So I spent the weekend in Boston at the Penny Arcade Convention, PAX East 2010. The trip wasn’t quite as comfortable as I would have liked it to have been, but I had an excellent time meeting up with various IF peopless. I was working on a few promotional ideas for the convention, including possibly getting a booth to show Textfyre games, but ultimately decided to just hang out.
One of the promotional ideas was to partner with Jason Scott who was doing his premier of GET LAMP, a documentary about the history of Interactive fiction. When I interviewed for the film, we’d talked about possibly adding Textfyre material to the DVD’s and Jason was very receptive at that time. For whatever reason, Jason changed his mind and this partnership never materialized. I think it was a missed opportunity for both of our endeavors, but that’s just my opinion.
Another thing I’d been working on in the background was a license for the Infocom trademark, now owned by Omni Consumer Products in California. Activision does not own the trademark anymore, something i verified with my internal contacts there. I’d gotten the licensing agreement and reviewed it with my business attorney. After reviewing the associated costs and strong language, I decided it wasn’t in our best interests to pursue such an agreement. I did talk to some of the original Infocom people and they thought it wasn’t really a good name for a brand unless there were plans to do sequels of the original games, something we do not have access to. So that promotional idea ended as well.
The only other thing I had planned to do was possibly make Textfyre t-shirts or CD’s of games, but I just couldn’t determine what sort of audience there were for those items. I’d never been to PAX before and wasn’t sure if it would work or not. I think it might have worked, but I also believe it wasn’t worth the risk. So in the end, I’m glad I just had fun and left the Textfyre promotion stuff off the trip.
On to the details…
My flight was delayed two hours so I missed the IF writing panel, which I was seriously miffed about. I did see the GET LAMP premiere and met up with most of the people I know from the IF community. I’ll write a separate post about my take on the movie, but overall I think Jason is a good filmmaker. After the film I chatted with Don Woods, Brian Moriarty, Dave Lebling, Steve Meretzky, and Mike Dornbrook. I ended up having drinks with the Infocom guys until 1:30am. It was very surreal being around people that had such a tremendous impact on your life.
On Saturday I grabbed a bite and hot chocolate from Starbucks before managing the Speed-IF in the IF Suite at the Back Bay Hilton. Everyone stood around and we came up with a few ideas and everyone spent the better part of the day writing their entries, all of which are noted on the IFWiki page. I grabbed a late lunch with Jesse McGrew (vaporware), Kate (his girlfriend), and Mike (can’t remember his name) at the Pour House. Lunch was tolerbale, but not great. I then walked around the convention with Mike where we poked around, saw Will Wheaton, got t-shirts, bought the Jason Shiga Meanwhile book, and then separated. I eventually made my way back to the IF Suite in time for the IF Outrach Panel, where we all discussed ways to get the word out about IF. Since this is a topic I am intimately familiar with, I had a lot to say (probably more than some people care to hear). We then pulled all of the Speed-IF entries together and people played them. It was great to see so much interest.
Went to brunch at The Cheesecake Factory, which was fantastic and then headed to the IF Suite for another panel on adaptive play. The idea being that we should develop ways to allow newbies and pros to play the same games without hardship. It turns out this is similar to the outreach discussion in many ways. The panel talked a lot about Jay Is Games, but I am not personally convinced casual gamers will ever be interested in IF. I think if people want to write casual IF games, that’s great…but that’s not what I want to do. I want to develop immersive (not casual) stories that intentially take many hours of your time.
We all chatted until about 5pm and then the bulk of the crew went out for dinner. It was a bit early, but I ended up heading straight to the airport. I upgraded to first class because I was just so tired and had a nice quiet flight home.