Ryan’s Make-A-Wish Visit
This past week, KingsIsle had the honor of hosting a wonderful young man and his immediate family. Ryan is an 11-year old boy who chose to visit KingsIsle and Pirate101 through the Make-a-Wish organization and was accompanied by his 14-year old brother, 16-year old sister and his parents. Here at KingsIsle we did everything we could to make a memorable experience for him.
The whole family arrived at 9:30 am, and after a brief look around we introduced him to the 250+ employees here in the Austin office as our newest Pirate101 Honorary Producer. The kickoff was led by KingsIsle’s Senior Producer, William Haskins, who really went above and beyond organizing an incredible visit and some special surprises for Ryan. In addition to these surprises the team put together, the Pirate producers, Jay Gordon and Mike Stone, also worked to pull together a “treasure chest” with an assortment of appropriate goodies.
After the introduction, Ryan sailed off to an in-office recording studio we had set up where he and his family got to meet a number of our Pirate101 voice actors. Ryan also met with all the folks in our Sound department to learn how sounds are built into our games, and then he stepped up the mic himself to give voice recording a go. We had some stealthy lines for Ryan to record for a purpose, but we tried to work them in with a bunch other fun voice over lines to help hide what was really up our sleeves . . . .
After a short break, Ryan whisked off to one of our conference rooms where he got to play his character on a computer hooked up to a large-screen TV surrounded by KingsIsle’s Creative Director & Vice President, Josef Hall; Pirate101’s Community Manager, Tom Purdue; Lead Creative Designer, Sam Johnson; and a number of other Pirate101 folks. I honestly had a hard time trying to figure out what was giving Ryan more pleasure: leveling up all the new companions we had put on his account, running around Aquila asking Sam for some of the integral details behind the story, or defeating Satyrs in Achaea side-by-side with Tom. The hour we spent in that room went incredibly fast, and Ryan’s parents had to almost pry him away from the computer to hit one of our break rooms before having lunch with a large group of KingsIsle employees.
After lunch Ryan got to put his new title of Pirate101 Honorary Producer to the test. He appropriately started with the resident Pirate101 producers who gave him some background on their jobs and showed him how to track a bug from putting it into the system all the way until it gets fixed. He then got to go and spend time with each department, learning about art and animation, game design and story development. He also got to spend some time on one of Pirate101’s internal servers and be the first non-KingsIsle employee to see a few yet unreleased “cool” things that are coming soon. He really did great work with the designers and was able to give us some very good and specific feedback 🙂
Toward the end of the day we brought Ryan and his family back to the conference room and reveal the special “treats” we had up our sleeves. The first was a custom poster that Josef presented to Ryan that had Ryan’s in-game character surrounded by his top companions. It was a beautiful one-of-a-kind original done by one of our very talented concept artists, Nick Overdiek. We had made sure to have a little time left so we could “let” Ryan jump back into the Pirate101 internal test server again. Here he got to see the newest addition to the Pirate101 game: a Yum-n-ade stand manned by none other than Ryan the Relentless, complete with voice over lines he had performed that very morning. It took a lot of quick work and a few weeks of prior planning, but the Pirate101 team had created a new NPC with Ryan’s in-game character so he will forever forward be known as the NPC vendor for the Yum-n-ade stand. You can check him out in the live game this week 🙂
If you want to learn more about Ryan and his story, check out local Austin news source KVUE’s story on his day at KingsIsle. You can show KVUE and Ryan a little extra appreciation by clicking the share button on the KVUE site to share their story on Facebook or Twitter.
I’m pretty sure Ryan and his family had a great time. What I do know for certain is that everyone at KingsIsle had an amazing time getting ready for the visit and then spending the day with them. We were truly honored that Ryan and his family chose to come spend a precious day with us!
Vice President of Marketing
Watch a Video of Ryan’s Day at KingsIsle