After an excellent DICE 2009 and a few more days in town with some gaming-industry peeps, I'm finally leaving Las Vegas! As expected, DICE was just phenomenal. While Leahy was doing a superb job live blogging numerous panels, I was conducting video interviews and networking with some of the top developers in the business. Considering that this is a relatively small show, the amount of development talent that attended the show was mind boggling. It's hard not to mark out and be a fan at DICE. Here are some of my favorite memories and some assorted photos from DICE 2009.
Dr. Ray Muzyka hooked me up with these excellent BioWare poker chips. In addition to being an extraordinarily nice human being and super smart, he gave me gifts! Hanging around Dr. Ray makes me wish I had more redeeming qualities. On a side note, I flashed one of these chips at Mandalay Bay and tried to convince a dealer that they're worth at least $500 a chip. I mean, BioWare is an amazing developer and these chips had Dr. Ray's hand sweat on them. The dealer didn't go for it. That's okay, I wouldn't have parted with these chips for $500. BioWare is that cool.
Oh yeah, on the first night of the show my friend Zoe and I were planning on a quiet evening: American Idol, a bottle of wine, and early to bed. Then we bumped into Gas Powered Game's Chris Taylor. One drink became two drinks, which then turned into dinner and more drinks. That was followed by even more drinks. In addition to being super talented, Taylor is hilarious and much fun to be around. He obliterated my plans for a peaceful evening. It was totally worth it. Just hearing his stories on what he's seen over the last 20 years and how things are going for his company was brilliant.
It was a real honor interviewing Bruce Shelley. As successful as he has been (how many tens of millions did the Age of Empires series sell?), he's still incredibly modest. Shelley humbly felt he didn't deserve the award; that his success was due to a team effort. After the interview, we spent 45 minutes chatting about baseball, games, and more. This was a big DICE "mark out" moment for me. I'm just a schmuck with a keyboard and a microphone, and I'm standing around talking with frickin' Bruce Shelley?!?
The Interactive Achievement Awards were outstanding. Jay Mohr did a fabulous job hosting the show, roasting some of the most popular developers in the gaming business. I was thrilled for LittleBigPlanet's success. Media Molecule's Alex Evans said the company would be lucky to snag one award. Instead, Media Molecule and LBP swept the show. Considering that game creators voted for the awards and they love uber-creative titles like LBP, I wasn't the least bit surprised.
At the Interactive Achievement Awards after-after party, I found myself in a conversation with Crystal Dynamics' Toby Gard (creator of Tomb Raider!) and BioWare's Dr. Greg Zeschuk. That was another mark out moment. In fact, ten minutes into the conversation, I had to excuse myself to make sure I wasn't hallucinating. After deciding this wasn't an absinthe-driven trip, I returned to the conversation and soaked up the knowledge. Both of these gentlemen are awesome.
Just to be perfectly clear, my attention wasn't solely on brilliant developers. Chatting with Epic's Mark "Purple" Rein and Mike "Busta" Capps in the lobby bar at Red Rock, I was suddenly distracted by two business development hotties: Foundation 9's Jane Pinckard and Slant Six's Zoe Flower. The boys were quickly ditched for the ladies. Can you really blame me for that one?!?
I bumped into my buddy Will Shen. We originally met at E3 '96 when I was a scrub at Happy Puppy and he, at Midway. That year, we were shut out of the Eidos party, but stormed the wall and snuck in. I haven't seen him since perhaps E3 '98. Now he's in charge of Nokia's first-party development. It was great catching up and I'm thrilled for his success. So much has changed for both of us over the last ten years.
All told, attending DICE is such an honor. Attending a small conference and having the opportunity to chat with people like Insomniac's Ted Price, Epic's Clifford Bleszinski (don't call him Cliffy B), id's Todd Hollenshead, Bethesda's Todd Howard, and more -- what an incredible experience. I'm lucky that the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences even allows me in the building! Congrats to AIAS president Joseph Olin on another successful show!!!