Posts Tagged ‘boston’

We’re gathering poster images to get printed for the PAX IF Hospitality Suite and the Alcott room for PAX in March.

Check out the PAX IFWiki page (http://ifwiki.org/index.php/PAX_East_2011) and add your poster name and your name to the list. Send me (david at textfyre) the image and I’ll make sure it’s on a wall somewhere.

We’re deep in the planning phase for PAX East in Boston March 11-13. Some of the IF community are planning to be in early. There’s a dinner planned for Thursday night, and panels throughout the weekend either in a suite or in our planned 1,035sqft conference room in the connected Westin Waterfront hotel.

For more information, visit the IFWiki page at: http://ifwiki.org/index.php/PAX_East_2011

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…

Friday

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.

Saturday

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.

Sunday

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.

PAX East

Posted: March 26, 2010 in Blogroll, interactive fiction, Textfyre
Tags: , ,

I’m heading to the airport and off to PAX East in Boston. I should get in around 4:30 and have time to run to the hotel, check-in and then head over to the IF events. Looking forward to seeing everyone.

Our secret programmer is hard at work on the new iPhone, iPad, OSX implementation for delivering our games on those platforms. Code is getting checked in and we’re seeing real progress there. Hopefully, when the iPad starts shipping, we’ll be able to be one of the first full-screen applications in the app store. Or one of the thousands.

We’re also awaiting word on access to the Kindle SDK and as soon as we get access, we’ll find another volunteer to help port our games to that platform. It may not be the perfect fit because of the way the screen works, so there may be a few rounds of testing before we get to something workable.

The Empath’s Gift is in alpha-testing (Paul and Chris are doing this work) and I’m hoping to see a second round of that soon.

I have a request. Graeme Jefferis is still working on the Inform 7 programming when he has time, but I feel the need to add a second person. If you have strong Inform 7 programming skills and want to help Textfyre succeed, please drop me an e-mail. I have to say that the pay is all back-ended. This means we can agree on a rate, but I can’t make payments until we see significant units sold (1000 or more per game) or until we find funding. This is the life of a start-up. There are no guarantees and the work you do has to really come from the excitement of seeing Textfyre do good works.

As mentioned before, I will be at PAX East in Boston in late March from Friday through Sunday (and possibly through Tuesday). If you want to meet-up, let me know.

Last year was, to say the least, interesting. Some of our accomplishments include:

1. We managed to complete and publish two games and get a third game into the programming stage.
2. We have a relatively stable and functional, if boring, website.
3. We’ve had talks with interesting partners, including Infocom implementors, about working with Textfyre.

Some of the things we’re still working include getting the word out to the audiences that we think will appreciate our works. This is the primary goal of 2010.

I also have some other business I’d like to attend to…finally. As I have mentioned many times, Textfyre is currently funded entirely by me and a very small number of sales of games. To say 2009 was difficult can’t possibly describe the year we had. Since I can’t work at Textfyre for a living, I have been doing computer consulting work, independently. Prior to 2009, this was a fairly stable endeavor. I made enough money to provide for my family (I’m married with five children) and siphon off just enough to keep Textfyre rolling. It was never enough to really go all out though and that’s why I have always been looking for external sources of funding.

In 2009 though, things went south. Like south pole south. Like to the moon Alice south. Some know about my endeavors with a company called OneDegree.Com, but I will give you the summary. I took a contract to hire position with a start-up that claimed they had a million dollars in the bank. They didn’t. They went under and my consulting business lost about $90,000. To top that off, when I found out they were out of money, I did start looking for other work, but didn’t find anything until August, but that only lasted four weeks. Then I was out of work until the middle of December. I’m just now getting invoices paid for the first time in five months.

So needless to say, Textfyre has had to weather some troubling financial times. But most entrepreneurs will tell you, you can’t fail unless you quit. I haven’t quit and I don’t plan to quit. We’re making some headway in getting the word out. Sales are slow, but enough to keep the website up. I’m back to work and the consulting market looks to be improving slowly. We also have very passionate people helping us that understand that building the business isn’t a cake walk. It takes hard work, dedication, and most of that before anyone gets paid.

One of the things I have discovered is that there is one sector of help we need that doesn’t like the “get paid later” scenario. That is the artist. Well, I should say the _talented_ artist. There are plenty of people who think they’re artists, but if you want someone who you can direct and will deliver, you have to pay them. This is one of the things lacking in our process and would be the first thing rectified when we finally draw more revenue or find a funding source.

In 2010 we’re already looking at ways to get the word out. I will be attending PAX East in Boston in late March. I’ll be there Friday afternoon through Sunday night. If anyone wants to get together, please let me know. Drop a comment on the blog or e-mail me directly.

There’s a fall middle-school convention that I was sore to miss last year, but will not miss this year. By then we should have an official booth, CD’s, and several more games published. I plan to have at least one Infocom Implementor in the fold this year and possibly more than one. If we can convince Activision to let us at the Infocom material, we might do something there too.

We’re evolving. I started with many plans, but some of them have been set aside and new ones have taken their place. That will continue.

We’ve only just begun…