It’s pretty funny that I’m writing this sitting at the airport terminal. All of the experiences are so fresh in my brain that I feel like I have to get them down in writing before they fade. I do have an important note though, this has been edited for content – removing some of the things that I can’t share with you due to being of a personal nature or a “professional” (i.e. theorycrafting) one. That being said you will still totally get the gist of why this past weekend has probably been the very best experience of my life.
So let’s start with….
Thursday involved mainly a lot of travel and standing in lines. However it all started with me meeting Vosskah, Mel, Antigen, Rhidach, and Vidyala before lunch. I had never met them before, so I wasn’t sure who I was looking for – or even what to expect. Turns out Vosskah is just as much of a sarcastic wit in person as he is online. Vidyala is awesome, and she was super happy that I was wearing the custom badge she made me – apparently some people had forgotten theirs >.< - I hadn't really had much interactions with the others, but it was nice to hang out with them in the lounge before I headed out for lunch. Theck was also there. Not really important right now but you'll understand why I'm mentioning it here when we get to Friday.
Lunch also happened to be very first time I met the person who is probably the best WoW friend I have (or maybe will have) - Reesi. I owe a huge part of the positive experiences I've had with the community in the last couple of years to her, and I'm not being hyperbolic when I say that. If it wasn't for her I wouldn't be writing for TiB at all, and wouldn't have met nearly as many, or had nearly as awesome experiences this weekend as I had. It's pretty safe to say that if she had never asked me to join the TiB staff, I may not have even gone to Blizzcon 2013 in the first place.
One thing you have to understand about Reesi is that how she interacts online is pretty much identical to who she is in real life. She is a huge dork (self-admittedly) and one of the nicest people I've ever met. It was a little awkward at first but once I realized that this is actually who Reesi is, we fell right back into our old routines. I wasn't able to get her out to any of the parties unfortunately, maybe next year ;)
Dinner unfortunately took longer than it was supposed to because both Tinderhoof and Maelfus had to go through some crazy bullshit to change names on their tickets. It was pretty good once we got it, but there was no way I was getting into the WoWInsider party by that point. Turns out that wasn't even a big deal, because most of Apotheosis was chilling in the Hilton lounge. I spotted them while I was heading to my room to change & shower, and Serrinne grabbed me and gave me a huge hug. I said hi and told everyone I would be right back down - Kaleri hadn't recognized me at this point - and went up to change.
I came back down and once she recognized me Kaleri nearly pounced on me. There's something you have to understand about Kal. She is tiny. Very tiny. But she has one of the biggest personalities I've ever come across. You know how night elves bounce on the front of their feet? Yeah, Kal has that shit patented. When she's excited about something she starts bouncing like crazy.
I'm going to have to give you a bit of backstory so that my next anecdote makes sense. See Kal and I have been bonding on Twitter ever since Mass Effect 3 came out over our mutual love for the series. Turns out we're both huge Mass Effect fans – on top of both being Guardians. So we had agreed several months ago that we would do the N7 toast from Mass Effect 3 – the scene where Shepard buys a round of drinks at the bar for some soldiers – on the Thursday night. What I didn’t realize at the time is that this would actually turn out to be N7 Day (November 7th) as well. So the very first thing I did was tell both her and Jasyla that we were doing our N7 toast (which reminds me, I met Jasyla for the first time too – protip: don’t try to out-drink her).
Unfortunately the jagerbombs we got were constructed poorly – the shots didn’t drop correctly – but it was still fun. Kaleri and I split the lines to the toast 50/50, and it was one of those things where you just feel accepted for being a nerd. Hard to describe but certainly awesome.
I don’t really remember much else of Thursday night other than hanging out with Apotheosis. I know I ran into Hamlet and Perculia briefly, and that Jasyla and I kept buying each other drinks. I’m fairly certain Tikari, Kristin, and Beru came through at some point, but it’s all kind of blurry.
What I do remember though, is briefly chatting to both Clutch and Sir Scoots during one of my drink runs. It was great to talk to them, and Scoots even remembered me from IPL4 which was pretty cool.
Oh! And I’m like 99% positive Sunnier and Tyler (her boyfriend) showed up at some point. They must have, because they were making fun of me the next day for being really drunk. Which brings me to another tangent I want to go on real quick. Sunnier is awesome in person. I met her the first time at Blizzcon 2011, which was a little over 2 years ago. Tyler ended up having to drag her over and introduce us (we had been tweeting back and forth earlier in the evening, and I had a pretty good idea of who she was, but not 100%) at the WoWInsider party. I think we might’ve hung out again briefly at the Twisted Nether meetup, but I’m not 100%.
I didn’t get to hang out with her again until PAX 2013. The 3 of us actually went to the streaming panel and got to hang out for like an hour and just talk about video games. Casually hanging out with my friends like that is one of the best parts of conventions for me. Which brings me to Blizzcon.
I could tell Sunnier was way more comfortable chatting with me this time around. I think out of everyone we probably hung out the most during the convention. One of the things I think people always have problems with, is trying to strike up a conversation with someone. If you want to talk to Sunnier there’s one really simple topic: Tank Mechanics. She loves talking tank stuff, so if you want to say “hi” to her (not just at a Blizzcon, any convention really), just talk to her about tank stuff.
Anyway, I think I ended up going to bed at like 1am or something. “Or something” being the operative phrase there. Which brings us to….
Holy fuck I felt like shit the next morning. Ripping headache, tired as fuck, and just generally not feeling good. We ended up with pretty mediocre seats for the opening ceremonies – which was mostly my fault I think – but Sunnier, Tyler, and I sat together for the first couple of hours. They were both playing Pokemon and I was (really badly) trying to figure out what was going on, since none of it made any sense to me.
Opening ceremonies happened, and we moved into a better position for the WoW panel. After that I headed back to the hotel for a nap because I felt like garbage. Returned at 4pm for the meetups, and I got to meet the rest of Apotheosis. Hamlet was there as well, and Sunnier tagged along. Not really much ended up happening, but Vlad from Icy Veins was there as well so it was nice to meet him and Damien in person for the first time (for those of you that don’t know, I peer-review the Guardian info on IV every patch).
Both of them are super nice people, and I’m happy they’ve been able to make the site work for them.
After the meetup I needed to crash super bad again, so I had a 2nd nap. Got up, and went to dinner. And here begins the craziest night I had this year. It began by me grabbing a drink and wandering around the Hilton lobby. The first person I ran into was Robert Ohlen – CEO of Dreamhack. Man, that dude has massive balls. I really want to check out a Dreamhack, but I don’t know how I’d get over there. Maybe one day….
I then ran into Theck and we milled around trying to figure out where the hell the CtR party was. Thankfully someone clued us in, and we headed up. We met Kerriodos there, Sunnier and Tyler joined us shortly thereafter. Sunnier’s friend CaptnKrunch then came over as well. Goddamn that room was hot though, holy shit. We spent most of the night there kinda going up and down stairs because my group kept leaving me without telling me. One of the times I went down I actually ran into Ghostcrawler and Watcher. I made a joke about lynching Watcher and talked to him real quick about tanking and Guardian stuff (nothing I can share though).
Then once I realized my group had abandoned me (again) I went back to the CtR party. There I got to meet Moshne, Derevka, Esoth, Kelesti, Bay, MIKE FREAKING B (I even made Bay say hi to him ^.^ – and yes, I asked him to bring “Will it Donkey” back), Settesh, Vixsin, and of course Anafielle. Now a quick sidebar. For those of you that don’t know Ana, she actually knows everybody. Seriously. She’s the epitome of a social butterfly. Probably as popular as the developers themselves. Story resumes. I introduced myself and she gave me a big hug. Second sidebar, Ana gives the best hugs. Story Resumes. She had meant to chat with Theck but didn’t know where he was, so I pointed her in the right direction.
I then dished with Derevka and Vixsin for a little bit, before moving out into the hallway to make sure Theck and Ana didn’t sneak off on me (I had promised Ana I would get her a drink). So the three of us went downstairs and got drinks, and ran into Celestalon while doing so. Only I didn’t know who it was at the time. He obviously knew who I was though – even flashed a bear paw tatoo on his shoulder – and he invited us to a party at the Midwinter house. He actually pointed at Theck and I and said “I need to talk to you about tanking stuff”. So we’re like “Welp, I guess we’re going to this party then”.
We finished our drinks and Shadowed (of Shadowed Unit Frames) came over and chatted with us. He’s a really cool guy. Ana promptly vanished saying she had to collect a couple more people before we headed to the party, leaving the 3 of us to go “Well, ok”. Turns out she found Hotted, Swifty, and someone else who I am completely forgetting. So the 9 of us end up heading down towards the house, chatting about various things as we went. There was a lot of complaining about being mislead regarding the distance we needed to travel to get to this party, but we arrived well enough. Once there I got to meet Slootbag (I don’t think he knew who I was though), and their EleSham whose name escapes me at the moment. Unfortunately Method had just left the house, so it was just Midwinter (and Blood Legion?) folks left.
Theck and I cornered Celestalon and we chatted for a bit about the aforementioned tanking stuff (again not providing details), and discussed different class mechanics, etc. That was probably the moment where I realized that I’m hooked now. I have to go back to Blizzcon every year, if not only because it’s a gigantic fucking party with basically all of my friends, but to represent the Guardian community.
We ended up leaving the party when Midwinter kicked us out at like 2:30 (ostensibly because they had to sleep, although their performance the next day leaves me dubious). Theck, Shadowed, Ana and I all walked back to the Hilton. Since Ana and I were the only ones actually staying there, Shadowed and Theck peeled off early to go to their respective hotels.
The party was basically dead at this point, but we did run into a very drunk Conradical and Cdew. We got into the elevator, traded another hug and parted ways. Thus concludes my Friday night.
The start of Saturday was much less crazy than Friday. I got to sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast, and enjoy my morning. Headed over to the convention around 11, and sat down for the WoW panel. I stayed for the movie panel too, which turned out to be a waste of time. Right after it ended I headed to the Diablo 3 voice actors panel. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but there’s a reason.
As I mentioned before Kaleri and I are huge Mass Effect fans. Ever since we found out that Jennifer Hale was going to be at Blizzcon, we made it our mission to get her autograph. To that end I headed over to the voice actor stage, to thankully find that Kaleri had already found us seats. Chronis (Kaleri’s boyfriend – and cotank in Apotheosis) was nice enough to give up his seat for me since – in his words – “You are the ones that really want to be here”. However there was a nice elderly man beside us said he was going to leave anyway, so we called Chronis back.
Once the introductions started both Kaleri and I lost our shit when Jennifer was introduced. Afterwards we sat patiently waiting until the autographing began. Unfortunately they started letting people up front-to-back, and since we were near the back we were worried we wouldn’t make it up. People were bringing like 2 and 3 items to be signed, and we were sitting there like “wtf”. Finally though, after 45 minutes of waiting they let us join the line. We made our way all the way to the stage Kaleri was turned back. I was disappointed but Kaleri was absolutely crushed. However she still had the presence of mind to bug one of the staff and beg for a real quick autograph.
We were told to go to the opposite side of the tent and wait for a few minutes. No promises. So we hiked over there and waited. Others tried to get in and were kicked out. We did what we were told. Finally the staffer came back and pointed at Kaleri “Just you.”
She was so excited, it was awesome. She went inside and came out about 10 minutes later. Autograph, pictures, the whole bit. You know how I mentioned earlier that she does this bouncing thing when she’s excited? Yeah. She was basically floating.
I made her promise to buy me a drink later since I didn’t get a chance to go in.
Next I tried out the D3 expansion, then headed over to meet up with my group to try the new 5man dungeon. Unfortunately Reesi had been delayed by working on FinalBoss stuff, and Hamlet was running late. But! Tinderhoof and Sylver were walking by so we snagged them real quick. We failed miserably, largely because we had 0 addons. But! The item squish felt really good. Looking forward to that for sure.
Dinner was next, then getting changed and a shower. Then the final countdown.
I bugged Sodah all night to let me buy him a drink, but he never came down or I never found him. Not sure what happened there.
We started the party off just hanging out on the left hand side of the Hilton lobby. People came and went all night. Sunnier and Tyler were the first to arrive after Tinderhoof and Maelfus. I know that we saw many other people (Beru, Brade, Jasyla, Serrath, and probably some others I’m forgetting). I made the rounds a few times and ran into some more esports people – Slasher, Sir Scoots (again), and RedEye. I gave Slasher a hard time because he had no idea what happened at the WoW tournament – came back and found Kaleri and Chronis. Got another big hug from Kaleri and she told me that since Chronis works at a print shop, they’re going to try to copy the print that Jennifer signed and send it to me.
Unfortunately they had to leave pretty early since they had an early flight, so I sat down with Tikari. What followed is probably one of the greatest bonding experiences I’ve ever had. We talked about life experiences, relationships, love, and why it’s worth it. It’s different when you talk about these things with a fellow nerd. I will always treasure that conversation I had with him, hopefully I’ll have more in the future. Of course he then sent me on a mission to find Ana, since he hadn’t had a chance to hang out with her yet.
On that mission I ran into Zarhym and bought him and his lady a drink – thus paying my debt. The funny part was that Ana mocked me the entire time. Although she did help me deliver them, so there’s that.
Second time out I found Celestalon and said goodbye to him. He’s much different than I expected in person, and I would definitely hang out with him again.
I also ran into Ion for a second time. We chatted briefly before I guilted Ana into coming back and sitting with us. I crashed shortly later – being exhausted.
Morning was fairly uneventful. I enjoyed an orange juice with Vosskah, Theck, Mel, Rhidach, and Antigen. Brunch followed with Reesi, Jason, Reid, Tinderhoof, Sylver, Maelfus, Sunnier, Tyler, Hamlet, and Perculia. I had passed by Hamlet a couple of times throughout the con, but hadn’t had a real chance to sit down and chat with him, let alone Perculia. I value their unique perspective on the game, and enjoy any time I have to talk game mechanics with them. Sunnier, Hamlet, and I had a good chat about tanking mechanics and Vengeance specifically.
The last thing I did before I left for real was to chat with Settesh and his wife, Kerri, and a bunch of folks from EJ. I think I realized then that I’ll never be part of that group. Not that I don’t have interest in becoming friends with people, but rather I hate feeling like I’m intruding. I’m just glad that I already have a very wide circle of friends, full of many amazing people that I met and hung out with this weekend. This weekend changed me in the best way possible, and I want to have this experience as many times as I can.
The one thing this trip got me thinking about the most, is that I don’t know how I’m going to go a whole year (or two?) until I see all of my friends again. So I was saying to myself “You have money, why don’t you go visit your friends you idiot?” I didn’t have a good answer to that question.
So next year I’m planning a series of visits around the continent to some of my friends. Perhaps Toronto over Easter to see Kaleri, Chronis, Serrinne, Jasyla, Serrath, and others. I know I’m already going to Texas in May (shhhh can’t say why, it’s a secret). I’ve always wanted to go to Colorado, and it so happens that both Rotund and Sunnier live there, so that seems like a perfect excuse to me.
Unfortunately I don’t think I have enough vacation days for any more visits plus Blizzcon, plus new expansion, plus PAX Prime. I’m definitely looking forward to it though.
Heck Buraan and Danish are threatening to come over for next year. That should be interesting.