Gaming Steve

PC Archives - Page 6

December 22, 2005

New Alliance Race Rumor Control Central

DraeneiAs most people know Blizzard has yet to announce the new Alliance race for their upcoming Burning Crusade expansion pack, and rumors are rampant as to what the new Alliance race is going to be and why. Could it be the Murloc? Or the very popular Pandaren? But what about the Draenei?

Well over at wowwiki.com they consolidated all of these rumors into one place along with detailed analysis on each race and their likelihood of being "the new Alliance race". A few tidbits:

  • Draenei - Possible. Reasoning: Lore-based hatred of Orcs; Originally from Draenor/Outland; They share a goal similar to the Blood Elves to get to Outland which fits well with expansion.
  • Ogre - Possible. Reasoning: Originally from Draenor/Outland; Ogres were touched up a bit with a few of their animations; Laughing Skull Clan allied with Alliance heroes on Draenor.
  • Furbolg - Possible. Reasoning: Alliance connection; Connection to the Emerald Dream (which may be in expansion); Have had many emotes added to them along with new animations.
  • High Elves - Unlikely. Reasoning: No direct connection with Outland; Extremely doubtful that a second 'elf' model would be selected; Traditional capital of Silvermoon in hands of the Blood Elves.
  • Murloc - Unlikely. Reasoning: Currently at war with Alliance; Shamanistic, not Holy; No Obvious Relationship to Outland.
  • Mountain Giant - Unlikely. Reasoning: Possible balance issues; Don't wear clothes; Not intelligent, no culture or civilization.
  • Tuskarr - Unlikely. Reasoning: Limited lore connections to Alliance; Unlikely to appear without Northrend; No known similar models in-game.
  • Centaur - Very Unlikely. Reasoning: They eat sentient races; Xenophobic to Alliance; No Obvious Relationship to Outland.
  • Cenarion - Very Unlikely. Reasoning: Connection to the Emerald Dream (which may be in expansion); No Obvious Relationship to Outland; 'Forest Spirits' rather than a true race: they have none of their own architecture.
  • Gnolls - Very Unlikely. Reasoning: At war with Alliance; Little evidence of civilization; No Obvious Relationship to Outland.
  • Naga - Very Unlikely. Reasoning: No lore connections to Alliance; Unlikely to ally with Alliance against their Blood Elf allies.
  • Nerubian - Very Unlikely. Reasoning: No lore connections to Alliance; No Obvious Relationship to Outland; Controlled by Lich King.
  • Goblin - Extremely Unlikely. Reasoning: Neutral Race not likely to side with Horde or Alliance; Would require lots of lore changes; How would Neutral cities remain neutral?
  • Pandaren - Mostly Debunked by Gamespy [as well as Gaming Steve!]. Reasoning: No Obvious Relationship to Outland, unless their hatred for the Blood Elves abuse of magic counts; Gamespy debunked Pandarens for this expansion pack; The Pandaren Rumor has not been verified by Blizzard.

Who do you think the new Alliance race will be? Personally I think it could be the Draenei, they're from the Outland and they fit the Blizzard rumor that the new Alliance race will be "big" and "ugly". I guess we'll all find out in a few months ... but isn't guessing and speculating more fun?

Posted by Gaming Steve at 11:00 PM | Posted to MMORPG | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

December 21, 2005

Megaman vs Ghosts 'n' Goblins?

mmvs_image3.gifI just love crazy crossovers. Without crossovers we wouldn't have DC Versus Marvel, Interleague Play, or Battle of the Network Stars ... crossovers are just fun!

And if you're also a fan of crossovers you'll enjoy these gaming gems. It seems that "Staticreator" has a thing for remixing Megaman into different game worlds and then turning them into Flash games. So far he has two games completed and both are pretty fun. Megaman vs Ghosts 'n' Goblins is ... well ... Megaman in the world of Ghosts 'n' Goblins, and just like the original Ghosts 'n' Goblins it's pretty damn hard (but fun).

His other game is Megaman vs Metroid which is Megaman in the world of Samus Aran. Both are very well done and something I would love to see done for popular licensed properties. Metroid vs Solid Snake? GTA vs Mario? Pokemon vs Doom? The mind boggles.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 12:00 PM | Posted to Classic | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

December 5, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 29 - 12.05.2005

Auto AssaultIn this special Gaming Steve episode I sit down with Scott Brown and Ryan Seabury from NetDevil, the makers of the upcoming Auto Assault. In the interview we cover the game's setting, the three player races, the character creation process, new features in the public Beta, the crafting, the weapons, the cars, and the oh-so-much-fun mindless destruction. Enjoy!

Gaming Steve Episode 29 Program

  • 00:07:04 GameTalk: Interview with Scott Brown and Ryan Seabury from NetDevil, the makers of the upcoming Auto Assault.
  • 00:28:52 Show Mail: I answer your gaming questions.
  • 00:45:04 Final Thoughts on developing games in chilly Colorado.
Download the show (48 minutes): Gaming Steve Episode 29 (MP3).

Subscribe to the Podcast directly in iTunes (MP3).
Add the Gaming Steve Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator.
Vote for Gaming Steve on Podcast Alley.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 6:00 PM | Posted to Interview | MMORPG | PC | Podcast |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

November 18, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 27 - 11.18.2005

City of Villains - Dominator with Venus FlytrapWelcome to the bonus episode of Gaming Steve. This was actually part of the last episode but it was so big that I had to cut it into two. Make sure to listen to the details on the Gaming Steve T-Shirt design contest and join our Frappr! family. Enjoy the bonus goodness!

Gaming Steve Episode 27 Program

  • 00:04:02 Game News:
    • PlayStation 3 won't play borrowed, used, or rented games?
    • Jack leaves on his own terms.
    • World domination of Warcraft continues.
    • Man profits from virtual island.
    • 360s in short supply.
    • 360 to play 200+ Xbox games in US but ...
    • ... Japan only gets 12 games and ...
    • ... Europe gets 156 games.
    • Xbox 360 midnight madness.
    • Darwinian evolves onto Steam.
    • Nintendo Wi-Fi hits speed bump.
    • EA slashes prices.
    • What is ... World of Warcraft?
    • Rare's Perfect gamble.
  • 00:42:10 GameTalk: How is the industry changing?
  • 01:03:04 SporeTalk: Tell me what you want to hear.
  • 01:08:08 Game Review: City of Villains for the PC.
  • 01:24:39 RetroReview: Chiller for the arcade.
  • 01:33:15 RetroReview: Death Race for the arcade.
  • 01:36:10 “Name That Game!” contest winner from last week, a new clip, and a mystery prize!
  • 01:42:53 Final Thoughts on Gaming Steve Frappr, the T-Shirt design contest, help me in testing out iTunes, and my Xbox 360 coverage next week.
Download the show (112 minutes): Gaming Steve Episode 27 (MP3).

Subscribe to the Podcast directly in iTunes (MP3).
Add the Gaming Steve Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator.
Vote for Gaming Steve on Podcast Alley.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 2:00 PM | Posted to Classic | PC | Podcast | Review | Spore |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

November 14, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 26 - 11.14.2005

Jack Emmert and City of VillainsIn this special Gaming Steve episode I sit down with Jack Emmert, aka "The Statesman", Creative Director of Cryptic Studios. In the interview Jack and I talk about City of Heroes and the newly released City of Villains (of course), the future of comics, what's next for Cryptic, Jack's favorite comics, and much more. Oh yeah, and we talk about the comic book classic Atari Force, enjoy!

Gaming Steve Episode 26 Program

  • 00:03:59 GameTalk: Interview with Jack Emmert, aka "The Statesman", Creative Director at Cryptic Studios.
  • 00:28:28 Show Mail: I answer your audio and email questions.
  • 01:16:05 Final Thoughts on finding an Xbox 360, the PSP as a gaming platform, and where is the rest of the show?
Download the show (83 minutes): Gaming Steve Episode 26 (MP3).

Subscribe to the Podcast directly in iTunes (MP3).
Add the Gaming Steve Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator.
Vote for Gaming Steve on Podcast Alley.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 8:00 PM | Posted to Interview | MMORPG | PC | Podcast |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

November 11, 2005

Atari M.U.L.E. Online!

M.U.L.E.M.U.L.E., a planetary-colonization/trading simulator that turned economic bartering into an adrenalized action-strategy mixture, was for years considered a lost classic of the 8-bit era. Happily, today's gamers can now re-experience this game verbatim - and now, with full online multiplayer capabilities.

M.U.L.E. has been available on modern systems through an Atari emulation. The downside was that you could only tap into multiplayer mode the way our forebears did: by cramming up to four people around a single machine. But now, thanks to the folks at Kaillera and Atari800WinPlus, up to four colonists can play M.U.L.E. with each other over the net with the new Atari M.U.L.E. Online package.

Fondly remembered for its addictive gameplay, tongue-in-cheek humor, and criminally catchy theme music, M.U.L.E. was a masterpiece crammed into a simple-but-ingenious interface. The premise was simple: up to four aliens were dropped on the planet Irata ("Atari" backwards), and granted one parcel of land per turn. Players could then purchase MULEs (Multiple Use Labor Elements - essentially multipurpose worker robots) and set them to work harvesting food, energy, smithore, or the invaluable crystite. Economic output was determined by player race (some were better for harvesting food, some for raising energy, and so on), land type, and happenstance. But it was after the production phase, during trading, where the real excitement kicked in. Players would attempt to hawk off excess goods, or buy or sell supplies like food or energy. Players who devoted their land towards mining might make a killing selling their valuable minerals - but then could be at the mercy of others who sold the food or energy they needed.

The bartering portion featured one of the most ingenious interfaces ever designed. Sellers stood at the top of the screen, and buyers at the bottom. Each could physically push a line towards the other end, which represented the price at which they'd be willing to buy or sell. When the two lines met, a transaction occurred. Not only did this perfectly illustrate the concepts of supply and demand in visual terms, but it turned the cerebral activity of economic trade into a visceral real-time experience. The spectacle of three players literally racing to push the "buy" line towards a seller sitting loftily at the top of the screen was one of the most entertaining and memorable aspects of gameplay.

A lot of old games are revered simply because of nostalgia, but M.U.L.E. deserves its reputation as a classic, and now new gamers can experience it firsthand, and better than before. Check it out - preferably when you have a lot of free time to kill.

Posted by Michael G. Shapiro at 4:30 PM | Posted to Classic | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

November 10, 2005

Man Buys Virtual Island for $26,500 - Makes Money Back in a Year

Project Entropia Island PackageSome might remember last December when a 22-year-old gamer spent $26,500 on an island that exists only in the MMORPG Project Entropia. For those unfamiliar with Project Entropia it allows gamers to buy and sell virtual items using real cash. Players are allowed to exchange real currency for PED (Project Entropia Dollars) and then back again into real money.

At the time this story got a fair amount of airtime, with most news organizations taking the angle of "hey get this, some silly gamer 'bought' a virtual island for $26.5k ... what an idiot!" Well, that silly gamer is laughing no more as he managed to recoup his investment in less than one year.

According to the game developers the now 23-year-old gamer, know as only as Deathifier, has made the money back that he spent on the island. By selling land to build virtual homes as well as taxing other gamers to hunt or mine on the island he was able to generate an income on his virtual land. With his initial investment paid off, Deathifier can start making some real-world profit from a completely virtual property.

It will be interesting see how another virtual property in the game performs as just last month Project Entropia player Jon Jacobs bought a virtual space station for a mere $100,000. Jacobs plans to turn the space station into a virtual resort ground that spawns dinosaur-like monsters, which visitors can kill (actually, that sounds pretty damn cool). Jacobs will take a cut of the virtual resources that gamers will make selling the dinosaur hides and he estimates he will make about $20,000 a month from running this virtual service.

Could you just imagine if World of Warcraft decided to start selling loot and land directly to players? Azuroth would probably have Gross National Product higher than 95% of the world's countries. Ah, the future is fun.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 2:00 AM | Posted to Culture | MMORPG | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

November 3, 2005

World of Warcraft China Examined

World of Warcraft ChinaConsidering all the recent talk on how World of Warcraft actually functions in China I thought it would be interesting to take a much closer look at this little understood topic.

First and foremost it's important to understand that Blizzard doesn't actually run World of Warcraft in China. They have licensed WOW China to the company The9 which is one of the leading online game operators in China. In addition to running WOW, The9 also run several other MMORPGs including "MU", "Mystina Online", "Granado Espada", and "Joyful Journey West". I'm sure that most of you probably haven't even heard of some of these games but they are extremely popular I assure you.

Just to give you an idea of how popular MMORPGs are in Asia and China the game "MU" first launched in February 2003 and very shortly reached a player base of over 15 million registered users. MMORPGs are a huge business overseas and completely dwarf the American and European MMORPG market. Even your "average" MMORPGs in Asia have over a million registered users (meanwhile Everquest is proud of having nearly 500,000 users at their peak).

The9 and Blizzard launched WOW in China on June 7, 2005 and in less than one month the game exceeded 1.5 million paying players and continues to grow at an breakneck rate. Financial analysts expect WOW China to easily reach over 10 million registered users if not more.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about The9 is that it's a public company and traded on the NASDAQ market exchange. What that means is that The9 has to publicly disclose their business operations to anyone who might be interested in investing in the company. They do this by publishing quarterly reports every three months as well as an extremely comprehensive annual report at the end of each year. If you have never read an annual report because it sounds boring you might be surprised what you can find in there, including some very interesting information on how an online gaming company is run in China.

All of the following information can be found in The9 2004 Annual Report which may give you a better understanding of how WOW functions in China. All items in quotes are directly from the report and I have provided the page number within the report for easier reference. This is just a small overview of some of the more interesting and relevant items. Make sure to read the entire report to get a true understanding of just how unique the Chinese MMORPG market is compared to the States (details follow the jump).

Concerning the WOW license agreement with Vivendi Universal Games (VUG)and Blizzard (Page 11)
“We are obligated to pay royalties equal to 22% of the face value of WoW prepaid cards and online points sold by us by making recoupable advances against royalty payments in an aggregate amount of approximately US$51.3 million over a four−year period commencing from the commercial launch. We paid VUG an initial non−refundable license fee of US$3.0 million in 2004 and the first year minimum royalty guarantee of US$13.0 million in 2005. We are also obligated to commit no less than approximately US$13.0 million in the marketing and promotion of WoW in China during the term of the license agreement. To meet this obligation and to promote WoW in China, we have agreed to conduct a joint marketing campaign with Coca−cola (China) Beverages Limited, or Coca−Cola China, to promote WoW in China.”

Concerning online game operators in China (Pages 13-14)
“There are over 100 online game operators in China. We expect more companies to enter the online game industry in China and a wider range of online games to be introduced to the China market, given the relatively low entry barriers to the online game industry. Our competitors vary in size and include large companies such as Shanda Interactive Entertainment Limited, Netease.com, Inc. and Sina Corporation, many of which have significantly greater financial, marketing and game development resources and name recognition than we have.”

Concerning SARS and MMORPG gaming (Pages 20-21)
“In early 2003, several economies in Asia, including China, were affected by the outbreak of SARS. During the height of the SARS epidemic in the second quarter of 2003, we experienced a decline in the number of concurrent users of MU in China, which we believe resulted largely from the Chinese government’s decision to close Internet cafés in Beijing and elsewhere to prevent the spread of SARS. Most of our online game players can only access MU at Internet cafés. A renewed outbreak of SARS or another widespread public health problem in China could have a negative effect on our operations. Our operations may be impacted by a number of health−related factors, including, among other things, quarantines or closures of our offices which could severely disrupt our operations, the sickness or death of our key officers and employees, closure of Internet cafés and other public areas where people access the Internet, and a general slowdown in the Chinese economy. Any of the foregoing events or other unforeseen consequences of public health problems could adversely affect our business and results of operations. We have not adopted any preventive measures or contingency plans to ensure the safety of employees and minimize disruptions or other adverse effects on our operations that may occur due to a recurrence of SARS, or similar adverse public health developments in China.”

Concerning online games and regulation by the Chinese government (Pages 23-24)
“The online game industry in China is highly regulated by the Chinese government. Various regulatory authorities of the Chinese central government, such as the State Council, the State Press and Publication Administration, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Public Security, are empowered to issue and implement regulations governing various aspects of the online games industry.

We are required to obtain applicable permits or approvals from different regulatory authorities in order to provide online games. For example, an Internet content provider, or ICP, must obtain an ICP license in order to engage in any commercial ICP operations within China. In addition, an online games operator must also obtain a license from the Ministry of Culture and a license from the State Press and Publication Administration in order to distribute games through the Internet. If we fail to maintain any of these required permits or approvals, we may be subject to various penalties, including fines and the discontinuation or restriction of our operations. Any such disruption in our business operations would materially and adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.”

Concerning the regulation of Internet cafes in China (Page 24)
“Internet cafés, which are currently the most important outlets for online games, have been criticized by the general public in China for having exerted a negative influence on young people. Due primarily to such adverse public reaction, some local governments in China have tightened their regulation of Internet café operations through, among other things, limiting the number of the new operating licenses to be issued and further reducing the hours during which the Internet cafés are permitted to open for business. Also, local and higher−level governmental authorities may from time to time decide to more strictly enforce the customers’ age limit and other requirements relating to Internet cafés as a result of the occurrence of, and the media attention on, gang fights, arsons or other incidents in or related to Internet cafés.”

Concerning the regulation and censorship of information in China (Page 25)
“The Ministry of Culture has issued a notice reiterating the government’s policies to prohibit the distribution of games with violence, terror, cruelty or other elements that may have the potential effect of instigating crimes, and to prevent the influx of harmful cultural products from overseas. The notice requires, among other things, the review and prior approval of all the new online games licensed from foreign game developers and related license agreements. We have obtained the necessary approvals from the Ministry of Culture for operating MU and WoW in China. We will submit new games licensed from foreign developers for the required review in due course. The Ministry of Culture may find the content of our new licensed games objectionable, and we may otherwise be unable to obtain the approvals for these games in a timely manner, or at all. If this happens, we will not be able to launch our new licensed games within the expected timeframe or at all, and our business and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.”

Concerning Internet service in China (Page 28)
"Although private sector Internet service providers currently exist in China, almost all access to the Internet is maintained through state−owned telecommunication operators under the administrative control and regulatory supervision of China’s Ministry of Information Industry. In addition, the national networks in China connect to the Internet through government−controlled international gateways. These government−controlled international gateways are the only channel through which a domestic Chinese user can connect to the international Internet network."

Concerning payment for online games (Page 37)
“To use our fee−based online games, a customer must register an account in our Pass9 system. Once registered, the customer may log into our network, select and activate the desired games and the game districts where the customer wishes to play, and then charge his account with a prepaid card or prepaid online points sold by Internet cafés or given by us through our promotional events that enable the customer to play for a specified period of time.

Each customer needs to maintain only one Pass9 account, which provides information regarding the customer’s available prepaid game playing time for each selected game district and payment history. A customer can purchase game playing time through any of the following methods:

Prepaid Cards. A customer can buy prepaid cards at retail outlets including convenience stores, supermarkets and bookstores all across China. Each prepaid card contains a pass code representing game playing time offered by the card based on its face value.

Prepaid Online Points. Over 120,000 Internet cafés across China have used our self−developed eSales System, which is part of our Pass9 system and enables an Internet café to buy prepaid online points from our distributors and sell such points to their customers.

Online Payment. A customer can buy game playing time online by charging payment directly to a credit or debit card. In addition, we offer free online game playing time to our new registered customers and users of our SMS service. We have also included free game cards in our marketing materials to attract new customers. Our integrated membership management and payment system also incorporates a variety of community−building features, such as chat rooms which provide registered users a platform to interact in real−time groups or one−on−one discussions, and bulletin boards which allow registered users to post notes or inquiries and respond to other users’ notes or inquires. We believe these features encourage user congregation on our site and facilitate player interaction for the games we offer.”

As you can see, WOW and all other MMORPGs in China face completely different challenges than those in the States and Europe. Which makes WOW even more interesting as with most MMORPGs the developer simply has to worry about gameplay balance, server stability, community management, billing options, 24-hour maintenance and few hundred other items. When you then factor in government regulations, language and cultural differences, and even SARS, it makes what WOW has accomplished that much more impressive.

Whether or not Blizzard can continue this delicate balancing act between countries and cultures remains to be seen, but it is extremely interesting to view the unique challenges facing Blizzard when maintaining and expanding WOW over the next couple of years.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 1:00 PM | Posted to MMORPG | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

November 3, 2005

Use Atari 2600 Joysticks on your PC

StelladaptorFor many the Atari 2600 joystick was their very first gaming controller and it holds a special place in their heart. Of course it only moved in eight directions, and it only had one button, and it put a horrible strain on your wrist, and it broke all the time, and if was difficult to use, and the rubber joystick made your hand sweat, and it didn't always work, but you loved it all the same.

Of course gaming technology has come a long way since then ... now our controllers have pressure sensitive analog buttons, shoulder pads, rumble packs, and no wires. But those of you who miss those earlier times when one button was all you needed to save the galaxy your prayers have been answered with the Stelladaptor.

The Stelladaptor is basically an Atari 2600 to USB adapter that will allow you to use standard Atari 2600 compatible controllers, including joysticks, paddles, and driving controllers, on your modern PC. It's compatible with Windows, Macintosh OS X, or Linux operating systems and requires no additional drivers to use. It's a bit pricey at $29.90 (not including shipping) but if you want to play your MAME emulated games using the "real deal" then this is what you need.

I am quite curious about that USB functionality. I wonder what would happen if I plugged that thing into my Xbox 360? Can you imagine trying to play Dead or Alive 4 using an Atari 2600 joystick? Of course, you could only kick with the one button, just like the old times...

Posted by Gaming Steve at 11:00 AM | Posted to Classic | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

October 31, 2005

Rumor Control: World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade

Pandaren ExpressBlizzcon is done, the new World of Warcraft expansion has been officially announced, so ... now what? What do all these new changes mean? Since I have unofficial connections at Blizzard and have been playing WOW over the past four years (yes, you read that right) I thought I would put some of the larger rumors and questions to rest. If you have any other questions let me know and I'll do my best to answer them...

Why is the Horde getting the Blood Elves?
There are many reasons for this decision but first and foremost is that Blizzard needs to do something to bring back balance to the races as the Alliance drastically outnumber the Horde. In the US and Europe approximately 61% of all users play Alliance and 39% play Horde (source: Warcraft Census Plus) and from what I understand is that the servers in Asia are even more unbalanced. Take into account that of all the races in WOW the Elves are by far the most popular race in the world and you have a nice solution for adding players to the Horde side.

But weren't the Blood Elves/High Elves on the side of the Alliance?
Yep! But Blizzard owns the Warcraft lore and can change it however they wish. In fact, this discrepancy is even pointed out and explained in the Preview Trailer on the World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade web site. If you watch the trailer they explain how the High Elves were nearly destroyed out when their homeland was crushed by the Undead (as depicted in Warcraft III) and became utterly desperate to survive. During this dire time they learned how to tap into their own ambient magical energies and how to suck the mana from creatures around them for sustenance (the new "Mana Tap" ability). Like magical vampires, the High Elves -- renamed the Blood Elves in honor of their fallen dead -- learned to survive. However, their constant thirst for magical energy has left them addicted to magic and insane and their experiments with dark magics have made enemies of their former friends. And just as easy as that the Blood Elves are now members of the Horde! Remember, Blizzard owns and controls the Warcraft universe and can manipulate it however they wish.

So what is the new Alliance race going to be?
Unknown at this time, but don't rule out any race (including the "ugly" Draenei). Well, any race except the Pandaren.

Why not the Pandaren? Why are so many other sites reporting the Pandaren as the new Alliance race?
When the editors of the gaming magazines were brought to Blizzard's offices to view The Burning Crusade for the first time, there were dozens of posters and artwork depicting the Pandaren as the new Alliance race. At the time Blizzard was 80% certain that the Pandaren were going to be the new Alliance race and it was presented as such. However, due to various complex reasons, there is now a zero percent chance of this happening. At best you might be seeing non-killable Pandaren NPCs in the game.

Could this change at all? Could the Alliance get the Pandaren?
Considering the charged political reasons surrounding this issue I do not believe that Blizzard will change their mind on this decision.

Why raise the level cap to 70?
By raising the level cap Blizzard has accomplished several things at once. People who quit the game after reaching level 60 will now have a reason to come back and retry the game (and purchase the expansion). People who are still actively playing will now have a new challenges and new areas to explore (and purchase the expansion). And by raising the cap it will give Blizzard a reason to release even more powerful Tier 3 and 4 gear without destroying the game balance. Considering that around a third of all active characters in the game are level 60 (and always growing), Blizzard needs to do something to add more depth to the endgame and keep people continuously interested in playing. By raising the level cap it will allow them to add deep endgame content throughout levels 60-70, more Tiers of equipment, and more instances as opposed the current setup where all the endgame content is focused around just level 60.

But what about my Tier 1 and 2 gear from Onyxia and Ragnaros? Won't that get nerfed because of level 70?
Well yes and no. No because at levels 61-70 it will be that much easier to kill Onyxia and Ragnaros and pick up Tier 1 and 2 for the first time. Yes because there are going to be a lot new harder dungeons and new loot. Expect to start seeing all new Tier 3 and 4 gear (and higher) with the expansion.

When is expansion coming out?
Expect the expansion to be released around Christmas 2006.

Why so long?
Not only is there still a huge amount of work to be done on the expansion but it needs to be throughly tested. From what is understood the expansion will monstrous in size, larger than some MMORPGs are at launch. This will not be a simple patch but an entire new world for exploration with hundreds of new items and quests, a new city, nearly a dozen new instances, and much much more. So not only does all of this have to be created, which is a monumental effort, but it needs to be extensively tested. And considering that the beta test for WOW was over a year long expect the testing for the expansion to be just as extensive.

So what about those rumors about Starcraft 2 or Diablo 3 being revealed at Blizzcon?
Obviously these rumors were incorrect. However I will tell you that if you ever visit Blizzard's office there is an entire wing which has higher security than Fort Knox. What are they working on in there? Who knows? Rock N’ Roll Racing 2? Return of The Lost Vikings? One can only hope...

Posted by Gaming Steve at 11:00 AM | Posted to MMORPG | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!