Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Blizzcon Reflections 2011

The Venue
Blizzcon is a busy and exciting time for anyone who plays World of Warcraft. To us here at FI that is no exception. The three of us are professionals IRL and two of us have kiddies so our time is always limited. However we still make sure to allocate some time to our favorite hobby which this weekend included Blizzcon coverage.

To be honest being a part time blogger is hard during Blizzcon. There is so much new info and data coming out that it is hard to blog about the new exciting things and be complete while still being able to enjoy the news yourself! Just like our new Pandaren friends, the key is with balance and inner peace!

Click the jumparoo for a few brain picking questions I floated around the FI virtual office.

Of the three game universes, which are you gravitating to most with Blizzcon coverage?

Titleist: Well I’m a WoW player first and foremost so that is what I’ll be focused on the most. I will say that I am at least seriously interested in the Starcraft universe and will be watching those panels as well. As for D3, I’ve never played any of the Diablo games so I don’t know. I do take that with a grain of salt because Blizzard always makes good games and so far it looks amazing from what I’ve seen.

Gordrin: World of Warcraft simply because that is what I am currently playing. I like to be surprised by the Diablo and Starcraft universes as I tend to play those just within my group of friends or play solo.

Goreblades: This years Blizzcon had me going around in circles. I was very excited to see what was coming up for WoW. Like most other people I was eagerly anticipating an announcement about WoW, but an expansion took me by surprise, although in hindsight it probably shouldn’t have. And Diablo III—stupendous. Playing the beta has only wet my whistle and made me salivate over this long awaited sequel even more then I have been. Starcraft … umm … I have it, but I haven’t played much of it (maybe 2 missions and a handful of matches which I have always lost). Though the new campaign looks interesting, I am going to say that SC is not at the top of my list. Thinking about all of it, I think WoW will draw most of my attention.

What part of Mists of Pandaria are you most looking forward to?

T: Being that Kung Fu Panda is one of my favorite animated films, just about everything! I love the Asian theme in the architecture and music. I’m super excited for the new Monk class and all the awesome Pandaren stuff. I’m also interested in the challenge modes and the pve scenarios and how they will play out in terms of what I do for enjoyment in the game. Of course, being a raider I’m excited for the new raids as well.

G: I'm cautiously optimistic about how they are doing talents. It would be interesting to get everything I need from just leveling and then anything on the side that would make it more unique I’d get to select. I like the not being able to go back at all and I like that they try to make them all affect the same things, mobility, healing, blinding awesome cooldowns, etc. Did I mention my daughter will probably want to run around as a panda for the first month of the x-pack? I don’t know how long she spent in Vash’ir looking at the glowing columns of jellyfish and she’s only 4! 

G: I am looking forward to a new tanking class. I love laying tanks (indeed, so far its just about the only thing I have been descent at) so any chance to expand my arsenal of classes to play I am all for it. I also enjoy that we again get a continent to play on. I dunno about the rest of WoW-dom, but having to constantly port from zone to zone while leveling was tiresome. Putting the zones in a centralized location was a definite fundamental boon that I am glad Blizzard went back to.

Do you think Blizzard is headed the right direction with WoW?

T: Yes and no. I think they are doing a nice job of being bilge pumps. This institution that is WoW is on the way out and Blizzard is doing the best they can to keep it afloat while they work on the next new thing. The new content (landmass, dungeons, class, and race) is going to breathe some serious life into the game. Also after the intensity of the Cataclysm (the constant imminent danger) a more laid back story is the right decision. The Devs are (for the most part) also doing a great job at addressing issues and coming up with solutions. They are doing the best they can.

G: I’m unsure. I agree it might have been time for a mood change and getting back to Horde vs Alliance, but it seems they are just adding a ton of stuff to take up my time instead of a ton of stuff I want to spend time on. Some of the things may end up pretty cool, but I have other games I play for specific types of gameplay. Getting all of those added into WoW might just feel weird. 

G: Who am I to say what is right for millions of people??  Personally I am very happy with where WoW is heading. WoW, for me, is all about the glory of the PvE domination—and Blizzard is giving us yet another realm to dominate and enjoy the exhalation of triumph in new and exotic places.

The new race is playable by either horde or alliance, what are your thoughts on this?

T: I think this is fantastic. In the past I’ve thought about how this would be implemented and I’m super excited they are trying it. To be honest I don’t really see any downsides or issues that could arise from it, in fact I think it brings very positive changes to how the Dev team will handle any future changes to races. The main complaint will be in PVP but in reality I think most players over think the situation. Of all the data being processed by a player to determine threats, I’m willing to bet race is very low on the list.

G: Less programming? Can they talk to each other in a battleground? Other than that I’m fine with it, I could see the Tauren being something like that as well, but I would think with the current lore they would stay out of a fight that has been going on that long. I’m neither excited nor disappointed, but if it were only one faction I’d probably hate it.

G: I think it is a gamble. Some people are going to think that it works out pretty good (there are neutral NPCs, stands to reason that eventually we’d come up on a race that plays both sides), others are gonna see it as yet another attempt by Blizzard to homogenize the game. I personally don’t really think its that big of a deal.

With any new class addition comes mountains of balancing issues for all classes. Do you think the monk addition is worth it?

y u no like Monk?
T: I do very much so. Do I expect there to be balance issues at first? Absolutely (think early DK’s) but it will become balanced. As a DK player now, I’m much happier now that the ‘bloat’ of DK’s gone. That will eventually happen with Monks as well. I’m just sad they are introducing the monk so late in the games life. It has at best another 10 levels and some end game.

G: Of course, now where is my extra 6 character slots so I can actually make a new character without deleting an old one? I’m a PvE guy so any time they add something I get to try to figure out everything about it and how it would fit into the raiding structure. I’m guessing they may be OP to start like DKs and then be balanced back to normalization with the other classes.

G: People were clamoring for a new class in Cataclysm, and they didn’t get one.  I think more people are going to complain that the Monk is not a hero class then are going to complain about the class not falling directly into a niche and need patches to balance.

Blizzard has been stating that WoW will not go past level 100. Do you think they will continue at 5 levels and stretch the game out for 5 more years or do something different?

T: There are two possible scenarios for this. They can either continue with 5 lvl expansions and get them out faster OR have one more 10 lvl expansion that takes more time. With talk about Mists coming out this spring (of 2012) if they shoot for the first option we are looking at 1.5 years at 90, 1.5 years at 95, and finally 1.5 years at 100. This would mean the game would live an additional 4.5 – 5 years. The other alternative is 1.5 years at 90 then 2 years at 100, giving the game another 3.5 – 4 years. I think it really depends on how they feel about Project Titan and it's progress down the road.

G: Eventually they have to do something different, right? I don’t know if I even want to play WoW for another 5 years, I’d probably naturally move on to something else. I’m sure they will have something else out by then.

G: As long as people are enjoying the game, I think Blizzard will continue to provide content for their legions of fans. While I am sure their initial intent was to not move past level 100, if there is still a massive demand for this game, we could see more levels available.

Did you go to Blizzcon or purchase the virtual pass? If so what was your favorite part?

T: I purchased the virtual pass. I actually dragged my computer upstairs to watch the panels and tournaments on the HD big screen. I have to say my favorite part was a three way tie: The opening ceremony, the GSL finals, and the Foo Fighters concert.

G: Nope. In fact I’m way behind on news only having read Friday’s stuff. I always like looking for the sexy nerd girls in the cosplay albums. I also like looking at the costume contest as some people do some pretty crazy cool things.

G: This year I got the virtual ticket (as I did last year as well). I like it because it allows me to watch and re watch all my favorite presentations even before the convention ends (not to mention allows me to take screenshots of important news as it happens).

What do you think of the annual pass? Will you be getting it?

T: I have already signed my life…er….game away for the next 12 months! To be able to get D3 for free on launch is a fantastic idea – this has to be one of the smartest moves Blizzard has made to date. Effectively they are acknowledging the financial effort WoW players make to the game (that they already purchased) and giving them access to another product - potentially making new players who may not be interested enough in D3 to buy it turn into fans. Talk about a win-win. Blizzard gets forecastable revenue from WoW the next 12 months, in turn we get a free game, in turn Blizzard gets revenue from us falling in love with D3 and buy merchandise, AH items, possible expansions, etc. For people in marketing fields, the multiple strategies here could be analyzed for days.

G: Already signed up, I’m going to be playing for another year at least so why wouldn’t I get it?

G: Free copy of Diablo III—Win

Tyreal’s Charger mount (in 4.3)—Win

A promised spot in the Mists of Pandoria Beta—Win

AND If I get the Collectors Edition of Diablo III I get 4 months of free WoW—WIN

Sounds like a Win-Win-Win-Win to me.

Which game release are you most looking forward to? Mist of Pandaria, Heart of the Swarm, or Diablo 3?

T: Hands down Mists. My panda name is already reserved – Cungfupanda!

G: Mass Effect 3, Dragon Age III, Dance Central 2… oh Blizzard games. Diablo 3 would be my choice so I can break away from Torchlight and play the real deal with my friends for a while. I’ll get more pumped for Heart of the Swarm when I start upgrading Kerrigan into a powerhouse. Oh and when the beta comes out for Mists I may get more excited, time will tell.

G: I am very much looking forward to both Diablo III and Mists of Pandoria very very much. I guess if I had to pick one, I’d say Mists of Pandoria—though Diablo III comes in an extremely close second.

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