Y’all hands in Austin
After missing out on Mozilla’s All Hands in Hawaii and San Francisco (although I was at GDC 2017 a few months earlier), I was invited to Austin in Texas (planned to be Cancun in Mexico, but was moved because of the earthquakes), and was super excited to meet the “new” Emerging Technologies team.
New as mostly just in the name, because it was created out of the few teams I already worked with: Developer Relations, MDN, WebVR. Right now Emerging Technologies is a host name for Developer Outreach (DevRel + MDN) and Mixed Reality (WebVR/AR). All that plus Games and it perfectly describe what I’m into with Mozilla right now – creating demos, writing articles, giving talks etc.
Anyway, we were based in two hotels: Marriott and Hilton. I was staying in Hilton with a roommate, and all the meetings I was interested in were happening in Marriott, so it was a perfect excuse for a few minute walks in a fresh air every now and then.
I arrived on Monday, and barely made it through security. It was my first trip when I was landing in USA and still having a connecting flight. Hundreds of passengers and only one open line out of thirty is a crime. I had to pick my bag after customs and leave it after literally 50 meters to have it checked for the final flight. I ran to the gate through the whole airport, arrived a few minutes before closing and made it, but they decided my bag wasn’t that important and left it for the next flight a few hours later.
With just a carry on I was able to make it for the welcoming reception and bumped into a bunch of friends, which was cool. My baggage arrived later, but at least it was the same day – not the worst case after all.
First formal day of the All Hands started early in the morning with the volunteer orientation. After that we went for the opening Plenary Session with all the Mozilla employees and volunteers. After lunch I’ve attended the Emerging Technologies team session, and in the evening went to try some of the Mixed Reality demos and to talk with the developers.
After the demoing we went for dinner, and then a few of us visited Arcade UFO – cool little place full of old school game arcade machines. Ancient Street Fighter and Metal Slug editions were among the most played ones that night.
Next day in the morning was all about Developer Outreach, after which there was suppose to be Ask Me Anything with Chris Beard, but he couldn’t make it, so Sean White was trying to answer as many questions as possible. Past lunch was the time to do a short Augmented Reality workshop called Mixing up realities.
It was also the day when I spent at least half of it running between a whole lot of people with an idea of doing something with the topic of Games within Mozilla. Most of them were quite excited, but we’ll see if something will came out of it. Fingers crossed.
Wednesday ended up with the all-Mozilla dinner at Stubb’s with good food and live music – barbecued meat and cold beer was a great mix.
Half of the morning was again Games-focused, and then all Tech Speakers met at the lunch time. Later on was the time for the research lightning talks at the main hall, and Mixed Reality recap of 2017 and planning for 2018. The day ended with Developer Outreach team dinner at Fogo De Chao – brazilian steakhouse which reminded me of the glorious meat feasts at BrazilJS in 2015.
When the dinner ended we went to the movie theatre for the screening of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I can easily say that my approach of not having any expectations at all and wanting to see a solid, casual movie ended up as a good plan – although it wasn’t perfect, I really enjoyed it.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Friday morning session where Emerging Technologies was meeting with the Open Innovation team. Half an hour after the start was suppose to be the beginning of the Tech Speakers content repo session, so I was considering not going, or trying to sneak out, but I’m so happy how it turned out!
It was a super productive session with lots of ideas, many gamedev-related (A-Frame competition, Global Game Jam, cross promotions, js13kGames lessons learned, etc). So many developers from ET had some kind of game development background, and OI team was doing a lot of community building stuff I got used to doing over the last years, and it was awesome to discuss that experiences. I really hope we’ll continue the discussions started there at the beginning of next year.
On the other hand there was me abusing Michael‘s generosity by driving around Austin in the ultimate search of the Barbie Game Developer doll which was suppose to be in at least a few different shops, but wasn’t in any of them. It was the only thing I was suppose to take back to Poland as a Christmas gift to my girls Ewa and Kasia, but it ended up way more difficult than I expected. Unfortunately we haven’t found it, so I’ll have to get it in a more expensive and longer way.
Anyway, one of the cool activities we did in Austin with the ET team was the escape room in The Escape Game Austin, my first experience of this kind. Although weird at the beginning, we really teamed up and went so close to excaping while figuring out all the riddles in the process. If I have the chance I’ll definitely go for it again, and can highly recommend trying out the experience if you haven’t done it yet.
We ended up the week with the closing party at the Star Hill Ranch, with food stops all around the place, and many interesting activities like open air movies, shooting games, photo booth, dancing and fireworks to name a few.
Saturday was the departure day, and the returning flight, although long and exhausting, went without any problems. I landed in Warsaw on Sunday evening and needed a few days to fight off jetlag and return to normal, but it was definitely worth it.
I probably forgot to mention some activities, mostly meeting with (more or less) random people and talking about a bunch of cool stuff. It was great to be able to chase people in person, ask something directly and get the immediate answer – the “Games” thing woulnd’t be possible to pull off in half a year of emailing, yet I managed to move it forward with two days of running around.
I’m so happy I got invited this time and I’m very thankful for that. It was awesome to be able to cover so many topics, and I hope to squeeze as much as possible from the discussions that happened in Austin. See y’all someplace, somewhere again soon!