The EtnaComics, the biggest comics and pop culture festival in Sicily, has just ended. We exhibited there our videogame, ZHEROS, from 30 May to 02 June, and we are here now to tell you about this brief experience, with its “positive” and “negative” aspects.
What is ZHEROS
ZHEROS is a 3D beat’em up that brings back the old school action mixed with exploration, bizarre characters and a bright sci-fi setting: a tribute to the genre, which deeply marked an entire videogame’s generation, enhanced with original elements.
All the necessary
We equipped our booth at EtnaComics with: a 3x2 stand; 4 tables; a 45” screen; two 24” screens; 3 computer; 2 joypads; about 5000 flyers; 300 pins with ZHEROS logo; a 200x80 banner roll-up; lots of cables. Furthermore, the staff of the festival gave us a 40” screen to hang up to the booth panels; an audio system with a microphone and a mixer; 6 chairs; moquette on the floor.
Obviously, we brought the latest version of the ZHEROS build, which had also a final boss to beat. We used the 45” screen to let people play the demo and we put it at the centre of the stand. One of the 24” screens was used by our Programmer to continue working on the game even during the event; on the other one, our Concept Artist created some concepts, that in real-time were showed on the other big screen while he was working on them. We also used this screen to make a little workshop, with which we explained how a videogame is developed.
What went well
Since the first day at the festival, we didn’t get a break. Hundreds of people rushed toward our booth to play ZHEROS, or they approached us to ask what we were exhibiting, staying then to play the demo and crowding the space in front of the booth. We also had a lot of luck, because the EtnaComics’ staff decided to put our booth near the entrance of the festival, so ZHEROS was the first thing to be seen by everyone during the entire event.
We don’t even know how many people played the demo, because they were a lot! We had a lot of positive feedback; a large audience with many questions about the game but also during the workshop, proof that a lot of people are quite interested in game development and what happens behind the scene during the creation of a video game. We received compliments by everyone, the ZHEROS facebook page grew from 950 to 1075 fans and we had an average of 200 visitors a day on both our websites.
What went wrong
Initially our build had some little bugs; fortunately, they were not critical bugs and our Programmer worked during the first day of the festival to fix them, but someone played ZHEROS with floating characters or invisible walls. Some players did not “meet” the boss because a bug prevented us from show him, at least during first day.
There was another problem with the audio equipment: the microphone did not have a stand to be held on the table; this was a little uncomfortable to us, especially to the Level Designer during the workshop.
Finally, we announced that we would have collected resumes and portfolios, but nobody seemed to know and we should have put preventively some kind of sign on the booth panels, or a box to collect the documents. Someone sent us some CVs through our email address, but overall the initiative didn’t work as good as we expected.
We learned that it is not so simple to exhibit during a 60.000 visitors’ event four days in a row. Logistics, trying to comply with all the requests to play a demo not yet final, fixing bugs on the fly and generate awareness about the studio and the game, those are all aspects that require precise planning. Anyway, this experience gave us the chance to realize what the big audience thinks about ZHEROS, what the strong points and the weak ones are and how we can improve to reach our goals during next festivals. Overall, we had great fun and we will surely repeat this experience as soon as the next opportunity will present itself.