Just arrived home from my visit to Trion for Gamer Day 3 and I am exhausted. It was a very busy few days and between the plane flights, the tour and the drinking I am pretty exhausted. However, I wanted to put a little something up to tide you over until the “embargo” is lifted on Monday morning. So, today I am going to start with the general outline of our visit and tomorrow I will go in-depth about the round table discussion.
At the end of the studio tour yesterday, we were able to sit down with Scott Hartsman and Russ Brown, the Executive Producer and VP of Development, respectively. I am going to cover what went on during the round table, as well as some details of my trip and experiences. This will all be covered tomorrow so stay tuned for that.
Arriving in San Francisco and Dinner
I arrived in San Fran at about 1:00PM local time and I was totally beat. A long night at the airport and two plane flights, just about did me in. I went straight out and caught a shuttle to my hotel, the Sofitel Hotel in Redwood City. The hotel was amazing and, conveniently enough, right across the street from Trion’s studios.
After checking in and getting up to my room, I went straight to bed for a nap. I must be getting old.
I woke up about four hours later and got ready to meet Trion and the other fan site operators downstairs in the hotel bar for drinks. I want to take this time to thank all of my fellow fan sites whom I had the pleasure to meet during this trip. Each and everyone of you were fantastic and I think I made some long term friends during this trip. Thank you to Ciovala of Telarapedia, BCTrainers of RiftIRC, Draegn and Teljair of Rift Junkies and Arithion of the Rift Podcast. You guys made the trip that much better and I thank each and every one of you!
At this time we all sit down for drinks and the Trion team started arriving. We were lucky enough to meet Cindy Bowens, community manager for Rift, MissDoomCookie, Defiant Lore Lead, Erick ‘Zann’ Adams, Assistant Community Manager and even Dead Simon himself, Simon Ffinch. There were other Trion folks there as well so forgive me if I don’t name them all. I had much to drink that night!
After a few drinks, we headed out to the Mistral Restaurant for dinner and more drinks. We were joined by even more Trion folks, including Scott, Russ and Hal Hanlin. The dinner was fantastic and so was the company. I was able to make some suggestions about the PvP servers to Scott and Russ but I am sure they won’t remember them! Worth a shot though!
I will say that it was awesome to see that Russ feels the same way about PvP, ganking and griefing as I do. I bet he is a terror on the PvP server and it is pretty obvious why he has played a rogue in all of his demo videos. I have thoughts of him ganking some poor sap on his rogue and giggling like he does on all of his videos. Just perfect.
After much fun, drinks and laughter at dinner we all loaded up in various cars and taxis and headed back to the hotel. A few folks made a pit-stop back in the bar for a nightcap but I was just too tired. Yes, I am getting old. I went to bed in preparation for the big studio tour the next day.
I want to warn you before you start reading this part that I have to be really careful with what I say. The majority of hard information about Rift and what we saw will be in a post on Monday morning but I can give you some generals thoughts on the studio and the people we talked with.
As I said, Trion’s studio is right across the street from our hotel. So, it was a quick walk over Friday morning. Trion takes up two floors of the building, with art, animation and design on one floor and human resources, public relations and such on another. They have a lot of space and they make use of all of it.
Seeing the studio just makes me want to work for a game company even more. The studio is full of “geek” memorabilia. Everything from movies posters, to anime, to games and everything in between. It is divided into ‘departments’, with art and animation in one space, raid design in another and UI design in another. We were able to visit each department and ask questions of each. I will have more on that on Monday, as well as some pictures of the inside of the studio.
After that, it was demo time and we all were able to sit down to some honest-to-god Rift fun and then off to lunch. Lunch was served up inside the studio, which was good because I don’t think anyone wanted to leave.
The day at the studio finished off with a Round Table, attended by all the fan-sites, a few press members, Scott Hartsman and Russ Brown. We were able to ask an hour worth of questions and Scott and Russ answered everything they could answer, with much humor and laughter. It was a great time and I will have a break down of it tomorrow and if you happen to read this Scott, I still want a look at that damn Power Point presentation!!!
After that it was off to dinner at a local brew-house, with much beer drinking and talking about the days events. Sadly, we had to say our good-byes to Cindy and Amary as they headed home while we went back to the hotel for one last night in San Fran.
Luckily, Erick ‘Zann’ Adams was staying in the same hotel with us and he came back for drinks. The rest of the night is a blur as we attempted to put together a drunken podcast, listened to Zann sing an original song about Madden football (wtf?!?) and watched Teljair piss off Draegn by using ‘netspeak’ all night.
I actually have video of Zann performing his Madden song and I will upload it for the right bribe. Or I will not upload it for the right bribe. I really want to hear what Arithion can salvage of our drunk podcast because the majority of it was unairable. Good luck with that Ari, you will need it!
Unfortunately, my time at Trion came to an end last night and I had to fly back to Dallas this morning. I had an amazing time, got to see a lot of really cool stuff and met a lot of really cool people. Hopefully I will have the chance to this again and I hope to see all the Trion folks and my fellow fan-site operators again in the near future. It was an amazing experience. It truly was.
Again, look for my run down of the Round Table tomorrow and even more information about our tour on Monday. There is a lot I want to share with you all and I think you will enjoy it!