Posted tagged ‘blizzcon’

Blizzcon and the longer way home

November 22, 2013

Now that everyone has forgotten about Blizzcon, I’m finally home with some time to write about it.

When I booked my vacation 6 months ago, I thought it would be a good idea to put Blizzcon in the middle, so I could participate in anything happening before or after. I didn’t expect to be flying East to New Jersey, then West to Anaheim, then East to New Orleans, then West home again. But it was worth it! And I did get to read a lot while in planes. I haven’t had time to read in so long, I was surprised I still remembered how.

Blizzcon was both a blast and a blur. I ran from panel to panel, from party to party, in hopes of seeing everyone and everything. During my past Blizzcons, I was all “COMMUNITY COMMUNITY COMMUNITY!”. This year, I barely socialized and spent most of my time enjoying the company of my guildies (of past and present).

I also stressed out a lot about the hotel. Like a lot! For the 4 months leading up to Blizzcon, my stomach was a knot and anyone who spent more than 5 minutes with me got an earful about how I was afraid the hotel would rip me off and about how I might disappoint my roommates and and and! To all of you, I am sorry! And I am pleased to say that everything worked out and no one got ripped off and my roommates were lovely and seemed happy.

It’s probably a surprise to those who know me only a little bit because my reputation as a carefree traveler precedes me, but the truth is, I stress just as much as the next person. Perhaps more. It takes me forever to make bookings, if I slip and make a mistake, it’s a tragedy, I spent a lot of time at night awake thinking about the things that could go wrong. And I don’t travel well at all. Flying makes my IQ plummet, screws up my sleep-wake cycle and makes me weepy and confused. But I do it anyway. Traveling is hard, it’s really really hard, but the payoff is worth it.

Anyway, I flew home Friday, in hopes of having a day off between then and going back to work on Sunday, but sadly, Alberta has been plagued with snowstorms and, consequently, sheer ice roads. I stayed with Fannon overnight, and spent all day Saturday driving home. Quite the harrowing experience, but I did make it back safely!

Blizzcon

There were, um, a lot of panels. I watched most of the WoW ones, which were interesting. I was happy to see how seriously they were taking the movie. I have hope that we’ll finally see a decent movie come from a video game. The new expansion is a little…well, we’ll see how it plays out. I don’t feel strongly about it because I don’t feel strong about WoW news until it hits me in the face and because it’s highly unlikely I’ll be playing with any seriousness in the next expansion.

I tried the demo. It was kinda fun. I was pleased until someone asked me what I thought of the new paladin abilities. Then it occurred to me that I didn’t even do the demo with a paladin. I just picked whatever happened to be highlighted on my screen, which ended up being a warlock. I’m such a bad blogger. (I also accidentally turned off the computer after I finished the demo, causing a lot of annoyance to the staff on site. I’m such a bad tester. I’m a bad warlock too. I spent more time running to my corpse then actually playing.)

Speaking of not playing the next expansion, my little heart broke a bit every time I’d excitedly start a sentence with “Next year/expansion/Blizzcon” only to remember that I have bigger plans in motion. I’m super excited about spending a year overseas, discovering a different world, but it’s harder than I expected to not see myself playing this game. It’s been so central in my life for the past 8 years. But it is time to move on. There’s a big world out there, and after that, I would like a family. There are also lots of lessons I’d like to take, other hobbies I’d like to experiment with and other work opportunities I’d like to explore, but that I haven’t been able to because the rare evenings I’m off work are tied up with raiding. Plus, I feel like my health is wavering. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t start moaning about how sleepy I was 2 hours into raid. And I raid super early. Until now, I wrote it off to spending up to 16 hours a day at work without so much as a pee break, but even on vacation, even after I was rested, I couldn’t do anything for more than a few hours at a time without sleep attacks. As my life becomes more and more of a struggle to stay awake, it seems like raiding probably isn’t the ideal after-work activity for me.

On the Blizzcon people side of things, despite my apprehensions, I absolutely loved my roommates (Anafielle, Kalesti and Ellumina). They were all so different and it was a pleasure to get to know each of them and hear their unique perspectives on WoW, on WoW players and on the convention. I also came across Elfie, Vidyala and Vosskah (I kept running into them everywhere…there’s a force that brings Alberta gamers together, I think!), Hestiah (who is so nice! She waited with me when I forgot to print my ticket confirmation and helped me find my friends when I got lost!), Jasyla, Rhidach and others that I don’t remember because OMG SO MANY AWESOME PEOPLE IN SO LITTLE TIME!

One of the highlights of the convention was the pally meetup (I think it was planned/promoted by Theck and Anafielle, thanks guys! You rock!). I wasn’t sure if holy pallies were invited, but I showed up anyway because I do that. I ended up running into Megacode and some of his guildies and a few other holy pallies. Here’s a picture of me and Megacode (all good Blizzcon posts should contain pictures).

holypallies2

And, of course, the guildies, with whom I spent most of my time. Both the Conquest crew and the Cadenza crew were fantastic. To the point where I wonder what I must have done in past lives to deserve having such awesome people in my current life. These people are what make Blizzcon so much fun. I don’t have to worry if I say stupid stuff (worse case scenario, they’ll get a good laugh at my expense), I don’t have to worry about being awkward or too nerdy, and well, I just don’t have to worry. It’s a welcome break from the pressures of the non-WoW people world. And the jokes are funny, and the beer flows, and the hours get so so so short. Oh, and this year especially, the food was good. With Conquest, the official guild meetup was held at a fun brewery, and Cadenza’s meetup was at a japanese barbeque. Both times I ate until I was about to burst! The choice of restaurant for each guild was pretty appropriate because the two different styles really reflected each guild’s very different (but equally delicious) cultures.

Pre/Post Blizzcon

I find it funny that people seem surprised that things went really well between the boy and I. I don’t know if it’s the internet thing, or the distance things, or my fierce independence, but every time I say “It was awesome!”, I get a reaction of “Really?”. You’d think they’d know me by now. I never do things the way I’m supposed to, and that includes dating.

Anyway, I got to meet his parents (he gets to meet mine over Christmas). They’re quite traditional and from a different culture, and even though I was preemptively briefed on proper protocol and stuff, I still panicked a little during the initial gift exchange. (“OMG WHAT DO I DO, WHAT DO I SAY, I WANT THEM TO LIKE ME!!!”) They seemed ok with me, though, and they were very nice, despite the fact that I was absolutely terrified. (Perhaps, even, it may have been the first time in my life where my ridiculous and disproportionate shyness came in handy.)

We went to New York city for two days and I got to see my first musical on Broadway! (I have seen Rent in the past, with the Broadway cast, but it was in Toronto so it doesn’t count.) Rock of Ages was most excellent, and OMG THEIR VOICES! Even though I went in expecting the best of the best singers in the genre, I was still blown away by how beautiful and breathtaking their voices are. I have so much trouble believing that this music was coming out of real human beings.

Our hotel in New York, The Paramount on Times Square, was pretty cool too. I’d been warned that hotel rooms are tiny in New York, and yeah, it was pretty small. The little bed barely fit in the room and I barely fit in the bathtub. But the location was awesome (RIGHT ON TIMES SQUARE!), the smart use to storage space gave me ideas (I have picture of how the towels were stored behind the bathroom mirror. Brilliant! I want that in my house.) and the design fit the Broadway ambiance. Got a good deal on it too. Barely 100$ for a 4 star hotel on Times Square? YES PLEASE! (Just to give you an idea, even the 2 star hotels at worse locations we looked at were above 300$/night.)

And we ate, and ate, and ate, and ate. I feel like all I did that trip was eat and sleep! We ate ramen (and I got an authentic New York experience of waiting an hour to get a table), Japanese buffet, Philly cheese steaks (we went all the way to Philly to get cheese steaks!), Italian pasta, Korean barbeque (where I met my guild/raid leader for the first time! He’s much less scary in person than online.), some Chinese homecooking (after all that restaurant food, it SO nice to eat some yummy homemade food!), Dim Sum and a few meals of Pho. I’m probably even forgetting something. After that leg of the trip, I think it was the first time in my life where I wasn’t sick and still didn’t feel like eating anymore.

After Blizzcon, we met up in New Orleans. Again, we ate a lot! I really enjoy cajun cooking so I led us from restaurant to restaurant until we were both worried about bursting. I made it to some live music at the Spotted Cat this time and we did the swamp tour, both things I regretted not doing last time I was in NOLA. We were really unlucky with the weather, though. It was so cold. Even for someone coming from Canada, it was freaking cold. As a result, we didn’t see much wildlife during the tour and I didn’t want to spend much time outside. We drank disappointingly very little alcohol because, seriously, who wants cold drinks when you’re freezing?

And that concludes the summery of my vacation

I got a lot of stuff done before I left on holidays and things have calmed down at work (most of my free time over the past three months was dedicated to writing this application for my work, hence the lack of WoW and pally-ing), so I finally have some time to myself. I actually sat on the couch this morning for, like, an hour. AND IT WAS GLORIOUS. I can seriously get used to this time to breath thing. So yeah, I’m hoping that this break from all the stress will help me write some more.

As for the next trip? Christmas at my parents house in Cape Breton. I can’t wait!

A String of Bad Luck; or, Even Seasonned Travellers Screw Up

November 13, 2011

Maybe this would fit better on the personal blog as it’s kind of a travel story, but it is Blizzcon related. And yes, I’m only sitting down to write about it now. But hey, I spent 2 weeks traveling then went back to working 7 days a week AND I’ve been sick with NOLA germs. (Damn NOLA germs. I blame boys.)

Besides, this story, or this string of stories, gives you the opportunity to laugh at me. Who doesn’t love an opportunity to laugh at someone? (And to those who were thinking of replying with a comment along the lines of “I don’t enjoy laughing at people“, I will point it out now: you are a big fat liar.)

Random picture of a murloc ancestor. (Was taken at the Heard Museum in Phoenix after Blizzcon. I *think* it's an artifact from Northern Mexico.)

So lets flashback to Wednesday, October 19th, 2011. I was to leave for Blizzcon that night.

I live 3 hours away from the airport. 3 hours. I was working until 6 pm. And that was the only night we were able to book our guest for the Casual Raid Leading episode of the Double O Podcast (Thespius, of course. You regular readers probably know all about him by now – he’s become somewhat of a reoccurring character in my WoW stories).

The plan was perfect: get home at 6pm. Record the podcast until 9 pm. Rush to Edmonton. Check into hotel I had booked (and already paid for) at around midnight. I’d get a good night sleep before my flight 7 am and I’d be all rested for Blizzcon.

It flowed smoothly. (And if you haven’t heard for yourself yet, the podcast turned out AWESOME. Go listen now! Like right meow! This post will still be here when you’re finished listening to the episode.) After a three hour drive (in the dark, through the countryside where deer and moose constantly jump in front of your car), it was midnight and I was pulling into the hotel parking lot.

I was going over my next day in my head: I’ll check into the flight, I’ll go through customs, I’ll show them my boarding pass and my passpo-

My passport.

MY PASSPORT.

I didn’t grab my passport.

It was one of those moment where you think “this can’t possibly be happening, this is totally a dream, stuff like this doesn’t happen in real life.

But it was happening. I knew exactly where my passport was. It was in my filing box, along with my birth certificate and other Very Important Documents. My filing box, which was in my apartment. My apartment which was 3 hours away.

My brain combed through the different options. I have no way of getting through customs without a passport. I don’t know anyone who’d be willing to drive halfway to Edmonton to meet me in the middle with my passport. Besides, no one has the key to my apartment anyway.

It wasn’t looking good.

I turned the car around and spend the next 3 hours driving home. I got home at around 3 am. I grabbed my passport and a few fiber bars (my evening schedule had not included supper and I don’t get a lunch breaks at work, meaning that I hadn’t eaten anything since my two packets of instant oatmeal at breakfast). I got back to Edmonton at 6 am. There was no point in going to the hotel at all so I dropped my car off at the airport and waited for my flight.

If you’re thinking that I’ll end with “and then everything picked up and the rest of the trip was perfect“, you clearly have not been introduced to my luck.

I landed at John Wayne later that afternoon. The flight itself went pretty well – my little adventure that night guaranteed me a nap on the plane – but when I came down the stairs to the baggage claiming area, no one looked like they were waiting for me.

I’m used to sticking out in a crowd. I’m pretty tall. I’m on the scrawny side. I have a weird face. If that wasn’t enough, there are enough photos of me floating around the internet that I’m sure random strangers see me and think “I have no idea who that chick is, but I’ve totally seen her on the internet.”

So I stood by myself. I’ll be found eventually. I will, I will, I will.

I struck up a conversation with guy who was waiting for someone who wasn’t me. He also played a holy pally. Was pretty cool.

20 minutes later I wasn’t found.

That’s the problem with these video game conventions. You don’t know what your friends look like.

My US phone had failed me so I didn’t know what my number was (my Canadian phone is too cheap to work in the US so I have a travel phone that assigns me a new US number every time I cross the border). I did have a number for Juvenate, who had kindly offered to pick up, and I had texted him a few times but he had no way to text me back. I took a deep breath and decided to call him. (I hate phones, and it’s especially scary to call someone who’s real name you don’t even know).

No reply.

I waiting about 10 minutes, then tried again. A girl answered. Yeah, not good.

Was Juvinate waiting for me at a different part of the airport? Did he leave, thinking I wasn’t going to show?

I was getting close to panic. I hadn’t been able to get the internet to work in the airport, but maybe I should try harder. Twitter always saves the day, doesn’t it?

Twitter did save the day. I found a corner upstairs where there internet worked. With the help of a few spectators (both on Twitter and in real life – apparently Ophelie the Freaking Out Pally is rather entertaining), Juvinate and I did find each other.

Of course, never two without three. After we left the airport, I couldn’t find my phone.

Yep. I got lucky and my phone ended up in the lost and found.

I was less lucky at the end of Blizzcon. After I checked out of the hotel, I realized my e-Reader was missing. I quickly gave them a call.

“We already cleaned the room. We didn’t find it sorry.”

I insisted, went back in person, called back a few days later, but nothing. I had read from my reader the night before I checked out, so I knew it hadn’t left my room. Either it was stolen by housekeeping, or it fell out of my purse. Considering that’s never fallen out of my purse before, I’m thinking housekeeping. And I had even left them a tip. Douchebags.

BUT!! After these misfortunes, my post-Blizzcon trip was pretty smooth…

This Is Me, Getting Mushy About Blizzcon. While Sober.

October 30, 2011

It’s been more than a week since Blizzcon. Since then, outrage has, well, raged, on all fronts, from the game-related announcements (what cute, zen pandas aren’t badass?), to the step backward in the evolution of gaming culture taken at the closing ceremony (I honestly didn’t notice the slurs until someone pointed them out to me- contrarily to what some bloggers wrote, the closing ceremony nerdrage was heavily censored- but yeah, I agree that there are ways to express nerdrage without hatespeach). And I believe I may have been drawn into, without my active participation or even knowledge, a social outrage (I feel so famous and important now).

So much excitement, and I missed it all.

Curse you, internet drama, for only happening while I’m busy looking out of train/bus windows instead of at my computer screen!

While the rest of you have discussed Blizzcon to death and have moved onto the bigger and better things, I’m just getting started.

Yep, only picture I thought to take during Blizzcon. Too busy to take pictures!

I had a great Blizzcon.

I really did. Blizzcon exceeded my expectations by millions and millions of…whatever it is you measure expectations in.

Oh, I’m not sure what I think of Pandaria. I got to play it a bit – the world is gorgeous and I love the Asian feel, but, um, I like me some epicness. Place me in the “wait and see” crowd.

Otherwise, I’m excited about Diablo and I’ve felt stirrings of an urge to fire up Starcraft 2 again (how awesome was the Blizzcon tournament finale? I’m not sure what impressed me most, the competitors or the emotional involvement of the audience). And the cinematics panel! How I love the cinematics panel! Again this year I squirmed in excitement, admiring the work that goes into making a game cinematic (in this case, the Diablo III trailer).

And, of course and as usual, the community was the greatest attraction at Blizzcon.

Really, what a great group of people! Not perfect by any means, but to me, our imperfections only make us even more awesome. We come in all shapes and sizes and colours and ages and social backgrounds but we’re all gamers, and proud of it. We do great things and we do stupid things. Geeks we may be, but we’re all so totally human.

I met so many fellow bloggers, podcasters and twitterers. I won’t attempt to list them as I’ll likely forget several and I don’t want to play favorites. But there is one encounter I do have to share!

Why I wouldn’t make a good socialite

It was early in the WoW Insider party. Not quite warmed up yet, I was chasing after my friends, trying not to lose them in the big, scary mass of people. I’m shy and it’s been awhile since I’ve come face to face with a crowd. I was debating sketching off early. Too many people, too many nerves, feeling sick and lightheaded.

Then out of nowhere, I hear: “Hi I’m Theck!”

I was a little confused for two reasons. One, I was kind of expecting Theck to be a sort of ethereal godlike creature, not a normal-looking human being. Two, how on earth does someone like him know who I am?

I stood there with my mouth open, speachless and starstruck. All I could squeeze out was a lifeless “I’m such a huge fan”

Yep, I’m just an endless reserve of social grace. I hope he forgives me.

The 1 Year Guild Reunion

In case you enjoy emotionally-charged guild stories and were waiting in anticipation with big bowls of popcorn… I did see my old guildies again. I was expecting to run into them at some point, but I had no idea what would happen. What impression did I leave behind? Would my hard feelings cause me to make an ass of myself? And most importantly, would they even remember who I was?

Well.

All I can say is this:

It was perfect.

Or at least as close to perfection as all our personalities would allow. I had some great moments at Blizzcon. Some engaging conversations with interesting people. I had a lovely dinner with my ex-guildie, conveniently named X (to whom I certainly owe one). But the highlight was Friday night, after TNB, after hanging out at the Hilton for a bit.

I found myself in the same hotel room I partied in last year, sitting on the same floor I sat on last year, watching my friends play the same drinking game I watched them play last year. It was also reminiscent of all those nights I spent idling on vent/mumble listening to their banter.

Yeah, I know I’m stupidly sentimental, but I don’t think I can be happier than I was at that moment. It wasn’t quite the same gang as last year – some were missing and there some new faces, but the feel was exactly how I remembered. Though Conquest sort of branched off into two separate guilds a few months after I left, my ex-guildies from both sides were hanging out and getting along great. I savoured the moment. For that little snippet of time, I was home.

I think it did help a lot that I’ve grown to love my current guild and I really enjoy working with my raid team. Seeing my former guildies made me realize how much I missed them, but it wasn’t a “I wish I could play with you” missing. It was a “I’m so happy to spend time with guys again” missing. I could really lean back and enjoy the night without any bitterness.

They were also nice enough to walk me back to my hotel at 5 am (which took about an hour!), to put up with my guild history blabber, help me look for my ereader (which was likely stolen by hotel housekeeping, grrr) and even drive me to the airport on Sunday.

The Uncomfortably Sentimental Ending

As I float from city to city on my post-Blizzcon tour, I spend hours (and sometimes days) gazing out of bus and train windows with nothing else to do but think. And the thoughts that surface the most are about those fellow gamers all over North America (and sometimes beyond!) that I’ve had the honour and privilege of being acquainted to.

My awesome ex-guildies of course, but also my awesome current guildies, and the many others who’ve given me kindnesses without asking for anything return. Fannon and his family, Voss and Vid who, though we’ve only met a few times feel like a brother and a sister to me, Oestrus, my eternal partner in crime, all those who’ve supported my silly little WoW projects, who’ve read the blog or listened to the podcast, who’ve emailed me, who’ve talked to me on Twitter.

I have no idea what I’ve done in my past lives to deserve such kindnesses and the company of such wonderful individuals, but I am grateful. So, so, so, so extremely grateful.

It’s All About Teh Blizzcon (and the subsequent vacation)

October 16, 2011

I was half tempted to use a picture of the lineups, but I was worried that no one would understand the image choice.

It’s almost time to stand in line with ten thousand other geeks to pick up my Blizzcon package! I had so much fun last year that the bar for this year is set high. I’m hoping it doesn’t disappoint.

All my guildies suck and aren’t going, so I will be looking for a foster guild for the weekend. I assure you that I am not too whiny (as long as I’m fed) and won’t get into fights (unless it’s over food). If you see me and recognize me (I’m easy to spot: I’m a tall, skinny blonde chick and I’ll be hanging out with a tall, loud redhead), don’t be shy. Come on over and say hi. Don’t worry about seeming creepy or anything. I can’t recognize faces, ever, so I’ll be all polite and act like I know you regardless.

Parties!

The best thing about Blizzcon is, of course, the parties.

The plan is to hit WoW Insider/Wowhead at the Anabella on Thursday night and Twisted Nether on Friday night at Bar Louie. Both parties are usually a hit – WoW Insider will be PACKED with geeky goodness, and TNB will be a tad more intimate, with friendly, familiar faces all around.

Saturday night is still up in the air. Maybe we’ll hit the Hilton party, or maybe we’ll take off for some booty-shaking at a local dance club. I haven’t been dancing in what feels like forever! It’s time we remedy that.

Post-Blizzcon Odyssey

I wouldn’t be me if I hadn’t decided to turn Blizzcon into a two week backpacking vacation! Here’s the plan:

1- Phoenix
2- El Paso
3- San Antonio
4- New Orleans

Two weeks is short, so unfortunately thats as far as I can get before having to head back to work. But if you find yourself in one of those cities shortly after Blizzcon and would like to go for a drink (or even better, if you find yourself with the irresistible urge to buy ME a drink!), give me a holler!

See you at Blizzcon!

Blizzcon Planning!

May 21, 2011

I was at school all day, so I had to buy my ticket at the library. I logged in at 2:15 pm, about 15 minutes before the tickets went on sale. Then I realized: I totally didn’t think to bring my authenticator. Ooops.

I crossed my fingers and quickly made myself a new account. It worked! And I finished it in time to refresh the ticket page a few times.

Then, after what felt like the longest 3 minutes of my life, a refresh brought up a different screen. I didn’t even stop to think about how many tickets I wanted. I just slammed on the “purchase” button. At least, that’s what I assume the button said. Reading it would have wasted too much time.

Aaaand my place on the queue?

3000.

Well, about that. Something like 2900. 20 minute wait.

I honestly didn’t care either way if I got a ticket. If I didn’t, I’d play tourist and party hard at night. If I did, then I’d look forward to the cinematics panel. (*shrug* I’m visual, I like cinematics.) So I was surprised at how much fun I had sitting in line, watching the queue get smaller, wondering if I’d get a ticket or not. I’m sort of tempted to buy another ticket on Wednesday, just for fun.

The Question of Accommodations

Which brings up the question of accommodations. I want to make reservations as soon as possible since rooms go fast, but I’m not sure what I want to do yet. Neither of my current guilds are doing Blizzcon and I don’t know what my future West Coast guild will be doing because I don’t know who my future West Coast guild will be. A few friends are going to Blizzcon, but either their taste is waaaay out of my budget, or they’re staying with too many people I don’t know for me to want to invite myself.

I could get my own room. I like my peace and quiet and I’ll have a good job by October so money won’t be as tight.

But then it would also be fun to have some people to show up at events with. Or people to listen to my all night ramblings.

I know that there are a few others solo Blizzcon travelers who are in the same boat, so if you’d like a roommate or several roommates, send me an email and I’ll bake up some plans. I do cheap but classy. And near the convention center.

I’d, um, prefer female roommates, with this being the internet and all, but I would make exceptions for guys I know well. And, would prefer people that I’ve had some previous interaction with. I like adventure, but I’d kind of like to not share a room with an axe murderer. Or, less dramatically, someone unreliable.

Anyway, yeah, send me an email (not a comment) if you’re interested and not creepy.

Blizzcon Hype

April 13, 2011

The Blizzcon ticket sales were finally announced yesterday and, for those of you who live in boxes shut off from the world, I’ll let you know know that sales days are May 21 at 10am PST and May 25 at 7pm PST. They’re also 175$. Some find that scandalous. To me, though, after the price of plane tickets out of Canada, 175$ seems like nothing.

Figuring Out What To Do

I’m going to be in Anaheim for Blizzcon for sure. I’ll try for tickets, but I honestly don’t care whether I get any or not. Last year, I had so much fun exploring Orange County that I totally wouldn’t mind spending my days roaming again. But, my mind was effectively blown by the cinematics panel too, and I would enjoy having my mind blown again this year.

So regardless of the outcome of tickets day, I know I’ll be happy.

As for accommodations, I’m squirmy. Last year, a lot of the fun came from staying in an awesome (and awesomely located) hotel with guildies. This year, I have no idea what my guild situation will be like come October, so I’m on my own. While staying with Conquest again this year might have it perks, I’m not sure if I’ll be comfortable around everyone who might be there (I don’t even know who might be there), and I’m not even sure if I’d be welcome to stay with them.

But, as I remind myself, I’m a not-too-hideous-looking girl at a geek convention. Finding a bed can’t be that hard. (I’m joking of course.)

An Excuse for a Trip

I’m going to try to take 2 weeks of my vacation for Blizzcon. 3 would be better, but I only get 3 weeks of vacation and I’d like to save one week for something else, like visiting my family.

Anyway, I’ve always wanted to go on a long train trip and explore the southern (as in geographically southern) US. I love, love, love Arizona and deserts and cacti and rocky sand. And, to my greatest surprise, the Amtrak is dirt cheap.

A 15 day (or 8 segment) pass is only a fraction of what Canada’s VIA Rail would cost. Since this wonderful discovery, the wheels in my head have been turning. There are a few cities I’d really like to see, just to say I’ve been there: Las Vegas, Phoenix (I’ve been before, but wanted to go back as an adult), Santa Fe, Texas (not a city, but still), Memphis, New Orleans, Atlanta.

Now, 2 weeks is a very short period of time if you want to cross the US and actually see a few cities. I’m also very restricted by how the different train routes are laid. Going through Chicago to get to New Orleans from LA? A bit much!

In the end, here’s the plan I’m toying with:
1- Fly into Las Vegas
2- Go to Blizzcon in Anaheim, then
3- Go to Flagstaff/Phoenix, then
4- To San Antonio
5- To New Orleans
6- To Atlanta, fly out of Atlanta.

That would be exactly 8 segments and fit snugly into 2 hectic weeks. I’d get to see the US Southern border, taste a sample of the cities and decide which ones I’d like to spend more time in for the future.

Of course, if anyone has suggestions and/or coffee offers, I’m all for it.

Blizzcon Casulties, part 2

October 28, 2010

You didn’t expect all my adventures to fit in a single post, did you?

The Guildies

The best part of Blizzcon, of course, is the people. Initially, it was the only reason I wanted to go anyway. Just to put faces and bodies to the names and voices I’ve spent so many happy evenings with.

Borrowed the picture from Matt since I didn't get one with everybody on it. Nevermind how terrible I look. IT WAS LATE AT NIGHT.

I’ve met guildies before, but this was the largest meetup I’ve attended. If I counted it right, a total of 14 guildies from past and present made an appearance. Murmurs of WoW Insider and the official forums fame stayed with us as well and became an honorary guildie (even if we didn’t see him much, popular guy that he is. PS. he’s super cute).

To those who’ve never met guildies, I wish I could explain what it’s like. The closest I can come is by saying that it’s exactly like being on vent together, except that we can see each other’s faces. The conversations we had were just like those we have online, but we could still understand each other if more than one person spoke at once (unlike vent).

I had been really worried about being the only girl from the gang, but it was a non-issue. It felt just like hanging out with my brothers. They even tried to make me feel like one of the gang by trying to pair me up with random guys at the WoW Insider meetup. Unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling so hot (less than 3 hours of sleep and more than 12 hours of travelling in the past 36 hours), so it was pretty disastrous:

Guildie (to random guy): Hey, have you met Tina?
(They had this system where all the guys were nicknamed Ted and I was Tina)
Random guy (to me): Hey Tina.
Me: Hey, how’s it going?
*awkward silence*
Random guy: *points to my drink* What am I drinking?
Me: *thinking he’s asking about my drink* Um…*trying to remember what my drink was* Jack and Coke.
Random guy: Nope, I’m not drinking anything. See? My hands are empty. You’re wrong.
Me:….

I rudely waved him away and turned around. By then the room was spinning and I felt like I was about to throw up (and no, I wasn’t drunk, the Jack and Coke was almost full), so I finished up my drink, ran back to my hotel and burst into tears.

So, guy in this story, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry! I’m not usually that rude, I just really, really don’t travel well!

I didn’t get iced, although I told them I’d be up for it. I was partly grateful, partly disappointed. I’d like to see if I could do it and feel like part of the team. At the same time, my stomach was bothering me the entire trip and I was desperately trying to avoid being sick. There’s no way I could have kept a sweet drink down!

On a side note, I have to wonder about those people on TLC shows who eat almost exclusively junk food. I only had a couple of junk food meals and yet felt quite horribly ill from all the fat and salt.

My guildies also came up with what ended up being somewhat of a rally call. Whenever Matt was around, Bruherd, especially, kept yelling, WE’VE GOT THEE MATTICUS! FROM WORLD OF MATTICUS DOT COM! WE’RE RECRUTING FOR CATACLYSM!

Most of the time I wanted to crawl under the sidewalk, but it did come in handy. Whenever I had trouble finding my group, I’d just stop and listen for the THEE MATTICUS call. And it was apparently contagious: even Ghostcrawler exclaimed “It’s THEE MATTICUS!” at one point.

Meeting Non Guildies

The magical thing about Blizzcon is that you’re surrounded by all sorts of people. Grandparents, small children, prom-queen types, individuals who haven’t left their bedroom since Blizzcon last year… All sorts of people. Yet, not matter how different we are, we all have that one thing in common: we love gaming enough to be here.

I met so many people last week, old friends and new friends. It was amazing. There’s no way I can tell all the stories, or do justice to all those who crossed my path, so here are some select (mostly embarrassing) highlights.

One of the events I was most looking forward to was the TNB meetup. TNB played a huge role in getting me to start blogging in the first place, so I’d been counting down the days until the meetup.

I spend some time with the lovely ladies Beruthiel (whom I wasn’t expecting to see at all! Such a pleasant suprise!) and Anafielle. I have to say, it was wonderful to hear about other topics than booze and sex! I completely fell in love with both of them and the evening was just too short!

I also got a picture with the Righteous Defense duo Rhidach and Anafielle. Back when I was tanking full time, I studied Righteous Defense religiously. When I saw both of their names on the TNB list, I was thrilled! I was even more thrilled when I saw that they both made it to the meetup. Rhidach was pretty quiet and only came out for a few minutes, but I was so fangirly and giddy that it was probably a good thing. Wouldn’t want to embarrass myself any more!

Speaking of being fangirly and giddy, there was one point where I was right next to Turpster. Right next to him. And I was so shy and intimidated that I couldn’t say anything. I ended up mumbling something like “take my raffle ticket”. Without making eye contact, I clumsily shoved my raffle ticket at him and ran off. I’m really smooth like that…

I hope he at least won something with it.

Exploring the Area

One Friday, I had the day to myself as my guildies were all at the convention. I love walking and exploring, so I leisurely strolled down Katella Ave. Then I leisurely strolled down Main St. About two hours later, my legs sort of hurt and I found myself in downtown Santa Ana.

It was like stepping into a different world. I turned off my iPod, but kept the earphones on. I didn’t want strangers pointing out the giant “TOURIST!” sign hanging above my head. I listened to the conversations around me. My Spanish is decent, considering my last Spanish lesson was over 10 years ago, but I couldn’t understand everything that was being said. I also didn’t want to take the risk of pulling out my camera.

I drifted by all the discount jewellery and bridal shops. I went to the grocery store and practiced my Spanish a little. Olà! Gracias! Ok, maybe I didn’t practice it very much.

I walked a little further and found the Artists Village. I stopped for lunch at a gorgeous place called The Gypsy Den. I then made my way back up Main to the Bowers Museum. I’m a huge nerd who loves museums, especially cultural anthropology museums, so I was served. I floated from exhibit to exhibit, learning about arts and craftsmanship in Oceania and China.

By the time they kicked me out so they could close up, I was exhausted so I decided to take part in the joyous experience of Orange County public transit. (As a general note, to those who want to become backpackers, I highly encourage sampling public transit wherever you go. Nothing will give you a feel and a taste of a place the way sitting on a crowded, or deserted, city bus will.)

My guildies were supposed to meet me at the hotel at 6 for supper. Well, 6 came and went. 6:30 came and went. No sign of guildies. My phone doesn’t work in the US, so I had no idea how long they planned on making me wait. I also wanted to be at the TNB meetup at 9, so I was furious. Furious. The jerks.

(Matt, who was doing his big-shot blogging stuff that afternoon and wasn’t supposed to meet up with us until later at night, ended up saving the day by making an appearance and texting the guys for me.)

Saturday night, I skipped on the Hilton party to get a feel of the reputed LA nightlife. Unfortunately, by then I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open. A guildie and I ended up going to a small place nearby in Fullerton. In the end, it was a great idea. The music was fantastic and the crowd was friendly and unpretentious. I danced for hours.

My poor foot (the same one as the huge blister!) got stabbed by a stiletto. I think I made a very high pitched sound and the stiletto wearer found herself flying into the crowd. We kind of stared at each other for a moment. Neither of us apologized, but I guess it wasn’t necessary. We were even: her stiletto was very sharp and I don’t know my own strength.

I had another adventure on Sunday. Most of the gang had gone home, but our raid leader, Evan, had stuck around to drive Matt and I to LAX. Matt wanted to be at the airport early and I wanted to go to Hollywood. By then, my brain-mouth filter had broken down and for those few hours I was quite possibly the most annoying person on the planet. Kudos to Evan for humouring me. I actually lost my voice from talking so much.

No one had a map, so after dropping off Matt, Evan and I randomly drove around until we found Hollywood and the walk of fame.

We did eventually make it. And we probably would have made it earlier had I not been wrong with every guess of direction I made. On the bright side, the drive was very educational: we unintentially toured a ghetto where all the houses had barred windows, a red light district and a number of freeways.

On the way back, we stopped off for food and in my exhaustion, I forgot how to act in a restaurant. I talked really loud (why Evan didn’t shut me up, I don’t know). Then I couldn’t figure out how to put the tip on my receipt. I forgot that I hadn’t paid yet and that I would get a paper with a tip line after my credit card was returned. After paying, I just sat there, forgetting that I could leave now.

I didn’t drink much during Blizzcon. I don’t have to drink to be stupid.

And now I’m home

My flight to Toronto was packed with Blizzcon enthusiasts, but I was so tired that I just sat on the ground (there aren’t enough seats at LAX) and stared blankly at them. The stares they gave me in return were just as blank. No social mana left at all. Shame. The three semi-passed out across from me were hawt.

I did get some exercise in the Toronto airport. 15 minutes to go through customs and security… Yeah, I didn’t make my connection. Well, I did, but only because they held the flight for me. My carry-on only challenge paid off: the only reason I made the flight was because I had no checked luggage.

I made it to my 1pm class on Monday. My flight landed at 11:30am, so I even had time to go home and take a shower!
I still haven’t completely recovered, but my voice is slowly coming back, the sore throat is almost gone and I’ve been awake for at least 4 consecutive hours.

Now to catch up on all the schoolwork I missed…

Blizzcon Casualties, part 1

October 28, 2010

A little late, I know, but I’m finally recovered enough from Blizzcon to write about it. No, no, I wasn’t the guy who scrapped his leg dancing on stage. I do, however have a sexy blister on my toe (warning! gross picture!) from walking to Santa Ana from my hotel in new shoes. The sucker’s almost bigger than my toe itself! And a combination of not handling sleep deprivation well and school not giving me two minutes to myself makes for a very cranky pally.

Don’t let my whining mislead you, though. I had a blast at Blizzcon.

Blizzcon Itself

I see a lot of complaining about Blizzcon. Mainly from people who were watching it on livestream. Understandably: they got all the boring parts of Blizzcon with none of the perks.

The Blizzcon LFD DPS Queue

I wasn’t expecting to make it to any of the panels since I didn’t bother buying a ticket, so when my guildie had to go home in a hurry, I was thankful that he gave me his pass. As a result, I got to attend all of Saturday’s events.

I don’t care about news or fancy announcements, so I wasn’t looking for anything exciting. I loved the cinematics presentation. I was on the edge of my seat, squealing the whole time. I don’t know much about graphics and game design, so most of the theoretical stuff was over my head. I didn’t care: it looked super cool so I loved it. When I got home, I described it to my friends like this:

“So I went to this gaming company convention and they showed us the cinematics of this new game they have coming out and there was a dragon destroying the world and they showed us how he’s tearing up cities and making fire in the sky and causing huge waves. Before, in games, they used particles to design water, but the effects in this game were too big so they needed too many particles so they had to do it differently so they showed us how they did it and they used tons of layers and OMG it was so cool.”

I’ve been receiving a lot of “that’s nice, dear” looks.

Class Q&A didn’t really teach me anything. Some of the questions were either too obscure for my pally-only mind, for the others, the developers gave vague, generic answers that didn’t bring anything new to the table. I get the impression that Q&A sessions are only held to give players the illusion that they, as individuals, are being listened to.

That said, I would have loved to ask about the fate of paladin utility spells (our Hand abilities mostly) and why they’re not being spotlighted as much as they could be. I thought of it too late, though, and besides, I’m probably the only paladin crazy about utility spells, so I would have probably been booed away.

Oh, and the girl who went on about how dps should never take damage in a raid gave me a good laugh. Has she raided ICC? Sindragosa? Blood Queen? Clearly, she must be one of those dps who don’t ever look at their health bar. And it’s exactly dps like her who need damage reduction talents. (Her original question was concerning the need to pick pvp talents when moving down a tree.)

The Diablo Q&A needed better question screening. Will there be separate PVE and PVP specs? Oh, gee, I dunno, the developers only said no THREE TIMES.

My experience with Diablo is limited to having played for 15 minutes in the “old game demo” section of Blizzcon, so I was a little lost during the Q&A, but I’m excited to see how their non-competitive approach to the game will turn out.

I ended the day by watching most of the Starcraft II finals. I was curious as to what a pro game of Starcraft looks like. The speed and precision of those guys are incredible. How they manage to control 9 groups of units while using all of their buildings to make new units and expanding their bases to other mineral locations, I’ll never understand. In the time it takes me to build a couple of SCVs, they’ve each already established Command Centers at three different mineral fields and unleashed their army on the enemy. Twice.

I wonder if those kinds of skills translate to other aspects of life.

My favourite part of my day at Blizzcon though?

Riding in the Starcraft II flippy-thingy.

Oh yeah.

Notice how I’m there with a stranger. Two of my guildies, big tough guys, were with me, but chose purse-holding duties over riding in the flippy-thingy. Seriously!

Now onto part 2!

Blizzcawwwwwwwn!

October 21, 2010

Well, I’m leaving for Blizzcon in about 4 hours. Over 12 hours of travel, 5 time zones… The Aussies and the Brits will mock me for being a lightweight.

It’s funny how I’ve been daydreaming about this week for so long that now that it’s almost time, it doesn’t feel real. It’s become a figment of my imagination, it’s not supposed to actually happen. But sure enough, I’m ready to take a quick nap then make my way to the airport.

I gave myself a challenge: I decided to travel carry-on only. I had to pull some tricks, but I manage to fit 2 pairs of shoes, a pair of jeans, 5 shirts, 2 dresses, all my socks and underwear, my makeup, my washing stuff (my hair refuses to tolerate hotel shampoo), my hair straightener and study material for 2 classes in a tiny carry-on bag. I have no idea how I’ll manage to fit it all back in for the trip home.

Of blog stuff, I’m not bringing my laptop with me. I didn’t find the time to update our spell coefficients, but Brangwen of Non-Elitist Raiding Diary offered to take on the challenge. I’ll do some experiments next week when I get back.

I also forgot to do the writeup for last week’s Shared Topic post at Twisted Nether. Oops. Looks like it’ll be a double writeup next week.

As for my schedule, in case any of you would be interested in having a drink and/or smoothie with me, my schedule is something like this:

Thursday:
Day- Arrive at LAX, meet up and hang out with guildies.
Supper- Probably go somewhere with guildies (and OMG I can’t WAIT to eat decent food again! I miss fresh vegetables!)
Evening- WoW Insider Meetup at the Annabella (I’ll probably be there early and leave when it gets too crowded. Crowds and me do NOT mix!)

Friday:
Day- Since I didn’t get my midterm schedule until after the tickets went on sale, I didn’t bother buying a ticket. So I’m just going to hang around the city and play tourist.
Evening- Twisted Nether and Raid Warning meetups. Will probably go to the TNB meetup at Bubbagumps first, then meet up with my guildies at the Raid Warning’s once I’ve said hi/shaked hands/handed out hugs to everyone.

Saturday:
Day- Either hanging out with a guildie or two, or just playing tourist again.
Evening- Probably going to the Con After-Party for some time, then try to convince some of my guildies to go clubbing. I BOUGHT CLUB CLOTHES JUST FOR BLIZZCON.

Sunday:

Day- There was talk of a beach day among guildies, but it’ll depend on the weather…
Evening- Flying home and back to reality :(


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