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Pax 2012: Day 1

Pax 2012: Day 1
I accidentally left my phone in complete silence mode all night. I actually thought it was in “Alarm Only” mode but apparently I hit the button one too many times. I ended up waking up at 7:30 to the sounds of Dave checking our Steam stats for Snapshot. I wanted as much time as possible to set up the booth for Offspring Fling, so we were pretty much out the door in a flash.

Setting Up Offspring Fling!

If any of you remember the Offspring Fling trailer that was brilliantly put together by the wonderful and talented Kert Gartner, you’ll recall that it had a big focus on the whole Super Pretendo thing. My idea for the PAX10 set up of Offspring Fling was to fully embrace that once again. Alec showed up all the way from Winnipeg with the FC Twin, the box, and the cartridge in hand.

After getting my laptop safely tucked away underneath the black curtain that surrounded the table, I set up the “Super Pretendo” on the table with the Offspring Fling cartridge in it. The FC Twin had all of its cables, including the power and the composite cables for video. The TV I was using had a bunch of input options, including composite. I plugged the FC Twin into the side of the TV where the composite input was, so it totally looked like the game could be running off of the actual cartridge.

The next step was to use an SNES controller that was wired up to USB. I borrowed this from my pal Matthew and it was going to be the demo controller for the entire weekend (which means at this point I should probably rub it down with some cleaning solution.) At first I had this elaborate plan to try and cut a hole in the table cloth so that I could run the USB controller through it, and then out on the other side I would be running the actual FC Twin controller, so that it would look like the SNES controller is actually plugged in. I ended up scrapping this plan when I realized how convincing it looked when I simply had the FC twin go behind the table, and the SNES controller come out of the table at the same point.

Upon getting everything set up on the huge Samsung TV that I was provided, I realized something absolutely horrifying! The TVs that we were all given don’t have any sort of Game Mode. This means that no matter what we did, we couldn’t get the input lag of the TV down to 0, or at least close to 0. I’m going to save this entire situation for a separate blog post I think, but the bottom line is that everyone that played Offspring Fling at the PAX10 actually had a sub-optimal experience with the game. The input lag of the TV ended up being about 5 or 6 frames I’m guessing, which is summed up to about 91 milliseconds. You might wonder what the big deal is, but I’ll explain in more detail in another post.

Booth Modifications

I think it was around this point where my bros from the Puzzlejuice team showed up and claimed the table across from me. This is when we realized how weird the layout was for the PAX10. It was set up in a way where people would actually have to navigate their way into the booth to get to our game, and with already four developers occupying that space at any given time, it didn’t look like it was happening.

We decided to swing our tables outward toward the very edge of our booth space so that our games were right there facing outward to the PAX crowds. This also meant that we got a nifty private area to chill out in behind the tables where we could hold our secret indie cabal meetings and not have the public hear. I did actually have one real meeting back in our little “private” section of the booth and it was also a cool place for media to hang out and get quieter interviews or footage of games.

PAX Begins

The doors officially opened at 10am, but given our location in the expo hall it wasn’t until about 10:30am that people started trickling down. This was the first time that I’ve ever really had the opportunity to demo a solo project of mine for a crowd like PAX. I’ve demoed Snapshot before, and that’s always been a team effort, so this felt immensely different for me. This felt so much more personal.
It wasn’t long before I had my first demo of the day, and then a small crowd around the game. A lot of people did double takes at my set up upon seeing the FC Twin. I think I was asked easily over 100 times if the game was actually running off of a cartridge. Sometimes I would tell them straight up that it’s actually a clever illusion that’s running a PC game, but other times I would say that I couldn't reveal my secrets!

Watching people play through the game is still one of the best things to me in the world. I love demoing games at places like PAX, and PAX specifically is really awesome. PAX is full of incredibly passionate people that just love games, and some of them are really freakin’ good at them too. A lot of people picked up the mechanics of Offspring Fling really really quickly. The demo of the game had 25 levels in it, ranging all the way from level 1 to level 97 of the full game. The amount of people that actually progressed through the entire demo really amazed me.

When people are playing the game and really enjoying it I’m just completely overcome with the warmest and fuzziest feelings I’ve ever experienced. When people watch the trailer and laugh and smile, or when someone throws a baby across the screen and it plops into the exit door and the crowd of people smile and laugh, it just feels like this incredible sense of accomplishment. There were moments during the first day of PAX where I was tearing up at people enjoying my game. I thought that I was going to have to just say “EXCUSE ME FOR A MOMENT” and burst into tears as people smiled and laughed and enjoyed the game.

When someone sits down and starts playing the game and they just “get it” without me having to explain anything I feel like I’ve made some sort of connection with that person, like I’m just communicating to this player through the work I’ve put into the game. For the most part it really seemed like things went this way for a majority of players throughout the weekend, which just made me incredibly happy.

Surviving Day 1

The first day of PAX always ends up being the slowest, since it is on a Friday and most people are working for the day on Friday. After the 8 hour day in the expo hall came to a close, I began explaining this to the Puzzlejuice bros and they didn’t seem to be too thrilled to know that tomorrow would be even more people after the insanity that we experienced today. The walkways were pretty packed, but Saturday and Sunday would prove to be different beasts all together.

Also I would like to make a very special shout-out to Mike of Mikengreg fame for getting me a delicious turkey bacon avocado sandwich type thing from down the block. Go check out Gasketball, and stuff. Oh and also to my bro Shannon who got me some waters from the Nintendo booth or where ever she found them from. Those definitely saved the day.

Pack it Up, Pack it In

I packed up my booth into my backpack and then headed out of the expo hall with Dave and a few other folks. We were all on our way to a meet up with the wonderful folks at Valve, which unfortunately I don’t think I can really talk about on the internets. There was food there. That's probably all I can say about it.

After the Valve meet up I just went straight back to the apartment to crash. I wanted to try and get a lot of sleep because Saturday is going to be absolute insanity even relative to Friday. I think I might’ve gone to sleep by midnight this time, and I had my alarm set for 8am so I could get a pretty early start on everything.

I think this was the night that we stopped at a drug store to get some drugs. My throat was already feeling really messed up from talking to people in a super loud expo hall for 8 hours straight so I picked up some halls and DayQuil. The biggest pro tip I can give anyone that is an exhibitor at a show like PAX is to drink plenty of water and eat halls every once and awhile. You have to take care of your voice and throat otherwise you’re going to lose it by day 2, and then you’re just totally hosed for the rest of the show. I actually ended up not talking that much at the Valve get together because I could already feel my voice giving out. Plus everyone just talked about DotA 2 the entire time so I didn't really have much to add to the conversation.









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