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After being a registered for over 10 years, using the site for closer to 20, having my game Pixel Purge hit #1 submission (both movies and games) of all time for about a week, and even doing direct business with Newgrounds, I have finally visited Tom / the Newgrounds office. I took a road trip from Vermont to Pennsylania for Pico Day 2015, and the drive was well worth it. I've split this post into two parts, the trip, and the party, so feel free to skip the trip if you'd like.
To start things off, a quick summary of the actual trip. I went on the trip with my friend James, and we drove down to Pennsylvania from Burlington, Vermont. We started by simply inputting directions to Pennsylvania, no speciic location. Google Maps said it would take roughly 7 hours, which sounded right, so we began our trip.
After far too many snapchats, more bathroom breaks than a 27 year old male should need to make, and only 1 or 2 missed exits / wrong turns, we decided to update the GPS to Glenside, rather than just the broad term Pennsylvania. Fuck. It turns out, our GPS thought it would be fun to drive far more west than we actually needed to go, because it didn't take us to the closest part of Pennsylvania, it took us somehwere else way west - presumably the capital. All in all, we lost about 2.5 hours from the detour, and had to backtrack quite a ways.
Upon finally getting to Glenside, we got out at the train station, and walked to what our GPS told us was the party. After 15 minutes of walking, we didn't feel like we were in the right area, so we checked the GPS again. Apparently my phone had changed my voice input to 323 West Ave, instead of 323 Glenside Ave, and we were standing outside yet another 323, quite close to the party, but residential and 30 minutes away. We ran back to the station (it felt nice to jog after 10 hours of being in a car), and headed to Glenside Ave, on the other side of the tracks from where we were. We started walking, and I then realized the GPS said it would be a 30 minute walk, not the 10 minute walk Tom mentioned in his email. I then realized we parked at the wrong station, and that the right station was a 5 minute drive down the road.
After an extremely failed navigating experience, we finally arrived at the office, at roughly 5PM, instead of the projected 1PM. I took two things away from the travel experience along:
1 - I'm terrible at navigating.
2 - Be very specific with your GPS, and double check where exactly it says you're going.
When I first arrived, I was wearing pretty casual clothing - blue jeans and a light blue button down. I decided to simply head straight for the beer (much needed), and walk around to see if I knew anyone. To my surprise, I couldn't find a single person I knew, not one. I thought I saw @Luis a few times (I was right), but he didn't really know me so much as I knew who he was, so I passed on an introduction. I primarily looking for Tom, TylerNG, and Deathink, as I've known all of them for the longest.
I eventually ran into @DeathInk, and then discovered the party existed on the entire second floor, which was where most of the real fun was actually happening. I headed for the second floor, and this is where I finally felt at home / at a real party. The office was covered in more geek culture / references than I could properly absorb, there was an enormous crowd around an 8 person Smash Bros game, an active pool table, bean bag chairs left and right, and smiles all around.
A few moments later, thanks to intel from someone I spoke with (@Deathink ???) on Tom's current style (clean shaven or not, what was he wearing, etc), I ran into @TomFulp. It was clear that at this exact moment, he was contimplating all of the serious life decisions he had made up until this point. We were two handsome guys with our chemistry through the roof, and Tom didn't know whether to break things off from April and run away with me, or keep things going living with a lie in his heart going forward. Not to my surprise, he chose the latter, but I know, I know. Jokes aside, we had some pretty great conversation, and it was nice to finally meet the guy who indirectly shaped my entire life, and got me into game development and programming (I began learning everything I know on the NG forums).
With some help from Tom, It was then that I ran into @Tyler - a highly functional, and very intoxicated Tlyer. This was particularly entertaining, because Tyler and I had been trying to meet up for quite some time, as we've both been active members of FGL.com forums (where I now work), and the Newgrounds forums for many year. We even missed each other at GDC, as I was at lunch or in the bathroom every time he visited the FGL booth and attempted to meet up. Long story short, just like heading to the Newgrounds office, it was about damn time.
After roughly an hour or two of walking around, having a few beers, and feeling slightly defeated on the social front (rare for me, as I'm quite extroverted), I decided to go back to the car to break out my secret weapon.
This orange suit, which very closely resembles that worn by Jim Carrey in Dumb And Dumber, is what I refer to as my "Business Suit". Between working from home, and having a generally care-free / outgoing attitude towards life, I can and do get away with wearing this at more events than you'd think - from weddings, to GDC parties.
Upon returning to the party in this new attire, it was as if I suddenly existed, which was exactly what I needed, as I was a few beers short of optimal social skills, and had failed the prior hour to find anyone I knew to branch out from there. I had people introduce themselves to me for a second time (which was hilarious, as only I remembered this, and called them out on it), and met a ton of new people. I heard the word "dapper" more in a few hours than I have in my entire life.
At this point in the night, I was feeling pretty buzzed, and decided to partake in some games. James and I jumped in on some Smash Bros, and quickly dominated most of the competiton. I smashed some people around as Link and won a few games, and James trolled the hell out of everyone with Jigglypuff and Yoshi rolling. Out of the 4 or 5 games we played, either one of us was the winner, or we were in the last 3 battling it out - good times. I then made my way to the pool table, and unleashed a wave of tyranny. I've played in a local league a number of times, and have been playing for over 15 years, so I'm somewhat of a pool shark as a number of people discovered. I had a few close games with Jefferson Kodhelaj, a number of laughs, and eventually handed the table over after 4 or 5 wins, and 1 loss (damn that 8-ball). I then took one last lap around the roof to meet people (where I hung out with Tyler a bit more), and then made my way back inside.
Penicorn. Penicorn. Penicorn. I don't remember how they were brought up, where I saw one, or when exactly this was, but I needed one. I once again found Tom, and discovered there was a large storage room brimming with Penicorns, Tank Men, and other treasures of Newgrounds. I quickly exchanged the relatively pointless US currency in my wallet, for the beautiful penis-horned figure of the gods. Later that night, I had Tom sign it, making the monetary value of this particular penicorn roughly $45,000,000, and no, it's not for sale. I apologize to anyone and everyone I threw this at, shoved the horn in the face of, poked with, etc, though only for your sake, I have no regrets.
Towards the end of the night, I decided to head down to the Twitch stream area, and see if I could play some of my games on the live stream. I decided to show of Pixel Purge and Tower of Greed, which was a lot of fun. I through down $5 to anyone who get passed floor 50 in Tower of Greed, and the closest anyone got was James with floor 42. From what I heard later, I was pretty damn drunk, and kept explaining the mechanics of ToG over and over, which I find hilarious. Between the various people trying the game, and the vodka gave me on top of the beers I already had, I can imagine I was repeating myself quite a bit.
At the very end of the night, I played a few games of Street Fighter and Robotron. I can't confirm this as I didn't get a screen shot, but I'm fairly certain I placed 5th place or so on the Robotron machine (as GEM, short for Gemfruit), while drunk - confirm if you can, Tom. I later stole a few waffles from a Costo sized pack belonging to @SpazKid, and cooked them in the micowave as I couldn't find a toaster, so I apologize for stealing those. In my defense, I did bring Tom a bottle of pure Vermont Maple Syrup (yay cliche!), so I'm sure if you ask nicely, he'll let you use some as compensation for my drunken robbery.
All in all, I had a great time at the party, and it was awesome to finally meet so many people I've known for years. I definitely got inspired to get myself back into game development (it's on my list of things to do this year), and hopefully I can get something new up on Newgrounds before the year is over. Thanks a lot to Tom and the rest of the staff for hosting, and hopefully I'll make it out again next year!
PS - send me any photos you have of me!