For our first year, we primarily set out to spread the WoW Insider love and get to know the community. That said, the reception and excitement we got from the Dragon*Con community at seeing us there overwhelmed both Elizabeth and I. It has ensured that we'll both be back in 2008 to cover all the myriad World of Warcraft goings on for WoW Insider! (As well as ensuring that we'll be back to help run the First Annual Dragon*Con MMO Costume Contest, slated for 2008!)
To check out a condensed recap of this year's various events, as well as the two (enormous) photo galleries chock full of various sights from D*C 2007, join me after the jump!
Arriving on Thursday, we settled into our respective hotels and met up with the MMO Track leader, Kevin Stallard, who proceeded to show us around the convention. We also met many of the other panelists for the weekend, including Trevor Legg, who has many years as a panelist under his belt, Terri and crew from FunCom (makers of the upcoming Age of Conan), and Mark Crump, hella cool MMO guru for PC Gamer magazine. From there we snagged some drinks and settled in with several of our readers for the fairly impromptu WoW Insider Meet-up. This featured lots of talk about different columns that were well loved (Reader WoWspace, Know Your Lore, etc) and some things that people would love to see us do in the future. The chance to get feedback directly from our community was fabulous, and something we're definitely looking forward to doing again next year!
From there, Elizabeth and I called it a night as we were to be up early for our first day of panels. Friday was a blur of topics ranging from the ethical issues involved in Gold Farming to Guild Management (both raiding and casual) to an MMO post-mortem on how can the current crop learn from the past. After a dinner break and a quick run to the room to grab The Swag Bag, we headed for our panel room to host the WoW Insider World of Warcraft Meet & Greet/Costume Contest. To say our party was a success is an understatement in the extreme! With having only about 1 month's notice to get costumes together, we still had a good strong dozen or so entries into the contest -- all of which were truly awe-inspiring! Sadly, the original room we'd been slated for was tiny, so we moved to a bigger room and still had to turn over 300 people away. (Of course, many of them stuck around and started their own WoW Meet & Greet in a room next door to ours with a lovely gamer cat-girl heading it up, and Elizabeth popping out to give out a case of TCG booster packs in the overflow room.) For next year, we've been promised a ballroom to accommodate the masses of WoW players who show up to join the fun! However, for those who weren't able to make it, here is a gallery of the costume contest and some of the overall fun!
Around Midnight, we brought the Meet & Greet to a close, and rather than splitting people up by server, we suggested that the entire WoW crowd head out and get their drink on together. (From what we heard, this was duly accomplished -- and without ganking!) Elizabeth and I hung out for a while to meet more readers, and she headed back to the hotel while I went out with my camera to catch some of the other goings-on at the Con.
The next day was once again full of things to do and panels to attend. We caught the Machinima 101 panel with Clint Hackleman from Myndflame.com and Matt Kelland, co-author of Machinima and Creative Director of Short Fuze. This is where we learned about many different aspects of making Machinima, as well as getting the skinny on the new book, Machinima for Dummies that came out a few days ago. (You can snag a copy on Amazon.com, if you're curious.) From there, we had to head out for more panels. I caught the EFF track's WoW Noob panel, and was surprised to see just how many people have only recently picked up World of Warcraft. (The room was packed!) Lots of good information given out in this panel to those who showed up. From there, we spoke on the Wrath of the Lich King panel, helping to quell rumors and explain some of the many things that Elizabeth saw and experienced at Blizzcon. We also came away with some good questions as to what the community there was interested in, and will be following up on those in their own post later. After that, we got to talk at length with people about whether they felt WoW was an "MMO on training wheels" and just what defines Casual and Hardcore to the overall industry leaders. After a lively series of discussions, we checked into some of the other tracks (like Dr. Who and Who Wants to be a Superhero) and snapped even more pictures. Later that evening, I checked out the Machinima viewing party and got to see some of the best Machinima across many different games, capped off with Oxhorn's ROFLMAO video -- easily one of my personal favorites due to having grown up on the Muppets.
Sunday was another blur of activity, with Elizabeth and I branching out to catch the last of the WoW costumes, culminating in being called out several times while walking around as being the "people from WoW Insider." We met many of the folks who hadn't been able to make it into the WoW Meet & Greet, and again got to spend quite a lot of time with readers discussing many of the things they'd like to see both from WoW Insider and the Dragon*Con 2008 MMO track. As Sunday night rolled around, we met up with many of the people from the MMO track, and proceeded to check out the Pirate Party (the Bloodsail Buccaneers have nothing on those party pirates) and enjoy some music made by Tesla Coils! Just as the sun was threatening to say hello, we headed off to catch a wee bit of sleep before our final panel -- the suggestion panel.
Monday found us packing and planning to depart, but not before we stopped in to hear suggestions on what people want to see for 2008. Many of the things that were suggested (a larger space for the WoW Meet & Greet) are definitely on the schedule, as well as requests to re-work/work in new panels on other topics of interest to the general MMO community. All of the suggestions were gathered up, and are currently being worked on at the Dragon*Con MMO site to ensure that 2008's events blow this years events out of the water. (I have no doubt we'll do it, too.)
So in all, a highly successful and fun weekend. If you're contemplating where to spend your Labor Day Weekend next year, we can heartily recommend Dragon*Con. (2008 pre-registration will be open on the 10th, starting at the low price of $45 for a 4-day pass.) Not only will we be back in force, but we'll also have some great new things to do and see! Of course, with any luck, Blizzard will send some folks out as well, so we'll have more news to cover. (Or hey, if any of the Blizz folks are trying to figure out where to vacation, you know where to look!) But even if all we get out of 2008 news-wise is hanging out with 40,000+ really cool geeks of all walks, that's more than enough for Elizabeth and me.
Hope to see you all next year at Dragon*Con 2008!
[Many images courtesy of Spawn of Bill (Charlie Taylor), Ken Kennedy/Dea Mozingo, with additional assistance from Rhett of GreenTime.]