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A look back at the lessons learned from taking Kairo to various gaming events over the past few months.

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The past few of months on Kairo have seemed like a bit of a whirlwind. The alpha build of the game was on showcase at the Develop conference in Brighton, the NotGamesFest in Cologne and PAX in Seattle. As I write this I'm preparing to fly out to LA for IndieCade which will hopefully be my last event of the year. It's been a real adventure, I've learned a lot about the demo process and a lot about how players interact with the game. Mostly though it's been incredibly exhausting.

I want to give special mention to NotGamesFest as it was a truly wonderful event. Each game was treated with a huge amount of respect beyond the typical booth space. The whole place was filed with a sense of atmosphere that really enhanced the games picked to be part of it. They even gathered all of us developers together for a private chat to share games we're working on and ideas we're struggling with. I hope I can attend next year even if I'm not exhibiting.

Develop, Brighton

Hindsight is 20/20

I have some background in marketing but I was always as the guy who produced materials that the sales guys took on the road so doing it myself was a huge eye opener. So I wanted to just talk through some of the lessons I've learned from the process as a one man developer that might be useful for other people who are going to go through this.

Everyone Plays Differently - Before Develop I decided I wanted to make the controls as simple as possible so added in gamepad support. To my surprise I found a big audience of people there were PC only gamer and were uncomfortable moving around with the pad. The setup at NotGamesFest on the other hand was mouse and keyboard and again I witnessed some people who were not used to that control scheme. The simple and obvious solution I should have gone for was to just give players the choice of both gamepad or mouse/keyboard. I did that at PAX and it worked great.

The More the Merrier - I did all three of these shows on my own which was tough for me. I'm a fairly social guy but three days of pitching my work wore me down. I know some people don't mind or even enjoy it, but for me I could have really done with some help. If I do similar events next year I'll be taking someone with me to split the load.

NotGamesFest, Cologne

Be Careful with the Code - The few days before NotGamesFest I made some huge changes to the game that really improved the exploration aspect of Kairo. I tested it as much as I could on my own but I missed something. It was now possible to fall off the world into nothingness in one of the rooms. Sadly over the few days a bunch of people ran into the problem. For PAX I fixed all the bugs I'd introduced but was super careful not to do anything so drastic so close to the event. Essentially I was incredibly stupid to make such drastic changes without enough time to properly test the game.

Be Over-prepared - I had a ton of different ways to put up signs for my games including a big popup banner, some normal posters, one designed to fit on the back of a monitor. I also had a ton of connectors and cables for all sorts of possible eventualities. I even took screen wipes. Over the course of three events I used pretty much everything. I tried to think through everything I might need, because if you take too much worse case scenario you have some extra spares sat in your suitcase.

PAX, Seattle

Proof in the Pudding

Ultimately this is all PR work which is bit of a distraction from finishing the game. And doing all this work has slowed down the development process, however sadly as a one man indie I've not got much choice. If I don't do all this no one will. However I am determined to hit my deadline of having the game finished by the end of the year, still a few months left. Doesn't seem like a lot of time.

Finally, I should probably mentioned I recently put out an Alpha 2 release of the game. My plan had been that Alpha 2 would include the next explorable area of the game. However all this show floor work has lead to me making tons of improvements to that first section of the game and it seemed unfair to withhold that from those of you who've already pre-ordered and new customers.

wolfbrother9393 - - 98 comments

That picture of the 3D Kairo model with the gameplay pictures in it is awesome!!! (the NotGamesFest picture)

The second alpha release is really awesome too. I like the lack of invisible walls and that you can now fall off of the walkways. It really changes things up as far as the whole feeling of the environment.

Although in that one grey zone that's made up of a bunch of cubes, theres a place where I can jump off of the main path and get stuck on a floating block. Because of that, the only way to continue is to start the game over.

Thought you should know that. ;)

See you at Indiecade!


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