Game Developer Booth
This year, I hosted my first game developer booth for a game I started working on a few months ago. I thought it might be nice to share my experience, so when you decide to host a booth, you can have a little insite on what to expect.
As many of you know, I started working on Save Me From Myself a few months ago. This is my first attempt at making a console game. It’s still not officially going to be on console, but it is being created as if it were.
So, I decided to show what I have at this year’s GDEx. Needless to say, it was worth it.
About My Game Dev Booth
The cost was minimal, but I had some help, since I decided to share a booth with another developer who was featuring their mobile game, Layers. For this event, I know I wouldn’t need a full booth because my game is just an Alpha build and I was just looking for some feedback to help me decide on which way I wanted to take my game mechanics.
CLE Game CoOp also launch a Superbooth, that alloud many of NE Ohio’s game developers to be in one area. This was great because it shows everyone who attends that while we are all separate studios and community groups, we all share and work well together to be a community. This also help to bring more people towards my booth and demo my game.
Also, when I signed up, the COGG group was featuring a scavenger hunt for the developers booths, which basically, attendees would win a small prize if they received a mark from the developers on the scavenger hunt list. This was great because I think I counted about 30 people (maybe more) who would maybe have missed my booth had they not been motivated by a small prize to come find me.
For myself, I had a small banner with my studio name on it, I made some new business cards and had some stickers made with my game’s logo and website on it. The reason I included the website with the game’s logo was because of you type in the name of my game, a million things could come up in Google Search, not to mention, this would force the person to do the work of finding me. By adding my website at the bottom of my logo, this tells the person holding my sticker exactly where they can find more info about my game.
My game developer booth as a whole, was very minimal. There were lots of dev booths that had lots of stuff to promote their games, and flashy signs and things to draw attention.
I chose not to go too big, only because my game is playable, but it’s not ready. Having a flashy booth like that, might cause an attendee to think my game is done and ready to be published. I did not want people to think that. I needed them to more or less know that this was not a finished piece.
But, because my booth wasn’t flashy, I had to do a little more work to get people to come play my game. Now, some people did just come over and play out of curiosity, but the moajority of them would not have had I not went a little carnival, and gone through the “Step on Over! Play my Game!” routine.
That being said, I got a lot of excellent feedback from everyone. Some of it was spoken feedback with people giving their opinions. I did not lash out, or try to over explain why something happened the way it did. Mostly, I just explained that it was an Alpha build and that it has only been in development for a few months.
With this demo, I wanted to get a feel for how people responded to the mechanics I had in place, the level art style and how they used the controls.
The People Liked My Booth
People seemed to generally enjoy the Mario-like mechanics. But seriously, who doesn’t love Mario? The one thing people really enjoyed, that was not intentional, was the wall jumping. People enjoyed it so much, that I decided to make it a feature. My game is Alpha enough to where I can ad a mechanic like that, and it won’t hurt the game play or story. Basically, this will allow for some more vertical levels, rather than just horizontal levels. Spice up the game play a bit.
The level art was a bit tricky. What I had placed in was just some quick art for this demo. I may or may not use it. But the one thing that stood out was that everyone tried to use the sewage tubes as if they were Mario Pipes. I knew they looked like the Mario pipes, but I was hoping people wouldn’t try to necessarily use them like the Mario Pipes. Well, they did, so I’m going to remove them, and put in something else. I will have to work on that part.
The controls were fun to watch people use, and you can definitely tell the difference in the generations of games. One of the basic mechanics I have in my game is the double-jump feature. Now, I never told anyone that it was there; I wanted to see if people would figure it out, or use it as if it should be there. I had a single collectible item that had to use the double jump in order to be collected.
Many of the younger attendees (21 and under), would use the jump button once, and then wait until they touched the ground to jump again. Many of the older gamers would use the double jump like it was an instinct. There were a few other basic mechanics that separated the generations that I thought were interesting, like menu use and D-Pad versus Joystick usage.
It was interesting to watch people play my game, but all in all everyone seemed to enjoy it.
Kids from about the age of 7 to adults in their 60s, all gave me positive feedback and said they couldn’t wait to see what I end up doing with the game.
So, it’ll be nice that my market is everyone. It’s also nice that I got such a positive feedback.
I have been super nervous, especially since this is my first console game, my first time showing at a large convention, and my first time with a booth.
Tearing Down the Game Developer Booth
It was scary and fun, and by the end of Sunday, I couldn’t feel my feet and was barely able to stay awake. My friend helped me with the booth, and it took us a about a day to set up, but only a few minutes to tear down. Of course, all I had was my desktop, monitor, XBox controller, and keyboard an mouse.
I stayed to help our Superbooth friends also tear down their booths. I felt like it was a responsibility to stick together. We all help each other out, so being at a convention is no different.
We finally got all done around 7:30 pm, which was about 2.5 hours after the convention was over. We all hugged, and went our separate ways. I drank a ton of energy drinks on my way home, and stopped at every rest stop to stretch so I could stay awake. I made it home safely, but I think next year I will stay an extra night to rest up before I head home.
The Wrap Up
What I got out of this, was being at a booth was a lot of work and very little sleep and I didn’t get to attend all of the panels and see all of the booths, but the connections, networks and friendships that I made were more personal. Why? Because all of us were there to put ourselves and our games out there for the public to judge and play. We knew the struggle and time it took to prepare for it and seemed to have an unwritten official respect for each other because of it.
I loved every minute of this year, and cannot wait to have a booth next year.
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