As part of being a Platinum fansite (well gold at the time) one of the admins got invited to goto Runefest as a VIP. I was the lucky one that was chosen (Thank you coin flip!). So heres a write-up on what I got to do.
It started on Thursday 26th, at 14:30 UK time I headed to the station to get the train up to London. Had packed the night before to make sure I was prepared, didnt want to leave anything behind. A two hour train ride later I arrived in London, had to change to another station then I had finally arrived at London Bridge station, just minutes from my Hotel. Of course, this being London the second I get off the train it starts raining. After getting lost on my way, about 30 minutes later I finally arrive at the hotel. I check in and get told by reception that the leader of the group is over in the bar. So I drop my things off in my room then head down into the bar where I see a huge group of people sitting.
There Im greeted by Mod Hohbein and Mod Paul M who introduce me to all the other VIPs. About 25 of us in total, including the three golden ticket winners, admins from a few other fansites, Excl, some popular members of the Runescape community and various high level players including Telmomarques. As all of the others had flown in, most of them had been there for a while already, there were a few that arrived after me but I was one of the last. I was given a bit more information on what was happening over the next few days and an updated itinerary and we just had a couple of drinks while talking amongst ourselves. For dinner that night we were to go to a bar at the Globe Theatre, not a huge selection of food available to us but a burger appeared to be the most popular choice (probably 20 out of the 25 of us had a burger) although I went for the gammon steak to be different. After everyone had eaten, most people decided to head back to the hotel for the evening due to jet lag. This left about 5 of us there, me, Mod Paul M, Gertjaars and a couple of his friends. A *few* drinks later and we all decide to head back to the hotel for the night too as we had a fairly long day on Friday. Although based on the fact that Gertjaars now knows me as Drunk guy probably means I should have left a few drinks earlier...
Woke up early on Friday morning and headed down to have breakfast. Basically had a full English breakfast from the buffet, om nom nom. At 8:30am everyone met in the lobby before waiting for the coach that would take us to Jagex HQ in Cambridge. An hour and a half later we arrived at the Player Support building of Jagex (yes, it exists; either that or they rented a building out, a bunch of computers and hired some actors in for the day). We were put into a meeting room, with a table with various pastries and cakes on it for us to eat while we waited for Andrew and MMG for a Q&A session. A few mods from Player support came down during this time to talk to us and answer some questions while we waited and eventually they turned up.
MMG had a few things to say to us before it opening up to questions. Of course, I was the only one prepared with a huge list of questions to ask and that didnt even include the bunch I had myself. Ill post the answers to the questions (that I can do, due to having to sign a NDA) in the next post. Not a lot of interesting information was revealed in terms of future updates and those that were I cannot discuss. It was just really nice to get to ask questions to these two, both of whom seem like really good guys. Both of them genuinely seemed very interested in the game and passionate about it. They just seemed like normal people, and for that matter so did everyone that worked for Jagex.
After the Q&A we were given a tour of the player support building, it was fairly empty on the Friday as a lot of the team were in London preparing for Runefest and the fact that it was a Bank holiday weekend some people had also taken the Friday off work for a four day weekend. We got shown around each section of player support, being told what each part does and various details and numbers of what they have to deal with. Afterwards we were taken back down to the meeting room where two guys from their RWT/Macroing etc. Section came down to speak to us as we were not allowed to go into their section of the office. They told us some very interesting things, as did all of the sections actually and while I cannot go into any detail all I can say is that what we were told is VERY promising in regards to what theyre doing to combat this. Jagex even have an in-house lawyer to help them with action against the various people that run the sites etc.
After that talk we were treated to a huge selection of sandwiches and had about 30 minutes to kill before heading over to the main office. Outside is MMGs tank which Im sure some of you have already heard about, its awesome. Inside we got split up into two groups to take it in turns of getting shown around the offices. I cannot talk about anything which I saw upstairs, but again like everything else Id seen so far that day I was very impressed. I saw bits of Stellar Dawn and can confirm that it does exist and is being developed in a different section to what Runescape is being developed in and Id say had about 65% of the amount of people working on Runescape. After the other group had been shown around we had a short Q&A with about 6 members of the development team from various section, two from content, one from audio and two from graphics. Again, nothing was revealed here and me with my list got to ask most of the questions once more (and this time got to ask some of my own!).
Once that was done we still had a few hours to kill before dinner in Cambridge, so half of us headed into Cambridge early to have a look around there while the others stayed at the offices and arrived later. Cambridge looks like a fairly awesome city, we didnt have too long to look around but the parts we saw looked nice before heading to a pub near to the place we were to eat and we had a drink there before meeting up with the others at the bar for the meal that evening. An uneventful meal later we got on the coach back to the Hotel where nearly everyone just headed straight to bed in preparation for Runefest on the Saturday.
I woke up fairly late on the Saturday compared to the last two days, meeting in the lobby at 9:30 where Mod Hohbein, Mod Poppy and Mod (insert name here) were there. We headed over to where Runefest was to have breakfast with Paul, Andrew, Ian and MMG. Andrew sat next to me with MMG next to him and just discussed various things with them. MMG then spoke to the whole group before we had a Q&A with the three Gower brothers. Again, I was pretty much the only one asking questions and I focused mainly on the evolution of the game. Its nice getting to ask them questions such as when they realised that the game was actually working in terms of being a game people wanted to play, something which Id likely never get a chance to do again. While probably not interesting to a few people there was interesting to me for various reasons and was really nice to be given the chance.
Once that was done we got a quick tour of Runefest, where I was the first to write on Varrock Wall (And of course I wrote a HYT ;)), we collected our goody bags (same as everyone else got, which Im sure youve seen other people post about) and on top of that we all got a special VIP gift. (Excuse my terrible photo taking skills)
Im not going to talk much about Runefest itself, as really not *too* much to talk about. I saw a few of the insider sessions, spent a few hours talking to various Jagex mods and met up with various people. Was really awesome and would have been well worth going to, had a lot of fun and was very strange to just meet other people who also love the game and getting to meet the people behind it was awesome too.
Thats it for my experience really, Saturday night was meant to do a few things but plans fell through so just had an early night and Sunday morning was just having breakfast before heading off to get the train back home.
I will post the answer to the Q&A after Ive passed it through Jagex to make sure Im not saying anything I shouldnt be, until then I hope this write-up is enough. If you have any questions about it feel free to ask :).