Video Games Live 2009 March Schedule

Video Games Live played various music pieces from Warcraft, Diablo and Starcraft games at the end of Blizzcon 2008, last year. It is very probable they might do so again this upcoming August at Blizzcon 2009.

Video Games Live will have a few concerts throughout the month of March. So if you love video games music played by a live symphony orchestra, and live in Kitchener, Ontario; Kalamazoo, Michigan; and Austin, Texas—then check out the schedule and where to get the tickets.

ONTARIO
The music of video games will be performed by the world-class Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony led by industry veterans and world famous video game composers Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall on March 13 and March 14 at 8:00pm.  The Video Games Live concert will take place at:

The Centre In The Square
101 Queen Street N.
Kitchener, Ontario
Canada

The concert tickets for March 13 are sold out, but if you would love to be there—Saturday, March 14 tickets are still open while they last. Adult seating ticket prices range between $30-80. And can be ordered here.

There will be a pre-show festival starting at 6:30pm.  You can watch some Video Game Live video clips here.

MICHIGAN
On March 20, 2009, Video Games Live will perform at the Miller Auditorium at 8:00pm on the campus of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Tickets are available here—ranging from $25-52 for adult seating.

TEXAS
On March 28, 2009—Video Games Live will perform at the Long Center in Austin, TX at 8:00 PM.

Maps here. Ticket info here. Ticket prices range from $32-49.

Michael & Susan Dell Hall
701 W Riverside Dr
Austin, TX
(512) 474-5664

CrossOver Games Support For DirectX 10 Linux and Mac Soon

I rarely post news outside the Blizzard games scope, but I thought this one was very interesting to share with Mac and Linux Blizzard gamers. Codeweaver—developer of the CrossOver Games—announced their roadmap for 2009 highlighted by their support of DirectX 10 right out of the box.—Full Article.

We’ve just shipped a lot of those ‘under the hood’ improvements for games out in CrossOver Games 7.2. We’re really pushing Direct X 9 support pretty far along, and getting ready to move on Direct X 10.

In the next few months, we’ll be shipping CrossOver Linux 8.0, and CrossOver Mac 8.0. That revision of our flagship product will bring support for IE7, modern QuickBooks versions, Quicken 2009 (at a nice speed), Photoshop CS3, and many many other improvements, particularly around Microsoft Office and specifically Outlook. —via Slashdot

Diablo 3 Wizard Orb and Unannounced Weapon Enchantment

Bashiok teased players with one of the Diablo III features that have not been announced yet: How to upgrade base weapons damage to make them more powerful? The answer is not former Diablo II runes. Say whoa? We will probably have to wait until Blizzcon 2009 this August to find out or one of the BlizzCasts? Additionally, we learn something about the Wizard.

Blizzard Quote:

Wizard

Bashiok: The sort of plate-like gauntlets shown on her are part of the armor set look she was wearing. I think the “focus” you’re talking about is actually an orb, which is a wizard-specific off hand item. You’ve got the idea right though, a lot of the wizard spell animations incorporate the orb into a sort of focusing element while casting. The electrocute and disintegrate videos show it pretty well.

Unannounced Weapon Enhancement

Bashiok: I think it’s important not to mistake the word used for a system (in this case rune) for what the systems are actually accomplishing.

In Diablo II runes were used to augment weapons and essentially add more stats to them, runes in certain combinations would create runewords which were in essence more powerful than the sum of each individual rune. But remove the word rune, and you’re looking at a system that simply upgrades items.

Similarly, runes in Diablo III, take away the word rune and we’re looking at a system where skills and abilities can be altered to behave differently, simply increased in effectiveness, or some combination thereof.

Essentially what your question comes down to then is, where is the system in Diablo III that allows us to make base weapons more powerful? And that’s a question that will have to be answered at a later time.

AT&T Renews Hosting Agreement With Blizzard Entertainment

AT&T renewed their hosting agreement with Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. for online games over Battle.net and World of Warcraft servers. A press release is available.

Blizzard Quote:
AT&T Renews Hosting Agreement With Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. for Online Games

LOS ANGELES, March 3—Online gamers will continue to enjoy a rich and reliable gaming experience thanks to an agreement struck between AT&T* and Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. Today, AT&T and Blizzard Entertainment, Inc., a premier developer and publisher of entertainment software, agreed to a two-year renewal for hosted services in North America.

Blizzard Entertainment(R) is best known for its Warcraft(R), StarCraft(R), and Diablo(R) PC games as well as its massively multiplayer online (MMO) role-playing game World of Warcraft(R), which is available in eight languages and played by more than 11.5 million subscribers worldwide.** AT&T has been working closely with Blizzard Entertainment for 9 years, providing hosting for World of Warcraft and the Battle.net(R) online-gaming service.

“We’ve been pleased with AT&T’s service over the years, and we’re confident in their ability to continue to provide the quality support we need,” said Paul Sams, Chief Operating Officer of Blizzard Entertainment. “This renewed agreement allows us to stay completely focused on our games while AT&T applies its hosting expertise to help us offer the speed, reliability and security our players expect.”

Through multiple Internet Data Centers (IDC), AT&T will provide strategic hosting and proactive, 24/7 network monitoring and management for the online infrastructure of Blizzard Entertainment’s games and services. The AT&T Gaming Core Team will provide comprehensive networking support to Blizzard Entertainment.

The AT&T Gaming Core Team was formed in 2004 to meet the infrastructure needs of customers’ gaming operations across AT&T’s Internet Protocol (IP) network. The team consists of engineers and hosting specialists who provide round-the-clock support to companies offering MMO games. The team provides global, end-to-end support of customers’ gaming operations across AT&T’s hosting infrastructure, applications and IP network and supports trouble resolution, incident command and control, post incident review and root cause analysis.

According to the Entertainment Software Association, which represents computer and video game publishers, U.S. computer and video game software sales grew almost 23 percent in 2008 to $11.7 billion.

For more information on AT&T Hosting and Application Services, go to http://www.business.att.com/hosting.

*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.

Blizzard Lead Producer Moves To New MMO

Our network site, IncGamers, got the MASSIVE breaking news that WoW Lead Producer Jeff Kaplan has moved away from the World of Warcraft team to focus all his time and effort on the Blizzard Entertainment’s unannounced Next-Gen MMO.

He will still be participating in certain WoW development decisions, but his new tasks will keep him busy on the development of the next-gen MMO. This brings a lot of speculation vibe to it. Why reveal he’s moved to the next-gen MMO team? Why now? Fans wouldn’t have even figured out he was missing except for the BlizzCast Q&As that aren’t released so often.

Will there be a new Blizzcon this year? Are we witnessing hints of an impending game announcement this year?

Will this Next-Gen MMO be a resurrected Starcraft: Ghost game? The game was postponed, not canceled.  It is quite possible. Back on Blizzcon 2005, fans played Starcraft: Ghost multiplayer. It looked more like an MMO than a console game. Another possible hint this game could resurface is the four Starcraft: Ghost printed-format books in development. Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Star Books will publish Starcraft Ghost: Spectre by the end of 2009. Keith R.A. DeCandido has written around four chapters thus far.

Tokyopop will publish a manga trilogy titled Starcraft Ghost: Academy, aimed to be released throughout 2010. The Year of the Ghost. Speculations, speculations. Don’t we love that time of the year when Blizzard itches to tell something is being brewed in their headquarters?

Will it be a Starcraft MMO or Diablo MMO? It would be hard to tell. Back on 2002, two games were in development parallel to each other: World of Warcraft and Warcraft III.  Both games tied up lorewise with the introduction of the Night Elves, Tauren, Undead races and the Kalimdor and Northrend continents.

Starcraft 2 is now developed to be three separate episodes of around 30 maps each.  This could be seen as expanding the lore to introduce an MMO.  On the other side, we have Diablo 3. It hasn’t been revealed if it will be split into episodes, but last year it was revealed that the storyline in Diablo 3 wouldn’t be the end. The Creative Development Team has plenty of story to tell beyond Diablo 3. Whether that is via expansions or … coughs … a Next-Gen MMO, that remains to be seen.

Keep your eyes open through the summer for any Blizzard Worldwide Invitationals or Blizzcon announcements. It could very well mean the unveiling of the mysterious Next-Gen MMO. Big thumbs up to Jeff Kaplan and his team. Make us proud and make the best MMO experience possible.

Blizzard Quote:
Tigole: I wanted to take a moment to let the community know that I

2009 NYCC: Metzen & Neilson Pocket Books Signing Video

Many Blizzard fans attended the 2009 New York Comic Con for the opportunity to meet the thundergod Chris Metzen (Senior VP of Creative Development) and Micky Neilson (Senior Writer & Voice Director) during the Simon & Schuster book signing session.

There were a lot of happy fans handing over their copies of World of Warcraft: Night of the Dragon, the Comic Book Vol. 1 hardcover, even the Wrath of the Lich King Collector’s Edition Art Book. I remember one of the fans brought the wall-mounting accessory of the Frostmourne sword replica to be signed. It was a fun experience to both Alliance and Horde players; and the developers were quite satisfied and passionate about the fans’ reactions.

Blizzplanet and WorldofWar.net was there to interview both Blizzard developers, and to record most of the book signing session. Below you can watch all three videos.


Video # 1

Video # 2

Video # 3

Blizzard Not Attending 2009 E3 Expo

A few days ago, major gaming sites reported that Activision Blizzard had returned to this year’s E3 Exhibitors List. Last year, Vivendi and Activision had withdrew their ESA membership and E3 altogether.  GiantBomb—where ex-Gamespot Editorial Director Jeff Gerstmann works nowadays—got response from Blizzard Entertainment. And the answer was:

Blizzard Quote:
Blizzard Entertainment will not be attending or participating in E3 2009.

Short and straight. This is a big surprise, knowing Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3 won’t get the press time and hands-on gameplay at an event that Blizzard had previously attended to. It seems Blizzcon and the Blizzard Worldwide Invitationals will remain to be the main platforms for new game and expansion announcements—including hands-on gameplay.

Last year’s Blizzcon had the whooping achievement of over 15,000 attendees from all around the world.

Diablo III: Gamestar Interviews Leonard Boyarsky

Gamestar interviewed Leonard Boyarsky, World Lead Designer, to talk about Diablo III’s Rune system, Battle.net 2.0, Inventory and item management, random quests in a static outdoor world, and class skills.

Not much is new in this interview, but it does help some fans that may have missed previous interviews to get a grasp and catch up on certain aspects of Diablo III. You can watch the video interview at the Gamestar website in english. We have a transcript of the video at the bottom of this page.

Leonard: The synergy is basically emphasized with more than just one skill. That’s what we are basically doing with the rune system. And basically what it is you get random drops which was kind of like in first Diablo. We really wanted to get that random skill feeling back, without actually doing random skills. So you get these random drops and you can slot them in different skills, different spells, and they’re removable so it’s not like you’re stuck with it. You know, the fun of just touching the different realms of what they do.

Gamestar: What can the players expect from the new Battle.net? Will it remain free and will there be any concept of downloadable content?

Leonard: Basically what we’re doing with Battle.net we’re trying to make, we’re making – the best online gaming experience. We’re trying to reduce amount of unpleasantness, you know, in any form in a mobile playing experience co-op. There’s gonna be some form of PvP, you know, just really taking the amount of player experience very easily use, very fun.

A good example of that – you know, is ways of trading between characters.  It’s very difficult for me to get something from one of my characters to another one of my characters while having it loaded into the same game.. We’re talking about things like that … um, we haven’t got the specifics yet.

In terms of the financial model, our ideal, our goal has always been to make the game first. You know, what

Four New Diablo III Wallpapers 1/20

Blizzard released four new wallpapers available in many sizes and resolutions. The first one is the rendered 3D image of Tyrael shown in the front page of the official Diablo III website.  The second wallpaper is the map of Sanctuary shown in the World Map section. The last two wallpapers are concept arts of the city of Caldeum. It’s cool to have some updates this often. Keeps our passion for Diablo III alive and continuous. Let’s hope a Bestiary Update and more gameplay screenshots follow next.