In its effort to make me feel right back home in San Francisco, Berlin has decided to introduce itself with a nice bout of terrible weather. In this case, pouring rain. I went and walked around the city for a bit last night when I first got in, and even moreso this morning, but now I'm soaking wet and need to take a little break. So what better time than now to curl up next to a warm laptop and recap my trip to Germany and the Leipzig Games Convention?
After a ten hour flight in which I slept little more than 30 minutes, myself, Brian Ekberg, and our cameramen Tyler and Jan arrived in Frankfurt last Sunday. We crossed through the customs checkpoint from the international gate to to domestic gate so we could wait for our flight to Leipzig. But with a three hour layover, we decided to get some food. It's a tradition that the group flying to Leipzig (my first time, but Tyler's been doing it for years) get some beer and sausage in the airport. So we did! But we had to cross back into the international gate to get to the traditional place, which got us some dirty looks from customs and a pair of useless stamps in our passports. But neverhteless we dined on delicious processed pork(-like substance) and felt good.
The flight to Leipzig was a little less than an hour, and much to my surprise, it didn't take place in a Piper Cub or a Cessna. It was in a decent-sized plane--one where the wings were above the windows, but still a decent-sized plane. We got to the Leipzig airport safely just the same.
That's when I got my first taste of the autobahn. I had my eyes stuck on the speedometer of our beige Mercedes taxi cab, and the driver topped out at about 210 kilometers per hour, or approximately 130 miles per hour. That's about 30 more than I've ever taken a car in my entire life. So that was fun! I doubt the plane went much faster than that.
We wound up staying in the Westin Leipzig, if not the nicest hotel in the city, the definitely the biggest. But... that's not saying so much. Much as I enjoyed Leipzig's unique charm, it's sort of the city that time forgot. Lots of abandoned buildings covered in graffiti, hotels boarded up and turned to public parking lots, and so on. It hits you pretty hard that you're in East Germany when you first get into town.
We spent the night before the first day of the show exploring the city. There was a relatively famous church Brian wanted to find, the one where Back is buried, and we wound up picking out about four steeples in the skyline and walking to them only to discover they were the wrong ones. We eventually found it, but by then the sun was setting and jetlag was wrapping its hands around us--so we went to bed.
The next two days were spent covering the Games Convention Developers Conference. It's sort of the show before the show, a chance for developers to get together and talk their craft before the show goes public and the focus turns to the products rather than the process of creating. We wound up posting a lot of really interesting write-ups in the Previews Blog, and one extremely intersting flowchart in Brian's blog.
Hall 3 of the show floor.
That was Monday and Tuesday. The next day, the show floor and business centers opened up--but only to press. We spent the day scrambling from meeting to meeting, bouncing between the glitzy show floor and quartered off meeting rooms. It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun. The work continued on Thursday and Friday, but by then the floor was open to the public, which meant dealing with throngs of people if you wanted to cover a game that wasn't being shown ina private session in the business centers. Having never been to the Old E3, it was a lot of fun for me seeing the madness of the show floor. But I still managed to have a lot of fun in the more reserved business center meeting rooms. Some of the highlights included seeing a beardless Alex Navarro doing his PR thing in the Harmonix room at EA's suite, telling Ben Judd he has a girly phone after an interview with him (he laughed it off as I'd hoped), and getting my first chance to play Mirror's Edge, which is instantly my most anticpated game after Fallout 3.
There's a ton of great conent available to check out on the Leipzig page. I'm saying you should read every article and watch every video, but you know, I'm strongly recommending it.
On our last night in Leipzig, a bunch of us went out and took in some authentic German cuisine by going to a tapas restaurant called Cafe Madrid. The food was great, and so was rolling through the streets of Leipzig with such a hilariously diverse brigade of international English speakers. There was the Brit (Guy Cocker), the Aussie (Luke Anderson), and the Americans (all of of us from GameSpot US, and me, an American who gew up an hour from Canada). We even randomly met a fan of GameSpot who recgonized Luke on the street, and added him into our posse for dinner. (Shout out to Mark!)
All in all, it was a great trip. Despite its shortcomings, I really liked Leipzig, and part of me will be a little sad if they wind up moving it Cologne next year.
And what do you know, I'm starting to dry up quite a bit. I guess that's what happens when you type a long-winded travelogue with a warm latptop on you. I've still got another week to go here in Berlin and Amsterdam, so look forward to a recap on those cities soon.
I wish I was there, I saw some footage of Tomb Raider Underworld and Resident Evil 5 from Leipzig and it looked awesome.
It's a 'wish you were here place' and I wish I was there. :lol: Good photography skills Shaun and good job covering the GC.
Wow. It sounds amazing. Your lucky to get to go on such a great trip. I want to come next time.:P And that 130mph thing is sick. I want to go there just because of that.
I have never been to Leipzig before, but I have been to other cities in Germany. I really like the country, especially Munich, but the differences between former Western and Eastern Germany are staggering.