BlizzCon press conference with Mike Morhaime - Fri, 10 Oct 2008 19:00:00 EST Mike Morhaime held a press conference earlier this afternoon, which WoW Insider was able to attend. I arrived a little late since it started before I finish up the UI panel liveblog, but I managed to catch a majority of the Q&A. Unlike the various panels, most of these questions were aimed at the philosophy and business model at Blizzard. How they've operated in the past, and how they'll operate in the future.
BlizzCon itself came up a lot throughout the conference, the big question being will this BlizzCon be a letdown? There haven't been any major announcements. Announcements, sure, but nothing on the scale of Starcraft II or Diablo III. Mike Morhaime actually seemed most excited about this particular BlizzCon, because it isn't just showcasing one game. All three of their primary franchises have something new on the way, and fans of all of those games are in attendance. Beyond that, he believes the community is extremely important, and gatherings like BlizzCon are important as well. Blizzard themselves were blown away by just how many people were trying to attend the convention this time around. The number of hopefuls completely dwarfed both last year's BlizzCon and the more recent Worldwide Invitational. Will BlizzCon continue to be an annual event? Maybe. They'll focus on this weekend first, and then they'll start talking about next year once it's through.
What I found most interesting, though? Morhaime was asked what the most unusual, off the wall concepts they had for a game that simply did not work out. He mentioned a game titled Nomad that Blizzard was developing after Starcraft was first released. A game they had never mentioned or announced until now. It was a post-apocalyptic style setting, but each day they sat down to work on it, it was with a little trepidation. Eventually they asked themselves, "If we were going to work on just one project today, would it be Nomad or would it be something else?" They went with something else. That something else was World of Warcraft.
Wrath goes Gold - Fri, 10 Oct 2008 18:00:00 EST According to MMO Champion, Blizzard confirmed today that Wrath of the Lich King has gone Golden master and is already in the process of being manufactured. The company is merely putting the final touches to the expansion. This is expected preparation for the launch date, which is only a little over a month away. This also means that all subsequent changes that happen in the current Wrath Beta will be applied in future patches, possibly even as the game is launched on November 13.
I was curious as to what Beta build had enough features -- and stability -- to pass muster and make it to the Golden master. Is it the latest build of 9038 or would it be one of the earlier builds? But as Eliah astutely pointed out to me, there will be patches applied quickly as the game is launched, rendering whatever build is on the Wrath DVDs somewhat irrelevant, anyway. Even now, the Blizzard background downloader has over 1Gb worth of content ready to patch on Tuesday.
One thing is certain, however. There seems to be no stopping the Wrath of the Lich King now. When the Echoes of Doom start sounding in a few days, we're all just be counting down the days until the DVDs that are now being pressed, packaged, and sealed make their way into our greedy hands.
One of everyone's favorite people in the beta is Ghostcrawler. He's out there all the time interacting with fans, talking to developers, bringing back good information and discussion. Today Tom Chilton introduced him at the class panel. He got the largest applause of the day. Everyone was very excited to get to see him and hear what he had to say.
Ghostcrawler, a.k.a Greg Street, is the lead game systems designer for WoW. Basically that's designing the classes and other systems in the game.
He handled the crowed very well. He probably could do some stand up with his wit. When people booed about something they didn't like he'd make a joke and have them laughing the very next second. Perhaps the best moment is when he jokingly said to a question about retribution paladins: "Don't nerf me, bro!"
Right now we're live-blogging the class panel in the main hall. This panel will feature discussion of where the classes are headed, why things are done the way they are, and perhaps even announcements about multispecs and new features.
It may be kind of a spoof, but it's still really neat and it should be a great time! Besides, it's something much more solid than a certificate, or whatever they gave out in previous years in addition to the prizes. It really is something they can put on a shelf in their home and admire proudly for years to come.
The Oswalds will be awarded for the best in three categories:
If the sight of this statue is just the sort of thing that inspires you to get out there and machinimate something right away, I'm afraid it's too late to submit your entry this year, so you can't be one of the first winners of the award unless you've already got something in. Good luck to all the Oswald hopefuls this year
The Faire has much to offer the citizens of Azeroth, from fancy foods and frog pets to tickets that can be handed in for nifty prizes. It is this ticket system that offers you the opportunity to make some money.
You see, tickets are awarded in exchange for certain items. Many of these items are crafted, while others are looted, such as [Vibrant Plume]. Because players hand these items in to the Faire both for reputation and for tickets, they are highly marketable a few days before the Faire begins, as well as the first few days after it arrives.
The items do not include Outland craftables, so this income opportunity is primarily geared towards the population that is still leveling their characters. While skilling up your trade, you can hoard certain items to be auctioned off at higher prices around the time of the month that the Faire turns up.
Unfortunately, there are currently only opportunities for engineers, blacksmiths and leatherworkers, although the rest of the population can still make a nice profit from the various "trash" items dropped from certain mobs.
Since I'm not at Blizzcon this year either (it looks fun and all, but I hate flying and I'm not terribly big on crowds and who am I kidding I'd have wrestled Saurfang for a ticket) I figured I should probably write my column this week. After mulling over various subject matter (Life's not fair, How all Blizzcon attendees should be nerfed, and a strong contender in Waaaaaaahhhaaaaaaaaaa I wanted to go to Blizzcon waaaaaa) I then realized that with patch 3.0.2 literally breathing down our necks, it was probably time for a general overview of what you can expect for the month or so after it hits, but before Wrath itself launches.
I promise, we will get back to a gear overview... we've got four weeks at minumum to cover it. But if the patch (Echoes of Doom) goes live this week, I figure it will probably be mildly helpful to know what's going to change for warriors. One thing to point out right now is that the way strength converts to shield block value has been greatly beefed up. How greatly? Currently, the formula is X = [(Shield [[block value]]) + (Strength / 20)]. In patch 3.0.2, instead of it being divided by 20, it will be divided by 2. Here's an example of what your character window will reveal.
The crowds have been let in to the main convention center floor, and it is an absolute mad house of Blizzard fun here. BlizzCon 2008 has started in earnest, with a full day of panels and gaming ahead. Knowing Blizzard, it should be truly epic.
If you weren't able to join us here at the Anaheim Convention Center, have no fear. As the day progresses, we'll share many of the sights of BlizzCon 2008, straight from the front lines. So if you're hungry for more of what's going on here, be sure to check back, as we'll be updating the gallery throughout the day!
The best part of coming to a convention like BlizzCon? Sure, the news is great, and it's fun to meet the devs and fellow WoW players, but let's be serious: everyone comes to see the costumes.
If you didn't make it to Anaheim, here's the best part of the convention for you. We'll be updating this gallery all weekend long with all of the costumes we see on the floor, so make sure to check back throughout the next two days to see all of the people that showed up looking silly awesome. Ok, so yes, some of these are more awesome than others. But you have to give it up for anyone who has the courage to go out in public dressed like a Blizzard character.
10:55am: Waiting anxiously for the show to begin. The crowd is excited and ready for a big announcement. WoW movie announcement? Mobile game announcement? Your guess is as good as mine.
More after the jump.
Update: It's over, and the only real announcement we heard was that Diablo 3 has a new class: the Wizard. Stay tuned all day for more news from BlizzCon, including the WoW UI/Addons panel, a classes panel (always fun), and lots of news from the show floor. And have you seen the costume gallery yet?
I've got a special report in hand from the department of obvious news: we will all get a talent refund when patch 3.0.2 hits, still expected to be next week (four days). Just like the big pre-BC patch, 3.0.2 ("Echoes of Doom") will give us access to the new talents that we will be enjoying in Wrath of the Lich King, as well as (for many classes) new skills. And since the talent trees are so drastically changed, they probably couldn't let us keep our current specs in many cases even if they wanted to.
Obviously we won't be able to access the level 75 and 80 skills until we jet off to Northrend and get some leveling in, but a lot of skills have been retconned in, so to speak. Here are a few examples of new tricks you'll learn from your class trainers, listed with what class they're for and at what level you can learn them.
Dismantle (Rogue, level 20). This one quite honestly looks overpowered to me (speaking as someone who plays a Rogue), but we'll see.
Revive (Druid, level 12). Thank the maker; this has been a long time coming.
There are more where those came from. And that's quite aside from the new talent trees. In preparation for the patch, WoW Insider will be running down all 27 trees in the days to come (when we're not busy reporting from BlizzCon, that is), so keep an eye out.
WoW Insider is camped out at the main stage at BlizzCon and will be liveblogging the Opening Ceremonies at 11am PT/2pm ET. Today we also will be providing coverage of all the WoW-related panels including UI, Art, Classes and the ever popular Dance and Costume contest. Join us in one hour as this Blizzstravagranza kicks into high gear.
We had our second annual Reader Meetup last night here in Anaheim at The Lost Bar, and it was a blast. Tons of people showed up (maybe 200?), and every single reader we met was completely awesome. We introduced all of our bloggers (Adam Holisky, Daniel Whitcomb, Alex Ziebart, Krystalle Voecks, Elizabeth Harper, Dan O'Halloran, and myself were all there), we drank plenty of libations (the bartender, unfortunately, wasn't moving as fast as we would have liked), and we gave away a bunch of swag, to all kinds of readers, for everything from answering trivia questions to just saying hi.
The Horde, I have to say, seemed to have the higher population, but Alliance made a good showing as well. And a few full guilds came out to see us: shoutouts to Thee Unforgiven on Destromath (the good folks above), Keine Neuen on Malganis, and Dread Pirates on Blackrock, not to mention all of the other awesome readers and guilds that stopped by. They're all in our gallery below -- thanks to everyone who came out for making it such a great time.
(Warning: This video contains some harsh language.)
Just in time for the weekend, like a quick junket to Vegas,we offer a movie called What Happens in Booty Bay Stays in Booty Bay. The filmmaker, Brigitte Swiftblade, calls this an "RP documentary." I love this format; it's very original. Since she's playing on an RP server, she decides to follow around her pal, Zaitzegrait, and film the consequences while he tries to meet chicks in Booty Bay. Apparently Zait is quite a famous character in Trade chat (US Twisting Nether-A), so it's like she picked a celebrity for a reality show. And, in a way, a "reality show" is really what this movie is since Zait is the only one who knows why the little Dwarf Rogue is following him around so closely. (Her POV is the camera's eye.) Everyone else plays their part to perfection, albeit unbeknownst to them. The subtitles offer insight into the documentary setup and a running non-RP commentary on the action -- or Zait's lack thereof. The result is a very humorous, original movie that contains themes of love, betrayal, honor, and cross-faction hanky-panky. I would love to see more of this kind of documentary movie-making from role-players!
Patch 3.1 is already done (says Kaplan). Will release Ulduar 10-man and 25-man raids.
Patch 3.2 will contain a yet to be announced raid instance. Hopefully more on this over the next two day. Release date / timeframe is unknown.
Patch 3.3 will continue the Ashbringer storyline. Release date / timeframe is unknown.
Dance studio to be released after WotLK.
Guild ratings, where guilds get a rating based on PvE/PvP achievements. The idea is being "tossed around."
The other interesting note is that the development team is three patch cycles ahead of the live game. That's amazing, in my opinion. And beyond that, they're also working on the next expansion. Doesn't that raise your eyebrow just a bit? Perhaps we'll hear something major in the next few hours...
I woke up at 7:00 this morning to get ready for the day at BlizzCon. The team is meeting at 8:30 to head over to the convention and start covering all the fun that's happening there. But of course before I finish my morning rituals, I have to peek into the swag bag again. This time it's opening up the packs of WoW TCG - Heroes of Azeroth.
Much to my surprise I find a loot card! A Thunderhead Hippogryph, pictured above from the Upper Deck site. Of course the cards are inserted completely random into the packs, and the bags are given out at random too - so no way I bribed someone a million billion dollars for this.
Our good friends at the Orange County Register were lucky enough to be let into BlizzCon yesterday (we'll be on the floor in just a few hours here), and they've got a preview gallery of what it's like in there up on their site right now. There's nothing super revealing in there, but there are lots of pictures of vendors setting up, and the various stages they'll have at the event. The Illidan statue from last year is making a re-appearance, and he's joined by someone Starcraft fans will want to see.
We can't wait to get in there -- Diablo 3 will be playable, and of course we'll have coverage from all the panels, tournaments, and booths inside the convention center all day today and tomorrow. The Opening Ceremony starts at 11am PST, so stay tuned here to watch our coverage as it goes down live.
We've seen some pretty horrible things in this feature. Hanging corpses, torture chambers, abomination sewing kits, and of course the legendary faceless gnome have all graced our pages. But this may be the most hideous screenshot I've seen yet. Who in their right minds would hang that painting (which graces the wall of a Steamwheedle Port home) in their domicile? It looks like the eyes would follow you around the room, through the hallway, into the bedroom and then stab you in the face while you slept. Is that some kind of hideous Alliance hero? Also, why is the room wallpapered with the wrapper from a pineapple Dum-Dum? (Thanks to Jarmo for the screenshot!)
Do you have any unusual World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? We'd love to see it on Around Azeroth! Sharing your screenshot is as simple as e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org with a copy of your shot and a brief explanation of the scene. You could be featured here next!
Remember to include your player name, server and/or guild if you want it mentioned. We strongly prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. Please, no more battleground scoreboards.
Bonjour, amis. Just a reminder -- you've got a little more than half a day left to participate in this week's Caption This contest. To enter, leave a caption for the above picture on the original post by 11:59 PM EST tonight!
Eligible winners (U.S. or non-Quebec Canadian residents above 13) will receive a 60-day gamecard for first place, and a Legendary Thread or a Less QQ More Pew Pew t-shirt from J!NX is available to the runner-up. Remember to read the official rules for the contest here. The voting poll for the winner will be available Tuesday morning, so you can vote while "enjoying" weekly maintenance. Have fun!