Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Utah Indie Night – November 2014

Posted by Rampant Coyote on November 7, 2014

November’s Utah Indie Night was at the University of Utah, hosted by the EAE (Entertainment Arts & Engineering) department.

IndieNight_11_2014The formal presentation was by Paige Ashlynn and Becky Pennock of Tripleslash Studios (who, by the way, have their game – Magnetic by Naturelaunching on Steam next week!) As a company, they have been really getting out there taking their game on the convention / show circuit – GDC, PAX, Comic Con, Indiecade, and a host of others. Their talk was about the pros and cons of each show, how they were different from each other, and how to get the most out of them. They had a wealth of knowledge to share, from practical advice (where to go for food, how vertical banners are superior to horizontal ones), to overall “feels” for each of the venues, to good general advice.

Some of the general advice: It’s all about the parties, meeting people in person, and repeat acquaintances. It’s a lot easier to get someone’s attention and response when you meet them in person, especially on a repeat meeting. And parties are a great way to meet these people. It’s an awesome way to network, and there’s a “snowball effect” from that. Also, make appointments. And don’t neglect little, local opportunities. While they may not always make sense or be worth the time, your default option should be to go for it. Going forward even if it’s not entirely the right direction beats standing still. Even at those little presentations, if nothing else, you can get some feedback on your game, and you can work on your “sales pitch” and figure out what angle works to excite people or pique their curiosity.

I really found the discussion to be extremely valuable. It really does feel like in the last couple of years, the formal presentations at Utah Indie Night have really improved overall. The quality and density of valuable information is high. Maybe it’s just because the talks have drifted more and more into business-oriented territory, which is something that even after all these years I still feel like a complete n00b about. But in this particular case – I learned a ton by showing my game at Comic Con this year, and I can only imagine how much these guys picked up by taking their product on the road so much, and it was nice getting some pieces of that wisdom an easier way than doing it myself. 🙂  I just wonder how they actually got the game finished with so much traveling and conventions…

Anyway, awesome stuff. After that we broke into demos, and as I was showing Frayed Knights 2, I didn’t really see much of anyone else’s game. Taking the cue from Tripleslash’s talk, I tried to use the opportunity to solicit feedback, read body language, etc. It’s not optimal, as it’s tough to show  a long-form game in a venue where people have a short attention span, although indie night is better than others.

But – given those limitations, I do have to take away some thoughts on my own game, and what I have to do to make it better. At the climax of the demo, there’s a battle against a “vile necromancer” that has a very amusing twist that almost always excites people. But up until that point, there’s still kind of a “ho-hum, another RPG” type thing going on. And confusion about how to play, although that’s much more to be expected. But as with the first game, there’s an awful lot happening “behind the screen” in terms of number-crunching that’s neither visible nor interesting to (most) players.  Maybe it’s interesting when they get invested in the game and the system, but until then numbers and words on the screen are… just numbers and words. There’s definitely an element of selling people on the game that they are already playing (that ‘first five minutes” element) that I need to do better with.  And not just at the beginning, but throughout. And there’s something to be said when I have to spend too much time explaining what’s going on…

I’ve got a lot more I could say about this, but… maybe that’d be better for another post.

As always, it was great meeting again with old friends and fellow combatants from the craziness that was Comic Con. Once every two months (or three, this time) is far too infrequent to hang out with these folks, but it’s tough taking time out to do it more frequently.


Filed Under: Utah Indie Game Night - Comments: 2 Comments to Read

  • Cuthalion said,

    It’s amazing how much you learn about your own game from having someone else play it.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Ain’t dat the truth!