We're back from SXSW Gaming, and their inaugural pitch competition, and holy cow that was an exhausting 24 hours! Here's a run down of all I got to do (which is just as much for me to remember as it is to talk about what got done this week).
Considering travel, I had basically 1 day at SXSW. So at 9 am on Friday morning, I started at the Hilton to meet with Webcore Games, a neat studio that seems to have their fingers in an awful lot of pies. From VR to 2d to casual and everything in between. They do a fair amount of outsourcing, and I'm excited for possible partnership opportunities for more Vidar market penetration as well as on upcoming projects.
Next up I met with David Wolinsky before his panel on suicide prevention in the games industry. David is the writer of Don't Die, an awesome collection of long-form interviews on the games industry, self-reflection, insecurity, and a hint of Gamergate exposition. It's phenomenal stuff, and you must check it out.
And then it was finally time for the pitch competition. The competition was divided into two rounds - in the first, 16 games competed in closed room sessions before a panel of 4 judges. Before the presentation, we were each given 30 minutes with a mentor to help go over our stuff. This was tremendously helpful, because just talking it out helped me focus on the problem I wanted to emphasize with the judges. The only concern I had? How do you take the feedback from a 30-minute mentor session and immediately incorporate it into a 10 minute pitch? We didn't have any time in between, so it was going to have to be done on the fly.
As if that wasn't enough, my computer died about 3 minutes into my presentation. Slideless and defeated, I improvised and tapdanced and mercifully had print-outs to give to the judges. After a 10 minute presentation, I fielded questions like "how on Earth are you doing this alone?" and "what's your break even point?" and just like that it was done.
I explored the convention hall a bit while waiting for the results to be announced. SXSW Gaming is growing, but it's not there yet. The place is like, 1/10th the size of PAX East, and walking through the featured indie showcase I saw plenty of empty booths. The only major anchor tenant was Nintendo, showing off the Switch, and lines for that were pushed to the outside of the hall - so that line huggers wouldn't have seen any of your signage etc. I think in 3 years this convention could be really awesome, but for now, I'm glad I didn't spend $1200 on a booth. IGDA Austin had the right of it - they bought one booth, and then rotated in several games in a few-hour shifts (spreading the cost in a pretty efficient manner).
Just about as I finished making the rounds, the finalists were announced, and Vidar was chosen with 7 others to participate in the Final Round!! [Insert Dramatic Music]. This time, 2 additional judges joined the panel (for a total of 6) and the presentations were open to the public. My computer pulled through, and at the end, I got extremely few questions. In legalese we call this a "cold bench." It's worrisome. It means the judges aren't engaged in your presentation, and I felt defeated. After one or two questions, I kind of realized that it was because Vidar is already on Early Access, and that my presentation had covered all of their other go-to questions for other presenters ("what's the gameplay loop?" "what's your target demo?" etc.).
Sadly, Vidar did not win - but major congrats to the team from Tessera Studios because they seriously deserved it for their VR thriller game Intruders. No worries, though, I made it exactly where I wanted - the final round, to be able to present Vidar to the public. And afterwards, ended up sticking around with the judges for over 2 hours just to chat about marketing, where Vidar goes from here, etc. That was the part that made this an invaluable experience.
From there I left for North Austin for IGDA's post-SXSW Gaming Dinner, which was absolutely wonderful. I got to meet aspiring devs, old friends and new, and writers from some of my favorite indie games. And finally got to eat - because I had forgotten to all day. After about 20 hours of go-go-go, I crashed at the hotel for an incredibly short nap before hopping on a flight home.
And now we dive back into cleaning up the patch for April 4! Caught In Your Web will feature our next Town Event, "Venom." As I teased last week, this Town Event centers on Dorottya and Katarina, and specifically follows the quest "Clearing The Way." Players who make it that far into their story will be able to explore a new side area in the Water Cave filled with spiders. They'll need to be quick, or else they could run into one of the worst possible fates in the game - two villagers dead in one night.
This Town Event comes complete with an additional helper quest as well, Arpad's "A Test Of Leadership." This quest, while quite different from "Make It Work" (which we previewed in detail a while back), takes its place; that is, you can only get one or the other in any playthrough. If "Make It Work" is unavailable to you, but Arpad's reached his leadership path, then he can help you out in completing "Venom" to save a villager from a poisonous spider bite.
To trigger "Venom" you'll need the following:
The rewards are not to be missed, either, and finishing the quest can definitely turn the tides of the Water Cave in your favor!
That's all we've got for this week. Next week we'll have a short preview of some additional changes and quests, and then the week after that the patch drops! See you then!