“BostonFIG Fest returns for our 8th annual celebration of independent games! Join us at our flagship September event and play hundreds of games designed by talented people that may even be your neighbors!
Get inspired by the incredible game creator community that we have both regionally and beyond.”
“BostonFIG Fest (now in its 8th year) is a celebration of independent game development worldwide. The Fest showcases digital and tabletop games, with our showcase games selected from hundreds of submissions from independent game developers, carefully curated by a broad cross-section of game professionals and academics.
Fest attendees have the chance to play digital games, tabletop games, and immersive experience games in a casual environment, for a very affordable ticket price. The games at BostonFIG Fest are as follows: Tabletop games in the Competitive Showcase, Digital games in the Competitive Showcase, Tabletop Exhibitor Games, Digital Exhibitor Games, and even Sponsor Games in both Tabletop and Digital. Other Fest features include the Artist’s Alley, Tabletop Freeplay Area, Boffer Arena, the Figgies (Awards Show) Ceremony, and more!”
We submitted Where Shadows Slumber to this show at the end of April, on the 22nd. After a lengthy process laden with judges and juries, we got the acceptance letter just this week. They also gave us some feedback from the judges about our game. We’ll be in the Digital Competitive Showcase, mentioned above.
I’ve never been to Boston FIG before, but I’ve only heard good things about it. (It also comes during a time in the Calendar where there aren’t a million other game events going on and you can actually focus on this one.)
If you’ll be in Boston on September 14th, come to the Harvard Athletic Complex and check out all of the awesome games on display, including Where Shadows Slumber. Children under 12 attend Boston FIG for free, and there’s a scavenger hunt going on all day around the festival. Don’t miss it!
Where Shadows Slumber will be returning to the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, CT this September for the RetroWorld Expo!
Here’s their description of the event:
RetroWorld Expo (RWX) is an annual convention that encompasses all things video games, music and tabletop gaming. The event will be held on September 28 & 29 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, CT.
Returning for it’s 5th year, RWX is known for its massive marketplace, expansive gaming tournaments, free play arcade and gaming area, live video game music and Youtube and industry guests and panels. Our marketplace has over 80 vendors selling video games, crafts, artwork and much more!
Children ages 10 and under free with a paid ticket purchase
(Paid parking available at the garage attached to the Connecticut Convention Center)
All tickets are non-refundable. If you have any questions please email email@example.com
You can purchase tickets here and RSVP on Facebook here.
I had a blast at ConnectiCon last weekend, so I’m excited to return to Hartford with Where Shadows Slumber! If you live in the area or you’re attending RetroWorld Expo, let me know ahead of time. Spaces haven’t been assigned just yet, but I’m sure we’ll be in some kind of indie games section.
Feast your eyes upon it and cower in fear, plebians!
In all seriousness, the entire Where Shadows Slumber team would like to extend warm thanks toward the CT FIG team for this wonderful prize. Thank you for selecting us to show off at CT FIG, and thanks to the judges for recognizing our work!
Where Shadows Slumber, available now on iOS and Android, is certainly innovative. It may be similar to other games in style and tone, but it’s impossible to find another game that uses shadows the way we do. (We dare you to try! Helsing’s Fire doesn’t count.) If you know of another game that uses our mechanics and was published to the market prior to our 2016 demo, let me know in the comments!
Below you’ll find my scattered thoughts on the show, and some photos of the event. Thanks for reading! [^_^ ]
Shots and Thoughts
This show was less busy than last month’s TooManyGames. I suspect it’s because the Hartford Convention Center was divided into two Halls, A and B: A was for Connecticon, and B was for CT FIG. The divide is a bit strange, and I kept wishing more people would come over from that side during the weekend. But I understand CT FIG is still growing – the last time I went to this show, it was held in a board game shop in Newington!
I conducted 100 demos with people during the weekend, which led to 11 confirmed downloads, mainly on Android. I also think I’m going to switch from giving cards away free to giving pins away for free. People REALLY love those cards (obviously, because they have screenshots from the game on them!).
The setup, above. This is the first time I’ve shown off Where Shadows Slumber using a round table. (CT FIG began as a tabletop show and I was only 1 of 8 digital titles at the show!) I actually really liked that. It made way more sense than having an awkward rectangle table. Keep note, showrunners!
Everyone loved the game! That one guy on the right was at the table for nearly four hours on Saturday [o_o ] He beat EVERY puzzle! (And found a few issues… they’ll be fixed once the big July patch launches later this month.)
An intimate award ceremony, held after the show ended on Sunday.
Last but not least, shout-out to my boothmate Promote Pluto who has an adorable card game / webcomic about restoring Pluto to it’s former glory as a planet. So cute!
We can’t wait to see how CT FIG grows over the next year!
A few weeks ago I mentioned that Where Shadows Slumber was accepted into the Connecticut Festival of Indie Games, taking place at ConnectiCon XVII this year. (For a refresher, read this blog post) The time has come! I’m heading to Hartford this weekend, so if you’re a fan of Where Shadows Slumber and you want to say hi, this post has all the details.
Our game will be available at the SHOW 009 spot on the floor. I’ll have more beautiful drop cards to hand out, and plenty of mobile devices available so you can play as much of the game as you want. There are pins, too – more on that below.
The core show hours are as follows:
Friday, July 12th: 12 pm – 8 pm
Saturday, July 13th: 11 am – 7 pm
Sunday, July 14th: 10 am – 4 pm
Special Convention Deals
I’ll be running the same shameless scam promotion that I did back at TooManyGames – pins are NOT for sale, but you can take one for free if you’ve purchased Where Shadows Slumber. (You don’t have to have purchased it during the event, this applies to previous sales too!) Bonus pins are available for anyone who gives our game a 5-star rating on their phone’s app marketplace [^‿^ ]!
The last time I did this, we were up around the top 100 puzzle games in the U.S. on the App Store, so I expect great things from you CT Fig-fans… [ ¬‿¬]
After PAX East this year, Jack and I spent the entire car ride taking a critical look at our game based on the feedback we received. It may seem weird to continue iteration on a game that’s already been released, but we wanted to make the game as perfect as possible before it heads to new platforms later this year.
Many of these changes are substantial – altering the solutions to puzzles, the artwork, and even the order in which you solve puzzles. Some changes are so small you wouldn’t notice unless I told you, which is precisely the point of this post!
Here’s all the changes you can expect in the latest patch, which we hope will go live sometime early next week:
10 Artistic Changes
Some of the design problems with Where Shadows Slumber are actually just bad artistic cues – which is to say, these are things I made that looked cool to me but ended up communicating the wrong ideas to our players.
Most of these fixes are focused on the beginning of the game, since that’s the “make or break” period for gamers. If players aren’t impressed after the first five minutes, or the game is frustrating, we’re destined for a 1-star review. So here’s a visual walk-through of all of these changes, with the old versions on the left and the new versions on the right.
The Forest Levels
Forest Level 2, “Bridge”
This is the player’s first interaction with the design pattern we use for Draggable objects, but sadly it’s on two Non-Draggable objects that appear Draggable. (The ancient, crumbling bridges in the water) We decided to cover them with moss so they don’t look interactable.
The Jail Levels
Jail Level 1, “Light”
Before we changed this puzzle, it was very difficult for players to tell when the bridge was being repaired by the shadow. Now the bridge is much longer, which gives you more space to explore and see what the shadow is doing to the bridge.
Jail Level 3, “Lock”
This Level badly needed clarity and simplification. My earlier attempt at color-coding the different gaps in the bridge with really dark, indistinguishable colors and incredibly small little gemstones did not work. The new version has bold colors, big pieces that still connect the bridge even when it’s broken, and one fewer draggable light source.
Jail Level 5, “Pressure”
Similar to the puzzle I just mentioned above, 1-5 needed a lot of color to clarify what’s going on with different shadows affecting different objects. I like how it turned out!
The River Levels
River Level 1, “Docks”
The corner of the land mass above is not traversable. As you can see in the old version, it’s not clear that there’s a gap in the walkway. (We put a gap there because we only want players to see this shadow illusion in a specific way) This fix makes the gap more obvious.
This Draggable raft was giving players a lot of trouble, too. The square pieces are halfway into the water, so it’s not obvious that you can drag them. We want to try the new design, where the Draggable squares lie on top of the surface so they’re visible.
River Level 3, “Guide”
This Level featured a large tree that had some kind of light inside of it, and you could close the shutter to hide the light. This shadow was used to change the bridge in the center. Ultimately, this puzzle had too many elements going on in it. We can keep the same design without requiring players to figure out what’s going on with the tree.
River Level 4, “Ebb”
The shadow-casting wall in this Level is really big now, because it was awkward how you could shine your light as you walked down the steps here. Some people accidentally solved the puzzle on their way down the staircase!
The Hills Levels
Hills Level 5, “Rest”
This Level received a huge change, as well as numerous small ones. The most noticeable change is that the center island is no longer one big draggable, but instead is a platform with a draggable pillar on it that slides freely. We feel that this will allow players to more easily solve the puzzle, though the solution remains the same. There are also a bunch of small changes to where pillars come up to stop you along your path.
The Summit Levels
Summit Level 2, “Blind”
This one is super subtle. Can you see it? We added some footsteps for the invisible ghostly Knight who is patrolling around inside the shadow realm. (If you’ve never played the game before, I’m sure that made no sense at all.) We hope this helps players determine where he is as they try to solve this difficult puzzle!
Six Design Changes
Not everything we’re changing in this patch has to do with artwork. One of the largest changes is really subtle – you’d only notice it if you played the game a lot. New players would never even realize what we did.
These changes were made based on lots of user feedback with the final product, as well as in preparation for a future version of Where Shadows Slumber that’s free to download and has paywalls interspersed. Here are six non-aesthetic changes happening in Patch 1.0.10…
No More Riding Draggables
The largest change, and one that spawned a whole bunch of other changes, is a clarification to the way draggable objects work. Obe can no longer stand on these while they move, so a few puzzles had to be updated. Now you’ll always see the image above when Obe is standing on a draggable bridge, and we hope this is less confusing.
Forest Level 3, “Monolith”
The draggable pillar now begins raised out of the water instead of submerged. We felt like it was not obvious that it could be dragged, since it was so well hidden by the rock and moss.
World 1 Order of Levels
We’re rearranging this World in order to make the introduced mechanics flow better. (The actual screen won’t look as it does on the right, that’s just a diagram I made to show you how the puzzles are moving around.) The previous section used the old World 1 numbers.
River Level 3, “Guide”
In this Level, you used raised walls to cast shadows on the center bridge. This involved “dipping” the center in shadow briefly either by letting the walls go up and down, or by walking Obe in and out of the corner to see the change. In the end, it was a relic of a way shadows used to work very early on in the game’s history. We eventually changed the walls into pillars you can walk around, to be more consistent with the rest of the game.
Title on Device
We’re changing the build name from Shadows to Where Shadows Slumber. I chose “Shadows” because I knew it would fit nicely on everyone’s phone screens. But it seems like poor branding to have everyone refer to our game as “Shadows” from here to eternity. We also considered “WSS” but that seemed to cryptic. Let me know how it looks on your phone screens!
Paradise Level 5, “Gates”
Last but not least, the most difficult puzzle in the game just got a whole lot less tedious. Now there are doorways to any of the four colors in this puzzle, available from any color area. No need to keep going back to the yellow zone!
Coming Soon To A Phone Near You…
I had hoped to get the patch out already, but there are still some tiny fixes left to do and a lot more testing. But once it’s all ready and this patch is uploaded to the App Store and Google Play, you’ll get a push notification to notify you that it’s been downloaded. Please try it and let us know what you think of the alterations!
Back in April, I had the pleasure of showing off our game Where Shadows Slumber at AwesomeCon in Washington D.C. (Click here for the recap.) While I was there, someone mentioned a convention called TooManyGames and asked me if I was going. I had never heard of it before, and the deadline to apply as an indie had passed just a few days earlier. Despite that, I applied anyway because it sounded fun, and it was an even closer drive from Hoboken than Washington D.C. since TooManyGames is in Oaks, Pennsylvania.
I ran into a ton of problems during the weekend, but TooManyGames itself is a blast! This blog post is a recap of the convention, but the short version is this: if you’ve never been before, you should really check it out!
The Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Revenge
I thought I’d save money on my AirBnB costs and drive to TooManyGames on Friday morning (Day 1 of the show) instead of the night before. In theory, this made total sense. Hoboken is two hours from Oaks, the drive isn’t bad at all, and the show didn’t begin until 2 pm. My spartan setup for Where Shadows Slumber takes all of 15 minutes to prepare. I don’t need an entire night to set up beforehand like some people do!
This plan would have worked if not for one thin piece of metal that came loose on a bridge somewhere along the Pennsylvania Turnpike. This piece of metal, when it encounters tires moving at 70 mph, rips them to shreds. My car wasn’t the only one that got rekt, either. The moment I heard the loud BOOM and I felt my back-right tire disintegrate on the highway, I looked to my right and noticed that tons of cars had pulled over on the side of the road.
They were all changing their back-right tires. The cops were there, a bunch of mechanics and tow trucks were there, and I had to pull over. The mechanic who helped me out said that so far, 30 cars had gone over the same exact spot on the bridge and got flat tires! The government accidentally set up a drug-cartel style nail-trap across the road. (This is what your toll fee goes to, I suppose – democratic nail-traps) Suffice it to say, we had to throw a spare on there just to get to Oaks and I was 2 hours late for the first day. Not an auspicious start! Pennsylvania is totally paying to fix my tire now that I’m back in Hoboken.
In truth, I’m just glad I’m ok. I didn’t get hurt, I didn’t see anyone else crash, and being a little late is not the worst thing in the world. (But I’m definitely going to remember this the next time I get into an argument with someone about taxes and roads.) Shout-out to Ford Roadside Assistance for offering me free access to a mechanic who came to me on the side of the Turnpike and swapped the spare out! The government mechanic was charging $60.00 and told me to just wait for Ford to come [<_< ]…
The theme of TooManyProblems continued, when on Sunday morning I awoke to see this wonderful push notification:
So Google does this a lot – they randomly check the apps on their store for this one specific thing, and then take your app down without checking with you first. [ /o_o]/
We went live again yesterday morning, so hopefully those who liked the game over the weekend were able to find it!
Sorry, I had to get those stories off my chest. The truth is, I had a great time in Oaks! This show was awesome and I’m definitely going back to TooManyGames next year. How about a look on the bright side? Here’s 8 good things that happened, in absolutely no coherent order:
1.) I conducted 200 personal demos with attendees (yes, I keep track of this stat at conventions!)
2.) About 20 people bought the game right there at the booth, and some left reviews over the weekend. I think this is due to my new policy on pins – no freebies! Cards are always free, but the pins are exclusively for those who have purchased Where Shadows Slumber. (More details on that below…)
3.) Speaking of cards, I got to debut the new slate of Where Shadows Slumber business cards. There are 8 cards, since we have 8 different Worlds in the game. Everyone loved them, and they drew lots of people to the table.
4.) Someone asked for my autograph on one of the cards… LOL
5.) I ran into some of my old friends from the Stevens Game Development Club as well as some indies I met a few months ago at AwesomeCon, and tabletop developers I’ve known since the Mr. Game! era.
6.) The AirBnB I stayed at in Phoenixville had a cat.
7.) I got the chance to hang out with Nando and Emily, old friends from Stevens, in Philadelphia on my way back home Sunday night. (Nando is the host of the extremely popular channel NandoVMovies on YouTube. Like and Subscribe!)
8.) Finally, before I left Pennsylvania on Sunday night, I had the distinct honor of walking into a Wawa for the first time in my life. The scales fell from my eyes, I was comforted, I felt accepted, and I experienced true luxury. All other pretenders to the throne (7-Eleven, and other atrocities) revealed themselves to be false gods and I know the truth now.
Two Lessons Learned
During TooManyGames, I spent most of my time trying to learn what drives people to purchase things. For the longest time, Jack and I were been in “marketing mode” – which is to say, we wanted to tell people about our game. But since launch, we’ve transitioned for the first time into “sales mode”, and I’m still not used to that. It’s strange knowing that every new person is a potential $3.00, or a potential 5-star rating. In some ways it was easier before. We could always say “the game is a work in progress!” and be happy with people that thought it was cool and promised to check it out later.
After this weekend I have a new convention strategy, based on these two principles. I strongly encourage you to adopt these ideas as well if you are in “sales mode” like us!
“Later Isn’t An Option. Buy It Now!“
It’s tempting to use these shows as a chance to hand out as much swag as possible, show the name of your game to as many people as possible, and demo the game as many times as possible. But I’m focusing a lot more on sales and other quantifiable stats, because the truth is that the people at these shows are being bombarded with about a hundred other games at the same time.
If they don’t buy your game in front of your eyes, they probably won’t buy it later when they get home unless they are highly motivated already or were prevented from purchasing it during the show. So I’ve been thinking of ways to ratchet up the pressure and persuade people to pull the trigger while they’re at my booth. I recommend doing some kind of promotion / deal that only lasts while you’re at the con. (Reducing the price doesn’t count, by the way! That will not encourage an impulse purchase.) This is connected to the next piece of advice…
Make It Physical
When selling digital products, you are at a disadvantage. A tangible item like a cup of coffee will always seem more real / justifiable as a purchase than a non-tangible item like music or video games. (This is why free versions of those go further – such as Pandora, Candy Crush, and piracy) If you’re at a convention, you have the ability to do something that Internet ads can’t do – you can make the purchase physical. That’s why I only gave buttons out to people who purchased the game on the store. I needed to make the purchase physical for them to persuade them to buy the game in front of me. I also didn’t feel like selling pins because I’m not in the pin business, I’m in the gaming business! And I know for a fact that this lead to more sales. One guy literally said these words:
“So to get the pin I just buy this?” (And he held up his phone with Where Shadows Slumber’s app page loaded on it)
“That’s right!”, I said. He bought the game and I gave him the pin. It seems so backwards, right? But that’s just how humans are, and you shouldn’t fight our human nature. The next time I do a show like this, I’ll have more physical stuff to sell. Not exactly merchandise (logo tees, plushies, etc) but stuff like Google Play codes printed on cards. I saw one guy selling Steam Codes as physical cards that were about the size of Magic: The Gathering cards. That’s genius!
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.