I apologize for the late update due to finals week at school but now it is here!
I departed Rochester late in the morning of the 6th of February, and around lunch time arriving at Philadelphia in about an hour. Then a 3 hour layover before my next flight to Frankfurt, Germany. My teammate, Brian, and I were prepared and excited about this experience. We got some homework done, watch some funny shows, like Family Guy and got some sleep on the way to Frankfurt. It was around 6:20 in the morning when we arrived and had to wait one our before our next flight to Hamburg, our final destination. I have never been to Germany before however it was one of the countries that I have always wanted to go to and now I have arrived. Frankfurt International Airport was quite modern and had some cool dioramas on display. By the gate while waiting for our final flight, the airline had free newspapers and I decided to grab one. I attempted to understand and decipher the German with some success however there were certain alphabet letters that did not exist in the English language like β which I did not know what to think! 😛 Then I boarded our next flight to our final destination arriving there around 8:30 in the morning.
Brian and I stop by the information desk to get a train map and something known as the Hamburg card. This card allow us unlimited rides on the bus and train for 3 days and it also included discounts on museums and shops. This was great as we did not really want to spend too much in Europe. We took the escalator down to take the the “metro” to where the hotel where all the other Game Jam Winners were staying, The Meininger. It was conveniently located by the metro station with only a 5-8 minute walk. We could not check in yet however the hotel allowed us to store our luggage. We dropped our stuff off and on our way to discover the “explored” city of Hamburg. The various metro stops had interesting names like Altona, Königstraβe, Landungsbrücken and Sternschanze.We got off one of the stops and ended up on a busy shopping street. Towards the end of the street there is a really old church constructed of brick with stone white archways along the entrance ways. The Starbucks near by was even in a Corinthian style building all by itself. We also saw the Kunsthalle Art Museum but it was closed on Monday. Brian and I decided we wanted to at least visit a museum before we left on Friday. Fortunately the Kunsthalle closed late on Thursday, the day the Casual Connect conference ended.
Nearby the Art Museum was City Hall. The building was very majestic with individual iron statutes of various people running along the wall outside. There were also statutes of saints at the tips of the roof. Outside, there was a thin tall pole with a golden ship on the very top. The building was opened to the public and we decided to go in. Inside was like a mini museum with information and pictures of the history of Hamburg. The room inside was just as ornate as the outside. There were wide stair cases with two lion looking creatures holding shields at the base. After reading up on the history of Hamburg, we took the metro to our next destination, the tallest church in Hamburg St. Michaelis Church. We bought a combo ticket that allowed us to climb the tower and explore the crypt in the basement. Inside the church was definably design differently compare to the other churches that I have visited throughout Europe. The walls were all white with some details painted in gold. In the front there was a huge structure with a painting of Jesus in the middle an the crucified Christ on top with a golden sun topping it all off. The back on the second level had a huge organ. Unfortunately no one was playing it.
From there we began our climb to the top. On the outside, it did not seem like it would be a long journey. Boy were we wrong. We spent at least a half hours climbing flights and flights of stairs. At the beginning they had on display the original blueprints of the church before it was burned down. The subsequent levels had paintings and irons bells. Once we got to the top we were exhausted but the view was wonderful. It was also extremely windy as I felt like the wind was going to sweep me off my feet and take me over to the nearby harbour. I took lots of pictures attempting to create a panorama view of the city. On the north, south, east and west side were information tables that had pictures of the building and what they were. After a relaxing time enjoying the scenery, we took the elevator to the 1st floor and began our trek down to the crypt. There, there were various artifacts that were part of the old church that burned down. Wooden boat models, copper coins, and ornate books were on display. The decorative bibles were really cool looking. Some of them even had a copper covering with an embossing on it.
It was around 2:00 p.m and we decided to head back to the hotel to check into our room. The room was like a dormitory that can have up to 10 people sleeping in it. It had a separate area for the toilet and one for the shower. Each bed has a lamp with a bendable neck attached to the wall near it. Each person also got their own locker to store their stuff. We also took this opportunity to meet the other winners. The pair of Germany and 2 from Finland were there. After unpacking and freshing up, we were to meet Vald Micu, one of the judges who picked the top 10 games of the Game Jam, in the lobby. He was going to give us a small tour of where the Casual Conference was taking place. However he was held up at the Convention Center still setting up so Brain, I and the other game designers took the train to the Convention Center.
We we arrived, we all helped them to finish up the unpacking. All of us also got our name tag and free goodies that all guest were to receive when they enter. Vald gave us a tour of the area. Many of the companies participating at the conference were still setting up their booths. Big Point, Kings Game and Youda Game had interesting booths especially Youda’s. They set up a small western style tavern with hey and pidgins on the roof. We also visited the conference room that all the Global Game Jam winners were going to present their games. It was an interesting feeling to just imagine my self presenting a game that I help created in front of industry professionals. After the quick tour we all headed back to the hotel to get ready for the pre-conference party. It was hard to locate but we eventually found it. It was at a small club with a really tall ceiling. They had all the mood lighting a night atmosphere ready. I am not a go out an party person so this was a new experience for me. Compare to the parties you see on TV, this one was definably more classy. Everyone dress nicely, delicious bagel sandwiches were passed around and free drinks. I just stuck to the basic seltzer water. The whole place was pack to the brim. At some points I just walked outside to get some fresh air. The experience so far has been an interesting one. Around 11:00 Brian, I and the team from Germany took the train back to the hotel and we all prepare to go to bed. Tomorrow would be the first day of the Casual Connect conference and an event that may change my life.