Tips For Devs: Getting The Most Out Of A Convention (Part 5)

Tips For Devs: Getting The Most Out Of A Convention (Part 5)

The final part in our PAX East post-mortem-ish series is a mashup of a few things from free QA, to following up with visitors, harnessing analytics, and a few money saving tips I forgot to add in Part 4. It’s true… caffeine does make me more forgetful.

Throughout my years of attending PAX, whether it be to cover games for various media outlets or working PR for Developers and friends, I’ve always walked away from the convention with a list of do’s and don’t for next year. This year, since I focused largely on game development and discoverability, I thought it would be useful to share a few things I’ve learned in an effort to help developers get the most out of their time, and game, at such conventions (notably the various PAX events).

10. Other Ways To Save (aka: Part 4 DLC)

There’s also a few other ways you can save money on booths when it comes to conventions, the key is to make sure that what you’re attempting to do doesn’t involve a fee from the venue, as most labor used in Expo setup is union based and often levy fees on items if you choose to use yours versus theirs.

A good rule of thumb however… if you can’t carry it in by hand, it’s going to cost you money to have someone bring it to your booth. Generally, they don’t allow you to borrow equipment, carts, etc… and if it’s on a pallet or skid, it will most definitely require someone employed by the venue to bring it into the building.

Here’s just a few ways of saving ramen money I’ve encountered over the years, and again it’s best to double check with your event organizer before you assume.

  • Buy gear (displays, keyboards, etc) and return it, but be wary of restocking fees.
  • Supply your own (additional) tables and chairs.
  • Purchase foam tiles instead of carpet padding… especially if you plan on reusing it.
    • You’d be surprised at just how much it costs to rent padding for your booth. If you’re going to be on your feet a very long time… weigh the costs of purchasing tiles versus padding, your feet will thank you.
  • Stock up on waters/snacks purchased outside the expo.
    • Con food is a notorious killer of both the wallet and the gut.
  • Don’t be a rookie and drink too much the night before opening day.
    • The slow (and not hungover) tortoise wins the race. Besides, nothing sucks more than having to nurse a hangover for 8 hours in a loud public setting.

11. Create A Feedback Loop

Nothing beats free QA when it comes to game development… as long as it’s good QA I guess. Take advantage of your time at the convention and utilize each visitor’s play through as if it was a playtest session. Keep a pen and paper handy to take notes, observations, bottleneck points, or write down bugs; this is the equivalent to your game being played in the wild, so let them explore and try not to drive the experience too much.  Be sure to ask for feedback, I’ve found that gamers love to give feedback face to face to developers at conventions, and it’s far more helpful than Mr. Anonymous’ web forum posts of “Broke game is broke.”

Another useful thing… invite other Developers to play your game and ask for complete, honest feedback. Not only is this helpful from a design standpoint, but they may even know the intricacies of how to fix or better your game. Honesty can sometimes hurt, but it’s better to catch something early on than let it fall flat or blow up in your face post launch.

12. Have A Way To Follow Up.

So far, you’ve followed every tip given and you’re getting all sorts of player interactions and feedback right? Whether it is a simple pad of paper with a pen handy for them to write down emails, a computer or device connected to a mailing list on your site, or even a Launchrock portal (more on this in a bit), do yourself a huge favor and have a system for following up with visitors. Give them some incentive, maybe provide them an early access demo copy, discounts for when your game goes live, bonus in game content… whatever it may be,

As for the Launchrock site mentioned above, it’s a quick and simple signup portal that not only provides a way for those signing up in the booth to share it with their friends, but also provides analytics and the ability to export your subscribers in a CSV file for other applications (remember MailChimp?) It takes less than 30 minutes and is worth every second spent on it.

When it comes time to make a push for a Kickstarter, having a sale, or navigating the bizarre landscape that is Steam’s Greenlight, you’ll be happy you spent a few minutes early on building a base set of subscribers to assist in spreading the word.

 

Fin.

We hope this helps when planning your next foray into the world of expos, conventions and booth madness. If you happen to have any more tips or experiences you’d like to add, feel free to leave them in the comment section below, and we’ll add them to our next guide compilation.

 

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