Thursday, January 12, 2017

Battle High 2 A+ @ Magfest!

So as I previously mentioned, I entered Battle High 2 A+ on a whim into MagFest's indie game showcase.  MagFest is an game and music festival near Washington DC.  Since there was no entry fee, I figured entering was a win-win.  If I got the game into the show, I'd get an awesome opportunity to show the game off; however, if it were rejected, I'd be able to enjoy the conference without the stress of presenting a game.
Fortunately for me, it was accepted!  It was a great learning experience that I would like to share.


What I Did Well

Since this wasn't the first indie showcase at MagFest, there was plenty of useful resources out there to prepare.  I believe I was pretty well prepared and did the following well:
  • Be comfortable and have food and water:  Being at a booth for 4+ hours a day can be rather tiring, especially if you're standing a majority of that time (fortunately, I had extra chairs), but I made sure to dress comfortably as well as have food and water.
One of the "delicious" snacks I had
  • Have a carpet! (or make your space presentable):  I had banners, a carpet -- actually an outdoor floor mat which wasn't too soft and conflicted with comfort a bit -- and two setups.  I think my setup could have been nicer, but it was acceptable in my opinion.

  • Get help!:  As a solo dev, manning a booth can be rather difficult.  Fortunately, I had some coworkers and friends come to MagFest to help, even briefly for bathroom or lunch breaks. 
  • Have back-ups!:  I had my Xbox One with Battle High 2 A+ on it as well as my Microsoft Surface.  I also brought 3 monitors and extra cables.  Having 2 setups was great -- allowing more people to play the game -- but it was also good in case something broke!


 What I Could Have Done Better

This was the first time I had really shown off the game at a gaming venue, so there were a few things I could have done better.
  • Bring a dolly cart!  I recently bought a new car with a lot of room, which made transporting all of the monitors and other gear easy; however, taking it from my car to the hotel was rather frustrating.  A dolly cart would have made this a lot easier.
Would have helped so much...

  • Make it easier to see you worked on the game.  The first and second days of MagFest I wore Battle-High-related gear; however, on the 3rd and 4th days, I didn't, so people didn't know I had worked on the game and thought I was just watching or waiting for my turn to play.
A photo posted by Matt (@mattrified) on

  • Give credit better:  Though I work primarily alone, a lot of talented people worked on Battle High, and I wish I had better information about them when asked.  A lot of people would ask about the pixel artist or the graphic designer, and it was awkward trying to explain the situation of those individuals with people.  Having their business cards -- with their permissions of course -- would have made this easier.
  • Better print materials and swag:  This is mixed.  People liked my buttons -- which I'm practically out of -- and business cards.  I also had post cards -- which were the best thing to give out -- however, the post cards didn't have accurate or enough information.  For one, it only listed that the game was out for Xbox One and  Unfortunately, right after printing, I published Battle High 2 A+ on Game Jolt, so I had to tell people this directly.  I wanted to print out a new post card with the additional platform, as well as information on the back about Battle High 2 A+'s history (pictured below), but I procrastinated -- THANKS, CHRISTMAS. 

  Another thing I did is I get pencils printed.  Though I thought this was a neat bit of swag, they didn't go as well as I would have thought -- and now I have over 300 pencils! Regardless, the misprinted postcards were probably the most frustrating part of this.

A photo posted by Matt (@mattrified) on

  • SPEAKERS!  I bought really nice BenQ monitors for MagFest that had built-in speakers; unfortunately, I didn't realize till later that they were rather quiet.  I should have bought speakers as well.  No one could hear the sound design, voice acting, or music, which was especially embarrassing when the sound designer showed up to player -- SORRY!
  • Let people play themselves.  On the first day, some people wanted to play and instead of letting them play Arcade, I would volunteer to play them in Versus, probably scaring some of them away.  Though, and this was a bit awkward, a lot of people would ask me, "Hey, can I play?" to which I sometimes looked at them like a confused dog.  I guess maybe they thought I was in line to play or something and not the dev, but still, I wasn't sure what to say.
I think I nearly did this at least once.
Overall, showing my game off at MagFest was a great learning experience.  I met with a lot of people who were enthusiastic to play the game as well as its future and some that even showed interest in working with me in the future on updates or new titles.  Sure there were some people who weren't interested or poked fun at the cheesy dialogue, but nothing heinous and nothing directed at me like "Go jump off a bridge!"  The worst comment I heard was "Oh geez, I never heard of this game before!" which mostly made me realize my lack of marketing.
I got to see people play the game in a competitive setting which is probably the best way to learn about the game and I learned a lot.  For example, I learned that Beat has a nasty high-low mix-up, and that Jada's Lightning Whip's are overpowered.  I also got to witness the first (that I'm aware of) Battle High 2 A+ tournament!  Sure there were only 12 entrants and 4 of them didn't show, but it was still awesome to see!

Footage of the Battle High 2 A+ Tournament in Action!

I also got to see the game played at MagFest Versus -- a Nick Arcade-like gameshow held at the festival.

Footage taken from MagFest Versus!

Now, I've heard developers complain that sometimes cons aren't worth it, that a lot of people will say they like your game and will buy it but then "forget" to after the show, but you know what?  I don't really care.  I had a great time, learned a lot, and would love to do it again either at MagFest or another similar con with Battle High 2 A+ or another game!

1 comment:

  1. "Now, I've heard developers complain that sometimes cons aren't worth it, that a lot of people will say they like your game and will buy it but then "forget" to after the show, but you know what? I don't really care. I had a great time, learned a lot, and would love to do it again either at MagFest or another similar con with Battle High 2 A+ or another game!"

    Glad to hear it, man. It feels like for smaller indie devs conventions are just as much, if not more, of a morale boost than a marketing pitch. :)