Prologue: Slower than Light
Cats out of the bag. Literally. We packed up Mylo for PAX and set out last Wednesday for the harbors of Boston.
After months of preparation, the Super Soul team and RunJumpDev headed northeast for PAXEast, LEVEL ONE being a 16 hour drive in two large vans, one stuffed to the gills with humans and the other stuffed to the lungs with a custom-built booth and the oh so fabulous Lexitron. Our roles were set out in advance: John the glorious Captain; Richie the harried Engineer; Jules the swift Communications Officer, most appropriate as he is the only one without a smart phone; Shea the steely Medical Officer, dispensing Ale-8-One; and Jeff the Ghost (who is he and what does he want?!).
Ultimately we made the journey north in one piece, narrowly avoiding some filthy Romulan spies, and even came up with a game idea along the way, “Making Trouble In Space 4000: Space Edition in Three Parts” (Look for it soon at your nearest Holodeck), thanks to Richie and Jarrett, a fellow game dev. Also, the LEVEL ONE BOSS, a hardened toll booth operator casting STOP, was vanquished rather easily with $1.25.
LEVEL TWO started the next morning when our rambunctious guild embarked on an involved setup, with little sleep, of our RJD booth. Our adjustments were minor–we had one electric drop instead of our requested three, and we missed a save point–and with some improvisation and grade-A rug cutting we had everything up and ready to go.
Shylo, another RJD dev, did an amazing job designing the booth, a brilliant and functional setting that proved both portable and user-friendly, and we at Super Soul were happy to give Astronaut Kitty Boom Boom a nice spot. We worked in a few rounds to make sure our kitties were booming, our explosives were charged, our jetpacks were fueled, and our tomato cannons were cleaned, and then most of us decamped to the Westin lobby for some late-night food, emailing, and hacking.
For anyone who has never attended PAX, or a convention as large as PAX, it is hard to convey the electricity that surrounds the venue with less than 24 hours to go. The air in the Westin lobbby was a thick stew of energy, anticipation and joy, and packed with a broad swath of industry stakeholders, from board gamers to booze-swillers, devs to networkers, fan boys to cosplayers. It was cool and we felt ready. No Boss at the end of LEVEL TWO. Just PAX, baby.
Ok, PAX is crazy–a mind boggling amount of people in a overwhelmingly chaotic and loud environment. Before the crowds are let in, Devs pace their booths in quiet anticipation, wondering who and what may occur over the next completely charged three days. Some of us walked out to the line to see the teeming masses for ourselves, and tried to remember that they were not orcs, we were not Rohirrim, and Helm’s Deep wasn’t located in south Boston.
Then at 10am, LEVEL THREE: The dams burst and the horde enters, surging towards AAA titles they’ve dreamed of for months, and the Indie titles they’re either desperate to try, or trying desperately to discover.
For Super Soul, everything just went amazing. The RJD booth was excellent, and our kitty cat song and dance seemed to please all comers. There were six games from Lexington-based developers, just in our little booth (Frogdice had a booth of their own), and the public’s reaction to every one of them was fantastic. We had lines all day and smiles all around, a great feeling: there is nothing like being a game dev watching a stranger play and enjoy your creation. LEVEL THREE BOSS was Insecurity, and we beat it by grinding.
LEVEL FOUR was a panel, namely “Land My Job! Inside Advice on Getting into the Game Industry”, put on by GameSkinny and featuring Richie Hoagland, Michael Hartman and Pang Hartman in all their glory. The room was packed with over 700 hopeful developers, and Richie got to speak about how he got into the game industry, and hang out with awesome Alix from Robot Loves Kitty, as well as Dan from Lunchtime Studios. Most panelists said the same thing–”To get into the game industry one must start making games” or “Find what you love to do and keep doing it”–and honestly that really is the best advice.
The rest of Friday was chill and smooth–more people playing and liking Lexington games. Then at night, the RJD group met some cool developers at the exhibitor mixer, and then went back to the hotel to rock some Monaco until everybody fell asleep.
Saturday was even crazier, and to Super Soul’s delight, Astronaut Kitty Boom Boom’s title alone compelled large groups of people to check it out, which makes sense considering the origin of the game came out the following random exchange: “Hey, let’s make a game called Astronaut Kitty Boom Boom.” “What is it about?” “I don’t know, but I know you put explosives under a kitty to blow it into space.”
Then at 3PM we held an Astronaut Kitty tournament that drew a strong crowd, the winner netting a poster and shirt. We even found that a number of people were coming back repeatedly, again and again, to play the game, and several groups even asked us to sign their kitty poster!
Sunday is always a bit slower, which afforded John, Jeff and Richie some time to walk around and talk to developers and publishers. We got to meet John from Roll7 , who made OlliOlli (which is fantastic); Eline from GameOven, developers of Bounden, which is a fascinating idea and an elegant game playing experience; and a host of other super great folks. Then at 6PM, PAX came to an official close with a roar from the crowd and a sigh of relief from the exhibitors. We broke down as quick as we could LEVEL FIVE SPEED ROUND and loaded up the vans in preparation of our voyage home. Then Super Soul and some RJD folks shared a nice Irish dinner; a pretty special moment where everyone felt proud, satisfied and utterly exhausted; and some conversation, because of the exhaustion, that veered into the multiverse, chicken wings ripping spacetime holes, and the idea that the duct tape on Jarret’s jacket, put there on Friday, might indeed hold the entire Universe together.
Problems solved, we then crashed in our rooms for some necessary ZZ’s, images of games and cosplayers dancing in our heads.
Bounden for Home
5:30AM Monday we were OUT! (and nobody was happy about it). As far as the drive went, this will be the only sentence about the drive back and interestingly enough says nothing about the drive except acknowledging the fact it says nothing about the drive except… …Stack overflow Oh, and we got back to Lexington about Midnight.
Super Soul wants to thank RunJumpDev and everyone involved for all of their hard work, and the amazing individual feats they pulled off for PAX. So thank you to everyone at RJD for your help with the Super Soul station and thank you to everyone who stopped by and played Astronaut Kitty. Plus a huge round of hugs and kisses to Amanda, Chase, Devon, Jarret, Jason, Jun, Leonard, Matt, Randy, Rob, Tim, Tom, Shawn, and Shylo–thanks for being wonderful! A sloppy wet kiss that lasts uncomfortably long for Warren with the ICC for making all of this possible. And you, for reading! Thank you. Signing off, the Engineer