My Visit to the USA.


Coming in to land...

[Landing in
Dallas] (516x810 133K JPG) Strange, I wasn't expecting Dallas to have a huge lake at its heart; perhaps because the images shown on TV of the city concentrate on the downtown area and the buildings. The dark area to the right of the picture is the window frame, btw. It was an incredibly clear day; the picture has been a little glared out by reflections but one could actually see a very long way. Nice view! Definitely taking a vidcam next time. One thing I like about this picture is the way the trees can clearly be seen to be where the rivers and streams are - the tree groupings look like lightening strikes. :D (oooh, bit of self-similarity there :)

I went to see Id Software on Tuesday 10th October (Doom's Day Anniversary! :) I arrived at the building around 11am and didn't actually leave until mid-evening.

[Dave Taylor] (810x552 152K JPG) This is Dave Taylor, one of the main programmers of Doom. I have to say that Dave is the fastest typist I have ever seen! His hands were a blur and he seemed to be doing about 10 things at once! Amazing! Note the supply of Snapple bottles... they must be laced with PCP or something. :D From where I was sitting in the room, behind me - under a desk - was a Dec Alpha server. I asked him why they had an Alpha (it had four 150Mhz processors, 128MB RAM and a big fat disk); he said, with a wide grin on his face, they like to be able to compile Quake in 20 seconds! 8D Notice the office blinds are active - it was very bright outside (this concept may be beyond UK citizens. :D)

[John Romero
playing Hexen] (810x552 139K JPG) This is John Romero, playing a Hexen Deathmatch game against Shawn Green. They were in their respective offices with the Intercoms turned on so that they could shout back and forth at each other. Forget chat macros! This was real verbal warfare! :D I don't think I can repeat just about any of the insults they hurled at each other - it was one of the funniest things I've ever witnessed. John said they once accidentally recorded what they were saying on DAT tape - I wonder if he still has a copy? :) Oh, note the model car on top of the monitor...

[Romero wins the
game] (809x547 150K JPG) The Victor relaxes after the battle! (which lasted for about 3 hours by the way - that's why I left late) Romero won the game. Well, that's an understatement... he won 25 to -7! :D Actually, there was some serious point to all this: they were play-testing Hexen before its final release. They found a menu bug while I was watching - play stopped and Romero called up the Hexen guys to tell them, who were also play-testing it. Voila! Another bug stopped dead in its tracks. Heh, note John's evil grin - he may have been play-testing the game but that doesn't mean he wasn't enjoying it all. :D

[Romero's Office] (802x550 154K JPG) The rest of Romero's office. Now the models on the monitors make sense, yes? The picture on the wall says it all (a framed photo of his own car). That's what you get when you write perhaps the best computer game of all time. :) Incidentally, the big Doom poster on the wall is a UK poster - Jay kindly sent me a copy for Christmas (plus a Hexen poster and a Doom T-shirt. Thanks Jay!!) I've just moved into a new room and so at last I have a wall big enough to house the thing! The poster is really big, believe me.

[Shawn Green] (810x552 119K JPG) The valiant but vanquised Shawn Green. Actually, don't be fooled.. he said he never smiles for any picture. :D Shawn's office was amazing - lots of hardware all over the place (PSX Doom was running and I had a go. Cool stuff! Nintendo64 Doom blows it away of course... :D) Shawn is a cool dude and this pic doesn't really do him justice. If I visit again, perhaps I can get a better one... maybe if he beats Romero's successor 25 to -7 at Quake. :D

[Awards Case 1] [Awards Case 2] (806x546 174K JPG and 781x545 155K JPG) Is there an award that id Software haven't won? :D All around the walls there were articles from newspapers the world over, awards for various achievements, sales records broken, etc. I only read a few of them - too Doomed out to take it all in. :) I love the Archvile that's standing against the wall - t'would make a great anti-burglar device... :D

[American McGee] (810x547 126K JPG) This is American McGee in his office surrounded by his many computers. American came across as a much more level-headed guy, the kind who gets on with things quickly and efficiently; blink an eye and the task is done. We chatted for a bit about level deisgn, etc. I never did any level design with Doom, perhaps because I wanted to do true 3D environments, often of real places. With Quake, that won't be a problem. Btw, American has an excellent .plan file. :)

[Entrance Hall] (810x544 143K JPG) This is the main entrance to Id Software's offices - the door is actually hidden, round the corner to the left. The desk that's visible is the secretary's desk. I bet she's the only sec in the world who has a wall hanging like that behind her. :D I like the stereo on the floor - shows good management consideration that, yes? The door that's open at the back is Jay Wilbur's office.

Regrettably, I didn't get a pic of Jay - this is entirely my fault (when I first arrived, I talked to Jay first. He was playing Hexen in his office - a totally addicted man :) - I was so phased out at actually being there it didn't occur to me to take a pic of him playing the game. Perhaps next time :). I won't try and describe what he looks like because I'm hopeless at describing people. What I will say is that he comes across as being someone who's bubbling with inventive energy; I can see why he's the boss. His enthusiasm for the games, etc., is infectious - I got the impression he was already thinking about what could be done after Quake in 3 years' time... Jay kindly gave me some Doom mouse mats and the two Doom paperback books (thanks Jay!); I don't use the mouse mats at work because they'd probably go walkies. :D Btw, note yet more newspaper articles, etc., on the wall (Jay said that there are companies who will examine all newspapers, etc., for you, looking out for whatever info you're interested in. Hence, id Software pay such a company to look out for Doom stuff. Neat idea!).

Jay showed me Quake running on Dave's machine and he also revealed that Quake was going to be made for the Nintendo64 (exclusive info at that time, but not by the time I'd returned). Quake is on sale now but I won't buy it as I don't own a PC (if an SGI port is made, then I'll buy the PC version as it'll likely support the full PC data files just like Doom and Doom II did). Here's some typical example screenshots for those who haven't seen it (all 640x480 24bit JPGs):

[Quake Pic 1] [Quake Pic 2] [Quake Pic 3]

(34K, 39K and 42K)

Toyota] (714x548 150K JPG) I was at Id Software's offices for quite a long time, longer than I'd expected for sure. Romero and Shawn's Hexen deathmatch lasted 3 hours! Time flies when you're having fun... American McGee drove me back to the hotel in the Garland district of Dallas. Apparently, this car (top-of-the-line sports Toyota) is very expensive - he said there are only three like it in Texas and only about 100 in the whole of the USA! He said he managed to get the very last one that was available. How fast did we go down the highway? Well, the scenery did appear to be red-shifted. :-)

[The inside cover
of my Doom II ManualAmerican's Toyota] (555x800 169K JPG) You'll notice I don't have any pics of John Carmack; apparently he was very busy and isn't that keen on visitors. I can understand that entirely - some geek from the UK comes over wanting to gawp at everything Doom-related and witter "I'm not worthy!" :) Actually, I probably saw him when we all piled out to the local Cajun food diner for lunch but probably never realised it. Hmm, now there's a regret: I didn't take any pics of the diner and I wish I had - good opportunity for a group photo. Ah well...

Before I left, the guys signed my Doom II manual on the inside front cover. As you can imagine, it's my favourite souvenir from the visit. 8) Well, that's the end of the Id Software pics. The rest of this page concerns the other side of my Dallas visit: a brief trip to see some people at Paradigm Simulation Inc.

[Jennifer] (550x330 61K JPG) Paradigm Simulation Inc. made Pilot Wings 64 for the Nintendo64 console. I'm a total flight sim fanatic so I just had to go and see these guys. In a way, I'd picked a bad time to visit as many of the key staff (eg. Dave Gatchel) were away for the Japanese Shoshinki show where the Nintendo64 was being shown for the first time. Plus, the company was in the process of expanding its office space that day so things were a bit chaotic. This pic shows Jennifer, the lovely smiling face you see when you first arrive. For some reason she reminds me of Jodie Foster... anyway, I talked to Jennifer for some time whilst I waited for the PR manager to become available (hey Jenny, I haven't forgotten about the Tribbles... :)

[Amy Bayers &
Matthew Yarbrough] (622x448 109K JPG) In this picture is Amy Bayers and Matthew Yarbrough. Amy is Paradigm's PR Manager - I've talked to her alot about the Nintendo64. I hadn't talked to Matt before the meeting though. In a way, it would have been better if I'd visited them this year instead of last year - this is because, at the time I went to see them, the Nintendo64 was still under wraps and hence they couldn't really answer some of the questions I had without breaking the odd NDA. Paradigm are a fast-expanding company; with their Vega UltraVision package for writing Nintendo64 games I can see them becoming even bigger during 96/97.

[Jennifer again
:)] (621x545 100K JPG) Well now, who could this be? 8) Cynics may notice a certain trend... all I can say is that if there were more people like Jennifer in the world there'd be a lot fewer wars.

[Dallas Business
District] (810x549 100K JPG) I'm quite pleased with this shot and amazed that it came out so well. I took it from the window of the taxi I was in. Heh, it's the kind of shot they'd have in the opening credits of the infamous TV series. :D Incidentally, for UK folks who've ever wondered (as I did), it's the tinted glass that makes the buildings so reflective (in general, UK office buildings aren't like this as the sunlight just isn't that bright in the UK).

[Blue Sky Garland] (810x545 156K JPG) I took this shot from outside my hotel room (I was staying at the Comfort Inn in the Garland district). It is difficult to describe to a UK citizen how hot it was that day (and for most of the time I was in Dallas); I actually burnt my hand on the hotel door handle when I went out that day! (the sun had been shining on it for hours) An Amtrak train would go by every now and again; I have to admit I rather like the horn sound those things make. Yes, indeed, Dallas is a hot place; the cable weather reports said there were no clouds at all in the sky from Eastern Texas to Northern California! Little did I know that Texas was in the middle of one of the most intense dry spells in the area for 80 years.

I paid for the whole trip myself, so I didn't have that much cash to visit other places. I am definitely going to go again, perhaps this year, perhaps next. I want to visit the Houston space center, the various VR places that are in and around Dallas and, of course, a certain infamous grassy knoll. I didn't get to see that much of Dallas, although I did visit the Galleria a coupla times (what a place! That ice rink is well cool). Now that I have a 'proper' job, I'll be able to afford a much more in-depth visit next time. So, a hint for you if you intend visiting Dallas: there are practically no busses! Taxis rule, so save up alot to pay for going from A to B and back again.

[Garland Waffle
House] (808x542 135K JPG) There was a 24hour Waffle House next to the Comfort Inn. I should have taken a pic of the folks who ran the place, but didn't (duh me). They served very good food there; and listen up UK people: the waffles you're eating in the UK are garbage! They suck dead bunnies through a bent straw! (bit like DOS :) Goto the Waffle House, Dallas, TX, US of A and have a real one... 8)

[Neil (Doom God!)
Forsyth] (808x548 168K JPG) Finally, I have a 'thankyou' to make. A minor time jump here: after I returned home to Scotland, I went to see a friend of mine at the University, to show him my photos of the trip and to give him one of the Doom mouse mats that Id Software gave me. This picture is indeed the man himself holding said mouse mat, the one and only Neil Forsyth! It was Neil who first showed me the game Doom many moons ago. If not for Neil, I might never have used Doom for my dissertation and eventually made the trip to the USA, so megathanks Neil! 8) He certainly looks happy about the mouse pad anyway. :D