That was fun! I enjoyed being useful and doing a bit of path-finding.
Looking forward to next time now I know how to get into games with everyone - for anyone feeling a little daunted thinking it may be too technical for them I thought that too and got on fine.
This is how it goes:
1) Go to your account on the RSI site, you will see the word CONTACTS. Use the text-box to put in the name of the group leader (On this occasion @Printimus and @Montoya were group leaders so I had both of them added). Tell the group leader you have done this and they will put your name in their contacts too.
2) Go on the TEST discord and listen out for whats going on, and also have a mic to answer back if you can too. Super helpful but you can get by in General chat but it's not as easy as people are, understandably, mostly playing the game - once you are all in game there is the in-game chat too but don't give away any operational secrets if you can help it
3) The group leader will do everything else, all you have to do now is start up the game and sit on the main menu screen, when the blue boxes appear accept the party invite and accept the server invite using the "[" key. Two button presses.
Hope this helps people who are feeling a little scared of joining, I found everyone was very friendly and kind while I was getting to grips with it (Shout out to @Shive and another TESTie who were also very friendly and patient when I was trying to get my mic to work while blabbering nonsense on Discord).
Remember: If NaffNaff can do it, you can do it too! I litterally blundered through the whole thing and got on fine with the wonderful support of TESTies!
The reties were killing. It is hard to keep a band of people together when everybody keeps crashing. Next time make sure that everybody has fixed his contacts before the event, reserve 30 minutes to get everything fixed.
When servers start crashing, completely dissolve the party, let everybody close SC and launcher and start from scratch. That works faster then a few server crashes in a row.
Also, when dividing a big group into a fighter / escort squad and a boarding squad, select a staging point, other then PO. Let the fighters group up at the staging point, when they are away from PO, gather the boarding squad and jump to the staging point. Somehow a lot people, ships and Port Olisar can cause some server instabilities.
Let everybody get the Medallion II flight suit and helmet. It isn't expensive. When lining up, only torso armor, that would look really awesome, yellow arms, legs and helmet.
After briefing everybody can add arm, leg armor and helmet as he sees fit.