We’re hopping into the Wayback Machine to November 2008.
I’d recently been promoted to Billing Team Senior – the first level of people management – at Blizzard Entertainment. So me and my team were bracing for impact, as Wrath of the Lich King was on the horizon…
I’d been at Blizzard for about three and half years, starting shortly after WoW’s launch, and through the Burning Crusade expansion, which had experienced a host of delays. So it was amazing that Lich King had set a target date before the holiday season and managed to stay on track! To this day it remains my favorite expansion for WoW, it was well executed, balanced, with compelling story, fun new elements (like the Death Knights!) and still NOT LATE!
So the day of launch we prepared to do a full 24 hours of coverage, meaning my late shift team was moved to work an even longer and later day. We were pumped, with a full plan to have a team “Slumber Party” – coming to work in our PJs, plans to order pizza and braid each other’s hair (I was the only female on that team, and the only one with anything resembling hair braiding skills… or enough hair to effectively braid) as we worked up to midnight helping players upgrade and venture into Northrend.
Before our shift I decided to be clever – since we were finally releasing a game in the planned and expected pre-holiday window, something Blizzard isn’t known for, I decided there would be a special email and treat for my team. I stopped at Target and got individually wrapped Hostess Ding Dongs, little individual cream-filled chocolate cakes.
I sent out the email just before our shift, so it would be waiting as my dudes arrived:
Now these points of data make a beautiful line,
And we’re out of beta, we’re releasing on time.
So I’m glad I got burned…
Think of all the things we learned
For the people who are still alive.
PS: Please come to my desk for cake
And then I waited. And waited. They came in. They checked their emails. But nobody came to my desk?
Well, in quoting Portal’s theme song so accurately, I had cleverly sabotaged myself. If GlaDOS taught us anything, it was that the cake was a lie. Nobody believed there was really cake, and they refused to get fooled.
One by one each of them would come to my desk over the course of the evening with questions or issues and I would point out the reality of the cake, get them to take their share, and send them on their way. Every last one of them was STUNNED that the cake was real, each member of our team was sure I was laying a clever trap.
One even hesitated to unwrap the foil around his cake, sure it was still somehow a lie despite the evidence of his eyes and peers.
I guess I really was the one who got burned – especially since I brought just enough cake for the team and forgot to count myself. For me the cake really was a lie. But we had a great launch, a fun and silly night, and I was introduced to TECHNO-VIKING: