Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fan Faire

SOE's Fan Faire this year was August 5-7 this year, at Bally's Las Vegas, same place as last year.

Some of the (many) highlights for me this year included meeting some folks I played the original EverQuest with, almost 10 years ago.

We three all played halflings, back in the day (some of us still do!)

I also knew the lady in the panda suit from EverQuest (she's been a regular at Fan Faire every year I've been a developer):

There was someone else from my old EverQuest guild also that I was amazed to meet too, but alas the only photo we got was on his camera, so I don't have a copy yet.  It was great to meet all these people, all but one of whom I'd never met before in person, but had known for almost a decade.

Also this year, still in the "old school" theme, I was amazed to meet Ilia and Allakhazam, the founders of websites Ilia's Beastiary and Allakhazam (now, though both sites are now owned by others.  Back when I played EverQuest, these sites were everyday necessities for me - I still have a big essay on Shadowed Men (they used to be my dark elf's nemesis) posted on Ilia's Beastiary.  Ilia was kind enough to say he remembered it, though he was probably just being polite.  Meeting these two was like being in the presence of royalty.  Allakhazam headed off to bed fairly early but I spent a while chatting with Ilia and felt slightly starstruck the whole time!

The costumes are another highlight of Fan Faire for me.  This year they were as great as always.  This dryad was one of the costume contest winners, and Brasse on the right was the event co-host (along with Jace Hall).  Brasse was a regular also at Fan Faires until we hired her, and has a fantastic new dwarf costume almost every year.

This guy's costume was hilarious - he entered the costume contest with the shirt hidden under a big hoodie, and none of us could figure out why he was entering, until it was time for him to step forward and remove the hoodie.  And then we saw the shirt.  He explained that he had lost a bet with a guildmate, who had made the shirt for him and coerced him into entering the contest as "Antony Bayle".  He has the pose down perfectly, and won one of the costume prizes (hence the red ribbon in this picture).  The shirt was beautifully done, his guildmate is definitely a talented tradeskiller!  Below him is the "real" Queen Antonia Bayle.

One of the costume contest entrants proposed to his girlfriend live on stage and in costume on Saturday night, which was very sweet and touching.  (In 2007, we had a live wedding on stage at Fan Faire - I got to decorate the in-game wedding chapel for it.  The video is available on YouTube, and I must say, since then I've thought the idea of having Darth Vader at your wedding is pretty awesome.)

There are lots more photos from Fan Faire on the official website, as well as the Facebook Page and Flickr account (both are linked from the official website).

One of my favorite things about Fan Faire is seeing familiar faces return each year, people who clearly have such a great time at Fan Faire and who enjoy our games so much that they make a point to keep coming back.  I'm terrible with faces, but each year it seems there are more people I recognize.

Fan Faire is such a fun time for both developers and players, but it's a lot of hard work for those of us who are here on the work side.  My schedule this year, as far as I can remember, was approximately this:

2pm - arrive in Las Vegas and check in
3-6pm - greet early check in players and make self available in the main lounge area for chatting
7-10pm - get ready for, and attend, opening ceremonies.
10pm - late - karaoke (I skipped out early on this to get some sleep)

8am - breakfast (I always try to eat a good breakfast at Fan Faire, as I'll be going nonstop all day).
8:30am - checked the EQ2 panel PC to ensure it had everything needed installed on it, and updated a few patches that I discovered needed doing.
9am-6pm - chat with players in the main lounge area when not scheduled to be on a panel (I spoke on the Lore panel, attended the general Q&A session also, and also sat in on a Guide program panel).  I slipped away for a brief lunch with some players but was basically on the go all day.  
6-8pm - grabbed some dinner, and typed up notes I'd taken from today (questions to follow up on, etc.)
8pm-midnight - Pool party, spent the entire time talking to people.

8am - breakfast
9-6pm - again, any time I was not scheduled to give a panel (today the Tradeskills panel, and another Q&A session), I was hanging around in the lounge and main areas to chat with folks.  I escaped for tea and a muffin in mid afternoon with some other players but didn't really have lunch otherwise.
7pm-8pm - assisted with random things that needed doing (like writing up queue cards for the evening's presenters).
8pm-8:30pm - pre-judging of the costume contest contestants (I was one of several judges)
8:30pm-11pm - grand banquet, sat with a table of EQ2 players and talked to them and anyone who came by.

I try to get to bed reasonably early at Fan Faire but still end up exhausted by the time it's over as they're 14-16 hour days with almost no break, plus I never sleep as deeply in a strange bed in a strange room with a strange roommate. (We're assigned roommates, often people we may never have met before - mine this year was a very nice woman from the FreeRealms team.)  Sometimes I see players in the server chat channels speculating that the devs have a wild old time relaxing in Vegas for Fan Faires, but I have to admit this makes me roll my eyes a little, remembering what my schedule is generally like!

Sunday at 6am I got up and headed to the airport for my flight home.  After grabbing breakfast I wrote up the remainder of my Fan Faire notes and then attempted to stay awake and be productive for the rest of the day, but in mid afternoon a patch of sunshine and a purring cat proved too much for me and apparently I passed out cold for at least an hour.  So this is how my Fan Faire ended:

In about 12 months I'll be ready for next year's again!

Update: if you are curious, one of our players (hi Nick!) recorded the tradeskills panel and has put the videos up on YouTube. - -

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Mighty Mugg

Meet Qho Augren!  Qho is a young boy from the Village of Shin in EverQuest II.  He gives a small questline called "A Gathering Obsession", in which he explains his fascination with harvesting and his intention to be a harvester when he grows up.  However, since his parents say he's too young to go out harvesting yet, he asks your help to bring him back samples from all over Norrath so he can study them.

Lots of samples.  

From ALL over Norrath.

Did I mention lots of samples?

The quest is actually quite painless if you start it at a very low level and just slowly update it as you level up your harvesting skill.  Going back on a high level character and trying to do it all at once though is rather painful.  So poor Qho is one of Norrath's most-often-wished-dead questgivers.

What Qho has to do with a Mighty Mugg (and if you don't know what a Mighty Mugg is, wikipedia explanation here) is related to the SOE Fan Faire coming up this weekend.  Apparently the Community team got a bunch of the blank Muggs, and they asked SOE staff members if we were interested in painting one for a "silent auction" to be held at Fan Faire.  So, I offered to try one if there were any left over, and there were, so I got one.

I debated what character to paint and toyed with the idea of a Billy doll, but then I thought of everyone's favorite target of death threats Qho.  Since Qho's quest is actually my fault it seemed more appropriate than Billy (who was Ilucide's fault).

First I had to get a good screenshot of Qho.  This is a bit tricky since he spends all his time swimming around underwater in a small pond, which doesn't help get the detail.  So I also took a picture of Spark Augren, who looks very similar to Qho but with different hair.  (Yes, I could have logged in as a GM and forced Qho out of the water, but I was at home and lazy so I just grabbed what my regular play account characters could get.)

Here's the blank Mugg, lightly sprayed with primer, holding my paintbrush and awaiting its fate!

First step, skin tone:

Next, Qho's clothing, which appears to be dark blue trousers and a pink tunic.  Here he is standing on my laptop beside his own picture, for comparison.

And then the hard part, which is the face.  I had a lot of trouble with this, not being an artist in even the most remote sense!  But here is the finished Mugg, ready for shipping to Fan Faire:

I am sure it will look like the work of a 10 year old beside the marvels that our artists are creating, but it was fun to make, and perhaps someone will want it, if only to use for target practice!  =)

Edit to add: check out Greg (Rothgar's) Mighty Mugg on his blog!  Wow - puts mine to shame!

Another update to add:  Qho was won at the auction by Niami Denmother of EQ/EQ2 Traders. She has a suggestion thread up on her forums to get opinions on what his fate should be!

I also hear that Greg's Mugg, and I believe Aaron (Gnobrin's) Mugg (an awesome looking clockwork), which were definitely the two most popular Muggs, were won by the producer of the Jace Hall show (Jace was a co-host of Fan Faire for us).