So back in September, when I was fresh off going to Oculus Connect 5, I immediately turned around and rushed to Columbus to show my game at GDEX for the second year in a row. I was distracted by life shortly thereafter and only wrote about the OC5 experience and I never wrote about what GDEX was like on my 2nd go-around.
It was as much fun as the first time – got to see people that I met my first time, including Leonard – my very first ‘customer’ who was the very first non-family / neighbor person to try my game; and we hit it off immediately.
One of the people I met was a gentleman who asked if I would be interested in showing my game at a Maker-space type convention early in 2019. I immediately jumped on the opportunity and gave him a business card. And promptly forgot about it in the hustle and bustle of showing off my demo to the crowd of kids that swarmed my table.
Until he wrote, months later; asking if I was still down with exhibiting my game.
So, I mandated myself a deadline to finish my demo – polish it up as best I could and use that as the reason I would release my ‘vertical slice’ to the public and start getting serious feedback and (fingers crossed) funding to make the game proper. I threw myself into a frenzy and got a lot of the problems that had plagued me for a long time knocked out, and to a point where I was 75 / 80% comfortable with maybe, possibly considering it ready for public consumption. Then I got ready to show it.
I’m fortunate that my brother-in-law and his family live just outside Columbus, I get to crash at his palatial mini mansion and raid his beer fridge before crashing in his guest room; instead of having to get up crazy early in the morning to drive the two and a half hours from my house to C-Bus. Even with his proximity I still end up skirting being late due to our late night geeky chats – but I’ve done this enough that my setup time is really short and suddenly I’m in the thick of demoing my game. And quite often I had a line. I needn’t have worried about having enough content – parent were often cutting their kids playtime short to accommodate the gaggle of young faces eager to see what the game was about. Mental note: I need to see if I can get a 2nd PC running so I can demo more than one at a time.
MakerX was different, it was a lot more family & kids. More just pure ‘consumer’ perspective than fellow devs looking to network and swap ideas. I love seeing kids play and how they react that someone their own age was crucial in making this game possible. I got a lot of questions about what programs I used and how could people get started, and I think my ‘non-coding’ use of Playmaker inspired a few people who might have been put off by having to learn coding.
I also appreciate parent feedback, who feel that while kids are desperate to use this new technology, it is dominated by zombies / shooters / violence and that there is a shortage of kids content; so I’m happy to have a niche that I can fill with Booper. I was also surprised to see that in my one day at MakerX, I got as nearly as many sign-ups as 2 days at GDEX.
The day passed quickly and before I knew it, I started seeing people pack up their booths – except it was an hour before closing – and I was still going strong; showing my game to plenty of newcomers, as well as several repeat customers who came back to explore a little more or to go further than their parents let them the first time. Eventually these trickled off and I packed up for home – realizing that this time around I had ONE glitch and no problems that I had to make a note of to fix when I got back.
I might just be ready to ship this thang.
Post script: After posting photos and tidbits on social media, I got this pleasant surprise: