Original date of blog: July 10th, 2016
The next day, I woke up early. Nerves, excitement, they’re both things that are not good for sleep. It had been a few years since I went to my last big meeting with people I met online and this was something else altogether. This was official, not just meeting people I played with, but more so meeting people I sort of work with/for. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and how formal or informal things would be. Aside from that, the only one I would have with me that day was Sk8xtrm, and you never know if the click you have with people online is even remotely like the one you’ll have when you meet face to face. So yes, I was nervous as heck.
I put on my clan t-shirt, with the Phoenix logo nice and big on both sides of the shirt, and my name on the back too. Because to me, I’m representing my clan when I go to something like this. Without Phoenix, I would have quit the game long ago, and wouldn’t have become a CC in the first place. What I do in the community is, for me, also a way to try and pay them back for that. So, wearing our logo proudly was the way to go for me (and the nails. Don’t forget the nails).
So, after getting ready, and putting all my bribes into bags so I could carry them, I left my hotel and took the train to Wool. I had screenshotted the route I had to walk from the station to the museum, it’d be about half an hour to 45 mins. Along the way, I spotted some people walking in the same direction, and realised they must be cc’s too. They were speaking in an East European language though, so I absolutely no clue who they were. Not that I would have known much more if they had spoken English, to be honest. I’ve never paid much attention to the PC version, or any other game by Wargaming, nor its contributors. What I’ve picked up is really just what other people have told me or forced me to watch on youtube over time.
Along the walk, I started seeing signs. First for the general direction of the tank museum (there’s also a monkey world near it, apparently, which would make some Blitzers I know feel right at home too), then for parking spaces, VIP signs, and I knew I had to be getting close. Which wasn’t a bad thing, because my 4.5kg bribes weren’t the lightest thing to carry along. And then I reached the driveway to the actual museum. I felt all giddy inside, especially when I saw a nice big tank standing there to welcome everyone, beautiful with the sun shining as it was.
I walked the long way around, but found the entrance to the museum when a bunch of wargaming Staff-people came out, partly pushing something on wheels, partly sitting on it and getting pushed, making jokes and laughing. Cynd3r found me then (having a t-shirt with my ign on it does help with that), and took the bribes for the staff off my hands. By then, more people started to arrive, amongst them Sk8. He walked right up to me, didn’t go for a handshake or something, and went straight for a hy-hug, which was such a sweet gesture imo. And that did wonders to bring down my nervousness and just make me feel relaxed.
He brought along MrsSk8, minisk8-in-belly, and two Requiems. Lovely people – and I was very happy to meet the first other female player I met in the game, and gave her and Sk8 a bribe too. They left fairly quickly though, except for Sk8, as this was, after all, not Tankfest yet, but Contributor Day. More staff and cc’s arrived (officially met Ph3lan), amongst them the most famous – Jingles and Quickybaby. I’ve seen about one video of either, and didn’t actually recognise them, but Sk8 did, and pointed them out to me.
We were gathered up and taken inside, where we had a little welcoming talk, before moving to the other side of the museum again, to a hall for a feedback talk. Now, the most impressive thing about that was being in the same room as the Tog. I realise that sounds very negative, but the space was very large and high, and echoed all over, so when you’re divided into language groups, and you’re in the English one, it means you’re at two tables shoved together with about 20 other people. This meant that when someone on the other side of your table said something, it was very hard to understand. Aside from that, the feedback talk wasn’t for any one platform, it was for all platforms of the game and all wg games at once. So it became very clear very quickly that that really wouldn’t work for the feedback I had gathered, so I agreed with the staff that I’d just write it out and pm it instead. But I did learn during that talk that the first staff member I ever met was leaving WG. That was a bit of a shock, but I do wish Ectar all the best in his new job and new direction and new country.
After that, we were taken back to the other room again for a presentation by Google. That was actually very interesting, and gave pointers on how to make and promote your videos and get them out there. So upcoming videos will follow a new format with me (the ones so far were already uploaded, just needed releasing), and hopefully be better. After that, it was time for lunch, and I shared a table with Cynd3r, Ph3lan and Sk8. And it was just lovely getting to know them better. Despite having been in contact for some months by then, meeting someone face to face, seeing their expressions and hearing their voices – it changes things, makes things more real.
Bellies stuffed, we moved back to the original room we had been in and had a meeting with Wargaming’s customer relations manager person. This was where my interest was really peaked. He wanted input on how to make the games accessible to new players, how to teach them, and how to deal with existing issues. For this, I spoke up about an initiative Acrisis is leading – he hosts a discod server that basically gathers feedback on anything and everything, and reports to WG at a weekly basis. It’s amazing, and I pointed that out to the manager person too. He seemed interested, so I’m hoping something will come out of that. Aside from that, people talked about better tutorials, and links in game to guides and such, to better explain to newbies what they should do. Considering the amount of noobs we all meet in game nowadays, I really hope it works and something is actually done with those ideas.
After that, it was time for a tour through the museum. This is where Sk8 and I more or less went a bit of our own way for a while. You see, Sk8 knows the museum, knows the tanks, knows their histories. So it was very much like having a private guide, and that was just utterly lovely. He’d point out tanks he knows I love, and tell me about them, lots of details and facts of which I’m quite sure I can’t remember much, but that’s mostly because my memory is really bad. But what I liked about our little tour through the museum most was the sheer enthusiasm that bled from him as he talked tanks. You could tell that he really liked knowing what he was telling me, and liked sharing it. Me, I noticed things like that bucket hanging at the rear bottom end of the tank.
Eventually, we hooked back up with the main group, and listened a bit to what was being told there. The guide with the main group was actually the director of the museum himself, and just like with Sk8, you could see that he loved his job, and loved sharing little facts and the tanks they have in the museum there. He also told us he’d be flown in with a helicopter the following day and that about scared him half to death, and that there was always an explosion with his speech, but that the explosion came a little closer and closer each and every year. He only really discussed a few tanks in the end, and that kind of goes to show how much there is to tell about these specific tanks in the museum – try and imagine just how much there’d be to tell if you had to talk about -all- the tanks there.
The mini-tour through one hall of the museum was followed by another sort of meeting, which was named Q&A with Wargaming Community Team. I had been looking forwards to that, since Sk8 and I had been asked to each give 5 questions they could give answers to then. At the time, I basically just asked my clan what they wanted to ask, because I knew they would think of very different things than I would. In the end, I ended up with 13 questions and I submitted them all, all Blitz specific. Numbers of questions answered that day? Zero.
The guy that did this (I forgot his name) started by saying there were two things he wanted to address first. The first one was mods. This led to quite an interesting talk about mods (even though we don’t have them in Blitz), and I actually learned that though some mods are more or less condoned by WG, basically they’re all illegal, including the xvm one that tells you the winrates of your team and the enemy team, as it gives you an unfair advantage. Apparently WG is looking into how to deal with mods, and how to find a way that people can submit mods and those can become an actual part of the game itself. That would be very nifty, but it sounded like it was still a long way off – and if it’s already a long way off on pc, we can rest assured that it’s unlikely to arrive in Blitz for years…We never got to the second point he wanted to address first, so that kind of goes to show how long this discussion lasted.
By then, the tankmuseum was already officially closed and we were kindly asked to remove ourselves. Before then though, we got wristbands – they’d function as our tickets during the weekend – and were told we’d be getting press-cards so we could get to areas other people wouldn’t be able to go, like an area behind the arena, where the tanks would drive by that much closer (yay!). And we gathered for one big group-picture with all of the contributors.
Leaving the museum itself, we went to the conservation area, where Wargaming had set up its booths. The conservation area has tanks. Lots and lots of tanks. They’re all tanks that are broken down one way or the other, and will need a lot of love and care before they can drive, or go on display.
We were allowed to roam through them, which led to another lovely private tour by Sk8, and me actually recognizing some of the tanks because they’re in game (I say recognize, but with that, I really mean that Sk8 told me what they were and I was like “ah yeah! Now I see it!” ). Then we hooked up with Jingles and a few others as they walked around there too, and it was like Sk8 got into a candystore, hearing Jingles talk about tanks. It was really fun to witness. And I am amazed at how much people actually know about these iron giants. There’s apparently a tank that’s named Something, but when there’s a space at the rear end of the tracks instead of the front, it’s Something Else <– that shows exactly how much I understand about tank-facts, lmao.
It wasn’t very long before we were gathered up, given a goodiebag and taken outside again to horse riding school, where a tent was set up (with a cammonet (or Camaunet, as Phoenix calls it – and me) to make it tankfest worthy). There, we had a little barbeque. And that was nice, it allowed us to just talk about random stuff and get to know each other a little better. Sk8 and I shared our tiny table with Quickybaby and his significant other. The food was utterly delicious (bbq’s make for happy carnivores), and it was nice to be reminded that the celebrities of Wargaming are really just people too. We ended up having quite a talk about the Brexit, together with Ectar, while a few people tried to watch Kelly’s Heroes at the front of the tent – don’t think much watching got done though (sorry!).
By the time it was time for me to head back towards the station, Sk8 didn’t really want me to do that, with things slowly getting darker and all, and offered me a ride despite the fact that he’d be getting picked up by MrsSk8 and his two clanmates again.That was just really sweet, and I was grateful, as it did save me a 35-45mins walk. We managed to fit in the car though, and I was dropped off at the station. And as I crossed the little bridge over the tracks to get to my platform, this was the view that greeted me.
A perfect end to a very busy, but lovely and exciting day, and with things having gone so well with meeting Sk8 and us just getting along so well, I was even more excited about the next two days to come.
Steps taken that day: 12,362