This past weekend I went to Boston for PAX East. Attending it is turning into an annual thing. I got to play Super Crate Box (iOS), Super Time Force, Lollipop Chainsaw, Sonic 4: Episode II, Runner 2, They Bleed Pixels, Charlie Murder and Sina Mora, to name a few.
At the Lollipop Chainsaw booth I even got to meet my favorite game designer Goichi Suda also known as Suda 51!
Of course, not all of my time at PAX was spent playing games. I also attended a few panels.
Indie Game Development: A Day in the Life Part I, II, and II
This panel was spread throughout the 3 days of the convention. Each day a panel of 3-4 independent developers moderated by Erik Johnson (Arcen Games) answered questions about their work. Some of the same questions were asked each day but the answers were just diverse enough to keep it interesting every day. James Silva (Ska Studios) shared that he had actually lost his best friend due to his friend suing him over assets. An important lesson to be learned from this is that James’s always has a written contract made up before hand, just to be safe. James Green (Carbon Games) talked about handling player feedback in response to including Jesus as a pilot in the game AirMech. Ichiro Lambe (Dejobaan Games) input was very entertaining, and he has some interesting views on monetization, and life as an indie. Matt Gilgenbach (24 Caret Games) talked about his work on Retro / Grade, he challenged developers to try and clone his game when asked his opinion on cloning.
Kickstarter and the Future of Independent Games
I was really looking forward to this panel, and I was not disappointed! In the past six months I’ve backed Venus Patrol and Double Fine Adventure on Kickstarter. Local developer Cipher Prime just successfully backed Auditorium 2. Lot’s of my friends are interested in, or use Kickstarter. Cindy Au, Kickstarter’s community director kicked off the panel by talking metrics. Because of the success of Double Fine Adventure, the backers of that project go on to back other projects as well. Huge percentage growths on various graphs were shown. The creators behind Cards Against Humanity, Organ Trail, and more talked about how Kickstarter not just met but exceeded their expectations. They also gave tips and tricks on starting a Kickstarter project. They talked about which price points were best for rewards and what times to start and end a Kickstarter campaign are best.
The Indie Rant: Indie Developers Gone Wild
This panel lived up to it’s name. A multitude of developers (including a few from the “A Day in the Life” panels) got 5 minutes each to rant about whatever they wanted. It was great, they implored consumers not to get upset over monetization. They talked about how more people should make games, and not just derivatives of puzzle platformers. It went all over the board. When each of them were done their rant they took question shouted by people in the audience. My favorite moment was when one of the panelist asked everyone who has ever made a game to raise their hand. When more people than he expected had raised their hand someone shouted “Ha! Not so special now, are ya?”. It was a fun panel.
Reimaging X-COM with XCOM: Enemy Unknown
I went to this panel with a friend. I haven’t played X-COM myself but I’ve read and watched a lot about it and it seems like my kind of game. This panel did make me want to pick up the reimagining of the original when it comes out. It’s designed with modern game design sense, so it does not look as complicated or “hardcore” as it origionally did. They opted to take the spirit of the original and streamline the experience for old and new players alike.
Despite a few hitches and not being able to do nearly as much as I wanted to I had a great time!