Blizzcon 2013: The Relaxining

At Medieval Times

The lengths I go through to get the absolutely important coverage to you, dear readers. Because the internet in our hotel is somewhere in the “not worth it” range in terms of prices, I am sitting in the Hilton lobby stealing data like the gung-ho press hound that I am pretending to be, drinking a comically oversized coffee.

California has been largely good to me and yesterday was no exception. If you may remember from my blogpost yesterday, Days 1 and 2 of my Blizzcon odyssey were traveling so Wednesday was the first day I really got to sit down and hang out.

The day started off very early again as I think my body still hasn’t adjusted to the time or daylight. I managed to get up, grab a shower and breakfast before anyone in my room even had woke up so it made me feel vaguely productive even though technically I am only here on vacation versus doing anything useful like report on the actual convention. More people had started to trickle in. The first person I got to see was Ilaniel (aka Sarah Pine from WoW Insider) and we spent a bit of time together.

We decided to walk over to the fountain and met some podcast people that I’ve only ever watched/listened to: Jules from Tauren Think Tank (and her husband Arcayne), Hasteur from Group Quest, and Robert from Blizzcon Countdown. It always feels so strange to meet internet personalities or content creators for the first time since you have this image of what people look like in your head, even if you watch them online and them being in three dimensions is still incredibly startling. Maybe I’m just a robot.

I also met up with my hotel room-mate Hestiah. So great meeting one of my fab feminist lady pals finally! She had a great idea that we should go to Medieval Times so after getting to meet Olivia from Wow Insider as well, we took Anne, Alex and myself in Hestiah’s car and drove to Buena Park.

Now, I went to Medieval Times when I was 12 or 13 and it wasn’t nearly as much fun as this. I think that a lot of it has to do with who you go with and your enthusiasm for really getting into the story. We all bought flags and settled into the green section to cheer on our knight and be a part of the story. Also something I had forgotten about Medieval Times: the sheer amount of food they give you. We got half a chicken, short ribs, bread, tomato soup, drinks and a pastry. It wasn’t the best food but it was definitely good. The story was basic but the atmosphere is what made it so enjoyable. It also didn’t hurt that our section was the rowdiest and loudest when cheering. The Green Knight was also by far the hottest hot dude out there and we suspect that he’s the guy who plays Varian when the arena puts on the Warcraft-themed story. After everything was said and done, our voices were shot, our bellies were full and we had giant grins. For a group of nerdy 20-and-3o-somethings, it was pure unabashed fun.

After that, we drove home and I moved my stuff from Alex’s hotel room to mine in the Marriott. It’s very weird being in a hotel that feels upscale and is so close to the convention center. It will definitely help when the Saturday muscle soreness sets in and it makes me feel more centrally located to all the socializing. This was pretty apparent after Hestiah and I decided to sit in the lobby and drink and we kept running into people we knew. I finally got to meet Anafielle (of Sacred Duty fame), Kelesti, Sha of Happiness and saw another lady pal of mine, Dysmorphia.

Eventually we decided to take the party to the Hilton lobby and the atmosphere was decidedly different. Hilton lobby effectively acts like a nexus or a bus station for a lot of con-goers. It is consistently packed, especially at night because there’s a bar right on the ground floor, dead center. There were already many drunk people there and while I got to be introduced to some Twitter names or faces that I had heard of, I mostly felt alienated. Drunk people en masse, particularly when I am not that drunk, tend to wig me out. It didn’t help that most of them were dudes and I have problems with drunk dudes for obvious reasons. I left early and spent some time sobering up watching late night TV by myself. I’m not a sad sack, really, I promise.

All in all, yesterday definitely felt like a nice way to get in some vacation time before the madness of Blizzcon truly descended on Anaheim.

Editor’s note: I’ll add content links when I’m not in a hosed data connection and not on a laptop with no mouse.

 

Blizzcon 2013: The Road to Blizzcon

The Anaheim Convention Center, home of Blizzcon and blue water fire.

My promise to fully document my trip to Blizzcon has fallen slightly short just do to the level of fatigue that accrues when you fling yourself into the meat grinder that is modern air travel these days, on top of the whole Daylight Savings Time, time-zone wibbly wobbly timey wimey nonsense. But I will endeavor to record as much of my progress thus far, despite being on a laptop in an awkward position due to how our hotel room has a very low desk chair and a very high table.

If you would like to read my boyfriend’s version of events, you can do so over here on Wow Insider.

Day 1 

We began our auspicious journey by staying up all night so we could leave to go to the airport at Dark O’Clock. While I feel that air travel is largely still the most expedient way to go, especially long distances, the convenience is hampered somewhat by how much airlines have mangled service due to flagging profit margins. In the past 10 years or so, it has turned from something exciting where you step on a plane and land in a new magical place into a hellish torture that maybe only sadists would enjoy inflicting on people. Our itinerary to get us to Colorado, where we’d meet Anne Stickney, our third, took us via Houston. Milwaukee to Houston is not a convenient route by any cartographers stretch of the imagination and going several thousand miles south out of our way to swing back up on another flight is bizarre. There’s also the problems with the fact that airplanes are now just expanded sardine cans. Barely any amenities are given out despite the ticket prices and you spend most of your time cramped, hungry and irritable. I suffered the least given that I am half the size of my poor boyfriend, who was folded literally in half to try and squeeze into the airplane and then his seat.

Despite us almost missing our connection, we did make it to Colorado and it was all as promised. We met up with Anne and quickly got onto the road since we had to be at least to our Utah midway-stop by nightfall. Driving through Colorado and Utah was everything I dreamed of and possibly a bit more. As someone who grew up on the East Coast and largely around very small mountains covered in trees, the alien landscape that we were presented with on our drive was breathtaking. Mountains that went beyond the clouds, striations of every hue imaginable and alien landscapes that I know I had seen in quite a few sci-fi movies were around every twisty-turny  mountain pass or long desolate straightaway.

Driving by car, preferably when you’re a passenger, is easily the best way to do trips. Getting to laugh at jokes, debate World of Warcraft expansion news and goggle in awe at the scenery made the flight torture worth it.

The beauty of Utah.

We ran into a sudden snowstorm on our way through some mountains and so we went from Fall to Winter in the span of an hour. It also gave us the chance to see vistas kissed with snow once the sun re-emerged and then fog that would put Silent Hill to shame rising off the scrub grass.

Stopping on roadside stuff wasn’t really a highlight of the first day but we did get to experience the creepiness of truck stops. Including one in Beaver, UT, which yes, did have “I Heart Beaver” merchandise. I felt like mentioning that because I’m actually 12.

We pulled into St. George, Utah by the time it was dark and stayed there for the night, enjoying a part of our first day that didn’t involve being cramped.

Day 2

I do not sleep well in hotels. Either the temperature isn’t right or the blankets are too heavy or I am really uncomfortable. Despite only getting a handful of hours of sleep the day before and being so exhausted by travel and adrenaline, I still woke up at 4 AM with no ability to go back to sleep. I meandered around the hotel parking lot in the deep chill of the night and waited for the lobby’s complimentary breakfast to go up at 6:30 AM. Once the sun lightened up the sky some, I noticed that our town had a giant red cliff ridge directly above us. Talk about surprising.

We managed to get back on the road again by 8 AM for our second and slightly more exciting leg of the trip to Anaheim. The views were largely as expansive and inspirational as the first day but once we passed through the large mountain range nearing the Arizona and Nevada borders, we came across way more high desert flats. It was very Night Vale-esque for those of you who listen to that podcast, and suddenly the sights got a lot more weird. Tiny burned out shanty towns dotted the shrubby plains, odd roadside attractions and places that had only one stoplight or one church and nothing save for trailers seemed to be the norm.

We skirted around the outside of Las Vegas and it didn’t disappoint even if we didn’t stop. I got to see some of the glittering towers of gambling, the pomp of roller coasters and elaborate facades.  Alex commented on how most of the names we were seeing on signs also appeared in Fallout: New Vegas and I can see why. The idea of a post-apocalyptic game taking place in the desert of Nevada seemed all too apt. Given the number of ruins of old tourist attractions that we saw littered on our drive, it almost felt like we were  in the game already. (We made a plan to visit the grafitti-ed shell of a waterpark that we passed somewhere around Minneola, NV on the drive back)

Then we saw it: A giant road-side ad for Alien Fresh Jerky. Given both our propensity for good dried meat and the strange, we decided to follow that lead all the way into Baker, California where the jerky was to be found. Our questions were pretty routine – “Do the aliens make the jerky or are they what the jerky is made  out of?”

In a town that literally one road with a handful of greasy spoons, burned out trucks and bluffs, there was one shining beacon of tourist hysteria: Alien Fresh Jerky. It was a clean looking establishment with a made-up alien car, spaceship and promises of jerky on the inside. Once we stepped into place, we know why we went to all this trouble to get there. Sure, it was mostly overpriced food and tzotchkes of dubious provenance, but the excitement was being a participant of something this bizarre. We all love a good story to share and this is precisely why roadside ghost towns, giant balls of twine and houses filled with baby dolls continue to excite. We tried some invisible jerky, bought relics with alien faces for too much money and giggled at all the paraphernalia.

From there we sped on towards California proper. We stopped in Barstow, which was an official Route 66 stop and got to peer inside of a traincar shopping center and racist gas stations.  Finally we started to hit places that were familiar to me, as I had driven to Blizzcon from Arizona three years ago and it felt properly SoCal with the tiny oases of planned communities with palm trees dotting the crispy landscape.

Once we finally made it Anaheim, we promptly dropped our stuff off and went to peer at the convention center. Much to our surprise, there had been a lot of landscape work done. The entire front of the center that used to be a glorified taxi park and car-driven death trap for pedestrians in a hotel corridor was now this beautiful walkway with recessed lighting, statues and sculptures. There’s even a new fountain in front that lights up blue and white, with heavily graduated steps that take some climbing to get to. It feels like a much cooler place to meet up, hang out or take pictures now and while I know that it wasn’t really for that intent, it still makes this already magical voyage look the part. We took our pictures and went to finally relax.

I’m fully hyped for what the convention proper has in store now after that long, strange trip.

Blizzcon 2013: Where in the World is Apple Cider Mage?

Having fun at Blizzcon! Featuring Deedle, Zable, Tadge and Boddi.

Having fun at Blizzcon! Featuring Deedle, Zable, Tadge and Boddi.

I think my excitement generator for Blizzcon is now permanently cranked to 11. I’m starting to move from “This is in the future” to “This is really happening! I better go get things ready!” Thusly, I thought that taking a moment to write up my grand plans for Blizzcon might be of interest to some of my readers, fans and friends who want to know where I might be and what I’ll be up to while I’m gone. This year’s Blizzcon trip is different from my last go-around in 2011 in that it is:

  • A full-fledged vacation. I will be on the road for 10 days.
  • The first time attending Blizzcon as both a community entity and content producer.

The first point is pretty fun – I do not really get to go on vacations save for Blizzcon (this will be my fifth) so the fact that I will be traveling with my boyfriend is exciting. We’re also combining Blizzcon with a fun road trip to the convention and back with one of his co-workers, hence why we will be gone for so long. It takes a day or so to drive from where we’re flying into to California. I always love road trips so I’m stoked. I’m sure we’ll (Anne and I) be driving Alex up the wall with our incessant talking. I also will be bringing along my laptop, Nintendo 3DS, Kindle and phone because I cannot properly disconnect from technology or Internet while I’m gone. This also means that I will try to document my trip, potentially for my own amusement and for the blog.

The fact that I have a blog and podcast now, heading into Blizzcon, is why the second point is a wee bit scary. When I went to Blizzcon 2011, my blog had been up for maybe a week or two. Handing out business cards may have gotten me new readers but most people had never heard of me. I also wasn’t as active in the WoW fan-community as I am now – in fact, I missed meeting a couple of people that I consider really good friends because I simply had no idea who they were. I’m nervous of running into people that potentially hate me or see me as a fire-breathing man-hating ogre. I’m decently sure at least a couple of Blizzard CMs have my face up on the wall like a Wanted poster. The only thing I have going for me is that most people have no idea what I look like, so I’ll just say I’m actually Ghostcrawler.

This year’s Blizzcon feels like a lot more pressure to perform as a community entity and to talk to fans or present myself in a more professional manner. The list of people I’d like to hang out with, chat with or generally just touch base with is miles long. The parties I have on my docket are numerous and “making an appearance” seems to be tantamount to most other things. I want to hang out and have fun but I also don’t want to go to a giant place with thousands of people only to have people wondering where the heck I was. This is definitely an added layer of my persona that I will be grappling with now – not just going to the con as a casual participant and fan, but as someone that other people look to and want to meet. Most of it is a type of peer-ship, obviously. I don’t feel like I’ve reached any sort of celebrity status and given my work, I doubt that will happen any time soon.

The upside to this being is that people can finally see who I really am behind the internet “mask” of my persona that I have to present via my blog, podcast or Twitter account. A lot of people always presume I’m a really mean or angry person in real life but the truth is that I laugh way too much and I’m just as awkward and nerdy as most of you. I’m a bit outgoing (especially when I’ve been drinking adult beverages) but for the most part I like to chat and crack jokes. I’m not the humorless, nasty feminist that most people think I am. It’s hard to be that way all the time, though I might tell people to knock off bad language if I hear it! I hope people don’t feel like they can’t come up to me and say hi or have a conversation with me, I don’t bite (much).

Anyways, enough navelgazing, on with the schedule (that is due to change)!

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Blizzcon 2013: A Survival Guide

 

Cosplayers from Blizzcon. A blood elf is helping a hunter with her helm.

This sums up Blizzcon for me. (Taken at Blizzcon 2011)

Blizzcon (November 8th-9th) is almost upon us, GET HYPED!

However, before we get completely  hyped over this awesome event, I should probably give you some of my invaluable information regarding how I’ve managed to make it through four previous Blizzcons and been alive to tell the tale (and attend the fifth!) Most of this is pretty common sense information, advice but if you’re new to the Blizzcon or even convention scene, it could help make your time spent in Anaheim go from “meh” to “wow!”

Take care of your rad bods!

Unless you’re someone who spends their day walking upwards of 8 hours a day on pavement, the bodily toll on you during the convention will be anywhere from moderate to severe. Make sure you pamper your body and give it the best possible chance of recovery. Firstly, make sure you dress appropriately. This Blizzcon isn’t taking place during the scorching heat of the summer like previous years, so we don’t have to worry as much about overheating, but wearing good supportive shoes and temperature-appropriate garb is a good idea. With the exception of cosplayers, it’s better to go more for comfort than style!

Also really crucial is hydration. There’s water fountains and plenty of drink vendors inside and having a bottle of water with you when you’re outside of the convention is good, even if it isn’t very hot out. Water is amazing, drink some! On the subject of fluids, I know that I may have partaken of adult beverages while at Blizzcon and making sure you stop drinking well before you go to bed every night and getting a lot of water into you (and eating while you drink) keeps you from having a nasty hangover the next day. Make sure you know your limits as well and don’t get sick! It’ll just make Blizzcon worse.

If you’re someone that needs to eat on a regular schedule, there’s quite a few vendors inside but also restaurants within walking distance of the convention center. Making sure you get a good breakfast has always worked well for me, but also bringing snacks to your hotel room can help you feel full and not cranky all day when you’re constantly running and doing things.

Last but not least is making sure you get plenty of rest! Rest includes getting a decent amount of sleep but also possibly taking breaks during the day – it’s not even a “out of shape” thing but just making sure you don’t push yourself too hard. Sitting down inside the convention center or going back to your hotel room is great to let your legs get some recoup time. I also advise napping if you need it as well as just getting some “quiet” time away from other people. If you’re someone who doesn’t handle social situations very well, it’s amazing for your piece of mind to have silence and introvert energy replenishment.

I’ll spare you guys a hygiene spiel because you’re all adults and you know the benefits of washing your bods regularly. (Do it!)

Make a plan…but don’t necessarily stick to it.

Now that Blizzard has finally released a final schedule of events for the con itself, it means we can all better plan what things we want to hit. Perhaps you have meetups you want to go to, parties to attend as well. Pick and choose the things you really want to see and do. It’s hard not to want to do everything – everything looks really fun. Knowing at least the top things on your list you want to see helps you prioritize but let me tell you, not every panel is going to be as great as the rest, and oftentimes the best fun you can have is randomly wandering around just looking at stuff or hopping to a restaurant with some people (guildmates?) to grab a quick lunch. Every year I’ve made a really detailed plan of stuff I wanted to hit and only ended up doing a third of it. It’s so chaotic at times between people you want to see and content that you will just have to make some choices.

On the subject of getting your tickets, however, there’s only two real ways to go: Do you want to absolutely attend the opening ceremonies? If you do, get into the huge-ass line on Thursday as early as possible, otherwise take your chances on Friday morning and have way less of a line (or none at all) to contend with. I’ve done both and honestly, either strategy is fine. I definitely want to attend opening ceremonies this year, so I’m going to try and get mine on Thursday afternoon.

Speaking of Thursday, this is when most of the parties happen. Wow Insider/Wowhead’s party is happening then (at the Anabella), as well as World of Podcasts (Red Lion Inn). Some happen Friday, and then the final corporate one happens on Saturday night. But the big fan meetups tend to be Thursday evening, so that’s always something to consider hitting if you like that.

Also for the first-time attendees, most panels are simulcast in different places or spillover panel rooms so don’t fret if you didn’t get into the main D hall to watch something big. While it is nice to be in the room, so to speak, avoiding crowds and just chilling in a quieter hall isn’t a bad option, especially if it means you might snag a seat.

Get used to standing in lines.

This is central to the Blizzcon experience; you will be standing in a line a lot. Whether it is for buying merch, meeting someone to autograph something, or wanting to test out a game demo, you will probably be entertaining yourself in a myriad of ways. Bring a DS, or your phone or a friend to talk to. Otherwise, get used to memorizing all the lines from every cinematic in Blizzard’s history (They will be playing on the screens overhead, mostly likely.)

Make sure to actually get people’s phone numbers.

This is more of a concern for those of us who have smartphones, but your data traffic will get hosed. The convention center tends to either kill a lot of carriers or is so completely overloaded with data traffic that you cannot expect to be able to check Twitter to get in touch with people unless you’re outside. So get people’s numbers if you want to hang out with them. But also know that texting gets similarly hosed for no reason I can figure out so plan accordingly. Having a solid time and place to meetup is great because once you are inside, there’s no guarantees your phone will be useful.

Due to this, don’t expect to be able to live-tweet a panel. Trust me, I tried to when they announced Mists of Pandaria and it didn’t turn out so well.

Respect everyone’s space, time and privacy. Conversely, if you feel uncomfortable, don’t feel bad about getting out.

This is hinging on the fact that Blizzard didn’t pass a Code of Conduct for the con (yet) and so I felt it needed repeating: respect people at the con. If someone is cosplaying, ask to take their picture. Don’t harass them or touch them. Same goes for any other con-goer. If someone wants to be left alone or spend some time by themselves, let them. This con is incredibly nerve-wracking and overwhelming for people who are not great with tons of social interaction, so sometimes people need space. If you are someone who doesn’t comport themselves properly, especially when you are drunk, then maybe you shouldn’t drink. Let people have their own space and privacy.

On the flip side, if someone is making you feel uncomfortable, even if it’s just a “gut feeling,” don’t hesitate to get away.  Make an excuse, duck out, lose yourself in a crowd. Let friends know where you’re going if you’re by yourself. Ask someone to come meet you at a party or walk you home. If something serious happens, get a friend and find a security guard or Blizzard employee, or at worst, a cop or a hotel employee if something happens on-site.

And this goes for everyone, if you see something happening, tell someone. Or help the person out. I know it’s incredibly easy to just say that stepping in would screw things up but often sometimes just saying “Hey, is everything okay here?” tends to break up a tense situation. I had an incident in 2011 where some guys were being gross to someone well-known in the WoW community and so I told them to knock it off and leave them alone. It might not have really done anything but it made them stop so I felt like I did the right thing.

PS: If you’re a Horde player and you’re yelling at or otherwise harassing Alliance players, stop that shit. Are you two? Come on. There’s no difference between factions, you’re all nerds.

Quick Notes on food, travel, and other pleasantries:

If you’re flying into John Wayne airport/SNA, there are shuttles that cost around 10 bucks that will take you right to your hotel. There are also cabs but those tend to be way more expensive unless you split with a friend. LAX also requires a shuttle or cab and I’d opt for a shuttle.

The main restaurants around the convention center are the food court in the Hilton, the IHop across the street, and any restaurants in the surrounding hotels. There’s quite a few more places if you care to walk farther, such as the Denny’s up the road or Main Street Cone Shop that’s beyond the Anabella (personal recommendation, great food!) I also truly believe the Anabella’s restaurant has the best breakfasts. I am sad I am not staying in the Anabella this year just due to this reason.

Within quick walking distance of the convention center is an outdoor mall and Downtown Disneyland as well.

…but most of all, don’t forget to have fun.

This is a great time of the year to meet up with all the personalities, Twitter friends and guild-mates you’ve always wanted to see. Hang out with people, chat, and have a great time. The convention is super great as well but I’ve always found that the socializing aspect is the best bit of the convention. Being healthy, safe and well-informed is what will make your experience at Blizzcon amazing!

Apple Cider Goes to Blizzcon, Part 2

Cosplayers from Blizzcon. A blood elf is helping a hunter with her helm.

Hello, faithful readers! I hope you didn’t miss me too much when I was in California. Between Blizzcon, Hallow’s Eve (in-game), and working, I’ve been a busy little gnome. I didn’t forget you guys though. Here’s my breakdown of everything I did while I was at the convention last weekend.

Socializing

I got to meet a lot of really awesome people briefly or for long amounts of time during Blizzcon. I didn’t get to meet every single person I wanted to though, I had that little time there. The first night I got there, I went to the WoW Insider/Wowhead meetup. It was a lot of fun – they were giving out tons of prizes at the door. I got several booster packs of the newest TCG cards, Monster swag, and a couple imps of Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs perfume! (I managed to get a “Gnome” one, too!) The WI staff at the party were all very wonderful and nice. Bunch of them were live-casting at a table with some of the guys from Wowhead. I also got to meet Kinaesthesia from Vodka/Learn2Raid (a personal hero of mine, I watch all his videos), Pewter from Mental Shaman, Perculia from Wowhead, O from Stories of O, Trade Chat (I chased a couple of gross guys off of her when she was hanging out with her lady-friend), as well as hanging out with the Flavor Text Lore ladies quite a bit. I also got to see a few people from my guild too. I briefly saw Felicia Day and Robin Thorsen from The Guild. I wanted to say hi to Robin, as she’s my favorite actress from when I still watched the show, but they were being guarded by guys just to get through the party. The rest of the weekend was a blur of guildmates, Flavor Text Lore ladies, my server meetup (got to meet another mage I raided with), and some Elitist Jerks people. I met Dysmorphia from Games and Trips and shared some amazing Polish liquor called nalewka. Dysmorphia is my sister-in-feminism, and her blog is amazing. The crown jewel of my weekend was meeting some of the Blizzard staff – last year it was Ghostcrawler, but this year I got to have long conversations with both Nethaera (who is very cool) and Zarhym. I thanked Nethaera a lot for being a woman inside of the gaming industry (as she’s been in it for a very long time) and giving me hope that you can be a public face for a gaming company and still survive. As for Zarhym, he’s a real sweetie, along with the rest of the staff manning the “Ask Blizzard” booth. I didn’t get a picture with either of them, but I’ll have fond memories of getting to speak with them face-to-face.

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

I was sitting with Mythrai (who writes at her own personal blog) as we got a good seat for both the opening ceremonies, as well as the World of Warcraft preview and when they finally announced the new expansion, I felt a little funny. How could it possibly, actually be true? As the preview rolled out, I accepted it a little more. Sure, the world had been fleshed out. Pandas seem feasible. I’m still more excited about the amount of casual content, but I’m still coming to grips with Pandaria as a reality. It didn’t hurt that it was explained by Cory Stockton, my favorite developer at Blizzard. My pet collecting habit seems to make me think I’ll love the “World of Pokemon” aspect with the pet battling system or at least financially when I level and sell off my rare pets. The talent revamp is something I’m a lot more edgy about, admittedly. It feels TOO simple at this point, especially for mages. I’ll go into greater. detail about my feelings on that in a later post this week.  Challenge dungeons as well as expanded non-raid PVE content and exploration is what I’m most excited about. I got to play through the starting zone on a pandaren monk and I have to say that even at this early stage, they really knocked questing and fighting out of the park. The environments look great and the feel of the monk class feels pretty intuitive at this point. I might have to roll a gnome monk!

My only real hesitation about this newest expansion is that most of my raid team seems to want to quit over it, and the subject of cultural sensitivity. Blizzard messed up the original Pandaren Monk pet by dressing it in Japanese attire. I hope this doesn’t turn into a mish-mash of Asian cultures and alienates their audience because of it; ape-ing (or is it “panda-ing”) most of someone’s cultural dress, attitudes and beliefs into a game made by mostly white developers for a predominantly white audience just doesn’t sit right with me in the end. I am white myself, but I know friends of mine that play World of Warcraft that have already been hurt by this expansion decision and that bothers me greatly.

I also hope that Blizzard does the right thing and properly develops the female Pandaren models. I’m tired of women being an afterthought when it comes to their art direction and design.

World of Warcraft’s Annual Pass

I admit, I already bought this. For those who don’t know – the annual pass is something they rolled out at Blizzcon and made available immediately to everyone. It is essentially a cell-phone contract for World of Warcraft; you agree to pay for 12 months with whatever payment plan you currently use (game time cards, 1 month-1 year subscriptions, etc.) and you receive a free Tyrael’s mount in-game, access to WoW’s next beta, as well as a free copy of Diablo III added to your account. It was explained that this is because they don’t want their WoW subscribers to feel torn between two games. I definitely smell a little bit of fresh revenue (I mean who doesn’t) but I still got it anyways. You can get me to do anything if you involve a sparkly horse. And for those curious, yes you can buy the Diablo III collector’s edition and add it to your account, even if you get it for free via the annual pass. What it will do is simply add 4 months WoW game-time to your subscription to offset the cost.

Which brings me to my next point…

Diablo III

After what seemed like an interminably long line (thankfully I was waiting with Mythrai and sucksmybrain), we finally got to sit down in front of the demo. Part of me had waved my hands at it, not wanting to stand in a long line. “Oh, it’ll just be out in a couple months.” “Oh, I’ll just grab someone’s beta account!” It was definitely worth the wait. Some background on Diablo III though – I’ve never played it before Blizzcon. I’ve just had the strange coincidence of managing to go a ton of the panels for the game, been friends with other Diablo fiends. Everywhere I look, there’s talk about Diablo. But I’ve never gotten into myself. That didn’t stop me from getting excited about it and once I had been seated in front of my own demo station, I immediately got squee-ish.   The graphics are amazing and despite never have played a game in 3/4ths view or that uses click-to-move/click-to-cast, I rolled up a sorceress and went off on my merry way, killing undead and doing quests. The only downside was only have 2 spells available to me at any one time. However, if you have the benefit of getting the beta (PASS ME A KEY, OKAY?), definitely try this. I think all of you won’t be disappointed.

Psst! Also, there’s a great article up at WoW Insider about why people new to the Diablo franchise should play it.

Murkablo belches fire onto Apple Cider.

…Everything Else

After those things, most of Blizzcon was a blur of parties, hanging out, meeting people, catching glimpses of GSL, World of Warcraft arena tournaments, standing in lines for things I wasn’t sure of, and eating tons of delicious food. After a while I got a little tired of walking everywhere and just flopped on my hotel bed to rest and have some peace and quiet. Blizzcon always tires me out and puts me into debt, but it is worth it every year. The cosplay was amazing, the people were amazing, the panels and events were amazing. Travelling home made me sad but I’ll always have the memories I make every time I go to keep me company.

The only blot on my experience was something I’ll go into in my next post. Tell me about your Blizzcon experience (whether via the DirectTV stream, online stream or in-person) in the comments!

Apple Cider Mage Does Blizzcon 2011

Business cards with the blog's header image on them.
Sorry about the quality of the image today – I had to take it with my phone’s camera in low light. If you can’t tell what they are, those are my business cards. I’m taking a cute white box full of them with me to Blizzcon this week. Oh, wait, I didn’t mention I was going to Blizzcon? How silly of me! Then let’s back it up a bit and start from the beginning.

The Convention

Blizzcon, for you World of Warcraft devotees, is Blizzard’s annual convention that celebrates all of their game properties – most notably World of Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo. It takes place in Anaheim, CA, in the city’s multi-hall convention center, right near Disneyland. I’ve personally been going every year since 2008 and I always have a ton of fun. This year should be no exception – not only does their promise to be some juicy unveilings (new Warcraft expansion, possible DLC for Starcraft II and maybe even a whiff of Blizzard’s secret project, Titan) but a lot of talk about next year’s hot release, Diablo III.

The schedule of events for the convention has been posted (sort of) via their mobile phone app, as well as various Warcraft news sites, but not on their actual event page. I’m using their Android app to figure out where I’m going each day and what I want to see. A rough plan of things I want to hit looks like this:

Friday

  • Opening Ceremony  11 AM-12 PM, Main Stage
  • World of Warcraft Preview 12:30-2:00 PM, Main Stage
  • World of Warcraft Class Talent Systems 2:15-3:15, Main Stage
  • World of Warcraft Dungeons & Raids 3:30-4:30 PM, Main Stage
  • World of Warcraft: 4.3 Raid and Deathwing 5:00 PM-5:50 PM, BlizzChat: Live Forums
Saturday
  • World of Warcraft Lore and Story Q&A, 4:15PM-5:15 PM
Items that are bolded are ones I’m definitely not missing, hopefully, as I go to them every year. You can also see that my schedule is fairly Warcraft-oriented. I tend to keep my schedule fairly loose though and allow myself to wander or go elsewhere as necessary.

Meetups and Parties

Besides just attending panels and trying out demos of the new games, I also go to a couple of social events in and around the convention. Most notably is the WoW Insider party at 5 PM on Thursday, October 20th, at the Annabella hotel, which is right around the corner from the east entrance of the convention center and up the block. It’s an amazingly gorgeous mission-style hotel and I’ve had a blast every year I’ve attended this party. The WoW Insider staff are always fun people to hang out with, with lots of MCing, podcasting and prizes/swag. Just don’t get pushed into the pool. This year the party is being jointly sponsored by WoW Insider and  Wowhead and should promise to be the biggest party yet. Don’t be late and get stuck outside because there’s no room! I heard that this year there’s even going to be faction-inspired cocktails so everyone can imbibe for the Horde or the Alliance.

I also go to my server’s meetup every year but since Blizzard doesn’t display the times for that until the day of the convention, I have no idea when that will be. In past years, I’ve taken part in the Elitist Jerk’s /flex picture outside, as well as hanging out with some of the fine ladies at WoW_ladies.

This blog doesn’t have a ton of fans (yet) but hopefully if any of you guys are going to Blizzcon, that maybe we’ll get to say hi. If anyone wants to hang out or get in touch, you can send me an e-mail at my address from my contact page. Also if anyone wants to invite me to anything, just let me know as well.

Hope to see some of you there!