A whole lot has happened since our last blog post at Early Worm – namely preparing and being a part of MIGW (Melbourne International Games Week).
This involved attending game developer related events such as Unite, GCAP (Game Connect Asia Pacific), WIG (Women In Games) and PAX Australia, with a few other networking events and award nights scattered in-between.
It was an incredible, crazy week where we met a lot of new people and learned a lot of new things. This article is a pretty long one, so feel free to skim through.
Preparing for PAX was done from about a month in advance.
We had a couple of “giveaways”- one was a single hand-made plushie of our Early Worm and Bird mascot, with the worm being fully poseable. Our other giveaway consisted of 500 bags, one to be given to each person that sat down and played our game through. (If you are reading this and didn’t receive one- sorry! We didn’t expect them to be so popular!)
Never underestimate the power of badges at PAX.
Getting the bags themselves ready was a big task, and I’d like to go a little in-depth as to how we went about it:
- Firstly, Early Worm is all about being as eco-friendly and using locally sourced materials and services where possible. Send us an email if you would like to know where and who we sourced our products from.
- We decided to go with small recycled brown paper bags
- To raise brand awareness, we got custom rubber stamps made of our logo and name, and individually stamped each bag with both.
- One of our team members used to host parties, and they had literally THOUSANDS of spare finger-traps lying around in their shed. Oddly specific, oddly convenient. We put those in our bags.
- 14 kilos of sour worms were individually wrapped into tiny propylene bags, which were then tied with two types of ribbon- black for the bow, and silver for fancy curls. I wanted to set the entire office on fire by the time we were done with that tedious task.
Who needs sleep anyway?
- Giant Early Worm stickers. These were really cool, and one of the only things we had to buy outside of Australia. Thick, peel-able, waterproof and fade proof with a beautiful matte finish. Definitely something we’ll do next year.
- A6 Flyers. We printed out a bunch of flyers that had a bit of a blurb about Skedaddle and what it was all about. I used the backs of my old favourite PS1 game cases as inspiration for layout and design. We also have a QR code on the back that takes users to our Greenlight page- more on that one later.
- Buttons! PAX has a bit of a tradition with handing out pins/badges. We made 1,000 of them.
One. Thousand. All printed, cut out and punched by a badge press. It took a few days to get this done with our entire team arranged around the table.
- We put a business card in each bag, for contact and social media links all on one tidy piece of paper.
Whoaaaaa, the power of the almighty Early Worm loot bag!
We also got a giant banner printed and our mentor was kind enough to let us borrow some of his clothes for some good ol’ circus dress up.
And lastly, we edited our game build slightly for PAX. We took out a few tutorial levels that felt too slow and boring for a demo, as well as having a screen at the end prompting players to join our mailing list and to vote for us on Greenlight. Which brings us to:
Throwing Greenlight into the Mix
We thought it’d be a really good idea to set up our Greenlight a few days before PAX, mainly for two reasons:
1) We thought it’d be a good way to see what people think of it on an international level. Skedaddle is still in early days, and seeing what direction viewers would like to see Skedaddle take is invaluable at this stage of development.
2) PAX Australia has over 50,000 attendees- all game enthusiasts together in the one place. It’s a good opportunity to get people to play our game in person before voting.
… Have YOU voted yet? Come now, you don’t want to make this poor Loris cry, do you?
Unite – A Conference for Unity Developers
Unite is a relatively new conference that came to Melbourne last year, and is all about bringing developers that use the Unity games engine together.
It goes for one day and is filled with talks on how to make the most out of using Unity, whether that be ad implementation, analytics, shaders, audio, GUI, you get the idea.
This year’s Unite was a little different in that it had a floor for developers showcasing the games that had been made in Unity, the “MadeWithUnity” showcase.
Laura, Mitch and the Skedaddle booth looking mighty fine indeed.
We submitted Skedaddle to the showcase, and we were accepted! It was pretty rad getting to have a table with our game on it amongst all these other awesome devs. Not only that, but it allowed us to meet a lot of great people and sit and talk with them whilst they played Skedaddle.
At the end of the day, awards were announced for winners that were broken into 3 categories-
Best Student Project, Creativity Award, and Overall Excellence.
Skedaddle managed to win Best Student Project! It was probably one of the most epic moments in our life at Early Worm thus far. Definitely something we weren’t expecting so early on in Skedaddle’s development.
Putting a fantastic end to a fantastic day, Early Worm were invited to Unite’s after party where we met even more people. Making lifelong friends and connections is that little bit easier with drinks and food in hand.
The Dev Family That is GCAP
There’s no rest for the wicked- continuing the momentum from Unite, GCAP started the next day.
GCAP (Game Connect Asia Pacific) is a conference for game developers (both international and local) to meetup, and sit in on inspirational and educational speeches on game development, diversity, innovation, business, skill development, and the future of the games industry.
600+ people attended this year, all of them incredibly nice humans that were keen to learn new things and meet new people.
Thanks to some of GCAP’s sponsors, GCAP had a Student Showcase section and we were fortunate enough to have Skedaddle selected to be a part of that.
GCAP went for two days and came to an end with the Australian Game Developer Awards (AGDA).
Winners and their categories were as follows:
- Excellence in Art: Breath of Light by Many Monkeys
- Excellence in Design: Mallow Drops by Gritfish
- Excellence in Audio: Breath of Light by Many Monkeys
- Technical Excellence: Screencheat by Samurai Punk
- Innovation Award: Land Sliders by PrettyGreat
- Accessibility Award: Ryan North’s To Be or Not To Be by Tin Man Games
- Representation Award: Little Witch Story by Snow McNally
- The Adam Lanceman Award: Bernadette Neumann
- Game of the Year: Landsliders by PrettyGreat
- Studio of the Year: Hipster Whale
Bernard, Ceri and Lisa dressed up and ready for the awards night
GCAP is all about supporting Australia’s developers, and I would like to send out a thank you to all those that make such an event possible every year.
WiG – Bringing Women Together
Women in Games held a luncheon the next day, but unfortunately we were so worn out we were unable to attend it in person.
However I thought it would be good to bring it up- the amount of women in the dev workplace has been steadily increasing as of late, and it’s not about to stop.
If you are looking for ways to support, encourage and integrate diversity in the workplace, or just explore/be a part of how Australia’s game development community is doing so, please feel free to send me (Ceri) an email.
Early Worm at PAX Australia – From a Booth Perspective
PAX Australia (Penny Arcade Expo) is a 3 day games convention that went from Friday to Sunday this year. It had around 50,000 attendees this year, all avid fans of games- be them videogames, boardgames or LARPing (live action roleplay)
Thanks to Academy of Interactive Entertainment, we got a table to show off Skedaddle at PAX.
Mitch manned the AIE Incubator booth for most of PAX.
However, last minute fortune stumbled into our hands- one of our friends at The Giant Machine were unable to make it to PAX, and offered to sell us their premium indie booth space. Of course we accepted!
Turns out that having that space got us an awful lot of traffic. We had just over 2,000 people come and check Skedaddle out over those 3 days.
Our larger booth was packed full of people eager to learn more and have a play of Skedaddle.
If you were one of those people that stopped by our booth to chat or play our game, thank you. From the bottom of our wormy little hearts.
Post Mortem – Everything That Went Wrong, Everything That Went Right
Okay. Here we go.
The things we did that we will definitely be doing next year:
- Over preparing and making all those bags, badges, etc. I thought we would have some spare. We almost blew through the badges on day one, and the bags on day two. By day three we saved the remaining goodie bags to give to children that came up to play Skedaddle.
- Budget. We set a budget, and had a couple hundred dollars floating around to cover anything unexpected. Guess what, the unexpected happened (more on that later), but because we had that little bit in our budget for just that, we still didn’t manage to go over.
- Dressing up. Not only was dressing up in Skedaddle/circus themed clothing super fun, it made us stand out from the other devs in the crowd.
- Business cards. So many business cards. Throughout the entire week of various conferences and events I think I must have given a good 200 of my personal card alone, not counting the company card (about 800) and other Early Worm members who were giving their own personal cards out, too.
- Paper bags and stamps. Even though it was a real bother and bore stamping for hours on end, it was totally worth it and saved us hundreds and hundreds (also better for the environment than printed plastic bags or bags with bleached paper).
- Premium Indie Booth. Because we had such a large booth, we could have up to four people playing our game at any one time. That in turn attracted more crowds to the booth and sped things up so people didn’t have to wait as long for a turn. We also had a lot of room to decorate and really go to town with a creepy circus vibe.
- Apply to every showcase and award opportunity ever! Seriously. You don’t know til you try.
Things that went varying degrees of wrong:
- Shipping to the World Trade Center in Australia is a lot more complex than it sounds. The building itself has more than one address and more than one postcode. Most post companies had no problem shipping us stuff. However, Australia Post had a lot of issues, their system was so automated that they only had one “compatible” address with the building, which we found out the hard way when our parcels were automatically, without warning, shipped back to the senders.
We blew a couple hundred on postage, having to get items sent all over again via express. What would have come 2-4 weeks early, ended up being just a few days before PAX. We spent a few sleepless nights getting things prepared because of this.
- Printing. Our banner and pamphlets came out quite dark and despite using CMYK settings when designing the promo artwork, using all those dark greys, blues and browns did not fare well when printed, yet pinks came out super saturated. Next time we will definitely desaturate the hell out of our stuff before printing.
- Staff breaks during PAX. Okay so the solution is clear: do not under any circumstances, try to run two booths at once for 3 days straight. I never got to see the rest of PAX, which is why this article is pretty dry when it comes to mentioning all the cool goings-on at PAX. It was just booth this and Skedaddle that, and maybe a 30 min lunch break at the most. Which leads us to-
- Wear good shoes! We were exhausted, bent over in pain and very cranky by the end of the week. It was agony to just exist at that point from all the standing and carrying various boxes back and forth.
Look after yourselves! Nothing is worth putting yourself into physical pain.
A Few Final Words
What on Earth could I say that could possibly express the gratitude that we have for all of you. Those that visited us at Unite, GCAP, PAX. Those that sent us warm words of encouragement and forced us to put ourselves first and self-care through the trying times. Thank you to those that have given us so much of their time and advice. Everything that has taken us where we are today, has been via invaluable advice and guidance from our friends, family, mentors and peers both inside and outside of the industry.
It’s onwards and upwards from here on out for Early Worm, and you’ve all been an integral part of making that happen.