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August 20, 2014 / KingsIsle Entertainment

KingsIsle Visits Syndcon!

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Tom Purdue, our Community Communication and Public Relations Manager, was able to visit a group of professional gamers known as the Syndicate Guild to catch them up on all things KingsIsle. Read on for more information about his experience at Syndcon.

Two weeks ago it was my pleasure to meet with the Syndicate Guild for their annual Syndcon convention in Orlando, Florida. What’s the Syndicate Guild? Only the longest running Guild in existence! That’s right, they were there at the dawn of the term MMO, and they’re still going strong!

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The Syndicate loves the games they play, whether it’s Ultima Online, World of Warcraft, or even Wizard101 and Pirate101. Members of the Syndicate understand what makes an MMO tick and provide valuable feedback to members of the gaming industry.

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On hand at the convention were a few industry professionals, including myself, to present the state of their games and discuss the futures of their companies. I was truly honored to be among such a wealth of videogame history and knowledge. KingsIsle was there to do two things, 1- Provide awesome Pirate101 and Wizard101 posters and Crowns Codes for the Syndicate’s annual charity raffle and 2- Catch the Syndicate up on the state of KingsIsle.

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Outside of casual conversation with the guild members throughout the conference, I gave a presentation that talked about the past two years of Wizard101 and Pirate101 and even gave a live demonstration of Fishing in Wizard101! (I’m happy to demonstrate my fishing skills of catching Frost Dekoi whenever I have a captive audience ;).) I also mentioned some of our other games that are still in development – but not by name and not with specifics – as we’re not quite ready to reveal too much about these projects just yet. The good news for us is that members of The Syndicate are interested in helping us test our new projects when the time comes! (When it comes time to test new games, we rely heavily on our friends, family, professional gamers like the Syndicate, and our stalwart fans.)

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The Syndicate Guild has been a valuable partner with KingsIsle for testing Wizard101 and Pirate101 in the past, and we’re excited to have them numbered among our players. Speaking of which, it was great to see so many people enjoying Wizard101 and Pirate101 alongside other games in their Alienware-filled game room that was constantly running videogames all day long, every day of the convention. (Now that’s my kind of convention!)

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A good time was had by all, and thanks to the Syndicate for inviting us to Syndcon 2014! LLTS!

August 13, 2014 / KingsIsle Entertainment

Behind the Scenes of Pirate101 Puppet Shows

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Yarrr, Pirates! Have you ever wondered about the makings of the Pirate101 puppet shows? They’re one of our favorite aspects of the game, and today artist and animator Robert Lovelett is here to share the makings of puppet shows.

My name is Robert Lovelett (Donkey Hotay in the forums) and I am the lead artist and animator for the puppet shows in Pirate101. I am thrilled when fans tell me that the puppet shows are one of their favorite things about the game. I hope that they inspire people to use animation to tell their own stories.

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The first stage is called pre-production. Writers create a script, and I meet with them to offer my input. After we agree on a script, the puppet show goes to sound to record the rough audio, which I then put in the animatic. An animatic is an animated storyboard. It helps me figure out what works visually for the puppet shows, from scene composition to the rhythm and timing of the animation. I use a program called Adobe Flash to create the puppet shows.

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After I get feedback and approval on the animatic from the writers and art director, I move on to the production stage. Production involves cleaning up my initial sketches with final lines and adding color. The production stage can be very tedious, but it pays off in the end. It is very rewarding to see an idea go from script to a refined, moving illustration.

The last stage is polish. By this point, I get the final audio from sound with the official voice actor combined with sound effects and music. If necessary, I tweak the animation’s timing to match the final audio and make minor visual changes. The key thing about the polish stage is that it is optional, but can really add to the quality of the animation. One of the biggest examples where polish paid off is the Armada puppet show. Initially, it had a saturated color palette, but after consideration, it was changed to a palette that shifted to grey and monochromatic, to match with the shift in tone from humorous to grim.

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I hope this gives you a glimpse into how the puppet shows for Pirate101 are made. You would be amazed how many resources are available on the Internet to learn animation. If you have an interest, I urge you to explore these resources to learn as much as possible about animation!

August 6, 2014 / KingsIsle Entertainment

5 Tips for Returning to Wizard101

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Wizard101 has been around for nearly six years now, with over 40 million Wizards having visited the Spiral. Though many players have been here consistently since the beginning, others may have taken a break from the game. As a returning player, you may have been away for months or even years… but now there are so many new and exciting things to explore that you should definitely hop back in!

If you’ve been away for a while, you might be a little rusty when you return. Here are 5 tips to help make returning to Wizard101 easy and fun!

1) Read the update notes
Even if you’ve been away for a while, the Spiral keeps turning. The Wizard101 update notes are a great resource to keep you up-to-date on what’s been happening since you’ve been gone. There may be new worlds to explore, or entirely new systems to learn, like the recent Magical Fishing update. Just have a peek, and you’ll be ready to explore in no time!

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2) Clean out your backpack and check your spell deck
If you’ve been away for a while, you may have left your backpack in disarray. Visit a vendor and sell any of those extra items. You’ll want the space for new items once you start questing again. It also might be a good time to check on your bank and shared bank to make sure you have space available. Before you head into battle, open up your spell deck, take a look of what spells you have equipped and re-familiarize yourself with them. You can even name your deck, by clicking the icon in the top left corner! This can be very helpful when keeping multiple decks for questing or PVP.

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3) Get back on track with your quests
Remembering where things are and what quest you left off with may be a challenge. You can randomly choose to continue with any quest in your log, but if you’d like to make sure you are focusing on your main storyline quest, the wiki at Wizard101 Central can be a big help. Just choose a quest that you have in your quest log, visit the wiki and search by that quest name. Once you’ve found it, the page with information about that quest will tell you if it is a storyline quest or a side quest. You can also visit the Quests page of the wiki and explore all available quests for an area. There is a wealth of information available to help you there.

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The Quest Finder is another wonderful tool to help you find a new quest to pursue in game. Just click the Quest Finder button on the last page of your quest log and it will direct you to the nearest available quest.

Your fellow players are another amazing resource when you need help with quests. Just ask around in game or on our forums and they may be able to help point you in the right direction.

If you are still stuck, unable to progress or find your proper quest, a quick email to support@wizard101.com will connect you with our customer service team and they will help you get back on track.

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4) Try something new
There is such a great variety of activities to master in Wizard101 that returning to the game is a good time to try something new. Maybe you’d like to try out pet training for the first time, or level up a new pet. Head over to the Pet Pavilion and choose a game to play. You could even match your pet up with others to race in a Pet Derby.

If you’d like to test your Wizard’s green thumb, try out Gardening. Your Wizard must be level 12, and then you will be given a quest from Moolinda Wu who will teach you the art of growing and caring for plants on your home.

Magical Fishing is new to the Spiral, so if you are returning, you might try your hand at casting a line. If your Wizard is level 7 or higher, Lucky Hookline will call you with a quest to teach you how.

Want an intense challenge, why not try out PVP? Tournaments now provide a shorter match experience with a ladder mechanic.

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5) Catch up with old friends and meet new ones
One of the best things about the Spiral is the friends that we make in game. When you return to Wizard101, catch up with your old friends or make new ones by grouping up to complete quests. If you are going to take on a dungeon, try the new Team Up feature to find players who want to try the same dungeon. It’s a great way to get help, and meet new Wizards!

No matter how short or how long you’ve been away, returning to Wizard101 can be just as fun as the first time you played. Hop in and see what’s new in the Spiral! There may be a lot to learn, but remember to have fun and play at your own pace. You’ll catch up and soon be on the path to becoming an Exalted Wizard!

What tips do you have for players who are returning to Wizard101?