Happy November, by the way, to all the dragon enthusiasts out there.
Recently, Adored and I trekked to San Francisco for none less than a visit to the Pocket Gems headquarters. It was a short, three day trip, but quite an experience. It's the first impressions that count the most, right? Or do they?
Initially, I'd planned to pen this post as a good list/bad list... something that happened then the good of it versus the bad of it. Eventually though, I ran out of bad things to think of for each event that occurred, so I tossed the list. I can't complain; all in all it was a good trip. I'm sure the other attendees all have their own take. By now, fans have seen many posts, videos, and comments on the happenings. I will say that I took with me an arsenal of questions, and it may take me some time and memory jogging to get all of the answers articulated, so don't hesitate to remind me.
First things first, the journey. Never fly from Tennessee to San Francisco coach. Never expect United Airlines to offer last minute upgrades like American does for any less than $350. Expect to be boxed like a sardine for five hours. Bring plenty of things to do on the plane (like my War Dragons game, Shadow War Saga reading/audio book, or good company). I'd brought two of the three, so I was set. I'll let you decide which two they were.
Rather than take pictures of the historic building that anyone could literally find themselves on the Internet on the hotel website or Google, I sat back and enjoyed resting the first night, trying to get my thoughts (and questions) together for the next day at the office. I did take one picture, the one I made a painting of which was the view from the room. Ironically it was Escher-like, no mountains or bay, just an endless look down at window after window with no bottom prevailing. But, that has to mean something.
The next morning consisted of preparations then a drive to the office. Tucked upstairs in what otherwise looked like an older construction, marble building, the Pocket Gems office seemed pretty hip. Cubicles were fairly non-existent and were replaced by couches; old school gaming tables were strewn about. All the conference rooms had glass doors and were called things like "The North" or "The Narnia." Sorry Bel, no costume changing room for you at that office. There was an immaculate kitchen as well as lounge area. We were greeted as we got into the office and soon found ourselves in a very small, very full room of Creators. Safe to say, I think we were the last to arrive (I could have sworn we were early though).
The first thing on the agenda was a class of sorts hostessed by The Pixxel. And, as I'm sure everyone else would say, she is as pleasant and inspiring in person as she is on her streams. Discussed was content creation, best practices, and what PG thinks fans want to see from the Creators. It was interesting, I don't have to agree with everything that was said, but it was good to hear. Personally, I think the market is over-saturated with YouTubes, and if I was new to a game one of the last things I'd do would be to watch a video about it. Besides, my full-time job keeps me very busy, and in some if not most lines of work watching videos on someone else's clock is frowned upon. I do like website guides, quick slideshows you can flip through, spreadsheets, and tools like that (if anyone wants to know). But you'll rarely see me post a video unless it is to accompany a website tutorial. By the way, on that topic, I am still looking for contributors to help make tutorials on the many dragons in the game for my website (selfish plug on my part). I think for me, the most exciting part of the first class was listening to the talk about tools and offering some suggestions to some folks. Not all of my tools, mind you, nor all folks; I can't give away all my secrets.
So, who was in this convo? Adored, Arelyna, Jody (BeledinesSoul's book agent), PGSOMEONE (I'm not saying their name till I get my first email from him), and me. So I hope he is reading this. PGSOMEONE is relatively new to the company and works on seasons, probably my favorite feature of the game, so it was more than luck to be seated across from him, especially since I didn't know him from Job when I sat down to eat. Everything we (Adored) and I could think of asking about seasons we did. It made for a long lunch one where I hardly took a bite of actual food just knowledge and ideas. We discussed what works, what doesn't work, what people want, what people don't want. PGSOMEONE took a LOT of notes. I'm used to people taking notes when I speak at work, but wasn't expecting it at Pocket Gems, so I was quite pleasantly surprised.
Lunch was interrupted after an hour or so for a tour which was fairly cool. Snapped some pics of a couple of true artists, BeledinesSoul and Poseidon beside their work on what seemed like a wall of fame (don't have permission yet from PG to post any of my office photos). Met some PG artists and saw some groovy looking things such as next season's dragons and theme, maps. I have a quirky adoration of maps.
We went back to the original conference room and were part of an Atlas class hosted by PgDave and Echo. I actually got to sit right next to them. They passed around iPads with test loads of the Atlas for the Creators to look at. The Atlas discussion quickly escalated into a lot of questions and concerns from some Creators. If you'd asked a Creator about Atlas before this trip, it was probably asked and answered during that session.
So much more to tell, but to sum up the trip, I think it was worth the expense and effort going. If anything, I feel stronger about myself, who I am, and where I am going in the future.