All posts by Alisha Turull

The Editor-in-Chief of GKick.net, co-host of the GKick podcast, and an absolute Frost Death Knight / PvP junkie.

Mists of Pandaria Release Date Announced; Pre-Sales are Live!

That’s right! Defenders of Azeroth prepare to set off on a new exploration to the long lost continent of Pandaria on September 25th!

Announced this morning by Blizzard PR, the wait is now over and fans and enthusiasts of the game can now expect the newest expansion coming their way in roughly two months. With a new level cap soon to set from 85 to 90, a new playable race in the Pandaren and a new Monk class soon to be implemented as well as player-to-player pet battles and so much more Mists of Pandaria has raised the bar in variety in comparison to expansions past. Included in the press release CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment, Mike Morhaime, states:

 “Mists of Pandaria contains the biggest variety of new content we’ve ever created for a World of Warcraft expansion, with features that will appeal to new players, veterans, and everyone in between. We’ve received a lot of great feedback from players during our most extensive beta test yet, and we hope they enjoy exploring everything Pandaria has to offer when the expansion comes out in September.”

So we know what features we’ll soon get to play to our hearts content and now we know when, but how much? Well as stated on the splash page of the main World of Warcraft website, a standard edition physical copy of the game will be available for $39.95 at local retailers. Additionally, fans of all things digital can pre-purchase a digital deluxe edition of Mists of Pandaria for $59.95. Included in the digital deluxe edition will include:

-          World of Warcraft In-Game Mount: Take to the skies of Azeroth astride the mystical Imperial Quilen flying mount.
-          World of Warcraft In-Game Pet: Journey across Pandaria with the Lucky Quilen Cub at your side.
-          StarCraft® II Battle.net® Portraits: Bring the Horde and Alliance rivalry to the far reaches of the Koprulu sector with exclusive Infested Orc and Night Elf Templar Battle.net portraits.
-          Diablo® III Banner Sigil and Accent: Display your status as a hero of Pandaria with the iconic markings of World of Warcraft’s newest playable race, the pandaren.

And of course for the collectors in us all, there indeed will be a Collector’s Edition. In tow with a copy of the full length release and all the bonus additions from the digital deluxe package, you can also expect the following bonus exclusives:

-          Behind-the-Scenes DVD and Blu-Ray: Learn about the creation of Pandaria with this two-disc set featuring over an hour of commentary, insider interviews, and developer roundtables.
-          Collector’s Edition Soundtrack CD: Experience 20 orchestral pieces from Mists of Pandaria.
-          The Art of Mists of Pandaria Book: Explore this 208-page hardcover tome featuring never-before-seen pieces from the expansion, from early concepts to final 3D renderings.
-          Chen Stormstout Mouse Pad: Equip your desk with this special-edition mouse pad featuring the legendary pandaren brewmaster.

As of this time, I have not seen details on costs of the collector’s edition pre-order but when announced, this post will be updated.

Until then, we’ve got a few weeks to tie any loose ends before pandas attack! I for one have a digital deluxe pre-order on the way. A Night Elf Templar portrait for Starcraft II? That was a dealbreaker. What are you looking forward to in the weeks ahead? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Find Your Inner Chakra on Facebook with Yoga Retreat

You see it all the time; people making it “Facebook official”, tens of “Likes” on that new Courage Wolf meme, and being invited to the 2012 Zombie Apocalypse event. Did you accept your invite yet? No? Alright I guess I won’t be seeing you there then— it’s casual.

The wave of Facebook application bars is being raised to the next level though when Finland based social games development studio, Gajatri Studios, formally announced today its debut title, Yoga Retreat. Available to the masses starting August 6th, players will find an avatar in their likeness with which he or she practices and teaches yoga to resort customers in return for virtual currency. Players will learn and unlock genuine yoga techniques in the hatha tradition, all of which can be transferred over to players’ day-to-day lives, as well as items and facilities to create the idyllic tropical wellbeing resort.

The brains behind the operation? Well that would be none other than Gajatri Studios founder Tiina Zilliacus, a certified yoga teacher with over 200 hours of training along with 14 years professional background in games, online and mobile. In an attempt to bring fitness education and gaming in perfect harmony with a social media platform as its base I’m very excited to try this first hand when available.

I suppose my farm in Farmville will soon become a famine, and my mafia in Mafia Wars will disown me, but hey— can they do a Half Lord of the Fishes pose? I think not.

For more information on Yoga Retreat, check out their fan page on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/yogaretreatgame

The MadCast Open Tournament LIVE Streaming on Observer ESports

That’s right! The GKick Netowrk’s sister site, Oberserver eSports, has joined alongside our good friends in MadCast Gaming to provide you today with live streams and casting of this month’s Open Tournament from the MadCast Gaming crew as well as the good folks over at The Killing Blow! Head on over now to Observer eSports and follow the streams for your fill of all things League of Legends!

SteelSeries Goes “Pink” For a Great Cause

SteelSeries, a leading manufacturer in gaming and entertainment peripherals announced today that one of its popular gaming headsets, the Siberia v2, is now available in the color pink in a limited edition run. Coupled with the The Breast Cancer Research Foundation® (BCRF), in which 10% of all purchases of the new SteelSeries Siberia v2 Headset Pink Edition that are made on SteelSeries’ Web Shop, will be donated to the non-profit organization.

“We’re proud to be working with The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and are thrilled to be giving our customers a chance to purchase a premium-quality gaming and entertainment headset that will also benefit a cause that is recognized and important to so many,” said Bruce Hawver, SteelSeries CEO. “It is our goal to reach, and hopefully exceed, a donation amount of $10,000 between now and October which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, for BCRF from this campaign.”

Available now on the SteelSeries website, you can purchase your own for the retail value of $89.99 USD or €89.99 MSRP. Note as well that all customers purchasing the product are also offered the option to include an additional cash value donation of their choice to the BCRF. If you’d like to show your support, don’t hesitate to pick up your own headset now.

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation®, founded by Evelyn H. Lauder in 1993, is an independent not-for-profit organization committed to funding scientific research to achieve prevention and a cure for breast cancer in our lifetime. In October 2011, BCRF awarded $36.5 million to 187 scientists across the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Australia, and China.  With over 90 cents of every dollar donated currently being directed to breast cancer research and awareness programs, BCRF continues to remain one of the most fiscally responsible charities in the country.  BCRF holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, its tenth such designation since 2002.  Additionally, BCRF is the only cancer organization designated as “A+” by CharityWatch. For more information about BCRF, visit www.bcrfcure.org.

Sony Online Entertainment Names 2012 G.I.R.L Recipient

For five years and running, Sony Online Entertainment along with Scholarships America have joined forces in an effort of establishing young aspiring females into the realm of the video game industry with a focus in game development in design. Appropriately titling the scholarship program Gamers In Real Life (G.I.R.L. for short) Sony announced today that this year’s winner is Quinne Larsen of  Northridge, California.

Larsen, a character animation major at the California Institute of the Arts, was awarded a $10,000 scholarship to use toward her college tuition and other educational expenses. She has also accepted a 10-week paid internship at SOE’s headquarters in San Diego where she will work on one of the company’s many hit titles. With her submission featured in the subject of this post, it’s no surprise that talent of this caliber would not go unnoticed.

“I was over the moon when I learned that I won the G.I.R.L. Scholarship,” said Larsen. “I can’t thank SOE enough for this opportunity and I look forward to furthering my passion and knowledge for video games.”

For all submissions considered, this year’s finalists were asked to provide two original concept pieces inspired by the popular SOE titles PlanetSide2 or EverQuestII. Additionally they were asked to include an essay discussing their views on women in the gaming industry to a panel of judges. With hundreds of submissions sent in, it was Larsen that attracted the eyes of senior vice president of global sales and marketing for Sony Online Entertainment, Laura Navieux:

“We were impressed with the creativity and passion shown in not only Quinne’s entry, but all the finalist entries. Every year we are thrilled to award these scholarships to young, talented students, so that they may continue to have opportunities to shape and bring diversity to our industry.”

For more information on how you can participate in next year’s G.I.R.L. competition and what the scholarship program entails, check out www.girl.soe.com .

Diablo III Sets Records in First 24 Hours of Release

From its inception and development dating back as far as 2001, Blizzard’s Diablo III was indeed a highly anticipated release and 3.5 million folks carried those sentiments in the first 24 hours alone announced today by Blizzard Entertainment. Holding the reigns as the fastest selling PC game ever,  Blizzard CEO and co-founder Mike Morhaime states in an article posted by Gamezone earlier today,

Regarding today’s announcement, we recognize that setting a new launch record is a big achievement. However, we’re especially proud of the gameplay feedback we’ve received from players worldwide. We’re pleased that Diablo 3 has lived up to players’ high expectations, and we’re looking forward to welcoming more players into Sanctuary in the days ahead.

Now before diving any further, please take note that the calculated 3.5 million figure is based solely on copies purchased and pre-ordered. For all of Blizzard’s Annual Pass subscribers that received Diablo III free with the promotion (1.2 million players), that total boosts first day numbers up to 4.7 million players live on launch day and the numbers keep growing.

With any game in the baby stages of launch there’s sure to be latency issues, servers down, slow queue times while logging in, security breaches and D3 has tackled each of those in an orderly and timely manner I’d say. With more features to be integrated in future installments though I think you’ll see a far smoother transition compared to the other famed franchises at Blizzard.

Does the game live up to your hopes and expectations though? Drop us a line in the comments section and let us know what you think.

World of Warcraft Holds Stable at 10.2 Million Subscribers

With new MMOs launched as of this past week, the WoW community was in a buzz about Blizzard Entertainment’s quarterly call with investors that subscriptions for World of Warcraft are holding steady 10.2 million subscribers as of 3/31/12. Following an announcement back in May of 2011 where the company’s subscription based dropped by a margin of 1.2 million many wonder what is the catalyst for the maintenance in numbers? Could it be the recent integration of the Annual Pass, announcements of Diablo III available for free with Annual Pass sign up, beta access into the upcoming expansion, Mists of Pandaria? No additional details were discussed, but if I had a hunch PokeWoW (or the upcoming Pet Battles by it’s formal title) is playing a pivotal role in enticing veteran and new players to the upcoming expansion.

The quarterly call with investors also has revealed that Blizzard has renewed its’ license with China partners NetEase for distribution:

On March 20, 2012, Blizzard Entertainment announced that they renewed their license with NetEase for the distribution of World of Warcraft in mainland China. The new license will continue for an additional three years following the expiration of the current license agreement.

Much to the chagrin of WoW fans though, a date for Mists of Pandaria has yet to be released.

On Gaming Angels - StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm interview Brian Kindregan

Our friends at Gaming Angels recently posted an interview with Lead Writer for Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm, Brian Kindregan. Be sure to check out the post below for an in-depth look at what Gaming Angels found out at BlizzCon 2011 on all things StarCraft!

 

At Blizzcon, I had the chance to do an interview with Brian Kindregan, Lead Writer for StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm. We discuss the transitioning story from Wings of Liberty to Heart of the Swarm as well as new units, continuing the story in novels, and some of his favorite characters to write banter for. It was a great time interviewing him and I can’t wait for Heart of the Swarm to be released! (soon….)

From The Editor’s Chair: Extra Life 2011 and Thank You!

So looking at the time this will be published there’s about an hour left to the event and despite both Steph’s and my drowsiness (24 hours of no beauty sleep makes for some delirium and random giggles) we had a huge blast with this year’s Extra Life 2011 fundraiser and all in all a major success for everyone involved from start to finish. We had the opportunity to give away some great stuff along with doing live streams and chat with friends and fans of the GKick Network.

A lot of people had asked in the days leading up to the event why this meant so much to me. I’m not the type to put all my cards on the table, but maybe it needs to be known— I’m proud to say I’m the daughter of a cancer survivor and I know full well that charities just like Extra Life can make a difference to those affected.

Not to dig too deep into detail, my Mom has been in remission from colon cancer for about three years now. I remember vividly the phone call we exchanged when I first found out, the private visits to the hospital I would attend with her for treatments, the tears and soothing the pain away, to the fateful day when they told her she was cancer free and feeling our anxiety finally subsiding. Needless to say that time in my life was one of the most helpless and heart wrenching moments I had ever encountered because for a brief period, I had to be a foundation for my Mom and she turned to me much like a child would do for their mother. Roles were reversed and I wanted nothing more than to make the pain go away. In similar respects I wanted to protect her— just like Wonder Woman saves the world. For 24 hours today, I did save the world— sort of.

I know I’m not alone in my story and there are folks out there who have their own trial and tribulations to push through everyday.  But today, about 3,500 participants past and present in the gaming community came together to exercise a favorite pastime with a common goal: play video games for 24 hours nonstop to help the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. In an earlier email circulated by founder of Extra Life, Jeromy Adams, we all reached an amazing milestone in raising over 1 million dollars in proceeds to the foundation. Gamers did that? Yeah, you helped make this happen.

On behalf of the GKick Network and its staff we just wanted to take a second to sincerely thank you, the reader, for helping us through this every step of the way. From contributing to us as a sponsor, or spreading the word about our participation in Extra Life on your respected blog or podcast, or even spending time with us today in game or on any of our social media networks you helped make this a fun and rewarding experience that we will fondly look back to in the weeks and months to come with great success.

Today for just 24 hours,  I got to be Wonder Woman and help save lives in just a small way. Truly, thank you for making that happen.

Warmest Regards,

Alisha Turull, Editor-in-Chief

GKick Network

Join The GKick Staff This Weekend For Extra Life 2011!

That’s right! With Extra Life 2011 starting up in less than 24 hours, the Bottom Line Live’s Steph and the GKick Podcast’s Ali are participating in this year’s event! We’ve been hard at work getting the word out to the masses in support of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and Extra Life that we hope you’ll join us every step of the way! Here’s some quick details and info for you listeners and readers to join us, ask some questions, and partake in raids, dungeons and battlegrounds with us starting tomorrow at 8:00 AM EST!

On Rift you can contact us at the following:

Realm: US-Belmont (Defiant Side)

Guild: Extra Life Defiant

Steph: TBA

Ali: Setsunali, the Lvl 1 Eth Mage

and if you’d like to level up with us on World of Warcraft, join our level 1 toons for sheer debauchery and good times:

Realm: US-Doomhammer (Alliance Side)

Guild: Northrend Travel Agency

Steph: Puddingstraz, the Lvl 1 Night Elf Priest (you can contact Steph in a whisper for her main toons’ info)

Ali: Setsunali, the Lvl 1 Draenei Mage (you can contact Ali in a whisper for her main toons’ info)

We’ll be tweeting as consistently as possible on Twitter under the name @GKickNetwork so be sure to follow us and you can also chat directly with us on Skype at GKickAli. Thanks so much and we hope to see and hear you all tomorrow!