Friday, July 03, 2009

Tata Domino at Fan Faire

Last weekend was the annual SOE Fan Faire, a big convention type event where players of SOE games congregate to meet each other and the developers, attend panels to hear what's coming up in the SOE family of games, and generally have a good time. For SOE staff it's a lot of work, although rewarding and fun.

Typically my day starts around 7-8 when I will find a good, filling breakfast -- my breakfast preferences when travelling are normally: hot black tea with honey, and eggs benedict, and/or toasted bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon, and as much fresh fruit as there may be available. This usually gets me started well and lasts me through a long day in which I most likely won't have time to get a proper lunch. Often I'll bump into other people from the fan faire over breakfast and spend the meal chatting with them.

Once breakfast is over, it's off to quickly check email and then to the general area in which developers are supposed to be available when not otherwise engaged (e.g. at panels). So from about 10 till 6 I will either be hanging around the EQII display machines chatting with whoever comes by, or speaking on one of the EQII panels we have scheduled. This year I was on 4 1-hour panels, although some of them I didn't actually do much more than answer a few questions. I also sat in on a couple of other panels that were peripherally related to what I do.

In the evenings, there are events to attend, depending on which day of the Fan Faire it is. An opening ceremony, John Smedley's community address, an open-bar party, the closing banquet. For all of these, we're expected to attend, chat with folks, and generally be available for questions. Most of these events carry on well into the night, and may well segue into subsequent festivities if folks decide to head out to another venue afterwards. I usually avoid this when possible and try not to stay much past midnight. Although it's always a fun time and I enjoy meeting the folks who play our games, I need my sleep and can't afford a hangover when I know I have to be up and back at work early the next day! This year I was taking particular care to get enough sleep, because I knew that as soon as I arrived back in San Diego on Sunday I would be hard at work moving house. Fan faires are very rewarding, but after 3 days of 8am - midnight work, we're always exhausted and looking forward to sleeping in our own beds.

This year Susan "Soffrina" Rumani asked if I had time to sit down for a brief interview with a French reporter who had come all the way from France for the fan faire. We found somewhere quiet and had a pleasant discussion, and at the end, she asked me if I knew that they love me in France and call me "Tata Domino". "Tata" is apparently a short, familiar form of "tante" (aunt) similar to how the English shorten "grandmother" to "Nana" or "Granny". So, among our France players I am "Auntie Domino". Rather sweet. I learned to speak French in Canada, however, and hadn't heard that slang term used before. After I got home to San Diego I looked it up and apparently it's used exclusively in France. In Quebec French, it turns out "tata" is a slang term meaning "idiot" or "fool". Since both Quebec and France players play on our French language server, I wonder which meaning of "tata" is more prevalent? Perhaps which meaning is interpreted depends on how happy (or not) they are with me at any particular time!

I have several photos from Fan Faire this year, but as I haven't even nearly finished unpacking from moving house this week, I haven't found my camera cable to download them, so they will have to wait on my camera for now. So instead, here are a couple photos stolen from other people:

Me with Linda "Brasse" Carlson of and soon to be working for SOE in our Community department. She makes these costumes by hand, a new one almost every year, and has won our costume competition at Fan Faire so many times that she stopped competing a few years back. This year she is also holding a version of the Mystic epic weapon.

Paul "Frizznik" Carrico, me, and Paul "Cronyn" Molina, sitting on a Q&A panel. I'm tradeskilling, of course - knitting a scarf. Said scarf was later finished and photographed on a variety of people but I think it ended up coming home with me; not sure what to do with it.

Paul Molina is our main "lore guy" at the moment, and doing a great job of it. Quite a few of our EQII players who love to follow the lore of the game were thrilled to meet him this year.

Paul Carrico actually did my job, tradeskills, for a short time many years ago before he moved on to work on some other games. He's still fondly remembered by older tradeskillers that play our game and we're all happy he's back on the EQII team as of this month, although since I'm now doing tradeskills, he's going to be doing other things. I first met him at a fan faire in 2005 when I was an avid EQII player and he was the tradeskill developer. I remember being awed and starstruck to meet him back then, and I told him that this weekend (in fact, probably not long after the above photo was taken). He gave me a look and said "are you kidding me? You gave me a 10 minute lecture on everything that was wrong with tradeskills!"

I guess I wasn't quite as awestruck as I remember it in my mind. But then, I also got plenty of tradeskill feedback from EQII players myself this year, so what goes around, comes around, as they say!

More Fan Faire photos can be found here.

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