Tuesday, March 19, 2013

PAX East 2013

PAX East is THIS WEEK! So Exciting! I visited PAX East and PAX Prime for the first time last year, and loved them both. Even though Prime was great, I enjoyed East more due to the city of Boston being pretty awesome and the layout of the show floor being so simple and accessible. The layout of PAX Prime is kind of a mess, honestly, which makes it very difficult to navigate.

So, to have our very own 10’x15’ plot of pleasure at PAX East this year is supremely thrilling. What I like about PAX over E3, for example, is the fact that it is a sea of gamers that ascend upon the show – not just industry folk. Tens of thousands of gamers explore new games and experiences under one roof. That’s very awesome!

Preparing for PAX East 2013 has naturally added a substantial work-load to our already busy schedule. We might make it look like we take it all in our leisurely strides, but the reality is that it takes a tremendous amount of work to ensure we have – to put it bluntly – our shit together, in time for the event.

Not only must we complete our playable demos – of which we have Mutant Mudds Deluxe (Wii U) and our new FPS (3DS) – we also need to design and create banners and merchandise for the show. This year we decided to go with the ever so fancy vertical banners. They are 30”x80” – imagine the size of a sturdy door – quite large! One for Mudds, FPS, and our latest release: ATV Wild Ride 3D for the 3DS.

At least ATV Wild Ride 3D was already finished, so that was one less thing to worry about. But, Mutant Mudds Deluxe needed some attention to make sure it was ready for its close-up. Even today – three days before the event – we’re polishing the game so it presents itself in the best light. I must say, I am really enjoying the Mudds experience on the Wii U. I’m excited that PAX attendees will get to check it out for themselves.

Our 3DS FPS has been an especially challenging task that we thrust upon ourselves. Not only have we needed to get the playable ‘Atmosphere Demo’ in shape to show off, but there’s the fact that this is the reveal of the game to the world. No pressure there, right? This has forced us to finalize the name of the game, the game logo, and the key imagery that hopefully embodies the game theme at a glance. I know that the world will quickly judge and decide whether we have successfully presented an appealing game or not in just few days, but personally I am feeling really good about the game.

Another aspect of preparation I wasn’t quite expecting is the renting of Nintendo hardware to show off our in-development titles. A game that is in-development simply won’t run on retail hardware. They run on our devkits. But, we can’t demonstrate our games on devkits because that not only presents many security issues in terms of Nintendo’s hardware and such, but also runs the risk of the public thinking that the devkit units are special versions of the consoles and available for purchase – which they’re not of course. So, we need to rent Wii U and 3DS hardware that ‘look’ like retail units, but are in fact dev-units that run in-development titles. They do not, however, run retail games. Yeah.

One special setup I am particularly excited about is the 3DS display podium we will be using for ATV Wild Ride 3D. If you’ve ever visited a Nintendo booth in the past year or so you’ve seen one. They’re a fairly simple station that sports four 3DS units – one on each side – with a display header above head-height. I’m pretty sure there’s a fancy Nintendo 3DS logo along the side of the unit somewhere. This should fool everyone into thinking that we’re legit.

In addition to all that malarkey listed above, we had to arrange flights and hotel for our stay in Boston. Gregg and I will be staying at the Revere Hotel on Stuart Street. Seems like a nice place, and was one of the few hotels left with availability. We arrive in Boston on Thursday at around noon, and will have to race from the airport to the hotel and then to the show to setup our booth for the next day, which is the first day of PAX East. If everything goes to plan – ha – the banners will have arrived at our hotel and the flat-screen TV that Mutant Mudds Deluxe will be rockin’ it on will arrive on the show floor on Thursday. Yeah, we’ll see how all of that comes together. If you see just me and Gregg hanging out at our booth with our 3DS’s, you’ll know that the plan failed. :)

Oh, and then there’s PR. There was a bunch of stuff to gather for the Indie Megabooth website, which was done long ago now. We also needed to gather assets for the ever-impressive print magazine, Nintendo Force, so they can include the goodies in their next issue, which releases on the first day of PAX East – I think. We are also sending some stuff over to IGN for them to run something on the game this week at some point – in theory – so we won’t get to rest until… well, I’m not sure really. The important thing is that this is all fun, despite the sleepless nights and grey hairs. I love it.

See you in Boston this Friday!