Category Archives: blog

chewin’ gum for something to do

Chapter 3 of Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana is online, like, RIGHT NOW.

The Beer Baron and Keg-E bid farewell to the party after considerable celebration and revelry. In an attempt to learn more about their mysterious orb, the group heads to Nestora in search of Farkiah the Antiquarian. Excited for an opportunity to bargain, barter, and more importantly, shop, the heroes quickly head to the market district, but they soon find that it holds more than goods. What does the city-state have in store for our heroes? Tune in to find out.

Looking for sweet Titansgrave loot? Check out the store here!

This is a reminder, because we think this seminar will fill up quickly, and if you care about that sort of thing, I want you to be able to join us:

TitansgraveAtGencon

And if you do care about that sort of thing, you probably want to be reading Chris Pramas’s blogs about the game design. for Titansgrave.

This happened last night:

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 20.46.50

I was checking my network speed, because Netflix was trying to stop me from watching the end of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and nothing would stream off my media server in the house. I couldn’t figure out exactly what was wrong (I even tried turning it off and back on again), and the whole troubleshooting experience felt like trying to get the Babel Fish. But, eventually, things sorted themselves out and I got that insanely fast network speed, so I could finish the show.

In general, I liked it. The first few episodes were fantastic, and some of the middle ones were real stinkers, but I kept watching all the way to the end because Ellie Kemper is just so fantastic and such a joy. The show has a lot of problems that have been discussed to death elsewhere, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Finally, this is a show I’m doing for Playstation Network:CwCWithWilWheaton

We’ll release new episodes, every Tuesday in the US and Canada, on PlayStation Store. You’ll get them for the low, low price of FREE on your PS3, PS4, and PS Vita. What’s that? You loaned your device to your cousin and she went out of town, locked it in her house, and didn’t give you the key? Don’t worry. If you don’t want to try out those lock-picking skills just yet, we’re also going to make our episodes available on PlayStation’s YouTube channel.

So, I hope you’ll join me and some really interesting people as we talk about games like Destiny, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, Uncharted, The Last of Us, God of War and more. I’ve already taped a couple of episodes, and I’ve had some really fascinating conversations about the similarities and differences between videogames and movies, the origins of Destiny, and exactly how The Last Of Us scared the hell out of us all, while simultaneously making us care about Joel and Ellie more than we care for actual people we work with in our real lives. Yes, Mark, I’m looking at you. You are never going to get a spot in my zombie survival compound, Mark.

I’m actually on my way to the studio in about ten minutes to do interviews with the team that brought us Black Ops, and the Santa Monica Studio team, who brought us God of War and Journey, among others.

Let me tell you this: I am profoundly late to the party on Journey, but it’s maybe the most beautiful and emotional experience I’ve ever had playing a game. If you have the means, I highly recommend it.

Fore!

I’m terrible at mornings. As long as I can remember (and according to my mother, even when I was a baby) I was a nite owl who preferred to go to sleep at 2, and wake up at 10. For whatever reason, that’s the way I’m wired.

When my kids were little and the whole time they were in school, Anne and I took turns getting them to school, which mandated that I diverge from the sleep schedule I’d used successfully for almost my entire life (with brief breaks from routine when I was working on a production).

I realize how privileged I am to basically set my own schedule now, and I’m very grateful that, for the most part, I can sleep when my body wants to, without having The Man tell me when I have to set an alarm.

But last night, my son, Ryan, asked me if he could take me out for bad golf this morning, since it was father’s day. “You’re an incredible father, and I want to do something cool with you,” he said. “But I’m not going to play golf in the middle of the day, when it’s 100°.”

“So come over at 830, and we’ll leave then,” I said.

I went to sleep “early” last night, at about midnight. Then I got to have nightmares all night, so when I woke up 7 hours and 43 minutes after I finally fell asleep, I was feeling, as they say, like ass.

Still, I coffee’d myself up, put on my magnificently obnoxious golf trousers (which I actually use for curling), and Ryan and I headed to the golf course. We texted Nolan, but without response, decided that he was probably choosing to sleep in like a normal person, and would probably join us for lunch.

We got to the golf course — the Los Feliz Par 3 — just as it was really filling up. We rented two 9 irons and putters, and bought two sleeves of golf balls.

“You sure you’re going to need six golf balls for the two of you?” The starter asked us.

“We’re really bad at golf,” I said. “This may not be enough.”

“Suit yourself,” he said, which I think is a thing that only Boomers say when they’re working as the starter at a Par 3 golf course and a couple of dorks show up in obnoxious golf gear, declaring how bad they are at the game.

We headed to the first tee. The course was a little backed up, but neither of us was in a hurry, and the whole point of the thing was to spend the time together, so we enjoyed the view, the birds, the squirrels, and the fact that we had not yet lost any of our golf balls.

It was my turn to step up to the tee. I put my ball on the mat, and addressed it, which is golf-talk for preparing to swing the club.

I shuffled my feet, relaxed my shoulders, exhaled, and swung the club. There was the smack of the club against the mat, the crack of the club against the ball, and a few seconds later, the thunk of the ball against a tree. It landed behind that tree, in some thick grass.

“I’ve left myself in good position,” I said.

“Nice work,” Ryan agreed.

He sliced his first shot onto the 18th green. After he retrieved it, he put it back on the tee, whacked the hell out of it, and we both watched in amazement as it spun along the grass for about 85 of the 92 yards to the hole.

“I see the Scottish method is working out for you,” I said.

“Thank you,” he said. We walked to our balls, and took our second shots. Mine went over the green, rolled up a small embankment, then back down that same embankment back onto the green.

“That’s one green in regulation out of one,” I said.

“Truly a masterful stroke,” he said.

“Truly,” I replied. We were very fancy, as the situation clearly demanded it.

Ryan hit his second shot up onto the green. He four-putted, I three-putted, and we walked up to the second tee.

“We’re really bad at this,” I said.

“Spectacularly bad at this,” Ryan agreed.

On my next tee shot, I lost my ball into the LA River. Ryan’s hit a tree and bounced into the center of the fairway. My mulligan tried its best to go into the river, but got caught by some thick bushes. My third shot went mostly straight, ending short of the green.

“I can’t believe nobody sponsors us,” I said, as we walked down toward the green.

I scored a seven on the hole. Ryan scored a five. And so it went for the rest of the round. I eventually lost all my balls, and finished with a ball that I found in the rough, which none of the other golfers wanted to claim.

Ryan made par on one hole, which was the required condition we had decided upon for victory. On that same hole, I recorded my score as a frowny face. We will never speak of it again.

At the end of the round, we tallied our score. Ryan was the victor with 45 strokes. I was in second place with fifty sad faces.

Around this time, Nolan got in touch, and we met up at Golden Road for brunch. After our food arrived, I told them, “I don’t care about holidays, and I really don’t care about made-up holidays like Father’s Day … but it means a lot to me that you wanted to spend this time with me today. I understood why I didn’t get to when you were kids, and I respected that, but it makes me really, really happy that you both wanted to do this today.”

“I don’t care about holidays, either,” Ryan said, “but this is a great excuse to spend time together, and spending time together is really what’s important to me.”

“Yeah,” Nolan said, “and that’s why it’s bullshit that you didn’t wake me up to go with you this morning!”

“Awww, man,” I said, “we both thought you wanted to sleep in!”

“It’s okay,” he said. “This is still cool.”

“I love you guys,” I said.

Being a parent is never easy — if it’s easy, you’re doing it wrong — but it’s especially difficult to be a step-parent, especially when a bioparent is a jerk. But it’s so worth all the pain and hurt and frustration when the day comes that you realize that they may not carry your DNA, but you’ve raised them so well, they are your children in every way that actually matters.

Happy Father’s Day, dads, and a very special secret handshake to my fellow step-parents.

critical failure

For months, whenever I visit gaming sites I care about, someone is laying into me about Tabletop. Things like, “He doesn’t care about the fans” and “He took everyone’s money and didn’t spend it on the show” and “Nobody who is a real gamer takes this show seriously” or “I hate Tabletop because [thing someone decided I did, whether I actually did it or not.]”

I’m pretty good at not having a fuck to give about things, especially from power gamers who aren’t in my target audience, and who will probably never be happy with what I do. For the first two seasons of Tabletop, “Thank you for your comment. Please direct any further comments to that brick wall, and remember that we made this for free,” was my standard response. The people who loved what we did vastly outnumbered the people who complained about the show and about me and about all the delightful things people complain about. And that’s fine. Not everyone likes everything. My goal was to make more gamers in the world, and we’ve certainly succeeded in that. If we never make any more Tabletop, I’ll always feel very good about that.

There’s this thing that we talk about in production, in acting classes, and on the set. It’s this idea that if you feel good about something you made or worked on, and someone shits on it, who cares? You’re happy with it, you made the thing you wanted to make, and they made comments. You can stand by your choices. But there’s another side of it, and it’s why so many of my fellow creative people are as selective as they can be about the projects they do: when you do something that you don’t feel good about, whatever the reason was that you did it, and someone shits on it, it strikes a nerve. When you should have known better, and you didn’t trust your instincts, it strikes a nerve. When you count on someone to do the thing they were supposed to do, and they didn’t, it strikes a nerve.

So when I am accused, over and over and over again of not caring about Tabletop, not caring enough to get the rules right, not caring about the audience, or feeling complacent because of reasons — it strikes a nerve, because I work incredibly hard to be good to our audience. It strikes a nerve because I care a lot, especially this season, because for over twenty thousand people, it wasn’t free, and the only brick wall I care about has all their names on it. Written by hand, by amazing production assistants.

Yesterday, after being beaten up on r/boardgames yet again, I wanted to address that, and explain how things happened this season that are not up to my standards. It wasn’t my intention to do any of the things I’ve been accused of doing, but enough people I trust and respect have all said the same thing to me, so I clearly didn’t communicate my feelings clearly.  I counted on someone who had never let me down, and they profoundly let me down, when it mattered the most. I feel that the backers of the show deserve to know what happened, why it happened, and how it made me feel. What I wanted to say was: this is what happened. This is why that happened. This is how it made me feel. I am angry, and embarrassed, and I kind of don’t even want to do another season of the show.

I didn’t do that well. I stand by telling the truth about what happened, but I wish I’d done it in a better way. I hope you’ll continue to enjoy Tabletop, because a lot of people worked very hard to make it the best show we could make it. In a lot of ways, I believe we have succeeded. In some other ways, we’ve clearly fallen short. I want you to know that I care. I cared during production, and I care now. I realize that this will continue to not be good enough for some people, unnecessary for others, and is unlikely to do anything other than prolong the Internet hatefest I’m presently receiving. But this is one of those things that I need to write for me.

I accept responsibility for my tone, and my words. I don’t apologize for being angry, embarrassed, and disappointed.

I feel like I managed to alienate myself from a community that I love and care about, and I may never be let back in. That hurts a lot, but if it’s a self-inflicted wound, I have nobody to blame but myself. I can’t even blame the dice.

#SaveTheBeer!

For weeks, I’ve been a wreck. The stress dreams were relentless, my appetite was unpredictable, and I got massively sick for the first time in years.

My depression and anxiety have been as bad as they’ve been in months, and it’s been a challenge to get to the end of every day.

This is pretty normal for me when I care deeply about something, and I know that all of this has been anticipation about the release of Titansgrave, which is something I’ve been actively working on for about a year, and something I’ve wanted to produce since Tabletop first began.

I feel a responsibility to the cast and crew, to the editors, to the director, to our partners at Green Ronin, and to the thousands of backers who made it possible for us to create the show.

I’ve been making creative decisions every day, watching edits and rewatching edits and giving notes on edits and watching the edits with those notes applies so much, I started to lose perspective on the story. When I’m spending all of my energy focusing on what I can cut and what I need to change, that’s all I can see, and it’s easy for me to forget that there’s all this stuff there that’s genuinely cool.

My deepest fear has been that we wouldn’t be able to share with the audience how we felt while we played, that we couldn’t be able to communicate the fun, the tension, the camaraderie, the anticipation and excitement. I was worried that everything I thought was awesome, because I was there, wouldn’t translate.

By the way, I felt exactly this way before Tabletop was released, so this is nothing new for me.

As I told Ivan yesterday on Twitch: all I could hear was Carrie’s mom in my head, hysterically screaming that they were all going to laugh at me.

Well, it’s about 24 hours later, and contrary to everything I’ve been taught, I’ve been reading the comments. It looks like the hard work of our team from the first few ideas I wrote down in a notebook to the first few steps our party took together to the final edit I signed off on last week was worth it.

So far, everyone seems to love the characters, the players, and the story as much as I do … and that makes me so incredibly excited because I know what the future holds for all of us, and now I wish it was next week as much as you do.

Thanks for watching, everyone, and thank you for your feedback. A very, very special thank you to our backers, and to everyone involved in the creation and production.

Oh, and whoever decided that #SaveTheBeer was going to be a thing? You get +3 to awesome today.

 

i’d love to change the world but i don’t know what to do

…so i leave it up to you…

I’ve been talking with some friends about the increasing belligerence, toxicity, and general shittiness of the Internet lately. It seems like it’s just exploded in a logarithmic curve in the last week or so, and websites I generally enjoy browsing, like Reddit and Fark, and social networks I’ve always liked, like Tumblr and Twitter, seem to be overrun with real dickwagons.

“It’s like somone pushed a button, and unleashed a horde of … angry … children …” I said, the reality dawning on my as the words came out of my mouth.

“Oh god. It’s summer vacation and the children are online, unsupervised, all day.”

I’m going to sound like an old man now, but fuck it: I’m genuinely concerned by the lack of basic empathy and kindness I’m seeing online from the damn kids today. Maybe they’re not like that face to face, and maybe they don’t think that being online is “real”, but the cruelty and bigotry and misogyny that I see blithely spouted all over the place online worries me. Are we letting an entire generation grow up believing that behaving like the whole world is [whatever]chan? Is that healthy? The Internet has always had awful people on it, but the farther away I get from my 20s, the worse and worse it seems.

Maybe it’s because I’m a parent, and I know how hard I worked to help my own children develop empathy and kindness, so I have an observational and confirmation bias … but I’m genuinely starting to feel, for the first time in my entire life, like I don’t want to interact with people online. I don’t mean that in a flouncy, goodbye cruel world I’m leaving this forum forEVAR way, either. I mean it in a “man, what happened to this neighborhood? It used to be so great,” kind of way.

I’m looking at websites and networks and communities that I’ve been part of for close to a decade or more, and I hardly recognize them. Is that because I was just less touchy about people being shits back then? Or is it a real and meaningful change in the culture? For the sake of the damn kids today, I really hope that this is just me feeling touchy and overly-sensitive. Because I’m trying really hard to make the world a better place for this generation, and if the behavior I see online from them is indicative of their norm, I’m not sure it’s worth the effort.

How I deal with anxiety

Here’s another one from my Tumblr ask thingy:

ditrysia asked:

Hey Wil. Do you have any advice/tips for people with anxiety to calm down when they feel they are starting to freak out and might have a panic attack? I don’t know if that particularly happens to you but you seem to know a lot about dealing with mental health. Thanks.

with apologies and thanks to the oatmeal

I went to The Oatmeal earlier, because I knew that Matt Inman would have written down a series of letters that approximates the sounds coming out of my lower abdomen. I thought that I would copy those letters and post them on Twitter, because that was amusing to me.

What I found was a comic containing an image that, with a little dialog change in gimp, let me give a visual on how I’m feeling today:

apologies to the oatmealPlease don’t yell at me, Matt. I’m fragile today.