PAX East has turned into one of my personal favorite events and this one was full of ups and downs.
I absolutely love the Boston Convention Center. It's open floor plan brings such a sense of wonder and vastness to PAX you cannot get anywhere else. The first moment you enter, it's like a shotgun blast of gaming to the face. It's unlike any other convention out there. However, the downside is this vastness can get confusing. It's extremely difficult to get your bearings and find things. This became an issue for us, as we had some pretty lackluster placement on the show floor. One side was full of traffic, but the other was barren due to some poor logistics from GES and PAX, turning it into a bit of a maze around the PAX Arena. We still maintained capacity most of the show, but that was a bummer, considering how much we spend on the show.
Our booth itself was wonderful though. Full of bright colors, a massive new backdrop using a much better material than we had in the past, and some awesome Corsair One computers, courtesy of our Corsair sponsorship. We learned a lot about branding from our sitcom counterparts and our art team came up with the beautiful images we have now. It really stood out compared to our neighbors and that's always the goal for our booths at conventions.
One of the biggest surprise additions to our booth was Jenna Meowri, cosplayer extraordinaire. She wanted a place to hang out and meet her fans, so we volunteered as tribute, and got to hang out with her for two days. She was an absolutely delightful person and taught us a lot about the world of cosplay. Fair warning, her stuff is a bit on the semi-NSFW side.
We did have a couple not-so-fun little hiccups with our booth. The big one was our banner supplier, bannerbuzz.com (never use them), guaranteed us delivery of our flags and banners on Monday before PAX and didn't ship everything until Monday, so we didn't receive them until Thursday. We had to build a 10x20 foot banner in the middle of the show. That was a challenge and a few cuts and scratches occurred, but we powered through. We also forgot to make flyers this year, but that one was on me >_<. But hey, we got about 300 subscribers to our mailing list, so that was awesome! Shout out to everyone who signed up for that.
The game itself was very well received. We finally got to put out our first episode, which we've been looking forward to for a while. It has two fun minigames and a fully realized episode about the game we are trying to make (rather than showing the one-off Halloween episode at TwitchCon). Lots of people walked away saying things like "I loved the writing" and "that was really fun!" I loved hearing that. Of course, some people would walk away mid-game, but that's to be expected. Our game is definitely not for everyone.
This was definitely the first convention where I felt fully assured that Elo Hell was on the right track. I always knew in my gut that it was, but when we would show off the Prologue, it was lingo heavy and not built around our sitcom style, so it was harder to judge, and the Halloween episode is ripe with issues (we are polishing it up soon!) and doesn't represent the game as well, even though it's enjoyable enough. So this was a big moment for us and I'm happy to say it went as well as I could've hoped.
We still have work to do on Echo Star, but it's also finally in a place where I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, too. The polish phase is beginning for the RTS side of gameplay and Hero prototyping iterations have begun. We will be pulling the old version of Echo Star off Steam in May, so enjoy it while it lasts (it's not super good, so I don't blame you for ignoring it haha). I'll be posting a whole thing about the progress of Echo Star, and a post-mortem of the old version, while we're away at TwitchCon Europe. I've got many things to say about that one.
Post-convention activities were at their highest this year, too. There was an event everyday, with Facebook and Corsair leading the charge for best parties (open bar is a real point-booster). Facebook had this club type place rented out with free arcade machines, free food, free drinks, and a DJ playing some really awesome gaming-remixed music. We may or may not have had our entire group doing a synchronized "wax on, wax off" routine on the dance floor, at one point. Corsair had a dueling piano bar setup where they'd play anything by request, had an open bar, and like hundreds of free cannolis (because of course they did). That was particularly fun because it seemed like all our friends, new and old, made it to that one. Overall, we got to meet lots of interesting and fun people, had wonderful times with friends we only get to see at cons, made lots of good memories, and I got to drink lots of Sam Adams (it's so much better in Boston). I'm really excited to pick the brains of all the new esports people we met and hopefully find some nuggets of info to incorporate into the story. I love nerding out to esports, so all this deep-diving is so much fun.
I'm going to try and post more updates like this on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. It's been tough due to the sheer increase in workload I've taken on since we began our full production schedule, but it's important to keep everyone updated and it helps me wrap my head around everything, so win-win!
John "Darknuke" Getty
Executive Producer & Lead Game Designer
P.S. Oh, and if you ever find yourself in Boston, go see the Mapparium. It was a magnificent structure. The acoustics were insane, the scale was huge, and the sheer uniqueness and history of it was fascinating. Must-see touristy thing.