It was early May, 1998. Nearly all of Ensemble Studio’s employees were in San Jose, aboard the Queen Mary. We had just been awarded a pair of Spotlight Awards from the Computer Game Developers’ Conference, including “Best of Show.” The statuettes looked like miniature Klieg lights, and someone had plugged them in on one of our tables. Sheets and sheets of stickers advertising an entertainment network called Berzerk littered the bar. We had taken to using them to replace the labels on our beer bottles and, as they became more numerous, to toasting “berzerk” and then just randomly yelling “berzerk.” Eventually, the people who actually owned the service approached us, cautiously, to ask if we worked for them.
By this point, we’d received a number of awards for Age of Empires (the game shipped in October of the year before), but this was the first award we’d been given formally. Officially. In a ballroom. Surrounded by hundreds of our peers. It was unbelievable. We’d also been informed of our updated sales numbers, well north of a million now, which didn’t hurt the mood any.