Thursday, October 29, 2009

The ArenaNet Wish

THURSDAY! What a day! It was the best day ever. It was absolutely perfect for Emily, and the folks at ArenaNet and Make-A-Wish made it a terrific day. Ok, I'll try to settle down and describe what happened.

The address the limo driver had was a strip mall next to a Quiznos, so we started a little worried. Renee, the Make-A-Wish coordinator, called ArenaNet to get the right address. Their public address is a mailbox in the strip mall, but they directed us to their real office. No signs outside or anything, since they cannot open their doors to the 3 million active players. We were greeted and conducted around the office. Our Non-Disclosure Agreement prevents us from telling details, but we can tell you that we found out how they design a game, and how the specialists all work together.

The tour was very detailed, and they completely opened up the office to us. She sat with artists, animators, programmers, designers, writers, QA team, etc., and they showed her what they do. Then we went to lunch with the section heads in the conference room (they have 200 people working there). She told them the story of how Guild Wars helped her deal with her miserable reality of heart failure and living in the hospital by being able to retreat to a fantasy world. They asked her questions about what she liked and didn't, and she was very frank, and they took her criticisms along with her praise. She had a series of questions for them, which they answered with candor, even when the answer was, "I have no idea why we did that."

After lunch, they let her play Guild Wars 2, with a bunch of people in the office. It was a blast to play with the developers; at one point she said, "I wish there were some sticks on this beach." One of the developers rewrote the game to put sticks there. There were lots of laughs, and the team really enjoyed watching her play and seeing what she focused on.

They pulled us aside and asked if she could stay a couple of extra hours. They convened a group of their eight senior designers and Emily, and they asked Emily to help them design an "Event" for the game. If you want to see it, buy Guild Wars 2 when it comes out, but I can tell you that Emily came up with an idea they really liked. It was fascinating to see her basic premise turn into a detailed scenario, complete with dialogue, scenery, and props. They really treated her as a design professional, and her humor and creativity made the day. It was a truly amazing session. Afterward they moved to a work station, where some of the characters were actually programmed.

The designers all exchanged e-mail addresses, and Kristen said she and her husband play Guild Wars 1 and they'd like to show her some tricks if she joins their group. She and one of the writers, laughed like old friends. Mike, the Founder and President, thanked her for coming, saying how she really brightened up their day. Them thanking us seemed silly, since they gave Emily the best day ever. Thank you ArenaNet! And Make-A-Wish!

16 comments:

Jerry said...

Wow!!!

Emily looks pretty intense.

Jerry

Tirzah said...

We really enjoyed having Emily :) I can't wait to play through the event she designed!

Bobby Pontillas said...

It was such a pleasure meeting Emily. Her visit completely brightened my week! I also cant wait to play through her event!

Matthew Medina said...

Emily, I'm sorry that I didn't get to meet you in the whirlwind of activity yesterday, because I was moving from one room to another, but I hope that the "Honorary Game Designer" lanyard that I made for you will be something to remember us by. I was particularly moved by your story, because I was recently diagnosed with nonobstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy on the right side of my heart, as well as a right bundle branch block. Everyone here relished in your visit, and we're glad to see how much you enjoyed yourself. Your courage is inspiring, and your visit meant a great deal to all of us, and to me especially.

Chris said...

Emily - It was a pleasure hosting you and finding out how much you love Guild Wars. I know you made a huge impression on everyone here. Look forward to playing Guild Wars 2 with you.

Braeden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Braeden Shosa said...

Thanks for visiting us Emily! It was a real treat having you at the studio and playing GW2 with you. We were all super excited to share our work with you and your family. Thanks for helping us design GW2!

UNCLE LARRY said...

Emily: I wish I had been there too. It would definitely have been one of my top wishes too.

Ixobelle said...

Awesome!

Mike E. said...

Very heart-warming story! Great job, Anet! I can't wait to check out the event in GW2.

ppsd said...

Awesome work there ArenaNet.

Stefan said...

I hope she enjoyed and i hope to play through the place.

Would be nice to see her enjoy the game I know I will once GW2 hits the stores.

And great job from the ArenaNet Staff for making her wish come true.

Robert said...

Here here to ArenaNet! Seriously, these are just a good group of people. Cheers!

CowButt92 said...

This act of kindness right here proves that ArenaNet is a company with hearts and does not consist of computer-generated employees like Blizzard Entertainment or Infinity Ward does. Good job and thank you for creating such a special experience for this girl =)

Elliott said...

Bravo Net arena. This reinforces my idea of buying
your games right out. Good luck to you. I can not
not wait xD. Good luck to you too Emily:) you
are undoubtedly very brave!

A french player :)

Ms Head's Computer Class Blog Page said...

I never even knew about this! Wow too awesome :D