Ok, I lied. It’s not one night. Not even two. Three nights and/or days in a row I got to meet the most wonderful bunch of people. It all started at "The Night Before". Indy Cision and Busycaz had organised a little get-together for what was supposed to be a couple of people. I met Caz and Indy in their hotel and had dinner with them too at some Indian restaurant. We talked about how we expected people to introduce themselves, and what the evening in general would bring. We had at that point no idea where we would end up.
OneLuckyLady was to meet us all at the designated underground station, and from there we'd all go to invade a pub. On the thread at the forums around 50+ people signed on to meet there. The eventual group was about 35-40 people, but if anything, we had even more fun because of that. When entering the pub in question we were all stopped (even me) to have our bags and ID's checked. Insane, right? Pretty much occupying the entire floor of the pub, we were definitely drawing some stares, even though nobody (besides the little thingy in my hat) had anything remotely identifying them as being somehow part of the RuneFest group.
You could already tell that people were relieved to be able to talk about RuneScape without fear of being judged or the awkwardness of having to explain everything. Pretty much the only awkwardness happened at the very first meeting point, where people were not entirely sure if we were indeed the RuneFest group. Luckily my hat soon became something of the point to rally around in case you couldn't find anyone.
After initial introductions and first round of drinks at the pub (The Montagu Pyke), OneLuckyLady offered to take everyone for a ride in the London Eye (the giant Ferris wheel)... FOR FREE! I had already made some plans to take a ride in it as I had an extended stay in London as some sort of holiday. But this was an excellent event for this evening. Afterwards, the group split in two. The largest portion went back to their homes or hotels to get a good night’s sleep, but His Lordship had an awesome idea to go to the venue and perhaps have a beer with the Mods who might have just finished working there. It was something of a disappointment that the entire thing was closed, and none of the pubs seemed to play host to some tired people. I guess they also took the advice to turn in early, and in retrospect it might have been wise for us to do that too.
The day itself. Wow, that was a HUGE line. This was also a first glimpse I got of all the costumes made, and quite a few people did. Some of them were so incredible; it was hard to tell them apart from the ones that the people wore that were hired by Jagex. And hired they did. Just a quick glimpse of the people I saw; Zaff, Gypsy Aris, Drunken Dwarf, Tool Leprechaun and who could forget Party Pete. On top of that there were musicians, living statues, a magician, a caricature artist, just to name a few. Everyone played their roles beautifully and brought the entire venue to life.
Waiting in line was quite an adventure in itself. I got approached by Mod Ash (who happens to be a well known Tip.it-er too) about the Tip.it Times. Party Pete and support crew were interviewing people, especially those who came a long way. His Lordship did his famous rant again (I'm quite sure that there's a video of it somewhere). And all the while more and more passers-by tried to satisfy their curiosity and asked about what the hell was going on.
For me and a few others it had an additional adventure. Ticket Master managed to get my ticket at my address at home a whole week after RuneFest happened, which meant I had only one other option to get in; bringing a copy of the email with a verification number on it. The worry for me was, however, that this email specifically said that it could not be used for entry. The worry was all for nothing. Mod Trick examined it, my name, and my ID, and after a quick scribble, I could enter.
Not the professionalism I expected from Jagex or Ticket Disaster. In hindsight, though, I believe that the whole ticket ordeal (and maybe lack of storage facility) was my only complaint, and Andrew already told me that they'll handle the tickets themselves next time. On entry you were given a token to pick up a goody bag with it. The red one-sling bag contained a pen, a mouse mat, a postcard, a camera (in case you'd forgotten), scorecards to keep up with the penguins and treasure trails, the first chapter of "Betrayal at Falador" by T.S. Church, and a T-shirt (Mugger lvl-6 in my case).
Dilemma. What to do first. By the time I got in I had already missed MMG's introduction speech, and the first Insider Sessions (on RuneScape Genesis) were already under way in Varrock (the giant conference hall). I figured I'd catch at least the last part of that.
Time to dispel a rumour. A few days before I was to set off to London, I met up with Caz and Indy in game. Our hotels were only 1 street away, so it made sense to arrange to meet up (and have dinner) before and travel together to the designated tube station for the Night Before festivities. While talking in my POH, I had a random thought of how awesome it would be to give Andrew and/or Paul a cabbage, especially if it came in a box resembling a random event gift. Indy and Caz provided the box (and what a marvellous job you did), and I provided the cabbage. From that point on it was just a matter of finding the right opportunity to give it to them.
I did not expect cabbages to be brought up at any point while the two of them were on stage. So with a slight hesitation, Indy shoved me forward, and... Well, the rest is history. Skip to 7:13.
So yes, I, TS Stormrage, am the Cabbage Man, a title that will, if RF2010 was any indication, without a doubt follow me around at least until the next RuneFest. But it was awesome. Paul even approached me afterwards telling me how much he loved it.
Then it was time to buy some noted food. Little pieces of paper tokens that represented three types of drinks (juice/soda, beer/wine, or liquor), or two types of food (starter/desert, or main course) all aptly named as GP. These could be exchanged at the Draynor Market, and Poison Arrow Pub for pretty much anything. They did not go as far to replicate actual dishes in RuneScape, but the food was delicious nonetheless. Some thought that the prices were a bit steep, but this was all made up again at the very end, where the last two hours foods and drinks were served free! Kudos too to the catering staff.
Thought that was good? I haven’t said a word about the swordfight demonstrations. Actual metal blades were used, and I fully expected someone's thumb to fly off into the crowd at one point. The same arena was also used for troll wrestling, where one could challenge another person to dress up with the equivalent of 30 pounds of bubble wrap, and see who would win. Or what about further on the Draynor Market. You could do a balance beam act while beating the living daylights out of your opponent, and whoever fell down first was declared the winner. There was computerised Archery, a place to get your Tarot cards read (hi Aris), a green-screen photo booth (with a whole variety of backgrounds to add), Diango's Toy Store where you could exchange completed Treasure Trail cards, or the Penguin Hunt solution.
As will be able to see on the discussion thread once I've uploaded the pictures, I was one of the first 20 to actually get the solution to the Penguin thing, but I used the card to collect a whole lot more autographs too. (More pictures will be added on the discussion thread)
The Draynor Manor was a dark area that was host to many computers, all (at least it appeared so) specifically built to play RuneScape on. So this is what the game is supposed to look like for real? Watch out, WoW!
Many people were waiting for a spot to play RuneScape, and even participate in the Clan Wars battle against the J-Mods. I did not bother as I would have plenty of time to play when I would return home, but this being one of the busier areas I can imagine a lot of people had fun here.
It must have been a relief for the Mods themselves too. Normally when they log into the game, within minutes they get swarmed by dozens if not hundreds of players and their questions. At RuneFest… not so much. They could take the time to actually have a proper conversation about anything that was on their minds. Some people even handed in suggestions in an envelope. The mutual respect was truly a sight to behold.
Upstairs beyond the Poison Arrow Pub (this area was called the Varrock Museum) was a 40 foot wall full of Player's art. Some of it I recognized, but dang! We have a bunch of future Rembrandts among us. Just a little further was a place to leave our mark; a giant wall where you could sign it with whatever you wanted. The living statues were also located here, as well as the caricature artist. You would have your own charcoal portrait in a matter of minutes, and like everything else but the food up to this point, it was also free!
Up some more stairs was the giant conference room. This location was dubbed Varrock, and was where all the Insider Sessions, as well as a Quiz Show, and where the fate of the Golden Gnomes would be decided.
So, after a good five hours of completely immersing ourselves in what RuneScape would be like, if it all were real, it was time for these Golden Gnome Awards. The videos that we got to pick as winners are by now on Jagex's YouTube channel. Just try and find the winners, we had a hard enough time deciding ourselves on the spot.
RuneFest ended with a party downstairs at Draynor. A band played a couple of songs, and Party Pete did what he did best. Oh and he also released a whole bunch of balloons with tickets in them. These could be exchanged for Party Hats, Christmas Crackers, the book "Betrayal at Falador", and a whole bunch more. I remember one person going completely berserk after he must have thought that his in game account was going to get that Party Hat. That was kind of a sad sight to see, as up to that point every person that I have seen behaved with the utmost dignity and respect. I'll attribute it to the free drinks that were served by then.
Before I continue with the After-party and the Goodbye-party, I'd like to give a special comment to the people who claim this was GeekFest, the people that claimed they would've gone if they knew it was free, the people that demand a Flagstaff be released for everyone, and even the people that complained that the prices of the food and drinks were too high.
Shut the hell up! Please. You were not there, and if you truly believed it would be the entire cast plus extra's from "Revenge of the Nerds" attending the event, you were probably not wanted there anyway. It reeks of jealousy, get over it.
It also gets tiresome to listen to people saying "I would've gone if I knew it was free". MMG said at the very start of Runefest that he wanted the most tenacious and most ardent fans to be there, and the only way to get that done, was to give out no information about the event or its whereabouts. He could have been a bit more sensitive by announcing the price change a week after the announcement that tickets were sold out, but he didn't, so be it.
I got a Flagstaff because I ordered the ticket myself. I didn't get it from anyone else, nor was I specially invited by Jagex. I was not around when they handed out the Scythe or Bunny Ears, and I'm not complaining about wanting those either. The Flagstaff is for those that ordered the ticket, period.
And what's this about the price of food and drinks being too high? If I recall correctly, you got £75 refunded. There is no way you could have spent that much on nourishment, so you still won out in the end. On top of that, everything else at the event was free, so hush.
That said, I wanted to try and sum up the event. The atmosphere, the organisation, the location, the food, the drinks, the music, the videos, the goodies, the activities, the questions and the answers, the fact that it was almost all free, the people that attended, and especially the Jagex and Event staff...
I went to London with a critical mindset. This was Jagex' first time doing anything remotely like this so I didn't expect much. And BESIDES all of the above, I couldn't find a single thing that I liked about this event.
So what was there to do afterwards? You'd expect after such an amazing experience to feel somewhat lost, but no. A huge portion of the crowd went home, but another lot went to the Namco arcade near the London Eye (sound familiar?). Not surprisingly, most of these people were from the party of Night Before (by far the most awesome and diverse bunch of people I've ever met). I tried to write down a few details in my notepad, but like everyone else, I just got caught up in sharing the experiences of the whole day. And tried as I might have, I couldn't find the words to do the whole day justice, and I still can't.
The morning after a slightly smaller lot met at the same location for coffee and Guinness (before noon, guys?). About 15 of us were there, still rambling on about all the stuff we had seen, learned, done, heard, tasted or otherwise experienced.
From that point on it was time, at least for me, to say goodbye to a few people as the group split up. I continued to feel some sort of afterglow all throughout the day. That feeling still returns when I think about it.
I promised everyone to write an article that would try to properly imprint on people's minds what kind of an experience we all had. But I know I've already failed at that. A picture speaks a thousand words, and a movie contains a thousand pictures. I've taken pictures and taped videos myself, and browsed through hours of video, and hundreds of pictures, but all of them combined would do it no justice.
So the only thing I can do is to leave it to the people that were there for RuneFest 2010. Go out there and plant that Flagstaff not as a sign of pride, but as a sign of humility. You have had the honour to be there, so the duty falls on you to drop whatever you are doing if someone asks you about RuneFest. Share your story, and share it often.
Thank you everyone, for everything
- The Cabbage Man
PS: Any interesting pictures or videos will be uploaded and re-pasted to the discussion thread.