As I mentioned before, I found it helpful to have my PAX Notes from last year, so I'm doing the same thing again! This time I've decided to break it up by day since we went to so many panels.
- Monaco - Monaco is a top-down stealth game inspired by heist movies. You choose from a bunch of different character types with different specialties (the Pickpocket has a monkey!), and run around avoiding guards and stealing stuff. The game is visually very cool, but I don't feel like it demoed very well. The 4 player co-op is incredibly confusing to watch when you're just seeing the game for the first time. Also Issam and I played through the first few levels on 2 player - it never really seemed like we needed to be stealthy, especially after picking up guns, or that our specialties came into play. I'm going to give it the benefit of the doubt however, and assume that it's just because it's the start of the game and it eventually gets more challenging. You can find out more about the game here.
- Antichamber - Since I've already decided to buy Antichamber when it comes out, I didn't really want to demo it and ruin anything for myself, but we did watch a session for a little while. Basically it's a first person puzzle game, where the rules of the world don't make physical sense - for example, you can get stuck in what appears to be an infinite loop, or when you turn around, the hallway is different than the one you just walked through. You can find out more about it here.
Indie Game Development: A Day in the Life - Part II
We had gone to some of Part I of this panel, but the tone of it ended up being geared more towards folks who had never made a game before, so we left early. Part II of the panel ended up being a lot more interesting. Panelists were: James Silva (Ska Studios), Erik Johnson (Arcen Games) and Ichiro Lambe (Dejobaan Games). Some notes!:
- Always write contracts, even for your best friends! James Silva had a heartbreaking story about losing his best friend over an issue of compensation. Never worry about being pushy, or seeming 'too serious' about that sort of thing.
- We spoke to Ichiro afterwards about coming to check out the Boston Indies monthly meetups every once in awhile. It looks like every few meetings they have a demo night, where everyone brings a game and gives feedback - maybe we'll have something in time for the summer meeting. :)
- Silva mentioned TIGSource.com as a potential online community for indies when someone asked (although he doesn't use it).
MegaRan, MC Frontalot and K-Murdock talked a bit about the history of hip-hop, Nerdcore, and how they all got involved in it. Nerdcore is basically the MC & DJ side of hip-hop with 'nerdy' subject matter (games). I wonder if there's such thing as Nerdcore graffitti, or breadancing. :) I hadn't really been planning on going to Frontalot's concert Saturday night until I saw this panel, so I'm really glad I checked it out.
Healthy Games: Lose Weight, Live Longer and Level Up
A bunch of panelists that were making fitness games, apps or games which were being used for fitness talked about what they were doing.
- RunKeeper - Run tracker that uses the iPhone's GPS. Apparently it was one of the first 100 apps in app store. Neat thing the guy said: they've never spent a single dollar on marketing. People want to talk about their health, so they spread the word themselves (it helps that RunKeeper can post on your Facebook wall).
- Bit Gym - A series of upcoming apps that use the forward facing camera on your tablet or iPhone. The idea is to bring it to the gym and set it up in front of you - then use your own movement in gameplay.
- Fitocracy - They saw the natural parallels between fitness and RPG grinding, so they built a metagame around it. :)
- Dance Central - Dance Central's primary goal was to teach people how to dance, but it has the additional benefit of burning tons of calories, and apparently the fitness features added into the game are some of the most used parts.
Let's Play Money Making Games
We've seen the GeekNights guys speak a number of times now, so usually whenever they're at a convention we try to check them out. This talk was all about monitzation, and how now matter what, it needs to work with the design of a game.
- Demos hurt sales - According to one study, releasing a free demo of your game actually hurts sales. I can personally attest to this - the tendency is to try a game for 30min, be like "ok, I see what this is about" and then not buy it. :)
- Pareto frontier - They explained it as the idea of balance in game design. If character parameters are speed and strength, in general, you will have a slow strong character and a fast weak character. If you have another character that is just as slow, but less strong, they are not on the Pareto frontier, and there is no reason to choose them ever. I'm sure I'm oversimplifying it, but that's what I picked up.
Boston Indie Showcase
Everyone that was in the Boston Indie Showcase answered some questions about game development.
Road to the Independent Games Festival
Douglas Wilson (Johann Sebastian Joust), Rami Ismail (Ridiculous Fishing), Zach Gage (SpellTower), Chris Bell (Way), Alexander Bruce (Antichamber) all talked about their career paths and the IGF. I didn't really take any specific notes. Our key takeaway was that it was awesome how Alexander Bruce entered every single contest he could - so we'ld like to do the same. :)
Game Library: Demon's Souls
I would normally do a Game Journal about this one, but we only played for about 20min, and switched off the controller halfway.
Things I Didn't Like:
- Hard to see! It's a 3rd person game, and it felt like we had a lot of trouble with the camera - particularly in the narrower hallways.
- Confusing UI! Just getting through the menu at the start of the game was a little confusing.
- Asking me to practice combat on pitiful undead guys! During the tutorial, you're supposed to practice on undead guys that are just sitting there doing nothing. It sort of bummed me out
Things I Liked:
- Mood! When you first see the undead guys "waiting until the end of the world" I thought that was pretty effectively conveyed. They looked so miserable!
- Crow! You get carried off by a giant crow.. it's pretty cool. :)
Demo Scene: The Art of Algorithms (Film Screening)
Issam was totally shocked that I hadn't heard of the demo scene, and in retrospect, I'm also shocked that I hadn't. It's like, this whole underground art movement that I didn't know existed! Basically these guys create 3-4min programs (they come out looking like music videos) designed to push hardware as far as possible. Sometimes they restrict themselves to creating the entire program in 64K, or 4K (mind blown), or work on old hardware like the Commodore 64. It's really, really cool.
This is one that came up in the documentary - Chaos Theory by Conspiracy
And here is the documentary itself. I definitely recommend it!
Concert - MC Frontalot
Like I said above, I wasn't really planning on checking out MC Frontalot until I went to the Nerdcore panel and listened to him talk for awhile. He was interesting, so I decided it would be worth sticking around for him to go on at 12:30am. Overall, I didn't undertstand most of what he was saying (Issam understood even less...) but the bits I caught were funny, and so I plan to giving his stuff a real listen. ...although that yellow lasers song seemed pretty weird, I don't know what was going on there... Also I didn't get the grue song. ;)
Also, I am apparently not coordinated enough to do the "First World Problems" hand gestures. Try doing these in time to the refrain - it's hard!