Tom and I were invited to a Russian Game Developers conference in Moscow called KRI . They wanted us to speak for five hours in a row one of the days there! Well, hahahaha, we said we’d do it……..AND WE DID. I was so busy leading up to the event that I didn’t have time to prepare my PowerPoint slides, so I brought a CD packed full of images and wrote the thing the night before on Tom’s laptop. It turned out pretty good in fact. I spoke on three subjects: “Developing an FPS in 2004″, “Designing an Action-RPG in 2004″ and “The State of Mobile Gaming And Its Future”. Pretty diverse subjects but I had several people come up afterward and say they learned something new, which is the whole reason I did it. Well, at least it worked. I had a translator there for the Russians who didn’t understand English – he just happened to be my Lead Programmer’s (Boris Batkin) life-long friend, Myscha! Very cool.
Tom and I had a great time checking out Red Square (impressive) and, this was pretty strange and random, I was all bundled up because it was crazy-cold there (-16 celsius) and while we were walking toward St. Basil’s cathedral a group of four people walked past us and one of the guys stopped and asked, “Are you John Romero?” He turned out to be a wireless coder from France and his friend was a coder in Chicago. It was pretty surreal having a random stranger recognize me and then tell me how cool Red Faction on N-Gage was and ask about Monkeystone and Midway! Wow. After pictures and autographs, Tom, Svetlana (our guide) and I all toured throughout the entire cathedral which was just awesome. It was built in the 1100′s. Tom has pics of the inside but I ran out of battery power in my camera.
Here’s a small set of 10 pictures that I took while there with some info beneath them.
Here's what Moscow actually looks like, right outside my hotel window. There are very very few of the neat bulb-like building tops (as seen below) - those are really only on churches/cathedrals. It was cold and snowing there since it was February.
This awesome architecture is typical of the buildings we saw in Moscow. Very cool.
This is the famous St. Basil's Cathedral at the end of Red Square. The Kremlin is to the right (not shown) and is surrounded by a long yellow wall. This cathedral was built in the 1550's! They're always renovating parts of it (it's really big)
Here's a huge red building at the beginning of Red Square. You enter the square to the left of this building. In front of the entrance isa marker that marks the beginning of the Moscow road.
This is the huge auditorium where the award ceremony took place. There were 17 awards given out for various categories. Tom presented award #4 - Best Game Design and I presented the final award #17 - Game of the Year. The award went to the awesome FPS called Stalker (published by THQ here in the US).
Here's a shot of one of the floor areas where games were being shown. Our favorite in this area is an FPS called "You Are Empty". It's very Russian in its design, in fact, it's all about Russia! They're sending us a poster because the art on it is pretty cool.
This is the room where I gave my talk, in fact that's the stage that I was on. A nice big screen to show the PowerPoint slides and speakers for the computer sounds and the microphone. Five long hours to do three presentations but it turned out just great and went exactly three hours. Right on time! The most impressive thing is that these guys had their stuff together perfectly - there was no problem in the set up at all and everything worked without a hitch.
The Russian language isn't too difficult to decipher. Really, most of it is letter substitution and many of their words are English analogs. There are definitely lots of pure Russian words that you need to learn after you translate the letters, but Tom and I started to pick it up near the end of our visits. This sign, for instance, says RESTORAN, which stands for Restaurant. But Tom and I would always pronounce it exactly as we saw it just because it was funny. "Hey Tom, I'm gettin' hungry. Let's go to a pectopah!"
Oh, and I was hoping to eat some really yummy food there. Um...look at this very typical menu. Lots of the food there was...interesting. One night we went out to eat with another person and he ordered a seafood salad. Well, it had a BUNCH of seafood on it - and on the top was an octopus. He used his fork and cut the head off and ate it. Tom almost puked. All that and chickens running around in a cage inside the pectopah! Oh, and another interesting thing: everywhere you go, you must give your jacket to a coatroom attendant. They don't allow you to bring your coat inside the main areas of restaurants.
This was my first trip to Russia and it was a blast. We stayed for a whole week and enjoyed every minute of it. We went shopping, saw the sights, stayed in a plush hotel, and were treated like royalty by everyone. In fact, I’ve been telling people here that I think I know what the Beatles felt like when they came to the USA. It was non-stop photos and autographs every time we entered the KRI area where everyone was checking out the games. Really, really nice people. Tom and I got to see how Russian gamers are no different than ourselves – we all want to play games and have fun! Except, well….they talk kinda funny!