Tag Archives: dreams

So, A Bunny Walks Into A Blizzard…

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One year ago, when I announced to my friends and family members that I was quite literally dropping everything and moving across the country to chase my dream of working for Blizzard Entertainment, they were mostly supportive, but a little bewildered. Some might move to Southern California with Hollywood aspirations. I moved to Southern California with the very nerdiest aspirations.

There were also quite a few people who were not afraid to let me know that they thought I was making a huge mistake and that I was reaching too high. And yes, there were plenty of times since landing in Irvine that I stopped and thought to myself “holy shit, what did I just do?” but somehow I managed to block out the naysayers and keep going.  Maybe I didn’t block them out completely, come to think of it — maybe they just served as even more inspiration and drive to make things happen, just so I could prove them wrong.

So I did.

As of March 17th, I will be rolling out of bed in the morning and into my desk at Blizzard’s Irvine campus. My official job title is Technical QA Analyst II, which is a lot of fancy-speak for “waving my arms up and down and screaming ‘I NEED AN ADULT’ every time I break something, THE SEQUEL.”

(I’m kidding, there’s way more to it than that. For one, you don’t scream out loud. You write it down, i.e. “AAAAAAAAHSGDJGSHDGSJGDKDS;”.)

There’s a funny story behind March 17th and how it relates to my family. That’s my great-grandfather’s birthday, and he was a man largely regarded to be the champion of our family. When we first arrived in this country and the local toughs tried to intimidate him into paying them money for “protection,” he chased them off with a baseball bat and was never harassed again. He traveled the world, mastered seven languages, and was respected throughout his community both here and back in The Old Country(tm). When I was little, I would call him the “lion man” whenever I saw his picture because of his thick white hair that looked more like a mane than anything.

Lions. Hm. Seems familiar.

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Before the interview that led to my hiring, I stopped in the lobby to take a photograph with the Alliance gryphon. I don’t really know why — I just had the urge to do it. At that time, I was mainly playing Horde. But for some strange reason, I decided to hang out with those reppin’ the lions.

Then a few days ago, I was shopping at one of my favorite clothing stores and noticed that they were selling beautiful jeweled lion rings for $5. Guess what I bought.

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Logically, I know it’s all coincidence, but I happen to be a very superstitious person. March 17th has been an incredibly fortuitous day for my family ever since I can remember, and the lion has become our unofficial mascot, with significantly less inbreeding than the Lannisters.

Of course, nothing this amazing can come through without there being a few changes. I already announced to the world that I had stepped down from the HearthPro Podcast due to scheduling issues, which was not a complete fabrication. It was more a matter of there being real challenges in getting our schedules together, but at the time having just the possibility of working at Blizzard made me hesitant to ask the rest of the team to completely rework their lives if it meant I’d only be able to stay for another week or two — and man, am I glad I made that decision now! A couple of weeks ago, I also very quietly stepped down from writing at BlizzPro after being notified that I’d gotten the position, but wasn’t yet able to go public with the announcement.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen to this blog. I may cease to update it, or I may change formats and turn it into a personal blog rather than a gaming one; of course, anything you’ll find with my name attached to it on the interwebz consists solely of my own opinions, and not those of Blizzard Entertainment or any past employers. My Twitter account will still be entirely too active and I’ll be streaming my face off via my Twitch channel (my participation in this year’s Extra Life is still a go!). You won’t, however, find me on any more podcasts, guest or otherwise, and it’s pretty unlikely that I’ll be writing any more articles on lore or dreaming up game content in the community, for reasons that I’d hope are pretty obvious.

Several people have asked me what my “secret” was to get the job. I don’t have any real advice, other than don’t give up — it took me at least 30 applications and multiple interviews to get in. There were plenty of times that I was convinced I was doing nothing but throwing myself up against a brick wall and trying to make it a door, but I’d go back and re-read this interview with Brian Kindregan, lead writer for StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm and the Diablo team, where he addresses those same frustrations:

Every person I know whose career has taken them to a fun and creative place got there in a different way. So the bad news is that there’s no set path. The good news is that there’s no set path! I always tell people that the key ingredient is: you should be too stupid to give up. You’ll meet many people who will tell you that you’re not good enough, that it’s not a ‘real job,’ that they don’t want people like you, that you can’t make a living at it and the list goes on. But if you’re too stupid to give up, it will bounce right off you. You’ll meet people who you will think are more talented than you, smarter, faster, better, and more creative. But those people will often give up, and you can always be better than they are at being too stupid to give up.

Color me proud to be the stupidest bunny you’ll ever meet.

A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes, Then Terrifies The Shit Out Of You

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Almost a year in the making, I’ve finally done it.  I start working in the game industry on Monday.

Everyone I’ve told has been jumping for joy and acting like I cured cancer.  The sentiment is appreciated, and I’m definitely not ungrateful for the job or rolling my eyes or anything, but it’s sort of mystifying for me.  Sadly, this position isn’t in creative development or quest design.  It’s a very important stepping stone to get there, and I’m thrilled to finally be able to work in my own industry, but as a kid, I never celebrated second place or almost or close, not when I knew right on the money or champion would be within reach.  I’d acknowledge the fact that I made it as far as I did, but I wouldn’t kick my heels up and say “WELP, this is it, close enough, I’m done.”

This is also why the mod I’m working on for Civilization V is taking forever and a day.

More importantly, what no one tells you about accomplishing a life dream (and do not misunderstand me, just getting into the industry is one of them) is that it is terrifying as shit once you actually achieve it.  Before, it was an abstract concept, a “yeah, I’d like to do that someday” where you always had the thought in the back of your mind that not everyone gets to be an astronaut or a ballerina and that somebody’s got to be around to make the sandwiches at Subway, so all you can really do is work hard and never stop until you a.) get there or b.) die.  Now you’re sitting there with an itinerary for your first day in front of you realizing that this is it.  This is where you find out whether or not you’re actually good at it.

Getting the job is one thing.  Being able to deliver is another thing altogether.  It has nothing to do with being confident in your own abilities — I know I’m good, but am I good enough?  Did the interviewer misjudge me and make a bogus recommendation that I have no way of living up to?  Am I going to finally get into a studio only to look like a total moron by the end of my first week?  I’ve devoted all of my resources and most of my life to this, even going so far as to put the game industry ahead of myself and my relationships.  To go down in flames now would mean that I sacrificed a good 90% of my life and all of my financial stability for nothing, not to mention that I don’t want to let anyone down.  I hate letting people down.  Every rejection letter I received up until this point, I felt like it was a slap in the face to every friend and family member who believed in me.  When I notoriously screwed up my phone interview, I was too embarrassed to ever follow up with the recruiter I’d been working with, even just to say “thanks for trying,” because I felt like my failure made him look bad in the eyes of his colleagues — “you think THIS loser would be able to do the job?  Hahahaha, go back to recruiter school.”

Not to mention my battles with PTSD and a complex mood disorder.  I think I’ve got them pretty well vanquished for now.  Despite no longer taking the medication that ended up incapacitating me, I can still do things that were once completely unimaginable, including leaving the house and talking on the phone.  Where once I was so agoraphobic that I couldn’t even handle being on a high-population server in World of Warcraft, I’m doing my grocery shopping with my head held high, even splitting up with The Fiance when we get there so that we can grab what we need from opposite ends of the store.  I’m chatting with the cashiers.  I order my own food in restaurants instead of hiding behind the menu and wishing that everyone else in the building would just evaporate.  But there’s always the lingering fear that I’m going to relapse, that one day I’ll wake up and be unable to make it into work because the world outside my window is just too terrifying.  There’s the worry that I may randomly burst into tears at the office or that someone will sneak up on me as a friendly prank and I’ll end up flipping them down onto the floor with my foot pressing down on their neck until somebody manages to snap me out of it (it’s happened before).  I’m terrified that even if I’ve made it this far and I can actually kick ass at the job, the Sha of Mental Illness is going to show up out of nowhere and ruin everything.

And then, of course, there’s the normal “new job” jitters — am I going to like my boss, is my boss going to like me, is this job actually going to be as great as it sounds, that sort of thing.  The game industry has its own set of “what ifs” to contend with, things like “what if the entire office is made up of dudebros who aren’t going to ever take me seriously or give me a chance in CDev because I’m a chick” or “what if I fuck something up so badly that the entire game is a failure and it’s all my fault and I ruined everything?”  I’m agonizing over what to wear on Monday.  The dress code is Standard Game Industry, i.e. the unofficial uniform of jeans and a hoodie, but do I want to go that route and blend in?  Do I maybe want to wear something a little cuter and more feminine, or will that make me seem prissy and unreachable?  How much makeup do I wear?  Should I just skip makeup altogether?  Will black eyeliner prevent them from taking me seriously as a colleague?  Oh God, is too much grey showing in my hair right now?

The reasonable part of me points out that as long as I don’t sashay into the office wearing a cocktail dress and Jessica Rabbit hair and makeup, I’m probably okay and nobody will even pay me any mind, but those “what ifs,” man, they’re brutal.  I can only imagine what a wreck I’m going to be after I get into the specialization I’m aiming for (hell, just thinking about it, my brain is screaming “WHAT IF YOU CAN’T COME UP WITH ANY GOOD IDEAS BECAUSE YOU USED EVERY BRILLIANT THOUGHT YOU WILL EVER HAVE IN YOUR DEMO PORTFOLIO?!”).

To answer your next question, yes, it is extremely exhausting to be me.

But I’m not going to run away and hide, because I’ve worked too hard and struggled too much to get to this point.  My foot is in the door, and I keep reminding myself that I am extremely good at what I’ll be doing and will probably be fine.  Everyone I’ve spoken to at this studio has been a great human being so there’s absolutely zero reason to expect anything different when I get there on Monday.  And if someone has a problem with my eyeliner, they can go fuck themselves.  I am the Bunny Overlord.  Let’s do this shit.

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Overlord Bunny, Game Developer: Potentially Non-Existent God Help Us All

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I figure that before I start armchair-devving and exposing the internet to my oftentimes bizarre behavior, I should probably say something.  So… something!

Wow, that was a really bad joke.   I am ashamed.

Anyway, I mentioned armchair-devving, and for those of you wondering what the Hell I’m talking about, I have a tendency to play a game and then, in my mind, sort through the things I didn’t like and figure out how to make them better.  I’m not a game developer, so I’m basically talking out of my ass, which is something that I happily admit to, I just find it to be a good mental challenge for myself and a great exercise in thinking outside the box.  Not that I need any help in doing that.  I don’t so much think outside of the box as I think six zip codes away from the box.

Unlike a lot of people who do this kind of thing,  though, I like to try and back up my ideas with solid evidence.  I don’t just say “oh, this feature blows, you should change it,” I say “This feature really gave me a lot of trouble and I wonder if other gamers may have experienced the same thing?  Here’s how I’d change it while still trying to keep the overall feel and what the designers were trying to say with it intact.”  Truth is, game developers, quest designers, Hell, the entire team behind a game all work really hard.  This may come as a surprise, but I am a creative person — I’ve been writing regularly since I was four — so I understand how much of one’s self goes into a creative project… and how much of a sting it can have, no matter how thick your skin is, when somebody comes along and just shits all over it.  I constantly find myself defending these people (unless it’s EA who I still have not forgiven for Dragon Age II) to the gaming community because these vocal detractors don’t stop and think about the pressure of deadlines, the tons of drafts and revisions, the all-nighters spent trying to get things just right before the product ships… it’s a fun job, but it’s a difficult one.

To which I say, “challenge accepted.”

Rather than sticking to theory, it’s my dream to actually be able to put this all into practice.  When I was younger, I never understood what people meant when they talked about their “dream job” or anything of that nature.  Nothing called to me.  Then, a couple of months after its release, I started playing World of Warcraft, and ten levels later I was already saying to myself “Oh my God.  I want to make these things.”

When I do something in a game, ANY game, the first thing I notice is the storyline.  Graphics I can forgive, even sound, but nothing makes me cringe more than a game with a bad storyline, or worse, lack thereof.  A prime example of this is the Tera MMO.  The Boyfriend, who does 3D modelling, was drawn to it because of the admittedly impressive graphics.  I played it for a very short time before sadly giving up because of the lack of any lore or reason behind the quests.  “Kill 10 of random mob?  But why?  What good does this do?  What is this world I’m questing in?  Who is this questgiver and how does he tie into things?”  None of those questions were answered for me, and so I lost interest.  If I want a mindless grind-fest, I’ll get exalted with the Timbermaw, thank you very much.

In cases like this, I find myself trying to sketch out a “new” version of the material that I don’t feel is up to speed.  I do the same thing with movies; it can be the trashiest, most awful B-movie in existence, but if there’s even a spark of potential to be found in it, I’m immediately writing down ideas with how I could make it better.  It’s never done in an “I’m smarter and better and more talented, and you’re all jerks” kind of way, more in a manner intended to be helpful, like “Hey guys, I see what you were trying to do, but what about this?”  I’ve also gone so far as to write sequels and additional content for games that I really like.  Obviously I’m useless with regards to the coding aspect, but I know what I see in my head, I know what I want it to look like, and if it’s not doable, well, I’ll figure out something else that is.

So my ultimate dream?  To get a spot on the World of Warcraft quest design or development team at Blizzard.  A lot of people have accused me of wanting it just because I’m a fangirl, but in fact, I want World of Warcraft specifically because I’m so versed in the lore.  Sure, I’d take a spot on D3 or Starcraft, but I know next to nothing about them, so it would be a much harder start for me.  But why Blizzard, and why not a more general scope?  Two reasons:

  • I can troll Skinny British Stepdad by slooooooowly rolling myself in a wheelie-chair past his doorway while staring at him in the creepiest manner possible
  • It’s legit a good company that treats its employees well, and with three major IPs to its name, it’s a lot more stable than most game companies — something very important right now with so many studios closing their doors.
  • Special Extra Bonus Stage Because I Thought of a Third Reason and Am Too Lazy To Edit the Previous Paragraph: I actually like their games.  They’re quality stuff, and in the case of World of Warcraft, ones that I feel extremely passionately about.  I could happily immerse myself in their storylines on a daily basis and, in fact, I do that just by playing.  But I want to do more.  I want to be at least partly responsible for creating the things that make me (and, of course, other gamers) go “wow.”

Will it ever happen?  I really hope so.  When you find a tough part in a dungeon, I want it to be MY name that the masses curse.  I can hear them now: “DAMN YOU, OVERLORD BUNNY!”

It’s a good feeling.