We were fortunate enough to be invited to a Facebook Games developer event, taking place in London – just a quick trip down the East Cost rail line and we’re there.
The content was to cover Facebook’s new HTML5 approach to gaming on mobile platforms, with a little more detail about exactly how to do this as a developer. And a Q&A and networking session after the presentations.
Exciting stuff, especially when this is a market you want to bust in to!
But, it seems, the British transport system had other ideas.
After leaving Yorkshire, bright and early (or so we thought!) with the sun shining and the prospect of a great event in the near future, we settled in for the two and a half hour journey to Kings Cross.
With only the terminating station to go, it looked like we were going to arrive on time. Then the train stops and a glorious announcement hails over the speakers – “Track Circuit problem”, whatever that means.
A half hour later, we’re moving.
OK, we can recover from this, we allowed for the extra time and can make the venue with time to spare… and the trains motoring southbound.
But guess what? It stops again with another announcement.
It turns out, signalling equipment doesn’t like getting struck by lightning (did I mention it was sunny in Yorkshire? Not so in London!), which apparently set all the signals to red and “engineers were en route”.
After an hour of this (and thoroughly getting to see Potters Bar station) we were off, again. Hmm, we’ve likely missed the first speaker at this point and, by the time we get to KX, switch to the Underground and make the venue, we’re certainly cutting into the next set of speakers.
We’re moving again, yay!
Oh, wait, we’ve stopped… again. This time, because of all the backed up trains, there’s a queue getting into KX and we’re “just going to have to wait”. Glorious.
By the time we get moving and mercifully only stopping when arriving at the platform, the schedule for the event is now well into the Q&A and we’ve still got to switch to the Underground and get to the venue.
(We remained in contact with people at the event and, at this point, agreed that we would get some notes and phone calls on the event – not the outcome we would have preferred, but silver lining and all that!).
Oh, there’s more!
With the event having a laid out timetable, we’d pre-booked our tickets and, being an indie studio (ergo, without vast sums of cash) we couldn’t just fork out on replacement tickets. Why would this matter? Well, the pre-booked tickets only work on a specific train.
Migrating over to the ticket office, where you can hear other travelers screaming, arguing and otherwise being obnoxious or aggressive, we figured we’re in the right place. It must have come as a shock to the staff member dealing with us when we’re all smiles and, apart from being gutted about missing the event, just wanted to somehow afford return tickets.
With a free change to our tickets that read “Natural Disaster” and allowed us on any train, we set about trying to get a return train and, after some 9-hours, made it back to the office… well, home, as 9-hours is a LONG day (especially when it’s just sitting on a train).
If we learnt anything from that day, it’s that lightning is bad. Very bad. Oh, and smiling gets you a long way!