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 SPM Convention Experience Report 
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Joined: August 18th, 2015, 1:41 pm
Posts: 24
Location: Texas
Hello everyone! I’m one of the new Ninja’s on the block, and I was lucky to have the opportunity to work with the Ninja Division crew at the recent Pax South convention. Some of you might be wondering what that experience is like and so I thought that I’d write a little about how it was for me. On a side note I’m focused on getting into the game industry in 2020 after I finish up with my commitments to my current job so keep that in mind.

The convention Started on Friday and I had to drive in about 3 hours to get there. So in order to make sure that I was fully rested I decided to come in on Thursday. I made it in to the area in the afternoon and so I contacted the help coordinator Sean Zern to see if they would need any help setting the booth up. For those of you that don’t know typically companies set up their booths the day prior to the convention or in some cases even earlier. Sean told me that they had things well in hand and that I was to meet him the next day at 0800.

I was so excited to have my first real-ish job in the industry I couldn’t wait. Traffic in San Antonio is pretty crazy if not dangerous during weekdays. It may have been better to have left a little earlier on Friday to avoid some of it, but I made it in just fine that day.

There was a slight disconnect between Sean and I as I went to the front entrance and was unaware of exactly where the vendor entrance was. Luckily I had purchased a badge in case this job fell through so I made my way in with that. Sean and I found each other and he got my Vendor Badge to me which gives me access to the vendor’s area before general admission, which can be a nice thing to have on other non-work days.

After getting to the booth I met the rest of the crew and John set me up with a slightly damaged basic Super Dungeon Explore set (just box damage). I opened the product and set up what I thought would be a good demo area. I set up 3 tiles and got out all 5 champions, and 3 spawn points worth of minions. I also planned to use the box to have people roll into it so as not to have the dice go all over the place during demos. John also let me set up some of the painted models I worked on in the previous month in the glass case which really built up a lot of trust in me, and it made me feel like he respected me.

Lucky for me John was there to guide me to some of the best practices when demoing SDE. We took my hero models down to 4 for people to choose from, then we got rid of one of the tiles and went down to 2 spawn points worth of minions. I kept the mini bosses and boss on tile 2 with their cards to show people their power during demos. I had also gotten the minions out just so people could look at them but they took up real-estate on the table and I found out later that I’d need all the space I could get. John had me put them away as well. Finally, we got rid of the box to roll into as it would detract to much from the aesthetic of the demo area. I actually saved so much space that I was able to put a sealed copy of the base set on the table with an expansion on top of it.

People started to pour into the hall and I started demoing the game for people. I had been to a lot of GenCON’s and other miscellaneous board game conventions which had helped me pick up some of the things good demo people do when they’re teaching the game.

1. One of the first things I learned was allowing people to pick the models they wanted to play. This is important as it allows them to get invested in the game right away.

2. Up front I tell people what the game is all about. My opening typically goes something like, “Super Dungeon Explore is a dungeon crawl light game that plays up to six players in about 2-3 hours.”

3. I talk about the character card stats first starting with the control pad for movement, and the button for basic attacks. Then I point out the special abilities and the fact that they mostly get used for tough monsters as most heroes can get more damage in with basic attacks.

4. This naturally leads me into talking about the unique dice for the game and how dealing damage can get players hearts or potions if they’re rolled.

5. At this point I have the players start playing their characters. I can play up to 4 and typically I explain that usually 2 of them go then the console goes but because it’s a demo I’m going to have all of them go then I’m going to go with my minions.

6. When the first player does damage I take this opportunity to explain static star values while also explaining the backpack loot system. If there are 4 players, I ask them if it’s ok if we progress the turn to the next player after each of them has killed something in order to respect their convention time. Most people are fine with this.

7. After the players complete their round I explain how the loot works, which naturally allows me to show players the boss and mini bosses. I have them out on a 2nd board along with their stat cards to impress how difficult it will be to take them down.

8. This leads me to explain how destroying spawn points will spawn mini bosses and eventually the dungeon boss which is the primary player objective. I also explain chests and how taking down mini bosses will earn players coveted treasure, keys, and princess coins.

9. I finish things up by walking players through what my turn would look like and explaining the skull system and the free boss movement.

10. Finishing up the demo I pick up the base set and hand it to the patrons and explain its cost and any deals we have that are going on at the convention. I also take this time to catch my breath and ask what they think about the game.

Typically, a demo will take between 10-15 minutes in order to get people a good feel for the game. It’s a good idea to make sure and pay attention to the patron’s body language and not just barrel through everything though. Being sensitive to each unique person is important, remember that you’re on their time not the other way around. Occasionally I’ve been to a convention where the booth workers made me feel like it wasn’t worth their time to talk to me which was of course an immediate turn off.

The first day behind me I learned so much from the crew there. Our team lead Sean was an amazing positive force that really gave me energy to keep going throughout the day. We had a CosPlayer there as well and she did a great job helping me set up demo’s. It was a great experience to work with the team and I’d say if you’re looking for game industry experience this is a great company to work for.

Day two was more of the same, but it had the added bonus of the staff dinner which was graciously provided by Ninja Division. I got to spend more time talking to the primary developer Dave and the guys that are building the video game for SDE. John also cashed me out earlier with the product I earned for the work I did. I was surprised at I had earned while only doing 16 hours of work over the two days.

I hope you enjoyed this convention report, and I hope to see you the next time I’m out working for Ninja Division!

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February 24th, 2016, 11:37 pm
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