It’s going to be a brief one, people, apologies. It’s not a Kickstarter update, although I will be sending out a notification via KS.
Yes, Saturday 11th November was the OFFICIAL LAUNCH of Elite Dangerous: a media extravaganza to which I was lucky enough to have an invitation to, thanks to the generosity of the RPG backers. In deference to the fact that it was the RPG that allowed me to attend, I made sure I had a stand at the event where I could show the banners, give out leaflets and hand out business cards and get the word out there about the RPG.
Now I’ve rewritten the majority of this report because on re-reading it it was hard to understand the negativity that seemed to radiate from it. I decided to rewrite it and try to be more objective about the experience!
After setting up the RPG advertising at the back of the main hangar (UNDER THE PORT ENGINE OF CONCORDE!!!), I changed into my “Captain Lake” costume and we had a quick look around for people we knew and tried to find where to register our presence (since we had been guided past the registration desk by Allison on our way in). Thanks to Grant “Psykokow” Woollcott (pardon the spelling) we got to the desk and became the proud owners of shiny gold wristbands, which we found out later were “access all areas” passed for authors and Kickstarter backers! They gave us access to the exclusive first floor bar and seating area which I didn’t find out about until a good couple of hours into the show!
Banded and all signed in, we found some food and drinks and headed back to our table to eat, during which time we watched quietly as people came and picked up RPG leaflets and cards and had a good look at the banners. We didn’t let on who we were, and since I wasn’t wearing any sort of ID badge, we spied on our own “product”. The people who saw the banners and leaflets were very interested in the RPG and all the leaflets were picked up during that first part of the evening. A good number of the business cards were taken as well, and we did see some people taking note of the website address from the banner, so the advertising was effective.
Soon, the booming notes of the theme to 2001 began playing and a lady’s voice (sounding oddly like the “drive charging” voice) announced that the launch was…well, launching. The rush of people to the front where the massive hangar doors were slowly sliding open was much quicker than we could keep up with, but we found an awesome spot under the bomb bay doors of some plane or other and saw everything on the big screen. We had seen the Cobra Mk III model on the way in with Allison (during which time I walked past DAVID BRABEN!) so we had already experienced the AWESOMENESS of the model.
So the event began. The first spot was Lord High Admiral God Emperor of the Universe David Braben welcoming everyone to the launch and thanking us all for coming. His no doubt well prepared speech was rudely interrupted by the lovely Kate Russell, fronting a team of notable community members who had, by the design of the nefarious Mike Snoswell and the “Elite Dangerous Gamma Surprise Gang“, been pledging to a fund that saw David being presented with 2 charity cheques for GamesAid and SpecialEffect as well as the traditional release launch “pizza box reward”, this time containing an awesome plaque thanking David and the team for giving us a galaxy to play in.
The video for the presentation (not included on the live stream) can be found on YouTube – just click on this text to view it – thanks to Deryk Lister for the video.
The main body of the event was, of course, the media extravaganza that was the launch of perhaps the most eagerly awaited computer game in HISTORY. The event was broadcast live via twitch.tv, and the video of the whole media part of the event can be watched by clicking on the links below!
Around the edges of the main stages were a variety of great things to do. First there was the shop, where the new special merchandise was available to buy. Highlights for me were the Coriolis and Cobra t-shirts, but there were hoodies, sweatshirts, various free bits like pens, coasters, card model coriolis templates (Frontier nicking my ideas again) and stuff like that. The only down side was that the card readers were struggling to get connections, so unless you were loaded down with cash, buying something was a bit of a struggle. needless to say, there were Elite logos EVERYWHERE. As expected, the hardback and paperback copies of the books were available as well as the NEW full audio production of the “Tales From The Frontier” anthology on a beautiful memory stick made to look like the cover of the book. Stunning work from Dan and Gabi and Fantastic Books Publishing.
Next around was TEH BAR! In a very generous move, the two bars in the event were paid for by Frontier Developments. The first of these was just to the left of the main stage, and around it were, at various stages, the notable community and staff of the Elite Experience. At various stages Dan Grubb, Kate Russell and Chris Jarvis were there, but since I wasn’t drinking I didn’t spent too much time hanging around there.
To the right of the main stage was the gaming area, where Oculus Rift headsets and ridiculously expensive joysticks were all hooked up to top of the line computers that were connected to the Elite Universe. When you watch the video keep an eye out for the hilarious interview with one of the Oculus Rift players and his brutally honest appraisal of the VR headset.
Next around, just to the right of the main doorway to the museum’s reception, was the illustrious crew of Lave Radio, who did a sterling job corralling stars and celebrities through the evening and pulling them in for a quick chat or sound bite (although I’m still waiting for my moment in the spotlight). Fozza Forrester, Karen Fishwick, John Stabler and the others were stalwarts throughout the evening, aided ably by the superlative Allen Stroud, Grant Woollcott (again, spelling), Chris Jarvis and Ben Moss-Woodward. Every time I approached that table (which called to me frequently through the night) there was a sea of familiar faces standing around. It was there that myself and Iain McNeil were approcahed by a roving reporter from the Rock Paper Shotgun gaming site and provided some sound bites of our fondest or funniest memories from the Beta of Elite Dangerous. It was next to this table that I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Anita Wagar, wife and Empress to Drew Wagar of Elite: Reclamation and Oolite Trilogy fame. Hello to you both from us here at Daftworks Towers. It was also here that Chris Jarvis (Lave Radio and Radio Theatre Workshop supremo and the man behind the awesome audio versions of the Fantastic Elite Fiction (god, that’s a long intro)) told me about the upstairs bar!
Definitely worth a mention here is the awesome and amazing Iain McNeil, who presented me with a special etched metal badge with the Elite Encounters logo and my name on, alongside the Elite griffon. It’s lovely and amazing and other great words. Many thanks to Iain for making one for me, and for giving me the “trial run” badge as well, which is (in my opinion) just as good! To Iain I say “the wife wants one now…” 😉
Clockwise from Lave Radio was the amazing Cobra Mk III model (for a detailed overview of the model take a look at the video of the event either on Twitch or on YouTube), which we just HAD to get photos taken next to. When Anne gets the photos from her phone I’ll upload them somewhere on the site.
Which brought us back to the start! After the twitch feed and live event stuff had finished, a live Q&A with the Frontier production team was scheduled, as were readings from the already published Writer’s Pack authors. There was some confusion at this stage, as the authors had expected their readings to be on or near the main stage and were rather surprised to find that they were initially being shunted to a remote corner (where the RPG banners and leaflets had been assigned some space) to do their readings at the same time as the Q&A. After some strong words the organisers did upgrade them to the main stage .
The readings were fantastic, with yet another animated reading from Drew Wagar (Elite Reclamation) kicking things off. Allen Stroud read the start of Elite: Lave Revolution (sorry, Allen, can’t find a link on your site) then was followed by Chris Jarvis reading from his entry in “Tales from The Frontier“. Kate Russell rounded off the Fantastic Elite Fiction authors with a reading from “Elite: Mostly Harmless“. Last but definitely not least was Steven Deas reading from his book “Wanted“. Simon Spurrier and Gideon Defoe were supposed to be reading as well, but their readings were dropped for reasons that weren’t made clear (unless I missed a memo).
And that was it! Once the readings were done it was time to wrap everything up.
I just (and I mean JUST) managed to have a quick chat with The Braben Himself! David’s PR manager was kind enough to squeeze me in at the last moment, even though the queue was officially closed – apparently my AWESOME costume was the deciding factor, so it was good to see that the time that went into the costume was worth it. I managed to stammer out a quick thank you to the man who had the most influence on my life over the last 30 years and present him (very quietly) with a set of the Elite dice as a thank you for authorising the RPG.
And that was it! We were ushered to the exits (after a panicky couple of minutes trying to find Anne, who was eventually located dismantling the RPG banners) and the night drew to a close. Kate and the others had arranged an after-party at the Holiday Inn near the museum where there were rumours that someone would be running a session of the RPG, so I handed the RPG materials over to Kate and bade everyone farewell.
Sadly, apparently the after-party became more of a conversational event rather than a roleplaying event. Never mind. It’s the thought that counts.
It was great to see everyone again, including the Lave Radio guys, the authors and the other friends I’ve made through the last few conventions. It was also great to meet more people and see first hand the team behind this game that we’re all so deeply involved with. The Imperial War Museum was a great venue, surrounding us all with a hundred years of pioneering aerospace, the centrepiece of which for the evening was the beautiful 1:10 scale model of the stunning, iconic Cobra Mk III.
The only negative thing about the event was that I felt that the community was rather pushed to one side, apart from the authors whose books are already out in the wild. I’m not just talking about myself here, but other contributors to the “fiction world” of ED, including T. James, Lave Radio (although Chris Jarvis did manage to work a mention there) and the general community itself. I was even surprised by the lack of focus on the Kickstarter that was a key part in the game’s development, although there was a brief acknowledgement by the Frontier staff during the evening.
But that’s a very small niggle in an otherwise very enjoyable evening.
OK, that’s about it. Oh, wait. Pictures can be found here.
Right, that’s it now. There will be a regularly scheduled update on or around the 1st December.