Blizzcon 2011 retrospective

Live in concert!

For being my first time attending a Blizzcon live, it is certainly the best Blizzcon for me to have attended. I had watched the via virtual ticket last year, and even then, it was a blast, with notable exception of there being no TAFKAL80ETC show at the closing ceremony. In preparation for this year’s event, I purchased another virtual ticket, in addition to the charity dinner ticket, knowing that there would be so many things to see at this huge event. To see it all is impossible, but having the virtual ticket at least gave me VODs of critical panels and stage replays that I would have had to cut out in order to glean as much information and wisdom from the legendary Artist’s Stage.

My trip began Thursday morning in the East Coast, in morning hustle and bustle of Richmond, Virginia. Steel birds ferried me from Richmond’s tiny airport to Dallas’s megalith, and again to LAX, where the transit arteries were ever clogged. My buddy Dan Zhang drove up from San Diego to meet me at the airport, but was delayed by the traffic. We made it to the convention center by around 7:15PM PDT. I was almost an hour late for the beginning of the charity dinner, and Dan had to wait out a huge queue for the standard badge pick-up.

The charity dinner was rather interesting in the most positive way. They had accidentally printed two badges for me (I wish I had known, I would’ve let my friend have that extra badge, haha) and when I entered the ballroom, I met none other than Greg Street, lead systems designer of WoW, at the cheese and crackers table. Some of the really cool Blizzard employees I got to meet with that night include Chris Sigaty (producer on SC2, also guitarist for the Chieftains), Dustin Browder (lead designer SC2), Mike Morhaime (President, co-founder), Frank Pearce (co-founder, and VP of executive production), John “JP” Polidora (Artist, creative development), Wendy Vetter (lead dungeon artist, WoW), and Chris Metzen (VP, Creative development). I said to Chris Metzen, “Hey I’m really looking forward to the Sons of the Storm signing tomorrow,” to which he replied, “Oh cool, by the way when is that?”

“10:30,” I answered, to which he then said “Oh damn, I have a panel at that time, no wonder they didn’t invite me to the signing.”

Chris Sigaty, Dustin Browder, JP Polidora, and Wendy Vetter gave some really good insight as far as breaking into the industry, and especially at Blizzard. Had a lot of fun speaking with Chris Sigaty also on the topic of heavy metal (I mentioned to both him and Mr. Morhaime that I looked forward to their performance on Saturday). I conferred with Dustin Browder on the issue of GOMTvT and also had a geek out session with him on the GSL October Finals and also the Global Invitational. Mr. Browder informed me that speaking with Day9, Tasteless, and Artosis, they had all said that IM_MVP was going to win, but reminded him that SlayerS_MMA had a thin chance, having beaten MVP in the GSPA finals.

Dan and I stayed over at his old RA’s place for Thurs-Friday nights. Cool tidbit here is that his old RA’s roommate is in fact a Blizzard employee, on the web team.

Day 1 begins with us scoping out the different stages, and deciding mostly to camp at the RTS stage and Artists’ Stage. I took some pictures of the pro-gamers and even snagged one with Day9. I watched the opening ceremonies on the screen from the RTS stage. Pandaria was very exciting to me, as a long time Warcraft and Samwise fan familiar with the Pandaren, and the new trailers for Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm was very engrossing as well. I spent most of the day in Hall A, where the Developer stage and Artists Stage were located, easily bouncing back and forth between the two. It was very exciting to see the new units for HotS, the Blizzard Art Gallery, and to see Luke Mancini and Samwise Didier do live art demos. I even caught a picture of Rene Koiter costumed as Jim Raynor! I gave Samwise a print of my Elite Tauren Chieftains fan art, and he seemed to really like it.

The GSL October Finals that night was spectacular. I happened to sit right infront of renowned photographer Zemotion at the front row on the floor, where we were within 10 feet of Tastosis! It was hard getting out of the crowd when my friend called me to leave. Cheers to MMA for taking the win!

Day 2 began with us getting to the convention center late, because our host woke up a little too tired, and also my friend was not interested in most of the morning panels/matches. I missed the Sons of the Storm signing, so I planned out to try and stalk each individual Son to get their signatures (I had gotten Samwise’s the day before, along with Luke Mancini’s). At the WoW art panel, I got to meet Wendy Vetter again, Gary Platner (lead environment/level designer), and also Mark Gibbons (aka the Red Knuckle). Alas, no silver sharpie on hand, so I was unable to get his signature. By the end of the main activities of that day, I had managed to get Glenn Rane, Peter Lee, and John “JP” Polidora’s (whom I had met at the charity dinner) signatures. I missed the Invitational finals, due to my quest to get signatures, and also due to my attendance at the realm meeting area (where I did get to meet long time internet comrades Vigaro, as well as an old guildmember from over 6 years ago). The personal highlight of the event however, was being able to see TAFKAL80ETC– i mean L90ETC, live in concert. To be honest, I am not as familiar with Foo Fighters as maybe 90% of the people filling the main stage for the closing ceremonies were. But I was more than geeked out over Level 90 Elite Tauren Chieftain. Halfway through their set, two drunk dudes helped me get to the front of the section of the standing pit, even almost picking fights to do so. They declared me “hardcore” and “deserving” of a front row standing spot because I was actively fist pumping and singing loudly along to all of the songs. I am very grateful to these two drunk guys, because I have some awesome pics to show for it. They’re mostly of Samwise though. 
full picture gallery can be found here