2 url... if wowinsider is right, then Blizzard owned it for 6 years before those Diablo 3 jobs were ever posted. And in fact some dude in Virginia was allowed to pick up as recently as 2001?

How, uh, ... how do I delete a post? Is it this button...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Video: Betty and Me

Some of my favorite video artisans put out another video. Laughter and great WoW blending.

Betty and Me:

Sunday, May 13, 2007

When Your Mom Joins Your MMO

World of Warcraft - Easy to learn, Hard to Master.
I had introduced my mom to Animal Crossing on the Nintendo Gamecube last year and she loved it. At first she had a hard time navigating but eventually she grew to love it so much, none of her children had any wonder where we got our video-game-addictive-personalities from. She's been playing it for over a year.

So when she started to tire of it, I thought that World of Warcraft might be the next evolution for her. But before I gleefully went out and bought her the game, I asked her to come over to my house to try it out first.

I'll tell you now, we never finished a single quest.

My mom is not PC-experienced so most of the time we spent was getting her to move her freshly minted human from the starting point to the first quest giver - 3 feet away. But the most interesting part of the story is not how we repeatedly wound up staring at the sky whenever my mom tried to walk anywhere, but how many times she was propositioned.

Human Newbie Zone
"Nice jugs," the rogue said.
"Can you help me with a quest?" a warrior asked. 4 times.
"Dance for me," said the mage blocking our path.

Now, I don't know what it was about the character that my 60-some-year-old mother created (she chose all the settings) compared to the myriad of them that I create, but I have never been talked to the way they talked to my mom that day. (Maybe it was the way she kept looking up.)

I told her to ignore them as I usually do and swore that this was not what I typically see. The only whisper I answered was a very polite "Will you sign my guild charter?" to which I simply responded (reaching over mom to the keyboard) "No, thank you." He wished me well and went on his way.

But finally after one "Hey sexy," whisper too many, I grabbed the keyboard, hit reply and said "Dude, go away, I'm showing my mother the game, can you keep it clean for 20 minutes?" but somehow I messed up with the rules for "reply" because somehow I sent this message not to the most recent scumbag, but to the very polite guild-leader-wannabe. And shockingly he was still nice - "I'm sorry, I'm just looking for help to start a guild."

"I am so, so, sorry," I told the guild-leader-wannabe. I explained everything to him and how I was just trying to defend my mom and said, "Tell you what, I don't normally do this, but I would be happy to sign your guild charter. This is just a temp character anyway."

So in her first hour of play, my mother was propositioned, pestered, and defended. She learned about /ignore, print-screen, and the pretty, pretty cloud formations. And finally she met a nice player, joined a guild of seemingly decent people who gave her a free guild tabard, and decided that maybe she wasn't quite ready for an RPG game, MMO or not.

So that's my story of my mom's visit to World of Warcraft.

Here's how the story goes in the Simpsons:

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

WoW Blog Widgets

If you're ever in the market to make your own WoW Blog there are a couple of World of Warcraft oriented widgets you might want to consider adding to your site. Admittedly I have probably gone a little overboard with a few but as an html newb it's fun to experiment.

Here are some that I've found:

  • Thottbot Search Box. Begin a search of Thottbot from your site.
  • WoW Break's News feed. I removed this one when we hadn't had any news for a while but I still keep it on my private homepage.
  • At Tales of a WoW Addict I saw a new widget I just added for WoWHead.
  • Your tagrolls (You can see several of these down the sidebars of the home page - Links for WoW Enchanting, WoW Fishing, etc..)
  • Or Your Link Cloud which I don't use on this site but on my private homepage
  • Blizzard used to have a download kit for Fan Sites on the page but for the life of me I can't find it again. I was able to find a mirror for it here. This is where I got the disclaimer language I have at the bottom of this blog's homepage. The wow-europe site, however, still has an easy to find link to their fan-site program which interestingly listed a requirement I had never seen before - being updated at least weekly.
  • Search-WoW is a website I was just shown where you can search several websites at once for WoW information - They have a widget you can add as well.

  • Adsense - Although not a World of Warcraft oriented item, it does have a special relationship with a World of Warcraft blog. Because any WoW Blogger who puts up adsense will have to contend with Gold Selling ads because Adsense reads the words on your site and matches it to Advertisers who pay to advertise on sites with those words. Apparently gold-sellers are the only advertisers who know anything about WoW.

    There are several ways to handle this issue:

    • Go nogold and don't list any gold selling services on your site
    • Embrace the gold selling, put that Adsense on there and let the pennies-per-click roll in.
    • Adventures with Play addresses the issue with a disclaimer at the end of each post (click the link and scroll down for an example) addressed to the great Google-bots and asks for relevant ads for computers or such.
    • wowwiki and wowinsider blacklist gold sellers but I wonder how possible it would be to keep up without a team of people on it.

    I know there are more out there, for example, Frostbolt uses an Allakhazam tool to give mouse over information for loot he's picked up. Definitely a worthwhile blog tool.

    For Non-Bloggers:
  • Thottbot has some Plugins for anyone to add to their browser:
    (linked via Thottbot's Home Page under "Misc" "Plugins" - includes plugins to Firefox and Internet Explorer v. 7.
  • Wowhead also has Plugins.
  • Blizzard also has some Downloads including a Desktop theme designed for Windows XP.

  • Update 10/3/2007:
    Also consider widgets from WoWBlues

    Monday, May 07, 2007

    Selling the Scourge Dog

    This is the kind of World of Warcraft Merchandising I was thinking of:

    Maybe it's because I just got back from a trip to Universal Studios Orlando, but everywhere I go, I see Spiderman and Shrek products. Obviously these are movie tie-ins, but none-the-less they're everywhere. This is the kind of stuff I've been brainwashed to zombie-click over to the nearest store and buy or stop at the nearest burger joint for the contest piece on the cup.

    So..., if they can make a Spiderman i-Dog, aka the the Spi-dog (seriously, I'm not making this up):

    ...then could there be an Undead i-Dog? The "Un-Dog" might be modeled as follows:

    And one little tweak to this Shrek Doll - and Voila - he's an Orc Doll:

    When you pull the string, instead of saying "Donkey!" he says "Zug, Zug!"

    Come to think of it, the one item I would pay money for is probably the Murloc doll. Pull his string and he says "Aaaaaughibbrgubugbugrguburgle!"

    (I got stumped on how to write the sound and so stole it from my trusted WoW Wiki - which much to my smiling face also has an MP3 of the sound to check it against.)

    Saturday, May 05, 2007

    Visa Card - Jumping the Shark?

    I was reading WoW Insider and came across the World of Warcraft Visa article and followed some of the links.


    1st Response - lmFao. That picture of the Elf and the Credit Card - I couldn't dream of a photoshop idea that good.
    2nd Response - omg this is not a joke.
    3rd Response - Oh no. I take it back. I. Take. It. Back. Whatever I said about Merchandising. This is just wrong.

    It's hard to explain why it just doesn't feel right. The best attempt to express it is to compare it to a story that Jumps the Shark.

    Jumping the Shark -
    You know - take your favorite show that's been on a while and then add some big event or twist that was completely NOT foreshadowed and is therefore an obvious attempt to re-energize/remake/reenvision the show into something different than what you signed on to watch.

    It's one thing for your favorite TV family to have a new baby - it's another thing when it shows up next season 8 years old to deliver punchlines.

    Well this piece of Merchandising, is like a new baby that came back the next episode and suddenly he's 37. And he's delivering more than punchlines.

    No Lead In/No Foreshadowing:
    Dear Credit Card Executive,
    We are Blizzard. Perhaps you've heard of us. (Insert visual of the evil villain stroking his netherwhelp pet here.)

    We have a few million WoW Subscribers in the US. We would like you to partner with us to provide them with a credit card reward program that grants free play time.

    To show you that our subscriber base is willing to purchase beyond their $15.00/month subscriber fees we offer you the following history of branded items that we have marketed successfully:
    • T-Shirts and hats

    Please contact us for further information.
    Sincerely yours,

    4th Response - These people are freaking Brilliant. Because without the entry level merchandise, without any real history to show we'll bite - they still sold it. And it's brilliant because I'm sure they set this up to be profitable with even one subscriber. Heck, I'm advertising for them for free right now.

    Economic Impact - I used to work at a tiny little credit card company. I was nowhere near the front lines but I know that any card company would kill to partner with someone who can deliver millions of prospective applicants.

    The way I figure it - if they get 100,000 to 200,000 subscribers to pick up this card and put a typical balance on it - this is like First National of Nebraska's swallowing up my old employer and all its assets. Only no merger costs, no severance, no consolidation of systems, etc.. But more jobs - say 100 more customer service reps, collectors and/or processors. Holy crap. This is hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional revenue for this bank for several years and Blizzard is getting some kind of revenue sharing for their part.

    The guy who set up the t-shirt deal and has been sitting on his butt since then, telling the boss he's busy working on the "Baby Night-Elves" cartoon deal and matching pajama buddies and bedsheets is hiding in his office right now... ashamed to come out. Meanwhile, the guy who set up the credit card deal is high-fiving real blood-elf babes and has probably been given license to make his own in game item that doubles all gold drops.

    Brilliant. Freaking brilliant. Jump the shark! they're calling... Jump that shark.

    Just nobody tell them what happens to the average FICO score of anyone who gets addicted to WoW.