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  • My PAX Australia Indie Showcase Experience

    [12.27.18]
    - Tim Veletta
  • Earlier this year, myself along with a small army of friends and playtesters showcased TeleBlast as part of the PAX Australia Indie Showcase. It was an absolutely unreal experience not only to have people play the game but also enjoy it enough to bring back their friends and play it over and over again. For context, TeleBlast is a local multiplayer game where up to 4 of your friends attempt to blow each other up using explosive teleporters. It started out as a Global Game Jam game and has somehow made its way to become PAX Australia Indie Showcase worthy within the space of 10 months.

    The Lead-Up

    In the lead up to PAX I tried to make sure I was completely confident in the features that were in the game and pulled out anything I had any doubts about, the last thing I wanted was for things to go wrong during the game and for people to have a bad experience because of that. We arrived a day prior to 'move in' day which allowed me to run one final playtest and fix any minor bugs that came up and after that point, I had complete confidence in the product we were about to showcase which allowed me to get some sleep that night.

    Move-In Day

    The day before PAX I had planned to go and pick up a television I had hired to showcase the game then make our way to the convention center. All was going well until we arrived at the venue and found that there were 2 TVs already set up in the booth which I wasn't informed of. Initially, I had only considered running a single demo at any one time hence I had only brought 4 controllers and a single power board; luckily I had brought 2 laptops, one to allow me to fix any major bugs while we used the other one for the game. We ended up having to demo off both laptops which gave us some flexibility if when any issues arose.

    We ended up going and buying more controllers, cables, and power boards to allow us to run the two screens and returned the spare TV that day so we didn't have to worry about it after PAX.

    Move in day was also when I met Chris who owns Salty Studios and is a friend of a friend. Having been through PAX and knowing that this was my first big showcase he was able to give me all the support and advice I needed to remain calm and succeed. Meeting him was one of the greatest parts of my PAX experience; seeing the lengths that people would go to just to help each other out because at the end of the day, sharing is the only way the indie game development scene is going to grow particularly within Australia.

    Opening Day

    So my original plan was to press the button to release TeleBlast into Early Access the morning of PAX as the doors opened at 10 am however due to a mix of nervousness and excitement I couldn't sleep Thursday night and ended up releasing at around 2:30 am. I slept soundly until my alarm went out however it was a mad panic from there because the game was available and people were going to play it that day. Another issue arose upon arriving at the venue. The controllers weren't working with one of the laptops because conventions are a terrible place to use Bluetooth connected controllers, there is simply too much interference. So for the first hour of PAX, we only ran with a single demo machine and a highly stressed out developer. Luckily I had the support of my amazing demo team including my lovely partner who was able to run around doing what she could to get things working properly.

    Once the doors opened, people came streaming in however they just kept walking, they didn't want to see any of these indie games or at least that's what I thought. Turns out people just wanted to make sure they got in line to see the big AAA games and would filter back towards the Indie Rising area later on. Once we started getting our first groups of players I was able to relax a bit more and get in the groove of pitching to people and getting them excited about playing the game. Since there isn't always going to be a game going on to show people and bring them in, our one sentence pitch became very important. Our pitch was

    "A local multiplayer game where you blow up your friends with teleporters"

    which was simple enough to tell people what it was about and intriguing enough for them to want to know more.


    Our first group of players.

    The first day of PAX was very much about learning how to best manage the booth, draw people in and then giving them the best experience possible. Some of the things we were able to learn and adjust during the weekend include:

    Only needing 3 people to run the booth at any one time. This gave us the flexibility to have 2 people demonstrating the actual game while we had one person trying to draw people in. Also because it was a local multiplayer game, it gave us the ability to join a game and showcase where it really shines which is at 4 players.

    How to best showcase the game. We would jump into the basic TeleBlast game mode since the pace of the game is largely dictated by the people playing and it was a simple introduction to the mechanics of the game. It was delightful to see that 'ah-ha' moment that people would have after a couple of rounds seeing them understand the game and then become highly competitive.

    After the first game, we would set them up with the Capture the Flag mode with a few gameplay variations turned on, namely 'Black Hole Explosions', which draw other players in, and 'Phase Dash', which allows players to dash through walls. We chose these options because it allowed people to experience how alternate game modes and variations would change the game in the future and it left them wanting to play and explore more.

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