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    posted a message on Blizzard Battle Chests Sale On Amazon Today

    Thought some of you might be interested in this sale going on Amazon.com today. It appears that all of Blizzard's "Battle Chest" box sets are on sale today for roughly 50% off the usual price. The Diablo Battle Chest for example - which contains Diablo II, Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, and the two strategy guides - is on sale for $19.98. The Starcraft Battle Chest is going for $9.98.

    Pretty solid deals for anybody wanting to catch up on the old games before the new ones come out. And if you already have them, well, it's never too early to start shopping for the holidays right? Hope this helps!
    Posted in: News & Announcements
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    posted a message on Is It Too Early to Pre-Order?
    Personally, I wouldn't pre-order it from anywhere but Blizzard right now just to be safe. That said, I'll probably wait until the game has an official release date because (like OathofChaos) I'll want to buy whatever Collector's Edition they inevitably come out with, rather than just the normal game itself. Can't wait to see what kind of goodies they pack into it!
    Posted in: News & Announcements
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    posted a message on Chat Gem Through the Ages
    I've always believed the Diablo gem is an inside joke that the developers have continued to chuckle over for years. I really don't think it does anything and I hope it stays that way with Diablo 3 :P
    Posted in: News & Announcements
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    posted a message on PCGamer Talks With Jay Wilson.
    Quote from "interception" »
    Were you going to have an interview with Mr. Wilson too?
    We may, it all depends on who Blizzard thinks would be best suited to respond to our variety of interview questions. We'll keep you guys posted as soon as we know something more! :)

    Shatterer, I just checked the link and it's working fine. Maybe try again or try loading it in a different browser.
    Posted in: News & Announcements
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    posted a message on PCGamer Talks With Jay Wilson.
    PCGamer recently had a chance to gets some more hands-on time with Diablo 3 and chat with Jay Wilson about the game. Nothing too incredibly new in this particular interview, but it does have some interesting comments from Wilson about the game such as referencing God of War when designing the Monk and the following statement about dueling:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    "It [dueling] was tacked on, a button that you'd just enable. We'd like to give it a bit more thought than that. We'd like to serve that community, and put real time and effort into making it much more than an afterthought."
    He also went on to say some more in regards to the overall tone of Diablo 3 which really shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody who's been playing Blizzard's games over the years:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    "Players have a memory of Diablo as very serious, very dark, and very straight. But Diablo was full of humour that took the edge off that seriousness. That's our goal today. We're not going to be silly as World of Warcraft. We're not going to put any of our characters in a hand-made rocket car. Having said that, I don't think any licence lives in one note. This is a big world that our players are going to live in, maybe for years. It's got to have more than just a serious tone."
    For more of their hands-on thoughts along with additional comments by Jay Wilson, you can read the full article here.
    Posted in: News & Announcements
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    posted a message on Recent Updates on the Official Diablo Twitter Feed.
    Bashiok would like to remind you all about Blizzard's official Twitter feed for Diablo along with some of the recent updates that have popped up on it:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    "Thought I'd remind everyone that we have an official Diablo twitter feed, we've already run some cool contests, we have daily questions and interactions, and we're also making mini-updates that talk about current work as it progresses on the game. The best way to get involved in everything we're doing is to sign up and 'follow' the Diablo feed.

    Some updates this week from www.twitter.com/diablo you may have missed:

    "Female monk concepts are complete, work continues on her different armor set looks."

    "New 'bloated corpse' clickable object almost complete. Decomposing with treasury-goodness."

    "Dual-wield attack animations for the male monk are in progress. Check out some fist weapon concepts. http://bit.ly/bGV8r"

    "Wizard resource system first pass concepted by Mike Nicholson, and it's looking... volatile."

    Sign up for a twitter account and then just visit the Diablo feed and choose to follow it and you'll get updates the second they go out. Most cell phones have programs/apps you can get for twitter so you can follow the latest Diablo updates even while you wait for your turn to yell at your local town hall meeting.

    We of course also have Warcraft and Starcraft feeds, but aside from Blizzard there are also a lot of different people and companies to follow. Personally I also like following my favorite comedians, some of them are really active and I get to to read a ton of funny throughout the day."
    He also went on to address some of the people who aren't big fans of Twitter and/or wary of signing up for an account:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    "I wasn't too hot on it either. I mean all I heard about it in my daily life was from over-enunciating news casters that half giggle every time they pause before saying twitter, tweet, etc. because... IT'S SO WHIMSICAL! Or just general over saturation.

    And if you hear enough about celebrities or athletes you despise using twitter to update their fans on what conditioner they use or the size of their bowel movements, yeah, it sort of makes you hate even the concept of it.

    But ... the community team here came up with a big overarching twitter project because just about every major game developer was already on board, and once I got into it I have to say there's a lot of pretty cool stuff to see. You only have to see what is being said by people or companies that you want to see. Sometimes the companies you can follow hold daily contests or giveaways or give limited time coupon codes - and free stuff/savings is cool. In our case you may also get some exclusive info on the development of our games.

    There's that hurdle of not worrying what other people are doing and just using a product/service because it's something you want. And it's an opt-in experience! Just jump on and ONLY follow Diablo if that's all you want to do.

    I will admit though, I wear kind of tight fitting jeans."
    Hmmm, come to think of it I do want to know what kind of conditioner Bashiok uses, but I can do without the info on his bowel movements. In all seriousness though, they really are posting some interesting stuff to the Twitter account, so even if you're not a fan of most Twitter feeds, I'd say this is one that's definitely worth keeping an eye on.
    Posted in: News & Announcements
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    posted a message on Sanctuary Goes Mobile
    When I saw this, I thought you meant Diablo II was now available to play on mobile phones. Definitely wouldn't mind that! :P
    Posted in: News & Announcements
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    posted a message on What Do YOU Want To Know About Diablo 3?
    Hey everybody. Blizzard has just offered us an opportunity to interview some of the developers of Diablo III, and while myself and the other staff members obviously have some questions of our own, we wanted to open up this forum thread to give YOU the opportunity to have your own questions answered!

    So here's what you need to do. Post any questions about Diablo III that you'd like us to ask during our interview with Blizzard. The questions can be about art, design, lore, production, etc. Whatever you're interested in learning more about! And yes, you can post as many suggestions for questions as you like, just try to have them submitted by the end of this week at the latest.

    We obviously can't ask ALL of your questions, so myself and the other staff members will be compiling a list of the ones we think are the most interesting (ie: don't post a question like "When's Diablo 3 coming out?" because you should know by now that such a question is pointless to ask).

    Again, we're opening this up to you guys because you've helped us make this into the greatest online Diablo fan community and we really want to keep you actively involved with everything that's going on. So post some good questions and maybe we'll send them to Blizzard! Thanks all! :)
    Posted in: News & Announcements
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    posted a message on What's Your Favorite Monk Skill?
    Looks like Blizzard is curious to hear our thoughts on the Monk's skills so far, because Bashiok has just posted a request asking us what our favorite skill is so far:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    What is your favorite monk skill of those shown on the official site?

    Personally, I've gotta vote for the "Way of the Hundred Fists" skill. Having played it at BlizzCon, it was just too much fun and I liked the variety the 3-part attack offered - particularly being able to dash forward with it in addition to dealing out a lot of damage to any enemies nearby.

    How about you? Share your thoughts on what your favorite Monk skill is from the ones listed on Blizzard's site so far and why. Blizzard is listening! :)
    Posted in: News & Announcements
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    posted a message on "The Road To Diablo III"
    Gamasutra has just posted an excellent interview with two of Diablo 3's lead developers - lead technical artist Julian Love and lead content designer Kevin Martens. The object of the interview was to help give fans a better sense of how the design process of Diablo 3 really works. Here's what the pair had to say:

    "Diablo III was announced last year; it's been playable twice at Blizzcon now. Mike Morhaime suggested it probably won't be out until 2011. Does it feel like the development time has been extended to a surprising degree? Do you ever think, "Oh God, this really will be a while longer now?"

    Kevin Martens: Here's the secret to Blizzard games, and this is a secret that won't help any of our competitors: endless iteration. We'll take something, we'll put it in the game. Maybe we'll like it when we put it in, maybe we won't. We'll leave it in there for a while, we'll let it percolate. We'll play it and play it and play it, and then we'll come back. We might throw it all out, or we'll throw half of that out and redo it.

    It can be a long time, but it is fun to work on as well. That's the thing that keeps you going. Multiplayer always works, and the builds are always playable. We've played them constantly, and it's fun. You actually look forward to the weekly play session even though the game is still in progress. That's what keeps us going, and that's also why it takes so long. We'll do it over and over again until it's just right.

    With Diablo, and StarCraft moreso, it will have been a decade since there's been a game in the series out. Blizzard North as an entity no longer exists. How do you determine what needs to be retained from something a decade old, and what needs to be modernized?

    Julian Love: Well, as an ex-Blizzard North employee, I never got the sense that we were a standalone entity. We were always in contact with Blizzard South folks. They were always coming up. I think I saw it as we were one big company.

    That said, [as far as] the real question in terms of how much we're going to take forward, we want to bring back all of the stuff that was great, that was fun. We certainly want to tap into what was great in the first two games and make sure all of that stuff is coming back, and pile in all the cool stuff we can to bring it over the top and make it the definitive version of the series.

    On the topic of Blizzard North and Blizzard Entertainment though, I do feel there was a difference in style between the Blizzard North and South games. The Diablo titles had a more baroque, intricate look, more tilework and stonework "along the grid." Diablo III is more of a blend of that style with the current Blizzard South style. How long did it take you to settle on the look for Diablo III?

    Julian Love: Well, it took a while for us to settle on the actual style, but I don't think it was due any kind of difference between Blizzard North and Blizzard South philosophy. It had more to do with the fact that we were moving the game from a two-dimensional technology platform to a three-dimensional technology platform.

    Issues like lighting and separation between the characters and the backgrounds are handled in entirely different ways -- ironing out how to get what we felt was a Diablo vibe while still managing to get the characters to pop.

    Looking at D2,for instance, those characters are super bright, super colorful. They pop out of the backgrounds. So, we had to try to bring that forward, but at the same time we don't want to just rest on that art style and do the exact same game.

    We want to elevate that. We've got to look at the other games that Blizzard does, learn from the things that they've done that make those games better, and really progress. I think what you're seeing in the art style is our idea of the actual progression of the Diablo universe.

    I loaded up Diablo II last night, because I realized I still had it on my laptop and I figured, "Why not?" One thing that struck me was the character select screen -- all those characters arrayed there are proportioned in a very straightforward way. They basically just look like normal humans with crazy armor and weapons.

    And I was at Blizzard office recently, and there's a plaque on the wall with the official artistic principles of Blizzard: "Bigger is always better. Less if never more," which evokes the WarCraft look with its much more heroically exaggerated characters. It does strike me as two different philosophies, at least to some extent. How much of that do you think about?

    Julian Love: Well, obviously, there were two very largely different groups of artists. Some of the artists from D2 are still working on the game today.

    I think what you're seeing there is a Blizzard philosophy that may have been there but may have not been disseminated across the entire company, which is, "You find the line by crossing it."

    I think we've gotten really good at that now, allowing ourselves to push things to a point where they go too far, and then you look at them and you say, "Oh, okay. Now we know where the line is." But if you're trying to just edge up to the line, you might never find it.

    That's the goal here, to push things as far as they can possibly go. So you're seeing things that are progressing maybe a little bit beyond where D2 was.

    But definitely, I would say that our proportional sense for Diablo III is far, far less than let's say what happens in a game like WoW, where armor doesn't even look like it could function. We still put a lot of effort in to try and make sure the armor looks a lot more functional, that it doesn't look like it's just insane and total high fantasy.

    In the case of StarCraft, there are plenty of RTS games each year. With World of Warcraft, there are a million MMOs every year. There aren't actually that top-down action RPGs. Torchlight is coming out, for one, but there are not as many examples. What's it like working in a genre like that where there aren't a lot of yardsticks?

    Kevin Martens: Well, frankly, Diablo II is still on the PC sales charts every week. Over and over again, you have a big Christmas rush, and it bumps off, but then it's back on in early January again.

    I think Diablo II is the standard for this kind of game, so largely what we're thinking about is making sure that we do the series justice -- which we feel that we are -- and making sure we're trying to expand the market. Personally speaking, I hunger for a game like this, one that's going to last for a long time -- something we can play for ten years, like Diablo II.

    I think there's a massive market for it, but I also know the games are kind of hard to make and, really, it's hard to beat Diablo II. So that's the tricky part, and that's one of the reasons that there are not that many games out there. There's still a definitive one that's on the charts every week. That's the one that we have to beat. Luckily, we know a lot about it.

    And more broadly than that genre, there is of course always widely-publicized pessimism about the PC platform, and has been for a long time. Does that concern you ever, either in a long-term sense for Blizzard as a company that is so devoted to the PC, or otherwise?

    Kevin Martens: It has never affected us yet. The death knell of PC has risen and fallen over the years, and we keep releasing PC games, and they keep doing incredibly well. I think that there is a market out there for PC games. The latest consoles are great; it's easy to get the game running and all that. They're useful.

    But everyone has a PC, and we try to keep our system requirements down as low as possible. That's one of the ways that we can make sure to appeal to enough people. Some of the really cutting edge games that come out for PC require a brand new video card and probably more RAM at least, if not a new CPU as well. That's really rare with Blizzard games. I think that's one of the reasons we still keep doing well.

    Kevin Martens: If I could add to that -- the best evidence that the PC market is not actually dying is the 20,000 people that showed up this year at Blizzcon, and the fact that those tickets sold out in one minute flat. That doesn't seem to me that it's really good evidence of a platform with a problem.

    We're heard a lot about some of what Battle.net is doing for StarCraft II -- a deeper league system, a mod community, and so on. Can you speak at all about how Diablo III will take advantage of the new Battle.net in gameplay terms?

    Kevin Martens: We're definitely using it. A lot of the things that StarCraft is doing, we're paying really close attention to. We've got coders from the Diablo development team working on Battle.net to make sure that they're laying the groundwork for the things we want to do.

    Primarily at this point, we're interested in trying to make the co-op game as fast and as easy for players to get into as we can.

    More co-op support is our primary interest, and the rest of the Battle.net stuff, we'll develop as StarCraft II develops it. We're watching that process, and we definitely like what we see.

    I notice you significantly redesigned parts of the Barbarian again after his previous unveiling. It's interesting to see the character undergo those changes from outside the studio. As far as that general iterative process you described earlier, does it feel in practical terms that you essentially have an indefinite amount of time to spend on any particular game? At what point do you say, "Well, we do need to ship this game"?

    Kevin Martens: I would say when all of the elements are at an equal level of not just quality -- not just how polished and balanced it is -- but also an equal level of awesome. One of the reasons we keep retooling the Barbarian stuff -- some of the Barbarian skills were done a long time ago -- is because as we added a new class or added higher level skills in, we did something else that was more awesome. And part of the Blizzard design is that if something is too awesome, we generally try to make everything else as awesome as opposed to pulling that one back.

    That's one of the reasons that the iteration takes a while, but it's also one of the reasons why everything is over the top. The example about art -- you find the line by crossing it -- applies to the design as well. You make things way cool, smashy, explodey -- everything. Then you pull it back a little bit, for balance reasons more than anything.

    Julian Love: There is another thing I could mention to round that out. There is kind of a sign we look for internally, which is when we can't get any more work done on the game because everybody's busy playing it. That's when we know it's ready to go. I've had that experience within the company. It's just like, "Okay, nobody's working. Everybody's playing. Maybe it's time to go."

    That sounds like Blizzard is fairly flat-structured from a design standpoint in many ways, where someone can just decide, "This thing needs to be improved, let's improve it."

    Kevin Martens: Yeah. It definitely is. It doesn't even have to be within your area of expertise. If I have an idea for a spell effect, I can go right to Julian and say, "Hey, what if the guy did this and ice went out his spine and blah blah blah?" and vice versa. Anyone. QA guys come in and offer brand new class ideas. It's very open-ended. It's the good ideas that come to the top. It doesn't really matter where they come from.

    Julian Love: Even in QA, we have a core value that says every voice matters. Literally, every voice. Anybody, even sometimes outside the company -- you listen to what they've got to say and consider it, which is exactly how we got to a new form of [the Barbarian's skill] Whirlwind. Even though it wasn't the message we wanted to hear, there's something to it.

    Kevin Martens: We feel privileged that our other games are popular enough that we can take the time to do it. We know not every developer gets the chance to do that. So, we want to make sure that we use that wisely and make better games as a result"
    It's particularly nice to hear that they're setting out to make this the "definitive" game of the series and that they allow themselves to "cross the line" artistically so they are able to find a creative balance. Same goes for the details about how they want things such as armor in the game to be realistic, so players could actually believe in their functionality rather than having outfits that are nothing but flash. What are your thoughts on what the two had to say?
    Posted in: News & Announcements
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    posted a message on Blizzard loses some minerals over BlizzCon
    Hamza CTZ Aziz, a writer at Destructoid, just posted an interesting article about how Blizzard is actually losing money at every BlizzCon event they throw. I guess it's not too surprising, but check out some of the details provided by Frank Pearce:

    "Blizzard?s annual BlizzCon expo celebrating all things Starcraft, Warcraft and Diablo isn?t as profitable as one might think. Despite selling 20,000 tickets at $125 a pop, a ton of merchandising at the con and the DirecTV deal, Blizzard didn't see any profits from the show.

    Executive Vice President, Frank Pearce, spoke at Austin GDC yesterday where he opened up on the cost of the convention:

    "BlizzCon is operated at a substantial loss for the company. It's a huge marketing opportunity, so that's the benefit we get out of that. But in terms of any kind of financial gain, it actually is a loss for us."

    Frank wouldn?t go into details on how much is lost, but it?s got to be a pretty penny. GameSpot points out that Blizzard has to rent out the Anaheim Convention Center, provide around 2,000 PCs for demos and there?s all those cash prizes too. Plus, there?s the celebrity factor with Kerrigan's voice actress Tricia Helfer making an appearance along with Ozzy Osbourne?s concert.

    It may have cost them a ton, but I?m sure the 11 million World of Warcraft players help Blizzard sleep at night.

    FUN FACT TIME! Frank also gave an insight on some interesting numbers in relation to WoW:

    "Put together, the massively multiplayer online role-playing game and its two expansions have 7,650 quests, 70,000 spells, 40,000 NPCs, 1.5 million assets, and 5.5 million lines of code, and requires 4,000 employees, 13,250 server blades, and 75,000 CPU cores."
    Holy sh*t!"
    As stated in the article, it's hard to see the event as a total financial loss for them though when you consider the entire event is like one huge advertisement for their games. It gets people psyched up about what's to come and news from the convention spreads around like wildfire around the globe. Sounds less like a financial loss and more like a smart investment to me. What do you think?
    Posted in: News & Announcements
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    posted a message on Blizzard's Next MMO Will Have "Broader Appeal".
    Gamespot has just posted an article about Blizzard's next MMO and how Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick says it will have a broader appeal than their previous titles. Here's what was said in the article:

    After confirming it was working on a new massively multiplayer game in 2007, Blizzard Entertainment has divulged only a few details on the project. Today at the Deutsche Bank Securities Technology Conference in San Francisco, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick offered another breadcrumb of information about the unnamed title--which won't be a competitor to World of Warcraft.

    When asked about the efforts behind the new Battle.net online gaming service, Kotick listed Blizzard's upcoming slate. "What we've announced at Blizzard is that we have Starcraft [II] coming, Diablo has been in production?and a new, unannounced MMO that has a little more broad appeal," said the executive.

    Kotick's talk of a more accessible MMORPG ads a bit more detail to the still very sketchy picture of Blizzard's mystery-shrouded project. Before officially acknowledging it was in development in 2007, Blizzard said that any new massively multiplayer game it may would not be a World of Warcraft clone. This February, now-ex-World of Warcraft game director Jeff Kaplan began working full-time on the unnamed title, which will be a brand-new property.

    Besides mentioning the Blizzard MMORPG and Activision's plans to begin bypassing consoles, Kotick dropped hints of what features the new Battle.net might have. "As we start to add cash play and prize play and better rewards and recognition systems that come through the Internet, you will start to see audiences expand even further," said Kotick, showing a slide of a BlizzCon StarCraft II tournament.

    When asked if Kotick's comments meant that cash prizes would be awarded directly over Battle.net, a Blizzard rep pointed out his company's longstanding tradition of having contests that begin online and end at BlizzCon with large cash prizes. "Tournament play and e-sports have been part of the Battle.net experience for years," said the rep, who declined to comment further.
    So for those of you who were hoping for a World of Diablo / World of Starcraft type game, I wouldn't really count on it. I don't know about you guys, but I wouldn't mind seeing Blizzard coming out with a new IP. Either that or World of Lost Vikings. ;)
    Posted in: News & Announcements
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    posted a message on Introductions and Forum Reorganization
    Everybody please give a warm welcome to Rapture and Tyveris. They've really helped out the site a lot so far (as you've no doubt already noticed). And be sure to check out their other site, Arena Junkies, if you haven't already. :)
    Posted in: News & Announcements
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    posted a message on Curse Network League of Legends Beta Key Giveaway. Plus, Diablo Audience Differences.
    Just got word from the Curse network guys that they're doing a new League of Legends beta key giveaway and you're all welcome to try your luck (you don't need to be a premium Curse member or anything). Here's the official press release:

    "The Creators of DotA and Curse bring our users exclusive early access to the League of Legends beta!

    This giveaway is open to US and EU Curse members!

    For EU Members please visit the League of Legends EU Beta Key Page!

    For US Members please visit the League of Legends US Beta Key Page!

    League of Legends is a competitive online game set in an imaginative world. Gamers take the role of a powerful Summoner, calling forth and controlling brave Champions in battle. League of Legends combines the best elements of session-based games with persistent elements of MMORPG?s. Enter the Fields of Justice with your most trusted allies as you fight for your right to rule the world of Valoran. There is only one rule of law among those in the league: Winner rules all."
    In other news more related to Diablo 3, Bashiok recently responded to comments on Battle.net about how the public sees the game differently so far. He brought up some interesting points about how hardcore gamers view Diablo 3 versus the general game buying public. Here's what he had to say:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    "Well I think it's kind of easy to look at changes and advancements in the RPG genre as a whole and narrow them down to any number of sources to fit each use.

    To make a car analogy (my favorite!) it would be like having issues with the newest version of the mustang because its body styling takes into account things like passenger safety and aerodynamics, and being upset by this because these are features also found in the ford focus. A clearly inferior car in the eyes of the mustang enthusiast.

    These types of ideas could never have been thought of or would ever be included in the mustang, of course, had not both cars been manufactured by ford.

    It's just all a bit silly. What I do think is interesting is the differentiation between the hardcore Diablo II players (most of y'all) and the majority of the rest of the game buying public. From our showing at BlizzCon and PAX a lot of the articles and off-site (non fansite) discussions are saying that Diablo III may not be doing enough to change itself from Diablo II.
    If those people read some of the posts here you'd think we were putting a Diablo sticker on a WoW box and calling it a day. So it's just an interesting difference between the audiences and how level of dedication changes perceptions and expectation.

    And I don't mean to lump everyone together, I'd say aside from the trolls the majority of posters here are actually level headed and logical. At least able to take multiple things into consideration. Reasonable thought process and understanding that the game is a work in progress, and not someone that sees a character with a slight hunch and makes a leap of logic that we must be using model/animation assets from a different game.

    That's still my favorite. Cause of it bein' so stupid 'n all.

    But anyway I guess what I'm getting at is... I'd really like to read something new and original. These posts are getting tired."
    So I guess the real question this raises is... if Diablo 3 was a car, what kind of car would it be? ;)
    Posted in: News & Announcements
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    posted a message on Why Blizzard Could Soon Return to Game Consoles.
    There's an interesting article that recently appeared in the Los Angeles Times' Brand X which discusses the potential of Blizzard returning to game consoles in the not too distant future as opposed to just having their games on computers. Blizzard's COO Paul Sams talks about how console systems encourage people to play games together as opposed to the more solitary nature of computers and and why it's worth doing even if he doesn't like the idea of paying a fee to hardware manufacturers. Of course, there's mention of Diablo 3 being shopped around as we've already mentioned in the past as well. Definitely a solid read. Check it out:

    "In the computer gaming world, Blizzard Entertainment is a juggernaut. The division of Activision Blizzard is responsible for some of the world's bestselling PC games, including World of Warcraft and StarCraft. But the company hasn't released a game for home consoles in more than a decade.

    That could change any day.

    Blizzard has nothing against controllers, joysticks or living rooms, said Paul Sams, Blizzard's chief operating officer, at last month's annual BlizzCon event in Anaheim. Financial details are what's holding up the company's long-overdue return to the console market.

    To release an Xbox, Playstation or Wii game, game producers are required to pay a licensing fee to system manufacturers. It's a big reason why Microsoft and Sony can sell their hardware at a loss.

    The simple economics goes: The manufacturers profit on game sales, even if they lose money on the hardware needed to play the games. They might lose money on each console, but the longer term prospect of selling more and more games should make back that loss (and then some).

    "The value is the game," Sams agrees. But he doesn't like the business model. "I don't like the idea of paying a console manufacturer a fee. That concept pisses me off."

    But the community aspect of consoles is compelling Blizzard to go beyond the all-too-familiar flicker of the bedroom computer monitor. "Because the living room is a place where more people can be around, there's a lot of reasons why it's appealing," Sams said.

    In order to get there, however, Blizzard appears to be holding out for a console maker to cut a deal. "They do it all the time," Sams said. True, manufacturers will ...

    ... sometimes give bags of money in exchange for exclusive rights to high-profile game franchises.

    Where might Blizzard go? As it prepares to launch its revamped online gaming network, called Battle.net, the company doesn't have much need for Microsoft's Xbox Live infrastructure or Nintendo's WiFi Connection.

    Blizzard has a cozy history with Nintendo, having made games for the Super Nintendo and StarCraft 64 for the successor to the SNES. The Wii's remote control would be well-suited to the developer's flagship real-time strategy games.

    Blizzard is shopping around Diablo III to consoles. "We are in ongoing talks with Microsoft and Sony," Sams said. "I think they desire to see us on their platforms."

    A near-finished game called StarCraft: Ghost was the closest Blizzard has come to releasing a console game in years. Due to the loss of a key person on the outsourced development team, "it wasn't turning out the way we wanted," Sams said. So, Blizzard scrapped the project. That crucial developer, Ray Gresko, now leads work on Diablo III.

    "I think that a lot of other companies would not have hesitated in publishing it," Sams said about the game based on its sci-fi franchise. "We weren't willing to put out a game that was not at the level of Blizzard polish quality that customers have come to expect."

    As the battle between Microsoft and Sony becomes more aggressive, with both companies recently slashing the prices of their systems in advance of the holiday season, it may not be long before one plops the right deal down on Blizzard's table. -Mark Milian"
    Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing Diablo 3 on all of the consoles. I'm sure it would look great on both the Xbox and PS3, and a Wii version could be entertaining to hack apart enemies by waving the Wiimote around. Actually, given the number of enemies one has to kill in Diablo, I imagine your arms would feel like jelly after playing the game on the Wii for any extended periods of time. ;)
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