When Jagex, creators of RuneScape – the world’s most popular online fantasy role play game – choose Old Billingsgate to host the game’s tenth anniversary party, it called in technical production specialists Metro Broadcast to help them create “RuneFest”. The event was to be attended by over 2,000 fans of the game and Jagex wanted a technically spectacular event that would create an immersive and tangible game environment for its fans. Metro’s job was to bring the game to life – a project planning and design exercise which would take no less than five months.
Old Billingsgate, a Grade II listed Victorian building and original home of the world’s largest fish market, offers not only acres of space and character but also versatility. Known as a ‘blank canvas’ venue, the space can be deployed in any number of ways although it presents significant logistical and cost challenges as event environments need to be built from scratch. Conscious that Jagex’s budget had yet to be finalised, and wanting to present a number of options at different price points, Metro Broadcast’s production team began the planning process by sharing a whole range of 2D design concepts and 3D animations which would help Jagex picture the different event environments.
Metro’s design team proposed to divide the space into different zones to allow gamers to walk from one ‘world’ to another and experience different elements of the event. The internal partitioning would add adventure and intrigue to the guests’ experience and detract from the surrounds of the building, adding to the illusion. There was a dungeon area for gaming, a tavern-style bar area and a lively ‘marketplace’ upstairs complete with food stalls and fortune tellers.
An entire technical infrastructure had to be created to allow for a 500-seater conference area which could support live gaming and voting to the main screens. The set was designed to replicate the façade of the RuneScape castle. The keynote presentation was delivered by Jagex’s designers to reveal the latest enhancements to the game. Guests were also allowed to vote for their favourite new creature which was created live during the presentation on the designer’s laptop and relayed to the main screen. Metro’s creative team also developed a themed VIP area and a ‘diary room’ where fans could record their feedback and roving cameras captured the two-day event on film. The film was subsequently edited by Metro’s video production team and delivered to Jagex in a variety of formats for use post-event.
Metro Broadcast’s production manager kept control of the overall project through the development of a comprehensive pre-production and on-site production schedule. All necessary CAD, rigging, cabling plans, risk assessments and method statements were produced and approved by the client and venue. All documentation was subject to tight version control. Third party billing was subject to multiple quotes and the best value providers appointed. Non disclosure agreements were also rigorously managed on behalf of the client.
In addition to the design and technical production, Metro organised other elements of the event including provision of arena seating, prop hire, photography and branded print collateral to ensure the logistical operation and the design concepts were both seamlessly managed.