Tuesday, November 17, 2015

BlizzCon 2015

I went to BlizzCon this year.

It was awesome. I was able to watch the majority of the StarCraft events as well as some other things. My wife and 1 year old came out to California with me so it could be a bit of a mini-vacation for us all, and it ended up being a really, really good time!

I went to provide coverage for The Weekly All In, naturally. We didn't have press access so I mostly contented myself with getting good photographs for the articles that would eventually be written for our BlizzCon Special issue.

It was awesome to really get behind the camera again. I took a photography class in high school and dabbled with it and photoshop a little here and there for the following few years. This was the first time in years I really made an effort. I was using a borrowed camera (my wife's grandpa's digital Rebel). and really did my best to get in there to get the good shots. I figured this may be my only chance to got to BlizzCon, or do press coverage of an event, or get photographs in a magazine (even a digital one), so I should really go all out. 

While I am definitely an amateur, and my shots reflect that, there were a few that turned out really well. I'm putting some of my favorites here. There is (or will shortly be) a link to the rest in the sidebar.

You watch BlizzCon at home on twitch (or maybe you don't, it could go either way) and it's really fun and exciting. But when you're there, in a room with tens of thousands of nerds and  you're 15 feet from the stage, it's incredible. One of the single coolest experiences of my life. More fun than turning doughnuts in the snow as a teenager. More exciting than the time I possibly caused  increased security on the Haitian-Dominican boarder. 

Mike Morhaime, Founder and President of Blizzard and all-around good guy. This was probably my first photo of the event that was actually in focus. Such a cool guy. Glad I at least got one good shot.

Eric Dodds, lead designer of Hearthstone.Again, I'm just so happy that it looks half decent.

Chris Metzen. VP at Blizzard. All around bad@$$. Possibly a pirate.


The Future of StarCraft panel, with all of those guys that people like to threaten on forums. A pretty well-framed shot, if I say so myself.

Manuel "Grubby" Schenkhuizen. One of my StarCraft heroes that is now a commentator for Heroes of the Storm. Such a nice guy. Really happy with the lighting and the pose on this one.

Lim Yo-hwan, or "BoxeR" as he is often known, is something of a StarCraft legend in the professional scene. He dominated competition for years back in the Brood War days. Very exciting to get to see him in person.

Dan "Artosis" Stemkoski and Nick "Tasteless" Plott. The bromance between these long-time StarCraft nerds runs deep. I wish there had been an opportunity to met them personally, but I'm glad to have gotten a few good shots all the same. 

Chris "HuK" Loranger (center) and Jang "MC" Min Chul. Huk was my very first StarCraft hero, and one of the few that still actively play. The only problem is that he usually looks kind of pissed, for like the last three years. I was really excited to not just see him (and MC!) in person up close, but to get a pic of him looking genuinely happy about something.

The stage for the StarCraft competition was awesome beyond words. Three screens (two for a POV of each player, and one for an observer's perceptive). The stage was mostly just a white, blocky, frame. However, ~40 projectors would simulate an animated stage that changed for each map and each race, complete with victory animations. This is a shot where Life, a Zerg player, won a match, so the stage exploded with a green acid effect. 

Kim "sOs" Yoo Jin kissing the trophy after winning the tournament. Possibly the best photo I have ever taken, or will ever take. This shot is completely unedited.. I'm super proud of it. I also had to kneel on the cement floor in front of the stage for about an hour to be up close for the opportunity to get it. Worth it.
My editor and one of the other writers really drilled the importance of getting good photos of the eventual winner into me. After about 100 shots of sOs right here up close, about two feet away, I realized that I hadn't actually had a fan moment yet. I hadn't given him a high five or get anything signed or anything. So I stopped taking photos (and got the camera out of his face) and got the high five and got my badge signed.  Such an incredible day.

Between games, I would check in with the rest of The Weekly All In guys to say what pics I got and ask if there was anything I should be looking out for. Near the finals, they started to say that they could see me on the stream (!!!). I haven't gone through and watched all of the event just to look for me, but I knew I'd definitely be at this part and one other. Can you see me? 
This one's a little easier.
But this one's my favorite. LOL!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Drama of the Week: Lilbow’s Poor Life Planning

This article is pretty self-explanatory. Lilbow did something super dumb and then everyone made fun of him for it. 

Drama of the Week: Lilbow’s Poor Life Planning - Dumps BlizzCon and GirlfriendBy: Mike Harrell 

The StarCraft community was shocked and appalled this weekend when Lilbow announced via Twitter that he did not prepare for his matches in the WCS Global Finals. He stated that it would be a better use of time to play Legacy of the Void after his victory at WCS Season 3, as he was very unlikely to beat Life in the round of 16 or Innovation in the round of 8 at BlizzCon later this week anyway.  

Even more astonishing, is that after interviewing his family and close friends, it is apparent that this behavior is becoming a habit for Lilbow. 

Last week, the night before Lilbow left France for California to compete in the WCS Global Finals, Lilbow dumped “Emma” (name has been changed), his girlfriend of over three years. The dumping occurred at a lavish family party, where many were expecting Lilbow and Emma to announce their engagement. Lilbow, however, had more ambitious plans. He separated himself from Emma entirely, citing a need to focus on the current object of his affections: Taylor Swift.  

No Tact from Lilbow 

“Judging me badly on a situation that u probably can't understand isn't something nice from you,” posted an indignant Lilbow on his Facebook page. He went on to explain that while Emma and he have enjoyed a very successful and fulfilling relationship over the past three years, that did not justify his continued efforts. If he was going to get anywhere with Taylor Swift, he needed to get started right away.  

Indeed, just hours before the party he tweeted his lack of intent towards Emma, “i know its Emma and its important but well, i didnt wanted to spend months planning for one wedding while i can plan for 5+ years.” However, it appears that his family should not have been surprised, as just before the bombshell tweet, he announced that “it would probably hurt if this party had any sense to me but as i said i saw Emma 2 times the past 3 months.” 

Yet, the lingering concern remains: why would Lilbow leave a satisfying and fulfilling relationship with Emma in favor of a currently-nonexistent relationship with Taylor Swift? Why wouldn’t he seek to enjoy the opportunity he has right now? Emma, by all accounts, is a fun, engaging, and all-around balanced woman who has stolen the hearts of, sources say, over a million people. And why would he announce the separation in such a way? Why not just remain silent? Why would Lilbow choose to publicly disrespect Emma and her family, especially when so many would give anything to be in his place?  

A Feint of Heart 

Unfortunately, Lilbow made yet another public statement regarding the true source of his interest in Emma: her popularity. “I don't wanna be the best match for a girl that nobody is pursuing anymore, it doesn't make any sense to me.” Yes, it appears that Lilbow has had a lifetime pass for the hype train all along. Despite Emma continuing to progress into what some say is a nearly perfect woman in her own right, Lilbow is only interested in ladies that make headlines. 

Many would argue that a marriage to Taylor Swift in the next five years could be a case of Lilbow setting an unrealistic goal. Swift, a 26-year old American singer, trendsetter, and Instagram enthusiast, is 6 years older than Lilbow and has millions of fans and admirers all around the world. It seems very unlikely that she would take particular interest in Lilbow, even if he got a chance. 

Lilbow, however, was adamant of the potential for marital bliss. “I decided to spend all my time on Taylor and I reached top 5 upvotes on global fanpage so far….I know what I want and if I have to look bad a party for it, then it's too bad.”  

An Uncertain Future 

While Lilbow’s effort is obviously genuine and intense, who can trust his level of commitment? What happens when, by succession or choice, Swift fades from the spotlight? Will Lilbow, again, move on to the next woman, despite Swift still having plenty to offer in terms of their relationship? We will probably never know, as the likelihood of Lilbow forming a serious relationship with Swift after his treatment of Emma is far from certain, or even likely. 

Returning to reality, why in the world would Lilbow broadcast that he was making only a minimum effort for the WCS Global Finals, likely the most prestigious event he will ever take part in, because he wanted to be ready for the release of Legacy of the Void? It’s been less than two months since Lilbow’s $30,000 1st place victory in Krak√≥w. It’s extremely unlikely that 6 weeks of laddering on an ever-shifting beta will raise him to heights in Legacy of the Void beyond playing at BlizzCon in Heart of the Swarm.  

Lilbow’s decision and the manner of its announcement displays a shameful lack of respect for his opponents, fans, and sponsors. It shows that the best of foreign players are unwilling to face challenges and are unworthy of serious consideration in top-tier competition. Lilbow chose to forgo competition in the largest event of his life and frame it as though he’s preparing for some future competition of greater consequence.  

Granted, it’s true that his chances of success were low and his means of preparation were very poor. But that doesn’t change the fact he, as a professional gamer, chose to broadcast his lack of intent to play the best he could. Using LotV as a shield does not excuse the action.  

I have bad news for Lilbow and his supporters. If he’s unwilling to honestly compete against the best players in the world when he has the opportunity now, we have no reason to assume that he’ll come through in the future, either.


So yeah... if Lilbow makes it into the top 16 of the WCS Global Finals at any point during Legacy of the Void, I'll eat my firstborn. Such a disappointing cop out.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Slaughtered Calf Inn Menu

Blizzard announced that there will be a "Slaughtered Calf Inn" at BlizzCon this year, fashioned as a replica of the inn in Diablo III. It looks like it'll mostly be a place for attendees to speak one on one with developers. However, my love of puns and restaurants won over and I felt compelled to make a full Blizzard-themed menu. It was published in The Weekly All In #34.


Drama of the Week: BlizzCon Announcement Leaked: Blizzard Restaurant Menu 
By: Mike Harrell 

Today I bring you Weekly All In EXCLUSIVE coverage of the Blizzard’s leaked plans for the a Blizzard themed restaurant. The pilot location is planned for southern California, with doors opening Soon. No announcements were meant to be made until BlizzCon, but it looks like someone jumped the gun. I can’t say I blame them! All of the food sounds excellent and have great names and descriptions. See full menu below.

Name: The Slaughtered Calf Inn 
Key: (D) Diablo, (W) WarCraft, (SC) StarCraft


Openings 

(SC) Ghost Pepper Poppers: Deep fried jalapenos filled with cream cheese, wrapped in crispy bacon, and served with a ghost pepper dipping sauce. The exterminator’s favorite. 

(SC) Appetite for Destruction: Twelve crispy chicken wings tossed in our spicy buffalo sauce. Sure to bring about a Rain of Fire. 

(SC) MotherChip Core: Crispy tortilla chips prepared in house, topped with cheddar cheese, black beans, shredded chicken, avocado, and sour cream. Served with pico de gallo and a band aid. 

(D) Keep it Rare Ahi Tuna: Perfectly seared Ahi Tuna medallions with soy, ginger, and lime. Served on a yellow plate. 

(D) Demonic Body Parts: Lightly breaded and flash-fried calamari rings. Seasoned with pepper flakes and served with your choice of orange sauces. 

(W) Timeless Isle Gyoza: Time will stop when you bite into these delightful dumplings. Filled with our signature seasoned pork mixture and pan steamed and seared. We are under no obligation to tell you how long ago they were cooked. 

(W) The Starting Zone: Can’t choose just one? That’s okay, this selection comes with a miniature portion of all of our appetizers. Enough to share. Be wary of unsolicited guild invites.


Entrees

(SC) Not So Brutalisk Shortribs: Pork spareribs, smoked all day, finished off over an open flame, and slathered in our house Zergling BBQ sauce. A sure favorite. 

(SC) Lurker Belly Sandwich: Thick slices of pan-fried belly with jalapeno cheese, red tomatoes, greens, and a dash of Zergling BBQ sauce. Served on a crusty roll. Contains real Lurker. 

(SC) Fleet Bacon Burger: FLEET BACON! 

(SC) Eggs Baneling: Poached green eggs over english muffins with lurker belly and a spicy hollandaise sauce. 

(SC) The Fast Expand: You’ll feel your belly expand with our fried chicken over a Belgian waffle, topped with an over-easy egg! 

(D) The Carrion Farm: Let us roll you a new pizza, adorned with every meat you can imagine and grilled in our wood burning pizza oven, lit by actual hellflames. 

(D) Full Set of Greens: An entree-sized wedge salad, topped with bleu cheese, bacon, tomatoes, onion, and the envy of everyone else in your party. 

(D) Zombie dogs: Discarded beef comes back to life in a set of three gourmet hot dogs. Toppings change daily. Consult your server. 

(W) Firecracker Salmon: Seared sockeye salmon served with a firecracker aimed in the general direction of your table. If you can eat for longer than 15 seconds without standing, something good may happen in the next hour.  

(W) The Metzen Plate: Our signature breakfast! Pan-seared reindeer sausage, served with house potatoes, three eggs, cooked to your specification, and toast. (W) Nat Pagle’s Fish Tacos: Grilled Lurker Below with cabbage, onions, cheese, and cilantro ranch, all folded into a corn tortilla. Also comes with a 50% chance of getting an extra taco at the beginning of your meal.


Specialties 

(SC) The Dark Archon: An unholy dish featuring a flame-seared New York Strip in weight equal to your left arm and a macadamia nut crusted halibut fillet equal in size to your right. If you can finish in one sitting, you may gain mind control abilities.

(D) The Slaughtered Calf: Veal as you’ve never seen it before. An entire roasted calf is delivered to your table on a cart, Deckard Cain will pass by your table frequently to slice off portions at your request.

(W) Twin Porterhouses of Azzinoth: A 100% chance drop of two 48-oz Porterhouse steaks, aged for 10,000 years, rubbed with salt, pepper, and parsley, and seared over a 2,500 degree, green flame. After being grilled to perfection, each steak is ser 
ved on a replica Warglaive of Azzinoth, which is yours to keep. Are you prepared? 

(SC) The Sushi Rush: The actualization of renown artist Nicolas Chaussois’ Zerg Sushi design. Enjoy a custom selection of Prawnalisks, Bane Rolls, Tamagoyaki Hosts, Unagidralisks, Sushinfestors, California Lings, Nigiroaches, and Muta Makis. Selection limited to 200 supply.

Sides 

(W) Dr. Boom Biscuit: Our flakey house biscuit, topped with win and accompanied by two cheese “bombs” breaded with blue corn flour and deep fried. Accompanies literally all entrees. Limit one per customer. Exceptions may apply. 

(W) BRD Hot Pockets: Inserted into an absurd sleeve and microwaved according to the manufacturer’s directions. Guaranteed to be scalding hot on the outside and frozen on the inside. So good even Leeroy would wait for it.  

(W) Cheesy Poofs: Just like mother used to buy. Perfect for finishing up dailies. 

(D) Inna’s Green Beans: You thought Inna had one of everything, and you were right. Enjoy these garden fresh green beans, lightly steamed and sauteed with garlic, fresh cracked pepper, and crispy bacon pieces.  

(D) Uliana’s Seven-sided Smashed Potatoes: Sure to apply an explosion to your palate, enjoy our smashed potatoes prepared with cream, butter, bleu cheese, garlic, peppercorns, some more cheese, and, sure, some bacon. Why not? 

(SC) Basket of Deep Fried Larva: Just kidding, they’re french fries. Twice fried and tossed in garlic and rosemary.  

(SC) Basket of Deep Fried Sweet Larva: sweet potato fries, tossed in salt and pepper and served with a Zergling BBQ dipping sauce.


Desserts 

(SC) Stalker Delight: Emerge from the shadows for our sour cream blueberry pie. A la mode for $2.50 extra. It’ll be gone before Blink finishes. 

(D) Jar of Souls: A chocolate trifle fit for the Lords of Heaven and Hell. Enjoy layers of Devil’s Food Cake, chocolate creme fraiche, and Angel’s Food Cake. Topped with an orange slice and mint.  

(W) Vykrul Ice Creams: Secret recipes that were all thought to be destroyed during the Lich King’s reign. Made with pure, organic, wolvar milk.


Drinks 

(SC) Blaze of Glory: The mother of all milkshakes. A gallon of masterfully-crafted shake. Thick enough to require a spoon, creamy enough to make you swoon. Comes in chocolate, because that’s the only good flavor for milkshakes. 

(SC) Semi-Glorious: Half order of the Blaze of Glory. For sissies. 

(D) A Smash Hit: A shot of all 27 house liqueurs and whatever else we can find in our bar.  

(D) A Smash Hit (Cooperative): The same as A Smash Hit, but your friends are allowed to help. 

(D) Diet Kulle Aid: Don’t drink it.  

(W) Conjured Water: It’s water...that you didn’t have to get yourself.



I love this article so, so much. Pretty much none of these jokes make sense unless you've played the corresponding game (or hearthstone). One exception however, is the Fleet Bacon Burger's blurb of "FLEET BACON!" That comes from the long-discontinued podcast "The Creep" by Scott Johnson of Frogpants studios. He just kind of had a thing for yelling "FLEET BEACON!" I can't really recall why that was now, it may have just been that he had a hard time remember it. 

But yeah, I made up just about all of these myself, and I think I'd be willing to eat just about all of them. It's worth noting that the Twin Porterhouses of Azzinoth can be shared by several people, but there are only two warglaives per order, so the group will have to sort that out themselves, which seems appropriate. 


I'm not 100% happy with the variety of foods on the menu, however. It seems like the classes of food vary too greatly. We have chicken wings, fish tacos, biscuits, and top-tier steak all on the same menu. That just doesn't seem right.

Also, I showed this to a coworker and he made a great suggestion for a dessert. It was, "Dark Templar: A scrumptious 3 layer chocolate creme cake served free of charge when an entree is forgotten, delayed or burned in the kitchen as a last ditch effort to win the patrons repeat visit." I think the name needs a little work, but that's such a perfect idea!