Since Nasscom Game Developer Conference 2016 is around the corner, we figured that many of you developers might be preparing to showcase your game at the convention. Folks have been mailing us with various doubts and queries with regards to showcasing and it’s pro’s and con’s. Although we have shared our experience and the whole nine yards about PAX as well as Megabooth, I thought I will share a general info regarding showcasing a game at any conference. Game conferences are awesome as it help you connect with other talented folks as well as spread the word of your game. So let’s look at some of the points regarding demoing your completed or work in progress game at such events.
Many people have asked me in the past, whether such conferences are ever useful with context to ROI ( Return of investment). To be honest, we do not have any experience with release yet and we have no clue how it will reflect the sales however, I would always advice that you be present at as many conferences as possible. We as developers are 90% of the time hunkered down in our hovel working hard on that game. Venturing out and meeting other devs and industry folks is as important as making your game. If your goal is to not just make one game but form a studio which will produce amazing games then you need to start building your brand. People should know what you stand for and why you make games. Hence, if you have means to go to a convention, then just GO!
This is another questions which is asked a lot! Should I get a table space or booth space. For us, table spaces has always worked because we have been showing Asura (one game) at every gig for which a table or a kiosk works. Then for whom is the booth for? I reckon if you are publisher or if you have studio which has been working on 2 or more games, then a booth would be a wise choice. Also, if you are service based company, booth can add that extra professional touch with a table and chair for meetings and also tons of artwork and your marketing services all around the booth. TL:DR: Indie game/ One game = table space , Service based company/Publishers = Booth. ( if free, then always opt for booth, because they are cooler #fistbump )
So let’s hope that you as a developer have made up your mind to showcase your game. The next goal should be to prepare for the same. As I mentioned above, we have been showcasing Asura at various conferences including NGDC, PAX, EGX etc. While showcasing your game is the highlight of the event, you should also produce some good quality physical prints like flyers, posters etc for your table space or booth respectively. This will vary depending on who you are, an Indie development studio or an established game development company. If you an Indie like us and showcasing your upcoming game, It is recommended that you produce flyers and posters respectively along with visiting cards. Flyers are the most important of them all as it will or should contain all the important details like website links, screenshots, some exciting features etc of your game. It also helps if you make the flyers in such a fashion that people can also use it as a poster. I have attached our flyers as an example. Below I have also attached the template for flyer which you can download to create your own!
It’s kind of scary notion for most of us game makers to showcase our game. You have been working on your product and you know that it is not ready but you are showing it off anyways, which kind of makes us all nervous with bugs and glitches looming around. In order to minimize goof-ups and maximize your showcase experience it is better to follow the below guidelines.
1.) Demo duration: If you have a game which is a single player adventure, narrative experiences, it is always better to take some time off and tailor it for the show. What I mean by this is that you cut your game in such a manner that it showcases key game-play features and story points and offers a good understanding of the USP in a limited duration. Maybe at the end of the game, you can insert a ‘to be continue’ stylized splash screen or ‘coming soon’ page to enhance the effect. You can super creative and forge a cool demo and this does not only create a concise and very good experience but everyone standing in the line gets to play your game.
2.) Elevator Pitch: You should be able to pitch your game in one sentence. I know this has become a norm but trust me, it takes a long time to craft a very good pitch for your game. Here is an example of how I pitch Asura with a simple formula:
A very curious gamer and defender of Azeroth: Hey what is your game all about?
Me > Asura is a hack ‘n’ slash roguelike with randomly generated skill tree and is inspired by Indian mythology!
In a single sentence and with clear and concise words, I have tried to put across the genre of the game, the sub-genre and the core feature. When you turn it into a forumla it looks something like this
Name of your game + Genre + Sub-genre + Core feature + Inspiration = The pitch of awesomeness. (#ijustmadethisupnow)
I am sure that a pitch can be craft almost for any games using the above technique. You can bend the rules according to your game but the technique remains the same.
3.) Your presence: I have seen many times that there is this amazing table with an amazing game with no one is around to man it. I would suggest you avoid doing this no matter how dire the situation is. Your game represents you as the developer and someone from the team should always be present showcasing it. This is exactly why you should have at least have two people from your team at any showcase so that you can take turns looking around the gig and showcase the game. We don’t have the luxury to do this usually when the show is abroad but when it is a domestic gig then we make sure that me and Neeraj are both attending it. No matter how shy you are about public speaking etc, one of the team members should be the one showcasing the game. It really shows your passion for your craft and awesomeness. The attendees who will come to your space may have tons of questions or would be curious and no one can do justice to the answers if not you. It also casts a good impression if there is any press around and if they would like to know more about the game. My advice is that until and unless you are Jonathan Blow who is trying to experiment with their game, please be at your booth to showcase it!
4.) Tech and additional support: While at the gig, you might have a hard time managing the various contacts that you make. Sometimes, people wont have visiting cards and you might have just have to note down their contact details. You might have also received tons of feedback for your game which ofcourse is very difficult to remeber later if it not saved somewhere. For this purpose, it is always great to have a iPad or a tablet with google docs. You can make a feedback form or beta form for your game which you can ask the folks who are coming to your booth fill up. You can even create a feedback form which you can share with the attendees after checking out your game. This really helps you organize important documents properly without much hassle with really important “data and analytics”. Only concern is the internet connection so it may be best to create a native form in spreadsheet so that you can work offline. Do not, i REPEAT, do not rely on the internet for any shows! They usually wont be up to your expectation. If the spreadsheet is too much, at least carry a notebook so that you can just note it down. Also, please remember to get along a copy of Winrar setup, Xbox controller and other essential drivers as you might have a rough time downloading due to many reasons including low speed internet, no availability of internet, etc. Get your own hardware like joystick, keyboard, mouse etc even if the show will be providing it!
You might have ended up with tons of visiting cards and contacts from the show. After you head back your crib, office and a goodnight sleep, It’s the time for the follow up mails. Take out those visiting cards and contacts and make sure you craft a nice email regarding the show and your experience or whatever you would like to discuss further. Make sure to send it to all of them who have taken time to play your game or just visit you so that you can show your gratitude and awesomeness. Share your updates and how you are taking your game forward.
That is pretty much what i have regarding game expos for us indie game developers. Funny that I am writing on the floor of IGX as folks from the expo are building our space for showcase. It’s going to start in another hour or so to be exact, SUPER EXCITED
Hope you enjoyed the read and as always if you have specific queries or questions feel free to share it with us. Best of luck for your preparation and for your game, and hope to see you all in future game expos as well as NGDC 2016!