The swag bag was kinda lacking, actually, because we were too late for t-shirts that fit. There were two choices when we got there: Small and double-wide camping tent. We chose neither, but I think SOE is planning on emailing us replacement shirts when they get the right sizes in...and figure out how to scan them.
We did get beta keys for Gods & Heroes and Pirates of the Burning Sea, though, so that was a bit of a morale boost.
After wandering a bit in the exhibit hall, and meeting one SOE employee who had one of the highly limited-edition Billy dolls (only 6 ever made, and Kushi has one of 'em!), our first major stop was the Q&A panel for the new game that SOE was announcing at the Fan Faire.
What we didn't realize when we showed up super-early to reserve seats was that the game itself had already been announced on Friday afternoon! Here I was sitting with my friends chatting about how much I hoped SOE would finally be unveiling the DC Heroes MMO, totally clueless that the cat was out of the bag.
The room filled, a bunch of SOE-ites showed up (including Scott Hartsman, which I thought was odd since he was an EQ2 guy, and EQ2 is hardly a new product), and again, with me and mine totally clueless, someone says "any questions?" and a bunch of hands go up.
After a couple questions regarding something about "cards," I wanted to raise MY hand and ask, "hey, how's about you actually tell us what the new game IS?!?!" But I didn't...I waited patiently and put together the pieces of the puzzle until it was clear that the new game was an Norrath-based online collectable card game.
At first I was really annoyed that we'd camped out seats for this crap, but I started warming to the idea over the hour-long Q&A session. I used to be a big offline TCG fan, but got out of it YEARS ago and sold all my Magic cards that were worth anything (not sure what happened to my Star Wars TCG cards).
I love a good turn-based strategy game, and TCGs fill that nook. I also love the lore behind Norrath, so a game that ties together turn-based strategy (as opposed to Lords of Everquest *gag*) and Norrath lore AND has some neat potential bonus items I can get in EQ2....well, they had me sold :)
But more on that in another post...
Anyway, the Q&A for Legends of Norrath was decent once I figured out what was going on. Next after that was an ATTEMPT at getting some news and info for the Vanguard branch of Circle of Shadows, but the "Vanguard Adventuring Classes" panel was cancelled, so I instead went to the Breaking into the Industry panel.
For the most part, the panel was interesting from a storytelling perspective, but most of the meat wasn't anything new. Still, even if I pretty much knew what the panelists were saying already, it was nice to have certain things confirmed from real industry people:
- Game design degrees are mostly worthless - talent and passion is what counts
- I can't afford to try to break into the game industry, because I need a much higher income than what a gamemaster makes (that's where most people start!)
- If I DID want to try to get a foot in the door, my best bet would be a job in the Midwest, where the poor pay would be partially offset by a sane cost of living that simply doesn't exist in SoCal
Maybe when I'm 65 I can "retire" into a gaming job ;)
Next up was the Rising Into Kunark panel. I was in the front row for that one, and I got to meet (via sitting next to) Allakhazam's Calthine, who was very nice and even asked a question for me despite having lost most of her voice (hard to get called on twice with so many folks wanting to ask their own questions). Still, I can't believe I had to push for that 2nd question - how could NO ONE in that entire room besides me be wondering what the Sarnak racial powers would be?? Shameful!
The final panel of the day was EQ2: Into the Future. Though it certainly needed a MUCH bigger room, the panel itself was awwwwesome. It's going to be a long, painful 9-12 months while I wait for the guild houses to go live, but I'm SO excited to know that they're finally being made! Lots of other cool news out there too, but I don't need to re-post all that here (since I already posted panel write-ups here). Here is where I simply give a big thumbs-up!
Next post: The banquet