When I arrived before the 10 a.m. start of the convention at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, I found lines winding the the entire first-floor concourse of the large hotel. People had shown up the night before and early in the morning to get a spot in line to get into the Bring Your Own Computer area, one of the mainstays of the show each year. In addition, registration took so long that John Carmack's keynote had to be pushed back two hours.
Bethesda VP Pete Hines said the shows growing popularity contributed to the record numbers, forcing convention organizers to limit access to the BYOC area on a first-come, first-serve basis, the first time that has happened in years. The area became so crowded at one point that id CEO Todd Hollenshead was seen escorting a group of BYOCers to the appropriate area for them to sign up and wait.
The BYOC area did open on time, but those who signed up early got to get in first. A group of Shackers, headed by Eric "EricZBA" Betancourt, 31, a Dallas resident, who started coming to QuakeCon in 2010. Betancourt took it upon himself to promote the event daily in the Shacknews Chatty, and reserved a small group of Shacknews seats those coming to the event.
"QuakeCon was the ShackCon before ShackCon," he said. "we used to have some big groups here, but now it is more and more just the local Shackers who attend. I just told myself 'I can't let this die,' and started to promote it in Chatty. It's not fun unless you are with people you know."
People camped out, and even slept, as they waited for the BYOC area to open.
Carmack was not shy about making the rounds to greet people while he waited to give his keynote. I saw him at least three or four different times talking to fans and answering questions. While there were some things he couldn't talk about, he didn't hesitate to talk about his passions of programming, graphic and processor technology and his current pet project, virtual reality.
Those lucky enough to get in early set up their computers and were playing with minutes.
When he wasn't talking to convention-goers, I found Carmack up in the demo rooms where Dishonored and Doom 3 BFG were being shown to the press. One of the selling points of Doom 3 BFG this time around is a Lost mission and being able to play in 3D. When I sat down to try the game, it was unexpectedly chugging because of some issues with the nVidia drivers. So Carmack sits down at the PC and immediately opens the console to fix the problems. It was quite cool seeing him sporting the 3D glasses as he tested the results of his fixes.
While waiting an extra two hours for his keynote, Carmack chatted with small groups of attendees.
The tournaments will be going on throughout the show, and attendees will be rewarded at random with tickets for a drawing for a brand new Ford Shelby GT500 Coupe Mustang, worth around $58,000. The lucky winner will be chosen at random on the last day of the show, and to make your mouth water, they had the red sports car on display outside the tournament area.
When you make fixes to the game, you gotta test it, right? Carmack gives Doom 3 BFG a test run.
The show events kicks off again today at 10 a.m., and several panels will be part of the day's activities. In addition, I'll have a chance to talk to Carmack about his virtual reality project with Palmer Lucky. Be sure to watch Shacknews for all the latest from Day 2 of QuakeCon 2012.
I know I'm not eligible to win it, but I still can dream.