Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Lecture Tour Day 15: End of the tour.

Troy, NY - Lexington, KY

Flights 13 and 14. This was the last day of the tour. I flew from the Albany airport, via Chicago yet again, to Lexington, Kentucky to spend about a week with family and in-laws.

The whole thing was great... lots of fun, though tiring at times. I'm now getting ready to set one up on the west coast, either before or after GDC 2006.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Lecture Tour Day 14: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Troy, NY

RPI logoAnother day-long Fundamentals workshop for an excellent bunch of folks. Like the crowd at Full Sail, these students were already well-prepared and got straight into it. One of them had already taken it before, which was kind of cheating, but I guess he must have enjoyed it enough the first time to do it again. Following the workshop I had dinner with another group of RPI faculty including Katherine Isbister, newly arrived from Stanford University and one of the rising stars of the academic scene in game research. Tobi Saulnier and Ralph Noble joined us, but my original host from last year, Kathleen Ruiz, couldn't make it alas.

The picture below shows the students presenting their results. It's a bit dark, but you can see how it works: one student from a team, the Lead Designer, takes the podium to explain the game they've designed, while another one (standing, center) uses a webcam attached to my laptop to present the concept art and user interface layouts they've created.

Photo of students at RPI.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Lecture Tour Day 13: East Lansing, MI to Troy, NY

Lansing - Chicago - Albany

Back to upstate New York! Flights 11 and 12 were to Chicago and then to Albany, New York. My last stop on the lecture tour was at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where everyone has always been incredibly warm and friendly to me. I went out for a massive steak dinner with Marc Destefano and Mike Lynch.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Lecture Tour Days 10-12: FuturePlay Conference

Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

FuturePlay logoThe FuturePlay Conference . Wow. I've attended two previous incarnations of this event, when it was called the Computer Game Technology conference, but this one was better than ever. A combination industry/academic conference FILLED with big name people: Henry Jenkins, James Paul Gee, Chris Hecker, Michael Mateas, Greg Costikyan, Marc LeBlanc, Brenda Brathwaite, Jason Della Rocca, John Buchanan. Plus I got to see a number of other old friends and acquaintances from over the years -- Brian Wynn from Michigan State, Celia Ross from Algoma University College, Kelly Rued of Black Love Interactive, Guillaume Provost of Pseudo Interactive, Jeb Havens from Cyberlore, and I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot more. I also made some new friends, most particularly Tobi Saulnier who's running a startup at the business incubator at Rensselaer Polytechnic. Tobi's a former electrical engineer, and it has been a long time since I've had a chance to talk about circuit design and layout tools (in a former life I made chip design tools for the electronics industry). The conference itself was not a very large event -- 325 or thereabouts -- but that was part of what made it fun. It wasn't so huge that you couldn't find anybody.

I gave my keynote lecture on the afternoon of the 13th, and they taped it, so you can see it on streaming video here. (Scroll down a bit; requires QuickTime 7.) The other talks are also available and well worth watching, especially Michael Mateas' on game AI.

Photo of Sex and Gender panel.I also sat on the Sex and Gender in Games panel. There were so many of us on the panel that I didn't get to say a lot, but it appears that I had a good time. On my right (the left in the picture) was Brenda Brathwaite, designer of Playboy: The Mansion, and on my left is Kelly Rued, who's trying to create a sex-themed MMORPG with some class, called Rapture Online . The other people on the panel aren't visible in the picture.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Lecture Tour Day 9: Winter Park, FL to East Lansing, MI

Orlando - Chicago - Lansing

Off to East Lansing, Michigan via Chicago (flights 9 and 10). These were blissfully uneventful. East Lansing was beautiful -- the view out my hotel window was all of big mature trees turning colors, and I took pictures. The measure of the emotional and environmental health of a place is the number of mature trees it has. I can't stand brand new suburban subdivisions, built right in what was obviously a farm field, with nothing but a bunch of pathetic little saplings. Give me big, old, strong, beautiful trees.

Photo of mature trees.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Lecture Tour Day 8: Full Sail

Winter Park, FL

Full Sail logoFlight 8: First thing in the morning, I took the hotel shuttle back to Dulles and flew on to Orlando. My host, Rob Cato, was waiting for me at the airport and whisked me off to Full Sail, which turned out to be a surprisingly long drive. We gathered up the students, who had been waiting patiently for two hours, and got started on the Fundamentals workshop, somewhat abbreviated. It didn't matter, though, as the Full Sail students were incredibly well-prepared. Many teams finished early. I met Dave Arneson there, one of the two creators of Photo of Full Sail student presentingDungeons & Dragons. We swapped books and he inscribed mine "To a fellow gaming god," which flattered me no end as I consider myself barely qualified to buff his shoes. Rob and Dustin Clingman took me out to dinner, and afterwards I came back and gave a lecture to the local chapter of the IGDA.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Lecture Tour Day 7: Rutgers University

New Brunswick, NJ

Rutgers logoBill Crosbie fetched me from my very nice Hyatt hotel and off we went. I gave a smallish group of students (25?) my lecture, "The Philosophical Roots of Game Design," and followed it up with a four-hour version of the Fundamentals Workshop. There was a bit of a scramble at the beginning as it turned out that the batteries in my remote control for my laptop were dead, but Bill was hospitality itself and batteries were duly procured. Unfortunately I couldn't stay longer or have dinner with any of the faculty or students, because I had to hurry off at the end of the day to fly to Orlando.

Bad news at the airport. My flight to Washington Dulles, where I had to connect with another one to Orlando, was delayed by weather. I eventually got as far as Washington (flight #7), but I missed the connection and had to spend the night in a hotel near the airport. I managed to get a reservation on the first plane out in the morning, but that's the best I could do -- I was late for my own workshop. What's worse, I had no luggage -- it was in the bowels of the system and I only have my carry-on with me. The hotel sent a shuttlebus which was nowhere near big enough for me and all the German tourists who were in the same boat, and rather than wait another half hour in my exhausted state for one to show up, I decide to take a taxi. Although I only have one little bag with me and the driver has done exactly nothing but drive the car, the he snubs my tip as too small for him -- thoroughly ungracious. The airline got me a discount on the hotel room due to the delay, and the hotel consequently put me in a dumpy little room near the vending machines. I'm beginning not to like Washington very much, and I certainly don't care for Dulles airport.

I did discover, however, that you if you wash your clothes in the hotel sink you can dry them quite adequately with a hotel hair dryer if you run it long enough. The hot air fills up the socks in an amusing fashion.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Lecture Tour Day 6: Chicago to New Brunswick, NJ

Chicago - Newark

Photo of a Chicago Blue Line station.Avoiding taxis, I took Chicago's subway system. The Blue Line was only three blocks away, goes directly to the airport with no changes, and thank goodness, it was wheelchair-accessible. I wasn't in a wheelchair, but I might as well have been considering how hampered I was by all my luggage (most of it, in fact, on wheels). It cost $1.75 to go all the way from the center of town out to O'Hare again -- less than one-twentieth of the cab ride.

Flight 6: Chicago to Newark, New Jersey. Directly, for once; the only such flight the entire trip.

Maybe not sick after all. I was sucking lozenges and crossing fingers. Nice hotel, though the day was rather gloomy.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Lecture Tour Day 5: Sleep!

Chicago, IL

As this was the weekend, I had a spare day in Chicago. Did I go to the Field Museum? I did not. Did I go to the Museum of Science and Industry, which I adored as a child? I did not. I felt as if I was coming down with something, so I just cocooned in my hotel room and slept most of the day. I began to get worried, though, because no less an event than the Chicago Marathon was due to go right past my hotel. The place was full of runners. I wasn't sure about getting out to the airport in the morning because so many streets were blocked off.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Lecture Tour Day 4: DePaul University

Chicago, IL

I haven't been to Chicago in years and years, and I've never spent any amount of time there. The DePaul campus, or one of them, is located right in the Magnificent Mile, the very heart of the city. The campus was about two blocks' walk from my hotel. Scott Roberts was my host for the game design workshop, and he made me very welcome with genuine Chicago pizza for lunch. I'd never had the real deep-dish thing before, and the difference was unmistakable -- huge amounts of cheese and it has to be served with a sort of trowel. At the workshop we scattered the faculty in among the students, which may have been a mistake as the students tended to defer to the faculty in decision-making. It was a good group, though, about 40 people.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Lecture Tour Day 3: Ithaca to Chicago

Ithaca, NY - Pittsburgh - Chicago

Flights number 4 and 5: Ithaca to Pittsburgh to Chicago. A very expensive cab ride in from O'Hare. The taxi driver spent most of the ride talking on a cell phone in what I think was a Nigerian language, but I can't be sure.

Here's Chicago as seen from my hotel window.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Lecture Tour Day 2: Ithaca College and Cornell University

Ithaca, NY

It wasn't cold! Dammit, it's supposed to be cold in upstate New York. I was counting on it, but here it is in the mid 70's and I'm sweating hauling around my workshop gear and a box of books to sell. I'm sure everybody else thought it was lovely.

Photo of Adams handing out game ides.This was the toughest day of the whole tour. I had five events scheduled plus dinner, on top of the jet lag. The first was a 90-minute workshop at the Park School of Communication at Ithaca College, which was one of the four different groups that sponsored my visit there. The Dean, Dianne Lynch, even came to my opening lecture. After that I went on to give a lecture at David Schwartz' computer science class at Cornell University -- he was the primum mobile behind my visit to Ithaca and did a lot of work to set it all up. Then I gave another 90-minute workshop at Cornell, and followed it with a longer lecture, "The Future of Computer Entertainment, 2005-2050." Somewhere in there I had a meeting with some of the faculty, and finally they all took me out to dinner. I enjoyed the visit and everybody said nice things. Cornell is very pretty, too, on steeply rising ground overlooking the city; the buildings are a mixture of American neo-Gothic and, um, other styles I can't name.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Lecture Tour Day 1: London to Ithaca, NY

London - Washington Dulles - New York La Guardia - Ithaca, NY

Up at 5 AM for a taxi at 7 for a plane at 9:30. The taxi was 20 minutes late because the driver couldn't find my house. Fortunately I always leave myself a lot of time for these things. So, flights 1, 2 and 3 are London to Washington Dulles, to New York La Guardia, to Ithaca, New York where Cornell University is, the first stop on my trip. The aerial view of New York state from the little plane to Ithaca was great -- forested hills with patches cut out of them to be farm fields. But I was pretty exhausted by the time I got there. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture.