It was time for a bit of a vacation for me, and rather than just go to boring old Hawaii by myself, I decided to invest in something a bit more luxurious. I dropped some money into the Ultimate package for the Gearbox Software Community Day 2012, hopped into a small sardine-can of a plane and made my way to Dallas where the company behind the upcoming Borderlands 2 and Aliens: Colonial Marines had a weekend of events planned.


When I first got into Dallas, a Gearbox rep drove me to their studio in uptown Dallas consisting of about three floors of development heaven. Unfortunately, I can’t disclose everything I saw there but I can honestly say that it’s one of the nicest studios I’ve visited. These guys are serious about having a laid back attitude at work - they even have a pinball room where you can kick back and you should see Randy Pitchford’s office…


After the tour, I attended a charity poker tournament on Friday evening. This get together saw proceeds donated to the Video Game History Museum, a place dedicated to preserving the history of our hobby. It was a very successful evening, raising thousands of dollars for the team and everyone have a good time raising, folding and eventually getting to a final table in the tournament.


Along with poker tables, the event was also a good place for the Museum to show off classic SNES, Genesis and Atari 2600 consoles set up for play, along with dozens of glass cases with collectibles like rare games, shirts and other memorabilia.


After Friday’s events concluded, it was time for the actually Community Day event that Gearbox Software does yearly for its fans. This year was much bigger than the rest because it was tying in to the Borderlands 2 Launch Party, which arrives in stores tomorrow.


The doors opened to a throng of fans lined up for what seemed like several blocks, with all eventually getting in without any hassle from security. There were various rooms in The Palladium that were filled with gaming goodness, including various Borderlands 2 stations to play. Gamers could also try out Aliens: Colonial Marines, where the dev team challenged players as aliens while they controlled the Marines. (We were able to get hands-on with the Aliens side, so be sure to check that out.)


Gearbox spared no expense when it came to the design of the place and also provided plenty of cool goodies for fans including VIP shirts, collectible bags and other swag.


Another highlight of the event were panels. They had a dedicated room where Randy Pitchford and various team members discussed their projects. These panels were hosted by special guests, such as “e” from the Xbox Live team, former G4TV personality Adam Sessler and X-Play’s Morgan Webb. The first panel revolved around Aliens: Colonial Marines, where the team passed around stories and revealed cool artwork from the game and also gave out Nerf rifles and other goodies as raffle prizes.


From there, Pitchford and his team talked about the company in general and also hinted at a couple of other projects. Though he wouldn’t outright confirm it, he did mention that the team MIGHT dabble in Duke Nukem again (as they did with last year’s Duke Nukem Forever) and that Brothers In Arms: Furious Four would become its own separate IP to be revealed later. (Don’t worry, Brothers fans, they’re considering an authentic new Brothers game to come out soon enough.)


But perhaps the most uproarious panel was the Borderlands 2 one. This one featured a number of guests, including a few cosplayers and the actresses who represented Lilith and Guardian Angel. The team also showed off the world premiere of the launch trailer, which left the crowd cheering.


As part of the Ultimate package, we got a few extra perks like a station where we got to play through the first few hours of Borderlands 2, along with lunch and a few surprise goodies provided by the promotional partners behind the event. We also got to take part in a terrific private dinner at Nobu featuring a number of celebrity guests, including Epic Games’ Cliff Bleszinksi and several others.


Following that meal, it was time to dress up and enjoy the after-party. Once again, Gearbox went all out when it came to entertainment with several Nvidia kiosks so people could team up together in Borderlands 2. There were also special launch event t-shirts (which some people actually changed into) and a number of live performers, including The Heavy, Satan’s Cheerleaders, and even a magician to provide a few tricks in-between acts. Randy Pitchford also took the stage at one point to address the fans personally.


To close out the night, DJ Jazzy Jeff played a non-stop two hour-plus set of classic hits and other mixes. It was a good time for all, though we did notice one dude that was passed out for the duration of the evening in a leisure suit... don’t be surprised if a few shots of him show up on Facebook (He’ll probably be regretting that later, heh).


I’d like to thank Gearbox Software for taking such good care of me at this event. I paid big for it but it was money well spent and I really got access to a number of cool things while meeting up with some great friends and making new ones. If you get the chance to go next year, hey, jump on it. Randy and his team will treat you right.


Now…about that loot chest…