Blizzard has announced a partnership with ESL TV to bring streaming footage of eSport competitions of Blizzard's games, including Warcraft 3, WoW, and Starcraft. The service has been dubbed the Blizzard eSports Channel, likely due to its preponderance of Blizzard, eSports, and channels (but no man can be truly certain). The service is accessible for World of Warcraft subscribers through the Account Management page of WoW's main site.
This is pretty cool news for the type of people who like to watch really, really good players have it out, replete with commentary. I visited the site today and found that there was not only a ton of archived games to watch, but there was a bunch of live games going on too. You can filter the videos and live channels by the game or game type, too, in case you hate watching Starcraft players practice their uber micro but just love Sentinels on Scourge action.
I imagine the chances are pretty good that we'll see Starcraft 2 added to the list of games available for viewing once it's launched, too, as well as future titles that make their way to Battle.net.
Given Blizzard's years-long push now for better representation in the eSports world, this is a neat step in the right direction, even if it might not be everybody's cup of tea. If you love eSports, it's worth a look; if not, then OMG! No rush.
WoW Lifecounter tracks TCG life on the iPhone - Tue, 12 May 2009 18:00:00 EST Double Bubble has a good little writeup on a pretty useful WoW-related iPhone application. But instead of the MMO, this app centers on another game in the WoW universe: the Trading Card Game. WoW Lifecounter (iTunes link) is a utility that will (you guessed it) count your life points as you play the TCG -- it tracks both sides' heroes, and you can take away or give life points with just the touch of a button. It's pretty simple -- all you do is punch in the starting health of each character, and then the app will even track wins for each side. Usually, you can just track the points with a pen and paper, but if you don't want to bother doing math in the heat of a battle, the app can be fun to use.
It's 99 cents, which might stop the cheap among you from picking it up -- we won't blame you if you'd just rather have a Junior Bacon Chee and write things down. But if you play the WoW TCG a lot and always have your iPhone with you, it's probably worth the investment.
BlizzCon badges are back - Tue, 12 May 2009 17:00:00 EST Danielle "Shyka" Brown is back again, and making custom art badges of your character to put in your BlizzCon lanyard. We covered her last year before the convention, and so if you're headed to BlizzCon and want to put a little custom memento of what your character looks like, now's the time to order them. She's starting a little earlier, so they're a bit cheaper, only $30 per badge, but any orders after June 16th will go up to $40 because presumably she'll be in crunch time. The good news is that since the last set of BlizzCon ticket sales are on May 30th, you should know for sure by then whether you're going or not.
And as you can see from the pictures at left, the quality of her work is pretty darn good -- there's a whole collection of her work from last year over on the blog, and it would be neat to have any of those hanging from your neck at BlizzCon.
If past years are any indication, Blizzard will definitely put your character's name somewhere on your ID badge for the convention (and they've also asked for your faction affiliation and/or class in the past, so those may make an appearance as well). But this is something a little extra, especially if you're planning to meet up with in-game friends or guildies (or attend the sure-to-be-awesome WoW Insider bash, which we'll be having on Thursday night yet again), to identify yourself on the convention floor.
We're going to jump right in today, because we have plenty to talk about this time around! NarwhalFrenzy asked...
"Referring to the quest Out of Body Experience, we already know what happened to Prince Keleseth and Prince Valanar, but will we ever figure out what happened to the other darkfallen there, like Prince Theraldis or Prince Atherann?"
I have no doubt we'll be seeing them in Patch 3.3, in and around Icecrown. Prince Theraldis (the one on a horse (with an equine-themed pashmina afghan)) seems to have been the overseer of that whole project going on during Out of Body Experience, so I wouldn't be surprised if he turns out to be a raid boss and Prince Atherann is in a 5-man or a group quest elsewhere. Though it would be interesting if they were a side-by-side raid boss, like the Twin Emperors. Hm!
Kotaku reports Canessa will be joining the teams responsible for Diablo and World of Warcraft. However they don't actually cite a source and Blizzard apparently didn't respond for a comment 'immediately', which is quite an odd way to phrase it.
Update: Blizzard spokesperson Shon Damron got back to us confirming that Greg Canessa has indeed been hired by the company:
"Yes, we can confirm that Greg Canessa has taken a position at Blizzard Entertainment as project director for Battle.net. He will report to our vice president of online technologies and work closely with the executive team to help fine-tune the next version of Battle.net, currently in development."
As we noticed yesterday, the little guy also has a Gauss rifle that he will periodically fire into the air, Blizzard says, "to make sure no invisible spacecraft are swooping in to attack." Which is cute and all, but you know what would be cuter? Hearing a Space Marine radio version of the little guy's Murloc gurgle when you click on him.
*ksshhkk* Mrguggugguggle! *ksshhkk* Blizzard, make it so!
In completely unsurprising news, extended maintenance for the realms that were undergoing it has been additionally extended today. These realms were suppose to be brought up at noon PDT today. The latest news is that there is no current ETA for them to come back, but that we should get another update by 1 PM PDT (at which time I fully anticipate they will tell us to expect another update by 2 PM PDT). The good news is they're doing hardware upgrades, so when the realms come back up, they should be better than before.
The affected realms are: Aegwynn, Akama, Aman'Thul, Arathor, Azjol-Nerub, Barthilas, Blackrock, Bloodscalp, Bonechewer, Boulderfist, Bronzebeard, Caelestrasz, Chromaggus, Crushridge, Daggerspine, Darkspear, Dath'Remar, Draenor, Dragonblight, Dragonmaw, Draka, Drak'thul, Dreadmaul, Dunemaul, Eitrigg, Eldre'Thalas, Feathermoon, Firetree, Frostmane, Frostmourne, Frostwolf, Garithos, Gundrak, Gurubashi, Hakkar, Jubei'Thos, Khaz Modan, Khaz'goroth, Kil'jaeden, Kilrogg, Korgath, Kul Tiras, Malorne, Mug'thol, Muradin, Nagrand, Nathrezim, Ner'zhul, Perenolde, Proudmoore, Rexxar, Runetotem, Saurfang, Scarlet Crusade, Sen'jin, Shadow Council, Shadowsong, Silver Hand, Silvermoon, Skywall, Smolderthorn, Spirestone, Stonemaul, Stormscale, Suramar, Terenas, Thaurissan, Thorium Brotherhood, Tichondrius, Uldum, Vek'nilash, and Windrunner. All other realms should be available for play now.
We will keep you posted as soon as we hear more on when the realms in question will be brought up.
Update: As predicted, they have updated to let us know that they still don't know when these realms will be back up, and they will have another update for us at 2 PDT.
Update 2: Blizzard has announced that they expect these realms to be available for play by 2:30 PDT.
15 Minutes of Fame: A standup job of WoW - Tue, 12 May 2009 14:30:00 EST 15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes - from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.
Last week, we went behind the scenes with Boubouille of MMO-Champion to learn more about the non-stop pace of bringing readers a never-ending stream of fresh news tips and datamined tidbits. Serious stuff - and readers expressed some serious appreciation for his efforts.
This week, however, we're off on an entirely lighter tangent: a standup comedian (and WoW player, of course) who brings both his WoW sensibilities and experience as a game programmer to the stage. Jeff Reitman (aka Drelana of Azuremyst-US) is all about geek entertainment, whether it's playing games himself, working on them for others to play, or yukking it up over the whole package.
Read our interview with Jeff, plus video of Jeff on stage (sending up WoW plus wives, Rock Band and more), after the break.
According to progression site GuildOx, the Alliance guild We Know Girls on Arygos-US has earned the world-firstChampion of Ulduar achievement. This achievement is awarded for completing each 10-man boss fight (except Alagon) with no raid members dying during that boss fight. It's the Ulduar version of The Undying, but unlike Undying, it doesn't have to be done all at once - if I down Flame Leviathan with no deaths and then wipe on XT-002, I still get achievement credit for the Flamey kill.
I think this is a good reworking of the achievement. I've heard a lot of horror stories about flawless Undying/Immortal runs ruined by a disconnect or a lag spike. With the Ulduar achievements, at least bad luck will only bork that one boss. And congratulations to We Know Girls!
Update: As pointed out below, VoS on the Sargeras realm and Bastion of Uldaman got the achievement May 9th, last Saturday, which means We Know Girls was not the world-first (and incidentally, casts some doubt on the reliability of GuildOx for things like this). Grats to VoS and Bastion. Anyone know of any earlier than May 9?
Welcome Warlocks! This week, Nick is taking a break from your regularly scheduled Blood Pact to bring you a 71-80 leveling guide! About time, eh?
Wrath of the Lich King brought us Northrend, Naxxramas, and of course, ten more levels of DoTing, Rain of Firing, Shadow Bolting Warlockery. So saddle up your Dreadsteed, and float or fly your way to the frozen north--crown of the world. It's time to get diabolic. And this time, it's personal.
Transitioning from Outland to Northrend is a lot like transitioning from vanilla-WoW content to Outland was. The mobs hit a little harder, and the gear is a little better. The step up isn't quite as sudden or as large as it was last time, but you definitely want to take a good look at some of those quest greens you're offered, and it's best not to take a level 68 Vrykul too lightly. They're kinda mean.
These last 10 levels are rather straightforward in comparison with their predecessors. If you've made it this far, then what you're going to see over the next 10 levels is mostly just an inflation of your numbers that will make you squeal and clap your hands in glee. Other than that, though, you should continue playing as you did in the later part of the 61-70 bracket. If you're leveling Affliction, DoT-DoT-Fear still gets the job done with gusto. If you're leveling Demonology, the felguard still tanks, and your nukes still burn. If you're leveling Destruction, you're still insane and should get your head checked.
Last week, we told you all about the giant chicken known as El Pollo Grande (now reincarnated as a mount). His presence was revealed thanks to a little datamining by MMO Champion's Boubouille. This giant chicken is set to be the new, rarer than hen's teeth, mount in the next set of loot cards in the TCG expansion Field of Honor. Indeed a spokesperson at Upper Deck recently called this card 'the new Spectral Tiger' and it's got an awful lot of fans excited.
Well today the artwork for the new loot cards mysteriously appeared on the brand new Flickr account (which has since been deleted) of a user called wownudnik. We have no idea who this chap is but the artwork is amazing and certainly looks legit, even if Upper Deck have not officially confirmed anything. However the artwork has confirmed something we and Boubouille were guessing about; the Path of Cenarius card is indeed like Path of Illidan but with flowers. There's also an ogre pinata and, of course, El Pollo Grande, himself in what has to be one of the best pieces of TCG artwork yet. Although I was kind of hoping for a Tauren to be riding that chicken rather than a Night Elf.
In honor of today's featured movie, I was going to write this entire post in haiku. It's possible, but I don't think it would have been convincing or effective. Still, I wanted you to know it was on my mind. You can share a little "ha ha" with me at our little untold joke.
World of Warcraft - Haikus was created by John DeVeaux for his film class at Emily Carr University. The project was to use pieces of "found footage," and fit it together in the context of a haiku. John took pieces from official trailers -- some are based on gameplay, while others come from different sources -- and framed it inside several text scenes.
The machinima is awesome, but it's all official stuff so I'm not really surprised. What impressed me, however, was John's sense of poetry. He pulled official game language to create several haikus, all with a very strong sense of urgency and epic intent. Each haiku lends importance and inspiration to the video, and I think ultimately created a much stronger experience. If John progresses into his own machinima, I think he could create some impressive stuff.
Sometimes you'd like to know that there are other MMOs out there, right? Our sister site Massively can provide you with everything you need to know about all MMOs, including WoW! Check out this roundup of the latest news from the wider MMO world.
Games Day '09 coverage This last Saturday was Games Workshop's Games Day celebration, and Massively.com was on site to get you the latest Warhammer Online coverage straight from Mythic Entertainment. Want to know more about Ultima Online's Stygian Abyss expansion? Curious about Land of the Dead? Interested as to the future direction of Warhammer Online? Do your favorite devs play on order or destruction? Find all of these answers and more in our full coverage of the event starting tomorrow, including our hands-on impressions of the new mega-dungeon, Land of the Dead!
An overview of Warhammer Online's Land of the Dead You've heard us talk about it, you've heard us discuss it, and it's now time for us to tell you exactly what it's all about. Land of the Dead is not your father's MMO dungeon -- it's a dungeon that is something more than just a dungeon. It's an entire zone filled with activities and sub-dungeons, all culminating in an epic instanced dungeon that features a face off with the first leader of the Tomb Kings himself, King Amenemhetum.
After a random disconnect in Alterac Valley, Kyutir of <Reforged> on Cenarius found that his character had undergone a startling transformation on relogging. "I was something else entirely," he wrote. "Something more evil. Something even the GMs only whisper about at night! I turned into a Shadowform Paladin! I stayed this way throughout the entire length of the Alterac Valley, letting the foolish Horde bask in the corruption transfixed before them." This is actually a pretty common graphics bug, particularly with older video cards, so no need to demand a nerf to shadoretpaladins.
Do you have any unusual, beautiful or interesting World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? We'd love to see them on Around Azeroth! Sharing your screenshot is as simple as e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org with a copy of your shot and a brief explanation of the scene. You could be featured here next!
Remember to include your player name, server and/or guild if you want it mentioned. Please include the word "Azeroth" in your post so it does not get swept into the spam bin. We strongly prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. Please, no more battleground scoreboards, double-mounts, or pictures of the Ninja Turtles in Dalaran.
Win a year of Curse's premium service - Tue, 12 May 2009 09:00:00 EST WoW Insider and Curse have teamed up and are giving away a year of Curse's premium service! Twenty (20) lucky people who leave a comment in this post before 12:00 a.m. EDT on Thursday May 14th will be randomly selected to have their Curse account upgraded to the premium version for one year (if you don't have a regular account you can create one for free now).
You may enter only one time. The contest is open to legal residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older. Click here for the complete Official Rules.
We spoke about the premium service when it launched a couple weeks ago. The Curse premium service features a fast download client that will update all your add-ons with one click. You'll also get access to premium only beta key give-aways, see no ads on Curse's website, and support the add-on developers that maintain the add-ons you use every day.
So what are you waiting for? Leave a comment and cross your fingers, you might just win a free year of Curse's premium service!
So the Holiday Rush is finally over, with both Children's Week and Noblegarden out of the way, it's a bit quieter in Azeroth. In fact, some of us are starting to think they may be a problem: It's just too damn quiet. Northrend just doesn't have that much ambiance after a while.
Still, even if the landscape of Northrend is starting to look somewhat sterile, there's still buzzing going on in the background, at least. Patch 3.1.2 remains on the PTR and even has some updated notes, There's a Murloc Marine on the loose, the first round of tickets for BlizzCon will be released in scant days, and we have a plethora of interesting pets and mounts showing up in the game files. Downtime today is 3 AM to 11 AM Pacific, and some servers will be down even longer, so you'll have plenty time to read up on all this and more. Curl up in your WoW Pod and check our usual tuesday morning roundup after the break.
The first kind will be from 3:00 a.m. PDT until 11:00 a.m. PDT. This is the "normal" maintenance time. This will apply to all realms that are not on the list after the break.
The second kind of maintenance will be from 12:00 a.m. PDT until 12:00 p.m. PDT. The realms after the break will be undergoing this maintenance.
It is likely the Wintergrasp changes we just broke will go live tomorrow. There's a bit of uproar about them, and it'll be interesting to see exactly what the changes are. There is no indication if patch 3.1.2 will be dropping tomorrow or not.
The list of realms down for half a day after the break.