PAX Recovery

PAX Recovery
I decided to purposely take a lot of time off after PAX, and this included posting on my blogosphere. I think I can still hit my goal of 12 posts of something or other this month, but four straight days of PAX ended up being more draining than I thought. I think I'm back and ready to rock for real though, so I'll start with a quick recap of PAX.

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So I was able to set up a small demo station of Super Sky Sisters at PAX at a friend's booth. There was no big banner or fireworks display or anything, just me and a TV and two controllers. Sometimes I had a chair to sit down in!

I was fairly nervous about people playing the game but more confident than I ever have been. At this point the game is pretty far along and my real test was to see if people would understand what was going on without me interfering. My main goal for PAX was to see if I could in four days of constant play testing with new people playing the game all the time, and by that measurement it was a pretty big success.

The first group of people that played it ended up having a blast with the game and played it two or three times with different sets of people. It was a pretty amazing start to the weekend since I was unsure if people would find the whole idea too frustrating. They had a lot of nice things to say at the end too.

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As the day went on the first thing I realized is that the PAX crowd was picking up the game really quickly. I've demoed Sky Sisters at various events and venues over its development but this was the first super focused video game enthusiast crowd. As a result of that I ended up digging into the tutorial some and making it go about two times faster. This ended up with people getting to the game faster and I think hooked people more. I also had to change text that said "A" to "PRESS A" because more people than I hoped couldn't understand why there was a giant "A" over their character.

I didn't make any sweeping changes to the gameplay or demo build during the show. I ended up removing the cutscenes from the demo since about 95% of the players didn't pay attention to them (as I figured.) Surprisingly the game didn't have any major crash issues. There was one that popped up in the cutscenes for some reason that I don't know yet, but other than that the game was way more stable than I had anticipated. The game could pretty much run for the full day of PAX without needing a restart or debug fix (which doesn't feel usual for me.)

Also Chevy Ray made the first Sky Sisters fan art ever at PAX! He is the coolest and one of my game dev heroes. (He made Flashpunk, which Offspring Fling was created in!)

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The showing went pretty well but there were some weird or awkward demos too which is bound to happen. Some people pick up the game and are just instantly not feeling it and quit or just walk away. More than a handful of people didn't have anyone to play with so after awhile I offered to play with solo people. I usually don't like doing that since I know everything that's going on and I don't want to feel like I'm heavily leading the course of action. One of the weirdest things I saw was two people play that just kept asking me questions while somehow refusing to read the text on the screen. The game would constantly have text on the screen of what to do, and they would ask "what do we do?!" I tried to explain that the game was teaching them, or at least trying to, but I didn't get it across very well. Eventually the game had some text on it that read "If [the orb] is destroyed, it's game over!" and the two of them say "Oh, I guess it's game over." and they walk away. What! I have no idea what was going on there. I mean, maybe they just didn't like the game at all from the 30 seconds of tutorial so they just wanted to bail, which is fine.

Probably the most exciting thing to happen over the weekend is when a bunch of super cool speed runners showed up at the booth. Folks that I've seen all over twitch (mostly from the Games Done Quick streams) being godlike at games. Every single one of these guys that played the game were instantly five times better than every other person I've seen play the game ever, and it was their first time touching the game. Most of them cleared the first boss with ease, and some of them tried Extreme mode and almost made it to the third boss which is something I don't really expect out of anyone at the moment. They were all super great people and watching them be so good at my game already was really really cool.

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More than a few moments at PAX reminded me how much I actively avoid social interactions! I am pretty dang shy and very few times will be the first person to say something. So most of the time I stood quietly at the booth just waiting for someone to play the game. A few times a couple of my friends came by the booth and offered to go out and grab people to play, and it was fun hearing them yell about the game into the crowd. I really appreciated them going out and doing that since for me that's an impossible task. I guess it's because it's my own work that makes it tough to talk about or promote. I've pretty much always felt this way when showing a game, and in the future I really need to make sure there's someone with me at the show that has no problem being a shameless promotion person. The few minutes that I had help talking about the game were huge and if the whole weekend were like that it'd be incredible.

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As the show went on I got about a billion ideas for new things to add to the game which will be showing up soon on this dev blog. The main issue I have with the game right now is the ability for one player to take total control of the game and have the other player just be off to the side. I've been trying to think of ways to gently encourage role switching in the game (attacker and defender/avoider) but I think I need to actually make it way more heavy handed at this point. It's too easy for one player to drop to the background while the other player does all the heavy lifting, so I'm going to be focusing on that during the last stretch of development.

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Other than that PAX was filled with a lot of cool stuff, and cool people. I'm so grateful to be a part of these shows especially as an exhibitor and the magic of things like PAX totally brings me back to the love of making games. Watching people play Sky Sisters for the first time and seeing more than a few of them get super into it was incredibly motivating for me. Getting back from PAX was a combination of drained and energized, but I think the super draining aspect of it is finally wearing off now and I'm back to work!

Also I got to play a lot of Pokemon Go in the Seattle area which was fun on a bun!

Comments

Oliver
Oliver
I really love your convention reports. Congrats on the Super Sky Sisters demo! Sounds like the game is going to be a ton of fun. :D
Posted October 4th 2016 9:41 PM
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