Friday – the day arrived when it was time for the crew to set up. The Glasgow Funbus containing Psykokow and the tech monkey Simoof left at silly o’clock for the south. Down on the South coast, one car was being loaded with zombies and another with gaming rigs. Elsewhere, commanders were boarding planes, packing their games and readying their very best geeky t-shirts. We received a call from a courier – he had FIFTEEN Noblechairs to deliver for us (thanks Noblechairs!). We mustn’t forget Alvin. He boarded his chariot and asked the driver Snos to go get other people so he could have more minions to boss around.
We arrived at the venue sometime around lunch, met the manager (top chap), the lady from food & bar (crazy lady) and checked that we DID indeed have an Internet. A whole one. Not just a damp piece of string, but a honest to Alvin high speed wired Internet. What’s more, we had a 3 phase power supply we could step down to something usable and power the whole thing.
Afternoon, more and more of the volunteer setup crew arrived, from Jim B and his magic box of networking gear through to the Funbus and the audio and Fletch with the power gubbins. Bill arrived with the rest of the Artemis gear and much beavering away was done.
Quick break for dinner. Buffet all round? yes? What’s that? Commander Wotherspoon only had the soup? The lady in charge of service pretended she hadn’t seen him…. Nope, no Wotherspoons here.
Then – finish rigging and some heavy gaming in the bar until…. 2ish.
The Day Itself
The crew were down for breakfast 7.30 sharp (ok, apart from Fletch) to finish rigging everything, from 8 people started arriving with their own gear. The Retro area took shape – 10 computers ranging from the late 70’s through to the 90’s. Names such as BBC Micro, Spectrum, Amiga, TomyTronic, Grandstand plus classic arcades. The multiplayer Gang Beasts screen was prepped and ready and then onward round the room past the PC’s (four more VR rigs, one indie demo game, a full SpecialEffect setup, the stage, the console corner with Team HOTBOX and their PS4 buddies, the ENORMOUS raffle table, Russ Pitcher and his Epic Etcher, Blastard with a Full Motion VR Rig, a Water Cooled shiny glowing beast of a computer from Dobbo and a pair of full VR rigs that you could walk around in.
Phew. Oh, and then there were 10 tables of board games. Plus another Indie Developer.
We opened, people rocked up and we did the obligatory fire notice “if you see the crew running screaming that way” <points at door> “best bet is to follow us”.
Then – we got down to some heavy socialising.
Before we knew it – LUNCH! 121 hungry gamers queued up patiently. A few were sent to the back for attempting to blag seconds before everyone had had their firsts. ATR response was stern with them.
This year we changed the format of the Quiz. Thanks to the efficiency of the UK Customs operation, we’d received the buzzers for the quiz only SECONDS before we opened the event. Unfortunately, Commander Wotherspoon’s voice had left the building, so we recruited stunt voices to read the news, so he didn’t have to. First up was Jon from Spidermind Games (a.k.a. the dude from ED:RPG) who did a sterling turn as quizmaster for the contestants from Slough Remand Centre College and Frontier College Cambridge (no connection to Frontier Developments but it did have Paige as team captain).
Quick break for…. more Artemis then round 2, this time compered by the incomparable Baz from SpecialEffect (Ali loaned him to us). Team HOTBOX took the crown on this one from a motley crew of allcomers from the audience.
More games. Round 3 of Quiz, the final! Soundly won by Slough College of Blowing things Up, captained by Kate Russell. Hosted this time by celebrity guest star “The Galactic Intern” – also known as “Ed Lewis”.
60 minutes until dinner
1 Steph Wyeth (the voice of the raffle for years)
15 seconds a prize
We managed – goodies were handed out to the audience (and a small trolley of them for one commander who threw silly amounts of money at charity) with 60 seconds to spare before service
Onward to pie, fish’n’chips (and for our vegetarians, some delicious Gnocci), Hutton Orbital LIVE! then our house band, the rather piratical Boarding Crew, joined by CMDR Splendour on bashy box bass – with a set including “Station’s on Fire”
We “officially” closed at midnight, stripped half the room ready for a small conference coming in the morning then got down to some seriously heavy gaming. Plus some Alien Isolation (Kate screamed quite loudly when she was eaten by a Xenomorph). Last man standing went to bed at around 5am much to the relief of the bar staff. There was pink gin by this point, probably because everything else had gone.
All in all – our thanks to everyone – and to sign off, I’m going to quote one e-mail we received:
Still recovering from THE amazingest weekend – The first (and still the best) convention of the year!
The most wonderful thing about ECM (Elite Community Meet) is the middle word – It is backed, organised(ish) and run by the Elite COMMUNITY.
Imagine some loonie (not me for once) posting a message that says to everyone on FB (and on THE forums): “Hey I’m chucking a HUGE party, wanna come?”
Except, it’s in a big empty room in a hotel. There’s not enough electric points, no network gear, no PC’s or consoles. If we’re lucky, there might be a few chairs and tables. Oh… and by the way, you’ll have to pay for the privilege, buy your own beer at the hotel, and pay for your own rooms.
Then some peeps say: We’ve got an AV and PA rig that we could bring… Someone else says: Me and a few mates have some consoles. A couple more say: We’ve got some OLD (like 8 bit) computers and consoles that we might be able to get working. Even more say: I’ll bring my gaming PC’s and let others play with my kit (including some awesome VR rigs). Then someone else just “happens” to have some LAN switches hanging around spare. Someone else has some 32amp 3 phase kit that can drop down to 13 amps, so we don’t blow all the gear up. Someone else says: You’ll need some music, me and a few mates (they’re in a proper band) will entertain you. And… And… And… LOADS of RPG and board and card games and ELITE:darts and a brilliant quiz and a live radio show and TONS more.
Those guys then spend months giving up their free time to organise a venue, ticketing, marketing, contacting companies to provide sponsorship and give us stuff to raffle off. Then you say: Let’s not make a single red cent from this gig… and give any money we make away to charities.
To EVERYONE that came along and made the ECM the wonderful little escape from reality that enables us to survive the real world…. Friends old and new. I hope we managed to shake hands, chat, hug, have a beer or even play together. If not, there’s always next year!
My eternal thanks to the original EliteMeet loonies who had this daft idea and have kept it running over the years. No names, no pack drill… You know who you are – You beautifully mad, totally bonkers bunch of dirty filthy mother tuckers!
Our thanks to our sponsors, Noblechairs, ED:RPG, Frontier Developments, HCS VoicePacks, Tinman Games, Jonas Events for helping us put on a wonderful day. To all the volunteers, people who brought games and prizes for the raffle. To all 160 of you, you’re a great crowd and…. if you want us to…. we might consider doing it again next year.
Links to “more stuff” you found at the event: