Friday morning was pretty quiet. I got to the place where my game would be shown. It was in a big garage at a fire station with a bunch of other games. Some of them were on laptops, some on TVs, some were physical games where your body was the controller. It was a great space.
I had a computer with my game on it, and a TV which would be the monitor, but no cable to go in between. There were two hours to get everything set up, and then was “VIP/Media Walkthrough” time. So I was starting to get a little stressed out when we couldn’t find any cables anywhere to actually connect the computer to the TV. But eventually someone found an HDMI cable in their car, and all was well.
I don’t remember much of the Friday afternoon walkthrough. I do remember that John Romero (cofounder of iD software, creator of Wolf3D, Doom, and Quake, etc) played briefly and laughed a lot. That was cool to see. After showing the game for a while, there was a tent set up with tacos and beer. I didn’t really know anyone, so I enjoyed a free dinner and headed back to the hotel.
Saturday was the big day. The games were all on display for the public to check out. After making sure everything was set up correctly, I spent most of the morning showing the game to people. For the most part, they picked it up well enough on their own. Normally there would be four people playing while a small group was watching. During this time, I’d look for new faces in the group and stand next to them and asked if they knew what was going on, and explain whichever game mode was currently playing. Death Race is by far the most interesting and engaging mode, so I encouraged people to play that most of the time.
When explaining the game to new people, I’d develop a bit of a script: “Ok, you’re in a race. You want to get from the left side of the screen to the right side of the screen. However, each player has a gun with one bullet in it…” At this point, I’d pause to let the ramifications sink in. Usually the person would get it and a big smile would show up. “So you can’t just bolt to the end of the screen. You have to blend in with the AI opponents.” That was enough to get people off and running.
I didn’t realize how much media there would be. I gave some more interviews, some video, some just talking. Most were from (I found out afterwards) low-traffic indie game review sites. One was a nice lady from the LA Times who had hand-picked a few games to feature. So I’m excited to see what happens with that.
My voice was tired and my throat was sore. Eryn showed up, and it was great to see him there. I met my indie developer email buddy Ian in person, so that was cool. Eryn and I had a brief lunch, and it was nice to sit for a while. By the time we were done, Andy Schatz showed up, and he and Eryn cruised around while I did more talking.
At some point, I turned around and recognized the lady behind me with her two young kids. I was Julie from the Ouya Kickstarter video. I said "You're Julie from Ouya!" She indeed was. I told her that I'd emailed her (and gotten a response) about putting HIPS on the Ouya. She was being dragged around by her kids, but seemed interested in the game and getting it out there. So that was neat.
By the time the afternoon was over, I grabbed a quick dinner (and some whiskey) and headed back to the hotel. There were evening activities, but I was exhausted.
Sunday was a half-day. We had a few hours to check out the other developers games, which was a nice opportunity. I then joined a panel with three other developers and a moderator to talk about Game Mechanics (a purposefully nebulous and undefined term). With some prompts from the moderator, we shot the shit for a while about depth and gameplay and conflict and tension and game design. I wasn’t nervous at all speaking in front of people, and felt I was able to say some insightful things. The other guys on the panel were pretty smart guys, and it was an honor to sit next to them.
After the panel, I got some lunch and wanted to get ready to leave. I was going to be taking my Xbox controllers home with me, so I needed to find some replacements. That took some time. On the way, I ran into Brad Muir, a prominent game developer who I’d met briefly the day before. He was so nice and enthusiastic about my game, it was really cool. He really wanted to see it succeed, which I think means sell more copies and be on more platforms. I told him that I’d already felt like I’d won, and this was all beyond my wildest expectations. It was a fun little sharing of perspectives. He’s a big name, but said he hated the industry. I’m a nobody, and love doing what I’m doing.
I also ran into one of the guys who was on the Game Mechanics panel, and we talked more about some of the stuff we talked about on stage. I think we really connected well, and I look forward to following along with his developments.
When I got back to my booth to collect my stuff, John Romero was back. He was taking an iPhone video of the game while people were playing Death Race. I waited till he was done, and then took the opportunity to tell him what a fan I was and how huge his games were in my life back in the day. We chatted for a bit about the role of indies in the industry from the 80’s to the present. It was so cool to talk to him. I then discovered that I was kind of eager to get on the road and get back home, and that Romero is kind of a chatterbox. In my mind I found it amusing that I was trying to get myself OUT of a conversation with a god into the industry. But I stayed and we talked and parted ways. That was a highlight.
I got stopped for two more interviews before I could finally leave. It was a tiny, TINY taste of being annoyed by media when I just wanted to go home. Ha.
I left in the early afternoon and got home, tired and happy my mind buzzing from the morning. Happy to see the family.
In the evening, I followed along on Twitter as they announced the “Audience Choice” and “Developer Choice” awards. I was starting to think I had a chance at the Audience Choice award, but it went to a more deserving game. Ditto with Developer Choice. I would have liked to have won an award, of course, but I’m not too surprised I didn’t.
And now back to work. It’s been a wild ride, but I had a lot more fun (and am a lot more tired) than I thought.