PAX Prime 2013 - Recap
Our banner design from the convention - thanks to Michael Stanley for putting it together on such short notice!
This update is going to be all about our trip to the Penny Arcade Expo (known as PAX Prime) in Seattle at the beginning of the month.
It's been a busy few weeks since we last posted an update. I (Burton) got back in from Seattle on Sept. 3. It was such an incredible experience and I can't adequately express how profoundly thankful I am that Addo Games was allowed and invited to be part of the Indie MEGABOOTH. Kelly Wallick and Rami Ismail are two of the leading forces behind the MEGABOOTH and were simply two of the nicest and most stealthily busy people I've ever known. Their ability to handle so much and serve everyone's needs in the MEGABOOTH was truly admirable. Addo Games was selected to be part of the MINIBOOTH, which is comprised primarily of exhibitors that only show for part of the convention, as well as a select few that are showcased and are allowed to show the entire convention duration. We were chosen to show on Sunday September 1 and Monday the 2nd. I made the most of the convention by heading up on Thursday, August 29th, the night before the convention actually started. I got a chance before everything was in full swing to meet a lot of the other independent developers who were also showing in the MEGABOOTH. It was a great experience to meet so many people whose work I admire.
Friday and Saturday
On Friday, Becca flew in and we went to our AirBnB place. It had a great view, but got a tad hot (w/ no A/C) in the evening hours. Fortunately for us, we usually had something going on most nights to get us out of there. Most of the networking events going on happened to be five to ten city blocks from us, which gave Becca and I an opportunity to take a stroll or two together and take some small bits of Seattle.
I think if I could think of one major thing I learned during this convention it was that I need to lock my code down before I head out to a convention. I ended up spending most of my first two days in Seattle working on fixes and adding a few "one more things". That all said, I don't think I could have changed the way things worked out given how busy I've been with contract work. Still, my need to work and have wifi while I was in Seattle gave me a good excuse to get out and see a bit of the city en route to a coffee shop to work from. Seattle is such a remarkably beautiful city.
Throughout the weekend we were able to attend numerous events hosted and/or attended by the major platform holders (Google Play, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony). We had the opportunity to, in some cases, sit down and have intimate conversations with representatives from those companies about Robots Love Ice Cream and possible plans for the game beyond the iPad platform. One of the main reasons we wanted to be at PAX was to have those types of one-on-one interactions with the people we'd like Addo Games to be doing business with at some point in the future.
Sunday - Showtime!
Sunday was our first day showing the game. In hindsight I wish I had gotten more sleep, but I was trying to polish some rough edges with the game build we were showing. I ended up with about 2.5 hours of sleep and, within minutes of setting up and minutes before the convention started, we found a few bugs that would prevent people from playing the game normally. Aaron Yip, a former-Atlantan and now Seattleite, helped us out with our booth. He was a tremendous asset to us in so many ways and handled all manner of questions about the game like a pro! Our first day we had a few technical kinks but, by the end of it, I felt really good about how our message and presentation was being communicated and received.
A few people checking out Robots Love Ice Cream!
Monday was the final day of the convention and despite my guess based on the last day of the convention last year, it actually seemed a lot busier than Sunday. This was great for us, since we weren't showing the whole duration of the convention in the first place. We met so many wonderful people and got a lot of great feedback. Last year, if I were to sum up the feedback, we heard "looks great, controls are meh". This year there was a much more balanced amount of positive feedback between visuals and gameplay. This tells me we're doing the right things to make the game more enjoyable and approachable. One of my favorite moments of the whole weekend was when Becca was holding the iPad for a kid that was probably all of 5 or 6 years old and he was able to play it and seemed to be enjoying it. We're hoping the final game will offer a lot of depth for those that desire that, but we also want for the barrier of entry to play the game to be low and gradually ease people into some of the more complex mechanics the game will have to offer.
Here's a picture of me explaining the game to The Joker and Harley Quinn. There's always lots of cool cosplay outfits to take in at a convention like this!
So now we're back in Atlanta and I'm spending the majority of September continuing work on the game. PAX was just a terrific experience, from all of the new friends we met, the connections we established with the platform holders, and of course the opportunity to get the game in the hands of people to see what does and does not work. I'm hoping that our hard work continues to earn us the right to be a part of the Indie MEGABOOTH. It's certain to get more and more competitive moving forwards as it seems to be one of the most popular parts of the PAX conventions.
Above is a picture of only part of the number of people who participated in the Indie MEGABOOTH. The picture probably missed about 50-100 more people out of frame. This is pretty close to the density of people visiting the Indie MEGABOOTH during any given day in the convention.
I do want to take a moment and thank Patrick Rossetti who has been helping us with game design over the past few months. His help getting things organized with respect to the game over the past few months has been invaluable. I also would like to thank Becca for taking care of all of the travel arrangements while I toiled away at getting the game ready for the convention. Without their help, I would know my right from left lately! Thank you guys.
Time to get back to it! Thank you all for following along. As always, if you'd like you can get more regular updates via our blog, Facebook, or Twitter. Take care and thanks for all of your support. -Burton
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