First and foremost, I’ll note I am not a member of the press. I did not feel obligated to cover Blizzcon in an informative manner. I had originally planned to attend every panel and report new and relevant information, but knowing it would be broadcast on DirectTV and WCRadio, I decided not to sacrifice my individual enjoyment of the convention for the sake of information that would already be accessible before I could even provide it.
I do, however, want to provide an account and opinion of the overall experience from the perspective of a blogger who probably knows more about WoW than most people.
Day One of Blizzcon
The convention was only about a twenty-minute drive away from where I was staying at a guildie’s place in Irvine. I decided we should get there around nine, an hour before Blizzcon was scheduled to open. We made the mistake of standing in line, even though pretty much anyone could simply walk in through one of a hundred doors leading into the convention. The line was very impressive to see, however. I called it “the line to get into the line for the Line Ride.”
The first event I attended was the opening ceremony. A guildie of mine saved me a seat. Because the seats were all on the same level of ground, it was incredibly difficult to see the stage unless you were close up. But the huge screens were able to clearly display the mild demeanor of Mike Morhaime, Blizzard’s president.
Morhaime began by recounting the history of Blizzcon. The first Blizzcon, in 2005 had around 8,000 attendees. By comparison, this one had 15,000 from 27 different countries. However, a Blizzard employee told me the number of actual attendees was probably more likely to be around 18,000 people.
Some general information concerning the upcoming events of the convention was also covered. Starcraft 2 was going to have its first official tournament. The game wasn’t ready for beta, but every Blizzcon attendee will have access to the beta once it begins. For Diablo 3, the announcements were more profound. It was noted that we would come up against an old familiar foe from the original Diablo: King Leoric. The Wizard class was also revealed.
There was nothing new about Wrath announced during the opening ceremony. With Wrath and SC2 already having had their times in the limelight, I imagine Blizzard wanted to use its stage to highlight Diablo 3. Understandably so, considering how good the game looks this early in development.
After the opening ceremony, I attended the UI panel. This was probably a mistake on my part, as there was nothing interesting of note other than an explanation of the design process behind various elements of the user interface. However, it was pretty amusing to reminisce about the changes made to the DK character portrait throughout the alpha and beta.
Next, I attended the class discussion. This was presented by Tom Chilton (Kalgan) and Greg Street (Ghostcrawler). There was really nothing new announced during this panel and much of what was addressed had already been explained on the beta forums. However, they did note how they wanted to change talent trees to emphasize “style” instead of “role.” Also, they justified the changes to threat saying they wanted to make healing and coordination more important than threat. This is why threat scales so well now in the beta.
Much more interesting than both the class and the UI panels was the art panel. Their presentation included humorous slides and videos, as well as teasers for potential content. Most notably, they showed a picture of Dalaran planted in the ground. During the Q&A, when someone asked if the picture was indicative of the possibility that we could see Dalaran as part of an instance in the Caverns of Time, someone on the art team replied “maybe.” Whether or not that means there are actual plans for such, I don’t know. Also intriguing was seeing the design process and artistic progress of various zones, mobs, and instances.
After the art panel, there was nothing left on the WoW schedule for day one. While I do plan to get Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2 when they are released, I decided to skip their respective panels in favor of WoW’s 3v3 tournament. The loser bracket semi-final between selective queuers (SQ) and Council of Mages (CoM) was the first match I attended. Being the champions of the 2008 Worldwide Invitational and the top Korean team, people expected great things from CoM. However, SQ swept them with ease. While others would say the matches were close, I disagree. SQ was put into a couple dangerous situations, but these were nothing a rogue/lock/druid (RLD) comp couldn’t work their way out of with smart play. To put it bluntly, I think CoM got stomped, leaving only Europeans and Americans as the real contenders.
- All matches were CoM playing rogue/mage/priest (RMP) versus SQ’s RLD. SQ normally plays war/lock/druid (WLD) and decided RLD was a better comp against RMP.
- In match 1, SQ pressured Snowstorm (CoM’s mage) hard and forced two quick blocks before he was taken down after several minutes. While a long match, it doesn’t necessarily mean CoM was ever in control.
- In match 2, SQ pressured Snowstorm again. However, they found him a little more difficult to take down as CoM had adapted their strategy. He managed to survive with a bandage and a heal after both blocks had been used, but was still taken down.
- In match 3, SQ changed their strategy and focused Student (CoM’s rogue). I suppose this was to prevent further adaptation by CoM. In any case, it worked and SQ swept.
After SQ v. CoM came the upper bracket final between Orz and Nihilum Plasma. This was a WLD mirror match. I expected it to be a good round, but I was proven wrong. Nihilum easily took out Orz 3-1, though Orz did put up a fight in the last two matches.
- In the first match, Hafu (Orz’s druid) ran out of mana and Rhaegyn (Orz’s warrior) was dropped by Nihilum in that time. Nihilum almost won early pressuring Hafu, but she managed to escape a few times. Nihilum almost lost when the pressure was put onto Paperkat, but he managed to escape behind a pillar with Carekoala (Nihilum’s druid).
- In the second match, Rhaegyn got out of position for a while and this caused him to drop relatively early, giving Nihilum the win.
- In the third match, Inflame (Nihilum’s warlock) was caught out of position and taken down quickly by Orz.
- The fourth match was rather long. Nihilum pressured Hafu ferociously, but Glickz (Orz’s warlock) and Rhaegyn helped her peel a few times. However, the damage was done and she died after running out of mana, giving Nihilum the win and guaranteeing them a slot in the finals.
This was the end of day one for me, though I did get a chance to play Diablo 3 before it was over. I went out to eat with guildies after the events had finished and then rested up for day two.