The Tattered Notebook: Fan Faire survival guide

It's hard to believe, but in just a couple of weeks, Fan Faire will once again be upon us. What started as a simple fan celebration eight years ago has become a massive showcase of Sony Online Entertainment games, fan spirit, and of course, amazing costumes.

There's a lot going on, and the weekend really flies by quickly. Whether you're going for the first time or you're a multi-year vet, this week's Tattered Notebook offers up several handy tips to help you make the most of Fan Faire. Read on for all the details!

Smile!

As soon as you cross the threshold, you're in their world now. There are signs warning that there will be people taking pictures and video, and in the age of YouTube, Livestream, and Facebook, that's never been more true. So behave, or you'll find yourself starring in the SOE banquet montage, curled up in the fetal position on the casino floor with a black magic marker mustache scrawled across your face.

Buffets? Hold the plate

In theory, the daily buffet pass seems like a good deal, but that's not necessarily the case. The buffet near Bally's tends to be pretty crowded at certain times, and if you're a panel junkie like I am, that means having to choose between skipping a meal or missing a panel. Also keep in mind that Saturday's dinner is already covered as part of Fan Faire, so you really don't need a full-day buffet pass.

There are several decent eateries along the walkway between Bally's and Paris. The Burger Brasserie is a great place to get a good burger. (The guys in my guild insisted we go back, but I think they were more interested in the corset-wearing waitresses.) Ichiban sushi is fast and reasonably priced. And one of my favorites is Mon Ami Gabi -- make sure to sit outside on the surprisingly cool patio so you can enjoy the strip as you dine.

No matter where you decide to get your grub, it's advisable to keep a snack and a drink handy during the day. Between panels, hanging out with gaming friends, competing in tournaments and live quests, and chatting with other players and staff, its easy to end up missing meals.

It's not as hot as you think

With all of the panels and events going on, there's not much reason to go outside. But before you load that suitcase with t-shirts and shorts, keep in mind that everything's air conditioned. And when I say air conditioned, I mean borderline Montana winter temperatures. Last year as I was packing for my first visit to Fan Faire, my guildmate Anda advised me to pack a jacket or sweater, and I thought she was joking. But when I arrived, I was thankful that I took her advice, and I found myself breaking out my jacket several times in the panel rooms.

It pays to plan

The Fan Faire schedule is out, and it's always a good idea to peruse it before you arrive. If you arrive on Thursday, make sure to check out the community address, as it usually sets the tone for what big announcements and details will follow during the weekend. Last year, the buzz was all about DC Universe Online and EverQuest Next. Will this be the year for PlanetSide 2 news?

For EverQuest II fans, the Q&A panels are always priceless because players have a great opportunity to have their questions and concerns addressed and the discussion tends to be pretty lively. It also looks like we'll get some more details on the upcoming Freeport revamp and new content, which should come from the Friday afternoon panel.

Last year, there was a very handy Fan Faire app for the iPhone, which allowed you to build your own schedule, view maps of the convention hall, and keep up to date with news and announcements. If there's an updated version for this year's Fan Faire, it's definitely worth downloading.

Say hi to those devs, but don't stalk!

The best part of Fan Faire is the opportunity to chat with developers from all of SOE's games. They go out of their way to make themselves available to answer any and all questions you have, and they're very friendly and receptive to comments and ideas you have about your favorite games.

Try to take advantage of the opportunity, and try to chat with developers from games that you don't normally play. One of the most interesting conversations I had last year was with a developer who was doing a demo of The Agency Facebook game. I'm not into Facebook at all, but I really enjoyed his presentation of the game and his insight on what went into its design.

Banquet tables

If you're going with friends or guildmates, make sure to keep an eye out for the banquet table sign-up area. You can fill out placecards to reserve tables for the Saturday banquet and avoid the stress of trying to scramble for space to seat everyone.

Patience is a virtue

While the lines aren't nearly as bad as those of PAX, there will be times when you'll need to be patient. Panels usually move quickly, but the line for the banquet will snake all the way down the hall. And there might be some waiting required for some of the tournaments. Last year, there were some technical glitches that required some competing teams to have to wait, while others had to come back the next day to work on the instance.

Coordinate

If you're meeting friends or guildmates, it helps to coordinate in advance. Get a phone chain set up ahead of time so you can arrange meeting locations and times as people arrive. There's nothing worse than spending hours trying to get in touch with that one guildmate who is MIA. Also, it helps to have something that's easy to visually identify. Some guilds make their own matching shirts or outfits. For my guild, I made a big felt banner, decked out with our guild letters and images of all the ridiculous and silly things that represent who we are. The easier it is to find each other, the more time you'll have to enjoy the events of Fan Faire.

And if you can't go...

No worries! Last year, SOE posted up videos of most of the panels on Facebook, and chances are the company will do that again this year. In addition, keep an eye on Massively for news and updates from Fan Faire. You won't get to thrash around in the pool, but it's the next best thing.

Above all else, go with the flow. One of my favorite memories from last year's Fan Faire was of chatting with guildmates in the expo room. I had plans to visit a couple of panels and check out the live quests, but I ended up foregoing that because I was having so much fun just sitting and talking. Fan Faire is July 7th-9th, and passes are available until June 22nd. Just be warned -- if you see a bearded Dwarf in a Tortoise shell helm nearby, hide your beer. You'll be glad you did.

From the snow-capped mountains of New Halas to the mysterious waters of the Vasty Deep, Karen Bryan explores the lands of Norrath to share her tales of adventure. Armed with just a scimitar, a quill, and a dented iron stein, she reports on all the latest news from EverQuest II in her weekly column, The Tattered Notebook. You can send feedback or elven spirits to karen@massively.com.
This article was originally published on Massively.