Exhibiting at Update Show

April 16th 2014

This weekend my Son Damien and I made our way to Manchester to take part in Update Show, organised by Andrew Bennison of Prospect Games.

We first heard about the event a month or two ago when Andrew was approaching Indie Developers asking if they'd like to exhibit at the event free of charge. It sounded like a good idea and was close enough that we could catch the train through in the morning and catch it back on the night (which meant it wasn't going to be expensive to get to the place).

A few familiar names signed up to exhibit and a few friends who are also working on games at the moment. This was going to be my first proper public demo of Positron in nearly a year!

We did some preparation (very last minute) and ordered a few things to help make us stand out. First, I threw together a montage of screenshots for a popup banner and designed a few T-Shirts for my Son and I to wear:

Positron popup banner and T-shirts

I also got some new cards printed to try and promote Positron's Greenlight campaign. I wanted to encourage people to take a card, check out the Greenlight campaign, and give us their vote:

Positron Greenlight cards

On the day, we packed everything up in to a huge bag (including monitor, laptop, tablet devices, phones, oh, and these Lighthouses (Marshmallow with chocolate base, and a Smartie stuck to the top (with a dab of melted chocolate) which My Wife made for people to come try while playing the game:

Marshmallow and chocolate lighthouses

Hopped on the train (or two since we had to switch at Huddersfield), took the tram through to MediaCity UK (which technically I think is in Salford, just on the edge of Manchester) and made our way to the venue. While on the trains I was also updating a bit of Positron code to turn it in to an endless demo (without having to go to level select screens and level-complete screens), managed to be trickier than I thought it would be to do that!

By the time we got there, about half the other devs were already setting up, so we got everything unpacked and set up our table with our banner, monitor, laptop, and some treats. I quickly finished the new demo mode and checked it worked before firing it up on the laptop.

Throughout the day I estimate we had around 50 people come sit down and play the game, the overall feedback was very positive and most people sat down and kept retrying until they completed the level which was good to see. There were plenty of other devs coming round and having go, as well as students, and parents with young children so we had quite a variety of people playing the game (and one particular family kept returning to take some more of Laura's lighthouses).

One of the many people who played the game on the day

My Son got a bit bored and spent half the day playing games on my phone (like SinisterSoft's What Rhymes With Martians which was also being exhibited at the event) and some Little Big Planet on the Vita (which I have to admit is an awesome game). I didn't really stray from my stand much at all due to the constant stream of people coming over wanting to play the game and ask questions.

A lot of the devs there seemed to assume the game was made with Unity, and then when I told them it was all C++ / GL /DX they seemed more impressed. No idea why they'd think it looks like it was made in Unity, or if that's even a good thing or a bad thing. I had a few people asking how the reflections were done and how the levels are made (I keep meaning to write some more blog articles about these topics) and was surprised that a few people even called it 'unique looking', one of them later claimed to have never seen Tron or Tron Legacy which explains that though.

When the event was winding down (and most people were heading off to the after party) we packed up our stuff and headed off for the tram. Had a bit of a wait for our train in Manchester station so grabbed something to eat from Burger King and caught up on some Twitter and Facebook stuff which I'd not been checking during the day. Got the train(s) back and pretty much went straight to bed as it had been a long day!

Overall I quite enjoyed the event, we got some great feedback and had plenty of people played the game. I thought the venue was a little odd as the devs were scattered about the place and I only saw a few of the games that were on show. I think holding these kind of events in a large hall is ideal as everyone has visibility and everyone can see what else is on show. I also would've considered bringing an Xbox and additional monitor if I had realised the space we were given was going to be large enough to accommodate two monitors.

It was a great warmup for Play Expo Blackpool, we'll be there for the full weekend and hope to get plenty of people playing the game and competing on the leaderboards.
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