Gamescom/Mapper Meeting with Blizzard

At Gamescom last year I had bought a season ticket and only used two of the four days available to me. It was a really stressful experience.  It was so overcrowded that we had to walk outside the main halls to get anywhere, where an unforgiving sun was bombarding us with its heat. There were endless lines everywhere. You would have to wait 2-4 hours to play any decent game. Many people decided that 8 hours was worth the wait to play 10 minutes of Battlefield 3, or Modern Warfare 3. Games that would be releases only a few months later.

Also the tournament area, were we had spend most of our time two years ago, seemed smaller and was also overcrowded. I felt lucky when I was able to find a chair for myself. Not to enjoy the games on-stage but to relax a bit. Finally I had decided to enter the queue for Batman: Arkham City. After three hours I got to play the game for 10 minutes. 5 of which I was trying to figure out the controls and the things that were going on screen. Afterwards I left the building, wondering who in his right mind could get eny sort of joy out of this.

After last year's desaster I had no plans to relive that dreadful experience, when out of the blue, I got a private message from Sixen, the admin of sc2mapster.com. He wrote that Blizzard is planning to hold an hour long meeting at the Gamescom, with people from the mapping community. They wanted to discuss the recently launsched Arcade for StarCraft II and ideas to get more people into mapping and playing custom maps.

A friend and me arrived at the Gamescom building at 10.30am. After some irritation with the entrance we got into the main halls at 11am. We went to Gamescom relitively unprepared so we just decided to take a stroll and see what was going on. Unfortunately my friend had to leave at 12.40 due to work.This year the halls seemed a lot less crowded. The main passageways had a lot of space and even the big name games didn't have queues longer than 3 hours.

The meeting with Blizzard was at 1pm. I arrived there a couple of minutes early, and the only person waiting to get in was Ahli. A dedicated SC2 mapper who made the famous Diablo conversion Mortal Shroud. After the initial greetings the community manager Xordiah explain the purpose of this meeting after which she asked us on how we think more people would get interested into mapping. Some time later more mappers from instarcraft.de entered the room.

I don't want to bore you with the details of the meeting so I'll just sum it up.
We talked about:
- holding more tournaments for mappers and getting more custom melee maps into official tournaments.
- the weak publicity for the Editor, despites its power.
- the complexity of the Data Editor and how to make it simpler for beginners (an easy mode was mentioned).
- Blizzard developers getting into more direct contact with selected mappers (via a private forum)
- in-editor links to tutorials.
- more featured custom content on the arcade.
- ways to improve the arcade.
- some suggestions to improve the editor (campaign support, portrait animations, forced text and ingame help  etc.)

Bear in mind that all those things I mentioned were just ideas thrown around by all the people in the room. But Xordiah wrote down everything and promised to pass it down to the development team.

Originally I wanted to return home right after the meeting, but then I decided to make one quick wlak to the StarCraft II booth. The queue seemed really short so I decided to give it a go. After merely twenty minutes I got a seat and played a round of multiplayer against a kid. We had twenty minutes for a game and I told my partner to not attack to roughly so we had time to play around with the new units. ...

I felt good that I got to play as muc as I had to wait so I decided to give other games a go to. I went to the Bethesda booth were I asked one of the people in the middle of the quee how long he had been waiting there. He surprised me by saying twenty minutes so I joined the queue as well. After 35 minutes we were led into a big hall were I could play Doom 3 BFG Edtion and Dishonored. I tried Doom 3 first. I hate using the joypad for shooters but luckily Doom 3 is a simple enough game that it could be fun. The graphics didn't seem much better than I remembered the original game. Also the 3D annoyed me more than it pleased me. But then again 3D glasses weren't designed for people who already wear glasses. Anyway, I had fun. Doom 3 is still a cool  game. Afterwards I tried the infamous Dishonored. Again with a controller. This time I had my problems with handling the proper weapon for the right situation. After dying three times at the same spot (I hate you electric door) I gave up after 10 minutes. Also my feet hurt because I had to stand all the time. ... Despite it Dishonored seems like a promising game. A bit like Dark Messiah of Might & Magic, a linear shooter were you had many ways to dispose of enemies. I like that.

Before leaving the building a decided to have another stroll. I played a game called Dark, where you play a vampire and use stealth skills to your advantage. Seemed OK, but also unpolished. I will keep an eye on this one. The Capcom queue didn't seem very long so I joined there too. It took us about 40 minutes to move forward, but then we actually entered the booth ... when there was still another queue. A working lady (well, some of them look like hookers) told us it would take another hour before we would reach the start of the queue (or the end, however you want to see it). Quite exhausted I called it quits and left the queue.

The battery power of my mobile phone had been exhausted for quite some time. It was only when I left the bulding that it was 6.30pm. I had spent 7,5 hours at Gamescom.

I left the premise with a good feeling. I am glad I didn't buy a ticket for more than a day but I am also glad that I didn't refuse to go at all. I'm looking forward to next year.

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