So one of the cooler things that happened at GDC Austin took place at the Speaker’s Party, a nice rooftop patio party for all of the speakers at the conference with, happily enough, an open bar. I was there in Austin by myself, and I’m not the most extroverted person by nature, so mingling at a social event where most people seem to know each other and I know zero isn’t exactly my comfort zone. But hey, open bar.
So I got my precious free drink, scanned the crowd, and tried to figure out what the hell I was going to do next.
I finally saw someone I recognized, but only barely; Tom Abernathy, one of the advisors of the Writers’ Summit. I knew a little of him, but I only recognized him because he introduced me at my talk. I approached him and thanked him for his intro, and we talked briefly about how things went.
It was then that I noticed someone standing next to him. A very tall, bearded man. I didn’t recognize him, but since we needed our speaker’s badges to get into the party, he was wearing his, and I did a quick double-take. It was Steve Meretzky, hanging out right there next to me.
Meretsky is attributed with a number of Infocom classics like Planetfall, Leather Goddesses of Phobos, A Mind Forever Voyaging, and the implementation of Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He has been described as “The Steven Spielberg of adventure games,” which I imagine would be a pretty cool thing to hear someone say about you.
I made some silly comment to Tom like “Maybe he should have given my talk instead.” Being a friend of Steve’s, he asked if I wanted to be introduced. So we were introduced, and like that I had two acquaintances.
There was that brief awkward moment when Steve looked at me and asked why my name sounded familiar to him (I assured him there certainly was no reason for that), but when he heard about the topic of my talk he quickly recalled that he had planned on attending. He even showed me his conference schedule, with my talk highlighted right at the top of Day Two. That’s the problem with being at the top of the day’s talks, though. Too many reasons to stay up at night, too many reasons to not get up early, and those morning talks pay the price. Still, it was a really nice thing to say.
And it was great to speak with him for a while on the subject of newer IF. He seemed to appreciate the opportunity to discuss it. I got to mention some of the great games and innovative methods I discussed at the talk, and got him interested enough to request my slides. So we exchanged cards (did I mention my cards?), and now I have Steve Meretzky’s cell phone number.
The card exchange also led neatly to a discussion of the Vespers project, and I was surprised at how interested he seemed in the whole 3D-with-a-text-interface idea. He even asked if he could test a demo of the game, which caught me by surprise, and was just plain cool.
It was a pretty nice start to a party, even if it only lasted about 15 minutes before some random guy joined in and derailed the conversation. I got to talk interactive fiction with Steve Meretsky. We’ve even e-mailed a couple of times since. Who knows, maybe we’ll talk a few more times. I like that.
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