Once more, I liked having my PAX Notes from last year, so I'm writing them again this time. I broke it up by day since we did a lot of stuff.
Borders, Bigotry and Body Dumps: International Video Game Controversies
I wasn't really sure what this panel was all about, but 'controversy' was in the title so I wanted to check it out. ;) Basically the panelists discussed the fact that with war as one of the most common subjects in AAA games, we need to be a little more careful about what sort of message we are conveying through the specifics of these games (not arguing that we should not be making games about war). The basic idea is that we should at least strive for some level of accuracy and integrity when dealing with real conflicts as a source of inspiration for our games. Some Notes:
- Call of Juarez: The Cartel is about the ongoing cartel wars in Mexico (16,000 people died in 2011), and characters in the game are generally considered extremely stereotypical. There is also information that is completely made up, which uninformed gamers are taking as fact.
- Unearthed: The Trail of Ibn Battuta, main character Fares Jawad, is sort of an Arabic Nathan Drake. It's being created by Semanoor in Saudi Arabia.
- Many FPSs have you commit war crimes as the player, without actually explaining that is what you are doing (i.e., shooting unarmed soldiers, fighting in a church)
State of the Game PAX Edition
Issam is really into the Starcraft II e-sports scene, so he wanted to check out this panel, which was hosted by the State of the Game podcast guys. I only caught the last 20min of it, since it overlapped with the above panel. According to Issam, some representatives from TwitchTV spoke for awhile about how they'd really like their site to become a big platform for people to watch games - all games, not just Starcraft and LOL. It's currently really popular for watching Starcraft streams, and Issam thinks it could be a cool platform for us to try to use - showing our games, or even streaming while we make games.
Kickstarter and the Future of Independent Games
This was pretty cool - representatives from 3 extremely successful Kickstarter projects - Fred Hicks (Evil Hat Productions), Max Temkin (Cards Against Humanity) and Ryan Wiemeyer (The Men Who Wear Many Hats - Organ Trail) - talked about their experiences with Kickstarter community director Cindy Au. The main takeaway was interesting - all 3 of these projects ended up at least doubling their Kickstarter goal, and all 3 of them were unprepared for getting more money than they asked for. Something to think about if you're going to do a Kickstarter. :)
70% Double Fine Backers were first time users. 22% of those backers went on to spend another $870k on Kickstarter projects
Trailers: The Final Frontier
So.... we might have fallen asleep a little during this one. I would say if you're going to do a talk on trailers, it would probably be helpful to bring some actual trailers to show, particularly if you're going to talk about your favorites, which everyone in the audience might not have seen. I'm sure the talk was actually pretty interesting, but the lack of a reference point, and the fact that it was the 3rd day of PAX lead to us rudely nodding off during the panel. :\
- Crankshaft Games - We spoke to Dan a little bit about his experience having a booth at PAX East. He felt that it had been generally positive and worth the money. It's about $1400 to get a booth. They setup a pre-order form for Party of Sin and got a good number of sign ups.
- On a similar note, I just ran across this blog post from The Men Who Wear Many Hats about their experience having a booth, which is a great read.
- Retrograde - This is another game where it's not immediately clear what is happening from watching it, so we spent some time at the booth hearing about it, and I played through a little bit of it. Basically the idea is that at the end of your epic space battle, you caused some sort of temporal rift, so now you're progressing backwards through time, making sure things happen in the correct order so as not to create a paradox. You can play it on a regular controller or a GH or Rockband guitar, which is kind of neat. You get your ship to the correct line, and strum to 'fire' the bullet that is coming towards you (avoiding enemy fire at the same time).
In Indie Rant: Indie Developers Gone Wild
Pretty much this talk solidified my point of view that "rants" are generally a bad idea, and I don't like them. Not all of the talks were rants, but the ones that were were pretty uninteresting, and just... negative. ;) In the Indie Games Summit closing sessions at GDC this year, which is typically a rant, the moderator explained why this year he wanted to move away from calling it that, as it puts people in the wrong sort of mindset. After watching this rant, I agree.
Omegathon Final Round
The final round of the Omegathon last year was actually what lead me to create the Vlympics (gaming Olympics) at VV last year (there have been 2 so far). The game this year was Crokinole, which I have definitely never seen or played before - and it ended up providing the maximum amount of drama for playing in front of thousands of people with Mike and Jerry commentating. Maybe this event will have the same effect on the game that Hikaru no Go had on Go in Japan. ;) They also played the Canadian anthem before starting - I think it made Issam really happy.