Battle.net 2.0 Features Detailed At BlizzCon 2009

Blizzard Entertainment's Rob Pardo revealed the planned features for Battle.net 2.0, which will launch in 2010 with StarCraft II and be incorporated into World of WarCraft. The biggest change is the introduction of what Blizzard is calling "Real ID" that should eliminate "smurfing" accounts and ensure better matchmaking. Games will be tied to a specific account much like Steam or other digital distribution services. Battle.net 2.0 will be free, however.

Pardo believes that the new matchmaking system is more powerful than Microsoft's TrueSkill and when paired with Real ID, it should help players of all skill levels get into games that they have a chance to win. On this point, the ladder system has been improved to take player skill into account. After a player completes around 10 games, they will be placed into a skill tier. Within each skill tier, the player is matched up with 99 other players in 100 player divisions. The focus of the season is on competing with these 99 other players with tournaments taking place at the end of each season between division leaders.

As a dashboard, Battle.net 2.0 is always on and will allow for cross-game/cross-realm chat and players will be able to see which friends are online while in singleplayer. There aren't any groundbreaking features here, but it brings Battle.net up to Steam's level and will help World of WarCraft players transition into StarCraft II.

StarCraft II will also support a Marketplace, which will not be available at launch, but added later. This is where custom map makers can offer up their maps for free or for a small fee, taking in part of the revenue. Pardo compared it to Apple's iPhone App Store. Custom maps can also be published to the server so players can see what is available, comment and rate them, and download them without having to join games. Custom games can also be filtered so you can find custom maps that aren't DotA.

Battle.net 2.0 Image Gallery...

Apple iPhone

In Morning Hangover #24, I wrote about the FCC's investigation on why Google Voice was rejected from the iPhone App Store. Apple and AT&T have responded to the FCC. Here's a snippet from Apple's letter:

"Contrary to published reports, Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application, and continues to study it. The application has not been approved because, as submitted for review, it appears to alter the iPhone’s distinctive user experience by replacing the iPhone’s core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with its own user interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voicemail."

Apparently Apple didn't "reject" Google Voice. It's just studying a relatively uncomplicated app because it's overly concerned that its iPhone customers are too stupid to tell the difference between the iPhone's interface and Google Voice. Yeah....

As for AT&T, it's claiming complete innocence in the fiasco. Senior executive vice president Jim Cicconi wrote:

Read More »

Tags: Apple, iPhone, Tech

The world of Azeroth is shaken to it's very core as Blizzard debuts the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm trailer in all it's glory. Catch all the new features and gameplay additions all packed in premium Blizzard fashion.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Debut Trailer »


StarCraft II Logo

After the opening ceremony at BlizzCon 2009, CEO Mike Morhaime announced that the StarCraft II beta should start this year when questioned about the test.

The beta hinges on the launch of the new Battle.net, which is set to be revealed later today at BlizzCon.

Whether or not the beta will hit this year is anybody's guess, but the fact that Blizzard is showing off B.net 2.0 today is promising.


World of WarCraft: Cataclysm

At BlizzCon 2009, Blizzard Entertainment has officially announced World of WarCraft: Cataclysm, the next expansion pack coming to World of WarCraft. The rumors were spot on with the level cap being raised to 85 and Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms will be changed by the events in the story of the expansion.

As rumored, the Goblins will become a playable race for the Horde and the Worgen will go playable for the Alliance. New dungeons and raids will be opened up and some older encounters like Onyxia's Lair will be updated.

Cataclysm will use the phasing technology that debuted in The Wrath of the Lich King to "literally change the face" of Azeroth.

Expect more details as BlizzCon 2009 continues through tomorrow night.


BlizzCon 2009

I am on site at BlizzCon 2009 with MMO Report producer Patrick Roche-Sowa and we're just waiting for Blizzard to kick things off with the opening ceremony. Keep your browser locked to G4tv.com all day for BlizzCon coverage including news about World of WarCraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, and Battle.net.

I'll also be going hands-on with anything and everything that is playable on the show floor and snapping photos for your viewing pleasure. The cosplayers are out in force and getting ready to show off their hard work.

Also, kudos to Blizzard for having the best press room in the industry!

What are you looking forward to the most out of BlizzCon 2009?

Apple iPhone

The results of a recent survey from ChangeWave Research should surprise no one: While the overwhelming majority of iPhone users approve of their phones (97%), more than half do not approve of AT&T, the phone's sole provider of service.

Thirty two percent of respondents said the biggest problem with the iPhone is service lock-in with AT&T, while 23% said AT&T's calling and data coverage, service quality and service speed were the biggest downers about owning an iPhone. That adds up to 55% of iPhone users citing AT&T as the biggest iPhone issue.

Overall, iPhone battery issues were the No. 1 dislike of Apple aficionados.

I have AT&T service for my phone (not an iPhone), and I'm okay with it. But I'm not a huge "phone guy." I imagine most of the frustration for iPhone users has to do with the lack of choice of providers. If Apple opened up the iPhone to other providers, everyone would be happy... except, of course, AT&T. Many are predicting that Apple will open up the phone as soon as the current contracts are up, but I'm not sure.

Opening up the iPhone would be the best thing for consumers, but that doesn't mean it will happen. Like most things in life, I'm pretty sure it will all boil down to money, to who is going to pony up the most cash for the rights to service iPhone users -- if AT&T can convince Apple to keep exclusivity by driving huge trucks full of money up to the Apple offices, the status quo will remains. Meanwhile, you gotta figure Verizon is pleading its case to Apple too.


At QuakeCon 2009, we spoke with Tim Willits, creative director on Rage, about id Software's new IP, the challenges the company faced with doing racing, and how the game is shaping up as a whole.

A first for id Software, of course, is the addition of vehicles, but you won't just be hopping in any car in the world of Rage. Tim Willits explains:

"We want the vehicles to feel like an extension of your first-person avatar. That way you have more of a connection to them and it makes the game more personal to you. There are many different modifications you can do to vehicles. There's tires, suspension, armor kits. One thing that we found out in testing is that, yeah, you can put guns on your vehicles, but people really like ramming into other cars so one of the upgrades that you'll be able to buy is a 'front-smasher'. With that, you can just plow through the wasteland and cause a lot of destruction and hit somebody."

QuakeCon 2009 Rage Interview »

Quake Live Getting New Maps, Rewards And Leaderboards To Return

Announced last week at QuakeCon 2009, the Mac and Linux versions of Quake Live is now active and can be accessed on your Apple or penguin-powered personal computer.

Just head on over to QuakeLive.com and register, download the plug-in, and get fragging. I loaded it up in Safari and found it a little buggy. What is your experience with Quake Live on OSX or Linux so far?

BlizzConBilly and Andrew are over in Germany attending GamesCom, but that isn't the only event scheduled for this week. Friday and Saturday will host BlizzCon 2009 at the Anaheim Convention Center and I'll be going along with X-Play and The MMO Report to cover Blizzard's event for you all.

The rumors are that Blizzard will be announcing the next World of WarCraft expansion, Cataclysm, but this has yet to be officially confirmed. We'll be seeing more from Diablo III, StarCraft II, and hopefully the updated Battle.net.

I'll be bringing you updated news and information on all three franchises, panel summaries, hands-on impressions with Diablo III and the latest StarCraft II multiplayer build, interviews with the developers behind Diablo III, StarCraft II, and Battle.net, pictures from the floor, and more!

X-Play is filming for an upcoming special with Morgan Webb and Blair Herter, covering the event in its entirety, featuring more interviews on World of WarCraft, Diablo III, and Battle.net. The MMO Report will be on hand filming for an upcoming special, interacting with fans and checking out what the World of WarCraft team is bringing to the show.

I'm excited as this will be my first chance to play Diablo III and any day I get to play StarCraft II is a great day. What are you looking forward to at BlizzCon 2009?

StarCraft II

As part of our StarCraft II singleplayer coverage leading up to BlizzCon 2009, I sat down with Andy Chambers, lead writer for the game, to talk to him about the development process, story, and his influences as a write. I got the chance to ask him a very interesting question:

G4: As a history buff, then, if you could describe each of StarCraft II’s three races compared to real world historical societies. You already mentioned that the Terran were the Australians. What would the Zerg and Protoss be?

Andy Chambers: That’s a really interesting exercise. Historically speaking, the Zerg are the Mongols, the Protoss are the Chinese, and yes, the Terrans are the Europeans in a very broad sense as in the UED (Editor’s Note: United Earth Directorate – StarCraft’s Terran governing body) and the shipping people off down to Australia is exactly what happened to Raynor and his group. “We don’t wan these people anymore. Let’s send them to the other end of the galaxy.”

The rest of the interview has great information on the how Chambers and Blizzard are crafting the game's story as well as a look into how writing fits into Blizzard's development process.

Read The Full Interview »


The Sims 3 has yet to reach 3 months out of the gates from it's June launch, but that won't let EA and Maxis from announcing a new expansion already coming in November. Here's the debut trailer for The Sims 3 World Adventures Expansion Pack, which sends your urbanite of a virtual being into the realm of international journey.

Having places like Egypt, France and China to venture off to, what diabolical ways can you conjure up to destroy your Sim? No points for cornering them off in a pyramid having them die of starvation and wetting themselves. Not very original.

The Sims 3 World Adventures Expansion Trailer »

StarCraft II Singleplayer Hands-On Preview

Last month, Blizzard had the press out to their headquarters in Irvine, CA to get some hands-on time with StarCraft II’s first singleplayer campaign missions. After a quick introduction to the campaign’s features and some of the design decisions that led to the creation of these features, it was time to find a computer and boot up StarCraft II singleplayer.

If you haven’t been following StarCraft II, the initial release of the game will contain the Terran campaign, subtitled “Wings of Liberty”, and the full multiplayer component. The campaign, however, will be much longer than a traditional RTS game with over 30 unique levels that progress in a non-linear fashion. It is very important to lead designer Dustin Browder that each mission plays differently than every other mission. Each mission has a hook or mechanic that is not found in any other levels. I can’t speak for every mission, but all of the missions I was able to play were different.

Read The Full Hands-On Preview »

Check out an incredible cinematic of the Protoss hero Zeratul, as he uncovers some ol' runes depicting the past history of the StarCraft II god-like Xel'Naga race and foreboding events that awaits them all... that is until he meets up with some old "friends".

Starcraft II Old Rivals Cinematic CG Trailer »

Apple Tablet Shown Running Version Of OS X?

Nothing like starting off the day with some good old-fashioned gadgetry speculation in the form of yet another leaked photo of a highly anticipated piece of technology. With the PlayStation 3 Slim rumors hopefully getting the official announcement treatment this week at GamesCom 2009 in Germany, Apple’s long rumored, yet expected-to-be-released-sometime-soon, tablet device (iTab?) has officially taken the top spot in terms of most speculated about product.

Today’s images, as reported by Boy Genius Report, come from a French blog with a fairly reliable track record with these kinds of things, and apparently show the tablet running a version of Apple’s OS X, which is peculiar, since it’s long been assumed that the device would run some form of the iPhone OS. Another odd detail is the whereabouts of the home button, which sits in the middle of one of the lengthwise sides, as opposed to a shorter side where users hands would most likely be while holding the device.

While the images certainly aren't the prettiest ones I've seen recently, the device doesn't come across as totally illogical. In fact, it looks pretty much like I would expect such a device to look. However, as always, these are unconfirmed pictures, so until you are drooling dangerously close to the device at your local Apple store, don’t read too much into them.

What’s been your favorite “leaked” photo of Apple’s tablet device so far?


Tags: Apple, iPhone, Tech


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