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Made in MA, PAX, and Children of Liberty

April 6, 2010

I’m sure Ichiro won’t mind me using his handsome mug in this post, nor will Eitan mind me showing off this photo in general because it is free publicity for Fire Hose Games’ Slam Bolt Scrappers.

Well, I am now past possibly most amazing fortnight of my career as an indie. We showed off the prototype level for our new game Children of Liberty at the Made in MA party at the Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge. I pitched the game easily more than 50 times during the night, not to mention the number of times everyone else on the Lantana Games team pitched it. Overall it must have made a huge impression because I have been receiving lots of positive emails over the last week and a bit about it. People are even looking for jobs at Lantana Games! Protip: we have none. Save those emails for when we are funded, or if you are willing to work for free until we are.

Tired as my feet were after that day, had to wake up bright and early the next morning to get to PAX. The lines were HUGE! Then after they finally let us through the lines, we were guided right back to the front hall. What a pointless lineup. Luckily it got better from there. The show floor was fantastic, with sensory-intensive showings from Ubisoft, Turbine, Alienware, nVidia, MIT Gambit, The Behemoth, Klei, too many to count. I shook more hands than I care to count and got out of the expo without falling ill! I will certainly never be so lucky in the future. Besides the expo floor, which was obviously my favorite place to be (ever), the gaming rooms were also amazing and had every 360, PS3, and Wii game you could imagine. Also got to test out Green Day: Rock Band! Much thanks to Chris Foster for getting that going, even though we were technically going to play Phoenix – 1901. It is truly turning out to be a great game, and much more difficult than you’d expect. Gotta say, though, once you’ve used the Mat Catz full-size/full-weight Fender Strat Controller, it’s a sad experience to go back to the default toys that come with the game.

Most of the talks I went to that were put on by people actually involved in the gaming industry were great. Indie Developers Will Shoot You in the Knees and An Awkward Hour with Harmonix Designers were especially great, particularly because the former was moderated by friends of mine (always awesome), and the latter was pure hilarity. The Sequelitis panel was also very informative and I got to tell Jeff Gerstmann about Children of Liberty. That was especially cool.

The one thing that bothered me was the diva-like attitude of some people at the conference. I won’t name names, but saying “indies never approach us so we don’t hear about their games until later” and then setting up a limited-size autograph line when an indie DOES want to approach you with something, not just get you to sign his show information booklet , seems a little hypocritical. Some of us aren’t always couch-glued gamers. Some of us make our lives out of entertaining couch-glued gamers, technically yourself included. Hell, even Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, the guys RUNNING the damn show, were out shaking hands and meeting people and talking to me about Children of Liberty (well Jerry/Tycho did at least). I know there are a lot of people who want to meet you, so just make yourself available after your talk. Half of them will disperse due to the size of the crowd anyway, and then just wander around and meet people. The point is, some people have more to tell you than just “I love your show/website/podcast/comic/game.” It is never worth missing out on those who have something legitimately conversation-worthy to say.

My one regret from PAX is not being able to go drinking with more industry peeps, but that will be rectified very soon, come the next Post Mortem/Boston Indies meeting. Otherwise, what an experience!

Oh and did I mention I was on NPR?

So after a week of vacation time, I am already back to working on Children of Liberty. In one day I have managed to debug all the AI, thus proving that if I had just a couple more hours before the Made in MA Party we could have shown off an even stronger product. Such is life, but a few bugs didn’t stop us from getting an overwhelmingly positive response. We are aiming to get a revised build done for the Business in Games Conference coming up, and then we’ll be shooting for a new, major build at some point during the summer, either for E3 (yeah, right) or for Boston Gameloop (MUCH more likely).

I must now adjourn to a burger and a beer. Yeah, that sounds perfect right now.

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