Tobold's Blog
Monday, June 30, 2008
Blizzard WWI 2008 impressions

I had a great time Saturday at the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational 2008, and I'd like to share some impressions of the event. You can find videos of the opening ceremony and various debate panels elsewhere, I'm just telling a few stories of what I saw and thought.

First of all I have to thank Blizzard for their hospitality. Having a press pass is a huge improvement to the convention experience. That starts with being able to use an extra Press/VIP entrance instead of queueing in the morning. Then there was the well-equippped press room, with WiFi, some computers to play WotLK on, and snacks. The press pass allowed you to jump the queue in the gaming areas, and you got a reserved seat for the various ceremonies and panels.

I still ended up waiting in queues several times. Like everyone else I was eager to get a look at the goodie back when they opened up the distribution tent right after the opening ceremony. That of course caused long queues. There were two kind of goodie bags, English and French, and somebody had attached signs to that effect on the FRONT of the goodie bag tent, the side you'd see if you came from the entrance. But of course in this situation everyone came out of the hall, and there were no signs at the back of the tent, just two queues, causing lots of people to end up in the wrong queue. Some Blizzard staff had to repeatedly tell people in which queue they were, until in the afternoon somebody came up with the brilliant idea of moving the signs to the back of the tent where the queues started. By evening the queues were gone, so when we went again for my wife's goodie bag, there was no wait at all.

Similar situation at the Blizzard Store: long queues during the day, getting much shorter in the evening. Apparently they had underestimated the demand, because several items were sold out by Saturday afternoon already, with no fresh stock coming in on Sunday. So even if I had wanted a Blizzard Authenticator to keep my account from being hacked, I couldn't have gotten one because they were sold out. Another problem was that in one corner of the hall some guys were presenting a new WoW boardgame called World of Warcraft: the Adventure Game, which looked fun. But while the guys who presented the game said there was lots of stock and you could buy the game in the Blizzard Store, the game wasn't actually on the order form you had to fill out to buy anything, and so couldn't be bought. Only the old, huge WoW boardgame was for sale, the new game has half the size and appears to be better suited for casual boardgamers.

I must admit that before I arrived I had no clue why the event wasn't called "Blizzcon Europe". Only during the opening ceremony did it dawn on me that the core of the event was a worldwide tournament of the best players of Starcraft, Warcraft, and the WoW arenas. Thus the "invitational". Paris not being in South Korea, I had the impression that these tournaments didn't attract all that much attention. You could always get a seat there to watch, while people were queueing up for anything else.

Sunday morning in the hotel breakfast room I met two models. You know, the kind of girl where you can see that their beauty isn't totally natural, and with an unlikely tan. And after wondering for a second what they would be doing there, I realized that I had seen them disguised as WoW mages Saturday in the convention hall, posing with visitors for photo shots. And as they were wearing "original" WoW costumes, and WoW epic cloth armor for women is on the skimpy side, Blizzard had to hire good-looking models for that. Who else has a perfectly tanned flat belly and looks good in a push-up bra? The male hired costume wearers appeared to be just regular guys, there are no hulking barbarians in loincloths in WoW.

A few attendees also came with costumes, I even saw one guy lugging a self-made murloc suit around. If you hadn't brought a costume, there was a stand where you could get a costume and make-up from Blizzard, be photographed in front of a blue wall, and get the background filled in with a scene from the World of Warcraft. If that was too much effort for you, you could also just have a friend photograph you sitting on the frozen throne of the lich king, or in front of other WoW decorations like an orc mailbox or a full-sized nightelf statue.

The convention spread out over two floors, but after one full day I had seen everything. As unsurprisingly Mrs. Tobold had a different idea of how to spend a weekend for two in Paris, I didn't go back to the WWI for the Sunday events, most of which were about various tournaments anyway. Instead we visited a museum, walked around the quartier Latin, ate good food, and saw Notre Dame, before taking the train back home. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday in Paris either.
Nice to know you do all things in moderation, even a Blizzard Convention :)
Glad to see that you enjoyed yourself, Tobold. And it was a good experience for Mrs. Tobold, too!

Thanks again for your coverage of the event, especially the very unique interview you provided us with!
I think my visit to Paris would have been 100% the same experience. Including visiting the nicer parts of Paris. Such a beautiful town.

See, finally got some reward for blogging! All good things come to those who wait.
The male hired costume wearers appeared to be just regular guys, there are no hulking barbarians in loincloths in WoW.

There are when you go naked to avoid losing durability.
If you'd like to see an amazing, fan-made costume then check out this one posted on wow_ladies. I've never seen a better on of its kind. Beware, it's a Succubus so while it's no racier than the in-game version, people may want to pass at work if they've got a strict work environment.

Bah, the end should be:


Tobold there are no buff male models in France, they're all skimpy little androgynous boys that a strong wind could blow away! :)

You have to come to Chicago to see us real buff men! Though we have bellies over our abs due to the beer and deep dish pizza.
Tobold, I wanted to ask you if you are not a little bit disappointed about the announcements made at the WWI regarding wow. I mean, we learned nearly nothing. What do you think ?
I met two models. [..] I realized that I had seen them disguised as WoW mages Saturday in the convention hall, posing with visitors for photo shots.

Did anyone run into any midgets disguised as gnome warlocks? I mean, geez – Blizzard should have all the Azeroth races represented to avoid being accused of bigotry. It just wouldn’t be politically correct to not have midget gnomes…. :p It’s bad enough the little guys are exiled from Gnomergan despite the countless adventurers who have tried to get that place back for them.
Now there's a thought. Imagine in a future patch we get another Materials Drive, much as Blizzard did with the Gates of AQ's War Supplies quest, but this time we're providing the Gnomes with Mats to build War Machines to help them retake Gnomeregan.

Retake Gnomeregan? Ha! Any decently geared 60+ can solo Gnomer!

Not once the 'Retake Gnomeregan' patch comes out you can't.

With the first lot of Mats the first Gnome scouts/engineers appear at Brewnall Village in Dun Morogh. As more and more Mats are delivered there is a visible change to the area. More Gnomes appear, War Machines start being constructed. The Gnome population increases as they slowly push back and eventually defeat the leper Gnomes. More War Machines are constructed. Horde could participate by providing Goblins with Mats, with the Goblins and Gnomes forming a pact to retake Gnomeregan which, if successful, would become a Neutral zone much like Gadgetzan, Booty Bay and Ratchet.

Eventually there is a push into the entrance of Gnomer where Techbot is finally recovered and repaired. As more materials are supplied to the Gnomes, even more War Machines are built and finally with the last of the Mats the assault on Gnomer begins.

The entrance portal to Gnomer now opens not into Gnomeregan the Instance, but Gnomeregan the zone. 40-man Raid? Bah! Gnomeregan has become a zone capable of supporting most of the Alliance players on the server...possibly. You know how frail Blizzard's servers can be ;)

You zone in and it's like the Outland portal with demonic battles raging right in front of you. Stand and watch and not much happens. Both sides are fairly evenly matched. Gnomes and Goblins in War Machines crash against corrupted Gnomes in their War Machines. Gnomes & Gobbos on foot fight hand-to-hand with other Gnomes and Troggs. Not a lot happens if you just stand and watch.

But if you get involved? If you heal the Gnome allies, or debuff and attack their opponents, if you chip in and help the Gnomes they can and will defeat the Troggs and slowly, inch by inch, they'll succeed in taking back Gnomeregan.

After a concerted effort that will require a lot of assistance from the players, with significant events happening along the way (at last the hold-outs in The Clean Zone are relieved) the Gnomes arrive at Thermaplugg's room. This would be just like taking down an AV General, only on a large scale. It would require a large, group effort to "heal" and buff the War Machine tanking Thermaplugg, with DPS doing their part to whittle the Boss's health down. This is not your Daddy's Thermaplugg. He's been buffed. He's bigger, faster, stronger and a heck of a lot meaner. A well coordinated 40-man Raid could take him down but I think this final battle should require more than just a 40-man Raid. I know you can't make a Raid bigger than a 40-man but who here hasn't helped the opposing faction take down a World Dragon? You didn't need to be in the Raid, you just needed to stand alongside the others and DPS the Dragon down, and afterwards there was much saluting, bowing, etc as they acknowledged your contribution, however small it may have been. Maybe they even got on their Alt and whispered 'thank you'.

With Thermaplugg's defeat the Gnomes would finally move back into Gnomeregan, and then even more fun ensues. Because as I said earlier Gnomer is no longer an Instance but its own zone, so it comes with brand new quests and several new Instances of varying levels. The Gnomes may have retaken Gnomer but the Trogg threat is still there in Instances accessible via some of Gnomer's side tunnels. The quests that net 29 Twinks the Triprunner Dungarees could still be done. Perhaps Thermaplugg escaped and is licking his wounds somewhere. Anyone with this quest in their log would see it's been updated. The rewards would still be the same, just the objectives would change, slightly.

Yes, I have a very active imagination, and far too much time on my hands :D
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