On a personal level, Quakecon was an immense joy. There was always something entertaining happening. Even when a third of the network lost power for a short while the spirit was fun. I got to meet even more interesting people this year, including several game developers I considered prominent and highly respected.
On a development level things went pretty good, considering the circumstances. I was happy to see Carcinogen again, and meet his girlfriend for the first time (who was also great). However, it turned out that Carcinogen and I were the only ones there to represent Team Reaction. Likewise, Wirehead Studios was being represented only by Dr. Jones, Kenny, and Lee'mon.
I knew a lot of people weren't going to be able to make it this year due to personal issues, and Quakecon's late announcement, but to actually get there and see that it was just us was depressing. I'd have probably remained depressed if I lingered in the BYOC (Bring Your Own Computer, a several-thousand-man network) on my own trying to crack out an asset or two over the weekend.
That wasn't the thing to do this year, and I knew it. Usually these meetings are a good chance for a significant portion of the team to crack out a lot of code and art, as well as beta test. We obviously didn't have the showing for that, so we all moved on to more productive matters; socializing.
It surprised me to find how much I had changed since my last Quakecon two years ago. Whereas before I'd be shrugged off by the celebrities in id Software's world, now I could somehow get their attention, and keep it until we both agreed the exchange had reached it's end. Every id Software employee I spoke to seemed a lot more engaging this year. And then there was Splash Damage...
I approached Fluffy_gIMp, Splash Damage's Creative Director. I had a lot of questions about Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. Just how much was their map format changing? Were they forced to make major modifications to Doom 3's net code? How did they like having the atmospheric control they were striving for since RtCW:ET?
They were happy to take any questions they had answers to, and referred me to someone else, or the panel the following day, for answers they didn't have. But my questioning started to become ever more personal. I don't remember my last query before they came up with a question of their own. Fluffy_gIMp asked me, "so just who are you?"
"Oh, I'm just some mapper for Team Reaction--"
"Team Reaction?! Really?! How are you guys doing? How's Lifer doing? What are you up to?"
For the first time in more than a year I felt the excitement of being a member of Team Reaction. These guys knew our work. Hell, they knew it well! Many people that had been on the team for a while had played almost everything released by Team Reaction since Jailbreak.
We talked a bit more after that, and then I returned to our spot at the BYOC to relay the exchange to Carcinogen. We wound up calling Lifer who also seemed surprised to hear that a Director from Splash Damage had asked about him.
Things went great after that. We held a meeting with what few we had to bust out some definitions and brainstorm over our design documents, and initiatives we could take to get people working, and recruit. That was still a good meeting, we just need to act on the action items.
I would later meet up with Fluffy_gIMp again at the smokers' "oasis." There was some small talk about the weather in Texas, versus that of England, and other trivialities. It wasn't long, though, before we got into something more engaging. Height-maps versus models for local map generation.
We didn't necessarily disagree, no one was arguing one method superior over the other in a universal sense. Our opinions didn't align perfectly however. Due to their assets they found the speed of height maps preferable. Due to my assets, I found the complexity of models preferable. I could see where they were coming from, but I needed to illustrate where I was coming from with something more than language.
In the heat of the discussion, I asked them to come to my computer in the BYOC. I pulled up a texture set I had been working on recently to demonstrate geometry difficult to replicate in a height map, but not out of place in a realistic game. We each gave a try to recreating one of my examples in photoshop. I wasn't experienced enough with height maps, and them handicapped without their own workstations (and their own version of photoshop, and probably a wacom tablet), meant none of us could do it. However they were kind enough to demonstrate other geometry and we eventually parted ways (Locki located us out smoking again and insisted they worked too much, which I had to agree with by now).
In the midst of it all, they asked me for a business card! Me! Who the fuck am I to have a business card?! It was the first time in my entire life I regretted not having a business card!
Next year, I will have business cards.