The Second Writeup: Starcraft et al
The Short Story Contest
The Blizzcon Writeup
Blizzcon, as you might imagine, was fantastic - I got to check out and play both of the upcoming announced Blizzard games, I got to hang out with some fantastic people, and I got to meet the community team along with my (freakin) hero. (Read on.)
First up, The games.
By now you've all of course heard about the new WoW expansion - Wrath of the Lich King (yeah baby!) - and the ideas that they're throwing around for it look fantastic. The expansion panel went into some really interesting stuff about how we the players will be interacting with Arthas. Expect to be impressed. I got a chance to play around in the Howling Fjords, one of Northrend's two entry zones, and as a consummate explorer I had a blast. The zone is beautiful, with some strange landscaping memes that we haven't seen before and that give the area a really unique feel. (These are the sorts of things that matter to me.) Anyway, I'm looking forward to the release of this thing in the near- to medium-term. (I'm hoping for '08, but it's Blizzard, so don't be surprised if it slips back a bit.) Feel free to discuss the expansion here.
I was never agressively into StarCraft - not sure why, I went through a pretty powerful RTS phase, but for some reason me and SC never really hung out much. Heloly and I got a chance to play a round of StarCraft 2 (turns out my boy's an RTS rockstar - he'll fill you in later), and I'm sold. It's a beautiful game, it's fast-paced, and, from all appearances (I'm referencing another panel here) the story is going to be kickass. Apparently, this means that it's merely a worthy follow-up to the first one, and since Heloly knows more about that universe than I do, I've tasked him with putting together a StarCraft write-up for you guys.
Next up, the fantastic people. All I got to say is, thanks, Kenny, for everything. Somewhere there exists a video of me beating his ass down on the jousting thing (American Gladiators style), and I'll see if I can track that down and post it. I also got to go out to lunch with the artists formerly known as Caydiem and Fangtooth, which absolutely made my day. It turns out that they're both great people, and I hope to get to hang out with them again some day. We regailed each other with stories from the good old days when I posted TMiL on their forums: Hearing things like how they used to yell to each other whenever I started posting and then sit on the refresh button until I was finished really makes a guy feel like a million bucks.
Having met the former Fangtooth, I can tell you that as it turns out, I did a pretty good job of capturing him in Fang the Tooth. There's a moment in the upcoming chapter (which I should have done within a day or two) that captures the guy spot on. You'll know it when you read it. I had Katy M pretty good, too, although Caydiem is a lot more fun than the dour M. She strikes me as wise, though, and (as I always knew) is a great writer with a brilliant mind for lore.
Before I left, I went to Kinkos and printed up some copies of Book One for my trip to the convention, and I handed a copy off to both of them. They were really excited about it - which caught me by surprise, because I was too busy being really excited to be able to give them a copy - and they each made me sign theirs. (Cay, you're the only one in the world that knows the bit I hinted at in there. ;)) I got them to sign a copy for me as well, and over the course of the weekend, I managed to collect signatures from Ordinn and Eyonix too. (I got one other as well... read on.) So now I have a first-edition copy of The Frozen Tomb with everyone's signature in it. Awesome.
Anyone that's been with me here for a while will probably remember forum-muse Nev. She's an elf (in real life too, it turns out) that has experience with community management and was absolutely instrumental in helping me out in my early days of having a community. She was also my first friend at Blizzard. I got to meet her finally and hang out: I had a blast with her and her entourage (husband, little sister, friend).
Kenny also introduced me to all of the Community Managers - Eyonix, Ordinn (who still exists! and wants a monkey instead of a rock lizard), and Nethaera - so I got to thank her in person for making so much of the trip possible. Sinther was kind of bemused that I actually wanted to meet him - dude didn't realize he's getting a cameo, though, so of course I had to.
Also, I met my hero.
I get a call from Kenny about half way through Friday, and he's yelling into the phone, "Get down here now, get here now, get here now get here now get here now!" So I turn around and come tearing down the (very full) escalator and dash into the main convention hall, over to where I'd left him a few minutes before. He's at the Developer table, where people are lined up for signatures, and standing next to him is Chris Metzen.
Now, the reason I idolize this guy is because a) he's a rockstar (a serious awesome guy that I hope I get to buy a drink for some day), and b) he created a world (Warcraft) and it's huge and awesome, and it includes some very impressive and rare moral and philosophical themes at its core. Like, everything in World of Warcraft? That goes across his desk for approval before it goes in the game. The whole "The Horde isn't evil" thing? That's central to his understanding of the world. It's all kind of the awesomest thing ever.
So Chris Metzen, the creator of Warcraft, is standing next to my buddy, and he turns to me and sticks out his hand. And I explain everything - I'm writing a fan novel based in and layered on top of his world - and I express the debt I owe him for the incredible world he's built. He thinks it's really cool that someone is that inspired by the lore, and then he asks for a copy. Like, do you have a copy I could have so I can read it? The answer of course is yes, and so I hand a bound copy of Book One of The Murloc is Lonely by Albatros to the guy that made it all possible. Then he signs my copy. Then me and Kenny walk away, and I give Kenny a slide-tackle hug. I'm not a real huggy kind of guy, but damn. Chris Metzen has a copy of my story, and is "looking forward to reading" it. Sweet.
Not that I'm star-struck or anything.
So that's that! I went to Blizzcon, had a great time, got to meet everybody, played the games, saw the contests, got the shwag, and gave a copy of my story to Chris Metzen. All in all, a great weekend for Albatros, and a successful one for The Murloc is Lonely.
The Blizzcon Writeup 2
Hey ya’ll. I hear you want a little lovin’ as far as what went on at Blizzcon. Well, let’s see here. For starters, it was awesome. I got to meet a bunch of really cool people, like Kenny and Albatros, in the flesh. Oh, and Tristen, that guy who dresses up like a murloc.
Albatros is, as you may have guessed, quite a cool cat. All things considered, he’s an amazing dude. (Although, he really does overuse the words “sick” and “niiiiiiiiiiice.” ^_^) [Editor's note: Lay off me, they're my fallback phrases when I'm tired and overwhelmed with bright lights and awesomeness. :)]
Kenny is, for lack of a better phrase, fun in an aerosol can. Shake him up, and spray out the awesome. FUNNY GUY! He was pretty darn connected too. I lost my badge running to meet Big A for lunch, and he hooked me up no problem.
Enough about the people though! What you all really want is to hear about StarCraft II, right? Well, I’m your ninja with the hook-ups right here:
First thing: StarCraft II is like a golden beam of the sun detaching itself from the heavens and falling upon you, filling your soul with holy light and knowledge. It’s that good.
For the real meat of things though, I’ve got to let you all know that I DID NOT try out the Protoss at all. I figured, that with all of the gameplay videos and unit coverage already released, I would be better able to serve you guys by fully trying out the Terran forces. That’s not to say that I don’t know some of the other new units and techs that the Protoss have, no sir.
In single player mode, the mission was pretty straightforward. Tech up, and destroy the enemy. The enemy will not attack you viciously, so, booooooring. First, you do the usual. Build some gloriously rendered SCVs and start gathering resources. Then, you start building t3h stuffs. A lot of the old standbys are there, bunkers, barracks, missile towers and the like; I skipped over those. Cool things start to crop up in the advanced buildings sections.
First off, there is the new Merc Haven. This building exists for the sole purpose of allowing you to build Reapers, my favorite unit so far. They have a ridiculously short build time, (Like 3 secs) and they are fairly powerful in groups. They have a special move involving timed bombs that lets you strafe through bases and blow shiznit up. Fun.
Then, there is the new spaceport, which can be upgrading into a floating, unit-like structure that can build your space fighters ANYWHERE. Egads! My favorites from this are the Battlecruiser, which can specialize into the Yamato beam or an AOE barrage, and the wraith.
The be-all-end-all unit for the Terran was a bit of a letdown. It’s a mech called a Thor. You have to build it with an SCV and have pretty much every Tech first. It takes forever and is REALLY freaking expensive. I, thinking I had achieved God-Mode, sent it into a poorly defended Protoss base. It got owned by two zealots, a photon cannon turret, and one of those Dark Templar blink tanks. Depressing. It was totally outshone by the very fun and strategic Reapers. >_>
Now, let’s talk multiplayer: Jesus on a pogo stick. I played a 2v2 with Albatros on my team against Kenny and his dad. (Kenny cut us all the way through the line. Booyah!) For lack of better words, Albatros is pretty much hopeless. That was ok though, because I took it upon myself to thoroughly humiliate the other team. In between telling Albatros how to do basic things like build structures [Editor's note: It's been a while! It all came back quickly...], I constructed a massive force of Reapers and sent them prowling towards the enemy base. It was virtually eliminated in less than 30 seconds. I promptly regrouped, and with even more units, began my short destruction of Kenny’s weak forces. Utter defeat for him. The only problem for Reapers though, is that they are incapable of attacking air. Thus, Albatros and I had to hunt down Kenny’s dad’s last two remaining buildings with wraiths and marines. The great Bird was confused when we won, not having realized that I had annihilated the other team with ease. Hands were shaken all around.
I didn’t have much experience with the Protoss, but I do know a few things that you may not. The Godly Mothership has been weakened extensively, and no longer has the Black Hole spell, nor any air-to-air attacks. To make up for this, the Protoss appear to have received a very powerful, very cheap, and very LAME unit called the Stasis Orb. I was early game rushed with these a few times, and was quite decimated.
I’ve got some pretty darn important news though! The person telling you this story right now is the official Grand Champion of Blizzcon 2007 DOTA tournament. For realz. I spent roughly 30% of my Con time playing DOTA with four other guys that just happened to meet up there, and we went all the way. We beat professional teams and put some feet in other guys’ mouths. To give you an example: one of the teams we played all had shirts that said on the front “Q: Are we men?” and on the back “A: WE ARE DOTA!!!” I went 15-0 that game. In case you were wondering, here are some pictures of my team:
There was Andrew.
Shawn. (Shaun? Sean? )
And this guy! (I can’t remember his name for the life of me…)
The playing field:
We won tons of cool swag and lots respect. Also, now I finally have a chance to play competitive DOTA with a real team! Sadly, I don’t think Albatros came over to cheer me on. T_T
There were lots of other cool things at Blizzcon too! There was this mechanical bull that was trussed up to look like an Elekk.
Hopefully, I might make it onto G4’s recap of the event for riding it while wearing a suit. >_>
There were a bunch of contests, just like last year, and while Albatros and I were watching the look alike one, he nudges me and points to one of the Blood Elf ladies and says, “Dude. That was Nev!” I was in a state of shock. It would have been nice if she had come to see me though… -_-
Fond memory: Standing around with everyone and bemoaning the pain and deliciousness of Dippin’ Dots. “They’re tearing up my tongue! But I can’t stop!”
Overall: I had a great time, and I hope they have another one next year, because I sure as hell can’t wait two to see everyone again!
That’s it for now.
Blizzcon Short Story Contest
The Albatros Bits Short Story Contest has come to a close. The winners, who win fame, glory, and a trip to Blizzcon 2007, are:
Under 500 Words
500 - 1200 Words
First Honorable Mention