Monday, February 12, 2007

A quick trip to the Waterford Institute of Technology

Waterford, Ireland

WITKarl Sandison at the Waterford Institute of Technology got in touch about a workshop and some consulting, and fortunately I was able to squeeze in a one-day visit between Animex and going off to Skövde, Sweden to teach for a week. It was my first visit to Waterford since I went as a tourist back in 1999. There wasn't time to be a tourist this time around, because I only had a single day there and went back to England the same evening, but I did give a lecture, a short game design workshop, and did a little consulting with the faculty about their curriculum. I got a chance to chat with some of the students about their game development projects, and I was quite impressed with the thoroughness and professionalism of their work. I'm hoping I'll get a chance to come back someday.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Animex again -- plus the Darlington Railway Museum!

Middlesbrough, England

Animex 2007 logoHow could you not love a conference that puts you up in an incredibly posh hotel and gives you a driver to go wherever you want? I gave the opening keynote at Animex Game, the first two days of the week-long Animex Festival. My lecture was "A New Vision for Interactive Stories," which went over well. I also gave a half-day game design workshop to a very well-prepared and attentive crowd of students. Evenings were spent having dinner with various game developers, and I was delighted to make the acquaintance of Thomas Arundel of Introversion Software (Defcon and Darwinia), and Philip Co from Valve, who was mobbed by students everywhere he went. My thanks, as ever, go to Gabby Kent for inviting me. Animex is a huge amount of work for her every year, and she takes great care of all the speakers.

Picture of Locomotion engineI also had an extra day there, which I used to visit the railroad museum at nearby Darlington. This area of Britain is rich in railroad history, as the first-ever passenger-carrying train operated here in 1825. I looked around the museum for a while and got to stand in the cabs of a couple of locomotives. One of them was ordinarily closed to the public, but once the staff knew I was genuinely interested, they were happy to let me go behind the scenes. After that I wandered over to the workshop where a brand-new steam locomotive, the Tornado, is being built to an old design. People were welding and machining and hoisting and generally doing all sorts of cool stuff with machinery that I wish I knew how to do. I was completely free to wander around, ask questions of the engineers, and take all the pictures I wanted. In the shot below you can see one of the engineers installing a shaft into the frame of the locomotive. The boiler, which is not yet installed, is visible behind him at the left edge of the frame.

Why build a steam locomotive in 2007? If you have to ask, you're not going to get it.

Picture of locomotive works