Trip to San Diego – Part III

I’m still processing the trip down to San Diego, mostly because I haven’t had the time (yet) to sit down and just reflect on it. As soon as I landed back home  (pretty much) I was thust head first into writing 6 articles (that are due tomorrow) and I also came down with a horrible cold that’s left me sounding like a frog and sneezing every 10 minutes with a cough. I know I’ll be feeling back to my normal self in no time, but you’ll have to forgive the lack of posts on my site in the mean time. 

Picture is a member of the EverQuest team, showing off his sponge bob pillow. I actually took this particular picture for my Mom who is an avid fan. There’s another picture with a project that he was working on, but I’m saving that for Beckett (I know, what a tease). 

So what exactly did I do for my day in San Diego? It was pretty amazing and surreal for me on a very personal level. I was up at 3am on Tuesday the 3rd of February. Headed to the Ottawa International Airport where I flew from Ottawa at 6am to Detroit. Switched plains in Detroit to Minneapolis and then flew from Minneapolis to San Diego. I landed at around 1pm, grabbed a taxi to my suite which was pretty close to the SOE studio, and waited for a room. By the time I got settled all I wanted to do was let everyone know I was safe and sound, and sleep. So the night ended early for me at 8:30pm PST. Remember, this trip also takes place after two very stressful weeks of getting my passport organized, and was very short notice for me. I still had a blast.

The next day at 9:30am I was met in the lobby by Katie, who is the public relations person for SOE and who I get to annoy on a regular basis. We drove to the SOE studio which is fairly close to where I was staying. The day was absolutely amazing, bright sunshine and no snow. I ogled all of the palm trees that I’ve never seen before. The landscape is completely different from what I’m used to. I’ve seen hills and mountains before when I lived in Germany, but Ottawa is fairly flat and our houses sit on flat streets, not up the sides of hills one under another. I was feeling pretty nervous, but calmed down as the day went on.

I had a brief tour of the SOE buildings, I’d looked at older pictures trying to get a feel for the layout and recognize where I was. My first round of meetings was with the EQ1 team, some absolutely amazing people. I spoke with Alan Couvering, Adam Bell, and Ed Hardin. The passion they demonstrated for their game was just mind boggling. It’s not something I’ll soon forget. Anyone who has read my Beckett articles before knows that I don’t exactly write from an investigative journalism point of view, but I write as a gamer first and try to keep that theme throughout everything I write. Having the opportunity to talk to these people who created the games I love in such a setting was fantastic. 

Afterwards I spoke with the EQ2 team – Bruce Ferguson, Joy Parks, Noel Walling, Tim Heydelaar, Bill Yeats, and Joshua Kriegshauser. Again they displayed the same amount of passion that the EQ1 team had for their game, and the comradery displayed was fantastic. I also spoke with Rich Waters, who is the creative director for the EQ Franchise, and then it was time for lunch.

Lunch was amazing. The community team consisting of Brenlo, Kiara, and Ashlanne (who you may recognize on forums and from Podcasts) were great. We went to a surf shack type place called ‘Hodads’ (I believe that’s the name at least) which was plastered on the inside with old license plates. The atmosphere was very laid back and easy going and the fact that I was eating lunch in San Diego in the sunshine and not home in Ottawa in the freezing temperatures with four feet of snow on the ground did not go unnoticed. We took a little walk down to the beach (not far away) and even had a little time to stop by a comic book store that was along the way back to the van. They were easy to talk to, joked around a lot, and I felt completely at ease. Once lunch was done it was time to get back to work and Lydia joined in the conversation. 

Once it was noticed that I also play Vanguard (and love the game despite the rocky launch and issues that still persist) I was granted an opportunity to talk to the VG team, something I had not planned for. This was probably one of the most fantastic parts of the trip, because it was just so odd for me. If you had of asked me a year ago if I thought I’d be talking (in person) to Silius (Salim Grant, lead designer) I’d have laughed so hard milk would have shot out my nose even if I wasn’t drinking milk. I remember seeing the NPC version of his character in game outside the crafting area in the high elf place. I remember seeing him on Seradon on the craft channel, and I even own (or rather, my bloodmage owns) the craft bag named after him. You can flag me as a fan and I’m perfectly ok with it. I didn’t just speak with him though, I also got to talk to Christian Akesson (VGThor, Lead artist), and Thom Terrazas (Phathom, producer). VG is one of those diamond in the rough games (for me at least) and to watch other people who actually worked on the game talk about it to me was just so inspiring. I can not even put it into words. 

By the end of the day I was exhausted (again) and Katie brought me back to my suite where I crashed for the night at 8:30. I would be flying out at 10:30am, and wanted to be at the airport early so I could go through security and all the rest. 

At 7am I headed back to the airport, where I flew from San Diego to LA (short flight), and then from LA to Detroit, and finally from Detroit back home. It was 11pm EST by the time I finally got home, back to the wind and snow and negative temperatures. 

Another huge thank you to the people from SOE for flying me out and granting me the opportunity, as well as Beckett MOG since I was there to do work for them. My friends were absolutely amazing (and continue to be) and supportive while I ranted about all of the stress I was feeling and my excitement as I went through this whole process. It’s been an incredible rush. 

Now that I’m home and settled, I have three more pieces to write for Beckett and then I can get back to what brought me here in the first place – gaming! See you in Norrath.

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