My name is James Stevenson, and I’m the Senior Community Manager at Insomniac Games. Over the last couple of weeks, TJ Fixman, Insomniac’s senior writer, and I have been travelling across Europe to promote Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time. Over 12 days we flew across the pond, and visited 7 countries for demos. It was a whirlwind tour. The SCEE blog asked me to keep a diary along the way, which you’ll find below with some of our photos from the trip!
Monday, October 12th, 2009 – I actually went into work this morning. Our flight isn’t until 5, so I figured I should try and get some last minute work done. Grabbed lunch, and then picked-up TJ and called a cab to take us down to LAX. The site below would become something we’d see far too much over the next 12 days – in which we’d have 9 visits to various airports.
Monday, October 12th, 5:30pm – Settled into our Premium Economy seats on Virgin. TJ got the middle seat, I’m happy to be on the aisle. Takeoff. Dinner is served in the air. Couple glasses of red wine and some Advil PM get me into just the right mood for a red-eye international flight: Sleep. See you in the morning.
Tuesday, October 13th, 11:00 am – We landed in London. We have to transfer over to Terminal 5 for our British Airways flight down to Paris. TJ begins cracking Harry Potter jokes. I think he’s too excited about this London thing. I’m bringing a devkit PS3 (thankfully in the actually form factor of a PS3 now instead of the old massive boxes), so I look like a hunchback carrying around 50 pounds of bags through the terminal transfer station. We grab a quick bite to eat and then board our flight.
Tuesday, October 13th, 7pm – The Paris office of Sony Computer Entertainment is a reasonable walk away from the Arc de Triomph, and our hotel was even closer. This is TJ’s first trip to Europe, so he’s pretty excited to go check it out. We take a walk around it before heading back to meet up with Rene and Greg from SCE France.
(left to right: Greg, Rene, and James)
Tuesday, October 13th, 10pm – After a few drinks at the hotel bar, we headed out to a very traditional mom-and-pop bistro in Paris to sample some of the famous cuisine. Bone marrow, escargot, pate and of course, the wonderful baguettes. Greg then took us for a late night tour of the city’s hot-spot local bars and sights before we settled in for our first night of sleep in Europe.
Wednesday, October 14th, 8am – TJ and I woke up early and we took a morning stroll around Paris. We eventually stopped in a café for some espresso and croissants. We then went back to the hotel to grab out bags and meet up with Natalie from the London office, who would be accompanying us in Paris and Lisbon.
Wednesday, October, 14th -A day of interviews awaited us, with interviews every half hour. The morning started with me frantically trying to figure out why a setting change wouldn’t work on our devkit, preventing me from being able to demo the game. TJ took this photo in the midst of my struggle against the devkit, which I eventually won. Not really sure how I fixed it, but sometimes, when things work, you just don’t question it.
The day of interviews went well for the most part, with TJ and I playing games where we had to insert words into interviews (for instance, TJ gave me “carrot” which I used while describing rewards as “dangling a carrot for the player”). I think at this point Natalie realized how irreverent we are, and starting goading us. We wrapped up the interviews around 4 and headed to the airport to fly to Lisbon.
Checking in is where another minor disaster happened. I noticed my bags were checked not only to Lisbon, but through to Madrid (the next day’s flight). I asked the ticket agent about this, but he assured me my bags would show up in Lisbon tonight. Satisfied for the moment, we hopped on the flight and arrived in Lisbon, and ended up being the last ones at baggage claim when the belt stopped. After talking to baggage folks in Lisbon, they asked why we had checked our bags to Madrid. Argh!
An hour later, we had our bags and were on our way to the hotel near the Expo 98 site. I had been to Lisbon before, and it’s an awesome town, it was unfortunate we didn’t have enough time to get to hang out there more!
(James and TJ with the Sony Lisbon Team)
Thursday, October 15th – It was a quick morning in Lisbon. We gave a brief presentation and then spent a couple hours doing interviews with all of the press who came by. Ratchet and Clank are really popular in Portugal, so it was awesome to get a chance to meet all of our journalist friends there, especially the folks at Eurogamer.pt – whose articles we always seem to end up seeing in the states.
The Lisbon team took us for a great lunch with some traditional Portuguese sausages, and then we were all off to the airport. Natalie was heading back to London, and TJ and I were going to spend the full weekend in Madrid. We landed in the late evening, but I managed to rally and go out for dinner with Araceli from the London office. We had a traditional Spanish meal, Jamon, Omelettes and Croquetas. Half the fun of a different country each day is having the food!
Friday, October 16th – The Madrid office has a really awesome showcase room – it’s basically a play area. TJ did a bunch of interviews with all of the big national TV and radio stations in Spain. PlayStation is HUGE there, and they treat it like they do big movies and television shows. It was pretty awesome – and of course, they brought in more croquetas – which is the fastest way to my heart.
Afterwards – we walked to a wonderful mid-afternoon lunch. It was almost enough to put you into a food coma. The Spanish office then hooked TJ and I up with tickets to the next night’s Real Madrid match – incredibly exciting for us to get to see a real Futbol match in person. We were pretty exhausted, and in a food coma, so we took a nap before hitting the city for some late tapas and drinks.
Saturday, October 17th – One of our days off, TJ and I made the most of it. We probably walked a good 15 km around Madrid, heading from our hotel down into the centre of the city, Sol, and then exploring from there. We visited various plazas, shopping areas, the Palace and Cathedral. It was a pretty incredible day to explore the streets, and enjoy the culture of Madrid. We really wore ourselves out, but saw a ton of the city – which was nice after the rush through Paris and Lisbon.
That evening, we headed to the stadium for the Real Madrid match. It was incredible to experience a match in person. European Football is becoming more and more popular in the United States, but even then, due to its scheduling, it is challenging for us to watch many of the games. It was a real thrill to see it in person – and hear the fog horns and crowd singing.
Sunday, October 18th, 2009 – After sleeping in and a good breakfast, we headed off to the airport to catch a flight to Warsaw, Poland. I had never been to Poland before, so I was really excited to get there – especially since we had Monday off to explore the city.
We arrived in the evening, and by the time we had gotten to the hotel we were both completely famished and ready to go sample to local delicacies. We headed to a nearby restaurant that specialized in Polish dishes, and after sampling the Apple Juice, I ended up with dumplings and Pig’s Knuckle. Even if it was a little bit on the touristy side, we still had a good time.
Look for part 2 of the diary tomorrow!