I managed to work from home this afternoon to catch the Blizzcon livestream. What better thing to do while I wait for important historical data that I accidentally wiped out to be imported back in to my database…? (*sigh*)
The livestream itself has vastly improved from last year. It’s less laggy (although the lag ramped up as the day wore on) and has a bunch of new features. You can choose from several stages to watch, instead of being locked to what is on the main stage. This means that I get to see all of the WOW panels, which is all I’m really interested in. Hooray! You can also watch segments on-demand instead of live if you happen to miss something, by choosing the time in the stream that the panel you’re interested in occurs.
Direct TV does a great job of piping videos that are shown on the panel’s project screens directly to their audience – we probably get to see these better than those people who are physically there. There were also less sound issues this year. The only real problem I noticed is that the feed automatically switches between qualities depending on the bandwidth, which causes it to skip back a bit. Often it would skip back too far when it did this.
Interesting interviews and discussions are woven in between the panels – this reminds me a lot of the coverage I saw of Comicon. It’s nice to see a bit of the convention floor, and get a small sense of what it would really be like to be there. The hosts are cheesy, but very knowledgeable and professional. The hosts take questions from Twitter to ask the various Blizzard staff they interview, which is really a neat touch.
You can get a free stream of the RTS tournaments or WOW tournaments, if you haven’t subscribed to the full Livestream.
There wasn’t anything too thrilling from the opening ceremony. Mike Morhaime gave a nice speech, and Chris Metzen warmed up the crowd. They did announce the last Diablo 3 class – Demon Hunter, as well as Diablo PVP. I will probably give Diablo 3 a shot when it comes out, but it seems so far out that I’m not really ready to get excited about it. The Cataclysm cinematic was also shown.
The official blue post can be found here.
Dungeon & Raids Panel
Panelists: Cory Stockton & Scott Mercer
The Dungeon & Raids panel is one I really enjoyed last year, and this year was much the same. A few random thoughts about it, some of which we’ve heard before, some of which is new:
Classic dungeons were broken up into more manageable pieces to comply with the current standard of dungeon design. Layouts were fixed in some cases, such as Wailing Caverns. Quests are all at the beginnings of the dungeons, rather than a big chain you need to complete before entering.
Shadowfang Keep and Deadmines were greatly revamped for the heroic versions, but the normal at-level version was also revised. You may see different bosses depending on the version. These instances have the same feel as the originals but are improved.
They showed a trailer for Cataclysm raids – these all look very pretty. I’m very excited by the various art styles that they’ve used, and it sounds like they’ve put a lot of thought into interesting and unique encounters.
A feature in a future patch (probably 4.1) will be enhanced maps. These will further enhance the 2-D maps that will be present in every dungeon in the game upon Cataclysm’s release. This will include boss lore, loot, a 3D portrait, and boss abilities. This last piece is one that I’m sure we’ll hear lots of controversy about. (QQ!!!! this game is too eazy!)
They’ve already mentioned in the past that in Cataclysm, raids will be on a per-boss basis. You can switch raids at will, as long as it wouldn’t result in you killing a boss twice. The caveat they mentioned is that Heroic modes will not be that way – you will be locked to a RaidID for heroic modes (although you could complete the rest of the bosses on normal if your heroic raid ends up falling apart). I’m not sure what the rationality is behind this, but I’m sure we’ll hear more in the future (and it might even change).
They also mentioned in response to a question that in Cataclysm, loot rules for LFG are stricter – you can’t roll on items you can’t use. I haven’t heard anything about this from beta players, but perhaps I missed it. I assume this means things like, a rogue can’t roll on loot with Intellect on it?
They gave a small preview of 4.1 – it will include the Abyssal Maw dungeon (elemental plane of water), and the Firelands (elemental plane of fire, and home of Ragnaros)
Someone mentioned in the Q&A that they would like to see a Raid Observation system. They didn’t say “never” but that it would be a very big feature. I would love this feature in WOW – it would allow guildies who are left out of a raid for whatever reason to essentially tag along and be a part of the fun.
Another question was about legendary components, and whether they would retroactively get them to drop in 10-mans, now that the raid philosophy has changed. They weren’t sure about this one either. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping, because the We Are Legendary Achievement for the Dark Phoenix Mount would then actually be obtainable by my guild.
The official blue post can be found here.
Quests & Lore Panel
Panelists: Chris Metzen & Alex Afrasiabi
This was strictly Q&A, so it was a bit hard to follow, and therefore my own thoughts will be a bit disjointed. I love how Chris Metzen could barely contain himself – he wanted to share the spoilers with us. He is so enthusiastic and passionate about his job – definitely something to envy.
A lot of people pleaded for legendary items. Others asked what happened to lore figures like Turalyon, the Infinite Dragonflight, Kil’jaeden, Kul Tiras, etc. The basic answer was… we’ll see them, but not yet. WOW has a massive set of lore, and since it’s not really being designed as a cohesive story, but rather piece by piece, things will always be left that need to be tied up. As my boss likes to say, “there’s a big difference between a 4000 square foot house that was planned and built all at once, versus a 4000 square foot house that was built 100 feet at a time.”
The Earthen Ring (go shamans!) will apparently play a big part in Cataclysm. I’m very excited for this.
A novella was written about Kael’thas’ character and transformation by a member of the lore department, and they hope to get it out someday. I would love to see this, as I never really understood how Kael’thas ended up where he did. His character seems comically egotistical and flat – it would be great to see it fleshed out, if only in a story outside the game.
The Troll druid lore is still coming. I can imagine how it might go – obviously the trolls in various troll instances such as Zul’gurub new the ways of druidism.
The feed started going wonky at this point, so I probably missed something.
Garrosh’s character development is a big theme in Cataclysm. His movement into the position of Warchief is part of a far larger storyline. Thrall is apparently the “most important figure in Warcraft”. This has been pretty obvious – which is why I’m glad he’s not representing the Horde anymore. It seemed unfair that the Horde should have such an admirable and heroic figure leading them, while the Alliance got stuck with Varian Wrynn. Garrosh was built as a foil to Thrall, and plays a pivotal role in the storyline. As they develop Thrall, Garrosh will also develop as his counterpoint.
They know Outlands doesn’t make sense, and they’ll deal with it someday.WOW is a big game, and they’ve effected a lot of it in Cataclysm. They just didn’t have time to make it cohesive for the ship of Cata. Essentially you’ll be jumping around in time. They put 3,500 quests in for Cataclysm, as opposed to 1,000 for WOTLK. I totally understand that they have a limited set of things that they can get done, and its easy for me to consider the other expansions as being in the past. I’m not looking forward to running through Hellfire Peninsula ever again, but that’s just the way it is.
The Council of Tirisfal is still yet to be implemented in the game. It was built out for the comic book but they aren’t sure how to best leverage the content. I haven’t read the comic – this reminds me that I probably should give it a shot.
Someone asked if Illidan might be resurrected and redeemed. Metzen said it would be cool and no one has ever mentioned it before. I’m not really sure how I feel about this.
They’re going to strike a better balance between Burning Crusade’s strategy of never really seeing Illidan, to WOTLK’s possibly “cartooning” of Arthas. Deathwing will be present, but when he shows up he’ll kill you. This is exactly what I was hoping for.
Nizoth(sp?) is an old god that will be apparent in Cataclysm. He was the one responsible for the spark of the Emerald Nightmare. (OMG, spoiler!)
The dragon aspects will be heavily involved in the fight against Deathwing. The Earth aspect is missing from the “family”. Perhaps that is a way that Thrall can contribute, as he is a Shaman and has powers of earth. (Could he be the new aspect of Earth?)
The events of the novel Stormrage are hard to pull off including in the expansion. Things can get muddled in building an expansion – the game is more important than a novel. Some things are referenced, but it’s not a priority because the Cataclysm is happening, and the Emerald Nightmare is over.
They’ll go back to the Goblin mines at somepoint in in the future. I’m not really passionate about Goblins, although that might change after I play their starting area.
Cataclysm’s storyline will be more cohesive than the disjointed one in WOTLK which consisted of Ulduar and the Scourge/Arthas. This definitely bothered me in Wrath, so I’m glad they learned from this mistake.
Kalecgos will be the new magic aspect. Not really a surprise – someone had to replace Malygos.
Nerz’hul is done. They probably won’t revisit Bolvar as the Lich King anytime soon – they’re not interested in chasing any big undead themes for a while. I think we’re all a bit tired of the Scourge.
About a month ago they had a session with Sam Raimi on the Warcraft movie and are waiting for the green light as to where the project fits in with his other movies. Metzen thinks the story is fantastic, and is very pumped about it. He hopes they’ll see some progress soon.
Thrall and Jaina are absolutely not getting together – Thrall will meet someone else. Christie Golden’s “The Shattering” covers this pretty well apparently. Metzen joked, “what happens to the men that Jaina dates?”
They don’t know where the moose that Ghostcrawler promised us is. Haha.
As they’ve said many times before – the Death Knight starting area is in the past. Also, necromancy is not exclusive to the Lich King.
The official blue post can be found here.
OMG, that is a lot of info to digest, especially on the lore end. I’m even more excited for Cataclysm! I might come back to some of these topics in future blog posts, but right now I need to let it sink in a bit. That’s it for the panels today, all that’s left is the WOW Live raid and contests. I’ll put this out now and will probably just edit the post if anything interesting comes up.