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Blizzcon! What a World!

By Sean McQuillan

There’s a special feeling you get when you’re surrounded by people who share your interests.  Anywhere from dog parks to renaissance fairs, it’s a powerful good feeling to feel like you belong.  Any self proclaimed geek that’s been to Comic-Con knows this effect firsthand, but when a convention appeals to your particular flavor of Geekdom; it is magic.  Just as Disney fans have D23, Blizzard fans have Blizzcon.  It doesn’t matter which Blizzard product you favor, be it Warcraft, Starcraft, or Diablo, the moment you step through the doors of the Anaheim Convention center you know you’re in for a fun experience.   When I stepped in, I was immediately greeted by a life size statue of Kerrigan from Starcraft 2, and the detail on her, and lots of other statues are breathtaking.  Jim Raynor’s terran marine armor almost takes a backseat to almost creepy level of detail on his head.  It’s hard to describe a convention like this without comparisons to Comic-Con, so let’s get straight to the question I hear a lot.  “Is Blizzcon better than Comic-Con?”  Well, the answer to that is really going to depend on your level of Blizzard fandom.  If you’re a general geek, but none of Blizz’s big products tickle your fancy, than Blizzcon will be nice, but no Comic-Con.

  If you’re a hardcore fan of one or more of Blizzards Flagship products than this will be your Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.  As someone interested in all 3, the hard part was deciding what to hit first.  Unlike Comic-con which has all of its panels in different halls, Blizzcon panels are set up in different sections of the show floor, allowing you to listen in or grab a free seat whenever you feel like it.  Being avid World of Warcraft players, TME’s Dave Burrola and I hit up the Mists of Pandaria play-test area, where we got to play in the new expansion starting zone of its new playable race and class, Pandaren Monk.  (By the by, I have explained to a number of people that the Pandarens have been part of Warcraft’s history long before Kung-Fu Panda ever existed.  It seems the jokes will be inevitable however.)  Needless to say, it was awesome.  The starting zones look brilliant, and it’s hard to imagine that it’s still on the classic graphics engine that WoW has been sporting since its launch.  While I was unable to sit down a play Starcraft 2’s upcoming expansion “Heart of the Swarm,” I was able to observe a panel on the art designs for many of the new unit types and how they evolved over development.  Blizzards attention to detail, especially in giving all of their units a distinct silhouette, is on display with every new model.  There were also plenty of big screens where we were able to watch Starcraft tournaments and footage of new WoW battlegrounds.  Playable demos of Diablo 3 were also available, and Dave and I happily waited in line for it.  Another great thing about Blizzcon is even when you’re waiting in line you can listen in on nearby panels, look at people currently playing the demos, or just chat up other people in line because chances are they play the same games as you.  Dave and I met 2 awesome guys who flew in for the con and after having a criminal amount of fun in the Diablo 3 demo, the 4 of us hit what became my personal highlight of the entire convention, the Blizzcon Voice-over booth.  As an amateur voice actor, and enthusiast, I was happy to look at the displays of the voice actors that have lent their voices to memorable characters like Deckard Cain or Jim Raynor.  When I found out that they had a booth where you could not only perform your own voice work for an old WoW cinematic, but you would get a free copy of it to take home and upload, I had a serious nerdgasm.  It was so fun that we went through it twice, and the fun we had in those videos perfectly encapsulates the fun of Blizzcon.

For your entertainment, allow me to present “TME does the Blizzcon Voice-Over Booth”

Part 1 (Serious): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yhvhk-4hj1o

Part 2 (Goofy): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JGimqSg00g

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Diablo 3 at Blizzcon

By David Burrola

 

Having Just gotten back from Blizzcon, I was able to write down my experience with the game I was most excited about, Diablo 3.

 

The Diablo series has been about fast frantic and almost savage gameplay and really formed what the dungeon crawler would become in later generations. Its dark destitute world of Sanctuary was a different approach to fantasy than we’d seen typically, and it dealt entirely with demons and the struggle to survive. Diablo 3, from my experience at the convention, was just like the previous games in its fast intense and rewarding gameplay.

 

It did seem to be too easy at the time, especially when playing multiplayer with 4 players, and no difficulty scaling, but the essence of it all was there. We started in New Tristram, as bare and naked as you can get(especially the Witchdoctor, he gets a loincloth and a knife… That’s it), and thrown right into the midst of battle with undead. We had a group of two Demon Hunters, a Monk and the Witchdoctor. Even with two of the same class it didn’t feel too much like we has something redundant, as the skill system made things more diverse, even among the same class.

 

While many people wanted the same kind of washed out and dully grayed color tone to the game, as with the initial screen shots, its much more scaled back than those shots, but still more clear than the previous games. The difference in those games was purely the technology, and the fact that it was still meant to convey a sense of dread at the constant threat of annihilation. In Diablo 3, the color pallet is varied and gives a greater sense of where you are, as well as heightening the mood, but its also not so bright that it detracts from the same looming threat of doom. Its toned down some and made darker, just like its predecessors, but its not washed out and left dull. Not to say the look of the older games where dull, its just that this one is more prominent and careful with its use of color. Its also helpful to see whats going on and where you’re going to go next.

 

While my time with the game was short, it was nice to see that the loot change was in effect and probable one of my favorite new changes from the previous games. The fact that loot is not specific to each player is a godsend. The loot you see, is the loot you get, and its the same for each player. This entirely eliminates the old days of some jerk sniping an item you’d need right now, for him to use on a toon he’d maybe make later, or just sell outright for gold. It happened and it was really aggravating.

 

Just as we where decending to the crypts to find our old friend Deckard Kain, our time ended. Still, this was just the thing we needed to see to make us remember the days when we first just delved into the depths of a crypt of horrors to fight evil and save the lands.

 

I’m really looking forward to the games release, but of course, i’ll have to wait till next year.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

by Angie Quidim

This year Blizzcon featured a new feature for fans wanting to take part in the game.

If you recall the wonderous cinematics that Blizzard painstakingly put together, each scene is a work of art.  Now, fans can be a part of the process by lending their voices.  At this year’s Blizzcon, Blizzard had the voice over booth.  A script was provided with 4 characters: Garrosh Hellscream,Thrall, Jana Proudmoore, and Varian.  The precarious team of 4 had a chance to do a dry run.  The group was then led into another room with 4 mics set up and a screen and you spoke your lines when prompted on the screen (ALA karaoke style).  A few of our TME writers lent their voices…. even I gave it a shot.

This first take is TME writers Sean as Thrall and Garrosh and David as Varian

This second take is Sean as Varian and David as Jana Proudmoore

Talking futher with the Blizzard techs, next time attendees will be given more scene choices.  The techs were amazed at some of the improv ability of some of the attendees.  They even played demos of some of the day’s recordings on outside monitors.  Kudos Blizzard for being innovative with your programming.

ALL NEW DOTA

Here is the trailer for the new DOTA

New Diablo III Cinematic

New Diablo 3 cinematic The Black Soulstone.

You have to hand it to Blizzard that even though it takes a long time for their products to be released, the games are definitely worth the wait in the end.

Sign Up for the World of Warcraft Annual Pass and Get Diablo III Free

source:Blizzard Entertainment


For a limited time only, players who make a 12-month subscription commitment to World of Warcraft through the WoW Annual Pass will receive the following epic rewards:

•Diablo III FREE – Download the digital version via Battle.net for free when the game launches early next year. This is the full game, not a trial edition.

•Tyrael’s Charger WoW Flying Mount – Ride for the Archangel of Justice on all current and future characters on a single World of Warcraft account. Tyrael’s Charger will arrive via in-game mail with the upcoming launch of patch 4.3.

•Access to the Next WoW Expansion Beta Test – Get a guaranteed spot in the beta test for the next World of Warcraft expansion (at a time to be announced in the future).
You can pay for the WoW Annual Pass on a monthly basis at $14.99 per month or according to the billing plan of your choice. To participate, you must be 18 or older, have a valid credit card, and have registered a full version of World of Warcraft on or before October 18, 2011. Sign up for the World of Warcraft Annual Pass here, and then keep an eye on the World of Warcraft community site or the Diablo III community site for future announcements regarding the launch dates of these bonuses.

Heart of the Swarm Teaser

source: Blizzard Entertainment

laboring in the dark recesses of Blizzard’s sheetrock-lined offices on the dank and gloomy coast of Southern California. Today Blizzcon showcased a new teaser cinematic of footage rendered entirely within the StarCraft II game engine. Check it out above.