Blizzard Response to Mists of Pandaria

A Blizzard representative acknowledged the filing of Mists of Pandaria to GameSpot, replying the following statement: “We appreciate your interest in our trademark filings, but we’re not ready to reveal any details at this time.”

The breaking news has gone all around the world with a lot of buzz and speculation, but Blizzard Entertainment won’t reveal any details until either BlizzCon 2011 (to be held at the Anaheim Convention Center through October 20-21) or at a later time when they are ready.

For those who can’t attend the BlizzCon event in person, Blizzard recently announced BlizzCon Virtual Tickets are on sale now. You have two options to watch the developer panels: watch the video livestream online, or you can watch it on TV via DirecTV.

 

Baseless Speculation: Gotta Love Fans’ Imagination

Some people speculate that Mists of Pandaria might be the next World of Warcraft expansion after Cataclysm. The Pandaren nation is been known as Pandaria since Warcraft III: Frozen Throne (Orc campaign) after Chen Stormtout and Rexxar met in Durotar.

Curll (a forum member of Scrolls of Lore) started to play connect the dots speculating that the upcoming Christie Golden novel featuring Jaina Proudmoore might have something to do with her Kul’Tiras / Theramore naval fleet exploring the seas of Pandaria. This has not been confirmed.

I also heard a fan suggest that Queen Azshara and the naga, working for the Old gods, might be in search of an item of power in Pandaria. That would make sense twofold. Pandaria is surrounded by sea, and we do know the Veiled Sea — located west of Kalimdor — has presence of Naga throughout the coasts of Darkshore, Azuremyst, Bloodmyst, Ashenvale, Desolace and Feralas.

In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, the naga needed an artifact to summon Ozumat and the faceless ones. You might recall the Battlemaiden quests in the Shimmering Expanse.

We barely know anything about Pandaria except the Pandaren are from there. The Cataclysm caused Uldum’s cloaking system to malfunction. Pandaria might have one of those Titan bases like Uldaman, Ulduar and Uldum. Or one of those research structures like Un’Goro Crater and Sholazar Basin. Maybe the Cataclysm caused problems there too, powering down or weakening its defenses like Deathwing did with Uldum.

What if Queen Azshara needs an artifact from there for the final steps to bring about the release of the Old gods?

Ain’t a collection of artifacts a bit silly? Not really. In Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal expansion (RTS, 1996), Ner’zhul sent the death knight Teron Gorefiend to Azeroth to retrieve four items of power in order to open portals to other worlds in Draenor: The Book of Medivh, the Scepter of Sargeras, the Skull of Gul’dan and the Eye of Dalaran.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Queen Azshara needed similar items of power from Titan bases to free the Old gods.

Pandaria: An Isle or a Small Continent?

There may be many arguments and speculation about this, but the truth is there is no canon lore on Pandaria. The only source of info about Pandaria was published in the Warcraft RPG books which Chris Metzen deemed non-canon during a Blizzard panel.

With Pandaria having an asian vibe to its theme, it’s possible that Pandaria is a cluster of islands rather than a single island. In real life, some of the biggest archipelagos are: Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

However, Pandaria could be as big as Northrend (which is smaller than Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms). In real life, we could coin Australia as an example. It’s a massive isle, but it is deemed a continent.

World of Warcraft Expansion … or Something Else?

It might be a new World of Warcraft Expansion, but not necessarily. Let’s focus on little breadcrumbs which might be interpreted as a possibility that Mists of Pandaria might be an expansion.

Magistrix Verdande (another Scrolls of Lore forum member) brought up a screenshot from his Tarecgosa questline. The quest for the epic caster weapon in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.

The world of Azeroth is seen from a asterioid cluster. For the first time, the planet is seen with a strange mists over the Veiled Sea — the other side of the planet opposite to where the Maelstrom is located.

This could be interpreted as a hint or breadcrumb left by a developer. Remember in Wrath of the Lich King when the Planet Azeroth hologram seen in the Ulduar observatory room showed a Kalimdor split in half? It was very likely a breadcrumb of things to come.

In Cataclysm, Kalimdor was hit hard by the earthquakes, and Thousand Needles is now underwater. This effectively sundered the area in the half portion of Kalimdor. Now the map looks exactly like the Azeroth hologram in Ulduar.

Could this new updated globe of Azeroth in Tarecgosa’s questline hint at … the Mists of Pandaria? I don’t know about you, but after looking at this image It’s hard to vote bogus.

Except watching the video, the mist in that screenshot doesn’t move at all while the globe rotates. The mist can later be seen over Eastern Kingdoms and the Maelstrom. So, I’m sorry. Video wins: Very Bogus.

On a final note, concerning World of Warcraft, isn’t it somewhat curious that the western sea of Kalimdor is known as The Veiled Sea, but the eastern side of Eastern Kingdoms is named The Forbidden Sea? If there was absolutely no land masses in between Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor (the other side of the planet) wouldn’t it make sense to name the entire sea the same way? Unless there is a mass or masses of land dividing both seas?

For the skeptical on this being an expansion to World of Warcraft, there is a very slight chance this could be Warcraft IV: Mists of Pandaria.

On the other hand, what if Mists of Pandaria is not a World of Warcraft expansion nor a Warcraft IV RTS game.

One should also consider a spin-off game. Has anyone considered the thought that Mists of Pandaria might be Titan? When I heard the name Mists of Pandaria, I gotta say, I did think of a World of Warcraft expansion and of Warcraft IV. However, another silly thought made me chuckle in my mind.

I thought of a spin-off game based on the Pandaren — think of a Facebook, iPad, iPhone, PC and Console type of game + Angry Birds or The Lost Vikings. Of course, not exactly like Angry Birds, but something that people could have fun with and play a few minutes or hours socially.

Wouldn’t that be something fun to play? Pandas are cute.

Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty Cheat Codes Revealed

Nethaera posted all the Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty Cheat Codes available in the single player campaign. No more guessing, or unsuccessfully browsing the net for them. All Cheat Codes have been revealed by Blizzard Entertainment.

Caution: Before using cheat codes it’s important to understand that using them will prevent additional achievement gains you might have earned through normal play until either a new campaign is started or a prior save is loaded (one from before the use of the first cheat).

Cheat Code Description
WhatIsBestInLife Instant Victory
LetsJustBugOutAndCallItEven Instant Defeat
TookTheRedPill Disables Fog of War
Bunker55AliveInside Disables the need for Supplies (Food)
TerribleTerribleDamage Enables God Mode
SpectralTiger Adds 5000 Minerals to the Available Resources
RealMenDrillDeep Adds 5000 Gas to the Available Resources
WhoRunBartertown Adds 5000 of each Resource to the Available Resources
SoSayWeAll Allows the use of all Tech
IAmIronMan Instantly Allows all Upgrades
CatFoodForPrawnGuns Enables Fast Builds and Fast Upgrades
HanShotFirst Disables Cooldowns on Spells
TyuHasLeftTheGame Disables Victory Conditions to Allow Continued Play
NeverGiveUpNeverSurrender Enables Continued Play After a Defeat
ImADoctorNotARoachJim Enables Fast Unit Healing
MoreDotsMoreDots All Units and Buildings are Free to Build (No Cost)

Story Mode Cheat Codes Description
WhySoSerious Adds 5 Million Credits
LeaveYourSleep Opens all Missions (Ability to Jump to Missions)
EyeOfSauron Allows Access to all Cinematics
StayClassyMarSara Allows Access to all UNN TV News Broadcasts
HoradricCube Opens all Research Options

Custom Maps Description
Jaynestown Adds 5000 Terrazine to the Available Resources

Easter Egg Cheat Codes* Description
OverEngineeredCodPiece Plays the Song Terran Up the Night

*Unlike other cheat codes, using the Easter Egg Cheat Code, “OverEngineeredCodPiece” will not prevent achievement earning.

Please note: All of these cheat codes have been added deliberately to the game and unlike third-party hacks or cheats won’t flag an account for suspension.

Blizzplanet: Blizzcon 2010 Coverage

Blizzplanet staff members Eldorian, Miaari and Omacron attended BlizzCon 2010 to bring our loyal visitors exclusive coverage of Diablo III, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm and Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty content revealed at the event, and one-on-one interviews with the developers. Beneath you may find links to our coverage.

DIABLO III

WARCRAFT

STARCRAFT

NEXT-GEN MMO

GAMING SITES COVERAGE

Review – Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 2

imageStarcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 2 hit the bookstores recently on August 3, 2010. The former author Keith R.A. DeCandido is no longer aboard as writer of the manga. He’s busy with Boom! Studios comic books; and for some months he was knee deep working with the U.S. Census 2010 — so at least we know he’s all good. We’ll miss him. He’s earned it.

Tokyopop’s David Gerrold (aka Jerrold David Friedman) took over the Starcraft: Ghost Academy mantle, and as you will soon find out, he’s quickly sync into the Nova universe. No surprise here. David Gerrold has written a Starcraft story before, which means he’s read the Starcraft Bible 101 and been in contact with Chris Metzen and the Blizzard Creative Team.

David Gerrold wrote the story titled “Fear the Reaper” in Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 4. He’s written several Star Trek novels and manga. He’s a celebrity among Trekkies as a matter of fact — don’t believe me? Guess who wrote the televised story of “The Trouble with the Tribbles” (Star Trek: The Original Series, TV) which aired on December 29, 1967. The original script was titled “A Fuzzy Thing Happened To Me…”

The artist Fernando Heinz Furukawa did a kick ass job through each page of the manga, specially the zerg scenes, but overall academy scenes were great. We’ll see more of him in Starcraft and Warcraft manga no doubt.

Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 2 explores the ongoing happenings within the Ghost Academy under Mengsk’s close watch. The ghost academy was formerly a Confederate program, and as such, Mengsk needs to protect his image before the people; and to make sure the academy is run by the book to avoid inhuman treatment scandals. (more below)
For those fans who love to keep track of the Starcraft timeline, at the end of Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 2, Emperor Mengsk is weeks away from celebrating the first anniversary of the Terran Dominion.

Mengsk controls every single word that airs on the UNN network, but there are pirated broadcasts sent by people working for Michael Liberty — and those do bite a dent into Mengsk’s reputation.

The manga starts with a UNN TV show titled “The Dominion and You” by reporter E.B. James [suspiciously sounding like EB Games]. He interviews the Ghost Academy director Kevin Bick in relation to the recent expulsion of Aal Cistler from the ghost academy. This took place at the end of volume 1.

It’s kinda funny to have two non-heroes take centerfold in the story. Kevin Bick runs the academy with unscrupulous drug experiments to research how ghosts’ abilities can be affected or increased. Some students are panbrained, brainwashed, and tortured in secrecy.

Aal Cistler by the other hand is a young playboy with wits who thinks his every whim comes into reality by paying the right price. He might not be too far from being right though — he’s the son of Emperor Mengsk’s finance minister — ouch. Not an enemy you would want to cross with in your path.

Aal isn’t a telepath, but he loves challenges. He came to the ghost academy to train, but was caught selling drugs to Lio Travski (a technopath, student). While the Ghost Academy knew about the drug addiction of Lio and that Aal was providing it, they allowed it to happen to study Lio’s performance under heavy addiction. When the ghost academy grew tired of Aal, they expulsed him from the academy and provided the UNN with camera recordings of Aal’s drug selling activities.

Aal, however, goes to the UNN to denounce he was framed, and the unusual training practices held at the ghost academy. The reporter E.B. James crucified director Kevin Bick in the show. The director got the message … Emperor Mengsk disapproves.

Mengsk controls everything the UNN says, so this was a direct on-your-face slap message to Kevin Bick to immediately detox Lio, and to stop underground experimentation with students. Most of this is in the Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 2 preview scans.

From what we have learned in Starcraft: Frontline, Mengsk is turning around the old-ways of the Confederate who used cruel brainwashing and aggression inhibitors to control the Ghosts, who were likely former criminals.

Mengsk is now using Wranglers [psi-sensitive agents with a PI 3.5] to hunt for kids and teens with latent telepathic abilities to train them as teams in the ghost academy under the excuse they are too dangerous to themselves and to the populace if not trained properly — because untrained ghosts attract the Zerg.

In reality, that’s a lie. Mengsk has used psi-emitters before to control the zerg, and he continues to do so underground without the knowledge of the public. Such was the case of the Colin Pash story in Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 1-4 — where wranglers are authorized to use lobotomized zerglings with a neural gadget to control them to hunt for the telepath kid.

The same can be proved with Starcraft: Ghost Academy when we see an unidentified terran vessel launching a drop-pod on planet Shi [of the Baker’s Dozen] which contained a … zerg drone. Mengsk has much more under his sleeve than we originally taught — as you can see in Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty [Piercing the Shroud mission].

Why should you read this manga? It brings a fresh view into the ghost academy with at least four cliffhangers. Don’t you love cliffhangers? I do. They keep the plot in suspense. Sometimes you can foresee things, but sometimes the writer surprises you with a twist. That’s what keeps you coming back for the next volume.

GHOST ACADEMY

Nova Anabelle Terra, Gabriel Tosh, Lio Travski, Kath Toom and Delta Emblock of Team Blue continue their ghost training with high stake life-threatening missions within the academy where they must learn to use their abilities in a teamwork environment.

When you see an older Gabriel Tosh in Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, and see this younger Gabriel Tosh in the Ghost Academy and compare both — you can already see where the story is heading to. Tosh used to be an idealist teen who idolized and believed in Mengsk as a humble leader who works for the people and for the benefit of humanity.

What the Ghost Academy does is to train the best telepaths to service humanity and to unite it under the flag of Mengsk, who fights for freedom — Or so used to think Gabriel Tosh in his early days at the Ghost Academy.

Considering we will see more of Gabriel Tosh in Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm — now that Jim Raynor sided with him to free New Folsom’s Spectre prisoners — it would be nice to keep in touch with this character’s past and backstory, and how his loyalty to Mengsk shattered. We will learn more of that in Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 2 and Vol. 3 — and hopefully in the upcoming novel Starcraft: Ghost Spectres by Nate Kenyon (on sale November 1, 2010).

In this volume, we learn the two most important ghost trainees in observation by Superintendent Angelini are Nova and … Lio the technopath. No one else matters. Just those two. Thus … we should keep an eye on what plans Blizzard might have for Lio, if any. Will he be an ally when we next see him in future games, or will he be a dangerous enemy (knowing his special power set)?

Lio can telepathically control technology, he created an android that resembled his girlfriend, and he seems to be a powerful telekinetic — [in a scene he telekinetically floats some PDAs into the air and sorts them out to his teammates, and he also blocks incoming projectiles with a TK shield]. Now that he’s not under the influence of hab (a drug), he seems to have better control of his powers.

We get to see the influence that Team Red’s jealousy and rivalry has on Team Blue. Things get more complicated when Aal Cistler makes his triumphant return to the Ghost Academy and this time around he joins Team Red to make Nova and her team’s lives more pleasant … not.

With how Lio has been manipulated by director Bick and superintendent Angelini, one has to wonder … how such a powerful telepath as Nova and her teammates never detect the psi-screams of Lio when he gets panbrained? Why are all these odd things going on backstage without other telepaths knowing about them?

The answer is too complex to guess in its entirety, but the author gives you enough hints to figure out some of it … Colin Phash.

The Ghost Academy is using this boy’s ability to project his astral form away from his body as a surveillance system. Nova has been able to see his astral projection, but never manages to talk to him. However, there must be something else shielding other telepaths from the atrocious acts of the Academy’s leaders. Maybe a mysterious figure from the past? Likely someone we have heard of in Starcraft: Ghost Nova [Looks at the odd humanoid in Chapter 2: Shadows Before Them].

There was one male telepath as high-level a telepath as Nova and Sarah Kerrigan who is mentioned in DeCandido’s StarCraft: Ghost Nova book to be dead, but you never know. Maybe his body and brain were kept alive to serve as an instrument of the Confederates? Those cables coming out of the skull with no pupils on his eyes made me remember that deceased character. Matter of fact, that figure is never shown in Vol. 2, so we might learn who exactly this guy behind Angelini is. Maybe a half-cybernetic-enhanced Old Family slave of the Dominion? I might be seeing too much into it.

COLIN PHASH

Like in the first volume, the fate of Colin Pash continues to be unfold in short scenes that let you figure out how the Ghost Academy tutors do what they do with the students, and why the telepaths aren’t aware of what’s going on.

Colin Pash is the telepath child son of ex-Dominion Senator Corbin Pash. Colin was captured by the Dominion in the Starcraft: Frontline series. His father Corbin Phash now resides as a guest of the Umojan Protectorate, plotting to take revenge against Mengsk and to recover his son back. The story of Colin Phash is told throughout Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 1-4, and continues in Starcraft: Ghost Academy.

THE OLD FAMILIES

Another plot hanging in the manga is the fate of the offsprings of the Old Families. Ever wonder if any of the Old Families survived the Zerg invasion to Tarsonis? Let’s remind you a bit of old-school Starcraft lore … The invasion was caused by the Psi-emitter Arcturus Mengsk ordered Kerrigan to activate. Ya’ know, that Starcraft mission where Mengsk abandons Kerrigan to her fate before the Zerg.

As the invasion of the Zerg hit Tarsonis, the Old Families sent their offsprings to safety to planet Shi — the fourth planet in the Baker’s Dozen system: a collection of 13 mining planets owned by Arturro Calabas [one of the Old Families].

This story runs parallel with the main plot without interacting with each other; using the narrative technique of going back and forth in the timeline.

Every now and then, the narration about the fate of the offsprings of the Old Families takes you to a year before the present time [ghost academy Vol. 2’s time which is nigh a year after Brood War]. Then to the present.

When least you know, you are taken to 8 months before the present, seven months, six months … so and so until we reach the point of a month before the present.

I love those interludes in stories to be honest. All that apparent, unrelatedness with the main plot comes to an end when the next ghost academy mission is scheduled to take place in the fifth planet of the … Baker’s Dozen. That’s a cliffhanger alright. That takes us straight into collision course with Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 3 [in stores March 1, 2011].

The aweful part of this manga is the long wait for the next one. Can’t you guys clone your staff to pump these babies monthly? I want more!!!

Special thanks to Troy Lewter (Tokyopop Editor) and Hope Donovan (Tokyopop Editor).

You can view the Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 2 preview here.

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