80,000 Words (with Director's Commentary), Part II

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So The Bat Cave is right next a meeting room named Wayne Manor. I'm sad to say these are two of only three superhero referencing rooms in the building. I'll be getting to the third.

I included this picture for two reasons. First, I liked the weird running joke of all the goblin-themed Magic statues. Second, this thing has an awesome story behind it and I love filling you all in on some of the quirkier aspects of Wizards of the Coast.

Long ago, Wizards of Coast tried our hand at running game stores. In the end, it didn't work out. One of the cool perks for the corporate office was that we picked up numerous statues (themed on games we sold, mostly Wizards stuff) that had formerly been used in the stores. One such statue was the Goblin King statue you see in the photo above.

Anyway, for some reason, one day someone left something on the Goblin King. The idea was that it was left there for good luck as an offering to the Goblin King. Over the next few weeks, more and more items began being left. Eventually, it became a thing. Wizards employees just made offerings to the Goblin King. So many, in fact, that it is now routinely cleaned off every couple of months.

One of the fun things about working at Wizards is that there is a much more playful atmosphere than you would find in a traditional corporate environment. The Goblin King is but one such example.

I guess I should take a moment to explain what exactly the murals are. To decorate the major hallways, it was decided that the art department would create murals combining art from all the different games Wizards currently and formerly has made. These murals are changed from time to time (the original plan was every six months but in reality it's working out closer to eighteen).

One of my favorite things about the murals (besides that they look cool) is that there are all sorts of things hidden in them. I've walked by the same mural for months only one day to suddenly realize that there was a piece of art I hadn't noticed. It's also a lot of fun figuring out where you've seen a certain art from.

If I told you one picture had more trouble than any other, would you have guessed this one? Well, rather than tell you why don't I start by showing you. Here's the original photo, we took during the initial walk through.

Click here.

Can you spot the difference? Yes, I incorrectly identified the statue as Goblin Bomb rather than Goblin Grenade.

I knew that the card was the red card from Fallen Empires but when I plucked the name out of my head somehow I went to Bomb rather than Grenade. When you think of it, isn't it really more of a Goblin Bomb? Anyway, Monty pointed out to me that I had named the wrong card. So I went back and took another picture.

Click here.

But this isn't the photo that ended up in the final article. Can you spot the difference?

Yes, I accidentally wrote "Fourth Floor Kitchen," but we're on the third floor (and yes, I did it wrong in both versions of the photo). I offered to redo the photo, but Monty felt he could fix it in Photoshop. For the Making Magic trivia buffs, this photo is the only one that needed to be altered.

This picture was taken the day of the initial tour, but the previous photo was taken the next day. Normally things like this don't matter, but the items on the free table were gone by the time I came back. That is why the previous photo has me standing so close to the Goblin Grenade statue.

But that is not the meaty part of this photo. No the part I really wanted to talk about is the "Free Table." I've mentioned it a few times in my column so I wanted to take a moment to explain it. The original Free Table began on the kitchen counter near R&D in the old building. Like the Goblin King, it started pretty organically. A few people brought in items that they didn't want but that they thought others might like and left them on the counter in the kitchen. Those first few items had a sign with them I believe.

But R&D liked this concept and so the table morphed into a place where employees could leave items for one another to take. The Free Table thus had two great perks. First, there was a place where you could get rid of just about anything (I say "just about" as a few people have pushed the limits of the Free Table, although you'd be surprised what things do get taken). Second, it's a place where magical things can happen. In fact, I have gone out of my way (as have others) to try and create such moments.

For example, when I was moving, I had four three-foot high stools that I no longer had a need for. I thought this was the perfect chance to create a wonderful"Free Table moment. So I came in with my four stools and put them on the Free Table. Then I sat back to watch. The look on the face of the person who first spied the stools was priceless. It's not often furniture is put on the Free Table. Suffice to say, the stools went very fast.

The downside to the Free Table is that some people forget the whole "anything put on this table can be taken by someone else" rule. On occasion someone has put something on the Free Table with a sign saying not to take it. Gamers that we are, we long figured out the workaround—take the sign first.

Anyway, the Free Table is but yet another quirky perk of Wizards life.

This is a picture that I got on pick-up day. When I was looking through my pictures trying to piece the article together I realized I had forgotten the pop machine (yes I say "pop"; I'm from the Midwest). I really wanted to show off a lot of the perks and the soda machine is a nice one.

Here's the quick story behind it. Once upon a time, back in the old, old building, Wizards had free soft drinks on tap, including Thomas Kemper Root Beer (which I think is regional, but good stuff for those that like root beer). While that sounds great, here's the problem. A restaurant (at least a good one) takes great care to keep their soda gun clean. At Wizards, there was no one assigned to such duty. Thus, although we had free soft drinks, not a lot of people wanted to use it. Then one day, as a cost cutting measure, management changed from the free soda gun to 25¢ cans. The employees were pretty happy because cheap clean soft drinks were a step up from dirty free ones.

For each picture I would stop and think what I wanted to say. Then I would write it on the white board and pose for the picture. The joke behind this picture was that I had no mail. And really with the advent of email, I'm not sure why I should even expect to get much snail mail. Anyway, that was the joke. All I had to do was look sad. If we had filmed this tour on video, this would be the blooper clip where I couldn't stop laughing.

Somehow the idea of trying to look sad made me laugh uncontrollably. In the picture I am laughing very hard. I gritted my teeth and hoped it would somehow look something in the vicinity of sad. It didn't, but Lora and I both felt it was a close as I was probably going to get.

By the way, four people took me up on my offer and wrote me a letter. Thank you to those four individuals. You know who you are.

Right next to R&D is a big conference room called Lost Temple (a Starcraft reference I believe). When we first moved into the building and when I did the tour, this was where the Computer Lab was, a literal stone's throw away. When we built up our Digital Games department, it got moved downstairs to be near them (on floor 2). The Lost Temple is now just a big meeting room. I use it, by the way, to run my biweekly design seminars.

The "It's Research!" line is a running joke in R&D. Whenever we play games of any kind, we always claim it's work. It's what the "R" in R&D stands for.

Finally, yes, that is a Watto statue hanging from the ceiling in the background.

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