League of Legends gets World of Warcraft Veteran game designer


World of Warcraft veteran leaves Blizzard to join RIOT Games as League of Legends developer.

Greg Street

Former World of Warcraft lead systems designer Greg Street has updated his LinkedIn profile to reflect that he is now a lead game designer at Riot Games.

The Linked profile doesn’t indicate the project he is working on at Riot Games. In a post on his Twitter account, Street alluded to the change but implied it would be some time before he provided more clarification on it.

“Thank you for all the recent tweets, but I think the appropriate thing for me to do is lie low for awhile,” Street said. “I won’t vanish forever. Cheers.”

Street, also known as Ghostcrawler on the World of Warcraft forums, had been with Blizzard for nearly six years when he left last month. Prior to that, he worked at Microsoft’s Ensemble Studios as the lead game designer on Age of Empires III.

 

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Snowden papers allege NSA/GCHQ are monitoring World Of Warcraft, XBL conversations


Agencies monitor individuals, recruit players and record conversations

An extensive report by the Guardian has claimed that there is evidence that both GCHQ and the NSA are involved in heavy monitoring of online games and networks, including World of Warcraft and Xbox Live.

The piece, which cites unreleased information which came as part of the secret dossiers obtained and leaked to the paper by Edward Snowden, says that the agencies have collaborated heavily on information gathering processes which have targetted online gaming communities. The agencies, it is claimed, have been using them to identify and track suspects, as well as form pictures of their social networks and recruit embedded agents of their own.

“The agencies, the documents show, have built mass-collection capabilities against the Xbox Live console network, which boasts more than 48 million players,” the report reads. “Real-life agents have been deployed into virtual realms, from those Orc hordes in World of Warcraft to the human avatars of Second Life. There were attempts, too, to recruit potential informants from the games’ tech-friendly users.”

According to the 2008 paper acquired by Snowden and seen by the Guardian, titled Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments, no acts of terrorism have been prevented by the monitoring, nor have any criminals been apprehended. The document is due to be released Monday, December 16.

Further to that, the Snowden papers allegedly hold information which shows that some of the companies which run the games and networks affected have been complicit in the process, with Second Life being singled out as being particularly pro-active in the encouragement of espionage. In May of 2007, Linden Lab’s Chief Operating Officer is believed to have given a presentation to the NSA in which he eulogised Second Life as a perfect “opportunity to understand the motivation, context and consequent behaviours of non-Americans through observation, without leaving US soil”.

“The agencies, the documents show, have built mass-collection capabilities against the Xbox Live console network”

The Guardian

Not only would that provide access to geographically and ideologically remote users, it would also handily circumnavigate international protocols surrounding spying on foreign soil, ameliorating the risk of potentially embarrassing diplomatic incidents.

The article asserts that the agencies, which were recently revealed to have collaborated on a vast network of intelligence gathering operations which has included monitoring the communications of foreign leaders like Germany’s Angela Merkel, has established these “mass-collection capabilities” within Xbox Live by utilising biometric data provided by Kinect in addition to more traditional information like email address, messages and IP locations. It’s also claimed that various games had private chat channels, both voice and text based, monitored and recorded for future analysis.

Both Linden Labs and Microsoft declined to comment on the allegations when questioned by the Guardian. Activision Blizzard released a statement claiming that “We are unaware of any surveillance taking place. If it was, it would have been done without our knowledge or permission.”

The UK’s spy agency had this to offer: “All GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that its activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the interception and intelligence services commissioners and the Intelligence and Security Committee.”

Scant comfort to those who have been involved in the communities of online games in recent years, or to those who feel the beady and ubiquitous red eye of Kinect 2 upon their backs, especially given that other allegations have already emerged regarding email networks and other databases which paint major corporations as all too enabling of the monitoring of citizens’ data.

Nolan Bushnell, however, thinks it’s unlikely to damage the sales of Xbox One.

Microsoft and Activision’s UK representatives have been contacted for further comment.

 

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Warhammer Online – last month and a half-Play for FREE!


The Ancient Gaming Noob

I mentioned previously that EA has announced Warhammer Online will be closing down on December 18th of this year.

As part of the run up (or down) to that terminal date, the WAR team has convinced somebody at EA to allow them to let everybody play for free for the last month and a half.  And by “everybody,” they mean everybody who ever had an account in good standing, which I gather meant that you were a paid subscriber.  From the official site:

A Parting Gift
Posted by From the Devs | 2013 Nov 02 04:00 -0400 GMT

Greetings Warhammer players,

Effective immediately we will be turning off the ability to apply one month subscriptions and game time codes to Warhammer Online accounts and removing the ability to open new Warhammer Online accounts.

To give Warhammer Online a proper sendoff we are opening the game to anyone free of…

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World of Warcraft composer forms video game tribute band


The lead composer on World of Warcraft announced his video game tribute band Critical Hit today, along with the band’s debut album, which includes covers of the main themes from Tetris, Pokémon, Halo 2 and Metal Gear Solid 2.

Jason Hayes is an in-house composer for Blizzard Entertainment. He has contributed to the soundtracks of video games like Dota 2, StarCraft, Warcraft 3, Diablo 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. For Critical Hit, he brings together professional violinists, guitarists, pianists, flautists and percussionists to perform original arrangements from some of the world’s most well-known video games.

The band’s debut album, Critical Hit: Volume One, is now available for pre-order for $14.99. Hayes will sign copies of the album that are pre-ordered between now and Oct. 31.

Critical Hit will perform its first live show on Nov. 9 at BlizzCon at the Anaheim Convention Center. The performance will take place during the convention’s Sound Panel.

 

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Big Stars Rumored For the Warcraft Movie


Rumors have it that Atlas Entertainment and Legendary Pictures have offered Colin Farrell (Total Recall) and Paula Patton (Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol) roles in the upcoming movie based on Blizzard’s World of Warcraft game. The film doesn’t have a studio as of yet, although it looks as if Universal Pictures will take the job. Duncan Jones (Source Code, Moon) will be the director.

 Warcraft Movie

 According to Deadline, Farrell and Patton are not a done deal, as it looks to be 50/50 with Farrell at this point and negotiations are still ongoing with Patton. Jones is also said to be interviewing other actors for major parts at this time. Filming is expected to begin in January of next year.

Who would you like to see star in the Warcraft movie? Are Farrell and Patton good choices?

 

Source