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Pax 2012 - Day 0

Pax 2012 - Day 0
PAX Prime has come and gone once again and I’m feeling absolutely obliterated mentally and physically, and maybe even emotionally. This particular PAX was pretty insane for me because I was actually a part of two different booths for two different games! First, the Indie Mega Booth came back around for another go since its successful run at PAX East 2012, and secondly my solo project Offspring Fling (featuring music by Alec Holowka) was picked up as part of the PAX10! Fortunately Dave Carrigg (the Snapshot programmer) and WiL Whitlark (the Snapshot composer) were going to be at PAX with me so that they could cover the Snapshot booth, and I could be with my baby throwing game in the PAX10.

Snapshot is Released!

The first thing to note is that I really cannot stand flying anymore. I don’t know if it’s the rough flights I’ve experienced in my life, but at this point the thought of flying drives me crazy, and so on Wednesday night before PAX I got little to no sleep because I was so anxious about the trip. The other thing to note is that we actually released Snapshot on the Thursday afternoon that I would be spending on a plane to Seattle, so stress levels were a little on the high side. I guess I should actually talk a little bit about that Snapshot release since a lot of people just went “What da fuek?!” when we released it without much notice.

We’ve been working on Snapshot for a long time, a long ass time one might even say. With PAX coming up for us once again, we couldn’t bear the thought of standing at our booth for the fourth time saying that Snapshot was still “Coming soon, we promise.” We were presented with the opportunity to actually release Snapshot on Steam days before PAX started, and we wanted to go for it.

We pushed harder than we’ve ever pushed before in the game’s development, and it was an insane two weeks spent coming down to the wire. Constantly testing and playing through the game and fixing bugs, making builds of the game that had stupid bugs in them that we had to scramble to fix. This finally all came down to the wire initially on Tuesday night where we uploaded a final build to Steam to distribute to the world… and then the next morning we found that there was a pretty critical bug to fix in that build. Dave was already in Seattle at this point, and he ended up fixing the bug from an apartment in Seattle and pushing the new build to Steam probably less than 24 hours of the game going live. Dave was actually the main hero in this situation as he was the one dealing with all of this.

So on Thursday afternoon, pretty much right after I landed and I got back from the Seattle airport, the game went live on Steam. We apologized for the late notice, but we didn’t want to promise a date to anyone that we didn’t know if we were going to be able to keep. If we weren’t able to make a final build for Steam before PAX, we were just going to release sometime in the middle of September probably, and none would be the wiser… but we somehow hit the date before PAX so we basically just said “SHIP IT!” as soon as we got that final build in.

Basically my entire PAX experience had begun with releasing a game that I had been actually working on in some form since 2008. Snapshot began as a tiny prototype that I made in college with Pete Jones, and from there it snowballed into a huge game that would take another 3 or so years to finish. There was a big gap between 2008 and 2009 where I wasn’t actually working on the game, so I think if you were to just calculate solid work put into the game it would be between 3 and 3 and a half years of decently concentrated effort.

Setting Up

After getting situated in Seattle, we headed off to the convention center to figure out what we were going to do with the Snapshot booth. We also met up with indie darlings Alec, Matt, Noel, and Chris Z before wandering into the Expo hall. We picked up our Exhibitor badges (which might be a story reserved for a blog post all on its own) and headed into the mass chaos of the expo hall under construction. We could feel the thousands upon thousands of marketing dollars in the air as giant booths were constructed for various giant gaming studios.

The PAX expo hall is incredibly huge. It’s actually so huge that it’s split into two different areas in the convention center. For some reason though, it doesn’t feel overwhelming. There’s a lot of stuff going on, but it doesn’t feel like E3 where everywhere you look is a huge projector screen with rainbow lights all over it, flashing and rotating and making you want to throw up, but then when you look down to try and throw up the floor is all made out of lights too and they’re beaming into your eyes giving you seizures. The indie mega booth and the PAX10 ended up being waaay in the back of the large hall. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it does take a while for people to find it. Last year at PAX we had a Snapshot and Closure booth set up in the same back corner and it did take a while for people to find us back there.

Mostly all of the Indie Mega Booth games were already there in some stage of set up, and we didn’t actually get there until 4pm or so, so it looked like we were getting pretty a late start. The Mega Booth got some help from Mad Catz and Intel, which was awesome. For Snapshot we had a couple of Mad Catz 360 controllers to use and a giant TV and TV Stand from Intel. We also got some help from ibuypower in the form of a beastly desktop computer that we hooked up to the massive TV on the stand.

At this point I also claimed my spot at the PAX10 booth which was set up with some big TVs and tables. We would end up changing the arrangement of the PAX10 booth later for better visibility, but that’s a story for Day 1. Fast forward all the way to about 11:30pm, and that’s when we were finally finished setting up the Snapshot booth. Dave, WiL, our pal Matt from Carbon Games, and I took off from the expo hall at about midnight right before they closed the building to everyone. We hadn’t eaten anything since we started setting up about 7 or 8 hours prior, so we stopped in to some Italian restaurant which apparently is open 24 hours a day for some dinner. I was already paranoid about getting sick since I had spent the last 8 hours hugging and shaking hands with a lot of people that I don’t get to see very often, so I made sure to wash my hands pretty rigorously before eating my barbeque chicken sub. I was pretty disturbed to realize that the bathroom in this place was completely out of soap, though.

When we got back to the apartment I set my alarm for 7am, super bright and early. I would have to still set up my entire PAX10 booth tomorrow morning before the show opened to the public, but I wasn’t too worried because the entirety of my PAX10 set up would just be my laptop and a controller hooked up to the TV. Almost the entire contents of my booth were tucked away in my backpack.
I collapsed onto an air mattress and tried to get in as much sleep as possible because PAX was surely going to begin its destruction on my mind and body the following day.





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