I Hear His Voice…

•May 14, 2007 • Comments Off on I Hear His Voice…

We walked into Dick’s.  As I expected, over in the corner was Smed holding forth at the usual table, a litter of empty shot glasses already accumulating.  Per the standards of the place, he was wearing a large paper hat decorated with various phrases and crude drawings, the most prominent of which appeared to be a large number 38 in a red circle with a red line through it.

A group of likely SOE types sat around Smed.  Likely except for one, a scruffy looking guy separated from the others, off at the far corner of the table, looking for all the world to be asleep over his laptop.

I took Brenlo’s elbow and said quietly, “The guy in the corner… he’s not SOE, or he’s new… he doesn’t have the SOE “spare tire” on him yet.”

Brenlo unconsciously sucked in his gut just a bit as he grimaced at my too-close-to-accurate characterization of the effects of long hours at a computer coupled with bad food.  With a bit of pain in his voice he replied in a low voice, “That is Coyote.  He came out here for the community summit and has stayed out here ever since.  Seriously.  Something about 70 degree weather and no snow in sight in February broke something deep within him.  I don’t know how he explained it to his wife, but I hear he worked something with his employer by invoking the American with Disabilities Act that allowed him to work remote… he made up something disgusting enough that his boss didn’t want him coming into the office.  Anyway, Smed let’s him stick around because he likes his column… he says good things about us… and because of the boobs.  The man has an uncanny ability to find boobs on the web.  You’d think that would be a no-brainer, but trying matching his finds some day.  It is a talent.”

As we walked up, room was made for us opposite Smed.  He smiled and started right in.

“I thought we’d have a bite while we talk. I hope you brought a good appetite with you.  You were looking a little dazed when you walked in a minute ago.  Getting over something?”

“Just the San Diego sun.”

“The sun… heh… but you’re feeling up for a job I hope.”

“Yes sir.”

“Good!  The food is already on the way, so why don’t we start getting you up to speed with this.”

He handed me an iPod Nano.  A pink iPod Nano.

A snort came from Coyote at the end of the table, who appeared to have just woken up. “Kendricke has one like that,” he said as he investigated the shot glasses near him, no doubt hoping to find one still full.

I flipped the Nano over.  Engraved on the back, “Kendricke.”

I looked up at Smed, who only smiled and indicated I should listen to the currently selected track.

Ear buds inserted, I hit play.  A tortured voice came through.

“Last night we rendered a snail crawling along the edge of a straight razor. That’s my dream. That’s my nightmare. Full detail, down to the last drop of slime, crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor… there will be several dozen of these where ever there is foliage in Telon. ”

“We must render them. We must render them all. Pig after pig, cow after cow, village after village, army after army, all in intricate detail.  You must feel like you are actually walking in Telon.  And they call me insane.  They complain… they say we cannot ship all 12 DVDs to support the required art assets… they say that a next generation SLI configuration is an unrealistic minimum system requirement…  and we have to be polite to those who complain. Those nabobs. I hate them. How I hate them…”

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Bright Sunlight…

•May 4, 2007 • Comments Off on Bright Sunlight…

Then sun in Southern California… it can be an amazing thing, even in Winter.  Now in the spring time it was disorienting.  I am a gamer, first and foremost.  You have to be to be in this line of operations.  But being a gamer means that I do not spend much time out in the big room with the blue ceiling and the bright, bright yellow light.

Night is more my element.  And night was coming.

But for now I stumbled along following Brenlo’s form while my eyes tried to adjust to this uncommon brightness.

After a short time lost in the blaze of sun and bright sidewalk, we stop before a big black Chevy Suburban.  Brenlo slid in the back seat and I followed.

My eyes adjusted some more and I could see we were whisking down Miramar towards the 805.  After a minute of silence, Brenlo spoke.

“It was an oversight… having you show up here… having you in the lobby during business hours.  We won’t make that mistake again.  Too many people could have seen you… and the security tapes for the lobby… I’ll have to look into….” his voice trailed off as he began making plans for covering up somebody’s mistake.  But isn’t that what Community Relations does, really?  It gives them a lot of power.

And they don’t stock Brenlo’s favorite coffee in copious quantities just because he is a nice guy.

But something was going on that Community Relations couldn’t… or wouldn’t… handle.

We got on the freeway and headed south, towards downtown.  Brenlo made a quiet call on his cell phone.  Time went by quickly, but uncomfortably.

I didn’t have to wait until the Chevy stopped on 4th Street to know where we were going. 

SOE South.  Or as the public knows it, Dick’s Last Resort.

SOE has a retainer down to hold a big table in the corner.  All the real business SOE business gets done here, and it gets done over tequila. 

If you can’t hold your liquor, do not meet with Smed outside of his office.  Alcohol has no effect on him.  Or, more accurately, it does not have the same effect on him as it does on you and I.  It just oils the gears of his business acumen, making him more crafty and subtle as the rest of the people at the table are letting their guard down.

Rumor has it that he secured the rights to make Star Wars Galaxies at this very table, and that he avoided a big up front payment that Lucas Arts was demanding by going double or nothing on it in a game of liars dice.  Made him a star in the company.  Too bad they fumbled the actual project. 

Just do not ever play liars dice with Smed after some tequila.  There is one former Lucas Arts exec who is now far, far away because betting the fee seemed reasonable after the first bottle of tequila was gone.  He is probably cleaning toilets in Tunisia now, if he is lucky.  Lucas doesn’t forgive or forget things like that.

Out of the bright and into Dick’s.

Waiting…

•May 2, 2007 • Comments Off on Waiting…

I started out of a doze and opened my eyes.

The lobby.  Shit, I’m still only in the SOE lobby.

I let my eyelids close again.

I’ve been here a week now.  Waiting for an assignment, getting softer. Every minute I stay in this building I get weaker. And every minute some developer compromises and writes bad code, the case against SOE gets stronger.

In the world of massively online gaming, everyone gets everything he wants, eventually. I wanted am assignment, and for my sins they gave me one, though they were dragging it out like a low priority trouble ticket.

I was going to the most out-of-touch place in the world, and I didn’t even know it yet.  Days away and dozens of miles through the highways that snake through the valley like a main circuit cable and plugged straight into McQuaid.

It was no accident that I got to be the caretaker of CEO & Executive Producer Brad McQuaid’s reputation, any more than being back at SOE in San Diego was an accident. There is no way to tell his story without telling my own. And if his story is really a confession, then so is mine.

A deep voice said slowly, “Kilgore?  Kilgore Trout, is that you?”

I opened my eyes and looked up.  It was Crosby, out of Community Relations.  What did he have to do with this?

“Hello, Kilgore, are you there?” he asked, making a play out of waving his hand in front of my face.  I squeezed my eyes shut one more time, shook my head as though I could shake off the ennui like a dog could shake off water.

“Hey Brenlo,” I said, using his game name for no good reason, “are they using you as a messenger now?”

“Oh no, Community Relations has to keep an eye on everything.” he said in his smooth baritone. “And Community Relations is very much interested in a little project you might be doing for… for all of us here at SOE.”

He smiled a soft smile then gestured with his head, “Come on, we need to talk with the action committee.”

I struggled to my feet as he turned and started to walk.  He did not walk towards the locked door that would lead to the inner workings of SOE.  He walked towards the front door.  As I watched, a bit confused, he gestured with his hand to come on.

I moved towards him, out the front door, and into the harsh afternoon light of San Diego.

The Call…

•May 1, 2007 • Leave a Comment

I am an operative for SOE.  I am not an employee.  I do not appear on any org chart.  No record of me exists with SOE HR.   

I am on retainer and on call to handle tasks outside of those generally staffed for, even in a major corporation.  Tasks that might contravene local laws. 

While I have performed many tasks for SOE, they mostly involve taking care of problems.  Problems that those in corporate prefer not to handle.

So when the phone rang with instructions to head down to San Diego, I wasn’t surprised.  The job requires a lot of travel.  My projects generally do not deliver themselves up to my door step.

Off to San Diego.