The year was 1998. Bill Clinton was the president of the United States of America. Everyone spent an enormous amount of time and money on watching a movie about a sinking boat. Google is founded. The second Harry Potter book is published. Absolutely no one dances the Charleston. And StarCraft: Brood War is the hip new release by the scrappy underdogs at Blizzard. It also costs money, because every video game costs money at that point. But it doesn’t cost money any more; Blizzard has made the title free as part of its classic games collection.
If you’ve never played the game, you can download it and start playing right now to experience everything therein as it was originally released, minus the CD case (and the remarkably thick instruction book that came with the base game). This comes in advance of the upcoming rerelease and remastering of the classic games, so expect the title to seem just a little bit dated. But it’s also classic StarCraft for free, which means that some people (including this writer) can stop carting around the same game discs from nineteen years ago.
Blizzard already has an unlicensed amusement park — so why not a licensed stadium?
That’s indeed exactly what the company has built in Taiwan. The so-called Blizzard eStadium (seriously, I thought this was an April Fools’ Day joke at first, but no) apparently seats 250 fans and is stuffed with swag and snacks.
This weekend, Blizzard will use the new venue to kick off the Overwatch Pacific Championship, the regional sub-tourney that ultimately leads to the Overwatch World Cup at BlizzCon this fall.
“The venue will expand to host matches from other games in Blizzard’s competitive retinue, like HearthStone and StarCraft 2,” reports Engadget via its Chinese branch.
It’s been a very long time since StarCraft was first released. By this point, the original game is just part of the landscape, and the gameplay itself has aged pretty well. The game has not, however; it was never really designed for modern systems, and the graphics look like a blurry mess between story cutscenes that are literally talking heads on monitors. It’s the sort of game that’s ripe for an upgrade with a delicate touch, something that doesn’t touch the actual game but adjusts the metaphorical wrapper. You know, like what Blizzard announced for StarCraft: Remastered.
No changes will be made to the actual gameplay, game balance, or so forth of StarCraft with this release; however, the developers are promising modern matchmaking and Blizzard app integration along with redone graphics (complete with the ability to zoom in and out), re-recorded audio and music, and new comic book-style scenes between missions to tell the story more organically. If you’ve never really moved on from the game, this is unambiguously good news; you can put your long-in-the-tooth Brood War CD away and still get all of the same actual gameplay.
Source: Blizzard press release
Say what you will about Blizzard, but the studio knows how to make wordless bots adorable. Such is the case for Probius, the newly announced next hero for MOBA Heroes of the Storm — and yes, he’s really a Protoss drone from StarCraft. He’ll be warping and buffing and disrupting and making little Artoo noises on the PTR next week starting on March 6th.
I can’t wait to see what sort of funky porn people come up with for this lil dude. No, actually, I can totally wait. On second thought, how about a nice themed plushie?
Check out the video below!
The clock is ticking down to PAX East on March 10th, and the Chronicles of Elyria team is whipping itself up into a frenzy to get everything prepared for its public debut.
In addition to all of the hardware and booth decorations, the team is putting in a few late nights to get the demo done for the show. According to this week’s dev blog, the demo will feature the Silver Run Mines and the countryside. Playable females, climbing animations, underwater filters, and damage filters are all expected to make an appearance.
Amid all of this hubbub, Soulbound Studios has added a tech art lead to the team. Dennis Price comes to Chronicles of Elyria fresh from Blizzard, where he worked on the cinematic team for World of Warcraft, Diablo III, and StarCraft 2.
Did you know that it was 20 years ago this week that the original Diablo released? Well, if you’re playing any Blizzard game at all, you will be made well aware of this fact soon enough.
Blizzard is rolling out an anniversary celebration across its entire library, with special events and gifts in Diablo III, Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, Overwatch, StarCraft II, and World of Warcraft.
Among the festivities include the recreation of the classic Diablo dungeon in Diablo III, a new challenger in Hearthstone’s Tavern Brawl, and Diablo III sprays in Overwatch. Blizzard also hinted at special encounters in World of Warcraft: “Strange things are afoot in the world of Azeroth as denizens of Sanctuary cross over into an unfamiliar world.”
Remember last year when Activision Blizzard announced it was getting into the entertainment business with its movie production studio? It’s also getting into the publishing business with a book label called Blizzard Publishing. Don’t roll your eyes just yet! In addition to coloring books (which are fun, shut up), the studio is bringing back some older, out-of-print books in formats that make sense in 2016, plus two manga volumes, Jeff Grubb’s The Last Guardian, Christie Golden’s Lord of the Clans and Rise of the Horde.
“Blizzard Entertainment today announced the creation of a book-publishing label, Blizzard Publishing, dedicated to developing and releasing new Blizzard publications and reissuing out-of-print titles in the company’s Warcraft®, StarCraft®, and Diablo® settings, directly and through ongoing global partnerships. Each of Blizzard’s game universes has been inhabited by millions of players worldwide, and Blizzard Publishing will help maintain the lore and legacy of the company’s earliest novels and manga while also providing a variety of new ways for people to engage with Blizzard’s rich worlds and characters. Several of Blizzard Publishing’s upcoming releases will be available in multiple formats, such as print, audiobook, and e-book.”
“Future releases in the Blizzard Legends and Blizzard Manga series will include titles across multiple Blizzard franchises,” says Blizz. You should also expect a “captivating series of full-color coffee table art books” for Hearthstone and StarCraft at the very least.
Source: Press release
Prolific MOP commenter Sally Bowls posted a note last week that stood out to me as something we should all be seriously considering. Most of us, even those obsessed with science, came away from this year’s BlizzCon StarCraft AI research project announcement with a faint yawn. But Sally sees it as the biggest news of the year.
“AI can now beat champion chess, Go, and Jeopardy players and drive RL, two-ton cars around other humans. We are approaching two gaming singularities: first is when all the best PvP players are NPCs not meatbags. Second is the MMO equivalent of the Turing Test. When you see another ‘player’ you can’t really tell if it is a NPC or a player who does not speak your language.”
Gamers have long believed that combat against players is the greatest challenge available; e-sports is predicated on it, as is every PvP sandbox. PvPers turn up their noses at “PvE carebears” — players are cleverer than dumb old NPCs, or they once were. But Sally’s right that AI is becoming increasingly sophisticated, and frankly, if we cranked it up, the NPCs ruling the “environment” part of PvE would kick our butts and out-think us at every turn.
What do you think about the future of AI in online games? Will players always trump NPCs as MMO PvP adversaries, or might we better anticipate a sea change in attitudes, a world where PvP is the scrub leagues and the real hardcore players will be pitting themselves against AI?
Every year, BlizzCon arrives. And every year, Bree and I sit down and liveblog about the most pertinent event for our readers to follow along at home because we love you. We just don’t love you enough to put on pants and head to California. That’s expensive.
The part where we go to California, that is. Pants are not expensive. We both own at least one pair of pants. I own several, but I don’t want to presume to speak for Bree. [Do PJ pants count? -Bree]
Of course, all of this raises a rather important question: What can we expect from this year’s BlizzCon? Unlike last year, this year we don’t have a new World of Warcraft expansion coming down the pipe, and the game just received its first big post-launch patch. What new and exciting things will be revealed at BlizzCon? What should we keep our eyes on? What will have exciting new developments added into the comments as it happens? Why did we have to suffer through Metallica and Linkin Park in previous years when we could have had Weird Al all along? Read on for the answers to some of that as we look at what to expect from this year’s BlizzCon!
Navigating the labyrinth of next week’s BlizzCon activities, panels, and games requires some strategy if you’re going to get the most out of your visit. If you’re heading to Anaheim for the two-day event on November 4th and 5th, make sure to pick up the new BlizzCon Guide app.
The mobile app, which is available for both iOS and Android, sports a few improvements over last year’s model, including a reworked design and a live update feed. “The schedule has received a new coat of paint and a host of new features,” Blizzard pointed out. “Now you can automatically sync your event favorites with the BlizzCon website, watch video streams for an event right from your schedule, and actively filter your list without leaving the screen.”
It’s definitely too late to try to grab a ticket to the event proper, but if you want to attend from afar and get some in-game goodies for your trouble, you can still purchase a virtual ticket for $40.
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
This past week, Storm King’s Thunder arrived on Neverwinter’s console versions after its PC debut. We’ve got that plus stories and videos from Destiny, Riders of Icarus, TERA, and more, all waiting for you after the break!
The Battle.net launcher — while we’re still calling it Battle.net — now has a new way for friends to pester and poke each other. Friends can use the new Blizzard Voice function to set up voice chat channels across all of its games.
When a player creates a chat channel, he or she can invite specific friends into it for both voice and text communication. It’s a drag-and-drop system, with each participant given the option to add or remove friends as well. It’s a free alternative to other VOIP programs and could be attractive to those who mainly dwell in the Blizzard ecosystem.
Blizzard also enhanced its text chat functionality as well, giving players the option to post clickable hyperlinks and markdown text with bold, strikethrough, and italics.
These days, it might feel as if Blizzard is all about one very specific game that involves worlds, wars, and angry things on fire. But Heroes of the Storm is going in a very different direction with the release of Machines of War, offering two new StarCraft-themed maps, new StarCraft-themed skins, and the new Protoss hero Alarak. Also Zarya, who’s from Overwatch rather than StarCraft, but she fits in with the aesthetic pretty well.
Players can look forward to taking part in the Braxis Holdout map, with both sides attempting to support Zerg camps that aren’t particularly friendly to anyone but are hopefully less friendly to the opposing team. Or they can just take on Warhead Junction and look forward to peppering their enemies with (detectable) nuclear launches. There’s also an in-game event to collect pieces of a Xel’naga artifact on a daily basis. Check out the trailer for the update just below.