Mark your calendars, former WoW addicts. December 7 is your final test. You will be tempted and goaded, and – for the first time in your life – you will feel like a social outcast for refusing to pretend you're a burly, heavily armored orc man. Cataclysm's coming, you see, and while it may herald the beginning of an in-game apocalypse, it doesn't have to be the end of your real life.
"Cataclysm includes the best content we've ever created for World of Warcraft. It’s not just an expansion, but a re-creation of much of the original Azeroth, complete with epic new high-level adventures for current players and a redesigned leveling experience for those just starting out," said Mike Morhaime, CEO and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment. "With the help of our beta testers, we're putting on the final polish, and we look forward to welcoming gamers around the world to enjoy it in just a couple of months."
Re-creation of Azeroth? Best content ever? Well, we suppose we could maybe give it a quick try... Wait, no! We have to be strong. Resist! Resist like our guild did against Onyxia when our tank went down and we had to hold her off until he charged back in and saved the day!
You've probably heard the little devil on your shoulder whispering in your ear on at least a couple occasions: “It's easy. You'll finally get to taste victory against those jerks with no lives who make your life miserable. And besides, you don't even know them. Who cares if they're not having fun?” Now though, there's one pretty major argument against all those tiny temptations: If you get caught cheating in StarCraft II, Blizzard's gonna huff, puff, and blow your StarCraft II account down.
“If a StarCraft II player is found to be cheating or using hacks or modifications in any form, then as outlined in our end user license agreement, that player can be permanently banned from the game. This means that the player will be permanently unable to log in to Battle.net to play StarCraft II with his or her account,” Blizzard said in a recent statement.
“If a Battle.net account is banned, a player will no longer have access to the single and multiplayer content,” the developer later clarified to PC Gamer.
So basically, Blizzard has your hard-earned cash hostage, dangling over a pit of flames. You cheat, and snap! That thin cord holding it aloft tears in two, and you lose every last dime you spent on your copy of StarCraft II. Not to mention, of course, your progress, achievements, win-loss record, etc. Everything goes down the drain. Which, honestly, still doesn't sound quite as good as our preferred cheat deterrent of allowing us to personally punch each and every cheater in the face, but until we can work out the logistical kinks in that plan, this will have to do.
Runic, you speed demons, you! You've already beaten the devil himself to the punch twice, and now – against all odds – you're looking to add even more insult to injury. Speaking with Joystiq, Runic Games CEO Max Schaefer said that he fully expects Torchlight 3 -- not 2, which is slated for a Spring 2011 release -- to hit virtual shelves before Diablo 3 finally escapes from development hell.
"I really think we will, I'm not joking about it. I'll be the first to buy Diablo 3, I'm a huge fan. I just know what it's like over there," Schaefer said when asked if he thinks his third hack 'n' slash RPG will outpace Blizzard's.
"[Blizzard has] an impossible task. Blizzard can not get away with doing a Torchlight 1. If they put out a single player game, an RPG that's kinda stripped down for $20, people would say, 'What the hell happened to Blizzard?' They don't have that luxury. Everything has to be super epic. More epic than anything that's come before, more epic than World of Warcraft. They have to do that. It puts them in a really tough spot, I don't envy them. It has to be perfect."
Torchlight, meanwhile, is being developed by a smaller team that – according to Schaefer – will never grow beyond 40 people, with the goal of development cycles that last less than one year.
Honestly, though, we're just happy that both games exist. Diablo's big, bombastic, and epic, and Torchlight keeps us from forfeiting our miniscule sum of sanity while waiting for Diablo 3. It's Yin and Yang. Diablo brings the noise, Torchlight brings the funk. The balance of the world, it seems, revolves around two games about clicking everything that moves and playing medieval dress-up. Without one or the other, we would all surely be destroyed.
Ever thought of starting up your own World of Warcraft server? Given the billions of dollars Blizzard has raked in over the years we don’t blame you, but a recent court ruling suggests it probably isn’t worth the effort. A federal judge has awarded Blizzard over $88 million in damages inflicted by private gaming server “Scapegaming” which has been found guilty of violating the companies EULA along with aspects of the DMCA. Scapegaming allowed users running a modified version of the client to join their third party server, and the owner recorded over $3 million dollars in revenue by selling virtual items.
According to Blizzard “By agreeing to the EULA, you promise not to "host, provide or develop matchmaking services for the Game or intercept, emulate or redirect the communication protocols used by Blizzard in any way, for any purpose, including without limitation unauthorized play over the internet, network play, or as part of content aggregation networks." Essentially this is a lawyers way of saying Blizzard is the one and only provider you are entitled to use.
Given how drastically the penalty outweighs the company’s revenue I doubt Activision/Blizzard will actually get paid, but clearly that’s not the point. The main victory here is the ruling which helps the company establish a precedent that should help deter others from trying this in the future. Since it takes Blizzard almost 10 years to develop and release a new game, I guess it’s important to defend the cash cow that keeps the lights on.
You could be forgiven for thinking that even Blizzard – perhaps the only company more powerful than the natural disaster it's named after – might not escape a run-in with and subsequent buy-out by Activision unscathed. After all, if the Infinity Ward fiasco proved anything, it's that Activision isn't afraid to bust down the doors and assert control when it feels like things aren't going its way. But unless Activision's got some kind of 24-hour hypno-ray constantly blasting Blizzard's offices, it sounds like Activision has yet to recreate the Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo developer in its image.
“Since we had our merger with Activision, it hasn’t changed anything at Blizzard,” Blizzard VP Michael Ryder told MCV. “We operate in pretty much the same way we already have. Since we have been working with Activision we continue to be who we are. We make the same decisions in the same way we always have, and the relationship with Activision hasn’t changed that.”
“For example, one of our values is that gameplay is supremely important. We talk about play nice and play fair, which has to do how we work with each other and our partners. Preserving that culture is a key part of our ability to continue to deliver great games. We nurture it, protect it and take care of it as much as we can, because it is a big part of who we are.”
So yeah, if you thought Activision might have been pulling the strings behind the whole Real ID debacle, this seems to suggest that you were wrong. Granted, we're not ready to about-face and start handing out fliers for St. Activision's Church just yet. After all, what happens when Blizzard starts pitching something that doesn't fit nicely into its steady diet of Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo? If the goose stops laying golden eggs, will its goose be cooked? Tough to say. Hopefully we'll get a definitive answer when Blizzard reveals that new MMO it's been working on.
I’m amazed you’re even reading this. Not because the quality of the prose is lacking in this week’s roundup of open-source and freeware applications, mind you. Rather, if you haven’t noticed by the coverage (and advertising) permeating just about every known tech site in the universe right now, Starcraft 2 just came out. It’s a miracle I’ve been able to tear myself away from defending humanity to write this but, well, my heart for free software is just too strong.
While it would be awesome to give you some kind of “Top 5 ways to get Starcraft 2 for free” article or something like that, it’s just not happening. And no, before you ask, there really aren’t any launchers or applications specifically designed for the game that can give you some kind of competitive edge or awesome third-party tie-in just yet. Wishful, if not silly thinking, no?
However, that’s not to say that applications don’t exist that could otherwise enhance your Starcraft 2 gaming experience in some capacity. Like I said, nothing’s been written specifically for the title, but there are a number of useful, free apps that you can use to otherwise bolster your gaming-life-that-just-so-happens-to-be-Blizzard’s-latest-title. I apologize for the tongue-twistedness of it all; simply put, you can use the following 5 apps to make Starcraft 2—or any game—rock just a little bit more.
July 27, 2010. Hordes upon throngs upon crowds upon oodles upon gobs of people have been waiting for this day, and we’re not just talking about Trainz Simulator’s incredibly devoted contingent of hardcore coal-shovelers. “Hell, it’s about time,” you probably said aloud to yourself as you slipped out of bed this morning. And yeah, it was cheesy and lame, but you don't care, because you're mere seconds, minutes, or hours away from finally playing StarCraft II.
Are you ready, though? Like, really actually ready? It’s been 12 long years since StarCraft first came out, after all. You’re probably so rusty that you’ve officially been declared the world’s first walking tetanus hazard. If only you had some sort of guide – some kind of Internet roadmap that’d put you back on the right track to StarCraft mastery.
Hey, look over there! Just beyond that break. Is that…? It is! Lucky day, huh?
We're sure Blizzard spared no expense giving the StarCraft franchise a modern makeover, but the developer won't be hearing any disembodied voices warning of depleted minerals or vespene gas any time soon. See, as it turns out, The Wall Street Journal made a teensy-weensy $100 million dollar-sized mistake.
“Activision Blizzard Inc. hasn't disclosed development costs for its Starcraft II videogame. A July 16 Technology article about the Starcraft sequel incorrectly said the company spent more than $100 million to develop the game; that figure referred to its World of Warcraft game,” reads a correction on The Wall Street Journal's site.
It's okay, WSJ. Easy mistake. Here's a pointer for next time, though: all three of Blizzard's franchises are cash cows, but only one of them lets you play as an actual cow. Then again, another one has a cow level. Huh, maybe our cow-based organization system could use a little more work.
We hope you weren't planning to do anything else with the next hour of your life, because that hour is now officially Maximum PC No BS Podcast hour. Better get comfy.
This week, the Maximum PC editors discuss Blizzard's RealID debacle, as well as YouTube's new 4K resolution mode, and whether or not competitive eating should be considered a sport.
Do you have a tech question? A comment? A tale of technological triumph? Just need to get something off your chest? A secret to share? Email us at email@example.com or call our 24-hour No BS Podcast hotline at 877.404.1337 x1337--operators are standing by.
[04.09.2010 Update] Hey all. Just wanted to chime in real quick and note that Blizzard has caved in and reversed its "First Name Last Name" forum policy as of 9:47 a.m. (PST) today. That's Murphy's Law: 1. Blizzard: 0...
Ugh. I was all set to write this totally awesome column about how World of Warcraft's latest Real ID measures are The Lich King's gift to proper forum management, and it's just one more reflection of much of what I talk about in this weekly column--the idea that the walls are slowly lowering between our various online identities as we transition our lives into a tell-all kind of digital tale.
Of course, resident Maximum PC gaming pundit Nathan Grayson beat me to the punch. With respect to Mr. Grayson, however, I don't think that he's really covered enough ground in regards to Blizzard's announcement that any World of Warcraft players seeking to post on the company's forums will now be identified by their first and last names--the "Real ID" I speak of.
What I find most curious is that this situation blows open the various degrees of user permissibility in an open world of data. What does that mean? Simply put, there are varying levels of sharing that people are comfortable with in the digital age, and it's funny that so many are complaining about an unsheltered digital lifestyle that we're headed toward anyhow.