Tag Archives: Personal

So, A Bunny Walks Into A Blizzard…

Standard

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.

the_alliance_by_djfoxx-d34jemd

 

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.

BhRBPpGCcAAGLm7

 

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.

I Prefer New Year’s Revolutions

Standard

I can’t believe that this blog is over a year old (although mostly neglected for a chunk of that because I suck) and that I’m sitting here writing yet another New Year’s post.  Oddly enough, I’m writing this one on January 2nd, same as last year.  I swear that wasn’t intentional, but patterns and numbers and oh God I’m about to go full “A Beautiful Mind” on everyone if I keep going, so let’s get to the good stuff.

Last year I asked everyone to make it their resolution to be a nicer, more community-minded player, something I also took to heart for my own gaming practices.  It can be difficult to adhere to at times, especially when you’re frustrated because everyone else around you seems to be cut of the same douchebag cloth, but when you’re legit being so helpful that people whisper you “thanks,” it’s kind of worth it.  Knowing you brightened up someone’s day even slightly or set a noob on the path to epic win just feels good, man.

That being said, I still think that the bulk of New Year’s Resolutions are complete bullshit and that we reach for things way too lofty or just plain impossible because we feel pressured by the media to do so.  You can still reach for the stars, just reach for some a little closer than Rigel-7, if you know what I mean.  I, myself, have decided to go with a New Year’s Bucket List instead, because I’m a special bunny.

OVERLORD BUNNY’S NEW YEAR BUCKET LIST
(NOW WITH SIGNIFICANTLY LESS SODIUM)

I will learn how to knit.  Seriously, I don’t know when or how knitting became A Big Thing, but it looks awesome, and as someone who grew up buried in blankets, hats, and all manner of things hand-knitted or crocheted by my grandmother, I can attest to the fruits of this witchcraft being worth the effort.

I will get one of each class up to 90.  As it stands, I’m one Druid and one Mage away from achieving this goal that has no real merit other than increasing my knowledge and understanding of class mechanics in the event that this is the year Blizzard-sempai finally notices me.  The level 1 alts are already in place on Lightbringer, ready to climb the ranks just as soon as I finish my Holy Paladin.

I will restock my Etsy store.  It’s empty right now, but I’ve got some plans to change all of that.  I just need to sit myself down, turn on a Disney movie, and say “Self, craft like the wind.”

I will make good progress with my RPG Maker project.  I had the latest version of RPG Maker gifted to me by a wonderful human being this Christmas and so many words of encouragement and anticipation thrown my way for what I might do with it that I feel it is my duty to create something awesome.  I don’t know if I’ll get a full-length game finished, but I’m going to aim to at least get a decent amount of work underway.

I will finish my Civilization V mod.  Months ago, I’d started in on an expansive Warcraft mod for Civilization V.  At the time, I only had the Gods & Kings expansion, so I wasn’t able to develop for Brave New World.  Thanks to the Steam Autumn Sale, I have brought myself up to speed and can now restart development for the fourth time!  Don’t mind that grumbling noise you hear, it’s done out of excitement and a love of the craft, I swear.

I will spend more time on my scripting languages.  Right now I’m focused on Python, but I’d also like to add more XML/LUA to my arsenal — finishing the Civ V mod is a great way to practice that — and anything else that could potentially be useful.  Knowledge is power, especially when it’s powering a game.

I will write more feature articles.  I had to take a couple of months’ hiatus from BlizzPro, but I’m back and at least chipping in on the news desk (and, of course, I never stopped doing the HearthPro Podcast).  Now that things are starting to slow down again on my end, I’m hoping I can jump back into the world of feature writing, either by picking back up with Behind the Lore or contributing a few comedy articles I’ve had kicking around in my head.

I will eat more tacos y burritos.  I need no justification for this.  Only God and my intestines can judge me.

 

 

The Convention-Going Introvert’s Lament

Standard

Before I go any further, I’d like to thank everyone who came out to my Extra Life charity stream this past weekend.  Thanks to you, I more than doubled my initial goal and raised over $500 for All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL!  Now that I’ve gotten the hang of streaming, I hope to be doing it way more often, so you can probably go ahead and bookmark my Twitch channel or follow it or do whatever you kids do nowadays (except for that, you weirdo).

The Fiance recently leveled up to The Husband, so now that he’s level-capped, we get to experience the joys of our honeymoon, which thus far have included meeting Thor at Disneyland and picking up antibiotics for him from the pharmacy following an emergency tooth extraction that took place on the day before the wedding.  Still to come is the much-anticipated BlizzCon, which is a deliciously nerdy way to wrap up our already-pretty-nerdy celebration — today is Day 2 and we’ve pretty much spent it gaming and cuddling up to watch the original run of Battlestar Galactica.  He’s so excited he can barely contain himself.  I’m both anxious to go and anxious because I’m going.

What most people don’t realize about me is that I am actually a pretty huge introvert.  I may be active on the internet within the gaming community, but when it comes to facing large groups of people in person, I’m typically operating off of complete and utter terror.  Sometimes my “autopilot” kicks in and I start cracking jokes that mask how nervous I actually am.  Just as often, though, I’ll end up sitting in a corner by myself with my headphones on or my nose buried in my Kindle so that I can completely block out the action around me.  The worst part about this kind of reaction is that nine times out of ten, people mistake it for rudeness.

I’m not a celebrity by any means.  At best, I might use the phrase “internet celebrity,” complete with quotes, to show how very much non-applicable such a moniker is for me.  I have more Twitter followers than most, but I’m nowhere close to being Felicia Day, and I don’t pretend to be.  Even still, I’m in the public eye, and that means I’ve got a metaphorical stack of invitations to parties and meet-ups that I’ve had to come up with excuses to decline, not because I don’t want to meet these people or because I think I’m better than anyone, but because the idea of being surrounded by strangers and expected to actually interact is enough to make me hyperventilate.  For example, I did not attend today’s BlizzCon fansite mixer, nor am I going to be present at the WowInsider or World of Podcasts events, despite receiving invitations to all of them.  I’m sad that I’m not there because in my heart of hearts I really want to be able to shake hands and hug a bunch of people whose work I follow, and heck, I’d love to be able to represent HearthPro at WoP, but the truth of the matter is that there is no conceivable way I could handle that much social interaction without bursting into tears.

Here’s the part where I’m sure a lot of people are saying “But Bunny, just throw back a few drinks before you go, and you’ll be fine!”  I won’t lie.  I used to party pretty hard in my youth.  I could spend hours talking about hilarious things that went on during those days (at least, the ones I remember).  What never gets talked about, though, is the absolutely horrendous after-effects of those shenanigans as far as my health is concerned.  Alcohol and I are not friends.  I can do a bottle of Angry Orchard or a beer with a meal, but that’s about it.  Any more and I risk all sorts of maladies, ranging from my kidneys going on strike to severe stomach pain to throwing up so violently it starts coming out of my nose.  By “any more,” I mean “sometimes two beers in one day is enough to do this.”  I don’t get buzzed and I don’t get drunk; I get horrifically ill with no payoff whatsoever.  Partaking of alcohol in a public setting like that would actually add more anxiety to what I’m already dealing with, because on top of everything I’d have to worry about getting sick.

This also makes attending parties, especially the type that usually break out at conventions, pretty boring for me.  I’m almost always the only person not drinking, and that makes everyone else feel really awkward.  I will hear all of the following things at some point during the night:

  • “You’re not drinking? Are you pregnant?”
  • “Wow, I feel really bad for you.”
  • “So you’re like… straightedge or something?”
  • “Why’d you go to a party if you didn’t want to drink?”
  • “Are you sure? Come on, just one drink. It can’t be THAT bad.”

Truth is, the forced sobriety doesn’t bug me.  What does bug me is that it often puts me at the center of people’s attention, and that’s about the last thing I want at a huge gathering of people I don’t know.

I also chose not to get a hotel room for the convention because I knew that there’d likely be a ton of room parties going on and that it’d mean no sleep for me.  Part of having PTSD is hypervigilance, which for me means not only jumping at every loud or unexpected noise during the daytime, but snapping awake with my adrenaline running at max at the slightest change in background noise.  I use a fan to give me a constant flow of white noise to help with this, but should something happen in the middle of the night — say a power surge, or The Husband changes the speed on it — I will instantly wake up.  In addition, a hotel room is unfamiliar territory for me, so in order to feel safe enough to sleep without risking a night of constant panic attacks I have to be used to where I’m staying.  Having The Husband with me might mitigate some of that, but there’s still the chance I’d spend the entire night having nightmares or freaking out and interrupting both of our sleep cycles.

Nor do I plan to pass out business cards or network heavily while I’m at BlizzCon.  The temptation is there, of course, but it’d be too much to juggle with focusing on keeping myself calm while dealing with the crowds.  I’ve got this terrible fear that not introducing myself to every dev there will be the one deciding factor in my not getting hired at Blizzard, but the logical part of my brain tells me that I’m being irrational there.  If anything, they might actually appreciate not getting chased down by an awkward girl in a bunny hat!

That’s no drinking, no partying, and no real networking — why am I going to BlizzCon then?

BECAUSE IT’S FREAKING BLIZZCON!

I may be an introvert, but I’m still a gamer.  I love Diablo, StarCraft, Hearthstone, and World of Warcraft.  I’m 99.9% certain that I’ll be squealing over Heroes of the Storm, too.  I spent long enough hiding inside the confines of my house, too terrified to even go to the grocery store and pick up a loaf of bread.  In that year or two where agoraphobia got the best of me, there’s no telling how many amazing moments I missed out on.  I will not let that ever happen again, even if it requires some special techniques to get through the day.  It’s sort of like that “Part of Your World” song from The Little Mermaid (and exactly why listening to said song causes me to tear up — it can apply to anyone feeling like an outsider due to anxiety just as well as it can to disobedient teenage fish-people).  I have a million games and tons of creative outlets for my writing, but that’s not enough.  I want to be where the people are, even if I’m not terribly good at being there.

So if I see you at the Anaheim Convention Center this weekend, there’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t be offended if I’m quiet or seem uncomfortable.
  • If you invite me somewhere and I decline, please don’t feel bad or try to press the issue.
  • Don’t sneak up on me or surprise me with tackle-hugs… but the sentiment is appreciated!
  • Despite all of this, DON’T BE AFRAID TO INTRODUCE YOURSELF!

Besides wandering around the convention floor, I’ll be at the BlizzPro Meeting Stone event on Saturday between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., during which I should be much more talkative, since it’s a somewhat controlled and less chaotic environment that’ll give me a chance to focus on actually meeting you lovely people instead of pure survival!

How To Adult: Surviving Surgery

Standard

Congratulations!  After close to a year of gross stuff falling out of your lady parts in many strange and unusual ways, you’ve finally convinced yourself to see a doctor, who has gone on to inform you that you’ve got a small benign growth that’s probably been causing all of your ills.  You’ve managed to bite your tongue enough to avoid asking why it’s been landing you on death’s doorstep once a month if it’s so “benign” and now said doctor is talking about sending you in for some minor surgery to zap it off with a laser, thus turning your hoo-ha into a DJ Tiësto concert.

I included this photo of my vagina with my Suicide Girls application but was turned down.

I included this photo of my vagina with my Suicide Girls application but was turned down.

Your initial reaction should be to fistpump and yell “LET’S DO THIS” in the middle of the exam room to show that you are fearless and awesome.  You should, however, then double over in pain and vomit into a trashcan because you forgot that sudden movements hurt now.

Fast-forward to the big day.  You are a grown-ass woman striding confidently into the outpatient waiting area, but before you can get to the slicing and dicing, you’ve got paperwork to fill out.  Discover that the only clipboards available for you to use towards this end are located in a basket sitting on the floor.  Audibly mutter “son of a BITCH” in front of a two-year-old, whose mother gives you a very angry look as you awkwardly bend sort-of-forward-but-mostly-to-the-side to avoid barfing while you pick one out of the mess.  Dutifully plug away at the papers in front of you, only to realize as you’re signing your name at the end of Page 1273658293 that you filled everything out one line above where it should have been written.  Sigh loudly and exclaim “Fuck me!”  The angry mother from before will now pick up her toddler and move to the opposite end of the waiting area.

Despite your appointment being at 12:30, you will not be seen until closer to 1:45.  During this time, you should ignore the Kindle and fully-functional smartphone with 32 gigabytes of your favorite music and stare blankly at a continuous loop of The Bucket List.  Make a mental note to suggest to the hospital staff that a movie about two people dying of cancer might not be the most inspiring choice for their waiting room.  Once your name is finally called, allow all of your previous hardcore, optimistic mentality to evaporate as you realize that strangers are about to fire lightsabers at your most tender of places and become a 26-year-old woman standing in the middle of a hospital crying for her mother to come hold her hand.  It’s okay.  It’s standard procedure.

Once you disappear through the double doors into the actual exam and prep area, you will immediately be handed three sample cups and instructed to pee in them.  For the past several months you have either been peeing constantly and unable to shit, or shitting constantly to the point of diagnosing yourself with cholera on WebMD and unable to pee.  Today, and only today, you will discover that you can do neither.  After fifteen minutes of sitting on the toilet bargaining, threatening, pleading, and encouraging your bladder, finally manage to get things moving along.  Unfortunately, you have completely misjudged your nether anatomy and will miss all but two drops.  Sheepishly place all three cups in the sample deposit window and try to tiptoe past the lab technician who takes one look at your “bounty” and shoots you a withering look.  Wonder to yourself if she’s related to Angry Mother from the waiting area.

Back in the exam room, a nurse is waiting to draw some blood from you.  Talk up your superior bleeding skills as she ties off your upper arm and announce that you’re an “easy stick.”  She will poke at your arm a few times before announcing that every single one of your veins has suddenly decided to flip everyone the middle finger and not cooperate.  Finally, one in the crook of your arm sort of pops up, but it will immediately collapse and require an agonizing thirty seconds of digging for it before she announces it’s no good and goes to retrieve a specialist.  The specialist will stare at your tiny threadlike veins in dismay before declaring that the only way to get any blood out of you today will be using a lancet on the side of your finger.  The good news is that the stick site will bleed.  The bad news is that it will only provide the smallest drop before clotting.  Two more attempts later, you find yourself surrounded by three nurses yanking your arm downward and massaging the already-sore area to try and coax enough blood out to run the necessary tests.  The doctor will show up in the midst of the confusion and attempt to hold a deep, meaningful conversation at the same time as everyone else in the room.  Try to participate in all four conversations at once, guaranteeing that your greatest contribution to the verbal fray is “Um… I guess… wait, no, July.  NO.  AUGUST.  Latex?  Seventeen.”

The ultrasound technician will come in to take a look at the current state of your not-so-benign lump of shit that shouldn’t be there.  Lift up your gown to expose your stomach.  She will look at you confusedly and instruct you to remove your underwear.  Take a good twenty seconds to realize what she means.  This is not the simple ultrasound that TV has always showed you.  Reruns of ER have lied to you.  Goran Visnjic’s sexy deception will not soon be forgotten.

Actual size of ultrasound wand based on (very) personal estimation.

Actual size of ultrasound wand based on (very) personal estimation.

The next couple of hours go by without a hitch.  Before you know it, you are somewhat drowsily listening to the doctor giving you instructions on the five thousand and four medications that she expects you to take over the next few days of recovery.  After noticing your blank stare, she begins to place colored stickers on the bottles and on the medication schedule and use smaller words.  Find yourself unsure of whether to be grateful or offended.  She will ask you to verify the medication allergies you have listed in your chart.  Confirm the allergy to sulfa drugs, but hesitate on mentioning the erythromycin thing.  It’s been years since you last took it, and you were just a little kid, so of course it’s going to make you feel crappy (literally), right?  Decide that since your airway stayed open, you’re probably fine and decline to mention it.  She will warn you that over the next few days you may notice some bleeding, but that this is normal.  Her version of “some bleeding” and the actual version you will experience over the next few days will differ greatly.

*whistles*

*whistles*

At home, you will quickly discover that you should have mentioned the erythromycin thing.  You really, really, really should have.  But you will not come to this conclusion until after vomiting up water and saltines for several hours.  Also realize that no matter how excited you are about the Associate Quest Designer position that Blizzard just posted on their website, you should probably not drag yourself out of bed three hours post-surgery to apply, because it will come back to bite you in the ass once the pain meds wear off, which they will do about halfway through your cover letter.

And that, folks, is a true story.  The surprise medical adventure has caused a slight delay in my starting work in the game industry, but with a blissfully short estimated recovery time (assuming I don’t do anything else irresponsible like sit at the computer writing a 1000+ word arti — oh.) I should be back to relatively normal by Monday.  I haven’t been around much because of the poor health leading up to this, and then a very rough couple of recovery days, but I’m happy to report that I can finally sleep without discomfort and have more energy than I’ve had in quite some time.  I haven’t needed to take any of the pain pills they gave me since about 4 a.m. yesterday and for the first time in a while I can actually do simple things like make myself lunch and walk around the house.

In the meantime, I implore all of you to listen to your body, and if you feel like something is really wrong, seek medical attention as soon as you can.  I’m fortunate enough to live in the great state of California which offers a fantastic program called Medi-Cal for those of us who can’t otherwise afford healthcare, and many non-profit hospitals are happy to work with you to reduce or write off your bill if necessary.  I took a stupid risk by waiting so long to get checked out, especially with my family’s history of cancer.  I was lucky this time, but I may not be so fortunate again.  A trip to the doctor isn’t exactly like going to Disneyland, but it could save your life in the long run.

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

Standard

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.

The-best-foundation-for-a-flawless-look-is-the-blood-of-thines-enemies

 

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…

Publishing This Book ISBN A Pain In The Ass

Standard

In 2012, I did something I never thought I’d actually be able to accomplish — I wrote a novel.

My NaNoWriMo winner’s certificate is framed and hanging up on the wall above my desk, right under my Sirens of the Deep Mermaid Camp diploma, because I may not have been able to give my mother a degree from Harvard, but dammit, I was able to prove that I can write and apply waterproof makeup.  I’m just as proud of them as anyone would be of a Ph.D (though how badass would a doctorate in Mermaid Sciences be?  Answer: extremely).

I’m proud of my manuscript, too, although for a month or two after NaNoWriMo ended I almost threw it in the trash because of the sheer amount of snobbery coming from others in the writing community about anything written in that thirty-day crunch — I’m pretty sure that if any of them knew I actually cranked out over 50,000 words in just twelve days, they’d burn me at the stake as a heretic.  I read article after article on self-publishing where some “established” authors went so far as to say that anyone thinking they’d produced something of merit for NaNoWriMo was deluding themselves.  It was my first venture into the social aspect of being a writer and rather than getting that special feeling of empowerment that comes from being among like-minded people, I got a nasty case of heartburn and three panic attacks.

In a way, I understand where some of them are coming from.  Most people can’t write that quickly and end up with an A+ project at the end of it.  NaNoWriMo attracts a lot of amateur writers, and while I will support and encourage the absolute shit out of anyone brave enough to pick up a pen and paper (or a keyboard, I guess, because none of us have legible handwriting anymore), there’s a good chunk of them who could probably benefit from a few more practice runs.  And that’s okay!  There is zero shame in that, because we all have to start somewhere if we want to learn what works and what doesn’t.

I’m not saying I’m the next Sylvia Plath or Stephen King or anything like that, but I began my writing career in early childhood.  School, of course, taught me the Art Of The Stringent Deadline, mostly because I was a horrible procrastinator who’d wait until the night before a huge essay was due to even write the title on the page.  Very few of my classmates could pull such a feat off and still get a passing grade.  I was cranking out five-page manifests, single-spaced, in about two hours and receiving an A every single time.  In my freshman year of high school, I was the youngest person to ever be accepted to the school newspaper, and I didn’t even apply for it — my English teacher submitted one of my essays to the instructor in charge of the paper, who immediately waived the “you must be at least a sophomore” requirement to get me onto the staff.  There, the deadlines got even tighter, since we published once a week, and if we got our articles done early enough we could spend the whole time dicking around in the library pretending we were researching stuff instead of looking up genitals in the encyclopedias there.

Also, I’m pushing 30, so I’m old and therefore have had plenty of time to practice this whole working-quickly-and-well thing.

I’ve had poetry published a couple of times (not in those scammy hardcover books where everybody gets accepted), but I’ve never actually held on for the long haul and finished a novel, much less published it.  Of course I have fantastic dreams of getting my book picked up by a major publisher and ending up with a movie deal and merchandising rights, but the chances of that happening are miniscule.  Besides, I don’t write for the money — if you do, you’re in the wrong business, because your royalties paid amount to somewhere between “jack shit” and “six cents” — I write for the possibility that someday I will walk into a library and find my book sitting on the “New Arrivals” shelf.

And that is where the trouble starts.

I will be self-publishing my book, which is absolutely great, but the vast majority of publishing houses offering such a service do not include ISBN numbers for free.  Obtaining one costs about $125, and that’s not even touching the fees I’d have to pay if I wanted to get it copyrighted (I probably do, because I don’t want to have to shank anyone for stealing my work).  It may not sound like a lot of money to most people, but I’ve been unemployed for five months, so coughing up that much is impossible for the time being.  Without an ISBN number, my book won’t end up in any libraries.  I’m a huge supporter of libraries because of how many amazing authors they’ve introduced me to, and the way that they open up access to reading material for those who don’t have twenty bucks to shell out for their own copy of a book.

“So just make it available for free download,” some might suggest, but that still doesn’t put my book in libraries, and, believe it or not, there are still plenty of people out there who don’t have an e-reader or the patience to read through a whole novel on a computer screen.  I definitely want an electronic version out there, but while I’m a Kindle owner who will extoll its virtues to anyone bored enough to listen, an e-book doesn’t look spiffy on a bookshelf.  You can’t feel its weight in your hands or smell that amazing papery book smell, nor can you run your fingers over the glossy cover and yeah, okay this just started sounding like porn, I’m sorry.  But I think I’ve made my point.

Plus, no matter how proud I may be of my work, or how many times people tell me “no, it’s good, you’re fine,” there’s still the pesky matter of that Impostor Syndrome thing where I somehow still manage to believe that it’s crap and I’m an embarrassment to myself.  I’m actually afraid to read back over it.  I tend to read as I write — right now, I’m hearing every word in my head, analyzing each sentence, each word choice, making sure that the syntax is good and I haven’t written “homosexual” instead of “homogeneous.”  It saves me from having to go back and edit everything later, because if I do, I will inevitably find some unforgivable sin that only I notice and end up trashing the whole thing.  I can’t tell you how many finished short stories I’ve lost that way.

(My high school poetry notebook, however, really was deserving of the trash bin.  I was listening to a lot of Kittie at the time because I was a teenager and didn’t know any better.  To be fair, I’m pretty sure everyone has at least one shameful relic like that lying around.  Some even end up getting it published.)

I’m at a loss, really.  Even though I’m not looking for huge profits and have zero expectation of becoming a bestselling author, it’d be really nice to make at least maybe five bucks from book sales at this current stage in my Jobless Bum history.  From everything I’ve found, however, if I want to be able to get my work out there, my only option is to go through somewhere like Lulu, which means no ISBN, no major distribution (at least going through Amazon, well… hey, freaking everything’s on Amazon) unless I wanted to order a bunch of boxes of them to pass out at local bookstores, who wouldn’t sell them anyway because of the ISBN.  Everything pretty much comes down to that silly number.  Do I get it out there sooner and sacrifice my chances of possibly doing something greater with it in the future?  Or do I hold on and wait for the day that I might actually be able to go at this the complete way?

This ongoing internal debate, ladies and gentlemen, is why Observe still hasn’t been made publicly available.  I kind of feel like a jerk about it because I talk about writing so much and how I’m a writer and write wrote writing writer written blargh, yet I really have nothing to show for it other than a one-draft .pdf that I’m too terrified to do anything with.

The life of an artist.