Back online from the hotel room, just two minutes away from the Anaheim Convention Center—across the street. Special thanks to Paul from IncGamers for setting me up with a borrowed laptop, and doing some tech work with the hotel modem. Does he ever sleep?
A quick rundown on everything since Wednesday. I arrived at 2pm PDT to Santa Ana Airport in Orange County, California. A call to Karune, and got a bus picking me up in no time toward the Hotel. And some guidance from Emuishere (Stratics) who told me where to await the bus. After setting up at the hotel, increased some Exploration XP by walking through the Downtown Disney with Emuishere. Checked up the Lego store for her son, and ate an Italian pizza at Naples. Pretty long walk from the hotel, but at least got to burn some old twinkies.
Pretty much crash landed on my comfy bed for three hours. Woke up around 10:30pm and walked some more and ended up having a heavier dinner at Denny’s. Next day, Karune (Starcraft 2 Community Manager) and Bashiok (Diablo 3 Community Manager) took all the fansites representatives to a tour through Blizzard Headquarters in Irvine. Things didn’t go along as planned, but at least we got to walk around the premises.
The reception hall is impressive. On the left you got the bronze Wolfrider replica of what is to be a huge statue at the very center of the campus. It is still in development somewhere in Asia. On the right side greeted us the amazing Frostmourne replica. You should see one of these, they are bigger than what they look like in photos. Doesn’t look like a toy at all. A bit further to the right was the awesome Starcraft: Ghost Nova statue. The walls across toward the theater room are covered with concept art of each game ever launched by Blizzard. And a repository for every licensed product behind a crystal: Pocket Books, RPG Books, WoW Comic books, DC Unlimited Action Figures, and other stuff.
We walked upstairs and saw the cubicles from where our loved community managers spend most of the day at checking on the forums and informing fans. The cubicles are packed with all kinds of merchandise, including the awesome Starcraft 2 Tychus Findlay figure made by Sideshow Collectibles as an exclusive to the Blizzard Store. That thing just rocks four feet away.
Fansites staffers visited momentarily the gym where all Blizzard folks keep in shape, and the cafeteria. From there we headed to the building that holds the Starcraft 2 team, Diablo 3 team … and another cool project that is top secret. We couldn’t get inside that building, so we beholded it from outdoors. Pretty much, that was Area 51.
We had lunch for over an hour at the cafeteria, and to our surprise appeared Jay Wilson (Diablo 3), Dustin Browder (Starcraft 2) and Jeff Kaplan “Tigole” (Wrath of the Lich King). Near my table, I could listen to Jay Wilson talk about Diablo 3. I managed to toss a couple of questions. I said Unique monsters are killed and sometimes you don’t even remember their names after an hour. Since it is an RPG, it would be cool if we could have some kind of interface where we could browse and keep track of what uniques and bosses we have killed through the games. Maybe click on the image of the monster and get to read some profile of who that unique was (lieutenant of X-demon lord). In short, adding some lore to every random unique or boss we kill. The idea wasn’t dismissed by Jay Wilson, but Bashiok replied Unique monster names are randomly generated … (ain’t I a noob? lol. Ok, busted!)
I threw a question at Jay Wilson, whether there would be something similar to Wrath of the Lich King’s phasing quest technology. For example, at level 10 you go into a town and interact with the NPCs, listen to their lore-stories, buy from vendors, etc. Around level 32 something happens worldwide, a demonic invasion, triggered by a quest or event. If you go back to that town you visited at level 10 it would now be overruned by demons, the town would be afire, the very NPCs that helped you earlier are now transformed into demonic monsters that fight you and drop some decent loot. For someone else that joins the game and hasn’t done the quest/event they would just see the town normal, while the player who completed the quest/event sees the town ablaze. Jay said that would a lot of random problems, and would take a long development process. In short, no phasing quest technology in Diablo 3. It is not totally discarded in future Diablo games though.
Jay discussed his views on how to improve the game from Diablo II success and flaws. There is nothing heroic in facing a boss, and using town portal every few seconds to escape.. And in my opinion, bosses such as Duriel made no sense. Perfect example of some of the flaws in game mechanics found in Diablo 2. Duriel is basically harder than Diablo. You would use town portal every few seconds to either escape death or to replenish health/mana/rejuvenation potions. Is that the kind of game we want in Diablo 3? I don’t think so. Jay Wilson and the Diablo 3 team are bringing good ideas and observations to enhance the players’ gaming experience.
We sadly departed Blizzard Headquarters, heading back to the hotel. Except we got some nice framed Blizzcon artwork signed by artist Glenn Rane. We walked toward the Anaheim Convention Center, where we attended the Fansites Summit. At this point, I guess I am keeping to myself what was discussed there.
At the end of the summit, we grabbed our press badges downstairs. The place was packed with people picking their badges. I found two of the Blizzcon ticket winners from Blizzplanet’s forum: Sean and Tim. Talked on the cell with Naka and it seems they got through. Remember, if you won a ticket from a fansite contest go to the VIP booth to get your ticket. Show photo ID or passport.
I don’t know if we are allowed to talk about a certain COOOOL thing, but I recommend everyone to stay tuned to Blizzplanet and Diii.net through Blizzcon Day One. Nuff said! It will make many Blizzcon attendees roar in excitement.
Check out some of my photos today. Cheap camera though.