(Photo credit: Justin Pierce)
PAX SOUTH, January 22-25, 2015| San Antonio, TX
- 45,000 attendees
- 6 games and 7 arcade cabinet games showcased at the Microsoft booth
- 24 hrs total of expo time (Fri-Sun)
- Booth exposure to about 30,000 people
Microsoft hosted a “Texas Indie Game Lounge,” where local game developers we work with got to showcase their games, tell everyone visiting the lounge about their experience working with Microsoft, and how being on BizSpark was a game-changer for them. None of the developers/studios would have had the opportunity to be at PAX promoting their game without the support of Microsoft. They received a lot of feedback on their games, got a lot of exposure, and did a great job telling the Microsoft story for us.
Game developers at the Texas Indie Game Lounge:
Richard Garriott (Creator of Ultima series, celebrity in the game industry, runs Portalaruim game studio) worked the booth on Friday. He drove a lot of people to the booth, and gave many interviews throughout the day.
Fractal Fox – Greeble 2 on Surface Pro 3 and Dell Venue 8 Pro
Patrick Owens, producer at Fractal Fox, along with teammates Chris Owens, Summer Howard, Pico Riley, and Chris Fields, showcased an alpha build of Greeble 2: Wrath of the Litchkin at our booth. This is a touch-screen reactive endurance game that tests your reflexes. You must tap accurately & quickly enough to save all the fluffy creatures called Greebles from falling to the bottom of the screen.
“Can you tell us what your experience has been like working with Microsoft?”
“Y’all have been very human by reaching out to us. You’ve been helping and supporting, not just us as developers with getting our game onto your platform, but also with community outreach and helping the entire Dallas indie development scene. Helping us out in places like this booth has been quite wonderful.”
“Has your experience always been a good one with Microsoft?”
“So, at first, with the launch of the XBOX ONE, our studio and other indie studios felt a little burned. It felt like the target demographic that Microsoft was shifting towards was no longer appropriate for the kind of games that we are making and trying to get out to people. But upon working with you all directly, and seeing you shift focus back towards that initial crowd, it’s been a very pleasant and uplifting experience.“
Windows Central published an article about Fractal Fox’s game, Greeble 2.
Matt Kwid is working on a title called the Gordian Knot, a mobile game for Windows 8 Phone, the web, and Android. It’s a 2D puzzle platformer done in a retro pixel-smooth style, with original ambient music soundtrack, and an enigmatic storyline.
“Can you tell us what your experience has been like working with Microsoft?”
“They’ve been very helpful. It was about a year ago when I first got into the project. They were able to give me the software tools to start developing. I got Visual Studio to directly work with my Unity game engine, which was extremely helpful for debugging my game. They’ve also offered me free software tools, and I’ve got two Windows Phones that were given to me for development and for displaying my game. I’ve already got the game running on a Windows 8 Phone; this is going to be my first platform for release. I’ve also got an executable version working on Windows Desktop, which I’m thinking about releasing.”
“Do you have any feedback about what your experience has been like here at the booth?”
“I feel very fortunate I was selected to present my game at the booth this year. I’ve gotten a ton of exposure from fans of the genre, as well as people that have their own YouTube channel that like to tell others to share the game. I’ve actually gotten some exposure from the local newspaper here in Austin, so that’s been great!”
Jason Fox and Matt Kwid were interviewed about the booth by the local newspaper, the Austin Statesman.
Daniel Fairley – Gravity Gunners on PC
Daniel Fairley, an indie game developer, wrote Gravity Gunners. It’s a simple multi-player arena game – in space! It’s going to be released on the XBOX ONE as well as the PC.
“I just went through the ID @XBOX program and got the game concept approved, so I’m looking forward to continuing that process.”
“What was that process like for you?”
“So, going through ID @XBOX was not too bad at all. They found out that I had a previous games on the Windows mobile platform, so I got accepted to that. And then there was a Kinect hackathon sponsored by Microsoft in Dallas, and I ended up attending that, and my team won. So I used that win to kind of bug Jason Fox to see if I could get the ball rolling on some more ID @XBOX things. He helped; he made some calls and emails for me, and paperwork started happening, and everything else, so… it was definitely a good way to get my foot in the door. My entire experience has been both as an indie game developer and also as part of the Dallas Society of Play. As an indie game developer, knowing Jason and Nathalie and Anna here in Dallas has been tremendously huge. They helped me get set up with BizSpark so I could use Visual Studio with Unity, they sponsored Unity porting labs and workshops to help people like me work on my coding skills… that’s been huge. And then as a member of the Dallas Society of Play, which is a small group of indies here in Dallas, we work really closely with Microsoft. They sponsor game jams and that kind of thing, and Microsoft will also chip in for pizzas or meals. They’re always looking for opportunities to come out and meet more indies, and we’re a centralized location of indies, so it’s like a one-stop-shop for them. So it’s a very good relationship on both sides, for sure.”
Monty Goulet, Creative Lead of Maestro Interactive Games, and Robin Haley, concept artist & environment artist, showcased Luna’s Tale: Curse of the Forgotten Doll at the Microsoft booth. It’s a ‘2 ½-D platformer’ with a beautiful hand-painted art style. (2 ½-D means there is forced perspective – that is, instead of the game just being made of one plane with flat sprites running on it, there is a 3D element to it, but it’s all made out of 2D sprites.)
“Can you tell us about your experience working together with Microsoft?”
“We worked with the ID @XBOX program with Chris Charla over there, building all of our titles for the XBOX ONE. It went really smoothly getting the DevKits, getting everything up and running with the Unity platform. We’ve been really impressed with how Unity & Microsoft paired together for all three of their platforms – the Windows PC, the Windows Phone, and the consoles.
I wanted to thank Microsoft for letting us be at their booth here at PAX South. Also, I’ve really enjoyed the feedback that we’ve gotten from everybody, including the Microsoft people who’ve played the game as well. It’s been very informative, and we look forward to launching next year on the Microsoft platform.“
Kristin Lanier, Art Director at Mish Mash Machine, told me what her experience has been like working with Microsoft.
“Microsoft’s been really easy, and everyone that we’ve been in contact with has been really personable, like yourself, and Jason and Anna. It’s been kind of a whirlwind, too. They really helped us put our development in high gear. Once we got into contact with Jason, it steamed forward. We got all the programs – the BizSpark programs! – we really took advantage of that. We were able to complete this game in six months, versus two or three years.”
“Has your experience with Microsoft ever had any negative aspects to it that we should know about?”
“Honestly, not that I’m aware of. Integrating everything into Unity while we coded in Visual Studio was remarkably easy. Getting invited to come to PAX was a dream come true!”
Artists Kristin and Jordan helped me make a SheBuildsGames.com trailer.
Dallas Society of Play arcade cabinet (7 different games)
The Dallas Society of Play is a fairly new indie gamedev collective in Dallas — an effort to grow and strengthen the local community with regular meetups and other efforts. Russel Fincher built the arcade cabinet.
- HoloLens Team visit and dinner – the community development manager of the HoloLens Team interviewed several developers at the conference, and at a dinner with local influencers. They were looking for feedback from community to make the launch of the HoloLens a success.
- Positive Feedback from community – the booth received a lot of positive feedback from the community, and drew indie devs to our booth to check out possibilities to work with Microsoft. Even though we only spent a fraction of what most large companies spent (like Twitch and Gray Box), the feedback from the community was that we were moving in the right direction to be considered a partner for game studios/game devs.
- Press – The game devs at our booth all gave several interviews, mentioning the collaboration with Microsoft.
- Traffic to booth – every day from the time the expo hall opened, until it closed, the Microsoft booth was full of people trying our games and engaging in conversations
Matt Carter, Founder of Ragtag Studios – Rays the Dead; previously worked at Wideload Games
Chris Paul-Hayter, Quality Assurance Lead at Undead Labs – State of Decay
Josephine “Cortana” Carpenter, PAX Enforcer, managing the line to see Mike Krahulik (Gabe) & Jerry Holkins (Tycho), the founders of PAX itself; web tester at Bungie.