We took a few extra days after the GDC to vacation there, as I realized that I've been to the area a dozen times but have never actually seen the city. Had a good time taking the boat-tour of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. We visited Chinatown, which was a real slice of life. It's pretty fun, but there were a couple of places where I was worried that I'd be kidnapped, dried, powdered, and shipped off to the Far East to be sold as an aphrodisiac.
San Francisco is a land of contrasts. On one hand, it's reportedly full of touchy-feely-lawsuit-happy-commie-fag-leebrals who are constantly trying to impinge on your civil liberties in order to ensure a level playing field for all, but on the other hand I spent an afternoon clutching to the side of a streetcar climbing a 45% grade while people with ponytails and SUV's (two things which are in good supply there) sped by me while while wiping the foam off the side of their Grande Lattes (which are also in healthy supply).
But the people there are really friendlier than they let on. Some of the locals think that their fellow locals are a bit too insular and self-important and are too wrapped up in their iPods (which every resident must, by law, own) to interact with others, but I really didn't see that. To be honest, I've never found Americans in one city to be all that different from Americans in another. Proportions of helpful chatty folks versus standoffish A-holes aren't really that much different from place to place.
That being said, San Francisco does have a higher quotient of religious lunatics, but I think that's really more due to the mixed marketplace of ideas than anything else. Here in Dallas, the evangelicals Jesus-worshippers have a more-than-comfortable majority, so somebody with a sandwich board proclaiming that the world's gonna end SOON (see earlier entry for a definition of SOON) is preachin' to the converted around here. In San Francisco, chances are much better that you're gonna be preachin' to someone who practices some kind of homegrown neopagan-homeopathic-jainist-dianetics-buddhist-ism, so your particular brand of religious hoohah is more likely to reach someone unconverted to it.
Shelly and I did have a funny conversation about Scientology, because we ran across a more than a couple "find out about your personality" tables that are intended to convert you to Scientology after explaining that it's not your fault that you're a complete loser.
What I don't understand is WHY I need to find out about my personality. I've been living very closely to myself for nigh on 40 years now, so I should have a pretty good handle on my personality. In fact, I should know about my personality better than anyone else given the close proximity I have with myself. And I should CERTAINLY know more about my personality than some kid who's trying to get me to fill out a questionnaire while showing me that a galvanic skin-response meter can reveal my deepest problems.
Furthermore, I am clearly comfortable with my personality, because if I was not I would change it. The fact that I am the way I am and I act the way I do makes it clear that I'm comfortable with my am/do because I am in the unique position to change things. . .but choose not to.
So the whole point of having someone tell me how I act is pointless because I know how I act. And telling me how and why I should change is similarly pointless because if I wanted to change I would do so!
The entire exercise seems as nonsensical as someone trying to determine if I like potato chips then seeing if I'm happy with my like or dislike of potato chips. If I like potato chips, then I already know it. Furthermore if I like potato chips then I will eat them, otherwise I will avoid them. Showing me a test to gauge my stance on potato chips then telling me my stance can/should/must be otherwise is pointless.
Of course, trying to get an explanation from a teenaged volunteer who's trying to earn credits that he can spend on more courses to learn about Space Cooties (which is ultimately what Scientology, at its core, is all about), is pointless.
So I ignored the whole thing.
Big thanks to Thompson-Course-Technology-Premier-Charles-River-Media-Cougar-Mellencamp-Press for letting Shelly and Maggie tag along at their author's party. The ladies were all impressed at how well-behaved Maggie was.
Of course, they were overlooking two things. . .
1. She had already done a full day of city-exploring with mer mom, and she was dead tired. She fell asleep on the bus on the way back to the room.
2. She was the only kid in attendance. Young kids are like lawyers. When there's only one present, then they'll sit quietly. If there's more than one, then you've got trouble.
Also big thanks to my cousin for opening up her little home-based bed-n-breakfast to us. We had a grand time, and Maggie had a ball with the kids. If you ever find yourself in San Francisco and you want to stay somewhere with a great rate and a full kitchen, you could do a lot worse than this. As an added bonus, she had a full washer-n-dryer, so we only had to pack half as much clothes as necessary.
Big thanks to gamedev for ordering me three shirts, then giving 'em to me the day before the end of the conference.
Honestly, though, I have to Melissa the proper respect. She pulled the whole thing together and manned the gamedev micro-booth much more than she had to. Given our little booth slideshow, I figured that we'd just leave the boothlet abandoned most of the time, but she was there quite often to pester passersby about the wonders of gamedev.
Although that wasn't really necessary. This conference more than others was one where I didn't need to tell people who we were. Apart from the Corel Painter booth (which is understandable given that they sell more to artists than game developers), everyone knew who we were. Even the paper-n-pencil-game company Wizards of the Coast knew who we were, and they're just starting to get into the software business (yeah, there are Magic The Gathering and D&D computer games, but they're not done in-house).
Back to the games. I'm still going in a dozen different directions, but I'll have a little to show off in a few days.