Friday, October 21st
Despite getting to sleep around 1AM, I woke up at around 6AM feeling very well-rested, probably because my body still thought it was on east-coast time. After a shower, shave, and some bad hotel coffee, I met up with Mel, Nika, and Invis outside the hotel a little before 8AM, and we walked over to the convention center to stand in line. There, we met up with Rhidach, Antigen, and the rest of the ES crew.
The line itself was interesting. There were people holding signs for different services, and vendors walking around with backpack-kegs full of what I can only imagine must’ve been WoW-themed energy drinks. Several people in line were dressed up in cosplay gear, and were occasionally being pulled out for pictures. There was a guy standing near us in a geist costume, which consisted of an eyeball-hood, burlap-looking pants, and athletic tape wrapped around his feet. He looked about as comfortable as we were looking at him; the costume lacked a burlap shirt that really should have been included. Nobody wants to see your happy trail, dude.
At 9AM the line started moving and we entered the convention center antechamber. We passed through security, where they were making people get rid of water bottles (a step that seemed excessive to me), and entered the convention proper. It was staggering how big it was, and how much there was to see, but we didn’t have time to browse; everyone was headed to the main stage for the opening ceremony, which didn’t start for another two hours. We managed to find decent seats towards the left near the front, but the place was filling up fast. Once we had hunkered down to defend our territory, we alternated getting up and taking care of basic needs – snacks, bathroom, etc. One of my Prodigy guild-mates (Justhunter/Pokerplate) called me while we were in line, and I took advantage of this “milling around time” to meet up with him and say hi.
The opening ceremony was pretty amazing. I’ve been playing Blizzard games for a long time, as far back as Blackthorne, so the 20-year retrospective trailer nearly brought me to tears. There are a lot of good memories of good times and old friends that it brought back. The Diablo III and Starcraft II trailers were very impressive as well, quite enough to get me excited about both games despite not having the time to play them very much past completing the campaigns.
The Mists of Pandaria announcement, which I figured was coming after Chris Metzen made a “bear with me” pun early on in the ceremony, was met with a mixture of disappointment and enthusiasm. I think that there were equal amounts of both in the audience. Luckily, the trailer was exceptionally well-done, and the sinking feeling in my stomach turned to intrigue when it mentioned there would be a new talent system. I’m a simple man, throw me interesting mechanics and I’ll live with pandas. During the break between the opening ceremonies and the MoP preview panel, I met up with and said hi to one of my Cadenza guild members, Arg. I believe he took off to see the Starcraft tournaments rather than stick around for the panel, though.
We then watched the MoP preview panel. I don’t want to go into great detail on each panel, but I will say that the explanation of MoP as the “calm before the storm” mollified my inherent skepticism about the expansion. I think I understand what Metzen is trying to do with this stage of the story, and I think it could work. I guess we’ll see. Mel and I became thoroughly disinterested in the long explanation of companion pet combat, so he and I went to the food vendors in the back of the hall to grab Tacos while Tom Chilton explained that aspect of the expansion.
The talent and raid panels were next, and I don’t really have a lot to say about them. Mel and Rhidach and I were making comments to one another about the information, but I didn’t write any of them down. Mostly discussing balance or gameplay issues (“that talent’s going to change, it’s a no-brainer in that tier” or “wow, that’s a neat way to re-do resources for warlocks”). We were really only getting a brief look at each class, so it was hard to keep up and pay attention to each others’ comments. In-between panels, we did discuss what we liked and disliked about the new talent system – me with my usual optimism and Mel with his usual cautious skepticism.
By that time it was around 6pm, so we headed over to the Hilton food court for dinner at Sbarro. Arg wandered over and found me, as did another Cadenza guild-mate I was meeting for the first time, Finwe. After dinner, I left Mel, Rhidach, Antigen, and the rest of the ES crew to head over to the exhibit and meet up with several more Cadenza members. At the starcraft tournament stage, we met up with Awonderland and the infamous Tronn, better known as “Snuggy Pirate Guy.” After chatting a bit and watching a match or two, we decided to head over to the Hilton to find the after-party. In the lobby of the convention center, we ran into two other Cadenza members, Vladario and his little sister Twilightfang. After another 20-30 minutes of hanging out in the lobby, Vlad and Twilight headed home and the rest of us finally made it to the Hilton lobby.
The lobby was packed, and it was all we could do to find some seats. There was also a Curse Gaming party going on upstairs on the 2nd floor. We spent about an hour in the lobby talking about guild stuff, drama, and all sorts of other things. At that point, I saw Mel and he beckoned me to come over – he and Rhidach had found Ghostcrawler prowling about, and didn’t want me to miss the chance to meet him. So I took leave of my guild members and headed over to meet The Crab himself.
Meeting Greg Street was interesting. I’d say that Greg is a quiet guy, but it was hard to tell because Mel was pretty drunk by this point, and he’s apparently a talkative drunk. Greg seemed good-natured, even though Mel was busy telling him about all the things wrong with WoW as far as raiding is concerned. Which led to some interesting discussion, since Greg, Rhidach, and I didn’t agree with all of Mel’s points. At least, when Mel let any of the three of us get a word in edgewise. 😛
We did get to debate and talk mechanics for a good chunk of the 45-minutes or so we had with him, though. He was happy to hear that I was predominantly positive about the new talent system, and said he hoped that the majority of players saw it the same way rather than feeling like it’s just a “dumbing down” of the mechanics. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to give him my suggestions about 5.0 rotation mechanics, but he hinted that he reads the blog (Hi Greg!), so he’ll get to see it soon enough (probably next week, if I get time).
I also made my first epic fail of the convention – I forgot to ask for a photo. Which is ironic, because other people were interrupting our conversation from time to time to get photos with Greg, and I even took several of them with peoples phones/cameras. But as soon as they were done, we dove right back into mechanics discussion and the thought of getting my own picture taken completely slipped my mind. Oops. Greg eventually said he had to head back up to the VIP party, and we said goodbye for the time being, with the hope that we might run into him again later or the next evening.
At some point in the evening, I also got to meet Towelliee from Holy Shield, as well as Athene (famous for his world-first lvl 80 and lvl 85 antics). I honestly can’t remember if this was before or after meeting Greg, but I’m fairly certain it was after. It makes more sense in the timeline, and I also vaguely remember Towelliee joking with us about how harsh Mel was with Greg. Maybe I wasn’t as sober as I thought I was.
I returned to my Cadenza guild mates for another 30 minutes or so before they decided to call it a night, as most of them had driven from home. Shortly thereafter I met up with Nika, Invis, and Vanifae from maintankadin, and we were invited to the party upstairs. Where there was an open bar. Second epic fail of the convention, as it turned out the next morning. On the bright side, there was a lot of drunken dancing and beach balls! But no Ghostcrawler, as far as I could see. Which wasn’t very far – the place was packed.
Around 1AM Nika and Invis left, and about half an hour later I did as well. I ran into Ghostcrawler again in the lobby on my way out, as he was autographing somebody’s BlizzCon shirt. I stopped for a few minutes to talk, apologized for Mel being drunk and mildly abrasive, and mentioned that I hoped to have more time to talk with him Saturday night if he’d be around. I actually don’t remember him saying very much, but I was also pretty drunk so my memory’s a bit fuzzy. He could have been drunk too, for all I would have been able to tell.
Outside, I ran into more convention attendees while walking back to the hotel. We got to conversing, and they revealed that they were headed to McDonald’s and asked if I wanted to join them. Which sounds like a great idea when you’re drunk at 2AM in an unfamiliar city. Unfortunately, McDonald’s was closed when we got there. They invited me up to their hotel room to keep drinking, but I decided at that point that if I wanted to have any chance of seeing the convention the next day, I should probably try and get some sleep. So I walked the few blocks back to the hotel alone, wandered into my room, stumbled into bed, and passed out somewhere around 3AM.
Stay tuned for the stunning (or not) conclusion in Part 3. Actually, Part 3 will probably be a letdown, because Saturday was far less interesting than Friday was. But I’ll post about it anyway.