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