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  • The Essential Convention Checklist

    - Kevin Giguere

  • Software

    • Game demo

    This may be obvious, but a lot of developers seem to wait until the last moment to prepare their demo, which can create more stress than needed. I try to prepare game demos a month or two in advance, knowing that even if it isn't the most updated build, my perspective as the developer will be entirely different from the attendee.

    Make sure that your demo is as impactful as possible, but don't get bogged down in the small details which will be ignored by most. I only keep one code base and add tags in my code which allows me to switch between demo and full game mode, so every update is always applied to the demo if needed, and if I can also include any an improvements to the demo directly to the full title as well.

    Ideally, make the gameplay at most 10 minutes to ensure a good rotation of players, and end on a high note. Be prepared for periods of down time where no one is playing, which you can fill with an automatically playing and looping trailer of the game. You can have it cut immediately upon a player input, leading into the demo.

    I always remove a lot of options from the demo, such as the ability to go back to the desktop through a menu for a PC game. I also always have a way to immediately reset the game, like a button combination which leads me back to the demo's main attract menu. Because these are operations being performed several times during the showcase, having the right tools is well worth it.

    • Game trailer

    Already touched upon, but have the best version of your trailer available to show. I use it as an attract mode, and it also plays automatically once the player reaches the end of the demo. You can also have it running on a tv in the background.

    • Source code

    Making sure you have access to the demo's source code can help you resolve unforeseen issues. I once solved a crash that was happening in the demo about 10 minutes before the convention doors opened to the public.

    • Development tools

    Visual Studio, Unity, Unreal, Game Maker, even Photoshop, whatever tools you might need to do those quick fixes. Don't rely on the Internet if you don't have to, you never know what issue you'll encounter.


    • Punctuality

    Conventions are a great opportunity to meet with media and influencers, and you never know when that may happen. Some bigger conventions open the show floor to the press before the public can attend, and I've even met people before the convention even began.

    Same with post con events, the more time you spend meeting and greeting, the more networking you're doing and the higher probabilities of meeting the right people.

    • A smile

    Conventions provide the audience with a chance to see the faces behind the games, which in turn will make them connect with them a lot stronger. Your presence, not just physically but also the energy you bring to every interaction will have an impact on the people you meet. Be sure to remain at the top of your game

    • Cleanliness

    Should go without saying, but be sure to take a shower every day and having some deodorant. You want to present yourself at your best, and body odors are high on the list of cardinal sins at conventions.


    • Food / Drinks

    Conventions are long and although there will usually be food on location for purchase, you can also save money by bringing lunches, snacks and beverages to keep you going through the event.

    • Hand sanitizer

    The convention flu is real! I once lost my hand sanitizer for a single day out of a 4 day convention, barely made my way through the following days and then was sick for the next two months (with varying degrees of intensity). Bring some hand sanitizer, use it often, it not only keeps you clean but also prevents you from spreading germs to attendees.

    • Cough drops

    Conventions are loud and you will be doing a lot of talking. Keeping cough drops handy and help preserve your voice all throughout the event and beyond.

    • Passport

    I once forgot my passport in a rental car during a trip, which certainly led to endless retellings of my distractions, but also a lot of stress which could have been avoided. Don't be me, keep your passport handy at all times. It can also be necessary as a means of identity in some areas, like hotels and bars.

    • Fun

    Of course conventions are stressful affairs, we invest a lot of resources in them and want to bring out the best for our games. But it's important to not forget that it's ok to have fun and enjoy the moment. Making the most out of these events is good for us which will then reflect on your game.

    While certainly not exhaustive, this list should serve as a strong starting point. Feel free to print and reproduce it as needed (though please consider providing credit if you can). And let me know if you have more suggestions of points to add to the list and I'll try to keep it updated as possible.

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