For the first time this year, Blizzard introduced the BlizzChat: Community Live!, a neat little side event where anyone was welcome to come in and debate various topics of the game alongside a Blizzard moderator. The intent of this new "panel" was to bring the internet forums to life, in a sense, and allow the players to openly bounce ideas back and forth between each other with a direct line of communication to Blizzard present.
Although it wasn't as glamorous as having Ghostcrawler down in the trudges, the feedback that was being tossed around was taken seriously by Blizzard and the discussions themselves were highly informative. The discussions were so engaging that I ended up missing several of the panels down in the event proper that I had planned on attending, simply because the other players present were that engaging. Topics ranged across all spectrums of the game, from achievements to professions, PvE balance to PvP tactics, leveling and questing to the lore of the game itself.
There was a lot of skepticism about hosting this type of forum and to how effective it would actually be, but I can attest that there is nothing better than a room full of players from all walks of WoW actually talking about their gaming experiences and the changes they would like to see for the game.
A good idea
From all of the people that I talked to about this new event that Blizzard was hosting, the initial response that I had gathered wasn't overly positive; to many, it really seemed to them as though spending an hour in a room just talking about WoW was a waste of time. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Blizzard utilizes many tools in collecting feedback from their players when deciding the best direction to take WoW and one of the most prominent of those tools is the community forums. It's been noted time and time again by Blizzard and by the players that the forums have a very poor noise to substance ratio; valued discussions and few and far between, and you have to deal with the issue of trolls, whining, and petty infighting constantly. Don't misunderstand me, I love the community forums, but they often times aren't the best place for Blizzard to garner the feedback that they need. The live forum avoids many of these flaws; there are no trolls, there was virtually no infighting beyond playful banter, and players genuinely felt that their opinions mattered.
The moderator from Blizzard did a fantastic job of keeping the conversation on topic, plus he really did make everyone present feel that their voice was being heard; which it was. He wasn't there to answer any specific questions, just to observe, collect feedback, and at times mention whether a suggestion might already be in the works or offer Blizzard's perspective on the issue. If Blizzard continues to push this type of forum at BlizzCon, I can easily see it becoming one of the more popular events.
What came of it
Sadly, I wasn't able to attend every session that was hosted -- there was one every hour with a new topic, and I had to get my Diablo III time in too! -- but I did get to sit through a majority of them. Here is some of the highlights of everything that was covered:
- Achievements - Players would like for certain achievements to be applied to the account instead of the character, which is something Blizzard is working on doing.
- Achievements - They would also like to develop a method for players to view the achievements of multiple characters linked on a single account
- Achievements - Players asked for better clarification on completing the more involved achievements in the game which the moderator said they would work on
- Professions - Players wanted more "vanity" or "fun" items from other crafting professions besides Engineering.
- Professions - Getting more uses from gathering skills so they don't feel wasted on a main character
- Professions - Easing the leveling process for the professions that rely on more rare materials such as Enchanting and Jewlecrafting
- UI - Easier method of key binding various bars using the default interface
- PvE - Looking into buff equality in terms of application factors, not just strength
- PvE - Tighter control on gear scaling from a single stat to avoid extreme stacking issues
- Druids - Better balancing for Thorns to make it less penalizing towards fast melee instead of slow melee attacks
- PvP - Better trinket balance using methods other than resilience
- PvP - Equalizing of cooldown based and passive defenses for "weaker" classes -- particularly rogues
- PvP - Specializing the scope of specs to create better comps -- having certain specs favor burst, others control, but never both or limited in one if high in the other.
BlizzCon 2010 is over! WoW Insider has all the latest news and information. You'll find our liveblogs of the WoW panels, interviews with WoW celebrities and attendees and of course, lots of pictures of people in costumes. It's all here at WoW Insider!