Thursday, June 4, 2009
Whew! Well, here's what got done yesterday, then.
Tuesday was my "walk around and examine things with a critical eye" day. Wednesday was "hang out with all my buddies from various companies at the bar and talk trash and drink all day"-day. And of course try to take pictures of some booth babes occasionally. So then, I had a much better time than the previous day - it was more about relaxing and having fun than worrying about business..
Exhausted from the night before (following the first day of traipsing all over the show, "I'd hit the local tavern" for some drinking and dancing and had little more than 4 hrs of sleep!) I hopped outta bed, dusted myself off, grabbed a schwaerma at Al Wazir and hopped onto the Red Line straight to Downtown. 20 minutes in, met my buddies at the bar. Still a little hazy from the night before, chilled out and caught up and did the txt-message thing "Are you guys here? Well where are you?? meet at Gordon Biersch bar!" My buddies from Obsidian had already left by the time I showed up (lame!) but a lot of the ex-Neversoft fellows were hangin' around.. My buddy, his girl and I hit the halls and played a little EA Tennis on Wii (looks nice, more fun than the older Wii Sports version) and teased the girls at the Natsume booth, we grabbed the Ghostbusters promo guys and asked them to shoot the Afrika stuffed animals while I punched the giraffe and pretend-fed vodka to the zebra, it was sort of a full day. Take that Sony. You should have released Afrika YEARS ago. That's what you get. To be honest, I am wondering what a display to promote Home would look like... wouldn't that be a paradox?
Honestly we just fooled around a little, mostly just hanging out and having fun. Back at the bar, the crew was growing large and we got word of something going down at the Fig hotel and the pack of us moved on over there. One of the best things about E3 is the weird promo parties all over the place, some are big and some are quite small, but if you can find them and skeez your way in then you feel like a VIP for 15 minutes and can kinda hobnob with people who know what they are talking about, which is actually pretty fun! (Got to be careful not to be a jerk to people, especially when the free booze is flowing, don't wanna step on any feelings "how come your studio always makes such crappy games!" Oh,it happens...) Anyway we walked into this place like we thought we were actually supposed to be there, showed some guy with a list my E3 badge ad his face lights up "oh here's a wristband for the open bar!" WELL THANK YOU, SIR! One second it's empty and the next BAM 30 or 40 people crammed into a small tiny room eating deviled eggs and downing margeritas and talking about Play Control balance programming and iPhone app ideas..
The bathroom was strangely a mystery, asking a bouncer ended up with me and some random DICE guy (Mirror's Edge team) lost in the bowels of the hotel trying to find a W.C., finally we found one downstairs but there was a big IGN party raging down there and they weren't letting other people in. Somehow, some random Gamespy guy says "hey buddy I'll get you in," nice enough chap, we breeze past the bouncer and it's more similar madness as the upstairs Activision party only with WAY more booze and many many more people.. Scouting around, I ran into a fella with a Kaos Studios shirt on and struck up a conversation, about 30 seconds in it hit me "hey I remember you, job interview two years ago!" Kaos flew me out and we hit it off quite well, but I was way more tempted to stay in LA and work on the Aliens RPG at Obsidian (for an environment artist, that's pretty much a dream gig!) and though I've always wanted to live in NYC, there's a very tiny game-job scene compared to out here.. Anyway it was good to catch up with that dude, we went over stuff for a good 30 minutes. I ducked into the john and came back out, and WHOOSH the party done dried up. Seriously - all the booze was gone, all the people were gone. Retreated back upstairs to find my crew, that party'd wrapped up as well (and it was barely 10pm!) and so they all were chilling out back by the pool bar. I am there for one minute wen my buddy's girl starts swimming in the pool. Security was not a big fan of that, so they kindly asked us to split..
We were with a bigshot in our crew, he owns one of the companies I'd worked for previously - and he has a little crash pad downtown (separate from his house by the beach), was nice enough to invite us upstairs for more drinks and foosball. Seriously, this place was amazing - it's pretty much the dream of any dev who becomes successful that he can get a little satellite "home-away-from-home" place, load it up with art and booze and just go to chill to get away from the stresses of work and life, and just party..
My friend's wife lost her E3 pass, too bad she was borrowing it from his friend! He was not happy about this, rang us up and said "I'm coming over to get my pass, you had better find it (he hadn't been to the show yet, and with one day left wanted to at least get in once!) Anyway, the guy shows up and I gave him mine, I had enough E3 after two days personally. Situation defused, everyone's happy again, so we headed across the street to the bar to meet up with some other folks. Looks like the night can wind down peacefully..
..or can it? We walked in, nice little place, kinda posh, crowd was very mellow. A few of us walk upstairs and sit down - the bouncer rushes up and starts yelling "no one is supposed to be up here!" I guess he forgot to rope off the stairway. We apologized, we had no idea it was off-limits - I sat down to talk with some random artists who worked at Naughty Dog, and excited to get some contacts over there when my friend walks up "yeah, we've got to go now!" I guess the bouncer was not getting along so well with some folks in our gang, apparently still fairly rustled by the upstairs debacle. And so we split up and called it a night! My friend and I got a cab back to Silverlake, then I walked 4 miles back to Hollywood - hit my pillow and crashed O-U-T.
So, I had to leave some of the juicier bits out of this entry, I'll have to get to them someday. It was a crazy night! But that's what E3 is all about. Sure, it is a lot about business and the future of the marketplace, the tech - but it's also about the extravagance, the indulgence. I make no bones about it, working in games is a very demanding job that takes a LOT of time, energy, dedication, and just plain stubbornness. It winds you up pretty good, especially after you've done it for several years. As you go through this industry, you work very intimately with lots of people across various different disciplines, and you all really bond as you do this. It's quite fraternal, and it's my favorite part of the job. When E3 rolls around, this is when it feels like a celebration of this aspect, the gathering of lots of us folks - the low-end guys, the mid-level grunts, the rich-ass power players, we all get slammed together for a few days and it's our opportunity to just let our hair down for a minute and revel in our love of what we do and our camaraderie - while some of the people who we've helped make EXTREMELY RICH foot the bill and let us experience a little taste of the luxury for just a bit.