love letter to gamescom 2011

It wasn’t good.

It was so amazingly amazing, probably one of the best weeks of my life, to be honest. Last year was good, but it was brought down by the fact I had lost my passport already.

This year, it was just straight-out amazing. Nothing horribly bad went wrong, and I’ve left Cologne meeting some amazing people and with amazing memories.

I flew in Sunday because it was direct to Cologne from Dublin, and I had no flights out on the Monday. I honestly wouldn’t have minded if I had to fly to Frankfurt Main from Dublin with Aer Lingus and then get a train to Cologne on the Monday, to be honest. On the plus side, it was convient as it’s straight into Cologne.

It was basically a case of finishing my Mike Hayes interview, watching the United game and that was it.

Monday was, well, difficult. You try walking around probably a trillion miles around Cologne for a sim card. That said, it was finally great to meet the legendary Alex Donaldson.

Dude’s a fucking dictator in terms of walking, but other than that, a great guy. You try working with him for five minutes and you’ll see why he’s one of the few good guys I look up to. You will have seen some of his stuff on the site from this week already – here’s his interview with DICE boss Karl Magnus Troedsson – and there’s more to come, so stay tuned.

After that, it was basically relaxing until Patrice showed up and trying to figure out why my dongle wouldn’t work, even after buying a new SIM card. Still needed activating, so we did that the following Tuesday morning.

Tuesday, we signed up for GDC Europe mainly to use the press office and meet up with the Joysitq massive in Cologne. After nearly not getting in because I didn’t have any form of ID on me other than my passport in Germany – I was not going to take my passport out after last year – me and Pat up with Alexander Silwinski and Ben Gilbert to catch up and all that jazz.

Also introduced myself as well to Simon Byron and GameSpot’s Jane Douglas as well, which was all gravy, before we headed off to the Microsoft Play Day. That WAS frantic as fuck. I literally could not use the word frantic anymore than I could, but it was. I say frantic because it was just me and Alex doing it, as Pat was off to a secret NCSoft event to see the company’s next MMO, which is now known to be Wildstar.

I didn’t get to play any games and see many games at the event, but from what I glimpsed, Halo Anniversary looks good (running from Reach engine, I believe) and Gears 3’s Horde looks awesome. I spoke to the Gears producer on the MS side at the event, took photos and videos (the latter you’ll see next week) and wrote news stories.

But there was one game I saw properly at the event, albeit it was behind closed doors: Steel Battalion for Kinect. I liveblogged it for VG247, so you can read it here (might want to look for it a bit, as the liveblog we used was for the entire show – MS, EA, Sony and Namco). I nearly left for EA without my camera, but thankfully, Ben from Capcom spotted it, so got that before I left for there. Also met Debbie from The Average Gamer just before that, so that’s nice.

Off to EA I went, with my battery tittering on the edge. I made it through the first half-hour, but it went dead near the end, so Alex went through the rest of the conference without me. Afterwards, we had a problem. How were we going to get to Sony? There were buses taking people BACK to the MS Play Day, but there was one going to Sony. Problem? It was US only (I think the bus may have been US only, not sure).

But thankfully, me, Alex and Joe Anderson of Shopto got on via the grace of someone I honestly didn’t expect to help us out on: Geoff Keighley. And I do mean THE Geoff Keighley. To be clear, that’s GameTrailers TV’s Geoff Keighley. So big thanks to him for pointing us towards the bus heading to Sony.

We then meet up with Pat at Sony and I finally meet, after a few years, Hugo from Sony PR. He’s a great PR, but someone I had never met until now, so it was great to meet him at last.

Now, I still had two problems: my laptop was dead and I had to charge it. But even then, I had no adaptor. Thankfully, I loaned an adaptor and found a plug hole two floors below where the conference was going to happen. But I charged it enough to go throughout the presser, even if I nearly didn’t get to it because of CoverItLive (long story).

After that and going hands-on with Vita – piece here – it was hotel time: I had to write Vita and Pat had to write Wildstar.

Next morning, and after a bit of breakfast, off to the Messe for the first of two days at the show itself. Our first appointment was a big one: a 20 minute interview with Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida. It was mainly Pat’s interview, but I did contribute a bit, so here’s the interview.

After that, it was games all day. For me anyway, my Wednesday consisted of Borderlands 2, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, Skyrim, Prototype 2, Hitman: Absolution, LittleBigPlanet Vita, back-to-back interviews with Borderlands 2 and Hitman, Call of Duty: Elite and Metro: Last Light.

I got to meet some wicked cool people that day. Ben, Matt and Richie of 2K, as well as Huw Beynon of THQ, and see some people I hadn’t seen in a while: Alistair Hatch and Pete Hines of Bethesda, Gilien McAllistair of GameReactor, Keza MacDonald (albeit, I did speak to her briefly for a second at the MS Play Day), Lee Kirton and Pete Oliver of Namco and Dan Maher of Inside Xbox, to name a few.

But there was one person who I’ve known for a good couple of years, but never actually met until the show. That was Korina Abbott of Ubisoft, who I’ve known since her community days at Sony, having been just a forumner at that time. But yeah, it’s been a long time coming and for it to happen was awesome. Glad that finally happened. :)

With Wednesday done and getting a bite to eat, it was hotel time. Pat doing a Chris Lewis interview and my Hitman feature, with Alex prepping an Aliens feature.

Thursday, and it’s hometime for Pat, but I had one final day at the show. It was at this time that things started going wrong last year, but thankfully, that was never the case this year. I had seen Prey 2 (demo I seen was actually a shorter version of what I had seen in Utah), Dishonored, The Darkness II, Forza 4 and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, as well as liveblogging showings of Dark Souls and Soul Calibur V.

More stuff from the day included an MS interview, Darkness II interview, Uncharted 3 plus interview and Naughty Dog – that you can get here: quite proud of that piece. But it was obvious what my final demo of the show would be, and it would be obvious the second the first video went live a year earlier: Dance Central 2.

I’m not going to ruin the surprise of the new video as it’s still to go live, but it will do so tomorrow (Monday) at the time of writing anyways.

After that, that was my show finished. Whilst doing some admin stuff, I ran into Matthew of Digital Spy, as well as Nathan and James of Future and OPM’s now-defunct FirstPlay. Great to meet them too, and hopefully run into them soon.

After leaving the Messe for another year, I went to have a couple of drinks with the Ubisoft massive. Great evening had by all, I’m sure, but I had to leave early due to my battery on my iPhone going dead – it was the only thing that had my hotel’s address – and I had to write an Uncharted feature for Friday morning.

With that, I said goodbye to Stefano and Korina and the others there and went into the Cologne night, which was pissing with rain and came with thunder and lighting.

On Friday morning, I finished my Uncharted feature, got on a plane home to Dublin, got a MaccyDs Big Mac meal (which I asked for red sauce only – it had cheese in it -_-) with curly fries (OMG, soooooo gooood ^_^) and nuggets. Then I got home into Derry via my bus from the airport.

And that was Cologne. That was gamescom. And I did it without losing my passport. HOORAY!

Big thanks to those who made it awesome, great to see some lovely people I hadn’t seen in a long time or just a short while and amazing to meet some people for the first time at the show.

To wrap this up, I’ll leave you this video, filmed by Korina, of a near-naked man playing guitar on Thursday. Look for Dan Maher jumping around in the background.

I’m already looking forward to 2012. I’ll still be probably paranoid about losing my passport, though.

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