I had a wonderful time. It was MUCH cooler than I expected. I had been to some Everquest Fan Faires in the past and was expecting something similar, but Blizzard really shows how much they care by putting so much effort into BlizzCon. IMHO, this was 100x better than any EQ convention.
The first time I entered the main hall, it took my breath away with the scope of everything and the attention to detail. They had HUGE banners of various Blizzard game art hanging from the ceiling and very large video screens in many places showing various things like cinematic trailers, ongoing battleground competitions, RTS matches, Ghost demos and Burning Crusade demos. There were separate areas for playing the expansion, playing Ghost and doing the Arathi Basin BG with a team. Each area had LOTS of computers, especially for the expansion (seemed like around 300). At the far end of hall A was a stage with many seats in front where they had either a Ghost demonstration or Expansion cinematics running, alternating each hour.
To the left, near the front was a long line to pickup your goody bag and past that, another long line for the Blizzard Store. Beyond those were the vendor booths with lots of cool things being demonstrated. Logitech had their G5 and G7 mice along with their new G15 keyboard, which has a small LCD screen on the top of the keyboard which can show date/time and CPU utilization and heat, along with various other things I suppose. They also had a demo of WoW running on a 3D LCD monitor that uses polarized glasses. The depth effect was pretty cool, but I don’t think I could use it long term. Brady Games had a very impressive hard cover Atlas with detailed maps and NPC info for each zone and dungeon in the game. I picked one up, but haven’t pored over it, so I can’t vouch for accuracy. Other vendors included Creative, Western Digital, Intel and Microsoft, of course.
In hall B, there was simply a stage with the rest of the hall filled by seats. In here were various panel discussions on topics like Character Classes, Raids, Lore and Quests, Cinematic Design, etc. Upstairs, above both halls was another room with panel discussions on things like Battlegrounds, Professions and Items, Dungeon design, etc. I attended most of them and came away with a much higher level of respect for the developers. I never really understood how passionate they were about the game and how much hand crafted detail goes into everything. They were very open to questions and criticism and even had quite good senses of humor. They even stayed late after each to answer questions on the side. I never got the feeling that they didn’t want to speak to the players.
There was also a very cool “build your own laptop” panel discussion with members of Intel, Nvidia and LegitReviews.com showing how easy it is to make your own and save a bundle. The website guru even handed out a 4 page set of instructions on how to do it. It just involves buying a laptop “shell” based on the screen and graphics, then buying things like the CPU, HD, DVD/CD, RAM, etc. seperately. Quite informative. Visit http://LegitReviews.com for more info.
I only played the Expansion demo. Unfortunately, all that was playable was the Blood Elf newbie area and the 20 man raid part of Ahn’Qiraj, which is part of the 1.9 patch, not the expansion. The newbie area was cool and different than the other newbie areas and I was told it will support levels 1-20. I was hoping to see some of the lvl 60+ content, but I suppose they either wanted to keep it secret, or none of it is polished enough for the general public.
The Ghost demo looked very fun. They demonstrated using either stealth or firepower to complete objectives, so players can play as befitting their style. The enemy AI was also quite impressive for a console game. If you are detected, or any bodies are found, they will send out increasingly larger or well equipped teams to hunt you down. They will also work together to flush you out or flank you. The playable Ghost demo was a team based multiplayer, but I didn’t test it, since I’m horrible at online FPS.
Watching the RTS Starcraft and Warcraft tourneys were interesting too. There was an announcer doing play by play and many people in spectator seats cheering their favorite on. They had the main matches projected on a huge screen above, so everyone could see the action.
I didn’t participate in the Battleground matches, since there wasn’t anyone else from my guild there and I only like to PvP with my own players, rather than a pre-generated cookie cutter one. I heard that the team that did the best was from the same guild. Not surprising …
I’m sure there is a lot of detail I’m missing, but that’s all I can think of off the top of my head. All in all, I would absolutely go again and will even pay next time. =)
Thanks again to Blizzplanet for allowing me to win a ticket in a contest. It was very much worth the travel and hotel.—written by Alumriel @ Dragonblight Realm