Diary Entry #4: October 2019
Oh wow! PAX was such an awesome experience. The highlight was the people! Everyone was having such a good time, and it showed on all the faces of the people we talked to.
The afternoon before the first big day, I packed up a big bag with my laptop, some tablets and a big monitor and headed to the exhibition centre. A last minute thing I was asked to do was to censor the artwork. The name “Bullshit!” is a swear word, and I wasn’t able to have any large signage showing the word. I ended up creating some paper poo splats to stick over the top. That did the trick… without taking too much away from the signage.
With the booth set up the night before, I arrived at PAX early Friday morning with Daimo and set things up for the day. We had no idea what to expect. At the last minute Daimo suggested that I need paper for people to write down their addresses for a mailing list. Good Idea! I’d been so busy beforehand I didn’t think of that. (Thanks Daimo!)
It was nearing opening time and we could hear the crowd in the room next door. The atmosphere was already electric. It sounded like hundreds of people. Eventually there was a countdown: 10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1! Hurrah! The doors opened and the crowd came bursting through. We looked at each other. What the fuck had we gotten ourselves into?
The first day was brilliant! It was funny trying to get myself into “Booth Mode”. I’m a little bit introverted, and struggle with talking to strangers. A person arrived and started looking at my game. I hesitated, took a deep breath and asked, “Would you like to play Bullshit?”. That became my opener for the whole weekend.
Gradually over the course of the day I got used to talking to everyone. There is a fantastic vibe there and everyone was at PAX for a good time. That energy rubbed off on us, and we too started to have a good time.
The PAX version of the game was pretty basic, but is still very much the core of what the game is today. There were bugs however, and people weren’t afraid to point things out. The feedback was mostly positive.
There were some people who would come back to play again and again. There was one guy that visited every day who didn’t seem to get that you could lie in the game. Every time it was his turn he’d tell the truth, even though I told him part of the fun was to lie. He seemed to be enjoying it though. Another guy managed to get through most of a game without anyone calling Bullshit! This caused bucky the bull to appear very angry with fire coming out of his nostrils. That was a little Easter Egg I didn’t think anyone would find quickly. It’s a bit harder to do in the current version.
I should have been networking a bit more, but it doesn’t come naturally to me. I made sure that I exchanged details with everyone I met. I didn’t really have a proper business card, just a playing card with a URL. I had to write my email address down on the cards, so people could get in touch. My neighbouring booths were Battle Hunters (Phase Two Games), Drill 7 (Jodo Games) and Dead State Drive (Fan Club). I enjoyed chatting with more experienced developers like Dan and Tony from Phase Two. I would have loved to have chatted more to other devs in the Indie games section, but felt bad about leaving my volunteers at the booth.
I was interviewed a few times, but thinking back, I just wasn’t ready for most of the questions. I’d been so busy trying to get to PAX, that I didn’t even think about talking about my game on the day. I stumbled through the first couple of interviews, but finally found my rhythm.
I cringe watching this! I was so unprepared for the questions, but I found my rhythm eventually.
My devices had limited battery life, and my laptop kept overheating and shutting down. Something it never does! It was a constant struggle to have 3 devices going at once.
My cousin Lizzie dropped by our booth every now and then and helped out. She was enjoying her time there and had covered way more ground than I did. Near the end of the first day my friend Gordo dropped by the booth and helped out for a bit. We had drinks with Lizzie at the end of the day, to wind down and talk about our experiences.
The second day, Fi and the baby helped out at the booth in the morning. It was lovely having bubba at the booth. I kept saying that Bullshit was my “other” baby. Around lunchtime my friend/workmate Harrie volunteered at the booth. I had to brief him on the game quickly as he hadn’t had a chance to play it yet. He really enjoyed the day and was so great with everyone at the booth. This day was the biggest, and the busiest. At the end I caught a Taxi to a friend’s birthday pub crawl. Since it was such a huge day I didn’t last long. I had started to lose my voice and couldn’t talk anyway.
On the final day, my mate Matt volunteered to help me man the booth. He had such a great time. Like I said earlier, the vibe was fantastic. I was a little on Struggle Street after the previous night, plus I also had a wild toothache that started on the first day and just got wilder from there. A couple of cheeky red bulls and panadols got me through that final day. This day was a bit quieter, and I managed to get around and see some more of the festival.
At the end of the final day, we packed up the booth and went for a beer… to then unpack on what had been such an amazing weekend! I learned so much and had such an awesome time. I hope to go to PAX again soon.
One exhausted Bubba and Pappa!
Here’s what I learned for next time:
- Have as many playable screens as you can.
- Recruit at least 2 volunteers at the same time so you have time to explore
- Enjoy It! Make time to explore and see other peoples games
- Have a good business card with all contact info
- Have a proper mailing list setup – email at the end of the day
- Be ready for interviews and think through what answers you might have to questions
- Don’t be afraid to talk to anyone. Most people are there for a good time!