Our Favorite Wizard101 Memories (Part 2)
Continuing our favorite memories post from yesterday, we have more KingsIsle employee memories of Wizard101 to share with you today. Be sure to check out Part I of the series if you missed it. Thanks again to our fan, Helenie Nightseer, for this request.
Russell Hughes. Principal FX Artist
I’ve been working on Wizard101 for almost a decade (10 years!) now. That’s a huge piece of my life! I don’t even know how to pick one thing in that time. We’ve had so many great memories as a team and so many great memories of working together to make something happen in game, that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. This truly is a team of making things happen “because players are gonna freak when they see this!” We’ve said that many times because we have been, and still are, those players that love epic moments in game story. Some of my favorite things to create might be Malistaire’s boss fight with the giant dragon blinking his eyes outside the room. Or the Bone Dragon Cathedral fight! How about the flying Xilbalba boss fight! I have lots of favorite spells and FX and really had fun creating the recent ‘mashup’ spells!!
In the early days we also created a “Making of” mini-documentary that we all had a blast creating . . . I mean . . . Jeff Toney eating a feast with a Gobbler? How can you go wrong with that! Another huge highlight was working here at KingsIsle and the company allowing me two weeks of vacation to go teach art in Kenya. We happened to be launching Zafaria, so I made a video, Zafaria: Behind the Scenes, and even got my Kenyan students in on the project. They taught me to speak in Swahili and they loved it. KingsIsle and our team really is the best team to have the privilege of being a part of! Thanks all!
John Diers, Customer Support Representative
Due to the nature of the issues I handle I can’t really talk about the contributions as an employee I am most happy about but I can say that KingsIsle is the best company I’ve ever worked for and I truly love my co-workers.
As a player, my favorite moments were finishing my first dungeon, Sunken City; finishing the clock tower to confront Meowiarty (as this seemed like a truly epic dungeon); and finishing the finale of Mooshu with the Jade Oni.
Alex Garcia, IT Manager
One of the fondest memories of Wizard101 that I remember, was in August 2008, when Marketing came to us (the IT Department) and said we need at least 10 computers and monitors and network connections set up for an event that very weekend! This was meant to see if we could gather more attention for Wizard101 by holding a Wizard local Austin event. There was to be a Wizard 101 PvP Tournament at the comic book shop Dragon’s Lair, and we had to rush to make it happen.
At the time we had no knowledge of how many people would really show up. Robby, (my desktop support guy) and I were not so happy at first, because we had so little time and little equipment to make this happen in such a short time-frame. We were not looking forward to it, and we actually thought it may be just a waste of our time. However, we knew it was good for the game and company, so we started our work after all. We built out laptops, desktops, scrounged for wireless cards for that weekend. We arrived at the comic book shop early that Saturday morning. We had some problems and hiccups, computers that were not working, network problems, and other issues etc.…, but after a few hours or so, we got all areas setup in time before the fans would arrive.
Robby and I typically worked behind the scenes for Wizard, and we had never been exposed to what “real-life” players were like before. When we had heard from the Marketing dept. that only about 100 people may show up, we were disappointed and hoping for a short day overall. But boy-o-boy were we in for a surprise, more than 1,000 people showed up at the small comic book shop! The parking lot was so full of cars that people had to park in adjacent grocery stores and blocks away. There were masses of kids, teens, adults, grandparents everywhere. Many people were wearing homemade wizard outfits and hats, wands, and printed posters. The small comic book shop was filled to capacity, as people waited to get Wizard101 characters painted on their faces, or have a physical card game battle with our designers. Some fans got training on how to make doodles, and others listened at a projector to how the game was put together. The Wizard creators were on hand to sign any artifacts and posters as well.
There was so much excitement and happiness in the air for them and even more for the KingsIsle employees. Robby and I helped to usher players into the tournament room group by group for hours all the way to closing. The lines waiting to do battle were long, but were filled with both beginner and experienced players trading strategies and stories of their adventures in the Spiral. We were peppered with questions about the game and future projects and even got a few hugs from kids thanking us for helping to bring Wizard101 to life. We were so proud to be working for a company that had so much passion and brought so much happiness and joy to all these people. We were truly overwhelmed with emotion after seeing so much love for our game, and I truly understood what we worked so hard all this time for. I made the decision that day that Wizard101 was a very special game, and that I was so proud to be a part of it. I truly hope that it continues to entertain kids and adults alike for years to come.
Cheryl Starcher, Lead Programmer
I love to play and I love to work on Wizard101 but my favorite thing is that I’ve been able to share it with my mom who loves PvP, my dad who reads every word of dialog and explores every inch of the world, my husband who first played on a free-to-play account up to level 12 by grinding the Kraken, my nephews who have Ice and Death school themed decorations in their rooms in real life, and my daughter who loves to decorate her house … and my husband’s house … and my house… 🙂
Erik McKenny, Senior Environment Artist
While Erik McKenny, Senior Environment Artist, didn’t directly submit a written memory to us, he did share with us (or rather, was forced to share with us by his coworkers) an amazing piece of concept art of the MooShu hub before KingsIsle was hiring concept artists.
Apparently this concept started small and became very big and out of proportion as he continued drawing and putting in finer details. Believe it or not, this pencil drawn masterpiece from the very beginnings of Wizard101 is actually several sheets of 8.5” x 11” pieces of paper skillfully taped together. It’s been rolled up and stashed away all these years until now.
Thanks again for joining us on this trip down memory lane! Part 3 of our favorite Wizard101 memories will continue tomorrow!