Wednesday, December 4, 2013

AppNation 5

I’m back from AppNation. Luckily I didn't go in with high hopes, because it ended up not being worth the trip.  The last couple times I went to GDC in San Francisco, the hotels I stayed at had free parking.  I was a little surprised that this, a hotel that cost double a night from what I was used to would charge $45 dollars a day extra for parking.  And the room was tiny.  It was barely big enough to fit a bed that wasn't even built for a full sized human.  The bathroom was even too small to have a sink in it.  Rather the sink was next to the bed.  But ok.  The only reason why I picked that hotel was because it was a block from the Mascone.  And with my bad back, a short walking distance is a good thing.

So I go to the convention on the second floor of the Mascone West building.  There was a 3’ foot diameter, circular table set up for Stigma Games.  I got there early, so I had to wait a couple hours before there were people milling about to check out the booths.  Unfortunately, I was dressed up and wearing my dress shoes, which I swear have soles made of iron, my back still really starts to ache if I stand for more than 20 minutes, though going through physical therapy appointments for the last month has been helping, and on top of that, I still have a really bad cold with my throat pretty swollen.  So yeah, I ended up leaning on the table a few times to help alleviate the pain in my back and feet.  I found out later that we could have chairs, but they cost $55 dollars a day to rent. And at that point, I was feeling tapped out.  I know I sound cheap, but keep in mind, I practically live off of Top Ramin, so I normally have to be very careful about my expenses.

I’m really good at taking negative criticism.  And it was nice to actually have feedback from people now that we were finally starting to show off one of our games to the public.  This one guy, however, was just a moron.  I’d bought a Samsung Galaxy Note a couple days before to show off Raygun Rocketship on and let people try it out.  This guy kind of flicked his finger around, not really playing it, but rather made a minimal effort.  Finally, he said, “It needs to be a skateboard.”  Our 1950s sci fi inspired space combat game needs to be a skateboard instead.  That was his feedback.  It got worse.  With slurred speech, he told me that he worked with the biggest names in the business like Snoop Dog, JayZ, and Justin Bieber and that our game needed to be more like that.  Yes, Raygun Rocketship needed to be more like Justin Bieber.  Sorry, but that was the most idiotic thing I’d heard in a while.  The good news is the comments from people after him would get a lot less stupid after that guy.  How could they not?

In fact, feedback after that was pretty positive.  Everyone seemed to really like the game and the artwork.  Though I’m a little suspect of that.  The reason why is because, other than that one idiot, everyone else would basically say, “Wow, this game is really cool.  It would be even more cool if…” and then go into a spiel about what their company provided.  It reminded me about how I keep getting emails from people trying to get money from me.  Emails like: “Need help with coding or art?  We've been hired by thousands of big name studios and indies all over the world which is why we have to resort to spamming people to try and get work!”  Now instead of getting tons of spam emails, I had people come up to me in person trying to sell me stuff.

Some of the people I met might be good connections.  I talked to a lady whose company did localizations in 30 different languages.  That’s certainly a useful service.  I was just hoping it would have been more of a fan centered event.  I guess when you’re charging $500 bucks a ticket, that’s not going to happen.

I left early and went back to my hotel room and fell asleep on the tiny bed with my legs hanging over the bottom edge from just below my knees.  I’m only 6’ 4”.  That’s a little taller than normal, but come on.  I felt like somewhere during the booking through, I forgot to uncheck the “Hobbit sized room” box.  I got woken up at midnight by an Indian couple down the hall yelling at each other.  The woman screamed a few times like she was being stabbed then went right back to yelling.  It was clear I wasn't going to go back to sleep.  I don’t speak Hindi, but that’s how loud they were, that I could clearly pick out what language they were yelling in.

Finally at 2am, I still couldn't fall back asleep so I decided to pack up.  By this time, the couple was out in the hallway yelling at each other with the man banging on walls and yelling.  How do people yell at each other for hours on end?  No matter how mad I was at someone, I’d eventually get tired.  I checked out at 2:30am.  The security guard at the bottom floor told me people had called to complain about the screaming couple, but there wasn't much they could do.  Oh well.  It was the perfect end to an ill fated trip. 

This sounds like a failure.  But one, I like San Francisco in general.  It’s just an amazing city to look at and drive around in, so I was actually in a good mood most of the trip.  But two, this was useful in that it helped me better focus on the type of booth presence we need and what type of conventions we need to be focusing on.  Now, most of this stuff sounds like common sense--show off a game to gamers and have a booth that attracts people to you.  Sure.  But there are a lot of little things.  And I’m just one of those people that needs to screw up something first before I understand it.  I need to see failure first hand before I can understand how to improve.

Raygun Rocketship is officially out of the bag.  So I’ll be talking a lot more about it soon.