Tag Archives: hearthpro

Bunny’s Fond Farewell to HearthPro

Standard

Around noon today I finished recording what will be the last episode of the HearthPro podcast — at least, with me as a host.

This was a very tough decision to make, but with the support of my fellow hosts Marc, Stephen, and Robert, I was able to do what needs to be done.  Due to major changes in all of our lives, scheduling our recording times while taking into account a three-hour difference on my end had just become too difficult.  In order to accommodate my schedule, Robert would have had to leave the show and Marc would have had less time to spend with his family, which was double-plus-uncool all around, despite the fact that these incredible gentlemen were actually willing to make that sacrifice.  I was the one who suggested stepping down, and although there were many protests, we all came to the conclusion that this is what was best for the show.  I’ve also got some other things in the works that would prevent me from having any more involvement on the show, depending on the outcome, and I would have hated to make them work so hard to include me only to have to quit a week or two later, anyway.

Without Robert, we would have lost a valuable voice regarding Hearthstone’s meta-game and insight into strategy for both deck-building and gameplay that I certainly could not have made up for.  Marc is the mastermind of the show who keeps us all in line and does the dirty organizational work that, honestly, none of us would be able to do half as well as he does, not to mention the incredible editing job he does for each episode (I actually sound smart when he’s through with my audio!).  HearthPro is his baby, anyway.  It was his Hearthstone podcast I listened to what seems like forever ago, when I was just starting to make a name for myself, and thought “Oh man, I’d love to be a guest on that show.”  A bit later I ended up getting my wish, and beyond, because halfway through recording my guest spot the decision was made to offer me a permanent spot as a co-host!  I never imagined I’d be part of such a passionate and generally amazing team.

Stephen, a.k.a. Leviathan, and I only recently started working together, but on that first show with him as a guest I was sort of “auditioning” him to take over my role.  This decision to step down is one that I’ve had in the back of my mind for a while since things started getting more and more hectic, but I didn’t want to leave HearthPro in an absolute lurch.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that I could not find a better replacement for the community side of things than him.  Not only is he a great temperance to Robert’s hardcore mentality, but he also has a wonderful understanding of the game on all levels of play, and the ability to express it in an endearing and well-thought-out manner.  I look forward to hearing great things from him as the show goes on and have full confidence that if he put on a squeaky voice, no one would even notice I was gone.

I wanted to make this somewhat short post just to let everyone know that I was not forced into this decision and that there was no behind-the-scenes drama — yes, I know that Robert and I had opposing viewpoints on pretty much everything and engaged in  more than a few friendly battles on the air, but there’s zero animosity between us.  We’re both very passionate people with a love for gaming, especially Hearthstone, and the debates and banter were a welcome indulgence for me.  In fact, Robert was the first one to rush to my side and make sure I was truly okay with leaving the show.  Believe it or not, Marc, Robert, Stephen, and I are all on very good terms both during and after our recordings!  I couldn’t ask for a finer group of colleagues or friends.

So what does this mean for HearthPro?  The show’s still going to continue to kick ass and take names as it always has.  The only difference is that you won’t hear my voice on a regular basis.  I say “regular basis” because I’m not precluding the possibility of popping in now and again as a guest, either to talk about major news stories I cover or just to check in from the community.

As for me, I’m not disappearing from BlizzPro or Twitter or Twitch (although I admittedly have fallen off of the streaming wagon — I hope to remedy that soon!).  I will still be writing articles for BlizzPro and their sub-sites for as long as possible and updating you with on-the-hour thoughts about tacos and obscure German industrial bands.  And of course, you might just see me in the matchmaking queues for Hearthstone whenever I have a spare moment!

Thank you to everyone who’s listened to our shenanigans, challenged me to friendly Hearthstone matches, sent me awesome emails or bantered with me on Twitter.  I love the Hearthstone community and wager that it’s one of the best out there because of you, the players!  Deck on, dudes, and I’ll catch up with you later.

If you’d like to stay apprised of my adventures, you can follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, and Twitch, in addition to keeping your eyes on this blog!

Advertisements

The Overlord’s Creep Spreads To Blizzard

Standard

My previous estimation of “I’ll still be updating this blog even if I am focusing on BlizzPro right now!” may have been a bit optimistic.

It’s been a couple of weeks, and I am happy to report that I haven’t blown anything up or set anything on fire yet.  In fact, I’ve been able to do a ton of new, shiny stuff:

  • I’ve managed to build up a pretty decent library of articles over at BlizzPro — use this link to access the archives of everything I’ve written so far, including my new weekly Behind the Lore series!
  • The sausage fest formerly known as the HearthPro podcast has been inundated with glitter and raspy lady-voices thanks to my being elected as their third co-host! Though my first appearance was technically in the Special Beta episode, my actual debut as a co-host type and not just a guest is in Episode 4.  New episodes are released every Monday!
  • It finally happened — Internet Celebrity Status has been unlocked.  I now have more followers than I do people I’m following on Twitter (and no, I didn’t just go ahead and unfollow a bunch of people to get it):
    internetcelebritybunny
  • Hearthstone’s closed beta happened.  As you may have gathered by my inclusion on the HearthPro podcast, I got in.  I am a Baddie McBadderson with a win/loss ratio so crappy that the random matchmaking system often has trouble finding someone on my skill level.  At first it made me a little sad, now I take it as a point of pride that I may very well be the worst Hearthstone player ever.  Fame and fortune will be mine.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn has been invaded by a small odangoed Lalafell thaumaturge named Bunny Sagan (spoilers: it’s me).
  • I toured some tiny little indie game company you may or may not be familiar with, I forget what their name is… Hurricane?  Tornado?  Oh, no, Blizzard.  I toured Blizzard.

While I gear up for an impending comic review and try to refocus my brain on Actually Producing A Blog Post, I figured I’d share some of my experiences and impressions of my journey through the hallowed halls of Blizzard Entertainment’s Irvine campus, or what some might call Nerd Disneyland.

Blizzard isn’t just one enormous building — it’s several enormous buildings.  I was only able to tour the World of Warcraft hub (“only,” she says) and that on its own took about two and a half hours to cover the lobby and the second floor.  The lobby is home to the infamous Blizzard Museum, kept safe by a life-sized hyper-realistic statue of Nova Terra and a bank of computers where you can log in on your StarCraft 2, Diablo 3, or World of Warcraft accounts and kill time while you wait.  It’s also where you’ll stumble across the giant Horde and Alliance plushies that so many people take photos with, something I should have planned ahead for, since they ended up photobombing this otherwise amazing photo of myself with my tour guide, the devastatingly handsome Monte Krol:

Other than clearly being a male model so talented that he can ambi-turn with the best of them, Monte is the voice of the male goblins in World of Warcraft and the game’s Lead Tools Engineer.  He’s been with the company for thirteen years, just shy of receiving the commemorative shield given to employees for 15 years of service (they receive sword at 5, a ring at 15, and the Lich King’s helm at 20), so he knows where all the cool stuff and secret candy stashes are.

The Blizzard Museum is not only a repository for awesome concept art, character bios, and community appreciation — StarCraft 2 shoutcasters have their very own plaque in the eSports exhibit — it also features a StarCraft 2 voice changer that you can mess around with to sound like Abathur or Izsha if you follow the instructions given on how to manipulate the small soundboard hooked up to it.  To answer your next question, yes, I made poop jokes as Izsha.  I’ve got you covered, guys. (Not with poop.  Ewwww.)

The second floor of the World of Warcraft building is where all the magical creative stuff happens.  It’s home to concept artists, quest designers, and the most impressive collection of official Warcraft figures I’ve ever seen just in one guy’s office.  One of Blizzard’s core philosophies is “embrace your inner geek,” and their employees have definitely run with it based solely on their office decor.  They go all out on making their work environment comfortable, which sometimes means decorating their workspace with hanging vines, tropical plants, and dim lighting to look like a balmy jungle.

No, seriously, I forget whose office it was, but it was one of the most glorious things I’ve ever seen.  I’m pretty sure he was even using a specific color of lightbulb to get the full effect.

Everyone I spoke to, even the team Leads (who were undoubtedly swamped with Patch 5.4’s impending release), were more than happy to explain to me their roles in the development process and even just to chat.  It didn’t feel like anyone was reading from a script or being forced to interact, and that sense of welcoming really was appreciated.  About halfway through the tour I ran into Greg Street, a.k.a. the infamous Ghostcrawler, and I can honestly say that he is really a pleasant and kind-hearted guy when he’s not being screamed at and threatened by the denizens of the internet JUST AS TERRIFYING AND HARDCORE AS YOU THINK HE IS.

(Don’t worry, Greg, your secret’s safe with me.)

Across the courtyard from the World of Warcraft building is the fabled Blizzard Library, guarded by more lifelike statues of Illidan and Jim Raynor.  The library itself is small, but stuffed with every tabletop RPG manual, graphic novel, or programming reference guide you could ask for.  They even have a gigantic console gaming and Blu-Ray section for their employees to borrow from.  If I could have a library card from anywhere, it’d be from there!

The tour ended not in the gift shop — sadly, they don’t have one — but in the campus’s cafeteria.  If you follow any Blizzard people on Twitter, you may have noticed them talking about how good the food is.  After sampling it for myself, I can safely say it was a better dining experience than most restaurants I’ve been to.  Vegan, kosher, and halal employees always have options available that are not just “a salad” There is an ice cream machine and a spread of just about anything you could possibly want to eat that day.  This isn’t typical “pizza or hamburger” choice, this is more like “Stuffed Greek Burger” versus “Tofu Veggie Wrap with Watermelon Salad.”  It makes sense, though, when you figure that a lot of these employees are spending at least two of three mealtimes at work; good food means they’ve got the fuel to make it through the long hours.

If you want to schedule your own tour, Blizzard’s official site explains what you need to do.  There’s no cost, and it’s the opportunity of a lifetime to see where your favorite games are born!  Keep in mind, though, that spots are very limited and may require a bit of patience to get depending on how many other tours have already been scheduled or phases in the development cycle that may see the campus closed to visitors.  All in all, it was a great experience, and only a little bittersweet for me.  Getting an inside look at how Blizzard operates has only made me hungrier for a desk of my own there.  One of these days…