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PAX East: Day 1

PAX East: Day 1
Before the first day of PAX even began we were already exhausted from the day before. There were a lot of bugs and issues with the build of Snapshot that we showed off in the Made in Mass event, so after we got back to the place we were crashing at, Dave hooked up his PC and was cranking away at the code. I also had my laptop open and I was trying to design a super high res logo for Snapshot to get printed at a Kinkos down the street from the convention center, and we didn't end up getting to sleep until about 1am. Combine that with the fact that we had to wake up at 6:30am to leave at 7am, to get to the convention center at 8am, means that we were looking at a pretty long day.

The traffic getting into Boston on a Friday morning at 7am is about as bad as you can expect it to be. For a few miles it was bumper to bumper, until the car pool lane opened up and we could take advantage of the three humans in our vehicle.

When we pulled up to the Boston Convention Center, we decided to just pull up to the side of one of the doors that was closest to the expo hall so that we could unload our stuff. We had with us a big HDTV, a computer, a big reclining chair, and a box of cables and parts and other things. As soon as we stopped the vehicle and began getting stuff out of the car, some guy came storming out of the door yelling at us that we cant stop here and unload. We told him we only needed to get out some small things for our expo booth, and he continued to yell at us, but we unloaded and went inside anyway.

So the plan was to get our booth set up with a couple of chairs and two PCs running. One of the PCs would be running the game, and another one of the PCs would be running a constant stream of trailers and game play videos. I figured this would be a good idea so if someone is stuck in the game, the trailers and videos can show a bunch of game play while the stuck person dies over and over again at the same spot.

When we arrived inside the expo hall we found that we still only had 3 tables at the booth space and nothing more. For power we had an extension cord of some kind running all the way under the carpet and finally coming out right in the middle of the booth. The Boston Indie Showcase was going to be showing 3 games total, and we were planning on running 3 monitors/TVs, two computers, laptops, and speakers ourselves... so we're going to be running all of that, plus the other two stations, off this tiny power cord that's coming out of the carpet. Sounds good.

We get all of our stuff set up, and now we need chairs for the booth. We had brought one of our own chairs from the studio, but we needed a couple more for all of us and our visitors, so we found some nice Enforcers that went on a scavenger hunt for us to find chairs. At this point we also needed the TVs and the speakers that we were planning on getting, so another Enforcer went to go find those, and as all 3 teams hooked up their games to a giant daisy chain of surge protectors another Enforcer was dispatched to find a more powerful power source for us.

So now we have a giant scavenger hunt going on to find everything we need for our booth about an hour and a half before it goes open to the public. It's not too long though before the three TVs show up, but as we unbox ours we realize that we need a VGA cable to get it... so looks like we're not using that TV for now. With a couple of phone calls we can get a VGA cable to us by 1pm, so it's not too bad, but then I also find out that possibly the AV guys can get a VGA cable for us, so I venture out with another developer to find a VGA cable.

That brings us to the hidden section of the expo floor which has all the management people scrambling around trying to make sure everything goes all smooth like. We went to the AV guy and requested a VGA cable and some sort of audio cable that Blinding Silence needed (since the game is about being blind and using sound, they should probably have audio of some kind.) The AV overlord that we talked to said that he could get both of those things down to us if we checked back in a few minutes, so we went back to the Boston Indie Showcase to see what else we can get scrambled together.

Back at the Boston Indie Showcase booth, we got three more tables for some reason. Apparently they heard that we needed three tables, so some expo staff people dropped off three more tables for us. We used one of the extra ones to make our booth into a corner booth, and Blinding Silence did the same to their space, so we had one extra table that we put to good use later.

Along with the extra tables, suddenly three more HDTVs show up out of nowhere. More expo staff showed up with huge Samsung TVs but then there was some confusion as we already had three TVs show up. We told the expo staff that if they weren't being used by anyone else then we would gladly take them, but after some chatter on their radios they disappeared into the haze of video game promotional materials taking the giant TVs with them. (The TVs themselves ended up not being used at all, so we could've totally grabbed them.)

At one point a power guy did show up to investigate our power situation, and he had a lot of equipment with him, but he ended up not doing anything and decided that the one outlet in the middle of the booth would be all we needed for 3 complete set ups with multiple computers and 10 monitors and TVs.


Our chairs still haven't arrived yet though, so I went back to the expo management secret offices to check on those. We talked to someone back there that told us that our booth officially didn't actually order anything, so she had no idea how we even had anything at our booth. Apparently we were just scavenging everything from where ever we could find it. I also spotted the VGA cable that had been summoned for us, but I also heard from various sources that the AV guys actually charge a crap load for equipment rental and purchase, so I decided to just walk away from the VGA cable just in case it would've cost 100 dollars or something crazy like that. We had one on the way anyway, so it wasn't too big of a deal.


So now we should have more chairs showing up, which eventually we did... but for the time being we decided to pull the seats out of Pete's van and use those as our booth chairs. This ended up being one of the best ideas we had so far... but wait, nobody has vacuumed our booth yet! It's about 10am, which means that the show was opening to the public any second now, and now we need to have our booth vacuumed. The vacuum crew arrived and finished barely as the first public PAX attenders stormed into the room. We were now 95% set up and ready to go! (Still missing a VGA cable.) We also never ended up getting speakers, so we used Pete's tiny set of speakers that we actually blew by cranking them up so much. We couldn't compete with the volume of the Fire Fall trailer that was looping next to us.


The rest of the day really seemed like a blur. I was still a little worried about how people would receive the game when they first played it, but a lot of people really liked it. We had a crowd at our booth all day, and we were burning through postcards and buttons like crazy. We actually had to cap the amount of postcards we were giving away because we probably would've gone through all 500 of them in one day if we wanted to.


I do remember getting lunch that day which was at the food court that was provided, but everything was at super inflated food court prices. I tried getting a pulled pork sandwich and a giant pretzel, and while the pulled pork was pretty good, the pretzel was a disaster. It was half wet and half stale, and all gross. I don't really understand how you screw up a big pretzel, but they had mastered the process.


After the expo floor closed there was an "Exhibitor Mixer" which was a little party type thing for exhibitors that provided free food and free drinks, so that was pretty awesome. I don't think I had ever attended an expo that had any sort of special event for exhibitors before, so this was pretty refreshing. I took whatever food I could find and ate a lot of it, because we didn't really have much time for food breaks through out the day of demoing.

Soon the exhibitor party cleared out and we decided to wander around PAX a little bit and check it out. There is a crap load of stuff going on at all times during PAX and it runs until 2am every night, which seems a little insane at first. (The expo hall closes at 7pm though, so we weren't there until 2am every night.)

We went up to the main theater to check out some concerts, but I had a huge headache so I decided to duck out a little early. While my companions were at the concert, I found a corner of the convention hall with some outlets and proceeded to plug in my DS and cell phone and went to sleep. I think I slept for an hour and a half on my backpack on the floor until my amigos found me. We ended up leaving the convention center at 12:30am which was a pretty big mistake I think. I don't think I got to sleep that night until 1:30am, and our next day was starting at 6:30am.
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