The Blizzard Showcase Panel was led by eSports senior manager Kim Phan along with the following panelists: Chris Metzen, James Waugh, Christie Golden, Nick Carpenter, Jason Bishoff, and Legendary Comics artist Mat Broome.
Some of the licensed products in the pipeline is an untitled novel by Christie Golden that serves as a prequel to the Warcraft Movie. From Legendary Comics, we’ll have a graphic novel titled Warcraft: Bonds of Brotherhood, by writer Paul Cornell and penciled by Mat Broome. More details here. It’s set in a time when Medivh, Lothar and Prince Llane were very young.
World of Warcraft: Chronicles Vol. 1 from Insight Editions will be a series of books that collect the history of Warcraft. The first book will go through the process of developing the game up to Warcraft: The Last Guardian.
A new graphic novel titled Overwatch: The Omnic Crisis (by writer Micky Neilson and artist Ludo Lullabi) will go into the foundation and origins of Overwatch. Note: The title is not final.
StarCraft: Field Manual by Insight Editions Rick Barba reveals details of older, new, and unknown units in the StarCraft universe — including units that didn’t make it past alpha and beta.
Note: The person hired for this gig is not a member of our staff. That said, bear with us and enjoy.
Please give a warm welcome to Blizzard Entertainment’s senior manager of E-Sports and your moderator for the afternoon Miss Kim Phan.
Kim: Hello. San Diego Comic Con. Thank you so much for taking your time to be here with us today. We are a little bit late because of some technical issues so I’m going to keep this really short.
I know we have a lot of great content to show you guys, and I definitely do not want to take up your time for questions you are going to want to ask later. I do want to remind you though that for the Q&A portion please keep the questions relevant to the talent that we are going to have on the panel and the content that we are showing you.
Anyways, I has been a very busy year for Blizzard, we’ve had a lot of great releases and announcements so far, and so without further ado I’m just going to go straight to the panelists.
The very first one we have is no stranger to this stage (or to any stage for that matter). Please welcome Blizzard Entertainment’s senior vice-president of story and franchise development: Chris Metzen.
The next guest comes straight from our cinematics and story team, please welcome director of story development: James Waugh.
(Metzen stands up to help James sit, then rubs his shoulders to relax his buddie)
Kim: Hello, James. It’s okay. Don’t be nervous. You have Chris next to you.
OK. Author of ten Blizzard novels including Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, World of Warcraft: War Crimes and StarCraft Flashpoint … New York Times bestselling author — please, welcome Christie Golden.
Our next guest is the new face to our stage with a career spanning the original Wildcats, to X-Men, to Batman himself. Please, welcome Legendary comic artist Mat Broome.
(Metzen accommmodates the chair for Mat)
Kim: This is great Chris. Next up the director of countless Blizzard cinematics and a key contributor to Legendary’s upcoming feature film… it is vice-president of art and cinematic development: Nick Carpenter.
Last, but not least, is… if you love Blizzard figures, and plushes, and statues … chances are our next guest had a hand in making them. Please give a warm welcome to our senior manager of toys and collectibles: Jason Bishoff.
These are your panelists for today, as I mentioned we have a lot stuff we want to go through, I have a little timer here to keep everything and you get to your Q&A section. The first franchise we are going to cover is going to be Warcraft. The best man to start it off: Chris Metzen.
Metzen: Hi, everybody. Thank you for coming today. How many of you all play World of Warcraft? Excellent! We wanted to talk about one of the ideas we’ve been developing for a year and a half, and it feels like years and years and years; but it’s a product that’s very very special to us.
I won’t say too much. Once I queue up the video and we’ll let you look at that and then we’ll riff on that.
Metzen: So Warcraft Chronicle is just– this is a book we’ve been wanting to do for a very long time; and I’m sure you guys can appreciate with every new product, with every new expansion set that comes out there are hundreds to a thousand new ideas every time we do an expansion set; so it can be a little hard to wrangle all this stuff and keep a count of all these ideas and how they stack together.
So this project we’ve been working on (like I said) for a while, we are super proud of it. It’s a very dense history book really with all the pictures kind of punctuating all these scenes and these moments throughout history. So we are pretty geek up. What do you think?
Waugh: I think it’s the moment where everybody become their own Red Shirt Guy. Chris Metzen knows his lore. So we are excited to get the lore clarified, and get that stuff out there in front of you.
Metzen: Right. Anybody else have anything to add?
Golden: I’m very excited about it, I think this is going to show all of you just how much it’s out there and that somebody else have the honor to contribute to some of this. I’m really excited to see it all.
Kim: It’s definitely not the only thing that we’ve got to talk about Warcraft related. Chris do you want to talk about what’s next? Why we have Christie here, and why we have Mat here?
Metzen: Sure, interestingly some of you may have heard … how many of you guys have heard (this has been a rumor all over the internet too), how many of you guys have heard that we are planning to do a feature film based on Warcraft?
Metzen: What has been really fun about the Warcraft movie is being working with Duncan and his production team and the folks at Legendary to really dig into this project and making sure that it is true to Warcraft as it can possibly be. The reality is the movie kind of (I think we have talked about this before) it kinda takes place essentially in (how do you put it in these days) like a cinematic universe. There are kind of some alterations to kinda like how Warcraft 1 went all those years ago, we feel very strongly that the film is a much better telling of the story of all these characters and themes and stuff that went in there into, effectively, that tale; but it’s so much sharper and I think the themes are so much clearer.
So it almost … I equate it often to … out of speaking of a term … how many on the room are comics fans? So like in comic events so many years ago, like the Ultimate Marvel Universe. I was like … liking into that. It’s all the same ideas, it’s all the same stuff, kind of an opportunity to tell it again. Tell it smarter. Get it tighter. So we had the opportunity with Duncan at Legendary to kind of help expand on this cinematic universe and its quirks … the feature film in a number of different ways — which would be super fun to develop story for it. So Miss Golden, what are your thoughts on the matter?
Golden: I’m very excited to be involved in this and I had the chance to sit down and do — one of my favorite things in the whole world which is jam with Blizzard folks and work out a story with them together; it’s always so great so I am really really looking forward to this and it’s lovely to actually be able to talk about it now. I’ve gotten so many kind twitters from people saying “when are you go write something that we can see” and I’m very excited to be working with something that is in line with the Legendary vision and like all of you, I can’t wait to see it.
Waugh: Christie has uniquely and fundamentally built our publishing presence in many ways for Warcraft in so many of her books. It’s because of her, and so to have her helping to touch this film with new continuity really means a lot to us.
Kim: So what can you tell us Christie about this novel that you are working on?
Golden: Well we are going to keep it a little mysterious for now, but I can say that it is a prequel to a movie and it’s going to set up a lot of what we are going to see in the movie.
Kim: Great, it’s exciting. The movie … you should be really excited about that novel coming out and also James we want to talk about what we’ve got networking on?
Waugh: Sure, to liken to what Christie was saying, we really have a great partnership with Legendary — the producers, in helping to shape the comic and the book Christie is doing and so we ended up working with Legendary Comics and Paul Cornell and Mat Broome (sitting here) do a pretty cool comic for the movie to tell us about Llane, Lothar and Medivh when they were younger adventurers so I think we have the one shot to show them, there we go. That’s Mat’s. Outstanding work.
Broome: It’s just pretty amazing. These guys master what they do and when you work with him directly and you see how much they care about the characters and how much time they give working with the script, and start working on this stuff. You feel like … so much the relationship with the people who care about the illustrations. It makes a pretty incredible opportunity to work with you guys. I’m pretty humbled by it. They are pretty amazing.
Metzen: You guys want to PvP?
Broome: No. it’s the worst day of my life when I realized my son could beat me in StarCraft.
Waugh: It’s rough man.
Kim: How old is your son?
Broome: He’s now ten.
Metzen: So it’s like… what is really super fun about this phase that we are in (especially with the movie coming out), I’m sure you guys can imagine it’s like it’s totally mind blowing. How many of you guys got to see the WETA booth down there, and the Legendary booth there.
I’m sure it’s the same for all of us who are just growing up and imagining one day you get to do this work and it seems like just impossible one day that someone would extend a hand an offer you a gig and being creative with people that you vibe with, and all these years later you walk right through Comic-Con — which you usually go to just buying back issues and going to San Diego and to see just this event happening; I know we are about a year out on this film, but it’s just overwhelming to be so close to an expression of this idea that we’ve been chasing so long that will go out and reach so many people in the world and to be able to kind of look at this idea again, the idea of Warcraft, the idea of this fiction and kind of get the engine lit all over again like re-looking at why these things are cool and how these characters interact through the lens of people we are now and how we look at the world now; it’s crazy. It’s like this circle has just kind of come around again.
What has been your impression? I know you can’t talk too much; we’ve been asked not to say too much about the prequel book but since you had such an interesting view of the Blizzard art, the development of so many of these ideas, what does it make you feel coming around these ideas?
Golden: It was amazing to see the scenes of this at BlizzCon and you are in Azeroth, it’s like everything is there but it’s not being designed; it’s real life designed, and it’s just blossomed. I think I told you a little story I knew that the character of Drakka was going to be in the movie but I didn’t know she was going to be in the scenes that we were going to see and I created her for Rise of the Horde, and when I saw her I’m afraid I squealed a little bit; I was frightened and I just gasped and yelled “oh my gosh” so this is going to amazing to be able to be a part of this and to bring my love of the game. I’ve given fifteen years believe it or not and … I really step forward and it’s a real honor, and I’m so excited.
Kim: We are very excited that you guys are a part of this journey and I know we could definitely talk more, keep in mind any kind of questions for the Q&A segment that you might want to ask Christie or Mat. I want to keep this moving so we are going to go to the next franchise that we want to talk to you guys about and that’s going to be StarCraft. For StarCraft, I want to kick it off to you James.
Waugh: Sure, we are actually here to kind of announce a cool product that we are working on for a while so why don’t we just go to the video and I’ll talk about it after that.
Waugh: We’ve been talking about this project, it’s in partnership with Insight Editions and it’s really a passion project. We’ve been talking about wanting to do a tech manual for several years. Geeky stuff like the Star Trek tech manuals; things like that and so with Legacy of the Void wrapping up seventeen years of StarCraft storytelling we kind of thought this is the time to take a look back at all that, look at all those units and redevelop a book. They way this book plays out, it’s an in-world artifact. So it’s field manual given by the Dominion to Marines and so some of the pencil sketches you saw next to the techs are from a Marine who certainly thinks the Dominion is full of it and desecrates —
Metzen: Dominion is full of it.
Waugh: They are, so it’s really focused on few other things that are really interesting about this book so I don’t know if you guys know of Robert Rose, he is a StarCraft super-fan who does a lot scale models of different units’ heights and comparisons. We have known of his work for a long time now.
So this game is an opportunity to reach out to him because we realized we didn’t have our own internal scale system with each units and how they relate to each other. So we are going to partner with him and a lot of his artwork features prominently in this book. It’s really cool to kinda get a fan who lives and breaths this universe to work with us.
It’s written by Rick Barba. He’s written tons of Star Trek stuff and it has a hundred pieces of unique art which should be coming out soonish, but I look forward for everyone to get their hands on it.
Kim: Alright, we are going to be looking out for that. So the next thing we are going to talk about is that there are three of us here who are wearing the same franchise shirt here; we are obviously very excited. Mat has got Tracer shirt on here, over there Nick has got Reaper.
We are going to talk about Overwatch, and just tee up the next video that we want to show you. Okay I’ll cut it; this is a video that we actually have already released earlier this week; but I know everyone was here at Comic-Con, probably running around looking at everything that’s going on; but it is one of our Origins story that’s giving you background on one of the heroes that we just announced, and that is a soldier: Soldier 76, and so I think we are going to be doing quite a bit of this.
Chris can tell you more we’ll be doing more of this, but the video we want to show you is the one that went out on Tuesday so let’s have that roll and then we’ll let Chris talk more about it.
Waugh: Hey Kim, real quick, should be safe to say Chris… do you remember last year… we had during a Q&A a guy came up and said: “Hey, Dia(Shutter noises) you guys ever going to make (sorry, shutter noises)” and you sat there like: “Oh god,” because it was just going on; it was in the hall.
Kim: That was here, you are right; that guy asked that question.
Waugh: Cool to actually talk about it here you know.
Metzen: It’s cool to actually talk about it; like Kim said we are going to play a quick video that we just released the other day, just kind of for the purposes of the discussion going on today they showed the game one of the most recent heroes we’ve announced: Soldier 76.
Metzen: We want to reveal a number of these characters that we’ve been developing, part of the reason for playing that file of the game is we are currently developing a number of different products that tell the story of this universe and we explained at BlizzCon last year that Overwatch will be in terms of the game product, it doesn’t have a narrative in the game; it’s a team based first person shooter, so there’s not a lot of exposition in the flow of the gameplay. So we made a commitment when we started developing that we’d try and tell our story in different ways.
We’d try to engage people intensely outside of the game product itself, so that all these things would kind of evolve around the game itself. The fun is we have a number of things that we are planning we’ll talk about a little more about as the months go on here that are pretty exciting.
One of the things we wanted to tell you is something in the story that you saw in that video; we are kind of building out (I think this is the first time that we’ve ever done this on our own), kind of developing an original graphic novel with one of our brothers at Blizzard, Mr. Micky Nielson, writing the script and a brother named Ludo Lullabi (I would say lullaby, because his name is awesome), and he’s a French artist.
For many of you, I don’t know if you have read the original Warcraft series a number of years ago, Ludo was the original artist on the Warcraft series, so he’s one of those guys who just really can hit that Overwatch look and he just tells the story amazingly with his pencil.
So we are really excited to tell you about the Overwatch graphic novel which essentially gets into the origin of Overwatch; how it really came to be. It kind of looks at the world that (argh, man. I’m trying to think now… the timeline is a little tricky. I want to say, it’s 20? Is it 30?)
Golden: Be careful of what you say, because someone is going to remember this.
Waugh: Be careful.
Metzen: Ok. I ain’t going to give any specifics, but it is essentially a number of years from now in our continuity where there’s a global threat: these robots, supposedly to make the world better, and in the future turn against us.
Essentially, this team is brought together. There’s kind of an international group of heroes and soldiers from different countries around the world and they pull it together, and they deal with this crisis, and they kinda open up a whole new age of peace and prosperity in thoughts and science for humanity.
The graphic novel is really looking at the tale of how this first team came together and the Jack Morrison character … in the present (who we think is this mysterious Soldier 76), actually was one of the primary founders of Overwatch; and there is a number of other characters and heroes that you may have seen — that we have revealed in the game, are also kind of involved in this first essential journey.
It was a super fun story to create, a lot of the themes and values that kind of define the world of Overwatch and how we could get it as a franchise or where we want to go are really embedded in this initial story. I think we have a couple of the pics–
Waugh: A pencil sketch from Ludo Lullabi.
Metzen: So super fun to see one of the early sketches he did. You can see Reinhardt and Morrison there and Torbjörn down at the bottom. So super fun to kind of show these characters in a new light. It’s been really fun about Overwatch since we announced at BlizzCon, how many of you guys have found art? It’s super fun, but I assure the rest of you … there are all sorts of people on the internet who–
Kim: I’d like to look at the fan art because there are a lot of people who like to look at it. Do we know have many heroes you are actually covering?
Waugh: In the graphic novel? Three? Four?
Waugh: Something I want to say about developing this book is that we start Overwatch in this age where Overwatch is shattered. It’s gone, and this book literally start asking questions in the first place and so that led to discussions into how it fell apart. There is a lot of Overwatch storytelling to do in the next several years. It’s my favorite role to play.
Kim: When you think about how many years of storytelling we did with Warcraft, I can’t imagine (like) all the great stories to come with Overwatch. It’s going to be pretty amazing.
Bishoff: I’m going to be really quick and jump in because there may be a lot of people in the room who are not familiar with Overwatch, and just for the sake of saying … this really does feel like (I’m an outsider) these guys are truly the brain (trust) that’s making this thing a reality.
This is absolutely my favorite universe and I think that comes from simply the fact that I’m a comics fan and I think that’s one of the things that I guess if you’ve not seen this universe, it’s very easily stated; it’s like G.I. Joe meets Justice League set in Back to the Future II. What else you could possibly want ever?
Kim: Totally. So, really excited about that so get your Overwatch questions ready, we are going to keep moving along now and the next portion we want to show you guys is the cool gear that we have here at Comic Con.
Medievaldragon: I apologize for the technical issues with this video. This video was not recorded by a staff member of Blizzplanet. The person hired for this gig started to take photos while recording video. I didn’t ask for photos, so he acted on his own. You can hear shutter noises, and the video recording freezes for a couple of seconds. Watch at your own discretion.
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