Halloween is almost here! The timing is awkward this year because it actually falls on a Thursday, but most people want to celebrate on the weekend instead of a weeknight. (We were so close to getting a Halloween Friday… will that happen next year? Is that how calendars work?) So that means a lot of events are happening the weekend prior, including this weekend!
I’ll be celebrating in style at Playcrafting’s Trick or Play event this Saturday, October 26th. Of course, Where Shadows Slumber will be on display along with a ton of other great indie games from NYC developers. Here’s their description of the event:
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 and fun. All ages are welcome. We hope you can join us for our annual Halloween expo!
Game developers will be showing off their latest games. 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. There will be a costume contest! We encourage everyone to dress (appropriately, no real or fake weapons!) and get into the Halloween spirit.
Lamely, they don’t allow you to bring real or fake weapons as part of your costume. Don’t expect me to dress up as Rocket Launcher McSwordagger like I did last year. (Sailor suit it is, I suppose!) Maybe one of these years I’ll get my act together and dress as Obe. Does anyone have a giant white ball I can fit my head inside and paint eyes on?
Here’s the details:
Date and Time
Sat, October 26, 2019
12:00 PM – 5:00 PM EDT
11 Times Square
New York, NY 10036
Want to join the fun? Get your tickets here while there’s still some left!
Indie devs can submit their games here, but you’d better hurry up…
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!
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.
This week, I couldn’t resist talking about my favorite games from E3, so here goes nothing! I should really be working on the upcoming Where Shadows Slumber patch, but I took a break to watch 37 consecutive hours of press conferences. (Not really.) In the interest of time, I cut the list down to just eight. Here’s my top 8 anticipated games from this year’s conference!
SPOILERS AHEAD: If you haven’t watched the major conferences yet and you don’t want to hear this cool news from me, close this blog post and run away! You’ve been warned!
I saw this game during Microsoft’s press conference. It looks beautiful! The game mechanics seem to be a mix of boat-building and gathering, but I’m more interested in the premise. Your character’s job is to ferry the living to the land of the dead. It’s a subject that’s obviously near to my heart, as you can see echoes of that theme in our game Where Shadows Slumber. I can’t wait to try it!
Well just what the heck is this? I love the Clue aesthetic going on here in 12 Minutes, coming soon from Annapurna Interactive. It’s not clear how much gameplay there really is – you might be mostly watching the story unfold and making decisions – but that’s fine, because this game looks really well done. Its top-down Groundhog Day as a game, where you can be tied up and beaten by a bald man. Sounds like my kind of game!
I have been waiting one million years for this stupid, terrible game to come out in the West. I loved the copy of PSO Episode 1 & 2 we had for GameCube back in the day, so when I heard about the sequel I knew I would have to try it. Unfortunately, the game has been marooned in Japan for like seven years or something ridiculous. It’s finally getting an English translation and support for U.S. servers! We think. Honestly, they might pull the rug out from under us again, who am I kidding.
A while back, Paul and I came up with a game idea that involved multiplayer Animal Crossing on a big island with survival elements. You would each set up your own town, there would be wilderness in between, and players could clash violently or live peacefully. The new Animal Crossing title seems to be 1/3 of that idea, since the multiplayer is shared screen co-op like always and there’s no real danger to the player. But you can craft stuff in this game and decorate your town! I’m loving this design. AC is my guilty pleasure… there’s nothing like building up a ton of relationships and then vanishing suddenly, leaving everyone to wonder where you went and why you won’t leave your house. Just like real life.
As a long-time Smash player who wanted Banjo back in the Smash 64 days, I can’t believe they finally did it! I also can’t believe it took this long, so I’ve been bouncing back and forth between exasperation and elation. Also, DragonQuest or whatever. But Banjo-Kazooie is finally in a Smash Bros. game! My new main arrives in the Fall, and the Season Pass purchase has been vindicated.
I have never played any of the games in the Watch Dogs series, so when I heard about the third entry I wasn’t too excited. But the premise sounds interesting! I’m mostly watching this game to see if it’s filled with lies, or if it’s as awesome as Ubisoft promises it will be. Apparently your team of freedom fighters is whoever you want it to be – you can pick your team from any of London’s virtual citizens.
That’s crazy though, right? What if I picked a team of 16 old ladies? How could they all possibly have their own origin story mission, their own voice acting, and character interactions that make sense? Maybe the game’s main story is really short, and they recommend playing it a few times with a diversity of team compositions… we’ll see!
Last but not least, CD Projekt Red showed off an awesome cutscene of their game Cyberpunk 2077 that revealed Keanu Reeves as a story character. Sold! Give me the game now! There’s no new gameplay that I’m aware of, so if you already saw this clip from last year, keep waiting until August.
Personally, I don’t want to see too much of the game because it’s probably very narrative driven and I don’t want to get it ruined for me. It’s disappointing to see that some of Cyberpunk 2020’s wackier character classes won’t make an appearance (RIP Rockerboys) but so far this title looks like a must-buy. They even got it to launch in the actual year 2020! I don’t even want to know what it took to pull that off…
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!