Hello Skkawliens! Welcome to our Blizzcon 2019 edition for Con Stories, our daily stories about one or two big moments from each day of the convention. Skkaw is running solo for this one, and we’re expecting it to be a crazy busy con! Check out our Blizz-Con Stories below.
UPDATE 11-08-19: It took a week but we’ve documented our Blizzcon stories below. Check it out and let us know what you think in the comments.
Blizzcon Store / Blink Store
One of the big draws to Blizzcon is the exclusive loot. I mean, if you’re a diehard Blizzard fan you’re going to want to get your hands on at least some of those exclusive Blizzcon collectibles for yourself. So of course, I was at the Blizzcon Store bright and early. For the initiated, there are two main ways for you to buy items at Blizzcon: in person at the Blizzcon Store or online and then later to be picked up in person via the Blink Store. The latter option being the more practical option as Blizzard assures your items are reserved once you’ve bought them online.
Hot Tip: Some items can appear sold out on the Blink Store but, if you check-in person at the main Blizzcon Store, they may still be available. What I did was buy/reserve all the items I could over the Blink Store then hop on over to the Blizzcon Store (which had a much shorter line then the Blink pick-up line). After that, I proceeded to buy whatever was missing or “sold out” in the Blink store. That worked great as I was able to buy all the items I had listed on my shopping list (don’t ask how long that was..).
Patch and Pin Trading at the Darkmoon Faire
The Blizzcon Arcade
After all the haggling and trading I was ready to just chill and experience the rest of the con. So I decided to head out to explore the Blizzcon Arcade. What is the Blizzcon Arcade you say? It’s Blizzcon’s newest addition to the convention! It includes retro gaming area where you can play your favorite old school Blizzard games like Lost Vikings, WarCraft, and even Diablo II! They also had the WarCraft III Fate Reforged demo there.
Additionally, they had a StarCraft and Diablo themed bars, including exclusive StarCraft and Diablo themed drinks. See below:
It was here that I was able to play StarCraft II against the Google DeepMind AI. At Blizzcon last year Google demonstrated their AI, Google Deepmind, playing StarCraft II! This year they went a step further by letting players actually play StarCraft II against Google Deepmind called AlphaStar Agent. Players basically got to play against a Basic or Advanced version of their AI. I chose the Basic version of course since I hadn’t played StarCraft II in a looooong time. I was more than a little rusty. Man, I wasn’t expecting my chances of success to be high at all. I chose Protoss and the AlphaStar chose Zerg. See photos below:
I have to say, I was decimated! I know this was to be expected, I mean this AI had been running training sets equivalent to 100 years of StarCraft training – but man I was utterly defeated! Some of the notable things I observed playing against AlphaStar Agent was:
- How unbelievably smooth it’s movements were. You didn’t see any of that blocky, go to this waypoint, gather troops and then attack you see from the regular computer opponent.
- The other thing I noticed was how cautious it was as a player. Like it had assumed the worst of me and didn’t go straight in for the attack. It tried to taunt me, lure me out of my base or surround me with its units, putting itself at a better advantage. It was scary!
- Lastly, I was also impressed with its superior micro-management. One time, when it was able to penetrate my base’s defenses it didn’t just go straight through my base to my probes (I was playing Protoss). It went around my base, along the area with the least defenses and then started to pick-off each of my probes one by one. I took care of it but only after it had made significant damage to my resource management. By this time it had amassed an absurdly large amount of units outside my base and I knew it was only a matter of time (minutes) before it won. Even then, it took its time. Only when it was absolutely sure my defenses were done did it go in for the win. Oh man Skynet, here we come!
Unofficial Blizzcon After Party
Mythic Stage & Diablo IV!
I was tired because I got back late from the precon party, but hey it’s Blizzcon, I gotta keep going! I was lucky because I was told by a kind Blizzcon-goer that if you want to get into the Mythic Stage (the Blizzcon main stage), you have to wake up pretty early. So I arrived at the convention center a little before 7am and was rewarded with a seat within the Mythic Hall. Check out the crowd behind me before getting inside the hall. Suffice it to say they capped the line to the Mythic Hall soon after. So I was part of the lucky few, to have gotten in.
Also, kudos to that tall dude smiling in the photo above. While we all waited someone threw out a few beach balls into the crowd. The crowd sorta made game of getting the beach balls over a ledge to the second floor (above the sign on the left). “Beach Ball Guy”, a name bestowed to him by the crowd, kept spiking the ball up and over to the 2nd floor. The crowed loved it. He definitely kept us all entertained for a couple hours while we waited to be let into the Mythic Hall. Thank you Beach Ball Guy!
So, I eventually found a cozy spot as close to the stage as I could possibly get myself. It turns out they reserve a lot of seats for the higher tier tickets which are of course a little closer to the stage, but still, I got a good seat. See below:
Now, the show started at 11am. So yes, I waited for four hours for the show to start. But I wasn’t complaining, I was good, warm and cozy in my nice Mythic Hall seat. I was hungry through. Good thing I brought some snacks and a refillable water bottle. Hydration people, it’s important! Also, while waiting I chatted with a few of my seat mates, which was a really good way to pass the time. I mean,
is an understatement! I appreciated the irony though, super funny and appropriate to see this shown on the big screens and on stage. But before I knew it Blizzard President Allen Brack came on stage. Allen said a few words to address the controversy surrounding Blizzard’s decision to ban a Hearthstone player and two Taiwanese casters after Hearthstone Grandmaster Chung ‘Blitzchung’ Ng Wai openly called for Hong Kong’s freedom from China. Allen said “We moved too quickly in our decision making, and then, to make matters worse, we were too slow to talk with all of you”. It sounded and looked to me that Allen was visibly emotional when he made that statement.
After his announcement Allen started the Blizzcon countdown timer and they played what we would later find out to be the Diablo IV trailer.
There was a slight hiccup though at the Mythic stage as suddenly, during the Diablo IV cinematic, the screen changed and we saw a bunch of window-in-window screens in all of the screens of our hall.
The crowd went crazy! People were groaning and shouting. I could only imagine what it was like in the control room during this time.. But no worries, they got it fixed real quick and I believe a lot of us quickly forgot about the incident as we got mesmerized by the rest of the Diablo IV cinematic.
And then it was official:
We got a Diablo IV announcement folks! And I can tell you the crowd absolutely lost it. Everyone was cheering and shouting. It was awesome.
There were a bunch more announcements after that, you can see a summary at our Blizzcon Announcements post here. But the one that made the most impact to me was the Diablo IV announcement because obviously I’m a big Diablo IV fan. With that in mind, the rest of this post will center on my Friday Mythic stage Diablo IV experience. Also, I found out later, it was a good idea that I stayed in the Mythic Hall so long because they weren’t letting anyone else in due to overcrowding. So glad I made the most of it!
- The concept art had a strong influence on the game itself. For example, the Druid wasn’t originally supposed to be part of the 5 character classes but was added later on when the team saw the concept art from an unamed artist (see top right photo above).
- They made a lot of effort on customization for the character classes, so you can really make your character look and feel your own. They showed some sample art that exemplified the customization, see the botoom right photo above.
- They pulled a lot of inspiraton from Diablo II. As can be seen from bringing back the sorceress and the look and feel of the gameplay itself.
After the panel I headed off to find where they Diablo IV Developer Team was signing posters! I really needed to meet them. What I encountered though was more than I bargained for.. Some of us brave wanderers ventured to what looked to me like an abandoned church. There’s a lot of influence from Diablo I in this pop-up display. Check it out below.
Don’t worry! No Skkawliens were hurt during the mock-sacrifice shown above. It was a lot of fun to do! And no experience wouldn’t be complete if you left empty handed! So at the end of your dark adventure you can get a poster and/or equivalent Diablo book/art signed by the Diablo IV Development staff. Pictured below are some photos with me and the staff when I got my The Art of Diablo signed along with a signed giveaway poster.
Right after that advendure I went straight to play test the game. But more on that in our Diablo IV Demo First Impressions post here. So for now thank you for embarking with me on my mostly Diablo IV themed adventure brave wanderer. Do join me again on my final, Saturday / day 2, Blizzcon Con story to follow!
Con Before the Storm
One thing I learned from attending Blizzcon last year was about the fun that happens before Blizzcon itself. I arrived a little late on Thursday and had to rush in and line up to get my Blizzcon badge/pass. Word to the wise: it’s definitely a good idea to get your Blizzcon badge at least the night before the con itself as the lines can get pretty long on the first day.Con Before the Storm pre-con party.
Cosplayer Credit: @cyonoc, @Velthyr, Khadgar: @neareida, Footman: @Nanob1900, Vestments of the shifting sands modifications: @kesyxx via Twitter