This past weekend I traveled down to Atlanta, Georgia to speak at SIEGE 2009 (Southern Interactive Entertainment & Game Expo). During my trip I not only got to meet a number of local developers at the conference and our dinner out, but I was also lucky enough to meet Manny (a.k.a. diaomndTearz on the forums/Twitter) and his family (wife and young son). They graciously hosted me for the weekend saving me from another yawner stay at an area hotel. While only a whirlwind 36 hours were spent in town I enjoyed myself quite a bit while spreading the word about Unity. I only got a taste of Atlanta but I liked what I saw and would happily go back any time!
The conference ran Friday to Sunday, but we were only there one day and that was Saturday. After breakfast Manny and I made our way down to the conference so we could arrive in time to attend a session before we were to speak in a session of our own. The session we attended was one about serious games in corporate training, while it was all great information it was nothing too shocking to me although I’m sure many in the games industry would benefit from hearing it (it’s a great market for your talents folks!). What did surprise me though was that the room was small, and I mean tiny, and it was hot hot hot, making me sweat within minutes of entering. Manny and I sent texts back and forth that we each hoped our room would be different, luckily it was.
After attending that one session we went to the room where ours would be held, it was much larger and the temperature was set quite a bit cooler, no worries there. The time for our session arrived and nobody was in the room, I had that moment of worry, «really?» It was just the volunteer working the door who hadn’t started letting folks in, soon enough the room was almost completely full (holding something like 100+ people in all). My session was a panel discussion with myself and four Unity developers as the panel and Manny as the moderator. He led us through over an hour’s worth of chatter about Unity, covering topics from pricing/licensing to our art asset pipeline and on to platform support and product directions. Through it all the crowd, 1/3 of whom said they’d at least tried Unity before, was very engaged and we were actually forced to leave the room as we were running too far over (sorry about that!).
Our session room, all these chairs would soon be full…
Following my session I sat in the hallway talking with a number of folks, some that thanked me as they’d just never heard about Unity while others thanked me as they’d already jumped on board and just loved the tool. Of course I had a few folks that wanted to ask the tougher questions, ones about our lack of a proper debugger, complaints about the lack of Linux support or others poking about source/version control solutions. All of them were easily handled as I think we’ve got a solid story to tell and features on the way. All told it was a great day of talking to a few existing users and hopefully a whole bunch of potential new ones. I know that in the day or two since that presentation I’ve already received a number of emails from folks wanting more information, I suppose that means the conference was a success. I’ll say well done to Manny for putting together a great panel!
What conference is worth attending if you don’t go out at least once? The guys in Atlanta didn’t disappoint as they took me out to the Vortex Bar & Grill and my oh my it was delicious! The burgers were huge and tasty, the drinks strong and the company entertaining.Over burgers & drinks we talked shop and a bit about life, travels and the world around us, all in all it was an awesome evening. I had driven there with Manny and his wife and due to my early flight the next morning we cut out early, picking up their son on the way home. Sure I had an early flight but we weren’t done, we went to their house for a rousing evening of Rock Band. Manny and I took the guitar and bass, his wife rocked the drums and his son sang, and man he sang his little heart out! We rocked out, eventually putting their son to bed (a late night for him!) and soon enough, ourselves. Once again I have to say thanks to them for making it a great weekend, hanging with the family was much better than a boring couple of nights in a hotel!
Good times at Vortex!
All too soon it was early Sunday morning and the alarm was going off. I dragged myself out of bed, showered and got ready so Manny could drive me to the MARTA train for a brief ride to the airport, then a long day of travel home. With some travel delays my travel time home was over twelve hours, and yet somehow I arrived while my suitcase went to New York. Oh well, I can live for a few days without the dirty laundry…
I’d love to go back to SIEGE next year, or just back to Atlanta to hang out with the developers in the area. Thanks again for the great weekend, it makes evangelizing Unity a pleasure!
PS: A big huge thanks goes out to Manny (and his family!) for not only helping get the panel group together at all, but for being such an awesome host. He picked me up on Friday, fed me delicious home grilled steaks that same night, drove me around on Saturday and got up in the wee hours on Sunday to get me off to the airport. He and his family made me feel welcome in their home I had a great time hanging out with them and cannot say thanks enough!