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Making of Super Mega Baseball No.12 - PAX East

Super Mega Baseball hadn't been a real game long before the guys took it to PAX East, where strangers played it for the first time. This post covers the experience we had at the show.

This is the 12th part in a series about the making of Super Mega Baseball - it was copied over from our blog.

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Super Mega Baseball only had three months of actual gameplay work put into it before the guys flew to Boston to show the game at PAX East in March 2013. That PAX weekend is the topic of today's post.

When I first sat down with Scott and Christian a few months ago to talk about this blog series, they gave me bullet points for each topic. But for this post, the points they wrote down were a tad cryptic. Here’s what they gave me:

  • Suitcase
  • Christian horrified
  • Vodka in computer bag
  • Fixing game in booth
  • People actually enjoying the game
  • Making connections
  • Tired but good spirits

So instead of preparing questions for this post, I decided to just read out each bullet point and see what it was about. Here we go:

 

Liane: "Suitcase"

Scott: So, we didn’t have a game that could run on any normal hardware. And we didn’t have a console. We could have just brought it on a laptop, but we didn’t exactly have a laptop that was fast enough to run the game. We would have needed a super high-end, like $3,000 laptop…we didn’t have that kind of money to just throw down before a trade show. So we brought one of our super fast desktops from the office in a giant, double layered, plastic red suitcase on the airplane.

Christian: Yeah, Tobyn had a nice hard shell suitcase which we borrowed. And I went to Walmart and bought a gigantic roll of bubble wrap. And I went and put the computer in the suitcase and bubble wrapped absolutely everything as much as I possibly could. The whole thing had like three layers of bubble wrap on it. And we hoped for the best.

Scott: I’ll remind you that we’re talking about a software tradeshow in 2013. This is us bringing a piece of software to a show in 2013.

Christian: We actually brought one of our development machines. If the computer had broken, that would have been bad on many fronts. It wasn’t a machine that we weren’t using, it was one of our computers that we brought.

MakingOfSMB_12_Suitcase

MakingOfSMB_12_Suitcase2

Scott: Oh you gotta talk about it rolling down the carousel here.

Christian: Oh yeah. So I guess the journey of this computer was horrifying allllll along. We check this thing in Victoria, and it goes out of our hands. We’re pretty nervous and we get to Boston, and in Boston there’s this luggage carousel. There seems to be a shoot where luggage drops down, and then a very steep slide where no sliding occurs, but rather all the suitcases tumble down. So when we’re in Boston and we’re watching this thing come out, cause it’s very bright and it’s very red so you can see it from a mile away, we see our big red suitcase come down and then tumble down onto the carousel. I was so horrified.

Scott: It was a brief moment of joy seeing that it arrived, then utter terror as it rolled down. Then very soon after, once we got to the hotel, a little bit of relief.

Christian: Yeah the first thing we did in the hotel was unpack this thing, put it together, plug in the video card, and just hope to god it turned on. Because we had no backup plan. We didn’t bring another computer, if this thing didn’t work we were screwed.

Scott: We had a USB key with the code.

Christian: Yeah, but we would have had to buy like a really expensive laptop or something?

Scott: Yeah yeah.

Christian: There wasn’t really a backup plan at all. But fortunately it worked.

 

Liane: "Christian horrified"

Christian: **Laughs** I was pretty horrified of going to the show in the first place cause we didn’t have a whole lot to show, I didn’t think. I guess it was kind of a game by the time we actually went. I was still very, very, very skeptical of what we were actually showing. Also the PAX crowd isn’t exactly the kind of crowd our game caters to, for the most part. So I was not super pleased about this either. So we have a game that barely works, and we’re putting it in front of a critical audience that probably barely cares about it. At least that’s what I figured. So I was very, very, very nervous. I think there was some, like, 9 in the morning pub happening...just to calm the nerves down. I was not pleased.

Scott: I think I mostly would have felt the same way, it was just that...

Christian: I just offset it.

Scott: Yeah, Christian was taking care of that emotion and I was just feeling this sense of desperation that we needed to do this. So that was overriding that particular feeling of horror for me, I guess.

Christian: Well the onus was kind of on you to feel less horrified cause it was your idea to go in the first place.

Scott: True. I was obligated not to be as horrified.

Christian: Yes.

 

Here's a photo of their booth. Yup, back there...behind the big sign...

MakingOfSMB_12_PaxBooth2

Christian: We showed up there and it kind of put the importance of our booth in perspective because we showed up and our entire booth was engulfed by our neighbor's sign. **Laughing**

 

Liane: "Vodka in computer bag"

Scott: **Laughs**

Christian: So… **laughs**

Scott: See earlier comment about early morning pub trip.

Christian: Yeah, so I figured that depending on how the nerves are going it might be a good idea to have a little bit of liquid encouragement on hand at the show, in case it became necessary.

Scott: **Laughs**

Christian: If things were going really, really poorly, I figured that this might help out. So I think before the first day we went and got a mickey of vodka that we just kept in our computer bag along with the laptop. So our show material included like two signs, a computer, and a bottle of vodka. And 4 controllers.

Scott: And this bottle of vodka fortunately never had to be resorted to. And a funny related tale on that is that it was forgotten about, and I put my bag through security to get on the airplane on the way home… And you’d think that would get picked up in security, because that’s a lot of liquid. But they didn’t notice it. I know I looked run down as hell after the show and I think I was wearing jogging pants or something on the way home. It would have been a moment of pure class if they whipped that out at security.

Christian: I remember standing in line for the security thing because it was in your laptop bag still, and we were making fun of the liquid signs, of people throwing out liquids and stuff and we were talking about how stupid it is. And then you put your laptop bag through the x-ray machine and it cruised right through. And on the other side, eventually, we were like “there’s a bottle of vodka in here.” Nobody noticed, we forgot about it, they didn’t care.

 

Liane: "Fixing game in booth"

Scott: Day 1. The game was kind of working. Some people were having some small to potentially higher degrees of fun with it. But we were having like 50 people try it over the span of just a few hours and they were all doing different button pressing combinations, so there were a few things that were standing out as pretty bad. And the nature of our set-up was that we could just change some script on the scene. So Christian actually hacked out a fix to one of the bugs we were having in the booth, while we were showing it. Like he fixed a bug, on my laptop, in the booth, while we were showing it on the desktop on the table in front of us. And I got up at like 4:30 in the morning before day two to fix a few more of the other little problems. Code changes during the show.

Christian: One of the worst problems was kids coming by and hammering buttons way more than we had ever hammered. You couldn’t practice swing in the game, so you’re up to bat you’ve got to push the swing button exactly once. You got one shot at it. And if you tried to push it and push it again, none of that for you. So there was a lot of frustration from players because they tried to figure out what to do and they’d swing, and that was the end of that. So that needed to get fixed right away.

 

Liane: "People actually enjoying the game"

Christian: So this kind of relates to the “me being horrified” part. I didn’t know whether anyone was going to come by and play our game. It turns out there’s all these baseball fans in Boston. No surprise there I guess. And you know, people came by and played it for more than a trivial amount of time. Like, it was beyond the timespan that somebody who accidentally got suckered into a booth feels obligated to stand there. They actually played the game for a bit.

Scott: Totally.

Christian: And there’s even people that came back to play more than one game and stuff. So there was definitely interest, which was very nice to see and made my nervousness go down quite a bit. It meant I didn’t have to resort to the vodka bottle. Which was good. **Laughs**

Scott: Yeah, after all this time we had spent developing it, just to have some people that were interested in it enough - in the super rough state that it was in - to come back and play a few games of it, was pretty cool. That was a good boost of motivation for us I think.

Here's Scott, stoked to be watching strangers play the game for the first time:

MakingOfSMB_12_PaxBooth

 

Liane: "Making connections"

Scott: Folks from all corners of the industry came by to check the game out. Shout out to Rich Grisham and T.J. Lauerman (HitThePass.com) who I reckon were the first media-type folks to come by for a demo. So we met a bunch of media, talked to some publishers, and so on. None of that actually ever panned out into a publishing deal, and obviously we ended up independently publishing the game, but there was definitely some cool new opportunities that arose out of that. It was good motivation to know that others saw some potential with this.

 

Liane: "Tired but in good spirits"

Scott: That weekend was one of the most tiring experiences of my life, actually. Because the booth was open all weekend and we only had the two of us, so we literally had to be at the booth for every second it was open. With all the travel on both sides. And we couldn't even go for lunch. We were eating just behind the booth or whatever, we were doing wrestler tag team just to go to the bathroom. It was awful. Don’t ever try to run a booth with two people, ever. Never again.

Christian: I don’t have anything to add to that. It sucked.

Silence.

Liane: What was the "but in good spirits" part, then?

Scott & Christian: **Big laughs**

Scott: Uh after we got some sleep, the sense of motivation was there I think. We knew that there was a good chance that at least some people were gonna like the game.

Christian: It was going to sell 5 copies, yay.

Scott: It was gonna sell *at least* 5 copies.

Christian: I remember the horrified a lot more than any sort of positive spirits coming out of that. I think I’m just glad I survived.

Scott: It was definitely one of those events that’s like, when it’s over, “well, if that can go okay… things are gonna be okay.”

 

It was an intense three months leading up to PAX East, and an even more intense weekend at the show. But it went well, so that means smooth sailing from this point on, right? Actually, our next post will be the lowest point in the story, so get ready. 

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 This post was copied over from our blog.

 

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