So that was our show. Or, rather, this was:

Orcs vs Humans

(Photos in this post by Tom Garnett, reproduced under a CC-A licence, more available on Facebook)

I’m told that was the coldest Easter for 50 years. Celestial Gala (a previous Maelstrom event) was worse, but that had both the cold and the wind chill and the wind and more of the wind. But:

So I went down on Wednesday, two days before the start, to see if I could be of any use. I was, a bit, but not enough for the extra night in the absolutely sodding freezing weather to be worth it ­čÖé

Setup was hell frozen over. Everything took longer, everything broke more easily. As I said to a number of people this event, Printers don’t like it if you repeatedly freeze and thaw them, Servers don’t like it if you repeatedly freeze and thaw them, and Crew don’t like it very much either. Between that and a first event where the exact on-field processes for everything weren’t yet a well-oiled machine, we stripped a few gears on take-off, but not enough to crash the flight.

I ended up in GameOps. My official position at Empire’s on the Plot & IT teams, but after the event started it was clear we needed a few more customer-facing people, so I stayed there. I don’t regret it, but next Empire I’ll find somewhere else to be, I think. I can do it – I actively like doing it, in fact – but doing it for Empire and Odyssey will strip that from me quite quickly.

I got out on the field once, to play my NPC Civil Servant, and it was amazing. The photos do it as much justice as they can, but there was something about the field with it’s woodchip-lined roads, children playing between the tents, and not a single sight – tent, person, prop or sight – that looked out of place. The camps were colourful and active, the bustle real and exciting, and the incredible buildings – actual, wooden, multistory buildings – were just – and I mean this in the literal sense – awesome.

I didn’t get to see the battles – 1000 players fighting in the woods – but from the enthusiasm of the players I spoke to, they went well. The characters were tested to (and sometimes beyond) their limits, their strategies probed and reacted to, and the monsters briefed carefully as to behavior and plans. One of the keywords PD used in the development of the style and look of the game was Aspiration. Shortly before we started, I posted this:

Aspirational means we get better. It means we look up. It means we accept that this is the best we can do for now, but we aim for it to be better, we want it to be better. We strive for perfection, while we accept reality.

We do not look down on people doing the best they can, we look up to how we can help as many people as we can do better, and we ask that you aspire to improve on where you are, and accept that everyone else is aspiring too.

But above all, we aspire to prance around in cold fields in the snow, because its fun.

And it was fun. And now there’s the next one.

7 weeks, 69 hours, 39 minutes remaining.

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