28 May 2013

FanFest 2013: Thurday

My halting walk home last night resulted in a rather late arrival to my hotel. This was exacerbated by discovering the alliance server was broken and nobody had Teamspeak, Jabber or our forums to communicate with. An hour spent fixing that and then I could sleep... Five hour later and I was awake again getting ready for day one of the actual Fanfest event.

In case you forgot why you were there. This was at the top of the main stairs.
There was no snow today but a pretty strong wind was making itself felt. This was particularly unfortunate as I had elected to wear my kilt resulting in a rather brisk half hour walk. When I got to the Harpa there was no immediate relief from the wind as I joined the queue about 100 meters from the entrance. Kudos to CCP for effecting such an efficient method for getting people into the event. I was sure it was going to take at least three times longer than it actually did. To be honest, once I got inside the door and away from the cold wind I wasn't particularly bothered about the queue anymore. Once at the front it was pretty straightforward getting my swag-bag, t-shirt and entry pass and then I was free to wander around.

Efficient registration table is efficient
Inside, a few things were still being set up. There was no sign of the Steelseries guys to collect the free mouse mat. Razor had some things out on their display but nothing I wanted to buy. The relaunched EVE store was well stocked with a wonderful variety of t-shirts which I foolishly decided to buy once I got back home. Foolish in that the EVE store isn't selling them, D'Oh! After wandering around the crush for a while the corpmate I was with had to head off to meet his partner and I was left to wander around on my own. Not for long though as more corpmates magically appeared and we got some food and beers.

The first talk I went to was "Make EVE Real - Bringing FTL to IRL". This seemed odd to be going to an EVE Fanfest yet starting at a talk only loosely related to the game. It was a rather interesting talk from Dr. Richard Obousy of Icarus Interstellar (now there's a cool name for your CV). He presented his very ambition timeline to make interstellar travel a reality by 2100. Interstellar travel on the scale of a human lifetime requires faster than light travel. Dr. Obousy's talk was based around past examples of the speed humans exploit a new technology - on average it seems to be about 50 years from discovery to widespread use of some game-changing breakthrough. The main thing I though he was missing in his talk was that Icarus Interstellar is yet to find this breakthrough. I guess they have about 30 years before their schedule becomes tight though. Other than that point the talk was very enjoyable but didn't really tell me anything new.

After some wandering around, meeting up with more corpmates, watching people play the very cool, very R-type-like EVE arcade game, and drinking a few more beers, we headed up to queue for the Dust 514 keynote. I've played a little of Dust and have my character in Dust Uni but I don't really have that great an understanding of what's going on. I run at people, shoot them and die, rinse then repeat. They announced new drop suits, new weapons, new vehicles and a much needed new skill tree. The best thing they announced was the updates to the graphics. I was glad to see this because I find Dust looks a bit dated compared to other shooters like the new Halo. Hopefully these new graphics would polish it up a bit. Still there were enough bitter EVE players mooching around complaining about Dust 514 taking dev time away from EVE. You'd think that would make them happy as anytime CCP make changes in EVE the forums turn into a war of "how dare you change stuff".

After the keynote we headed back to the Celtic Cross to find it packed out the door. Someone made a very ill-advised comment to a corpmate about her height and received a well deserved kick to the shins. Deciding that it was too busy we went elsewhere for a quiet drink then actually had the early night I had planned for the previous evening.

27 May 2013

FanFest 2013: Wednesday

Um, well so much for my plan to write up Fanfest in a week... There's a lot of stuff happening in-game just now that I'll try and write about later. For now let's get on with the story of my Iceland adventure.

After waking from not enough sleep I got myself ready and fed then headed off to the Harpa conference centre. There was a bit of a shock as I went outside and discovered it was snowing. This is what I had hoped for in Iceland so I wasn't too unhappy with this turn of events. After a thirty minute walk I met with some corp mates and we all piled onto bus number one. I'll probably remember that was the bus number forever as it was repeated many, many times by the guide. After a rapidly abandoned attempt to check our tickets the bus set off.

Our first stop was to be Þingvellir, a rift-valley where the original Icelandic parliament used to meet for two weeks each summer. It is also one of only two places in the world where you can walk between two continental plates as all other such gaps are underwater. We were told that this is a lovely place to come camping in summer with temperatures reaching as high as 20-30°C but it was hard to imagine that in the snow and wind. The scenery was beautiful thought and I would love to go back there in summer with a tent and try the camping.
America to the left, Europe to the right (or is it the other way around?)

Leaving Þingvellir we got back on our bus and headed for a long drive to the Gulfoss waterfall. On the way we were told a wonderful story about the rescue of this gorgeous waterfall from being used to generate electricity - something that would have ruined the beauty of the area. Gulfoss was first saved by Tómas Tómasson and then by his daughter, Sigríður Tómasdóttir. His daughter even went to the extreme lengths of threatening to throw herself into the falls. Thankfully she didn't have to go that far to save this picturesque spot in Iceland. We didn't really have enough time to visit the waterfall and enjoy lunch. Choosing to visit the waterfall first left us with about four minutes to eat. Another corp mate promised to web and scram the bus to give us a bit longer.
Gulfoss waterfall

Our final stop, Geysir, was only a short hop away and as you can possibly tell from its name is where all other geysers are named for. There is something odd about walking around in the cold with patches of snow on the ground while watching boiling water bubble away naturally in holes in the ground. I previously saw a cold geyser in Germany but that was just a piddly little thing compared to these giant erupting pools of sulphurous water. There is something rather compelling to standing around waiting for hot water to fling itself into the air in a gush of water, steam, and sulphur pong. There is also something rather eerie about being in a landscape with all the steam drifting around. I think the eeriness would have been wonderfully enhanced had I not been surrounded by hundreds of other people.
Did you bring any teabags?

That night a number of us had tickets to go see the Iceland Symphony Orchestra playing songs from EVE. After grabbing some noodle soup not to far from Harpa we headed back for the performance. I was happy to find our seats were almost right at the front of a very packed theatre. It seemed to take ages before the orchestra were ready, everyone quietened down, and we waited. The big surprise for me was watching the conductor shuffle to his position whilst also playing a didgeridoo. The whole event was magical. A large screen behind the orchestra was showing footage from various EVE promo videos and the orchestra played maybe nine tunes from the game. Most of them I recognised but a couple were not so familiar. It's been a long time since I last turned the music up in EVE. Maybe I should start turning it up again when I'm doing solo stuff.

After heading off for a couple of drinks the icing on the Iceland cake came in the form of getting to take pictures of the Aurora Borealis - the Northern Lights. We just on-spec headed down a pier at the harbour to get some black sky between us and where the Aurora should appear. We were almost about to give up and head back to our hotels when a green ribbon appeared in the sky. Cue furious long-exposure photography without a tripod. I suspect there may be a couple of humerous pictures of me sprawled flat on the ground propping my camera against rocks and anything else I could find. After leaving everyone it took ages for me to get back to my hotel as the display lasted over an hour and I kept finding new places to stop and take more pictures.
Beautiful Aurora Borealis

What a magical end to the perfect day of sightseeing around Iceland.