Featuring ‘Source’ at PAX East 2014

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After an intense couple of months, we pulled it off and PAX was a success! Well, every success story has it’s fair amount of drama and bumps in the road. It wouldn’t be much of a story if everything went smoothly and the way it was planned, right?

Let’s back up a little to first considering going to PAX. My brother, Brian forwarded me an email about information from PAX accepting applications for their IndieMEGABOOTH and asked what I thought about it. So, I responded with why not? Let’s do it! I helped him write and send out the application with a write up about the game and Fenix Fire. Along with screenshots and a video of Source. Then we waited.

This was a month or two after submitting Source to IGF, which was sadly not chosen to be a nomination for the awards ceremony at GDC. But as it turns out, Source was chosen for the IndieMEGABOOTH! I think Brian got the news within the same month. So, just when he received some harsh news, good news comes up and now it’s time to get ready for PAX East! I have to add the irony of Brian thought he had no chance to make into PAX but did think he had a fighting chance with IGF. It just goes to show you, you never know and something better might be waiting for you so don’t worry.

Ok, so now the emails from PAX are pouring in with paperwork to be filled out and so on. Thankfully the IndieMEGABOOTH has a heart for Indie companies and helped out Brian to make sure the paperwork was filled out properly. Next, him and Anna (the other half of Fenix Fire) wanted to come up with a call to action during PAX…a Kickstarter campaign!

Brian sought out and hired Game Promoter.com to help with this task of putting together a successful Kickstarter campaign. Long story short, Brian had only about a week to make an epic trailer video with new creatures and enemies along with filming a personal segment to put on the campaign page. His time was cut down to a week because of being at GDC where he spoke at the Unity and Qualcomm booths then after coming home,  had a nasty 7 day flu. Can someone say stressed?

Now, it’s time for PAX. All the videos are made and turned out nicely, the prints and buttons for PAX were ordered and are being shipped to the hotel, the travel arrangements are taken care of, press have been emailed with announcing ‘Source’ at PAX and some press even reached out to schedule interviews; everything is looking like it’s falling into place. Brian, his twin Dan and myself all made it safely to Boston and were ready for PAX and the Kickstarter campaign.

Thursday morning, Brian receives an email that Amazon payments which is tied to Kickstarter needing to verify further information about his business before going forward. Great. So, Brian had to call Anna on Skype so she could show him and ask what papers they wanted faxed in. They figured it out and sent in what they were asking for. Brian gets the email that says thank you for submitting the information will be 2-3 days for verification. What?! We were planning on launching the campaign that day to be ready for PAX! Brian sends out an email explaining the situation and we go over to the convention center to set up our booth.

When we get to the convention center, which is awesome, we wait in line to get our badges. Surprise, surprise they can’t find them. Really?! So, Brian has to go through all his emails on his phone to find the invoice for the IndieMEGABOOTH. While he’s searching he gets an email from Amazon payments that he’s good to go on Kickstarter, yay! He finally finds the email he needs for the badges, shows the guy in charge and it turns out they just never printed our badges! Seriously? They gave us some extra badges and we’re now ready to set up the booth.

Of coarse when we get to our booth there’s nothing there, only a sign and some chairs. One of the workers of the MEGABOOTH, Chris, came up and said don’t wait for things to come to you, seek them out or you might never get them. So I stayed at the booth while Brian and Dan went out searching. In about an hour and a half we had our TV, computer, speakers, table and wastebasket. We were all set and ready to go.

That night, Brian was ready to hit the launch button on the Kickstarter page. Too bad they sent an email that said we’ve received your request and your campaign will be put in the queue for review about 3-5 days. You’ve got to be kidding me!!! Brian couldn’t believe it. This was devastating and there was nothing he could do but write an email to tech support. What made matters worse was he was scheduled to go on Twitch TV Friday afternoon and wanted to mention the Kickstarter campaign, but now he couldn’t.

It’s finally Friday, the first day of PAX East. My brothers and I are eagerly waiting for the sea of people to come to our booth and check out ‘Source’. We hear the roar as they come in. The day goes by pretty fast. My brothers leave to go on Twitch TV while I handle the booth and it went ok except for the computer crashes from time to time but everyone was very nice and understanding about it. All in all it was a good day and mostly everyone’s response to the game was positive! They really liked the art style and concept of ‘Source’. As PAX day one came to an end, Brian check his emails on his phone and BAM the Kickstarter was approved and he was good to go for real this time! When we finally got back to the hotel, Brian hit the green activate key and the ‘Source’ Kickstarter page was now live and ready for Saturday.

We’ve made it to day two of PAX East. We’re down to just me and Brian since Dan had to fly back to Chicago for work. We had to make a stop at Staples to pick up more postcards for the day and when we made it to the convention center, the parking lot was full! I dropped of Brian so he could set up the booth since it was almost 10 AM and that’s when the doors opened. And I was re-directed to an overflow lot far away. I had to take a shuttle bus back to the convention center and tried a few times to use my exhibitor badge to get inside, but was sadly denied. Forty-five minutes later I was at the booth helping out. Saturday flew by and ended up being a great day with a great response for ‘Source’. Some people even backed us on Kickstarter right there! It was awesome :)

Sunday, PAX day three, was a little different. Since it was the last day most people had an agenda and wanted to see the games they knew and came for. But nonetheless, we still had a good day with meeting some great supporters and just nice people. Brian even met a listener of the Game Design Dojo Podcast and videotaped an interview with her. It made his day. He actually video interviewed a few people that played the ‘Source’ demo with their thoughts of the game. It ended up being a great 3 day experience.

Well, the story can’t end there, come on you should know better. So, Sunday night Brian and I are BEAT. We get to the hotel room and our keys don’t work. We go down to the front desk and they said that they had our reservation only to that day and didn’t see an extended reservation. Wow. Brian found his booking paperwork and the front desk apologized and gave us a free breakfast for the next day. So that was a score with a little drama of coarse.

Our PAX journey in Boston was now officially over. We ate our free breakfast, checked out of the hotel, stopped at the UPS store to ship some stuff, dropped off the rental car (which was an awesome SUV since they gave my brother a free upgrade), and went our separate ways to our designated airline terminals. I was flying back to Chicago and Brian had a connecting flight in Dallas. We both eventually made it safely to our homes and ready to promote the Kickstarter campaign to hopefully reach 100% funded.

Thank you so much for reading my mini novel. Believe me I could have added more details but I kept it to the main ones and most amusing. We hope to make it to PAX Prime this October in Seattle. Whatever happens we just have to remember “The struggle is part of the story.”

About Brian

Brian is the Founder and CEO of Fenix Fire, Co host of The Game Design Dojo, and industry veteran of over 15 years with over 70 projects under his belt such as Mortal Kombat Deception, Psi Ops, Hunter The Reckoning, Starcraft Ghost, and the Oculus Tuscany World Demo.