19.05.15 – Texas – Day 19, Austin – Lockhart

Today was going to be a day of delicious geekery.  Hubby and I were going for a tour around the offices for Cloud Imperium Games who are making the computer game Star Citizen.

Cloud Imperium Games was founded in 2012 by Chris Roberts and Ortwin Freyermuth.  Roberts is a developer and minor celebrity in the gaming world having made gaming classics such as Wing Commander.  Because of this, there was much excitement when Star Citizen was announced.  It was different to other games because it was entirely funded by Kickstarter (crowdfunding).  Donations have far exceeded expectations and continue to be pledged.  All monies pledged have gone towards game development.  Hubby was a backer and when we knew that we would be in Austin he emailed Cloud Imperium to ask if we could go on a tour of their offices.  They offer a tour once a month and luckily we were able to line up our tour with when we would be in Austin.  We actually stayed an extra day to accommodate the tour but it was well worth it!!

Cloud Imperium’s Austin offices are in Bee Cave which is a lovely little town. Galleria Circle is in a little shopping area and I happily spent an hour browsing Barnes and Noble before our tour. I managed to find a couple of Oliver Sacks books that have been on my book list for a while so I decided to treat myself.

20150519_135755There were 10 of us on the tour, which started at 2pm.  A few were local, most were from the USA but 2 were from Germany and we were from the UK. The others on the tour kept urging us to go first whenever anybody asked where we were from!!

Our tour guides for the day were Tyler and Gerrard, both of whom were friendly, relaxed and welcoming.  Cloud Imprium seems like a great place to work. There are soft drinks in the kitchen for you to help yourself to and breakfast items too!  People seem genuinely enthusiastic and happy with their work and environment.  I can only imagine what that must be like.

I’m not going to talk too much about what we saw while we were there or updates that we got because I’m not sure what can be shared and what can’t.  I’m sure it is okay to talk about most things!  We were able to take photos of the offices, pictures on the wall and models but not of screens.

The enthusiasm is catching.  I didn’t know a lot about the game but I came away wanting to play it.  I know that the FPS element of the game will be the bit that interests me.  The game itself is beautiful. So much love, care and attention has been piled into it. It really is a labour of love for these guys.  One guy was remodelling the inside of a ship, his colleague was remodelling the outside as it was too detailed a job for one person to do.

20150519_142224We asked when he started the remodelling and he told us January!  He has solely been working on that one ship since January.  Wow!  Just wow!

We met so many people and they were all very happy to talk to us and explain what they were working on.  Some were a bit shy, others could have talked for hours.  One guy, Ted, doesn’t like people so he disappeared when we arrived in his work area.  Our guides suggested that we all sign his tablet which he had left unlocked.  We happily obliged!!

My favourite parts were talking to the guy who is in charge of the storyline and writers.  I found what he had to say very interesting, probably in part due to the fact that I love to write.  It really set my creative cogs in motion.  The other interesting part for me was the costume design for the characters.  What a fabulous job!  We saw some of the costumes that the designer (Meg) has designed so far and I watched her researching materials and items for the characters.  It is such detailed and intricate work, like much of the work that goes into making a computer game it seems.

Everybody seemed to get on well, it was a very casual and relaxed environment, no tensions.  I found myself envying the people who work here.  How cool must it be to have a job like that, where work doesn’t feel like work, in an industry you love.  The other side of the coin, of course, is that it can be a very demanding industry.  The job almost becomes a life choice, it isn’t simply a job that you leave behind at 5pm. If there is a deadline you are stuck there until you are done, however long it takes.

I honestly don’t think I’m cut out for a job like that.  I have family, friends and hobbies that are important to me and I don’t want work to impact on that.  Still, it would be nice to have a job that you loved…

I imagined that the tour would take about 2 hours but it took closer to 3 1/2.  It was a really fun filled 3 1/2 hours.  I got a real feel for what the game was going to be about and, like I mentioned earlier, I went away wanting to play it.  It is great that the company is happy to show fans around and people are happy to give up time and talk about what they are doing.  What a wonderful thing to have done on our holiday!

After we’d done we drove on to Lockhart.  The sat nav had a bit of a funny half an hour and 20150519_194807decided that the Best Western was in the middle of an RV sales yard!!!  We asked a guy cleaning cars if he knew where the Best Western was but he thought the nearest one was back in Austin!  Hubby loaded up some different software on his phone and we managed to find our way.  We need to carry on for about 2 miles then we’d be there.

Lockhart is purported to be the BBQ capital of Texas and one of the most esteemed establishments is Blacks BBQ.  It is worth noting that Blacks closes at 8pm!  We went for dinner at 7:30pm and nearly missed out!  We got there at 7:45pm and they were happy to serve us.  We did check that they wouldn’t kick us out at 8.  The gentleman confirmed that they wouldn’t which was great news!

20150519_194814The food was every bit as good as the reviews.  I went for brisket, garlic sausage, mashed potatoes and rice.  The meat was delicious.  The brisket just fell apart, mashed potatoes were deliciously creamy, the rice had a good taste to it a20150519_201558nd wasn’t overcooked.  Mum-in-law had creamed corn and that was to die for.  I couldn’t resist the cornbread muffins either.  I’m such a sucker for cornbread…

Mum-in-law wanted to take some pics of the town but we will come back tomorrow before we leave and take some.  Tomorrow we are heading to Houston but there will be plenty of time in the morning.

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