Mages, ten-man raiding, and other things that are awesome.

Over a decade ago now, I started a World of Warcraft blog about my new paladin. The Warcraft blogging community was different then, very active and with lots of blogs. Because of those blogs, someone made a blogger’s guild. And because of that guild, I met Rades.

We got excitedly chatting, we became blogging buddies. We’d link to each other, wrote a few guest posts, and swapped our blog’s design around once for an April Fool’s joke. We were blogging friends, and then we were friends. When I met Mike in person for the first time, I wrote about it on the blog. I had no idea what he looked like at all, but we were going to be in his area and I wanted to meet. He was sitting in the window of a Jugo Juice, with a hand-written sign that he flipped up when he saw us. It said “Welcome, Vid and Voss!” I was just relieved he was there! The initial awkwardness only lasted five minutes, and then it was as natural as if we’d always known each other. Our friendship continued to develop in hours and hours of chats and later voice communication, until one day I said to him: I’ve been thinking we should start a comic.

We launched the comic together on November 1st, 2011 after we figured out a name, a concept, and made a few comics together. It started out as gags, but the reoccurring characters were – naturally – his orcish hunter Rades, and my draenei paladin Vidyala. It was a comic about unlikely friendships, and unexpected friends. It was about making each other and other people laugh. Later, we changed the direction of the comic to write a real story with continuity, chapters, and narrative. Mike tackled it the same way he approached anything, with a keen understanding of plot hooks, and a plan years into the future.

Making From Draenor with Love with Mike took our friendship into a new arena: colleagues. We talked every day, we spent hours and hours on every single page. He’d storyboard, we’d discuss it, bounce ideas off each other, he’d write the script, I’d do the sketch. The sketch would undergo several revisions usually, until it was perfect. I’ve never known a more demanding critic than him, and I say that now with understanding and admiration. He made me better. He made everything better. It was pretty much the only thing we ever argued about. I told him once, you’re so demanding. He told me he knew he was a perfectionist, but he also thought that as my comic partner and friend he owed it to me to make sure I was doing art that I would be proud of and that would do me credit. He wanted us to be the best we could be. I told him, I didn’t know he thought that highly of my skills, and he just said, “Well, who am I doing this comic with?”

We made the comic together for five years, getting together in person when we could. He came here to go to the Calgary Comic Expo with us, and got locked outside because he didn’t buy his tickets in advance and they closed the doors because the venue was over capacity! Luckily for him, someone waiting outside decided he was going to come back the next day and gave Mike his ticket for that day so that later when they did open the doors he could go in. Things just had a way of working out for him like that.

He was there for me at honestly some of the hardest times of my life. I was going through infertility treatments and IVF, and I know I was an irrational mess at least some of the time. It never phased him, and he just patiently kept being my friend and telling the story we wanted to tell. When I’d get to see him, it was like we had to cram years of friendship into just a day or so, or sometimes just a few hours. We’d talk a mile a minute, and exasperate Voss, who’d say “You two idiots!” We’d wind up at Denny’s at three in the morning just laughing and joking until Voss would have to drag us away because we had to leave early in the morning to drive seven hours home. On one of our visits, our waitress stopped at our table and smiled at us. “Where did you meet?” she asked. “You seem like really good friends.” I just felt like he’d always been in my life. We used to joke that if we’d known each other as kids we would’ve been inseparable, as we had some of the same weird interests even though we didn’t meet until later. We’d edit each others’ articles for Blizzard Watch. I helped him prepare his application when he applied for the holy paladin columnist position. We compared notes about raids, strategies, logs and progress. I’ll always regret that we didn’t get to raid together.

He was one of the happiest supporters when we found out we’d be having a baby thanks to IVF. When our son was born we told him about his Uncle Mike, who kept sending him presents (Transformers themed, once he was old enough). He did get to meet our son (P3) when he was just a baby, but unfortunately just the one time. We didn’t take any trips to his province in 2019, and of course in 2020 it wasn’t possible. I wish we had seen him more recently, and that life hadn’t made it hard to get together. I wish a lot of things. Mainly, I wish he’d had more time. This isn’t how this was supposed to be. The last time we talked, I sent him a photo of P3 who had fallen asleep clutching his brand-new Transformers backpack. He’d chosen it for himself even though I didn’t think he really knew what Transformers are. I sent Mike a photo of him passed out in his car seat, backpack in his hands. He wrote back simply, “I love this.” As far as last words between friends go, they’re good ones. I choose to apply them more broadly to everything: I love P3, I love that I got to meet him. I love that we got to create so many things together. I love you.

Mike, my honorary brother, I love you so much. I’m so sorry you’re gone. I’ll never meet another person like you, and I’ll never forget you. You made me a better artist, and you made me a better person. I’m better for having known you. I’ll try to be the best I can be, just like you would have expected.

Those of you who followed From Draenor with Love know that the site hasn’t been working for a few years now. Mike and I struggled with the technical aspect of running a site together, and it got hacked and we never got it working again. Our mutual friend Sean has been able to get a site working in the last week, I haven’t shared it publicly yet because I wanted to give him a chance to get it going. Right now there’s a landing page here: From Draenor With Love. As Mike passed away unexpectedly, the last week has been pretty awful for all of the people who loved him (and there are a lot). I am writing this post about what Mike was to me, but there could be 100 posts like it written by different people. That’s the kind of person he was. I was really floundering with my grief. I’ve never lost anyone so close to me, never lost someone I considered a best friend. Another of Mike’s friends, Tommy, told me that when he lost a friend he wrote a song about it and it helped him. My version of that is to write this, and also to literally haul my Cintiq out of storage so that I could make one last page of FDWL. It hasn’t been added to the site yet, but eventually it will live on the last page. It is, as you can imagine, deeply personal. I hope sharing it is cathartic to someone, at least it has helped me.

Making the very last page of FDWL without him was terrible. I did so many sketches. I asked for other opinions about my idea, but the one person I really wanted to ask – I couldn’t. Also, Mike loved to make people feel deeply. Check out his Letters From A Shattered World if you need proof. He loved to do it with FDWL too. Without spoilers, every time there was a major revelation or event he was cackling with glee. If something was sad, he wanted it to be gut-wrenchingly sad. He wanted to leave the reader devastated. So, I give you the last page of FDWL. I did the best I could. I could almost hear him with me the whole time as I was working on it. When I added the first colours, I showed it to Voss. “What do you think?” “Oh shit,” he said. I don’t know what I’m going to do without him. I don’t know who I am without him. There’s a few pages of FDWL towards the end that absolutely shattered me this week. It’s as if the theme of the comic itself, and the things that Rades says to Vid, are speaking directly to me. This was the only way I could conceive of adding anything to the comic. A last footnote in honour of my friend. I’m not sorry if it makes someone else cry (it made me cry). It’s what Mike would have wanted. As always, brother, I did my best. I hope I made you proud. It’ll never be the same without you.

2013 badges.

2013 badges.

Last year's badges!

Last year’s badges!

*Edit: All of my initial slots are now filled! Please check back or keep an eye on my Twitter as I will open more later.

‘Tis the season for convention badges! As you probably remember, I’ve done Blizzcon badges for two years now. First I tried my hand at it in 2013, and then continued to do it in 2014. This year, there are a few changes.

First, I’ll have options for if a person wants an actual convention badge. The price remains $55 USD as from last year, which includes regular mail shipping. Registered letter mail costs extra. The second option is by popular request, because there are folks who want the painting but aren’t going to Blizzcon. Often they tell me “I don’t want to take a spot from someone who…” No. Your commission is equally valid. And mini painting commissions (same painting, without name tag or badge holder) will be $50 USD so you save a little bit, too. Please note that additional items (e.g. mini pets, hunter pets) are $5 extra.

Secondly, I am changing my name tags in all likelihood but I don’t have the new versions to show you yet. I hope to have them soon. But I think the name tags are really secondary, anyway, which is why I make them removable! Whether you’re going to Blizzcon or not, ultimately you have a piece of lovingly handcrafted art to call your own. Many people frame them afterwards:

The Godmother created this frame specifically for her painting!

The Godmother created this frame specifically for her painting!

This is Beruthiel's framed painting.

This is Beruthiel’s framed painting.


Here’s a photograph of Liz’s framed piece!

These are what the name tags looked like formerly. Basically, the only thing you are choosing is your faction, and whether you want your real name on it plus your character name, or just your character name.

Alliance 2

The next change to this year’s process is that I’ll be taking on commissions in batches, starting out with six. I’ll regularly re-open these when I’m able, and possibly pause or stop them if I have a lot of other work to do. These are a fun side thing that I love doing and I want to be able to give your art my full attention.

Here’s what the badges look like physically.

Badge action shots.

Badge action shots.

Larger images of many of the badges are featured on my art site,, if you’d like to see them.

Here’s what to do if you’d like a painting of your own!

1) Fill out this form and submit it. You’ll get an automatic confirmation e-mail.
2) I will e-mail to let you know I received your request (please allow 1-2 business days).
3) You will see your name added to this list.
4) Take some reference shots for your image. I can work from the armory but I prefer shots taken in-game. Please take them in a place with bright, daylight lighting. (e.g. Orgrimmar, most of Pandaria, Nagrand or Talador, not Shadowmoon Valley). As you can see from previous examples, some of the best paintings result from unexpected angles. 3/4 is dynamic for portraits, but I can also do profiles or others. Don’t feel you are limited to just head on/with a neutral expression!
5) Send your references in and clearly label the e-mail with your name/character name etc. so I know who they belong to.
6) When I’m ready to start your commission, I’ll send you a Paypal request. Once payment is received I’ll get started! I’ll send you one sketch image to make sure you’re happy with it, and then I’ll finish the painting itself.

Because of the way I do these commissions (I paint several per page of watercolour paper and then cut them out) you won’t receive your painting until I have finished a few more commissions past yours, approximately a few weeks. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask me here or on Twitter (@_Vidyala). Thanks for your interest in my art.

Dear WoW Insider

Yesterday, I was reading a book and learned a new word. Or rather, I read an old word used in a way that was new to me. It was “condole,” as a verb, as in “I’ve come to condole with you.” We’ve all heard “My condolences,” which is one of the things it’s socially acceptable to say to someone when they’ve suffered a loss. I wish condole was still commonly used, though, because I like that it’s active. To give someone your condolences is nice, but it’s generally passive, since you can say it and move on. When someone is dealing with grief, it’s much harder to be with them and grieve as part of an active process. It’s hard to open yourself up and experience that feeling.

Right now, everyone in the Warcraft (and MMO community) is dealing with varying degrees of feeling about the fate of Joystiq, and by extension, WoW Insider. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I have a complicated relationship with WoW Insider. I loved it unabashedly as a new player and looked up to the people I really didn’t know who wrote there. Later, I got to know some of them half as well as I would’ve liked because I did work there for a brief and important time. That time was a stepping stone to more writing, although I had to work through my own feelings after budget cuts caused them to have to lay off class columnists and other writers. It’s a strange place because I can relate to their loss but it’s not wholly my own. Even my feelings about working there weren’t simple. I used to hit the submit button with a frisson of pure terror. I read the comments on my columns with great anxiety (after having Rhidach and Vosskah tank them for me), and even now I can’t bring myself to reread the articles. Looking at them makes me queasy. Perhaps I would’ve grown more comfortable there in time, but writing for such a wide audience was stressful for me personally. “Thick skinned” isn’t really anywhere in my personal descriptors.

The loss to the Warcraft community is a more clear-cut thing, and it’s significant. Over all the years that I’ve been playing WoW, WI was special. It wasn’t like Wowhead or other sites because they didn’t have the same goals. (I could write a love letter to Wowhead and how important they are to the community as well, but that’s for another post.) Yes, ostensibly they are all “news sites” but WI had editorials and opinions. It ran features on the people who play this game that make it special, guild leadership, comics, snapshots from Azeroth, heck even baking and crafts. Sure, it would publish patch notes because patch notes are important to read. But later that week or the next, a writer would weigh in on interpreting those notes for the rest of us. What did this change mean for warriors or priests or whomever, going forward? PvP articles talked about issues in battlegrounds. WoW Insider wasn’t Elitist Jerks and it didn’t want to be. Its audience was anyone who played and loved the World of Warcraft, whether they were completely new to the game (WoW Rookie) or had been playing for many years. It included blog events, Blizzcon meetups, and a sense of cohesive community that’s hard to obtain elsewhere.

When I first took over the very dusty mage column, there was a deluge of comments welcoming me and celebrating that the column would be written again. People were so happy. The mage column itself had been made by Christian Belt into a place where people went just to joke with and be in the company of people who shared a class with them. They’d keenly felt its absence. (It had absolutely nothing to do with me). On that same column I received the following comment, which I will honestly cherish from now until I’m too senile to use a keyboard:

Archmage Pants.

Archmage Pants.

Christian Belt read my column and he liked it. He gave me his blessing. I’d been reading him for years, and it honestly meant so damn much to me. Which really taps into the greater feeling of loss that hangs like a pall right now over our community. I’ve seen people saying some pretty nasty things and that’s really disappointing to me. You don’t have to approve of everything WI ever did to appreciate that 1) there are people whose livelihoods have been affected by this and also 2) WI is an important part of the WoW community whether you like that it is or not. If the former doesn’t move you, the latter definitely should. We are all poorer for its absence. I’m going to miss it and everything it was over the years.

I don’t even know what I want to save from all the articles I’ve read over the years that I loved. Should I save my favourite Arcane Brilliance columns written by Mr. Belt? I saved all of my own, for resume purposes more than vanity. What about every Sunday Morning Funnies that linked to From Draenor With Love and helped our readership grow? I saved all of the ones that used my art in the header. I wish I could find the one where someone wrote that they loved Four as a character and that she’d made them understand why people might want ogres as a playable race. Will those people who followed from WoW Insider still read our comic if they aren’t reminded to every Sunday? Who will feature new WoW comics and where will people find out about them now?

It’s pretty obvious that subscriber numbers notwithstanding, the community has contracted over the years. Bloggers I loved have perhaps stopped writing or write infrequently (myself included). I haven’t made an effort to find more bloggers that I love although I’m sure they are out there writing great things. It’s inescapable. I can’t imagine many people are still following this blog since I hardly write in it at all. To me, WoW Insider felt like an anchor. No matter what was going on in the larger community they were still there, toiling away. For a brief moment I contributed to that and it was important to me.

To everyone, past and present, who wrote for or contributed to WoW Insider and made it what it was: Thank you.

To Alex Ziebart and the editors who chose to let me be a tiny part of it: Thank you.

To everyone who ever commented or cared, submitted something or linked something to their friends: Thank you. You’re what created a community that I largely took for granted, assuming it would always be there. You all have my condolences, or if you prefer – I am condoling with you, as we’ve all lost something great.

Thank you, Warcraft


It all started with a mage named Milya…

Anyone who knows me knows that I am the worst at secrets. If I have a secret present for someone, I’ll probably give it to them early. This, by the way, applies only to my own secrets. If someone else tells me something in confidence, that’s their thing and I cannot spill the beans. So over the summer I have been simply buzzing with keeping this secret to myself. Thanks to the time I spent writing at WoW Insider, I was asked to contribute to the official Warlords of Draenor strategy guide! The mage section is my work, and many of the class section writers are people you may know from Twitter or having written in other places.

But of course, since doing this involved access to secret information (or at least a general knowledge of the game’s release date before it was announced) we also had to sign an NDA as part of the process. So I kept it to myself even though I was really excited. It’s the first time I’ve ever written something for publication. I still can’t show you any images of the book itself or its contents (shh, secrets) but you can pick up a copy for yourself on November 13th if you’d like one. To tell you exactly how I feel about this whole process, first I have to tell you a story. Really, it’s the story of me and World of Warcraft.

I’ve told this story a few times, so bear with me if you’ve heard it before, but back in 2008 when Voss and I started playing WoW…it had been a really long time since either of us had played any kind of MMO. We’d met playing Ultima Online back in the ’90s but we both stopped playing that and had never picked up anything like it again. Neither of us had played the RTS Warcraft games so we didn’t have much of a tie to those, either. We were both peripherally aware of WoW, of course (who wasn’t?) but had never consider playing it because we knew how much you could get lost in a game like that. But a confluence of factors led us to change our minds. Voss’ dad had just been diagnosed with cancer. Things in my work life weren’t really going well. Actually, they weren’t going anywhere. I’d quit my clerk job working at a registry to focus on my art and try to have a career with that. But I didn’t really know where to start and honestly, I was floundering.

I don’t remember who suggested it. But we decided to try playing World of Warcraft. I think we were both looking for an escape. Because I believe in studying for anything important, we went to the store and bought the World of Warcraft guide. It had overviews of class information, dungeon maps and guides to quests. We pretty much read it cover to cover. It didn’t stop us from being complete noobs about some things, but I remember poring over that book (especially the maps) in preparation for our first dungeon run. We knew group content was serious business and we didn’t want to be terrible. I rolled a priest because of that guide. It said that if you enjoyed being helpful to your group, a priest was a good choice! Of course, as you know, I didn’t stay a priest. But I was one at first.

I look back on the version of myself from 2008 who bought that guide and I have to smile. If you’d told me then, that six years later I’d be writing a mage section of the most current guide, I wouldn’t have believed you. Those intervening years contain thousands of words written in blog posts (some of which I was paid for), hundreds of hours spent drawing and painting commissions for people I met through the World of Warcraft community and later working on From Draenor With Love with my friend Rades. I’ve made some of my closest friends thanks to WoW, re-imagined what my career could look like, and saw it develop in unexpected ways. I honestly owe so much to WoW. Now, another thing to add to that list is that a few weeks ago I got a cheque in the mail that marks the first time I’ve been paid for published writing. It hit me unexpectedly, but I held it and tears sprang to my eyes.

I haven’t yet received my copies of the actual physical thing. And I don’t mean to make too much of a big deal out of this, I mean, I didn’t write and publish a novel. But I wrote and it was published and they paid me, and it’s meaningful to me. If you asked me when I was a kid what did I want to be “when I grew up,” I would’ve told you I wanted to write and illustrate books. I meant children’s books (the only books I knew, at the time). I wouldn’t have expected this. But I’m learning that some of the best things are the ones you didn’t anticipate at all.

I’m just really grateful to have had the opportunity, and I’m grateful for everything this community has brought to me. That’s really what I want to say. Just a big thank you to everyone in this community who ever encouraged me or struck up a friendship with me, or helped me with their own work. Thank you to Anne Stickney who asked me to write for the guide. Thank you to Perculia, whose data wrangling helped me actually write it. I guarantee you that my section of this guide couldn’t have been written without Perculia and the other great folks at Wowhead. Now that I’ve met her in real life, I can’t check something on Wowhead without thinking of how hard Perculia works and appreciating that. It’s the passion of all the people involved in the WoW community that keeps me playing, writing, drawing, and putting so much of myself into this game even six years later.

I’m sad that I won’t have the chance to meet or visit with anyone at Blizzcon this year, but still really glad I was able to go at all. This Saturday we’ll have some local friends and guildies over – friends we never would’ve met if it hadn’t been for this blog. I can’t say anything more than that, really. Things happen in mysterious ways and I can’t be anything but ridiculously thankful for my good fortune. If you get your hands on a copy of this guide, flip through and appreciate all the work that went into it from many talented writers! I’m glad to count myself among them and I really appreciated the experience.

Gaming Questionnaire

Jasyla over at Cannot Be Tamed came up with this great gaming questionnaire. Since writing anything has been like pulling teeth for me lately, I thought I’d respond to her questions and try to breathe some life into this languishing space at the same time. Seems like a win-win to me! If you want to answer the questions yourself, you can do so in the comments over at her blog or on your own blog (but be sure to let her know so she can include a link to your answers!)


  1. When did you start playing video games?
    Oh, geeze. The first video games I played were when we got an Intellivision. Our neighbours down the street were having a garage sale and my brother and I managed to talk our Mom into buying the Intellivision and all the games. It was $20 for all of it. For those of you who are too young to even remember this thing, see the little keypad? Each game had a thin plastic sleeve you’d slide over those keypads so you’d know what the specific controls did for the individual game. We played hours and hours of those games.
  2. What is the first game you remember playing?
    It’s hard to remember which game I played first. Probably Burger Time or Frogger. There was also of course the classic Q*Bert and other games like that. We had a whole bunch and some were more fun than others. I definitely logged many hours playing Burger Time and Frogger though!
  3. PC or Console?
    I’ve pretty much always played both! When I was still quite young my dad got a PC for us that was strictly for schoolwork. Of course, whenever he wasn’t around we played games on it as much as we could. I played Alley Cat and we played the King’s Quest and Hero’s Quest games, all those Sierra ones including a Camelot one (I can’t remember what the actual name was). We also went on to get an NES (my brother’s) and then a Super NES (mine) and later a Playstation. I’ve always played games on both consoles and PC, up to and including now. Don’t make me choose!
  4. XBox, PlayStation, or Wii?
    I hitched my wagon to Playstation’s star back with the PS1, which I got exclusively so I could play FFVII. Of course I played more than that on it. I’ve never owned an X-Box and we had a Wii but recently sold it. I was never into the motion control thing (I don’t like Sixaxis either, really) and the games seemed to get old pretty quickly. With the X-Box it’s simpler – I don’t like the controls that much and they always have felt monstrous and too big for my hands! Most games you can get on both Playstation and X-Box anyway so it hasn’t really mattered.Bastion_Boxart
  5. What’s the best game you’ve ever played?
    Oh man. This is a tough question. I mean, things that blew my mind previously might not retain that title. I suppose I should give it to FFVII, which was my favourite game for years. I loved it. I haven’t been able to replay it because my memories of it are so tied up into a particular time and place and I don’t want it to seem lesser by comparison. In recent years, I really loved Bastion. It hit all of my sweet spots, the gameplay was fun, the hand painted graphics were beautiful and the story was tore my heart in two.
  6. What’s the worst game you’ve ever played?
    You know, it’s funny, because I still liked this game, but I have to go with Battletoads for the SNES. A friend of mine had it and we’d play it for hours, rarely ever getting anywhere because it was so hard and unforgiving. It was just unreasonably hard for a game but at the time we just thought we had to get better. (Probably we did).
  7. Name a game that was popular/critically adored that you just didn’t like.
    I tried to play the Mass Effect games. I really did. I wanted to get into them and I just couldn’t. There are some games I wish I could just watch the story without having to play them, and Mass Effect was one of those.heavenlysword
  8. Name a game that was poorly received that you really like.
    I don’t always pay that close attention to game reviews so I’m not entirely sure with this question which games might have been poorly received but I liked them anyway. I think I remember reading some bad reviews of Heavenly Sword for the PS3. I guess the game isn’t perfect but I really enjoyed it for what it was. More or less a God of War game but you get to be a badass lady character cutting people in half and I appreciate that.
  9. What are your favourite game genres?
    Most RPGs, platformers, some action/adventure stuff. I always think I will like puzzle games and then don’t. I sometimes enjoy just a really immersive game (e.g. Journey) that doesn’t demand very much. I have played some simulation type games and enjoyed them. I also used to be really into fighting games. I’ll play a game outside my usual genres if it’s just a really fun game! I like FPS games but only with friends, not by myself.Elwink
  10. Who is your favourite game protagonist?
    You know, it’s probably Elly from Xenogears. When I was younger this was the game that inspired me to learn how to make animated gifs JUST so I could make Xenogears gifs. I still have them! I found them on my terrible old Geocities website which was amazingly still on the internet. I made some other gifs but I made two of her and only one of all the other characters.
  11. Describe your perfect video game.
    Jasyla asks the tough questions. I don’t know if I could have just ONE perfect video game, only games that individually satisfy each of the things I enjoy about gaming?! If I had to pick specific things: 1) female protagonist or a lady character given equal billing and plot attention as a dude (Broken Age fits this, and has been a great game SO FAR) 2) An immersive environment that is preferably gorgeous to look at, I don’t care if it’s space or a forest or some other world altogether, art is key in making me like a game and 2) must have a story with good writing. It has to make me care to want to keep playing it.
  12. What video game character do have you have a crush on?
    I interpret “crush” here as “Find attractive,” how’s that? Aforementioned Elly from Xenogears, Princess Garnet from Final Fantasy IX, also who didn’t have a crush on Sephiroth…? And/or Cloud and/or Tifa and Aerith/Aeris/whatever, haha. Hey, he couldn’t choose either.
  13. What game has the best music?
    Probably have to go with Bastion here. It’s the only video game soundtrack I listen to on a regular basis. (Probably Transistor is a strong contender but I haven’t finished it yet and didn’t listen to the soundtrack because of spoilers).AerithDeath2
  14. Most memorable moment in a game:
    Aeris’ death. I just did not see that coming at all. I guess a part of was so completely shocked that it could happen at all, too – that they would LET this happen. Ask me another time about my feelings regarding the sacrificial lady character in games, though.
  15. Scariest moment in a game:
    I have to admit that I was playing Gone Home and I am such a giant wussface that I freaked out when I had to go down into all those hidden hallways by myself. I don’t do well with scary games in general, but atmospheric “You’re alone in the house” games don’t work for me. I had to watch videos to see the ending, and I had nightmares that night. It was a really good game, though.
  16. Most heart-wrenching moment in a game:
    The almost-end of Bastion just punched me right in the gut. Or the end of Journey, which never fails to make me cry.
  17. What are your favourite websites/blogs about games?
    I like Go Make Me A Sandwich! Honestly, most of the gaming blogs I read are WoW blogs. I’d be open to branching out if I see some good suggestions, though.Journey.Game_.full_.1293648-630x415
  18. What’s the last game you finished?
    I replayed Journey the other night, that’s why it’s fresh in my mind. It’s just such a beautiful game. Also, the part of it where you are going through the snow and have to hide from the giant monsters overhead is a strong contender for “scariest moment in a game for me.” My heart pounds like crazy and I am so tense. It’s not hard to freak me out, obviously.
  19. What future releases are you most excited about?
    I’m really excited to see the second half of Broken Age. I appreciate why they had to split it up to finish the rest of it and get funding, and I think it’s a great game, but I’d sure like to know what happens next. Cliffhangers!? Ugh. I’m looking forward to the next Borderlands installment. I’m thinking we should be finished the story of Borderlands 2 before that one comes out. It’s been a slog but I am determined to actually finish that game.
  20. Do you identify as a gamer?
    Yeah, I definitely do and always have. Some of my first friends became my friends because we had games in common and many of my current friends I have met through gaming. For me, being a gamer has always been about the social experience and I refuse to let dudebro asshats tarnish my own interpretation of something that’s been so much a part of my experience. My Mom and brother and I used to sit down and play Bubble Bobble together. I watched my brother play through Final Fantasy I and the original Zelda games and it was one of the main things we had in common. We used to play Super Mario Bros together. Later, I’d go over to my friends’ houses or they’d come to mine and we’d play each others’ games. Sonic, Ecco the Dolphin, Street Fighter, whatever. My family later had epic and really loud Rock Band parties. I met my husband playing Ultima Online, and chances are I met all of you because of World of Warcraft. Definitely a gamer. I also think anyone who plays any game, if they wish, can consider themselves a gamer. Whether it’s Farmville or Angry Birds or Call of Duty, whatever – if you play games you are a gamer if you wish to be.
  21. Why do you play video games?
    For so many reasons – for the fun, for something beautiful to look at, for the challenge, but probably most importantly for the social experience. Whether it’s Journey where you play alongside other people you can only communicate to without words, to MMOs, gaming is a social experience for me and it’s one that I love. I deliberately avoid games known to have toxic environments or where I know I’d be subject to abuse (e.g. FPS matchmaking or other games with similar random elements). I feel video games are an important, interactive art and I owe much to them. I want to be an old lady in a nursing home with a console hooked up to her TV, haha. (Also no arthritis so I can actually still play the games).

Tuesday Art Day: Gracie


The other day I had some spare time and felt like painting, so I did a quick painting of one of my Wildstar characters and then started another of my friend Grace’s character. Hers ended up being a bit more involved and I just finished it today. It’s 7.9″ x 7.9″, watercolour with an undersketch done with watercolour pencils. This was something it had never occurred to me to use them for, and I like it pretty well so far compared to regular pencil. The major downside is that there are sometimes places where you can see the colour of the original pencil (such as her left cheek highlight) and for that it’s less than ideal. But if I’d used regular pencil you’d see the sketch all over, so I don’t know. I think I’ll keep experimenting with it.

IMPORTANT EDIT: Please note that commissions for 2014 badges are now closed. I may or may not reopen them over the next month but it’s unlikely. Thank you to everyone who commissioned me!



Hooray! We know when Blizzcon is coming this year! I have an announcement of my own: I’ll be doing another round of badges! So if you missed out last year, now is your chance. My badges are all hand-painted with love on Arches watercolour paper with artist quality paints. Long after you’ve gone home from Blizzcon, you will have an original and unique work of art. The badges have identifying info, but it’s printed separately and removable after all is said and done. Here is what they look like in action:

Also shown: From Draenor With Love stickers.

Also shown: From Draenor With Love stickers.

A few more badge action shots.

A few more badge action shots.

The background will correspond with your class colour unless otherwise indicated. The name badge, as you can see, will be specific to your faction in one of four formats:


Alliance – Type 1


Alliance – Type 2


Horde – Type 1


Horde – Type 2

Ordering Information

Price: $55 USD – includes:

-2 7/8″ x 3 7/8″ watercolour painting of your character to fit in a 3″ x 4″ holder, (shoulders up) with separate name badge printed on heavy cardstock, and a badge holder to keep it all together. (Lanyard is not included).

-quality digital scan of your painting for use as an avatar or just to show your friends

-Regular mail shipping to any location in North America. For shipping outside of that area please add an additional $5 USD.

-This price is for a basic painting of a single character. If you want something more elaborate (including weapons or a pet or etc.) the price will increase by $5 per weapon/etc.

-Bonus: I still have From Draenor With Love stickers from last year and I’ll include a few with every badge painting I ship out.

If you’re interested, follow these steps.

1) Fill out the form below and submit it!
2) I will e-mail to let you know I received your request (please allow 1-2 business days).
3) You will see your name added to this list.
4) Take some reference shots for your image. I can work from the armory but I prefer shots taken in-game. Take them in either the Vale of Eternal Blossoms or Valley of the Four Winds, they have the best lighting. Zoom in on your character’s torso/shoulders/face. These aren’t full body paintings and the more detail I can see the better your painting will be!
5) Send your references in and clearly label the e-mail with your name/character name etc. so I know who they belong to.
6) When I’m ready to start your commission, I’ll send you a Paypal request. Once payment is received I’ll get started! I’ll send you one sketch image to make sure you’re happy with it, and then I’ll finish the painting itself.

Because of the way I do these commissions (I paint several per page of watercolour paper and then cut them out) you won’t receive your painting until I have finished a few more commissions past yours, approximately a few weeks. I promise you will receive them well in advance of Blizzcon, though.


Here are some examples of what folks did with their paintings after the convention was over!

The Godmother created this frame specifically for her painting!

The Godmother created this frame specifically for her painting!

This is Beruthiel's framed painting.

This is Beruthiel’s framed painting.

Below, you can see a gallery of all the badges from 2013.



“The part I enjoyed the most about having a custom badge is the effort you put into understanding the character you were painting.  I really feel like it captured the personality of my character, not to mention others I saw.”

“I could not be happier with the Blizzcon Badge I ordered from Stacey for Blizzcon 2013. In a digital world where artists have the ability to create a template and simply change faces and colors, Stacey took the time to offer each of her customers a unique, hand-painted, original piece of art in watercolor. Additionally, she went above and beyond by contacting me to specifically talk with me about what type of facial expression I would like to see on my character. Then, during the process of my badge artwork being created, Stacey was very proactive in making sure I could see the progress being made and inviting me to provide feedback throughout.

This was a fantastic experience overall and Stacey’s personal attention to detail shows just how great of an artist she is and how each piece of art she creates means something to her. While wearing my badge at Blizzcon several people recognized it as Stacey’s work and I was proud to be displaying a badge that was attracting attention from others.
I would absolutely order artwork from Stacey again & I highly recommend her to anyone who is interested in having a custom Blizzcon Badge created.”

“I contacted Vid (Stacey) for a BlizzCon badge the last time she offered them. It was my second BlizzCon and I was so jealous of the badges people had custom made so I knew I had to have one. The appeal for me was that I could take my badge home and frame it because it’s actually a little piece of art! The ordering process was easy, and my commission status was always accessible. I had a little hitch in getting my badge to me, but Stacey was very communicable and let me know right away and it got sorted out.

I love my badge because Stacey managed to capture “who” my character is while injecting a little bit of me as well. I had so many compliments on my badge and it was a joy to tell people where I got it. It was really wonderful seeing other people with the same style because then we had a connection and something to chat about while waiting in line.”


I’m really looking forward to doing more of these paintings this year. They were really rewarding to do last year and I loved them all. If anything here isn’t clear or you have questions for me, you can reach me via twitter or e-mail puggingpally AT gmail dot com. Thanks for your interest and support in my work!

Okay, it’s not Tuesday any more. But have some paintings anyway. I’ve been painting more than anything lately, on top of doing From Draenor With Love. To be perfectly honest, life has been pretty overwhelming in the past while and I have been taking a breather from most things, only doing art for myself or as gifts. I thought that leaping back into doing a lot of commission work would help me bounce back from layoffs at WI, but it turns out that wasn’t the case. I may take a few months off from official “work” to just focus on my health and personal stuff. I appreciate the patience of folks who have inquired about art or etc.

Meantime, here are some draenei. I posted them on Tumblr already, but here they are for anyone who missed them there. I wanted to just do some draenei that were a little outside the usual. I was free painting (no sketch beforehand).


Not Millya. Similar-ish I guess, though.


Random dude draenei. I’ve been trying to get better at male draenei in general.


Old lady draenei. We know draenei DO age at least in appearance, sometimes, after a really long time. At least, Velen doesn’t look like a spring chicken. This draenei has seen more than she really wanted to.

draenei03Probably my favourite of this bunch. She’s so happy.

Finally (but certainly not least) I did a painting for my friend Sara’s birthday. Unlike the previous ones, this one had a sketch first. It ends up looking like a fairly different style. Although obviously I also spent a bit more time on it than the quick, freepaint ones.Probably about two hours total, which is still not bad.


I’m going to be in Seattle this time next week, meeting some new folks, some friends-from-before folks, and hopefully having some therapeutic art time. I’m also planning a collaboration with Loreli (LoreliAoD on Twitter). She’s going to do some pencils and I am going to paint them! And I will either bring or do a sketch for her while I’m there and she’s going to colour it digitally. It’s going to be fun, I am excited.

A birthday surprise

Rades and I use a system with Google Docs to coordinate the script for From Draenor With Love. I had already known for probably months that he wanted to have a page wherein Rades gives Vid a pink sky golem as a birthday present. Based on the trajectory of the story he decided to do it early in March, specifically because “It fits since it is around your birthday, too!”

I was a little suspicious. But I mean, I didn’t want to assume anything. And he admitted that he actually hadn’t been planning anything up until a few weeks beforehand. That’s when he realized that he had a lot of materials lying around that he’d been faithfully making on Rades each day, and also that he could give a mount to my Horde character and have it useable on any of my characters.

So when I saw in the FDWL script that he’d written “LOG IN ON VID ON DRENDEN AND CHECK YOUR MAIL” under the “refs” section for that page, haha, well…

This was waiting for me:


Of course, it can’t be actually pink (alas!) But it was still such a great surprise. It’s been an interesting trip, working on FDWL, to go from being friends with someone to self-directed colleagues and really almost coworkers. Rades and I have met in person twice but we talk pretty much every day via chat (and once a week with voice chat to plan the week’s strip). Of the two of us, I am probably the hardest to work with because I get frustrated more easily. Rades could best be described as “extremely mild with the conviction of a rock.” I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him angry, though I’ve definitely seen “firm.”

We both pour a lot of ourselves into FDWL. While the visible writing is his and the visible art is mine, he has a great deal of input into the art and I often weigh in on the script as well. The best and worst part about working with Rades is his exacting perfectionism, which is also the only conflict we ever have. Often times to me something looks “good enough” and he always pushes me to make it better. It’s a rare person who will do that, and I’m grateful to him for it (even if I don’t always sound grateful, haha). I’m really fortunate to have a friend who I can create something like this with, and also who has stuck by me through some pretty difficult times on a personal level. Basically when you find a friend like that you should stick to that person like a blood elf’s hair gel and make sure not to let go!

Thanks for the surprise birthday gift, Rades, and for everything else too.


Click for larger version.

Often on Tuesdays (for maintenance time) I’ll post some art I’ve been working on. This is something I did for myself last week (ie not a commission). I think it is actually the first time I’ve ever drawn Vid and her father, Vosskah, together. I figure that since the two of them are both really physical by nature that the way they relate to each other is sometimes roughhousing. So he’s giving her a noogie. Their roughhousing sounds like a blacksmith’s shop rolling downhill.

Millya, of course, doesn’t understand this at all and just leaves them to it.

As far as the drawing itself, I was trying out my new Copic markers. I was hoping I could possibly use them for From Draenor. I don’t think they’ll work really well for it, though, and I’ll probably stick to my ink and brush for now. I might use them to add finer details, but the problem is that when I erased my pencils underneath the Copics, the marker itself faded significantly. It’s a bit disappointing. I might do something more with this image like add colour digitally, etc. If I do I’ll post it again.

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