TuesdayRode down with Chris "checker" Hecker. We got down around 10 or 11pm to find San Jose crawling with cops; apparently there'd been Mardi Gras riots of some sort. Set up projector. Met up with Jonathan Blow, with whom I was sharing a cheap motel room and who was already checked-in.
WednesdayWent back to Chris' hotel at the Fairmont to copy some code off his laptop on to mine so I could work on it. Went to lunch: stopped in a convenience store and bought six bottles of snapple, then wandered further (north?) around San Jose up towards where I remembed finding a McDonald's. Gave up. Went all the way back to the motel, checked the phone book, and then located the McDonalds three blocks from the convention center that I'd never known about the previous three or four years.
Went and registered. Tuesday and Wednesday were the tutorial days, and I had only put in for a "Classic" pass which is just the lectures, not the tutorials, but discovered, after the last round of tutorials had begun, that I had in fact been issued a "Giga" pass. Oh well. That night, went to a gathering of smart technology programmers where we discussed current problems and future situations. Stayed up until 4am.
ThursdayGot up and showered and barely made it to a 9 o'clock lecture about lighting methods. (mostly lame) Forgot my pen and had to borrow one from somebody else who was there, but I can't remember who. Possibly Jon Blow at the next lecture actually. 10:15 saw the lecture about Facade. Ran into John Price in the lobby, who I hadn't seen since 1993 in Texas. Ate lunch with Checker, his wife and conference head Jen Pahlka, and somebody else who I can't recall, probably Jon since I borrowed a pen from Jen and returned the pen to whomever it was. Used my new pen to write "sux" repeatedly down the strap that the conference badge was hung around my neck with, alternating with the existing word "XBOX" that appeared repeatedly down it, since my neck is not Microsoft's advertising space, sorry. Then went to a lecture about sound propogation, then a lecture about more lighting methods, then a lecture about generating procedural trees.
Then some people were maybe going to the IGDA awards event, but I didn't know where any of them were (I have no cell phone, unlike everybody else) and I was hungry, so I went to McDonalds. Then I went into the IGDA awards and caught the very last one, and then found many people. They went out to dinner to "House of Siam", and I went with them. There were eighteen of us at dinner: numerous people from Ion Storm (Chris Carollo [ex-LGS], Brian Sharp, Randy Smith [ex-LGS], Harvey Smith, ex-Ion Lulu Lamer [ex-LGS], and a couple people I didn't know), plus Sissyfight's Eric Zimmerman, Robin Hunicke, and a few more I can't remember. I was sitting between the last two people I mentioned.
After dinner, we hung around downstairs in the Fairmont lounge for a while, chatting, then several of use went up to the Harmonix suite to see Amplitude, the sequel to Frequency. Talked to Greg Lopiccolo (ex-LGS, ex-Tribe) and Eran Egozy. I stayed there until late (1, 2 am ish?), then went home to bed.
FridayUp too late the previous night, I missed the 9:00 lecture and barely made the 10:30 lecture about making data-driven shaders. I then saw a lecture about the tech behind Jak and Daxter. Ate lunch with Austin Grossman (ex-LGS) and Robin, while talking to Justin Hall, or rather the three of us being interviewed by him. A few other people we knew were hanging out, but I forget where they went. Then Robin and I went and toured the Expo floor, looking at booths and evaluating what message they sent out, and especially looking for things that sent a negative message to women.
Then a lecture on planning in AI by Charles Martin, who used to work in the Indie Game Barn but now works for Google. Then the Experimental Gameplay Workshop, at which the indie game jam games were shown, along with other wacky games. Then the programmer's challenge, a silly quiz show for an hour. Then I helped Checker take equipment back to his hotel room, and tried to figure out where to go to find anyone despite not having a cell phone.
Jen gave me an invite to the private speaker's party, so Charles and I went there, knowing that Jon and Justin at least were there, so there'd be a few people I knew. Sat down at a table with Charles and two randoms that Jon knew--never actually talked to Jon or Justin after that. Eventually Robin, Austin, Mark "Mahk" LeBlanc, and a few other people I knew showed up. Ran into Seamus Blackley later; he sort of pitched desiring me to work (contract?) for him. Talked to Jen Olsen, the editor of Game Developer Magazine (published by CMP who also run the conference, except they're not CMP anymore) a bit. Talked to Andrew Stern of Facade, and John Belmonte who has some idea for free-content payment systems that includes micropayments. Then Robin, Austin, and I went to a private party and hung out for a while, drinking, then we went to a related private party, then to Mahk's for a little gaming: Adel Verpflichtet. Left with Art "Minman" Min and chatted with him a bit on the way out.
SaturdayWoke up far too early and couldn't get back to sleep. Managed to get breakfast before the 9:00, the programming keynote by Fred "Mythical Man Month" Brooks. Then saw a lecture about Dungeon Siege tecnology, and another about synthesizing sounds for object impacts from physics. Lunch with, hmm, Chris Carollo, Chris Butcher, Charles Bloom I think, and Atman Binstock. Then a lecture by David Wu about integrating animated characters with physics, and then a lecture by Peter Molyneux about Black & White II (a total waste-of-time hype-fest). Conference over, hung out outside the last lecture with Chris Hecker, Atman, Chris Butcher, Thatcher Ulrich, and a few other people. Came up just as Doug Sharp, author of King of Chicago was leaving, leaving behind his 17+ year-old daughter Margaret to eavesdrop on our conversation since she was thinking about getting in the game industry. I can't imagine what she thought as Chris Hecker chatted with the guy from EA who works on the Madden-license football games whose name I've forgotten, and they did endless tech-speak about how the 3d models are made and how they are attached to virtual bones of a virtual skeleton which is then animated, or what she (as the only female present) thought when Chris, in discussing the above, said, without intending or even being aware of the entendre, "...the artist comes in and bones the model".
Went to dinner with mostly the same crowd (sans Margaret), although I wanted to go home, but I couldn't find a ride. Got a ride home eventually, after dinner, from Jon Blow, but too late for Mahk's game night in Berkeley that night.
Didn't see as much of my normal crowd (Doug, Art, Chris Hecker) as normal--only had dinner with Chris that last time--but that's fine since they're all local. Never talked much with Warren Spector this time, though, nor any celebrity meetings. Although there were some older guys at the Harmonix suite who I don't know who they were, and that suite was actually Mike Dornbrook's, I think, so for all I know they were Infocom or other old-school game developers.