PAX Prime was pretty sweet, but the suckiest thing for an Aussie dev was the flight over. Thirteen hours of being stuck in a flying tin can under pressure is not fun!
Worth it? Absolutely!
PAX Dev was filled with a lot of really great talks. Some of them made us think about and reconsider how we go about our projects. From how we prototype, to how we approach marketing. The opening talk was inspirational to say the least, it's nice to be reassured that some of the bigger devs such as Gearbox still care about making games as an art-form rather than a cash cow.
Going to Seattle was great, and going for PAX Prime just one month after PAX Australia allowed for a lot of comparisons to be made. Prime is a lot bigger than Aus, this is pretty obvious considering how long Prime has been running while Aus only has a single iteration under it's belt. Despite Prime being larger, PAX Aus was packed denser if only due to the smaller venue. Prime had more people, more games, more devs and more talks. As such Prime was, as a developer, far more enjoyable and valuable.
Having the chance to show our game, Clicktraption, off to not only thousands of gamers, but also to other developers is simply fantastic. Any other event that I have attended, even PAX Melbourne, didn't provide this opportunity. Showcasing Clicktraption however showed us many of the silly little mistakes we made and I will try to keep this concise.
- Not enough business cards. I ran out and then couldn't give any more to people.
- Giving non-industry people business cards. They don't care, they want something that is either pretty, or better gives them free stuff. Mainly we should have had a flyer for our game to give out.
- We didn't have the title of our game on our banner, or anywhere! We eventually mocked up a logo and stuck that to the top of the screen. People kept asking what Cardboard Keep was, not what Clicktraption was, and couldn't easily make the connection.
- Didn't have a mailing list. People actually want to know about games they like, and people thought our game was good enough to give us their emails, but we didn't have an easy way to receive those emails. Again we mocked up a written mailing list.
- Didn't have a fancy screen to watch. When people were playing our game, no one else could see the screen, so they had no reason to stop and watch. I believe that if passers-by could see the game being played, we would have people queuing up to play it.
For expo research I looked at all the booths other exhibitors had. One stood out as how we, as Cardboard Keep, could have presented ourselves. Their booth was a box fort! Entirely made up of cardboard boxes and drawn on to look like a castle. Totally awesome. The devs were super nice too. Check out Backyard Battles by Naked Sky.
Meeting with people who aren't developers but love games, hundreds if not thousands of them and getting their opinions and thoughts of our game was scary. It always is, the fear of being shot down. What if people hate it? The first day of PAX Prime, before all the people came in, despite all the play testing before hand and the fun times we ourselves had had in it, the steady fear of showing to the public an expression of who we are, and what we are capable of is intimidating.
Luckily, people loved Clicktraption!
The Indie Megabooth was awesome sauce! And probably the most crowded place at PAX Prime. There were so many people pouring through that section that I had to check it out when I got the chance. Lucky me for having an exhibitor pass I checked it out after the floor had closed, and it is amazing how nice the marketing guys, the developers and all the Megabooth people are after 8 long hours standing on ones feet selling a game idea to the masses again and again. It's exhausting but all the Megabooth devs and staff were super nice after the fact. So nice in fact that Kelly Wallick, the person who started the Megabooth gave me a free Megabooth shirt, which I proceeded to have signed by as many of the Devs and staff there that I could. Unfortunately I couldn't get all of them, I think I only missed about four studios :(
While having an awesome signed shirt by a bunch of devs doing what I love and making it in the harsh world of big AAA titles and bigger publishers, getting a signed Vlambeer music CD which doubles as a business card is pretty rad and having Dennis Wedin, one of the creators of Hotline Miami give his personal email on the shirt was hilarious, meeting every single one of them and having them all wish us luck for Clicktraption and wanting to be shown our game was mind blowing.
All the contacts made at PAX Prime were great, from Nate Mitchell and Palmer Lucky, creators of the Oculus Rift (And promising a Rift version of Clicktraption), to Ouya, Sony, Intel and more reps (Handy for sponsorship to go to more expos!) and all the developers of indie games plus Youtubers, bloggers and media gurus. Suffice it to say we now have a huge list of contacts to communicate with and that list is not big enough, we'd love more (and more business cards!)
PAX Prime was fantastic and while I was dubious of the usefulness of attending an expo, PAX has instilled a strong faith in showcasing at such events. I had a great time, I met heaps of awesome people and the times for Cardboard Keep are looking up. Stay tuned for our release of Clicktraption! Soon to Kongregate. Perhaps even to Ouya.
So thank you Penny Arcade, Indie Megabooth, The AIE, the enforcers and many more!
Till next time.