Thursday was a fun day for all fansites who attended the Fansites Summit at the Blizzard Entertainment campus.

    All fansites waited together at the Marriott Hotel’s lobby awaiting the arrival of the bus. DiabloWikiBashiok took the lead and gave everyone their NDA sheets, and some free breakfast tickets for the local Cafe del Sol restaurant.

    From there we traveled to the campus where the awesome Wolf Rider statue welcomed us.  We immediately moved to the Theather Room where no recordings or photos were allowed as stipulated in our NDA—so if you get to see any photos of that, someone is in trouble.

    Bashiok started by loading Diablo III onscreen and playing a male Wizard in what looked like Act II in a desert. By the NPC dialogue, it was near DiabloWikiCaldeum.

    Caldum Guard: It’s not safe here. We need to move.

    Asheara: Alcarnus is lost.  There’s no hope.

    Caldeum Guard: No sign of them, Captain.

    Asheara: The desert is overrun.

    Didn’t get to catch much of the dialogues, but that pretty much let’s you know the situation.

    Objective: Follow the road to Alcarnus.

    We got to see many monsters in the area such as the DiabloWikiSand Wasp in various sizes.  There is voice over every few seconds throughout your journey, making it a pleasant and more vivid experience as you travel through the canyon. You find optional quests too.  One of them asks you to find the outlaw camp.  However, some of the characters you find may be a trap.  Bashiok got to talk to a weeping girl and suddenly the screen fill up with monsters from all directions.

    The inventory was redesigned from what we have seen before. Now it holds items that take only one slot, but some items take up to two slots like in Diablo II to show off nice art where it’s worth.

    Bashiok reached a place named the Howling Plateau.  Here we saw a monster named DiabloWikiLacuni Warriors, DiabloWikiLacuni Huntress, DiabloWikiFallen Overseer, and other varieties, and yet more Sand Wasps.  At some point, Bashiok loaded a female Witch Doctor. We saw a unique that almost kills Bashiok’s: Blade Jade.

    We saw the three Skill trees: Zombie, Spirit and Voodoo.

    One of the few we got to see said DiabloWikiSpirit Vessel: Gain 20 mana whenever you pick up a health globe (rank 2/5).  Next level gain 30 mana.

    Some items will be unidentified, but if you have scrolls of identify, you only need to click the item (I’m guessing with the left-button but may be wrong) and it auto-identifies.

    We saw the ability that fears mobs.  A huge witch doctor ghostly figure appears above the female witch doctor and moves his hands around with a threatening pose animation.  Looks pretty nice.  Mobs run in fear in all directions.  Another ability causes a corpse to come out of the ground to spew corpse spiders to attack your enemies, called DiabloWikiCorpse Spiders.

    We got to see DiabloWikiFallen Hound in the area named DiabloWikiCanyon RIm Mines.  Here we got to see for the first time a waypoint. It looks like a stony floor with a swirl. When you step in you are instantly teleported to some areas.  In this case some ruins.

    Bashiok demonstrated the skill trees and explained that their new system allows you to diversify your class in comparison with other players.  The philosophy is that you can place skill points in any of the three trees simultaneously and for as long as there is 2 points in Zombie tree, one point in Spirit tree and two points in Vodoo tree (for example) completing a total of 5 points in Tier 1, you automatically unlock Tier 2, and you can continue spreading your points.  Once you reach the limit across all trees, you unlock Tier 3, and so on.  That’s pretty cool because it doesn’t hamstring your capability to spend and mismatch points where you wish, nor the need to spent a bunch of points in a single ability to unlock the next tier.

    You can now drag any of the spell icons from any of the skill trees into the spellbar UI.  Respecs will be available in Diablo III as mentioned a few weeks ago.

    We got to see a special monster named Champion Lacuni Huntress with a blue tag. Below its name it said (Frozen).

    We saw the return of shrines.  He found a desecrated shrine, and somehow restored it granting him a special buff. Bashiok says if you get one of these buffs you should use them immediately upon any monsters around you as they last a minute or less.  Some of these buffs may give a skill amount bonus, damage bonus, and such.

    We saw a new monster that can be a pain in the neck for how annoying it is.  Bashiok assures us it is easy to learn the mechanics after a while.  The DiabloWikiDune Dervish is a very tall and thin monster. Once you aggro, he starts spinning toward you in a ferocious whirlwind. While this happens, many other monsters attack you, including a DiabloWikiFallen Shaman who ranges you while you are dodging all the monsters and trying to get the heck out of the Dune Dervish’s way.  The annoying part of this monster is that if you don’t kill him within the first three seconds, any spells you throw at him are reflected back at you, and that’s not a good thing to happen with all the damage you are suffering at that point. Basically, you get owned.  May be a good idea to have healing pots just in case. They are nasty.

    We saw some new witch doctor spells from the skill trees such as DiabloWikiFetish Army which allows you to summon 15 freaking Fetish guys—you know those little annoying tribemen from the jungle act in Diablo II—not unlike those.  DiabloWikiParasite converts any mob into a zombie to fight for you.  DiabloWikiGargantuan is a buffed up zombie dog, DiabloWikiGrasp of Dead, DiabloWikiSacrifice, DiabloWikiMass Confusion, DiabloWikiSpirit Barrage, and DiabloWikiHorrify among others.

    After the Diablo III demonstration, we separated into groups for Franchise specific tours.  We walked out through the World of Warcraft team offices.

    Then we had lunch at the cafeteria with developers from each game who were open to questions.

    From the Diablo III team Nate Bowden (Environment Artist), Dave Adams (Lead Level Designer), and Chris Haga (FX Artist).

    From the WoW Team was Greg Street (Ghostcrawler) and Patrick Magruder (Lead Gameplay Programmer)

    Here we got a lot of photos from today’s Blizzcon 2009 Fansite Summit.  I got photos with Nethaera, Karune, Ghostcrawler, and Patrick Magruder (WoW Lead Gameplay Programmer).

    See all the photos in our BlizzCon 2009 gallery.

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