Showing Ninjectory at the Pacific Science Center, a sort of post mortem.

The Seattle Indie group reached out and I got to show my game at the Pacific Science Center.  I figured I would post a few pictures from the event and then sort of do a postmortem of my attendance of the even itself.

We were the first to set up, so we got a table right by the door.

This was probably my youngest player of the day.  Don't worry, his Dad said it was alright to post the picture on the internet.

Here's just a few of somebody playing the game and me sort of glowering over them.  I don't get too many opportunities to directly watch people play my games so apparently I can look a little intense while observing.

And yes, I impulse bought that shirt because I saw Tony Stark wearing it.  I'll admit to that.

Pacific Science Center Show Postmortem

Alright, so.  Let's talk about this.

Let's start with what went wrong.
  • It is a LONG day, you're going to hurt:  Even a small show like this will take its toll on you.  Even for a shorter event like this, it's a lot of standing around.  Sure, there are chairs provided, but it's sort of rude to just sit across from someone while they play your game, especially with a monitor in the way.  So you're going to stand, you're going to engage with people, and it's going to wear you down.  Make sure to drink a lot of water.  In hindsight, next time I show I might take a couple of preventative Naproxen, especially me since my hip and knee are messed up from my time in the service.

  • I hadn't updated my credits:  Oops.  My bad.  Only 2 people played the FULL demo (it's like 20 minutes), most people were content to pass the controller off if they saw a line coming, but those two times I realized I had left off the name of the guy who did my awesome new logo and I felt pretty bad about it

  • The tutorial level is a bit too hard for young children and people who don't game much:  I am a terrible judge of how hard my games should be.  Most of us are.  We spend so much time playing our own game that we lose sight of what its like to play it for the first time.  So I tuned up the difficulty of the tutorial because I thought it was "boring."  Well, apparently it's a little too much young children and people who don't play many games.

  • Level 1-7 is absolutely ridiculous:  I can beat it every time, but if I get 3 stars on it I'm sweating.  I sort of knew this was a problem and just failed to act on it.  The two people who played all the way through to the end of the demo each took 3 very stressful tries to get past that level.  Now, that sort of difficulty would be fine in a later level, but this is the intro 10 levels of the game and a level really shouldn't be that hard just yet.

  • I could probably use a tutorial about how the radar works:  It's something I just sort of assumed was intuitive, and for a lot of people it was, for a lot of gamers that is.  Again, small children and people who don't play much had a real hard time figuring out where the missiles are.  I should find some way to tutorialize this.

  • Sometimes the briefing system failed to work:  Not game breaking, and I still have no idea why this happens, but I was having people play the story and then when they were done I'd wipe the data.  A couple of times throughout the day the missile briefing system failed to function as if my data wasn't being properly wiped and I have absolutely no idea why this was happening.  Again, not game breaking so I didn't have to fix it on site or anything, but this is definitely a problem I'm going to have to fix in the future.

  • Don't bring multiple business cards from multiple businesses to an event:  So, my friends and I own a brick and mortar board game store in Tacoma.  I figured I'd bring stickers and business cards for that business as well as my own, it seemed like a good opportunity to sort of shill for both of my businesses at once.  It's funny, everyone I've talked to goes "Oh that's a good idea!"  On the surface, it does sound like one.  It's not.  It's really not.  It was confusing.  People would think the game store was the name of my business for making video games.  So even if an event seems like a great time to sort of push all your passion projects at once, don't.  Focus on one at a time.
What went... neutral.

This isn't really a thing that went wrong or right.  In fact it did go right, but just something to be prepared for.

If you bring stickers to an event, some kid is definitely going to put one where it doesn't belong.  Stick it on a random table, stick it to a chair, stick it to a monitor.  Whatever.

Now I'm not saying you shouldn't bring stickers.  You should bring stickers, people love stickers, you should just be prepared to peel them off of whatever you find them on.  If you get at them fast enough they'll come right off without much residue.

What went right.

First and foremost, I've never shown a game in public before.  Ever.  I wont get too into it, but I had a pretty toxic partnership in the past and ever since it sort of put me into game-dev-hermit mode.  I've got dozens of prototypes and proofs of concept sitting in my hard drive, but I've really been afraid to share my projects or put myself out there after a previous, very public failure.

So this is my first time really sharing a game in public in like 5 years.  Not just showing it at the Pacific Science Center, but showing it at all.  Tweets, having an itch page.  Anything.

This was a really big move on my part, and, I'm proud of myself.

  • I was adequately prepared for the event:  The wife and I were both in the army, so when it comes to Pre-Combat Checks we're pretty good at it.  We had two surfaces, a monitor, all relevant hookups, an extra power strip, I'd loaded Game Maker Studio 2 on to one of the surfaces in case any game breaking bugs popped up, I had business cards, the wife and I each packed a couple snacks.  We were prepared for just about anything.  Really good planning on our part.

  • The game was received really well by most:  Especially the other game devs in attendance.  The game has "good juice" (I'll spare you all the rant about how much I hate that term).  The people who played it and "got it" had a really good time.

  • I didn't let the people who didn't "get it" get me down:  This is inevitable.  How many games are there on Steam?  Like a zillion?  I scroll past a crap ton of games every time I open Steam and don't even feel a lick of desire for most of them.  That's normal.  You can't make a single game that is going to appeal to everyone, it's just not how games work.  It's not how anything works.  So if someone sits down and doesn't like the game or doesn't "get it," that's fine.  Don't take it personally, don't beat yourself up about it, you've got a LONG day ahead of you and a LOT of people to interact with.  Just carry on.  Don't focus on the people who had a luke-warm reception, focus on the people who had a good time.  It's the only way you're going to make it through the day.

  • The game is pretty intuitive to gamers:  The game is pretty simple, most people who play games just "get it."  They get the radar, they get the controls, they can sit down pick up and play and that's that.  That's good.  I didn't necessarily do this on purpose, but it's good.

  • The intro cutscene is great:  Just about everyone loved the intro.  They at least cracked a smile of the game's ridiculous premise.  That's good.  That's what I'm going for.

  • My (placeholder) music was well recieved:  I got tipped off to some "Free Game Music" by a friend.  I have no idea how free it is, or under what context it can be used for free, but in the meantime I'm using it as a placeholder and the feel of that music is probably the direction I'm going to go.  It was well received so whether I go with that exact music or find something else with a similar feel, I'm probably on the right track.

  • I met some cool people:  You wont be able to do this at every show.  Some shows might be too crowded and too busy to have much free time, but if you can make time, you really should go mingle with the other people showing their games.  I got to (briefly) play almost every game in attendance, and I got to meet and talk to just about every dev there.  There were some cool people and I'm glad I took the time to wander around and make connections.  I was able to do this because I brought my wife to help me show the game, but even if you're a solo dev, try to find a friend who can come along to give you time to mingle (or at least go to the bathroom guilt-free).

  • There was pizza and drinks provided:  There was bottled water and the Seattle Indies group ordered a bunch of pizzas for everyone.  Also LaCroix which I didn't know anyone actually liked, I thought it was a meme.  Anyway, I didn't personally have any pizza because I was promised "the best tacos in Seattle" if I managed to make it through the day, but the water was greatly appreciated.

Oh, also, I got to meet the guy who did Hero Tactics.  He was the one running the event, so that was a fun little chance encounter seeing as I had just finished a Let's Play of his game.

That's about it.  Bring snacks, bring food and water, bring a friend or loved one to help you showcase the game, mingle, meet people... Just be prepared.

All in all, it was a good day.  I'm glad I made time for it.



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Great write-up, thanks for joining us! Hope to see you and the game at future events, we'll be having another show & tell event in February after Global Game Jam at Pacific Science Center again.