GG: The US Tour – Cedar Point and on to Mythic Studios!
So yeah, Chicago, crazy, and yet there was still more on my list to see. While I had to pass up Detroit, there was no way I wanted to miss a chance at the best rollercoasters in the country, much less a chance to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the Mythic Studios themselves. This post will wrap up the goings-on for the second leg of my US Tour and lead into a series of posts that I think the community will find very interesting… More on that later. hehe
So I ended up driving all the way to Milan, Ohio, that night/morning. I found a hotel that said it had rooms available and went in to get one. I was told all they had left were Jacuzzi rooms with double queen beds. lol, seriously? Whatever, I just needed a place to sleep so I took it. The lady gave me a discount since I wasn’t going to be using the Jacuzzi, so it worked out fine. I got to my room, sent out an email to Magickira and then hit the sack. I have to say, it was nice to get more than a couple hours of sleep in a row. hehe
I hit the road as early as I could be bothered to get out of bed, which wasn’t that early. :p I picked up Magickira and we headed off to Cedar Point. Now, for those who’ve never heard of it, you’re missing out. First off, I’d seen this place tons of times on the Travel channel but not once did they bother to note (or I just didn’t pay attention) that it’s on its own island. WTH!?!? lol. That’s awesome!
We parked pretty close to the entrance for a mid-day arrival and headed in to find a place to eat as I’d not eaten at all yet. Not necessarily what you want to do right before getting on amazing roller coasters, but hey. We hit up Johnny Rockets and snagged a booth. As I sat down, I saw a nickel on the menu and looked up curiously at Magickira. She pointed to the end of the table where I saw this:
Hell yeah! It even had good songs on it too. At a joint like this, you can really only order certain things and feel like you did it right: burgers, fries and milkshakes. While we were waiting for our food, the YMCA came on and that’s when things got even better. The servers all started doing the YMCA and this coordinated dance/shout thing along with the song. The funniest part was that while a bunch of them were totally into it, the one that was back by me was so not happy to be doing this that I was finding it hard not to laugh at him. He really needs a new job. lol. Not everyone was having as much fun as I was though, this fellow sure seemed to be a sad puppy sitting by himself in a place like this. He should really bring a friend next time. 😉
After lunch, we headed out into the main part of the park and Magickira pointed out all the rides and names. We also stopped in one of the Snoopy-themed shops and I picked up a keychain. hehe.
I had been told by one of the Pampered Chef girls that I had to ride Millenium Force, Mantis, Raptor and the Dragster, so off we went to find them. The first one we came upon was Mantis. This thing is a beast. It’s a standing coaster, which I don’t get to ride a lot, so I was excited. It was excellent. The combination of the ride and the setting it’s in really made it a great coaster. After many trips to both Disneyland and Magic Mountain, I’ve learned to care a lot about the combination of the ride and setting as Disney does both well, but MM really only ever focuses on the ride to their detriment.
After that, we headed off towards Millenium Force only to arrive as they were closing it down due to technical difficulties. Grrr…. We walked down the back of the park and then back up by Camp Snoopy, where I had to stop and take pics. I love Snoopy, what can I say. hehe
We then headed back down the middle of the park towards the Dragster, but once we got there, it was closing down due to technical difficulties. Seriously, WTH!?!?! Gaar was not a happy camper. We walked down the park a bit further toward Raptor but turned off to sit down for a bit near this beast of a ride.
Yeah, that thing is wild and yes those are people’s legs dangling off it. Just to add bit of perspective, here’s another shot from the side.
Look how small everyone looks! lol. Crazy stuff. This area of the park had lots of large stuff, like this:
And the best part? It’s right on the water’s edge and gives a great view of the entire park, island and lake. This place rocks. After checking this stuff out, I headed off to Raptor, which wasn’t broken down. Yay!!
This one was a hanging coaster, which I almost always enjoy. Not only was it fun, it gave such an amazing view as you topped the first climb. They do a thing where instead of just taking your picture on this ride, they actually record a good deal of it. I hadn’t seen that before, so bought the version of mine to see what it was like. Kind of funny to watch actually, lol. However, so not worth the price in case you’re wondering. When it comes to ride mementos, stick to pictures.
After Raptor, it looked like the Dragster was back up and running, so we headed back up there and I got in line. Now, just in case people were curious how busy it was, here’s a quick shot of one of the lines. lol. At least they had those nice water-spritzer fans going.
So this ride is actually called Top Thrill Dragster and is modeled after a drag car taking off from a dead stop then hitting around 300 mph. Now, once it does that, it heads straight up in the air, twists, arcs over the top of hill, drops straight back down, twists, levels out and hits the finish line. I swear the whole ride lasts not much more than 15 seconds. That’s after about a 75 minute wait. It’s so worth it. hehehe. The intense accelleration is literally breath-taking as is the ride up and over and back down, but by the time the brakes hit, you can’t help but grin and laugh because of all the adrenaline. It was a wild ride that I recommend everyone do if you hit this place, it’s worth the wait.
By this point, I was beat. Lots of walking, lots of standing, lots of heat, some wild rides, not a lot of sleep, it was all over for me. hehe. So we headed out and searched the parking lot for my truck as we totally didn’t remember where I parked. We finally found it, but I was about to go all “Temple of Ualapt” on it to find it if I had to. hehe.
I dropped Magickira off, thanked her for joining me and giving me the tour and then hit the road again to try to get as far as I could once again before stopping for the night. This time I made it to North Lima before stopping. I was just too beat to continue much further despite wanting to hit Pennsylvania before I stopped. Oh well, I got close. I hit the border pretty quickly the next morning though. Nice countryside, but what the hell is with the $10 charge to drive through the state? lol. Seriously, the view was nice, but it wasn’t that nice. hehehe
I hit Virginia just in time to catch some traffic. Good times. My goal was to make it to Fredericksburg where I had stayed when I flew out here. It made for a nice, central location as Mythic Studios were a decent drive north and Mykiel from Iron Rock was a bit to the southeast. As I approached my destination, I got a call from him asking me if we wanted to go meet Andy from Mythic for a bite to eat. Like he even had to ask… Hell yeah I did! So he headed to meet me in Fredericksburg at the hotel I was heading for and I tried to sneak my way through traffic as fast as possible. Just as I hit the hotel, so did Mykiel. I dropped my stuff off, quickly changed into something a bit cleaner (it was frickin’ hot this part of the trip and I’m still sans-AC) and we headed out to meet Andy.
We met up with Andy at the Mythic Studios, hopped into his car and he took us over to a mexican place near there. Of course, once we get there, Mykiel told me I had to tell the Chicago story since he’d been waiting to hear it since I had told him I was only telling it once. lol. He was the one that had texted me asking if I was alive and had followed it up the next day with one asking if I had woken up in a tub filled with ice. hehe, not quite. So we ordered up some drinks and food, snacked on some good chips and salsa and told the story. After that, we talked about all sorts of game stuff. I felt a little bad afterwards because when Mykiel and I get together, it’s just non-stop stories about WAR so Andy got an earful. :p Oh well, it’s not like he hasn’t heard us talk amongst ourselves before, he knew what he was getting into. hehehe
We finally headed out rather late, leaving Andy to go back to work, poor guy. We hit the road back to my hotel and made arrangements to meet up in the morning to head back up to Mythic in the road trip-mobile to truly finish off this leg of my trip. Because of the traffic and the driving distance, he wasn’t even going to be getting any sleep before coming back the next morning. I probably could have pulled an all-nighter just getting ready for the next day, but I called it quits early and got some sleep. I’m glad I did, it was gonna be a long day.
I got up early the next morning and did some laundry while catching up on the forums. Mykiel showed up a bit early and we headed out with plenty of time just in case we ran into traffic and/or accidents. Luckily, we ran into neither and had time to hit up McD’s for some delicious morning goodness. We left there and hit up the Mythic Studios right around 11am, signed in and waited for Andy.
Before I go into a modified description of our tour, first I have to say thanks to everyone at Mythic that made this possible. Not only did Andy give us a great tour, everyone we ran into was very cool about stopping to say hi and chat for a moment or two before getting right back to work. Everywhere we went, while everyone was very friendly, you could tell they were hard at work. I don’t know that we ran into anyone that looked relaxed, let alone that wasn’t working intently on something. Anyone that thinks that Mythic isn’t working their butts off to make this game the best they can make it has no idea what actually goes on in that building.
It was a lot of fun to be able to meet all the names behind the game that you see on the forums or are referenced by others at times. It was also very cool to walk around the offices and see all the artwork. Walls are lined with everything from concepts to finished products. Man, there are some things in there that make me wish they sold prints. 🙂 We must have spent 30-45 minutes just staring in awe at the art as we walked around the different areas of the studio. We even got a bit of a sneak-peak at the recently-announced Wild Hunt Live Event coming later this summer. I have to say, I get more and more impressed with the Live Event team every time I see their work. This is definitely going to be a legendary Live Event.
After hitting up most of the office, Andy rounded up a bunch of people and we headed out to lunch. I finally remembered to grab the box of salt water taffy I’d bought at Cedar Point to pass out to everyone and took it with us, handing stuff out as I went. There ended up being nine of us at the table:
Left : Stephen Engle, Associate Designer Right : Nate Levy, Combat & Careers Strike Team Lead
Left : Andy Belford, Community Coordinator Right : Jess Folsom, Community Coordinator
Left : Stuart Zissu, RvR Strike Team Lead Right : James Nichols, Community Coordinator
Phillip Chan aka “PChan the Craftin’ Man”, Player Systems Designer
Left : Mykiel from Iron Rock Right : Gaarawarr from Iron Rock
So what happens when you put a bunch of gamers and game-makers at the same table? You talk about games of course! I had to stop and remind myself to eat most of the time. I was just too busy trying to talk and listen in on the other conversations going on all at the same time. lol. I loved talking old-school SWG crafting with PChan and utterly and completely /godwin’ing a conversation as if it was a forum thread. hehe, I just couldn’t resist and Nate totally called me on it. 🙂 Talking game systems and gaming with people who are actually working in the industry is always so much fun. If I could find a way to have these kind of conversations all the time, I would. It totally reminded me of shutting down the hotel bar with the Devs from SOE back at the second SWG Fanfest. Especially so since we actually talked SWG a bit this time too. :p
After lunch, it was back to the studio for all of us so they could get back to work and we could move on with our day at Mythic. The rest of the afternoon was spent in a small conference room that I now affectionately refer to as “Heaven”. hehe.
Ever wanted to just sit down with developers and ask them all the questions you can think of at the time about their specific area of expertise in WAR? Well, that’s what happened in that room over the course of the next 5 hours. That’s right, 5 hours of questions and answers with the developers that work with the Crafting systems, Live Production, RvR, the User Interface and the Tome of Knowledge (!!!!), Live Events, and Combat and Careers. I even got to sit down with Josh Drescher himself to talk about the past, present and future of Mythic and WAR. It goes without saying, but the future’s so bright, I have to wear shades… 😉
So, as you may have guessed, all the questions and answers will soon make an appearance here in a series of posts because if I tried to do it all in one, it would rival the length of my Armor Guide easily. So stay tuned over the coming weeks for the “Gaarawarr Gabs with” series, I have a feeling you’ll enjoy it. 🙂
So, thus ends the second leg of my US Tour. I wrote this all while trying to figure out what I wanted to do next and when. I knew I wanted to go north as I have family and guildies that way. At the same time, it’s nice to take a break every now and then and stay in one place. It allows me to catch up on things like this and actually get in-game for a bit. hehe. Besides, the Tomb King is calling my name. I only got to the fifth boss the first time I went in on Live and I’d like another crack at it.
Ultimately, I ended up heading north, but that’s a story for another post. So until then…