Blizzcon ’08: Day One
Friday 10th October saw the first of a two-day event for Blizzard Entertainment‘s very own convention, Blizzcon ’08. Hosted in the Anaheim Convention Center, California, where it has been held since 2005, this year sees the event also being televised on pay-per-view on DirecTV. For the $100 ticket, attendees will have access to the full two days including panels, contests, concerts and the exclusive gift bags.
Event map taken from Blizzcon’s official site.
Actor and stand-up comedian Jay Mohr hosts this year’s Blizzcon, introducing an array of contests, costumes, dances and events. During the opening ceremony, Blizzard Entertainment CEO and cofounder, Mike Morhaime, unveiled a new class for Diablo III, the wizard. Soon after, developers of the game introduced more details to their plans for the game.
With the wizard class freshly unveiled, attendees were treated to footage of the new class in action, with commentary from the development team. The wizard will boast skills such as; magic missile, electrocute, slow time, disintegrate, and teleport.
The panel also discussed concepts they’d abandoned during the development phase, as well as the rune system, which allows players to modify current skills. For example, the teleport ability can be modified to allow the player to create copies of themself to confuse enemies when the spell is activated. A complete overview of the gamplay was also given along with details on how the game has evolved from Diablo II. Attendees were then allowed to playtest the actual game.
The big StarCraft news from the convention is the plan for the sequel’s storyline to take place over three games, with each focusing on the tale of a single race. The first in the trilogy will be “Terrans: Wings of Liberty“, followed by “Zerg: Heart of the Storm” and “Protoss: Legacy of the Void“. There will be an estimated 26-30 missions in the first game alone, with a similar number hoped to be available in the following two expansions.
During the art panel, questions were answered on what influenced the team, differences between the three main series, and what defines Blizzard’s art style.
Attendees were then given the opportunity to test out several new multiplayer maps, some of the latest units, and powers – such as the protoss mothership’s new enemy-incapacitating vortext ability, and the terran nighthawk’s seismic thumper, which slows down foes and prevents zerg units from burrowing underground.
World of Warcraft
Other than the chance to play the most up-to-date version of Wrath of the Lich King, event-goers were able to sit in on several panels. Among these was one dedicated purely to the classes of WoW. There was talk of the upcoming dual-spec system, which is being primarily designed so players will be able to switch between PvP and raiding specs without having to untrain their talents, which can be a costly affair. This was certainly met with approval by the audience. Some of the other topics discussed on this panel included Death Knight design and changes to existing classes to increase group flexibility. Blizzard want you to “bring the player, not the class.”
During the UI panel, many of the games new or revised interfaces were discussed, including the layout of action bars, colour choices in the new player calendar, the revamped pet and mount interface, and the Achievements system, which presents a lot of information that could easily confuse the player. The panel also showed revisions of the Death Knight rune system’s interface.
Wrath of the Lich King was the obvious focus for the art panel, where the reconstruction of Dalaran was presented in its various stages, from early concepts to the final stage, where the city now floats above Northrend. Among the other topics discussed were Death Knight spell animations, the creatures of Northrend, landscapes and environments.
A major feature of Blizzcon are the various tournaments that are held, focusing on the strategic play of StarCraft and Warcraft III, or the harsh arena PvP of World of Warcraft. These three events draw in a myriad of players and teams, offering large monetary prizes to the winners. The World of Warcraft tournament offers the largest sum, with the winner gaining $75,000, whilst the victorious Warcraft III player nets $25,000.
The winner of the consolation bracket will face the winner of the championship bracket, having to win two rounds instead of one in order to claim victory.
At the end of the first day, the standings are as follows:
Contest winners were also announced during the first day for categories set prior to the event. They are as follows:
Original Song Contest
Winner: 2 Foot Lover – Jesse Cox
Action/Adventure: Divided Soul by Falch Productions
Comedy: The Rumpus Machine by Oblivious Films
Drama/Romance: Snacky’s Journal 4 by Stone Falcon Productions
Grand Prize: Snacky’s Journal 4 by Stone Falcon Productions
Winner: Brianna Neagle – Booty Bay (WoW)
Motivational Poster Contest
Winner: Ian Stradling – Situational Awareness
This eMagi feature concludes in the second part covering Day Two of Blizzcon ’08.