I attended Blizzcon 2007 which was held in the held in Anaheim Convention Center last week. I missed the first Blizzcon so I was excited to be able to make it this time. For those of you that don’t know, Blizzcon is a gaming convention put on by Blizzard Entertainment, makers of World of Warcraft, Diablo, and Starcraft.
There was speculation before the convention that Blizzard would announce the second expansion to World of Warcraft. That turned out to be true and The Wrath of the Lich King was unveiled the first day. In addition to several Lich King presentations the expansion was playable on demo stations at the convention.
Blizzard had recently announced Starcraft 2 which is the sequel to their hugely popular Starcraft real-time strategry game. The demos of Starcraft 2 looked great and it was clear that they worked hard to preserve the original gameplay style.
Throughout the convention day there was programming on a main stage and a “developer track” off in a secondary room. The talks on the main stage covered subjects such as expansion demos, class discussion, dungeons & raids, PvP, professions and items, world lore.
There was an interesting talk about the live-action Warcraft movie being made by Legendary Pictures. This was the first time any solid information about the movie had been released. On stage were Paul Sams and Chris Metzen from Blizzard and Thomas Tull (CEO) and Jon Jashni (Chief Creative Officer) from Legendary Pictures.
The movie will be told from the Alliance perspective and is planned to follow an epic story line. They mentioned movies like Braveheart and Lord of the Rings when discussing their vision for the action sequences.
It was announced that the budget for the movie was over $100 million. It became clear that Legendary Pictures was taking the movie very seriously and were not simply interested in making just another movie based on a video game. Given Legendary Pictures track record (e.g., 300, Batman Begins) it’s possible that this may turn out to be a quality film.
I attended the Warcraft Lore session hosted by Chris Metzen who is the Vice President of Creative Development at Blizzard. Chris has been the man behind the Warcraft lore and story since the very first game.
The session covered many interesting topics and aftewards I had the opportunity to ask Chris a few questions. My first question was regarding the markings on Druids in feral forms and if they had any lore significance. I wondered if they were possibility runes of power (i.e., runic magic). He replied that there was no official answer but that they did likely represent runes.
I also asked Metzen for some background on the Great Bear Spirit. It’s not referenced anywhere in the books or lore, so I was curious how it fit in. He started by mentioning Ursol and Ursoc, who are the twin bear gods that NE druids follow. He said that the Great Bear Spirit, quote “might be their daddy”. If that’s true, then the Great Bear Spirit would be a fairly significant figure in WoW mythology (e.g., some sort of elder Eternal).
Ursol and Ursoc, shown to the right, were known as Eternals that lived long ago. They were actually huge, note the size of the trees in the picture. Unfortunately Ursol and Ursoc fell defending the land (along with most of the Eternals) during the War of the Ancients (~10K years ago).
One of the highlights of the convention was playing the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. The expansion is set in the frozen land of Northrend which is a new continent. One of my favorite zones in the original game is Winterspring so I felt right at home riding around the snowy hills of the Howling Fjord.
The expansion has a Nordic theme and there was definitely a Viking vibe throughout the zones I visited. All of that sounds really great to me and I can’t wait for the expansion to be released.
The finale to the convention on Saturday night was a concert put on by Video Games Live. The concert featured a symphonic orchestra along with a choir performing music from the Starcraft, Diablo, and Warcraft games. The concert was great and I’d love to catch a Video Games Live performance again sometime.
Opening the concert was Blizzard’s own “Level 70 Elite Tauren Chieftan” band which played Warcraft themed heavy metal songs, including their popular “I am Murloc”. I had discovered the previous day that my favorite Blizzard artist Samwise is the lead singer of the band. That made the performance even more cool.
Overall, Blizzcon 2007 was a very enjoyable convention. I got to meet some cool people from Blizzard and attend some interesting panels. Actually playing the expansion was great and the final concert was the icing on the cake.