Assignment: CoX Minicon
Where : Omega Sektor, Birmingham
When : Easter Weekend
This is a true and accurate (from what I remember) write up of our adventures over the Easter Bank holiday weekend.
After what seems like a lifetime waiting the time had finally arrived, we checked and double checked that we have tickets/ confirmation emails/ fed the plants and watered the animals.
We set off around midday on the Thursday, this was so we could miss the craziness that is the UK transport system during any Bank holiday period.
Our train journey was a nice and simple one from Newport to Birmingham, a speedy 90 minutes-ish. Arriving around mid-afternoon we hopped in a cab and headed to the Hotel to dump our luggage off.
Now we should have gone for the slightly more expensive but more comfortable choices in Hotels but we decided to grab the first one that we could, what with it being Easter. The rooms were great, well apart from the semi-frosted glass shower door and the toilet that not even and cat could swing a mouse in.
After checking out the room we head into the City, we have a lovely 20 minute walk to the city centre. Now the main danger of visiting Birmingham is that Selfridges (located in the Bullring) has a Krispy Kremes counter and various other items to extract the minutes from your life as you wander aimlessly around the shop.
Friday – Bank Holiday
At around 5 we headed to the Omega Sektor where Me and Rach needed to get our Hero Passes for the weekends events. We both got a handy name tag each and a NCSoft bag containing lots of goodies (more information about that later) and the event map and Schedule. We loitered around in the downstairs area chatting and get mistaken for other people (blame the Mohawk).
When you are motioned into the Bar/lounge area, were given basic instructions and do’s and dont’s for the weekend ahead by Rockjaw, some don’t apply as we aren’t staying at the venue over the weekend.
After that it was time to chill and soak up the atmosphere that was slowing building up. There were many people dressed up as their characters, who made for some serious double-takings at times. The main floor of the Gaming area upstairs was turned in to a battle arena for 2 inflatable Sumo suits.
We sampled a few drinks the bar had to offer and them found a gaming pod in the large upstairs area. Sadly the announcer of the wrestling matches was competing with the music that was being fed through the speaker systems. The result was sometimes ear-piercing and deafening.
In all it could have been a little more Coordinated as there were times when I wasn’t sure what was happening, but all the same it was an electric start to the Minicon.
On arrival at The Omega Sektor we were greeted by Ms. Liberty and Ghost Widow in full costume, although Rach found Ms. Liberty the scariest of the pair.
We were given a task list from Hazel one of the volunteer slavessidekicks chosen to help out the NCSoft staff during the Minicon.
Hitting the ground running we started to complete the tasks which included:
- Having our picture taken with Ms. Liberty and Ghost Widow
- Submitting our characters(Tam/Doll) to be sketched by the folks from Draw the World Together.
- Performing some questionable acts it the name of Justice and Evil
On top of that we browsed the NCSoft store and may have purchased nearly one of every item.
Once all the above was completed nearly three hours had passed without us even looking at a PC, so we decide to nip out and get so food (seeing as we had managed to miss the paid for hotel continental breakfast for a second day in a row.)
At around 3pm I ventured into the VIP lounge and it was at that moment I was actually glad that we had decide to get a Hotel for the weekend as space in that area was somewhat limited and with my snoring capacity I would have likely been lynched on the first night.
The reason for the visit was to hear a presentation from Melissa “War Witch” Bianco, who is a senior developer for the “City of” game at NCSoft, she’s flown in from the US for this event so it was something I really wanted to catch. It was a great and very informative talk that chartered through may topics from the IP purchase and join NCSoft to the redesign of City zones.
Later that evening we took part in a quiz organised by Titan Gaming Radio, it was held in the bar area and although we didn’t get to win the my competition we managed to guess the “Win Beer” question and walked away with some free booze. Result! Go Jammy Dodgers.
There was an additional adhoc quiz arranged by the NCSoft staff which was rather cool. The final event (of sorts) was the waxing of Gangrel for charity.
We took up some PC in the Stalker room, which although looks great, we felt wasn’t that wonderful environment for 2 reasons, firstly it was uber dark and we you turned to look at someone after gaming it wasn’t easy to stop them until your eyes adjusted. The second reason was the massive bass speakers that seemed to rattle your bones, and weren’t to kind to alcohol fuelled empty stomachs.
We heading back to the hotel at about 2:30am and we were utterly shattered.
On Sunday we once again failed to make breakfast (a pattern forms) so after foraging for food in the city centre we heading to the Sektor.
On arrival we picked up our Draw the World together pictures that were utterly amazing and well worth the money considering the time and effort that had gone into them.
We then took to some quality “City of ” adventuring, taking a break to attend another talk by Melissa Bianco about game development.
In search of some nourishment we headed out on the street once more, this is when the encounter with the ‘Nutter’ occurred in a near-by pub. You have to admit that we were quite lucky, considering that we had been in Birmingham 4 days without any major nutter incidents.
So our hunt for some decent food resulted in fleeing from a pub to McDonalds where for some unearthly reason an alarm was continually going off. We returned to the OS and put in a few more hours of gaming before heading back to the hotel.
We got up on time to miss that elusive breakfast yet again (at least we’re consistent).
We headed to the Omega Sektor to see what’s happening, It was creeping slowly towards mid-day when we arrived and people were starting to head home including the NCSoft crew. The Draw the world together area was vacant and the NCSoft store was slowing being packed away.
We meet up with friends and decided to get some proper non-fast food, heading back to the Wildfire restaurant again and we spent a good hour chatting and enjoying non-reheatable nourishment (not in burger form).
We returned to OS and grabbed some PCs on the ground floor and gamed until around 6pm. pretty much exhausted out we decided to return to the hotel and rest up before having to travel home.
In preparation for the journey ahead we dropped into a Tesco Metro (a handy 1 minute walk from the Omega Sektor), so we could load up on snacks.
As it was a bank holiday we were in luck with a crap-load (yes that’s the technical term) of films being show on the Telly. So we chilled for the remainder of the evening watching films, eating junk and enjoying smoking in the last hotel chain in the UK that still allows it (maybe).
After managing (only god knows how) to stuff our belongings to the luggage, it was time to depart our temporary base of the last 5 days and head home. Unsurprisingly we skipped breakfast.
We got to the station on time, boarded the train without bother and relaxed in our seats, know that home was only 90 minutes down the track.
Sadly this dream was shattered as we got to Gloucester only to be told that the train wasn’t going any further due to signal problems. So after a detour via Bristol adding an additional 2 hours to the journey time, we finally got back into Newport.YAY.
That about wraps up this epic post, but while I have a chance, it’s like to thank the following :
- NCSoft team for arranging an event of such magnitude in an excedingly short time-scale.
- Hello to all those people I briefly chatted with over the weekend, I was the one with the Mohawk that wasn’t judgement_dave btw.
- And lastly the Omega Sektor staff added to the whole experience, with many of them dressed up through-out the weekend and their total helpfullness.
Finally a few photos: (click to see the bigger versions)