The Cinematics panel went over the process of creating both in-game and cut scene cinematics, but also looked at their narrative purpose in the story of World of Warcraft. The highlight was the debut of the Worgen in-game cinematic, retelling one Gilnean's history with the curse.
Crafting Sanctuary saw the revelation of more Diablo 3 details. Illustrative of a number of the changes in Diablo 3 is the usurpation of vendors with artisans - first shown at GamesCom back in August - who serve a narrative role in addition to dispensing equipment and consuming your gold. That said, in the demo we played today, we picked up a quest escorting and defending a weaponsmith from the exit of one dungeon to the entrance of the next.
This is related to Blizzard's philosophy with Diablo 3 of the story not getting in the way of gameplay, as they felt it did in Diablo 2. Now they are going with an opt-in story approach, where the lore can be largely ignored or heavily explored as desired.
After this, there was a press conference for the international press contingent with J. Allen Brack and Jay Wilson, where the potential of an Australian or Oceanic World of Warcraft server was discussed by the Australian press. Brack had talked recently with their IT department to try and improve conditions for Australian players, but as the press themselves acknowledged they may not have the number of players required to support a fully localized server.
After this we spent a bit of time on the floor, witnessing lines and crowds of increasing sizes on our way to the StarCraft II finals. We also saw two poor Razer booth operators lounging on the ground next to their booth after a particularly long weekend.
The StarCraft II finals were certainly an eye-opener for me personally. Professional gaming has been around for awhile now, but hasn't really matured in the west to the point it has in Asia, specifically South Korea.
My doubts for this eventually happening taking root here were dispelled by the huge crowd for the StarCraft II tournament finals between Loner and NEXGenius. StarCraft II is one of a handful of games that were designed from the ground up to be played professionally and observed as a spectator sport, as was noted in today's StarCraft II multiplayer panel. And observed it was, by a full crowd in the exhibit hall, with knowledgeable and professional commentators. The giant novelty check for US $25,000, held by the victorious NEXGenius, also leant this idea credibility.
We reluctantly left during the first round to find early seats in the main hall for the closing ceremony. What we instead found it to be a completely full hall, with a rapt crowd observing the same finals on five giant video screens.
During the introduction for Tenacious D, Blizzard continued to drop hints for their yet to be named next generation MMO, then stated they were going to reveal it. The crowd, as you can imagine, went into hyperdrive. Instead we got a gag: World of Jersey Shorecraft, which proceeded to disappoint the entire crowd. However, all was not lost, as Tenacious D, with a backing band including Foo Fighter Dave Grohl, kept the crowd thoroughly entertained to close out BlizzCon 2010.
It's hard to draw any fast conclusions so shortly after the convention's conclusion, especially as press. We spent our time holed up in the hive of scum and villainy that is (any) gaming press room, or marching between interview appointments and panel discussions, trading tidbits of information and pleasantries with our fellows.
It was frantic, crowded and neon: As much a celebration of Blizzard's community as it is a celebration of Blizzard's games.