All posts by Wil

I'm just this guy, you know?

if you enjoy sitting on counters…

A massive hurricane is currently tearing up the ocean just off the coast of Mexico, and the surf here in Southern California is huge. Waves between fifteen and twenty feet have been common, and on Wednesday, Anne and I went down to the beach to see them for ourselves, and take a long walk along the sand.

School has just started, so there weren’t many people down there. Parking was easy, and after a quick walk across the hot sand, we got to the edge of the water. We stood there for a few minutes and watched enormous waves explode into foam, before the ocean seemed to completely flatten out into deceptively serene beauty between sets.

We walked about four miles down the sand, and another four miles back. We shared a meatball sub for lunch, and a little after 2pm, we got in the car to head home.

We were about a quarter mile from our house when my cell phone rang. I vaguely recognized the number, so I picked it.

“I have [Syfy Network Executive] for you,” a disinterested assistant said.

“Okay,” I said. The line fell silent, and I knew that my work with Syfy was over.

“How are you?” He asked me.

“I’m fine,” I said, honestly. “I just got back from a nice long walk with my wife, and it’s been a pretty great day.”

“Well, I’m about to make your day less great,” he said. Then, he told me that Syfy will not be ordering more episodes of The Wil Wheaton Project.

He assured me that it wasn’t the quality of the show. He told me again and again how much he loved it, how funny he thought it was, how much he liked me, how much he wanted to find other things to do together.

Ultimately, he told me, the executives in New York just didn’t think we had enough viewers to justify more episodes. I didn’t say anything about the total lack of promotion off the network, or point out that our ratings were on par with The Soup, or that ratings are always lower in summer than the fall. I didn’t  bother saying any of that, because I know he knows that. I was reasonably confident that he made those arguments with New York when he was trying to get the show renewed. I presume he fought hard for us, but ultimately couldn’t sway executives in New York who never seemed — in my opinion — to really understand what kind of show we were doing, who I was and why I was hosting it, and how to engage with and promote to the audience who would like it.

I thanked him for the call, thanked him for the opportunity to do a show that Syfy had never tried before, and sincerely thanked him for all his creative support. He’s a good guy in an industry full of bad guys, and I genuinely enjoyed working with him. I know that he’s trying really hard to put the sci-fi back into Syfy, and if anyone can do it there (which is going to be incredibly difficult, I think), he’s the guy who can make it happen.

I hung up the phone, and told Anne that we weren’t being renewed.

“How do you feel about that?” She asked me.

“I’m really okay with it,” I said. “I’m super sad that I won’t get to work with my writers and producers, and I’m sad that we don’t get to keep writing jokes, but I did everything I could to help the show succeed. I promoted it the best way I could, I worked hard to write stuff that was funny, and I tried so, so, so hard to get the network executives in New York to understand how they could help the show succeed.

“I can only do so much, and we didn’t get a lot of promotional support. I did everything I could, and I’m proud of the work we put on the screen. On the one hand, it’s a shame that they stopped us right when the show was hitting its stride, but on the other hand, we went out with some great episodes.”

I’m disappointed that I won’t get to keep working with people I really like and respect. I’m sad that we won’t get to do more silly segments like How Will They Bite It? and Skeletor Reads Angry Tweets. I’ll miss the scarecrow most of all.

I’m grateful, though, to the people at Syfy who believed in us and gave us a chance to succeed. I’m grateful for the creative support we got, and I’m grateful that I got to spend my summer working with wonderful, talented, funny people. I grew a lot of levels in comedy writing over the last 18 weeks or so, and I owe it all to the amazing people I got to work with.

I had made a decision the day we wrapped the show, that I was going to be okay whether Syfy picked us up, or not. I can honestly say that I am really okay with where I am today. I’m looking forward to doing Tabletop and our upcoming RPG show. I’m looking forward to writing more stories, getting excited, and making more things.

Thank you to everyone who watched our show. Thank you for your kind words, and for being part of a pretty great summer.

Until next time: Play more games!

Oh, and let me just stop this before it starts: we nerds have a penchant for letter-writing campaigns and stuff to try and save shows we like. Please don’t do that here. It’s not going to happen, and we should instead put that energy into something else, like getting #butts to trend.

I fixed that Star Trek reunion selfie

I don’t know why I didn’t show up in the original photo, probably because I was using my magical powers to not appear on film. Here’s how it should have looked.


And anyway, I think this one is the best one we took:


Yep. This is a totally real thing that really happened.

Thank you for all your game suggestions

I’ve combed through hundreds and hundreds of suggestions (and nearly 2000 comments holy crap) since I asked what you’re interested in seeing us play on the next season of Tabletop, and I have come away with a lot of great ideas.

At the moment, we’re looking at about 60 games. That list will be narrowed down to about 20, maybe more if we do a combo episode of a couple of mini or micro games.

A lot of FAQs popped up in that thread, so I’d like to point anyone who is interested to my episode of Not The Flog, where I talked about how we choose games for the show, why we simply can’t play certain games, and some games I freaking love, but simply won’t work for our format.

Finally, a quick note to publishers and designers: I know you’re enthusiastic about your games, and I know a lot of you would like us to play your games on our show. However, encouraging people so basically spam me with your titles isn’t helpful, and actually ensures that I won’t play your games. This is a giant bummer for everyone, because you may have a game that I’d genuinely like to play, but I’ll never even try it, because the spamming was so annoying and unhelpful.

A quick note to players: if you genuinely love a game, let me know, and let me know why. That is helpful information that us useful and welcome.

Okay, thanks. Back to it.

What would you like to see us play on Tabletop Season Three?

Anonymous asked:

Second Season of Wil Wheaton Project. Yes or No? I hope SyFy channel has the foresight to keep it going.

So for those of you who don’t know, earlier this summer, I did 12 episodes of a silly comedy show on Syfy called The Wil Wheaton Project. It was basically The Soup for people like me who enjoy sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, as well as jokes about those things. If you’d like to see a bunch of clips from the show, they’re right here on my YouTube thing.

We’re officially on hiatus right now, and we don’t know if the network will order more episodes. I know that they liked us in a creative sense, but the ratings weren’t very good (ratings are generally not very good in summer, and while I don’t believe that ratings are as important as they once were, my opinion on the matter isn’t particularly important to the decision makers), but the people who did watch us really liked us. So I won’t know for a few more weeks, but until then, I’m on hiatus, which means I get to write more, play more games, and prep for season three of Tabletop, which goes into production in October.

Part of that preparation includes finding 20 games to play on the show, and as of today, I have eight (maybe nine) that are strong contenders.

What do you want us to play on the show next year? Would you tell me the game, the publisher, and why you like it?

Keep in mind the criteria for Tabletop game selection:

  1. Plays well with 4 people.
  2. Plays in under 90 minutes.

  3. Can be generally explained in about 5 minutes.

  4. Has a high ration of luck to strategy, so everyone has a chance to win the game.

  5. Looks great, has clear graphical design and photographs well.

  6. Is not something we’ve played before.

I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.

home again

Last night was the first night in almost two weeks that I haven’t had a series of horrible nightmares that woke me up at the end of every REM cycle. I woke up this morning next to my dogs (Anne is still in New York) who seemed as happy to snuggle next to me as I was to snuggle next to them.

GenCon was, on balance, awesome. I played some fantastic new games, spent some great time with friends, and ate a couple of fantastic meals. The only bummers were a day of fucking awful anxiety that threatened to keep me in my hotel room, and a single person (out of hundreds) who was a dick to me when I explained that I can’t stop to take pictures because it draws a crowd and then I get pinned down in one place, unable to enjoy the convention.

There’s lots going on right now that I want to write about, and being on hiatus from The Wil Wheaton Project should afford me time to sit at my desk and be a proper writer for the first time in months, but today I am home, and  I need to rest and reload my HP and Mana.

More to come.

Akira and me

So last night my wife and her friends went out to dinner, and I stayed home for a quiet evening alone with my dogs, a homebrew, and ​Akira. If you haven’t seen it, and you like anime, science fiction, cyberpunk, or some combination of those things, I highly recommend it. In the US, it’s streaming on Hulu Plus, and the Blu-Ray is amazing.

This is the movie that introduced me to anime, way back in 1988 or 89. I remember buying a bootleg VHS at a comic convention, which had a photocopied paper wrapped around the outside, entirely in Japanese. One of my friends said he had heard it was a great movie, so I dropped the twenty bucks or whatever and picked it up. When we got home, we put it into the VCR (kids, ask your parents – it was like a streaming media server that only served local files to a single device, off of very inefficient, removable storage medium) and watched.

It wasn’t dubbed, it wasn’t subbed, and we had absolutely no idea what was going on, but we loved it. In 1988 or 89, there just wasn’t anything like this movie. We had Voltron and Robotech and Battle of the Planets, and they were all pretty awesome, but the breathtaking beauty of Akira was unequaled. We watched it over and over again while we played tabletop games, until we wore out the VHS. We invented some sort of story, where Kaneda and Tetsuo were fighting the espers for some reason, and were eventually defeated by them when Akira is reborn. I remember finally seeing it with subtitles in the mid-90s, and being blown away by the story that was actually being told, which was quite a bit more interesting and complex than the one we’d made up.

I loved Akira so much, it lead me to Ghost in the Shell, all of Miyazaki’s movies, and unintentional hentai (boy, it sure was a shock to us when we picked up a thing called Demon City, only to discover that it was all about tentacle dicks fucking everything in the world. I don’t recall the story, but I can clearly recall how we were all traumatized but unable to look away from it.)

I don’t keep up with the world of anime now, because I have too much other stuff to keep up with and not enough time for everything, but I will always have time to watch Akira.

True Facts About the Octopus

Two video posts in one day? I must be going craaaaaaaaaaazzzyyy!!!!1

Alright, settle down.

So earlier today when I was avoiding doing something productive, I came across a video on Reddit of an octopus escaping from a boat. I adore octopuses (I have a large tattoo of one on my arm), so I watched it. Then I read the comments and came across this fantastic video called True Facts About The Octopus. If you have five-ish free minutes, I highly recommend watching it. In fact, when people ask me why I have an octopus tattoo, I’m just going to tell them to watch this video, because it covers how fucking hardcore and amazing the octopus is.

Oh, and get this: I didn’t know until I went to YouTube to grab the embed code that this was made by internet legend and Ur-vlogger Ze Frank! Now I have to do actual work so I can reward myself with viewings of his other True Facts videos.

The Real Batman v Superman

We made a thing for last night’s Wil Wheaton Project, and I think it’s pretty great.

As of today, we have one episode left. We won’t know if Syfy is going to order more episodes for about 5 or 6 weeks. We all need the break (it’s a lot of work to make this show, and I think it’s safe to say that we’re all feeling a little worn out), but I’m sad that we’re going to take the break now, when I finally feel like our show is firing on all cylinders.

How I spent my birthday

My sound guy, Matt, helped me take off my mic. My wardrobe stylist, Kristin, helped me out of my jacket, while my makeup artist, Molly, handed me a wipe thing to get my makeup off my face.

Anne stood up from the audience and said, “we have something for you.”

“Dude, I don’t want anyone making a big deal about my birthday,” I said, “especially at work.”

“Well, it’s too late. I got you Batman cupcakes.”

From behind the green screen, my stage manager, Roger, handed me a chocolate cupcake with a batman cookie on top of it. It was pretty awesome.

“Holy shit that’s amazing and I’m so glad you did this!” I said. “Please don’t sing.”

“Nobody is going to sing. We also got enough cupcakes for the whole audience and crew, too,” Anne said.

I turned to the audience and told them. Someone shouted out that they knew, because they’d been let in on the secret while I was changing my wardrobe earlier.

I walked out the stage door, and saw boxes of cupcakes set up on a table. For the next few minutes, I thanked every person who came to the show, and handed them a cupcake and a Sharknado toy that our friends at Funko provided to us to give away. My crew and the show staff gathered around and wished me happy birthday, Kristin gave me some Star Wars Vans, Molly gave me some craft beer, and my writers gave me a card that was accompanied by even more beer. My people just get me, you guys.

After I changed into my normal clothes, Anne and I drove up to Santa Barbara — well, Anne drove while I drifted in and out of sleep — to spend a couple days for my birthday. Traffic was surprisingly light, and we got to our hotel early enough to watch the gorgeous sunset over the Pacific Ocean. We had a wonderful dinner, shared a fantastic bottle of wine, and fell asleep before 10pm.

12 hours of sleep later, we woke up. After five exhausting days at Comicon and a taping of The Wil Wheaton Project, I finally felt rested.

“Happy birthday,” Anne said to me as we stretched and tried to convince ourselves that getting out of bed was a thing we should probably do.

“Thanks,” I said. “It’s totally my birthday.”

“All day long!”

We had breakfast, and then took a long walk on the beach. There weren’t too many people out, and most of the people who were there had adorable dogs running around. Anne and I are dog people, so we got to stop several times to throw a ball or scratch a scruffy neck.

“You know what I think would be awesome?” I said, as we reached a sea wall a couple miles away and began our walk back to the hotel. Before Anne could answer, I continued, “I think we should go to the spa and get massages.”

“That’s the best idea you’ve ever had,” she said.

“I know. I’m kind of amazing.”

We got back to the hotel,found out that we could book into the couple’s massage room, and got 80-minute massages in a beautiful room with windows open to the ocean, the sound of gently breaking waves carried in on a soft ocean breeze.

After our massage, we went back to our room to get ready for dinner … but first I had to take a nap, because when you’re 42, that’s how you spend your birthday.

I woke up two hours later, and got ready for dinner, which would be at one of my favorite restaurants in town. I looked for my nice shirt in the suitcase, and discovered that, in my exhaustion a day earlier, I had forgotten to pack it.

“I’m not as amazing as I said I was earlier. I forgot to bring my nice shirt.”

“It’s okay,” Anne said, “the restaurant isn’t fancy.”

“But I wanted to look nice for you.”

“I don’t care how you look,” she said.

“Even if I look like a hobo?” I said.

“You can’t look like a hobo, because you also forgot to pack your hobo bindle.”

“Dammit!” I pulled on a black t-shirt that was at least more appropriate than the Tabletop T-shirt I had been wearing.

We got to dinner, and it was awesome. I had all the food I wanted, and the restaurant even gave me a chocolate souffle with a candle in it, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY WIL written on the plate in chocolate. I’m always excited when someone spells my name correctly, and then I was even more excited when I found out that they knew how to spell my name because the servers were fans of The Wil Wheaton Project. I blew out the candle, and wished for the show to get picked up for more episodes, because I love working with the people who make it happen.

We went back to the hotel, watched the show I’d taped the day before, and almost immediately fell asleep afterward. We slept for another 10 hours, and took another long walk on the beach before we got back into the car to go home.

It was an absolutely perfect, beautiful day. There were some high clouds, and the sun was very warm, but the breeze off the ocean kept us cool. We were so happy and content, we didn’t want to leave, and by the time we got back to the hotel we realized that we’d walked almost eight miles.

On the way home, as we neared Ventura and were about to turn inland, leaving the ocean views to memory, I said to my wife, “This was the best birthday trip, ever. I feel totally rested, completely relaxed, and like I got all my hit points back. I really needed this. Thank you for making it happen.”

“You’re welcome. I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

How I spent my Comicon

I spent five days at Comicon this year, and discovered a new level of exhaustion and fatigue every day, surpassing the level I’d discovered the day before. By the time I was finally on the train back home, I had reached a point of burn out that I never though I’d experience: I pretty much don’t want to go to Comicon any more, because it’s stopped being fun for me.

Wednesday, we got on a much-delayed train (tragically, a northbound train hit a woman up near Ventura, so the southbound train was delayed by almost three hours) and headed down for Hop-Con at Stone’s Liberty Station. We celebrated the launch of w00tstout 2.0, and tapped some awesome limited collaboration brews, including my own white sage IPA, called the Tao of Sage. Much fun was had, and I drank as much beer as I’ve ever had in my life. I’m not sure how it got away from me so quickly (I suspect it was the 13.5% w00tstout on cask with s’mores) but my wife had to literally roll me into bed, because I sort of overdid it. Lesson learned, I woke up Thursday morning without a hangover (Anne says she kept giving me water) and vowed to institute Operation: Beer Just Drink One for the rest of the con (a quest I completed, I’m happy to note).

Thursday night, we did w00tstock 6.0. It was a great show, with some standout performances by Mega Ran, Marian Call, and Thomas Lennon. Craig Ferguson even came by to make jokes.

I always want to perform something new at w00tstock, but I’ve been so busy with The Wil Wheaton Project, I haven’t had time to write anything that isn’t specifically for the show. I had some stuff in my pocket that hadn’t been performed for w00tstock before, though, so I went with my story Blue Light Special, from The Happiest Days of Our Lives. It felt like a little bit of a cheat to me, but the audience loved it, and I had a hell of a good time performing it.

After the show was over, we tried to go to the Geek & Sundry lounge, but upon discovering that the rest of the world was there, in a room that I’m fairly sure was 500° Kelvin and 812% humidity, we ended up going back to our hotel, crashing into bed, and sleeping for almost 10 hours.

This was a theme for me at Comicon this year, and it’s probably the only reason I was able to survive it (emotionally and physically): I didn’t stay up too late, I didn’t overdo anything, and I made sure that I got to sleep as much as I needed, on every night that it was possible to do that.

Friday morning, I went down to the convention center and actually went inside for the first time. I was a surprise guest on the Big Bang Theory writer’s panel, and we showed a trailer for the imaginary film Serial Apeist 2: Monkey See, Monkey Kill. The audience loved it, and they really seemed to be happy that I was there, which made me feel good.

Friday night, I took a crew from The Wil Wheaton Project to Syfy’s Sharknado 2 party, where we made some funny stuff together. Some of it made it into this week’s show, if you’re into that.

Sidebar: How much fun was Sharknado 2?! I love that everyone in the film’s universe just accepts that there can be a massive shark-infested weather event, and then stuff happens. I also noticed that, according to some Twitter thing, I was the second most prolific Sharknado 2 Twittering person, behind the official account. I’m, uh, I’m not going to try to pretend that I’m not proud of that.

Saturday, we went back to the convention center, where Anne did a signing at Cupcake Quarterly, a really cool nerdy pin-up magazine that our friend publishes. After dropping her off, I tried my best to get through the con floor to visit some of my friends, and this is where I discovered that, maybe, I just can’t enjoy Comicon like I used to.

I realize that I’m on television every week, and even though that audience is smaller than we all hoped it would be (turns out promotion off the network is kind of important), that audience is maybe, um, oversampled at Comicon. There’s also the whole Big Bang Theory thing, and Tabletop is pretty popular with my people … so on the one hand, it was really exciting and awesome to meet so many people who love the shows I make as much as I do, and I tried to take pictures and stuff with as many people as I could, but I quickly learned that there’s no such thing as “just one quick selfie”.  I hate telling people no when they ask, but if I said yes to one person, that person quickly became ten people, and then a small crowd formed. I got a little panicky once, when I was literally surrounded, but everyone I interacted with was kind and understanding, and with the help of my friend Shawn, I was able to make it across the floor to visit with some people I don’t get to see as often as I’d like.

So, before I continue: I know this is a #firstworldproblem and a #celebrityproblem and whatever else you want to say about it. I get that, and I know that from a business position it’s an amazing problem to have. From a human being perspective, though, it’s a bummer, because I couldn’t wander the floor and look at art and talk to comic creators, because whenever I stopped  I got sort of mobbed, even with my friend doing his best to keep an eye on me. I suppose I could be one of those people with a couple of security goons, but that seems even worse. If I do go back next year, I think I’ll have to cosplay in a full mask or something, which is weird, but at least I’ll get a chance to maybe pick up some cool art and books.

After Anne was done signing, I did a quick interview for Rotten Tomatoes, and then we spent a little bit of time at a really nice cocktail party that Bill Prady has every year. Finally, I got to see a lot of my friends all in one place, and that was really nice.

Before we knew it, it was time for the Geek & Sundry panel, which I had to leave early because I had to get up to a theatre a couple miles away from the convention center to perform in the Welcome To Night Vale / Thrilling Adventure Hour crossover show.

“You look exhausted,” Ben Blacker (Thrilling Adventure co-writer) said to me when he saw me backstage.

“I am,” I said, “and I’m soaked through because of the humidity, but I’m really glad to be here for this show.”

I looked around the backstage area, and took in the curtain, the lights, the prop boxes, and all of the things that I only see backstage in a theater. I heard some of the other actors running their lines out on the stage, and flipped through my script to catch up to them.

“I’m so happy to be here, though, because I feel like I’m back in my element as a performer, back where I belong, back where I’m doing actual work, instead of being ‘that guy from TV’.” I wiped sweat off my face and took a deep breath. “It’s like I’ve been doing hundreds of performances for an audience of one for the last few days, and I’m looking forward to doing one performance for an audience of whatever fits in this theater.”

“I get that,” he said.

“I feel like it’ll be rejuvenating,” I said.

“That’s awesome,” he said, “and you’re up on the next page.”

I walked up to the mic and joined the rehearsal. It took me a few tries to find the character, but with the help of Ben Blacker and his co-writer Ben Acker, I brought the omniscient galactic being S’Tonge to life in a way that was incredibly fun and deeply satisfying. And not for nothing, I got to be in Welcome to Night Vale and The Thrilling Adventure Hour on the same stage in the same show, and I never thought I’d get to do that.

When the show was over, I thanked everyone for having me, found my wife, and went back to our hotel.

“I have found a new level of tired that I didn’t know existed,” I said, in the elevator.

“You said that yesterday,” she said.

“I know.” I said.

We went to sleep, and got up early Sunday morning so I could make it to Nerd HQ for a panel with Felicia. After that panel ended, Anne and I were rushed to the train station in a freaking golf cart motorcade — for reals — and a few hours later, were back in our house. The dogs were extremely excited to see us, and even the cats couldn’t pretend that they didn’t give a fuck about us for very long.

I unpacked my suitcase and repacked it with clean clothes, because the next day, Anne took me away for my birthday, which I’ll write about later.