a love letter to eurogamer expo 2011

What can I say?

After years of literally trying to get over personally – 2008 was a writeoff, I tried to save money for 2009 but was impossible and I was still missing my passport for 2010 – I finally got over to Eurogamer Expo this year.

Now, I was going over for work, but I was coming back with literally the best time I could ever have had. But more on that near the end.

But getting there was torture in terms of a wait. Try a two hour train from Derry to Belfast, a 20 minute taxi to George Best City Airport and then a wait in the bar for nearly an hour-and-a-half (oh Bulmers, you make the wait more bearable at least). Finally on the flight, I arrive in touchdown at Gatwick to check Twitter to see the big flash that REM has broken up.

Afterwards, after catching a train to Victoria Station, I finally arrive at the Travelodge I’m staying at in Battersea and to my first real problem while I am there (I’d say that the ticket machine not accepting NI notes would be it, but I used my debit card – it’s still flippin’ sterling!) – having a panic about nearly having to pay upfront for my room. Except it was already paid. But after clearing up by showing the receptionist the paperwork I had printed out, I went up to my room. Basically, nothing too exciting until the morning after.

Day One: It sank in. I was in London for the first time. I had a feeling good things were going to happen, but I get through the next three days worth of work. Following a bit of breakfast and prepping some admin stuff for VG247, off I go to Earls Court and I arrive… at the wrong end. Should have figured as much when you find no Eurogamer branding.

But anyways, after finding my way and a little chat with Bethesda EU PR boss Alistair Hatch, I catch up with Pat and make our way up to the Eurogamer press room. It’s quiet. No one’s there except Oli Welsh, Eurogamer’s reviews editor. But as soon as Pat takes off to do a video of the showfloor, the quietness is shattered: all of Team Eurogamer and GI.Biz walk in.

I head down to the showfloor to go play a couple of games to write up some previews. First day consisted of Skyrim and Battlefield 3, which were AWESOME! After writing up Skyrim for a bit, it was off to the first of literally six back-to-back developer’s sessions and Vita. Then BF3, Then OnLive (where the Wi-Fi cut out halfway through), Prey 2 and 20 years of id Software, the latter being a last-minute decision due to doing my Prey 2 interview early (look out for that soon).

The final session that day was, quite frankly, the best dev session of the lot at the entire show. Naughty Dog’s Richard Lemarchand and Nolan North, Nathan Drake himself, gave a talk on the storytelling within Uncharted 3. I was interviewing them the following day, but the stuff they provided at the session was just gold. I say that as a journalist prepping for an interview and as an Uncharted fan.

After that, me and Pat get a bite to eat with the NCSoft lot, before making our way across to the pub across the road. That was a fine night, but the next day would prove to give me ‘the push.’

Day Two: I’m now flying solo. Pat had gone back to France by now, but I was still at the show and by now, had to finish a Battlefield 3 preview from the previous day. That went live, but still had to do two more games that day. Those were Mass Effect 3 and Batman: Arkham City, again, both of which were awesome!

After that, my day mostly consisted of interviews, like my Uncharted interview. I can not even begin to tell you how MUCH of a joy that was in doing. Seriously, I like to think I’ve done some decent interviews this year, either phone or face-to-face. But I had so much fun doing that interview that I can honestly say, by far, it was the best interview I’d done this year and definitely the best ever. But other than that and my Tim Willits interview, plus more, I still had sessions to attend, like Guild Wars 2, Hitman Absolution and Ninja Gaiden 3.

And that was my day at the show done, but after hours was where I got ‘the push’. After my Uncharted interview, I finally – FINALLY – met Svend of SPOnG and Dave from Gamerzines to long anticipation. After the show, and Svend doing some meeting-and-greeting of our own, it’s off to dinner at Nandos with Svend, Dave, Indra from Sticktwiddlers and Kelsey of DailyJoypad as part of a get-together arranged by Ben Bateman of Codies… except it was full. So dilly-dallying to the pub I was at the night before from the NCSoft do, we eat there. And then made our way to the second part of Ben’s get-together in central London.

Before getting in, there was a snafu: a big snafu. I thought I might be denied from seeing some cool peeps because I didn’t have any form of ID on me – after Cologne last year, I wasn’t going to take my passport with me unless I needed to – but by some chance of luck (don’t ask how it ended up there), I found a photo of my old passport and used that to get in. I’m sure people who found that night aren’t going to live it down next time they see me, or if they’re going to now once they’ve read it here – to be fair, I wouldn’t neither. There, I meet a multiple array of people for the first time and catched up with people I haven’t seen as short as a few hours to as long as gamescom.

That night was just sheer awesome. This was the night I got the push and needless to say, it will happen. The plan, at least partially, will happen next year.

Day Three: My final day of Eurogamer seen me try to finish a Mass Effect 3 piece from the previous day, but besides that, got off to a bad start with a kick in the balls. Not literally, but figuratively speaking. I won’t say why, but when that happened, I was bummed. But anyways, because of finishing the ME3 piece and prepping for the BioWare dev session afterwards, there was no time to play any games that day.

After all of that was done, I head inside the hall where the dev sessions are. The doctors are preparing for their session, but as I make my way in, I introduce myself to Ray Muzyka, making his way out towards the toilet. Ray’s a big fan of VG247, but this was the first time I had met him – any interviews with the doctors from us in the past has either been fron Pat at gamescom, Steph at GDC or with Greg Zeschuk at gamescom this year via Alex Donaldson – where he told me it was his first time at EG, but that BioWare devs had been there before.

It was a really good session, detailing BioWare’s history and how it operated. But this was BEFORE the announcement. The announcement being the release date of Star Wars: The Old Republic. The fact the dates were announced at Eurogamer Expo now shows it, as Pat fully described in his piece on the show, as the biggest games show in the UK and is, in all likelyhood, the fifth big date in the trade calendar now after GDC, E3, gamescom and Tokyo Game Show.

After the BioWare session, I do a couple more dev sessions – where after the Assassin’s Creed showing, I interviewed Ubi Montreal – and inbetween, I had a bit of me time where I finally meet the legendary Mosey of the PS Forums after a near manhunt. I had to break it off too soon because of Batman, though :(. After wrapping up Batman, that was my show in terms of VG247. I decided to stick around for the Uncharted 3 session, where I was told the content would be different from the Thursday and Friday sessions. Even then, if not, I would have watched either way. I hung out with Nolan North for a bit with Bertie of Eurogamer ahead of the chat, where one of the subjects we talked about was Rory McIlroy.

After that, I had decided to pop into the Behind Closed Doors session, where Tim Willits was. Got a lovely photo with him, but this would be the last time I’d see him – I interviewed him at Bethesda’s pre-E3 event in France near two years ago and briefly encountered him earlier this year in Utah – until probably DOOM 4 is shown for the first time, as well as a farewell to Hatchman.

After that, off to the StickTwiddlers party and meeting more people and catching up. You’ll see me in this photo as part of the collection of photos taken from the party, although there should be one before it where I (jokingly) get angry with the photographer and tell him to hurry the fuck up and snap.

After such an amazing night, I say my farewells to everyone and take off to the hotel before my flight home to Belfast the following morning.

Returning home: I had planned to wake up at 5:30am, be gone by 6:30am to 7am and be at Gatwick by 7:30am, two hours before my flight. Instead, while I did wake up at the alarm, I had fallen back to sleep until 6:30am, left at 7:30 and be at Victoria by 8am for the train. That was a panic-and-a-half, but I made it. Flight left Gatwick a bit after 10am, later than the 9:40am promised, but hohum. After that, Belfast and stop in Pizza Hut before getting on the bus to Derry.

And that was Eurogamer Expo.

I met so many great people at the show and caught up with some good peeps, so here’s a list of big thank yous for the pleasure of meeting you there or for catching up with you and making my time in London fun, as well as have it as a learning experience:

  • Tom Bramwell
  • Rob ‘Bertie’ Purchase
  • Ellie Gibson
  • Matt Martin
  • Tom Phillips
  • Dan Pearson
  • Rachel Weber
  • Johnny Minkley
  • Richard Leadbetter
  • James Hills
  • Wesley Yin-Poole
  • Martin Robinson
  • Debbie Timmins
  • Nick Silversides
  • Peter Chapman
  • Ben (PSNStores)
  • Shane McCafferty
  • Jon Brady
  • Cat Channon
  • Craig Stephens
  • Stace Harman
  • Alistair Hatch
  • Mark Robins (Even if it was literally two seconds)
  • Sarah-Jane Seaby
  • Lee Kirton
  • Peter Oliver
  • Hugo Bustillos
  • Roxy Etemad
  • Svend Joscelyne
  • Dave Scammell
  • Chin Soon Sun
  • Kelsey Christou
  • Indra Wignall
  • Dom Carey
  • Chris Thomas
  • Sam Clay
  • Ben Bateman
  • Hollie Bennett
  • Stefano Petrullo
  • Korina ‘Kazz’ Abbott
  • Ollie Coe
  • Kari ‘Mosey’ D
  • Mike Bell
  • Mark Ward
  • Simon Byron
  • Leo Tan
  • Ste Curran
  • Juila Hardy
  • Richie Churchill
  • Caroline Miller

And I think that’s my list. If I have forgotten someone, I am so sorry, but I met or caught up with a lot of people, so again, I’m sorry. :(

Being in London for the first time for the show has pushed me to activate ‘the plan.’ I’ve vaguely mentioned the plan in this post, but never explained it, although I’ve mentioned it once or twice before on Twitter or Facebook. The plan being I move to London. But it’s going to go into action, at least partially: next summer for a bit at least, I plan on moving to London until just a bit either before or after gamescom. After that, we’ll see.

I’ll start sorting that out in the new year, but in the meantime, I have a second trip to London coming up in a few weeks with the Games Media Awards. But for my first time, it was awesome. So thank you London. You were indeed “awesome.”

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