The Research Roadtrip - It didn't look as far on the big map

I’m told that Strange Company Early Adopter Sally Brewer is the originator of the legendary comment that I used for the post title.

I’m back in glorious Scotland, and feeling - quite frankly - terrible. Not because the Roadtrip (the capital R is obligatory) wasn’t a success. Quite the opposite. I feel like the weasels are trashing Toad Hall inside my skull, and the main reason is that the Roadtrip was a complete success. In fact, it was more of a success than I could possibly have anticipated.

MovieStorm is going to be amazing. I can’t really talk about any of it yet, and I can’t tell you the precise reasons that I think it will be amazing, because I’m under a Non-Disclosure Agreement that’s as savage and water-tight as a rottweiler in fishing waders. In fact, Matt Kelland has made me a solemn promise that if I tell you any of the great stuff I know about, he will never buy me beer again. Since he has set a precedent of buying me more beer than I can drink over the course of an evening, I’m going to hide behind the NDA and make sure that Matt knows that he’s my very special friend and is welcome to visit me in Scotland any time he likes.

This leaves us with a problem. I can’t prove to you that MovieStorm kicks more ass than the Annual Donkey Abuse Championships. You’re just going to have to take my word for it. Rest assured: as soon as I get permission to post a screenshot, video, hint or nugget, I’ll have it up on this blog so fast the Short Fuze lawyers will double their hourly rate. Until then, you’ll have to wait breathlessly like everyone else.

The new movie-making features for Medieval 2: Total War are also amazing, as Hugh’s breathlessly-enthusiastic last post suggested. After Pete had talked us through the basics, Hugh and I could no longer resist getting our hands dirty, so we pushed him unceremoniously out of his comfy office chair and started hacking.

After an hour’s work, we’d produced about 45 seconds of footage that looked better than you could ever have believed. We were right in the thick of the battle, with some authentically shaky hand-held camera work showing the truly amazing Medieval 2 combat animations. To say we left the building speechless would be a lie. We didn’t shut up about it all the way back to Brighton.

Why, then, am I feeling so godawful?

Because these past few days have involved almost constant travel, early mornings, late nights and a lot of hard work. Yesterday was particularly fun. Having established very early on that Creative Assembley were based in the hip English seaside town of Brighton, we were a little perturbed to discover that they were in fact based in Horsham, a tiny rural village about twenty miles from Brighton.

Not a problem, we thought. There’s a direct train, so we just have to get up a little earlier than we were planning to. The train, needless to say, was not direct. We should have changed once. We changed twice because the helpful cockney manning the information desk at Brighton told us to go to completely the wrong station.

Eventually, though, we arrived in Horsham. What follows is a verbatim transcript of several exchanges that occurred between Hugh and myself after we left Horsham railway station. Remember, you’re reading the words of two highly intelligent individuals. Hugh Hancock is a guru of the machinima movement who’s run a successful production company almost single-handedly for ten glorious years. I have a genuinely frightening CV, a wide-ranging skill-set, and several letters after my name.

(our heroes have just left the train station. The birds are singing, the sky is clear, and they’re both feeling pretty optimistic)

J: Shall we get a taxi, then?

H: Nah, it’s a nice day. Let’s walk it.

J: Do you know where we’re going?

H: Yup. Got a map right here. We head down this road, take a right, then another right. The Creative Assembly building should be a few hundred metres down the road.

(a little later)

H: I think it must be just over this hill. This town is so small the map is almost 1-1 scale.

J: Good - it’s getting a bit too hot to walk much further.

(later still)

H: Right. I see what we’ve done wrong. Creative Assembly is not in Horsham. It’s near Horsham.

J: How near, exactly?

H: It’s in Southwater. Just on the other side of town. Well, this side of town, really - we’ve walked right across it.

(even later)

J: Hugh, do you see that bus? It says “Horsham” on the front. People are getting on it. That means that there’s a bus that goes from Horsham out to here. Why did we walk all this way?

H: Well, how was I to know there was a bus?

J: Where are we, anyway? I can’t feel my toes.

H: Nearly there. We just have to cross this motorway.

J: Cross the what now?


H: Ah-ha! This sign says “Welcome to Southwater”. We’re officially here. Now we just have to find the place.

(oh yes, later still)

J: There’s another sign.

H: What does it say?

J: Erm … “Welcome to Southwater”. Again.

We did eventually find it, by which point we had walked across half of the county and I was beginning to smell - as Hugh so tactfully put it - like a real journalist. I had to stop at a motorway service station to buy deodorant. If you consider for a moment the fact that we were able to stop at a motorway service station halfway through our journey, despite the fact that we walked all the way, you may be able to understand why I no longer place much stock in Mr Hancock’s map-reading skills.

My plane back to Edinburgh arrived in Glasgow at about seven o’clock this morning. It should have arrived in Edinburgh, but I’d booked the wrong ticket. I got a bus into the centre of Glasgow, waited half and hour for the next train to Edinburgh, spent an hour on that train, and then got a bus back to my humble little flat. I finally arrived here at about half-past eleven, having managed about four hour’s sleep in total - on the back of an already-sleep-deprived few days. I’m sure into the office to carry on writing the book in a couple of hours time.

I’m going back to bed.