Why did I think doing three events back to back was a good idea. PAX East is widely considered to be the biggest gaming convention in America, and the one press pay attention to the most, and it’s in an compact city. This’ll be the last postmortem for awhile. Time to recap.
Having more than one monitor
With a bigger soapbox comes more equipment. Full disclosure: the PC’s were provided by Origin PC. Having more than one machine mitigates the crowds to a significant degree. I get two people playing and I can keep talking about the game with 3 to 5 more people, maximizing productivity.
Polished Exhibitor Skills
Practice makes perfect. After talking about Negative World in emails, local shows, developer logs, and other conventions the pitch spiel is ingrained in my in my mind, and I can deliver it with my best salesmen voice.
This may sound like a negative, but when it comes to things like pins and cards it’s best to overstock just in case. At the very worst they can be reused for future shows.
Smaller Booth Materials
Taking a banner or a large dry erase board through airport security would have been a hassle, I didn’t want to deal with that. Ended up not taking the banner, but I got a smaller dry erase board, with a customized easel, worked out just fine (even if I didn’t set up the easel the right way), though I do miss the bigger space and size.
Letting players figure things out
Letting people know how to play is all well and good, but half of the players (in my experience at least) really don’t like the developers talking into their ear about what to do next when playing the game, I’m one of those admittedly.
In the second level when the switch platforms are introduced, they get confused. I give them one hint at most. I personally think that letting players figure the game out on their own, especially in a puzzle game leads to more of those “ah ha” moments leading to a more committed attempt at playing the game.
As usual here’s the stuff that can be improved.
Running all over town
Upgrading a booth comes with it’s own set of challenges. I had to get to other venues to get the TV’s, pick up the PC’s and check into the hotel before check in time passes. Then once all that’s done then I can start setting up the booth. The booth wasn’t set up until an hour or so before opening on the first day.
Doesn’t help that I didn’t bother to research Boston's weather, roads, or even where it was (never said I was perfect). I couldn’t subject some poor Uber driver with 6 to 8 boxes of show equipment. Next time I’ll probably find a way to minimize space and travel time, probably bringing someone … if I have the money next time I do a convention like this.
Lack of Networking
As long as we’re still on the topic of being short handed. Being a one person studio does have its downsides during conventions. Being the only one at the booth meant I couldn’t network with other developers during the show, before and after the show is hard enough.
Before the show people are either setting up or just late. After the show everyone’s tired and wants to go to their hotels. Like I said, it’ll probably be mitigated by bringing someone.
Like I said during the SXSW postmortem getting a good position is luck of the draw. To be fair though PAX was going to be packed either way, but layout does impact expo halls.
The PAX Rising booth was a square booth close to the entrance, one side faced the entrance, two sides lead to other booths. The side I was in only had one hall which I liked to call “the choke point.” Most common reason for heading to my side was because if people were already there and wanted to see more games.
Again it’s the luck of the draw and there wasn’t any significant dead time during the weekend. So I’m saying I wanted to be busier.
Overstocking cards or pins isn’t a problem most of the time if they’re going off the shelves at a steady rate, it can even be thought of as a good problem to have if all the pins are gone, but that’s dependent if it was sufficiently stocked.
Due to attending SXSW Gaming and GDC, I thought I’d have enough time to restock the pins after getting back from GDC. I got some pins at the last moment from a friend of mine (thank you by the way if you’re watching this). I ran out of pins on the second day. Keep in mind, people attending all 4 days of PAX East is the minority. Gotta restock as fast as possible.
Getting a verified discord server after printing cards
This’s a small gripe, but this is due to poor planning on my part. I printed the cards earlier in March, and got verified during PAX, the link still works, but it’s not as classy as the vanity/verified URL.
If I’m being brutally honest, I’m not satisfied with myself. There’s so much I could have prepared for, and in so many easy ways too. That’s part of the reason I do these postmortems, to look back and see what I could have improved. Let me know if you have any questions or feedback, take care of yourselves, have a good week.
Photos provided by Benjamin Tran