Blizzplanet – The Art of Blizzard Entertainment – Nick Carpenter Interview

DJTyrant attended the Gallery Nucleus exhibition event featuring the Insight Editions Art of Blizzard Entertainment book launch. On behalf of Blizzplanet, DJTyrant interviewed Nick Carpenter (VP of Art and Cinematic Development) to discuss details of the development of this book from early concept stage to publishing.

Nick Carpenter also talks about the design of the Crown of Glory — given to employees who have reached their 20th anniversary working at Blizzard Entertainment

Order The Art of Blizzard Entertainment. (Select Super Saver Shipping at checkout)

nickcarpenter-interview-1024x573

IDW Transformers: Autocracy # 3 : Blizzplanet interviews Chris Metzen and Flint Dille

Last summer, during the BotCon 2011 celebrated in Pasadena, CA through June 2-5, Chris Metzen and Flint Dille revealed they would launch Transformers: Autocracy — an 8-page digital format comic book spanning 12-parts. It sets the ground that ignited what will later be known as the great civil war of Cybertron. A world ruled by Zeta Prime. This is where the Optimus Prime we love and cherish was forged. At the time, he was the best officer of Zeta Prime. But things weren’t black and white in this era, and back then Optimus Prime was still known as Orion Pax.

Transformers: Autocracy launched on January 18th, and it’s published every two weeks in Comixology (PC/Mac), and the iPad and iPhone mobile platform.

In the eve of the launch of Transformers: Autocracy # 3 (available Wednesday, February 15th) I had the awesome opportunity to ask Chris Metzen and Flint Dille some questions about the digital comics.

When did you get hooked up with Transformers, and what’s your geek out story around the franchise?

Metzen: Well the opportunity to write a Transformers story for IDW popped a few years ago now. It’s taken awhile to get it (all) together. Thankfully the editors at IDW have been very patient!

As for favorite geek-out? There’s no question (IMHO) that the franchise’s greatest moment (across all media) is the throw-down mega-fisticuffs slug-fest between Prime and Megatron in the animated film. “Why throw away your life so recklessly?” Heh. Still makes me smile like an idiot?

Which Transformers stories did you read as background for Autocracy prior to writing the 12-part story?

Metzen: Ooof. Everything I could get my hands on! I had been reading the ongoing series/All Hail Megatron/etc. since it started, but needed to brush up on all the one-shots. Loved Maximum Dynobots and the Last Stand of the Wreckers tales as well. There was a lot to take in and I see lots of places where we missed a few notable details. ? It was a lot to cram for. My biggest inspiration (apart from the animated film) is Furman’s body of work on Transformers. That man paved some serious ground.

Some people are confused with what little they have read in the past 16 pages (spanning Transformers: Autocracy # 1-2) and what they know from Megatron: Origins. Especially concerning Starscream. In Megatron: Origins, Sentinel Prime is still alive. Starscream fights alongside the Deceptions against the Autobots and kills Kaon senators in front of everyone. Yet, in Autocracy, Starscream is a delegate with freedom to walk among the Senate and Zeta Prime as if no one knows what he did. Are fans going to get a clearer picture of what’s going on, or is there a retcon?

Metzen: Ok, lemmesee if I can clear this up… (fingers crossed)…

Autocracy takes place AFTER Chaos Theory, Megatron: Origins and Spotlight: Blurr. You’ll see it’s AFTER everything IDW’s tackled in that era. It’s the story of the end of that era – and the start of the WAR we all know and love.

As for Starscream and the senate of Kaon – no one survived that (very brazen) attack and all video coverage was quickly disposed of. Decepticons are very clever… and thorough! Thus, Starscream’s role as a Decepticon is still largely under wraps as Autocracy gets underway (at least as far as Zeta and these remaining senators are concerned). That entire attack was covered up pretty quick – so one has a clear picture of exactly which Decepticons were specifically involved.

I’ll also go out on a limb here and address the other lingering break – Sentinel WAS Zeta’s immediate predecessor – NOT Nominus. That was my bad… the mention of him getting whacked at the start of Chaos Theory was etched in my head as I was scripting Chapter 2 and I referred to the wrong guy… (do I get a last cigarette before the firing squad does away with me?)…

Why did you choose to write a story set in that time period? Whose was the initiative to do so, yours or the IDW editorial team?

Metzen: Well, Flint and I had pitched a really cool ‘present day’ hook that took a deep look at Optimus and what made him tick. It had some heavy flash-back elements from the old days. Some of the themes and hooks we pitched seemed similar to those that were being developed for Chaos Theory (which no one had seen yet), so the editor, Andy Schmidt, walked us through what Chaos Theory was going to be. We were hooked – and knew immediately that our story would fit far better into that pre-war era. From there – Autocracy really started to find its feet.

What can you tell us about Zeta Prime and his extreme measures to combat the Decepticons?

Metzen: Well… I believe Zeta started strong and wanted to be a Prime that really maintained order and security for the people. But Megatron really stoked the fires of unrest. I think there was a crazy escalation between Zeta’s conventional tactics and the Decepticons’ terror tactics. Over time, he concluded that fighting fire with fire was the only reasonable response to what Megatron represented. He wasn’t always a monster – but he sure became one in response to an increasingly lawless and darkening world.

Sounds like there’s a good story to be told there… 🙂

Autocracy # 2 was very harsh. How does Orion Pax copes with his orders knowing his duty to Zeta Prime makes him a harbinger of mass destruction upon the very citizens he’s sworn to protect?

Metzen: He doesn’t know yet how bad things are. He doesn’t know the extent of Zeta’s plans (he wasn’t in the room to hear any of this). In general, since he’s having trouble FEELING/Hearing his conscience – one could argue he’s operating through intense tunnel-vision. He doesn’t yet see how bad things are out there in the world – or what that means to him personally.

Obviously, he was in the zone when he stood up to the Senate… clear-minded, compassionate, selfless… But when his ‘heart’ got ripped out… Well, he just ain’t been the same since. However, can you imagine how PISSED he’d be if he saw that video footage Soundwave made off with???

I have been a subscriber of Marvel Digital for a few years. I love the digital library concept. Let’s say that fans — best editors when it comes to continuum inconsistencies — find some retcons, or mistakes in Autocracy. Are you actually able to correct these in Transformers: Autocracy digital at any time? If so, how do you feel about having that sort of control?

Metzen: See answer above regarding said Sentinel/Nominus snafu… Hell yes, I’d like to FIX bits and pieces of this!!!! ? We’ll see about modifying digital content. Not sure what IDW’s plan is for that.

You are working on Diablo III, and both StarCraft II and World of Warcraft expansions, and the next-gen MMO. How do you stretch time to fit writing Transformers: Autocracy?

Metzen: Well, I recently bought a new Mac for home use, so the timing was perfect. And hey – where there’s a will, there’s a way!

There’s a lot of good and awesome critic in the forums around the Transformers: Autocracy’s digital format. It’s only 8-pages, but it crams in so much from panel to panel. The story rolls out. No pun. How does your experience in video game storytelling this past fifteen years converges with comic book storytelling?

Metzen: With 8-page chapters, there’s no room to screw around or get self-indulgent. We have to make every page, every panel, every line count – and tell this story as effectively and excitingly as we can. In that way, it’s not all that different from writing games – where a player/viewer’s time is a precious commodity. The pacing does keep things tight. 🙂

Chaos Theory, Autocracy, and other relaunch stories — all of them seem to be leading to a major event set in the present borrowing from events and characters from the long past. Is this really what’s going on? Will you be part of that project or follow up projects?

Metzen: Well, IDW’s big relaunch event was CHAOS – and the two new ongoing series (More than Meets the Eye and Robots in Disguise, respectively) are keeping their hands full. That’s the only mega event I’ve been aware of. As for more down the line… well, let’s see how Autocracy does as it picks up steam. 🙂

What should we expect to see in Autocracy # 3, and how do the events affect the remaining issues of this 12-part story?

Metzen: Well, Orion’s going to be busy hunting down Soundwave… shenanigans certainly occur.

Soundwave, Soundwave, Soundwave… for those of you who are fans of this character – buckle up! This is HIS chapter! (maybe my second biggest franchise geek-out…)

Blizzard’s roots started developing DC The Death and Return of Superman in 1994 and DC League of Justice Task Force for Super Nintendo in 1995. If Activision asked Blizzard to work on one of their IP, is that door open?

Metzen: Geez, I dunno. I think we’re doing pretty well with the franchises we’re currently developing. From a story perspective, we’ve still got miles and miles to go with each of them!

Grab a digital copy of the Transformers: Autocracy #3 for only $.99 cents via iPhone, iPad or Comixology (PC/Mac)

Note: Check back later for Flint Dille’s answers.

Transformers: Autocracy # 3 – Chris & Flint Teaser (Video)

Meet the Writers

Chris Metzen is Blizzard Entertainment Senior Vice-president of Creative Development — responsible for developing and expanding the Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo universes and directing the team of story writers for upcoming game content and licensed products such as novels and manga. Chris Metzen is loved by the lore community, and he has identified himself as a geek. The Transformers franchise is in a dear place near his geeky heart.

Transformers Theme Song (G1, 1980s)

Blizzplanet Live Chat with Tokyopop: Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 4

Blizzplanet and Starcraftwire.net will have a live chat open to all our fans and visitors to talk and interact with the Tokyopop writers involved in Starcraft: Frontline Volume 4.

As you can see in our Starcraft II Single Player Press-Hands-On Coverage, I interviewed Chris Metzen.  He elaborated on the tie-in between the novels, the Starcraft: Frontline manga series and the single player.  All the stories of the manga were already part of the single player lore rather than the other way around. In short, it is highly recommended to get your hands on these manga stories to get acquainted with the single player plots.

You will have the opportunity to interact with six writers and the editor Hope Donovan.  It is not confirmed yet, but we might have the grace to have Chris Metzen along (I will have a definite answer in a few days, so stay tuned).  Chris Metzen is one of the writers in Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 4 with the story titled: Homecoming—which tells the story of Jim Raynor’s return to Mar Sara prior to the events of the Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty single player.

Watch Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 3 Sneak Preview here and Vol. 4 here.

Order the Starcraft: Frontline series here.

We will talk with the following writers:

Paul Benjamin
David Shramek
Josh Elder
David Gerrold
Chris Metzen (?)
Grace Randolph
Ren Zatopek
Hope Donovan

Date: September 9th
Time: 1pm PDT (California) ——

EUROPE:

UK London 9:00:00 PM UTC+1 hour BST
Paris timezone is 10:00:00 PM UTC+2 hours CEST

Starcraft II Single Player Hands On: Chris Metzen Interview

Hi, I am Medievaldragon. I had the opportunity to visit the Blizzard Entertainment Headquarters to play the Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty single player campaign. I barely played through six missions, but I can tell you it was an AWESOME experience from a lore nerd point of view.

After hours playing the game, I asked Chris Metzen, Blizzard’s senior vice-president of Creative Design many questions about the single player and its relevance with the printed media such as the novels, manga and comic book. Here is our interview coverage with Chris Metzen.

TRANSCRIPThttp://www.blizzplanet.com/blog/comments/

Blizzard Quote:
I was playing the single player, and I saw something very interesting.  The mission is titled Tooth and Nail.  It is set in the protoss shrine-world Monlyth.  I noticed these protoss are the Tal’drim tribe, which is interesting because this is the name of the tribe in Starcraft: The Dark Templar trilogy by Christie Golden—shown in book two: Shadow Hunters.

The Tal’drim in this book are however known as The Forged.  They were among the protoss who were abandoned and left behind during the Invasion of Aiur.  Most of the protoss evacuated through the warpgate to reach Shakuras, and to avoid zerg from reaching Shakuras, they sealed the gateway leaving behind many protoss to their own fate.

Jim Raynor and Fenix stayed behind to make sure the Zerg wouldn’t reach the gateway.  These protoss survivors were deeply affected emotionally reliving their abandonment by the Xel’Naga, left behind to despair. Their faith in the Khala was affected, and they eventually rejected the sanctity of the Khala.

The Tal’drim survived thanks to a mysterious patron who protected them from the Zerg, deep in the forbidden caverns of Aiur.  This patron granted the Tal’drim known as The Forged a special drug named Sundrop which inhibits chemically the Khala without cutting off their head appendages.  In short, the Tal’drim are effectively blocked from their psychic commonality with the other protoss survivors in Aiur known as Those who endure, and are unable to read their thoughts.  It’s as if the Tal’drim had devolved to be like those protoss from before the Aeon of Strife, before the Khala was taught by Khas.

My question to you is, Are these other Tal’drim protoss in Monlyth also under the influence of Dark Archon Ulrezaj?

Metzen: How do I answer that.  Are the Tal’darim influenced by Ulrezaj?.  That’s still playing out.  To some degree it’s the same group, but the group might be larger than what you saw in SHADOW HUNTERS specifically.

In the first two missions set in Mar Sara, players have access to the Joey Ray’s Bar and can interact with Jim Raynor who is drinking.  There is a piece of newspaper attached to the bulletin board on the wall and you can interact with it. It says the Zerg has returned to invade the fringe-worlds and Emperor Arcturus has recalled the Terran Dominion forces to return to the core-worlds, leaving the fringe-worlds to fend on their own.

Jim Raynor heard the call for help, and rescued 800 civilians, including an orphan girl,  from a place known as Meteor Station – a Kelmorian Mining Post.  The lore fan-spider-sense in me tingled wildly. This is quite interesting, because the only place the fans have ever heard of this place: Meteor Station, was in the short story by Grace Randolph titled Last Call.  This short story is from the Starcraft: Frontline Volume 3 by Tokyopop.  Are we going to meet some of these characters, locations and plots from the mangas in the Single Player?

Metzen I think in general with the novels we’ve been doing recently with Christie Golden and definitely a lot of the manga short stories we’re definitely trying to season the game and the ancillary fiction with as much ideas, either in cross-pollinated ideas as possible.  We always like taking little hooks from one thing or another and translating into those different medium stories.  It just feels a little more contiguous ultimately.  It’s kind of interesting that these names and these ideas are being leveraged across the board.

So I think with the Tal’drim specifically there is definitely a tie there to the events happening in the Dark Templar trilogy but it’ll probably play itself out on a much longer basis.

I am definitely loving all these lore references found throughout my single player hands-on experience,  While in the Hyperion, I visited the Cantina Room and met Mr. Graven Hill, the local black market pirate.  Jim Raynor can hire different Kel-Morian mercenaries from him to help you in some of the tough missions for a price.  This really excites me for a very good reason.  I am a subscriber of the Starcraft comic book by Wildstorm comics.

As it stands, in the comic book, the War Pigs are working for the Terran Dominion, and they have been ordered to hunt down and kill Jim Raynor. However, I am guessing that at some point if the Terran Dominion abandons the War Pigs to the Zerg like they did with General Duke, and Sarah Kerrigan, and like they are doing in the present with the fringe-worlds, the War Pigs might take a turn and join the rebels as mercenaries. Are we going to eventually hire the War Pigs in Starcraft II at the Cantina?

Metzen: Interesting, will we meet the War Pigs in StarCraft 2?  I think, as it stands, they don’t make an appearance in Wings of Liberty specifically.  But we’ll keep it in mind, because we’ve been enjoying where the comic series has been going and there’s potentially a lot of rich characterization there so we’ll see down the road.

During my tour through Blizzard’s Starcraft II offices I saw on the wall a poster of various character animation portraits that will be used in the game’s interface. I saw Starcraft: Ghost’s Nova’s portrait.  I also saw Gabriel Tosh in the mission titled Mining Your Own Business set in the planet Redstone III.  I am psyched to see this character too because he is going to appear in the Pocket Books novel titled STARCRAFT: GHOST SPECTRES by Keith DeCandido on sale March 30, 2010 and he also appears in the Tokyopop manga titled STARCRAFT: GHOST ACADEMY on sale January 1, 2010.

I also saw Reporter Kate Lockwell in the single player, a character that also appears in the STARCRAFT: FRONTLINE manga.  Are we going to see Nova and Colin Phash (the telepath boy)? This boy was introduced in the short story War-Torn in the Starcraft: Frontline Volume 2 and 3, and has been confirmed to appear in Starcraft: Ghost Academy too.  Since we are seeing Gabriel Tosh from that manga in the game, are we going to see Colin Phash in the single player?

Metzen: I’m not as sure about Phash making an appearance in the game specifically but I think we’ve said before Nova’s certainly a character that is near and dear to us and we’ve got plans for her [in] the Ghost Academy manga and the upcoming novels Spectres as well.  So, yea, we’ve worked a little cameo of Nova in but I’d had to give away exactly how she plays into the story. It’s pretty cool [and] it’ll feel worthy for those fans of the character that never actually got to play her in her own title.

During my single player hands on experience I read in a piece of newspaper the name Michael Liberty.  That really intrigued me.  This is the same reporter who debuted in the Pocket Books novel Starcraft: Liberty by Jeff Grubb.  He has made a few cameos in Starcraft: Queen of Blades by Aaron Rosenberg and in the Tokyopop manga short story titled Newsworthy by Grace Randolph in the Starcraft: Frontline Volume 2.  Are we going to see Michael Liberty reporting news from the rebels’ side through clandestine broadcasts on the TV screen at the Cantina Room?

Metzen: I think Liberty actually does not show up in this campaign.  We had talked about it a lot earlier on but because he’s so extreme in his views where he’s so anti-government that we needed leverage, we kind of needed to create a new reporter that was a little more even in the kind of stories that she could report.  But I still hold out hope that we’re going to get Liberty in because he’s potentially a really cool character to use.

There is an interesting concept played out through the short story Do No Harm by Josh Elder.  A Terran Dominion scientist has been capturing Protoss and experimenting with their DNA to create a Human-Protoss hybrid prototype.  There have been other previous prototypes, but this one in particular is pretty strong and uses Ghost technology to stealth. The Terran Dominion plans to create an army of these hybrids to protect the core-worlds.  Are we going to see a follow-up of this play out into the Single Player? This guy is pretty much the Rexxar of Starcraft.

Metzen: I think that one, for now, is kind more of a one-off.  I don’t think there’s any plans to follow up on that theme anytime soon in terms of the game itself, in terms of the game story.  But I dig that story a lot that I think it’s more of just a really cool story by itself.

I remember you said in Blizzcon 2007, there were plans to add a planet encyclopedia into the Star Map where players could have the opportunity to learn some lore about each planet. Is that still the plan?  I didn’t get to see much of that in the single player build I just played.

Based on the build that you guys have been playing today we’ve pulled back a degree of that.  Most of that was a design decision, a UI decision, [where] we wanted the interface to be as clean as possible.  The current iteration is very much the one we’re running with barring some minor changes that could happen, but I think we’ve pulled a little bit more away from the grinding Encyclopedia Galactica idea that you were talking about.  It just didn’t take the shape that we were anticipating.

In this instance I think “less is more”.  We’ve still got a lot of lore based on a lot of the planets and their histories and their unique environments and things like that so a lot of that does inform the story and then per some of the blue screens or whatever there’s some data there that gives you a sense of the context of each planet but it probably won’t take as grand a shape as some of the things we were chasing earlier on.

In Starcraft: The Dark Templar trilogy, book three: Twilight we learn that Zeratul has been moving from place to place these past four years using the Xel’Naga gateways that are revealed to be spread all across the galaxy. Jake Ramsey and Zamara were stranded in a snowy planet for example, before entering the coordinates to reach a tropical planet where they find Zeratul’s ship.  Is it me, or are there breadcrumbs in the novel hinting that we will explore other star systems in the single player by using these Xel’Naga gateways?

Metzen: I think at some point it’s reasonable that we’ll use those Xel’Naga gates and explore the unexplored.  It’s hard to answer in terms of giving anything away for StarCraft II but we wouldn’t have built them [laughter] if we weren’t going to use them.

That’s interesting.  You know, I don’t know off the top of my head.  I don’t think I’m the guy to answer that one. [coughs, I’m not authorized to …]

The Snipers?

Metzen: Right.

[we all laugh—this is a joke between Metzen and I referenced back to our previous video interview during the New York Comic Con 2009 (February) when I asked him about Gilneas. They have big plans for Gilneas, but he couldn’t say anymore because there were snipers on the roof that you know … would shoot him. As he said this, he was looking at the roof—the snipers referring to Blizzard Public Relations Department.]

What has been your personal experience trying to cram up all this lore from the novels, the manga and the comic book into the single player as one solid integrated continuity of the Starcraft universe? We know that you had to split the Starcraft II single player game into three separate episodes: Wings of Liberty, Heart of the Swarm, and Legacy of the Void to fit all the lore.

Metzen: Right.  How do I respond.  I think we haven’t gone out of our way to cram all the lore from comics and all that stuff into the game.  Really we’ve been building the game’s story for so long that things like the Dark Templar trilogy or all the things you see in the manga really have just kind of organically spun out of what we were building anyway.

The trick to StarCraft II now being in these three installments is that there was a lot to play with in the first place.  We had 10 years worth of expectations and stories we wanted to chase and arcs of these characters that we wanted to explore.  So we came packing with a lot of ideas, and the idea of separating each of these chapters into their own boxed product essentially allows us to really round out each race’s stories without having to throw a bunch of stuff out.

We actually get to say everything [that] we set out to say in terms of story and we’re very proud of how Wings of Liberty has come off and I love the ending.  I can’t talk about it, obviously, but I really love Raynor’s arc and I feel everything [that] we wanted to engineer into his great journey – in his way, his redemption for what he feels are past mistakes – I really feel that we got all that in there.

While it might start on a bit of a lower note, this is not necessarily a super human guy at the height of his game at the start of the game, he definitely finds his feet very quickly and becomes the man we need and expect him to be over the process of Wings of Liberty.  It’s just been very cool to see all that come together and have all the other Ancillary lore really inform the story as its taking shape as well.

Special thanks to Chris Metzen, Shon Damron, CW, Karune and Bob Colayco for inviting me to this single player press event.  And to Troglodyte from StarcraftWire.net for compiling the transcript.

Starcraft: The Dark Templar, Twilight Video Interview

On June 13th, Christie Golden had a public appearance and signing schedule at the Book Revue in Huntington, New York—where she also read a few pages from the World of Warcraft: Arthas, Rise of the Lich King hardcover book.  This book made the New York Times Bestseller Hardcover List twice in a row barely four days after its official launch into bookstores.

I had the opportunity to ask Christie Golden what her feelings were after hearing how successful the sales of her ARTHAS novel was, and interviewed her to ask questions about Starcraft: The Dark Templar, Twilight.  Most of the questions were submitted by the lore community. Christie Golden answered all of them.

I read this book, and I can tell you it is amazing. Many things are revealed. There are a few cliffhangers that will be answered in Starcraft II eventually. And you will learn the shocking truth of the Xel’Naga and the purpose of their experiement with the Protoss and the Zerg.  There are many twists awaiting you.  Your crave for the Starcraft II single player will be increased a hundredfold.

Watch our video interview with Christie Golden for some teasers.

StarCraft # 1 – Simon Furman Interview

We had the opportunity to ask questions to Simon Furman, writer of StarCraft # 1—the ongoing Wildstorm comic book, to discuss details of the first arc. He is widely known for his work on The Transformers series.  We wanted to find out how his experience benefits the StarCraft series to spice up the conspiracies and tone of the Koprulu sector, specially when the comic book is based in the time-frame of the upcoming StarCraft II single player storyline.

How does your experience with The Transformers translate into your new role in the StarCraft comic book? And what’s your feeling on taking this project?

SF: Just to reassure people, the StarCraft comic is a robot-free zone as far as I

Starcraft # 1 – Ben Abernathy Interview

The StarCraft # 1 comic book by Wildstorm Comics and DC Comics will make its official launch on May 27th at all newsstands nationwide.  This is one of the most expected comic book titles based in Blizzard Entertainment’s StarCraft Universe. The comic book heralds the release of the RTS sequel StarCraft II and will give us a glimpse into its single player storyline.

We approached Ben Abernathy (Wildstorm Starcraft Editor) to find out further details of this comic book beyond the solicitations to increase our expectations and crave for this new ongoing series.

What timeframe does the comic take place in?

Ben: Our book takes place in 2552.

What can you tell us about the main characters? And will known heroes such as Jim Raynor, Zeratul, Matt Horner, Tychus Findlay appear in the comic book?

Ben: The main characters are a motley group of mercenaries known as the

Chris Metzen & Micky Neilson Pocket Star Books Lore Q&A Video Interview

On Saturday, February 7th—Chris Metzen and Micky Neilson attended the 2009 New York Comic Con for a book signing session at the Simon & Schuster booth (1402). Thanks to Jaime Costas from the Pocket Star Books publisher; Shon Damron and Rob Tokar from Blizzard Entertainment’s Public Relations Department an interview was scheduled at the event.

Chris Metzen and Micky Neilson answered lore questions based on the StarCraft and World of WarCraft pocket star books for a length of 24 minutes. I split the video into two parts. This interview is packed with a lot of fun, spoilery and informative answers to various concerns from scenes that happened in Starcraft: The Dark Templar Saga, Warcraft: The Last Guardian, World of Warcraft: Beyond the Dark Portal, the Warcraft RPG Books, and World of Warcraft: Night of the Dragon. And a massive influx of info about the upcoming books—World of Warcraft: Arthas, Rise of the Lich King (April 21), Starcraft: The Dark Templar, Twilight (June 30), World of Warcraft: Stormrage (2010) and Starcraft Ghost: Spectre (2010).

After watching this video interview, you are going to faint, and wake up with only one thought in mind: “you CAN’T MISS reading one of these pocket star books !!!”  Guaranteed. These books tie-in deeply into the events of the World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King and could we dare to say … future expansions?

I gathered lore questions from the following communities: WorldofWar.net, StarcraftWire.net, Scrollsoflore.com, Blizzplanet.com, WowInsider.com, WoW-ESP.com, Starcraft-ESP.com and WoW-Hungary

Video Part 2

Transcript

Medievaldragon: This is Medievaldragon from Blizzplanet and WorldOfWar.net. We are here to interview Chris Metzen, Senior Vice President of Creative Development for Blizzard Entertainment and Micky Neilson, Senior Writer and Voice Director of Blizzard Entertainment. I picked up some questions from the Community about Pocket Books lore. We’ll start with the Starcraft questions first.

Medievaldragon: Ulrezaj is composed of 7 dark templars according to Starcraft: The Dark Templar Saga, but only composed of 4 in the Enslavers 2 Episode 5B: Dark Vengeance. could you fill us in on how that happened?

Metzen: Essentially we just made a call. Originally, I think in the Enslavers campaign it was 4, but Enslavers has always been kind of quasi-canonical.  There was a lot of new fiction developed for Enslavers that we thought was really cool, but as we were developing this trilogy with Christie we knew we wanted to bring Ulrezaj back, which was kind of a cool idea, but we felt that going to 7 was better for the fiction in general. It kind of gave us more options to dig his origin out, who were all these arch-criminals that comprised him, so we felt that going with 7 just felt a little rounder. So… that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Medievaldragon: Does the Umojan Protectorate and Kel-morian Combine have their own versions of the Ghost program, or is it exclusive to the Confederates and the Dominion?

Neilson: I like that question.

Metzen: Kill it!

Neilson: My answer would be that they do, and that it’s something a little bit different, something we haven’t seen yet, and something that we should definitely investigate in the future in the fiction, because it sounds like a really cool idea.

Metzen: That sounds like a dare right there.

Neilson: That’s right.

Medievaldragon: Will the Terrazine gas plot be explored in the upcoming Starcraft Ghost: Spectre book?

Metzen: Well the Terrazine and its significance to the “alleged” Ghost spectres is definitely handled in the upcoming novel Starcraft Ghost: Spectre by Decandidio. Decandido, pardon me. Sorry Keith! We definitely get into what Terrazine is, what it’s used for, and I would bet, wink wink, that we might see a bit of that play out in Starcraft 2 as well.

Neilson: Yes…

Metzen: Yes indeed.

Medievaldragon: Can we expect a sequel to Starcraft: Queen of Blades? We are missing the period between the Overmind’s invasion of Aiur and Tassadar’s sacrifice.

Neilson: Official announcement? I don’t know what’s official and what isn’t as far as…

Metzen: We’ve been working on an outline, we call it… well I’ll just say it. We call it Heir to Adun is the title of that possible novel. We’ve done a number of outline treatments on it to really dig out Tassadar’s story, and Tassadar’s nature as this kind of Twilight Messiah for the protoss people. What was really going on there at the fall of Aiur, and really digging out all the political things that were happening with the Conclave, and the Judicators, and the Templar. We definitely have a rocking story built for a novel, but we don’t have any plans yet on exactly when we would publish it or I don’t even know if we have a writer lined up yet, but we have an awesome outline for it.

Medievaldragon: Yeah, we have been expecting it for a while. (laughing) I know it takes time.

Metzen: If I had my way it would have been out already.

Neilson: It’s going to be a little while

Medievaldragon: Okay, we’re going to move to the Warcraft questions.

Medievaldragon: A fan asked:  The body of Sargeras that Aegwynn killed was said to be an avatar in Warcraft: The Last Guardian, does this mean that Sargeras’ real body is still out there somewhere? Or is Sargeras pulling a Lord Voldemort trick to ensure his return?

Neilson: Sargeras is still kicking around. You can’t put him down.

Metzen: He’s out there somewhere.

Neilson: He’s not going to stay down for long.

Metzen: Yeah totally. And I think the hooks we had for his physical body, wherever it may be are so visually stunning that I think we have to… it’s like low hanging fruit, we’re going to have to bring him back somewhere. I’d be very disappointed in us if we didn’t leverage him fully.

Medievaldragon: He would be like the ultimate encounter.

Neilson: Hmm… yes.

Medievaldragon: In The Last Guardian, Medivh attacks Garona with a spell, saying “let me show you my world Garona. Let me drive my own divisions and doubts into you. You will never know who you serve and why. You’ll never find your peace.” This is most commonly seen by fans as Sargeras cursing Garona into betraying everyone she works for… Is this true? Is that why she has been missing all these years?

Neilson: As to what’s going on with Garona, we’re launching into the second arc of the WoW comic. There are going to be a LOT of questions answered regarding Garona… why she did what she did, her whole backstory. It all ties into Med’an, this new character, who’s going to be really important to the lore. So for the community to learn a lot more about Garona, they should definitely check out the comic book.

Medievaldragon: Will there be a follow-up in the pocket books at some point?

Neilson: For Garona? Maybe.

Metzen: I didn’t hear… a cameo within a book?

Neilson: Not out of the question, I’m sure.

Metzen: Yeah, I think we’re still feeling it out. We just recently started leveraging the character again, so there’s a lot of interest in the character, so I can see us getting [cut off]

[Plays a scene from warcraft 3 of Arthas approaching the Revenants blocking the path to Frostmourne]

Guardian: Turn back mortals. Death and Darkness are all that await you in this forsaken vault.

Arthas: I doubt there’s anything down here more terrifying than what we’ve faced already.

Guardian: Believe what you will, boy. You shall not pass.

[after fight]

Guardian: Turn away… before it’s… too late.

Arthas: Still trying to protect the sword are you?

Guardian: No… trying to protect you… from it.

Medievaldragon: What were the Revenants’ motives to care for Arthas’ fate? Will it be explained in World of Warcraft: Arthas, Rise of the Lich King?

Metzen: It’s in the book.

Medievaldragon: In the book? Alright

Neilson: Buy the book.

Metzen: It’s really good. Really good… Christie just rocked this book.

Medievaldragon: In World of Warcraft: Night of the Dragon, we see a glimpse of Malygos proposing to the Wyrmrest Accord the purge of the mages prior to the Nexus War. Kalecgos departs to Outland at the end of the book. What’s Kalecgos’ stance with the Nexus War?

Metzen: Interesting. I think Kalecgos is loyal, he’s a blue dragon. Their function is to kind of police mortals’ use of magic, so to some degree he wants to do what Malygos wants him to do. He’s loyal, he’s a team player, but I also think that Kalecgos has a huge heart. I think he has a deep conscience, and I think he’s terrified of how these things have just spun out of control, and I think he regrets the loss of life and probably looks at it as a totally heavy handed solution to the problem, so I think he’s probably a little torn.

Neilson: And he’s spent a lot of time with mortals at this point too. He’s grown close to some mortals with the whole Anveena thing and everything else, so he would definitely be torn. His feelings would be torn.

Medievaldragon: He was a bit arrogant at the beginning, but his experience with Anveena kind of softened him.

Neilson: Absolutely.

Metzen: Right, kind of drew him closer to the experience of mortals. Totally.

Medievaldragon: Now that Malygos is dead, will there be a new Aspect of Magic (such as Kalecgos); or is that position gone forever? Could a dragon of another flight become the magic aspect… temporarily… for example: Krasus… who is an Archmage?

Metzen: I would say to question A: (slowly motions with his lips toward the poster of the World of Warcraft: Arthas book).

Neilson: (laughing)

Metzen: And to question B, I would say no.

Medievaldragon: Okay… I kind of gotcha…

(all laughing)

Medievaldragon: What can you tell us about the upcoming Worlf of Warcraft: Stormrage by Richard A. Knaak?

Neilson: Stormrage is gonna be fantastic. What’s really cool about Stormrage is that we will be able to actually live the Nightmare, through this book, that’s going on in the Emerald Dream turning into the Emerald Nightmare. One of the coolest elements, in my opinion, is that the nightmare is starting to spread into Azeroth, and we’re going to touch on that in the manga as well, so we’re going to have a story that touches on, for instance, what is King Magni’s worst nightmare? And because the Nightmare is spreading into the reality of Azeroth, we’ll be able to see that. The book’s going to be fantastic, answers all kinds of questions, what’s been happening to Malfurion, what’s going on, who’s behind it… al those questions are going to be answered.

Metzen: I would just say too, I mean Malfurion’s always been, personally, my favorite Warcraft hero. He’s my favorite to write, so I’ve waited a long time to get this guy back into the mix, and have him play a significant role in the shaping of Azeroth. He’s a mega player, and he’s been off the scene.

Neilson: For a long time.

Metzen: I’m really stoked on this book. We really designed the essential backbone of the book to be just hyper Druid overload. If you’re a WoW Druid, this book’s for you. It features all the major druid characters, and players. I love it. Love it, love it.

(Video Part 2 Transcript)

Medievaldragon: Will there be a cameo of Jarod Shadowsong in World of Warcraft: Stormrage? The official website’s encyclopedia says he departed the druids and was never seen again.

Metzen: I don’t remember. For some reason, I don’t think so. But we would be lovingly surprised if he did. He doesn’t play a significant role in it.

Medievaldragon: Aaron Rosenberg’s World of Warcraft: Tides of Darkness helps modernize a lot of the lore revolving around Warcraft II.  One aspect of the lore that fans have been wondering about, is Gilneas.  Was Gilneas scheduled to make an appearance in that book, but had to be trimmed out, or will Gilneas be revisited in future books?

(Neilson grins at Metzen)

Metzen: Ah, ah, I would say we have some very, very, Very interesting plans for Gilneas. (Metzen docks slightly looking toward the ceiling) But there are snipers up in the roof that would shoot me if you know … (everyone laughs). We are doing some awesome stuff for Gilneas.

Neilson: … stay tuned!

Metzen: Stay tuned.

Medievaldragon: World of Warcraft: Beyond the Dark Portal reveals Cho’gall was killed. Or was he?  How did the Twilight’s Hammer survive the Broken Isles’ massacre?

Neilson: Cho’gall is gonna make a come back. He’s not dead. You are going to see he will play a large role in the second arc of the World of Warcraft comic book. So, exactly how he survived … he’s just too tough. Two axes to the chest weren’t enough to take him down. He just appeared dead. (Laughs)

Metzen: Mostly.

Medievaldragon: If he is not decapitated, he is not dead.

Neilson: That’s right.

Metzen: That’s right.

Medievaldragon: (jokingly) … and that doesn’t mean he can’t return. Somebody plugs the head back to his body and …

Metzen: Necromancers.

Neilsen: Necromancers.

(Everyone laughs)

Medievaldragon: What’s happening to Blood Elf culture (especially Rommath’s role in it) now that the Sunwell was restored with M’uru?

Metzen: What we showed at the end of Burning Crusade, like during the whole Sunwell event, was that the warped naaru M’uru was kinda transformed back into his purest self, purest light that Velen used to reignite the Sunwell, as a fountain of Holy power, as much as it is arcane. So the suggestion was that over time the Blood Elves will start to actually use real Light power, in a healthy way, instead of dominating it. So what will likely happen over time is a slow transition, but what Velen did was give them a chance to redeem their civilization, a chance to get back to their roots, a chance to upset their magical addiction. So that kinda thing will probably gonna play out very slowly.  We didn’t talk much about it in Wrath of the Lich King, but it is a theme I love a lot, but it has to be played out very slow.

Medievaldragon: I like that aspect of redeeming them … Does that mean that at some point they are going to get back to their roots and restore the Council of Tirisfal?

Metzen: ha-ha! … no … comment.

Medievaldragon: Are we ever seeing the Scythe of Elune questline and how it all tied into Karazhan and the Dark Riders explored in a future pocket book?

Metzen: I will say there are elements of the Scythe of Elune questline that are not … over … (long silence).

Neilson: (laughs)

Metzen: … (longer silence) Alright, that’s all I’m saying. (laughs)

Woah, WOAH! (Metzen jokingly makes a motion with his hands and legs as if tight-rope walking).

(Everyone laughs)

Medievaldragon: Quick sand! Quick sand!

(laughs)

Medievaldragon: Is the existence of Finnal Goldensword canon?  She’s Admiral Proudmoore’s half-elf daughter.  If so, are there plans to introduce her in the pocket books?

Metzen: I’m sure this will be controversial, but I don’t necessarily consider her canonical. And based on that, we don’t really have any plans to use her in the future. I think she appeared in one of the Warcraft RPG books. It’s not a character I have thought out about, so at this point I’m not sure if we are gonna do much with her.

Medievaldragon: World of Warcraft: Arthas, Rise of the Lich King will devote a portion of its time to the love triangle between Arthas, Jaina and Kael’thas.  Now, many of us have played Warcraft III and have also run Gnomeregan, so, we’ve got to ask … Where does Thrall factor in?

I’m not quite sure of what that questions means.

Neilson: Well, I think they are wondering: Is there a romantic interest between Thrall and Jaina? I think that’s what it’s implying.

Metzen: Ohh …

Medievaldragon: Not sure—why they are asking about Gnomeregan.

Metzen: Yea, it’s worded a little weird. Well, I would say the whole Kael’thas, Arthas, Jaina triangle thing is totally handled in the book. And it’s R-r-really good! But it explains the whole relationship, and how that all went down. Christie just handled it perfectly. So I’m excited to really see that.  But relative, the question was, is there a little you know … green fever going on with Thrall and Jaina?  umm … (takes deep breath) … I don’t know, I know people are kinda fascinated a little about that but …

Neilson: (laughs)

Medievaldragon: Ohh … I know now what they meant. In Gnomeregan, there was a punch card in binary code that when you decoded it, it reads: “Thrall and Jaina in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G.”

Neilson: Ohhh!

Metzen: Right, right. I don’t know, I would say I try to be pretty conservative with all that stuff. I would like Thrall to settle down with a nice green girl…

Neilson: (laughs louder)

Metzen: …you know, and have little green babies. I’d like the dynasty of Orgrimmar to be pure blood, right. But you never know. I hope he keeps things together and doesn’t do something stupid before we can actually build this stuff in the game. So … you know Thrall.

Medievaldragon: Hormones …

Metzen: What’re we gonna do.

Medievaldragon: What should we expect in World of Warcraft: Arthas and how does it ties-in with the game?

Neilson: I think one of the things that are really, really amazing about ARTHAS the book is … you play Classic WoW, right, so the whole time you are running around. The Lich King is basically sitting there on his throne. So the question is: What’s going on? What’s going through his head? So this book actually gets you inside his head during that time. You will find out what was going on. Really be able to get inside the mind of evil. Getting inside the mind of Arthas. Find out what makes him tick. Even when he was saying things to Uther, when he disbanded the paladins, and things like that. Really gonna go indepth on that to find out what was going on inside his head. All the layers. Christie did a great job putting in all these different layers of what’s happening. So there’s the dialogue that we heard in the game, but there is much more deeper story that you won’t get unless you read the book.

Metzen: He effed up with himself.

Chris Metzen & Micky Neilson Pocket Star Books Lore Q&A Video Interview

On Saturday, February 7th—Chris Metzen and Micky Neilson attended the 2009 New York Comic Con for a book signing session at the Simon & Schuster booth (1402). Thanks to Jaime Costas from the Pocket Star Books publisher; Shon Damron and Rob Tokar from Blizzard Entertainment’s Public Relations Department an interview was scheduled at the event.

Chris Metzen and Micky Neilson answered lore questions based on the StarCraft and World of WarCraft pocket star books for a length of 24 minutes. I split the video into two parts. This interview is packed with a lot of fun, spoilery and informative answers to various concerns from scenes that happened in Starcraft: The Dark Templar Saga, Warcraft: The Last Guardian, World of Warcraft: Beyond the Dark Portal, the Warcraft RPG Books, and World of Warcraft: Night of the Dragon. And a massive influx of info about the upcoming books—World of Warcraft: Arthas, Rise of the Lich King (April 21), Starcraft: The Dark Templar, Twilight (June 30), World of Warcraft: Stormrage (2010) and Starcraft Ghost: Spectre (2010).

After watching this video interview, you are going to faint, and wake up with only one thought in mind: “you CAN’T MISS reading one of these pocket star books !!!”  Guaranteed. These books tie-in deeply into the events of the World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King and could we dare to say … future expansions?

I gathered lore questions from the following communities: WorldofWar.net, StarcraftWire.net, Scrollsoflore.com, Blizzplanet.com, WowInsider.com, WoW-ESP.com, Starcraft-ESP.com and WoW-Hungary

Video Part 2

Transcript

Medievaldragon: This is Medievaldragon from Blizzplanet and WorldOfWar.net. We are here to interview Chris Metzen, Senior Vice President of Creative Development for Blizzard Entertainment and Micky Neilson, Senior Writer and Voice Director of Blizzard Entertainment. I picked up some questions from the Community about Pocket Books lore. We’ll start with the Starcraft questions first.

Medievaldragon: Ulrezaj is composed of 7 dark templars according to Starcraft: The Dark Templar Saga, but only composed of 4 in the Enslavers 2 Episode 5B: Dark Vengeance. could you fill us in on how that happened?

Metzen: Essentially we just made a call. Originally, I think in the Enslavers campaign it was 4, but Enslavers has always been kind of quasi-canonical.  There was a lot of new fiction developed for Enslavers that we thought was really cool, but as we were developing this trilogy with Christie we knew we wanted to bring Ulrezaj back, which was kind of a cool idea, but we felt that going to 7 was better for the fiction in general. It kind of gave us more options to dig his origin out, who were all these arch-criminals that comprised him, so we felt that going with 7 just felt a little rounder. So… that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Medievaldragon: Does the Umojan Protectorate and Kel-morian Combine have their own versions of the Ghost program, or is it exclusive to the Confederates and the Dominion?

Neilson: I like that question.

Metzen: Kill it!

Neilson: My answer would be that they do, and that it’s something a little bit different, something we haven’t seen yet, and something that we should definitely investigate in the future in the fiction, because it sounds like a really cool idea.

Metzen: That sounds like a dare right there.

Neilson: That’s right.

Medievaldragon: Will the Terrazine gas plot be explored in the upcoming Starcraft Ghost: Spectre book?

Metzen: Well the Terrazine and its significance to the “alleged” Ghost spectres is definitely handled in the upcoming novel Starcraft Ghost: Spectre by Decandidio. Decandido, pardon me. Sorry Keith! We definitely get into what Terrazine is, what it’s used for, and I would bet, wink wink, that we might see a bit of that play out in Starcraft 2 as well.

Neilson: Yes…

Metzen: Yes indeed.

Medievaldragon: Can we expect a sequel to Starcraft: Queen of Blades? We are missing the period between the Overmind’s invasion of Aiur and Tassadar’s sacrifice.

Neilson: Official announcement? I don’t know what’s official and what isn’t as far as…

Metzen: We’ve been working on an outline, we call it… well I’ll just say it. We call it Heir to Adun is the title of that possible novel. We’ve done a number of outline treatments on it to really dig out Tassadar’s story, and Tassadar’s nature as this kind of Twilight Messiah for the protoss people. What was really going on there at the fall of Aiur, and really digging out all the political things that were happening with the Conclave, and the Judicators, and the Templar. We definitely have a rocking story built for a novel, but we don’t have any plans yet on exactly when we would publish it or I don’t even know if we have a writer lined up yet, but we have an awesome outline for it.

Medievaldragon: Yeah, we have been expecting it for a while. (laughing) I know it takes time.

Metzen: If I had my way it would have been out already.

Neilson: It’s going to be a little while

Medievaldragon: Okay, we’re going to move to the Warcraft questions.

Medievaldragon: A fan asked:  The body of Sargeras that Aegwynn killed was said to be an avatar in Warcraft: The Last Guardian, does this mean that Sargeras’ real body is still out there somewhere? Or is Sargeras pulling a Lord Voldemort trick to ensure his return?

Neilson: Sargeras is still kicking around. You can’t put him down.

Metzen: He’s out there somewhere.

Neilson: He’s not going to stay down for long.

Metzen: Yeah totally. And I think the hooks we had for his physical body, wherever it may be are so visually stunning that I think we have to… it’s like low hanging fruit, we’re going to have to bring him back somewhere. I’d be very disappointed in us if we didn’t leverage him fully.

Medievaldragon: He would be like the ultimate encounter.

Neilson: Hmm… yes.

Medievaldragon: In The Last Guardian, Medivh attacks Garona with a spell, saying “let me show you my world Garona. Let me drive my own divisions and doubts into you. You will never know who you serve and why. You’ll never find your peace.” This is most commonly seen by fans as Sargeras cursing Garona into betraying everyone she works for… Is this true? Is that why she has been missing all these years?

Neilson: As to what’s going on with Garona, we’re launching into the second arc of the WoW comic. There are going to be a LOT of questions answered regarding Garona… why she did what she did, her whole backstory. It all ties into Med’an, this new character, who’s going to be really important to the lore. So for the community to learn a lot more about Garona, they should definitely check out the comic book.

Medievaldragon: Will there be a follow-up in the pocket books at some point?

Neilson: For Garona? Maybe.

Metzen: I didn’t hear… a cameo within a book?

Neilson: Not out of the question, I’m sure.

Metzen: Yeah, I think we’re still feeling it out. We just recently started leveraging the character again, so there’s a lot of interest in the character, so I can see us getting [cut off]

[Plays a scene from warcraft 3 of Arthas approaching the Revenants blocking the path to Frostmourne]

Guardian: Turn back mortals. Death and Darkness are all that await you in this forsaken vault.

Arthas: I doubt there’s anything down here more terrifying than what we’ve faced already.

Guardian: Believe what you will, boy. You shall not pass.

[after fight]

Guardian: Turn away… before it’s… too late.

Arthas: Still trying to protect the sword are you?

Guardian: No… trying to protect you… from it.

Medievaldragon: What were the Revenants’ motives to care for Arthas’ fate? Will it be explained in World of Warcraft: Arthas, Rise of the Lich King?

Metzen: It’s in the book.

Medievaldragon: In the book? Alright

Neilson: Buy the book.

Metzen: It’s really good. Really good… Christie just rocked this book.

Medievaldragon: In World of Warcraft: Night of the Dragon, we see a glimpse of Malygos proposing to the Wyrmrest Accord the purge of the mages prior to the Nexus War. Kalecgos departs to Outland at the end of the book. What’s Kalecgos’ stance with the Nexus War?

Metzen: Interesting. I think Kalecgos is loyal, he’s a blue dragon. Their function is to kind of police mortals’ use of magic, so to some degree he wants to do what Malygos wants him to do. He’s loyal, he’s a team player, but I also think that Kalecgos has a huge heart. I think he has a deep conscience, and I think he’s terrified of how these things have just spun out of control, and I think he regrets the loss of life and probably looks at it as a totally heavy handed solution to the problem, so I think he’s probably a little torn.

Neilson: And he’s spent a lot of time with mortals at this point too. He’s grown close to some mortals with the whole Anveena thing and everything else, so he would definitely be torn. His feelings would be torn.

Medievaldragon: He was a bit arrogant at the beginning, but his experience with Anveena kind of softened him.

Neilson: Absolutely.

Metzen: Right, kind of drew him closer to the experience of mortals. Totally.

Medievaldragon: Now that Malygos is dead, will there be a new Aspect of Magic (such as Kalecgos); or is that position gone forever? Could a dragon of another flight become the magic aspect… temporarily… for example: Krasus… who is an Archmage?

Metzen: I would say to question A: (slowly motions with his lips toward the poster of the World of Warcraft: Arthas book).

Neilson: (laughing)

Metzen: And to question B, I would say no.

Medievaldragon: Okay… I kind of gotcha…

(all laughing)

Medievaldragon: What can you tell us about the upcoming Worlf of Warcraft: Stormrage by Richard A. Knaak?

Neilson: Stormrage is gonna be fantastic. What’s really cool about Stormrage is that we will be able to actually live the Nightmare, through this book, that’s going on in the Emerald Dream turning into the Emerald Nightmare. One of the coolest elements, in my opinion, is that the nightmare is starting to spread into Azeroth, and we’re going to touch on that in the manga as well, so we’re going to have a story that touches on, for instance, what is King Magni’s worst nightmare? And because the Nightmare is spreading into the reality of Azeroth, we’ll be able to see that. The book’s going to be fantastic, answers all kinds of questions, what’s been happening to Malfurion, what’s going on, who’s behind it… al those questions are going to be answered.

Metzen: I would just say too, I mean Malfurion’s always been, personally, my favorite Warcraft hero. He’s my favorite to write, so I’ve waited a long time to get this guy back into the mix, and have him play a significant role in the shaping of Azeroth. He’s a mega player, and he’s been off the scene.

Neilson: For a long time.

Metzen: I’m really stoked on this book. We really designed the essential backbone of the book to be just hyper Druid overload. If you’re a WoW Druid, this book’s for you. It features all the major druid characters, and players. I love it. Love it, love it.

(Video Part 2 Transcript)

Medievaldragon: Will there be a cameo of Jarod Shadowsong in World of Warcraft: Stormrage? The official website’s encyclopedia says he departed the druids and was never seen again.

Metzen: I don’t remember. For some reason, I don’t think so. But we would be lovingly surprised if he did. He doesn’t play a significant role in it.

Medievaldragon: Aaron Rosenberg’s World of Warcraft: Tides of Darkness helps modernize a lot of the lore revolving around Warcraft II.  One aspect of the lore that fans have been wondering about, is Gilneas.  Was Gilneas scheduled to make an appearance in that book, but had to be trimmed out, or will Gilneas be revisited in future books?

(Neilson grins at Metzen)

Metzen: Ah, ah, I would say we have some very, very, Very interesting plans for Gilneas. (Metzen docks slightly looking toward the ceiling) But there are snipers up in the roof that would shoot me if you know … (everyone laughs). We are doing some awesome stuff for Gilneas.

Neilson: … stay tuned!

Metzen: Stay tuned.

Medievaldragon: World of Warcraft: Beyond the Dark Portal reveals Cho’gall was killed. Or was he?  How did the Twilight’s Hammer survive the Broken Isles’ massacre?

Neilson: Cho’gall is gonna make a come back. He’s not dead. You are going to see he will play a large role in the second arc of the World of Warcraft comic book. So, exactly how he survived … he’s just too tough. Two axes to the chest weren’t enough to take him down. He just appeared dead. (Laughs)

Metzen: Mostly.

Medievaldragon: If he is not decapitated, he is not dead.

Neilson: That’s right.

Metzen: That’s right.

Medievaldragon: (jokingly) … and that doesn’t mean he can’t return. Somebody plugs the head back to his body and …

Metzen: Necromancers.

Neilsen: Necromancers.

(Everyone laughs)

Medievaldragon: What’s happening to Blood Elf culture (especially Rommath’s role in it) now that the Sunwell was restored with M’uru?

Metzen: What we showed at the end of Burning Crusade, like during the whole Sunwell event, was that the warped naaru M’uru was kinda transformed back into his purest self, purest light that Velen used to reignite the Sunwell, as a fountain of Holy power, as much as it is arcane. So the suggestion was that over time the Blood Elves will start to actually use real Light power, in a healthy way, instead of dominating it. So what will likely happen over time is a slow transition, but what Velen did was give them a chance to redeem their civilization, a chance to get back to their roots, a chance to upset their magical addiction. So that kinda thing will probably gonna play out very slowly.  We didn’t talk much about it in Wrath of the Lich King, but it is a theme I love a lot, but it has to be played out very slow.

Medievaldragon: I like that aspect of redeeming them … Does that mean that at some point they are going to get back to their roots and restore the Council of Tirisfal?

Metzen: ha-ha! … no … comment.

Medievaldragon: Are we ever seeing the Scythe of Elune questline and how it all tied into Karazhan and the Dark Riders explored in a future pocket book?

Metzen: I will say there are elements of the Scythe of Elune questline that are not … over … (long silence).

Neilson: (laughs)

Metzen: … (longer silence) Alright, that’s all I’m saying. (laughs)

Woah, WOAH! (Metzen jokingly makes a motion with his hands and legs as if tight-rope walking).

(Everyone laughs)

Medievaldragon: Quick sand! Quick sand!

(laughs)

Medievaldragon: Is the existence of Finnal Goldensword canon?  She’s Admiral Proudmoore’s half-elf daughter.  If so, are there plans to introduce her in the pocket books?

Metzen: I’m sure this will be controversial, but I don’t necessarily consider her canonical. And based on that, we don’t really have any plans to use her in the future. I think she appeared in one of the Warcraft RPG books. It’s not a character I have thought out about, so at this point I’m not sure if we are gonna do much with her.

Medievaldragon: World of Warcraft: Arthas, Rise of the Lich King will devote a portion of its time to the love triangle between Arthas, Jaina and Kael’thas.  Now, many of us have played Warcraft III and have also run Gnomeregan, so, we’ve got to ask … Where does Thrall factor in?

I’m not quite sure of what that questions means.

Neilson: Well, I think they are wondering: Is there a romantic interest between Thrall and Jaina? I think that’s what it’s implying.

Metzen: Ohh …

Medievaldragon: Not sure—why they are asking about Gnomeregan.

Metzen: Yea, it’s worded a little weird. Well, I would say the whole Kael’thas, Arthas, Jaina triangle thing is totally handled in the book. And it’s R-r-really good! But it explains the whole relationship, and how that all went down. Christie just handled it perfectly. So I’m excited to really see that.  But relative, the question was, is there a little you know … green fever going on with Thrall and Jaina?  umm … (takes deep breath) … I don’t know, I know people are kinda fascinated a little about that but …

Neilson: (laughs)

Medievaldragon: Ohh … I know now what they meant. In Gnomeregan, there was a punch card in binary code that when you decoded it, it reads: “Thrall and Jaina in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G.”

Neilson: Ohhh!

Metzen: Right, right. I don’t know, I would say I try to be pretty conservative with all that stuff. I would like Thrall to settle down with a nice green girl…

Neilson: (laughs louder)

Metzen: …you know, and have little green babies. I’d like the dynasty of Orgrimmar to be pure blood, right. But you never know. I hope he keeps things together and doesn’t do something stupid before we can actually build this stuff in the game. So … you know Thrall.

Medievaldragon: Hormones …

Metzen: What’re we gonna do.

Medievaldragon: What should we expect in World of Warcraft: Arthas and how does it ties-in with the game?

Neilson: I think one of the things that are really, really amazing about ARTHAS the book is … you play Classic WoW, right, so the whole time you are running around. The Lich King is basically sitting there on his throne. So the question is: What’s going on? What’s going through his head? So this book actually gets you inside his head during that time. You will find out what was going on. Really be able to get inside the mind of evil. Getting inside the mind of Arthas. Find out what makes him tick. Even when he was saying things to Uther, when he disbanded the paladins, and things like that. Really gonna go indepth on that to find out what was going on inside his head. All the layers. Christie did a great job putting in all these different layers of what’s happening. So there’s the dialogue that we heard in the game, but there is much more deeper story that you won’t get unless you read the book.

Metzen: He effed up with himself.

Starcraft: Ghost Interview: Julian Kwasneski

Julian Kwasneski
Sound Designer

Julian Kwasneski started his career in game audio at LucasArts Entertainment Company, and is credited with sound design on several leading LucasArts titles. After leaving the company in 2000, he co-founded The Bay Area Sound Department with Clint Bajakian. Julian has worked on many award-winning game titles, including Starcraft: Ghost, James Bond: Everything or Nothing, Star Trek: Bridge Commander, Star Wars: Jedi Outcast, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and SOCOM: Navy Seals. His consistent sound design has been critically acclaimed by ign.com, epigamer.com, gamezone.com, Computer Gaming World, gamepro.com and others. He also has many independent film credits, including sound design for Big Love (Sundance 2000), The Upgrade (Mill Valley Film Festival 2000), and The Last Birthday Card. He has worked extensively with wireless and Internet audio technologies.


1. How much of an influence was the original StarCraft soundtrack on your work? Did Chris Metzen guide you along the production?

A lot. We are all so familiar with the sounds of the RTS that it would be criminal not to base sounds on those. Still, this is a different type of game, so you can expect to hear a lot of cool new things.

2. Will StarCraft: Ghost have specific soundtrack themes per race, and scenario-based themes?

I am not doing the music, but the ambiences are totally immersive so the player will really feel like they are “in the Space” in each of the locations.

3. Which game out of all of the games you’ve worked on, have you enjoyed creating the most or fills you with satisfaction the most?

I liked Knights of the Old Republic for the diversity of the locations and I loved creating ambiences for the different worlds. Grim Fandango was also very satisfying ambient work (I worked on the ambient beds with my partner Clint Bajakian). Jedi Outcast was cool too and of course, Ghost was a nice new challenge for me.

4. Do you reuse/recycle the old sounds from previous games where applicable, or do you start all sounds of a game from scratch?

On the Star Wars titles I’ve worked on, I always build upon the awesome sounds created by Ben Burtt and I will use the classic sounds from the films as elements to create new sounds. In some cases though, I need to start from scratch if there isn’t sufficient source sound from the movies. For example, while a certain vehicle may only make a brief appearance in a film, it may be a featured vehicle in a game. In these cases I need to recreate the vehicle sounds from scratch. Another example is the Ebon Hawk in Knights of the Old Republic. It is similar to the Millennium Falcon, but it’s way bigger and beefier. I took the Falcon sounds, added new elements like V8 motors, dragsters and thunder and created a similar but different vehicle sound.

5. How did you make those Zerg sounds, do you swallow something and yell; or are they animal sounds added and mixed with some other sounds?

I didn’t actually, these were done by Derek Duke and the Blizzard sound gang and they did an awesome job.

6. Who are the composer(s) of all the songs in Starcraft: Ghost and their career background(if available)?

Kevin Manthei

7. I assume you are involved in both voice sound editing, and sound effects of Starcraft: Ghost from what I have heard. Are you backed up by more people? Or is this a solo job?

I am doing the majority of the sound design though Derek Duke and the sound team at Blizzard have done an awesome job on all the creature sounds and many other sound effects.

8. I was wondering this one when I looked upon that Goliath model. How on Earth did you go about getting sounds for something that huge? It is hard to “recreate” I guess.

We’re still working on it, but I drew upon large machinery and hydraulics recordings and thunderous metallic foot impacts. It’s really fun to drive!


1.Hardware, what do you use? I am dying to know. We got many Sound Editing fans from a Modding Guild at WC3Campaigns, BlizzSCUMS and SAVAGE(Star Alliance) who may want to learn more from your expertise.

I am all Mac-based using a Digidesign Pro Tools TDM system with loads of plugins including everything from Waves as well and Kantos, Pitch’n Time, Bias Peak, etc. In my opinion, Digi is the only way to go. Expensive, yes. But you step into any major studio on the planet and you’ll see Pro Tools. It’s rock solid and sounds incredible.

2. Voice acting, do you normally get a batch of wave files from Blizzard studio and they want you to work with those?

Yes. I will get large batches of edited voice files and will process them to sound the way they should. I have different processes for each group of characters…the Marines sound one way, radio briefings sound another and Nova has a sound all her own.

3. What hardware do you use for voice editing?

I use Pro Tools to get the regions (files) in the ball park. Sometimes this means adding a little EQ or compression or simply a global gain change to get them to healthy levels. Then I use Bias Peak to trim them nice and tight and for the final mastering.

4. What hardware do you use for recording sounds? Do you actually go out into the wild outdoors and record stuff?

I use a Tascam DA-P1 DAT deck to do mobile recording with a variety of mics depending on what I’m doing. I absolutely get outdoors and record things. The only way to get a game to sound unique is to use unique sounds. We’ve all heard most of those library sounds a few times now and though they have their place, I like to roll my own.

5. In Starcraft: Ghost, How much of sound effects are computer generated? And how much are real recordings? Elaborate.

Some of the Protoss sounds are synth generated or some kind of other processing like granular synthesis, etc. The vast majority of what I’ve done to-date have been real-world sounds.


1. What do you use for sound editing, voice editing and music editing? (Software wise)

Digidesign Pro Tools and Bias Peak are my main tools. I use them for everything.


1. Are you in any sort of sound editors organization? Let the Starcraft Modding Sound Editors(fans) know more about it in detail.

I am a member of GANG, the Game Audio Network Guild (www.audiogang.org); but other than that, I am honestly just too busy to get involved in a lot of different organizations (though I’d love to).


1. I think we would all die to know the exact specs of some of the Starcraft: Ghost voice effects. (This is probably restricted?)

Not much to tell. Blizzard hired some real pros, they just do what they do and have great creative direction.

2. How do you go about just cleaning up and preparing for recording a simple humanoid voice? Mention examples(units–Marines, Templar, Zealot, etc.):

I didn’t record the voice, Blizzard handled that.

3. How do you get realistic effects? I doubt you bang pots and pans together.

I record things that make the types of sounds I want and combine them. It takes a lot of trial and error and often you have to leave something and come back to it if it’s just not working. It’s kind of like music….like a guitar solo. When you’re ripping a lead, your mind is slightly ahead of where you are playing. You know where you want to go and how you want that note to sound….when it happens, you go, “Ahhhh, that’s it”. Sound is the same. I see an animation and I instantly know how it should sound. The tough part is matching what’s in my head. That’s where experience comes in handy. Like a chef who knows what two things make a nice spicy sauce, I have my bag of tricks. Still, there’s often nothing better than a fresh take on something. I often run my sounds by friends and colleagues.


1. Any internet sites with forums you can recommend that contain all your sound guys, from where we can learn and interact, even talk to for advice?

Check out GANG, the Game Audio Network Guild. If it’s not there, you will find out where to look for it.

Advice on how to make it into the industry

2. I hear that you did not have a specific College education for this line of work. How exactly did you get in then? How can a young guy, like any of the fans, make it into LucasArt, BioWare and Blizzard? –This is to show fans that they don’t need to spend thousands on a College degree to be a professional in the industry. You are the role model with a great career and testimony. All you need is the talent and the guts.

Oh boy…well…there is nothing that prepares you for life like a college education. But you are correct, I did not study sound design or anything related to it. In Junior High and High School I played with synths and ganged tape decks together to make my own poor man’s multi-track recorder. In college I was in a band (and still am to this day) with my cousin and we did all kinds of sequencing. I also saw many films and would notice the details of the sound. When I graduated I worked for several Real Estate developers and was miserable. I was a stock broker with Merrill Lynch for a year, got my series 7 license and I was miserable. I even went to law school briefly and was also miserable. I ended up getting a waiting/bartending job and pursued my passion at the time which was recording, mixing and playing music.

I worked in several studios (for free) to get exposure. I bought a bunch of gear and recorded bands on my own. I wanted a job at Lucasarts and eventually found my way in as a temp in product support. I quickly advanced and got hired into the Voice department and from there, the Sound department where I absorbed everything I could. I’m sure I am being too modest so I should add that I obviously had some talent and a good ear. I kept working on numerous titles before leaving to form my own company with Clint Bajakian who was a real pioneer in game audio and a mentor of mine while at Lucasarts. I really enjoyed working there, but I wanted more variety…and I got it. You know what they say, be careful what you ask for….

2. If you could go back, how would you have changed your approach to getting into the industry?

Hmmmm…..I don’t look back. I am happy with everything I got to experience, the good and the bad.

3. Will recent technologies influence how to get noticed? Is internet a good way? Or maybe game developers hardly need new fresh sound engineers anymore, because they have all they need with Veteran engineers?

Just be persistent and get good with whatever tools you can get your hands on. I scored all the cinematics for Outlaws with a 4 channel Deck system on a Mac Quadra 650. You need to really push sometimes, and you may not always get paid….but if you stick to it, and you’re good, you’ll make it.

4. Do game designers find you, or do you find game designers in this phase of your career? Who contacts who?

Both really. I am fortunate to be friends with a lot of my clients. Sound is really a collaborative art to me and I enjoy the back and forth that often results in a great soundtrack. I am not one of those sound guys who knows everything and who take complete ownership. I’ll stand my ground when I need to, but you never know when that next brilliant idea will get suggested.

5. Have you ever considered writing some tutorials on getting started in sound creation? The web is strangely silent on the topic.

Yes, but it’s a lot of work and I tend to work 60+ hour weeks and I like to see my wife and son from time to time.


1. Do you even have time for fun things with all this work. I hear you are working on 6 games at the moment!

It’s all fun and I am lucky to be doing what I love to do. I am also lucky in that I work in my own studio, free from water coolers and senseless meetings. If I work a 10 hour day, it’s 9.5 hours of pure sound work. It also doesn’t hurt to be in a company with other people to share the heavy lifting. Still, I am pretty particular about what I am after and often can only get the sound I want by doing it myself.

2. Do you have a lot of competition in the business?

Absolutely and it keeps getting more intense. But I should add that a lot of the competition are my friends. I don’t play dirty pool…you win some, you lose some. It’s a business at the end of the day.

3. Why haven’t movie directors contacted you more often?

Movie directors don’t often play games. They also don’t move in the same circles game audio people are in (GDC, E3, etc)…though this is changing. I have done sound for quite a few short or independent films, but game audio is interesting in one respect. The skills we game audio folk rely on to score games are directly applicable to doing film work but it is not the same in reverse. While there are a lot of people who do both game and movie sound, most of the film people I have worked with had a tough time with the technical limitations of games. Short loops, 28 sample boundaries, memory budgets, sample rate conversion and the lack of a consistent linear playback can be overwhelming, even for those of us who do this every day. I should add that I like doing game sound. I like the challenges and I like the payoffs. If I wanted to do film sound, I would do film sound.

4. Have you ever done a voice acting yourself or played a role as an actor? 🙂

Only in small roles, like a single line for a computer or something. My recorded voice sucks!

5. Have you ever checked out the modding of games, and what do you think of their sound level?

To be honest, I haven’t…but I would love to if I had the time.

6. What are your favorite games?

This is like asking what my favorite song is, it’s just not a question I can answer. There’s too many.

Well thanks for sharing many tips and info to the fans. Many Modding Sound Editors out there are grateful to sharing questions with you and get some feedback that can teach them more about your career and that may direct them through the right tracks into the Game industry. We appreciate your time and dedication during the interview, and will keep tabs on your future projects and your sound editing organization.

Helpful links for Modders and Sound Editors:
Digidesign Pro Tools TDM system
Below are links with information, and details about this tool. You will find links to download it too.

  • Article about Pro Tools TDM
  • Mac OS X
  • Mac OS 9
  • Windows 98/ME
  • Pro Tools update 6.2.2 (for Mac OS X Panther)

    Antares Kantos 1.0 plugin

  • Audio Controlled Synthesizer info and links

    List of Hardware and Software you may find in a Studio:

  • Here

    Serrato Pitch’n Time 2.0

  • Information and download

    BIAS Peak — the world’s most popular stereo audio editing

  • Features, Screenshots and system requirements at the bottom
  • BIAS Peak DV X 4.11 Demo (for Mac OS 10.2)

    Tascam – DA-P1 DAT Deck
    Below you can view an image of the Tascam hardware.

  • Details and sale