29 December 2007

Project Revolution Terran Demo released

Project Revolution is a Total Conversion that recreates the Starcraft-experience on the Warcraft 3-engine. After years of development, a public demo, with the terran race playable, has been released. Both Frozen Throne and Brood War are required to play. Get more infos and a download-link on the official site.

23 December 2007

Starcraft-Source interviews Karune

I'm down with the flu (actually I'm playing Aliens vs. Predator 2, but that's not the official word) so I'll make it short: read the news-title, then click here. You might want to scroll down a bit.

18 December 2007

And the prize for the ugliest new unit goes to...

the TF-620 Nomad!

Well, I'm no Art Director. Frankly, I suck a lot at drawing stuff. But this model of the Nomad looks a bit too simple and functional to me. The SCV is like that too, but I guess, with units like the Thor or the Battlecruiser, I thought units that were a bit higher in the tech-tree would look a bit sleeker. Now I am in no way suggesting that Blizzard return to the toy-models fans have been angry with since SC2's announcement. And hell, its a lot better than the Soul Hunter. So, I guess I could live with it. I am looking forward to using its skills though. As far as I was told it will have an automatic repair mode next to the mini-turrets we can see on the website.

Anyway, I am quite happy that Blizzard has updated their SC2-Website again. There is also some new concept art for this 'beauty'.

15 December 2007

Q&A Batch #24 and December Discussion

Luckily a reason for me to update my blog.

Karune: Here we are with our latest batch, answering a little something different for each fan site. Furthermore, one of the most talked about subjects in the community is about the Thor and what will happen to this robust unit. Luckily we've tracked down Dustin for his latest thoughts about this unique Terran unit.

Chat with Devs: The Thor has been the unit that just hasnt quite fit in, in terms of role, but it might have found its own little place it can call home. After the Devs tried out several things with the Thor, including making it a super unit, they have now decided to have it replace the Cobra, as the heavy and air unit counter. Additionally, they may be adding a new mechanic, in which the Thor will need to be killed twice, once to make it immobilized, due to its large size, and then the second time to kill it for good. When immobilized, the Thor will still be able to fire at ground and air units. Additionally, while the Thor is immobilized, a SCV can repair it back to full health, having it regain mobility.

As always, feel free to give the Devs and I a w00t if your enjoying these Q&As!

1. Will there be a way for fan sites to parse replays uploaded to their website so they can pull information such as race, player names, map, etc.? (

Exact details have not been finalized, but we do plan to create a much more robust way of being able to search and share replays in game.

2. The Soul Hunter was considered a good counter unit against the Zerg; why did you remove the Soul Hunter from StarCraft II?

There were a couple of reasons, but one of the more important ones is that it was difficult to make it easily readable in big battles when the Soul Hunter had upgraded. Another reason is that this unit was way too targeted against the Zerg, since they have so many low hit point units, as opposed to other factions.

3. Has the Merc Haven been removed since the Reaper is built from the Barracks? If so, whats replacing it (if anything)? (

The Merc Haven has been brought back in for the current build. It currently needs a Factory as a prerequisite, and is a prerequisite building to build Reapers from the Barracks.

4. Will "Unlockable Content" be included with the game, such as Art Packs, Secret Maps and Missions, Extra Units, and Special Sounds and Movies? (

We are exploring the possibility of having various types of art unlockables, which may include some in-game decals.

5. Is it possible to build Phase Cannons, turn them into energy and then move them across the map to your opponents base or an expansion, redeploying them using a Phase Prism? (

Yes, this tactic will be possible.

6. How does a Zerg Overlord fly? (

To fly, the Zerg Overlord uses gas sacs (filled with helium) combined with a weak telekinetic psi-ability for lift and motive power.

---End of Transmission--- Karune

I find it a bit strange that such a big unit as the Thor is supposed to be a designated anti-air fighter, but I'd rather have it this way instead of having the unit cut from the game. It just looks too cool. I also think the idea of having to destroy it two times is great.

December Discussion Topic: Artistic Direction of StarCraft II

Karune: As everyone has already seen, StarCraft II has brought the world of StarCraft into 3D and added many new units, landscapes, and effects that have never been seen before. On this journey of consistent artistic evolution, we have seen Warp Rays changed to escort ships, the infamous Carrier brought back into action, and even the Siege Tank get a makeover. There is still much left to this artistic journey and now is the community’s chance to let us know what you love about StarCraft II visually and what you would change.

Community Questions for Fans:
1. Do you like the new look of the landscapes?
2. How does the Terran faction look visually?
3. How does the Protoss faction look visually?
4. Additional Feedback you would like to give

I will not directly answer these questions, instead I will comment on the overall mood of the community, as I've seen due to wasting a big amount of my spare time on various community websites' forums.

I am very pleased, since most people agree with me that, the landscapes look stunning for the most part, especially the detail with the doodads as can be seen on most jungle-set screenshots. But we'd like to see more screenshots of desolated places like Char, the iceplanet to be able to comment on these. After all StarCraft is supposed to be about dirty fights.
Same goes for the general feel of the Terran. Although the units look good the buildings are a bit too shiny. An idea was brought up to have them get rustier and more scratches over game-time. Protoss look good all in all, I just wish there was a little more detail in the texture and less bright player-colors. The Dark Templar looks 'unfamiliar' and the Archon should have no legs (though last I heard there were none).
The few Zerg we have seen look OK so far. I like the Mutalisk, I love the Nydus Worm. The model of the Overlord looks ok, but could need more work on its texture. The zergling should not be messed with, please bring back its old form!

07 December 2007

Blizzard: Next-Gen MMO in the works

Blizzard has opened new job positions for an unannounced Next-Generation Massive Multiplayer Online "thing".

A Blizzard Poster has already stated that the new game will not be another Expansion Set for WoW. All the gaming-websites are now spinning their heads of course, because that can only mean one thing, another subscirption-based Online-RPG! Well, not really. My experience has taught me that by Blizzard's books MMO could mean anything (as Blizzard Posters have stated, too bad I can't find a link to confirm), anything that connects a large amount of players over the internet, which includes every Blizzard-game that is supported by Battle.net. Blizzard employees have also said that they have not even started thinking about WoW 2 (here they specifically mentioned a sequel, not a World of Diablo, World of Starcraft or any new IP). My money is on a classic, pure, Diablo-sequel, with fully a functional singleplayer-mode.

SC2 Q&A Batch #23

After a long wait we finally get some more infos to the upcoming StarCraft II.

It has been an exciting week of business related headlines about the new company 'Activision Blizzard.' Many have asked me about how this would affect products like StarCraft II, and the answer is that it won't. We still have our extremely talented development team on this task, working exactly like they have been over the past years. Furthermore, StarCraft II will still be branded as Blizzard Entertainment, meaning you will not see Activision Blizzard logos on the product or introduction. StarCraft II is still set to rock the PC gaming stage!

If you have more questions about the proposed merger, please visit our FAQ at:

Chat with Devs: After my chat with Dustin this past week, he wanted me to remind everyone that there are still several new units being created and tested for all three factions. What you have seen of the Protoss and Terran factions are in no way finished and more new units will be introduced, as well as the likeliness of current units being replaced. As always, feel free to give the Devs and I a w00t if your enjoying these Q&As!

---StarCraft II Q&A - Batch 23---

(chat with devs) Reminder that fans havent seen everything and there are still several new units in development for all three factions.

1. Will the Campaign have as many videos as the original Starcraft? (

There will be several more in-game cutscenes, which are at a much higher quality than the original StarCraft pre-rendered movies. And while StarCraft II s single player will likely feature a few less pre-rendered movies, they will be much longer and more epic than anything seen in the original StarCraft.

2.Is the ghost unit going to be able to use the EMP Shockwave and -within short time interval- the Nuclear Strike as well? (starcraft2.4players.de)

Currently, there is no restriction to when you can follow up a special ability with another, as long as there are available energy points.

3. Will the Ghost's EMP affect building shields and energy? (

Yes, the Ghosts EMP ability currently affects both building and unit shields, as well as casters energy. It is important to note that there is a possibility the Ghost may lose its EMP ability due to balance.

4. Will there be some sort of wall structure in StarCraft, for any of the races? (vilegaming.com)

Aside from building current structures close to each other to form walls, such as a line of Terran Supply Depots, no, there will not be walls that can be built. On the other hand, there will be some new wall structures in the single player mode and these doodads can also be accessed in the map editor.

5. Will the game feature a mechanic similar to Warcraft 3 where if a selection of units contains more than one unit type then the whole selection will move at the speed of the slowest unit to maintain cohesion? (sclegacy.com)

No, units in the same selection will not move at the same speeds. The slower units will need to be micromanaged by the players to keep up with the larger group.

--- End of Transmission ---

Interesting to see that it is still undecided which units may or may not make it into the final game. But also udnerstandable since they are probably going to be the main selling point of the game, at least to people who care mostly about multiplayer-battles, instead of the singleplayer-campaign or graphics.

Also good to hear that the Vivendi-Activision-merger will (officially) not influence the way Blizzard operates.

02 December 2007

Top 10 reasons of why Half-Life: Portal is a girl's game

I came to a conclusion while attempting to build my own Weighted Companion Cube. Half-Life: Portal is a girl's game! here are my reasons why (and a sad attempt of trying to be funny):

10. The protagonist is female. Although, from my World of Warcraft-experience I get the impression that boys kind of like that.

9. The protagonist is not sexy

(This one is generally prefered by the male audience)

8. The portals are orange and blue, every women's favorite make-up color.

7. A cube with hearts on it is the player's best friend.

6. There are no real female hardcore-gamers, so the game is just about long enough with 2-3 hours playtime.

5. Cute turrets are the only effective menace in the game.

4. Thanks to the portals women can marvel at themselves from every possible angle.

3. Portal picks the female inferiority complex as central theme.
(GLaDOS: "You have no friends! Nobody likes you!")

2. Women like it more complex, that's why there is never a direct exit route.

1. The game is not really violent :-(
(Shit! Wrong picture!)

Here's a link to someone who actually agrees with me, with a little more insight on the actual gameplay. (Click!)

Vivendi and Activision become Activion Blizzard

Link to the Article

SANTA MONICA, Calif. & PARIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Activision, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI) and Vivendi (Euronext Paris: VIV) today announced that they have signed a definitive agreement to combine Vivendi Games, Vivendi's interactive entertainment business -- which includes Blizzard Entertainment’s® World of Warcraft®, the world’s #1 multi-player online role-playing game franchise -- with Activision, creating the world’s largest pure-play online and console game publisher. The new company, Activision Blizzard, is expected to have approximately $3.8 billion in pro forma combined calendar 2007 revenues and the highest operating margins of any major third-party video game publisher. On closing of the transaction, Activision will be renamed Activision Blizzard and will continue to operate as a public company traded on NASDAQ under the ticker ATVI.

Activision, one of the world’s leading independent publishers of interactive entertainment, is best known for its top-selling franchises, including Guitar Hero®, Call of Duty® and the Tony Hawk series, as well as Spider-Man™, X-Men™, Shrek®, James Bond™ and TRANSFORMERS™. Blizzard Entertainment, a division of Vivendi Games, has projected calendar 2007 revenues of $1.1 billion, operating margins of over 40% and approximately $520 million of operating profit. Blizzard owns the #1 multi-player online role-playing game franchise, World of Warcraft, which currently has over 9.3 million subscribers worldwide. Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, Warcraft®, StarCraft® and Diablo® games account for four of the top-five best-selling PC game titles of all time. Vivendi Games also owns popular franchises, including Crash Bandicoot™ and Spyro™. Pro forma for calendar 2007, Activision Blizzard expects to generate approximately 70% of its revenues from owned franchises. As a result of the business combination, Activision Blizzard expects to have the most diversified and broadest portfolio of interactive entertainment assets in its industry, positioning the combined company to capitalize on the continued worldwide growth in interactive entertainment.

Jean-Bernard Lévy, Chairman of the Management Board and Chief Executive Officer of Vivendi stated: “This alliance is a major strategic step for Vivendi and is another illustration of our drive to extend our presence in the entertainment sector. By combining Vivendi’s games business with Activision, we are creating a worldwide leader in a high-growth industry. We are excited about the opportunities for Activision Blizzard as a broader entertainment software platform. We believe this transaction will create significant value for Activision Blizzard and Vivendi stockholders. In Activision, we have found a partner with a highly complementary business and strong operating team. Bobby Kotick and Brian Kelly are industry pioneers, well known for creating shareholder value. The combined strength of the existing management teams at both companies will set the stage for further profitable growth of Activision Blizzard. We look forward to being an active and supportive majority stockholder in a company that is poised to lead the worldwide interactive entertainment industry in the years ahead.”

René Penisson, Member of the Management Board of Vivendi and current Chairman of Vivendi Games, added: “We are very confident that by combining forces, Activision Blizzard will set the highest standards in quality, reputation and profitability, and will bring together the best creative teams in the industry. The combination of this unique product portfolio with highly professional employees gives us great confidence in the growth prospects for Activision Blizzard.”

Said Robert Kotick, Activision's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer: “This is an outstanding transaction for Activision and our stockholders, as well as a pivotal event in the continuing transformation of the interactive entertainment industry. By combining leaders in mass-market entertainment and subscription-based online games, Activision Blizzard will be the only publisher with leading market positions across all categories of the rapidly growing interactive entertainment software industry and reach the broadest possible audiences. By joining forces with Vivendi Games, we will become the immediate leader in the highly profitable online games business and gain a large footprint in the rapidly growing Asian markets, including China and Korea, while maintaining our leading operating performance across North America and Europe. Activision stockholders will benefit from significantly increased earnings power and the recurring nature and predictability of subscription-based revenues, while also having the opportunity, if they choose, to receive $27.50 per share for a portion of their shares in the post-closing tender offer.”

Kotick continued: “Vivendi Games provides Activision with unique strategic and financial benefits and will allow us to leverage our franchises into emerging online opportunities as Blizzard has done so successfully. Activision has been very focused on margin expansion, and this transaction will meaningfully increase our overall operating margins as we expand our franchises online and in new geographies. Diversifying our revenue base among subscription-based online, console and PC formats, as well as wireless and casual emerging opportunities, gives us the broadest platform to capitalize on industry growth. With Blizzard’s successful franchises, such as World of Warcraft, StarCraft and an exciting pipeline of yet-to-be announced titles, Vivendi Games’ and Blizzard’s management team will join with Activision’s strong and experienced leaders to become an even more powerful force for innovation in online and offline interactive entertainment across a wide range of platforms. This transaction also provides a unique relationship with Universal Music Group – the world’s largest music company – which will benefit Guitar Hero and further extend our sizable leadership position in music-based games.”

Mike Morhaime, President and Chief Executive Officer of Blizzard, added: "Blizzard's industry-leading PC games business, with a track record of nine consecutive bestsellers and a global subscriber base of more than 9.3 million World of Warcraft players, is an exceptional fit for Activision's highly profitable console games business. From our interactions with the Activision team, it is clear we have much in common in terms of our approaches to game development and publishing. Above all, we are looking forward to continue creating great games for Blizzard gamers around the world, and we believe this new partnership will help us to do that even better than before.”

Structure & Terms of Transaction

Under the terms of the agreement, Vivendi Games will be merged with a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision. In the merger, shares of Vivendi Games will be converted into 295.3 million new shares of Activision common stock. Based on the transaction price of $27.50 per share of Activision common stock, this implies a value of approximately $8.1 billion for Vivendi Games. Concurrently with the merger, Vivendi will purchase 62.9 million newly issued shares of Activision common stock at a price of $27.50 per share – a premium of 31% to Activision’s average closing price over the past 20 trading days – for a total of $1.7 billion in cash. As a result of these transactions, Vivendi will own an approximate 52% ownership stake in Activision Blizzard on a fully diluted basis.

Within five business days after closing the transaction, Activision Blizzard will launch a $4 billion all-cash tender offer to purchase up to 146.5 million Activision Blizzard common shares at $27.50 per share. The tender offer will be funded by Activision Blizzard’s cash on hand at closing, including the $1.7 billion in cash received from the Vivendi share purchase. In addition, Vivendi has agreed to acquire from Activision Blizzard additional newly issued shares for up to an additional $700 million of Activision common stock at $27.50 per share, the proceeds of which would also be used to fund the tender offer. Any remaining funds required to complete the tender offer will be borrowed by Activision Blizzard from Vivendi or third-party lenders. If the tender offer is fully subscribed, Vivendi will own an approximate 68% ownership stake in Activision Blizzard on a fully diluted basis.

The transaction is expected to be immediately accretive in its first year post-closing for Activision’s stockholders and slightly accretive for Vivendi’s stockholders. Activision Blizzard is targeting pro forma operating income of $1.1 billion and pro forma earnings per share (EPS) in excess of $1.20 in calendar year 2009. The transaction is expected to be at least $0.20 accretive to Activision stockholders in calendar year 2009.


Activision Blizzard’s board of directors will be comprised of eleven members: six directors designated by Vivendi, two Activision management directors and three independent directors who currently serve on Activision’s board of directors. René Penisson, currently a member of the Management Board of Vivendi and Chairman of Vivendi Games, will serve as Chairman of Activision Blizzard. Brian Kelly, currently Co-Chairman of Activision, will serve as Co-Chairman of Activision Blizzard. The three independent directors will be Richard Sarnoff, Robert J. Corti and Robert Morgado. Other Activision Blizzard directors will be Robert Kotick (President and Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard), Bruce Hack (Vice-Chairman and Chief Corporate Officer of Activision Blizzard), Jean-Bernard Lévy (Chairman of the Management Board and Chief Executive Officer of Vivendi), Doug Morris (Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Universal Music Group), Philippe Capron (Member of the Management Board and Chief Financial Officer of Vivendi), and Frédéric Crépin (Senior Vice President, Head of Legal, Vivendi).


Following the completion of the transaction, Robert Kotick will be President and Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard. Bruce Hack, current Chief Executive Officer of Vivendi Games, will serve as Vice-Chairman and Chief Corporate Officer of Activision Blizzard, accountable for leading the merger integration and the finance, human resources and legal functions. Mike Griffith will serve as President and Chief Executive Officer of Activision Publishing, which after closing will include the Sierra Entertainment, Sierra Online and Vivendi Games Mobile divisions in addition to the Activision business. Mike Morhaime will continue to serve as President and Chief Executive Officer of Blizzard Entertainment. Thomas Tippl, currently Chief Financial Officer of Activision, will be appointed Chief Financial Officer of Activision Blizzard and Jean-François Grollemund, currently Chief Financial Officer of Vivendi Games, will be appointed Chief Accounting Officer of Activision Blizzard.

Conditions to Closing

The transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of Vivendi, Vivendi Games and Activision. The transaction is subject to the approval of Activision's stockholders and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, including expiration of applicable waiting periods and receipt of applicable approvals under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and European Union merger control regulations. Pending regulatory and stockholder approval, the companies expect the transaction to be completed in the first half of calendar year 2008.

Financial and Legal Advisors

Activision’s financial advisor on the transaction is Allen & Company LLC and its legal counsel is Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. Vivendi’s financial advisor is Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP is acting as legal counsel to Vivendi.

Conference Call and Webcast Information

The management of both companies will host a joint conference call and live webcast on Monday, December 3, 2007 at 8:30 a.m. ET, 2:30 p.m. Paris time, 1:30 p.m. London time to discuss this announcement. The companies welcome all members of the investment community to listen to the call live by dialing into (888) 765-5554 in the U.S. or (913) 312-1235 outside the U.S. The live webcast of the call can be accessed at www.vivendi.com and www.activision.com.

For those unable to listen to the live conference call, an audio replay of the call will be available through December 17, 2007, approximately two hours after the call’s conclusion and can be accessed by calling (888) 203-1112 in the U.S. or (719) 457-0820 outside the U.S. and entering the pass-code: 5648597. In addition, a webcast replay also will be archived on the Investor Relations section of each company’s website.

Activision Broadcast Media Center

Broadcast quality video and web-streaming video is available in PAL and NTSC formats on Activision's Broadcast Media Center at http://activision.pondserver.com. Pathfire users can download video to their Digital Media Gateway by choosing the Pathfire Enabled file. All video is free of charge and its use is unrestricted.

About Vivendi

Vivendi is a global leader in digital entertainment with activities in music, TV, cinema, mobile, internet, and games through its ownership of Universal Music Group, Canal+ Group, SFR, Maroc Telecom and Vivendi Games. In 2006, Vivendi had revenues of over €20 billion and a global headcount of 39,000. Listed on the Paris Stock market, Vivendi is a member of the CAC 40. More information about Vivendi is available at www.vivendi.com.

About Vivendi Games

Vivendi Games is a global developer, publisher and distributor of multiplatform interactive entertainment. The company is the leader in the subscription-based massively multi-player online role-playing games (MMORPG) category and is building on its position in the PC, console and handheld games markets. Vivendi Games has a global presence, a history of franchise success, development teams around the world and a catalog of its own original and licensed material. Vivendi Games has approximately 4,000 employees and is driven by four creative divisions: Blizzard Entertainment, Sierra Entertainment, Sierra Online and Vivendi Games Mobile. Irvine, California-based Blizzard, creator of the Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo games series, is by far the largest of the four entities with approximately 2,300 employees.

About Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

Best known for blockbuster hits including World of Warcraft and the Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo series, Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. (www.blizzard.com), a division of Vivendi Games, is a premier developer and publisher of entertainment software renowned for creating some of the industry’s most critically acclaimed games. Blizzard Entertainment’s track record includes ten #1-selling games and multiple Game of the Year awards. The company’s online-gaming service, Battle.net®, is one of the largest in the world, with millions of active users.

About Activision, Inc.

Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Activision, Inc. is a leading worldwide developer, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment and leisure products. Founded in 1979, Activision posted net revenues of $1.5 billion for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2007. Activision has more than 2,000 employees worldwide.

Activision maintains operations in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Scandinavia, Spain, the Netherlands, Australia, Japan and South Korea. More information about Activision and its products can be found on the company's World Wide Web site, which is located at www.activision.com.

Calculation of Certain Estimates

All financial information relating to Activision, Vivendi Games and Blizzard Entertainment included in this press release, including pro forma estimates for calendar year 2007, and projections for future periods, represent the companies' respective estimates and projections and were not prepared in accordance with U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. These estimates exclude the impact of expenses related to equity-based compensation and related tax benefits, potential one-time restructuring charges of up to $100 million that may be incurred in connection with the transaction, and the potential impact from non-cash intangible amortization resulting from purchase price accounting. In addition, these estimates assume continued net revenue growth as well as expense reductions and other synergies that may or may not be realized. Estimates for future periods are subject to significant inherent uncertainties, which increase with periods farther into the future. Actual results may differ materially and are subject to risks, including the risks described in the Cautionary Note below. To the extent that the estimates for calendar year 2007 are based on the historical performance of Activision and Vivendi Games through September 30, 2007, not all such historical information has been audited, the accounting policies of the companies may differ, and the two companies have different fiscal years. The financial information for Blizzard Entertainment contained in this press release is presented on a stand-alone basis and does not reflect the results of operations of other Vivendi Games divisions.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking Statements

Information in this press release that involves expectations, plans, intentions or strategies regarding the future are forward-looking statements that are not facts and involve a number of risks and uncertainties. In this release they are identified by references to dates after the date of this release and words such as "outlook," "will," "will be," "remains," "to be," "plans," "believes", "may", "expects," "intends," "should," "continue," and similar expressions. Factors that could cause actual future results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements set forth in this release include, but are not limited to, the timing and successful completion of the transactions described in this release (including the timing and receipt of stockholder and regulatory approvals and the satisfaction of other closing conditions), the combined companies’ success in executing planned strategies and achieving assumed synergies and cost savings, sales of each company’s titles, shifts in consumer spending trends, the seasonal and cyclical nature of the interactive game market, the ability of Activision Blizzard to predict consumer preferences among competing hardware platforms (including next-generation hardware), declines in software pricing, product returns and price protection, product delays, retail acceptance of the company’s products, adoption rate and availability of new hardware and related software, industry competition, rapid changes in technology and industry standards, protection of proprietary rights, maintenance of relationships with key personnel, customers, vendors and third-party developers, international economic and political conditions, integration of recent acquisitions and identification of suitable future acquisition opportunities, and foreign exchange rate changes. Other such factors include, without limitation, the additional risks identified in Activision's most recent annual report on Form 10-K and in the documents Vivendi has filed with the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (French securities regulator) and which are also available in English on Vivendi’s website (www.vivendi.com). Investors and security holders may obtain a free copy of documents filed by Vivendi with the Autorité des Marchés Financiers at www.amf-france.org, or directly from Vivendi.

The forward-looking statements in this release are based upon information available to Activision and Vivendi as of the date of this release, and neither Activision nor Vivendi assumes any obligation to update any such forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements believed to be true when made may ultimately prove to be incorrect. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, some of which are beyond the companies’ control and may cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations.

26 November 2007

Deus Ex 3 announced!

I should actually be trying to compile a list of everything newsworthy that happened throughout the last two weeks, but why post old stuff, when the new stuff is so amazing? Deus Ex 3 was officially announced a couple of hours ago! Check out the teaser website, including a teaser video, which includes a piece of the DX signature music.

What I think of the announcement: Well, I am not a die hard Deus Ex-fan, but I really loved the approach the first installment took: more freedom in how to approach a mission than in any other action-game, combined with a philosophical plot. The second game seemed to be distracting a bit from this idea, partly due to its console routes, but nontheless a good game, even if not a game-of-the-century-candidate like DX1 was. Deus Ex 3 is definetely a game to put on my To-Watch-list.

25 November 2007

Back from World of Warcraft

I haven't posted in almost two weeks, because I was busy taking advantage of Blizzard's 'Scroll of Resurrection'-System, that lets you play for free for ten days, if a friend of yours uses this 'scroll' on your account and you have not been active in 90 days. The idea is to give the donor a free month if one decided to renew his subscription within these ten days. I did not (never planned to), only needed these few days to get my WoW-fix.

My ultimate plan was to gather 5000 gold, in order to buy a riding skill of 300, and then be able to do the 'Druid Epic Flight Form-Questline'. I got 'only' about 3900 gold, but the amount actually surprised me since I was doing only quests, mostly in Netherstorm and Shadowmoon Valley. I am not much of a grinder. The only time I did it was to get Revered-Status with a faction, to get an item, that turned out to be useless. I might have been able to get the 5000 gold, since I was spending only a few hours of each day on the game, sometimes not at all.

Anyway, I don't plan on returning to the game anytime soon, maybe 90 days from now for another ten days of free playtime. It's still a great game, but I am not that much into high-level-content-stuff, I am more of a casual gamer, so what I am really looking forward to is the second expansion 'Wrath of the Lich King', that lets you explore a new continent with new monsters, quests and items, and especially the whole leveling-procedure from 70 to 80.

Here are some impressions I managed to gather during my excurse:

1.Something that reminded me of something.
2.You can see the letters 'N O V A' blink, referring to the cancelled game Starcraft: Nova.
3.A ghost of Gul'dan, the badass from WarCraft 2.
4.Here I revived Teron Gorefiend after a series of quests.
5.For a while I thought my monitor was broken.
6.Took this one because I was impressed with the architecture the weak WoW-engine manages to build.

12 November 2007

Clive Barker's Jericho - My opinion

I have seen very diverse reviews when it came to the game Clive Barker's Jericho, and as it happens that I finished the game myself today I just wanted to present my own opinion about the game, and some (counter-)arguments to the most prominent issues.

First of all, yes, the game was really very short. It took me about 7-8 hours to complete the game, which was on the 'Easy' difficulty setting. I picked 'Easy' because almost every review that I had read prior to playing the game accused it of being way too hard. Now, I must ask, if one finds a game to be to hard why not reduce the difficulty? At least that's what I did, so the game never felt too hard, while still somewhat demanding. A lot of the critic on the game's diffulty setting steming probably from the fact that single teammates die very often throughout the game. It's true, but I found it to be more of a tactical element to the game as it had me make a choice of when exactly I wanted to ressurect a fallen teammate.

Graphics and Sound were excellent, so I won't discuss that. Cutscenes are always in first-person mode, sometimes interactive, having you press some of the arrow keys as quickly as possible. Some may find this annoying, I had no problem with it, probably because I was used to it since Tomb Raider - Legend and Fahrenheit-though the latter one really overdid it for my taste. CB's Jericho was simple and nice.

Leveldesign was very linear, typical FPS, so nohing to complain from my side. Fights with the enemies were very intense, enemies coming in waves, though it sometimes felt as if fights were being dragged on too long just to make the very small levels seem a little bigger.

The handful of classes were all very varied, very nice to play with, though I found myself to be playing with Delgado, the heavy-machinegun guy, most of the time, since he never needed to reload, had the most hit points, and had a neat skill which unleashed a fire dragon that incinerated most enemies almost instantly. My second favourite was the sniper Abigail Black, good when dealing with enemies from far away, and she also had a cool ability with which she could control the path of her bullet fired from her rifle. Number three was Church, a melee ninja-chick. I really liked her fighting-animation which also added to the intensity of the fights. Her skill to stun nearby enemies at the cost of some hit points also helped a lot throughout the game. The rest of the team was a little boring or uncomfortable to use. There is a healer, a grenade thrower, and a guy that can posses enemies but only in special situations. Him I found the most annoying to use, since I had to press so many buttons at the same time to time his ability right.

Something else I forgot? Yeah, atmosphere and storyline. Not really frightening, a lot of blood and gore though. The short loading times inbetween levels are accompanied with small text passages written, providing some info on the world the team is currently in. The members of the Jerricho-team are all very cool, each with a distinguishable character. There are many cutscenes, some interactive as mentioned before. But in general there just wasn't enough game-time to get into the characters a little better. The storyline does not have a big cliffhanger as some reviews wrote. There is a climax in the end, though not anything like an aftermath that explains more, which may be the cause for the cliffhanger-rumor.

All in all it's not a must game, but a good atmospheric team shooter. Wait until it gets cheaper. 8/10

Three new SC2 Screenshots

It's been a slow week but Gamemeca.com provides us with three new screenshots to drool over at last.

1.The new Firebats in action
2.High Templars creating Force Fields
3.A Thor arriving

Community Manager Karune has created a thread on the battle.net Forums to answer questions dealing with the new screenshots.

06 November 2007

StarCraft II - Q&A Batch #20

The Devs and I are all reading and we love answering community questions. Every week there are always exciting new changes we want to share with everyone. Granted, many of the changes may not stay in the game very long, but the process of game development is a constant cycle of brainstorm, revision, and much testing, to ultimately make all the gaming components flow together for one awesome overall experience.

Chat with Devs: Terran Ghosts are currently being tested as an effective Tier 1.5 unit, capable of sniping down high profile enemy targets, have an increased attack damage towards light armored units, as well as an upgradable EMP against Protoss and energy using threats. If that isnt enough, these highly advanced Terran soldiers at higher techs can also be equipped with a personal cloak ability, and launch drop pod reinforcements, as well as call down a massive nuclear strike. The StarCraft II Ghost will surely be bringing a whole new meaning to "You call down the thunder and I'll reap the whirlwind." Of course, I should mention, all of this is subject to change.

Submit new questions for the next Q&A Batch 21 here.

As always, feel free to give the Devs and I a w00t if your enjoying these Q&As!

---StarCraft II Q&A - Batch 20---

1. Will it be possible to give more fluid and realistic movements to small aircraft with proper banking and turning rather than just abrupt sprite-style direction changes?

We are currently in the process of implementing banking animations for flying units, but playability always comes first. If the animations affect playability negatively, it could get cut.

2. With the Reavers no longer in the game, will the Protoss have any units capable of performing brutal worker raids? (Starcraftlive.net)

The Colossus is an excellent choice for worker raids, since it is able to attack from higher elevations, and can be transported by the Phase Prism. In addition, we are exploring some ideas for the Twilight Archon that would allow him to make devastating attacks on enemy workers.

3. Will there be a escort ship for Battlecrusier because Protoss have like many kinds of capital ships?

With the Predator unit cut, the Viking is now the primary Terran air to air fighter. In addition, the Viking no longer requires an upgrade to transform between a ground and air unit and is also built directly from the Starport rather than the Factory.

4. Will there be units who can trample opponents (such as an Ultralisk)? (gamereplays.org)

Currently, there are no units that trample, but have discussed this idea as a possibility. Nonetheless, we also hit the dilemma of having a trample unit that is able to destroy enemy unit assets far beyond its own cost of the trample unit, with relatively little micro.

5. Will siege tanks be able to shoot at targets in the fog of war picked up by sensor towers, but not yet confirmed by visual sighting?

No. Siege Tanks will only be able to hit targets within visual range. In addition, Siege Tanks firing from the fog of war, such as on an unseen cliff, will not reveal its location from the fog of war to its enemy, thus will not be able to be return fired upon.

---End of Transmission---

RTS Community Manager Blizzard Entertainment

05 November 2007

The Dark Mod; Fodder for Thief-Fans

As I am somewhat of a sucker for stealth-games, especially the classic Thief-games, which I am playing through for the fourth time these days, I came across a video of a Doom 3-Total Conversion called 'The Dark Mod'.

The mod-team seems to really grasp the spirit of the atmosphere, that made the Thief-series so big. And unlike 'Thief 3' there is also swimable water, the levels seem to be very big without loading screens, and the developers also plan on implementing the popular rope arrow.

Unfortunately the TC won't be out until Winter 2008 (and as far as my experience with really big TCs goes I wouldn't really take any bets on that either), including only the tools for mapmakers to create their own projects. An official campaign will be released some time later.

You can get more information and videos on the official site.

03 November 2007

Jim Raynor sighted more than once!

With my last post I informed you about Jim Raynor making a cameo on a screenshot that featured the Protoss Observer. Now it appears that Raynor had already made several cameos prior to that. Members of sclegacy.com have found him four times, so far.
Head over to the newspost on sclegacy.com for zoom-ins, or the thread on Blizzforums.com for newest updates on the matter.

Observer found Jim Raynor, and some more

Blizzard has updated their StarCraft II-Website with the Protoss Observer.

You can also see Jim Raynor, without combat armor, standing between a Terran Refinery and some minerals in one of the new screenshots.

Blizzard has also updated their Artwork-gallery, a long with a Marine (Jimmy again?), there are several new pieces that look like parts of armor that Zeratul wore in the Single-Player-Campaign Video.

Forum-Moderators have also answered several questions concerning SC2:

Q1: I think it would be great if blizzard would give a gameplay option to turn the gore completely off...

A: Historically, the amount of 'violence' in StarCraft is dictated by region. For example, Korea may have black blood rather than red, and Germany won't have any blood, but will still show units being blown to pieces. It is still early in the development process, thus I don't think any features have yet to be implemented, but it has been discussed and will continue to be in discussions.

Update: We will have the ability to disable blood/gore in the shipping product. This functionality, however, will require a restart of the program to work properly, which means toggling this option mid-mission or mid-game will not work until the game is shutdown and restarted again later.

Q2: Ive been wondering if there is going to be critical hits and/or misses. Just like in warcraft 3...

A: There are no plans to have critical hits or misses.

Q3: Starcraft had....what? 3? 4?....different mineral 'looks'. The mineral chunks had a particular look when they were at 1500, and changed the way they look a couple of times until they were finished. My question is: Has Blizzard just extended the 3 or 4 to have many different looks for the minerals, or are the minerals 'dynamic' or 'randomly-generating'?

A: Right now we have several distinct states of minerals (like SC1) so you can look at them and have a good idea of the value of a remaining mineral node. I'm not sure that a very dynamic system would be very clear? Maybe when we get some more time its something we could work on. What do you guys think? Dynamic system or have the crystals display in distinct looks like SC1?

30 October 2007

StarCraft II Q&A Batch #19

Chat with Devs: Since the Terran Cobra took over the Protoss Stasis Orbs slowing attack, the Protoss Orb got a few new abilities including the Force Field ability. This will be very interesting for early team games, as you can use a force field on a choke point to keep an opponent's teammate from arriving to help their allies. The Devs are testing out various abilities on different units as you can see, and even the Templar has received its classic Hallucination ability back.

---StarCraft II Q&A - Batch 19---

1. Will the Protoss be getting any mechanism for healing their units or repairing their buildings?

There are no plans to give the Protoss any healing abilities, especially since their shield regeneration rate when out of combat, is more than twice the rate of the original StarCraft.

2. With the new physics engine, can explosions affect surroundings? (like hurt or push units, destroy doodads, etc ) (sc2blog.com)

Explosions will not be able to push units, but they can destroy doodads. In fact, destroying certain doodads will be vital on certain maps, to get access to expansions or other strategic locations. Furthermore, explosions will not be able to push units because it would affect gameplay and balance negatively, in having units be knocked off cliffs, be stuck in unplanned locations, or ultimately have units disoriented where the player cannot control them.

3. How long does a unit typically take to make from concept to playable unit?

With a finished concept piece, it could take from a few days to a few months, to create it for the game. Much of this time depends on the priority of the unit amongst other development goals, as well as the iterations necessary to perfect the unit. The Zerg Baneling is an example of a unit that took only a few days to complete after the concept, whereas the Protoss Stalker has gone through several iterations, and has taken 4-5 months.

4. Are the units on the official site finalized, or is everything still up for grabs at this point? (gamereplays.org)

We are still heavily in the development phase of StarCraft II, thus none of the units on the website are 100% final. We are also still testing out several new units, abilities, and mechanics, to create the most fluid StarCraft II experience.

5. What do the Protoss eat? (where do they get energy and mass?) (starcraftcz.com)

Protoss gain nutrition from sunlight, or at a pinch, moonlight (which is just reflected sunlight anyway) by absorbing through their skins. They can go for extended periods without absorbing sunlight. What little moisture they need is also absorbed through their skin.

---End of Transmission---

Protoss healing twice as fast when not in combat is probably making up for the missing Shield Battery, which was seldomly used anyway. In my opinion a good change since it makes microing out units and sending them far from a battle more effective.

It's also nice to get some more lore information, but I also wanted to point out that according to the StarCraft-book "Queen of Blades" the Protoss were observed doing gymnastics in a form similar to yoga and meditating. Probably also making up for the lack of eating and sleeping.

24 October 2007

SC2: Sensor Tower + 2 new Q&A's

Information on the Terran Sensor Tower has been revealed on the official StarCraft II-Website, including new screenshots.

Personally I am not sure what to think of it. It sounds cool on one hand, but on the other it does sound a little bit like cheating. I guess we'll just have to wait to see how it turns out.

On the second screenshot you can see one of the little features Blizzard adds to its StarCraft II-Maps of which I 100%ly approve of: Line-of-Sight-Blockers.
As a mapper the first think that jumps into my mind is little Single-Player-Stealth-Maps in which you guide only a handful of units across the map, avoiding enemy detection (which could be one way to use Sensor Towers again).

Speaking of Mapmaking, Blizzard released information on the new Map-Editor.
---StarCraft II Q&A Batch 18: Map Maker Series---

1. Will doodad placement values increase? (ie, more than 256)

[Brett Wood] We expect the doodad placement value will be on the same order as Warcraft III, which I believe was something like 10,000, so definitely way more than 256.

2. Will the number of available locations/triggers increase? The current limit on locations really cramps some ideas.

[Brett Wood] Any limits on both regions and triggers will be at least in the thousands.

3. Will the new map editor include ALL the triggers in the program unlike Staredit?

[Brett Wood] Yes, even moreso than Warcraft IIIs WorldEdit. Weve been making a point of ensuring that ALL script functionality is also exposed in the Trigger Editor UI.

4. Will max unit limits increase? The current unit limit on maps is quite a crimper, and nobody likes CCMU (cannot create more units).

[Brett Wood] I dont recall the exact unit limit in the original StarCraft, but the StarCraft II limit will likely be a healthy boost over the limit in Warcraft III. The exact value hasnt been nailed down yet and will depend on optimizations near the end of the project (i.e. shortly before release).

5. Will the new map editor include unused units such as the crashed scouts, turrets, eggs, nukes, scarabs, crash command center, etc? Third party programs were needed to use these.

[Brett Wood] All units defined in the data files will be usable in the editor. I believe this was true in Warcraft III as well.

---End of Transmission---
Pretty bare if you ask me, but Blizzard promises to let us into more interesting details about the editor in future Editor-exclusive-Q&As.
A little more than a week ago Q&A #17 was posted. Just to have it all complete I'll post that too.

Chat with Devs: After bringing up much community feedback from the last Monthly Discussion, Dustin Browder filled me in on the latest role discussions about the current units in game. This is the thought that has lead to the introduction of the Firebat back into StarCraft II.

Furthermore, they have also changed the Terran Cobras abilities to take on what was previous known as the Protoss Stasis Orb (which is now removed from the game). The Terran Cobra now acts as a slowing unit, with an electrical attack. In addition, many of the units already seen in game are having their roles re-evaluated, to again make sure that every unit has a distinct role in StarCraft II.

---StarCraft II Q&A Batch 17---

1. Will the defensive matrix of the Terran Nomad apply to enemy units within its AoE (Area of Effect)? (www.starcraft2forum.org)

Yes, the Terran Nomads Defense Matrix ability will affect both friendly and enemy units, thus using this ability on a position that the player can hold will be wise.

2. What helps to delineate the Thor and Battlecruiser as both being high-tier support units? Lots of concern over this duality? (

Currently, the Thor has splash damage, whereas the Battlecruiser has direct damage in its attack. We definitely agree with most of the community that the Thors role overlaps with various other roles on the Terran Faction, thus we may modify that role or possibly cut the unit.

3. Will there be any consideration of having an oceanic battle.net server? (

Unfortunately, this has not been decided yet, as many aspects of Battle.net has still yet to be implemented.

4. Will the Protoss Colossus be able to walk over Supply Depots like over cliffs? (

This is an issue that is still being discussed quite a bit. We like how when enemy units enter your base, they are forced to deal with the layout of your base, but at the same time we are also dealing with the realism factor, where cliff climbing Colossuses ought to be able to step over Supply Depots. Many issues we face are similar to those debated amongst the community, and for this particular topic we dont yet have a final answer.

5. An obvious goal (among many) for Starcraft2 is to maintain the profile of being an E-Sport. What facet do you consider more integral to the growth of that ideal: An extremely high skill ceiling that demands years upon years to achieve mastery, or an extraordinarily large base of interested players to provide the attention that such a sport needs in order to succeed and grow? Obviously both are important, but when it comes to design ideals, what has more pull? Accessibility or Longevity? Mora (

I think for e-sport we need the high skill ceiling. Though really as you say, both are very important. As designers we have spent years focusing on accessibility. Ideas must be accessible to even be put into the game. So we are just not as worried about making the game accessible. That will happen. What we are focused on, what is the more challenging problem is making the game last for years and years and years. So in our development cycle at the moment, longevity definitely has the larger pull. Longevity is the harder problem to solve, so we put way more effort into making the game as challenging as possible to master. Dustin Browder, Lead Designer of StarCraft II

6. How will unit collision and stacking be handled ? Can flying units pass on top the Colossus or is it blocking ? (

No, the Colossus will not block a flying unit.
In terms of collision and stacking, units first always follow your order, and when it completes your order, they will stop and spread out. The area in which those units spread out will be slightly less than in the original StarCraft.

---End of Transmission---

20 October 2007

Hellgate: London Beta played

Weeks ago I signed up for the Hellgate: London Beta, without any expectations, since I wasn't too keen on trying the game out, and my rig, as far as I thought, actually not good enough to even fire the game up. Two days ago I received a beta-invitation to one of the most anticipated games of this year.

I played a Guardian for several hours to Level 7 and so far it is a pretty good game, but with a few letdowns. I'll start off with things that bothered me.

I was thrown right into the game, without any introduction to the world or the storyline, and the first quests didn't help me get familiar with the world either. The tutorial help messages were rather confusing and I was relying mostly on my Diablo-experience - which you could also count as a good thing since the game is pretty is to learn. It's also bad that the NPCs had no voices except for when first clicked on (like in World of Warcraft), and Flagship Studios should really have tried to put each dialog in one single box instead of having you click so often to get to the next sentence. Also there is no sort of Deckard Cain to be found that could identify your items all with one click, but that wasn't at the beginning of Diablo 2 either. The skill-system so far seems to be pretty simple: a couple of skill-trees but not as many skills as in Diablo 2. Also I could not use every key on my keaboard that I wanted to. Stuff like 'Shift' and 'Enter' seem to be reserved for specific commands.

In some way the bad things overweight the good things but a game is more than the sum of its parts, so it's good to say that the combat-system is simple, yet fun. You move your character with the arrow-keys and hold your left mouse button to swing your sword when enemies draw near. Special attacks are executed with the right mouse button. Random level design and item drops are excellent replay value and just get you going on and on to a pretty addictive extent, and this is where it really counts if you want a game with longlivety.

The game got better and better with every minute that passed, leading me to the British Museum where I had to enter a portal to hell and activate a mechanism that would destroy the gate. As soon as I had exited and returned to the Museum I was attacked by monsters who had previously been nothing more than statues, and when those were dealt with I met a woman that seemed to be pretty important to the plot of the game, but unfortunately had nothing to say that could really grab my attention. Shame on the missing audio!

So, it might not become the best game out there but I see no reason for current Diablo-fans not to move on to Hellgate: London, unless of course the London-2038-scenario does not work for them. HG:L has everything that made the Diablo-series popular, including a new weapons, new skills, improved graphics, and of course a 3D-environment.

(Watch the TV-Teaser of Hellgate London)

http://view.break.com/383960 - Watch more free videos

Update: a second TV-Teaser has been released

10 October 2007

Mission-Perseus-Mandate-Demo released

I just played through the 15-minute long Demo of the second F.E.A.R.-Addon Mission Perseus, formerly known as Perseus Mandate, and I must say, the new developer has improved the graphics a lot!

You can see all those different layers of texture and detailed enviroments and objects, can't you? I wonder how skilled as a level designer you have to be to create something like this.

Bad humor aside, there's actually a reason why this room is so emtpy, it's supposed to be scary along with the following rooms you can enter. But guess what, it's not.

You can download the Mission Perseus-Demo off the Sierra-FTP and see for yourself.

09 October 2007

SC:L exclusive Metzen-Interview, lore infos!

StarCraft: Legacy had the chance to do an all-exclusive interview with Blizzard's Chris Metzen, Blizzard Entertainment's Vice President of Creative Development. Fifteen questions, fifteen answers. A must read!

08 October 2007

My Superdate

I saw Harry Potter last Friday, not willingly mind you. And as I wasn't familiar with the series yet, I found it hard to follow at times. Read my field report for more details.

10/05-07/07; My Superdate; OutsiderXE
Warning: Contains Harry Potter 5 spoilers, strong language, is slightly directed towards the reader (you! but I wouldn't insult you if I wanted you to read it would I? At least I wouldn't admit it beforehand), references "My Superpowers" (just a little), and is 100%ly based on true events.

Faggy Potthead and the Order of the Kleenix
So, I was sitting at the computer at the WallStreet Institute, quietly minding my own business, thinking of no mischief (honest!), when all of a sudden a lady from the center's consultants' team jumped at me and asked me if I could play babysitter for the students who wanted to watch this movie about a gay englander leading an army of nerds against the forces of evil. So, there I was trying to look for a reason not to go, which was actually harder then I thought, since I actually applied for a job at that center, so I had to do something to get some points, meaning, crawl up people's asses, left with no choice but to see the devil in the eye (or a boring movie in the theatre).
Patiently awaiting the arrival of more students to join a lost cause, I was stuck with two chicks. Score you say? Wrong. A bunch of fourty to fifty year olds, all looking like female degenerations of Hairy Pisshead himself. In the cinema it did not look any better either, geekfest deluxe! I mean, I'm not saying I look any different than Horny Prickshit myself,

but at least I have got a nicer scar, and look at my face, I'm so cute! ...Anyway. Seeing thirty people of that sort felt like the depicted brats from the movie came to life to haunt me, telling me 'You...are...one...of...us! You are one of us!' Nooo!!! Back to the abyss you molebutts!
Thankfully I got to watch the movie for free, so I decided on spending my hard-earned 7 euros on popcorn and Sprite ('Sprite' is a registered trade mark of The Coca-Cola Company', drink more Sprite!) At least I would have some distractions along with calling imaginary friends from my mobile while the movie was playing. And playing it was, for a looong time. 138 minutes! Jeez, why do you have to punish me lord? I thought my superpowers (you know, the one with the ESP and the mental illness) were already curse enough.

Trailers starting
Usually quite reliable I couldn't distinguish one single movie that got me interested, though there was a movie about child abduction, I think its name was 'Welcome to America'. I guess that tells a lot about our oversea-neighbors, doesn't it? But I understand that hate in some way. Greece (yep, it's a country and you can find it on the map of Europe, between Italy and Turkey) was big too, some five billion years ago, and it's just normal that a nation just developes two directions of extremities and shows more and more of them the bigger it gets, until one side gets angry at the other and all of it finally explodes. Only two things in life are certain: death and the thing about countries exploding that I just mentioned. Thus said, before I become all serious and politically angled I will return to my Potter-bashing. As I wrote, the trailers sucked, but it's understandable that they couldn't show something decent if the main movie was rated for retarded, minus-four year old hippos. But wait, what was that in front of me? Dude! Two lesbian chicks making out in the front row! It didn't matter that much that they were buttugly and surely underaged (maybe they were also fourty year old chicks, degenerated in their own twisted way, probably sisters.), at least now I had something to watch! Hugging, patting, kissing, they were really going at it, definetly trying to make their own movie.

Movie starting (Nooo!!!)
Begging to no avail we had not entered the wrong theatre, so I had to watch this god-forsaken movie (Did I mention there were two lesbians making out in the front row?). First thing I gotta see is Pisspott Harry whining because he was getting bullied by a giant baby (not a baby-giant, mind you.). Rightly I say. A short while later he defends the bully against some creatures, looking like unwashed ghosts. But because the use of magic is forbidden until Blowfish Dipshit (pardon me, I meant the guy with the glasses) has reached his 17th birthday he is ordered to appear in court so the judges decide whether he should be expelled from school or not. Personally I would say they should have expelled him, not that I am against self-defense in life-threatening situations, it's just that kids watching the movie might get the wrong idea and think there is nothing else you can do but act by violence when having an argument with somebody. But apparently, all my pleas in vain, Gandalf-look-alike-contest winner Professor Dumdidum, who obviously likes molesting little children, makes a point and helps his 'number one' get into good grades with the judges.
This part of the movie I missed, going to take a leak and wondering why it's always black people posing as toilet-security, begging for some spare change. I should probably annoy... I mean, politely ask one of my racially diverse indoctrinators (I never use the phrase 'colored person', sounds too racist), what the deal is.
Getting back to the movie they had this grand feast with all the wusses eating every kind of food England is famous for. Ham and ... well, no fish and chips at the table. Gandalf's brother was therewhile introducing the students to the new teachers when he got interrupted by one of them, Dolores Whateverbridge. Picture the Queen of England, as a kind of teacher who always puts on a happy face and there's nothing more you want to do than rub it out of her. At least that's where I seem to agree with the movie's students. And she is really becoming a bitch throughout the movie, punishing them in grotesque ways, kicking out her colleagues and creating new rules for the school. (Yes, lesbos, go, go, go!) As Faggy Harry seems to be overwhelmed by what look like visions of his archnemesis Lord Volldermord (rough translation from german to english: Lord Whatamurder. I am sure the writer felt the need to put in a german villain to scare the masses, worked in all the WWII movies, didn't it?) he forms the special Order of the Kleenix with his boyfriend Heymine and the transsexual Dork to help other male students get in touch with their feminine side, and learn some magic tricks to fight the evil bastard along the way. Of course, Queen Whateverbridge, having become the new Headmaster of the school, is not amused (despite the Botox making her look like it), knowing that something fishy (no chips yet) is going on in her halls. Gandalf's cousin's father's sister's stepson then steps in and takes all the blame, which makes him look very retarded, or better yet, redundant. The Queen, still not amused, takes it all out on her students, having learnt about a secret weapon, tries to squeeze the information of its whereabouts out of little Not-so-hairy Otter. His boyfriend Haymine helps him by promising the Queen to guide her to the secret weapon, which of course, is a fraud. There is nothing at the place except for centaurs and a giant hobo who bring The Queen to their camp to rape her until the end of days.
This was the part where I was thinking? Wait a second! You have got bone-horses with wings, paper that can talk, ghosts that look like bums, centaurs, giant hobos, little dwarves, gay wizards, lesbian spectators, houses that can fold. Seriously, I had problems understanding the franchise at times. Where are the limits? At least 'Star Wars' and 'Lord of the Rings' were set in their own universe with its own rules, but having all these crazy things in a movie that is supposed to be playing on our planet makes it very ridiculous. For that reason, and the great amount of children in lead roles (same problems as the movie Narnia) I just could not enjoy the movie. So, good thing I bought this one litre bottle of Sprite ('Sprite' is a registered trade mark of The Coca-Cola Company', drink more Sprite!). Combined with by leak-problem I had the perfect excuse to step out of the theatre, yet again. I was taking my time, looking for somebody to talk to outside the theatre, but there was no one, probably all dead inside the theatre. Causes of death were probably suicide, brain damage, or zombification, I was afraid of going inside again.
Anyway, I picked up my cojones and entered the hall of the geeks again, fortunately no undead Potternerd jumped at me so I just assumed that they were fast asleep, just in time for the what the geeks would be calling a grand finale. But just compare the battle with something like 'Lord of the Rings - Return of the King': There you had thousands of orcs, trolls, dragons and their likes with massive siege weapons trying to break through the last defenders of the free world standing on the massive walls of their fortified base. The battle was longer than fourty minutes and left you wanting more, in a positive way. Now look at the Order of the Kleenix, a bunch of nerdie wizards and witches fighting off their kin in underground tunnels, too afraid to show their faces in the sun in fear of having their blains burst. Weapons? Babywands combined with spells that don't sound more complicated than 'Abracadabra' (God, I love these lesbians). Even the awful Narnia had a lot more to offer. So what happened in the end? Potthead's godfather died (one of the few half-acceptable guys I must admit), Gandalf-look-alike beat Volldermord, Volldermord possesed Potthead, Potthead called Gandalf-look-alike a fag, Potthead returned to his foster home to be bullied again for a whole summer. End.
I left the theatre with mixed feelings. On the one hand I had to pee again because of the one litre Sprite ('Sprite' is a registered trade mark of The Coca-Cola Company', drink more Sprite!) I had, on the other hand I was sorry that the lesbian-show I so thoroughly enjoyed was over. But you can't expect more for four bucks, can you? Anyway (yet again), I wanted to thank my benefactors from WSI for paying for the show, I thank my teachers for teaching me English instead of manners, and I thank my bladder for being there for me when I needed it most.
p.s. I know I was in charge of both chicks that I accompanied in the name of WSI, but somehow I lost one of them after we had all gone to the toilet to have some fun. Sorry about that. But have no fear, I believe we will see her at the 'Harry Potter and the Snuffcloudprince'-opening festival (not me though!).

(1909 words)

06 October 2007

Jim Raynor = Kevin Federline

Some people over at GosuGamers.net pointed out how similar SC's 'new' Jim Raynor actually looks to Britney Spears ex-husband Kevin Federline and other celebrities. See for yourself!

I think the 'new' Jimmy looks OK too, but I did not see any necessity for change either.

Q&A Batch 16 and Protoss Carrier have arrived

Blizzard's RTS Community Manager Karune has posted Q&A Batch 16 on the Battle.net Forums.

Since BlizzCon, the Terran Bunkers have been increased in size (to 3x3) and given added hit points, making it a more viable defensive structure for the Terrans.

---StarCraft II Q&A Batch 16---

1. Does the Time Bomb ability of the Mothership stop a Nuclear Missile (just like other missiles) when used on the area where the Nuclear Missile is about to explode? (starcraft2.4players.de)

The Time Bomb ability of the Mothership is designed to stop a Nuclear Missile if used at the right time, making a powerful counter in the hands of a skilled Protoss Player. This ability has still yet to go through the needed balance to make sure this is not over powering, but it is our intention to try and get that ability in the final version as designed.

2. In the UI there are little boxes just to the right of the minimap that have numbers on them. How exactly do these function? Different gameplay screenshots suggest different functionality. (http://www.starcraft-source.com/)

I believe the small boxes you are referring to are the Control Groups used to select multiple units at a time, making it faster to give attack and move orders.

3. Does Drop Pads make new units or use this recruited before? (http://www.starcraft2.net.pl/)

There are plans to have the drop pods be manually loaded with units created by the player, to better allow the player to adapt to their current tactical needs.

4. What was the design team's rationale in adding a second siege style unit (Thor) to the Terran race? (http://www.starcraft2.com.au/)

The Thor's role compared to the Siege Tank, is more of an assault unit rather than a siege unit. The Thor is much more exposed when attacking an enemy location, while the Siege Tank has a much larger range and is able to hit the enemy at a larger distance.

5. How do the Yamato and Plasma Torpedo upgrade work? Do you have to research these things only once or will you have to pay for each battle cruiser? (http://www.broodwar.de/)

Battlecruisers can be upgraded individually with either a Yamato Gun or Plasma Torpedoes, but not both. After the Battlecruiser is upgraded, it can then use that particular special ability as long as it has enough energy to do so.

6. "With MBS (Multiple Building Selection) and automine in the game, what macro-specific features are going to be added to make sure that the player always has as much to do on the macro side as he does micro? Will a player still be able to favor macro or micro according to his own style?" - FrozenArbiter (http://www.teamliquid.net/)

It is our goal to allow players to micro more vs. macro more. This is something that was great about the original StarCraft and it is something we want to maintain while we add new mechanics as well as interface features. We are still evaluating such features as automine as well as MBS. We don't have an answer for this at the moment, but we are working on it.

---End of Transmission---

Also the StarCraft2.com Website has been updated with new lore, screenshots and videos about the Protoss Carrier.

05 October 2007

Blizzcon SCII Single-Player Video

It's rather old but since not many websites seem to advertise it, I thought I'd post it on my little blog.

As you can see there'll be lots of options in the Singleplayer-Campaign. You'll get to choose missions, objectives, dialogues, planetary infos, even units. Sounds great! Only thing I am afraid of is that the selectable dialogue pieces might slow down the punchy conversations we knew from StarCraft 1.

04 October 2007

My Superpowers

Since my first and second (not yet posted) attempts of serious writing got a little bit of criticism for being too violent and gruesome, I tried again writing about something less harsh. It's still (supposed to be) quite dramatic though. It's also the most I have ever written.

06/24-28/07; My Superpowers; OutsiderXE
"There are men", wrote Aristotle, "so godlike, so exceptional, that they naturally, by right of their extraordinary gifts, transcend all moral judgment or constitutional control: 'There is no law which embraces men of that calibre: they are themselves law.'" (Hughes-Hallett, Lucy. Heroes. Alfred A. Knopf, 2004.)

Extra-sensory perception, the sixth sense
She's rushing to the main station to catch her train every day after work. One time I told her that her train would be late, so she needn't hurry. Of course there was no reason to believe me so she picked up speed anyway. There was no way to check so I had no proof. And actually I had really just made it up but it is the coincidence of the train really being late that bothered me. So I have come to the conclusion that I must have some kind of superpowers! Specifically I have what "scientists" call "Extra-sensory perception", ESP for short, which is defined as the ability to acquire information by paranormal means independent of any known physical senses or deduction from previous experience. Just because of one coincidence, you ask? I have more.

The first signs of Extra-sensory perception
When I was a kid, probably eight or nine years old, I used to look up in the sky, imagining myself having conversations with God. It was my own style of praying, or maybe just an imaginary friend a lot of kids seem to have when they are very young. I mean, I had friends, but few of them were living close by. All of them were brought and picked up by their parents when they visited my neighborhood. Luckily that happened a lot since we were living in an allotment union and my parents were running the local restaurant. I always had a lot of question for God, sometimes asking for guidance, sometimes asking for favors and by now I realize that I often used him as a Jin asking for specific things I wanted to have. The Nintento Gameboy was pretty popular at that time, so I asked God to give me one. I cannot remember how often I had asked Him or how long it took, only that my parents finally bought me one. I understand that there is an error in logic, or the divine implication in that thinking.
How could I be thinking that it was God who gave me the Gameboy? Had I not ever asked my parents to give me one? I had, and they gave me one. Maybe the next example will make things clearer, or depending on your point of view more clouded. A famous basketball NBA-star, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, quit the game, after being diagnosed with AIDS. Back at that time people were not exactly sure as to how the virus was spreading from one person to another, so "Magic" was not allowed to play until further notice. I prayed to God to let him return, I was about eleven at that time, and after a while the doctors did let him return to the game, even if it was only for a year. At that time I was feeling very close to my Lord. I was praying a lot, my nightmares had vanished (the type of nightmares kids usually have after watching a scary movie, so nothing too special here), and I often felt some sort of divine glimmer around me.
Fast forward, I turned eighteen, probably the first time I felt depressed in my life. I guess it's just how it sometimes turns out. People change, it's just very difficult to understand why. There are probably almost as many theories on why people change behavior and beliefs, and on how they can do it, as there are people. For me it was probably school being over and the first time I had no directions in what I wanted to do in life. My connection with my "invisible" friend was non-existent so He couldn't help me either. Time was flying by, tick-tock, tick-tock, and I was hopping around at the job center to see if anything could be done. Though living in Germany, I had never been to a German school, except kindergarten, for once in my life. So it was also my wish to experience German school life for once. The job center put me into one of these schools, probably another time my superpowers changed the fate of the world without anybody even noticing. And I realized that I could do it without asking a divine being for help, so it was probably me all time along.
As more time passed by I realized that I had been developing more powers based on ESP. Some other unique abilities it has allowed me to practice are "Soul-diving", "Hyper Déjà vu", "Precognition" and "Mind Control". I invented the names of the first two in case you were wondering (and I know you were).

When I look into peoples eyes for more than five seconds I can read their minds, better yet, their souls. I can get so much information about every person: past history, present thoughts, even details about the person's future. At that German school I tested it on simple ideas. For starters, I could guess whether a person ever wore glasses in his/her life (people I could never have known if they had worn glasses, but you would be surprised how many people actually have, even if they are not wearing them at the time), then I estimated the time he/she had been wearing them, then it got more complicated as I calculated how old the person would be until he/she needed them again. When I tell people to think of a number between one to ten the first thing that comes to their mind is to trick me and think of something like zero, eleven or 48,151.62342. But almost everybody discards that idea pretty quickly, since it is more fun to play by the rules of a game.

Hyper Déjà vus
This is actually a power many of us have experienced, some of us more often than others. It is also a pretty useless power, since it only works after the event went into effect. I mean, when was the last time a power was considered special when almost everybody has it? You know what? I can make my body feel hungry when I actually really need to eat! Really special!
The term déjà vu describes the experience of feeling that one has witnessed or experienced a new situation previously. We have all experienced déjà vus, some of us more, others less. The funny thing about my déjà vus is that they seem to happen over and over again, making the actual déjà vu-feeling a déjà vu by itself. So you find yourself in a situation where you thing you have said or done something specific before and it is exactly that avowal that makes you experience another déjà vu, and that again, and again and again. You find yourself in an infinite loop trying to break it by saying things you would normally not say until you find the right one.

Precognition denotes a form of ESP wherein a person is able to perceive information about places or events through paranormal means before they happen. That's how I knew the girl's train I mentioned in the beginning of this text would be late. That's how I can predict the outcome of sports events. I have actually used that power once to win a bet by betting on a draw in basketball. If you know anything about that sport you know how seldom draws happen. It happens but it's not like football where probably every fourth to sixth match ends in a draw. Unfortunately it is not a power I can control. I am not even sure how it happens. In movies they often explain it through visions and other silly things. With me it's different though, it is like the information of something specific happening in the future is suddenly in my head. Just like I know what will happen with in a computer text-document when I press "Enter".
I tried to find some answers and a friend of mine mentioned someone who was experiencing something similar. He was calling it "déjá vu-based Precognition". Meaning he could see things in the future based on re-experiencing stuff that had happened in the past. I asked him how it would work. He said that it was simply an idea of a power that has yet to be developed. What if one could deliberately create Déjà vus? That person would be able to bend and break the laws of time by (re)creating a situation that he then lets have come to past even before the first feeling of Déjà vu. And what does that have to do with precognition? Well, let's say someone could alter the past via a present Déjà vu and based on the events after that time since the first event he could of course predict the present. But the present is unpredictable you say, since it's the present and not in the (un)predictable future? That only counts for things we know about, things we don't know about may very well have happened either in the past, present or future. And this is where precognition steps in. People get confused easily so here is an example: I know George W. Bush is the president of the United States (present reality). He won the elections in 2004 (past reality that affects the present and the unknown future). I remember the elections (not a déjà vu yet), I let myself re-experience the election (actual self created déjà vu) so I change the past which also affects the future and if I know enough about the alterations I have made I can foresee events. It's as simple as math. 3+5=8. Replace the 3 with a 4 and I know it will be 9. I don't even need an additional power like Precognition, I just do the math.

Mind Control
This is actually not a self-established power. It has more to do with the existence of the other powers which allow me to control other peoples behavior and make them do my bidding. Based on Soul-Diving, if you know what people are thinking you also know how they will react to every single binary you throw in their way (See "Precognition"). So you actually don't look into peoples future, you calculate it by taking every possible step into consideration. It's like domino. Only that I get to choose the shape and size of the first stone.
Unfortunately you don't get to dive into everybodys soul, then you use simpler tricks like lying and deceit. There's a TV series I like, called "M.D. House". It's about a doctor (Gregory House) and his medical team solving the most wicked cases (as far as I have heard all based on true cases). This particular Dr. House is an arrogant subject, but also a genius which makes him a superhero of some sort. He never visits any of his patients, generally assuming that all of his patients lie when asked about the history of their accidents, diseases, infections, whatevers. Now, it is my understanding that you can tell everybody anything you want as long as you reveal a part of weakness or truth about yourself. For Example: The little kid broke the vase, and his parents will be angry at him as soon as they find out. To prevent them from becoming angry the little kid makes the first move towards the parents and tells them what he did (revelation of truth/weakness), and by doing that the kid tells his parents all sorts of stories trying excuse his mistake. If done right the parents won't even see the excuse, concentrating on the fact that the kid came forward telling them the truth. He might even get a cookie for it and he might stay up until late to watch "M.D. House"! Getting back to him, I would so much like to test this trick on Dr. House. A person who can make anybody believe anything challenging another person who never believes anything. What a duel!

Purpose of a superpower
A power, any kind of power, be it optical, mental, electric, motive, effective radiated, purchasing, statistical or political is there to be used. Sometimes for good, sometimes for bad. Spider-Man's uncle Ben said that with great power came great responsibility, so I try to find ways to do justice to that responsibility, well knowing that the number one rule of any superhero (or even supervillain) is to keep his real identity a secret, but in my case it's not so hard, since my powers are not based on physical strength or speed, meaning, I don't have to be physically at the scene to let my powers become effective.
Corny as hell as it may sound, but the first thing I remember ever doing, consciously using my powers for good, was saving a stray cat from a tree she had climbed too high to get down again. Because I had been bored I had soul-dived my landlord to look for some kinky stuff and realized that he was a little sad because his fat black pussycat Natty hadn't shown up for breakfast that morning. If it had ever missed a meal it probably meant that it was dead, but there was no corpse to be found. My precognition had allowed me to see this very ugly cat up on a tree that was in a park close to my neighborhood, having cut herself on a tree-bench and then bled to death some hours later. Usually I wouldn't have cared less, I'd probably even have made fun of my landlord for some time until another disgusting thing would have caught my attention, but since the day was already boring enough I went to the tree and mind controlled the cat. No, I did not make her get down immediately. I was throwing stones at her to make her dance on one of the tree-benches. The poor fat cat needed some exercise after all. I called my landlord and told him where his cat was. As soon as he had arrived and was close enough I let the cat jump on his head. She was making some funny sounds so he quickly took her to the vet.
It was the first time my powers had actually made me feel good about something, because up to then I was just using them for small tricks and the recovery of some teenager self-esteem issues. So, I was thinking, in what way could my powers benefit mankind? (Un)fortunately unlike as in comics there was no supervillain for me to beat up so I had to find others way to fight crime. Much like finding a decent job I started reading the newspapers, looking for incidents happening, and where I thought my extra-ordinary powers could be of help.

From balance into chaos
Often as I read a newspaper-article I was getting these flashes of information about the various perpetrators. There was this group of bank robbers called Beagle Boys Inc. going around in town and despite raised security measures had managed to rob every bank they set out to, and nobody ever had a clue about their true identities. I found out that they actually had a pretty simple routine for choosing the banks they broke into. They had a guy on the inside on the police who provided them with information about which bank was best suited for their next hit. They chose banks with older security systems, non-digitalized cameras, lack of security personnel, banks with small windows so people from the outside were having a harder time noticing what was going on inside the bank. I called the police posing as one the Beagle Boys and tipped them off their next hit. First thinking I was a prank caller the oldy lady on the other end of the phone refused to give in to me, but after a while agreeing with me that I was probably worth hearing out. They catched the group red-handed, three days after my call. The man they had on the inside was also arrested and charged with bank robbery.
It was all working out really well in the beginning as I was helping police fight crime and old ladies walk across the streets. But one day an old beggar appeared at my doorstep, telling me that if I did not stop doing what I was doing our world would be doomed. I didn't recognize the "prophet", only had this slight feeling that he might actually be right about what he said. I quickly discarded the feeling and attended to my own matters, there was a world I had to save and I was the only one who could do it!
One day I turned on the TV and saw something in the news that disturbed me quite a bit. The Beagle Boys had all been killed inside the prison they were being held, police suspecting that other inmates were trying to shake down the location on the money they had stolen. They definitely deserved prison but they never killed anybody on their heists, so I did feel a little sorry for them. Two days later I got the news from my landlord that his cat had died because of internal bleeding. The vet suggested someone having fed her with little stones. Someone must have thought that mixing stones with her food would help her digest more easily. The woman I introduced at the beginning of this text died a week ago. She was hit by a car because she stopped at the middle of the crossroads when someone spoke to her and the traffic lights suddenly turned green for the vehicles. She was about to hurry for her train when she heard my voice telling her that she needn't hurry.

Where I go from here
My powers are a course, the effective outcome of my powers. When I was young it seemed to be allright, I was getting what I wanted, small things, little things. But when I started to help people around everything seemed to go to hell. It seems like the world is destined for damnation if there is nothing a person can do even when wielding such tremendous powers. It is the second time I feel depressed in my life. I it's just how it sometimes turns out. People change, it's just very difficult to understand why. There are probably almost as many theories on why people change behavior and beliefs, and on how they can do it, as there are people. For me it was my powers and the first time after a long while I had some directions in what I wanted to do in life. My connection with my "invisible" friend was still non-existent so He couldn't help me either.
Dear Lord, I can't feel you now, but I know you are out there. Will you come now to tell me how it is going to end, or how it is going to begin? If I abused some power that you gave me, then you can take those powers away - I never asked for them, nor do I particularly want them anymore.

(3305 words)