Saturday, March 01, 2008

GDC '08: Hanging out at the 1UP Office, and Touring Pixar

Touring around, like we were lost, than found.

Taking a break from the busy conference, me and a few others were invited over to check out the offices of Ziff Davis Media, and to observe the folks of the 1UP network in their natural habitat.

What could we expect? Game writers chained to their desks, slaving away and being forced to play the worst games ever developed by man? Well, no one was chained to their desks, in fact, most of them were out to lunch. Fortunately, they slowly returned to their cubes as our wonderful host and caffeinated community manager SuperJenn toured us around. After blogging for several years on 1UP, I'd say it was about time for me to see where this incredibly complex, and at times buggy community-oriented site operates from. Fanboys and fansgirls would have loved to be in our position.

It was like being in an episode of the 1UP show. What are they like in real life, you say? I've already met most the 1Uppers at various conventions and expos over the past few years, so it wasn't like it was my first time meeting them. But for those who don't know, they're pretty much exactly the way they appear in the videos, and if you read their blogs or other writings you'd get the gist on their personalities. Just a bunch of hard working professionals, opinionated and caffeinated lovers of video games with encyclopedic minds on pop-culture... On a busy week covering the happenings of GDC, the tour was a surprise interruption (disruption?) to most of the people in the office, but they were kind enough to say "hey!" to the traveling caravan of 1UP members, CDNGRRL, Escaping_burger, Gaian, me, plus a friend of mine who was hoping to get his XBLA game some coverage on the site (which he did)... It was a tour with some business intentions thrown in.

Brooktown High, and Hulk Hogan, definite favorites of Jenn.

What's the secret that keeps the 1UP office working like a well oiled machine? Free Red Bull? For SuperJenn it's a couple of Red Bulls throughout the day, even though the health warning label says a maximum of 2 per day, or something like that, she still operates like normal. I think. I just had to get me some 1UP Red Bull too!

Gaian attempts to steal some games against the signs request.

It was great hanging out with the 1UP's at their office, plus the occasional random party meet up. Like 9-bit, EA's Will Wright event, the Prototype Party, and whatever else came up during GDC.

Shocking! Capnsmack and I joke about a 1UP community in-joke, which cannot be repeated.

It's one of the joys of convention-going. Getting to hang out with people you rarely get a chance to see. And speaking of hanging out...Let me just take this moment to apologize for not showing up at a place, where I said I would be. It was a conflict of events going on at around the same time. I feel like a total jerk. I was given a special invite which was super hard to come by, so I couldn't turn it down. As much as I hate turning down invites, I had to pick one. The Microsoft thing was great, but I think I should have gone to the Buddha! Maybe next time!?

A Pixar tour. An animator's wet dream come to life.

The next day, Bob welcomed us over to Pixar to check out what was open to the general public inside the famed animation studio. For an animator such as I, I couldn't pass up the opportunity, especially since GDC had ended earlier that day.

A group of us hopped on the BART to Emeryville, and then grabbed a bus to Pixar. The bus dropped us off a block away, and the bus driver apparently had no idea where Pixar was located. Note to self: The Bus Driver was a jerk. Here I thought it was the pride of Emeryville, and yet the locals didn't really give a damn about it. A fellow bus rider said it was beside an IHOP, but there was no IHOP in sight. So we get off, and hope that we run into it. Luckily another bus rider (who got off the bus with us), said the studio was just around the corner. Awesome! She was the only nice person we met on our trip to Pixar. Soon enough we found it! It was in an industrial area full of warehouses, not exactly a Magical Kingdom.

I went for coffee in the cafeteria, but there honestly wasn't any left. 3 large coffee dispensers were gone. No wonder they make such great animated films! They must be up working 24/7.

The Tour mainly consisted of hallways featuring awesome artwork plastered on the walls, as well as some offices in two separate buildings. The studio is pretty massive, and kinda fancy. It totally reminded me of EA Canada's campus in Burnaby/Vancouver which is totally excess in terms of planning and design. Though Pixar's studio is nice, EA's totally pwns it. Sry Bob. But I still can't believe I saw Brad Bird's office. It was locked unfortunately... I planned on stealing some secrets!

The fact that I was INSIDE Pixar, kinda made me speechless. I get kinda quiet when I'm soaking in an experience and this tour pretty much silenced me. I mean damn. This place houses some of the best talent around. Famous people (like Miyazaki) have walked within these halls. Some of the Bestest animators breath this air of ultra creativity! Daily! OMG!

A friend of mine later asked me why I was working in the game industry animating video games, when I should be focusing on trying to get into a studio like Pixar. Which made me ponder my life. Then I decided to selfishly sit in Bob's desk for a few seconds of imagining what it would be like to work here. It was so good. In my head at least. Hmmm, yeah.

Look what you missed out on Jenn! Expect this in the mail!

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