All posts by Wil Wheaton

I'm just this guy, you know?

Oh, hi, I’m still twelve years old.

I’ve been organizing my game room, and finally addressing the hundreds of billions of Star Trek things I own, including lots of action figures.

I came across one of my Riker figures, and realized something…

They want you to use his poseable arms to hold his awesome phaser, like this:

Riker with his phaser

But this is how it always ended up on my bookshelves:

Riker with his little captain

Because if you’re going to make an action figure that can be posed in ways that make us go hurr hurr hurr, we’re going to do it.

Riker taking care of business

It’s important to be easily amused.

the highest of fives

My friend Charlotte is a badass. A dickhead was a shit to her today, and she made a video about it that inspired me to draw another stupid comic:

Don't Be A Dick
Click to Embiggen

I want to talk to the men for a minute, okay? Listen to me, men: women are constantly harassed by men. I think it was Scalzi who said that not all men are menaces, but all women have been menaced by men. We have a responsibility as decent people to teach our sons that harassing and menacing women is never okay. We have a responsibility as decent people to hold our friends and families and, yes, strangers, accountable when they harass or menace women.

 

#Hodorshop Honorable Mentions

On last week’s Wil Wheaton Project, we invited viewers to have some fun with a picture of Kristian Nairn, who plays Hodor “Hodor” Hodor on Game of Thrones.

I wanted to feature a bunch of them on the show tonight, but we couldn’t because of reasons. Here are some honorable mentions that I thought were awesome, and because we live in the future, I can show feature them for the whole damn world. Depending on your browser settings, you may have to click on the links to see the ‘shops:

I love it when people get excited and make things. Thanks to everyone who made us Hodorshops, and thanks for watching our show!

i can’t draw

I’ve been playing this game called The Binding Of Isaac. If you’re as late to the party as I am, allow me to describe it: it’s sort of roguelike, in that death is permanent and the various levels, enemies, and gear change each time you play. It’s sort of like the original Zelda, in that each level feels like one of the boss levels in that classic game. It’s also sort of like Robotron, in that you use one hand to move your guy around in eight directions, and another to have him shoot in four directions.

It’s simple enough to be played quickly, different enough each time you play it to not get boring, and relentless enough to make actually finishing the game so fucking goddamn jesus cocking difficult you quickly develop an unhealthy relationship with it.

I love this game, and it’s helped me occupy part of my mind while the other part works on stories and things. It’s really great, and you can find it in a variety of locations including Humble Bundles, Steam, and in your mom.

…sorry. I don’t know where that came from.*

So it actually has a story that I won’t spoil for you, that features these little animations between each level. The characters are all drawn in a very simple style, that’s very similar to Cyanide & Happiness.

While I’ve been playing it, I’ve been stopping at the end of each level, and trying to recreate the art style, because I really like it. Here’s a page that I’ve been filling up for a few days:

Click to Embiggen
Click to Embiggen

So most of those aren’t very good, but just let me give some context: I have no artistic skill, at all. I have never been able to draw a damn thing in my life, but by copying the style in these cut scenes (and I guess not having a fuck to give about being perfect, instead just amusing myself by trying different expressions and postures), I got to a point where I felt comfortable to try … a comic.

So earlier today, the events of this stupid comic I drew actually happened in my house:

That bird had been there for a few days, too, because it was pretty stiff.
Click to Embiggen

I enjoyed myself while I drew it. I thought it didn’t suck when I was finished, so I showed it to Anne, and it amused her.

I’m not gonna lie, Marge: it amused me, too, and was surprisingly fun for me to do, and I’m glad I did it. I’m glad I took my own advice, and remembered that the idea isn’t to be perfect; the idea is to be creative, and to make something where something wasn’t before.

…and now I’ll go back to working on Monday’s Wil Wheaton Project, which is what I should have been doing when I was drawing a dumb comic.

*but your mom sure did.**

**sorry. sorry.

I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine.

Let’s get the important news out of the way first: The Wil Wheaton Project is moving from 10pm to 9pm, starting next week. I don’t know why, but I am told that it’s a good thing, because of reasons. Our ratings have been good, growing with each new episode, which I am also told is what the network expected. I am also trying very hard to just ignore the ratings, because the thing I need to be focused on is being as funny and creative and awesome as I can be. The only reason I care about ratings at all is because I genuinely love the people I work with, and I want to work with them for a very long time.

I was hoping my beloved LA Kings would sweep the Rangers last night, but the hockey gods (and a little snow fort) had different plans. The upshot of this is that I get to go to another hockey game this season.

Here’s what The Pirate Bay has to say about our show as of about noon pacific today:

Wil Wheaton Project Episode Three Torrent
Click to embiggen

I have been advised by people who don’t understand me that I should be “more careful with [my] online image” because I’m hosting a show with my name in the title. One person even said to me, “Listen, instead of [list of pretty much everything I do], here’s what your Twitter followers want to hear about from you …” and it took everything I had to not say, “I’m sorry, are you talking about the 2.5 million people who I keep telling not to follow me because I’m lame, but they do anyway because they seem to enjoy exactly what you told me not to do?” So instead, I said, “Thank you. I’ll think about that.” Which is true, because I did think about it, for about one second. Then, I decided that this is pretty much how I will respond to people who tell me to change who I am because of reasons:

Wil Wheaton Takes Everything Very Seriously

More than one person on Twitter observed that that picture is pretty much my online image already.  I have to agree. #Butts.

 

behind the scenes at the wil wheaton project

Yesterday, my tattoo artist sent me the most amazing Game of Thrones / chiptune / keytar / hardware hacking genius / musical video I have ever seen.

I sent the link to my writers, and said that we should try to find a place in the show this week for it, and one of my producers told me that the script was already long, but we’d try, because it is such an awesome video.

I was then faced with a bit of a dilemma, because I wanted to share it with the world right away, but I also thought it would be a cool thing to reveal on the show. My dilemma didn’t last long, and I decided to post it right away, because I know not everyone can or does watch the show, and something this awesome shouldn’t be kept to the (at the time) roughly 3000 people who had seen it.

When I posted it to my G+, I said that there wasn’t time in the show, but I had to share it, anyway. A guy said, “Yeah it is amazing and it’s equally amazing how you didn’t find any time to post it in this weeks WWP. lol”

So I wasn’t sure if he was being snarky or whatever, but I saw an opportunity to share a little bit of the process that goes into making the show, and how that process affected the ability to include this clip in the show:

We have to lock down most of our script on Friday afternoon, so it can go to the legal department. On Monday morning, we write stuff for the shows and movies that made news over the weekend, and we only have a few hours to do that before we send it to the lawyers.
We only have 21.5 minutes in each show, and this week’s Friday script was already something like 5 minutes long. We know that will happen, and we plan to cut some bits that we shoot in front of the audience, but we do our best to get as close to the 21.5 when we tape, so it makes editing faster and easier to finish (we only have 12 hours or so before we have to deliver to the network, and that’s not as long as you may think).

So knowing all that, consider: I didn’t see this until Saturday afternoon. I sent it to the writers and producers, so we could do our best to find a place for it, but it’s probably not going to make this week’s show for the reasons I’ve already stated. Because it’s sort of an “evergreen” thing, it’s very likely that we’ll find a place for it next week or the week after. Now, I could have just sat on it for two weeks, but I thought it was so awesome, I wanted the world to know about it right away.

I hope this is interesting, and gives a little insight into how the WWP comes together.

How Will They Bite It, plus some thoughts on ratings and cord cutters

One of my favorite bits from this week’s show is a silly game show we created called How Will They Bite It? It wasn’t until after we’d played the game that I realized it has the potential to actually be a legitimate game, that anyone can play at home while watching some of the magnificently craptacular Syfy Original Movies (and let’s be honest: magnificently craptacular original movies is probably the one area where the network formerly-known as sci-fi truly excels, and may actually set the standard by which all other magnificently craptacular movies should be measured.)

Take a look:

Although we’re only two episodes in, I think we have a possible recurring bit in How Will They Bite It?, one that I can play with just about anyone who we can trick into coming onto our show extend the tremendous privilege of appearing on The Wil Wheaton Project.

I got our ratings numbers yesterday afternoon. Surprisingly, they were slightly lower than our first episode, but I understand that the ratings across the entire network for the whole night were down, so that’s not necessarily a reflection of us, as much as it is something that just sort of seems to have happened. I wonder if there was a big sports thing, or maybe a finale in some other show? I heard that we kept more of our lead in than last week, which is actually really good, according to the people who care about that sort of thing. I also heard that a very important person at the network loved our second episode, which is also very good. Most importantly for me, though, is that I was completely happy with the show. I thought the jokes worked the way we wanted them to, and all the other stuff I mentioned yesterday.

Felicia and I talked last week when I was feeling pretty down about the ratings, and she pointed out to me that the only thing I can truly control is the creative side of things, so if I put out something that I’m happy with, I can let all the other stuff go. This week, I can let all the other stuff go.

Now, here’s something interesting that I’m probably going to get yelled at by the network goons for sharing, but it’s important and relevant. A lot of people have told me that I haven’t been able to watch our second episode online. I understand that if they try to watch it at Syfy.com, and they don’t have a cable or satellite provider, they can’t see it. I understand that it isn’t even on Hulu like our first episode was, and the show isn’t on Hulu+ at all.

With that in mind, look at this, from about an hour ago, from The Pirate Bay:

Wil Wheaton Project Torrent
Click to Embiggen

Last week, our first episode had a total of about 800 seeders and about half as many leechers. Math is hard, but I’m going to estimate over 2300 seeders and almost as many leechers, for our second episode alone. That’s pretty huge growth and interest from people who probably want to watch our show, but can’t, because they’re cord cutters, or they’re in a country that doesn’t carry the show. Yes, I know there are people who want everything for free and won’t pay for anything, but I don’t count them as “lost” viewers, because they were never going to be scored by advertisers or the network, anyway.

I think I mentioned that our ratings improved with every repeat last week, and our 11pm repeat on Friday even beat our premiere on Tuesday. This tells me that people clearly want to watch our show, and as more people hear about it, the more they tune in. I understand that this is the way it typically goes with shows like ours (I heard it took The Daily Show a year and a half to find its audience), so we’re expecting a slow but steady building of audience as the summer goes on. That will be awesome, but it can be even more awesome, if we can make it easier for people who want to watch us to find a legal way to do it.

I’ve heard from countless people who legally watched our first episode that they wanted to watch our second one, but discovered that they couldn’t watch it in a legal way. It’s out of my control, so I can’t do anything except point out over and over and over again that the show is losing potential viewers, and that’s really frustrating to me.

Our show costs a lot of money to make. It’s possible to make our show because Syfy licenses it from us, and then sells advertising on the show to cover their investment. If everything goes according to plan, it’s profitable. If it’s profitable, we get to keep making more episodes. The best way to help us be profitable, then, is to watch the show on Syfy when it airs during the week. I don’t fully understand the realities and nuances of licensing and all that, but I do know that the world is rapidly changing, and a lot of people don’t want to watch TV live. I know that lots of people don’t want cable because they can’t afford it, or because they hate cable companies. I know that a lot of those people would gladly pay for Amazon on demand, an iTunes subscription, whatever Google Play does, or watch some ads on Hulu or Hulu+. I’m doing everything I can to let the people who make those deals know this, but I’m a very small voice in a very loud room. If you want to help make that voice louder, you can write a polite email to Syfy and let them know that you want to watch the show in a way that supports us.

Maybe this is all a lot of hand-wringing for nothing, because we are only two episodes in, and because this is an entirely new type of show for Syfy, they’re just getting their legs under them the same way we are. Maybe this will all work itself out over the next couple of weeks, and everyone will be happy. That’s what I hope for, because I am having an insanely good time making this show.

Before I go, I just want to reiterate that I want you to watch our show, and I want you to like our show so much that you keep watching it. I’m trying my best to make it easy for you to watch our show in a way that helps us pay for it, so we can keep making more of it. I know for some of you it’s easier to just fire up a torrent client and go to down, and I’m sympathetic to that. But I’ll ask all of you, please, if you can watch the show in a way that counts for our network and our advertisers, please do.

the day after part two, electric boogaloo

After a lifetime of watching myself on TV and movies, I’ve developed the ability to disconnect myself from the person I’m looking at on the screen. It hasn’t been easy, and I know that I’m more critical of myself than anyone else in the world, but it’s ended up being a particularly useful skill so I can grow as an actor, and be objectively critical of my work.

When I watched The Wil Wheaton Project Episode 2: Electric Boogaloo last night, I objectively liked what I saw. I thought my energy was right where I wanted it to be all along, I thought the editing made the entire show feel less frenetic, and I thought the dumb little asides I improvised when we taped the show mostly worked. I could tell that I wasn’t afraid to have fun, to take my time, to let the audience come to me, and to trust the material we had worked out. In short, I think it worked. I don’t know what the ratings are (but I do know that, once DVR numbers were counted for our first episode, we improved dramatically over our premiere last week. I also know that each repeat had more viewers than the last, and we had the fastest and most significant audience growth in the history of unscripted programming on the network. That’s pretty awesome.)

I haven’t seen any reviews, but going by my admittedly skewed Twitter sampling, the audience feels the same way that I did, and that’s reassuring because it tells me that my instincts were right.

A few notes on this particular episode:

  • I thought it would be funny to try the funky 70s porn music under Oberyn Martell dancing around The Mountain, but the thing we went with was much funnier to all of us.
  • As a fan of Orphan Black, I had a joke about it not being a good week for characters I like keeping their heads intact, with a tag about Donnie having to call the Wolf. One other person in the room got that joke, and we decided that it was a “Wil% joke”, which is a play on the “5% joke”, meaning that only 5% of the audience gets it.

  • John Malkovich is the gift that keeps on giving.

  • Hannibal is so fucking weird, I just don’t even know what to say about it anymore.

  • Penny Dreadful is getting so good, it’s going to be hard to keep finding ways to do jokes for it.

  • I was concerned that our dumb game show with Felicia Day may not work, but I think I was wrong. The writers did a great job picking clips, and the editors did a great job putting that whole thing together. The Wilhelm Scream was my idea.

  • I loved the Knockbusters idea from the moment it was pitched, and the hardest part of it for us was figuring out which joke we were going to do for each clip. That Empire of the Apes thing was so outrageously bad, and the  … acting? … in the not-Batman thing was so painful, we had to work really hard to find a joke that wasn’t just mean. At one point, we considered a commentary on everything that was ridiculous in it, and it just got so long, we pulled out that one thing about the scope.

  • In general, I was very happy with the pace and the energy. I expect that we’ll improve in some way from week to week as we get more comfortable and settle into the right rhythm for what we’re doing.

Like last week, I’ll be sharing some clips from the show. We’re starting with this silly thing, from our newest sponsor:

We are aware that DVRs think every episode is a new episode. We’ve informed the network, and I hope that they’ll fix that problem as soon as possible. I know the show is on Hulu, but not Hulu Plus. That’s out of my hands, and I hate it. The best I think you can do is email Syfy and Hulu so they know that you want it on Plus. I know that a lot of you want to see it on iTunes or Amazon VOD, and I have no idea how that licensing works, or if the people who make those decisions will put it there.

What I do know is that the thing that helps us the most, the thing that makes it most likely that we’ll get picked up after 12, is to watch it on cable when it airs. I know that a huge part of the audience doesn’t watch TV that way, but until networks and advertisers stop thinking that’s the way that matters the most, it’s what we have.

But, as I’ve said before, the most important thing to me is that you watch and enjoy the show, so … there.

at the break of day

I went to sleep around 9pm last night, because my alarm was set for 5:15 this morning. I fell asleep quickly, and slept straight through the night, with Marlowe curled up next to my left hip, and our cat, Luna, tucked into my neck.

I slept soundly, until I woke in a panic and saw that the clock said 7:34am. Oh shit I slept through my alarm! I’m supposed to be doing radio interviews! Shit! Shit! Shit!

I jumped out of bed, and ran into the kitchen, disoriented and trying to find my phone, so I could call the number … the number! I can’t remember the number!

I looked around for my laptop, and then realized that not only was it not in my kitchen, I wasn’t in my kitchen, either. Oh, I was in a kitchen, and I suppose it was mine, but I hadn’t been in this kitchen since I was a little boy and we lived in Sunland.

I sat up in bed. It was just a dream. Thank god. I looked at the clock, saw that it was 3 something in the morning, and put my head back onto my pillow. I exhaled as much of the memory of panicked adrenaline as I could, and closed my eyes. Luna began to purr and nuzzled her head back into me.

When the alarm went off, it was still dark. I got out of bed and walked out into my living room, where I saw my dad. I don’t remember what he said, but it was pretty mean for some reason.

I woke up again. It was now 4 something in the morning. Oh, come on…

I would dream at least three more times that I somehow overslept or couldn’t find my number to call or — in one case — was at an amusement park with no payphones for some reason. When my alarm finally did go off, for real, I felt like I was drunk and hadn’t slept at all for several days.

None of the animals moved when I got out of bed. Anne rolled over to one side and muttered something in her sleep as I gently closed our bedroom door behind myself and headed to our actual kitchen to begin the coffee ritual.

Thirty minutes later, I got on the phone and started a three hour radio press tour, working my way Westward across the country to hit morning drive time radio all over America, to talk about The Wil Wheaton Project (TONIGHT AT TEN ON SYFY, Y’ALL), The Big Bang Theory, Tabletop, and Zen And The Art of Being Wil Wheaton. I did fourteen interviews over the three hours, with one five minute break. I drank three cups of coffee, just enough to prevent me from taking a nap — at 830 in the morning — after I was finished.

I live a charmed life.

I am inherently skeptical of media, including drive-time radio, so I told the network that I wouldn’t talk to shock jocks, I wouldn’t talk to the right-wing screamers (not that they’d be interested in me, but I wanted to have all my bases covered) and I wanted to be very clear ahead of time that if they wanted me to make fun of people like me who love the things I do, I wouldn’t be talking with them. I guess everyone got the memo, because with the exception of one 60-second bit on one station (that I hope will be cut if and when the DJs will realize it probably made them come off like dicks after nearly 10 minutes of really nice conversation), I really enjoyed myself.

A few moments after I finished my last interview, I heard our bedroom door open on the other side of the house, followed by the familiar sounds of my dogs waking up and walking around. Marlowe ran into my office, tail wagging like crazy, and jumped her front paws onto my lap. Anne followed, shortly after.

“How did your interviews go?” She said, sleepily.

I told her, and gently pushed Marlowe off of my lap. She’s cute and all, but jumping up uninvited is not okay in Castle Wheaton.

“That’s good,” she said. “Sorry the one thing wasn’t awesome.”

“It’s okay. 60 seconds out of three hours is a really great batting average, and I think that by sincerely and enthusiastically answering the questions they asked as a set up to making fun of me and people like me, I managed to call them out on the premise of their thing without just saying, ‘you guys, just stop. This isn’t cool.'”

“Maybe they’ll cut it out before they air it,” she said.

“I hope so.”

Marlowe sat quietly and patiently at my side, eyes huge, tail wagging.

“Okay, Marlowe,” I said, tapping her on the shoulder. She leaned into me as I stood up. “Do you want your breakfast?” She ran into the kitchen so fast I could see the red shift.

“I’m proud of myself,” I said, “I’ve accomplished more before 9 am than I usually accomplish in a whole day!”

In the kitchen, Riley barked.

“But apparently not enough,” I said. I kissed Anne on the cheek as I passed her and went out to the kitchen to actually start my day.

If you want to read a really nice article about me, geek culture, and The Wil Wheaton Project, Fast Company got it right.

being a grown-up

This is one of my favorite xkcds:
Grownups

The whole time we’re kids, people are always telling us to “grow up”, when what they really mean, I think, is “calm down” or “stop having fun” or “you can’t have your pudding if you don’t eat your meat”.

I’m an actual, fully-functional, 100% real grown-up, and this weekend, it meant that I spent all day yesterday reading comic books, and then stayed up way past my bedtime to watch The Avengers, because I could.

Tomorrow, I go back to the work part of being a grown-up (which is kind of a cheat for me, because I love my job so much), but today I will listen to Van Halen as loud as I want (until Anne gets home and asks me to turn it down), read more comic books, and possibly play video games.

But first, I’m going to feed my dogs, because Seamus has been barking at me the whole I’m I’ve been writing this.