Wow! It’s been a year (OK, technically 11 months )since we showed Swap Fire off at the first ever Norfolk NEON Festival (and in total at the time of publication it’s been 4 years and 4 months since I conceived the game and 16 months of concentrated development on the Wii U release). That was’t the first time we showed this great game off and it was’t the last but it is a pretty big milestone for us at Midnight Status. We’ve been doing whatever it takes to make the best game we can for over a year. Here are a few of the other places we showed off.
This is Norfolk’s entrepreneurial hub, run by Zack Miller, it’s a great place to show off a new product and see others doing the same. It’s not dedicated to gaming but we still got some great feedback, because, you know, everyone’s a gamer these days 😉
That Game Store
This Virginia Beach used game shop turns into a local eSports dojo at night. Friday nights are especially big with 50+ participants competing in Super Smash Bros. This was the first location where we met with real hardcore gamers. The sparse Drop Zone video many saw in January when Swap Fire made some news rounds was recorded that night, which was either very late August or early September 2015.
2016… What a difference a year and change makes!
After planning a roadtrip to various shows to demo our game, we decided we should create our own event. A wonderful opportunity came along and we ran with it to the tune of 4,655 attendees, making PixelFest one of the largest inaugural events of its kind. Swap Fire had a booth of course, which was mobbed for two solid days. Big thanks go out to Evan, Joe, and Frank for helping us with that. It was challenging to run a festival and demo a game but luckily we also had help from the amazing Slover Library staff (Jineane, Tim, Nicole, Bonnie, Sarah, Kelly, Raquel, Kevin, David, and I’m sure a few more). We learned a lot about peoples’ interaction with the game here and the festival helped us eat and pay the bills while we continued to develop Swap Fire.
E3 Party at Dave & Buster’s
Everyone loves E3, the excitement and anticipation for new games is almost too much to take. The PixelFest Devs group was joined by many new faces as we all watched in awe at the Breath of the Wild unveiling. Afterward we ran a mini-tournament with Swap Fire. I had a mic so of course I had to live role-play Jeevis (Swap Fire’s fictional master of ceremonies). It was a good time all around and as usual we learned even more about how people felt about Swap Fire. The Spectator Camera feature probably exists because I had so much fun being the commentator that night. I hope people have as much fun in their homes with it.
Super Smash Con
This DC event is a dense gathering of Nintendo fans but hyper focused on Super Smash Bros. That said Swap Fire was played by hundreds of hardcore Nintendo players here. This was after we thought we were done and were just fixing bugs and polishing here or there. People really liked the game but the whole event just drove us harder. Although, we’ll likely not succeed, watching Swap Fire get played side-by-side with Smash Bros and other classics by fans with Nintendo level expectations pushed us beyond where we thought we could go to make the best game we can. Will it be enough? Only the future knows.
Midnight Status has been consulting on Game Dev camps with this wonderful local school for nearly 5 years. In fact is was the first camp’s group of students that convinced me to pursue Swap Fire beyond the 7DFPS jam game. Two of our students Max and Kadin have interned for us (their names are in the credits) and we’ve demoed the game at NCS on many occasions. Recently, we had two amazing play tests, one with our Intro to Computer Science students and another at an assembly where got to rock The Hackney Theater’s big screen and booming sound system (there were some pics on Twitter).
That of course brings us back to NEON Festival 2016 where we again got to show off our craft side-by-side with other local artists. We met dozens of fans who had played Swap Fire at multiple events over the last year and they were amazed at the progress we had made.
Most “AAA” players will likely shrug off our little indie game. As a developer with 20+ years of experience having delivered software for Garage Games, Scholastic, Reflexive Arcade, DOT, NATO, medical companies, FinTech companies, two #1 iOS million+ downloaded games I’ve reached the limit of what I feel I can achieve as an indie risking it all as if I were playing Swap Fire’s Drop Zone mode in real life. This is the console game I’ve always wanted to make. We think it’s awesome and we hope you will too. If this is successful there’s so much more we’d like to do. As the saying goes, you’ve got to start somewhere. Hopefully, players at large will agree that Swap Fire is a great new direction vector. If so, we look forward to pouring on more magnitude in years to come.