Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Back to ENJMIN for a day

Angouleme and Paris, France

One of the students at this French video game school where I'd had such fun a few months ago asked if I were planning to be there to see them present their final projects. I said, "Well, nobody's asked me, but my wife might like a quick trip to France." A few hours later I was invited, with my expenses paid -- all we had to do was buy her train ticket. We took the Eurostar via the Channel Tunnel, then the TGV from Paris to Angouleme. She spent a day exploring the town, and I went off to the school to hear the students present their projects and give feedback to the instructors.

They had done some pretty interesting work, although the quality was variable. By far the best, and also the most complete, was a retro -style game called Nippon Salary Racing Championship, about racing around an office building in desk chairs. (The "box cover" mockup is visible at left.) Although it used a 3D engine, most of the objects in the game were made up of tiny cubes, giving the world a distinctly pixelated look. Another game, Psychedelia, was about a purple-skinned Rasta-looking god working to defeat the forces of squareness with flower power. The squares were, indeed, squares -- hostile cubes with teeth. Fun stuff.

After the day was over my wife and I went off to Paris, and had two full days just to be tourists. We took in the Asian Art Museum, the Musée d'Orsay (always a favorite, although we didn't have long enough there), a walk under the Eiffel Tower and down the Champs de Mars, Les Invalides and Napoleon's tomb. There are rooms full of plate mail, swords, and other late-medieval arms at the French Army Museum, far more than at any other museum I've seen. We also wandered along the Seine looking at the bookstalls, but it was pretty cold for riverside walks. And of course we ate fantastic meals every day; French cuisine deserves its reputation. The only downside is that there's no such thing as a quick restaurant meal; once you're seated, you're expected to want to sit there for a couple of hours.

Gotta go back, sooner rather than later. I'd love to have a full week in Paris sometime.