Blizzcon 2009 Overview: Why Blizzard Entertainment is the best Game Studios

Blizzard Entertainment is often criticized by a handful of fans.  Usually the same group that is never satisfied with anything.  Those who say that Blizzard likes to milk or cash on things and speculate and blame Activision.  As a Fansite member who has been reporting news to the community for seven years, I can finally tell you a few things that might change your view.

If anything, things have changed for the better in the past recent years.  I have never seen Blizzard so active with fansites since the release of World of Warcraft.  I keep in contact with the CMs many times each month, and they reply my questions. Blizzard approves all the interview requests and provide exclusive screenshots more often. Have anyone wondered how do so many fansites get to go to Blizzcon and the Blizzard Worldwide Invitationals to bring you content and exclusive interviews with new info about the recently announced games?

Blizzard Entertainment cares a lot for their fansites and are truly kind with them.  For example, I attended Blizzcon 2008 and the Blizzard Worldwide Invitationals 2008 (Paris) last year.  This year I attended the Starcraft II Single Player press invitation and Blizzcon 2009.

Did you wonder at all how I manage to cover the expenses? All Blizzard.  Flight, Hotel, Taxi, Breakfast, and other extras.  They didn’t cover all those expenses just for me.  Over 30 Fansites were invited in those four events within the last 12 months.

All so that fans learn new info about the games from other fans such as me, Maticus, Flux and Leord, and as a reward of sorts for all the work each loyal and dedicated fansite does to keep fans informed.

However, this cover of expenses is only done for only one member per fansite.  We arrive two days before Blizzcon to attend on Thursday the Fansites Summit held at the Blizzard Entertaiment campus by the Theater Room.

In there we get to see the latest build of Starcraft II and Diablo III gameplay in a wall-sized screen before fans get to play that at Blizzcon giving us a heads up to write about that night.  We coordinate and synchronize what all fansites will have access to from Blizzard.

Blizzard will spear-head social integration and quick mass information not only with Twitter, but through Battle.net 2.0.  As you can see in our 15 screenshots of Battle.net 2.0 features, the Social/Friends List feature is awesome, and will help guilds and clans communicate more efficiently.

Blizzard will provide all their registered fansites a new circular icon designed by them to distinguish our fansites’s front page:

  • Official Starcraft II Fan Site
  • Official Diablo III Fan Site
  • Official World of Warcraft Fan Site
  • Official Warcraft Fan Site

The one that intrigued all fansite members present at the Blizzard Entertainment’s Theater Room was the … Official Battle.net Fan Site.  Bashiok nor Karune gave an explanation of what this new icon means.  What could justify the creation of a Official Battle.net Fan Site rather than a game-specific Fan Site?  To be honest everyone is befuddled.

Does Blizzard still have more juice to share with fans about Battle.net? More features and secrets to be unearthed? I can only say we are very-VERY excited.  Now I am understanding why Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty won’t ship on 2009.

Starcraft II is ready to ship in time.  It is Battle.net 2.0 what is delaying the release of Starcraft II, because the game is meant to ship with Battle.net 2.0.  With what little I have said here, and the hint of an Official Battle.net Fan Site Program—I am convinced the wait will be worth it.  And if Fansites are excited, you guys should be too.

Nethaera (WoW CM), Bashiok (Diablo III CM) and Karune (Starcraft II CM) directed the Fansites Summit and encouraged all fansite representatives attending the event to contact them to ask questions, and to submit Q&As from our own communities for developers on a one-on-one basis.

We were told that not only will developers of each game interact with fans in live Q&As over Twitter, but that fansites will also have the opportunity to interact with the developers privately through Live Press Q&As.

To those minorities (coughs, trolls) bashing Blizzard Entertainment and accusing it of milking the franchises, I am sorry to say: “You are wrong”.  We are paying for quality products.  In my interview with Chris Metzen back on July 20, 2009 during the Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty Single Player Press Invitation, he confirms why Starcraft II is sold as three separate episodes.

They have been working on stories for Starcraft II for nearly a decade.  It came down to a point that it was hard to cram all the lore and stories into a single product without discarding stuff. The decision to span the game into three episodes happened far before Activision and VUGames merged into Activision Blizzard.

“The trick to StarCraft II now being in these three installments is that there was a lot to play with in the first place.  We had 10 years worth of expectations and stories we wanted to chase and arcs of these characters that we wanted to explore”—said Metzen.  “So we came packing with a lot of ideas, and the idea of separating each of these chapters into their own boxed product essentially allows us to really round out each race

Blizzcon 2009: Christie Golden Book Signing Videos

Pocket Books invited me to witness their Blizzcon 2009 book signing event on Saturday at 4pm where Jaime Costas and her husband raffled 40 copies of the World of Warcraft: Arthas Collector’s Edition.  I brought my video camera and captured most of the event.  There was a large amount of fans awaiting to win one of those, but also to get their own merchandise signed by Christie Golden.  I could see some World of Warcraft: Arthas (Normal Edition) and Starcraft: The Dark Templar trilogy brought by fans to be signed by the author. The place was crowded with fans that were excited to meet her.

If you recognize a friend in the two videos, let them know the link to this page.  It’s available to all attendees as a memento. I was glad to be there.  I realized I haven’t taken photos of myself with the authors in all the events I have been attending.  This time I had the chance to take a photo with all the publishers and book writers. I have been in contact with all of them quite often.  It feels like family already. Watch video # 1 below, and video # 2 here.

Blizzcon 2009: World of Warcraft: Stormrage Interview

Richard A. Knaak revealed a few details about the upcoming Pocket Books novel titled World of Warcraft: Stormrage (on sale February 23, 2010). Chris Metzen and Micky Neilson said in our interview back on February that this book would deal with the Nightmare in the Emerald Dream and Malfurion Stormrage. Will we get to see some tie-in with the events behind Cataclysm?

Blizzcon 2009: Amusing Blizzard-themed Restaurant Menu

Flux (Diii.net) and I shared a room at the hotel.  When I entered the room, late night on Saturday after Blizzcon 2009 ended, he showed me a large paper.  He walked by a restaurant, and an employee asked him if he was at Blizzcon. When Flux said yes, he handed him the Restaurant menu.

Flux gave me the menu to scan it for our audience. He considered it quitely funny, and indeed it is.  The McCormick & Schmick’s Restaurant went through all the trouble to rename most of their menu and print it to catch attention from Blizzcon 2009 visitors.  The menu got tons of references from Diablo, World of Warcraft and Starcraft II.

You can find this restaurant at 321 West Katella Avenue. Suite 109. Anaheim, CA. 92802

DIABLO

Featured Species: This Halibut was captured with a spear off of Gulf of Westmarch by Deckard Cain on the “Stay a while and Listen”.

  • Kurast, Sea Scallops
  • Kurast, Bay Scallops
  • Dreadlands Rainbow Trout
  • Lachdanan’s Duck Confit Tacos with Serrano Cream
  • Pepin’s White Ale Steamed Manila Clams
  • 14 oz. New York Strip Steak (also known as Wirt’s Leg)
  • Lut Gholein, Ono
  • Tilapia Cashew Twin Seas, Khanduras
  • A Recipe taken from “The Horadrim Monastery Cook Book
  • Farham the Drunk’s Creation

    From the Kitchen of Tristram Village:

  • Dreadlands Trout (Almond Crusted with Chive Beurre Blanc)
  • Mahi-Mahi (Cajun Maple Marinated, Orange Beurre Blanc)
  • Dark Wanderer Sea Scallops
  • King Leoric Wild Swordfish

Check out other games’ references in the menu after the break.

WOW

  • Noob Entries and Sandwishes
  • Orcish Pancetta Wrapped Jumbo Prawns with Thai Barbeque Sauce
  • Korean Style Beef Short Ribs with Stormwind City Marinade
  • Nazjatar Raw Bar (Lots of Seafood options)
  • Dark Portal Steak and Stuffed Shrimp Combinations
  • Ner’zhul’s Creme Brulee
  • Darkspear, Lobster
  • Eld Druids Lobster Ravioli
  • Death Knight Filet Mignon
  • Grizzly Hills Blueberry Shortcake

STARCRAFT

  • Zerus Atlantic Salmon (*Zerus is the Zerg homeworld)
  • The Overmind’s Atlantic Salmon Zerus—stuffed with crab, bay shrimp, Brie Cheese, Chive Lemon Butter. A Favorite amongst the Zerg Swarm.
  • Gerard DuGalle Barramundi (Queensland, Australia)—served every Monday aboard the DSS Aleksander
  • The Federal Confederacy Atlantic Salmon
  • Chau Sara Tilapia Parmesan
  • Raynor’s Ling Cod Fish and Chips (Hand battered Ling Cod with Tartar Sauce and French Fries)

Blizzcon 2009 – Blizzplanet at the Pocket Books Booth

I visited the Pocket Books booth on Saturday at 4pm to record on video the book signing session held by Christie Golden.  Jaime Costas and her husband organized a raffle to give away 40 copies of the World of Warcraft: Arthas Collector’s Edition.  The place was crowded with fans that were excited to meet her.

Below are some photos as a sneak peek until I prepare the videos.  Photos explained from left to right … The first photo is Maticus (Worldofwar.net) and J. Allen Brack (WoW Producer Director); second photo is Medievaldragon and J. Allen Brack. The third photo from left to right: Jaime Costas (Pocket Books), Christie Golden, Medievaldragon, Richard A. Knaak and TOKYOPOP Editor-in-Chief Rob Tokar.

   

On this batch, Medievaldragon and Nethaera (WoW Community Manager).  On the second one, with Karune (Starcraft II Community Manager). Third one: Greg Street (Ghostcrawler), Medievaldragon, and on the far right: Patrick Magruder (WoW Lead Gameplay Programmer). Need to double check the developer on light-gray shirt.

 

         

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Fact Sheet

An ancient evil lies dormant within Deepholm, the domain of earth in the Elemental Plane. Hidden away in a secluded sanctuary, the corrupted Dragon Aspect Deathwing has waited, recovering from the wounds of his last battle against Azeroth and biding his time until he can reforge the world in molten fire.

Soon, Deathwing the Destroyer will return to Azeroth, and his eruption from Deepholm will sunder the world, leaving a festering wound across the continents. As the Horde and Alliance race to the epicenter of the cataclysm, the kingdoms of Azeroth will witness seismic shifts in power, the kindling of a war of the elements, and the emergence of unlikely heroes who will rise up to protect their scarred and broken world from utter devastation.

Blizzard Entertainment’s third expansion to World of Warcraft forever alters the face of Azeroth, as the destruction left in Deathwing’s wake reshapes the land and reveals secrets long sealed away. Players will be able to re-experience familiar zones across Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms, areas rewrought by the cataclysm and filled with new opportunities for adventure.

In an effort to survive the world-shattering cataclysm, two new playable races—worgen and goblins—will join the struggle between Alliance and Horde. As players journey to the new level cap of 85, they’ll explore newly revealed zones, acquire new levels of power, and come face to face with Deathwing in a battle to determine the fate of the world.

Key Features:

  • Two New Playable Races: Adventure as one of two new races—the cursed worgen with the Alliance or the resourceful goblins with the Horde.
  • Level Cap Increased to 85: Earn new abilities, tap into new talents, and progress through the path system, a new way for players to customize characters
  • Classic Zones Remade: Familiar zones across the original continents of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms have been altered forever and updated with new content, from the devastated Badlands to the broken Barrens, which has been sundered in two.
  • New High-Level Zones: Explore newly opened parts of the world, including Uldum, Grim Batol, and the great Sunken City of Vashj’ir beneath the sea.
  • More Raid Content than Ever Before: Enjoy more high-level raid content than previous expansions, with optional more challenging versions of all encounters
  • New Race and Class Combinations: Explore Azeroth as a gnome priest, blood elf warrior, or one of the other never-before-available race and class combinations.
  • Guild Advancement: Progress as a guild to earn guild levels and guild achievements.
  • New PvP Zone & Rated Battlegrounds: Take on PvP objectives and daily quests on Tol Barad Island, a new Wintergrasp-like zone, and wage war in all-new rated Battlegrounds.
  • Archaeology: Master a new secondary profession to unearth valuable artifacts and earn unique rewards.
  • Flying Mounts in Azeroth: Explore Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms like never before.

 

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