BlizzCon: Networking 101

BlizzCon: Networking 101

When the first set of alpha invites came out for Warlords of Draenor, I couldn’t help but notice that there were plenty of disappointed people. Hey, completely understandable. Everyone wants to get in and take a sneak peek at the upcoming expansion even though it’s all partially developed and incomplete.

Here’s what bothers me though.

I observed on my Twitter stream (among others) that many people felt that they deserved to get a shot at it. They blog about the game. They create videos for it. They’re an influencer or someone who is up and coming in the community.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking to myself “Who are these people?”. Yes, it’s one thing to produce quality work. Yes, your work should speak for itself. But no one’s going to know how awesome you are unless you network and promote yourself. I get that as gamers, many of us tend to be introverts. We shy away from large crowds. We don’t like doing the hand shaking or the high-fiving.

Actually, even if you’re not some content producer and you want to meet some terrific individuals, then this is a post for you.

If you really don’t give a fajita about meeting other people at all, then skip the post.

If you want to maximize your BlizzCon experience and build some terrific memories and relationships, for cryin’ out loud keep reading.

Really though, you can take these guidelines and apply it to meeting just about anyone. It could be a Blizzard employee, a cosplayer, shoutcaster, a blogger, YouTube personality, or what have you.

The preparation

Shower. It’s a wonder I even have to mention this. But please shower and apply some deodorant. For the men, I recommend Old Spice (but not Fiji because that one’s mine). Go easy on the deoderant spray. Holy hell, let’s not turn BlizzCon into the boys locker room where people were spraying Axe willy nilly. It should go without saying but, brush your teeth too. Actually, just practice good hygiene in general.

Know who to engage. This is a bit of a no-brainer. I’m assuming you have an idea of who you want to go up to and say hi.

Dress to impress. Don’t dress up like a slob. Luckily, you’re at BlizzCon so the dress code isn’t too formal or strict. Literally anything that’s a t-shirt or better will do. For the men, if you want to go one-up, shoot for polos or a dress shirt. Shorts, jeans, or slacks will suffice for the bottom. If you’re Canadian like me, then you’re limited to shorts because damn it’s hot. You’ll be doing a ton of walking and standing around, so pick shoes that will help you feel at ease.

For the women, I asked BlizzCon veteran Elke (@plumwd) for her thoughts. First thing she said to me was to think comfort during the day! Wear comfortable shoes, because walking on the concrete inside the convention center will quickly kill your feet after a few short hours. Save the heels for hanging out afterwards.  If you’re frequently cold, be sure to bring a light jacket or sweater to wear inside the con. Despite the masses it can get chilly (at least, for her it does). Ultimately, you’re going to want to be comfortable because you’re going to be standing in many lines or sitting for a long time waiting for your favorite panel. If you wear makeup, be sure to bring what you need for touch ups with you such as oil blotting tissue, lipstick, powder, etc. You’ll be happy to have it handy.  Plan outfits for both day and night. Think more causal and comfort for while you’re inside the con, and then maybe something dressier for the evening. You never know who you’re going to meet or the opportunities that may present themselves for adventures in the evening. I always bring at least one business casual outfit just in case.

Best practices

Approach from the front, not the sides or rear. Chances are, the person you want to speak with is already in a conversation. Wait for a gap in the conversation. Make eye contact or even do a little wave. It usually catches their attention.

Have a conversation starter in mind. It’d be a little embarrassing to go up to someone, introduce yourself, and then have nothing to say. Have a conversation topic or two in mind. Remember, that you’re at BlizzCon and you’re there largely because you’re passionate about Blizzard’s universes.

For example, if I were to meet my buddy @Elvinelol for the first time I’d say something like “Hi Elvine! I’m Matt! I wanted to thank you for establishing the LF BlizzCon site. It really bailed out some of my guildmates who almost couldn’t make it”. If you’re really not sure what to talk about, just remember you’re both at the same convention.

Potential icebreakers include:

  • What did you think of that panel on [game/feature]…?
  • What are your thoughts on [feature/hero/gameplay aspect/character]…?
  • What inspired you to start getting involved with [project/video/blog/game]…?

A firm hand shake. Don’t be limp. Don’t lock them into a vice grip either. Since you may be drinking, ensure your beverage is in your left hand. You don’t want your first handshake to be super cold to the other person. If your hands are clammy or super sweaty, wipe them on your pants first.

Know when to disengage. Have you ever had a friend overstay their welcome when you invited them over? You’re all relaxing and having a good time watching Game of Thrones and sharing stories about your recent escapades. The next thing you know, it’s 2:30 AM and they’re on your couch completely oblivious to the time still expecting you to entertain them. Look, you’re not going to be the only one going up to and saying hi to your favourite personalities. Give them a bit of space. Keep the time of day in mind. It’s one thing to approach a person you admire during the day. It’s another when it’s late in the evening. Ask them for a card or their email if you wish to continue to stay in touch. If not, close off with a "It’s great to meet you!" and meander away. 

I would not end a conversation with a hug unless the other person initiates and if you’re comfortable with it. I’ve witnessed many “oh god, oh god, oh god, why am I being hugged” faces and it did not look fun. Hand shakes, fist bumps, or waves are acceptable.

(Seriously, personal space).

Body language matters. Chest out. Shoulders wide. Smile. Doesn’t have to be a cheesy or fake grin. But a half smile or a slight smirk will make you look more approachable. No one’s going to want to talk to someone who has their arms crossed and shoulders hunched over with a frown on their face. You’re oozing signs of “I don’t want to talk to anyone, leave me alone”. Look approachable! Your mental state has a subconscious effect on your body. When you’re down, you tend to look a little more dejected. You might have a slight frown. But little known tip, it works both ways. Faking it till you make it can trick your mind. Adopting a more confident and cheerful stance seems to have an impact on mood. Works for me, it might for you! If you’re apprehensive out there, stand up straight, force a smile, and throw out your chest. You might feel like an idiot but it’s a good thing people won’t be able to tell what you feel by looking at you. They’ll see a confident and inviting person who just might be cool to get to know.

george-clooney Seth Rogen michael-cera

mila-kunis zoe-saldana

There’s a slight progression from George to Michael. But it’s all natural. No grins or anything but a slight smile is all that’s really needed to feel at ease. No one’s really showing any teeth here, except for Mila. Even then, it’s just barely noticeable. God, I love her.

Stupid Ashton.

Have a business card. If you think people are going to be able to recall your email or Twitter handle after a few days of partying and drinking, you’re sadly mistaken. Get a few business cards printed out. I suggest Moo Cards. Have your name, your website, and email or Twitter handle. I try to make an effort to email and message the individuals I’ve met up with as a follow up and to acknowledge their contributions to the WoW community.

How to make an introduction. I actually did a whole lot of this in previous years (@Itsxia and @Kristin can attest to this). I had friends and guildies who wanted to meet certain Blizzard staff or podcasters who I already had met before. Not only do you look like a hero, but you’ll help break the ice. “Hi AWESOME PERSON, I’d like to introduce you to my friend. She’s a big fan of your YouTube channel and plays a Priest. If you have a moment, she has a quick question about being a PvP player.” Then politely and quietly disengage out (and hit the bar).

Assume good intentions. This is a big one. Most of your interactions tend to be in the evening. Some people will be tired after walking around all day at the convention and might not be in the mood to talk right now. Maybe they’re giving you the cold shoulder. Try not to take it personally. Try to catch them later.

Accept defeat. Sometimes, you’ll run into someone who just isn’t interested in getting to know you. No matter how hard you try, they’re sending out all the wrong signals and just want nothing to do with you. It’s not your fault. It takes two to tango, remember? If you can’t dance with this partner, go find another one. Again, it isn’t your fault. This isn’t a game. You can’t simply just level up your social skills by annoying people. Going up to someone repeatedly when they turn you down isn’t going to make them want to open up to you after try number 30. These kinds of individuals are rare. For the most part, everyone I’ve spoken to has been polite and cordial at minimum.

Follow up. This is a big one. Once you’ve arrived at home, follow up with the people you met! Follow them on Twitter if you haven’t. Drop them an email. Send a message saying that you were delighted to meet them in person and mention your own blog or project for them to check out.

Nerves getting to you? Take a drink. Loosen up a bit. Remember that everyone is there to have a good time. The ones that don’t want to meet people usually bolt to their rooms or are off to the side somewhere within their own fortress of friends. No big deal.

At the end of the day, the BlizzCon experience is entirely what you make of it. No matter what happens, have some fun! Don’t be discouraged.

Of course, you’re free to say hi to me at any time. I promise, I won’t bite.

To the veteran con go-ers, what other pointers would you offer to the wid-eyed, bushy-tailed first time BlizzCon attendees when it comes to meeting new people?

Eventbrite? Or Eventbust? Thoughts on BlizzCon 2014 Tickets

Eventbrite? Or Eventbust? Thoughts on BlizzCon 2014 Tickets

Bullsh*t.

Horrible.

Complete clusterf*ck.

Those are some of the words on Twitter used to describe the ticket purchasing process this year for BlizzCon 2014.

First of all, congratulations to everyone that managed to secure and score tickets for this year’s BlizzCon! I managed to get some for myself and Conquest will be returning in full force again with some new faces (and old).

What exactly was different about this year versus previous years?

The Old System

Historically, Blizzard has done a fairly good job managing ticket purchases. You had to keep refreshing the page, select your order, and you’d get thrown into a queue. There would be an indicator that showed you what place in line you were. If you were 1356th in line and there were 10000 tickets available, you knew you were locked in for a ticket. Once the indicator reached zero, that meant all the tickets were spoken for and had been sold. There were no more left in the system.

The New System

This year, Blizzard opted for something different. They decided to use Eventbrite instead. A few of my guildies had used Eventbrite before and mentioned that the system itself had crashed during smaller events and concerts (with a capacity of 2000 seats). BlizzCon hitting the 20000 ticket mark made me wonder if Eventbrite could even handle the expected load.

My guild has done this annually now. We had a thread set up to coordinate who was able to buy tickets, what their maximum purchasing capability was, and who needed tickets. We were all on Mumble when the tickets went live and I hit refresh, selected four, and was thrown into their waiting room. Some of my guildies were faster on the draw than I was and managed to proceed right to the checkout page. I had given up hope. I figured if I was in the waiting room, there was no way I’d be able to get tickets. But I had no visual indicator as to how many tickets were remaining so I stayed on there.

Minutes later, I was thrown out of the queue and informed that the event had sold out and that there were no more tickets available.

Ugh.

My first year of not getting my own BlizzCon ticket. There goes my streak.

Or so I thought.

Resigned and frustrated, I kept slamming my F5 key just because. Then I noticed my page had changed. The sold out notice was gone. Tickets were available again. Perplexed, I decided to go for it. Changed my ticket quantity to 3. Was told that it wasn’t available, but I could buy them in singles. Said screw it, selected 1 ticket and was thrown into the checkout page again. By this point, all but 4 people in guild had tickets that were spoken for. 3 of us managed to check out in time and get order confirmations on our tickets.

The last guy was still stuck and wasn’t able to get his either as it had thrown him another sold out error.

On a hunch, he was smart enough and decided to wait a few more minutes before trying again. Sure enough, 24 minutes after the first wave of tickets had been released, he managed to purchase a single ticket for himself. Everyone who had signed on and committed to a ticket managed to get one.

Weird right? What the heck happened?

Based on what I saw and my conversations with others, tickets were held on the checkout page by people purchasing them. If people did not finalize their purchase or if their check out process timed out after 8 minutes, those tickets would then be released back available for purchase.

However, the rest of us in line had been thrown out and we would not have known about it. Why would it tell us that tickets are sold out if they weren’t actually sold out?

I felt that was absolute ludicrosity. Way preferred the old system. At least I knew for sure that I had a chance. And at least I knew that once the supply bar was empty, it was literally empty. I understand that the system this year had the unintentional side effect where people could show up late and purchase a ticket 20 minutes later. Neat in a way, but not exactly fair for the people who started the F5 refresh spam on the dot.

How can this be solved?

Easy. Put in something that the previous BlizzCon pages had: A bar that shows how many tickets are remaining. Calculate it based on actual tickets confirmed and sold. I think that’d go a long way towards placating many interested players.

Oh and don’t actually throw people out of the queue.

Why They Switched

Good question. Why did Blizzard switch?

One reason why we’re using Eventbrite is because there is a quick and easy system to help us monitor purchases and be able to take tickets back from scalpers/bots.

Source

BlizzCon is notorious for having a huge number of people trying to sell and scalp tickets. Listings appeared on Ebay weeks before the actual BlizzCon ticket sale. I’m not sure about the countermeasures or the success rate of trying to stop and minimize the effect of scalpers, but I loaded up Ebay and decided to search it up:

blizzcon-ebay-2014

Maybe it’ll get shut down? Who knows?

Blizzcon – Open Q&A with Wynthea

Matticus is still finishing up his epic vacation in lovely southern California, and so you’re stuck with me providing as much content as I possibly can for the next couple of days!

(Yes, that means the how-to Disc piece will definitely finally go up. I’m sorry it’s taken so long.)

Meanwhile, the thing on the top of my mind is still Blizzcon, and more specifically Cataclysm. I’m sure you’ve already read all about my adventures, but if you have more specific questions, either about the con in general, or the xpac specifically, I’d love to answer them as best I can. To that end, this post is an Open Thread – you ask your questions; I’ll answer them! Talk to you soon!

Luv,
Wyn

Wynthea’s Tales from Blizzcon: Part 4

…..Continued from Part 3

Here’s the thing about an event like Blizzcon – there is SO MUCH going on that it overwhelms your senses and strips you of your faculties. You may have all the best intentions of blogging about every little detail, but what you end up coming away with is a jumble of emotions mixed with images…. and ringing in your ears if you stayed for Ozzy.

If you want coverage of Cataclysm, specific panels, or any other information, you can find the info on the official site, WoW.com, and even You Tube. If you want to hear about this Troll’s experience, keep reading!

Day 3 – a.m.

So getting up the next morning was tricky, but we still hauled our buns to the convention center by 10am. Why? I think I mentioned that my boyfriend is a huge Starcraft fan. We got there to see the final rounds of the RTS tournaments.

I have to say, I never really understood why these games were so popular, even 10 years after their release…. but now, I know. These matches were like chess, but with more pieces, better graphics, no taking turns, and now a room full of spectators. Every great play was greeted with cheers, and every killing blow with applause and whistles. The sheer speed of the players was like nothing I’d ever seen – spending less than a second on each view of the screen, just enough to click on their troops and direct them, then zoom back to another critical area of the map.

The video archive will be up soon on Blizzard’s site, and I highly recommend taking a look at it.

After yesterday’s issues getting back to the con from lunch, we decided to eat in the center that day – which wasn’t a bad idea at all. The food was quite good, and since prices already included the Anaheim area’s 9% tax, not much more expensive than what you’d find in the area. I don’t think I can say enough that the venue was perfect for Blizzcon. Most conventions sell nasty pizza and soggy french fries. I had a portabella mushroom wrap and a brownie. There was fresh fruit everywhere, and surprising things like frozen yogurt, candy apples, grilled-outside hamburgers, and chickpea salads. Seriously, next year, I don’t think I’ll bother to leave the center at all.

In between match-ups, the screens broadcast all the WoW panels I was interested in seeing – from better seats. The timing of the panels was well orchestrated, and used as entertainment for crowds that might be waiting in line for demos, or, like we were, for the tournaments to start. I’ll sum up my thoughts on all the news about Cataclsym later.

Day 3 – p.m.

After the tournaments, we meandered around the con, visiting vendor booths and exhibits we’d skipped the day before. My GM called to let me know that they’d saved seats for us in the main stage area, and we headed over for the closing ceremony.

The first band that played was Blizzard’s in-house metal band, Level 80 Elite Tauren Chieftan. Say what you want about them, the idea that a bunch of video game nerds get a chance to live out their rockstar fantasies is pretty awesome. I know I’d do it if I could. I’d heard mixed reviews beforehand, but was pleasantly surprised by their live performance – who knew Mike Morhaime, Blizzard CEO, could rock a bass like that?  Lead vocals are provided by Samwise Didier – the same guy whose face appears when there’s no default icon for a spell in WoW. But all of this was just a prelude to the obvious headliner – Ozzy “The Prince of Darkness” Osbourne.

Confessional: I enjoy good music no matter the genre, so Black Sabbath and Ozzy have made their way into my iPod – although when I listen to metal it’s usually more along the lines of Theatre of Tragedy or Finntroll. That said, I was skeptical about Ozzy’s ability to perform. We’ve all watched him age, and witnessed the effects of a Rockstar lifestyle. I wondered would he be worth the hype live?

I shouldn’t have worried.

Ozzy gave, hands down, one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen.

That’s the footage I took of Ironman; there is SCADS more on YouTube. I especially recommend watching this:

The only thing is that to keep the audio levels appropriate so that those watching the DirectTV stream could hear the band, you can’t quite hear the crowd. Several of my guildies even asked me why the audience didn’t seem too enthusiastic….. on the contrary, it’s Tuesday, and my voice still isn’t back from the Saturday night concert. Apparently, it was also the first instance of crowd surfing at a Blizzcon.

We followed up the concert with a last dinner with the whole guild together, and that was it. Blizzcon was over. Only spanning two days, we felt like we’d been there for at least four – the days so long and packed with a million unique experiences.

The thing I’m most certain of is that I cannot WAIT to go again next year!

I’ll wrap this up soon with my thoughts on Cataclysm and the future of WoW.

Luv,
Wyn

Wynthea’s Tales from Blizzcon: Part 3

…..Continued from Part 2

Here’s the thing about an event like Blizzcon – there is SO MUCH going on that it overwhelms your senses and strips you of your faculties. You may have all the best intentions of blogging about every little detail, but what you end up coming away with is a jumble of emotions mixed with images…. and ringing in your ears if you stayed for Ozzy.

If you want coverage of Cataclysm, specific panels, or any other information, you can find the info on the official site, WoW.com, and even You Tube. If you want to hear about this Troll’s experience, keep reading!

Day 2 – p.m.

We returned from lunch, too late to grab seats for the panels, but with plenty of time to get in a quick game of Starcraft II before the costume contest. Not being a Starcraft player, I checked out the line for Cataclysm, to see if I could take a second crack at it, and maybe play Goblin (okay, I’m lying, I just wanted to play more Worgen) but the line was insane, so I just wandered over to an un-crowded spot and sat on a table.

Suddenly, it got very, very cold, and I heard a sinister voice whisper in my ear “How are you enjoying Blizzcon?”  I turned around, and before me stood The Lich King Arthas himself, staring intently at my very soul.

Okay, that might be a bit of exaggeration, but I did quite suddenly find myself having a conversation with Rob, the Rockstar Con-goer cosplaying Arthas. At least, we were trying to have a conversation, but were interrupted every 30 seconds by people who, quite understandably, wanted to take his photo. In between camera flashes, he revealed his terrible secret – when you’re in a costume, you can’t possibly go stand in line for a drink, and maille  gauntlets make it tricky to get your wallet out of your pocket!

That’s right, I, Wynthea, entered into the service of the Lich King. I managed his wallet, and got him a couple of much-needed bottles of water and a straw. I think it would’ve been a lot less humorous if it had been anyone else – there aren’t too many terrible jokes you can make about helping a moonkin, or your average draenei….. But a conversation with Arthas? Priceless.

For some reason, the polite thing to do seemed to be to NOT ask him for yet another picture, so I didn’t take one with him, but I did find one of him on stage for the Costume contest over at Ten Ton Hammer.

Arthas 

He made the entire thing from scratch, over the course of several months. The “plate” is really a very stiff leather, to keep the weight down. He had to ship it to and from his hotel to be able to wear it! That’s dedication. (And, I have to say, he’s the most polite possessed, butchering, vengeful former prince of Lordaeron I’ve ever met.)

The caliber of the costumes was amazing this year – here’s a few of the snaps I took:

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After taking my leave from Arthas, it was time to make my way over to the main stage so that we could try to get seats for the costume contest.

Jay Mohr was back as Master of Ceremonies, and although rambling, he was hysterically improving the entire ordeal.

We were sitting far enough back that I couldn’t get pictures of each costume (and pictures don’t do the dances justice) but the Grand Winner was as amazing as last year’s. I give you Mistress of Pain from Diablo II, by Lorraine Torres:

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Tyler Winegarner from Game Spot put together the best, in my opinion, gallery of the Costume Contest, so head over there to check them out!

If you want to see the dance Contest, I found some video uploaded b y Bizman & Hatty of Dreadmaul:

 

I was very disappointed that Audrey Yeager, who did the Troll Female two years ago, and Draenei Female last year didn’t make an appearance. Katie, from Miami, who won last year with an awe-inspiring Female Undead, got cut off before the part of the music she was working up to, which was unfortunate.

This year’s winner was quite good, though, and it’s nice to see the under-appreciated Dwarf Females get some love.

After the contest was over, we walked to a local hotel bar for the Twisted Nether meet up, to hang out and drink with Saresa, and a lot of the rest of the Blog Azeroth crew.  My guild showed up, and decided it was a good night to buy me shots, so I don’t actually remember taking my favorite picture from the night:

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Which is Lodur and @kikirowr from twitter.

There may have been Tequila involved for the rest of the night… I’m not sure.

To Be Continued…..

Luv,
Wyn

Wynthea’s Tales from Blizzcon: Part 2

….Continued from Part 1

Here’s the thing about an event like Blizzcon – there is SO MUCH going on that it overwhelms your senses and strips you of your faculties. You may have all the best intentions of blogging about every little detail, but what you end up coming away with is a jumble of emotions mixed with images…. and ringing in your ears if you stayed for Ozzy.

If you want coverage of Cataclysm, specific panels, or any other information, you can find the info on the official site, WoW.com, and even You Tube. If you want to hear about this Troll’s experience, keep reading!

Day 2 – a.m

We left the hotel at around 8:30 – plenty of time, so we thought, to beat the line to get in the doors when they opened at 10 a.m. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAaaaaaaaa…… right. Since it was obviously going to be a long wait no matter what we did, we instead got a cup of coffee with Matticus and Lodur. In the same place, for the first time, EVER!!! (I brought Matt his shirt, but forgot to bring Lodur’s with me that morning…)

Good lookin’ bunch, if I do say so myself. Syd, unfortunately, couldn’t join us this year. (But I’ll be shipping her souvenir WoM Blizzcon ‘09 shirts!!) I’d also like to take a second here to thank our sponsor, Byte Me Gaming, for such amazing shirts. They have been so kind to our team, and we really appreciate their support!

Since we’d eaten breakfast and had a chance to wake up, we decided to go get in line for the door… It was about 9 at this point, and the doors were supposed to open at 10 for the Opening Ceremony. The line snaked from the door, around the convention center, and wound its way around in a parking lot before looping back onto itself. There was a kind of snarky camaraderie among the con-goers, comparing notes about the game, their guilds, the line, the weather (we Texans insisted that standing in the sun in 75 degree weather was a joyous experience, while the Canadian contingent insisted it was almost UNBEARABLY hot. Canadians are advised to never, ever, ever visit Texas in the summer.)

This is the line in the parking lot:

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But, you know what? I think these people have put on a Con or two before, because that long, long, long line kept moving. And we made it inside for the start of the Opening Ceremony. We didn’t make it in time for SEATS, of course, but that didn’t matter – there were massive screens throughout the convention center to broadcast whatever seemed to be the most popular panel. You could walk around, check out the exhibits, play with the toys… and not miss a single thing.

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Sorry that one’s a bit blurry, but you can see the screens that were all over the place. I’m not sure how many of you have been to convention center expos, but usually the overhead lighting is fluorescent and harsh – Blizzcon is dark, and dramatically lit by colored, flashing track lights. Vendors are handing out glowsticks and necklaces, and it really helps keep the entire place cool, even with 25,000+ bodies inside. There were so many cool exhibits and vendors to check out, but they kept as much floorspace open as possible – the layout was sheer genius, with plenty of space for groups of people to walk through without bashing into each other. The stars of the con, though, were the people in costume – but more on that, later.

Okay, so I’m inside now. I have no idea where Lodur got to, Matticus has run off to watch the Opening, my boyfriend yelled something over his shoulder as he sprinted towards the Starcraft II playable area, (True facts: He stood in line and played Starcraft II something like 5 times over the course of the two days. When that game comes out, I don’t think I’m going to see him again for a few months.) and… the opening ceremony is standing-room only. So I wander off by myself, watching on the screens, listening to the welcome, and other announcements…. when I notice another bank of computers, like the ones set up for Starcraft II and Diablo III. But these are all shut off. The signs are all covered in black crepe. What game could possibly need to be demo’d and played by con-goers, but have no signage? Perhaps the UNANNOUNCED EXPANSION?!?!  I roll them dice, and hop over the chains set up to corral a non-existent line.

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At this point, I frantically call Matticus and tell him he has to come get in line with me, because if I’m right, this is about to become the longest line at the convention.

The conversation went something like this:

Wyn – “Matt, I found a bunch of computers at the other end of the center, I think it’s going to be the xpac, come get in line.”

Matt – “Not now, Wyn, I’m watching stuff.”

Wyn – “So am I, nerd, there’s screens here, too. COME GET YOUR DWARVEN BUTT IN LINE!!!”

So He did. And we waited. And waited, and watched the rest of the opening…. and then, Chris Metzen said it. CATACLYSM. The coverings were ripped off the signs, and…. well, look who was right. Matt and I are now 15th or so in line to play the expansion. (You’re welcome, Matt.)

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That’s his “I hate it when she’s right” face. And he should hate it. Because I like to gloat. A Lot.

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The computers are all turned on, and we file in as quickly as we can so we can snag as much playtime as possible. They limited us to 20 minutes, and we could play either Worgen or Goblin. They started us at level 6, and content was ready up to level 10. (If you could get there in 20 minutes.) As incentive for players to complete quests, rather than just run amok, quests that offered an item (as opposed to just money) as a reward ALSO gave a “Red Blizzcon Bag” which, when opened, might contain a nice green item, or something that translates into a real-world win of a poster or video card. As soon as the guy in charge of our section mentioned this, I won a poster! “The first one of the Con!!” He told me. I rarely win anything, so I was beyond excited, but I didn’t look at it much – I just wanted to get my 20 minutes worth. Matt played Goblin, and I chose Worgen. A few of you may remember that I started out as Alliance on a Human Priest… and the Worgen are amazing enough that I may dabble back on that side.

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One of the things I love best about WoW is the obvious attention to detail and story – and this new race is no different. The starting zone has a decidedly gothic, almost steampunk feel to it, but manages to be nothing like Duskwood or Undercity. It borrows from previous human elements in the game, but the time that Gilneas has spent isolated is obvious – in everything from architecture to NPC costumes. (They wear tophats!!!)  It reminds me of the first time I stepped into Howling Fjord, and saw the new take on the Undead look and feel. This has a similarly awesome twist on new/familiar themes, and is breathtaking. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see or play with any of the old world as transformed by the cataclysm, but I plan on hurrying a bit more to finish my Loremaster title!!!

As for the poster I won; I found out later that it was supposed to look like this:

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Mine looks like this:

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I haven’t yet figured out who all of the signatures belong to, but it looks like the entire development team. I asked one of the guys working the Cataclysm demo about it the next day, but he hadn’t heard anything about a fully signed poster at all – and guessed it was special because it was the first one. It’s sitting in a poster tube right now, until I can find a frame for it to go in my living room, over my computer.

Another small misadventure happened where in the excitement, I left my phone next to my demo computer. I’d like to give a huge THANK YOU to the staff at Blizzcon who found it, turned it in, and even walked with me to the lost and found when I didn’t know where it was. My experiences with everyone working, both for Blizzard and for the Anaheim Center were absolutely top notch – It’s no wonder Blizzcon is in the same place every year, the venue is fantastic.

At this point, my boyfriend and I both had goodies we didn’t want to carry around the convention, so we headed back to the hotel room and grabbed a quick lunch before coming back.

To Be Continued…..

Luv,
Wyn

Wynthea’s Tales from Blizzcon: Part 1

Here’s the thing about an event like Blizzcon – there is SO MUCH going on that it overwhelms your senses and strips you of your faculties. You may have all the best intentions of blogging about every little detail, but what you end up coming away with is a jumble of emotions mixed with images…. and ringing in your ears if you stayed for Ozzy.

If you want coverage of Cataclysm, specific panels, or any other information, you can find the info on the official site, WoW.com, and even You Tube. If you want to hear about this Troll’s experience, keep reading!

Day 1 – p.m.

My plane lands, we get our gear, and walk out the airport. My boyfriend and I hadn’t really come up with a solid plan for getting to the hotel, but there in the California afternoon sun was a gigantic bus with DISNEY on the side. We looked at each other, giggled, and got on board. One of the neatest things about iPhones is the built-in GPS, so we figured out that we could get dropped off at the Disney hotel, walk past the convention center to pick up our goodie bags and badges, then head on to our real hotel. 

This worked out rather well, since the line for badges had mostly dissipated by the time we got there. Here’s what it looked like:

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That took about an hour – they kept it moving as fast as possible. Meanwhile, I was on the phone nonstop, texting Lodur, Matticus, and my Guildmates. Turns out my GM was in line behind me, and I got to meet him in person for the first time, along with a couple of my other guildies!

The guild went out for dinner afterwards – we had about 10 people all together. In typical fashion, I was the only Lady. That’s one thing about Blizzcon – while women are the fastest growing gaming demographic, there was still never a line for the Ladies’ room. Which is a nice change.

Lodur and I were staying at the same hotel, so after dinner I got to meet him in person for the first time, along with a few of his guildies. Stories were swapped, drinks were had, and I have no idea what time I went to sleep.

To be Continued…

Luv,
Wyn

Blizzcon Bound: How to Pack

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Packing for a short trip can seem harder than packing for a long one – you need pretty much all the same stuff, just in smaller amounts. I travel frequently, and have gotten used to packing everything I need in about an hour. Here’s my mental checklist, and a few additions that other people might commonly need, to help take the stress out of your trip to Blizzcon.

Toiletries:

Think about what you do as you get ready in the morning, and as you prep for bed at night. Take a day and think about it as you’re getting ready. Put everything you use in a pile instead of putting it away. That’ll give you a pretty good idea of what you need to bring with you.

  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste/Mouthwash minimusziplock

  • Contacts case, solution, glasses & case
  • Comb/hairbrush
  • Deodorant
  • Hair styling products: Rubber bands, gel, hairspray, etc.
  • Makeup
  • Medications/Vitamins
  • Shampoo/Conditioner/Soap/Lotion (some of these will be provided by your hotel – so you can probably skip at least the shampoo and soap unless you need something specific)
  • Razor/Shaving Cream

Check and see if your hotel has hair dryers available if that’s something you use daily. Most of them take up a lot of space in your bags, and while you can get travel size models, it’s better to not have to buy an extra one that you won’t use much.

Travel size stuff is DEFINITELY worth it, though, when it comes to toiletry products. Check the cosmetics section of your local store for either small sizes of things like toothpaste, shaving cream, and body wash, or for small, empty bottles that you can fill from your larger bottles at home. Post September 11th US Travel Regulations require all liquids in carry-on luggage to be 3 oz or less, and for all of your 3 oz. bottles to fit into a single 1 quart zip-top bag. If you have to bring a bigger bottle, you’ll have to put it in a checked bag, rather than a carry on. Some airlines charge extra for ANY checked bags, so if that’s your plan, double check to make sure you won’t have any extra fees.

Clothes:

Are you planning to go to Disney Land? Stay an extra day or two? Do you get cold easily? Do you usually wear sneakers or sandals?

A good rule of thumb here is to wear your bulkiest items on the plane, and pack the smallest ones. If you want to bring both sneakers and flip-flops, pack the sandals, and wear your Nikes. Wear long pants, and pack a pair of shorts. Wear your jacket on the plane. All of this adds up to saved space, and makes it less likely you’ll have to check your bags. (On the other hand, I had a friend who would do this in reverse – she wore her smaller items on the way out, and the big ones on the way back, that way she had built-in room for souvenirs. Pretty clever.)

But how much to bring?

  • Bring 1/2 as many pairs of pants as there are days in your trip.
  • Bring undergarments, shirts, and socks for each day. (Unless you live in sandals, like I do, then you can bring fewer socks. But you’ll still want at least 1 pair.)
  • 1 nicer shirt in case you decide to go somewhere nicer than In-n-Out (Don’t stress about this. California is generally very casual, and a polo or collared shirt with jeans will work for you 90% of places. You don’t need a tie, a blazer, or panty hose.)
  • Bring your bathing suit. (your hotel might have a pool, and it sucks to buy a bathing suit in a hurry. Besides, they’re small and pack easily.)
  • Pajamas. ESPECIALLY if you have a roommate!!!

Miscellaneous:

  • ID – Passport (if coming from outside the US), Drivers’ License, School ID.. .Just something with your photo on it. Bring two, just in case, and keep them in different places.
  • Cash. At least $10, never more than $100. (I usually just bring $20, and whatever $1′s have around.)
  • Electronics. Camera, iPhone, iPod, Cell, Laptop.
  • Business cards, or other way to exchange information quickly
  • Breath mints/Gum (You’ll thank me.)
  • Your battle.net authenticator. (You might need it to play while you’re there. I’m not sure, but better safe than sorry.)
  • Printouts of your barcodes, and the credit card you used to pay for them

Things Everyone Forgets:

Yes, everyone. No, not always. (You have a list!)

  • Q-tips
  • Cotton balls
  • Nail Clippers/File/Tweezers (you CAN take a small pair of nail clippers in your carry on luggage, but don’t bring your nice ones, just in case your security personnel are cantankerous. Bring a cardboard emery board instead of a metal nail file.)
  • Sunscreen (for Disney, the Beach, etc.)
  • Chargers for your: iPod, Camera, Laptop, etc.
  • Shopping list, or presents for guildies. (You know you said you’d bring something for so-and-so. Don’t forget it! You’ll feel like a jerk!)

If you’re wearing a costume:

This isn’t really my area of expertise, but a few things come to mind.

  • Duct Tape
  • Small Sewing Kit
  • Special Make-up and accessories
  • More Duct Tape

I realize that some will have more specific needs, but this should cover most people. Feel free to make additions in the comments. The best thing to remember is that Anaheim is not in the middle of nowhere, and if you forget something, you’ll likely be able to get it there. See you soon!!

Luv,
Wyn

How to Find Matt and Co. at Blizzcon

These just got in yesterday. They look freakin’ awesome! A giant big thank you to our sponsors from Byte Me Gaming!

Check ‘em out!

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All three of us will be sporting these during the convention. I suspect people will get Lodur confused for me many times while we are there.

Don’t stare too closely at the person sporting the shirt! Legends say that a person who catches the full blast of the shirt may experience some side effects.

Such as instantaneous attraction to the wearer.

Yes, that’s Wyn in the bottom shot.

I think it’s about time we all updated our profile shots on the bottom…

Surviving Blizzcon! : Getting Ready

Surviving Blizzcon! : Getting Ready

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So, the first round of tickets has come and gone, and some were lucky enough to get tickets to the grand old event. With the con rapidly approaching, it’s time to get things set to make the most out of the convention.

Clothing

First thing I want to talk about is the area the convention is taking place in. Anaheim California. Anaheim is a wonderful city, lots of fun things do to there and lots of great sites to see. The biggest concern is going to be the weather of the season. August is a hot time in CA. The average temperature in August is about 86ºF / 30ºC. It’s also  a pretty dry time, not a lot of rain. You’re going to want to make sure you pack some lighter clothing. Trust me, nothing says bad like showing up and standing in line to get in while being overheated!

On the topic of clothing, bring some really comfy shoes. I can’t stress this enough. There are a lot of lines, and a lot of the panels become standing room only. There is a decent chance you’ll spend the better part of the day on your feet. A couple of my guildies made that mistake last year, and there were a lot of sore feet and one of my guildies received an ongoing back issue as a result.

If you are planning to attend in costume, you may want to consider when you want to show up in said costume. Last year a few people came to opening ceremony dressed to the nines. The vast majority showed up in normal clothing, went back to the hotel before any good panels opened (usually about an hour after opening ceremony) and came back in garb. This seemed to be the preferred method for the majority of the people I ran into.

Accesories

This is for all the technophiles out there. Blizzard has a list of items that they deem acceptable or not acceptable to bring into the convention. This list is updated yearly and you can find it among the FAQs for blizzcon. You can bring video cameras and phones as well as backpacks into the convention, but there are a few exceptions. You cannot video tape any game play footage or the closing concert on Saturday. iPods, iPhones and MP3 players are premitted but are not allowed to be hooked up to any test machines. Seriously don’t try it. I saw someone get their iPhone taken away last year trying to hook it up to a Diablo 3 test machine. Laptops / computers are NOT allowed. Don’t bring them they will not let you in if you try to bring one in. Bring them if you want but make sure you leave them in your hotel room. If you are coming in costume, do not try to bring any sort of weapon with your costuming, it’s not allowed. Essentially don’t bring anything that may potentially hurt someone else.

I will say it’s a good idea to bring something capable of entertaining yourself with. Nintendo DS, Sony PSP and iPhone or iPods are good ideas. I found myself last year in line thanking the fact I had my guildies around me to talk to while waiting. If you’re not going to have that luxury I suggest bringing something.

Food

Anaheim has a wonderful selection of eateries very close to the convention center. Downtown Disney is also a stones throw away and offers restaurants like House of Blues. My suggestion would be to explore these places rather then buying convention food. Food at the con is good, but it is also very expensive and the lines are pretty long. Last year we waited in line for a sub for close to 45 minutes. In that same amount of time I could have walked to a Subway restaurant, eaten and stopped for an energy drink. I suggest checking sites like Yelp or Urban Spoon. If you have an iPhone there is an app for each. There’s so many places to list that I wont make suggestions on where to go, but I will suggest that in the mornings if you’re looking to do breakfast before the convention, to plan carefully. The places around the convention center filled up really fast last year, and this year with even more tickets being sold, I can only begin to imagine how this year will shape up.

This category should also cover post convention gatherings. Lets face it, you’re going to be amped up and not ready to go to sleep right after the convention, you’re probably going to want to find a place to honker down and meet-up with guildies  or just have a beer. There are several places that will be able to fill that role as meeting place. Again, I refer to Yelp or Urban Spoon or the Internet in general to help find places. Keep your eyes peeled here at World of Matticus, rumor has it we’ll be finding a place to group up with any of your readers who will be in attendance.

Attacking the Convention

Now that you’ve got yourself prepared with trinkets and clothing and a list of places to eat and drink, it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to do at the convention itself. First on most peoples list are the panels. There are three main intellectual properties that Blizzcon centers around. Lets see what each has this year.

Diablo3

  • Heroes and Monsters – This is a look into the design process of the monsters  and heroes of the game.
  • Lore – Fairly self explanatory here. You get the story so far, and some new bits of the story to come.
  • Art – Basically this is the entire process of creating the look of sanctuary.

Starcraft 2

  • Gameplay - The devs take you on a journey through making and tuning of the game mechanics. This is a great panel to visit if you’re planning on going into game design.
  • Lore - The story up to now and where the story is going to go.
  • Art - From designing the Protoss armor to kerrigan’s luscious (and deadly) curves, it’s all here.

World of Warcraft

  • Class Discussion – This is a great panel, it will explain how each class has evolved over time and how things are balanced and tweaked as time goes on. They reveal their big plans for classes here and how they view things as they stand now. This is a must I feel this year simply because Ghostcrawler has been saying that he wants to change the face of healing. If that announcement comes from anywhere, it’s going to come here!
  • PVP - If you’re big into battleground and arenas, this is your place of happiness. Last year they revealed the two new arenas and how they planed to balance things like ratings and match ups.
  • Art - A wonderful discussion of all that goes into making the World of Warcraft so visually stunning. There is lots of talk about how far we’ve come since the days of painted on armor. Artists on hand will tell you how they conceptualize different things from the landscape down to the tiniest critter running around.
  • Dungeons & Raids – This is the one I’m sure the vast majority of you are waiting for. Last year was the announcement of the Hard Mode encounter. Sarth 3D to be exact. There was much oooo and awwwww ing at this panel and for good reason. The devs explained the balancing of the instances from 40 man encounters of old moving forward to the 10′s and 25′s we have today. They explained last year how variable raid size would work. Needless to say there was little disappointment. This year comes at a time where Ulduar has dropped, by the time the convention comes around we’ll likely be ready for another update and I have a sneaking suspicion we’ll hear a bit about icecrown and then goal beyond. This is a must go to for the inquisitive raider. (pretty sure Matt and I will be fighting for seats on this one)
  • UI & Mods – This is a discussion about the evolving UI and mods that we’ve all come to learn and love for WoW. Last year centered around the creation of the Achievement window and the Rune pane for Death Knights. This year I think things will be a bit more exciting, and this panel may potentially run longer then it did last year. With all the changes to the Mod policy and the changes blizzard has informed us of (item rack built in for example) I’m sure this will be much more lively then it was last year.

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  • Cinematics – Get to know the people who wrote the stories and created the movies we’ve grown to embrace over the years. (as a side note, all the cinematics play on a loop throughout the convention. It’s kinda awesome!)
  • Sound & Music – Interested in audio engineering? How about just composing vast symphonies? This is the panel for you. Learn how the scores and sounds were created and how it helped to shape the games. This will span all three properties. I liked this one a lot last year, hearing how they created things like the Lament of the Highborne and other very moving pieces in the game, gives you a different appreciation. After this panel I turned the game music back on.
  • DVD\Video Production – Much like cinematics you’ll get to see how the videos were created in and out of game. Here though you’ll also get insight into the editing process and how much work truly goes into making a final cut. I’ve heard some of the machinima makers found this useful last year.

That’s it for this installment of Preparing for Blizzcon. Check back often for updates as information is released. In the meantime I charge you with a task. Let us know what you want to know.

Have questions you want the WoM crew to ask at Blizzcon? Have any questions you need answered for getting ready to attend? let us know!

Until next time,

sig1