Dreamhack Winter: Preparations

As you might have heard, we'll be exhibiting Secrets of Grindea over at Dreamhack Winter this weekend. Well, when I say we, it's not really true: Fred will be there representing, along with one of his brothers. Teddy and I will stay at home to keep working: we really want to finish the game sometime after all... :)

Anyway! Going to an expo such as this needs a fair bit of preparations. For the last couple of expos we've been to, we've used a special build of the game, which only allows you to play until the end of the trials (basically where the demo ends, if you have tried it). That's not the only thing that's special with the build though!

In our expo build, characters aren't saved. We added this feature because we faced an issue where people didn't dare delete an old character when all slots were filled, but started playing on one that already existed instead. That, of course, meant that they had no idea what they were doing, as they jumped straight into the action without even knowing which buttons to use! It also meant we had to spend a lot of time deleting characters so there always would be free slots open..

The expo build also resets back to the main menu if no key is being pressed for a while. We added this since a lot of people, once they're done, simply get up and leave, instead of going back to the main menu first - again confusing people wanting to try the game, who then jump straight into where someone else left off.

This time around we've added another feature, addressing a problem we've been having with the game at expo's ever since the beginning. You see, when someone plays the game, people tend to get really interested, looking over their shoulder to see what the game looks like. If they like what they see, they usually end up trying it themselves. However, when nobody is playing, all you see is a main menu and a bunch of clouds. That doesn't exactly let you know what kind of game it is, and it leaves people uninterested or too intimidated to try it out.

So basically: when someone is already playing, people get interested and want to play, creating a queue. If nobody is playing, it's kinda hard to get the ball rolling in the first place.

Previously we've solved this by having someone we know play the game until someone else comes along, but it's not always a viable solution and can feel pretty weird for those times when we only have 2 computers available - you're basically hogging 50% of the space for your own game, and a lot of people want to play in pairs.

This time around, if nobody touches the game for a minute or so, video footage featuring in-game battles will automatically start playing with the text 'press any key' fading in and out on top of it. Our hope is that this will allow people to see what kind of game it is, and hopefully grab their interest so we don't have to deal with either an overcrowded booth or no crowd at all!

Wish us luck! ..and if you're attending Dreamhack Winter - go say hi to Fred for me :D
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