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Pax 2012: Day 2

Pax 2012: Day 2
Saturday sort of began as an adrenaline rush after I got to the expo hall. I had left most of the stuff at my booth at the expo hall overnight, which is what most people do. Nobody is going to steal anything from other exhibitors, and plus there’s security roaming around. However, I did have this paranoid fantasy that I would forget something integral to the whole Super Pretendo set up.

When I got to the booth I started setting up everything and then I freaked out when the announcer called over the loud speaker “15 Minutes until the expo hall opens to the public.” I couldn’t find my SNES controller, and I was thinking “God damnit, that SNES to USB controller is actually pretty rad and someone would take it if they realized what it was…” and I frantically searched all around the booth for it. I wasn’t just going crazy for no reason though. See, back in E3 2009 I was demoing the first version of Snapshot at the IndieCade booth and someone actually did try to jack my Xbox360 controller from the booth overnight. Somehow we were able to find it a few booths down (we knew it was mine because it was specifically marked and it was actually pulled out of the computer by the connection at the end of the cord and not the actual USB plug.) Ever since then I’m always paranoid about leaving stuff in expo floor booths overnight.

After about 10 minutes of searching I moved my backpack and out from underneath it came the SNES controller. I calmed myself down and got everything set up and ready to roll for day 2 to start.

PAX Round 2

So far I was doing pretty well on traffic. I was giving out some Offspring Fling pins that I ordered a few months ago, as well as business cards, and postcards. The postcards were the coolest thing because they looked like the Super Pretendo box art, and that was another factor of getting people to double take at the sight of my booth.

The reactions that I was getting throughout the show were the best. Often times people didn’t realize that I was the developer of the game because I just looked like some dude hanging around the booth. I should really get a shirt or something that makes it obvious that I’m the developer, but sometimes I also like just blending in. There were quite a few times where a few people would walk by the game and ask each other “Holy crap is that a new Super Nintendo game?” Then they would all start speculating as to what could be going on. “No way, is that really hooked up? I’ve never seen this game before. Is this a remake of an old game or something? That thing looks like it’s really hooked up to the TV though…”

If people were speculating out loud, I usually didn’t interrupt them until they directly asked me something. If they believed that it was actually a legit 16 bit game running off of the cartridge, then I wouldn’t shatter their fantasies unless they asked me to. I didn’t always want to just reveal the fact that I was running the game off of a laptop underneath the booth because the mystery of a FC Twin supposedly running an indie game seemed too perfect.

It turns out that a lot of people actually wanted to buy a cartridge version of the game. I think about 25% of people that actually stopped by the booth were asking about buying a cartridge. I wish this was possible somehow, but I don’t actually think there’s any way to get the game running on actual Super Nintendo hardware. The resolution of the game starts off at a commanding 640 x 480, which is pretty far out of spec for the SNES. Aside from that I don’t even know how the hell I would start actually programming anything for the Super Nintendo.

PAX also was a good way to remind me how bad I actually am at marketing. A lot of times in the whole indie game scene it’s easy to think that a game must be super popular, and everyone has heard of it and has it. I would say about 90% of people that came by the Offspring Fling booth had never even heard of Offspring Fling before, and didn’t realize that it was already available on Steam. I didn’t feel too bad about these interactions, but it did remind me how huge the gaming population is and how difficult it is to actually reach out to these people. I am super thankful that I was able to be in the PAX10 and get the kind of awesome exposure that I did.

Other than the cartridges, a lot of people wanted to buy plushies of the characters in the game and now I’m realizing how unprepared I was for PAX. I saw a lot of other booths around giving out and selling all kinds of awesome and cool stuff, and I really thought that I would be amazingly prepared with my Super Pretendo set up just demoing the game, but pretty much when I showed up I immediately felt like I didn’t do my homework. Hell, the freakin’ Vlambeer booth was set up like a massive shopping mall of merch and I was feeling so jelly of Rami and his crew when I saw how awesome it looked!

The one thing that we were trying was selling Snapshot Steam codes right from the Snapshot booth. Before PAX we ordered cards all with Snapshot steam codes on them with the intention of selling them from the booth, and from what I can tell it actually went pretty well! Dave and Wil were managing the Snapshot booth as well as selling the cards. We ended up selling them for 50% off, so for the low, low price of 5 dollars cash you could totally grab a Snapshot key from one of them at PAX. Apparently a lot of people went for the deal, with some people even buying multiple copies! This whole concept of selling things at PAX is very interesting to me, and if it can end up covering the cost of running the booth at PAX then it is totally worth it.

I spent the day Saturday much like I did on Friday. There were a lot more media that stopped by the Indie section this time around, so I had a lot of fun doing some video and audio interviews with the handful of them that made it around the PAX10. It’s also always fun to meet some of the press in person that I’ve only interacted with over email or Skype.

As per usual with PAX, Saturday ended up feeling way more chaotic than Friday did. I can’t really remember any of the details, but I do remember just an absurd amount of people walking around the booth at certain points during the day. I gave out the rest of my pins by the end of the day, and I had gone through all of my Offspring Fling business cards as well. I was still holding strong with the postcards though.

The PAX10 Panel

After the expo floor closed for the night I had to start getting ready for the PAX10 panel that I was supposed to be on. The PAX10 games are split up into two groups. One group of the games has a panel on Friday night, and then the next group has a panel on Saturday night. I ended up being on a panel with Joust, Deity, Catch-22, and Cannon Brawl.

The panel was being super fun and it was hosted by Jeff from Penny Arcade. It was a really laid back panel and we filled about 80% of the room with people. A lot of the questions were actually really solid and I think that each person on the panel could’ve given like a whole 40 minute presentation on every question. We talked a lot about game jams, and how the original ideas for Joust and Offspring Fling just came about during game jams and then were turned into full games later.

The last question we got asked was something along the lines of “What was the defining moment that you realized you wanted to make games for the rest of your life?” and I was trying to think of mine. One of the panelists talked about being inspired from playing Super Mario RPG which is pretty awesome. I remember drawing up my own RPG ideas based off Super Mario RPG when I was playing through it.

I talked about the time in which I first received a demo copy of the legendary software Klik & Play. I got a copy of Sim Tower for my dad’s laptop when I was really young, probably 11 or 12 years old. On the cd there were demos for other games that installed with Sim Tower. Amongst these demos was a copy of Klik & Play, software that claimed to let me create my own games. Klik & Play was an insanely mind blowing moment for 11 year old Kyle.

Instead of playing Sim Tower at all, I ended up just opening up Klik & Play almost every day and tried making a game. The only problem with the demo of Klik & Play was that I couldn’t actually save any of my games. Every time I wanted to use it to make a game I would have to erase all of my work at the end of the day and start anew the next time I opened the software. I feel like I actually learned a lot about game jamming at a really early age because of this.

Search for Sushi

I should probably save the rest of that story for another blog post sometime. After the panel let out, I ended up getting some excellent Seattle sushi with some indie pals of mine. Greg, Matt, Noel, and Lars joined me on a quest for sushi that evening and we ended up at a pretty nice place just a few blocks away from the convention center after Greg lead us in the wrong direction about 20 different times. It ended up being worth it though because the walking only made the sushi all the more delicious when we finally arrived.

It was a nice relaxing evening with sushi and indie game developer friends, which is what I always like to opt for instead of super loud parties. I ended up skipping out on the huge Minecraft party because I’ve decided that those kinds of parties are totally not my scene. Super loud music, flashing lights, and drunken people are my least favorite things mixed together.

After stimulating my game developer brain with my bros I ended up just going right back to the apartment for the night. I wanted to be prepared once again for another full day of PAX insanity, and I didn’t want to look like a zombie at my booth for any video interviews that could’ve popped up. I think I fell asleep sometime around 1am this time, so I was doing pretty well for sleep at a convention.







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