I am happy to announce that Where Shadows Slumber has been accepted into the 5th annual Connecticut Festival of Indie Games (CT FIG), which is taking place within ConnectiCon XVII this July! They have an indie showcase of board games and video games that were offered at a discount to those who applied early and submitted the game to their judges. The show is in Hartford, CT next month (July 12th – 14th) at the Connecticut Convention Center.
I’ve never been to ConnectiCon before, but I went to a CT FIG event back in 2016 during the Mr. Game! years and met Jason Miceli of Geek Fever Games. The event was quite small, and very board game focused, but apparently their offerings have expanded to digital games as well! (There’s not many of us, but we’re growing…) I’m glad to hear they have connected with ConnectiCon to reach even more people! I wish Jason the best as they expand the CT FIG brand.
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting London for the Indie Prize contest at Casual Connect Europe! (If you want my thoughts on the show itself, you can check out the previous blog post on this feed here.) This post is exclusively a roundup of some of my favorite games from the show, regardless of who won the actual Indie Prize contest.
Don’t feel bad if you’re not on this list, I only got the chance to play a few games out of all the ones there! Plus there are still some on my list for later, like Holly’s Home Design. You didn’t think I’d forget about you Holly, did you?
Number #3 on this list will shock you!
Morkredd by Hyper Games
Morkredd instantly caught my eye because the aesthetic looks like our game Where Shadows Slumber, and I just had to know what the mechanics are. Whenever I see another game that uses shadows, my gut reaction is “Did they copy us? Did we copy them? What is this game?!”
Well it turns out no one copied anyone! Morkredd is a co-op game for Nintendo Switch where you play as little shadow dudes. If your character ever falls into the inky-black shadows, he dies and the group loses. This forces a restart. It’s tricky, because you don’t normally pay attention to the shadows being cast by yourself and other objects. (I finally understand the initial frustration everyone has when they first play our game!)
I don’t think Morkredd (which is Norwegian for “afraid of the dark”) is available for the Nintendo Switch yet, but you can follow their progress here.
Unbroken Soul by Oscar Ruiz
Although I didn’t get to play Oscar’s game too much, I appreciate how:
It looks like Dead Cells on a phone
Oscar is making use of this ridiculous, awesome control rig
Yes, that’s an iPhone you see in the image below. I have no idea what the controller rig is called, but it’s really cool. (No, you don’t need it to play – but you probably need it to be good.) Gameplay video below:
Oscar has had a lot of success in the indie space already, so it was good talking with him. I wish him luck on Unbroken Soul!
Hellrider 3 by Andrey Chernyshov
Andrey has a really sleek looking motorcycle game that’s the third in the series. The first two were pretty different, so I’m assuming this is the kind of gameplay he’s always wanted for Hellrider and he finally made the game he was dreaming about. It’s amazing what people can make for mobile devices these days! Check it out:
I really love the art style for this game. Everything fits together so well in a cartoony, low-poly indie way. This game is not available to the public yet, but he has all of his current releases available on his website here.
Pico Tanks by Panda Arcade
Not only is Pico Tanks an impressive online mobile game with cute art and fun gameplay, their setup at the Indie Prize was incredible! Look at the effort they put into this display. Indie Prize gave us the smallest amount of space I’ve ever had at a show – essentially just 1/2 of a table and 1 chair. Using that limitation, Panda Arcade created a themed display that blocks out other competing games from taking up your attention, and invites you into the space. I’m impressed… now I just need to ask them how they did it!
I’m definitely taking notes for future Where Shadows Slumber shows…
Honorable Mention: Last Pirate
Finally, this pirate game was a little odd and I’m not really sure what was going on, but his setup was pretty good. A pirate pistol, a box of gold coins, and plenty of signs – honorable mention for you, pirate game! Last Pirate is a survival game where you’re stuck on a deserted island, forced to survive using only your rusty hook-hand and your wits. (The developer showed me the game and chopped down a tree with his hook, then got killed by a wild boar. 10/10 would be a pirate again)
The pirate’s life for me! Check it out on the Google Play store, it has a ton of downloads so far.
I’m typing this from the lively lobby of the Smart Russel Square Hostel, after Day 1 of Casual Connect has wrapped. Rarely, an event will land directly on my Tuesday blog spot, and these posts go out late. Apologies for anyone waiting by the phone!
This day has been a blur and I’m exhausted, but here are some scattered thoughts about Casual Connect London. I hope this blog post is helpful for those who are considering applying to a future Indie Prize, purchasing a ticket to Casual Connect, or just traveling to London.
Architecture: Loving the stately buildings in London. The convention center is across from Westminster Abbey, the church where every English monarch has been crowned since 1066. It’s incredible to behold! And London is filled with awesome old buildings like that.
Power Warning: I woke up this morning feeling screwed, because I realized late last night that the UK has different power outlets, and I couldn’t plug any of my devices in to charge. That’s always a terrible feeling, especially abroad. I felt even stupider because I have an adapter at home from my trip to Australia, but just forgot to bring it… Luckily, the man running the Smart Russel Square Hostel front desk was nice enough to let me borrow one for the week. What a gentleman!
Pips and Dip: At the venue, we began to set up at 8:30 am for a 9:00 start. The QEII Centre was nice enough to provide free morning tea, proving that some stereotypes are wonderfully true.
Indie Prize: The game developers who are here have been included in the indie game showcase because they’re eligible for the Indie Prize, a title given out on the final day of the show. Apparently it’s an audience favorite vote, similar to how SXSW does it. That seems silly to me since everyone would obviously vote for their own game and there are few outsiders, but what the hell, why not?
Small Stations By Design: The setup is very tiny – the smallest I’ve ever seen – with just half of a table, a chair, and one socket in a shared power strip. This is on purpose, though. Your table is more like your office space than a demo area. You’re supposed to use it as a headquarters to hold meetings, store your stuff, and chat up other devs.
Indies, Everywhere: There are a ton of indies at this show from all over the world! Below is a shot of what the main game room looked like during the busiest hours of Day 1. Believe it or not, all of the people shown there are game developers! Jack and I have talked about this idea before – the notion that the most important thing about these gaming conventions is who you meet, not how many sales you get. Casual Connect puts that theory to the test by putting you in a room with 75 – 100 other developers and giving you a chance to mingle!
Afterparty: I got a chance to catch up with some devs I recognized, and meet a few new ones. To be totally honest, I didn’t stay long. These are early mornings, and my travel woes are still gnawing at me. Even so, kudos to Casual Connect for throwing two parties for us. What better way to connect casually than a party?
Ok, these posts are never intended to just lavish fawning praise on the conventions I attend. Let’s get into it.
Making The Most of B2B Shows
As a premium game, these B2B shows can sometimes be pretty irritating. (B2B as in, business-to-business) Casual Connect isn’t a consumer show like PAX East or Playcrafting. You won’t find random people walking around that could be potential customers. That doesn’t mean that your fellow game developers won’t buy your game, just that the show isn’t meant for that. You’re supposed to take the opportunity to connect (casually) with businesses that can help your game succeed.
The companies seem to be getting the better end of the deal here, since not all of us even need to work with ad management systems. Because of that, it’s hard to avoid the feeling of being “sold to” at Casual Connect. Having said that, there are some companies I’ve met that could be useful for a future project. There are even 1 or 2 that could help Where Shadows Slumber out of our current slump.
There is good news, though! The staff has promised that the show is undergoing some massive changes. “We’re evolving! Come see what’s next!” Tomorrow’s afterparty is called the “Last Ever Casual Connect Party” which probably means the show’s name is changing and the business model will shift. Maybe future shows will have more indies, less companies, and the presence of off-the-street enthusiasts? If that’s the new proposition, I’ll keep returning to as many Casual Connects as they invite me to. If not, this might be my last one for a while.
In any event, I’m making the most of this B2B show. There are some translation companies here, some big ad networks, Unity, a Microsoft booth, and tons of awesome indies from around the world. We may even be able to get Where Shadows Slumber on a cool game streaming service that operates similarly to Netflix, but for games. (Stay tuned)
After the show ends, I’ll post the results of the Indie Prize and a roundup of some of the coolest games I found. Thanks for reading!
The Where Shadows Slumber World Tour™ continues with a trip next month to Oaks, Pennsylvania for Too Many Games! The wonderful developers at AwesomeCon were nice enough to mention this to me last month when I was in Washington, D.C. I got our application in just in time, and we were approved!
It’s kind of a depressing name for a show, since the the title hits close to home: there are too many games. The App Store, Google Play Store, and Steam are packed to the gills with titles. (In fact, sometimes it feels like there are too many marketplaces too!) The truth hurts, I guess [<_< ]
Here’s their description of the show:
TooManyGames is a long-running gaming convention in the Philadelphia area with a massive marketplace, gaming guests, tournaments, cosplay, tabletop gaming, console and arcade freeplay area, and more.
TooManyGames offers 3 days of gaming fun and activities for everyone from the hardcore gamer to the whole family.
This year, TooManyGames will be held June 21-23 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA. Buy your tickets today!
In particular, we’ll be part of their Indie Showcase. I don’t know what the price of being a regular vendor is, but I’m glad we got into the showcase. Like many other conventions, the indie section is curated and we needed the approval of judges to be included. (More about costs below)
Their description of the section:
The TooManyGames Indie Game Showcase highlights independent game developers locally and nationally. The Indie Game Showcase is a great place to show of your game and have space at a reduced rate. Indie Game Showcase submissions are reviewed and approved by the TooManyGames indie game team.
Thanks again to the TooManyGames staff and judges for choosing Where Shadows Slumber – we’re honored, and we’ll see you in Oaks next month!
How Much Does This Cost?
This blog isn’t just a weekly update about the development and marketing of Game Revenant’s projects – I also want it to be a behind-the-scenes look at independent game development. Specifically, I like focusing on some of the business-y aspects that people rarely discuss. One business decision you have to make a lot is “Does it pay to do X? Should we bother going to Y?”
Unfortunately, usually you only know the answer after you’ve dedicated your time and money on the risk in question. The same is true of TooManyGames, but I can at least record here how much the show will run us.
We’re getting a table at TooManyGames since the booths were sold out, which is $75.00 + tax. I also need to stay in an AirBnb near Oaks once I arrive Friday morning, since it’s too far from my apartment or any of my Philly-based friends. We’ll forget the cost of tolls since I’m borrowing my brother’s car & E-Z-Pass (sorry Paul!) and assume the cost of gas is on yours truly. So the cost for doing this show is:
3 days from Friday to Sunday
$ 82.40 for the table
$ 118.45 for the AirBnb
For a grand total of $200.85, I think that’s a pretty good deal. We could also take our chances on a $200 Instagram ad (and, honestly, we’ll probably do both) but it’s important to get out into the world as well. I think the fact that my AirBnB is in Phoenixville, PA has something to do with the low overall price. You’d expect to pay way more when staying closer to a large American city, but this town is 45 – 60 minutes from Philadelphia!
I love smaller shows like this – the cost isn’t too high, the barrier to entry is low, and there are plenty of new customers who have never heard of your game before. Now that I’m keeping track of how many face-to-face connections you really make in the course of a weekend, I feel like smaller gaming conventions are just as important as big shows like PAX East. Don’t get me wrong, we’re totally still submitting to PAX 10 later this month – but do you really need to travel to Seattle to find new customers? Why get in a plane when you can drive a few hours to a city filled with people who have no idea what Where Shadows Slumber is?
As for our Return On Investment – ask me when I get back to Hoboken. For those of you who are saying to yourselves “Frank just loves every show he goes to, what’s the point?” you should read my thoughts on last year’s IndieCade and why I’m not returning. I don’t always apply the sunk cost fallacy to every convention! Some shows do, in fact, end up on the dreaded blacklist written in blood on papyrus, kept deep inside the Game Revenant Vault of Secrecy.
If you’ve ever been to this show before and you have thoughts, feel free to share them in the comments! Otherwise, if you’ll be there this year, let me know! I love meeting other developers at shows [^_^ ]
This Saturday there’s a huge Playcrafting event happening at the Microsoft Center in Times Square. We’re going to be showing off Where Shadows Slumber, and perhaps doing a bit more PC testing… don’t miss it! If you’re a fan of indie games and local businesses, you can get into this event entirely FREE! You just need to register for the event, which you can do here.
Video games are taking over the Microsoft office in Times Square for an all-out Expo celebrating local developers! Join us for a day of games, pizza and fun. All ages are welcome. We hope you can join us for our biggest seasonal gathering!
Over 100 game developers will be showing off their latest games one-on-one to a crowd of up to 1000 people. For developers, this is a great opportunity to show off their games (finished or unfinished) and get direct feedback from players. For everyone else, it’s a unique opportunity to try out the biggest collection of games made in and around NYC all in one place. More games being added daily.
Robert Adams of Tech Raptor has a good article about what you can look forward to at this event right here. He also mentioned us specifically!
I can’t say enough good things about Playcrafting. If I keep promoting them, Dan’s going to have to bring me onto the payroll at this time. But seriously – even if you’re not ready to show off your game yet, I strongly recommend these events for developers. If you can get into New York City by car, train, or bus, then GET HERE! It’s never too late to join the community.
It’s never too early, either. Jack and I have been going to these since 2016, if you can believe that. It was this very event (Spring Play) where we first showed off the Where Shadows Slumber Demo and started to get noticed. Robert says as much in one of his many articles about the game:
“…a game called Where Shadows Slumber had caught my attention at the 2016 Playcrafting Spring Expo. I got a card from the developer and decided to keep an eye on the game while it was under development.”
Robert N. Adams of TechRaptor
You never know who will be at these events, or what connections you’ll make with unlikely people. Hope to see you there!
Don’t forget to RSVP on Facebook too, and share the event!
Exciting news for you dedicated weekly blog readers – Where Shadows Slumber has been accepted into the Indie Prize at Casual Connect Europe this year! The event will take place May 28th – 30th at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London.
We applied earlier this year on a whim and I honestly didn’t know if we’d go, even if they accepted us. But Casual Connect has generously provided to pay for our spot on the show floor as well as a hostel, so the trip just costs a few business days and plane tickets. Worth it! (Tickets to the show range from 200 – 800 GBP [o_o ])
You can find out more about the contest here, and buy tickets here.
Of course, if you read this blog and you live in London, let me know! We can do a London meetup at Casual Connect or something.
I’m not sure what to expect from this show. I’m glad we got into the Indie Prize, and seeing London again will be nice (even if it’s just the Exhibition Center) but it’s not clear to me who the audience of Casual Connect is. Sometimes these shows are mainly populated with ad networks looking for customers.
That’s not us at all, so I’d be disappointed by that turnout. With any luck, Casual Connect will invite some potential customers who love indie games and I can coax them into giving our game a 5-star review [^_^ ]
Regardless, you can count on me to provide a critical look at the show once it’s over. I’m always pretty honest on here about that sort of thing. Wish me luck at the end of the month!
I just returned from a trip to AwesomeCon in Washington D.C.! It’s my second time at the convention – the previous trip was in 2017. Since our game was still in development then, the theme for this past week’s marketing has been “blasts from the past.” I had a lot of fun with that and plan to do quite a bit more. It’s always shocking to see what the game looked like before it was ready for primetime…
AwesomeCon is a D.C. based comic convention held in the Walter E. Washinton Convention Center. As for the show itself, I’m very glad I went – mostly because the crew that invited us runs MAGFest’s Indie Videogame Showcase, and they footed the bill for space. It was very generous of them to invite us, and I always take the opportunity to do shows like that. It cuts down on the cost of showcasing tremendously. For this one, I only had to pay the cost of an AirBnB, gasoline, and tolls to D.C. from Hoboken.
The audience wasn’t there exclusively for games – in fact, many people playing the game had to suddenly leave in order to make it to some signing or another scheduled event. But for those that stayed and really toured the arcade area, I felt a real sense of admiration for the indies and their games. It was a good group of people! Many of them even purchased the game right in front of me. On Saturday morning, one woman literally bought it because I said there were no micro transactions in the game, and she said she wanted to support our team [^_^ ]!
The album of images from the Awesome Arcade can be found on Facebook right here. Enjoy them!
Costs vs. Rewards
It’s so hard to quantify whether or not these shows are “worth it,” but that’s what everybody always asks. Was it worth it? How many sales did you get? How much money did you make? Does that make sense given the 3 or 4 business days it took to do the show? Does that make sense given the money spent to get there?
I won’t try to quantify things like (1) meeting other indies (2) getting the game in front of people who don’t yet buy it, but still might (3) having a banner up that people see out of the corner of their eye, subconsciously reinforcing the product in their mind (4) doing the MIVS crew a solid by adding another game to their arcade (5) giving attendees a fun thing to do for a few minutes, etc. But what can you quantify?
Well I did something different this time, and actually counted the number of “plays” I witnessed while I was running the booth. I defined a play as “they sat down, played past the first 3 Levels, and I gave them the convention spiel.” Here’s the numbers:
Total plays by day
Friday (11 am – 7 pm)
Saturday (10 am – 6 pm)
Sunday (10 am – 4 pm)
Total plays by device
Fire HD 8
So, over the course of 3 days at a cost of around $300.00, I personally introduced Where Shadows Slumber to 123 people. Even if all of those people purchased the game, the trip wouldn’t really pay for itself.
This isn’t an indictment of AwesomeCon, just something I’m going to start doing now to sate my own curiosity. I love going to shows, and I would return to AwesomeCon in a heartbeat. But they always tend to feel more impactful than they probably are. At the end of the day, my duty to the developers who built this game (as well as my duty to the studio itself) is to get the biggest bottom line we can each quarter. So this gives me a new goal for internet advertising and social media use: beat that time/cost return on investment!
Check Out Crescendo!
One of my favorite games at the Awesome Arcade happened to be on the next table over, Crescendo. I had never heard of it before, and without something like the Awesome Arcade it’s unlikely I ever would have. But the developer, Nate Largo, is very talented and he’s created something really polished and impressive. It’s a rhythm-based stealth platformer where you have to march in tune with the beat so that sound-sensitive laser robots don’t shoot your character’s face off. Check out his free demo here!
What’s That Strange iPad With a Keyboard?
This con was also special as it marks the first public test of a computer version of Where Shadows Slumber. Though we haven’t really announced it publicly yet or decided on a date, if you’ve spoken with us in the past few months we’ve probably discussed it.
Stay tuned for more news about that, and thanks again to Lexi and the MIVS crew for inviting us to D.C. for a great time!