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Belechannas

Report from BlizzCon

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I drove up for Day 1 of BlizzCon today. The scale of the thing is really amazing - the attendance number I heard quoted was 25,000. The Anaheim Convention Center was packed. Very friendly and well-behaved crowd.

The big news was the announcement of Overwatch, a team-based first-person shooter, and the first new game world created by Blizzard in 17 years. According to Chris Metzen, Overwatch is not the abandoned Titan project, although there may have been some cross-over of ideas (like playing in a futuristic fantasy version of Earth).

During a Q&A session later in the day, they said they aren't ready to talk about the business model yet, and that while a console version is something they'd like to (and probably will) do, today's announcement is for the PC.

There were 600 PC's set up at the convention to allow people to try out an early version of Overwatch.

FPS has never been a thing for me, but the crowd seemed to love everything about Overwatch.

Here's the cinematic trailer, which was the initial reveal at the convention:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqnKB22pOC0

More info at http://playoverwatch.com

Other announcements included:

A Hearthstone expansion, "Goblins vs. Gnomes", to be released in a month, with 100(?) new cards. Based on the previews shown, a high percentage of them involve blowing things up... (Explosive Sheep was one card).

A trial version of the final StarCraft II installment, Legacy of the Void (which will be a standalone game), is available for testing at the convention.

Heroes of the Storm will go into closed beta in early January (they gave an exact date). A number of new features were announced, or elaborated on. Since I haven't played the game, it didn't mean a lot to me.

Apparently the main thing to do at BlizzCon is stand in lines. The lines for all the demos were extremely long (which was odd, since it seemed like there were a lot of machines sitting unused).

Just to buy a BlizzCon T-shirt (or any other Blizzard merchandise) required standing in a 2.5-4 hour (depending on who you asked) line.

There were also a lot of costumes, of varying degrees of quality. Incredibly, only a couple hours after Overwatch was revealed to the world, I saw someone in the hall wearing a costume of one of the heroes ("Tracer"). It was not something just thrown together, either - they had the exact outfit (including a Union Jack on the arm and orange goggles) and hair permed identically.

Overwatch-Tracer.jpg

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Goblins vs. Gnomes is a good idea. Makes me want to play Hearthstone.

 

Not so sure about Overwatch.  If they really did borrow or convert the Titan gameworld and won't admit it, then it almost looks like they were in fact making Wildstar so--

 

Thanks for the write-up.   :*)  Do you have a personal blog? 

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Thanks for the write-up.   :*)  Do you have a personal blog?

Nah.

But here's a good article with the quotes (including some that I think were probably from interviews/press conference rather than the panel I saw): http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2014-11-08-is-overwatch-related-to-blizzards-failed-mmo-titan

Speaking at a press conference at BlizzCon, [Overwatch Game Director] Kaplan initially poured cold water on the link. "I think there's a lot of assumptions, especially considering some recent stories that have come out, but Overwatch is its own game," he said. "Now, in all of our games at Blizzard we borrow ideas from previous projects, previous games, we take a lot of inspiration from other things that we've done. So there are things from Titan in Overwatch, but it's not like there aren't things from World of Warcraft in Overwatch as well."

However, when asked how the decision to make Overwatch was taken, Kaplan hinted that it emerged naturally and quickly from a morass of options after Titan's ambitious development.

"Our production director, he's looking over my shoulder and we were working on all these other things, and he's like, why aren't we doing that? The whole team was like, we want to do that! [blizzard's executives] came to the team and they saw the energy that we had around this idea, and they knew the other things that we were thinking about doing, and they were like, just go, make what you guys believe in. It was kind of ridiculously easy, how it came to be."

At the press conference, Metzen spoke of Blizzard's frustration that it couldn't get Titan right, and characterised Overwatch as a reaction to the difficulty the developer had experienced trying to follow World of Warcraft with another gargantuan online world.

"I'm not going to get into what [Titan] was going to be or what we wanted it to be. I can tell you what it was: it was frustrating," Metzen said. "It was a big, giant idea, it was almost like six video games in one, it was the most ambitious thing we've ever done. We wrestled with it for a long time. And it... it sucked. We couldn't figure it out. We couldn't crack it.

"Imagine this amazing team, just frustrated, like a band trying to write a song: why can't we make it sound awesome? Can't find the harmony, whatever. And so when we decided to go another way... suddenly, boom, the music just exploded.

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I was digging that cinematic... until Tracer opened her mouth. Why can't they just do an English accent, and not copy Dick Van Dyke?!

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Pretty good trailer. I wonder how long it will take (if not already started) until certain individuals start their usual complaints about the male/female dresscode in it.

Loved that the security guard was playing Hearthstone, those are the small things that maked Blizz pretty great.

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Courtesy of WoWhead, here is one of the two young ladies sitting next to me during the convention introduction:

431927.jpg

432023.jpg

She mentioned that "I forgot to do my nose this morning"...

Her friend's costume was quite a bit more revealing, but doesn't seem to have made it to the WoWhead costume pages.

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More details on the Hearthstone expansion:

120+ cards

There will be a new "Mech" class of minion; existing mechanical minions will be added to this category.

Certain cards/events will also give you one of seven random "Spare Parts" cards, which act as minor buffs for your minions when played.

Goblin vs. Gnome cards will be acquired in the exactly the same way as expert cards in the original game; there will be GvG packs purchasable with Gold or real money, and the cards will be craftable with dust from disenchanting other cards.

A spectator feature will also be added in the expansion, to allow you to watch your friends while they play.

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The expansion looks great.

 

Not 100% verified, I believe, but Ben Brode said that when the expansion comes out, you will only get expansion cards from Arena wins. Which would be a huge deal.

 

I think it is great they have a new expansion coming out so soon. It will be fun to play with all the new cards. Destroy the meta.

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Not 100% verified, I believe, but Ben Brode said that when the expansion comes out, you will only get expansion cards from Arena wins. Which would be a huge deal.

He said today what I said above (you get the new cards the same way as the old Expert-level cards):

1) Purchase 5-card GvG pack with gold

2) Purchase 5-card GvG pack with money

3) Craft individual cards with dust

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BlizzCon closed with a Metallica concert, but the next to last event was the screening of a 1-hour documentary on the game and its history, to celebrate the 10th anniversary:

"World of Warcraft: Looking for Group"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyPzTywUBsQ

Obviously it's a Blizzard production, so it has a certain "let's pat ourselves on the back" feeling to it, but it's interesting to hear the stories about how the explosive success of the game caught them all by surprise.

Also shows some interesting (for me at least) scenes of the developers watching raids being tested for the first time.

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He said today what I said above (you get the new cards the same way as the old Expert-level cards):

1) Purchase 5-card GvG pack with gold

2) Purchase 5-card GvG pack with money

3) Craft individual cards with dust

 

I can link to it - but Blizzard has said you will only get new cards from Arena wins after the expansion is released. This doesn't seem to be in your list of 3. So playing the Arena will no longer give you any of the current (classic) cards.

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Ah, OK, I misunderstood what you were saying.

I thought you were saying the only way to obtain the new cards was as an Arena reward (which would be silly).

What you meant was the only cards you can get as Arena rewards (after the expansion) are the new ones. Which is apparently true (based on an interview I didn't see at BlizzCon), and a fourth method added to the three he mentioned on stage, but doesn't seem like such a big deal.

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I probably was unclear. Arena only gives new cards (not you can only get new cards from Arena).

 

I still don't get it: if you don't buy the expansion do you still get the new cards from arena? What are they selling as an expansions? is it free? Reddit is not answering this - maybe I am missing something.

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I don't think they are "selling" the expansion. It's "free" just like the original game was (and is).

What you buy, if you want to, are the GvG packs, or Arena tickets.

In this respect, it's unlike Naxxaramus, which was an "Adventure" not an "Expansion".

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I used to rate Blizzard fairly highly due to Warcraft2/Diablo/D2(and Expac), but I waited so long for D3 and it was such a massive let-down that I doubt I will pick anything else they do up.

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Welp, one mystery solved.

image_11.jpg

This is the chick I saw dressed in a perfect "Tracer" costume only hours after the Overwatch reveal. She was working for Blizzard, and they did a promotion/demo of the "BlizzCam 360" attraction at the convention with two of the other Overwatch heroes. People could pose with their friends for a 360-degree "surround" image.

Click here to see the actual interactive 360 shot, rather than a single frame:

http://blizzcam360.com/?id=110814130922

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I was digging that cinematic... until Tracer opened her mouth. Why can't they just do an English accent, and not copy Dick Van Dyke?!

My thoughts exactly.

In fact I was actually insulted by that fake English accent, time to go to war methinks! :P

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My thoughts exactly.

In fact I was actually insulted by that fake English accent, time to go to war methinks! :P

 

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In fact I was actually insulted by that fake English accent, time to go to war methinks! :P

Go to war, you say?

Very well. History will record that you brought this upon yourselves!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBHPmYIxaiI

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