Thursday, November 4, 2010

BoxeR's name value is so good that he can get a personal sponsorship.

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BoxeR's name value is so good that he can get a personal sponsorship.

The company backing him up is only known as an multinational company "I", and they will be sponsoring BoxeR for 200 million won, if negotiations go well.

The article goes further in-depth about supposed potential conflict with SKT1, but eh. He's not under any contract now though. It ends with an e-sports related personnel saying that he has received a request from T1 to consider BoxeR as officially retired, but it has not been confirmed with BoxeR himself.


The "Emperor", Lim Yo Hwan (editor's note: henceforth, shortened as BoxeR), who is currently participating in GSL, will receive personal sponsorship worth 200 million won.

BoxeR, who is currently doing very well in GomTV's GSL, a multinational company -- recently entered the Korean market -- only known as "I" have offered to provide a personal sponsorship of 200 million won, and full details in regards to this contract will be released soon.

An affiliate to corporation I, has cautiously stated, "It is true that we are currently in the talks with BoxeR for the sponsorship. It is not confirmed, as there are multiple issues and understanding between related parties."

It is understood that corporation "I" would sponsor BoxeR personally for 200 million won, then use 300 million won for the management of a team, for total of 500 million won used for a StarCraft 2 game team. (editor's note: This part is vague as to whether this "team" is BoxeR's own team or what).

BoxeR, who started being a progamer at early 2000s, is the representative icon of the e-sports as the man who put down the foundation for the Korean e-sports scene. But a lot of fans were disappointed in BoxeR's performance after BoxeR's discharge from the military in 2008, due to the many new star progamers in place.

The corporation "I" have watched carefully BoxeR's activities in SC2 and what he represents, then have come to decide to sponsor BoxeR.

In a meanwhile, there is a potential conflict in regards to BoxeR's progamer status due to BoxeR finding a potential sponsor for him in SC2.

BoxeR played for SKTelecom (after absorbing 4U, a former team he was in) since 2004, and his contract with SKTelecom ended in this August 31st. Then, he delayed signing up again on the contract due to personal reasons, then officially announced that he will switch to SC2 after showing up for the GSL prelims.

BoxeR, after confirming his switch, has shown his will and desire to keep his status as a progamer by saying "I am merely switching to SC2, not retiring from being a progamer."

Currently, BoxeR's status is "not contracted player". To keep progamer status from KeSPA, the player is not allowed to participate in a different team for a similar game without explicit permission from the team that currently owns the "rights to the player" -- in this case, SKTelecom. If SKTelecom doesn't announce temporary resign or retire request, there can possibly be a conflict between corporations.

However, it is not likely any conflict will arise. SKTelecom has officially requested BoxeR to be a retired player to KeSPA.

KeSPA's Lee Jae Hyung stated, "We received request to make BoxeR as an retired player from T1 progame team. But, this is not confirmed from BoxeR himself. We will announce retirement status after confirming BoxeR's opinions first."




KeSPA officially announced they retired BoxeR from progamer status. Now he's "Amateur" status.

As a result, BoxeR will not be able to come to any KeSPA-sponsored progames for 3 years, and will not be able to re-acquire progamer status for a year.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A short history of Blizzard

A short history of Activision Blizzard or how B.Net 2.0 came to be

July 2007 – July 2008: Activision and Blizzard merge in an 18 billion $ deal into Activision Blizzard, with Activision as the dominant partner. They get to appoint “Robert A. Kotick” as the new CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of the Holding company while Vivendi remains majority shareholder with 52%.

Notice, that while it might be true that Blizzard gets to remain “independent” in decisions as how to make their games or put together their teams etc., they both now share and have to please the same stakeholders, investors and have to ultimately answer to the same Board of Directors and Corporate Management.

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A nice article detailing some of the details of the merger from a business perspective:

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March 06, 2008: Even before the actual deal was finally approved by every party involved, Kotick started dreaming aloud of what could be done with StarCraft 2 and the new Battle.Net:

Activision CEO Robert Kotick has briefly mentioned his company's plans for maximizing profit from Blizzard's upcoming PC strategy sequel StarCraft II.

"On the Blizzard side, [we need to] really be figuring out things like the StarCraft business model for the future, with in-game advertising and sponsorship, [which have] really not been something that has moved the dial for anybody in the videogame industry, but that we think presents tremendous opportunity for the future," said Kotick, according to Next-Gen.

"[Blizzard] has been thinking about how StarCraft, because it is a short-session experience, can actually be the model for in-game advertising and sponsorship and tournament play and ladder play for the future."

2007-2010+: In the meantime Blizzard introduces more and more “pay-for” features to World of Warcraft, like the “Name Change” for 10$, “Character Re-Customization” for 15$, the “Character Transfer” for 25$, “Faction Change” for 30$, Blizzard Mobile is getting made for phone sounds and pictures: , a mount for 25$, several pets, additional protection with the Blizzard Authenticator, so you’ll be safer against hackers for 6.50$ instead of for free or the latest, an Internet interface for the World of Warcraft AH called the “Remote Auction House” as a “Subscription-based service” for cash (2.99$/month).

July 18, 2008: Some of the first signs of things to come in an Interview with Activision Blizzard’s new CFO (Chief Financial Officer) Thomas Tippl:

How much autonomy is Blizzard going to retain – and is there scope to use Activison and Vivendi’s licences within that division?

Blizzard has established the most successful business in all of video games. It’s not like we need to go there and fix something. Blizzard will continue to operate as they have done in the past – fairly independently.
They have a top notch management and development team and we have a very high degree of confidence that they know how to run the business and a track record to prove it. In addition, they have an extraordinarily strong product pipeline, with Starcraft, Wrath of the Litch King and Diablo 3.
It’s tremendous, and it would be a big mistake for us to distract them with new ideas. But there are some opportunities we will be exploring, especially relating to their expertise in Asia. If you consider that Guitar Hero is not in Asia yet and that the only way to create a business there is figuring out ways to work in internet cafes, etc., we hope to benefit from their expertise.

Is there a message you want to send the European staff of Activision and Vivendi about their future prospects? Are you planning to reduce headcounts at these HQs?

We don’t have a formal plan at this point. With every merger, there is overlap and redundancy, and so the same will be the case here. Of course, we’re going to go to our customers with one face. We obviously don’t need two sales forces.
There will be overlap that we will have to address. Having said that, if you look at our industry, it’s rapidly growing – last year it grew 30 per cent. And we’ve been growing more than three times that speed. In fact, over time I fully expect our headcount to grow. But in the short term we will exterminate some of our overlap through redundancy – but we will treat people fairly and respectfully in that process.

October 10, 2008: Only 3 months later, Blizzard decides that StarCraft II shall become a Trilogy, with its 3 parts “Wings of Liberty”, “Heart of the Swarm” and “Legacy of the Void” being sold separately:

For the people that don't know it yet, the 3 parts will function similar to WarCraft 3/TFT and StarCraft/Brood War for the multiplayer part e.g. they add new units and buildings and split the community between people owning them or not:

How will the expansion sets impact multiplayer gameplay?
The expansion sets will add new content to each race for use in multiplayer matches. This could include additions such as new units, abilities, and structures, along with new maps and updates.

If I buy StarCraft II but don't buy any of the expansion sets, will I still be able to play online?

Yes. This will work similarly to Warcraft III and the original StarCraft, which maintained separate online gaming lobbies and ladders for expansion set players and players with the base Warcraft III or StarCraft.

November 6, 2008: One can see actual changes in the corporate policy relatively early, Activision Blizzard drops titles like Brütal Legend, Ghostbusters, Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, WET and a few others, because they do not fit the new business model. Shortly after that, SIERRA Entertainment also gets shut down with an impending sale of the company remaining.

Kotick regarding this:

With respect to the franchises that don’t have the potential to be exploited every year across every platform, with clear sequel potential that can meet our objectives of, over time, becoming $100 million-plus franchises, that’s a strategy that has worked very well for us.

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September 16, 2008: Soon after, Kotick even believes, that with Activision Blizzard now being so big, he seems to have the right to dictate future consoles hardware design:

"Now that we have the weight of being the largest payer of royalties to the first-parties of any third-party company, I definitely see us as starting to influence hardware design, and they're thinking about the evolution of the next generation of hardware," said Robert Kotick, Activision CEO, speaking to industry analysts.

April 30, 2009: Valve sues Activision Blizzard, because they chose to pay 1 million $ less royalties than was agreed:

As reported by GamePolitics, Valve has filed suit this week in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington, claiming that Activision declined to pay out the whole award. Specifically, the Half-Life 2 developer claimed that the Guitar Hero publisher is withholding some $424,000 of the payment, saying that it previously overpaid royalties to the studio.
Valve also said that Activision threatened to file a separate suit seeking that aforementioned overpayment money if the publisher's short-changing on the arbitration award was challenged in court.

This is one of many lawsuits against or initiated by Activision in dispute with (former) business partners and employees… for more examples see the bottom of the linked GameSpot article above, which would ultimately later lead to the claim that Kotick would “prefer to pay his lawyers instead of his employees”.

June 4, 2009: Just shortly after, Activision decides to sue “Double Fine” (the developers of Brütal Legend, a game they dropped themselves almost a year ago and was now being published by EA). After the title got high recognition at that year’s E3 Activision wants to prevent the release of the game and claims the developers missed important deadlines and did not manage to complete the game on time. They also claim they never handed over the contract for it in the first place. It ended with a settlement.

June 19, 2009: Kotick threatens SONY to drop the price-point of their console(s) or he could drop the support for those platforms:

"I'm getting concerned about Sony; the PlayStation 3 is losing a bit of momentum and they don't make it easy for me to support the platform," Kotick told the UK Times Online, adding that the return on investment is "better" on the Wii and Xbox 360.

"They have to cut the price, because if they don't, the attach rates [the number of games each console owner buys] are likely to slow," said Kotick. "If we are being realistic, we might have to stop supporting Sony."

"When we look at 2010 and 2011, we might want to consider if we support the console," he said -- and also included the PSP as an area to re-examine.

June 28, 2009: A few more details of the new Battle.Net 2.0 get out, for instance that StarCraft II and Diablo III will not offer a LAN-mode anymore (so everyone that wants to play with you, including friends and family HAS to buy a copy of the game and all Add-Ons and give Blizzard them $$) and that it might contain a few “monetized features” and micro transactions.

Clarification for the above statement: StarCraft I, WarCraft II and Diablo had a feature called "Spawn installation", with which you could legally install the same game with the same CD-Key on a friends or family members PC, with the restriction that the SinglePlayer couldn't be played from the "Spawn version" and they could only join Multiplayer games, you, with the Original CD-Key and Installation were in. While the feature wasn't there specifically for WarCraft III, LAN games with the same CD-Key were still possible, this helped people try out the game with friends and buy it if they liked it, I personally know of at least 3 sales by friends attributed to this feature.
The new version of B.Net 2.0 works in such a way, that even when living under the same roof and another person only wanting to try the game or play with you casually, they still have to own a full second copy of the game + all Add-On keys to be able to do this.

So what's all about and how is it different?

The new will completely revolutionise the current version, but Blizzard is still looking to making this experience free for anyone buying StarCraft II or future games that use One idea which has been discussed in different iterations is microtransactions, meaning the service is free, but added value services like starting a custom tournament, league, or the like would cost a small amount of money.

He mentioned WoW as an example, where "value added services" like server transfers are paid for, but "you can get the full experience of with all the features just from buying the box."

Another example being the “map-marketplace”, where Blizzard maps and “Premium” user-maps can be sold alike with a portion of the revenue going to the map creators.

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Blizzard wants to foster the best mod community in existence, and to that ends they've unveiled plans to single out premium custom-created maps for sales on a StarCraft 2 marketplace. Maps will be split into two categories - normal and premium - with the former free and the latter for sale, with a portion of the proceeds going to the map's creators. Blizzard hopes this will lead to more choice for StarCraft 2 players, and more innovative and creative custom maps fueled by the potential financial rewards.

Additionally, a few concerns regarding said marketplace and privacy are being raised, considering the Battle.Net 2.0 Terms of Use:

User Content.
"User Content" means any communications, images, sounds, and all the material and information that you upload or transmit through a Game client or the Service, or that other users upload or transmit, including without limitation any chat text. You hereby grant Blizzard a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, paid-up, non-exclusive, license, including the right to sublicense to third parties, and right to reproduce, fix, adapt, modify, translate, reformat, create derivative works from, manufacture, introduce into circulation, publish, distribute, sell, license, sublicense, transfer, rent, lease, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, or provide access to electronically, broadcast, communicate to the public by telecommunication, display, perform, enter into computer memory, and use and practice such User Content as well as all modified and derivative works thereof. To the extent permitted by applicable laws, you hereby waive any moral rights you may have in any User Content.

Content Screening and Disclosure.
We do not, and cannot, pre-screen or monitor all User Content. However, our representatives may monitor and/or record your communications (including without limitation chat text) when you are using the Service or playing a Game, and you hereby provide your irrevocable consent to such monitoring and recording. You acknowledge and agree that you have no expectation of privacy concerning the transmission of any User Content, including without limitation chat text or voice communications. We do not assume any responsibility or liability for User Content that is generated by users. We have the right, but not the obligation, in our sole discretion to edit, refuse to post, or remove any User Content. WE ALSO RESERVE THE RIGHT, AT ALL TIMES AND IN OUR SOLE DISCRETION, TO DISCLOSE ANY USER CONTENT AND OTHER INFORMATION (INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION CHAT TEXT, VOICE COMMUNICATIONS, IP ADDRESSES, AND YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION) FOR ANY REASON, including without limitation (a) to satisfy any applicable law, regulation, legal process or governmental request; (b) to enforce the terms of this or any other agreement or Blizzard policy; (c) to protect our legal rights and remedies; (d) where we feel someone’s health or safety may be threatened; or (e) to report a crime or other offensive behavior.

July 9, 2009: The Blizzcon prices for 2009 are being raised from 100$ to 125$ (they have been raised to 150$ for 2010 by the way), also Blizzard in a partnership with DIRECTV (and with increasing desire for more $$) provide Live Streaming of the Event for only 39.95$, although Streams from such events as the E3, Tokyo Gameshow or GamesCom are usually free…

August 5, 2009: Shortly after Activision Blizzard announced, that it is going to raise the prices of games, starting with Modern Warfare 2 and games with additional Hardware like “Tony Hawk: Rider”, “Guitar Hero” and “DJ Hero”, Kotick mentions to an Analyst, that if it would be up to him he’d raise the prices even further:

And Tony, you know if it was left to me, I would raise the prices even further.

Same day, a few more details about StarCraft II get out, for instance that StarCraft II got delayed because of Battle.Net 2.0, and that’ll be “like Xbox Live”:

"This will begin with World of Warcraft and StarCraft II," Kotick added, calling the planned service, built by the Blizzard team, "similar to Xbox Live."

"There is no better opportunity to launch this strategic initiative than through the launch of StarCraft II," said Kotick on the call. "The platform is an investment in the future of gaming, and an opportunity that we are uniquely positioned to capitalize on."

September 15, 2009: At the “Deutsche Bank Security Technology Conference”, Kotick holds his best public speech yet:

In the last cycle of videogames you spent $50 on a game, played it and took it back to the shop for credit. Today, we’ll (charge) $100 for a guitar. You might add a microphone or drums; you might buy two or three expansions packs, different types of music. Over the life of your ownership you’ll probably buy around 25 additional song packs in digital downloads. So, what used to be a $50 sale is a $500 sale today.

Most of the 20 years, that I have provided for growth at Activision, we were content to make products that are attractive to the 16-35 year old guy who has gotten no date for Saturday night.

As he works himself up to his personal masterpiece…

Kotick noted that in the past he changed the employee incentive program so that it "really rewards profit and nothing else." He continued, "You have studio heads who five years ago didn't know the difference between a balance sheet and a bed sheet who are now arguing allocations in our CFO's office pretty regularly. ... We have a real culture of thrift. The goal that I had in bringing a lot of the packaged goods folks into Activision about 10 years ago was to take all the fun out of making video games."

Yes, he just said that.

Ultimately, Kotick doesn't want his employees to take anything for granted. They should always be aware of "skepticism, pessimism, and fear" in the midst of the global economic downturn. "We are very good at keeping people focused on the deep depression," he said.

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October 18, 2009: It gets confirmed, that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will not support Dedicated Servers or Mods anymore, and that it will require Steam. The most likely reason for this is for Activision to be able to have total control over content (like Blizzard is trying to do with the Map Publishing System) sell their internal map packs instead of having people play maps made by Modders for free, and it seems to have succeeded:

November 12, 2009: A Call of Duty title based on monthly subscription fees is being announced by Activision Blizzard’s CFO (Chief Financial Officer) Thomas Tippl:

"It's definitely an aspiration that we see potential in, particularly as we look at different business models to monetise the online gameplay," he said, according to IGN. "There's good knowledge exchange happening between the Blizzard folks and our online guys.

"We have great experience also on Call Of Duty with the success we had on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. A lot of that knowledge is getting actually built into the Battle.Net platform and the design of that. I think it's been mutually beneficial, and you should expect us to test and ultimately launch additional online monetization models of some of some of our biggest franchises like Call Of Duty."

Tippl also said that he wasn’t concerned about how gamers would react to having to pay for additional features.

"Our gamers are telling us there's lots of services and innovation they would like to see that they're not getting yet. From what we see so far, additional content, as well as all the services Blizzard is offering, is that there is demand from the core gamers to pay up for that.”

How that “subscription fee” could look is shown in a few images from a survey concerning the payment model:

February 10, 2010: After modest sales of their new “Guitar Hero” (about ~25 titles in only 4 years) and “Tony Hawk” titles, Activision does a sweeping blow:

Radical Entertainment (Prototype, Scarface, Hulk: Ultimate Destruction) – they fire over 90 employees (about half the staff),
Luxoflux (True Crime, Kung Fu Panda, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) – closed down,
Neversoft (Guitar Hero, Tony Hawk, Spider-Man) – fire over 50 employees,
RedOctane (Guitar Hero and Plastic Instruments) – closed down,
Underground Development (Guitar Hero: Van Halen, BMX XXX, Freestyle BMX, X-Men) – closed

The very same day this was decided, later Kotick mentioned in an Interview as if to spite those fired:

Our significant accomplishments in 2009 are the result of the expertise and skills of our employees around the world. Their hard work and commitment to excellence made us stronger even during difficult times.

February 28, 2010: A fan project called “King’s Quest 9 – The Silver Lining” is being terminated by Activision, shortly before its release. You could say… sure this always happens, but this time it was a bit different.

The team of hobby-developers, which started working on the project back in 2002 (about 8 years ago) and got a cease-and-desist from Vivendi Universal in 2005, managed to negotiate a deal for a “non-commercial fan license”, which allowed them to develop and publish “The Silver Lining” after all.
2010, nearly done with the work on the project, they handed in a copy for review as agreed in said contract, upon which (the rights to it now belonging to Activision) Activision decided it had no interest in doing anything of the likes and sent another cease-and-desist instead, forcing them to take down their website and forums and to stop working on the project immediately, which they had to do.

March 2-4, 2010: A bunch of security people raid the Infinity Ward offices, both studio heads/CEOs Jason West and Vince Zampella get fired, they were replaced by internal Activision Publishing employees (who worked for Procter & Gamble and Nestle before).

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Just 2 days later, the 2 ex-CEOs file a lawsuit against Activision regarding the rights to “Modern Warfare” and 36$ million of royalties + damages.

A few excerpts from said “lawsuit”:

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In the aftermath Jason and Vince create “Respawn Entertainment”, and over 30+ key Infinity Ward employees leave Activision, some of them joining them there (after themselves filing another group lawsuit against Activision regarding them not being paid/withheld their bonuses to force a “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3”)

I've obtained a copy of a lawsuit filed this morning in the Los Angeles Superior Court by 38 plaintiffs, calling themselves the "Infinity Ward Employee Group," against Activision. The Infinity Ward Employee Group (whom I'll refer to as IWEG throughout the rest of this story) alleges breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, violation of California labor code and more. The group is after a large amount of unpaid royalties.
"Activision owes my clients approximately $75 million to $125 million dollars," said Bruce Isaacs, one of the IWEG's attorneys at Wyman & Isaacs LLP, over the phone this afternoon. "Activision has withheld most of the money to force many of my people to stay, some against their will, so that they would finish the delivery of Modern Warfare 3. That is not what they wanted to do. Many of them. My clients' entitled to their money. Activision has no right to withhold their money -- our money."

March 30, 2010: In a "Activision Blizzard restructuring move", the above often quoted CFO (Chief Financial Officer) Thomas Tippl is, according to Massively and the L.A. Times put in charge as COO (Chief Operations Officer) of the "Blizzard business unit", with Mike Morhaime directly reporting to him, according to Joystiq Tippl basically gets paid more, the more revenue the company makes:

The new company map features one business unit focused squarely on the Call of Duty franchise, another overseeing Activision-owned brands such as Tony Hawk and Guitar Hero, and a third unit to handle licensed properties. Blizzard Entertainment rounds out the fourth unit but interestingly, Blizzard's Mike Morhaime now reports directly to newly appointed chief operating officer Thomas Tippl, who in turn reports to Activision CEO Bobby Kotick.

"This is an important change as it will allow me, with Thomas, to become more deeply involved in areas of the business where I believe we can capture great potential and opportunity," Kotick said in the employee memo.

"Performance shares" are, according to Investopedia, "shares of company stock given to managers only if certain company wide performance criteria are met, such as earnings per share targets." Meaning, in so many words, that Activision has to meet a certain performance level in order for Tippl to earn said shares. That they will "vest ratably" is only to say that on Feb. 15 of each year for the next four years, he will earn part of that eventual 225,000-share goal (in 2014) ... should he stay in his position for all that time, of course. And finally, this is all based on the prediction that he delivers a higher or equal to non-GAAP earning per share when compared to the previous year. In short, he has to either break even or make money to get the stocks, and he has to maintain that for the next four years. Quite a tall order, sir!

May 5, 2010: After already having developed the “World of WarCraft Armory App” for Facebook, it is decided to be integrated into the new Battle.Net 2.0 full time and Blizzard already announced further features coming from said “partnership”…

Blizzard concerning privacy:

Should I be concerned about the privacy settings on my Facebook account?
Both Blizzard Entertainment and Facebook take the security of personal information very seriously.

FaceBook CEO concerning privacy:

Zuckerberg: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard
Zuckerberg: Just ask.
Zuckerberg: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS
[Redacted Friend's Name]: What? How'd you manage that one?
Zuckerberg: People just submitted it.
Zuckerberg: I don't know why.
Zuckerberg: They "trust me"
Zuckerberg: Dumb f*cks.

Expand this Quote, if you want to know more about why FaceBook made it into Battle.Net 2.0 over several dozen other features.

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June 15th-17th, 2010: At this year's E3, instead of having their own booth or presentation like EA did, Activision had a meeting room away from the craziness of the show floor, where they mainly talked to analysts and reporters. Read on if you want to know more about why Activision thinks that franchises can't get stale (no matter how many titles you put out there), some of the things they want to achieve, why it doesn't make sense for developers to feel good and have relaxation possibilities while making games or get new carpets and why videogames should be sold like washing powder.
In this article, Thomas Tippl (Activisions new COO and the guy overseeing Blizzard now) answers a few questions regarding their company policy:

GS: Also during the call, Bobby Kotick talked about a "culture of thrift" in the company. But people seem to think with Blizzard, you just give them the resources they want and then step back, letting them do what they do. Are they exempt from that culture of thrift?

TT: No, and I don't think they want to be exempt from that. The culture of thrift isn't about not investing in the games. It's exactly about investing in the games. If we don't waste money on golden toilets and what have you, that gives us the resources to invest in the games so we make a great game. Subsequently, it gives us the ability to spend big in marketing a game.

I don't know if you've been at our offices. We've had the same office since forever, and we just replaced the duct tape on the carpet because it became a trip hazard down the stairs. And that took five years to get done. So we are thrifty in the areas where frankly, the consumer doesn't see value. We are not thrifty in the areas where the consumer sees the value, which is in the game development.

That's why we added 300 headcount to Blizzard's development team, 900 headcount to the customer service team, 300 headcount around the Call of Duty franchise. There are many areas where we are making massive investments to improve the gamer experience, and then there are areas where we think it's not worth it. So we don't have a company gym, cafeteria, and valet parking. Because the gamer doesn't care about that. They don't see value in any of that. Go talk to Blizzard or the Treyarch guys or the Sledgehammer guys. We put the money where the gamer's going to see it.

Furthermore, he sees every move they make validated, because "gamers continue to buy their games".

GS: Activision's not too popular with some gamers after Kotick's comments about taking the fun out of development, the Brutal Legend lawsuit, or the Infinity Ward drama earlier this year. How do you deal with that negative perception? Is it something you can see affecting the bottom line at all?

TT: I would say this: When you become the number one in any industry, you automatically get a target painted on your back. That's just a fact of life, so you have to be able to deal with this. I think there's a very vocal minority that expresses very strong opinions. But at the end of the day, if you look at the overall results we've delivered, 2009 was a very difficult year in the industry. And we have succeeded in that environment because gamers continue to buy our games...because we market the franchise and not the company, and they get a great entertainment experience. So that's the most important thing.

What would Kotick do if he had one instant wish to change something in his company? He apparently wouldn't make his employees happier or create a better working environment, he wouldn't want to create a new succesful original IP but he'd make Call of Duty a subscription based service as soon as he could...

WSJ: If you could snap your fingers, and instantly make one change in your company, what would it be, and why?

Mr. Kotick: I would have Call of Duty be an online subscription service tomorrow. When you think about what the audience's interests are and how you could really satisfy bigger audiences with more inspired, creative opportunities, I would love to see us have an online Call of Duty world. I think our players would just have so much of a more compelling experience.

WSJ: Is that coming?

Mr. Kotick: Hopefully.

WSJ: Are the customers ready for it?

Mr. Kotick: I think our audiences are clamoring for it. If you look at what they're playing on Xbox Live today, we've had 1.7 billion hours of multiplayer play on Live. I think we could do a lot more to really satisfy the interests of the customers. I think we could create so many things, and make the game even more fun to play. We haven't really had a chance to do that yet, so that would be my snap of the fingers.

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Here, Tippl is talking about how selling video games apparently is so very similar to selling washing powder, toilet paper or potato chips:

When Tippl joined Activision in 2005, he brought with him several years of executive experience with highly-successful consumer goods company Procter & Gamble, which is home for products ranging from toilet paper to potato chips to laundry detergent. He still draws from that mass market experience.

“When people come up and tell me, ‘how can you possibly make another Call of Duty,’ I always tell them that I used to work for a company that every year had to figure out how to make a white shirt whiter,” Tippl said. “And [Procter & Gamble] have been doing that for 35 years with a product like Tide.”

He continued, “You’re telling me with all the opportunities we have, and the technologies and the content ... and all the different stories, the characters that we can develop, that we can’t innovate on a franchise for 10 years? Give me a break. Then we’re just not doing our job.”

…to be continued, but remember after successfully pulling something off/enforcing it (which they ultimately will, like others did with stuff like Online Activation, DLCs, DRM, Micropayments etc.) it never gets better… only worse

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Muuta VS Thors Magic Box

The point of this guide is to show you how to exploit the fact that unlike siege tanks, the thor’s splash radius is EXTREMELY small, and only really takes effect when mutas start to overlap and stack.

The SC2 Magic Box

In BW you could use magic boxes for spell spread, among other things. In sc2 we have smart casting so that isn’t important, the application this time will be to maintain a unit spread. The magic box is basically an invisible box that fits around your selected units. If you right click inside the box, your units will try to bunch up at that location. And if you right click outside the box, they will maintain formation and hence retain unit spread.

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(it’s actually more of a square but from that angle I had to make it a rectangle.)

What's better is that the unit spread is automatic. You know when you bunch up a group of mutas and they start to diverge on their own? Once they reach THAT spread, THAT is your anti-splash damage formation. The thor’s splash damage is literally that small. See that picture up there? That is all the spread you need to completely eliminate splash damage. And you don’t need insane micro skills to maintain it. Just bunch them up once, wait until they diverge, and move them out, being sure to always click outside the box.

There is more to magic boxes though. In particular they have a maximum size depending on whether air or ground units are selected. If the selected units exceed the maximum size of the box, they will always lose formation no matter where you click. Fortunately the air box is MUCH bigger than the ground box. Mess around with about 4 zerglings and see how much you can spread them and move them while keeping formation. They don’t spread a whole lot. Air units are very different. I have found that I can keep a formation of 36 mutas without them getting outside the box. If you go above that number you’re risking one of them getting outside the box, and the result will be all of them bunching up during a move. It’s safest to keep your numbers lower than 36. So just keep an eye on that.



[image loading]

DO NOT. I REPEAT DO NOT, attack thors by simply right clicking them from a distance, or this is what you will see. I shake my head in shame whenever I see this. (Although as a terran player it does make me a happy camper).


[image loading]

The idea is to move, park, and fire. Let’s say I want to pick off 2 thors with 10 mutas. First I get them in formation. To do this bunch them up and let them diverge into a nice little circular cloud (you should only have to do this once before moving out). Second, once you see the thor, FORCE MOVE to a point past the target thor. Once your mutas have clouded over the thor, attack the target thor, and ideally you will see your mutas get this nice momentum where they do an attack before they come to a complete stop, it’s very important that your mutas are all in range before you attack. Otherwise they could bunch up slightly. As you focus one thor down, watch to see if another thor is accumulating glaive damage. Kill that one next. If he is very close to the other thor you may not even need to force move your mutas. Additionally, you may find it difficult to click on the thor when your mutas are surrounding it. This is actually a very important issue, because if you click on one of your mutas or the ground right next to him on accident, the results will be disastrous. The solution I have found is to just hit “end” on the keyboard or use your mouse scroll to get a better angle. I know it’s awkward and not very pro but it’s much safer. You will find that it gets harder to do this with no bunching as your numbers get bigger. A bit of practice on a unit tester couldn’t hurt you there.


These are by no means proven, but I have found that at about 18 mutas, you’ve reached a critical mass where mutas are even with thors at a 3:1 ratio. So 18 mutas is about even with 6 thors. Do the math: 300/300/6 is even with 300/200/6, even when the latter is supposed to be a counter and the sole AA in a mech army I might add. As you get lower in mutas, the ratio gets bigger. As you get higher, the ratio gets a little smaller. Using this tactic, 4 mutas is basically even with one thor. This does not take into account upgrades but I will discuss them further down. Again I want to stress these are by no means proven. Results have varied tremendously before. Perhaps the mutas bunched sometimes and I missed it. Perhaps the thors were doing an absurd amount of overkill, causing their DPS to plummet. No less, the technique makes a gigantic difference in the LIFESPAN of your mutas while they’re around thors. This enables them to harass more effectively when the terran is using thors as his primary air defence, and much more.

Now some important figures: with no upgrades on either end, thors kill mutas in 3 hits. Thors with level 1 weapons and mutas with zero armor still kill mutas in three hits. With level 2 weapons, thors kill mutas in two hits unless the mutas have level 1 armor, then it takes 3 again (In this case mutas will have ONE HP left after the second hit due to that instant point of health regen).

Meager Analysis

What can the terran do? Certainly armor for thors will help as the glaives hit multiple times. But a better tactic is just spacing out the thors and taking advantage of their range. This will increase the time it takes for the mutas to get from one to the other, and eliminate glaive damage to an extent. Also, make good use of your SCVs.

What can the zerg do extra? Possibly get corrupters and use corruption to help the thors go down faster. Don’t necessarily target the thors. If you can pick off his tanks, you can pave the way for your ground army to mop the floor with everything else, which leads to the next point. Obviously don’t make ALL mutas unless you can see he’s really short on thors or AA in general.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Interview with GSL RO16 Day 1 winner Cool aka. Fruitseller

- How does it feel to reap a 2:1 victory and get into the round of 8?
▲ I'm really happy. I've played a lot of games with TOP since before. I started filtering who I play against on because of strategies, and recently I have a lot of memories of losing but I thought "I should be able to win even though the map is difficult". But when I was up there and playing, I was very nervous.

- During game 1, you built 2 Baneling Nests, and 2 Roach Warrens
▲ I didn't know I did anything like that during game 1. I knew that I built two roach warrens during game three though. I was really nervous so I received damage in the early game, and I built two Roach Warrens. I'm the type of person who gets overly nervous.

- You may have been nervous, but you won game 1.
▲ I didn't know but people told me I had about 90 drones. You can't win if you have that many drones, so I thought "Wow, I was really nervous" [T/N: Potentially, "Wow, he was really nervous"]

- You were really active in using Ultralisks
▲ The bug is only there when you hit buildings, so I'm hoping the patch keeps going this way [laugh]. I don't think it's bad at all.

- Did you think of Ultralisks as a solution to playing against Terran?
▲ Terrans nowadays don't come out attacking first. I've lost a lot of games when my opponent attacked during the timing where I exhausted my units and before I hit 200 population on Ultras. It'll be difficult for me to make Broodlords because they take longer to make than Ultralisks, so I think Ultralisks are the only answer. A lot of Terrans started using the Marines - Siege Tank combination a lot more and started using Marauders less, so that could also be an answer.

- You tried using the Nydus Network in Game 2 and failed and lost.
▲ If you look at my ladder records, you'd know that I didn't get to practice this strategy before. I tried this about a week ago and got stopped, it worked once yesterday during practice, but this morning, I lost all 5 matches I've tried it on. People around me just told me to go for a management game, but after I won game 1, I tried it as an all in strategy. Since it didn't work, I even thought "Maybe it's just me" [laugh]. But it doesn't matter because I won game 3.

- You started game 3 by receiving a lot of damage in the early game.
▲ I thought I lost so I thought of just announcing GG, but when I just played like I have practiced things went well. My opponent didn't even use Medivacs and started collecting Thors, and because I thought I lost, I excluded everything and only made Drones. But my opponent didn't come attacking during that time, and later on when I saw that his Thors weren't upgraded, I figured I had won.

- What do you think of Patch 1.1
▲ The time when I recovered my condition was around the time when the patch went live, and after that, I didn't lose as much. It's because Terran didn't come rushing as much anymore, since I'm just playing as I normally do. Clide and other Terrans started saying that they can't beat Zerg anymore, but I think they're only saying that because they're used to thinking that when Terran faces Zerg, they need to win 9 out of 10 times [laugh]

- Recently, You've vented about difficulties about Zerg at an online community.
▲ That was the day right before the patch. Even though I had a huge advantage, I had no way to win and no way to play through, but after the whining, things started opening up a bit [laugh]. If there was no patch I would have quit playing Zerg, but now that there's a patch, I'll continue to play Zerg.

- Any resolve regarding your next match?
▲ I've played a lot of games with , but I want to play him once in the remaining games. And the maps have been really bad for me up to now, so I'm hoping the next map pool comes out favorably.

- Anything else you want to say?
▲ Rainbow hyung supported me a lot, so I want to thank him because he was a lot of help. I hope Tester, RainBOw, and Maka all make it to the top 8. But I think TesteR is a little afraid of RainBOw hyung [laugh].

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Starcraft 2 mineral boosting

Mineral Boosting
If you carefully observe your workers mining, you will notice that they sit around for half a second after they mine a mineral before realizing they need to return it to your CC. I'm not sure why the AI is slow on this, but the delay is actually not necessary. By removing this delay, mining speed is increased by up to 7%.

Method 1
Select a worker that just finished mining some minerals. He should have the 'Return Cargo' ability, which has the hotkey C by default. Hold shift and right click back to his mineral patch. Then as quickly as possible press C then right click and repeat both of these until the worker reaches the CC. The last command issued should be right click. Release shift, and repeat this with another worker.

The reason this works is quite simple. You are just queueing up many copies of the commands "Gather Minerals, Return Cargo, Gather Minerals, Return Cargo ...". Then rather than waiting for the AI to tell the worker to return cargo, the worker follows your instructions and returns the minerals immediately. However, if you end with return cargo, your worker will just wait at the CC after he goes through the whole queue. Hence, you should either end with right click, or keep extending the queue.

Method 2

Select a worker that is about to return minerals. Hold shift, and then hold C. Just spam right click on the appropriate mineral patch.

Holding C after shift effectively spams the Return Cargo command very quickly, as with making units. This method requires less effort and is limited only by your clicking speed. However, the extra 'C' presses will fill up your queue and your maximum amount of commands will be more limited. Also, often the last command will be Return Cargo, so make sure you add a right click at the end of the queue.

Method 3
This is more of a specialized method in order to get the worker to return quickly on the first trip (you can't execute the above methods until after they return). After a worker goes to mine, just shift+right click his mineral patch. It will make the worker run immediately back to the CC once his mining is done and continue mining. However, without using one of the above methods, the later trips will not be boosted.

The main use for this method imo is on mules. On some close patches, the mules will return an extra 30 minerals, but only if you use this trick on the first return (and boost the rest of the mining as well).

I tested this trick by mining with two workers (so I could do the trick perfectly) and counting the number of minerals returned after 5 minutes. This was done for both close patches and far patches. This data is also used to determine how much time this trick saves from each mining trip.

Minerals after 5 Minutes
Close Patches with Normal Mining: 495
Close Patches with Boosted Mining: 530
Percent Increase: ~7%

Far Patches with Normal Mining: 440
Far Patches with Boosted Mining: 470
Percent Increase: ~6.5%

Round trip mining time (seconds)
Close Patches with Normal Mining: 6.74
Close Patches with Boosted Mining: 6.25
Time decreased: 0.49

Far Patches with Normal Mining: 7.69
Far Patches with Boosted Mining: 7.14
Time decreased: 0.55

Thus, this trip removes about 0.5 secs from each trip, and gives up to a 7% increase in minerals.

Recommended Use
This trick is difficult to use optimally as I mentioned. After trying several methods, the best way I've found to use this trick is to start with a 3/3 split. One worker will arrive (and hence will return) first for each group. Select the first worker ahead of time and quickly spam. Then try to get the other two workers of that group of three. Repeat on the next return trip for the other group. Then keep extending these queues as much as possible, while boosting the newly arriving workers as well.

Once the workers start running around looking for patches, this trick doesn't really boost mining rate anymore since they will keep trying to return to the same busy patch. However, careful pairing up of workers can reduce this problem, and I don't think it actually hurts. Eventually there is no point to this trick however, because the actual mining time becomes the limiting factor.

I've found that by using this trick, mules mining from close patches will return 300 minerals instead of 270, which seems worthwhile for your first few mules. Some far patches normally only return 240, so this trick will give the full 270 in these cases.

Using this trick early game can save seconds of your build. For low level players, this may not be worth the hassle, but I think it is definitely worth it at high levels. To summarize, here is a list of pros and cons.

  • Cuts several seconds off your build
  • Only requires actions when you have them to spare (very early game).

  • Instead of rerallying and boxing workers, you have to do useful tasks.
  • Making mistakes and not correcting them can cost mining time instead.


Q1: Does this work on gas?
A1: No. There is no delay before gas is returned.

Q2: Can't you just spam/hold C to get your workers to return your minerals?
A2: I can not get this to work at all. Unless someone posts a video/replay of this working, I conclude that this method is worthless.

Q3: Pros with over 9000 APM will be able to use this throughout the game to always get +7% minerals.
A3: Not at all. This return only reduces the return time of the minerals, not the actual hands-on mining. When the minerals are saturated, the mining rate is limited by how long each scv takes to mine a patch. The travel time has no effect. Personally, I think if you have over 16 workers, attempting this trick will always cost you minerals instead. However, testing is necessary.

Q4: What is Method 3 for?
A4: Method 3 is for making workers return quickly on their current mining round, while the other methods are for queueing up for future rounds. They can be used in combination for the maximum mining speed.

Q5: How long should you keep this trick up for?
A5: As soon as workers start switching between patches, you can easily lose minerals because workers will keep trying to go to busy patches they are queued for. Additional micro can prevent this, but it will probably still hurt the effectiveness of this trick. I stop around 12 workers, and I caution against trying this with more without verifying you are not costing yourself more than you are gaining.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sc2 Patch 1.1 undocumented changes

The following are a list of undocumented changes for SC2 patch 1.1:

Confirmed changes:
- Production tab in replays and when observing live games now shows progress bars and mouseover tooltips giving exact completion level.

- Missile Turret Base range: 7 (8 with upgrade) (Not new)
- New, coloured icons for spells with monochrome icons (almost everything has shiny new icons)

- No rocks on Desert Oasis, but other layout changes are still present (during ladder matches)
- Larvae spread out more around Hatcheries instead of clumping up.
- Ultralisk splash radius seems to grow depending on the target (i.e. scvs repairing PFs die very quickly) (not actually a new mechanic, just makes for some crazy effects when attacking buildings) - Eggs can now overlap, which makes it difficult to tell the progress on them. :S (Not new, just more likely because of the new, stricter larva positioning)
- Build Order screen seems severely bugged or something, just displays the wrong units (may not be new though) - Terran buildings count as complete before their animation finishes, as opposed to after it
- Thor 250mm cannons may be used on friendly units (not yet sure about neutral buildings, i.e. rocks)
- Insane AI really dislikes it when you try and cannon rush them now (and probably other proxy crap, but I'm mostly making that up right now)

- Vortex has a new graphic (or maybe it doesn't)
- Infestors can no longer use the NP/FG while burrowed bug (might be counted in the bugfix about using things not on the card)
- Ctrl+F5-F8 now works to assign location to hotkeys
- Nydus worms are noisier while building, but don't make a global sound when emerging. (Confirmed false)
- Observers appear to move faster (Confirmed false, both speed and acceleration are exactly the same as prepatch)

Diablo 3 max lvl

Bashiok pointed out some very good reasons for this level cap. Really the number does not really matter whether it by 60 or 100 the game play will not change only that the rate you are leveling at. Maybe I am stupid but i enjoyed D2 as a easy to play  ,cow level runs to level, press two skills to PvP type of game. I am not saying that D3 should be like this as a former WoW player myself i do enjoy some degree of skill in my games and welcoming these changes as long as they dont water Diablo 3 down and i cant be a Demi-God army destroying machine.However the low level cap of 60 and blizzard's love of expansions (Sc2: WoL/HotS/LotV) and (WoW:BC/WOTLK/Cata) leads me to believe that we are gonna be instore for 2-3 expansions. and frankly with the amount i spend of crappy games i really do not mind throwing down 200$ over 3 years for a blizzard game that is countinuely updating and getting new content.