Thursday, December 8, 2011

Quest Arrows Point to Dallas, and I end up on TV

I’ve been thinking a lot about the events leading up to 22 November 2011 and the weeks following it. Seems like a pretty normal day, right? Everyone was getting excited for Thanksgiving. People were busy at work getting their last minute projects pushed through before the holiday, and the airports were bustling with travelers as they made their way home. I know, because I was there. Except I wasn’t headed home, I was headed over 1,000 miles away to Dallas, Texas.

I got a phone call from Fred Howard, KingsIsle’s Vice President of Marketing, a week or so before that, when Fred asked me if I wanted to be in a commercial for Wizard101. I acted pretty normal about it (you gotta keep your business face on when talking to Fred, yo) and asked if I could talk to my uber wife about it and call them back. After I got off the phone, I turned to my wife and mother-in-law with a smile on my face said, “Get this! They want me to be in a commercial!” and busted out laughing. “NO WAY!” I assured my wife it was real and before you know it, I was on a diet. LOL! I lost 15 pounds in a week.

I’m sure when I actually see the video, my two seconds (if it's even that) are going to seem like just an inconsequential flash in history, but this was truly a once in a lifetime event for me. One of the first questions I asked Fred was, is there anyone else from the community going that I might know? The answer was that Paige Moonshade would be there and a few people I probably wouldn’t know, but who were vocal in their support for Wizard101 on messageboards and elsewhere. Yup, I was going to meet Paige Moonshade in real life. This would definitely be a cool time! And it was. She's written up a little something about this adventure too. You should definitely read that. :)

Paige and I immediately began sending direct messages to each other about our excitement over being in a commercial for Wizard101. As it turned out, my flight would get in to Dallas around 5:30 pm and hers wouldn’t arrive until 8:00 pm. Unfortunately this meant that Paige would miss dinner with the advertising people of Idea Man, Fred Howard, and a few other people who had flown in for the day.

Oh yeah, check out the crazy troll doll in Fred Howard's truck LOL:

After a great meal with some fun banter between everyone over Dallas style Tex-Mex . . .

. . . we drove back to the hotel in Fred’s truck and called it a night . . . almost, except I knew I needed to talk to Paige. I dialed up her room and after some hilarity over not being able to work the hotel’s fancy telephones, we made arrangements to meet downstairs at the hotel's restaurant. She was starving!

I love that moment when you meet someone in real life that you've only met over the 'net. I've met a number of people this way, and there is a moment where you leap over this mental hurdle and kind of grasp the reality of the moment. I'm thinking, whoa, here I am across the table from Paige Moonshade, how awesome is this?! Two adults, brought across the miles, sitting at the same table, there by a common interest, and that interest is Wizard101. Did I ever think this would happen all those years ago when I first typed to my Everquest buddies about this new game I was playing? Not in a million years.

Paige and I called it a night, waved bye, and coordinated where we were meeting the next morning, which we did along with Suzie Ford and her family, Fred Howard, and a couple other fine Wizard101 fans (like David Dressman aka David Lifestone in game) as we headed to the inconspicuous offices of Idea Man, who would be shooting the commercial for the day. Idea Man was super hip. Paige has some pictures of the studio's deco on her blog post.

The lunch table/snack table was a favorite hangout during the day as well. :)

Fred Howard had us signing legal documents. :)

Rumor has it that Paige wants to recreate this place in a Wizard101 housing setting for fun (That's kind of what Paige is well known for, you know . . . her awesome houses . . . among other things, like being a Wizard101 Central Guide Moderator.) If you're reading this Paige (and I know you are), the Idea Man website even has a map of this place.

If you're looking at the map, we spent a lot of our day hanging out in the "Green Room" during the day and of course, that massive 1,600 foot studio space (top left, labeled 26 on the map, which was glowing green for the greenscreen effect that would allow them to put game footage behind us . . . or anything else they might want to put behind us, I suppose.

People here locally have asked me how this experience was, and I've been answering, it was surreal. It really was in a way. You don't often (or . . . ever) spend a half hour talking in front of a camera with a giant microphone over your head, 1,000+ miles away from home, while wearing makeup in a green-glowing room, being asked why you love Wizard101 so much--all while an entire room of people are hanging on your words, looking for those awesome one-liners they could throw into a commercial. It was surreal, but super awesome at the same time.

Thumbs for makeup!

Two thumbs up for The Friendly Necromancer's Dad Costume!

The Green Room (as opposed to the glowing green studio) was bustling with talk about Wizard101, as would be expected when you get a bunch of Wizard101 fans together in one spot. Movies were playing all day long in the background as we talked about a lot of things, including how to improve hirelings,, speeding up the casting animation of spritely, and of course Zafaria, which had just been released. We had kind of a Wizard101/gaming think tank going on there for a bit; it was nice!

As a surprise, we were all treated to the first glimpse of the new Zafaria commercial that was to be airing shortly. How cool was that? we got to sit down with the people who helped craft the Zafaria commercial and watch it with them. It was quite funny actually. They had the whole commercial memorized by heart and could have easily shut the laptop and acted it out since they'd been watching it over and over as it was made.

Soon everyone there had a chance to be filmed and talk about Wizard101 on camera. The kids there were so much fun. I can't wait to see their parts on camera. They loved playing Wizard101, and you could see how much that excitement meant to their parents.

Before long, it was all over and we were calling cabs to take us to the airport. As it turned out, Paige and I had the same exit gate there in Dallas, only her plane left an hour before mine. We went together and spent the rest of the day talking about our lives, Wizard101, and the people we've met as a part of it. Our thoughts were with the fine people who make up the Wizard101 community. We felt honored and a little shocked to have been there, in a way, representing the community. I still feel that way. It was yet another once in a lifetime experience for me that has happened all because of keeping this simple blog.

Thank you KingsIsle for this experience. Thank you community for being such a warm and happy place for so many players of this game. Thank you family for letting me do this. Thank you to the other families that make this "more than a kids game," but a family game. Thank you God for everything.

I said a lot of lines to the camera in that 30 minutes or so in the studio, and I have no idea which moment in time they will end up using, but when asked what my favorite part of this game was, my answer was "the people." You peeps make this game special for me. I'm just some schmuck who somehow landed on camera talking about Wizard101, but I would have never got there if it wasn't for you people out there who make this game special for me and my super supportive family, who I wish I could have brought with me.

Here's to hoping the commercial turns out great! Can't wait to see it! Should air sometime around December 12th if I remember right. If I find out more, I'll let you know. :)

Happy Dueling!


Paige MoonShade said...

You are amazing!! It was so great to meet you. let's do it again. ;)

pgomes68 said...

What a experience of a lifetime! Congrats on this wonderful adventure! Looking forward to seeing the commercial! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

... said...

Wow the irony. I was in Dallas the other weekened. It's a great place!! Especially when you're in the Fairmont hotel. It was really fancy!!

Congrats on the commercial! How would have thought this blog would lead up to all of this huh?

witchwarrior said...

Bravo! :D

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness me. Well, what an experience you had! Must have been magnificent! I can just picture it in my head :) Oh, well done for you :) I'm sure you had alot of fun!

Anonymous said...

I guess when Wizard101 says on their fansite page. "Fame and fortune guarenteed" it really is guarenteed!
Hope you had fun :)

Benjamin nightfist said...

thats magical!
You rule Thomas I cant wait to see you i the spiral again

Ronan Ravenshard said...

Ha, I always laugh when I see your IRL pictures, as I always imagine you in a Evil Joke hat with blue hair :P

Icy Wiz said...

I can't think of a better way for your love of the game to be chronicled. It's impossible for me to think of my time playing Wizard101 without thinking of you. <3