I originally planned to keep this blog Sunwalker-focused, but with the launch of Cataclysm still a month off I find myself without much to post about. So! BlizzCon!
Hit the jump for my experience at BlizzCon 2010 and the Charity Dinner.
Meet & Greet
This was my third BlizzCon (I attended 2008 and 2009 as well). This year was different in that I had the opportunity to attend the Charity Dinner on Thursday evening. It was well worth the ticket price! Not only did attendees contribute to the Children’s Hospital of Orange County, they also had a unique opportunity to mingle with some of the brightest and boldest members of the computer gaming industry!
My fiancee and I were able to chat with Samwise Didier, Mike Morhaime, Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street, Russel Brower, Chris Metzen, and others! It was a very exciting time for us. I’ve been playing Blizzard games since Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, and I am a total World of Warcraft fanboy — being able to talk to some of the people behind these titles was a real honor; getting a few pics and autographs was icing on the cake!
As an aside, I had to whisper a suggestion to Chris Metzen: drakonids as a playable race for the Horde. I know Tom Chilton had posited this (drakonids as a playable race) in an online interview some time ago, so they’re definitely thinking about it. They’ve got to be part of the Horde.
The WoW Panels
Sunwalker information at BlizzCon appeared almost nonexistent, which saddened me. Unless I missed a mention somewhere, the only truly notable Sunwalker bit was a preview of their Kodo during the Art Panel. For those who haven’t seen the leaks or been in the beta, it was a nice tease.
On the topic of Lore in general, and Horde Lore at that, it seems we’re in for some exciting changes as Cataclysm’s story rolls on. Chris Metzen hinted at Garrosh’s true purpose (him being a foil for Thrall) and Thrall’s further development as a major player. Highlights there included quips about Garrosh’s worthiness as a warchief, primarily if he will step up and be a proper leader, and a question posed to players: “if you love the Horde now, how much will you love it if you have to fight for it?”
The implications there are staggering! Will Garrosh straighten up? Will he, as Saurfang suggested in Warsong Hold, “take the Horde down a dark path?” Will players need to fight to reclaim an honorable Horde? Thrall’s Horde? And what of Thrall? Will he, as Metzen hinted at, replace Neltharion as a new Earth Warder and Aspect?
So yes, I’m a bit giddy about the possibilities here. I adored Wrath of the Lich King’s storyline and tying my characters into the Death Knight and Lich King storylines. With Cataclysm, everything is hitting closer to home with the unrest within the Horde, uncertainty, the rise of Sunwalkers and Troll Druids, and how they’re positioning Thrall to become someone truly world-changing. I can’t wait to see what happens!
The Convention Overall
I enjoyed seeing new stages at this year’s convention. The Artists Stage provided a window into the world of concept and production art, of which I am a big fan. The Lore Stage had a gameshow atmosphere, with fans competing to display their knowledge of the Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo storylines.
The Costume and Dance Contest featured segues with a live band performing “re-imagined” versions of Blizzard music, putting a sort of rock-opera swing on things. This was awesome. Not quite as awesome as the full-on Video Games Live concert from 2008, but I’ll take what I can get! Tenacious D was about on par with Ozzy from 2009 — neither myself nor my fiancee were interested enough to remain in the Main Hall to watch the event from 100 rows back. When you have it being piped in across the entire convention hall, why not take the time to play a little Diablo III?
But was it Worth It?
All in all, I enjoyed BlizzCon 2010. Was being there truly better than watching the Live Stream or DirecTV PPV? Excluding the Charity Dinner and thinking exclusively of the convention itself? It is difficult to say. When you go to BlizzCon, you typically come across two types of people: one which may turn you off to the experience, and one that will make you glad you went. If you’re the type of player who enjoys more the experience of playing a Blizzard game competitively, the rush of a win, the agony of defeat, you’ll find fellow gamers to associate with. If you’re the type of player who appreciates the effort that goes into creating these games (art, music, programming, and story), you’ll also be pleased. Sometimes there is crossover. Sometimes, there is a stark distinction — let’s say, the “Call of Duty” crowd, and the “Cosplay” crowd. Either way, if you’re watching at home you simply do not get that feeling of solidarity with your fellow players, whatever their interest might be. You can’t interact. You can’t give a cosplayer a thumbs up for the work that went into their costume. You cannot participate in a TCG match-up. For some, socializing with like-minded fans is worth the price of admission alone.
The Live Stream does, however, get you the highlights, the information, and much of the raw entertainment value for a far less taxing price. You also get to miss out on lines for the bathrooms (yes, even the Mens room), lines for the food stands, lines for the stores or booths, and cramped or non-existent seating at the various stages — many of which are simply factors of convention-going. For me, these caveats did not detract from the experience, but the cost of airfare and accommodations was truly daunting this year. 2011’s BlizzCon may see me attending only in spirit, and watching all the happenings via the Live Stream.