Earlier I mentioned Richard Garriott as someone I'd like to meet. Jamie Fristrom emailed in response to that and sent this interesting story.
In junior high, I discovered Hackers, by Steven Levy which I must have read a dozen times. Steve Wozniak became my hero. I wanted to build computers.
Then it was games. I wrote to all of the programmers who converted Times of Lore to PC asking how they accomplished the overhead scrolling over the massive world. Herman Miller responded with a detailed description in C and assembly and recommended that I get the Programmer's Guide to PC and PS/2 Video Systems which I guess is going for $0.24 on Amazon these days. Armed with that information, the book and Turbo C, I started writing games like crazy.
So in college, a friend, Alex Kapadia, and I conceived a game called Undead: The Tibovian Era. I sent an early copy to the fast-growing shareware company Epic MegaGames and a few days later, received an excited phone call from the now legendary (in game circles) Tim Sweeney. Tim sent me an email (which in those days I dutifully checked on the Vaxen at UMKC) saying, "I'm looking forward to seeing more of Undead! It's the best 'first' game any author has shown us." Not bad, eh? This was a year or two before Unreal and I like to believe that my Undead inspired the similar name of Tim's magnum opus. Who knows..
Instead of finishing Undead, I spent a few years in Mexico. Kids these days. When I returned to Kansas City I found employment for a while doing bilingual customer service at a well known electronics company. At that time, I found myself sitting across the aisle from Niki Sullivan, one of the original members of Buddy Holly's Crickets! In his honor, the call center played nothing but Buddy Holly. Like an idiot, in my months there I was too awestruck to ever ask him anything about the days he wandered around the country participating in some of the seminal moments of American pop music.
And, of course, I've met a number of equally talented people in places I've worked such as Keane, VML, H&R Block, Sprint and EA Tiburon.
Without further reflection, that's the story of some people I've met (and some people I haven't) whose work I like.