Saturday, July 26, 2008

Went up a mountain and came down a fan.

Northwest Specific.
Am currently in Vancouver, up in the (pretty rugged) north-west and incidentally, my first ever time in Canada after spending a week or so in Seattle, Washington. We've been over presenting our new titles to our publishing partners and we've had a fairly overwhelmingly positive reception, which is obviously pretty great. There's a couple of meetings to have here, a little R&R and also chance to catch up with some friends and contacts from the games industry.

Boom or bust in Seattle...
With regards to our main objective - i.e. presenting our new titles & work, it was a little difficult if I'm honest since we had pretty high expectations that people who really 'get' what we're up to. It's sometimes dangerous to believe your own hype when you think you have strong product (and we're buzzing, "pumped" even) but if anything it lived up to that and more besides. The video game publishing world is currently quietly shifting in the background and I'm so happy that we're seemingly attached and at the forefront of those changes - I really can't wait until we get our titles out next year when the clear direction of where all this is heading gets revealed :) Success in this industry is part skill/talent, part luck and part good timing - I think it's been a while since we nailed all 3 at once and it's tremendously exciting.

The time in Seattle was good, although we've (I think) seen pretty much most of what's good outside of the events we were at, so it made the time seem a little long and we were ready for the off come Friday. We got out to Kirkland, a totally beautiful suburb of Seattle, on a couple of occasions and spent a great afternoon/evening with our business-partners and now firm friends at Redmond - sitting out in the sun almost ruining the week since a few glasses of wine and you forget how high the UV is... but needless to say, it's a great way to discuss business :)

Both the events we attended (Gamefest/XNA and Casual Connect) were as usual well organised and whilst I didn't really catch many of the seminars, it was good as ever to catch up with people and also grab a look at the new Xbox 360 interface/avatar stuff. We also won an award at Casual Connect, with Worms XBLA scooping "Game Of The Year on XBLA, 2007" nice eh. There were the usual developer parties although we only really spent any time at the last one, which was in Seattle Aquarium and skipped the others, preferring our own developer/business contact get-togethers away from the baying hordes and "man tank" games industry throngs.

Snowblind drunk.
I also had the pleasure of catching up with some friends from Snowblind one night (the team who did the great Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance games on PS2) and we ended up having (as is now something of an annual event) a little too much fun after all our industry catch-up talk and I got back pretty worse for wear, sporting a burnt lip courtesy of a flaming-sambucca incident. John had wisely opted to not get involved. The lip is on the mend now and hasn't been as painful as it perhaps might have been and other than for an ill-advised scoffing of salted Pringles when I was starving, I've been relieved that the agony has been limited.

Mountain Men.

A couple of non-work related highlights were firstly our trip out in the car to drive around Mount Rainier national park, a drive that took us all the way around the huge central volcano of Mount Rainier (14, 404ft high) and culminated in snowball fights at 5,500ft in a place called Paradise, on a beautiful clear day.

I got some nice photos and they'll end up on Flickr and Facebook at some point - attached is Mt. Rainier reflected in, funnily enough, "Reflection late" - a slight breeze made the usually still lake a little ripply and therefore the reflection is not especially well focused, but it was an beautiful view and the image fails to really demonstrate the scale of the mountain - which looms in the distance (on a clear day) from Seattle from 80 miles away. (Rainier is part of the 'Cascade' range of mountains and volcanoes which also includes Mt Saint Helens, the infamous one which blew in the 80's covering a wide area with dust/mud).

Secondly we had a trip up to the Seattle Center which is near downtown and I got some great photos of the EMP music center, the tower and a rather staggering Canadian marching band who were performing at the time. The satisfaction of this event was only tempered by the fact that I managed to lose a bunch of really nice photos :(

Speaking of photos, I've been driving JD mental I guess with my photography chatter, I've also managed to upgrade my long zoom lens and have what is probably the first 'pro lens' I've had - a 70-200mm f2.8 AF-S VR, which whilst on the large/heavy side, seems incredibly awesome. I also bought a camcorder as I wanted to take some footage on our trip to see friends in Scotland next week - I bought a small, tiny thing that records in full HD (1920x1080) and is solid state (no tapes, HD, or whatever) which is really good, so I'll be getting into video-editing on the Mac too :-) Anything to keep me quiet... it's shopping for Trina and the kids tomorrow, which is our last day before flying back.

Today we have an open agenda and I think we're gonna drive up to Whistler in the mountains, take a few photos and then chill out this evening with some friends before one more meeting tomorrow prior to the crappy flight back. We flew Air Canada and it was like being back in the 80s entertainment wise, but I have Civ Revolution for the DS to play and some Family Guy to watch on the laptop, so I'm pretty prepared. I've also now got to Brighton next Wednesday for a night and whilst it'll be good to catch the UK dev industry mob, I reckon I'll be pretty shot and am now looking forwards to that long, quiet weekend in Scotland with friends.

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