Blizzcon 2007 FTW

This weekend I attended Blizzcon 2007 in Anaheim, California.  Blizzcon is a gamer conference held by Blizzard Entertainment, the makers of Starcraft, Warcraft 1-3, Diablo 1-2, and World of Warcraft (WoW).  The conference consisted of panels with developers & artists, Q&A sessions, playable demos of upcoming games like Starcraft 2, pro gaming tournaments, a concert with a metal band and a live orchestra, a costume & dance contest, and lots of Blizzard merchandise for sale.  It was basically a gathering of 16,000 Blizzard gamer geeks and fanboys. 

I’m not a hardcore gamer, so I felt a little bit out of place at Blizzcon.  The only Blizzard game I’ve ever played is WoW, but I’ve only been playing it for a few months and had to stop because of my RSI.  I’m a mere level 22 player, out of 70 possible levels.  For those of you unfamiliar with WoW, it’s a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) set in the fantasy world of Azeroth.  Azeroth is populated with 10 races — Humans, Night Elves, Gnomes,  Dwarves, Draenei, Orcs, Trolls, Undead, Tauren, and  Blood Elves.  The first 5 races are part of the Alliance, and the second 5 are the Horde.  The Alliance and Horde are enemies.  Players choose to be one of the 10 races and one of the 8 classes — Warrior, Hunter, Druid, Mage, Rogue, Paladin, Shaman, Warlock.  I play a Night Elf Druid.  You explore the world, complete quests, earn gold / weapons / armor, and level up your character.  There are other players running around in the same world, and you often have to work in groups to complete quests or play dungeons.  It’s a really fun game with a rich storyline and lots of fun interactions with other people. 

Here’s a pic of a giant poster of a Night Elf (same as my character) fighting a Blood Elf.

Here’s a Night Elf statue from the Blizzcon exhibition floor.

Here’s a statue of Illiden, one of the bad guys from the first WoW expansion back, The Burning Crusade.

The biggest announcement at Blizzcon was the upcoming release of a second expansion pack for WoW, Wrath of the Lich King .  The expansion introduces a new continent called Northrend, raises the level cap to 80 and adds a new hero class called the Death Knight.  I’m not that excited about the expansion because I’m only level 22 and most of the new content is for level 70 players. 

Blizzard set up 600 computers at the conference and let people play a demo of Lich King for 20 minutes at a time.  Here’s an enormous Lich King LAN party.

Wrath of the Lich King trailer

The other big announcement at Blizzcon was that Blizzard is working together with Legendary Pictures to make a Warcraft movie.  Legendary is the studio that made 300 and Batman Begins , so they have a pretty good track record of adapting comics to film.  The Legendary CEO promised the audience that they would take the Warcraft lore seriously and give it a treatment that fans would be proud of.  The film has a $100M+ budget and the studio wants it to feel really epic, along the lines of The Lord of Rings .  The story will be told from the viewpoint of the Alliance, which I thought was a pretty obvious choice because it’d be hard for a mainstream audience to relate to orcs and undead, but lots of people started heckling and shouting “For the Horde!” when that was announced.  The storyline is set 10 years before the beginning of WoW and is supposed to be a mixture of several existing storylines from “recent history in the game”.  The film is coming out in 2009.  No directors and no actors picked out yet.  They didn’t have a trailer, but they did release a piece of concept art, a picture of Teldrassil, the elven World Tree.

I was only able to get a blurry shot of Teldrassil.

Here’s a better pic from

Blizzard also revealed a lot about Starcraft 2 and did live demos of gameplay.  They also had computers where you could play it yourself.  I’ve never played Starcraft 2 before, so I just watched Eddy play it.  The graphics are awesome and the units you can make are pretty cool. 

Here’s part of the presentation they did for Starcraft 2.  Skip to 2:18 in the second video if you want to see live gameplay.

Giant poster of a Protoss hero.

I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed watching the Starcraft pro gaming tournament.  They flew in a bunch of professional gamers from around the world, including the top Korean players.  For those of you unfamiliar with the world of e-sports and cyberathletes (I’m not making those terms up), Korea dominates professional Starcraft.  Even though the game is over 10 years old, it’s still really popular in Korea.  They even televise matches.  Top players are treated like superstars, complete with groupies and endorsement deals. 

Check out these Starcraft-branded Doritos from Korea.

The competition had live commentators, one of whom was a really entertaining white guy who did a great job of explaining the players’ strategies.  His voice got really high-pitched and fast during exciting parts of the game, just like how a sports announcer gets during a clutch moment during basketball game.  When he introduced the players, he jokingly referred to the non-Korean players as “foreigners”.

The Korean players didn’t speak any English, so they had to use a translator.

The guy on the right in the white & orange won 2nd place.  His name is Nal_rA.

They also had Warcraft and WoW competitions, but I didn’t watch those.  Here’s a pic of the Warcraft tournament.

Blizzard gave out goodie bags to all the attendees, which included a starter pack for the WoW trading card game, a t-shirt, buttons, badges, magnets, a bookmark, a coaster, an in-game Murloc suit for your WoW character, and best of all, a beta key for an upcoming Blizzard game (hopefully it’s Starcraft 2!).  People are already selling the goodie bag for upwards of $400 on eBay.

The Murloc suit is really cute.  It has a giant zipper on the back and you can see red polka-dot underwear peeking out underneath.  It doesn’t seem to serve any practical purpose.  You can’t fool real Murlocs with the suit.

They also had a lot of Blizzard artwork on display.

Live artists were on the exhibition floor, painting and signing autographs.

Lots of stuff for sale, such as the trading card game.

They were also selling special keyboard for WoW, with an extra set of keys just for WoW actions.

Action figurines.

They also had a bull ride, except it was dressed up as an Elekk (like an elephant from WoW).

There were some cosplayers at Blizzcon, but not nearly as many as there were at Anime Expo.  Some of them were really hardcore about it, decked out in body paint and full armor.

A troll from WoW.

A Tauren from WoW.

I think this is a rogue from WoW.

The girl on the left is a warlock.  The blue stuffed thing is her minion, a Void Walker.  I’m not sure what the girl on the right is, maybe a Paladin or a Warrior?

A centaur?

I think she’s a succubus.  Warlocks are able to call different minions, and succubi are one kind of minion.

A pirate of some sort.  WoW has Defias Pirates, but they don’t look like that.

A Blood Elf from WoW.  I think she’s a rogue.

Not sure, but I think they are a priest, warlock and mage.

I have absolutely no clue what this guy is supposed to be.

Blood elves.  They were definitely models hired by Blizzard.

More models.  Priests, I think.

Blizzcon closed with a big concert in the Anaheim Convention Center Arena.  The opening act was Jay Mohr, the guy who plays the sleazy agent that stole Tom Cruise’s clients in Jerry Maguire .  He did 30 minutes of standup, which was pretty entertaining.  He did impressions of Christopher Walken and Adam Sandler, told mildly dirty jokes about his dog licking itself, and interacted with the audience a lot, since they kept heckling him.  Actually, the audience was pretty rowdy and annoying.  Everyone kept shouting random stuff, interrupting the performances with cries of “For the Horde!” 

The next act was a metal band called L70ETC, which stands for Level 70 Elite Tauren Chief.  The band seemed to consist entirely of Blizzard employees, including the Blizzard CEO on bass.  They sang songs about Starcraft and WoW, including the cleverly titled “Rogues do it from behind” and “I am Murloc”.  The Murloc song required audience participation –everyone had to make the Murloc noise, which sounds like “Mrgggllrgrrrglgrrlgrrg”. 

Last but not least was a performance by Video Games Live, a full orchestra that plays video game music exclusively.  They were really good, and they had a lot of guest musicians who were pretty famous — Peter Gabriel’s drummer, Paul McCartney’s guitarist and several Grammy award winners. 

The arena was packed.

All in all, Blizzcon was a lot of fun, even though I didn’t understand a lot of what was going on because I’m not a huge Blizzard fangirl. 

Man, I am a huge dork.


#1 Bryckcity on 08.06.07 at 3:34 am

Hey, Are you still in town? holla at cha boy.

#2 Chohan29 on 08.07.07 at 12:18 am

Soooo jealous.  Tracy got free passes, but then we couldn’t go since she’s in crunch-time for their game :(.

PS – Level to 70, noob :P

#3 Cool2024 on 08.07.07 at 11:12 am

Dang this Blizzard fanboy is jealous. The Video Games Live concert must’ve been amazing. What were your favorite songs from the concert?

#4 soulgrifter on 08.11.07 at 12:51 am

…intense. :O

#5 yamada on 08.13.07 at 9:57 am

those models with the gold-colored bras and purple tarpas are sorc’s I think, not priests. I just proved something there..I belong at that conference huh

#6 Mamado on 10.24.08 at 3:37 pm

in the picture og the Lock tih the voi walker,in her side is an fruid(or was suposed to be one )

#7 Evan on 01.27.09 at 8:26 am

Wow, Blizzcon looks like it was a lot of fun, how much did it cost to go?

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