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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Paris: Part Un

Two days ago I returned from La France, after spending a whopping seven days completely indulgent in cheese and wine and espresso.

I thought I would round up my experience there, both from a work and tourism perspective, so that should you ever decide to work on a major MMO and then go on a European press tour that you would be a little more prepared than I was.


We arrived at the posh Hotel du Louvre at 5:30AM on Monday, and as the name suggests, it was literally adjacent to the Louvre museum. Since we couldn't actually check in until 3PM (egads!), we decided to grab something to eat and then roam around Paris, where I began my first phase of eating too many crepes and taking way too many pictures of the city streets.

Lesson Learned #1: American butts are bigger than European butts. Six of us, attempting to sit at a sidewalk cafe, fit on approximately ten chairs.

After we got our hotel rooms sorted, we went for another walk through the rainy streets (it rained 2/3 of the time that I was there). This time we ended up at a small crepe stand next to St. Germain that Warhammer Online Senior Producer Jeff Hickman and his wife were quite fond of the last time they came to Paris. I was sensing a pattern.

That night we went to a Parisian restaurant where I ate scallops and salmon wrapped in some kind of potato pancake, and though I'm not a scallop person, they were the most delicious things I had ever eaten. It was also my first experience with Muscat, a French sweet dessert wine, and it was incredible.


On Tuesday we began the day by walking around and eating more crepes. We spent some time going in and around the Notre Dame cathedral (during Mass, no less!)

We also went all around the river Seine, and ate inside another sidewalk cafe, where we had our fourth meal in two days that consisted primarily of ham, cheese, and bread.

Lesson Learned #2: Learn your conversions! One Euro != One Dollar; 2000 ml = Hell of a lot of beer.

Later that day we head over to the space where Wednesday's Warhammer presentation was going to be to do a dry runthrough. Of special note: We were escorted to the location in the awesome bus with a poker table in the back. The place where we were presenting was a converted ex-Egyptian museum with all kinds of crazy statues everywhere. It was up a lot of stairs. They had purchased amazing life-size statues and huge posters that smelled like turpentine. Nothing worked the day before (at the risk of spoiling the story, everything worked fine the following day).

We rounded out the evening with more cheese, more wine, and more total abuse of the dollar to Euro conversion.


Wednesday was the big day. We got up bright and early and headed over to the Egyptian museum to begin an eight hour long Tour de Warhammer with over 100 European press. In the morning Jeff and Josh gave a presentation overview of the whole game with videos and jokes and references to Normandy.

In the afternoon there were four panels, which we rotated around to four press groups (so we had to give them four times in all). My panel was, of course, on the Tome of Knowledge.

I'm not sure if I can convey the difficulty of trying to talk about what you do to the attentive press. Sure they want you to make a good game, and they want to enjoy playing it. But there's a layer, and I know this being former press myself, of cynicism. Of "What are you doing that WoW isn't?" Of "Why do you keep delaying?" Of them now knowing which bits you're working on, which bits you aren't. What you intend to improve, or why you can't. And so getting up there and really needing to convince them, and not only spit out marketing one liners, but to be truly honest, without saying anything scandalous... well that can all be rather hard.

I go through this period after every press event (and I've been to quite a few) of obsessing over the coverage. This one has been a little more difficult because a lot of the sites aren't in English, but still I read every word, hoping and praying that what I feel about the game that I'm making came across.

And just in case, we took all the press out on a river cruise that evening along the Seine and got them wasted.

Lesson #3: Hungry boys, American or European, do not like finger food.


Joshiepoo said...

I think i'm starting to get tired of the "what does your game do that WoW doesn't" question from the press. Last time I checked games are about having fun. Fun is what keeps gamers playing (and spending money if your an MMO) your game. As a journalism student I get the feeling that the gaming enthusiast press has forgotten that.

P.S. More France pictures please.

Joshiepoo said...

Oh, wait.

P.S. Plus de Photos de France s'il vous plaƮt.

Milkman519 said...

Great to see you had a good time. I'm really looking forward to Warhammer.