Witchboy's Cauldron

Witchboy Goes to Honk Kong

Day Two

Having slept very little, I woke up with a splitting headache. After showering, I headed downstairs and had breakfast. The restaurants within international hotels are so strange: Two Norwegian guys were arguing with a HK waiter over some totally unrecognizable, bottled sauce when I walked in. I think the bottle (which was baby blue and featured some acronym in large letters) was empty; it seemed super critical to the bulging-eyed Norwegians that a replacement be found instantly.

It's amazing to me that since food is such a huge part of life and since eating alone is lame, we don't have some practice like joining another lone diner in such situations. I was faced with a super conservative business culture, so I did my best to appear indifferent and superior. Maybe we should start booking bed and breakfasts for game industry events.

Morning has broken...
I had a few hours to kill, so I set out, walking around in the city, looking for urban elements that reminded me of Deus Ex locations. (Maggie Chow's apartment, Red Arrow - Luminous Path triad fights, etc. HK was as magnificent by daylight as by night. I walked through a semi-enclosed, outdoor mall that looked just like the one in Steve Power's DX1 mall map. No Lucky Money, sadly. (Those places were located elsewhere...)

I took lots of photos with disposable cameras, trying to catch anything that seemed interesting: The amazingly jumbled verticality of the surrounding buildings. A woman using a wooden shovel to fill up a wheelbarrow with gray sand. (The sand had been tunneled crudely from beneath an otherwise pristine stretch of sidewalk about a block from the super civilized HK convention center.) White, bloated 'Star' cruise ships, industrial flat barges, ferries and old-style Chinese fishing boats all maneuvering through the same misty harbor. A tall tower supporting cameras and what I suspect were acoustic gunfire sensors. (I bet theirs work better than the ones we included in DX1...) Eventually, I headed back to the convention center.

The HK Convention Center
The HK Convention Center itself is a marvel: Organically curved, many-tiered, huge, clean and crowded, it sits on the water and offers an astounding view of the harbor. The harbor is busy *all* the time.

The conference, as it turns out, was small. (So much for pre-speech anxiety.) I listened to Doug Church (from Looking Glass) speak on the myths associated with game AI, then we sat on a panel together about designing games for emerging foreign markets. If you are wondering what the hell, if anything, I know on this subject, you are not alone -- so was I. Still, it went well. Doug and I shared time with Robert Westmoreland, the cool redneck biz exec behind Deer Hunter. He claims that he looked at data on how much software Wal-Mart was selling at the time, thought about the average Wal-Mart shopper, thought about what kind of games the average Wal-Mart shopper would want to play (which, with the exception of Bass Fisherman, was at odds with the kinds of games being sold in the store), and then pitched the concept of Deer Hunter. Multiple publishers turned it down, calling it ridiculous in some cases. It cost about $110,000 to make. The franchise has allegedly sold 10 million copies. I bet Robert drives a really nice truck.

Star Ferry
After making small talk with attendees, Doug, Bernie Yee (from Sony Online) and I left the conference and headed out into HK. Our goals included dinner and the night markets. We walked over to the Star Ferry and waited. Eventually, crowded by commuters and other travelers, we crossed the water. The sun was going down, so the light was odd: In the distance, huge colored signs were coming on, the buildings were all still visible and fog was building up in the harbor. The boat deposited us at the Kowloon dock. We stepped off the ferry and onto the Chinese mainland.

HK Bikes
We walked through a plaza where one day a week, thousands of Philippino maids allegedly gather to bask on towels laid out on the concrete. They work for the Chinese, cleaning houses, and are called amah or something. (Doug talks fast, I am easily distracted and we were in the land of stimulus overload, so you can see the problems associated with me remembering the details.) Their routine emergent social event has been written up and photographed a lot, I'm told -- the numbers of people who attend this gathering are staggering, apparently so much so that even walking across the wide plaza is difficult when they're sprawling there once a week. The plaza sat in the shadow of a weirdly leaning structure of immense proportions.

Next: Chili Garlic Prawns...




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Content 2003 Harvey "Witchboy" Smith     Design 1998 TheZealot