Hello Again. This is Part 2 of an article detailing the Nosgoth Community Day and the first experience of Nosgoth for the fan-base – Part 1 available here covers the Nosgoth title itself. This article is of a more personal nature detailing the Community Day itself and my experiences.
For some time we've been keeping tabs on Nosgoth here at the wiki and we have had a fair amount of contact with George and the team regarding the game, but it was still a massive surprise to get invited to to an event where we'd get to see Nosgoth in action, and the presence of most of the big Legacy of Kain fan names that I've followed for years was an amazing added bonus. As dates and locations were decided it became amusingly clear that we were heading to Wimbledon – an old stomping-ground of mine that is just down the road and one I've rarely get to see sober or in the daylight. Unlike most of the other attendees, it turned out that I had barely a few miles to cover from my place near Heathrow's runways to Square-Enix Europe HQ in Wimbledon, so while others got hotels and long-haul flights, I would get a free ride on my local train service.
The hosts for the event were Bill Beacham (Design Director - Nosgoth), Trevor Burrows (Live Game Manager - Nosgoth), Joe Best (Producer - Nosgoth), Rob Rutter (Marketing & PR Manager - Nosgoth), George Kelion (Community Manager - Nosgoth), Cat Karskens (Community Manager - SELS) and Jason Walker (Mastering Manager SE Europe) and in attendance were myself (LoK Wiki), Tenaya (Nosgothic Realm), Ardeth Silvereni (Dark Chronicle) and her fiancé Michael, Ben Lincoln (The Lost Worlds), Vampmaster (LoK program-master), Divine Shadow (NeoGAF's LoK detective), Raina Audron (Ancient's Den), Lucinvampire (Lucinvampire's Lair), Umah Bloodomen (moderator of the official forum), The Hylden (moderator of the official forum), Moesph/The Real Moebius (Timestreamer), Omega (the former Legacyofkain.net) and forum members, Jeffers, Ber, Exian and Ammon. Unfortunately I soon found out that my usual cohort Aevum would tragically be unable to make the event due to other commitments, so I immediately knew I was going to have to be on the ball and representing. Soon after everything was confirmed, as I was mentally preparing another interesting somewhat fateful event happened: I'm not sure what people's opinions are of sport generally, but I'm a big supporter of local football and a big fan of my local team Brentford FC; and just as things were coming together this did as well – first round draw of the Paint Trophy (to be played the week of the Community Day) – Brentford FC Vs AFC Wimbledon:- perhaps I won't be able to illustrate the enormity of what that means, but that's my two closest professional teams, the two I hold in highest regard (for complicated reasons everyone loves Wimbledon), a close and friendly relationship between the teams, and of course 'my guys' against 'theirs'; and yet we've never met before competitively – I don't believe in fate, but it felt like someone somewhere was smiling. And as the time crept closer, that match did not disappoint and left me with a spring in my step.
For the last few days, I was left with a different experience... waiting. Though I had a fair idea of where they were heading to I didn't know when everyone was coming in or where they were coming from, so I wistfully observed the planes overhead and wondered. If I'd known they'd met up in the hotel the night before I might have joined them, but as it was for me, I wasn't taking any chances – routes and tickets planned, everything was timed out and I got a very unusual early night and early rise. By 5am I was up and too excited to sleep, so I got up and, daring not to edit anything important, I went on an extended Wiki-Walk as I drank copious amounts of tea, twiddled my thumbs and waited, and by 10:15 I could stand the excitement no longer and set off walking to the station.
As a wary Londoner, I'd spent a lot of time planning my route making sure I'd arrive in plenty of time, wouldn't offend TfL with the tickets and would be able to offer a paper ticket for office purposes (in many ways one of the strangest experiences of the whole day was the novelty of actually using those paper travelcards again, having been on the contact-less Oyster system for the better part of a decade). At the station I was told my planning was irrelevant and I had to buy the more expensive ticket anyway (yeah I'm not sure that's right either, but I wasn't arguing on that day), so I hopped on the train, stuck to my plans and arrived in Wimbledon just after 11:15.
Downing a bottle of iced tea, I set off across the road to Bridge House to discover I was indeed way too early, so with some time on my hands I decided to wander down to the hotel where the other guys were staying. I was pretty sure I remembered where it was, so I set off down the broadway and soon found myself outside, but after 10 minutes standing outside and not recognising any faces I began to let my doubts get the better of me - how many of them would I actually recognise and how many would recognise me? So I decided to head back to the building and returned to find a couple of interesting faces sitting on the steps outside the building who I thought might be other fans, but NDA and all we exchanged hopeful glances but said nothing. As we waited guys began to file passed with boxes of snacks and drinks but it wasn't until one guy came down wearing a shirt with a familiar symbol that the ice finally broke and I discovered that the waiting fans were Ammon and Lucin, and we were invited in.
As we signed in and collected name badges we chatted and more familiar names and faces began to turn up, Ber, Ardeth Silverini and then a procession of guys from the hotel arrived . Everyone signed in we proceeded in a long line into going up around a bright central atrium to the Square Enix Europe offices. I chatted to some of the other fans as we waited for George and I signed a thank-you card which was presented to George when he arrived. We moved into a hallway with some life sized Lara Croft figures and into our room for the day, which contained a table with 8 computers, at the end of the room were two large posters bearing six figures and some background details along with the Nosgoth logo and there were also two wide screen televisions with a display showing a page with the six figures again (the website design).
As everyone arrived and got settled in we were left to meet and greet and I tried to get around to everyone. It was a strange experience with so many big names that I've seen doing so many amazing things from years ago to the present day present in the same room, finally I could put names to faces and voices and having so many impressed with our work was quite overwhelming. Of course it wasn't long before the LoK hats came out and we started to analyse what we were seeing in the posters – six characters but what were they? What did we like and dislike? (Interestingly a lot of the same things that subsequently became big on forums after Nosgoth’s formal announcement)
Soon we settled down to a presentation on Nosgoth. First we were shown the trailer video and shortly after George began to illustrate to us the rest of the information surrounding Nosgoth. I found this particular section to be very enlightening and something of a hilarious succession of personal revelations – prior to this I had several guarded but disparate scraps of information and the presentation was the first point I was able to put it all together, join the dots and finally arrange everything into a coherent whole. Among the items we were shown here was several pages of meticulous lore and history and a map (later confirmed to be the Nosgoth’s official map) which contained a lot of the major locations used in the series, but I could not be 100% sure which ones would be present, besides the three playable locations described (Freeport,Valeholm and Provance) however, one did stand out – the placement of Valeholm just north of the South(“ern”) Lake.
After the presentation we moved to the computers where a series of match fixtures had been prepared and as how now been revealed to be the standard format we got one round playing as Vampires before being swapped to Humans and the aggregate scores noted. The first round matches were all played in the Freeport map and I was drawn along with Raina against Ber and Moeseph, but it was a little while before we got to play so I got to watch to see how the game worked a bit before we played ourselves. When it was time, we sat down and were set for the match and each paired with a developer for our matches to help us get the hang of what we were doing. I have to admit that like some of the others, I perhaps did not pay enough attention to the music – I immediately sat down and put on the headphones, noting that the music played on the menus seemed appropriate, but during the game it felt a little weird to be wearing full headsets when the guys you were talking to were on the same table, so I ended up taking them off and thus not paying attention to the in-game music.
The game itself was incredible fun as we each were trying to get the hang of the systems and explore the level as well as facing the gameplay challenges. To start with Freeport itself gave me a lot to think of in terms of location articles – I’ve been working on the Soul Reaver 2 locations for the better part of a year and I was struck at just how stunningly detailed and beautiful the Freeport environs were, I could spend weeks picking out the interesting and appropriate things from that area and frequently found myself being killed because I was so interested in staring at all the little things in the background that amazed and intrigued me (“is that the Freeport Lighthouse? Are those big faces in the cliff taking inspiration from SR2 forge style? Are those crows? And have they used exactly the same ‘bird at a distance’ texture as was seen in SR2, BO2 and Defiance?”);as an old fan of the canon and meticulous detail in the series, I found a lot of nods and things to enjoy just hidden in the environment.
The gameplay itself, also played a lot to my strengths – I'm eldest of three so I have a wide range of experience in a number of multiplayer genres for most of my life and with Nosgoth crossing so many genre lines, it was interestingly FPS that was the genre that rang loudest and truest in my head regarding Nosgoth (with the interesting genre issues around Nosgoth I'd advise particular caution around terms like 'MMO' or 'MOBA' as they’re quite misleading and really don't represent the gameplay very well. Instead 'PvP', 'deathmatch' or simply 'online multiplayer' are much better terms for the gameplay found in Nosgoth).
I found the whole concept of the teams and different characters very appealing because they really did change the game and the way they approached it completely. I first found myself sinking my teeth into the all-round Dumahim, who I found very satisfying and easy to use and loved their special moves, then I moved to Turelim and found that I perhaps had even more fun with the big brutes and again loved the abilities, especially the roar and charge move had me very happily flattening people; on the other hand, the Razielim vampires I found a very different proposition and did not really have the time to get the hang of it while I was there, though one that was undoubtedly something be picked up with a bit of practice and it did look the most rewarding and fun when it was pulled off properly. Similarly I found the humans an unexpected success; I immediately saw the Ironguard as my favourite and found myself right at home with the rapid fire weaponry, but the other classes surprised me a little - I expected to get the hang of the ‘grenade launching’ Alchemists and master some of their pyro-techniques, but I didn’t manage to pick up the aiming as soon as I’d hoped, instead I unusually found the sniping set-up the Watchers more easily accessible (which is strange because I tend to become more accustomed to the aiming of a pyro/grenade class over snipers) and more enjoyable for dealing with the vamps at long range.
As we continued to play we began to develop our own little strategies and teamwork, but tragically I found that I was often caught off-guard and couldn't manage to finish my kills and my bottom was often handed to me on a plate, but even that was enormous fun. A little later we moved onto the next round matches and those who came in the top players got to play again on the Valeholm map, which itself which seems to be a bit different from Freeport in terms of layout and appearance, but just as enjoyable a play-area. Unfortunately by this point I had been thoroughly eliminated and so had to resort to committing Valeholm to memory and back-seat driving. After that match the winners were gifted some pretty amazing BBI Kain figures for their victory.
Afterwards there was a final Q&A session with the developers, where we got to ask questions about Nosgoth. I must confess that when put on the spot my mind went a little blank and instead I tried to listen carefully to answers given to the others. Interestingly a lot of the areas, that people have since taken issue with in public forums were first addressed here and we were given some hints as to what they planned for the future. A lot was not allowed to be formally disclosed at the time, but lets say that George and co have a harder time keeping a secret in real life so a lot of the common concerns that arose were allayed there with hints of planned fixes in the near future and they seemed to have anticipated most of these ahead of time and be working on them. One thing that did come across loud and clear though was their rather infectious enthusiasm and keenness on the project – indeed they are obviously fans that know their stuff (dare I say better than most of those complaining about it) and want to do the right thing for the series. I was (and still remain) very impressed by the respect shown to the franchise and the myriad of ways they've gone to research it, keep it right and keep it in high regard despite the obvious genre change.
As we completed the Q&A we got some final goodies – several “Nosgoth" branded merchandise souvenirs of the day, including a bag, two mouse mats, and a double-sided poster. As the day came to a close we milled around and there was a few swapping contact information and a few other special LoK stuff, with a few fans bringing their own special gifts to hand out or show and tell- something which made me wish I'd thought to organise some bits prior to the day. We talked with the developers a bit more before people who had to catch trains and the like started to drift away and the rest of a hung around taking pictures and things for a short while before we headed off (developers and fans) to the local pub just across the street.
It was with no shortage of good humour that I noted the AFC Wimbledon decoration in the pub (and warded it off with my Brentford keyring lol), before we grabbed some seats, pulled a bunch of tables together and sat down, discussing LoK and real-life issues big and small for a few hours until the pub closed. As we chatted I found myself particularly bonding with Umah and Raina and maybe accidentally encouraging Raina on sugary alcoholic beverages. At closing time we moved out and headed back down the street to the hotel, with Wimbledon appearing a lot more familiar now it was dark and there was a little booze in the system, plus a bonus stop at KFC - it was like turning the clock back. We sat in the lobby of the hotel for several hours more, discussing everything LoK under the sun and having a great time doing it and even had a little tour-de-force of rooms and works-in-progress, including some eye-catching work from Raina on Soul Revenant. Tragically as time moved on, I had to confront my travel plans again and realised that with no topped-up Oyster card I would have to get home on the usual travelcard and that meant that I had to get home before 4:30am, and having had the experience of long night bus journeys back from Wimbledon before, I had no desire to be sprinting across Kingston bridge at 4am, so as it passed 2:30, I said my goodbyes and headed off, absolutely gutted that despite many new friends who would be passing directly through my neighbourhood on the to their respective ways home, I could not accompany them or see them off...I still missed the bus at Kingston but I was home within plenty of time to the extent of wishing I'd stayed another hour or so longer, but glad of not having to cut it so fine as I have on other night bus journeys in the past.
Overall I found the Nosgoth Community Day to be an amazing experience. I met so many fantastic people, many of whom I have long admired their work, only to find that many of them had long admired mine; we met the figures who hold the future of the franchise in their hands and got to know them and, how seriously they take it and just how into it they really are; and we got to pre-emptively get our hands on the return of our beloved franchise (the first of many hopefully) and found that despite any misgiving to do with genre or style, it really was an appropriate, fun and greatly enjoyable game. After years in the lurch to know the fan-base that has kept the hope going for a decade is still alive and well and going from strength to strength, there are new enthusiastic, well researched and diligent developers eager to show their stuff ,and there is a finally a game coming, which though a little different from what people might have expected, is so much of a great and pleasant surprise that I think many people will find themselves appreciating it in spite of their initial reactions. Needless to say it was a fantastic and memorable day and something that I hope we can build on for the collective future of LoK. A big thanks once again to George and the team at Psyonix and Square Enix Europe and much love to everyone who was there.
Additional: Following on from Nosgoth's release and Divine shadow's similar post, I think it may also be worth highlighting a small disclaimer here as well. My travel expenses (a couple of local buses/trains) were all I got paid for during the day and aside from the aforementioned fan-pass around stuff and small goodie bag there were no deals being done. At no point was anyone paid or encouraged to write reviews nor was it intimated in any way that they we should remain positive about it and Square-Enix definitely has not edited or covered up any of our posts or opinions. No-one who went was involved in the PR industry in any way, all any of us are is long-time well-known legendarily hard-working and well researched LoK fans, who have dedicated many years between us to keeping the hope alive. LoK is our lives. If it really was bad, then we would have said something already.
- For a different opinion try these other LoK fan Nosgoth community day blogs:
- 'Square Enix London– Nosgoth Community Day 2013' at The Ancient's Den (by Raina Audron)
- 'Game: Nosgoth (PC) (Pre-release review)' at Lucinvampire's Lair (by Lucinvampire)
- 'Nosgoth Community Day' at The Lost Worlds (be Ben Lincoln)
- 'My visit to Square Enix London (Legacy of Kain related)' at NeoGAF (by Mama Robotnik/Divine Shadow)
- 'Umah Visits Square Enix Europe' at As the Chronoplast Turns (by Umah Bloodomen)
And of course the official stuff:
Apologies for the delay on part 2 but quite aside from the amazing developments and revelations of Nosgoth that need to be posted and articles that need to be updated and edited, it has been a very busy time in real life. With our secret projects (see illustration) on top of this, this has made for a few hold-ups, but I can only advise people to “mind the gap”, normal service at the site will be resumed shortly.