This is my two-year-old daughter Ellivena (or Elli for short).
Like most dads, I love my daughter (and son) immensely. When we found out we were having a girl, I worried a lot that she wouldn’t like me. Now we’ve become an inseparable pair. She’s incredibly stubborn but very loving, always coming over for hugs or telling me small bits of wonderous things with her eyes wide open like she can’t even believe it.
Like most dads, I’ve often had a hard time not boasting about her to everyone I meet. Maybe this annoys some (and I’m not sorry!), but in one special case, it turned into a terrific surprise.
So this is what I’ve been sitting on for over two years now: My daughter is going to be an NPC in Guild Wars 2.
Let me back up. So it’s PAX 2010, and I’ve been dragged along to the ArenaNet party. It was a big year for Guild Wars 2’s promotion, and this party was a huge celebration of the convention as well as the fans. There were tons of devs there who mingled with everyone, and Mike O’Brien gave a great speech thanking everyone for their work and/or support.
I don’t know what came over me, but I went up to O’Brien after that and told him that I just had this great little baby daughter. I said, “I think she has a great name — it’s combined from both of her grandmothers — and I think it would be perfect for a character in your game.” I then handed him a piece of paper with her name written on it, shook his hand, and walked away.
Didn’t think anything of it, really.
The next day as I boarded the plane back home, I got an email from one of the writers that O’Brien had passed along this strange request and that the writer would be in touch for where Elli would appear in the game. Understandably, I was flabbergasted — sometimes it pays to be bold, I guess. But I really, really didn’t think any studio would care enough to listen to the ramblings of a baby-enthusiastic dad to put his daughter into a game.
I sent a couple pictures of Elli back to ArenaNet and more or less forgot about it for a while after, mostly because I still didn’t believe it was going to happen. Fast-forward to a month ago, and I got another confirmation that Elli was going to be in the final game as a Sylvari (oh the irony, right?) (not that I’m complaining). The one catch is that she’s not in the open world, but in one of the Sylvari storylines in the level 10 through 20 experience in what the writer called the “life” branch. That’s all I have to go on.
Naturally, I’ve been trying to find her in the beta weekends and stress tests ever since, to no avail. The problem is that I haven’t found any place online that’s mapped out all of the storyline decision points or listed all of the NPCs, so I don’t know exactly where to look. I was really hoping to have a screenshot to share with y’all by launch, but instead I’ll ask for you guys to keep an eye out and holler if you do find her.
Obviously, this makes the launch of Guild Wars 2 a little extra special for me. I am grateful to Mike and the ArenaNet crew for this, especially when he had no idea who I was. It’s just the sort of thing that you hear ANet doing a lot, such as renaming one of its servers to honor a community member who passed.
Have fun in Guild Wars 2 tomorrow, and if any of you find Ellivena, make sure to let me know where and how! And if you could get a screenshot, that’d be spiffy.