BlizzCon Overload!

There are 20 hours of BlizzCon video on our Tivo at the moment.  It was supposed to be 16 hours, then 18 hours, but somehow it ended up at 20 hours.

BlizzCon 2009

I’ve watched about 6 hours of it so far.  And even that is a lot of gaming video to watch, certainly enough to form some opinions.

The Good

It is a very different experience to hear somebody involved with the development of games talk about their pet project versus reading a summary of it on a news site.  WoW.com did a great job putting up facts about what was shown, but it cannot replace hearing it from the horses mouth, so to speak.  Hearing somebody like Chris Metzen talk about the game, to feel the passion he has for the game, can change your viewpoint on things.

That is the true selling point, the only reason any big fan of Blizzard games needs to know.

The Bad

The sound was horrible.  I don’t know if the problem was in Anaheim or at DirecTV, but sound was cutting out during the first hour of the event and was really, really soft for the whole thing.  I had the volume on the sound system cranked up so high that the beeps from the Tivo when I hit a button were deafening.

As much as I like Tivo, their interface isn’t ideal for dealing with 10 hours of content.  Fast forward and 30 second skip aren’t cutting it.

Things That Stuck

Blizzard expects to ship StarCraft II and WoW Cataclysm in 2010, though they were a bit soft on the Cataclysm date.  And Diablo III is much further out.  We have a wait ahead of us still.

I still have trouble believing what a change to the game Cataclysm is going to be. (Cataclysm FAQ here.)  Has any other MMO in the past changed their whole base game as much as Blizzard is proposing to do?  The safe path would have been the EverQuest route that I wrote about last week, expansion for the core, milk the cow, build the next game.  But Blizzard is going to redo the core game instead.  And while some zoned will be affected more than others, they were quite clear that EVERY zone on Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms will experience changes.

The first question at the first panel was about “cannot launch additional instances,” which made me laugh out loud.  But the panel was ready for it.  They had talked about cross-server LFG for instances.  The tech that will support that will also alleviate the instance launching issue.  As for why it is happening now, we all seem to love to run instances these days.

After watching Rob Pardo talk about the Blizzard plans for StarCraft II and Battle.net, I get why they don’t want LAN play in the game.  I don’t like it, but I get it.  Keen had some dour thoughts on the subject, but I am trying to keep an open mind.  Mostly that is because if they work out their plans for StarCraft II with the new Battle.net, it could be a huge addition when it comes to Diablo III.  Actual support for a mod’ing community… they should have done that for Diablo II.

The stuff about Diablo III was interesting, and the game play video I saw looked good, but it is still way too early for me to get excited about the game, either for good or for bad.  Still, people are warming up blogs about it.

The in-between panels segments were actually better than I thought they would be.  I figured I would skip over them, but I ended up watching most of them.  A tour of Mike Morhaime‘s office, complete with the promissory note written for the money he borrow from his grandmother to help start the company, was classic.

Watching StarCraft tournament play, which was on my initial “to-be-skipped list,” turned out to be a lot more interesting and intense than I thought it would be.  There was some insane unit management going on… well, insane compared to anything I’d be able to do.

There was a lot more information presented than I could possibly retain, even for the six hours I have watched so far.  But that is what keeps sites like WoW.com in business.  Still, it was difficult for me to just relax and watch rather than take notes obsessively about things like Battle.net having more users than World of Warcraft. (Well, I remembered that.)

Overall, while I have no real desire to attend BlizzCon in person, I would consider watching it on Pay Per View again next year… if I finish watching BlizzCon 2009 by then.

8 thoughts on “BlizzCon Overload!

  1. smakendahed

    “Has any other MMO in the past changed their whole base game as much as Blizzard is proposing to do?”

    SW:G NGE patch? This probably comes close.

    EQ2 CU:13 patch? A lot of underlying mechanics changed. Somewhere along the way they replaced the heroic mobs outside dungeons with solo mobs. Not quite what Blizzard is proposing.

    EQ did a few zone revamps that were pretty neat, but the zone retained it’s layout, it was just an overhaul of the creatures inside.

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  2. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    I am not sure I would classify any of those as the same.

    NGE redid game mechanics drastically. That is a bit different from redoing the content in the game. WoW has certainly played with game mechanics as well, but more along the lines of refinement and not “Hey, let’s start fresh with everything everybody is already used to.”

    EQ2 has tinkered with game mechanics quite a bit as well, but still I don’t think that is exactly what I was getting at. The revamp of Lavastorm is more on the mark.

    I am not sure, at this point, if revamping the graphics in old EQ zones was worth SOE’s time. And, as you say, the graphics changed, but the content remained about the same. (Commonlands became a single zone… but it is pretty quiet these days, so you could probably combine a few other zones.)

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  3. Keen

    Blizzard is going to foul up this premium mod content stuff, I just know it. Supporting modders is great, but making the popular mods cost money while giving a “portion” to the modders make me more than a bit leery.

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  4. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @Keen – It doesn’t take a mental stretch to see this going wrong, but my hope is they will work it out with SC2 and turn it into something good by the time Diablo III comes out. A dream, perhaps.

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  5. jmilster

    After going to Blizzcon for the first time this year I can’t imagine missing it again. I was in geek heaven for two very long days. The lines were extremely long, but the ones run by Blizzard moved extremely fast.

    Even having been there I wish I had it all Tivo’d at home so that I could watch the panels I missed or just re-watching what I saw.

    I’ve been excited about D3 since it’s announcement, but after getting a chance to play it….. Well, no one is going to be disappointed when it is released. It is already tons of fun to play. It is obvious that it still needs a lot of work before it is finished though. The UI is clunky and ugly in a lot of spots and it definitely doesn’t have the “Blizzard polish” yet. But it was still more fun and better looking then anything else available right now. (Ex: The UI looks better then Sacred 2’s UI and is already more fun to play. At least in my opinion.)

    The Goblin starting area was TONS of fun to play through. There was comedy all over the place. The Worgen starting area had exactly what they wanted which means it was dark and creepy.

    I am extremely excited about Cataclysm and the upcoming Azeroth changes. It will be a GREAT time for new players to join WoW. I know that I’m going to have a bunch of new alts going through all the new content and I’m sure that there will be tons of other people doing the same.

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  6. syncaine

    Trammel in UO is perhaps close to an example, as after that not only did the landscape change, but basically the entire game.

    AC did a lot of world-changing events, including the always referred to ‘burning of a village and now it’s gone forever’ thing.

    DAoC with Frontiers was a complete overhaul of RvR, both from a mechanics standpoints and the entire layout.

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  7. Darraxus

    I got to try Diablo 3 at Blizzcon and it was amazingly fun. One of the few games I have really looked forward to in a really long time. Good ole mindless hack and slash.

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  8. Deck

    You might already know this, but just in case…

    TiVo Tip: Skip forward in 15 minute increments by hitting fast-forward once and then clicking the Advance button.

    Still a lot of clicking to get through 10 hours of video, but better than waiting for regular ol’ fast-forward.

    Like

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