It all starts with one Ryan Winzen, a 25-year old artist who claims to have no inclination toward video game programming but who has been creating custom maps for Blizzard's Warcraft and StarCraft games since he was 13.
A few days ago Ryan sent shockwaves across the Intertubes when he went public with a lil' project that he's been working on...
Yup, "World of StarCraft"! Ryan is using the in-game editor and assets to create a StarCraft II mod that is... well, World of StarCraft. And it's exactly what you're thinking it is: a massively multiplayer online game that does for StarCraft what Blizzard's mega-popular World of Warcraft has done for the company's other well-known franchise.
Remember: Ryan used the StarCraft II editor and the game's own assets to pull this off. Which is something that everyone thought was what Blizzard allowed... nay, encouraged from its player base.
There was a proof of concept video that Ryan posted on YouTube. I didn't get a chance to see it but the blogosphere is abuzz about how crazy awesome Ryan's skillz are!
Unfortunately, it wasn't online for long before Blizzard's parent company Activision had it taken down and hit Ryan with a cease and desist order! But by then the word was on the street about the World of StarCraft mod. And... well... it fast turned into a PR problem for Activision.
So here's the good news: Blizzard has announced that it has no intention of halting Ryan from working on World of StarCraft. The company clarified that it does encourage the StarCraft player community to use the games' editors to express themselves creatively. And not only that, but for his daring and initiative Ryan Winzen has been invited to visit the Blizzard campus and meet the development staff! Ryan has also apparently been approached by another video game company that has expressed interested in working with him (read that as: "potential career opportunity").
Very neat outcome for Ryan. Here's hoping that he goes far :-)