Steam Scouts Beta!

Dormouse Games has a functional Steam Scouts beta!  We’ll have a closed beta, followed by an open beta, coming up in the near future.  That means it’s time for the business guy to look to the future.  I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about how we’re going to get the word out about the game.

As a gamer, I don’t like ‘marketing’ and ‘branding’ pointed at me because its weak-sauce when compared to what I really enjoy; a good game, with a good story, in a compelling setting.  So the challenge of coming up with marketing material is on the one hand kind of silly as you’ve just invested time and effort into creating an entire world.  But on the other hand, marketing and ‘the brand’ is super critical to grow the game beyond the scope of who knows about it right now.

We want to tackle ‘marketing’ and ‘branding’ at Dormouse Games by going that extra step beyond marketing to world building. At the moment we’re looking into the idea of awarding players achievement badges, and merit badges for the completion of Steam Scouts: On Track.  We’re going to skip the ‘swag’ and the flyers, and instead create actual merit badges for rewards in and out of the game.

I have this mental image from Pax East 2012 in my head.  The Tap Lab on one side of the isle, with buttons and stickers and flyers.  And Half Brick on the other side of the isle with fruit for sale.  Little plush fruit sliced in half, that stuck together with Velcro   Even Dave got a fruit at the Half Brick booth.  Which was more effective?  We want to give a token that people really identify with, but also something they earned.  With a game about merit badges the solution seems rather obvious.

Does that idea strike you as something compelling?  Or are we wasting our time?  What do you think?  Would a sash full of badges appeal to you?  This idea appeals to me, but then I was a scout as a kid.

Pax East 2013, attending my last Pax East.

Pax East 2013 was fun, and certainly enjoyable.  There were a lot of great things to see, and some neat swag to get (Got my Moga controller!).  But despite all that, there was no single game which really stood out.  No single piece of hardware or device which really piqued my interest.  This is most likely my last Pax East as an attendee…  But Pax East 2014 is most likely Dormouse Games first Pax as an exhibitor (if a lot of things go well).  We’re already planning and psyched to go!

I spent most of my time at the Indie Mega Booth!  Sorry about the bizzare movie size.  Blogger isn’t playing well with the script that embeds the movie.  If you look super close at 6:22 you can see Eric in the far right side of the video.  Eric’s is on polygon!  Whoo!

Gameskinny was one of the few things that caught my attention at Pax East 2013.  And it did not live up to expectations.  Yes obscurity sucks, but poorly design UI sucks worse.  Claiming to ‘save a draft’ and then not allowing you to recover it has driven me away from using Gameskinny to focus on this blog.

There was a Pax East 2013 post written up.  It was written on Gameskinny, and saved as a draft.  But that draft is apparently unrecoverable.  Mostly because there is no button on the site to recover from a saved draft, or view saved drafts.  So that platform is still new and needs some tweeks.

For that matter there were very few games which really caught my attention this year.  Guns of Icarus has stuck with me.  Although not usually a FPS player, Guns of Icarus addresses many of the issues with FPS gameplay.  Check it out if you are looking for some teamwork based steam-punk shooter.

One of the really interesting games from the indie RPG section of the event (a place which FAR too few computer game developers visit) was a game called Dread.  A horror tabletop game which uses a Jenga tower as the resolution mechanic.  This is brilliant.  As the game progresses the tower becomes a visual representation of the heightened tension in the game.

There were a couple games which have gotten some press in other places.  Rays the Dead is doing well for itself.  The mechanics in Zombie Tychoon 2 are excellent considering its an RTS on a console.  Definitely an inspirational game at least for mechanics.

Of course I played some more Lords of Waterdeep.  In an official WoTC game, with my DCI number and everything.  And got a demo of Ascension, a fun deck building card/board game.

Pax East 2011

The days leading up to Pax and the convention itself were a turning point in my life and thinking.  It is really odd to look back now and realize that I never though about working at a game company before.  Having been a passionate gamer all my life, having an interest in business and finance…  Why did it take a somewhat random trip to Pax to wake me up?

The Zorts Project was already underway when the decision was made to attend Pax.  The goal of the convention quickly became about networking.  Selling the event to my wife really involved sell the idea of networking to get a job.  The vague idea was that I should also know some people in the game industry.  Maybe I could meet some at Pax.

When preparing for an industry trade show what is the first thing that you need?  Business Cards.  Although there was no way of knowing what to put on the cards before attending the convention, it seemed best to go with ‘game designer’…  It’s surprising how many times at the convention it was mentioned that ‘game designer’ is the wrong thing to put on your business cards…  But I had to go there to learn that.  Better to put yourself out there and make mistakes, then learn from them.  It’s never a good idea to make a verbal statement, much better to demonstrate something.  So my business cards are a game.  Everyone who saw them thought they were great.  I owe a big Thank you to Tammy of Rubicat design for doing the graphics and getting a printer.

Actually attending Pax was way more amazing than I expected.  It was like being in reverse high school.  There were a couple sports or racing related games, but they were in the minority.  Instead of all football, baseball, soccer, it was all knights, weird aliens, or robots.  Oh so many robots.

My excuse for going was to work on getting a job.  So the business development panels were my primary targets.  The vague feeling of wanting to create a company has always been hidden within me…  But the industry that would make the best fit was never clear.  With so many various interests nothing ever seemed like a great fit.  But the panels about creating a game, or creating a game company were really truly inspiring.  I even walked past Robert Khoo.  I really should have shaken his hand.  I was too nervous.

The networking goal of the weekend was completed in spades.  I met Scott MacMillan who lead me to Boston Indies.  Gaining the knowledge of that community was probably the most important thing to happen.  Which may also inform the previous point about going.  Getting a job only happens when you can network.