My original intention on returning home after an almost-600 mile drive from #EVE_NT was to send a few tweets thanking those with whom I had spent time in Nottingham and everyone for making it an amazing weekend. Then I remembered I own a certain platform for writing thoughts on EVE Online-related topics that may prove a little more practical…
For me, #EVE_NT started on a very, very early Friday morning. I live in the absolute middle of nowhere, which makes travelling by train or plane a) prohibitively expensive and b) prohibitively time-consuming.
The only real option was to drive. Thankfully, I had a couple of companions in need of a lift from Pert, so it was with a weary head that I awoke at 3:30am and quickly headed off. I made Perth a little after 8am (roads are very quiet that time of morning) and picked up the most wonderful travel companions in Pippa and Steven. Topping up the car with diesel and myself with caffeine, we continued on. The border with England quickly breached, the journey south was fraught with road works and traffic jams and anything else my southern brethren would attempt to test my patience, but by 3:30pm, 12 hours after my head lifted from the pillow, the car was parked a scant few metres from the #EVE_NT venue of Antenna in Nottingham.
I quickly met Nashh, Niden, and my favourite Dutchman, Jorg, in the foyer at Antenna, exchanging many high fives and man hugs before our illustrious Editor-in-Chief took me to the flat we would be sharing for the weekend to dump my bags and shower. Quickly returning to the event venue, we sat down with the production crew we would be using to discuss all the technicalities of the Saturday’s record as well as dressing the studio. With that tidied up, we made our way to Suede for the official #EVE_NT pre-party.
First of all, let me tell you that the pizza at Suede is a thing of magnificent beauty. Make sure and check that out if you are in Nottingham any point in the near future or, indeed, at #EVE_NT in February. Plenty of attendees had already made their way there already and the party was in full effect. It was fantastic to catch up with many CZ staff and friends including the Brothers Stargazer (Tiberius and General), Tarek, Bob Shaftoes, my boy Asher Kagen, loads of Bastards, many of Camel (that made for some interesting wee conversations), CCPs Guard and Fozzie, and heaps of other folk.
Catching up with many friends I hadn’t seen since Fanfest as well as meeting a stack of new people with food and beer flowing made for a delightful evening. However, having been up since the wee hours of the morning I was sat in the corner of a table and falling asleep by 11pm. Apothne (who I met for the first time too at #EVE_NT. He’s pretty handsome. I’m not sure who is prettier – him or Gorski. I should do a league table or something. Oh, and I have a great picture of him to show later on in this post. Remind me later) was crashing with Niden and I, rather than burning back to Birmingham only to have to return on the Saturday morning, so the three of us dropped fleet to return home where I immediately fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
I was awakened by a ringing phone at 7:45am on Saturday morning. Let me preface this story by informing you, dear reader, of the following timetable:
11:00am – Antenna opens to #EVE_NT attendees
12:00pm – #EVE_NT officially starts
12:30pm – All involved with CZTV to be at studio before recording starts
1:30pm – Recording begins
Now, with that out of the way, back to my phone. It was Jorg. He was making me aware that he was heading to breakfast with Bobmon of EN24 fame who he was staying with during the weekend. I quickly informed him that it was far too early for him to be bothering me with thoughts of breakfast and attempted to go back to sleep. He then texted me a further four times in the next half hour and phoned me too, all before I realised my only option was to turn my phone off. The three of us continued to sleep a further two hours before awakening, showering and heading towards Antenna.
Our apartment was very near the venue, but on the way to it, we passed by some superb breakfast cafes on a glorious sunny morning. Apothne and I forced Niden to experience the joys of a bacon roll with HP Sauce before heading down to see a very long and ponderous queue snaking it’s way around the outside of the venue shortly after 11am. Already having had obtained our passes the day before, we made our way inside and set up camp for the upcoming festivities.
For the average attendee of #EVE_NT, the schedule was packed with gameplay demos, talks, tournaments, beers, raffles, conversations, and music. For myself, it was even more intense, what with trying to squeeze in a CZTV record as well as the poker tournament in the early hours of the afternoon as well as catching up with friends who had only arrived on the Saturday.
The CZTV record went pretty smoothly and the final result was pretty amazing. We had a full and very capable production team who made it easy for us to just sit and shoot the breeze with our many guests, including all five CCP developers in attendance. I helped by hosting every other session, which gave me the opportunity to bounce between the TV studio and one of the rooms upstairs for the poker tournament. I played horrendously but somehow managed to scrape my way into 3rd place and got my 5b ISK buy-in back which given the circumstances was a miracle.
Both the CZTV record and the poker tournament were complete by around 4pm leaving me, theoretically at least, free to enjoy the rest of what #EVE_NT had to offer. I spent some time in the main room having a beer with folks and watching some of the massive 64-man 2v2 PvP tournament that went on most of the day. The format worked perfectly and, along with expert commentary from the likes of Bob Shaftoes, Bei Artjay, and Apothne, was a perfect backdrop to the festivities.
I managed a quick sneak upstairs around this time to play both Valkyrie and Gunjack. This was the first time I got to actually play the Valkyrie scenario we got to watch as a video at Fanfest this year. It continues to blow me away as an experience and I cannot wait until I have that in my own front room. On the other hand, I was slightly underwhelmed by Gunjack. While it looks amazing given that you are effectively playing it on a mobile phone, the gameplay itself was rather slight and shallow. I see it being a lot of fun for a couple of hours and something that will be sweet to show your friends but after that I expect the shine would wear off pretty quickly. I hope I am wrong and my instincts were simply a reaction of the immediate comparison to Valkyrie.
Following this, I headed through to watch CCP Fozzie give a talk on the history of the Alliance Tournament in which he also had some very interesting announcements about future tournaments and the ships being given out as prizes… During his presentation, we got to see some very rare videos including footage of the very first AT final! There was also a classic video from AT4 in which an, as yet AT-invincible, Band of Brothers were sent packing by ten blaster Thoraxes. Glorious scenes.
Heading back downstairs we had a nice wee two hour period where I was able to grab some food, mingle with people, watch the PvP tournament closing stages and take part in the final. It was lovely to just chat to friends both new and long established in a close and welcoming environment. Nash gave a wee closing speech to wrap the official proceedings up as well as confirming that collectively we had raised over £1300 for charity and we settled down for some live music.
Nashh had booked his friends’ band to play – The King and the Horsemen – and they were absolutely superb. I’ll freely admit to not being much of a RAWK fan but when they started belting out Ace of Spades, I was there front and centre in the mosh pit. They had a nice wee eight or nine song playlist written out to get through that took them around 45 minutes. They ended up playing for the best part of two hours as those bouncing down the front wouldn’t let them stop. It got to the point when people from the crowd were getting up on stage and joining in with a bit of Iron Man or whatever else was needed to keep the party going.
Once the band eventually wrapped things up, people mingled around Antenna and just hung out together enjoying one another’s company. A few people had filtered out due to tiredness or having to head home before work on Sunday. Many drinks were had, myself and CCP Guard managed to fix the entirety of all the problems currently facing MMA as a sport, myself and Asher got a lot closer than I think either of us had planned, and Nashh and Ithica from The Bastards regaled me with tales of how they are going to try and make their wee low sec corp relevant and many wrongs were put right. I may have fanboied over such PvP superstars as Garmon and Suitonia. I may also have kissed far too many sweaty neckbeards including the two mentioned in the previous sentence. It was an entirely appropriate end to an incredibly fun and intensive day. Almost…
Keen to keep the party going, Niden and I invited a bunch of attendees back to our apartment for a few drinks. Of course, we forgot the alcohol. Jorg headed to the nearest garage returning from his exploration with two bottles – one of Jack Daniels and another of Coke. Measures were poured for those in attendance who included such luminaries as Suitonia, Ithica, and a very tipsy Gorski Car. I suspect a week of CSM Summiting followed by late flights to the UK and 24 hours of drinking and partying may have left him deep into structure. I claim no responsibility for what happened before the evening was finished…
And with that, everyone made their way back to their respective hotels to decompress after one of the most fun but most intense weekends ever accomplished by a bunch of space geeks. At 9:30am, I was awaken by my alarm and had a quick shower and coffee before hugging Niden goodbye then meeting Pippa and Steven outside Antenna around 10:30am to begin the long drive home. Ten hours later I pulled up home utterly satisfied and with the sense of longing that only occurs after a weekend that was entirely too much fun.
#EVE_NT September 2015 sold out weeks before the actual event. I highly recommend you attend the next one in February, but if you intend on doing so, get your hands on a ticket as soon as they go on sale. Don’t be one of the sixty-plus folk who missed out on one this time round. As an amazingly well run, professional, organised and fun player gathering, #EVE_NT ticks every single box so hopefully I’ll see you there in February!
– Nashh and the rest The Bastards for their superb organisation of #EVE_NT
– Niden for ensuring everything went smoothly from the CZ side
– The rest of the CZ crew (there were eight of us in total!) who travelled from all over the UK and Europe to be in Nottingham
– The production team for CZTV who were professional and tolerant of us wee bunch of geeks all weekend
– Jorg and Jenny for being exemplary honorary members of CZ for the weekend
– Asher Kagen just for being in attendance so I could give him a hug for the first time in two and a half years
– CCP for their support of #EVE_NT and CZTV, especially the five attendees Guard, Fozzie, Curtis, Ruffage and Starbug
– Every single person who grabbed me and said ‘hey’ over the weekend. If I didn’t spend as long talking to you as I would have liked, I can only apologise but time was not on my side
P.S. – You can view all of the photos I took over the weekend here.
Tags: #EVE_NT Collides, esports, eve bet, eve_nt, EVE-sports, Nashh
The good looking, funny, intelligent member of the team, Xander set up Crossing Zebras with Jeg in April 2012 mainly because he was talking too much about Eve on his other podcast. Playing the game for almost five years, Xander still has absolutely zero clue about how to actually play Eve but somehow still manages to talk a good game.