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Those who attend a Blizzard event will never forget it. Each person's experience is unique, interesting, and full of little stories. The following is a non-technical, short summary of each of StarCraft Legacy's staff member's BlizzCon adventures.

LordofAscension:

As the saying goes, this wasn't my first rodeo. This is now the third Blizzard event that I have had the distinct pleasure of attending. But no matter how prepared you think you are for something, there's always bound to be some surprise. My Blizzard III adventure started Wednesday night as I boarded a plane to CA. I arrived in Anaheim around 10 PM local time, checked into the beautiful Anaheim Marriot, and promptly knocked on AJ's door. We've done this for a long time now and it's become a bit of a tradition to hang out during these type of events. We went to IHOP for some late-night deliciousness before talking for a few hours about the next couple of days. Eventually the sugar rush subsided and I sought my bed - thinking that this was probably the most sleep I was going to get for the rest of the trip... I was right.

Thursday - Fansite Summit

Thursday started for me around 8:30 - I was too excited to sleep for long, AJ and I went down and ate some delicious breakfast and lo and behold who sidles up to us but Tasteless. I love this kid. We talk about Korea, StarCraft, chicks, food, and of course BlizzCon. We've been friends for many years now and it's always great to see him. The highlight was actually getting one of his super shiny pretty new business cards - haha. After we finished eating Tasteless took off to check out the venue while AJ and I made our way to the lobby where we met up with Karune, Xordiah, Cydra - I know Karune and Xordiah quite well but this was my first time meeting Cydra, he's a good guy and will fit in quite well with the rest of the community team. Slowly more and more site leaders started to appear. I renewed old acquaintances and met some new people; people with whom I'll have the pleasure of getting to know more, and working with in the future. This type of event is great for networking.

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After the invitees were all assembled we made our way out to the bus to head down to Irvine. The new Blizzard campus looks phenomenal. Once we arrived we were all characteristically asked to sign NDA's and we explored the Blizzard museum and the theatre. While we were waiting for everyone to be present, Bashiok, the Diablo Community Manager, gave away some BlizzCon and WWI key cards with some WoW and Diablo trivia (no SC!). Once everything was ready to go we were treated to a standard, no secrets revealed, tour of the campus grounds. Nothing super interesting was revealed and we weren't allowed anywhere near the dev building and so we promptly returned to the theatre where we received our highly coveted and collectible BlizzCon art.

Next came one of the best parts of my entire trip, lunch with Dustin. I met Dustin last year at BlizzCon and since then we've communicated back and forth pretty regularly. So, it is always great to see him again and talk some more. This the whole fansite corp was divided into franchises and we were treated to some catered bbq lunch. After we got our food, the 7-10 of us SC site leaders carved out a spot for ourselves and Dustin and we talked for a little more than an hour about the game. He enlightened us about some of the philosophy behind some of the new design decisions. For example, we discussed the whole gas as the more important of the two resources and the Queen's move to an economic powerhouse unit with multiple roles. A large majority of our discussion was centered around what we wanted from the new Battle.net, what functionality we thought was imperative, and discussion the pros and cons of controversial mechanics - like multiplayer resource sharing, etc. We also started talking about quite a few things that at this point in time we were asked not to talk about, quite a bit of it revolved around replay viewing and other in-game UI mechanics. But I promise there are some very exciting things heading our way.

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After lunch wrapped up we headed back to the theatre to pick up our belongings and boarded the bus again. We drove back up to Anaheim, stashed our goodies and then went to the venue as a big group. We picked up our Press badges and then trekked upstairs to one of the conference room where the fansites participated in community brainstorming sessions. After that we went back downstairs to the main convention center entrance and while we endured the angry looks of hundreds of "regular" fans as we waltzed right onto the show floor. The first thing that really hit me was how much more space there was last year as compared to last year. The difference was really significant - we made a beeline for the StarCraft II demo area and for the next hour had a chance to reacquaint ourselves with our future. It was good fun; I mostly played against General Mengsk from in-game.de and it was really nice as we were pretty evenly matched we were really able to keep things interesting.

Directly afterwards we all had dinner together with the community team. We were treated to a three course meal. I sat next to AJ, Jon (from starcraft2forum.org, another good friend), and Plexa from Team Liquid. Plexa and I talked throughout most of the dinner and we made some interesting plans for the future. We talked about the community, our sites, SCII, others there, the weather, just about ourselves. It's always a pleasure to meet and get to know the other significant people in our community. After dinner, we all broke into our little cliques and walked back to the hotel. Plexa had to take off to meet some other people but AJ, Jon, and I made plans to meet-up in my room in just a bit.

I returned to my room and two of SC:L's staff members, Gradius and DiscipleofAdun, were there waiting for me. We talked a bit and got to know one another since this was our first time actually meeting. AJ and Jon joined us and we headed over to Downtown Disney to the ESPN Zone where I treated my staffies to some deliciousness and we all just kind of hung out. When we finally made it back to the hotel room we stayed up for quite some time planning our coverage and our agenda. Eventually we all made it to sleep. About 4 hours later the alarm went off; BlizzCon was about to begin.

Friday - BlizzCon Day 1

After Gradius, DoA, and I were ready we went down to the lobby to enjoy breakfast with AJ, Jon, another SC:L staff member, Zero, and his entourage. After eating we all took off for the convention center, a convenient 100 yards away, and waited right next to the doors as the clock ticked down to the beginning. There was, as expected, a massive tidal wave of people as the doors opened. AJ and I jumped in the Blizzard Store line, hoping to hit that before the opening ceremony (since we had press passes we weren't worried about getting good seats, they were reserved for us). Sadly the line moved like molasses as we had to skip out to get to the opening ceremony. The opening ceremony was cool, as always, but without a new cinematic, or a new game for us to feast our eyes on it was a bit disappointing, considering. Still it was awesome and the Wizard reveal was pretty sweet despite the fact that the video had been accidentally looped with the rest of the cinematics all over the convention center in the hour proceeding the announcement. One of the things we figured out pretty quickly is that there wasn't wireless internet for press. That put a dampener on our live mIRC chats and blogging but we did all we could and then made the best of it.

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Following the ceremony the rest of the day was a blur. I played StarCraft II, played Diablo III, watched people stand in line for 3-5 hours for the store, watched part of the pro-matches, attended the panels, actually waited in line for the store, checked in/hung out with the SC:L staff and in general enjoyed myself. The highlight was most definitely the StarCraft II Gameplay Panel (be sure to check out our trilogy feature and Gameplay Panel articles). It was amazing to sit in the front row and see that happen. As the panel was wrapping up - I looked up and saw Dustin looking right at me laughing - I gave him a big thumbs-up. That cloud-nine feeling lasted throughout the rest of the day and it felt good to have one less secret. While I absolutely love all things StarCraft at these events - I am almost always in reporter mode. What many of you might not know is that several of us have really good, friendly relationships with people like Dustin, Samwise, Metzen, and Karune and we communicate regularly. It's always nice to take off the seriousness and talk about something totally unrelated. It was also really relaxing to watch some of the Diablo III panels because I was there for myself and not trying to take crazy notes to get up online. The one major downer for day one, was SC:L crashing. That has all been explained elsewhere but suffice to say that it's definitely not a fun thing and it sucks to be running around like a chicken with your head chopped off trying to solve impossible problems from thousands of miles away. The rest of the time that we had that day AJ and I spent playing StarCraft II(be sure to check out our articles on the game itself!).

Day one ended with a cool fansite mixer. Everyone that received a ticket from a fansite was invited. After the venue had closed we were allowed back in. I got to chat with my predecessor, mnm, and it's always great to see her and see how she's doing. Once we got in there the SC:L crew hung out with some people from SC.org and StarCraft2forum.org. Karune came over and joined us so we had a more casual SC discussion with him. It's things like that where we can all relax that a lot of relationships are established for the future. After that concluded, AJ, Jon, and I live blogged about SC which was pretty neat - definitely be watching for more of this in the future. We all chilled for a while and then we all crashed for just a few more hours of sleep.

Saturday - BlizzCon Day 2

Since SC:L had already crashed and there wasn't anything I could do about it from California I relaxed during day two. There weren't any huge announcements and there wasn't anything especially pressuring to attend to. AJ and I stopped by the store again, chilled in the press room with Jon and Plexa, attended some more Diablo panels, played StarCraft II for several hours, played D3 for a few hours, and met up with some more people that I hadn't had the pleasure of meeting before.

The highlight of day two was the Lore Panel. StarCraft Legacy is very proud of our lore roots and we're definitely poised to continue this in the future. At the lore panel, the entire SC:L staff was once again in the front row and we all had our laptops open taking down notes and while the actual presentation was lighter than last year it was great to have quite a few questions from the audience. I even asked the all important question, "How many Protoss are there, do they have colonies? And more importantly, how do they reproduce?" I knew from joking around with these guys that they weren't going to answer but it elicted a good laugh and a quick quip by Metzen. After the panel, I introduced myself and the staff to Andy Chambers and chatted with him about some future projects. One of the coolest parts of our conversation with him was when he told us that he, Metzen, and other writers actually use our site as a resource and they actually look at what we have to say about different things. It's definitely nice to hear things like that, especially from people who work on the games we love and from our fans, we do all of this for them. After we talked to Andy we snagged Metzen as he was running out to get to another panel but we did manage to say hi again and talked to him about some potential collaborations/projects ;). After that Gradius had to head to the airport. The rest of us hit the SCII area again and played for a few more hours. AJ and I went outside to meet-up with XG3, Enforcerman, and Mystical. We were all going to watch the closing ceremony but we discovered that they had eliminated the press area and there was standing room only. Since we had seen this show two other times we decided one last great dinner would be the best plan. XG3, Mystical, AJ, Jon, a bunch of Jon's members, and I ended up eating dinner together and chatting about everything in general. Mystical and I talked quite a bit and we discussed some interesting possibilities for SC:L so there are lots of surprises coming in the next several months - look out.

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When we finally made it back to the hotel, I chatted with Zero before he took off to go back home and then I hung out with DoA, AJ, Jon and a few others in AJ's room before finally making it back to my room and spending the next three hours talking to DoA and packing (I practically bought out the Blizz Store). What some of you may know about me is that I have an absolutely huge Blizzard collection (someday pics will actually make it up). My room looks like a warehouse meets warzone. Sleep proved to be a precious commodity and I crashed for two hours before I had to be up at 5:30 for my Sunday of travel. Fifteen hours and two time zones later and I was finally home. What a weekend, this is a big part of my life and I love it.

Zero:

My day started at 5:15am on Friday, October 10th, 2008. My clothes had been packed for Saturday, and everything else was ready to throw into my truck. My sister awoke also, got ready, and by 5:45 we were on the road. We picked up our cousin 30 minutes later, and we drove down to Anaheim. We got into Anaheim around 8am, too early to check into the hotel, so we parked there and walked across the block over to the Anaheim Marriott to meet the rest of the group from StarCraft Legacy. We ate breakfast at the hotel, and my group left for the convention center early because we were the only ones in the group who hadn't gotten our passes yet. After waiting in the VIP line, which was ironically longer than every other line (that had been divided alphabetically), we received our passes and swag bags.

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When I had first walked into the Anaheim Convention Center for BlizzCon 2007, I was overwhelmed by what I saw. The lack of general lighting, the various sections for demos, vendors, discussion panels, and tournaments, as well as the people dressed up like characters from their favorite Blizzard games. It had been my first time attending such a convention, but when I walked into the convention center this year for BlizzCon 2008, although far bigger and better than last year, I felt right at home. My sister and cousin were as overwhelmed as I had been the first time, but with me there, I knew they'd have an even better time than I had last year. Immediately in front of us was the set-up for the StarCraft II demo. Slightly to the left was the World of WarCraft demo for Wrath of the Lich King. Past the StarCraft II demo area was the life-size statue of Kerrigan, the Queen of Blades, and a little further was one of the two BlizzCon stores. And all of this was within half of one of the three halls that Blizzard had reserved for BlizzCon.

After playing the StarCraft II demo once, we went over to catch the opening ceremony, presented by Mike Morhaime. Throughout the rest of the day, my small group would continue playing the StarCraft II demo in between the StarCraft tournaments and the various StarCraft discussion panels. As 9:30pm rolled around, the StarCraft Legacy group met up with the other staff from other sites for a special VIP/press dinner. Unfortunately, it took 45 minutes after BlizzCon closed for the day for us to be allowed re-entry, and then the dinner wasn't as VIP as expected. The VIP group was only allowed to stay about an hour, and there was no private demo play allowed. However, it was well worth it, because our group, consisting of both members from StarCraft Legacy and StarCraft2Forum.org, had a private discussion with Karune until it was time for us to depart to our hotels.

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The next morning, we were back in the main halls soon after 10am. That day DiscipleOfAdun joined my sister, cousin, and myself, having only a VIP pass like ourselves, while LordofAscension and Gradius had press passes which allowed them early access into BlizzCon. DiscipleOfAdun was a welcome addition to our group. With the multiplayer demo for StarCraft II strictly 1v1, I was left to face unknown challengers on Friday. This didn't offer much chance to focus on observing any of the races, as any hesitation on my part would have given my human or computer opponent plenty of time to defeat my forces and raze my buildings. With my help, DiscipleOfAdun was able to record all of the Zerg information for the BlizzCon build. As with the day before, any time not spent watching the tournaments or listening on a StarCraft discussion panel was dedicated to the StarCraft II demo.

After the Cinematics Panel, the last discussion panel for BlizzCon, the four of us met up with the StarCraft Legacy and StarCraft2Forum.org staff for dinner. We met at ESPN Zone, however, a group of 13 on a Saturday night required at least a two hour wait. The other nine left to find another place, while my group stuck around for a much shorter wait. After dinner, we were able to race back to BlizzCon before the halls were closed. Unfortunately, the demos were already being shut down, but this didn't stop us from hanging out and taking some pictures in areas that normally would have been off-limits. Both DiscipleOfAdun and I had pictures taken in the soundproof booths that were used for the BlizzCon tournaments, and I was able to take better pictures without many other people around. Once we were finished, we parted with DiscipleOfAdun, and met LordofAscension and the other staff members, who had recently returned from their dinner. We talked for a while, and then the others went back to their hotel, as me, my sister, and my cousin returned to the truck for the hour and a half ride home.

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An addition I would like to make, is that before BlizzCon, both my sister and cousin had played StarCraft before, but after experiencing the StarCraft II demo, they are both avidly playing in order to be ready for the release of StarCraft II.

Gradius:

BlizzCon 2008 being my first gaming convention, I wasn't sure what to expect. It was certainly a spectacle to say the least. One of the first things I saw as I was heading towards the Anaheim Marriott was the giant BlizzCon sign on a beautiful glass building. Inside the building were giant-sized posters of characters from all three franchises. At the hotel I met up with LordofAscension, DiscipleofAdun, JoneagleX from starcraft2forum and AJ from StarCraft.org. LordofAscension bought us all dinner at the ESPN Zone restaurant. I ate a giant hamburger loaded with grease and bacon. It was delicious.

In order to pick up a BlizzCon pass or to test out a game, one had to wait in line for a hefty amount of time. The lines would be backed out of the ticket pick-up booths and extended into the showroom. Just as you round a corner thinking you've reached the end of the line, you see that it loops back across a hundred more times. However, I had the special privilege to represent StarCraft: Legacy as a press member and went straight to the press booth to pick up my pass. The press pass offers many perks such as being able to skip lines for games and access to the press room which has food and a high-speed internet connection. Basically, the press pass only exists to spoil people - I'm not sure I could imagine attending a BlizzCon without one of these.

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The show floor was filled with lights, fog and giant screens that played Blizzard cinematics. The Kerrigan statue was magnificent; naturally, there was much talk of "borrowing" or "liberating" the statue from the show floor. The art museum had some amazing artworks of the Medic, the Battlecruiser portrait aka. Admiral Gaskaville and many others; it's unfortunate that nobody took pictures of these artworks. The opening ceremony with Mike Morhaime on Saturday highlighted the success of Blizzard and their previous event - the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational in Paris. I knew I was in for a treat at BlizzCon and that this event was going to be historic. Afterwards I went to the front of the line for StarCraft II gameplay area, was escorted to one of the available booths and for the first time, began to play the glorious game that is StarCraft II. Naturally, I spent the majority of my free time doing this. Despite the fact that I've never played any Diablo games, I took a few shots at playing the new Wizard class in Diablo III, which should be a great game that I eagerly await.

For what was arguably the best part of BlizzCon 2008, the StarCraft II gameplay panel, I sat at the front to get the best view. The Kerrigan/Zeratul cinematic was absolutely astounding to watch on the big screen - there was so much detail that just couldn't be captured by even the high-definition cams recording the show. For those of you who have already seen the high-definition Kerrigan/Zeratul intro cinematic, prepare to be astounded once again as you watch it in it's full quality when StarCraft II is released. During the gameplay panel, I certainly wasn't expecting what were essentially two new StarCraft game announcements, and being a StarCraft lore buff myself there weren't any better news I could have conceivably received. I also thoroughly enjoyed the StarCraft II Art Panel. While the actual presentation was mainly a repeat of BWWI, it featured some awesome fly-by videos and a Marine armor "stress-test" video that were also regretably not captured by any video cameras. Samwise is one of my favorite Blizzard employees; this guy has an amazing sense of humor. He kept us on our toes throughout most of the panel.

When the show opened on Sunday I was making my way to the StarCraft II gameplay area when I turned my head to see a stampede of people charging at me. I was nearly trampled by rabid WoW players who were all charging like Ultralisks to play Wrath of the Lich King. I tried not to laugh as I actually saw one of the people fall. Then, I went to my most anticipated panel - StarCraft II lore. It was not so much informational as it was thematic, dealing with the general themes that pervade the StarCraft II story. Afterwards, LordofAscension and I talked to Andy Chambers and I shook hands with Chris Metzen. This year's BlizzCon really was historic - with games from all three Blizzard franchises being playable and the announcement of the StarCraft II trilogy.

This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) BlizzCon 2008 feature article.

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