peer into our world…

I’m not quite ready to announce the details of the world we created for our RPG show, but I am ready to show this little glimpse of it, and I encourage you to make of it what you will…

a sneak peak at the tabletop rpg world
a sneak peak at the tabletop rpg world

What could it be?

…something wonderful.

meet the players who will be rolling initiative in our tabletop rpg show

We’re shooting the Tabletop RPG show all this week. Yesterday was our first day of production, and we had so much fun, eleven hours of nonstop work flew by in a flash. In fact, at the end of the day, one of the players said to me, “that’s it? I want to keep playing!”

We’re going to be slowly announcing details about the show all this week, and yesterday, I introduced the players to the world:

Here’s a little bit about them:

  • Hank Green is one of the most successful and influential YouTubers of all time. With his brother, John, he created the Vlog Brothers. Their network has grown to over 1 billion views, and earlier this year, Hank interviewed the president. Hank is an old school role player, and he’s a fantastic storyteller.
  • Alison Haislip hasn’t ever played an RPG like this, but she was amazing in Fiasco during the first season of Tabletop. She’s worked for G4 and Nerdist, among others. It was pretty awesome to watch her start out tentatively yesterday morning, and by the middle of the day she was slinging dice like she’d been doing it all her life.
  • Yuri Lowenthal is one of my best friends. We met when we were working on Legion of Superheroes, and we’ve gone on to work together on Ben Ten, There Came an Echo, and countless other animation projects. You’ve heard him in pretty much every video game, ever, (he’s Sandal in Dragon Age: Origins), and you’ve heard him as Sauske in Naruto. Yuri has been playing RPGs as long as I have.
  • Laura Bailey and I met when we worked on There Came An Echo last year. By lunchtime on the first day, we had decided that we needed to be friends, and it feels like we’ve known each other since college. She’s an accomplished voice actor who you have heard in over 250 projects, including Dragon Age: Inquisition, Hearthstone, The Last of Us, World of Warcraft, and Fullmetal Alchemist. Laura also plays on Geek & Sundry’s RPG Twitch show, Critical Role.

You can find them on the usual social networks, and we’ll all be posting behind the scenes pictures and short videos during production this week.

Wesley, I’m proud of you.

“Can I come over and play Dragon Age?” My son asked me.

“Sure. I’m just going to watch more Land of the Lost tonight, so knock yourself out.” I said.

Ryan doesn’t have Dragon Age at his house, and when he was house sitting for me a few weeks ago, he fell in love with it the same way I did. He likes to unwind with his Inquisitor the same way I do, and the world of Thedas has come to live in his imagination the same way it has in mine.

“I think we’ve both earned a night of goofing off,” I added. Ryan is the co-creator of the world and main storyline in the Tabletop RPG show, and he and I have been writing together for months, now, almost every single day, and yesterday we finally finished the hardest part of our work. Yesterday, we handed everything off to the lead RPG designer, and exhaled for the first time in weeks.

“Yeah, we totally have. You’re gonna be Mister Done tonight.” He said.

Mister Done?

“Um,” I said.

“Because I’m going to destroy you at Mister Do!,” he said.

“Come at me, bro.”

I have a Mister Do! machine (well, it’s actually a multi machine that I mostly use to play Mister Do!) in my game room, and I think I’ve gotten pretty good at Mister Do!. I’m not, like, Kill-Screen-Coming-Up good, but my high score at the moment is just over 92,000, and I average in the mid 70,000s per game. Ryan’s made it one of his life goals to beat my high score, and while part of me wants to keep that score safely out of his reach, another part of me wants to teach my son how to master the intricacies of being a clown who runs away from dinosaurs and eats many times his weight in cherries.

“I’ll see you in a few hours,” he said.

I went out for lunch, had a delightfully spicy Cajun chicken sandwich, and read a bunch of the material I needed to prepare for work on Monday. For the first time in weeks, the overwhelming sense of panic and dread that I didn’t have enough time and wasn’t ready to do this show was met by some genuine excitement and anticipation, because I only have to wait a few days before I get to start exploring the world we created with some amazing players who have created extremely interesting and complex characters.

CUT TO:

A clown running through a brightly colored maze. He is chased by a small dinosaur, that is rapidly gaining on him. He runs beneath an apple, which falls on and crushes the dinosaur. Then another apple that was above the first shakes itself loose and falls on and crushes the clown, because this game is bullshit.

“What the shit?!” I shouted.

“Wow, that sucked. I’m up.”

I stepped aside and began to weave a tapestry of profanity over the game room, in the style of The Old Man from A Christmas Story.

Electric Ladyland played on the Sonos, the doors to the game room were wide open, and the dogs chased each other around the back yard. It had been 91 a few hours earlier, but now it was about 83, and suddenly the oppressive heatwave we’re having in freaking March didn’t seem so bad.

As we played the game, I told Ryan why I made certain choices to maximize points, why I chose to let a level end rather than chase another few thousand points, and how to avoid the giant fucking bullshit of an apple falling on you for no good reason.

“I try to average ten thousand points a level, and if I don’t have my first extra guy by the third screen, I know I’m gonna have a bad time,” I told him.

He heeded my advice, and over the course of several games, I watched him get better and better, averaging a score in the mid to upper 40s.

I don’t know if it’s because we’re only separated by 17 years, or if it’s because we had to work so hard to earn our family, or if it’s because Anne and I raised two really awesome, amazing kids, but I genuinely love hanging out with my adult children. I’m closer to my boys than I am to anyone in my nuclear family, and if you’d told me that this is how it would be when they were on the cusp of adolescence and their biological father was making our lives a miserable hell, I would have told you that you were full of shit.

And yet.

With Anne out of town, and Ryan’s girlfriend spending the evening with her sister, here we were. We were two adults, father and son, playing games together after having burritos for dinner (of course), after working really hard to write a TV show together and I wouldn’t trade a single second of the pain we endured to get here.

We played a few more games, and I headed inside to watch TV while he played Dragon Age in the game room.

I ended up watching TNG on BBC America. The episode was Pen Pals, and I had completely forgotten everything about it, even though it’s a fantastic Wesley Crusher story — maybe one of the best ones we ever did.

I felt like I was watching someone else, who looked just like me, rise to the occasion of some really great writing, in an episode that completely holds up, almost 30 years later. It was a strange feeling to be watching myself without judgment or wishing I’d made a different choice or just … acted better, I guess.

Put another way, I could see how a smart kid or the parent of a smart kid could have watched that episode and identified with Wesley Crusher, because he wasn’t just an idea. He was a person who was dealing with some heavy stuff that he wasn’t quite ready to deal with.

I watched the entire episode, and I cheered for Wesley when the stupid adults who never listened to him or respected him gave him credit for having the insight to run the fucking scan that made all the difference. I can see how a cynic or someone who was just determined to hate the character no matter what could roll his eyes at that, but I thought it was handled in a way that was grounded in the reality of the show, and not just I feel strange but also good.

I looked at that kid, who grew up to be this adult, and I identified with him in an entire new way. I identified with him as a parent who raised two kids who were a lot like that him — struggling to deal with with a bunch of really heavy shit they weren’t ready to deal with, wanting to do the right thing, but being paralyzed by self doubt — and for the first time in decades, I had a new reason to be proud of wearing Wesley Crusher’s goofy grin and helmet hair.

I turned off the TV, and went back out to our game room, to spend some more time with my son.

 

pages upon pages

We begin production on Monday, and I’m in the final lap of the writing marathon this week.

Yesterday, I wrote a whole bunch of stuff, until I got to a point where I just had to walk away, because I wasn’t getting anything useful out of my brains. This was really difficult for me to do, because I feel like I need another two weeks of work time between today and Monday.

Today, I went back to the stuff I wrote yesterday, knowing that I had to make lots of cuts for both time and budget. I honestly wasn’t sure where I was going to make those cuts, until I went through and just murdered some things that I liked, but thought didn’t need to be there.

Like magic, the whole piece came together and became something I love. That stuff I cut? I don’t miss it, and I can’t imagine that it was ever there…

…except I can imagine that it was there, because it needed to be there so I could write the stuff that I ended up keeping. It’s sort of like building a scaffolding in Minecraft, to make it possible to build the thing you really want to build, then tearing it down (or burning it down, if you make it out of wood around a stone structure, which is really neat).

So this is another thing that goes into my writer’s toolbox: permission to write and write and just keep writing, and not judge or edit along the way until the draft is finished. Because I may think that something is crap and needs to go, and maybe it is and does, but it needs to be there at this moment so I can find the good stuff.

so i throw the windows wide

I’ve been beating myself up a little bit for not putting something new here every day, and for missing my self-imposed-but-flexible Monday deadline for Radio Free Burrito. I have a pretty great life! Why can’t I just do these simple things?

Well, if those were the only things I was doing, I would be justified in beating myself up. But those aren’t the only things I’m doing. I’m working my face off to get the RPG show up and running as production draws terrifyingly close (we have our actors coming in on Monday to create their characters! Already! I’m not in a panic! YOU’RE in a panic!)

But it’s not just the RPG show (which is about to be titled, officially) that’s making demands on me, creatively and emotionally. I’ve had to travel — well, that’s not right. I’ve had the privilege of traveling to some neat places to do some really neat things with some really neat people (fun fact: Sir Baldy hated it when we said “neat” in the old days. He never explained why. I said it a lot to troll him. It worked). I’ve had a bunch of meetings with really fancy people for some really fancy gigs. I’ve been doing a ton of work that I can’t talk about because of NDA.

I started to get anxiety just writing all of that. Sheesh.

So I give myself permission to accept that my creative output isn’t going to be writing stories and telling stories and adding something new to my blog every day. I give myself permission to miss a deadline on a podcast, because I’m making it for my own entertainment and hopefully some people come along for the ride. I mean, it’s free and everything.

One of the reasons I can give myself a little bit of a break was the realization, this morning while I was waiting for my coffee to brew, that I have told tons of stories and written hundreds of thousands of words here in my blog for over ten years, almost every day. That’s a really long time, on a really aggressive schedule, to create stuff. So if my creative energy is pointed away from my blog for a little bit, that’s okay. This isn’t a job. This is … well, it’s a lot of things, but it isn’t a job.

Help me out, here, Internet: what is this, again?

we have fun

I’m working, I swear. I’m not goofing off and doing dumb things with my friends on Twitter…

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 17.10.58

… well, except for when I am.

UPDATE: It’s good to be easily amused.

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 17.24.47 Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 17.25.00

It turns out that there’s a lot happening today.

First up, this is happening:

Wil Wheaton Big Bang Theory Season 8

We also have a new episode of Tabletop out today, and it’s one of my favorites of the season.

And after waiting almost a year to be able to talk about it, Nintendo of America has announced that I play the voice of Abraham Lincoln in their insanely awesome 3DS title, Code Name STEAM.

I am extremely proud of this game, and I can’t wait to play it. It’s got a great balance of humor and strategy, and there may be some awesomely weird stuff in it, too … you can confirm it for yourself with the trailer:

It turns out the Village People recorded a punk song in 1981

I came across this punk rock masterpiece on one of my very favorite blogs, Dangerous Minds.

Now, look, I’m going to warn you: it’s the longest 2:27 of your life, and the video is sort of the ancient progenitor to a looping .gif, likely due to budget constraints, and the possibility that the band involved wasn’t particularly into recording a punk song because the band was THE VILLAGE PEOPLE.

Yes, those Village People.

BEHOLD:

Dangerous Minds says:

“Food Fight” is an anomaly in the Village People’s oeuvre: a first and last attempt to cash in on the punk audience from a band clearly grasping at straws, willing to try absolutely anything to stay relevant.

Musically, one can hear the best elements of DEVO, as well as The Dickies, and Hodo’s nerdcore vocals sound remarkably like Weird Al.

“Food fight” plays out like the music you’d hear in an early 80’s teenage T & A movie where there’d be some marginally “punk” band playing on the beach in wrap-around sunglasses and clam-diggers, while a bunch of girls in string bikinis did robot dances in the sand. Yes, it’s that good. The subject matter would seem to indicate the Village People’s new target demographic was middle school children.

I’m super conflicted about it, because on the one hand, it’s pretty epic … but it’s also pretty horrible, and it feels like ten minutes of repetition to me.

But, still, the fucking VILLAGE PEOPLE recorded a song that would have been perfectly at home in Valley Girl, or Night of the Comet, or Midnight Madness, or even on an episode of CHiPs, if they did something about the way old white people thought punk rock and new wave kids acted in 1981.

What do you think?

on technology and nephews…

My godson, Shane, is pretty good at technology — especially for a 2 year-old.

He’s very good, for example, at picking up my sister’s phone, finding my picture, and tapping it to call me. A typical call goes like this:

Me: Hello?

Shane: giggling

Me: Shane? Is that you?

Shane: Blah blah squeal BLAH!

Me: That’s really interesting. Well, let me tell you about my day…

Shane: maniacal laughter hangs up

On longer calls, he’ll babble on and on about stuff, and then my sister will pick up the phone to tell me how he’s been walking around the house and the yard, pointing at things and telling me about them. I guess he is really into this tree in their backyard, and he talks to me about it all the time. (If I’m being honest, from my end of the line he’s about as excited about the tree as he is about their cat, or his toy cars, or this Batman mask he likes to wear.)

So he’s recently learned how to use Skype to talk to me, and this weekend, he introduced me to a new game that he likes to play. I don’t think he named it, but I call it “Run Around The House With Uncle Wil On Mom’s iPad, Put Him On The Floor In The Hallway, Then Run Away Laughing.”

Witness:Skyping _with_ShaneIt’s a pretty fun game for him, and I’m not sure what the rules are, but I think he’s winning.

Also? It’s a little bit of a mindfuck that he’s growing up in a world where being able to see me on a thing he holds in his hands while we talk to each other is so normal and pedestrian, he can literally put it/me on the ground and RUN AWAY from it.

Remembering Leonard Nimoy

Normally, I’m pretty good with words. At the moment, I’m not at my best, for reasons I hope are self evident. However, I’m going to do my best to remember someone who gave more to my life than he ever knew.

I never got to know Leonard Nimoy the way my fellow cast members did, so I can’t remember him in the personal way that they can. I didn’t know Leonard as a friend, or even as a colleague. I can’t tell you what he was like off the set, because I never had the privilege of visiting with him off the set. In fact, by the time he worked on Next Generation, my character was off exploring other planes of existence, and I was a nineteen year-old kid who was stumbling around, trying to figure out what he was going to do with the rest of his life.

When you are part of the Star Trek family — and that’s what it is, in ways that are as wonderful and complicated as all families are — you are part of a very small and special group, where news travels fast. Though I never got to be close to Leonard, I knew that he was a wonderful and lovely man, because that’s all anyone ever said about him. I feel that I haven’t earned the right to eulogize him, but a lot of people are asking me to, so if you’ll allow me a few minutes of your time, I’d like to do my best to remember Leonard the way most of us will be remembering him today: as the actor who played a character who was deeply important to all of our lives, because everyone who watched and loved Star Trek is part of our extended family.

When I was a kid, long before I put on Wesley Crusher’s sweaters or piloted the Enterprise, I loved Star Trek. I watched it all the time in syndication on our black and white television, and when the other kids at school wanted to play CHiPs or the A-Team on the playground, I wanted to turn the jungle gym into the Enterprise. On those rare occasions that I convinced my classmates that we were boldly going toward new worlds on lunch recess, one of the Cool Kids would claim the role of Captain Kirk, and I would always happily assume the role of Mister Spock.

I was too young to fully understand why, but as I got older and looked back on those years, it became clear: I identified with Spock because he was weird, and cerebral, and he was different from everyone else. He was just like me, but the things that made me a target of ridicule on the playground made him a valuable and vital member of his ship’s crew. In ways that I couldn’t articulate at the time, I wanted to be Mister Spock because if I was, I could be myself –quiet, bookish, alien to the people around me — and it wouldn’t be weird. It would be awesome.

When I was cast to play Wesley Crusher, and became part of the Star Trek family, one of the first things I got excited about was meeting Mister Spock, and the actor who played him. It never happened, really, so I never got to know the man behind the ears and the eyebrows and the character that meant so much to me. But as I said on Twitter this morning, we in the Next Generation stood upon his shoulders, and we got to explore a universe that wouldn’t have existed without him. I’ve met thousands of people over the last decade, who have told me that Wesley Crusher meant the same thing to them that Mister Spock meant to me, and for that I am eternally grateful to everyone who was part of Star Trek before I was, including Leonard.

Mister Spock made it okay for me to be the weird kid who eventually grew into a slightly-less weird adult, but it was Leonard Nimoy who made Mister Spock live, and who made Star Trek — and every science fiction TV series since 1966 — possible.

Thank you, Leonard, for making it okay to be me, and for making it possible for me to explore brave new worlds, and boldly go where you had gone before. I wish I’d gotten to know you the way so many others did, because everyone says you were as awesome and wonderful as I hoped you would be. Rest in peace, sir.

 

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50,000 Monkeys at 50,000 Typewriters Can't Be Wrong

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