PAX-E was our first large-scale exhibition. Prior to PAX, we really only had the technical concepts worked out. We were in the development phase of the backend tech for the better half of the fall and we knew that we knew how to ‘turn airplanes into dragons’, thus focusing primarily on the tech behind doing so in the latter half of 2016. During this time, we also attended several small-scale conferences in the south and central Florida region. The focus of these small conferences was to present the raw tech to the avid gamer, and absorb all of the amazing ideas they gave us. With these, we had the tools to build an amazing game around the tech. We could NOT of course do this in a vacuum, at least not successfully.
We took hundreds of hours of feedback from hundreds of gaming fans, dragon fans, and cos-players. From casual gamers, to the most hard core gamer, we wrote down copious notes. We compiled the most common trends in the idea-bank, bounced them off of our mentor (James Morgan), and completed our high-level gameplay narrative. We then generated key pieces of art (thanks Sam!) behind the narrative and solidified the future of VarDragons. We just needed one last step: validation.
To validate, we just happened to pick the greatest stage for doing so: PAX-EAST. It was a bold move. We presented (for the very first time) our gameplay concept and people were floored! This game was literally created by the hundreds of gamers we talked to in the past fall and it showed. Apparently our early engagements paid off. They knew what they were talking about. After pitching the game and showing real in-game footage of the prototype, folks could not shove us out of the way fast enough to sign up for the beta, and KickStarter updates! PAX-EAST validated everything we needed and more to make VarDragons amazing. We are more confident than ever going into the summer development cycle for VarDragons and delivering this amazing new an innovative game sooner than later! And we cant say it enough: THANK YOU to those we spoke to along the way who fed us invaluable ideas. They’re all about to come true. You finally will get the game YOU deserve, Below are some images from our voyage to cold Boston and PAX-EAST.
Leaving sunny Miami and arriving at frigid cold Boston was quite the shock for us. We had just flown into Miami from San Francisco a couple days prior. Jet lag and warm weather lag (is this a thing?) ran deep. Once we saw the ‘Welcome to PAX-E’ sign though, the blood started to move once again. There was no time to delay. We went directly, luggage and all to the convention center and began…well all but one of us 😉
As you can see form the first picture Thomas isn’t there, and neither is the display TV. A little tip for your future conferences we learned from a beloved mentor: TV’s are expensive and suck to cart around (especially with baggage fees the way they are priced these days). Plan a route directly from the airport to your local Best Buy/WalMart. Buy a 40+ inch Vizio and use that bad boy during the conference. WalMarts are generally not in urban areas, so Best Buy will likely have to do. They have a great return policy so it’s all good. Tips for the trade(show): Save the receipt, unpack carefully (they will inspect when you return), plan for the return (don’t cram your airline departure too close to breakdown time), and take turns doing this if done over many conferences. They track returns for credit cards. Thomas was the first test dummy, Jason took the next one (SXSW). They inspect VERY closely to bring packing tape too. Return it JUST as you found it. One full refund later and boom: free 3 day TV rental 😉
We don’t even have a completed game yet, and already have the BEST fans.
At 2:46PM on day 3 we did it: We hit our 1000th subscriber. A long way still to go, but what a milestone! THANK YOU!!!!!!
Rare Sam Adams brew and Chowdah: A post-conference delight.
The end of PAX-E was bitter sweet. Although validation of our gameplay concept was more than enough for us to proceed with development we were DEAD. We literally couldn’t pitch the game one more time. We found it in us to pitch each time with increased enthusiasm, but it took quite a toll. At the end of the day it was more than worth it and spirits were beyond high. The best part: We were only 2 days from heading west again to Austin TX for SXSW to do it all over again.