My 6-Day PAX marathon kicked off with 2 days of PAX-Dev. This is the third year PAX-Dev has happened and the second year I attended. I had a great a time and will likely be back next year. There’s a strict “no-media” policy, so I won’t go into to much detail and won’t have pics but will just give general impressions instead. Incidentally, the no-media policy itself is great. It keeps the event focused on Devs just hanging out, networking, and sharing stories- preventing it from becoming yet another media event. I also really appreciate PAX’s efforts to make sure it’s affordable for indie devs to attend.
The first day got off to a great start until I realized I’d left all my sweet business cards at home. Since a big part of the reason for PAX-Dev is networking, I decided I had to go fetch them during the lunch break. This should have been easy, except paid parking lots apparently don’t like you leaving and returning. Come early and stay all day, you get a special (somewhat) reasonable rate. But if you want to leave at some point, then you’re on the (unreasonable) hourly rate. Not knowing this, I asked the attendant if it was okay if I left for about 40 minutes. She said yes, so I got my car and tried to leave. At the gate I found out she thought I was just asking permission to walk around downtown Seattle for 40 minutes. But they cut me a “deal” and would retroactively sell me an “in-and-out pass” for $30. Never wanting to miss a good pun, I almost asked if I could get that “animal style,” but then realized that might be tragically misinterpreted and get me slapped (or forced to play the hourly rate). I went home, got my cards, and returned. Immediately after grabbing a ticket to re-enter and re-park my car, I read on my “in-and-out pass” that I was supposed to use that to get back in instead of getting another ticket. It took another trip to the attendant and about 15 minutes to sort that out. I received a stern warning that if I lost my pass, I’d be paying the hourly rate for the full day.
The Science Game!:
The series of delays pushed me beyond lunch time, but fortunately the awesome Reuben Fries saved me a seat in the “make a science game” workshop. We were given a choice of designing a card game to teach concepts of starch digestion, stoichiometry, or evolution. Naturally, we selected the third option. We didn’t quite finish, but had the clear beginnings of a decent game in the space of a half hour. Designing a game with Reuben was definitely a highlight and we have discussed the possibility of a www.GoodGamery.com game jam. I intend to make that happen and intend for it to be sweet.
I felt like the panels I attended this year were not quite as good as last year, but a lot of that might be related to trying to guess the best panel from a paragraph in the con booklet. (I heard the indie marketing panel was great, but I didn’t attend it.) Also, last year Richard Garfield (of Magic: The Gathering fame) gave a great talk on the role of randomness in games. I still remember how insightful that talk was, so it might have colored my perception of this year. But there were still some highlights including a sick demo of Cadenza Interactive’s internal tools and development practices and a panel on how indie devs can (and should) help each other out.
But the best part of the Dev conference isn’t the panels, it’s the reception / hang-out time after the panels close. You get to talk to cool people, try out game prototypes, etc. If you make it out to PAX-Dev, make sure to plan to stay a few hours late. It will be worth it. Finally, don’t be afraid to just walk up to people and start a conversation about your game or their game. It’s a chill environment that encourages those things.
The Journey Home:
Oh, back to my car. So apparently my monthly phone plan ran out exactly on this night. Lacking GPS, I had to ask the parking attendant how to get to I-5. She told me to turn right and then right again at the second light. The problem was the street at the second light was a one-way. Going the wrong way. With a hidden cop on it. My tiredness, the bad directions, and lack of any other non-cop cars made it an easy mistake. While I was waiting for whatever it is cops do when they pull people over, multiple people walked by and told me as long as I wasn’t drunk I’d probably be fine. (Seattle people are nice like that.) Fortunately, I’d left all my O’Douls at home and ended up with a warning. At this point, all the car nonsense had officially passed from annoying to comical. I finally got home and resolved to take the bus for the rest of the conference.