Not-quite-liveblog of BlizzCon 2013!

Well, I was initially going to make a liveblog of the various panels just to have a place where I could keep track of all the info being revealed and such, but after doing some quick research on the topic of liveblogging software, apparently nobody wants to offer a free or cheap version that isn’t incredibly gimped.  There is a WordPress liveblog plugin, but that only works if you have your own domain, which I don’t.  Whee, college student!

Thus, this isn’t really a liveblog as it would normally be thought of.  It’ll be written live, but not posted until it’s done.  So if you actually WANT something that you can read live, you should probably go elsewhere.  If you want a play-by-play you can read about after the fact…well you could also probably go to some site where the person can actually afford CoverItLive or something and read the archive there, OR you could stick around here!

With that having been said, on to the live*blog!

*For very loose definitions of “live.”

All times are in CST.  Because I’m there and not in California.  Life sucks.

Before the show

10:59 AM:  There’s nothing happening!  Yay!

But yeah, it’s still two hours to go and I’m very bored.  Just dicking around on WoW for now, might try my hand at Hearthstone again in a bit.

Last-minute WoW predictions:  Warlords of Draenor is going to be the name of the next expansion, it’s going to come out late spring or early summer 2014.  Beta will be announced as starting soon after BlizzCon (and I mean that as in actual soon, not Soon™).  Level cap increased to 100.  New player models will be shown; bare minimum humans and orcs, but I suspect we’ll also see dwarves and tauren as well.  Outland will get a Cata-style revamp, but this won’t detract from the quality of the endgame content considering the WoW team has increased in size substantially.  Probably WoW’s biggest expansion yet.

Last-minute everything else predictions:  Probably won’t see much of anything on SC2’s next expansion, Legacy of the Void, considering it only has one panel this year.  We might get the most cursory of previews on it (“here’s what we’re thinking about adding”) but that’s it.  D3’s expansion, Reaper of Souls, will have a lot of info divulged, and might turn the game around from its troubled past (removal of the auction houses, reworking of many aspects of the game, adding some more complexity to the systems).  Time will tell!  I predict that we’ll see the DK revealed for Hearthstone, and maybe the monk as well.  Also expecting an announcement of when Hearthstone will go into open beta (I also expect soon, and not Soon™).  And we’ll get some news on Heroes of the Storm, how it plays, what makes it different from other DOTA-clones.  I’m guessing it’ll be standalone and free-to-play, monetized like Dota 2 is (pay for cosmetics, all heroes unlocked).  Or maybe it’ll just be entirely free, who knows?  That’d be a longshot though.

11:10 AM:  Man, the wait is killing me.  There’s no pre-con show on the stream yet, just the loop of the “HEY LOOK AT ALL THE COOL STUFF YOU’LL SEE IN A COUPLE HOURS” video.  Blugh.

11:39 AM:  Oh, I suppose I could talk about a supposed leak a few weeks ago on /v/, since I was there for that thread.

If you weren’t, here’s a pastebin of most of the guy’s replies to questions; if you want the entire thread, here’s an archive.  I forget whether he claimed to work for Blizz or just knew people at Blizz; he mentioned prepping for BlizzCon so either is possible (bring a friend in to help set things up, perhaps).  He did mention leaking some stuff on RoS earlier this year, which some anons said they remembered.  Could make this a little more legitimate.

There’s not a lot to talk about, but he did drop some interesting hints, which could be pretty cool if they come true.  A brief summary:

  • There will be a new race (possibly more, wouldn’t say) and class, and he dropped a hint that ethereals would be the race.  At the same time he alluded to the expansion having a Legion theme; as the pastebin archiver comments, nobody had brought up the possibility of a Legion-themed expansion, so it could’ve been a slip of the tongue.
  • Later on, he alluded that the new race(s) would be neutral again, commenting: “do you think they’d code a neutral faction and never use it save pandaren?”
  • Apparently, WoW does have a F2P contingency plan, and he suspects that if the next expansion continues a decline, they’ll follow through with it.  He mentioned that new races and classes would come out more frequently if they do, which is odd; is a part of the plan allowing players to buy races/classes?  God I hope not.
  • The Chinese Infinite leak was bogus, apparently (didn’t take a genius to figure that one out).  There will be a big bad, but there’ll be emphasis on new villains leading up to the big one.  Don’t want a repeat of knowing what’ll happen years in advance.
  • When asked if there would be a new area, he replied, “Mostly new.”  Might we see an expanded Outland/Draenor?
  • A tabard tab will be coming with the expansion, and he repeated what one of the devs said earlier that they want more things built into the UI instead of taking up bag space; a fun items tab?
  • Lastly, he gave his impressions of some of the models he’s seen.  Male tauren:  “facial animations give them a wise, stoic look.  Battle animations are great…feel like huge juggernauts.  War Stomp and 2handed Special look incredibly brutal.”  Male orc:  “Really, expect a modified Garrosh.  Facial animations are 10/10, expressive as fuck. …alternate race skins like Mag’har, Wildhammer tattoos, etc. are confirmed.”  Female gnome:  “Smug little chick.  They went for a sort of anti-goblin approach.”  In general, “They put a big emphasis on fixing the shittier models.  I can confirm female trolls blink and male humans have wrists.  Female tauren no longer have their mouth open 24/7.”  He also mentioned in the thread (not archived in the pastebin for some reason), “New female tauren are better stoic warrior chicks who are motherly outside of combat.  Would marry.”  New worgen and goblin models aren’t happening, and “Even blood elves and draenei are still pretty WIP.”

So what does it all mean?  Well, if he’s right, we’ve got a lot to get hyped over.

I’ve been typing for like 20 minutes, this is a great way to pass the time.

12:01 PM:  Need lunch.  Brb.

12:02 PM:  I just reloaded the stream.  Oh, they’re playing cinematics and such.  Blizzard cinematics are so god-tier.  I forgot the shivers I got while watching the Mists cinematic for the first time.

12:06 PM:  Okay, really need lunch.  Really brb.

12:25 PM:  After talking with my brother and his girlfriend for a bit, finished making ramen and now I’m back.  Cinematics aren’t playing anymore, instead it’s just the BlizzCon logo with what I assume is BlizzCon’s equivalent of hold music.  Ooh, so close!

12:43 PM:  About 15 minutes.  I’m sure anyone reading this after the fact sure is enjoying my pre-con chat where nothing happens!

12:44 PM:  Oh apparently the stream had started, where Doritos Pope himself Geoff Keighley and some lady I never remember who she is are talking about what we’ll probably see.  At least it’s something to watch!

12:48 PM:  Well let’s see, what am I going to watch live today…time to give myself a list!

  • 1 PM – 1:45 PM:  Opening Ceremony (Main)
  • 2:30 PM – 4 PM:  WoW: What’s Next (Main)
  • 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM:  WoW: The Adventure Continues (Panel)
  • 5:30 PM – 6:45 PM:  Either D3: Reaper of Souls Preview (Main) or Art of WoW (Panel)
  • 6:45 PM – 7:45 PM:  HotS Overview (Main)

I’d like to watch the Hearthstone Fireside Chat, but that overlaps with a WoW panel, so I’ll just catch a replay of that.

12:56 PM:  Swapped from Firefox to Chrome for the stream, video is running a lot more smoothly.  Thanks, Google, but this really doesn’t make up for how you fucked up Youtube comments.  Look, I’m hip and in the know!  I’m TRENDY!  #hashtag

Opening Ceremony

1:00 PM:  Oh boy, here we go…

BREAKING NEWS:  MIKE MORHAIME HAS A BEARD

1:01 PM:  Y’know, I get the impression that Metzen’s probably a cool guy to hang around, but he might be a little difficult to work with.  I can’t imagine Metzen not getting his way for some reason.

1:02 PM:  Aww, some guy proposed at BlizzCon once.  That’s sweet.

1:03 PM:  Aww, shoutout to Red Shirt Guy.  ❤

1:04 PM:  Aww, what a letdown, Mike shaved his beard off.  He rocked a beard!

Is “esports athletes” an oxymoron?

1:05 PM:  I get the impression that Mike doesn’t really like to be up in front of crowds, but you gotta applaud him for doing it anyway.  I want to give the man a hug.

1:06 PM:  I also really want his shirt for some reason.  I really like pandaren!

1:07 PM:  Aww, the crowd’s cheering specifically for me!  I think!  T-that’s what Mike said, o-okay, he s-said it n-not me

1:08 PM:  I wonder how many people are just sitting there thinking “fucking announce the expansion already, fuck.”  I know I am.  I’m so antsy!

NO I DON’T WANT TO WATCH A SC2 ESPORTS VIDEO

1:09 PM:  Is the video fucking up or are all those multicolored lines intentional?  I don’t know.

1:10 PM:  Oh boy, upcoming games!  Oh god are we close

Oh no wait we’re doing more Diablo talk, okay

1:11 PM:  I like how mentioning the removal of the auction houses was met with rather loud applause.

1:12 PM:  WoW TIME NOW, GET HYPE

Oh yeah, there’s a Warcraft movie panel tomorrow, I’ll have to watch that.

1:13 PM:  I-I’m not gonna be making new friends at BlizzCon this year, Mike ;_;

1:14 PM:  HURRY UP AND TELL US ABOUT NEW STUFF

Aw man, they’re gonna talk HotS first.

1:15 PM:  Cinematic?  Neato.

Hahaha, Raynor, Nova, and Tyrael fighting Diablo, Arthas, and Kerrigan.  How many nerds got hard at that?

1:16 PM:  hhahaha, nukes, what

1:17 PM:  Now let’s hear about this mod I don’t really care about!  Haaaaaa

Oh, I’m supposed to add #heroes to the end of my tweets to “join the conversation.”  What does that even mean?  #heroesohwaitthisiswordpress

1:18 PM:  On a side note, can I just say I’m really tired of companies trying to make up hashtags for people to use unironically?  Like, who is actually tweeting about pumpkin spice lattes or Priuses or cheese or KFC or Norton Antivirus or whatever?  Fuck.

1:19 PM:  More talk about it, I don’t really know if I care or not.  I really don’t care about Dota-clones in general, but you never know.

1:20 PM:  Hey, does this mean that there’ll actually be more than one map design?  No fucking way!

1:21 PM:  That’s been one of my major gripes with the “genre” to be honest.  I do not see the appeal in playing the exact same three-lane map with a river through the middle every day for the rest of your life.

1:22 PM:  Okay, get to the expansion reveal.  Please.  PLEEEEEEEEEASE

“Challenge the genre.”  Okay, I’m a little bit more intrigued.

1:23 PM:  So, multiple objectives on one map, rather than just the same old game?  Hm.  This could be neat.

1:24 PM:  Jeez my stream got loud there.

Announcement of beta signups starting today.  Let’s go check!

1:26 PM:  BASED ROB FUCKING PARDO is wearing a Hearthstone shirt please talk about WoW please

Aw dammit Rob, talk about WoW, I know you’re working on it now!

No checkbox for HotS beta signups yet.

1:27 PM:  I am enjoying Hearthstone so far, so I gueeeess I’ll let it slide for now.

1:28 PM:  Haha, first game they announced and got to the public in the same year.  Yay, Blizzard time.

1:29 PM:  Open beta starts next month…or maybe January.  Oh you, Rob.

Mystery minion reveal!

1:30 PM:  And the mystery minion is…ELITE TAUREN CHIEFTAIN FUCKING YES

ETC gives a Power Chord card to each player when played.

1:31 PM:  Ahahha, it plays a light show when you play it, and the Power Chord has a strumming guitar effect while you’re playing it.

1:32 PM:  Golden heroes are also going to come to the game.  Can be earned in ranked Play mode.

1:33 PM:  iPhone version announced as well.  AND ANDROID WOOHOO

1:34 PM:  Really am interested to see how Duncan Jones handles the Warcraft movie.  Really loved Moon; Source Code was alright but could’ve used a different ending.

1:35 PM:  Oh god, this has got to be the buildup to the next expansion announcement.  C’mon Rob, quit stringing me along.

1:36 PM:  What’re you talking about DnD for, Rob…don’t get my hopes up…

Haha, Hillsbrad was the first battleground.  Oh Rob.

1:37 PM:  Hnnngh, nostalgia for stuff I never experienced…why are you talking 40-man raids…

Dark Portal, hnnnngh

1:38 PM:  Now you’re talking about Ahn’Qiraj opening, Rob why are you bringing this up too

And an apology for that not running smoothly, heh.

1:39 PM:  Corrupted Blood plague as well.  WHY ARE YOU BRINGING ALL THIS UP

1:40 PM:  I’m on the edge of my seat, Pardo, just tell me

1:41 PM:  Aww, you can be my DM anytime, Rob.

Oh boy, here we go

OH NO STREAM STOP IT RELOAD

Okay there we go hi Metzen

1:42 PM:  You really have quite the voice, Chris.

“Geek is forgetting your lines” heh

1:43 PM:  “Thinking a lot about the early days,” like WC1 early.  Hmmmm.

1:44 PM:  Horde will always have louder cheers.  It’s required.

“Lot of players never experienced those events”

1:45 PM:  Oh man, are we actually having a time travel expansion?  Holy fuck.

Oh Red Shirt Guy, you are our favorite.

1:47 PM:  Metzen please tell me what’s going on, I’m dying

1:48 PM:  “Alliance is the Captain America faction” heh

1:49 PM:  An interesting question comes to mind:  “What if those dark days [of WC1/2] could come again?”

Oh man, what’s going on, Metzen, what’s going on

1:50 PM:  The Alliance’s finest hour is yet to come.  Hoo boy.

1:51 PM:  Horde has a chance at a new start, to redefine themselves.

Oh man, I can just tell he just wants to drop the expansion announcement so bad.

1:52 PM:  “There will be honor to be served and asses to be kicked.”

OH GOD METZEN TELL ME

HERE WE GO

“Corgis Unleashed!” I love that guy in the audience.

1:53 PM:  Warlords of Draenor is the expansion!

A VELEN QUOTE DRAENEI LORE CONFIRMED

NEW ORC MODELS I SEE THEM

OH FUCK GRONN WITH CANNONS

THE ORIGINAL TEMPLE OF KARABOR

DRAENOR IS THE NEW PLANET

A CUSTOM GARRISON

NEW MODELS

100 LEVEL CAP

BUNCH OF NEW SHIT (NEW PVP ZONE)

…boost to 90 and play immediately?  what

1:55 PM:  Well ain’t that something.

1:57 PM:  I’m pretty hyped now.  There’s quite a lot of new stuff coming, and I’m gonna guess they’ll have a lot to talk about at the next panel, iiiiin…a half hour!

2:00 PM:  Surely there’s restrictions on the level 90 boost, right?  I mean, I know a lot of people get tired of leveling and so I’m sure a lot of people would rather skip it, buuuut I dunno.  Leveling gives you experience with a class toolkit and lets you learn it slowly.  Kinda odd that they’re going to offer an ability to just bypass all that.  Again, I assume there’s going to be some kind of restriction for it.

That buildable and upgradable garrison sounds neat.  It’s not quite the player housing I was hoping for, but it might be just as fun.

Also a new world PVP zone; might we see the triumphant return of Wintergrasp?  (Tol Barad doesn’t count, that place was shit.)

New orcs look a lot like Garrosh; new dorf looks pretty cool too.  Actually expressive!

Hnngh, 2:30 needs to get here.  ASAP.

2:05 PM:  Interesting tidbit on Titan from Mike Morhaime in a post-opening ceremony interview:  The game is “different from what we initially set out to make” post-reset.  The reset was done because they figured that the path they were on wouldn’t deliver a Blizzard-quality game in a reasonable period of time.

While I want to know about the game so bad, I’d rather wait longer to get a better quality product about it.

2:11 PM:  There’s a really loud woman somewhere in the background I can hear getting excited over meeting someone.  Haha, microphones.

2:12 PM:  Metzen’s talking about stuff about the expansion:  Garrosh escapes from his trial, goes back in time to Draenor, intent on redeeming the orcish ideal.  He wants to stop the orcs from drinking the blood of Magtheridon and form a new, different Horde.  Garrosh won’t be the boss of the expansion, but he’s a driving force behind it.

2:14 PM:  The orc racial leader hasn’t quite been determined yet; Metzen is leaning towards Saurfang, but mentioned Eitrigg as well.  Thrall’s pretty much a no.

2:16 PM:  Why no Emerald Dream expansion?  While an exciting idea (along with South Seas/Burning Legion/etc.), don’t really know how to put together a compelling expansion based on the concept (how do you make six or so zones that are all green and lush without making it boring).  Maybe as a part of a larger expansion overall, but not as the main setting.

Thank you, Metzen, for confirming what I’ve been saying for literally years:  Emerald Dream is just not a good primary expansion idea.

2:20 PM:  Gotta get a drink, be right back.

OH FUCK PARDO AGAIN

2:24 PM:  All races are going to be redone (wasn’t quite specific on that), but they might not all release with the expansion.  Haven’t decided yet which ones are going to release first.

2:25 PM:  Instant boost to 90: trying to solve the problem of new people coming to the game/old players who come back years later.  Want to give people the ability to play the current expansion right away.  If you buy the box, you can boost any character to 90.  Create a new character and instantly boost it, or upgrade any old character.

I’m a little less worried now.  That doesn’t sound so bad.

2:29 PM:  Pardo’s excited about the movie!

Almost time for the next WoW panel.  Let’s find out more about Warlords of Draenor!

World of Warcraft:  What’s Next

2:30 PM:  Tell me more, Tom, Ion, Cory, and Greg!

And also Metzen, the announcer didn’t mention that.  Someone’s getting fired.

2:31 PM:  A lovely picture of orcish warlords.  “70’s rock group from hell”

2:32 PM:  Lotta sound from the next hall over I think.  Metzen seems confused.

2:33 PM:  Post-SoO, Garrosh got dragged away in chains, and will be put on trial.  He’ll get away before the verdict can be handed down.

Garrosh hates the current Horde and Alliance, so he heads back to when the world made sense:  Draenor, before the orcs drank the demonic blood.

2:35 PM:  Despite this, he will convince the old orcs to form a new Horde, the Iron Horde.  A new Horde with the same mission:  build a Dark Portal and conquer Azeroth.  Time-traveling buddy is supposed to merge the timelines again and make this version the real one.

2:37 PM:  Astute people might know who the end boss is, according to Metzen.

2:38 PM:  Someone needs to NOT be playing music and yelling over microphones so goddamn loud next door.  Holy fucking shit.

2:39 PM:  Tom Chilton’s up now.

Draenor is a new world, Outland before it was Outland.  Heart of the draenei, primal world.  7 new zones to mess around in (matching up with the seven zones of Outland?)

Oh ho, dropped that Kairoz is the time-traveling guy.  Knew it!

2:40 PM:  Garrosh wants to unite the orcs (listed as Grommash on the slides?)

Draenor has seven zones:  Tanaan Jungle (Hellfire Peninsula), Gorgrond (near Blade’s Edge/Netherstorm border), Frostfire Ridge (west of Blade’s Edge), Nagrand, Talador (Terokkar Forest), Shadowmoon Valley, and Spires of Arak (in between and to the south of Talador and Shadowmoon).

2:42 PM:  Karabor is the Alliance city (Black Temple pre-Black Temple).

In Frostfire Ridge, Bladespire Citadel will be the Horde city after you evict the ogres there.

2:43 PM:  Draenor is similar in size to Outland.

Spires of Arak is the homeland of the arrakoa.

Mysterious ogre continent in the southwest (it’s a LARGE continent).

2:44 PM:  Faralon is TBD (what we know as Netherstorm), will be in a patch.

2:45 PM:  Talking about the clans now!

  • Frostwolf Clan:  Chieftain Durotan, Frostfire Ridge; going to have some interesting stuff with Durotan and Thrall and the Iron Horde
  • Shadowmoon Clan:  Chieftain Ner’zhul, Shadowmoon Valley; clan is mostly scryers, “shaman to the shaman;” are they worthy to be in the Iron Horde?
  • Shattered Hand Clan:  Chieftain Kargath Bladefist, Spires of Arak; orcs from many clans enslaved by the ogres, brought together through their strife
  • Blackrock Clan:  Chieftain Blackhand, Gorgrond; without the influence of Guldan, Blackhand is a more honest orc; Blackrock orcs are smiths, become the smiths of the Iron Horde
  • Warsong Clan:  Chieftain Grommash Hellscream, Nagrand; Grom’s got “anger issues;” interplay between Grommash and Garrosh (why is he called Grommash and not Grom?); much like Mongols
  • Bleeding Hollow Clan:  Chieftain Kilrogg Deadeye, Tanaan Peninsula; shamanistic clan, Tanaan Peninsula was very much a jungle before Draenor was destroyed; on the eve of becoming a chief, the chieftain gouges out their own eye and sees how they’ll die

2:53 PM:  Creatures and zones time, woo!

The Gronn are being subjugated by the Iron Horde, used to carry massive cannons

Genosaur(?): beastly reptilian things, similar in size to magnataur

Ogres are bigger and stronger and more vicious

Saberon:  bipedal feline humanoids, all over Draenor

Dragonfly (mount!)

New chimera as well; fight ’em as a boss, fight ’em in the world, whatever

2:55 PM:  New expansion intro experience!  Return to the Dark Portal

Join a suicide mission to get a foothold in Draenor to stop the Iron Horde invasion, drops you right into the action.

Oh good, someone fixed the audio.

2:56 PM:  Horde go to Frostfire Ridge, Alliance to Shadowmoon.

Frostfire:  Snow-covered wastes beneath towering volcanoes.  Frostwolf vs. Thunderlord.  Frostwolves are not going to join the Iron Horde.

As said earlier, Bladespire Fortress will be the new Horde city.

Alien-looking cold snowy zone, very interesting.  “Originally concepted as a purple desert, but it didn’t work; ‘why is that snow purple? why are the frostwolves in a desert?'”

2:58 PM:  Oh, a video of it too.  The zone looks fairly desolate, but definitely looks fun to explore.

I like the new ogre models too, much more primal.

Bladespire Fortress looks pretty interesting too.  Looks like a multi-leveled tower.

3:00 PM:  Shadowmoon Valley is constantly in darkness.  Interesting.

Rolling, moonlit hills.

Alliance will save Karabor from the Iron Horde, and will claim that as their city.

Shadowmoon orcs will also play a part in the zone; Ner’zhul wants to join the Iron Horde badly, but it’s up to players to stop that from happening.

Shadowmoon looks very mystical.  A complete contrast to the fel-corrupted Shadowmoon of today!

The video of it feels very serene and peaceful, an idyllic location.  That looks like a place one would want to just get all comfy in.  Fuck, Alliance favoritism!

3:03 PM:  Gorgrond time!

Interesting that Gorgrond doesn’t really have an analog to the Outland of today.

Gorgrond is defined by major steam vents that the Blackrock use for their smithing.

Zone looks quite like a desert filled with all manner of hot springs and steam vents.  Lighting strikes in the distance.  Very volcanically active.

3:05 PM:  And finally Talador.

Home of the Draenei civilization; Shattrath is much larger than it is in the game now.

Auchindoun is no longer destroyed; is instead a massive temple, but still a dungeon.

Shattrath has a massive dome over it.  Zangarmarsh hasn’t formed yet, is still the Zangar Sea.

Talador in-game looks very pretty too.  Depending on how Nagrand looks, it might unseat Nagrand as the comfiest zone!

C’mon, show us Shattrath, please show us Shattrath…aw man.

3:08 PM:  New player models time!

“Had to be done right, so we had to take a lot of time.”

High priority to keep the soul of the originals; should feel the same, just look better.

Much better facial detail, and updated animations!

3:09 PM:  Starting with the dwarf (first of three they’re giving previews).

New model has hair!  Heh.  Beard has new adornments, even though it’s the same style.

Next up, orc:  Much better expressions.

Aw, the third one was the gnome.  I wanted tauren!

Well at least it looks better, anyway.  I’m still gonna be happy to punt it!

And in motion, beards have animations!  Ha!

Fucking gnome dance, haha.

And apparently they’re going to talk more about the new character models at the art panel.  Hnngh, guess I’ll have to watch.

3:12 PM:  Features time!

Garrisons:  what the hell are those?

Build your own base on Draenor; the WoW version of player housing!

Friends can come by and visit as well!

Collect followers, run missions, customize your base!

You can even build it in whatever zone you like!

Offline progression:  send followers on missions, they’ll work without you needing to play!

3:15 PM:  What do you get from a garrison?

Epic gear, for starters!

Land of your own!  “The farm x1000.”

Unique benefits from buildings

Limited access to professions you don’t have!  You can build a mine in your base!

3:16 PM:  How does it work?

Garrison expands over three tiers.  New tiers give more plots, giving you more buildings, giving you more bonuses.

Choose the location, and move it if you want a change of scenery!

Interact with followers and buildings, someplace you want to go back to time and time again.  Name followers, and you’ll see them keep that name.

Monuments and Trophies:  Why not show off?

Monuments tied to achievements; a globe statue for exploring the world, for instance.

Trophies tied to rare drops; kill a chimera, plop its head in the hall!

3:18 PM:  Buildings!

Each building has its own bonuses, and can be upgraded.

Buildings can also be customized with specializations; when you hit the third upgrade on a building, you can choose an option for an additional benefit.

Buildings can also be placed wherever you want; plop them down in whichever plot you want, giving you a lot of customization!

3:20 PM:  Looking at the Inn now.

Inn lets you find new followers; people stop by, and you can recruit new followers!

Also lets you cook!

Specializations for the Inn let you find DPS, heal, or tanking followers more easily.

3:22 PM:  Dance Studio building?  Are you pulling our leg, Blizz?

Video of garrison upgrades over time; walls become larger and more sturdy, finally looking almost like a castle.

3:23 PM:  What about followers?

Find ’em and bribe ’em, collect them through missions, etc.

Level them up through missions, 90-100.  Give them better gear, they’ll get better at max level (duh).  Followers have abilities and traits as well, letting you determine who’s the best for a mission.

And they have quality/rarity (can’t wait to have a bunch of epic followers).

And yes, you can name them.

3:25 PM:  Missions time!

Send them on quests, send them to dungeons or raids, etc.

Mix and match followers to maximize success!

Lot of missions planned; some might depend on having particular buildings!

3:26 PM:  More features time!

Hi Ghostcrawler!

Talkin’ about the boost to 90 now.  “WoW is better with friends!”

Yep, confirming what Pardo said earlier.  Buy the expansion, get a free boost to 90 for one character, new or old.

Cleans up your bags and bars and logs, and lets you hop into the expansion.

3:29 PM:  Inventory updates!  Finally!

Collections, like pets and mounts, but now updated for heirlooms, toys, and possibly tabards!

Heirlooms are all in one place.

Toy box is similar, throws in a bunch of toys into one place.

Summon random favorite mount button!

You can organize bags; say that you only want consumables in one, trade goods in another, new items in a third, etc.  There you go!

And you can see what’s vendor trash at a glance!

Quest items are no longer being dropped in your bags!

And you can craft directly from your bank!  And stack size for a lot of crafting mats will go up to 100!  Yay!

3:32 PM:  Adventure Guide, whuzzat?

At-a-glance info to help you progress, telling you where you should think about heading next

Customized for your character!

3:33 PM:  Level 100 talents!

“We can’t count, so we gave you them 5 levels early!”

Not really previewing them here, but people on the floor can check ’em out!  Dammit!

And more readable tooltips:  Guy in audience:  “Thank you!” Greg:  “You’re welcome!”

3:35 PM:  Dungeons and raids time!  Woo!

Seven new dungeons at launch:  four level-up, three exclusively 100, and UBRS is becoming a new heroic dungeon!

Weird that they’re only doing seven dungeons for ten levels.  Also they’re not doing heroic-only dungeons, which is smart.

Preview of Bloodmaul Slag Mines dungeon, located in Frostfire Ridge.  Four bosses, non-linear.  Ogre slavers within a fiery volcano; liberate Frostwolf orcs or draenei to stage a revolt!

Two split paths, one boss that patrols around in a ring, both paths lead to the main boss at the back.

I get a feeling like Gruul’s Lair from the look of it.  Looks interesting.  The fire effects look better too.  Really like the new ogres!

Other dungeons:  Blackrock Foundry, Auchindoun, Arrakoa Spires, Shadowmoon Burial Grounds, Iron Barracks, and mooooore!

Majestic civilization of the arrakoa, pre-curse!  Neat!

3:41 PM:  Two new raids at launch:  Highmaul and Blackrock Foundry, 16 bosses total.

Highmaul will be the Mogu’shan Vaults of the expansion, set in Nagrand, six bosses, fighting the ogres!

Blackrock Foundry will be the main raid of the start, fighting the heart of the Iron Horde war machine.

And more world bosses!

3:42 PM:  Raid philosophy?  Hmm.

Flex is awesome!  I agree!

Issues with 10 vs. 25 structure:  how to reward equally, how to challenge equally, how to reward logistical difficulty of 25s without making 10s feeling terrible, etc.

An expansion of flex scaling:  the only difference between flexible and normal is the difficulty, so why not let flexible tech work for normal?

And also applied to LFR:  rather than wait for more people to jump in, just pull the boss and it’ll scale down to your group size!

Flexible raiding really won’t work when applied to heroic, though.

Consolidating between 10 and 25:  20-player raids?

New raid structure:  Raid finder/flexible/normal 10, normal 25/heroic 10, heroic 25 -> raid finder, normal, heroic, and mythic.  The first three can scale between 10-25, while mythic is 20-man only.

More talk about that tomorrow!

3:48 PM:  PVP stuff!

New world PVP zone!  Ashran, staging area near the Dark Portal, off the eastern coast of the Tanaan Peninsula.

Faction bases and hotspots; a PVP sandbox!  Not like WG/TB, more like a Timeless Isle of PVP.

Aiming for the feel of the original Alterac Valley!

Lots of objectives to shoot for to help your faction, and works with cross-realm technology to facilitate balance.  Pairing up realms with high Horde populations with realms with high Alliance populations.

Constant, non-stop PVP action!

Build and commandeer siege vehicles as well; siege vehicles could take many days to build!

The Blade Mortar sounds hilarious:  shoots a net full of old weapons at your enemies!

3:53 PM:  UI improvements as well!

Updated objectives tracker:  World objectives like flags will update with new colors as they’re captured, letting everyone see what the progress is!

Updated scoreboard:  an overall value that factors in everything you’re doing to give a score on how well you’re doing.

3:56 PM:  Bonus rewards for battlegrounds!

Items, honor, BOE gear and more, all rewarded randomly!

A weekly quest to upgrade an item; win X BGs or arenas, upgrade an item.

3:58 PM:  Trial of the Gladiator, what’s that?

Basically a revamping of the arena ladder, limited times for queues for arenas, helps prevent exploiting, uses arena realm rules (everyone has the same gear, just jump in and blow shit up!)

Determines your prestige rewards for the season!

4:00 PM:  And that’s it!

Art panel is “fucking amazing!” according to Tom Chilton!  Guess I gotta watch it!

4:01 PM:  I’m gonna publish this now so my friend who doesn’t have the stream can read it, but I’ll update with more in a few!

4:04 PM:  Back again.  So what do I think about all this?

Well for one, thank GOD they’re doing something about my bag space problems.  I’m so close to full, it’s not even funny.  Literally about a dozen free spaces on my shaman.

The garrisons really, REALLY have my interest.  I was pretty damn sure they’d go for some kind of player housing, and while this isn’t quite what I had in mind, it does take a lot of ideas I had and makes it work:  customizable layout, monuments to your achievements, profession bonuses.  Collecting followers and sending them on missions feels a lot like Outer Ops in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, if you’ve played that.  I just know I’m gonna end up firing a bunch of D-ranks.

I’m also interested in exploring the new world of Draenor!  Shame we won’t get to explore all of it at launch, but they could drop some major new lands for us (that ogre continent looks HUGE!).

4:09 PM:  Oh, one of the devs (I didn’t catch who) dropped a bomb on the item squish, looks like that’s confirmed!

And a complete confirmation that Blizzard did NOT trademark The Dark Below.  Heh.

4:11 PM:  New models are something that I’m looking forward to, but I was totally wrong about their showing humans, instead dwarves and gnomes.  Oh well.  No females either, but we’ll get to them eventually I’m sure.  Definitely have to watch the art panel!

I like the thought of the new PVP world zone, rather than a world battleground.  I think I’m gonna be spending a lot of time there.

Oh man, I’m getting seriously hyped for this expansion!

Shame there’s no new race or class, but new racial models are probably a bigger game-changer than a new race would be.  Ethereals would have been nice, but then again, ethereals weren’t on Draenor before it exploded, so I guess it doesn’t make sense for them to be a race.  Blizzbro, you lied to me!

4:17 PM:  Just watching the Hearthstone chat for a few minutes before I switch to the lore panel.  I’d like to watch this more in case there’s something interesting announced, but that’s alright!

4:24 PM:  Hm hm hmm, wonder if there’s anyone interesting being interviewed in the downtime between panels.  To the panel stage feed!

Nope!  Back to main feed for a few minutes.

4:27 PM:  Oh hey, the Heroes of the Storm beta test can now be opted into!  Head to your Battle.net account settings to update your preferences.

4:29 PM:  I like their philosophy for Hearthstone.  Keep it fun, keep it physical, keep it fast.

4:30 PM:  Oh, time to head over to the next panel!

World of Warcraft:  The Adventure Continues

4:30 PM:  Hi Fargo (aka Dave Kosak)!

4:31 PM:  How we get here:  What if you take Garrosh and you give him a golden ticket, let him go back in time and stop the orcs from drinking the demonic blood?  He forms the Iron Horde instead!

4:33 PM:  Garrosh is NOT the main villain!  He sets things in motion, but things spiral out of control afterwards!

4:34 PM:  “Warcraft is about war and craft.” haha

Now on to Draenor!

Savage place with mythic proportions, primal environments.  “This world will eat your face.”

4:35 PM:  How do you cope with such a world?  Do you become a savage, or do you come together and stand against it?

4:36 PM:  What about the draenei?  They’re living apart from the savagery, but what happens when it breaks through?

Garrisons play into this as well:  you’ve gotta build walls to protect yourself from the powers out there.

4:37 PM:  Now a bit of an insight on how they got to this idea for the expansion.

Hi Furor!

Initial thought was that Garrosh would resurrect the fallen warlords and lead them back to Azeroth again.

Tired of Outland, so why not see Draenor of the past?

4:39 PM:  It’s NOT a time travel expansion; you get to Draenor and then that’s it, you’re not going to accidentally delete the timeline as it exists today.

4:40 PM:  Furor interrupted Metzen, guess he’s getting fired.

Metzen’s reassuring us that our world will be fine.  The past will be fine, the present will be fine, everything will be fine.

4:41 PM:  The expansion gives us a chance to see what Draenor looked like before it was Outland.

“Did you know Shattrath was a coastal city?  Did you know Draenor had OCEANS?”

Gonna save Shattrath, whee.

4:42 PM:  What were the arrakoa like when they had wings?  “Spoiler:  THEY WERE JERKS”

4:43 PM:  BlizzCon drinking game:  take a shot every time they say “savage!”

“What would happen if the baddest badasses in Warcraft history…formed a basketball team?!”

Is Durotan a hero or a villain?  OooooooOOOOoooooo…play the expansion!

Yuril(spelling?):  a draenei character we’ll follow; a “Joan of Arc archetype”

4:45 PM:  “BC was all Alex’s fault” haha metzen

The expansion gives us an opportunity to see the draenei civilization before they got steamrolled by the Horde.

4:46 PM:  Hey, let’s talk about the factions!

Draenor will change the factions much like Pandaria.

Alliance is a superpower!  They’re stepping through the portal and kicking ass!  Fuck!

Maraad is coming back; “Most of the dev team doesn’t remember Maraad”

He saw everyone he loved die the first time around; this time, he’s going to try and set things right.

“I think Maraad could be categorized as one of the warlords of Draenor”  Interesting, Furor.

4:48 PM:  “Isn’t it about time Thrall got some armor back on?”  YES

Who is the orc racial leader?  Haven’t totally decided yet; Metzen would vote Saurfang or someone like that.

Thrall’s got some work to do:  bring Garrosh to justice, get a new outfit, hit things with his hammer, etc.

4:49 PM:  The draenei!  New lore!  Finally!  Fuck!

4:50 PM:  In BC, we only saw them as refugees; now, we’ll get to see what they were about before that.

“We’re not gonna allow them to crash any spaceships this time.”  NO CRASHES CONFIRMED

Lets us see what their buildings were like and such.

4:51 PM:  They want to reward players for exploration!

Tons of little nooks and /crannies to explore with events and such that you’ll find while in the world.

Example:  you stumble on a broken-down cart while questing; kill the Iron Horde fixing it and you can claim the treasure chest on the back!

More on that tomorrow!

4:53 PM:  Sense of scale:  The Thunderlord clan groups up and hunts giants together; long ago, they felled a humongous one and carved out a city in its remains.  Fucking metal.

4:54 PM:  35 minutes of Q&A!  Whee!

4:55 PM:  Internal conflict of Kael’thas story:  The story’s close to being published, but Metzen doesn’t remember where!  Oh no!

4:56 PM:  How do you make the story meaningful if the events are happening so far in the past?  It’s all happening now!  There will be repercussions from this expansion going forward; this will lead right into the next expansion!

4:57 PM:  THE ALLERIA AND TURALYON QUESTION:  We’re NOT going to see them…YET!

Khadgar will be in the next expansion though!

4:58 PM:  RED SHIRT GUY!

Oh fuck, that’s a question.  The southern parts of every continent are jungleish:  does that mean we’re all in the northern hemisphere, and there’s a whole other hemisphere?

Apparently there’s been an argument about that in the studio too; it’s “possible,” but people have gotta stop putting in globes!

Red Shirt Guy:  “you could just say that the globes were obscured, they’re already inaccurate!”  Applause!

We love you, Red Shirt Guy!

5:01 PM:  Were there paladins in Azeroth before the founding of the Order of the Silver Hand?  Don’t know!

Will there be paladin lore in the expansion?  Yes!

5:03 PM:  Garrosh went down the same path that Grom did, will that be addressed?  Yeah.  May have pushed Garrosh a bit too far this expansion; we might not redeem him, but we’ll get to a satisfying end for him.

Garrosh has “craaaaaazy daddy issues.”

Lot of Garrosh explanations this expansion, gonna shed some light on him.

5:05 PM:  Are demons relevant in the expansion?  Gul’dan has green skin, he’s drank the blood, he’s bought into the corruption.  He offers the blood to the others, but things go different this time.

Because of this, Gul’dan’s plans aren’t really going to play out the same way.  Not happy about that.

5:07 PM:  Will Metzen voice Durotan?  Metzen says no!  “It has been suggested to me that too many is too many.”

5:08 PM:  Where’s Orgrim Doomhammer?  “You’ll see him!  Intimately!  Not really!”  Doomhammer is Blackhand’s second-in-command, you’ll engage with him and feel him out, explore his character.  Durotan feels betrayed by Doomhammer, so we’ll see something interesting there.

5:09 PM:  Will we see doubles of characters because time travel?  “No!  Because we’re clever!”

5:10 PM:  Seen a lot of leader lore through the short stories, but what about the pandaren leaders (Ji/Aysa)?  Didn’t have a chance to do a lot with them so far, but in the future maybe.  Ji will probably have a better time in the new Horde!

5:11 PM:  Teron Gorefiend/Cho’gall with the Iron Horde or Gul’dan?  Gul’dan!  Teron Gore will be alive!

5:12 PM:  Will Garrosh/Thrall learn about their pasts through this expansion by meeting their fathers?  That’s one of the interesting parts about choosing this expansion topic!  It might not match what they thought; was Durotan actually noble or was he just acting noble for his people?

Thrall will also meet his uncles!  Badass uncles!

5:15 PM:  Is there a chance of exploring this alternate timeline further?  Yeah!

The Iron Horde is going to affect our current time, but it’s not going to affect our past.  The Iron Horde will march through the Dark Portal in our present, but they won’t be mucking around with our past.

5:16 PM:  Will we see the Dragonmaw? Maybe!  But they won’t be the Dragonmaw, because there were no dragons on Draenor.

Is Zaela alive?  Yes!  Will we see her again?  Yes!

5:17 PM:  We’ll see Thrall’s mom, will we see his grandma?  Yep, probably.  Will Aggra be going through to Draenor?  Nope, this is a boy’s trip.

What about Garona?  Yes!

5:18 PM:  What’s the deal with Grom’s age?  He’s old enough to be Thrall’s dad.  He’s the leader of the wolfriders, really serious guy, kind of a rock star.

“Rexxar origin story please.” The devs nodded to each other.

5:20 PM:  Garrosh goes back about two years before the orcs drink the blood and starts mucking around from there.

Will the Burning Legion show up?  “Gul’dan’s on the telephone with them.” “I’ll take care of it, don’t worry!” “KILL THE HELLSCREAMS”

5:21 PM:  What’s the deal with Sylvanas?  “Yes.”  One day she might do something bad, but right now she’s alright.  She’ll get her time in the spotlight, and there will be a reckoning.  She gives no fucks about Draenor.

5:22 PM:  Will the blood elves play a role in this expansion?  “When the paladin question got asked earlier, there may be a correlation with blood elf paladins, a deeper understanding of where paladins come from, what Auchindoun is, etc.”

Are you gonna pull Silvermoon out of 2007 anytime soon?  “No.”

5:23 PM:  What kind of shamanism are we going to see?  Gonna see Drek’thar, gonna see him go blind.  Huge shamanistic lines that’ll be played with this expansion.

Different flavors of shamanism out there, everyone approaches it differently!  It’s still the core belief system of the orcs.

5:26 PM:  How will the Horde address their issues of rebuilding after the siege?  There’s a battle between ideologies:  the Iron Horde vs. the New Horde.  The Iron Horde is much like the original Horde.

The conflict is embodied by Garrosh:  he thinks that the orcish ideal is orcs only, all others beneath them.  “Democracy, really?”

The Horde’s gonna think a lot about what they’re about, who they are.  No longer an orcish Horde, a new Horde.  Was Thrall right, or should it be adjusted?

5:29 PM:  And that’s the end!  Time to wait a bit for the art panel to start!

Art of World of Warcraft

5:50 PM:  Whoops, got distracted talking again.  Just got back to see a slideshow of some of the concept art for the expansion, the panel is apparently starting now.  I’ll have to run back upstairs to get my food!  Be right back!

5:56 PM:  Dammit, missing stuff about the new race models!  Just got back to seeing the updated undead male; looks very nice!  The spine actually looks like a spine, not a slug!

New facial variation for the undead:  Iron jaw!

5:57 PM:  Going into the process of the new models now.

Considerably more detail in the new models!

Concepts draw up what sort of features are important, what to exaggerate, what to tone down, etc.

956 polys and 130 bones on the old gnome, compared to 5408 polys and 196 bones on the new gnome.  Significantly higher-res textures as well; quadruple size for body and face, 16x larger for hair!

Lot more expressive models now!

6:01 PM:  Dwarf female WIP as well, looks considerably better!

6:02 PM:  Orc male looks great too.

Current gnome female can’t smile, but the new one can!

Love the expressions on her, very nice.

OH HELL YES, TAUREN MALE

Much nicer looking, higher-rez textures, still has a bit of a hunch to him which is a little sad, but it looks a lot better.

6:03 PM:  Facial hair is apparently one of the bigger technical issues; would there be enough bones to animate the facial hair?

Tried to keep the animations relatively the same, but some get updated to have better expressions, to really show just what they’re emoting.

6:06 PM:  I really like the new orc model, even if it’s still pretty hunched over.  Oh well, it’s still really good looking.  Running animations are a lot smoother, more expressive too.

6:07 PM:  Haha, the gnome doing the train emote.

6:10 PM:  Going over world-building.  Lot of really interesting stuff here, showing off how they manage to texture things and build the zones from the concepts.  I would love to muck around with the software they have!

I’m mostly just soaking all this stuff up, it’s so fascinating I’m having a hard time pulling myself away to write about it!

6:15 PM:  Going into the interplay of the team; do artists have multiple disciplines, or do they specialize?

Mostly divided by 3D and 2D:  3D artists and 2D texture artists.  3D artists handle the initial blocking, the modeling, the lighting, collisions, etc.  They also work with the level designers who are working on designing dungeons to create the spaces we play in!

Texture artists draw up concepts, choose materials, paint models, and then create textures and handle UV mapping!

6:19 PM:  Interesting question on what goes into designing a “cultural package” for a new race.

Start with a general idea, then gather references from real cultures, other games, books, etc.  Then rough concepts get drawn up, just to try and bring it all together.

Then, a “taste piece” is drawn up and modeled, tweaked, and then a final design is created.

A style guide is created from that taste piece:  scale, silhouette, lighting, color, exaggeration, composition.

6:23 PM:  Another interesting question:  how will the art style evolve over this expansion and beyond?

Ever evolving style, but still trying to stay true to the roots.

6:24 PM:  What is best in life?

Eric:  “Can you repeat the question?”  After repeat:  “That’s subjective, but if I had to guess, tanks.  You can put a tank with anything and it makes it better.”

Probably the best thing I saw on a slide about one of those weapons:  “not so much weaponized vehicles, but vehiclized weapons.”  Love it.

6:28 PM:  How do you decide how far to take a racial aesthetic?  Grummles don’t have mailboxes, but the Klaxxi do.  Humorous slide pointing out that the grummle mailbox is just a grummle with a very large background.

Iron Horde probably won’t have a mailbox; why would they?  You’re not going to stay at the Iron Horde Inn.

If a race is connected to a hub, they’ll probably get a mailbox!

The kobold kit is a danger sign, a bucket of tools, a rope, and a candle.  ;_;

6:32 PM:  How much time goes into set dressing?  Are interiors driven by the owners of the place, or the zones, or both?

As much time as given, and well duh, both!

“See the candle?  AT WHAT COST?!”

6:35 PM:  Poor kobolds:  How many candle models are there?

572, including 42 for different kobolds!

6:36 PM:  What’s the process for spell animations?

First, the animator blocks in the intended spell effect.  Shows when the effect should be seen or not seen.  Then it’s textured up to look nicer!  Trying to make sure it doesn’t overpower the character.

6:38 PM:  And now some stuff from the audience.  Any new crafting mounts that we might see?  Don’t know yet, maybe something Iron Horde related!

6:39 PM:  When developing culture kits, how much of the stuff has to have a story?  Some of it does, they check with historians while developing stuff.

6:40 PM:  Cleanshaven night elf males, can they keep their eyebrows!  Yeah, sorry about not having that earlier!

6:41 PM:  So what races will be remodeled?  The blood elves and draenei will be updated, and after that they’ll look at the goblins/worgen again, see if they need updates.

Will there be racial garrisons?  Everyone would like that, but it’s a definite maybe!

6:42 PM:  What about female trolls?  Keep checking back on the site for updates!

6:43 PM:  Some models have ears/hair poking through armor, will the new models not have that?  Some is inevitable, but it’ll probably be better.  There won’t be as much clipping!

6:44 PM:  And that’s it for the art panel!  Time to tune into the Heroes of the Storm panel, right now!

Heroes of the Storm Overview

6:45 PM:  I’m gonna start calling that Hearthstone dev that’s introducing people Discount Chris Metzen.

Didier’s still rocking his incredible mane of hair.  Damn.

6:46 PM:  Basics:  heroes and villains of Blizzard games, all fighting in the same place, with new battlegrounds.

6:47 PM:  Warcraft 3 was where a lot of custom games really took off, when modders could take away aspects of the game and create new maps and games.

6:49 PM:  A lot of the basic game was data-driven by necessity; if designers changed their minds, programmers could easily make changes.  They realized how powerful the tools were and then released them to the community.

6:50 PM:  Started out as just a demo of what you could do with the SC2 editor.  Took it back to the office, asked where it could be taken next?

6:51 PM:  Art mixing various Blizzard franchises gave the inspiration for its direction:  A world where all these heroes and villains could be pulled into one game.

6:52 PM:  Hearthstone has also given inspiration to the team; they’re not worried about jumping into a crowded genre, they just want to make the best game they can.

6:54 PM:  Also want to challenge the genre:  not the same Dota clone!

Now discussing heroes:  a lot of ’em from a lot of games!

6:55 PM:  Is it difficult to make them all fit together?  Nope!  Orcs have been alongside demons before, so Diablo standing next to one isn’t that much of a stretch.  Starcraft still manages to mesh with both.

6:56 PM:  Now going into a few heroes in-depth!  Lich King first.  Gotta feel like an icy badass.

Heroes look somewhat comic bookish, exaggerated forms.

6:57 PM:  Lich King should be a slayer, killing massive amounts of enemies and stealing their souls.

An idea being played with is that you can choose a heroic ability to use; Lich King can summon Sindragosa, or summon an Army of the Dead!

6:59 PM:  Fuck yeah, Elite Tauren Chieftains!

7:00 PM:  ETC is high mobility, can self-heal, and can even stage dive anywhere on the map!

7:01 PM:  And you can even daze others by using Mosh Pit!  Ha!

7:02 PM:  Oh hi Abathor!  Or however you spell it.  I love that guy!

He can jump into any other friendly hero and infest them, using abilities from inside them.  Gross and awesome!

Definitely seems like a hero that can change up everything.

7:06 PM:  Heroes will have skins, naturally; skins have color variants too.  One they’re showing is a vampire hunter skin for the Demon Hunter.

7:07 PM:  Hahaha, a deep sea murloc skin for Diablo.  Lurkablo.  That’s awesome.

Glam Rock ETC too, hahahaha.  Yes.

7:08 PM:  And a Terran marine skin for Uther.  That’s neato and cool.  And of course, gotta have the Judgment set too.

7:09 PM:  Fun with friends?  In an ASSFAGGOTS?  I’LL BELIEVE IT WHEN I SEE IT.

Games should be twenty minutes long; if you’re losing, you won’t be suffering for long, and you’ll be able to meet up with friends quickly if they’re in a game.

Team leveling as well:  no killstealing or whatever, everyone levels up together.  Can have support heroes that aren’t great at killing but can help their team make it through better.  Specialist heroes like Abathor as well!

7:12 PM:  Talking a bit about level design now.  Bringing up the map in SC2’s campaign where the lava rises and falls, and how they didn’t want to give it to multiplayer because it didn’t fit the flow of SC2’s multiplayer.

7:13 PM:  The idea behind the world:  the Nexus, a place where all the Blizzard worlds converge.  Anything can happen!

7:14 PM:  Battlegrounds!  FUCKING NEW MAPS GODDAMN

Want you to work together with your friends!  New challenges, new strategies.

Variety too!  Changing maps over time creates a moving target for players.

7:15 PM:  First battleground looking at:  Blackheart’s Bay.

Chests on the map will spawn; attack them to collect gold.  Kill skeletons, get gold!  Deliver gold to Blackheart!

Fight other players, get their gold!

Get enough gold to Blackheart, and he’ll nuke your enemies!

7:17 PM:  The Haunted Mines!

Map has an aboveground and a belowground.  Kill skeletons to collect their skulls, as well as a boss monster!

A golem appears for both teams after long enough, and the more skulls you collect, the stronger yours is.  Wherever it dies, it’ll respawn right there!

7:20 PM:  Showing another replay video.  Looks pretty good in motion, and this is coming from someone who’s pretty apathetic towards the genre.

7:25 PM:  And an animation to end it off.  Hehe, fun.

7:26 PM:  Oh, questions time!  Woo!

7:27 PM:  How are they trying to prevent snowballing (one team getting experience faster because they’ve leveled up more)?  Haven’t seen much of it in-house, apparently.  It’s possible for games to go back and forth, so long as both teams are roughly evenly matched.

7:29 PM:  Will it be easier to communicate with other players, form strategies, etc.?  Ideas for how to improve, but not really anything implemented yet.  Best thing to do is play with friends!

7:31 PM:  What’s up with mounts?  Allows for increased out-of-combat mobility, multiple different kinds of mounts hopefully!

7:33 PM:  If experience is shared, is there some way for players to show off their individual skill?  Things like the Dragon Knight example shown can help, but in general you’re not going to get any substantial benefit for doing better than everyone else on your team.  You’ll help out your team though; you win or lose together!  Support/specialist heroes can very easily have those “we won the game because of you” moments, though!

7:35 PM:  Why play this over others?  Play it if you like it!  They don’t worry about competition; if they make it fun, people will play it.

7:36 PM:  How are they trying to deal with a hero being objectively better than another one?  Haven’t seen it much, usually people are making sure that everyone’s staying alive since it benefits them as well!

Will there be the general Dota-style map in the game?  As they iterated it and added objectives, people stopped wanting to play that general map, so probably not!  Players might be able to make that map down the line if possible!

7:39 PM:  Any other customization things?  Lot more skins, of course!  Probably will add more talents to customize heroes further.

7:40 PM:  What is high-level play in HotS?  What about esports?  They seem to be going for the community reaction; if it’s embraced, then yeah, they’ll mess with it in that regard.  Still a very competitive game!

7:42 PM:  Aww, Deadpool didn’t get to ask a question.

7:43 PM:  Speed increases?  Works well on heroes in a talent tree, but no more shops in-game.

Towers have ammo?  Yep, still do.  Makes a real difference to how the game plays!

7:44 PM:  And that’s it again!  Sorry, Deadpool.

And that’s it for my liveblog for day 1!  I’ll resume again possibly at noon, possibly at 1:30.  Depends on if I decide to tune into the sound panel tomorrow.

Until then!

Day 2 before the con

11:13 AM:  Well, I slept well enough, woke up relatively on time, and now I’m just waiting for the show to begin anew!

Panels I’m looking at “””””live”””””blogging today:

  • 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM:  The Evolving Sound of Warcraft (Panel)
  • 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM:  WoW Raids, Gameplay, Questing, and More (Main)
  • 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM:  Warcraft Movie Presentation (Main)
  • 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM:  WoW Q + A About Almost Everything (Main)

And that’ll pretty much be it!  I may go back and rewatch some of the Diablo 3 stuff, or see what they talked about at the single solitary SC2 panel, but other than that I’m good on BlizzCon things!

11:18 AM:  I should get some lunch.  Food is good.

11:58 AM:  Man, it takes a long time to cook mac and cheese when the macaroni is shaped.  Hooray for discount Halloween-shaped stuff!

The Evolving Sound of Warcraft

12:00 PM:  Well apparently there’s a band on stage as well, so there’s probably going to be some kind of live performance.  That should be neat.

12:01 PM:  I’ve not watched a sound panel before, but I’ve always loved the music in WoW.  I think that anyone who doesn’t listen to the music in-game is doing themselves a disservice.

12:02 PM:  Said band is Critical Hit, playing Legends of Azeroth.  I think that the stream audio’s kinda messed up at the moment because it sounds a bit muffled, but man, that song.  Even a little muffled, I know that it’s that song I’ve been listening to at the login screen for literally years now.  You hear that, you know you’re seconds away from jumping back in.

12:04 PM:  Also, the cellist has one hell of a funky cello.  It’s so skinny!

12:07 PM:  And now we have the panelists!  We can have a panel!  Yay!

12:09 PM:  Talking about the new music for Warlords, the thought process that goes into composing the music for the new expansion.

12:10 PM:  Inspiration drawn from the music composed for Conan the Barbarian.  Makes sense!

And now talking about the sound design.

12:11 PM:  The new character models will also have new vocalizations:  no longer will we hear the same death sound after killing twenty orcs in a row!

12:12 PM:  New footsteps, even!  Every race currently has the same sounds when they’re walking over surfaces, six different surface sounds in the game currently.  They’re planning on adding new sounds for new kinds of terrain; swamps, etc.

12:13 PM:  A slide showing the foley studio they went to to record new footstep sounds; different races with different feet will have different sounds while they walk over things!

12:14 PM:  Now going into creature sound design.  In Mists, they recorded tigers for the tiger sounds you hear in-game.  In Warlords, they’ve recorded wolves for the Frostwolf wolf sounds!

12:15 PM:  Also, they’re updating the working sounds (like mining, blacksmithing, etc.).  Interesting!

They went to a blacksmith’s shop and recorded the blacksmith working on all manner of materials, on all kind of anvils!  All of this will be coming with the next expansion!

12:17 PM:  Talking about spell sounds now.  Sounds were tied to colors; different spell colors match up with different spell schools.

12:18 PM:  Started with the pre-casts.  Nature pre-casts started with a simple wind recording, then was processed to sound almost musical.  Music makes you feel good!

12:20 PM:  12 years of sound design have gone into WoW so far!  Sometimes hard to keep matching today’s sounds with yesterday’s!

12:21 PM:  Hunters transmog their guns away to bows more often than not; told the sound designers to go back and rework them!  “Thank you!” from the audience.

12:22 PM:  Rifles, bows, and crossbows have new sounds!  They all sound pretty damn good!

12:23 PM:  Going into voiceovers now!

12:24 PM:  No other Blizzard game has near as many cultures and lore as WoW.  Makes for a challenge for voiceovers!

12:25 PM:  Went to New York to record worgen and goblins for Cata.

12:26 PM:  Signed up with the Screen Actors’ Guild for Mists to bring the pandaren to life.  “Love our Chen Stormstout!”

12:27 PM:  Warlords is a new challenge:  how to voice all the various new orcs in this expansion.  Might even look globally for VAs!

12:28 PM:  BlizzCon exclusive CDs:  Mists of Pandaria and Heart of the Swarm volumes 2!

12:29 PM:  Going into Hearthstone now.  It’s Warcraft too!

“Love all that music for WoW you do, so epic and amazing and awesome…we want none of that for our game!”

12:30 PM:  Same universe, but a different take on the music:  no factions or anything, all fun, but still with the Warcraft sound to it!

12:31 PM:  Peter McConnell, who’s scored Grim Fandango, was brought on to help score Hearthstone.  He has a neat hat!

12:32 PM:  The first draft of Hearthstone’s music score was referred to as “epic-light.”  Didn’t quite work!

12:33 PM:  After watching a live match and all the trash-talking that went on, he saw it as more of a tough-guy kind of thing.  Kind of like a gunslinger standoff!

The score needed an infusion of the blues!

12:35 PM:  And now he’s live-playing his process of composing the main score!  That’s neat!

Started with the intro melody, but then added in a lower groove afterwards.  I love that music!

12:36 PM:  Not orchestral, but simpler; something you’d probably hear in a tavern like the one Hearthstone is set in!

12:37 PM:  Going back into the sound design; less about the sounds of a card game and more about bringing the game to life.  Sounds are mostly chill, but when you play a big card, it’s gotta have a suitably epic sound to go with it!

12:38 PM:  And now for what didn’t work:  the crowd laughing at you when you lost.  “We had reports that Jay Wilson was angry.”  Replaced with more of an “aww, bad luck” sound instead.

Remastered a lot of old sounds from the archives.  Even the old “Job’s done!” from 1995!

12:40 PM:  Q&A time!

First question:  what was the thought process that went into the score for each expansion, each one going more thematic over time?  The art guides their process; while it should sound new and fitting for the expansion, it should remind you that you’re still in Azeroth!

12:41 PM:  When are the voices being recorded?  Once the expansion stuff is done, there’s new stuff being thrown in with every patch.  Successful stuff gets kept, other stuff gets modified.

12:42 PM:  What’s the biggest orchestra recorded, and if they’re not using an orchestra at times, what sound libraries do they use?  The biggest orchestra was the one for Diablo 3, the Pacific Symphony.  As for libraries, all kinds of them, the big ones.  But they don’t want to just use them directly, they modify the sounds so you can’t hear the same ol’ sounds you’ve heard before.

12:44 PM:  And once again, Critical Hit!  First up, playing the Hearthstone main theme, but much different!

12:45 PM:  They should totally record this and have it as a secret option for the main theme.  It’s so great!

12:48 PM:  And now, some Reaper of Souls themes.  Quite a departure from the lively fun song from a minute ago!

12:54 PM:  Next up, Terran music from Wings of Liberty.  A lot heavier, definitely suitable for rock!

12:57 PM:  Kinda sad there’s not much more to talk about here, but all I can say is that it’s a shame I can’t post the songs here, because they do a damn good job of playing ’em.  Wonderful!

12:58 PM:  And finally, Call to Arms from WoW!

12:59 PM:  Er…well, it would have been, if whoever’s in charge of the stream hadn’t cut it off there.  Gee, thanks.  ;_;

Over to the main stage while I wait for the next panel!

1:01 PM:  Just in time to catch the end of the live raid, and…Method wins it!

1:04 PM:  I do find it kinda silly that they’re making trading cards for SC2 players.  Am I the only one?

1:07 PM:  I heard about it briefly yesterday, but putting it here as well:  The SC2 Arcade and all races for custom games are being released for free!  I think that’s a really smart move, lets people get into the game and try it out against AI or their friends.  Buying the game gives you access to the campaigns and online ranked multiplayer, which not everyone might care about.

1:18 PM:  According to Kat, all the people trying to figure out the plot of the Warcraft movie through casting calls, none of them have the right idea.  Interestin’.

1:28 PM:  Whee, almost time for the systems panel.  Kinda different from yesterday’s “everything” panel, this one should go a bit more in-depth on what to expect from gameplay.  Probably going to talk more about the item squish and new stats, as well as clarifications of the new raid systems!

World of Warcraft Raids, Gameplay, Questing, and More

1:30 PM:  And here we go again…wow, there’s like no seats in front of the stage.  And approximately three hundred thousand developers!  Crazy!

1:31 PM:  Starting off with raids.  Blackrock Foundry is the capstone raid for 6.0 raiding, the major raid that will probably be seen as “real” T17.

1:32 PM:  10-boss raid, non-linear layout with three wings.  Set in Gorgrond, the heart of the Iron Horde war machine.

End boss is Warlord Blackhand himself!

1:33 PM:  The overall structure of the raid is pretty non-linear; I’m assuming that each wing is open from the getgo, so you can work deeper into different wings if you’re having trouble on one.  Three wings:  Slag Works, the Black Forge, and Iron Assembly.

1:34 PM:  After all three wings are cleared, you head into the Crucible, where you face off against Blackhand.

One thought of the new system is that you’ll be able to craft a key to let you get directly to Blackhand if you’ve cleared the wings before, since the new flex won’t be queued for.

1:35 PM:  Going over the new raid difficulties again.  If you missed it earlier, LFR is pretty much the same, flexible will be renamed normal, normal will be heroic, and heroic will be mythic.

1:36 PM:  Flexible raid structure is supposed to help you raid with your friends; if people are late, you can start without problem; if more people show up, they can come in no problem.  Best part:  everything non-mythic will be cross-server!  Play with everyone!

1:37 PM:  Every difficulty has its own lockout!  Play normals and heroics and mythics without any problem!

Mythic trash was hinted at!

1:38 PM:  You only get one chance at loot a week, but you help your friends multiple times.

Flexible will no longer be queued for, only LFR will be.

1:39 PM:  Normal and heroic will have traditional loot, no longer personal loot.  The amount of drops will scale based on how many players are eligible for loot.  Means loot can be passed around more easily!

1:40 PM:  How will the loot scale?  “What is .6 of a loot?  It’s 60% chance to get another loot drop.”

1:41 PM:  Raid size breakpoints are being looked at.  The idea is to avoid abilities scaling weirdly that make players not want to take more players because they’d be gimping themselves.

1:42 PM:  Now we’re going into quests.

Key storylines will be called out by icons in the quest log; these will deal with interesting characters and bigger rewards.

Other questlines will be optional; you can go straight along towards the main story, or wander off to find other stories to play through.

1:43 PM:  Dynamic events and treasures will be making a comeback, a la Timeless Isle.  These will be called out on the minimap through icons; play through them for extra rewards!

1:44 PM:  Treasures are designed to get you to explore more; if there’s a hidden path somewhere that isn’t pointed out by anything, there’s probably treasure at the end!

1:45 PM:  Different events: birds with a gem in their mouth you can swipe, a caravan you can kill the guards of to get the treasure off the back, etc.

While questing, you have a chance at getting rare or epic quest rewards; a green for one player might be a blue or a purple for another!

1:46 PM:  Quest log updates:  The number of key storylines will be called out, and will point out where storylines continue if you leave off of one.

1:47 PM:  And now max-level world content!  Philosophy going forward:  more stuff to do!

Little if any will be daily quests!

The progressive storylines of 5.1 are something they want to keep, as well as the open-ended content of the Timeless Isle.  They want to give you reason to keep going back.

1:48 PM:  Environmental gameplay:  give you opportunities to use your class’s unique abilities to max out your rewards in the world.

1:49 PM:  And now back to Garrisons!

“Some of the things we tried in Mists were great…some of them were the Golden Lotus.”

1:50 PM:  You get a few buildings starting out:  Town Hall, Mine, Farm, Fishing Shack.  Town Hall is your main building, where you interact with your followers.

Small buildings can be built as you level up:  all profession buildings (Alchemy Lab, Smithy, Enchanter’s Study, Engineering Works, Scribe’s Office, Salvage Yard, Storehouse, Tailoring Studio, Jewelcrafting Gallery, Tannery)

1:51 PM:  Next, medium buildings:  Pet Stable, Trading Post, Lumber Mill, Barn, Inn.

Large buildings:  Barracks, Infirmary, Armory, Stable, Academy, Mage Tower; the sort of buildings you’d expect from an RTS game!

1:52 PM:  Each large building has its own benefit.  Barracks will increase how many followers you can have, for example.

Buildings can level up, increasing their benefits.  Blueprints will let you learn how to upgrade your garrison’s buildings.  You can find where to get the blueprints from the garrison UI!

1:54 PM:  Specializations allow you to customize your building when you get it to rank 3.  Specializations are currently allowed to be changed once a day, possibly for a cost.

Some buildings let you assign followers to them.  Assign a miner to the mine, get ore when you come back!  You have to decide if you want your followers working in the garrison or out on missions.

1:55 PM:  New tiers of your garrison will unlock more plots to build on.  To get it upgraded to a new tier, you have to fill all the currently open plots.

1:56 PM:  Three plot sizes, small/medium/large.  Match building size to plot size!

1:57 PM:  Missions:  a number of different kinds of missions.  Quests, scenarios, dungeons, raids.

1:58 PM:  Drag followers into slots to create a party; match traits required for the quest with traits from your followers for better chances for success.  When they get back, profit!

1:59 PM:  Off to systems.  Hi Ghostcrawler!

Oh wait, one last thing.  If you assign followers to buildings and go to visit those buildings, you’ll see them in-game!

2:00 PM:  Hi Ghostcrawler!

Social philosophy:  they want you to play WoW with your friends.  Play with the friends you have, and make new friends!

2:01 PM:  Sad thing: random matchmaking is more convenient than asking your friends.  What they want going forward is that you play with your friends first, and use matchmaking when they’re not around.

2:02 PM:  To address this, flexible raiding is being expanded (as mentioned).  A group finder is being added in (a la oQueue); create groups or find a group, and make groups cross-realm!

2:03 PM:  “Stacking the Deck” – new buff in dungeon finder.  Bonus valor if you queue with friends; if you play with a matchmade group and you re-queue together, they count as friends!

2:04 PM:  Leveling!  Ten levels, that’s crazy!

Leveling should feel exciting.  The talent tree in Mists they feel is good, but getting a level isn’t as big a deal nowadays without those extra points.

They don’t want to hand out new abilities every level though; our bars are already full!

2:05 PM:  From 91-100, you’ll get an upgrade to a core spell; some of these will introduce class changes, but most are going to be passive bonuses, like old-school spell ranks.  Not a ton of class changes overall!

Some leveling rewards:  Holy chakra cooldown, 15 seconds, shadow can bank 2 shadow orbs, assasination slice and dice is passive, fire fireball +35% damage.

2:07 PM:  Itemization philosophy:  getting items should be exciting!  As of right now it’s not; getting a new item requires a lot of work to make it fit your gear.

Hit and expertise don’t feel like a bonus, and avoidance is cool for tanks, but not as a stat.  It’s boring!

Also cleaning up bag space!

2:08 PM:  Hit and expertise:  gone!  Dodge and parry:  gone!

Tanks will still dodge and such, but they won’t be on gear.

Reforging:  good on paper, but a terrible cascade where you have to keep on changing everything when you get one new item.

Reforging:  gone!

2:09 PM:  Enchants:  fewer items will be able to be enchanted, but there will be more choices for enchants in those slots.

2:10 PM:  Gems:  few items will have gem sockets, but gems will be more powerful.  No socket set bonuses or meta gems.  Sockets are a bonus, they don’t count against your stat budget.

2:11 PM:  Armor changes:  No strength plate vs. intellect plate!  “Nobody’s happy but the paladin when intellect plate drops.”

Only plate, mail, leather, cloth going forward.  The primary stat on the gear changes based on your spec!  Finally solving the hybrid gear bag space problem!

This includes set bonuses as well!  Fuck!

2:12 PM:  This means there will be one tier set per class.

This only applies to armor.  Jewelry, cloak, trinkets, and weapons will be more role-focused, however.  Items with spirit will be good for healers, armor good for tanks, etc.

2:13 PM:  Tertiary stats:  bonus stats that can appear on gear that don’t count against the stat budget.

  • Lifesteal:  % of damage converted to health.
  • Avoidance:  Absorb % of AOE damage.
  • Sturdiness:  no durability loss!
  • Speed:  Movement speed increase, will stack (up to a reasonable level, DRUIDS)!
  • Cleave:  Increased AOE damage.

2:15 PM:  Item squish:  it’s baaaaaaaaack!

Why?  20,640 intellect, 49,928 damage fireball, 400,000 DPS??????

Most item inflation comes from previous raid tiers, but that power jump is less important now.

A lot of things have been flattened (60, 70, 80, 85).

New numbers are much more easy to understand.

2:17 PM:  Relative power will not change.  The relative power of 5.4 gear will not change!  If it takes you 5 seconds to kill a Gulp Frog, it will still take 5 seconds to kill a Gulp Frog.  Soloing will not be affected!  I wish I could be at BlizzCon to try it out!

2:18 PM:  And Q&A time!

2:19 PM:  Smaller servers might have a hard time forming a 20-man raiding guild for mythic raids, any thoughts?  Connected realms should help alleviate that problem, create a larger group of players.  The transition probably won’t be easy regardless, but a flexible heroic mode will help players play and gear up as they work on growing their roster.

2:21 PM:  How will you manage suspending your disbelief with random events that happen over and over in the same area, or garrisons that phase in for each player (why have a fortress if it can’t be attacked)?  Building a base just because is fun, doesn’t require being attacked by others to be cool.  Even so, 99% of the world won’t be phased, just the garrison area pretty much.  The new phasing tech should let you see your garrison from halfway across the zone.

2:24 PM:  While you want people to play together with their friends, what about stuff for guilds?  Will Have Group, Will Travel make a comeback?  What about other perks?  Guilds should basically be considered friends.  Other perks probably won’t be plopped in, unless the idea is really good.  Need to have enough good ideas to justify raising the guild level cap.

2:25 PM:  Why can’t flexible scale up to higher raid sizes?  There’s an upper limit with regards to things like input lag, but 30 could work maybe.

2:27 PM:  Status on character scaling for old 5-mans and raids?  It’s still being explored, and once it can be fully integrated with a reward structure, it’ll probably be integrated into the game.

2:28 PM:  When you send out followers, are they completing that content for you, or is it garrison-specific?  Garrison-specific, it will all be content created specifically for garrisons.

2:29 PM:  What should 10-man heroic guilds do in the new raid system?  Ultimately, they feel you should be able to find people.  There will always be raiders who want to go after the big stuff, just have to find them!  The single size should allow for proper balancing for the high-level raiding.

2:30 PM:  And that’s it!  Now I wait for the movie panel!

2:58 PM:  Just catching up on other sites’ reporting.  God, there’s so much information to soak up!

Warcraft Movie Presentation

3:00 PM:  Alright, time to see what this is all about, many, many years in the making.

Hi panelists!

3:01 PM:  Yay, release date!

Quite a lot of applause for Duncan Jones there.  Been playing Warcraft games since 1!

3:02 PM:  Metzen gave a dainty wave there.  D’aww.

Dustin Westenhoffer also plays WoW!

3:04 PM:  Repetition that the movie’s still a couple years away.  Don’t get tooooo excited.

Duncan Jones has been playing MMOs since Ultima Online.  Definitely has a good track record there.

3:05 PM:  Really wanted to get involved with the Warcraft movie, kept on checking back on its progress.  Wanted it to be the Warcraft film he felt it should be.  He wanted the movie to be about both sides, Alliance and Horde, that you can be a hero no matter what side you’re on.

3:06 PM:  Metzen commented that they wanted it originally to be just one side, but Duncan was very emphatic about showing both sides.

3:07 PM:  Duncan didn’t want to get in on a project he didn’t feel a good connection to.  Warcraft was a franchise he wanted to work on.

3:08 PM:  Mic problems!

Dustin’s been playing since before release in 2004, got up at 2 in the morning to raid while he was in England!  Reassuring everyone that the people working on the film are fans of the game and want to make sure they make it a real Warcraft movie.

3:10 PM:  Orcs are going to be played by real actors.  Need to look as real as possible.

3:11 PM:  Random cheering!

What lore should be focused on for the movie?  There’s a lot of it!  Want to go in to what makes up the root of the franchise.

3:12 PM:  Each faction has its own group of races, so how do you choose what to focus on?  Little cagey on the details there.

3:13 PM:  Early concept art!

Draenor, very deserted, mountainous.

3:14 PM:  Concept of Dalaran, very beautiful!  Has two floating chunks, looks better than it does in-game.

3:15 PM:  “It looks like a Warcraft feature film” – that should be obvious, but it’s reassuring anyway!

Concept of Ironforge, dwarven to the max.

3:16 PM:  When designing something for a game, you have to pare some things back from the creative process.  For a movie, you can go deeper, make things bigger and cinematic.

3:17 PM:  City of Stormwind concept, fucking huge!

3:18 PM:  Party in the Goldshire inn while they’re in production, woo!

“You know what character is most famous to all of us?” “Hogger!” “Hogger, yes.”

3:19 PM:  The world!  We’ve lived in that character for years, it’s the biggest one of all.  The movie has to bring that character to life!

You could just pump up the polygons and call it a day, but that’s not giving it the soul of Warcraft.

3:20 PM:  Talking about other people working on the film.  How do you approach costuming with virtual characters?  Create them in the real world, and that will help them model them on the virtual characters!

3:22 PM:  Paul Hirsch, worked on editing The Empire Strikes Back.

How do you translate somewhat goofy characters in-game to more realistic characters in a movie?  They do it in cinematics all the time, but this is a whole new level!

3:23 PM:  The orcs won’t be monsters, they’ll be people.

3:24 PM:  They’re working with the people who did the Hulk effects for The Avengers when it comes to the orcs.

3:26 PM:  Have even logged into game to take screenshots for reference!

So many details and easter eggs they’re planning on putting in, so pay attention!

If you know more about Warcraft, you’ll get more out of it, but they want to balance that with making a movie for everyone to enjoy.

3:27 PM:  Definitely a good connection felt by both parties; Duncan felt relieved when he found out that what he wanted was where they wanted to take the movie!

3:28 PM:  “Make the shoulders bigger!” “That’s not gonna work, Nick!” “Not my problem!”

3:29 PM:  Making the film itself is an epic quest!

3:30 PM:  Making the jump from smaller films to a film this big, what is that like?  What makes it easier or harder is who you’re working with, and the people that Duncan has brought on makes him more confident that they can make the film they want to make.

3:32 PM:  Actual details of what’s going to be in the movie, maybe?

Oh are they going to show the Comic-Con teaser?

“Comic-Con is just a bunch of posers compared to BlizzCon.”

3:33 PM:  “I just need to be sure I won’t get fired.” “Don’t get fired!”

The story is an origin story, where the Warcraft story came from.

Characters:  Lothar and Durotan!

3:34 PM:  It’s hard to find an actor that looks like Durotan!

3:35 PM:  Has Lothar ever met Durotan?  Hmm.

Lothar:  soldiery, filled with loyalty to Stormwind.

3:36 PM:  Durotan:  highest ideals of the orcs (when they’re not crazy); family and clan, believes in their future.  Horrified by getting into bad situations.

Both Lothar and Durotan are going to be swept up in the ensuing conflict!

3:37 PM:  The movie gives the flexibility to tell these early stories that the early RTS games couldn’t do very well.

3:38 PM:  The early games showed two different stories, but only one could be the “real” story.  Had to decide who would win for the sequel!

The movie’s story might end with a Pyrrhic victory?

It’s unusual to tell a war story from both sides!

3:40 PM:  It will be interesting to see how audiences react to empathetic orcs!

Q&A time!

Answer and not an answer on where they’ll be shooting it:  Canada?

3:41 PM:  What will the look be?  Think Gladiator, really gritty and muddy.

3:42 PM:  What about the music?  Can’t say, but what they can say is that it’s very important that the music makes you think Warcraft!  Won’t be taken lightly.

3:43 PM:  Will the armor be unrealistic like it is in WoW?  Lot of work going into finding that fine line between something that works in reality but still looks exaggerated!  “The swords being built will be the biggest a human can wield.”  “There’s no scabbards in WoW, so we’ll have to figure out where that’ll go.  They can’t just hit a Z key!”

3:44 PM:  Will there be an art book?  No plans yet, but all of it is being documented, so it would be a great thing to make!

3:45 PM:  Any cast worked out?  “Yep!  Sure do!  Lots of of ’em!”

3:46 PM:  Can you cast Chuck Norris?  “Can I NOT cast Chuck Norris?  He can do anything!”

3:47 PM:  Are you still casting?  Can I be in it?  “I want to give you some lines to try it but I can’t do that without giving too much away!”

3:48 PM:  Will it be made into a trilogy?  It’s about getting the first film right, but if it works out, they’d be very happy to give it a sequel!  “We could do a number of trilogies, if we really put our minds to it.”

Is the main setting the Eastern Kingdoms or Draenor?  The majority takes place in the Eastern Kingdoms.

3:50 PM:  Strong female characters included?  That era of Warcraft is kinda filled with young white guys!  But they’ve been pushing for some good female characters too, so yes!

3:51 PM:  When’s the soonest we can see a preview?  Probably sometime next year; filming hasn’t even started yet!  Next year’s BlizzCon will have a lot to show!

3:52 PM:  Why a movie and not a TV series?  They’ve already got a lot on their hands with the games, but hey, that’d be nice too!  When the movie was first being talked about, there wasn’t something like Game of Thrones; if they’d started on it today, they might have thrown that in too!  If the movie’s successful, there might be one!

3:54 PM:  Will there be a reward for WoW for seeing the movie?  “We haven’t even gotten that far, but we’ll have to think about that for sure!”  “Movie poster in the garrison!” – shouted out from the crowd

3:55 PM:  Are you taking this movie as seriously as they took Lord of the Rings?  Duncan lavished praise on those movies, and they inspired him to make a movie like them.  He wants to take fantasy in the same direction that sci-fi has been taken, in that it can tell a lot of different stories.  Match or beat LotR!

3:56 PM:  Stereo conversion vs. native 3D filming?  Duncan prefers 2D because he can’t see 3D quite right.  3D is a draw for those who get a lot out of it, and it can work, but it’d be something that they’d probably try to release for both.

3:58 PM:  Other fantastical settings have fleshed out made-up languages, so are they handling orcish in much the same way?  Yes!  Sorry linguistics major who asked the question, you don’t have a job.  😦

3:59 PM:  What tone are they aiming for, and what rating?  Probably PG-13, but you can do a lot with that rating!  “You can get away with some shit in PG-13!”

4:00 PM:  And that’s it!  One more panel to go, and that’ll be it for BlizzCon!

World of Warcraft Q + A About Almost Everything

4:29 PM:  Okay, time for a lot of questions and hopefully a lot of answers!  Tom Chilton will have an interview after the panel, so I’ll probably watch that too.

4:31 PM:  Will there be tablet/Armory integration with garrisons?  Pretty cool, would be great to make, but would take a lot of resources.  Wouldn’t rule it out, but not yet.

4:32 PM:  How many people can be in your garrison, and can they access it while you’re offline?  Probably not to the latter question; what would they do there?  As many as can fit in a raid; get 40 people together!  Sorry server programmers.

4:33 PM:  Dwarves haven’t been in the storyline; what about Magni?  Not ready to talk about Magni yet, but maybe.  Focusing on Moira and the council.  Gonna see some more Dark Irons in the next expansion!

4:34 PM:  Do they know what the final boss will be?  Grommash Hellscream!

4:35 PM:  Is there an Emerald Dream on other planets?  No, it’s definitely just Azeroth.  Will old content be updated again?  No, probably not.  Want to keep the old stuff intact so people can play through it again.

4:36 PM:  Beggars’ Haunt in Duskwood: was it meant for anything?  No plans really.  Sometimes a lot of art gets made that gets left behind!

4:37 PM:  Pet battles: any major changes to the system?  The base is good, but the major aspect is collecting.  New pets to collect, new masters to fight, maybe an integration with garrisons (epic pets?).

4:38 PM:  Any other character customizations planned?  They’ll keep looking at it, and if there’s enough benefit, then yes.

4:39 PM:  Will we see Wrathion in Warlords?  Might take a bit of a break for now; maybe a cameo, but probably not a driving force.  “So he’s not the final boss?” “Grommash will ride him into battle.”

4:40 PM:  Will healing be aimed less at smart heals and more at targeted heals?  Want to keep a place for smart heals, AoE heals are kind of tricky, but probably try and make smart heals a bit less smart.  Example: prefer those who are damaged over those who are not, rather than look for the most damaged.

4:41 PM:  Will the 25% penalty to Chakra be taken away?  Might work with it some more, might take it away entirely.

4:42 PM:  Are there solutions to the 10->20-man raid problem beyond just recruit or find a new guild?  Connected realms are helping with that on low-pop realms, but that’s why they’re telling us now, rather than have people get caught off-guard a month before the expansion.  The change is being made with long-term benefits in mind.  Mythic has one size to help with tuning.  The group finder will help as well!

4:44 PM:  Hunters only have targeted AOE, why not a placeable AOE like Volley?  Can’t give a definitive answer; trying to give everyone an AOE rotation rather than just press a button and get a channel.

4:46 PM:  With the addition of tertiary stats, how do they intend on preventing players from getting too much of one (too much movement speed, for instance)?  The intent is that tertiaries are rare stats that it’s probably going to be hard to get a full set of gear with one particular tertiary.

4:47 PM:  Warforged gear being removed?  Nope!

Dragonwrath felt like a huge accomplishment, but the legendary cloak felt like a raiding requirement.  What’ll the design be going forward?  In 6.0 there’ll be another legendary questline going forward, but there will still be other raiding-based legendaries going forward.

4:48 PM:  Can a player enlist their alts as followers for their garrison?  Haven’t thought about it, sounds cool!  Since garrisons are per-character, there’d have to be some work done on it, but it could work.

4:49 PM:  Will we see Titan lore in the next expansion, or something in its own expansion?  The Titans did visit Draenor, so we might see a little lore with them in the next expansion, but probably not a whole lot.

4:50 PM:  How are you to feel good about a new drop if there’s something bigger ahead?  Not happy with the checklist format we’ve had for a while.  Might get a basic item early on, but there’s bigger stuff to go after down the line!  “Mr. Robot should not have to approve your gear.”

4:52 PM:  Racial balance?  There’s some balancing to be done with racials.  Hit/expertise racials should be replaced with some better racials, obviously.

4:53 PM:  When can we see gnome lore?  Hopefully there’ll be some more gnome stuff later, but no promises.

4:54 PM:  How many healers are you expecting for 20-man raids?  “18.”

4:55 PM:  What’s the healing meta-game?  Probably will see 5 healers for 20-man mythics.  In a 20-man raid, there are more possibilities for fights that require a specific class mechanic.

4:56 PM:  Will older content get the exploration/treasure treatment?  Would be awesome to plunk it down everywhere, but the priority is to focus on the new content.

4:57 PM:  Can mages change the color of Evocation?  No specific plans, but it could be done with a glyph.

4:58 PM:  Are bonus rolls coming back?  Yes.  Don’t know how we’ll earn them yet, but they’re working it out.

How does the current system work?  “We have a guy in a room pressing a button ‘no’ every time you bonus roll.”  There’s a lot of systems, don’t want to get too into it for fear of gaming it, but people aren’t going to gimp themselves for rolling on different difficulties.

4:59 PM:  Mobile pet battles?  Wanted the collection aspect to work on mobile, but it’s kinda hard to work out the best way to do that yet.  Would love to do it though.

5:00 PM:  Previous expansion servers?  No.  “You really don’t want to do that.  You think you do, but you don’t.”

5:01 PM:  Celestial dragons, what are they?  They’re not celestials, they’re not dragons!  Titans were involved, they were doing something there, but there’s no official lore there.  Some kind of Titan tool?  They just look cool!

5:02 PM:  With reforging gone, what will replace the reforger on the yak?  One idea was transmog.  Definitely not bank access.  “Vanilla servers on the yak?  Confirmed.”

5:03 PM:  Why is the Alliance crest a lion when there’s no lions in the Eastern Kingdoms?  Well Uther Pendragon’s crest was a dragon, but there’s no dragons in England!

Is the Horde crest a naaru?  “No idea.” “We need a bucket of red shirts.”

5:04 PM:  Are stats on old gear going to change?  Only the primary stats are supposed to change based on spec.  If you like haste, you can chase after haste gear, but you won’t have to worry about gimping yourself.  Still a work in progress!

5:05 PM:  Will the old Warcraft games come back again to be played?  There IS a side project being done along those lines!

5:06 PM:  Will garrisons be in predetermined locations in the zones?  They are, and every zone has its own location.  Within the garrison, you can set buildings up wherever they can be built.

Dance studio?  “We would NEVER troll our playerbase like that, that’s ridiculous.”

5:07 PM:  When the Dark Portal turns red, how do you get to Outland?  “You’re trapped there forever.”  Still talking about that, might be through the Caverns of Time.  Low levels might just walk through the Dark Portal and get to Outland normally.  The timeline’s all kinda crazy at the moment.  Outland will still exist!

5:08 PM:  Concern that you’ll have to do a lot of lockouts a week to stay competitive.  Nothing’s changing with mythic raids; you won’t be hopping between them.  You’ll probably not be running things multiple times unless you want to.

5:11 PM:  What breaths do the dragonflights have?  There’s a lot of kinds of dragons out there just because it’s more fun that way!  The details haven’t quite been worked out yet.  There will (possibly) be a book coming out to go more into that.

5:12 PM:  What happened to Eyes of the Beast?  They made a mistake in pruning abilities that were just fun.  Can’t just stick EotB back in because of a programming change, but it might come back.

5:13 PM:  What’s the point of realm transferring if you can do most every raid cross-realm?  If you don’t want to realm transfer, that’s okay!  But if you want to be in the same guild as your friends and they’re on a different realm, that’s a reason to.

5:14 PM:  What can the Horde do to build themselves back up again post-SoO?  “They can faction change to Alliance.”  They’re going to redefine themselves over the course of the expansion, especially with regards to the Draenor stuff.

5:15 PM:  There’s a lot more 10-man guilds than 25-mans, each with their own culture.  What small group raid content will there be for the high end?  While they understand that it’ll be hard to adjust, they want you to trust them!

5:17 PM:  World PVP has gone down because major population servers are usually biased faction-wise.  What’ll be done for world PVP apart from Ashran?  The reason world PVP was big at first was because of no battlegrounds.  Probably can’t be recaptured again in today’s game easily.  Definitely want you to check out Ashran though!

5:18 PM:  New hairstyles with model changes?  There’s a backlog of new hairstyles that’ll probably get put in!  There’s more than what we’ve seen so far, so don’t panic!

5:19 PM:  What are the limits on gaining access to other professions through the garrison?  Not sure yet.  Planning on letting you find recipes through profession-specific missions.  Have to balance that with players who have that profession.

5:20 PM:  Will D3’s new transmog system get implemented into WoW?  Would like to do it, some kind of collection system perhaps.  Maybe not at launch, but down the line perhaps.  Almost showed it in the presentation, but didn’t want another dance studio!

5:21 PM:  Post-launch heroic dungeons in Warlords?  Would like to, but have to be mindful of what problems it can create.  Example: 4.1 dungeons removed a lot of the reason to do 4.0 dungeons.  Have some ideas that are being discussed; perhaps scaling up difficulty of launch dungeons to match new dungeons.

5:22 PM:  Alleria and Turalyon?  Not on Draenor, but there are plans.  Really!  For serious!  “Final boss: confirmed.”  “On the yak.”

5:23 PM:  Removing the cap for RealID/BattleTag friends?  Maybe!

5:24 PM:  And I guess that’s it…little early, but oh well!

5:25 PM:  Oh, Tom Chilton will be on the stage a bit later.  I’ll just watch what’s going on for now, there’s not really any more panels left!

5:32 PM:  Oh, that’s why it got cut short.  The SC2 WCS world finals is on now, so they had to clear the stage!  I think they said Tom would be on at 5:45 PST, so that’d be 7:45 CST.  I’ll write more then!

7:45 PM:  Oh hey, Tom!  Probably the final questions answered this con, so here we go.

7:46 PM:  Quivers?  Not being focused on, but it’ll be gotten to someday.  Same with moonkin.

7:47 PM:  Repeated again:  don’t know what the reforger on the yak will be replaced with.  Maybe a mailbox.

New weapon types?  Possibly, but don’t bank on it next expansion.

7:48 PM:  More characters on one realm?  Could be expanded more if more classes were added, but no plans yet.

7:49 PM:  Will heirlooms be affected by the new stat system?  They’ll be updated where it’s critical; not every one will be changed.  Less of a priority to change older items, focusing on new ones.

7:50 PM:  Will there be refunds for the reforging yak?  Probably not, they’d rather offer something new and cool in its place.

Will Durotan/Grom know that Thrall/Garrosh are their sons?  Not planning on having them know, don’t want it to be a focus of the fiction for the expansion.  Thrall wants to keep his identity secret to keep it from being weird.

7:51 PM:  Will realm first level 100 achievements be affected by cross-realm stuff?  Not planning on having those achievements due to gray areas with connected realms.

7:52 PM:  Crowd control changes?  Yeah, probably want to pare back the number of crowd control effects.  But all classes have to be changed at the same time.

Will there be a way to mail gold cross-faction to your alts?  Trying to fix some of the alt problems, like mailing stuff back and forth between characters, crafting from the bank and larger stack sizes should fix that.

7:53 PM:  Will the bag be changed to something similar like Bagnon?  Probably not, it might end up confusing some players.  Maybe not now, but maybe later.

7:54 PM:  What about oQueue?  The group finder will basically work like it!  Expansion of the old raid browser.

7:55 PM:  Are there plans for a new annual pass?  No plans, there’s no real compelling offer to make it worthwhile.

How far are we from WoW being a single purchase?  There are reasons to keep it separate; you want to let new players get in at a lower price point.  Still want to make some way that you only have to buy once and done.

7:56 PM:  Will there be levels beyond 100?  The next expansion after this is already fairly clearly determined, the next one a little less so, but there are ideas.  The next one might not have a level cap increase, but probably will.

7:57 PM:  Will the older graphics continue to be revamped?  Yes, but incrementally.  Better graphical effects get implemented over time:  world, characters, effects.  Prevents too much of a shock from the graphics changing so much at once!

7:58 PM:  What’s the new technology involved with this?  Lot of hiring!  190-ish people on the team now.  Some can be working on the next expansion while others are working on Warlords.  Goal is for yearly expansions.

7:59 PM:  Will there be a new race/class ever?  At some point there will be likely, but it didn’t make sense to bring in a new race with Warlords with the focus on updating the old ones, and we just had a new class in Mists.

8:00 PM:  Will the costs of race changes be changed?  No plans.

Will we get to recustomize our characters with the new models?  Don’t plan on handling it any differently, there’s no plans on giving players free recustomizations.

8:01 PM:  When will RAF come back?  Next week!

Will there be content between now and Warlords?  Any content in between will delay the expansion, so they’re prioritizing the expansion.  (There will still be a pre-launch event!)  The goals are to get it out “before summer/spring!”

8:02 PM:  Will there be darker nights?  Never say never!  It won’t be highly prioritized, but it’s a definite maybe.

8:03 PM:  Will EU/NA servers be able to play together?  Hasn’t been any talk on the subject, don’t know what we’d gain apart from being able to play with whoever.  EU has a lot of different languages while NA servers have mostly English, so it’s tricky.

8:04 PM:  How do they use BlizzCon to get feedback?  There are surveys, but it’s mostly just a gut feeling they get.  Observe what the players like and what they don’t like!  Reforging’s removal caught them by surprise!

8:05 PM:  Lot of stuff they’re probably going to change based on players’ reactions on the floor!

Aaaaaand that’s it for real this time, I think.  Last few tidbits on the expansion!

Bringing it all in

Well I’ll write another post on my thoughts on the expansion, but to sum it all up?

I think they’ve blown this one out of the water, to be honest.  A whole new (yet old) planet to explore, and the chance to interact/fight with older characters that you might not be overly familiar with if you came into the game post-WoW’s launch (I know I did!).  I’m looking forward to another ten-level expansion; it always felt better than only getting 5, for some reason!  I’m really excited about garrisons; I predicted some kind of player housing, but nothing like that!  It should be fun to grow that into a stronghold I’ll want to go back to often.  Not to mention all the other new stuff; my bags will finally be open!

I didn’t catch a lot on Diablo 3’s new stuff, I’ll have to rewatch the streams on that.  But I think that it seems to be adding some great stuff to the game, so maybe it’ll help fix the problems that D3 originally had.

As someone who doesn’t care a whole lot about ASSFAGGOTS, I’m cautiously optimistic about Heroes of the Storm.  One of my major problems with the genre is that it just seems like a dull game, and I don’t understand why anyone gets excited over it.  You play on one map over and over again, you follow the same meta game every time, and you never play the game any differently.  They’re designed to be played only one way, and that just feels wrong to me.  Blizzard could’ve just copied this, but they’re going a different way, by trying to challenge the genre and mix things up a bit.  Maybe it’ll be interesting enough to draw me in.

I totally called that they’d announce the Hearthstone open beta.  Yay me!  The PVE encounters to unlock new cards through Adventures sounds good to me.  And of course, I’m happy I’ll be able to play it on my Android phone!

And the announcement of SC2’s starter edition expanding to all three races, as well as offering the Arcade for free, makes perfect sense and surprised me considerably.  It’s all about getting the game into as many players’ hands as possible!

All in all, I think this was a pretty great con.  I wish I could’ve been there!  Oh well, one day.

Overall impressions tomorrow or whenever, maybe!

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