As you probably know, Blizzcon is a convention by Blizzard Entertainment. They’re responsible for creating games like Warcraft, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, Diablo, Starcraft, and Overwatch. Blizzcon, which took place last Friday and Saturday, gives various opportunities for fans of the games to engage with each other and the company.
Con Before the Storm
Before Blizzcon even began, there were opportunities to party. There is a free event called Con Before the Storm at the Hilton Anaheim, which is a Wowhead event. As the name suggests, it is a community of World of Warcraft (WoW) fanatics who helped create the event that has been ongoing for years. However, as time passed by, there have been more and more guests from every Blizzard game including streamers, players, casters, team representatives, etc., and it is an excellent opportunity to have a one-on-one interaction with them.
It is an opportunity to interact with the rest of the community interested in Blizzard games, and make more like-minded friends.
Summary of Blizzcon Activities
Blizzard publishes a schedule of events to attend for the two day event. This includes esports competitions of each of the games, and presentations by the developers, programmers, artists, managers, and voice actors. You may also have reviews of your portfolio if you are looking for a job. Blizzard employees give valuable advice throughout each of the opportunities. Blizzard strategically says “To Be Announced” on some of the schedules so that they won’t spoil the audience. What is announced is typically released after the opening ceremony.
You can test demos of upcoming games under development. There are also opportunities to play some of the old games at the Blizzard Arcade. Vendors may amass around the convention depending on the theme they cater to. There is an opportunity to trade items which include collectible patches, statues, funkos, etc. with other attendees.
After all, the convention sells out the moment that tickets are available, and it is a convention that involved attendees from 59 different countries. At Blizzcon, there is always an activity to do, and you can do anything you want. You just can’t necessarily do everything that you want so it is important to prioritize schedule planning!
The opening ceremony is the very first event that I went to. There is one live stage, but there are also simulcasts in every huge room so that the audience could have the opportunity to see the games under development. The presentation takes about an hour, and speakers have about 15 minutes each to talk about their games. I personally enjoyed World of Warcraft, Overwatch 2, and Diablo 4 trailers on the big screen. Rooms cater to different audiences depending on the game that you want to watch or demo. This may include new games, expansions, sequels, and prequels of the games.
Overwatch World Cup Day 1
After the opening ceremony, people go to different events. To be completely honest, I personally did not really care about attending the Overwatch World Cup event on Day 1 of Blizzcon. There were 4 games happening at the same time. The casters would talk about one game, then move to the next game in the middle of a team fight sometimes. Moving on to the next game is difficult when the audience doesn’t know how the teams play and the context of how they get to a certain position.
The problem I personally had with that is I can get that experience in the comfort of my home. Last year, both days were in the arena, but the format for the world cup was different. The reason I love to see games live is because of that joy of seeing your favorite players as well as the hyped up cheers of an awesome crowd. That is no fun in just simulcasts, so I moved on to other events around the con.
Understanding Overwatch World Cup Format
The method that they used made sense because they probably only want one match to be played and the seeding to hold value for playoffs. It is also easier for teams to scout potential players since most coaches and analysts from different organizations will watch Blizzcon especially for the Overwatch World Cup. However, that would not be appealing to audiences who actually paid money to be at Blizzcon.
Teams have to prepare for a lot of teams and assume that almost every map can be used. In the Overwatch League, you only prepare for one or two teams a weekend with several maps in the pool. In Overwatch World Cup, you have to prepare for any team that you face, because certain matchups can throw one off, even if it isn’t “meta”. World Cup is only 3 days, where 2 of the days are in Blizzcon.
Developers and Artists
I went through various panels involving developers and artists, who gave insight into how they work on projects. Making skeletons of the character and applying the similar skeleton to similar characters was an interesting demonstration. The skeleton would involve joint movement, facial expression, arm movement, and many different assets.
There was always a way to mechanically move the parts so that it is presentable to the audience. The developers talk about how many takes it took in order to create the scene or cinematic. The developers apply the same skeleton to a different character with modifications.
The artists talked about the skins. Once you have the skeleton as well as important gaming details like hurtboxes, hitboxes, etc. then you can decorate the character any way you want. They did demonstrations on the artwork and talked about different skins that a character may have.
The skills obtained are applied to gameplay as well as cinematics. The developers and artists also talk about how scenes are created and how ideas are bounced back and forth in order to come up with a final solution. The demonstrations I have seen relate especially to Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4.
There would never be games without these developers and artists. Voice actors and professional gamers are like the front line that the audience immediately notice in a video game. However, actors and gamers certainly acknowledge that they would never be where they were without the creators!
Starcraft 2 Thoughts
I attended the Starcraft 2 (SC2) Competition semi-finals. I invested my time in high school in SC2, so I knew the fundamentals even though my mechanical skill is not as good as it used to be. I also lack knowledge of the meta, but the building tree and basic mechanics is essentially the same. SC2 ended on Friday, so it became part of my schedule since it means I get to see a Grand Final. The great news is that I saw Shaz of the Los Angeles Gladiators. Shaz was supporting the Finnish superstar Serral in SC2.
For those who don’t know, SC2 is a real time strategy game. You will need map awareness, micro-management, macro-management of your units and structures. A very stressful game indeed with so much to think about by yourself! There have been games that can take almost 30 minutes to end, but with high risk high reward strategies, it can end in as little as 3 minutes.
Starcraft 2 Competition Experience
I was able to witness Reynor, Serral, Dark, and Classic. Reynor ended up beating Serral, and Dark ended up beating Classic. Audience members can see how players manage resources and how their economy is constantly being spent in the process. All 4 of the players are finalists for a reason. Dark ended up winning the entire thing, but definitely well fought matches by all 4! 2018 Champion Serral lost to Reynor 4-3 in an intense game 7! Dark ended up dominating the competition easily beating Classic. In the anticipated Grand Finals, Dark ended up defeating Reynor 4-1, but the matches themselves were relatively close!
Despite not being able to see much Overwatch, Blizzcon Day 1 was excellent!
Day 2 of Blizzcon meant more Overwatch, since the Playoffs involving the Top 6 teams will be played in the arena. This will all be detailed in part 2!
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