Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you my time at XL:
This was all one very, very long day, but it was well worth it. I didn’t sleep Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday night and set off to XL early on Friday morning feeling kind of tired. I arrived at the NEC at around 1.30pm and thought where are we? I remembered the name of the suite (Toute), but there were no signs pointing at it, the main information things only had the bigger halls listed. Turn out after looking around for a few minutes that there was a huge sign with the XL logo right in front of me. From there on it was easy to find the way.
I get to the Toute suite at about 2 pm and I vaguely remember someone telling me beforehand that all the TV’s and Xboxes are meant to be there by 12. Well, the suite was empty apart from one person I didn’t recognise. Turns out it was Dave (Duke) who looked completely different to what I imagined, but then again I didn’t really imagine anything. After waiting around for a while the lorry arrived and with it most other staff. I do remember seeing pictures of most staff before, so it wasn’t that different as everyone pretty much looked like they did on the pictures. I didn’t imagine Kon to have that long hair though. :P
So, moving all the stuff into the NEC, setting stuff up and so on and on. By the evening most staff arrived, including Jay (who was recognised by everyone instantly). It was quite a lot of work and a lot of rearranging, especially in the small rooms. The 360 pods took a while to be set up, but looked very impressive with the lights turned off. At about 10pm the AV guy turns up with his rather bored looking girlfriend. He was messing about for a long while to get them all set up and what not until he was finally finished at around 1.30am I believe. At least the screens worked and afetr a while we found a workaround to the not allow the other team to see the big screen.
We finally leave the NEC at around 3am and realise that we are 12 people to 2 cars. So the decision is made to take a cab to Chris’ house. That was followed by one of the best phone conversations between Ryan and the cab driver. “Excuse me, are you speaking English”, “Yes, I’m Tugsy. Oh you meant did I order a Taxi?” and “I don’t know how to get there” – “Maybe following the signs, like that one right in front of you is a start”. The cab driver also demanded more money and after arguing with him for a long time we just gave up and handed him the money.
Once we get into Chris house we realise that there isn’t really much point in sleeping, as we have to head to the NEC at around 6 am anyway, so we all pretty much just hang around for a while, drink some coffee and discuss the day ahead. The first group of people set off in Chris and Mazzys car which left Harris and Matt at Chris’ place. We had some very random conversations and generally tried to stay awake. Mazzy finally returned and we set back off to the NEC just to realise we couldn’t get back in to the side entrance. Great, as that meant parking miles away in the north carpark and we had to get all the way accross to the Suite.
After we finally arrived there the Event had already started as it was 9.30 and the room was full of people. It was a very manic day of which I spent a lot on the front desk either sorting out the FFA registration of the 2v2. we made the big mistake of allowing more teams for the 2v2 competition which screwed our time plan up completely.
The day was finally over at around 11 and we set off to Chris’ house. Well that was the plan. The car broke and it meant that Matt, Backflip and I had to get another Taxi. Just how many Taxis did we take that weekend? with some help from the friendly guard at the gate we had a Taxi in no time and ended up at Chris house at around 2.30am I believe. And I am very impressed that I remembered the way. :D
So we finally had some sleep. Mazzy, Poke (whatever was Poke’s real name?), Steve, Backflip, Dave, Jay, Matt and myself stayed in the livingroom/dining room downstairs and all I can remember is that Steve had a random laughing fit that lasted forever and either Backflip or Matt snoring extremely loud.
The next morning several alarms rang over the space of 30 minutes and you could hear some random “Fuck off” from all corners of the room. At 5.30 I finally got up and had a shower, just to go back downsatirs to find Razgriz at the door and everyone else still pretty much asleep. We set off back to the NEC, again people in a Taxi, but can I remember who? Nope….
Sunday was a very different day to saturday. The atmosphere felt a lot more competitive which was a good thing. Day was busy and lasted all the way up until the finals finished at around 2pm. Since about 12am some of us strted tidying up the siderooms and I remember some of the most random conversations, including changing the finals to swords on Waterworks or determining the winner by having the team explain in 100 words or less why they should win. Twas fairly random. At this point Jay had lost it completely and used the work ‘fuck’ every other word. We also tried working out the riddle of the lost money, but I can’t remember the riddle or the solution.
Had the chance to talk to quite a few people throughout the day, including Nick from Allthings360.net and Ben ‘Monobrow’ Talbot from the Official Xbox Magazine. It was great talking to him and we realised there were quite a few games we both liked.
Security turned up at around 1am and we only had a bit more time to get the finals done. Thank god they didn’t tie. The finals were very good, but in no way comparable to the earlier game between TCS and TSG that was so well played and enjoyable. I can’t remember actually watching many games. The portugese team (TCS) definitely made most noise with their games and were quite nice to watch.
3 am, everyone is finally gone and we play some staff Halo2 games. The redshirts vs the black shirts and I do remember both teams winning one game. We then played a random FFA with Tugsy winning and I nearly fell asleep during that one. So, the mess in the Toute Suite had to be cleared away by the next day and going to Chris house with the lack of cars wasn’t an option. Jay and I crash out in the sideroom and I was a much happier person after sleeping a couple of hours.
Tidying up can only be described as slow, tedius, annoying, but it had to be done. The overpriced coffee from the “New Zealand Natural Ice Cream” place tasted like Heaven and did the trick. Chris returned with the lorry and we loaded it up and that was that. Jay and Matt headed off to the train station, Mazzy and Poke set off home and Chris, Ryan and Dave dropped me off in Birmingham towncentre, miles away from where I had to get to.
I finally ended up getting home at around midnight, as some of my trains were delayed, but sleeping on the bus felt like Heaven and the long hot shower I had when getting back to the house was amazing.
Random thoughts of XL:
- They need chairs next to the ashtray at the NEC.
- Nametags for staff and attendees.
- No more subways for a very long time.
- Quite a few parents around and it was interesting talking to them.
- Not enough time to talk to anyone really.
- Most people aren’t like I expected.
- Everyone seemed crazier than I imagined.
- Neyo is like I imagined him.
- Some of the people have some serious problems with their handwriting.
- Need a coffeemachine.
- Too much driving around.
- Too many Taxis
- How many times can Jay say the word ‘Fuck’?
- Been amazing meeting everyone.
- It’s been great.
- Phoebe missed me and still follows me round the house.
- Just how did I survive all that time with less than 8 hours sleep?
Can’t wait for the next one. See you all in February. :D
Update: This was also featured in an issue of Ignition. Check it out!