There are plenty of wonderful articles on people's experiences at 2014's Penny Arcade Expo in Melbourne, Australia, such as PAX Australia 2014 - The Return of Awesome by Blue Room Games, so here is short account of the immense fun and celebrity run-ins that 93 Made Games had at this year's expo.
Thursday, 30 October
Touched down in Melbourne, found beer and food, spent most of the night at the Games Laboratory discussing the future of game design in Australia with the Tabletop Game Designers Australia group and then partook in gaming until late. Oh and we also met Mad Men actor Rich Sommer who played Sye Robertson's new game Robots and Rockets with us. Ended up playing Magic into the wee hours of the morning with Sye and Tish Robertson from Syelon.
Friday, 31 October
Happy Halloween! OK, so we didn't dress up... basically, because we were recovering from the previous night. Eventually made it into day 1 of PAX at 2:30pm. Quickly scouted the Expo Hall and then settled into the Tabletop Area to catch up with some local game designers, including Wez Lamont who had Ludicrous COGZ set up for giant-sized play, Allen Chang from Rule & Make who was showcasing Rise To Power, Nathan Hawkins who had a booth full of people playing Conjure and Al Caynes who was demonstrating his latest game El Luchador Fantastico Grande. We strongly recommend you head over to Kickstarter and back Al's project so you can get your own copy of his awesome game.
After the afternoon stint of gaming, we found more beer and food and then returned to PAX for Sean's panel on the Quest to fund Indie Board Games. He was joined by Alex and Paul from Blue Room Games, Wez from Raez and Phil from Adventureland Games. Check out the video of the panel below. Capped off the night by playing Magic and drinking alcoholic bevvies. No trend forming.
Saturday, 1 November
Rocked up at PAX at a more respectable 10am and made use of the time to check out all of the amazing offerings from indie developers of electronic and tabletop games. Played a bit of Gauntlet and Cards Against Humanity and, after finding ourselves engrossed in so much fun, realised that it was time for Anthony's panel - The Indie Board Games Panel - with Kate from Games We Play, Dann from Game Salute, Phil from Adventureland Games and Anthony (the other one) from Handwritten Games. After the panel, touched base with artist and graphic designer Lily McDonnell from My Beautiful Monsters. Surprise, surprise, finished the night playing Magic with Sye & Tish Robertson and Kim Brebach from Secret Base Games.
Sunday, 2 November
Finally a day free of panel obligations. Arrived at PAX at 11am and bummed around the Tabletop Area playing and demoing games. The big event was the Kangaroos vs England in the Rugby League Four Nations. High-fived Sam Thaiday in the street early that day, which obviously gave him the extra luck needed for the Aussies to knock over the Poms by 16 points to 12. Wound up at the Games Laboratory playing more games with Sye & Tish and Jason Kotzur-Yang from End Game Games. So. Much. Gaming.
Monday, 3 November
Departure day. Grabbed a quick meal and headed for a long Virgin Australia check-in line. Finally made it through to the departure lounge. Located medication for a manky cough, disappearing voice and puffy eye. Who says gamers don't know how to party hard?! Finished off our Melbourne adventure by playtesting Simon's new game whilst Matthew Lee from The Campaigner magazine watched on and took some snapshots.
Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) is a celebration of electronic and tabletop gamer culture. Go to the PAX website for more information on all Penny Arcade Expos.
Monster Town is around the corner… literally. After 5 long years of development, 93 Made Games are only a couple of days away from launching the Kickstarter campaign to crowd-fund the full production and distribution of the Monster Town card game. The team has organised in-store and in-club events around Australia and have plenty of rewards on offer for those brave enough to take a journey to Monster Town.
Monster Town is an expandable card game set in a fictional city whose denizens include all manner of supernatural beings, such as Vampires, Werewolves and Zombies. Players command their gang and wage brutal combat against each other as they journey through Monster Town.
The backstory of Monster Town is told in reverse narrative, where the first game is actually the last chapter in an intriguing chronicle. Each expansion adds to the story and unravels the mystery behind the appearance of the Dark Spire - an ethereal power source that has warped the citizens of Monster Town.
We have carefully chosen Kickstarter rewards that will appeal to gamers, game designers and those who appreciate of original pieces of art. Backers of the Monster Town Kickstarter campaign can pledge for lots of exciting loot, including copies of the four gang decks and the Kickstarter-exclusive Reinforcement Packs (additional cards with which to expand your gang deck), limited edition artwork and autographed prints, and even a reward where you and your friends can create your own gang… and we’ll produce it for you!
Seeking crowd-funding for Monster Town via Kickstarter has allowed us to offer an immersive experience for all types of gamers, from dedicated gamers to casual gamers, and even non-gamers. Whilst playing Monster Town is the main game, we are encouraging anyone who is interested in the supernatural, horror or fantasy to get into the spirit of Monster Town by dressing up as their favourite supernatural being and attending one of the Monster Town tour events. Heck, even if you just want to hold your own Monster Town party without us (we may shed a tear), send in your photos and we’ll post them on our website. The best-dressed at each of the tour events will get a booby prize.
The Monster Town tour will kick off with LIVE LAUNCH PARTY at Mega Games in Penrith. Be there for your first look at Monster Town in all of its frightening glory. Be sure to stay tuned to the Kickstarter page (when it goes live) for a list of official Monster Town tour events. Anyone who attends an official tour event, and pledges for a reward containing Reinforcement Packs, will receive an extra Reinforcement Pack for each and every one of these events they attend. Just be sure to let us know who you are at the event so we can be sure to get you your extra packs once the campaign is over.
There is so much more to tell you about but, for now, check out our Monster Town Kickstarter Theatrical Promo and then pledge until your heart is content once the Monster Town Kickstarter page goes live (from 8 p.m. on Friday, 11 April 2014 (AEST)).
Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Kickstarter is full of ambitious, innovative, and imaginative projects that are brought to life through the direct support of others. Since Kickstarter's launch on April 28, 2009, over $1 billion has been pledged by more than 5 million people, funding more than 50,000 creative projects.
93 Made Games Managing Director, Sean Carroll, talks about his unexpected experiences at PAX Aus 2013 - the first Penny Arcade Expo held outside of the United States.
Warning: This article contains many “shout-outs” to the wonderful people that I met at PAX Aus.
Alright, I've been to plenty of expos and conventions over my time as both visitor and exhibitor and have learnt to generally ignore the hype coming from organisers. In all fairness, show conveners need to big note their expo; otherwise, who would bother to show up in the first place. This is what I thought PAX Aus would be like. The PAX Aus website was replete with event listings and exhibitor names but I was very ho-hum about the whole thing apart from the fact that I would get the chance to join some great people on the Indie Board Game Design Panel. I was so blasé that I booked a late flight out on the opening day of the expo and an early flight back on the closing day. Thus limiting my expo exposure to less than half of the time available.
[Cut to the PAX Aus Queue Room at 4:30pm on Day 1]
I strolled in and I was like, “OK, the Queue Room is bigger than most expos I've been to.” It was impressive; however. I didn't want to be hasty in judgement so I took some time to check out the other halls after getting my speaker pass. The pass came in very handy for jumping queues all weekend. I can't complain about a little rock star treatment.
[10 minutes later, cut to the Expo Hall]
I stepped through the front doors and looked out across a dimly-lit hall that was filled wall-to-wall with buzzing stands and towering wide screen displays offering the ultimate in PC and console gaming experiences. I thought, “Hmmmm, well, this is rather promising but I'm only a casual computer gamer. I like electronic games but I just don't get as much time to play as I used to.” Even so, I took some time to walk around and check out the latest games from local and overseas developers.
[20 minutes later, cut to The Big Top]
After walking past line after line of expo-goers queuing for hot food, seminars, DJ sets, special invitation events and so on, I reached The Big Top. This is where my cynicism was finally tipped over the edge. (It only took 30 minutes!) I peered across the vast expanse of The Big Top, which was populated with rows of modern consoles, costume-clad pop culture fanatics, herds of gamers with their heads down in their portable consoles, columns of tabletop gamers playing released and play-test versions of games, more hot food, retail stalls and, my personal favourite, retro consoles! I was in pop culture heaven... and I wasn't alone. The preliminary figures from the show conveners claim that there were at least 35,000 unique visitors to PAX Aus. That's more than half the current population of my home town.
For the next few hours I took in the whole experience as I ambled around The Big Top. Even though the expo was massive, I ran into some familiar faces, including Andrew Lum from Aetherworks. He was playing Magic against enthusiastic newbie Nicole, whilst her friend Ben watched on. Nicole almost demanded that I sit down and was all too accommodating when I asked if I could challenge her to a game or two. After conversing with Ben for a while, I found out that both he and Nicole were also Sydneysiders. The number of people venturing South for PAX Aus was quite astounding.
Time ran out for playing Magic as I had to dash to meet with the other panellists. I ran across to the board game free-play tables and was met with an extremely welcoming reception from Alex Dijk and Paul Nicholas from Blue Room Games, Wesley Lamont from RAEZ, Anthony Sweet from Handwritten Games and Thomas Eliot from Sixpence Games. We went through our game plan for the following day's panel, which didn't take long as everyone was extremely professional in nature and definitely new their game design theory and practice.
Everyone had to run off after the meeting so I took this opportunity to grab a snack and continue wandering around The Big Top. After filling my belly, I decided to settle down in the Retro Consoles area where I would spend the remainder of Day 1 playing old favourites such as Mega Man, Space Invaders and Batman (the 1989 movie version).
Day 2 was a bit more business-orientated as I caught up with industry luminaries such as Gerard How from Paradigm Infinitum Games, Christopher Badell and Adam Rebottaro from Greater Than Games, Dann May from Game Salute and Sol Green from EuroGameFest. Gerard and I discussed plans for a big Southeast Asian release of Monster Town, Zombie Viewpoint and the re-release of Viewpoint and Viewpoint Reflections.
I had a chance to try out some games seen in Australia for the first time but the clock was against me again as I had to hot-step it to my 6:30pm rendezvous with the Indie Board Game Design Panel. I won't harp on too much about the panel as the other guys prepared a video of the panel, which you can watch below. I will say, however, that imparting wisdom to up and coming game designers is one of the most enjoyable parts of being a game designer and publisher. I think Alex and Paul would say that having groupies cheer you on is also boast-worthy. Kudos Hannah!
After the panel, Melissa Rogerson from Boardgames Australia, organised a few tables for the panellists to demo our games. Once again, this was an awesome experience as I got to share Viewpoint with other gamers and got to know some more game designers in the process. A big wave goes out to Tom, Diran, Rebecca and Lachlan. Thanks for letting me win at least one of the games. A “heya” also goes out to Jeremy and David from LXG. I'm looking forward to seeing you next year in God's Own Country for some more gaming shenanigans.
The demos didn't stop there as I got to play-test Anthony Sweet's latest creation - Breakwater - until Day 2 closing time. I love the New Orleans voodoo/steam punk theme. This is going to be a great game so I recommend that everyone buy it. Be sure to buy Alex and Paul's game NinjitZoo, Tom's game Professor Pugnacious and Wez's game Gaeon as well.
With the business and panel out of the way, I squeezed in some time on Day 3 in the Expo Hall and The Big Top playing PC and console games and snapping up some bargains from the retail stalls. I said my goodbyes (rather see-you-laters) to Anthony and Wez as I made my way out of PAX Aus 2013.
Without a doubt, I will be back next year... and this time... I'm bringing reinforcements.
PAX Aus 2013 was the first Penny Arcade Expo held outside of the USA. Go to the PAX website for more information on all Penny Arcade Expos.
Whilst Australian designed and published games are a rarity in the games industry, a published theme song for such a game is unique! The Viewpoint theme song “The Viewpoint Hustle” is track number 19 on the debut album of Australian contemporary pop pianist Julala. The album, Méthode Julala, is a culmination of years of experience, dedication and passion from Julala whose unique style and wide range of piano pieces tantalises not only the ear but the entire body. Her ethereal touch belies the audacity she shows with many of her pieces. The entire album is an artistic affirmation that Julala is an extremely talented up-and-coming artist and is definitely destined for stardom.
Julala's primary musical influences, which have subtle vestiges in her music, include Ryuichi Sakamoto, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Tokyo Ska Paradise. Julala has been performing since the age of 6 and composing music since she was around 16 and has received training under Evana Bevan and Ros Thrift. Her talents were officially recognised by the music industry when she was nominated for the 2011 APRA/AMCOS Professional Development Awards under the Film & TV category, along with such artists as Stuart MacLeod from the band Eskimo Joe, Caitlin Yeo and other famous musicians. Her songs that she presented to the judging panel included The Viewpoint Hustle.
The Viewpoint Hustle song was commissioned by 93 Made Games, which were seeking a theme song for the Viewpoint card game. The song was the key track in the short Viewpoint Hustle clip, which was exhibited at the Viewpoint World Championships in 2010. Julala is already working on additional songs for the full version of the Viewpoint Hustle cartoon, which is currently in pre-production.
Julala could soon be eligible to receive an ARIA for the Méthode Julala album, including each of its tracks, and we are hoping that she gets the award she deserves. You never know, it might be for Viewpoint's very own theme song! 93 Made Games wishes Julala the best of luck with the ARIAs and her album as we look forward to a long, creative and prosperous relationship with her.
Here is some trivia about the Méthode Julala album.
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