BlizzCon: Liveblogging the Opening Ceremony

1:53pm - Blizzard sure knows how to keep things dark. We're stting here in front of the massive main stage, where thankfully our press pass got us a seat (because the place is packed to the (murloc) gills). We've just been given the ten minute warning, which sends batteries, cameras, pens, and notebooks scattering to the floor as we scramble to plant ourselves in a good view of the screens.

What's the big news going to be? Diablo 3? The already-leaked expansion? Murloc SingStar? Something totally unrelated? We'll find out soon.

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11:01am - So they're not starting exactly on time. "Ladies and gentlemen, we regret to inform you that there is no sitting in the aisles." And we're off! "Good Morning BlizzCon!" Mike Morhaime, president of Blizzard, takes the stage. "Welcome to our second BlizzCon!" The crowd, predictably, goes nuts. "Thanks to your support, WoW has grown to become the most popular game in the world. Since we last met at BlizzCon, the global population of Warcraft has doubled. There are more than nine million people living in Azeroth. That's bigger than most of the world's countries. The South Park episode featuring World of Warcraft was recently nominated for an Emmy, and we wish them a lot of luck. The Burning Crusade was released back in January, and it became one of the fastest selling PC games in history. It sold 2.4 million copies in 24 hours, which is more than most games sell in a month. Our BlizzCon tickets sold out completely in three days." Pretty impressive stats but, then again, we already knew WoW was huge.


11:06am - "We have people here from all over the world, including Europe, New Zealand, Asia.... and we appreciate your enthusiasm. This is our chance to say thank you in person. We'll be showing you some previews of some things we have in store, and just plain having a good time. Top amateur and professional gamers will be completing for thousands of dollars in prizes. We'll be featuring Starcraft competitions, CGS gaming chamionships, and more. We'll also be featuring several WoW trading card game contests (one guy cheers loudly. literally). Tonight, we'll be having cocktails and costume contests. Jay Mohr will be here tonight as our emcee. He'll also be performing tomorrow during our closing ceremonies. Video Games Live will be playing live music from our games, and it will be very cool. Also, taking a break from their tour with the Darkmoon Faire, we're very happy to have a repeat performenace from our Level 70 Elite Tauren Chieftain."


11:10am - "You may have heard the news that we are working with Legendary Pictures to bring WoW to the big screen, and you'll be able to learn more about that in the movie panel tomorrow. Several of our partners are here to show products that they've created from our universes. You'll also be able to get a sneak preview of something we're working on with Dell: the Ultimate WoW Gaming System (UWGS?). As you know, we've been having invitationals throughout Korea for Starcraft, and over 60,000 people showed up to cheer everyone on, and we also announced Starcraft II. For those of you who couldn't make it to Korea, here's a short video to show you what the experience was like."


Shots of the Starcraft 2 announcement, people are going nuts (in the video, not actually in the auditorium). We think we could have coded Diablo III ourselves in the amount of time it's taking to watch this video. Literally, onstage (in the video) Korean girls grabbing themselves more than Britney Spears. One blogger snarks, "Wow. Those South Koreans man, they know how to party down."

11:15am - And we're back! "While Korean gamers were the first to see Starcraft 2, you'll be the first to play it." Crowd goes a little kooky. "You can play single-player, or against each other in multiplayer. For those of you who haven't seen it, here's the Starcraft II cinematic trailer." Yay! More video (but this one's been on the tubes for weeks) ... Okay, admittedly, it does look pretty darn cool on the big screen. And the sound is fairly awesome. Fine, fine, we're sold. The bass is literally our upper vertebrae. They didn't skimp on the sound system in here.


... still watching video.

11:20am - "While we're excited to have everyone see Starcraft on the game floor, there's one other small detail I'd like to attend to. - The video's over, the crowd goes wild, and Robert Redford rounds the bases ... oh sorry. Lost there for a second. "While south Korea got to see the Protoss race, here at BlizzCOn you'll see what we have in store for the Terran race. The gameplay panel will offer a full detail of the Terran races, as well as detail of the campaign. Ladies and gentlemen, [Blizzard Vice President] Frank Pierce."


11:22am - "Holy crap, that's a lot of people. Wow. You know, none of this would be possible without you people, so thank you. Well, we finished Burning Crusade earlier this year, and the Blizzard team has been hard at work. One of the things we've been working hard on, is integrated voice chat. Now, some of you might be disappointed by this ... because you'll find out that the hot Night Elf chick you've been playing with is actually a dude on the other end. We've also been working on guild banks. Guildmasters can over see the banks, and will know who has made withdrawals, and who has made deposits. We've been working hard on Zul'Amans. The trolls in that region are ready to come forth and kick some blood elf ass. How many of you play Orcs? (Smattering of applause). We have some exciting developments for you guys. We're going to triple the size of your shoulder pads. (And there was much laughter).


11:25am - "But the dev team has been working on something much more special than that. Who has been reading rumors on the internet and knows what I'm about to talk about? Keep your hands up ... your accounts are all banned. Well, they've been hard at work on our second expansion ... The Wrath of the Lich King! It's official. You might be familiar with an inhabitant of Northrend.... Arthis. (Cheers!).


As soon as you set foot in Northrend, you're going to be exposed to the storyline, and you'll be interacting with Arthis in some form or another right away. Now, you can't beat Arthis at level 70, so we're raising the level cap to 80. We also have new arenas, new battlegrounds, siege weapons (!), and buildings that can be destroyed with those weapons, a new profession called "inscriptions."


We have new character customization with hairstyles and things like that. 5 man dungeons, 10 man raids, 25 man raids. 100s of new quests, monsters, and items. But even more exciting, for the first time in the history of WoW, we're announcing the Death Knight Hero Class. Words can't do justice."


So we're watching a video! Cinematics, narration, describing the things you'll see. A single Paladin gets surrounded by Horde baddies. He's ganked ... and then outfitted in some pretty rad looking black armor with green glowing skulls on it. And he looks pretty pissed off. Arthis is looking over everything. "In the end, everything must serve the one true king." It's a Wrath of the Lich King teaser trailer.






11:31am - "Pretty awesome, eh? Be sure to check out all of the developer panels. The panels are cool ... but even cooler are the banks of computers set up in the other room. You guys will be some of the first people ever to play Wrath of the Lich King. We have a special zone set up for you guys called the Howling Fjord. So thanks for sharing your weekend with us, go out there, and have fun!"

11:33am - And we're done! The crowd is making serious tracks for the demo areas. Seriously, we blinked and there are puffs of smoke where people used to be sitting, just like in cartoons.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.