Saturday, April 19, 2008

DeVry Austin, old friends and new ones

Austin, Texas

DeVry logoI went off to Austin, Texas this weekend to do a lecture for the existing students and a recruiting event for the prospective ones. My hosts were as hospitable as ever, putting me up in a nice hotel and making sure I had everything I needed for my workshop. It all went very well and the participants came up with some fun stuff. The big news, though, was that I got to meet Bruce Naylor, who made important contributions to the development of BSP (binary space partition) trees, which are data structures used to perform efficient rendering of 3D scenes. Naylor was a longtime, but largely uncredited, advisor to id Software on the early Doom games, which may have been the first game to use BSP trees. Anyway, Bruce now teaches programming at DeVry Austin, and we had dinner together along with Shane Sokoll, the dean of the center, Shane's wife, and a couple of students. I feel privileged to have had the chance.

As Austin is such a major center of game development, I have a number of friends here, and I took the opportunity to catch up with a couple of them: Tess Snider, who was very helpful while I was working on my books (she knows tons about MUDs, MUSHes, MOOs, and so on) and Sheri Graner Ray, current head of Women in Games International (I'm on the advisory board). Sheri and I and her husband got to chat about WIGI's prospects and plans. Like all volunteer organizations, it struggles with fundraising and to have enough warm bodies to do all the work required, but things are looking good at the moment and the mixers they give around the country are as popular as ever.

I'd like to attend the Austin Game Developers' Conference one of these days, but the opportunity hasn't yet arisen. Maybe next year.