BlizzCon 2010 Recap and Summary
So the team is straggling back in from BlizzCon, and slowly but surely catching up on our sleep and resuming our normal duties!
For those of you who are looking for our minute-by-minute coverage, you can find it on our
page. If, however, you're looking for a recap and summary of the festivities—and of course all the pictures we took—then this is the place!
Check after the break for thoughts, news (summarized in a more readable format), and pics!
Blizzard had a tremendous success with the
pet that they were selling for charity, and as a result are planning to release another pet for charity— a
. The pet is scheduled to go on sale in November.
The StarCraft II development team put together
four custom maps
, with in-development versions playable at BlizzCon. They will appear for download online shortly, and all four will be free to download and play.
is a 3-round cooking puzzle game, where zealot chefs compete for the title of Executor Chef. I didn't get the chance to play this one, but I got the vague impression it was earlier in development than the others.
Left 2 Die
is (obviously) a parody of the
Left 4 Dead
franchise, with you and several friends teaming up to take on a brand new (and yet strangely familiar) strain of zerg.
I DID get a chance to play, and it is
. It's a faithful rendition of the original Bejeweled on one side of the screen, but instead of earning you points, combos earn you energy—energy which you can use to spawn AI-controlled units that cross the board and attempt to destroy your opponents base. Last base standing is the winner.
is Blizzard's own take on the classic "Defense of the Ancients" game type, which originated with custom maps for Blizzard's own games and now lives on in original titles like
League of Legends
Heroes of Newerth
, and the upcoming
from Valve. The best part is that all the heroes are classic characters from Blizzard games—Sylvanas Windrunner, Zeratul, and more. Blizzard called it "something like the Super Smash Bros. of Blizzard." Who knows? Maybe we'll even see an appearance from
The Lost Vikings
Chris Metzen announced the fifth and final class in Diablo III: The
The Demon Hunter is clearly a professional, a bounty-hunter type—unlike the classic Demon Hunter archetype from the Warcraft universe. D3's Demon Hunter dabbles in shadow magic but primarily does her fighting with traps, gadgets, and conventional ranged weapons, like crossbows—she's specifically pictured dual-wielding hand crossbows John Woo style. More information in the links below:
Blizzard also announced the addition of
to Diablo III! More details follow, but the info page on the official site can be found at
World Of Warcraft Panels
Dungeons & Raids Panel
From now on, you will never have to go traipsing around Azeroth looking for the quests for a particular dungeon. All instance quests will have their quest-givers
inside the instance
There will be heroic versions of
, but there will be
versions as well—appropriately tuned for (approximately) the same level range as they were before, but with all the new content and encounters.
Blizzard is making radical revamps to all the classic dungeons, with three main goals: classic dungeons should be
shorter, less confusing, and more fun.
With this in mind, they're cutting down some instances and breaking others into multi-wing dungeons. Dungeons which were specifically mentioned for this treatment were
—though it's safe to assume many others will get changed as well.
Cataclysm is bringing in a new raid philosophy as well—specifically, Blizzard wants:
More dungeons available at launch,
Cooler raid encounters, and most importantly...
Blizzard wants raiding to be more manageable, and for a competent guild to be able to clear a raid in a single night of dedicated play.
Flexible Raid Lockouts:
We already talked about being able to "downshift" raids from 25-man to 10-man and back, but Ghostcrawler also talked about how Normal raids will no longer have raid IDs. Instead, raid progress will be saved by
, on a per boss basis—you'll be able to join any raid you want, as long as it wouldn't give you an opportunity to kill the same boss twice.
Note that Heroic Raids will still work on the Raid ID system.
have a detailed interface explaining your current raid lockout status, and you'll be able to link this information to other players in chat just like you can link your profession information.
In the 4.1 patch (the one AFTER Cataclysm), Blizzard plans to roll out an
upgraded dungeon map system
. Each dungeon map will include detailed information about each boss—their name, a 3D image, lore/flavor text, loot, and abilities.
New Dungeons/Raids Coming in 4.1
An indoor/outdoor raid in the Elemental Plane of Fire. 7 bosses, leading up to a fully re-vamped version of
The Abyssal Maw:
An underwater 5-man dungeon based on what Blizzard learned in
. Blizzard describes it as "Nothing like
Be sure and go back to the
for the play by play on this one—it's better if you get the details written as they're happening. To summarize, though—the raid this year was
, vs. a collection of some of the scariest bosses in WoW history! The blues called it "The Defense of Orgrimmar", and it took place right outside the gates of the new, Cataclysm-era Orgrimmar.
The first round was against 4 uber-buffed versions of the
bosses—the lineup was
, and after a few wipes, a warning from Cory Stockton not to stand in the fire, and a little bit of zerging from the graveyard, Paragon managed to bring them down. The second round pitted them face to face with
! With a little more preparation, Paragon was able to bring this round down without a lot of trouble.
The third round was a curveball—4 uber-buffed 5-man bosses from the new Cataclysm dungeons! They faced down
! Rom'ogg gave them a particularly nasty time with
Chains of Woe
, and a nasty Cleave finally brought down the raid—but time was running short by this time, and Blizzard gave them a bye to the next round.
The climactic battle actually drew Paragon up to Orgrimmar's ramparts to do battle with four of Azeroth's most fearsome dragons:
Vaelian the Corrupt
! Paragon even managed to eke out a win on this one—only to have a developer-controlled Deathwing fly in from above, and wipe the raid with a single breath. Blizzard left us with a final thought: "This never would have happened if Thrall was warchief."
I attempted to do a write-up here, but after a little while I realized I was just re-writing the
. Check it out there instead!
Same as above. Go check out the questions and answers on the
Costume, Song, & Dance Contests
came back again to host this year, and did an admirable job despite some organizational difficulties. The dance contest even featured a live band, which some people loved and some hated — me, I was just impressed that they knew the lyrics to Tunak Tunak Tun.
The (unfortunate) highlight was due to a mistake in the setlist—the dancer was attempting to do the undead male dance, but the band was given the (much slower) undead female music to play. The guy made an earnest attempt to dance to it, but eventually attempted to hang in the air too long—and broke his leg on the landing. He had to be carried off the stage by the WoW community team.
The guy should have won.
(That guy who rushes out to help him right at the beginning, with the mustache? That's
Also, major props to the guy who proposed to his wife on-stage as she showed off her costume! +1000 nerd cred right there! Most of my pictures from the costume contest came out really poorly, but the few that didn't look terrible I've included here! For more (and awesome) costume contest pics, be sure to check out our good friend Mike B's (aka
) Flickr photostream here:
This was a short one, and I didn't attend—it was Fewyn who wrote the live blog for this one. I can give you the basics here, though:
Firstly, there was some discussion about the Cataclysm Intro Cinematic we posted about
a little while ago
. This is one of the most complicated cinematics Blizzard has ever attempted—when the effects designers were first shown the storyboards, they laughed. The flames on Deathwing's flight alone are over 40GB in size!
Second, the brand new Worgen cinematic debuted!
All of the assets for cinematics like these are located elsewhere in the game, but the team spends a lot of time working on transitions, special lighting effects and the like—things like the rain in the worgen cinematic above.
Around the Rest of the Con
Blizzard has posted a summary of all the rest of the con events—ie, the ones we didn't live-blog, like the
panel and such, so be sure to check those out!
Diablo III Panels
A Hero Emerges
Going in, the devs knew they needed a ranged class. The original concept for the Demon Hunter was actually a Ranger, pictured below. They moved away from the Ranger concept because he was too light, and they wanted a darker alternative to the prayer and holy magic of the Monk.
They also started exploring the idea of having a Demon Hunter who was actually a demon
—which was a cool idea, but they figured it would make it kind of hard to sell your junk if the villagers were always running in fear. They experimented briefly with a half-demon—like, a human with a demonic arm—but finally scrapped the idea because no one wanted to play a character with a demonic arm, and then never actually used it in melee. They finally settled on glowing eyes, to suggest the dark powers the Demon Hunter was messing around with.
The idea was to keep a constant balance between three themes: conventional ranged weapons, traps and gadgets, and shadow magic.
The Demon Hunter is also getting a "Grenade" ability, which actually bounces off of walls and floors using real physics.
The "Talent Tree" style concept for skill progression has been abandoned. You now have a simple skill list. A new slot unlocks every few levels, and each level gives you a skill point. Each level you can put a point in an existing skill, or buy a new one—if you have the slots for it.
Rather than putting points in your attributes as you level up, D3 is adding a new system called "Traits". These are class-specific passive bonuses, which increase things like armor, or dodge chance. Each class has a different selection to choose from, and each one has it's own custom name, lore, and flavor. These make each character feel a lot more unique—attributes are just numbers, but traits feel like more of a part of the game world.
D3 is adding a new feature called the
, which is basically a separate inventory just for your charms. The idea of having to choose between the convenience of inventory space and the extra power granted by charms was...not a fun choice.
This was mentioned last year, but: Runes are back, but now they modify actual skills rather than modifying items. There are several different colors of runes with different effects (e.g. one color tends to cause you to regenerate life or mana in some way, one color tends towards multiplying the number of attacks or projectiles, etc.), and each color has 7 different ranks. The higher rank the rune is, the crazier and more over-the-top the effect.
PvP in Diablo III will be completely confined to the new battle arenas—no one will
attack a play who doesn't want to be attacked.
no PvP rewards
. The only thing you get for PvP-ing is bragging rights. There will be a progression and a match-making mechanic, but they will favor dedication over power. Lots of points if you win, but still some points still if you lose.
Diablo III will never be balanced around PvP, and it will never be an eSport.
As soon as you make a game about eSports, competitive gaming, and PvP, then character balance has to dictate every decision you make. Diablo II was about exploring the different possibilities of your character, playing with different builds, and finding a way to play that no one else had ever found before, and Blizzard wants to preserve that in Diablo III. And also...
There are over
possible builds in Diablo III...
. There is no possible way that anyone could balance that many builds. Blizzard knows a lot about game balance—including when to give up. As a result, focus will be on team-based play rather than one on one pvp. There will be a heavy focus on counters
Arenas will have a "rounds" mechanic—best 2 of 3 or 3 of 5, etc.
This was a great panel—a lot of discussion about the way that Blizzard crafts art and set pieces for Diablo III, and a few juicy tidbits about the way the gameplay in D3 is expected to work.
All monsters have at least three states—idle, suspicious, and hostile.
Crafting monster AI is a difficult subject, because it's not always clear what the goals are. You can't just craft Ai where the goal is to kill the player as efficiently as possible—that's not a recipe for a fun game. You have to use other tricks—like having the monsters run
the player to attack rather than directly to the player, or building halting steps into the monster's walking animation.
Obviously, the most important part of a monster's behavior in D3 is what it does when you kill it. D3 is focusing heavily on the death animations, which is something I think we can all be glad about.
Weapons and Armor
The inventory icons in D3 are actually based off of the item's 3D model when you wear it on your character—so if the same breastplate looks different on a Wizard than it does on a Barbarian, the armor's icon will reflect that.
D3 will feature
These will be random drops that you can use (as a consumable) to change the color of any piece of armor. There will even be rare armor dyes which have even flashier versions of the normal colors.
When you wrap around to a higher difficulty setting, your gear will NOT reset. Nightmare-level gear will always look more awesome than Normal, and Hell-level gear more awesome than that.
One of the risks of a random loot system like D3s is the fact that your progression is unpredictable. If you get a bad set of rolls, you may go a long time without a critical piece of gear. In D2, Vendors were your safety net—if your gear fell too far behind in a certain area, you could always buy gear at the vendor. In D3, that safety net is your team of
You have three Artisans:
who crafts heavy armor and weapons, as well as repairing and adding sockets to gear.
who deals in wands and staves, and can enchant and identify items for you.
, who crafts rings and amulets, and can combine gems (like a Horadric Cube) and for a price, can pry a gem out of a socket intact.
Your Artisans will actually level as you level—there are some pictures below showing the progression of the tents in the caravan.
There are 14 different levels of gem quality in D3, and only the first 5 levels ever actually drop from monsters.
The Rest of the Con
More of the usual!
Looking for more pictures? Check out
Mike B AKA Fony's Flickr album!
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