Diablo 15 Year Anniversary: Diablo III Almost Done

Jay Wilson and Chris Metzen (Senior Vice-president of Story & Franchise Development) talk on video about their experiences with the development of Diablo along the years, in celebration of the 15th Anniversary of Diablo. Both look totally badass sitting on an old-style chair with a Tristram Cathedral background setting replica. The quality of the video looks like one you find in a hollywood film.

Blizzard Entertainment also provided an awesome Extended Diablo Retrospective telling a chronology of the development of Diablo throughout these fiften years. It’s definitely a great content to watch, and it shows the level of quality the people behind this documentary put to release it by the anniversary. This is not something you put together in a couple of weeks.

The highlight of it all is listening to Chris Metzen talk to the Diablo fans with such a passion, and of course, Jay Wilson drawing a smile on his face as he says: “We are almost done with Diablo III, and that’s a fitting celebration of the 15th year anniversary for Diablo.”

You better check it out here. Below is a transcript of the interviews.

Chris Metzen

Chris Metzen: What up Diablo players! Hey guys, happy Anniversary. Fifteen years of Diablo, pretty crazy, we’ve come a long way.

We’re very excited about Diablo III coming up. We think you’re going to like it a lot. On a personal level, it’s been really, really rewarding to get back into the Diablo franchise, and be able to help develop this story.

I’ve long felt that it’s potentially the most interesting franchise we’ve built. I just think that Diablo has potentially a level of soul that the others can’t quite reach.

This innate world where the clash between light and darkness is so evidenced and foreground in the player’s path, and I think that we put every ounce of our passion and energy into Diablo III.

And I think in particular this time around I’m so excited about our cinematics, and the way they help tell the game’s story, and I think it’s some of the most compelling and certainly visually stunning work we’ve ever done.

I think people are going to fall into the world like never before, and be engaged with this story like never before.

So it’s been a very, very rewarding process from the creative standpoint. I think it’s absolutely the sharpest chapter of Diablo yet.

So guys, once again, happy Anniversary. Thank you for your support all these years, and I hope you’re very, very excited about Diablo III.

I can’t wait to adventure with you throughout the world of Sanctuary.

Jay Wilson

Jay Wilson: Fifteen years of Diablo. I’ve been there since the beginning as a member of the community.

The last six years as a developer. And I have to say, one of the greatest things I found in making the transition was the incredible support and passion that we get from our community.

We’re really worked hard to make a game worthy of all of you. You’ve given us such great feedback; such great support, and really made us feel like you will always help us find the right path, the right choices to make sure it’s the best game it can be.

My relationship with Diablo started, I was playing Warcraft II, and I remember looking on the back of the CD case, and there was this advertisement for this game called Diablo.

And I remember leading up to just the release of the original Diablo. In my house, my wife was not allowed to say it at normal volume. It was always spoken of in hushed tones. And then the day that it arrived, and we all took several days off and gonna burn through the game.

It was really getting it that first time and seeing it. That was one of the most memorable moments for me, with the original Diablo.

One of the great things about all the Diablo games, is how they’ve kind of moved forward with the original Diablo.

It was a very simple, straight forward game. And the second game really managed to maintain that, keep the simplicity.

A lot of games when you make sequels they tend to make the game more complex. But Diablo II kept that simplicity but added things like the skill trees, which really changed how you built characters in pretty much all action RPGs to follow.

Working on Diablo III, one of the things we tried to focus on was, We wanted to keep the game really simple but add a lot of more depth to all the mechanics.

We didn’t add anymore controls, we didn’t make the game anymore complex, but we made the controls and the elements that were already there. Have a lot more depth to them.

So it’s one of the things we’ve tried to hold onto with Diablo III. Is to make sure that it’s got that really simple facade, that hides that really rich deep game underneath.

We are almost done with Diablo III, and that’s a fitting celebration of the 15th year anniversary for Diablo. So, we are getting it to you as soon as we can.

Thank you so much for how much raw energy and passion that all of you have brought to the Diablo games, and we hope that Diablo III really lives up to all your expectations.

Blizzplanet Review: Diablo III: Book of Cain

Materials | Review | Press Letter | Content List | Credits | Gallery

Diablo III: Book of Cain is the official Diablo universe lore source book written by Flint Dille (The Transformers) with the collaborative assistance of Chris Metzen, Micky Neilson and Matt Burns from the Blizzard Entertainment Creative Team.

Blizzplanet got a copy of Diablo III: Book of Cain, courtesy of Insight Editions and its publicity manager, Carlie Demelo. Special thanks to her for the giveaway copies for our visitors.

I’ll begin the review of Diablo III: Book of Cain. Take a seat, and buckle up.

Materials

Insight Editions took very special care of the publishing process, production and appearance aspect of Diablo III: Book of Cain.

When you hold this book on your hand, you will notice the excellent care to details over its materials. The cover has the Diablo skull and all the stylish ornamental embroidery. All the outer-edge of the skull and the ornamental images are embossed. Embossing is made by letterpress machines which raise the level of the image using pressure and heat. The eyes and mouth are debossed causing a recession or hole appearance. You can feel the lines and holes with your fingers making the Diablo skull design sort of 3D, both visually and tactile. The cover treatment is a matte finish with both embossing and debossing.

The red rectangle with the Diablo III: Book of Cain logo is actually not part of the cover itself. It’s a separate removable paper, or belly band, wrapped around the cover flaps. The belly band is loose on the front cover, but it’s firmly held on the back cover.

What’s holding the belly band tight there? An envelope glued on the interior of the back cover, with a sticker in the shape of a candle seal. The candle seal resembles the image shown in page 145, which I’m guessing is the symbol of the Great Families of Xiansai (I might be wrong).

“What’s in this envelope?” — you ask. Within the envelope is a folded poster of the Sanctuary Map. The map itself is a die cut with irregular edges along its border — obviously a real-life old scroll replica.

When you see the side of the book where all the pages are, and pass your finger through its thickness, you will feel a sandy texture on your fingertips. It looks like rugged cardboard to give it a old paper feel of ancient scrolls.

Taking a single page between my fingers, I could see what gave that texture. The edge of each single page has been cut in irregular shapes giving it a feathered appearance. If you slide your finger along the edge of the page you won’t feel the straight line cut of normal pages, it’s a rugged surface. I’m told this is known as deckled edges.

Each page has a yellow-orange 2D texture to resemble papyrus or ancient scroll paper.

Insight Editions wanted this book to delicately resemble a real world replica of the in-game Book of Cain item. I’m completely astonished with the material and printing processes of Diablo III: Book of Cain. This is a book leaking design excellence, as you would always expect from a Blizzard licensed product.

Quick Look Inside

Usually, books have a page with the name of the publisher, the writer and all the credits, the publishing year and copyright notices, and even a introduction message or dedicatory. Blizzard licensed books, in specific, usually have a glossary and/or reference list telling you all the books where determined topics originate from in continuity in the last pages.

Insight Edition went in a different direction.

The first page says: “Take heed, and bear witness to the truths that lie within. For they are the last legacy of the Horadrim.”

There’s no credit page, or copyright notices nor a content list in the initial pages.

You will see the title … Diablo III: Book of Cain in the initial pages; where the only thing written is: “text by Flint Dille” and “Insight Editions”.

After that page comes the letter addressed to Leah by Deckard Cain which she is meant to read after his death. This is the page Insight Editions recently shared in public during the 12 Days of Diablo III: Book of Cain. That was only page one of three. The letter offers more details.

At the end of the book you will see another letter to Leah. Finally, the last page contains the copyright notices and credits.

Materials | Review | Press Letter | Content List | Credits | Content List | Gallery

Blizzplanet Interviews DC Comics Diablo: Sword of Justice writer Aaron Williams and artist Joseph Lacroix

Blizzard Entertainment recently provided Blizzplanet the opportunity to interview writer Aaron Williams and artist Joseph Lacroix to ask questions about the Diablo: Sword of Justice 5-issue mini-series published by DC Comics.

What’s your background as an illustrator?

Lacroix: I’ve been an illustrator and comic book artist since around 2000. Before working on Diablo my previous works included L’encyclopédie du mal (Encyclopaedia of Evil), and a story in three volumes called Pythons. Both stories are dark fantasy/sword and sorcery. I like monsters and grim, macabre atmospheres.

How did DC Comics approach you to illustrate the Diablo mini-series?

Lacroix: Blizzard got in touch with me last spring. Then all was set pretty fast, I did some sample drawings then started designs on main characters.

How did you feel when you were asked to take this project?

Lacroix: I was surprise and amazed. I am huge fan of Blizzard games and comics. For me it was a dream come true.

Have you played Diablo before, or do you keep in contact with Blizzard Art Team for concept art references of locations, landmarks, and characters?

Lacroix: Yes, I played Diablo II after it had been out for a little while. I have very strong memories about it: a long descent into the Burning Hells… the more I went down into the deeper levels of a dungeon the more everything became darker, more dangerous, and more terrible. I do refer to concept art and in game graphics that I have received from Blizzard every day. For example, if I need to visualize the spell of a wizard or the details of the suit of an historic character of the game. I had access to many pictures and graphic works of Diablo III and I was quite impressed.

Did you design Tyrael’s sword, or did Blizzard provide the art?

Lacroix: No, it was provide by Blizzard, it is official design of Diablo III.

Which illustrators have inspired you?

Lacroix: I’m a fan of comic books. Reading them lead me to discover the art of Mike Mignola, Bernie Wrightson and Alex Toth, and it was then that I realized I really wanted to work as a comic book writer and artist. I am also very inspired by European comics artists such as Dino Battaglia, Hermann, Moëbius and older illustrators like Ivan Bilibine, Gustave doré and Daniel Vierge. I am also very passionate about the painting of Jerome Boesch, Brueghel and the etchings of Albretch Durër. . . but I am afraid it is not very obvious in my art.

How did you hone your specific art style?

Lacroix: Working on Sword of Justice demands more precision in the line, more dynamic in the direction, and darker when inking. I needed to be more precise because some elements come directly from the game: sets, characters, suits, accessories. It was more dynamic because narration in US comics is different from French traditional comic books. American comics are smaller, with less panels, and everything has to happen fast: fights, sets, time changes etc.

And it was darker because Sanctuary is a universe made of dust and ruins, where the existence of men is always threatened. The sun does not shine often and when it does, it burns. Sanctuary is a realm of constant fear and darkness.

Which Diablo artwork gave you the most challenge?

Lacroix: When I was doing some early design tests, the big challenge was the barbarians. They have to be wild, powerful and mean. In the comics they are also very big. It was very fun to draw and I have made some good sample drawings that I wish would be in the trade paperback.

Which of those you illustrated is your favorite Diablo character and location to draw?

Lacroix: I love monsters, and the bestiary of Sanctuary is full of them. In the next issues, they’re going to pop up from almost everywhere! I also had a very good time drawing the Black Marsh near the Forgotten Tower in the second issue.

What upcoming projects do you have after Diablo?

Lacroix: Nothing for sure right now. But I wish to continue working on comics in general.

Aaron Williams

Will we see any major Diablo characters beside Tyrael?

Williams: It’s mostly limited to some small cameos by familiar creatures, locations, and races. Since this mostly takes place in Jacob’s home city in the Dreadlands, there wasn’t much opportunity to try and include some previously explored characters. Future installments, if they come to fruition, might have some, but as the game was being developed as this story was being written, taking Jacob and company into places that were going to appear in Diablo III was avoided. For example, in one draft, I had Jacob heading to the Forgotten Tower. If he’d done what I’d written there, players would wonder why there wasn’t the aftermath of the encounter visible, or why he’d gone there and not seen something painfully obvious when you play the game, etc.

When is the comic taking place in relation to Diablo II and Diablo III?

Williams: It’s happening about 20 years after the end of Diablo II. It doesn’t quite answer the question of what became of Tyrael, but it does chronicle what happened to his sword and some of the aftermath of the mountain’s destruction.

Which are the most important locations the events in your story focus on?

Williams: I’d say mostly the Dreadlands, and an area near the Arreat crater (though not the crater proper). Jacob does a fair amount of travelling before returning to his homeland, and we get to see some ruins near the aforementioned Forgotten Tower, the streets of Lut Gholein, and a strange cave about a day’s hard walk from the city.

Who is the woman in the cover of Diablo issue number 2? The one who watches over Tyrael’s sword.

Williams: That’s Shanar, a wizard character who kind of got snared by the sword while she was looking for it. Jacob taking it up releases her, and she tries to make sure he’s aware of just what he’s carrying and what might be influencing his actions. She’s really familiar with Jacob’s background (thanks to the sword; you’ll see why in issue #2) and is probably one of the more practically-minded characters in the whole story.

Will there be a big bad demon lord involved in the story? Or perhaps an angel?

Williams: It wouldn’t be Diablo without a demon, or at least a demonic scheme, would it? I don’t want to give away the plot, but there are definitely infernal influences at work, and there’ll be a nice payoff in the fifth issue.

Are you going to feature flashbacks to briefly view past events that fit with your story, or do you stick to present events?

Williams: There are a few more flashbacks in the offing, but the bulk are in issue 1 and the beginning of 2. There’s another one later on, but it’s not one from Jacob’s life… though he gets a front-row seat. And I think the only other of any length takes place towards the end when a new character has her own story to tell, which will hold interest not only to those in the story, but to a previously hidden facet of barbarian history.

How will the mini-series affect the Diablo III story?

Williams: That’s another one that Blizzard’s powers that be know more about than I do. I did hear in several of our conversations that they wanted to make sure anything I introduced could work in-game, so I’m betting one or more major elements/locations will make an appearance somewhere.

Any anecdotes while working with Blizzard’s Creative Team?

Williams: I wasn’t able to take them up on their generous offer of a visit to their offices (I’m a relatively new daddy, and our son is a handful), which cut down on the chances for hijinks to ensue. I was kind of amused at the lore’s demarcation between what’s “in-game only” and what’s “not really used in the fiction.” In an early draft, I came up with what I thought was a nice facet to Jacob’s home city’s descent into darkness. Portal scrolls were forbidden so no one could breach the walls, and the waypoint would’ve been buried like a Stargate for the same reasons. It turns out those methods of travel really aren’t part of the lore where fiction is concerned. I guess I should have known, or half the stories would be like episodes of “Star Trek” where most of the plot centers around the transporters breaking down or Kirk losing his communicator.

Have Joseph LaCroix and you been in contact to discuss certain scenes, or does he have full art freedom to interpret your story?

Williams: He has complete freedom as far as I’m concerned. In the scripts, when something on the complicated side needs to happen (say, a particularly intricate bit of swordplay), I may give suggestions or say something like “the point of Jacob’s sword needs to stop an inch from the goatman’s snout for the ‘you want a third nostril?’ line in the next panel to work.” How that plays out is totally up to Joseph. The same for any architecture or what would be “effects-heavy” scenes. I figure my job is to just note what’s plot-relevant, and making it incredibly awesome-looking is best left up to the hands behind the pens.

How do you feel teaming up with him?

Williams: I think his art is a fantastic fit. He’s got a great style that manages to convey an otherworldly “Grimm Fairy Tale” vibe while maintaining a great contrast between the magical and the mundane. The only resentment I might feel is he’s yet another person in the comics industry that reminds me how boring my last name is.

Have you played Diablo games before, or plan to play Diablo III?

Williams: Yes and yes. I’ve got the Battle Chest close by (and after I’m done typing this, I’m itching to re-install it yet again), and I’m seriously considering upping my supply of the numerous caffeine-based products available via the Internet in preparation for Diablo III. The only other thing I have to work on is suppressing any vocalizations I might usually make in times of triumph or despair while playing so my family doesn’t suspect that I’m either playing a game or getting too emotionally involved in my computer’s applications.

Order Diablo: Sword of Justice

Click the images to order a copy of Diablo: Sword of Justice # 1 and # 2.

Other Diablo III Fansites Interviews

Blizzplanet Interview: Blizzard’s Micky Neilson Talks Diablo III: Book of Cain

Blizzplanet and other Blizzard fansites had the opportunity to individually interview Blizzard Entertainment Publishing Lead and Senior Story Developer Micky Neilson over the phone. Eldorian forwarded most of the questions submitted recently by our visitors.

In our interview, Micky Neilson talks more about the mysterious Zoltun Kulle — for those who got to watch the BlizzCon 2011 Diablo III Lore Panel, and reveals the main theme of Nate Kenyon’s upcoming Diablo: The Order (Slated: May 29, 2012).

Insight Editions will release Diablo III: Book of Cain on December 13th, 2011. Grab your copy. It has become Amazon’s # 1 Graphic Novel Best Seller.

Read our interview with Micky Neilson to find out why!

Note: Post on twitter a comment about this interview using the hashtag #bookofcain plus @blizzplanet for a chance at a free Diablo III: Book of Cain giveaway. Deadline: Thursday, Dec 15, 2011. (example: @blizzplanet I <3 Blizzard, gimme #bookofcain)

Interview

Why is Deckard Cain so important in Diablo history?

Neilson: Why is Deckard Cain so important? Well, he’s one of the most identifiable characters. I would say that stems from him being chosen as the NPC you deal with the most in the series. So, I think as a character he resonated with fans early on so he had some longevity and some staying power. Over the course of the different games he’s become certainly a marquee character. He worked really well for this book specifically because he’s the guy gathering all the information, lore, text and all of that stuff. It really made sense that he’s the one to put this book together.

Where did the inspiration come from to make the Book of Cain a real item that people could buy?

Neilson: Early on the idea came from Chris Metzen as far as he came to the publishing team and said that he really wanted to do a book that is kind of a history of the universe and also an art book. He described it as a hybrid between a source book and an art book. So we went forward from there. As part of that process we had discussions if this is part of Cain’s journal from the game or something completely separate. So we went back and forth a few times and through the course of identifying what the book would be and kind of nailing down the vision of the book, we settled down on the in game artifact aspect of it. We felt like that was the better way to go. I mean as far as the cover and maintaining continuity within the IP it felt like a cool hook for it to be something actually within the game.

Does the Book of Cain take any information from previous Diablo books such as those written by Richard A. Knaak or Mel Odom?

Neilson: Yeah. There is definitely. A lot of the Sin War trilogy is covered in here. You can get kind of a condensed version of the events from the Sin War Trilogy, and it touches on some of the other books as well.

Given that this book is set as the source book for Diablo lore, does it contradict or change any of the major events that have taken place in the game? And if so can you elaborate and be specific on any of the changes?

Neilson: It does clarify a lot of things. We have a lore team who basically pour over all of this material. We knew going into the creation of this book that there were already some contradictions that existed in the lore and the history. So we took this as an opportunity to set the record straight. We definitely identified a few things. One specific example is Tal Rasha and the Soul Stone; and Zoltun Kulle being the one that suggested that the essence could be trapped within a human. There were already a couple of differing accounts and who made that suggestion. I think in one account it was Tal Rasha made the suggestion and another account that Tyrael made the suggestion. So we went in with a different option that Zoltun Kulle was the one who made the suggestion and the purpose of that was to set up that character more because he’s a main character in the next game.

Does Book of Cain go into any post-Sin War details after the trilogy by Knaak? A lot of the other lore in the games and other novels make it seem as if the Sin War didn’t end until a few hundred years before the events of Diablo 1.

Neilson: It does go into detail and we’re trying to nail down the timeline right now. I don’t remember if it nails down exactly how many years before the events of the game that the Sin War takes place but we are in the midst of nailing all of that down for a more refined timeline.

Book of Cain talks about the Angels, and Demons, but Does Trang’Oul get mentioned in the book?

Neilson: Trang’Oul is mentioned briefly. He actually has a gorgeous double page spread and as part of that there’s a little side bar written as a handwritten note from Deckard Cain. There’s a little bit of information, but it’s almost more like a teaser for Trang’Oul.

Are there any potential Diablo III story spoilers in Book of Cain for those who wish to read it before playing the game?

Neilson: There’s no spoilers for the game. Information in the Book of Cain certainly does inform what is in the game. When you read the book you will certainly be more informed of the lore perspective when you play the game.

Are there examples of Deckard Cain and Leah’s research throughout the years searching and piecing together the fragments of the new Prophecy about Azmodan and the comet?

Neilson: There is a lot of that covered in the book. The prophecy is kind of an amalgam that Cain put together on many different prophecies that exist. Some of the different cultures around Sanctuary have some of their own prophecies and a lot of these prophecies point to the comet and the end of days. Deckard Cain put together one all encompassing prophecy based on everything he’s read. So there’s the one he put together but there are a lot of different ones as well.

In Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, Tyrael opens a portal for Cain and the hero prior to the destruction of the Worldstone. Do we get to read about the explosion of Mount Arreat from the point of view of any surviving Barbarians? For example, the upcoming DC Comics Diablo mentions a survivor.

Neilson: We do have a section on the destruction of the Worldstone I believe, I’ll have to double check, but I believe it’s told from Deckard Cain’s perspective. So I don’t believe it’s told from the Barbarian perspective.

Does Cain mention Abd al-Hazir, and if so, does his research help Cain piece together the prophecy? Have they met or worked together?

Neilson: I don’t believe we mention Abd al-Hazir in here and if we do it’s just a really brief mention of the many sources Cain is drawing from. We don’t suggest in the book that they have been hanging out and sharing information.

Are all lands of Sanctuary featured, and given in-depth background story?

Neilson: There wasn’t enough space in the book to go in depth giving all the other information we put in the book. There is a section near the end of the book called Lands and Cultures that does cover all the main areas and cultures in sanctuary. It also covers all the new classes that will be showing up in Diablo 3.

Does Cain uncover new history of his Horadrim heritage and learn the background stories of NPCs/Bosses/lore figures met in the previous games? (for example: Leoric’s pre-Tristram reign, Warriv, Wirt, Anya, mythical stories of possible Tyrael encounters across time.)

Neilson: Yes. For sure we get into Leoric a lot more. We do touch into a lot of the history of the Horadrim, the hunt for the three, we get into a lot more detail as far as the events that took place back then. We’re also working on another book, Nate Kenyon is writing a book for us called The Order and that is really going to go into a lot more detail also into the history of the Horadrim and Cain’s involvement and how he learned about the Horadrim and the events at Tristram.

What was more interesting or challenging about compiling the lore for Book of Cain and working with Flint Dille?

Neilson: Flint Dille was great. Flint really understood the character so he nailed that character voice, that scholarly voice of Deckard Cain. I’d say the biggest challenge was just codifying everything. Just putting it all together identifying contradictions that existed and clarifying which direction we wanted to go. There’s a lot of history in the Diablo universe. It was a mammoth task just to put distinctly. What did we end up? 140-some pages? So just trying to the entire Diablo history in that amount of pages, and a significant amount of that was art, was not the easiest thing in the world.

What inspired this mythological background for the Diablo universe concerning Anu and Tathamet the dragon?

Neilson: A lot of that came from Chris Metzen and early on we had meetings and we talked about what would different mythology be for the universe. And we knew there was one we wanted to back and enforce as canon at least from Cain’s point of view and the information that he discovered. A lot of those ideas came from Chris Metzen, and we hashed out the rest of it in brainstorming sessions.

Is Tran’Goul somehow related to Tathamet considering both are dragons, but both seem to be different: the former good, the latter evil?

Neilson: I think there’s more information that will be revealed in the future about Trang’Oul – right now I can’t disclose anything.

How do you feel about the mood and story of the Diablo series? What do you think makes it stand from other dark fantasy universes?

Neilson: Interesting. So the biggest theme that we face with Diablo is heroism facing absolute terror. I really think that sets it apart. You have humanity that is caught in the middle between these cataclysmic forces of light and dark, but light and dark aren’t exactly what you expect them to be. The angels aren’t exactly what you expect angels to be – most of them want to destroy humanity. So it’s a really kind of an interesting dynamic and humanity has the ability to become powerful in its own right, and to upset the balance of the Eternal Conflict between the High Heavens and the Burning Hells. I think that is really a cool hook.

Thank you, Micky Neilson, Eric Yco, Bashiok, Lyndsi, and Blizzard Creative & Public Relations Teams for your awesome support to fansites and lore fans.

Order Diablo III: Book of Cain now (Release date: Dec 13, 2011) or gift it to a friend or family member.

We recommend reading our BlizzCon 2011 Diablo III Lore Panel Transcript to learn more about Zoltun Kulle, and other mentions of Diablo III: Book of Cain made during the Panel.

Other Fansites – Diablo III: Book of Cain Interviews

Links of Interest

Blizzplanet Giveaway: SteelSeries QcK Limited Series Diablo III Logo Gaming Mousepad

Update: Keitaro won the Diablo III Logo Mousepad. Congrats.

We have now the SteelSeries QcK Diablo III Gaming Mouse Pad to giveaway to one of our visitors. SteelSeries rocks!

To participate simply post ONE comment in this page. Only one. We are using the Disqus comment system, which allows you to login using your Facebook, Twitter, Google or Yahoo username and password. No need to register. You also have the option to register at Disqus to change the username displayed on our comments. If you don’t do that, the real name used in any of those accounts will show up. With that privacy tip out of the way, now I wish to warn participants about something we are aware of going on in the previous giveaways.

Mith, who takes care of Blizzplanet’s server along with Eldorian is who picks the winner. He has detected several entries from single individuals. Please, don’t do that. There’s going to hinder your chances to win. Mith is watching.

Warning: Don’t drink or eat while reading this — At your own risk: Another thing that will get you disqualified is if you laugh at my pink quilt (sighs). I’m straight — for the record. I SAID DON”T LAUGH, jacknabit!

Eldorian’s note: If you could make sure to include an email address in your Disqus account it will make things a million times easier to contact you if you win. If we can’t contact you then it makes it difficult for us to tell you that you’ve won.

The winner of the Monk Gaming Pad was eitjayar! Congratz buddy.

I recently posted the SteelSeries Diablo III Gaming Mouse Review located here. Check it out.

Purchase Yours

Don’t want to narrow your chances with a giveaway? Buy it yourself. These Diablo III mousepads will make a perfect match with your SteelSeries Diablo III Mouse and Headset.

 

Description

The SteelSeries QcK mousepad is made of high quality cloth material, providing a precise and consistent glide. This combination of the high quality cloth material and an optimized textured surface, guarantees both smoothness and glide. The SteelSeries QcK feature a specially designed non-slip rubber base which prevents the pads from sliding, no matter what surface the mousepad is placed on.

Working with the industry’s leading game publishers, SteelSeries creates gaming peripherals designed to enhance in-game performance and deliver an immersive experience. The SteelSeries QcK is optimized to achieve precision and accuracy with both optical and laser mice and features vibrant , full color artwork from the game.

From day one, SteelSeries has been focused on making high performance gaming gear used by the most demanding, top professional eSport gamers worldwide and peripherals that provide superior quality and a competitive edge to gamers of all skill levels. We believe, as most gamers do, in winning, not trying!

 

 

Gallery

Transcript: Activision Blizzard Third Quarter Calendar 2011 Results Conference Call

This is a transcript of the discussion by Blizzard Entertainment CEO Mike Morhaime at the Activision Blizzard Q3 2011 Financial Results Conference Call held on November 8, 2011 at 1:30pm PDT.

Our visitors can also view the slideshows presented at the event and listen to the voice recording which comprehends Mike Morhaime’s speech and the live Q&A with investors and shareholders.

Highlights

  • Diablo III Real-Money Auction House will be tested in beta very soon.
  • World of Warcraft localization version to hit Brazil on December 6th.

Transcript

Mike Morhaime: Blizzard has just enjoyed another successful BlizzCon a few weeks ago sharing exciting news with 26,000 live attendees and more than a million online viewers from 144 countries around the world.

We made several big announcements. This included the world premiere of our new World of Warcraft expansion: Mists of Pandaria, and a showcase of the multiplayer side of our upcoming expansion StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm.

We also featured our upcoming Blizzard DOTA free-to-play online game, and generated even more excitement for Diablo III.

We hosted packs of crowds for our most exciting eSport tournaments yet; and finally we announced our World of Warcraft Annual Pass. I’ll go into more detail on everything in a moment.

First, I wanted to touch on our results for the past quarter. Our revenues for the first quarter of 2011 are down versus last year, which included the record setting launch of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty.

World of Warcraft finished the quarter with 10.3 million active subscribers worldwide — which is down from our previous quarter.

While the majority of these declines are coming from the East. World of Warcraft continues to be one of the most popular online games in China, and remains by far the most popular subscription-based MMO in the world.

That said, we know there are improvements we can make in game content. The level up content in Cataclysm is some of our best works, but it was consumed quickly compared to our past expansion set: Wrath of the Lich King.

Once players reached max level, the end game content in Cataclysm is more difficult. Balancing this content for our diverse playerbase can be very challenging.

Our development team is constantly analyzing the game and we continue to explore ways that we can adjust the game to better satisfy both hardcore and casual players.

To that end, our next free major content update for World of Warcraft is already in testing, and will be available for the players in upcoming weeks.

This is our largest update since Cataclysm launched. We’ll include our biggest and best rated content ever featuring the iconic dragon Deathwing, as well as a new Raid Finder feature.

The Raid Finder will make it easier than ever for casual players to experience end-game content, and it will open up a big part of the World of Warcraft to more of our players.

Looking beyond our next content update, the development team is already hard at work on our next expansion set: Mists of Pandaria.

We introduced the Pandaren race to the Warcraft universe with Warcraft III, and players have always been eager to see them introduced to World of Warcraft.

We’re finally making them a playable race in Mists of Pandaria, and the announcement trailer has already collected more than 2 million views on YouTube.

We’ll be introducing a number of new features to this World of Warcraft expansion set, but one that has gotten a lot of possitive buzz from players and press is our new Pet Battle System which we believe will be very appealing to casual players.

For hardcore players we have plans to focus the story heavily on the Horde and Alliance conflict. Combined with some new PvP features, we believe the new expansion will have a lot of appeal for our diverse audience.

Aside from the new expansion set, we made another exciting announcement at BlizzCon: The World of Warcraft Annual Pass.

The Annual Pass is the initiative we created to reward the loyalty of our current subscribers as well as welcome back past players.

It’s very simple. If you make a 12 month commitment to World of Warcraft, we give you Diablo III for free, along with an invitation to the next World of Warcraft beta and an exclusive in-game mount.

This is a limited-time offer that is only available to players who have created a World of Warcraft account as of October 18th. We have seen a tremendous response to this promotion and we believe it’s a great way for us to leverage the size and passion of our World of Warcraft playerbase to drive even more momentum around Blizzard games.

We have other marketing plans in the coming months for World of Warcraft, but we are not ready to share details yet.

Closing our discussion on World of Warcraft, we have recently announced a new localized version of the game will hit the Brazilian market on December 6th.

As we’ve mentioned in the past, Brazil is one of the fastest growing markets in terms of online connectivity, and it’s already in the Top 10 countries in terms of Broadband users.

We’re looking forward to seeing our expansion in Brazil, our new content updates, and other initiatives which contribute to the growth of World of Warcraft.

Moving on to StarCraft II, we showed off the multiplayer aspect of StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm at BlizzCon for the first time.

Players were very excited to play the new units, and the game has generated a ton of buzz.

The new trailer that we released for the game has also gotten a lot of press and attention with more than a million views on YouTube.

In addition to Heart of the Swarm, the StarCraft II development team has been hard at work on a new Free-to-Play online game: Blizzard DOTA.

This game was created by our development team using the StarCraft II engine and we debuted a new version of it at BlizzCon. Blizzard DOTA has gotten a lot of positive interest from Press who attended the show, and will be our entry into a increasingly popular genre of online games.

The newer games in the market operate on free-to-play basis, with micro-transaction elements. With that in mind, we’re currently exploring what type of business model will have for Blizzard DOTA, and we’ll look forward to share more details about the game in a near future.

On the Diablo III front, we’re still targeting an early 2012 launch. We’ve been collecting great feedback from our ongoing beta test, and Blizzcon; and the team is using that feedback to continue polishing and improving the game.

We have also been testing the Gold-based Auction House functionality through the beta, and we’re gearing up to test the Real-Money Auction House system very soon.

We’ve very high expectations for Diablo III. The buzz surrounding the game continues to be tremendous, and our new trailer of the game at Blizzcon was one of the highlights for the show.

In closing, 2012 is shaping up to be one of the busiest and most exciting years in Blizzard history. We plan on having at least two major releases, and as BlizzCon demonstrated, we have a lot of great games coming down the pipeline.

We continue to invest in development and customer service to support long-term growth, but for now the company is focusing on execution and giving great games out to players.

 

 

Conference Call Q&A

Answering questions to shareholders were Mike Morhaime, Thomas Tippl and Robert Kotick.

Brian Pitz – UBS Investment Bank

Pitz: Can you give us some additional color on what’s happening to engagement and subscriber levels for World of Warcraft, particularly following that big expansion pack announcement? Where do you think the subscribers are actually going? And I’ve got a quick follow up.

Morhaime: Okay. Well, as you know, we don’t provide a forecast on subscribership levels. But I’ll say is that the announcements at BlizzCon were incredibly well received. There’s a lot of excitement around the expansion and the upcoming content in the next patch, which will be introduced in the next couple of weeks. It is currently in test on our public test realm, and we’re very excited about that content. I guess, I can say this, the majority of the declines were in the East. China still represents more than half of our global player base and, historically, December has been a very good month for subscriber trends. We have a number of initiatives planned. We plan to be very aggressive in terms of our marketing promotions, and we’re looking forward to the end of the year.

Pitz: Great. And maybe this is a question for Thomas, as well. How should we think about the Diablo III promotional offer that’s being provided with the annual subscription option?

Tippl: From our perspective, the reception to the offer has been phenomenal. As you would expect, I think, it’s a tremendous value offer for existing and lapsed players. So we’re not surprised. And I think it’s going to continue to help broaden and deepen the engagement of the Blizzard community overall, and I think that’s particularly desirable to us because as we look into the future, I think we recognize there’s more competition heading into the MMO genre overall, because it’s a very attractive genre. And so we want to make sure we continue to offer our players, not only the best content but also the best value.

Pitz: And should we assume that’s a margin neutral event for the most part?

Morhaime: The more interest that we drive towards Diablo III, we think the more interest our players will continue helping to drive for us Diablo III.

Tippl: I think from a margin perspective, I think that it still remains to be seen. As you know, Diablo III launches with a real money auction house. So it provides an opportunity to potentially generate high margin revenues from additional Diablo players which we might not otherwise get to. But I think obviously, that’s still early days, and we’ll find out about that once we use the product in the market.

Neil Doshi – Citi

Doshi: I had a question about the Blizzard operating margins. It looks like margins have been coming down from the traditionally high 50% range to now kind of 40%. How would you think about margins going forward? And would we continue to see continued pressure on Blizzard margins? Or has most of the development been done there, and we can hope to expect margins get back in that 50% range?

Tippl: I don’t think it’s a surprise that this year the margins are down because we are developing a whole host of products within Blizzard. Effectively, we have 5 products in development, none of which has launched this year. So you got all of the development costs and none of the revenue. So next year, we are seeing at Blizzard, as Mike mentioned earlier, a minimum of 2 releases. So I think with that kind of additional leverage on the top line, I think you will see those trends reversing.

Kotick: And things like the auction house, we haven’t shared a lot of detail about what the margin strategy looks like, but obviously, it’s a very high margin component of the overall franchise.

Morhaime: Yes, I think it’s a difficult comparison this year because if you look at last year, we had 2 major launches. This year, zero.

Doshi: On the Diablo beta, what learnings have you found so far from the players’ community and how’s the auction house testing going relative to your expectations?

Morhaime: Feedback and testing have been extremely positive in the beta. Keep in mind, the amount of content that we’re exposing to players is very limited because we do want to save the vast majority of that content for the actual release. But even within that small amount of content, people are playing it over and over, experiencing with the various characters, and we’ve been reading the feedback and talking to people at BlizzCon. One of the most common questions that I got asked at BlizzCon was just, hey, they want to get their friends into the beta, how do they do that? Of course, it’s very difficult to do.

Jeetil Patel – Deutsche Bank

Patel: As you look at the Diablo, Warcraft bundling strategy, I guess, the idea behind that is to get as many users on Diablo and the real opportunity from a modernization standpoint will be auction house in terms of the transactional flow there. I’m curious how much do you think there’ll be in terms of the cannibalizations of the pre-packet offer sale through the bundling strategy? On Warcraft, 10.3 million subscribers, what’s your best guess as to where that number kind of settles in at as we look out over the next 12 months or so?

Tippl: On Diablo, I think that benefits that we see from the Diablo are really two-fold. I think one, it’s going to, because it requires a 12-month subscription to World of Warcraft, it’s going to extend the subscriber life. And as a result, it’s going to generate more revenues, more high-margin revenues at World of Warcraft. And in addition, as Mike and Bob had mentioned earlier, we also think that the larger the Diablo community is and the larger the marketplace around Diablo’s real money transaction auction house is, the greater the opportunity to also generate income and have a long tail behind Diablo. And then on the subscribers, Mike mentioned earlier, we’re not providing any subscriber forecast. We haven’t done so in the past. We’re not starting right now. I think we’re providing you a financial forecast, which includes, as always, prudent proven assumptions around all of our variables that go into our financial plan.

Patel: Maybe if you look at Auction House going backwards to the prior Diablo or maybe what you’re seeing in early testing, can you talk about how many transactions the average player typically does in a given month? Is there any way to quantify that?

Tippl: There isn’t really, because the experience that we are going to offer is going to be so much better than anything players were able to see in the past on Diablo. So where we are really looking is. I think, the general acceptance of gamers for our different types of business models existing in the past in terms of more micro-transaction base has increased substantially over time. So we are really looking more for benchmarks really outside of currently relevant micro-transaction-based games. And as you know, those trends have been very encouraging. But for us, we’ll have to see until we get into the marketplace. I mean, if we didn’t think it’s a significant opportunity, we wouldn’t be doing it.

Morhaime: So let me just add to that. It’s really impossible to extrapolate behaviors from the limited beta experience we’re offering to the more open-ended ultimate Diablo III experience. But if you look at Diablo II and even Diablo I player behaviors, there was a big need to trade items between players, and we found that a lot of our players are going to third-party sites to perform that trading. And so, the main reason that we’re doing this is to provide them a safe and secure environment to perform that trading. We think it’s going to make for a better game. We think it’s going to lead to longer engagement with the game, but in terms of the volume, I think it’s very difficult to predict.

Eric Handler – MKM Partners

Handler: Just out of curiosity, when you’ve had big patches before with World of Warcraft, what type of subscriber uplift do you typically see?

Morhaime: Well, historically, with the content updates that we’ve done, it’s really not intended to go out and drive new user acquisition, that’s a whole other strategy. But it does drive engagement with the game, and so that will impact churn, if we do it successfully and eventually will drive win back, as players tell each other about the content they’re enjoying. We’ll hopefully see a lift in our ability to win back players that may have already churned.

 

 

Recording

 

 

Slideshow Gallery

 

Blizzplanet: BlizzCon 2011 Panels Transcript Archive

Over the next two weeks, this hub page will grow as we add more BlizzCon 2011 updates. This is a transcript archive to read the BlizzCon 2011 panels. There were around 20 panels led by Blizzard Entertainment developers covering World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm and Diablo III.

Those who wish to can still order the BlizzCon Ticket Livestream at the official BlizzCon website. All VODs will be available for view until November 20th, 2011. Additional links: Blizzard, BlizzCon Homepage, BlizzCon Twitter.

Blizzplanet Articles

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria – Press Kit

This section gathers all the material Blizzard Entertainment provided Blizzplanet network manager Eldorian at the BlizzCon 2011 Press Room.

World of Warcraft: Intro to Mists of Pandaria

Browse through the Transcript Archive of each panel.

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Class Talent Panel

Dungeons & Raids Panel

Diablo III – Press Kit

Diablo III – Panels

StarCraft II Press Kit

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm – Panels

Browse through the transcript archive of each panel. (coming soon)

Awesome Sauce … Diablo III Cinematic Sneak Peek

Blizzard Entertainment has unleashed a never-seen-before Pre-BlizzCon image teaser of the Diablo III Cinematic!

“Peer not into the shadows of the Hells …”

“… for there is always something peering back.”

“Man’s pleasures give way to pain. His truths are buried in the shroud of lies. It is this time when Hell shall reign. While all of man dies.” – From the Guhawj Cave Inscriptions in Kehjistan, inked in blood by an unknown author.

To quote Tychus Findlay: “Sweet Mother of Mercy.” Leah better have a few tricks up her sleeve, or have a good set of legs to run like Speedy Gonzalez. That’s some fugly demon bastard. For some reason it reminds me the Butcher. Check out the Diablo Facebook and don’t forget to click “Like”. Ata’boy!

After the defeat of the three brothers: Diablo, Mephisto and Baal — centuries before Diablo I — Azmodan and Bellial have been at a Civil War in the Burning Hells. Connecting the dots, this cinematic teaser image might suggest Leah found this foul demon while investigating the hole on the ground left by the meteor, which swallowed her uncle Cain. It’s likely the meteor that fell from the sky upon the cathedral of Tristram might really be Belial. A few weeks ago, I posted a Diablo III beta screenshot where Deckard Cain hints Belial has come to Sanctuary.

In Diablo III beta, Deckard Cain clearly says: “The Horadric Scrolls spoke of the dead rising and the Lord of Lies. The Prophecy of the End Days says that at the end of all things, the first sign shall appear in the Heavens!”

Has the Civil War finally ended? Was Azmodan the victor? For those who haven’t read much into the Diablo lore, the civil war begun because the three brothers had set their sight on the Nephalem (the children of the renegade angels and demons inhabiting Sanctuary), instead of focusing the hordes of demons on their eternal conflict against the High Heavens and the Angiris Council.

With the three brothers off the chess board, Azmodan and Belial fought each other to claim reign over the Burning Hells. Once the victor take command of the Burning Hells, it’s assumed he will unleash an invasion upon the sacred lands of the High Heavens.

It’s speculated Azmodan exiled Belial into Sanctuary, thus — the meteor falling through the sky. Or was it Belial the victor, and Azmodan the fallen one? Only time will tell.

To taste a bit of lore, read The Dark Exile story from the original Diablo Game Manual.

For a full injection of the Diablo Universe lore — pre-order the upcoming Diablo III: Book of Cain — narrated from the point of view of Deckard Cain.

We recently posted photos, videos and sneak peek of Diablo III: Book of Cain during our visit to the New York Comic Con.

Blizzard Launches Diablo III Beta Key Sweepstakes

Blizzard Entertainment has gone nuts and have opened the gates of hell — I mean the gates of beta keys wide open. Two-Thousand BETA KEYS — holy moly, your chances to win are bigger than any other Blizzard contest you have participated ever.

Update: Before going “Yeeha!”, read the rules and eligibility page. Here’s the most crucial part: “This Blizzard sweepstake is only open to residents of United States, (excluding U.S. Territories and possessions), Canada (excluding Province of Quebec), Mexico, United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Italy, Turkey, Switzerland, Hungary, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Spain, Poland, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Ireland and Taiwan.” *Thanks, Nightblade.

Wanna get a beta key? Follow this Facebook link.

Diablo Facebook: Want to lead the charge against the minions of the Burning Hells before the game releases? Then join the fight for the fate of Sanctuary by entering the Diablo III Beta Key Sweepstakes!

For a limited time, those who follow the official Diablo Facebook Page from Blizzard Entertainment can enter for a chance to win admission into the Diablo III beta test!

Blizzard Entertainment is giving away 2000 keys for the exclusive Diablo III beta test over the next four weeks. If you want to lead the charge against the minions of the Burning Hells before the game’s official release – follow Diablo on Facebook and enter the drawing now for your chance to win.

Blizzard: Want to lead the charge against the minions of the Burning Hells before the game releases? Then join the fight for the fate of Sanctuary by entering the Diablo III Beta Key Sweepstakes!

Starting October 17, we’ll be randomly selecting 200 winners each week to receive a key to our exclusive Diablo III beta test. In addition, every fourth winner chosen will receive a second key to share with a friend! Drawings will occur every Monday for eight weeks for a total 2,000 keys.

Interested? Good! Signing up is easy. Simply follow Diablo on Facebook and complete our official entry form between now and December 12 for your chance to win. For more information about how to participate, check out the sweepstakes rules and eligibility page. Good luck!

source

Check out the Rules and Eligibility page:

Official Rules

1. Eligibility. BLIZZARD ENTERTAINMENT, INC., A DELAWARE CORPORATION (referred to herein as “SPONSOR”) IS THE SPONSOR OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES. THIS SWEEPSTAKES (THE “SWEEPSTAKES”) IS OPEN ONLY TO RESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES (EXCLUDING THE U.S. TERRITORIES AND POSSESSIONS), CANADA (EXCLUDING THE PROVINCE OF QUEBEC), MEXICO, ARGENTINA, THE UNITED KINGDOM, GERMANY, AUSTRIA, ITALY, TURKEY, SWITZERLAND, HUNGARY, FRANCE, BELGIUM, LUXEMBOURG, SWEDEN, FINLAND, NORWAY, SPAIN, POLAND, SERBIA, CROATIA, BULGARIA, CZECH REPUBLIC, BELARUS, UKRAINE, RUSSIA, IRELAND AND TAIWAN, WHO ARE OF THE AGE OF MAJORITY AS OF OCTOBER 11, 2011, AND WHO ARE NOT RESIDENTS OF THE PROVINCE OF QUEBEC, CANADA. IF YOU DO NOT MEET THESE REQUIREMENTS, YOU ARE NOT ELIGIBLE TO ENTER OR WIN A PRIZE IN THIS SWEEPSTAKES. Sponsor directors, officers and employees of Sponsor, its respective parents, affiliate companies, subsidiaries, agents, professional advisors, advertising and promotional agencies (collectively, “Released Parties”), and immediate families (spouse, parent, child, sibling and their respective spouses, regardless of where they reside) and household members, whether or not related, of each are not eligible to enter or win any prizes. All applicable laws and regulations apply. Sweepstakes is void where prohibited. Limit one entry per drawing during Sweepstakes, and an individual entrant may only win one prize during the Sweepstakes.

2. Disclaimer. Released Parties are not be responsible for: (a) lost, late, incomplete, inaccurate, stolen, misdirected, undelivered or garbled entries; (b) lost, interrupted or unavailable network, server, Internet Service Provider (ISP), website, or other connections, availability or accessibility or miscommunications or failed computer, satellite, telephone or cable transmissions, lines, or technical failure or jumbled, scrambled, delayed, or misdirected transmissions or computer hardware or software malfunctions, failures or difficulties, or © other errors or difficulties of any kind whether human, mechanical, electronic, computer, network, typographical, printing or otherwise relating to or in connection with the sweepstakes, including, without limitation, errors or difficulties which may occur in connection with the administration of the Sweepstakes, the processing of entries, the announcement of the prizes or in any Sweepstakes-related materials. Released Parties are also not responsible for any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by site users, tampering, hacking, or by any equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Sweepstakes. Released Parties are not responsible for injury or damage to participants’ or to any other person’s computer related to or resulting from participating in this Sweepstakes

3. Sweepstakes Period. The Sweepstakes shall commence on October 11, 2011 at 12:01 AM Pacific Time (“PT”), and end on December 12, 2011, at 11:59 PM PT (“Sweepstakes Period”).

4. How to Enter the Sweepstakes. To enter the Sweepstakes, a qualified entrant will need to complete the entry form located at www.facebook.com/Diablo.

5. Prizes. Each Tuesday during the Contest, Sponsor shall randomly select One Hundred Fifty (150) qualified entrants who will receive one (1) Diablo III Beta Test Key, and fifty (50) qualified entrants who will receive two (2) Diablo III Beta Test Keys.

UPDATE: A Blizzard Representative responds the reasons some countries are left out. Basically, each country has their own laws which prevent Blizzard Entertainment from opening up giveaways and contests.

      Hey Aice, I can perfectly understand your point here. You’re correct, some countries are usually not able to take part in some of our promotions / offers / deals / sweepstakes.

First of all, I would like to point out that there is no benefit to us to not offering these promotions in all European countries. We always try to reach out to all of our players and we definitely don’t want to keep countries out of the loop. Unfortunately, this isn’t always our call.

Every country has different legal restrictions, and this restrictions will determine if a particular offer or initiative will be available to a specific country.
I cannot go into details because there are just too many examples, it’s impossible to examine them on a case by case basis.

Long story short, some of our initiatives are classified as “gambling” in some countries, as “pyramid schemes” in others, and so on. Some laws just state that any promotion, deal, or offer that allows additional benefits to be gained as a result of bringing further people to the game would be classed as unacceptable.

As you can imagine, it’s a difficult situation, but we’re definitely aware of the fact that all of our players would like to have the opportunity of taking part in our initiatives.

We don’t care about the number of players we have in a specific country, we just want to involve as many people as possible.

If you believe that we may be missing out a country that would indeed allow this kind of scheme without issue then you’re welcome to contact our legal team purely to draw their attention to the situation.

Blizzard Response to Mists of Pandaria

A Blizzard representative acknowledged the filing of Mists of Pandaria to GameSpot, replying the following statement: “We appreciate your interest in our trademark filings, but we’re not ready to reveal any details at this time.”

The breaking news has gone all around the world with a lot of buzz and speculation, but Blizzard Entertainment won’t reveal any details until either BlizzCon 2011 (to be held at the Anaheim Convention Center through October 20-21) or at a later time when they are ready.

For those who can’t attend the BlizzCon event in person, Blizzard recently announced BlizzCon Virtual Tickets are on sale now. You have two options to watch the developer panels: watch the video livestream online, or you can watch it on TV via DirecTV.

 

Baseless Speculation: Gotta Love Fans’ Imagination

Some people speculate that Mists of Pandaria might be the next World of Warcraft expansion after Cataclysm. The Pandaren nation is been known as Pandaria since Warcraft III: Frozen Throne (Orc campaign) after Chen Stormtout and Rexxar met in Durotar.

Curll (a forum member of Scrolls of Lore) started to play connect the dots speculating that the upcoming Christie Golden novel featuring Jaina Proudmoore might have something to do with her Kul’Tiras / Theramore naval fleet exploring the seas of Pandaria. This has not been confirmed.

I also heard a fan suggest that Queen Azshara and the naga, working for the Old gods, might be in search of an item of power in Pandaria. That would make sense twofold. Pandaria is surrounded by sea, and we do know the Veiled Sea — located west of Kalimdor — has presence of Naga throughout the coasts of Darkshore, Azuremyst, Bloodmyst, Ashenvale, Desolace and Feralas.

In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, the naga needed an artifact to summon Ozumat and the faceless ones. You might recall the Battlemaiden quests in the Shimmering Expanse.

We barely know anything about Pandaria except the Pandaren are from there. The Cataclysm caused Uldum’s cloaking system to malfunction. Pandaria might have one of those Titan bases like Uldaman, Ulduar and Uldum. Or one of those research structures like Un’Goro Crater and Sholazar Basin. Maybe the Cataclysm caused problems there too, powering down or weakening its defenses like Deathwing did with Uldum.

What if Queen Azshara needs an artifact from there for the final steps to bring about the release of the Old gods?

Ain’t a collection of artifacts a bit silly? Not really. In Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal expansion (RTS, 1996), Ner’zhul sent the death knight Teron Gorefiend to Azeroth to retrieve four items of power in order to open portals to other worlds in Draenor: The Book of Medivh, the Scepter of Sargeras, the Skull of Gul’dan and the Eye of Dalaran.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Queen Azshara needed similar items of power from Titan bases to free the Old gods.

Pandaria: An Isle or a Small Continent?

There may be many arguments and speculation about this, but the truth is there is no canon lore on Pandaria. The only source of info about Pandaria was published in the Warcraft RPG books which Chris Metzen deemed non-canon during a Blizzard panel.

With Pandaria having an asian vibe to its theme, it’s possible that Pandaria is a cluster of islands rather than a single island. In real life, some of the biggest archipelagos are: Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

However, Pandaria could be as big as Northrend (which is smaller than Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms). In real life, we could coin Australia as an example. It’s a massive isle, but it is deemed a continent.

World of Warcraft Expansion … or Something Else?

It might be a new World of Warcraft Expansion, but not necessarily. Let’s focus on little breadcrumbs which might be interpreted as a possibility that Mists of Pandaria might be an expansion.

Magistrix Verdande (another Scrolls of Lore forum member) brought up a screenshot from his Tarecgosa questline. The quest for the epic caster weapon in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.

The world of Azeroth is seen from a asterioid cluster. For the first time, the planet is seen with a strange mists over the Veiled Sea — the other side of the planet opposite to where the Maelstrom is located.

This could be interpreted as a hint or breadcrumb left by a developer. Remember in Wrath of the Lich King when the Planet Azeroth hologram seen in the Ulduar observatory room showed a Kalimdor split in half? It was very likely a breadcrumb of things to come.

In Cataclysm, Kalimdor was hit hard by the earthquakes, and Thousand Needles is now underwater. This effectively sundered the area in the half portion of Kalimdor. Now the map looks exactly like the Azeroth hologram in Ulduar.

Could this new updated globe of Azeroth in Tarecgosa’s questline hint at … the Mists of Pandaria? I don’t know about you, but after looking at this image It’s hard to vote bogus.

Except watching the video, the mist in that screenshot doesn’t move at all while the globe rotates. The mist can later be seen over Eastern Kingdoms and the Maelstrom. So, I’m sorry. Video wins: Very Bogus.

On a final note, concerning World of Warcraft, isn’t it somewhat curious that the western sea of Kalimdor is known as The Veiled Sea, but the eastern side of Eastern Kingdoms is named The Forbidden Sea? If there was absolutely no land masses in between Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor (the other side of the planet) wouldn’t it make sense to name the entire sea the same way? Unless there is a mass or masses of land dividing both seas?

For the skeptical on this being an expansion to World of Warcraft, there is a very slight chance this could be Warcraft IV: Mists of Pandaria.

On the other hand, what if Mists of Pandaria is not a World of Warcraft expansion nor a Warcraft IV RTS game.

One should also consider a spin-off game. Has anyone considered the thought that Mists of Pandaria might be Titan? When I heard the name Mists of Pandaria, I gotta say, I did think of a World of Warcraft expansion and of Warcraft IV. However, another silly thought made me chuckle in my mind.

I thought of a spin-off game based on the Pandaren — think of a Facebook, iPad, iPhone, PC and Console type of game + Angry Birds or The Lost Vikings. Of course, not exactly like Angry Birds, but something that people could have fun with and play a few minutes or hours socially.

Wouldn’t that be something fun to play? Pandas are cute.

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