Friday, September 27, 2013

How to Blizzcon Q&A (and Drinking Game)

If you're a fan of Blizzard games, this is the big moment of the year.
A weekend where everything Blizzard is gushing out of everyone and we all rejoice and revel in our geekery.

For many reasons (that I will not detail here for fear of derailing this into something else), I thought it would be a good idea to just throw a handful of reminders/pointers to the internet and hope that the lucky people that will be in front of the mics at the different Q&As might have a chance to read all this.

If I've missed something or you've got more suggestions, feel free to comment!


Stick to the Golden Rule: keep it short, keep it simple
If you can't ask your question in a single sentence with less than 4 commas, you need to simplify your question.
Besides, if it's too complicated, the people answering your question will either focus on some key words of your ramblings and not really answer your question, or will ask you to repeat the parts that they didn't hear properly because they fell asleep in your preamble.
Also, a very long question that makes a lot of twists and turns can either confuse your audience or make you look like you're confused yourself.
Tip: Try to make your question fit in a tweet (or close enough to the length of it).

Do your homework
You don't want to be that person that asks a question and everyone in the audience knows the answer to it.
Check out previous Q&As with dev teams, check the Blue trackers on different sites, read up on the recent interviews that the devs might have done previous to the latest patch.
Or check this thread of player questions.
Heck, you can even find on YouTube some videos of Q&As from past BlizzCons.
And if you're going to ask specific questions (ex: a class-specific ability, or lore), make sure you've double-checked your info!

Come up with a bunch of questions
They'll remind you that it's only one question per person, but there's a strong chance that the person right in front of you will ask the burning question you've wanted to ask.
So have a few more ready and you'll be totally fine in case you're on the spot and need to switch your game.
Try to make them as interesting and as important as that #1 question that you really want to ask the devs.

Stick to a single question
We've got a limited amount of time to ask the devs as many questions as possible and there's people behind you that also want to ask their One Question to the devs.
Some of them have traveled from distant countries and paid hundreds of dollars just to have that chance of looking Ghostcrawler directly in the eye and ask him something about paladins.
You're hogging everyone's time by asking multiple questions, and you're not very polite.

Come prepared
Most of you have smart phones, right?
There's no shame in reading your question directly from it.
It's much better than stepping up to the mic and camera and suddenly discover you've got stage fright and completely forget your question. (Don't laugh - don't think it can't ever happen to you.)
Hey, you might even sound more confident when reading your question from your phone or a notepad rather than trying to recite your question, looking for words, and speaking them with a nervous trembling voice that everyone can hear.
If your question is obscure, try to have some sort of backup.
Remember what Jesse Cox did when he had that Gundrak question about the snake tail that's near the second boss of the instance?

He printed out a big screenshot to bring directly to Metzen and Kozak so they would know what he was talking about.
Yeah people laughed, but we got a definitive answer on a question that bugged a lot of lore buffs and an explanation on what happened there.
That's coming prepared!


No shoutouts
You're wasting our time and we don't care.
It used to be cute a few years ago.
Now it's just annoying.

No praise of developers
See previous comment.
Try to catch them when they're off-stage.
Or write them tweets.
Or forum posts.
Written words of praise stick with them longer.

No spoilers
There are ways to phrase your questions without spoiling big reveals.
If you're not sure if enough time has passed to consider a reveal to be a spoiler anymore, act as if it's still a spoiler anyways - the dev will decide when answering if it's still info that's worth keeping secret or not.
Don't be like that guy at BlizzCon 2011 that spoiled a character's death in a book that had been released only a few weeks prior to the event.
(Saying "Spoiler alert" 2 seconds before you spoil the info doesn't count, by the way.)
Ex: "What can we expect for the future of Jarod and Maiev Shadowsong after the events of the Wolfheart novel?"
That way, it doesn't say specifically what happened to those characters during the novel and leaves enough space for the dev to answer the way that he wants.

Keep the feedback on the forums
If you're going into a long tirade or asking a question that contains subjective statements (ex: mages are a 2-button class, fix rogues cuz they're bad), keep it for yourself or the forums.
The Q&As are not the right place to start having discussions with the devs - they're there to give quick answers to quick questions.
There's forums, there's Betas, there's PTRs : these are the places to give your feedback directly to Blizzard.
Don't think that they don't see it because they're not acknowledging every bit of feedback.
These are the main feedback places and they have to take account of everything.

"Maybe this time it'll be different"
Sometimes you might think that asking a question at a different time, in a different light, to a different developer, might give you a different answer.
And you might have a chance to do so and actually get a different answer than the hundreds of times it's been asked before.
But probabilities are high that if you're asking about having Vanilla and Burning Crusade servers, you will get the same answer that we are given every single week for the last 5-6 years.
Try asking something different.
Try finding out exactly what you liked about those times and what made them special to you and ask about that instead.

Applies to BlizzCon, whether you're there or you're not
Don't forget that there's also a bunch of live interviews that are always conducted in between panels by the MCs of the live stream.
And if they stick to the usual way of doing things of the past BlizzCons, they'll be taking Twitter questions to throw at whoever they're interviewing.
So have those questions handy and properly twitter-formatted and you can also get a chance to have them answered even if you're at home!

And now, a drinking game
If you're like me and you'll be staying home and watching all the World of Warcraft panels and Q&As, you'll want to spice up the atmosphere and liven up the mood.
So instead of cringing at all the questions that I already know the answers to, or simply the ones that come back year after year, I'm getting wasted. (It certainly was more entertaining when it did that for BlizzCon 2011!)

Nothing complicated or elaborate, of course.
People that make drinking games forget that rules are hard to follow when you're getting less and less sober.

Take a shot if in any Q&As you hear some of the following elements:
  • player housing
  • dance studio
  • legendaries (take 2 if someone mentions that they "promised" a warrior one)
  • shoutouts
  • praise for Ghostcrawler
  • question about Valor capping
  • question about Conquest capping
  • 2 questions instead of one
  • 3 questions instead of one (take two shots)
  • ask to bring back a dead character
  • bring back Arthas (take two shots)
  • bring back Illidan (take two shots)
  • Tyrande as a misinterpreted and/or useless character
  • complaining about dailies
  • mention of Blizzard "forcing" players to do something
  • Horde favoritism
  • not enough content
  • too much content
  • bringing Hearthstone in WoW
  • spending achievement points
  • path of the titans
  • revamping Outland
  • revamping Northrend
  • making Vanilla and/or BC only servers

Feel free to suggest any other topic that will force an eyeroll, a facepalm or a facedesk.

My personal poison will be Fireball Whiskey, because fireballs, cinnamon, and it's probably gonna be cold up here (Montreal) at that time of the year.

Remember that BlizzCon is our celebration and everything should be all in good fun, so have a great time!


  1. I love it! I'm definitely using this, with a few modifications and additions, at a Blizzcon event I'm managing :)