User:Gaile Gray/Journal Archive1
March 13, 2007: Introductions
Do feel free to skip this bit, but I think it's nice to get to know one another better so I'll share this:
--Gaile 00:25, 13 March 2007 (EDT)
March 23, 2007: GW:EN Announcement
It is with great happiness, anticipation, and relief that I say these words: Guild Wars: Eye of the North. Guild Wars 2. :) How sweet it is to be able to speak of these amazing projects, to know that with every week, there will be more that we can share!
Lots of information will be coming out about the expansion pack in the near future. People from throughout our global community will be adding their insights, their thoughts, and the gleanings of a community that encompasses and embraces the entire world. I think you will be really pleased by what GW:EN offers. The very idea of being able to do things, now, that affect your "character family" in Guild Wars 2 is very exciting. The idea of multi-layered dungeons, of meeting new races, of surmounting new challenges and attaining new goals, of continuing the story in ways that reach down to our very hearts... I'm really looking forward to what we have in store!
Stay tuned -- these are exciting times.
--Gaile 00:25, 23 March 2007 (EDT)
March 28, 2007: It's Wiki Day!
Last week was marvelous -- we got to announce not just one, but two titles. Announcement days are incredibly fun, and a company making a dual announcement may just have been a first, which made it even more exciting. We're really pleased with the community's reaction to news about Guild Wars: Eye of the North and Guild Wars 2 and we can't wait to tell you more. You can see from the media coverage, this is big news. We're keeping the GWW articles for both games up to date with recent links, so you can follow reports from various media outlets, including MSNBC, Wired.com, Kotaku, and much more.
And today was another great day -- We formally announced the Guild Wars Wiki. This project is another rarity, and one of which we're already quite proud. Inviting the community to not just be involved but actually manage the project means that we're going to continue that special synergy we have had with the Guild Wars players since back even before the E3 for Everyone event in 2004!
If you're new to the GWW, welcome! If you're new to wikis in general or are considering helping out with a wiki for the first time, well, join the club. I've been a reader for a long while, but never a contributor, and boy these things are fun to work on! It's the best sort of group project, and you can make it even better. Questions are quickly and helpfully answered by those who know wikis, and soon you'll be helping others as they get started.
So jump in, any time, and join the GWW family!
--Gaile 01:21, 29 March 2007 (EDT)
April 4, 2007: Wiki Update
Amazing! 4,292 articles as of this hour!
I wonder who will write Article No. 5,000...
--Gaile 11:25, 04 April 2007 (UTC)
June 20, 2007: Big Stuffs Coming
Far be it for me to hint, whisper, nudge, or suggest -- I mean, I never do that sort of thing ;p -- but I think it's fair to say, here on this page where I'm sure it'll remain a total secret, there is some information coming soon about Guild Wars: Eye of the North. I've been writing up a flurry of news posts and tossing documents into the global website schedule at an alarming rate. G2 has been peering out of her cage, filled with curiosity about the high-speed clicking of the keyboard and the sorting of various documents.
Now, some of this activity is related to bringing together assets from other places and offering them in one tidy bundle: Screenshots, video, concept art, and wallpapers. And then, some of what's coming is new news, too. Not that I'd want to drop any hints or anything... :)
--Gaile 03:15, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
July 3, 2007: The Cat is Out of the Bag... sorta
With today's press release, we're finally circulating information about GW:EN. Release date? Check. Pricing? Check. Availability? Check, too. Preorder details? Errrr... That's what's missing! ;)
So you know that we will be having a pre-release bonus package, that it will offer what's being called a "Sneak Peek Weekend" in late August, and that there are some spiffy (count on that!) new items to be had, right? We're doing our best to make sure that everyone learns the fact that, unlike previous releases, people from just about anywhere in the world can order the prerelease package through the PlayNC Store or the In-game (Official Guild Wars) Store. That will give them all that I've mentioned and probably a few things that I've forgotten, too. The nice thing is, you get those access and item keys instantly and can use them the instant they become active. Dang, I wish we'd had it in the past, but I'm so happy that we have this now!
Offer Incoming! Oh, later this week, something cool is coming down the pike. No, no, we're not releasing a new campaign, for free, and next week. Sorry to disappoint. ;) However, we have a new sort of offer -- something we've not done before -- so hold onto your hats and, well, don't make any purchase decisions until you read about it. You can thank me later. :D
Summer Activities: Tomorrow, I will be writing up bits and pieces for our PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) page. We'll be having a contest in advance and many activities during the show. PAX will take place in Seattle in August. I'm very happy about PAX, but crushed -- crushed, I tell you! -- that it's the same weekend as GC, which means I don't get to go to Leipzig again this year. *cries* Let me tell you, Germany is truly wunderbar, GC is amazing, and the players who visited with us made those days last August some of the happiest ever! But then, it's my secret desire -- perhaps not so secret now, eh? -- that Guild Wars should be a presence at gaming shows in France, England, Scandinavia, Italy, Holland, Spain, Russia, Japan... Well honestly, I think Guild Wars should make an appearance at all those shows, and naturally I would want to be there, too. I mean, it's my duty! :)
This week: I wish all Americans reading a safe and happy 4th! And I wish everyone else a nice 4th, too, even if I imagine you won't be blowing stuff up and downing too much apple pie. :D
--Gaile 06:14, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
July 14, 2007: PBP, BMP, Ho!
So, the contents information for the Guild Wars Bonus Mission Pack is now "out there," and players are pretty excited about that. What fun it will be to revisit some of the stories of the past, and how nicely it will tie to the whole GW:EN experience, too. We've shared the contents of the GW:EN Prerelease Bonus Pack too, which is good info for people to have. There is more info yet to come this week on dates and so forth. I'm writing up some tasty details about the PBP special items today and we'll share that next week, as well. I do believe we may have crossed uncharted waters with the way that these were designed. Or the "who" involved with their design. 'Nuff said. Anyway, in all this there is a minor point, but one that I've felt obliged to put on record: If anyone ever comes up with the brilliant idea to have two "bonus" anythings in the same season, I've serving up that person's head to a pack of ravening Charr. Sheesh! ;)
Sneak Peek Weekend: You will have heard about the Sneak Peek Weekend. Well, heck, I wrote about it up ^ there, come to think of it. Anyway, the Sneak Peek will take place the weekend of PAX and GC. I don't know if the times are final, but I'm estimating the online event may run something like Noon Friday, August 24, through Sunday night, August 26th, or something of that sort. (Formal details will be provided, don't worry, this is just a casual, early heads up.) Of course, having a Sneak Peek that weekend means that if you're not coming to the shows, you can still join us online. But honestly, if you're local, or can get to Seattle, you might consider coming to PAX. It's a good show with a ton to see and do and we can probably promise that it maybe, might, shouldn't, hopefully won't rain or anything like that. Perhaps. Anyway, rain or not, somebody has to win the contests and take some of this swag off my hands. ;p
A "Trivial" Question *nudge*: For PAX and other events, I think it'll be cool to compile a bunch of trivia questions. I'm thinking most of them should be not too difficult but maybe a few stumpers would be good, too, for the hardcore fans. I've done trivia contests before, and I know that it's possible to go over the top with ultra-esoteric questions, like "What is Prince Rurik's shoe size?" or "Who styles Eve's hair?" (Oh, bleah, did I actually mention "hairdressers?!" :-0 ) Anyway, if you'd like to help, send a trivia question and answer (or a few, if you wish) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please mark the email with the subject line of "Trivia." Now, we're not looking for a ton of Q's and A's, and this is a real casual thing so we're not offering prizes. I just thought, "Hey, I wonder if players would like to help!?" and wanted to mention it. If you're moved to contribute, that would be marvelous, and thanks in advance.
Coming Soon: Skillzzz: We're going to try something new, to engage players and receive your feedback about the GW:EN Skills. It's a pretty cool project that may kick off as early as next week. Look to the GWW for more information--probably the Gaile News page, since that's where we put the Dev Updates and so forth.
--Gaile 18:21, 14 July 2007 (UTC)
July 27, 2007: Contest Judging -- One of Our Favourite Things
Today is the day where the entire team is judging the 2007 edition of our Brand the Bosses Contest. Over the last few weeks, various team members have opened, read, sorted, tallied, and generally reviewed every entry in the contest. Entries have gone through two or three reviews and we are now in the midst of selecting the 100 finalists -- which will include 10 winners and 20 honorable mentions -- from a larger semi-final group. If all goes well, we should publish the recognition list on July 31st, as planned. So here's how it's done: After the initial reviews, we created a document with a few hundred names that were readied for semi-final review. The names are printed on eight sheets of paper -- with a space for tallies -- which were then posted on the Wall of Fame outside my office. Yesterday evening, I sent all team members -- designers, writers, artists, programmers, or business folks -- an email asking them to stop by and vote. We set up the ballots, laid out the pencils, and of course displayed an edible reward for all who judge, as is a tradition with community contests. (This time, the tasty treats are green apple-flavoured gummy candies in the shape of a certain well-regarded amphibian.)
The judging has drawn a lot of discussions amongst the team, and there are a few names that are clearly huge winners already. Andrew and Natasha and I can tell when people get to certain names on the lists because we hear the verbal reaction. (Laughter, groans, comments like "Cool" or "Nice!") Some names are drawing passionate commentary, and truth be told, voters may get a little nudge from devs who have chosen a certain name as their personal favourite. We don't allow pre-vote politicking, and we fully respect the confidentiality of all tallies...even if balloting is taking place on paper tacked to a hallway wall. *wink* Izzy suggested he would "grief the vote" by choosing more than 10, so we're watching him like a hawk. Joe, one of the programmers, spotted an anagram, and discussion erupted as to whether that could be allowed. A few will get "sanity checked" to assure they're not already in the game. Lots of great entries from an amazing number of countries. It will be almost impossibly difficult to get down to just 100. This has been a great contest, and today has been a particularly fun afternoon. :)
--Gaile 21:47, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
August 1, 2007: PAX Preparations
I went over to GameWorks today with Mike to meet with the staff and plan some of the activities we'll be having during our After Hours Party at PAX. We settled on three games for the skill challenges, and then decided to toss in a few raffles for the Early Access Guests as well. We reviewed the food and drink orders, added a few snacks, and then scoped out the space so that I am sure to have plenty of room for my Swag Station. We'll be starting at 6:00 PM with the Early Access hour, then at 7:00 PM we'll throw the doors open and the challenges and prize giving will continue until party's end.... or as long as supplies last. ;)
GameWorks gave us a preview of the cool new bar/restaurant area. It's still under construction, and it turns out that ArenaNet will be the very first company to host a party in the new space. We finalized the admission tickets -- I'm voting to call them "Access Keys" :) -- and I just put in a request for some colourful signage and prize tickets for the skill challenges. Things are sure moving along, and PAX is only 22 days away!
--Gaile 00:45, 2 August 2007 (UTC)
August 12, 2007: Fancy a trip to Paris?
I opened my email on August 9th -- which just happened to be my birthday -- to see a rather intriguing subject line in my in-box. "Hmmm," I thought, "Jen from NCsoft Europe is writing about Paris? What's that all about?" Figuring I was probably a CC on an email to Jeff Strain or Mike O'Brien about some upcoming press event, I clicked open the email with a sigh, thinking "Lucky them!" Turns out, it's lucky me! NCsoft Europe is going to be participating in the Festival du Jeu Vidéo in Paris next month, and I'm invited to attend!
Upon this realization, I scraped myself off the ceiling, settled George the Cat, who had fled in terror at my very loud "WOOHOOO!" and followed the link to learn that the FJV is a very big deal, very much like the wonderful Games Convention that I attended last year in Leipzig, Germany. Now, I can't go to GC this year because we're presenting GW:EN at PAX in Seattle those same days, and it's not possible to attend two shows on two continents on the same weekend. (I'd dearly like to try, but the Powers that Be suggest otherwise. ;) ) Anyway, the beauty of this is, with the Paris event a month later, I'm on!
And now, several times a day, I just stop and murmur "Paris!" And grin until it hurts.
I will have to ask some of our French players for ideas on places to go. I'm thinking The Louvre, of course, and Notre Dame; the Eiffel Tower, I should imagine, and Versailles. The Arc d'Triomphe -- it appears you can get inside and go to the top? Can I get to Normandy and tour the WWII battlefields on a day trip from Paris? Are there any good castles nearby? (I'm a major castle nut.) Will it be ok that I don't speak French? Or will I find myself in a bad situation with that? (I mean, I adore the language, but my vocabulary is limited to a handful of words and I'm sure I'd be too embarrassed even to use those.)
In the meantime, quelle joie! (I think that's right. Maybe. ;) )
--Gaile 23:46, 12 August 2007 (UTC)
August 29, 2007: PAX Wrap-Up
In all, it was a fantastic weekend, and I can't wait to do it again. In 2008: More contests! More prizes! More party! More more! :)
--Gaile 19:20, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
August 31, 2007: And a lovely release it was.
The party began about 7:00 PM, when family members started arriving at the studio. It was great to see everyone together again, for even if we'd just had the party at PAX the weekend before, there were so many more who were able to make the studio party, including all the little "minis" of the dev team members -- sons and daughters ranging in size from napping newborns on up. ArenaNet has had a big crop of babies this year and the bigger kids all seemed to have sprouted several inches since the last release party. Which was... just 10 months ago? Time flies!
At about 9:00, Jeff, Mike, and Patrick said a few words and each employee got a copy of GW:EN. It's a very nice box, as always, and I was much tempted to just install the game and forget the rest of the party, but that seemed a little unsocial, so I visited with people instead. Some of the devs broke off into the smaller conference rooms to play board games and card games of varying kinds. (Note to self: Miss Scarlett in the Conservatory with the Lead Pipe.) I kept visiting the forums and watching to see if we had store issues (thankfully only a few, and most quickly resolved) or other concerns, and I popped into the game a couple of times to give progress reports.
As 11:55 PM Pacific we headed into a larger open area in the offices where a big-screen TV was set up to video conference in our teams in Seoul, Korea; Austin, Texas; and Brighton, England. Jeff said a few words, Mike O'Brien said a few more, and T.J. Kim, president of NCsoft, also gave a greeting. A few words from a couple of others and we counted down to the "go live" hour.
I then came home and started to play, only to find myself sitting upright in my chair, sound asleep. I think what awoke me was my ranger saying "Humph!" and tapping her foot impatiently when I once again nodded off and crashed her into a wall trying to get her out into the quest area. Knowing that I'd met my match in the Sleep Monster, I headed to bed, to dream of broken flutes, baby moas and diamond-encrusted clay bricks dancing to Wagnerian-themed Soule music.
Do I love our new game? I most Asura-dly do! (Sorry, sorry, I just couldn't resist!)
--Gaile 07:16, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
September 19, 2007: Paris, Here I Come!
My bags are packed and sitting beside the door. George the Cat is at my feet, getting one last cuddle, and it's off to the airport in less than an hour. I have a 6-day museum pass, a Metro (underground/subway) pass, an open-air bus pass, two Paris guide books and a French phrase book, as well. This is so exciting! I'll write next from Paris, the City of Lights. And if you're attending the Festival du Jeu Vidéo, please stop by the Koch Media booth, where NCsoft is presenting, and say "bonjour!"
--Gaile 16:32, 19 September 2007 (UTC)
September 20, 2007: Hallo, from Paris.
Landed in Paris this morning after a 12-hour flight with a connection in Detroit. Took the train and Metro (underground/subway) to the hotel and checked in, then made a bee-line for the Starbucks just two blocks away. (What can I say? I'm a Seattlite -- my Starbucks Radar went off before I crested the top stair of the Metro station. :) )
Having gotten a Venti Caffe Latte fortification, it was time to stroll around the surrounding neighborhood, browse a fantasy bookshop, peek in the window of a marvelous-looking sweet shop, and check out the many great-looking places to eat, with an eye to dinner tonight.
The NCsoft team arrived a bit later, and we met up and went back into the village to have delicious cider and crepes. Julien, the French-language community coordinator, is very nice. It was great to have the chance to meet him, after so many months on email and phone calls. Julien has been extremely helpful in setting up the Guild Wars presentation at the show. He graciously asked if Izzy and I would mind doing a Q&A session on Sunday, and I said "Bring it on!" Izzy and I have done tandem Q&As before, and I think they work very well, because we can enhance each other's answers and give players a more-detailed answer.
Saturday is the day that the GvG championship series takes place. The winner will claim the French championship title. It's great to see how the French fansites have come together to organize this event and I'm sure the finals will be exceptional. I will be at the show on Saturday and Sunday, and I hope that I get the chance to meet a lot of European Guild Wars players!
--Gaile 17:04, 20 September 2007 (UTC)
September 25, 2007: And what a show it was!
The Festival du Jeu Vidéo is a great show, and only in its second year. We had a ton of Guild Wars players in our booth. Many times, the crowd was four or five deep around a computer! I had the great fortune to meet players from France, Belgium, Germany, and a few other countries as well, in addition to the pleasure of working with the excellent Julien Crevits (French-language CC for Guild Wars) and several other great NCsoft staff members. I'll have to share more -- including many photographs -- but for now, I must say that the show was an experience I'll always treasure. Merci beaucoup aux joueurs de Guild Wars ainsi qu'au personnel de NCsoft Europe !
--Gaile 21:32, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
September 27, 2007: To know Paris is to Louvre Paris. ;)
After three days of intensive touring, I'm here to report that yes, it is possible to lose all feeling in one's lower extremities simply from walking on marble floors, standing gaping before Rembrandts and Da Vincis, climbing spiral staircases, wandering the dark, dank, and creepy catacombs, and scrunching down to get just the right angle for a photograph of stunning stained glass that soars so far overhead you're sure you glimpse a real angel's wing just at the top. Tuesday: The Conciergerie (which might be the coolest French word yet, and yes, I can say it perfectly!), Sainte Chappelle, and the Grand Tour (bus) of Paris. Wednesday, the Pantheon, L'Eglise Ste. Genevieve, a return to Notre Dame (I wanted to see more of the exterior), and The Paris Catacombs. Today, Musee Louvre. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to experience all these amazing places. Sainte Chapelle is stunningly beautiful, the Conciergerie is magnificent, the Pantheon is impressive, and the Catacombs are sort of a combination of awesome and spooky (which is a very good thing), and the Louvre is... the Louvre. Which is better than anyone can possibly describe. Seriously.
Tomorrow the choices are: Versailles or Les Invalides. Is it a day for the stuff of kings, or of emperors? I think the weather will be the guide, as I'd like to see the gardens of Versailles and it would be wise to choose a rain-free day for that. I like history a great deal, and both places have lots to see, so I'm looking forward to visiting them very much. For now, bonsoir!
--Gaile 22:10, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
October 3, 2007: Home again, Home again, jiggety jig.
It was 17 hours from the door of the hotel in Paris to the door of my home. George the Cat was very happy to see me, setting up an instant storm of yowling protests the instant my key hit the door lock. "Yes, yes," I told Sir Svelteness, my 20-pound
I went through a pile of mail and then jumped into the forums and the GWW, where I realize I've some serious archiving to do. "Warning, pages over 32 KBs are difficult to edit. Your page is 42,109.5 KB." Or somethin' like that. Getting caught up at work, I learned that the /report system seems to have been quite well received, that we'll be tweaking it to improve it, based in part on player feedback, and that the designers seem to be cooking up a few more updates for this month. It's nice to be back, but oh, do I miss Paris already.
--Gaile 23:00, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
October 12, 2007: Season's Greetings!
Fall is definitely in the air. In fact, summer left town without so much as a good-bye kiss. One day: balmy breezes and cerulean sky. The next: clammy morning fog turning to afternoon showers and evening rains. Fortunately for me, I adore the weather in Seattle. Mostly because, you know, we actually have weather. Where I was born (SoCal) one day blends into the next month and there's just nothing to signal "Hey, it's winter now." I know this because I've gone to the beach on Christmas Day. *yawn* Now, that's not to disparage those who like that sort of predictable "everything's sunny" sort of weather. But living in England alerted me to the fact that "Hey, leaves change colours, and sometimes it's actually grey overhead. Nice!" These days I'm totally in favour of Big Weather Drama(tm). I'm for howling windstorms, even if they knock out the power for three days, and rain that bounces a foot off the pavement and, occasionally blessed snow! And in the spring, weather so perfect it makes your heart ache.
What got me started on that? Hmmm... I think it was decorating for Halloween. Natasha and I have been busy getting up some of the three boxes of decorations for the office. (That's not looking at the five boxes I have at home). Someone asked for pictures of a few of our "decor elements." I'll take my camera and try to get a few shots. It's just a few lights. And a tinsel garland. A couple of ornaments. And... stuff.
Enjoy the season, everyone! And don't forget to enter the Guild Wars Halloween Art Contest 2007! I want to see something wonderful from all of you!
-- Gaile 21:06, 12 October 2007 (UTC)
December 3, 2007: Weather to Go, or Not to Go...
Driving to work today, I considered the falling rain and the rising water level, and wondered if I was going to end up driving to to work, or floating. Wasn't it Richard Dreyfuss in "Jaws" who said, "I think we need a bigger car?" Anyway, just as I was pondering the situation and doing mental water displacement equations for my tiny car versus the large nearby rivers, I got a call from Jeff Strain telling me that our office park was flooded and they were closing all entrances and exits and conducting an orderly but immediate evacuation. No, I don't mean choppers in the sky and people getting pulled off of rooftops. Or at least I don't think it went that far. ;)
But those "rumours" you hear about rain and Seattle? They're all true! People come here for a visit in the summer, they sometimes even move here thinking, "Eh, how rainy can it be?" And they find out! For while we don't have the precipitation statistics of a few others cities, I think the difference is we have pretty much a steady rainfall -- light, heavy, misty, pounding, gentle, tumultuous -- from sometime in late-October or early-November until, oh, April or May. Sure, we'll have clear days and sunshine once in a while, but for the most part, the six-month forecast is for clouds ranging from grey to charcoal, slate to leaden, with the occasional leavening of white and ivory to break things up.
I love rain. It comes in so many varieties, and it's just so fascinating to watch and hear. Plus, befriending the rain prepares one for some of the greater challenges of life! I was at Disneyland several years ago. It began to drizzle. Honestly, it was so light, you would walk between the raindrops! Yet 98% of the park visitors were panicked, huddling under trees, crouching in doorways, wringing their hands and saying, "Oh, no, something wet is falling from the skies -- how will we cope?" This park visitor was thinking "Oh, goodie -- the lines will be shorter!" The Emporium and Disney Clothiers and a dozen other shops pulled out a supply of plastic parkas and did a land-office business selling them to the park visitors. I carried on and enjoyed a record number of rides in a few hours, without the "Plastic Bag Couture," thank you very much. ;)
I'm sure we all be back at work tomorrow. In the meantime, I'm working from home. And listening to the rain. :)
-- Gaile 18:10, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
December 21, 2007: It's beginning to look at lot like...
It's magic, I swear it is. There's just something wonderful about the Wintersday Festival. Strings of decorations, giant gingerbread, a splendid lighted tree in the center of Lion's Arch... If it gets any better than this, I don't know where, or when. :)
I want to share something with you: A lot of the extras -- a lot of the most special elements of the festivals -- are added as special gifts from various team members. Maybe it's a new quest, or a special piece of art, or a bit of storywriting, or the code that makes it all happen. Guild Wars team members do a lot to create the festivals during the days leading up to these events, and sometimes during the nights and weekends, too. They give the events a special level of effort, time, and -- as you can easily see! -- extraordinary creativity. Forgive me if I enthuse, but I'm just a major fan of the whole team. I can't draw for nothin'. Couldn't come up with the story ideas or the programming to save my life. I look at the complexity of the level designs, consider the elegance of the animations, check out the splendid art, and peek at the millions of strings of code or text, and my mind boggles. I'm in awe of the GW team, but never more so than when Lion's Arch and Kamadan are infused with the beauty of the Wintersday event.
I hope to see a lot of you in the game this Wintersday Festival. I'll be in Lion's Arch quite a lot. You know what they say about "Home for the Holidays!" :)
-- Gaile 08:41, 22 December 2007 (UTC)
February 6, 2008: Festival Fun
The announcement of this year's Canthan New Year Festival sent considerable shockwaves around the community. Well, ok, those weren't exactly shockwaves. In fact, the uproar was merely the reverberation of a million Ghosts-in-a-Box, Snowman Summoners, Firecrackers, Bottle Rockets, and other fun "toys" getting mass-released in celebration of the newest title track: The Party Animal. Now, it's not just fun to prank a dozing guildie with a bunch of shrieking GotBs, or to glow like a pumpkin or dance like an elf, you can all do that and score some title points, too.
There's more about the title, but I'm not, as the expression goes, "at liberty to discuss it" quite yet. I think perhaps an extra element will be discovered soon, and I have it on good authority from an amphibian friend of mine, you may not wish to expend all your party goods right away. He seems to have some sort of inside info -- as he so often does -- so I'm holding onto some of my party supplies for sure.
With miniatureS to be had, along with Rollerbeetle Racing, Dragon Arena competition, 9 Rings, Dragon Nest, fortunes, quests, and cooking fun, this is going to be a great weekend. See you there!
-- Gaile 08:38, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
February 23, 2008: Pre-Birthday Musings
As I imagine you know, the third year anniversary of Guild Wars is coming around the bend. Yes, at 12:01 AM Pacific on April 28, 2005, Patrick Wyatt, co-founder of ArenaNet, pressed the button to make Guild Wars "live." We gathered around his monitor (CRT, in those days ;) ) holding our breaths, watching the numbers rise as players poured into the game. We started counting aloud, "50, 100, 200, 500..." in a matter, really, of just a few seconds. What a wonderful feeling it was, to see the community grow, member by member. What a delight it is, today, to see that many Guild Wars players have remained connected to the game and the community, even after nearly three years! And for those who don't play daily, or who only pop back for holiday events, that's ok -- you're still part of the family.
So, I thought as a family project, it would be fun for us all to share our guesses about the third year miniatures. I've placed my bold predictions (completely without any "inside info," I assure you!) on a new page. You're invited to join me in having fun predicting the 3rd Year Birthday Miniatures. Head on over to the Third Year Miniature Guesses page!
-- Gaile 23:25, 23 February 2008 (UTC)
March 8, 2008: Of Art and Articles
My, my, Guild Wars Wiki -- how you have grown! With the influx of pages about the Design-a-Weapon (2007) Contest items, there has been quite a bit of heightened activity on these pages over the last couple of days. And it's a good thing your guys are keeping at it, because the closest I'm going to get to some of those items is seeing their screenshots here. :) I was in the game a couple of times in the last 48 hours, and it seems that players are really enjoying the new items, and are having a blast with the "treasure hunt" concept involved in their discovery. I'm told by John, our "items guy," that the weapons and items are not going to be super-rare. That is, they will not be Miniature Ghostly Hero rare or something of that nature. However, they'll probably remain a bit unusual and they are tastefully mod-able. A hearty "well done" to the first finders, and a thanks, too, for sharing the images and in some cases info on the locations or hints for acquiring them, as well. We're looking forward to adding another batch of items in a few weeks!
And speaking of "thanks," we'd like to give a call-out to the contributor to add the monumental 15,000th article to the GWW, User:The Great Tomato, contributor, helper, and owner of a darned attractive user page! Congrats, TGT! I'm not sure what the Door Handle of Destiny is, exactly, but it does sound truly epic! ;)
We've entered a new epoch in GWW history. Make your mark!
-- Gaile 19:46, 8 March 2008 (UTC)
March 31, 2008: The Times, They Are a’Changin’
I’ve been with ArenaNet for more than 7 years now. I first met the co-founders in their splendid offices in November of 2000. (Ok, “splendid offices” = Mike O’Brien’s apartment.) We first met to discuss the possibly of my working on a contract writing/editing job for the company. They asked me to sign an NDA. I glanced at it for about 2 seconds, pointed out a couple of typos, and got myself the contract. It’s been fun and games *nudge* ever since.
I added ArenaNet Community Relations Manager to my job description less than a year later. Since then, I’ve served in a lot of roles, many of them concurrent, ranging from alpha test manager, support liaison, web producer, party and event planner, writer/editor, and E3 producer to team shirt organizer, fansite program manager, PR and Marketing assister, holiday candy supplier, post-festival treat baker, keeper of 11 email accounts, proprietor of 9 Guild Wars accounts, wrangler of 30+ miniatures, and a few other things I’ve forgotten about in the haze of time.
I can’t seem to do anything by halves, and to be honest, after several years, 70-hour weeks catch up with anyone, no matter how much she loves her job. I’m really excited about Guild Wars 2, and I know it’ll be great. But this is a good time—for me and for ArenaNet—for me to move to a different role.
I talked to Jeff Strain about other opportunities within the company, because as you can imagine, I definitely want to stay connected to the community and the dev team. It turns out that there is a way for me to remain involved with ArenaNet—and to keep working with and on behalf of the folks I care about so much—while meeting my objective of scaling back just a tad.
So starting April 7, I’m going to be moving to the position of ArenaNet Support Liaison. This newly-created role will allow me to fulfill my passion for helping players and most importantly, since this will be my focus, I hope to be able to offer a significant contribution towards making our player support system even better in the future.
I will probably take a look at redesigning my wiki section to emphasize the way that you can relay your support issues and concerns. I’ll use the wiki, email, or fan forum PMs to follow up on support matters when necessary. And you know me—I’m always up for a little chit-chat, too—so do stop on by and say “howdy” from time to time. :) For while I won’t be the person to give you the latest hint on GW2, or to answer the eternal question about hairdressers, I might be the person who can solve the riddle of an account ban, or get the word to the devs when there’s a newly-discovered exploit.
Now, I need to say straight out that I’m not going to be the first level of appeal for support actions. Please continue to use the Support System for questions about blocks and bans and other support issues. They will kick over the issues they want me to help resolve and I’ll keep my eye open for emerging concerns, too. (In other words, there shall be none of that, “If I can’t weasel out of the block through Support, I’ll hit up that soft touch, Gaile.” ;) )
Anyway, that’s the skinny, and I thought I’d share the news. I’ll catch you here, and I’m sure I’ll see you in the game, too, where I’ll be quietly tending my miniature collection and farming those wonderful Chocolate Bunnies and other holiday treats and party goods!
-- Gaile 18:01, 31 March 2008 (UTC)
April 4, 2008: Get on your dancin' shoes, and come party!
It's the weekend of the big to-do, the Goodbye (But You're Only Sorta Leaving) Party for Froggie and me. Someone asked me to pop up a list of times and places, so we could all try to hang out together. Well, "hang out together" as much as the town cap allows. ;)
Here's what I'm planning, all International District #1, unless it's filled with AFKers, in which case I reserve the right to move over with live people!. Oh and these times are all Pacific time, therefore -7 GMT:
Now, I would attend more of the parties, but I have some obligations made many months ago, and I cannot give them up. So I'll not be attending all the parties, but I might sneak into the 3:00 AM parties, just because I'm nuts like that. ;)
I hope you can make it. I know the dev team worked very hard on the event, and I'm so very touched by their thoughtfulness in putting it all together. See you there!
-- Gaile 00:54, 5 April 2008 (UTC)
April 7, 2008: Thank you, Dev Team!
The Bon Voyage Party that you created was just epic! I greatly appreciate all the time and effort that you guys put into it. It was a very special event in so many ways. I was tickled pink (green?) to see the Frog Effects on the Sparklers, Bottle Rockets, and Champagne Poppers; touched to read the just-right farewell messages from my amphibian friend, who spoke so eloquently for the two of us; and amused as all get-out by the repartee between The Frog and The Rabbit. The Hip Hop was, of course, a very happenin' thing, and the bonuses for all the players were greatly appreciated. I'm 60% of the way to Level 2 in Party Animal now, and many did even better. The Pre-Searing community -- one of my special joys -- is delighted with the boosts the event gave to those of us who retain that locale as a part of our game experience, even after the passage of years.
A special thanks to the awesome John Hargrove, whose creativity, resourcefulness, and imagination were shining lights as he drove this project. The days and nights without sleep, and with a surfeit of caffeinated beverages, paid off, John. It was sublime! You kept the details a secret, so that much that happened was a complete surprise to me, as well as to the community. I can promise you the stock in global tissue companies rose by an unprecedented 17% as new elements of the event were discovered by each of us. I had to log more than once because I couldn't see the screen any more.
Great thanks and approbation to the many others involved, including Dave Beetlestone, Sam Bragg, Isaiah Cartwright, Kim Chase, Rebecca Coffman, Dan Cole, Emily Diehl, Shana Gitnick, Katy Hargrove, Trevor Howell, Steve Hwang, Chuck Jackman, Ben Kirsch, Joe Kimmes, Will McDermott, Andrew McLeod, Matthew Medina, Mehdi Moussavy, Kevin Millard, Elijah Miller, Linsey Murdoch, Mike O'Brien, James Phinney, Shawn Sharp, Austin Spafford, Adam Vance, Mark Young, Jason Yu, Mike Zadorojny, and probably a few more, as well. Enormous thanks to each of you!
Lastly, I can confirm the presence of a new miniature in the game, but this is one whose birth was and shall be limited to a single being. As the story foretold, The Frog and I will be journeying together throughout Tyria, Cantha, and Elona. It is appropriate, and fitting, and oh so unexpectedly wonderful, that he is truly with me, in a very real way, in the fantasy that is Guild Wars.
And though I know I will see you, and will still be working with you, I will tell you each what I told the players: I will hold you in my heart forever.
-- Gaile 03:23, 8 April 2008 (UTC)
April 19, 2008: Two-Week Check-up
It's been a couple of weeks since I made the switch from Community Relations Manager to Support Liaison. It's been a busy time, and a productive one, as well. As you're probably aware, we have Support Teams on three continents: The Support Team in Austin, Texas helps with issues in the Americas. The team in Brighton, England, helps with matters involving those in Europe and other countries on that side of the globe. Teams in Seoul, Tokyo, and Taipei assist with matters in Korea, Japan, and Taiwan/Macau/Hong Kong, respectively.
As a global team we are looking at all sorts of ways to give you the best support possible, not just for Guild Wars, but into the future, too, for Guild Wars 2 and beyond. These improvements include all manner of things, from staffing, to process reviews, to direct studio-based assistance with extraordinary issues, and even more. As an update on staffing, the Support Team in Austin was increased by 50% with the addition of additional, highly-qualified support reps. I'm going to be traveling to Austin in a few weeks to meet the new folks and, of course, to continue my tradition of smuggling copious quantities of chocolate across state lines. ;)
We're currently undertaking a thorough review of all our practices and policies to assure they're as topnotch as we know they can be. That review includes the way that we respond to player concerns. In the past, it has worried me when players have talked about getting "automatic (or 'robot') responses." Well, there are automatic responses, when somebody first submits a Support ticket, but those are clearly flagged to let players know what they're receiving. Those first responses say something along the lines of "Yep, these are automatic responses that we're sending, but we want you to have these to see if they help, and we'll get to your ticket and give you a human response very soon!" And that's the important thing: after that auto-response goes out -- often within a matter of minutes -- you're getting a response from a real, live person, not from a machine.
Now, if the wording that you get to an inquiry or support concern is similar to the response that another player receives, well, that's because we have specific and detailed info that we want to give players about various issues that they report or ask about. The best way to do that is for Support to relay clear messages about the relevant Support issue. We're presently going through a considerable effort, on many levels, to assure that our responses accomplish that goal. It's rather like the Update Notes or the Dev Updates. They are an important means of giving you information, and we're careful to put a good deal of effort into making them as complete and as clear as possible. The same goes with responses from Support.
In the end, the teams working on the front lines of Support are very committed to reviewing each individual ticket, and to sending the best possible response for the right issue. If you get "We're sorry to hear about your video card issue" and you've written about a problem with your password, well, wow, that's just not right and we want to hear about it! If you get an answer that could be more clear, or could be more helpful, you should definitely let us know that, as well. We want to hear from you, because our goal is to make any Support experience that you have as quick, painless, and friendly as possible.
-- Gaile 05:32, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
May 15, 2008: What does your Great Aunt Mabel have to do with...
My grandmother's sister's name was Mabel. That made her my Great Aunt Mab. Aunt Mab had a family reputation for trotting out a lot of commonplace expressions, like "April showers bring May flowers" or "A penny saved is a penny earned." Now let me be clear: Mab had nothing whatever to do with games (although her husband, Leonard, was a well-known cheat at Yahtzee -- another story for another day, perhaps).
Strangely, I thought of Mab last week in connection with Guild Wars.
I’ve been making a few phone calls to players to help resolve some pesky support issues. For instance, one player had his account stolen and couldn't reset his password. There were some extraordinary circumstances involved so I gave him a call tonight to try to figure it out. Between football practice and school events, he had been rather hard to reach, but we had a great chat and we're getting the whole thing sorted for him. Another player over in Europe needs help with straightening out some complicated account matters, and I'm going to see if I can give her a hand, too.
That’s this week so far. Well, on the phoning part of the support liaison thing, anyway.
It was last week when I made the mini-apocryphal call during which the ghost of Aunt Mab sang out yet another truism: "My oh my, it's a small world!" I mean, what would you think if you made a call to a player – one who owns just one of five million copies of Guild Wars – and you ended up speaking to the very player you'd been wondering how to get in touch with on a completely different matter?
You see, after the Farewell to Gaile party, a few videos appeared on YouTube and other movie-hosting sites. And yeah, I watched all that I could find. Some are good, some are great, and some are just... I don't know... wonderful! (Ok, fine -- that's from my perspective, as the biggest Guild Wars goober there is, and as a person who doesn't have an UNsentimental bone in her body! But really, what fun they are!)
Last week, during one of just a couple of support liaison-ish calls that I made, I found myself speaking to a player about a puzzling issue she had been having with her account. About five minutes into the call, I needed to look up something, so I asked if she could give me one of her character names. She responded. I did a double take. "You're Tender Wolf?!" I said, "The Tender Wolf who made that great video of the farewell party?" She responded rather shyly, "Oh, you saw that?" And I said, "You bet I did -- half a dozen times!" :)
Talking to Tender Wolf made me realize I owe some tardy thanks to several generous and talented folks. So thank you, Tender Wolf -- yours is a truly lovely movie. Thanks to others, like RockDisJoint, whose talent shines through--as it always does--in his Farewell Party movie; to Ru Yi (Yumiya), the creator of another fantastic film; to KiraKoreena, who creatively melded montage with video and who happened to score it with my favourite song by a group I love. More thanks to Radikal510, DJ Vanguard, Rouguey, TrinnX, Ibbooten... Your movies may have caused an exponential increase in my tissue budget, but I truly, truly treasure your gifts.
In fact, watching them again today, they confirmed for me that while Guild Wars players may number in the millions, we really do make connections with one another that feel as if, yes, it really is "a small world" we play in. And you know -- I think my Aunt Mab would be pleased by all that validation. :)
-- Gaile 06:27, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
July 2, 2008: Austin Adventures
I headed down to Austin, Texas, last week to visit with the fine folks on our North American Support Team. Hey! Did you know we really have three teams that offer support for Guild Wars players?
First, there’s Customer Support (aka the GM Team) -- the kindly individuals who are pretty much the first level of review for everything from “Why can’t I complete that mission” to “How do I vote for myself in the “Xunlai Top Model” competition,” to “I gave my stuff to my brother and he sold it! Please, Sir, may I have some more?”
Secondly, along comes Technical Support -- the folks who get you out of trouble when your video card starts smoking, when you notice latency, or when your system crashes every time you dance in your undies. (Ok, ok, that’s an untested rumor of a internal RAM issue -- a rumour that I shamelessly just started -- and I meant your character dancing, not you! Sheesh! ;) )
And finally, there’s Account Support -- the people who work with Guild Wars and with the PlayNC system and help figure out pesky account access issues, who see in real time why "ABC123" isn’t a good password, or why folks really should take better security measures that having a secret question that asks, “How do you spell ‘cat’?” (And yes, we’ve seen both!)
When the game credits roll for Guild Wars, and you see all those names, you know why: It's a great team. Or a great three teams!
Wednesday morning, fully into the Texas thing, I moseyed into the office and was taken on a tour by Dylan, the GM lead. We sashayed over to their future digs, do-si-do’d by the other teams (met Trollis and Renee, the Tech Team and Billing Team leads), and promenaded back in time to go out to a nice area of Austin called The Arboretum for that oh-so-traditional Texas lunch: Teriyaki and Sushi. (Yeah, well, it was tasty!) I spent the afternoon with lots of other folks – a meeting here, a how-do-you-do there. I had a chance to say "Hi" to Christopher Chung, who was once my boss at ArenaNet and is now president of NCsoft North America. The team was really great at showing me how things work in their respective areas, and before you know it, it was time for dinner.
We headed to this place near the UT, that is, the University of Texas. Think great academics, awesome football, big drums, and hook-‘em horns. The restaurant is called Stubb’s and you can tell from the outside, it's just going to be great inside. Yep, it was marvelous! I'm fairly sure I totally embarrassed the rest of our group of 10 or 12 people by acting like a gawking tourist! I was taking pictures of the bar, the adobe brick walls, the painting of the longhorn steer, the patio, the floorboards and, yes -- a new high (or low?) in Gaile’s Touristy Geek Action -- the ladies room. What can I say? It was adorable, with wooden barn doors and cast-iron hardware for the stalls! Anyway, the whole place had this lovely historic feel to it -- warm, homey, friendly -- the sort of place you hope to find in Texas, but which you think may have been replaced by highrises and mini-marts, and then are so proud to learn that, blessedly, they're still around!
We dined on Texas Barbeque. What did you think they’d serve at a place called Stubbs? Thai? :) I risked uncharted territory when I ordered fried okra. (Okra is the only vegetable that my veggie-loving mother didn’t make me eat, because she herself didn’t like it so she kindly avoided foisting it on the family.) When I explained my hesitation to order it, my hosts said that Mom had undoubtedly suffered steamed okra (a look of distaste went around the room) and steamed okra, according to the experts, is "nothing more than a mass of slime," where fried okra was great! And yep, it was pretty darn tasty, and the smoked turkey and brisket were to die for! As we finished up the feast, I overheard someone saying "Bats." Or "Bats over Austin." Or maybe it was "Bridge-playing bats?" Something like that, anyway. I was all (sly bat reference, here) ears and perked up to say "Bats? You mean the flying ones? Don't tell me you guys seriously have bats here?!" And they proudly assure me that yes, Austin is quite batty about bats. But… well… that’s another story for another day.
July 8, 2008: Bonding with Bats
I don’t know quite why, but I adore bats, always have. (Probably an adjunct of my love of cute rodents, like Guilda and Gwen? Part of my near-obsessive fondness for all things Halloween?) Anyway, when the group at dinner mentioned something about bats, I reacted with a whoop: “Oh, I love bats!” And before you know it, Will, Dylan, Bryon, Jennifer, Casey, and I are heading to the Congress Avenue Bridge to see the nightly summertime bat flight.
Bats took roost – literally – when the Congress Avenue Bridge was rebuilt back in the 80’s. It seems that the engineers designed the underside with a pattern of narrow but deep grooves in the concrete, and those grooves proved tremendously attractive to bats, being just the right size to allow them to snug up inside while protecting themselves from predators. The project wasn’t designed to house bats, of course, but what a happy outcome! Good, safe housing for these valuable mammals – about 1.2 million a year – and an excellent dividend to the citizens of Austin and environs, when the little guys consume about 30,000 pounds of insects a night!
We pondered whether to stay above, on the bridge, to go to the small park beneath it, hosted by the Austin daily newspaper the Austin America-Statesman (which seems particularly civic minded). Dylan and I went down the stairs to the park and read all the bronze plaques that tell about the bats. (I noted info about building a bat house. I’m in! Oh and there is a fine-sounding Bat Conservation International Organization, if you’re interested.)
Anyway, the bat flight rocked! As the sun settled into the western sky in a pretty splendid orange-and-golden sunset, those of us standing on the bridge felt the air rustle, and we started to hear subtle murmurings from the special residents. No, not the horror movie stereotype “EEEK EEEK EEEEEK OMG the bat is in my hair I’m gonna diiiiiee!” types of squawks. (Movies get it SO wrong!) The real sound is much more subtle, even in large numbers, soft and sort of Disney-like, really quite adorable. We could hear movement, sort of a soft shuffling, and then, a few scout bats flew out, gave the high sign with their little thumbs up (yes, I saw that!) and soon columns of bats swirled out from under the bridge, in lines of hundreds at a time. They wheeled and turned as a group, heading into the east in a live form that emulated the living smoke in Mary Poppins. (Come on, follow along with me now. :) )
As you watched one column rise, another would flow out from under the bridge, circle in a swirl for a turn or two, decide on a line leader, and head off to the east. Sure, a few renegades headed west, but they were quickly shamed by the shocked looks of the others, and they sort of shifted back into the column and tried to pretend they hadn’t lost their “unerring sense of direction.”
After about 30 minutes, the flight was over, the bats all out on patrol for a mosquito, fly, locust, or other tasty insectoid consumable that would make up just a small part of their single meal of the day. (Mother bats can eat their body weight in a single night.) They would return before dawn, but we had other places to go, so the six of us headed to a charming Irish Pub and kicked back in the balmy Austin night air, talking shop, talking Austin, my hosts showing me a great time I’ll always remember.
July 15, 2008: Sleep in the Heart of Texas
Thursday offered a chance for more time with various team members, all of whom were so kind in showing me how things go in their area of specialization, how “the rubber meets the road.” I listened to some ideas about ways we could make things even better on both a small scale and across the board. We agreed to come up with suggestions for tools for the support team that will make their jobs easier and will speed up and improve our ability to help players.
Lunchtime came when I was visiting with the Account Support team. Chris and Renee, Manager and Lead, took me to *be still my pounding heart* Chuy’s Restaurant, where we sat outside on the charming patio and talked about all sorts of things. They had questions; I had questions. We all had ideas. It was a great discussion! But behind the discussion was the Chuy’s Special -- chicken enchiladas like I’ve never had them, in a blue corn tortilla with… I don’t know what, but it’s heavenly. I discretely nibbled my lunch entrée, secretly plotting my dinner. "If I save half of this," I thought, "I shall have Food of the (TexMex) Gods for dinner, too!" I lovingly packaged half the entree and deposited the goods in the NCsoft refrigerator, marking the carton boldly with my name in black, barely resisting a "Touch this and die!" addendum. :)
I spent time with Trollis and Leslie and Lance -- great folks all -- and soon it was time to pack up the laptop and head to the airport for my flight home. Getting into the rented mini-van (I’d never driven a mini-van before in my life – travel does bring one new experiences!) I set my GPS for Bergstrom International and hit "Let’s go!" Except... "She Who Will Not Be Ignored" (the female-voiced GPS bot) told me to head four miles north for an airport that was south of me! I confess, I argued. Out loud. "This doesn’t make sense, the airport is that-a-way" I said, pointing over my shoulder. I guiltily realized (1) the GPS didn’t give a diddly darn what I thought about the instructions, and (2) it would be mighty embarrassing if someone from the company looked out the window and saw me arguing with the mechanical direction-finder in my lap. I slunk out of the parking lot. Yet I rebelled, turned into a dirt road, swung across the highway, and headed south. I assure you at least two wheels were firmly on the road at all times. :D It was easy sailing from there, and I made the flight with plenty of time to spare.
Would that it had been so easy with my connecting flight out of Dallas/Ft. Worth.
Between not having a gate at which to dock (20 minutes), a ramp that wouldn’t connect with the plane door (15 minutes), the flight attendant's incorrect gate information (10 minutes), and a delayed tram system (12 minutes)... Well, even a non-mathematician like myself can see that with 35 minutes for the connection, it’s small wonder the flight took off without me.
The funniest thing -- now that I’m home -- is the fact that they sent me out front to wait for the hotel van and then snuck away. Well, that's how it felt, anyway. ;) After waiting 45 fruitless minutes for the van to come (it was expected in 15), I gave up and headed to the counter to ask for another option. But by that time, every bloomin’ one of a dozen employees had disappeared! A bit on the cranky side by this point, I seriously contemplated whether some of them would REappear if I leapt over the counter and started tapping on one of their computers. "Hey, everybody, First Class upgrades for all!"
Reason prevailed. I decided I did not desire a sit-down with the friendly TVA agents. Instead, I wandered the airport for another 45 minutes before finding the last living employee for that particular airline. A kind baggage handler called the hotel for me, and I was shuttled over and checked into my room an hour after I should have landed, 1600 miles away.
The worst part of the whole drama? At midnight, knowing that 7 hours with no refrigeration in 100 degree heat is a formal Invitation to Ptomaine, I sadly tossed my Chuy’s carton away and, Scarlett O’Hara fashion, shook my fist at the sky as I proclaimed, "As God is my witness, I will never toss Chuy’s again!"
Denouement: Blessedly, there was zero drama the next day and I made it home just fine. I’ve yet to mail my “letter of appreciation” to the airline, but that’s gonna be a doozie!