Tues-Wed: PAX Dev
I’m not supposed to share too many details, so here’s a very quick summary of what I did.
Defense Grid 2 Kickstarter: Wow, a lot of people want to run a Kickstarter. They seem to have had a good challenge and a good outcome.
Cards Against Humanity: I played a game at lunch Wednesday, and a few times later during the convention. It never failed; I could sit down at a table and make friends instantly with CAH. Kind of like Zombie Dice two years ago, it’s great to have a game that everyone’s playing.
Creative Destruction: When working with a property, become an expert, and make sure anything you create has a clear lineage back to the canon. These guys really seem to love the property they’re working with, and it’s sad that so many games don’t take the same care
Tabletop Goes Digital: As long as the game can work in a digital space, having a digital version of a tabletop game always helps sales of both the tabletop and digital versions.
Something from Nothing: This game design workshop was nothing new for me, but more practice is always helpful. Probably the most interesting part was how quickly you’d see the microcosm of design in a short session. And that half the time spent being in a group is just getting the group to make a quick decision
Running a Successful Kickstarter: These panels on Kickstarter only really underscore all the mistakes I made while running mine, but also all the leeway I was able to get. Even with a really confusing KS, I got about 400% funding. I think the idea is still king, even when it seems like KS will give anyone big stacks of money.
Lessons from TableTop: Talked about how to make a game which would be good for the show TableTop. I think it was a little misleading; the panel was really about how to make a game with maximum fun in a reasonable play time. Probably the central point was, make your game look fun. You want a passerby (or YouTube viewer) to be interested in what’s going on.
Something from Nothing Part II: Our design crashed and burned, but I think that in doing so, we learned more than other groups. We tore out everything that didn’t work, kept the one or two things that did, then started playing with a different set of mechanics. That’s great game design work, even if it was disappointing to end up with an unplayable pile of cards at the end.
Social Games Roundtable: It was nice to talk to other developers, and share some of what I’ve learned. I found that other developers don’t really understand social games, and are eager to bandy the term about whenever possible. Chat window? Social game! Share on FB? Social game! Players can view replays? Social game! True, it’s all ‘social,’ but without a working definition, it was hard to keep a Social Games Roundtable on track.
The Secret Mechanisms: People are more predictable than we like to believe, and understanding past behavior can really give a lot of insight into how we can make people interested in our games – not by manipulating them, but by understanding what makes humans feel pleasure, and designing games that bring pleasure.
Overall: PAX Dev was a great experience. I felt like I was part of an intimate group, able to learn about everybody and have meaningful discussions that I can’t get at GDC or PAX due to their size. My only concern is, how long can it last? It might be worth flying up just for PAX Dev next year, as long as I can avoid paying for a hotel
Thursday night, I played some board games. Won a game of Power Grid, then played Cthulhu Dice and Zombie Dice. And Carcassonne, too. Really nice to talk to gamers and feel their excitement for PAX…while, at the same time, having nothing else to do, so it’s not like we felt rushed to get out and go to freeplay, or a panel, or the expo hall, or anything.
PAX Prime: Friday-Sunday
Keynote with Ted Price: Make stuff. Do stuff. Make a game. Can’t argue with that.
Hmm…attended some other panels, but nothing really new that I need to share.
Harassment and Bullying in Online Games: I spoke to the panelists afterwards, and agreed that any solution needs to start with a technical basis. At Kabam, I don’t think we had nearly enough technology or data to act and eliminate our biggest bullies.
PAX Prime was well-organized, lots of great stuff to do, but…well, I’m just feeling like I don’t really do conventions. I’ve felt this way before with other conventions. I generally don’t care about the Expo Hall*, I don’t really connect with other attendees, I know most of the information conveyed at panels, and I can understand that a community exists without needing to see it all gathered in one place.
I still attend conventions, but I’m starting to wonder why. Maybe it’s good that I’m transitioning into a gaming business; I don’t think I’d mind too much if I spent all day in the exhibit hall, letting the convention come to me instead of going to it.
I think I’d enjoy it more with a group. I’ve never gone to a convention with a group – I mean, we had 6 or 7 of us at GenCon SoCal one year, but the UFS players spent all con at those tables, so I was still wandering the halls alone
*Expo Hall Full Review:
- The games you’ve been reading about on Kotaku are still coming out.
- There are some indie games you’ve never heard of. If they’re good, you’ll hear about them soon.
- Peripheral companies like Chessex, Geek Chic, and Gunnar still exist.
Really, do you expect any surprises? Okay, I can think of one surprise: when Gearbox put together a Duke Nukem Forever booth without telling anyone. Still, that hit the internet within minutes, so it’s not like any attendees really got the cutting edge of videogame news by rushing into the expo hall.
I should look into one of these ‘online conventions.’ They might appeal to me, but I don’t know of any that really feel legitimate. An online convention needs some high-profile guests, some advertisers and product announcements, and a schedule of events, I think. Most of the ‘online conventions’ I’ve seen are more like a bunch of people agreeing to be in a chat room at the same time. (Know a good online convention? I’d love to be proven wrong!)