Archive for Game Jam – Page 2

PAX South 2016: Recap and catching up on Light Fall…

Hey everyone!

Two weeks have passed since our trip to PAX South 2016 and now that the dust has settled I figured it would be a good time to do a little recap on our event.

One year later…

It was only the second edition of PAX South ever, but we could see things had changed in one year. The event was bigger; it seemed more studios and fans were attending this time around. Once again, we met a lot of great people and even saw some familiar faces too. People that were there the first year came back to our booth and some also said they had supported our Kickstarter back in May. It was a great to chat with you all!

We were also thrilled to come back and show the changes we had made on Light Fall in the past year. We felt that our Speed run mode addition was very welcomed by the more hardcore fans. With both the Story mode and the Speed run mode, Light Fall now caters to most platformers fans. No matter if you prefer a more story-oriented approach or challenging and competitive gameplay, you can experience either. Whatever floats your boat as they say.

The weekend was busy as usual!

The weekend was busy as usual!

One year later... Steve, our PAX enforcer, was still there with us!

One year later… Steve, our PAX enforcer, was still there with us!

A friendly trip

It was our third PAX, and our second time at South specifically. We were very excited to visit San Antonio again, not only because it is a beautiful city, but also because it was here that we attended our first exhibition, one year ago.

This time, we rolled with three other studios from the Quebec area; Berzerk, Chainsawesome Games and Parabole. We rented two apartments for the trip and lived together for the week surrounding PAX. Our stands were all in the same alley, cornering the four spots. ”The French corner”, it was jokingly nicknamed by the PAX enforcers. We also met two other studios from Montreal; Spearhead Games and Clever Endeavour. It was really fun to hang out with these guys throughout the weekend.

It was great to see the beautiful Riverwalk once more.

It was great to see the beautiful Riverwalk once more.

Slowly gaining recognition

While we’re no pop stars, this PAX made us realize that we were slowly gaining recognition from the fans and the press. Our media bookings were rolling for the entire weekend and we even got approached by Twitch to be on the main stage on Saturday.

It was a stressful but fun experience. Light Fall had a 15 minutes segment where we showcased the game on Twitch while answering questions. We are starting to get used to media interviews, but being on the big stage in front of all the people is a different animal! In retrospect, I think the interview went quite well! At one point, I was too busy talking and answering questions and I didn’t have enough time to complete the last level of the demo! I remember explaining some thing about this particular level when I heard ”one minute” in my ear, only to die on my playthrough a few seconds later. Fun times!

You can check the whole coverage here (Light Fall segment starts at 06:16:30).

Ben on the Twitch Stage for the Light Fall feature.

Ben on the Twitch Stage for the Light Fall feature.

And Light Fall?

We will have a dedicated post to update you all next week, but what I can tell you is that the Marshlands, the second region of the game, will be absolutely amazing! We’ve been working really hard on that in the weeks prior to PAX and we are wrapping things up nicely. We hope you guys will enjoy what we will have to show next week!

That’s it for now, stay tuned and keep supporting us! It means the world to us!
-BEN

PAX: What to prepare for as an indie?

Hey everyone!

With PAX South around the corner, today I’d like to talk about what we, as an independent studio, go through before an event of this scale. What goes behind the scenes, what kind of preparation is needed, things like that.

This will be our third PAX under the Bishop Games banner and our second time at South specifically. Along the way, we have acquired a few tips and tricks on how to prepare for a convention like PAX and what to aim for.

From my own experience, here is a list of four things that an indie studio should focus on.

The game… duh!

This may seem obvious, but hear me out. You’re an exhibitor, and as such, you present your game to thousands of people. The thing is… you’re indirectly competing with all the other exhibitors for the people’s attention and time. PAX is only 3 days and there are hundreds of games to see and thousands of things to do. Your game needs to be on point, you have to stand out.

To do so doesn’t necessarily mean to showcase the most recent version of your game (if the game is still in development). It is better to be safe than sorry and go with an older build that may be less polished but is 100% bug-free. It can be quite embarrassing and problematic to find out that your new build is full of bugs and inconsistencies in front of thousands of people. There’s no time to fix things once you’re there, it’s too late.

It’s also primordial to adapt the length of your build specifically for PAX. As I said, people have a lot of stuff to visit and not a lot of time to spend on your game. The experience you offer to the audience needs to be fast-paced, attracting and easy to pick up. People have no time to learn this advanced mechanic that takes an hour to master, they want to test your game for 10 minutes top, and if they liked the experience, they will come back for more. TL;DR, you need a tailor-made experience that suits PAX’s audience. Short and sweet is key.

Throwback to the first edition of PAX South.

Throwback to the first edition of PAX South.

The media

If you want the best ROI (return of investment) from your PAX, media exposure is obviously one of the key factors. You never have enough exposure. You want your game out there as much as possible to generate hype for the release.

As if attracting fans to your booth wasn’t hard enough, you also need to lure the media. This can be a daunting task, especially when competing with bigger companies such as Blizzard, Riot Games, EA, Ubisoft, etc., but it is doable.

First of all, the members of the media like to be contacted ahead of time. They have to plan their schedule, and like the fans, they have many things to see and talk about. Contact them as soon as the media list is available. Be original and creative, sell not only your game but your story. Example, instead of writing ”Come test out Light Fall, an immersive platformer…zzzzzzzzz”, write something like ”Up in the cold North of Canada, three young gamers dared the impossible; revolutionize the platforming genre with their game Light Fall…” You get the drift?

Also, it is better to scout the media and contact those who share a similar audience. I mean, contacting a media dedicated to World of Warcraft and invite them to check out Light Fall will probably not get me a reply…

Finally, my personal advice is to have a playing station reserved to the media. If, by chance, a media runs into your booth without an appointment and all the stations are busy, you are in a lose-lose situation. You can’t just make this guy wait in line but it’s also plain rude to make him bypass everyone waiting. The solution is to have a laptop on the other side of the booth, away from the crowd. This way, the guy can test your game in peace and asks questions at the same time.

Table cloth and media roller next to Destin and Vince from IGN

Back at South last year, we made IGN.com’s frontpage. Here they were filming for their video.

 

The booth

Now, you thought the work was over? Hell no. Your booth also has to be sharp to attract the horde of fans wandering through the convention. You need promotional material; posters, media-rollers, huge TV screens, gifts for the fans, anything that you can think of to attract the eye and grab the interest of the passerby.

And you need to do it on a limited budget (well if you’re indie). Let’s be honest here, you can’t afford a 100 000$ booth like the big ones, but with creativity you can go a long way with a small amount of money.

Attracting a huge crowd to your booth is beneficial. It makes other people stop and wonder what everyone is looking at.

Attracting a huge crowd to your booth is beneficial. It makes other people stop and wonder what everyone is looking at.

 

As an indie, you can’t compete with things like this… but you can find ways to have a cool booth nonetheless.

As an indie, you can’t compete with things like this… but you can find ways to have a cool booth nonetheless.

The trip

Self-explanatory. You need to book flight tickets, a hotel and all that good stuff. And you need to do it fast. As soon as your presence to PAX is confirmed, in fact. The longer you wait, the higher the prices will be in that area. Hotels will be booked out, flight tickets will only get more expensive… it can be a nightmare (trust me on this).

There are also life-savers, small things or behaviors that we often don’t think about but that can greatly enhance your PAX experience.

An extra pair of shoes goes a long way and your feet will thank you forever. Standing up all day around the booth, walking to the convention center and back to the hotel… your feet will hurt, a lot. It’s a good idea to bring a second pair of shoes because after the first day your soles will be completely flat. Switching shoes every day will allow your soles to get back to their initial form and absorb most of the weight resulting in less pain.

An extra computer is also a must. Technology never breaks… until it breaks at the worst possible moment. Get an extra of everything (screen, laptop, controller, etc.). You don’t want to have to run around a city you don’t know to buy stuff at the last minute.

Wash your hands frequently. You meet hundreds of people in your weekend. You talk and shake hands all the time. It is incredibly easy to catch a cold or a virus at a convention. Be cautious about your health. Same goes for your voice. There is a lot of noise, people are screaming, the volume of the games is through the roof… To be heard you need to speak loudly. Take breaks if needed and alternate between team members so you can rest your voice and your vocal cords.

Get a cellphone plan for the area (if you’re outside the US). At least one of you should get a temporary cellphone data and voice plan for the event. Someone can get lost or you may need the 3G for something urgent (don’t rely on the free one provided at the event, it is overcrowded and can barely load a page in 10 minutes). It’s worth the cost.

Finally, get a travel insurance (if you’re outside the US). You never know what can happen and you don’t want to pay for a hospital bill in the US… Most travel insurance are pretty cheap if you’re relatively healthy. We had one for 80 bucks that lasted us a year.

Hope you enjoyed the read! Talk to you after PAX. We’ll do a Post-Mortem post and an update on where the development is at (great news ahead)!
-BEN

PAX South Post-Mortem

Hey everyone!

One day after we arrived back home in the cold but beautiful winter of Quebec City, it is now time to paint a post-mortem picture of our experience at PAX South. It was our first big event outside some local ones, and as such, it is now time to reflect on what we did well and what can be improved. Let’s dive right into it.

The reaction from the public was overwhelming!

If there’s one major highlight for our small team at PAX, it is the overall amazing and overwhelming reaction from the crowd towards Light Fall. You know, we’ve been working on this whole thing since last March, and like many other studios out there, we’ve had our ups and downs during development. It wasn’t always easy and there is still alot of work ahead until we are ready to release the game, but the boost we got this weekend was simply unreal.

We really didn’t know how the general public would react to the game, and after this amazing weekend we are even more dedicated to make the best game possible. We don’t want to disappoint you guys and we wont!

Booth

Having a booth full of people is always nice!

 

PAX South is there to stay

In my opinion, PAX South is there to stay. Despite being the first edition ever, the event ran its course without any major problem. The public showed up, the games presented were insanely fun and the people organizing the event did a tremendous job (the Freeman guys, all the expos, etc.). We definitely had an amazing time in Texas and are hyped to come down there again next year (we can also catch a short break from the cold heh). Quick high-five to Steve, our expo at PAX. He made us at ease for us first big event and he is a very genuine and funny guy. We wish you the best Steve!

Steve! You're welcome in Quebec anytime, if you ever want to freeze with us...

Steve! You’re welcome in Quebec anytime, if you ever want to freeze with us…

An opportunity to meet the rest of the industry

Being based in Quebec City, it is sometimes difficult to reach out to the rest of the industry. PAX South was a great opportunity to meet all the other devs, the publishers, the marketing guys and the rest of the industry, as well as meeting the public. For Bishop Games, it was also a chance to get some exposure outside of Quebec, something we lacked badly. We want to thank all the members of the media who showed up at our booth and took the time to talk with us. We hope you liked Light Fall!

We never thought we would ever get featured on websites such as IGN for example. I had to pinch myself when I saw the video review and the article!

IGN really gave us a big boost on Sunday. Thank you again Vince!

IGN really gave us a big boost on Sunday. Thank you again Vince!

Now, the rookie mistakes…

Despite an overall successful PAX, there are some things that could have been better on our part. Firstly, we really underestimated the sheer amount of people that would be there. I think we had 4 shirts left after the first day, and we ran out of cards as well. We also took people emails for the newsletter on a hotel notepad. Let’s say that adding them to our database one by one wasn’t the most pleasant thing I did in my life!

Also, we only had two playing stations. At some point during the weekend, people had to wait a good 15-20 minutes to try out the game. Some even left before they had a chance to play because there was so much to see in such a short amount of time. For the upcoming PAX East, we will definitely be more prepared.

Lastly, we also underestimated the tax on our bodies these days would take. We were honestly exhausted at the end. To be quite honest with you guys, my feet still hurt and my voice still hasn’t recovered. Oh well, no pain no gain they say right?

A picture is worth a thousand words

I’ll finish this post with some cool pictures we took during the event. Hope you enjoy! Also, we would like to welcome our newest subscribers. Thank you for the support, we’ll try our best to make you guys proud :)

Peace out.

– BEN

David photobombing a very cool Cosplay... c'mon man.

David photobombing a very cool Cosplay… c’mon man.

Light Fall is now Mario & Luigi approved. Quite the feat.

Light Fall is now Mario & Luigi approved. Quite the feat.

Believe it or not but this little guy played most of the first level without problems. Not bad huh?

Believe it or not but this little guy played most of the first level without problems. Not bad huh?

San Antonio is a beautiful city. The riverwalk in the morning is quite the sight.

San Antonio is a beautiful city. The riverwalk in the morning is quite the sight.