As a developer you’ll be asked to submit basic information about your team and game, a build of the game, screenshots and a 3-minute gameplay video – not a trailer!
We use most of the written information to get to know your team and game better. We ask a handful of open questions, which achieves a couple of things. It gives us an idea of your communication style, personality, and goals for selection in the MEGABOOTH, while also informing us about the game you’re making.
Short but concise answers mean something different than offhand or careless answers. Weird and playful answers (even if they provide no information) but compliment the presentation of the company can show a strong company narrative. We also take note of release dates and target platforms, which help us make connections and introductions to companies that may be interested in working with our teams, and allows us to identify larger trends within the community.
We’ve begun limiting all teams to 3 showings per game. This helps give new teams an opportunity to participate while pushing teams to make better use of their time and marketing spends. Gathering information on launch dates and development length also helps us see if you have realistic goals and an understanding of your project. For example – a team may say their MMO launch date is in 3 months but their build is in early alpha. Or a game may be very close to launch and on track which will give it priority over games with years left in development.
Most of this pertains to new companies but we also take into consideration companies that have much more experience than their peers and who can help act as mentors. There are many teams we’ve worked with over multiple years who contribute regularly to the MEGABOOTH and our teams. This is an important group that helps shape the greater community.
Builds of course let us actually play the game! We’re used to playing builds in progress and will report major bugs back to the team if it’s unplayable, but in general that will not outright disqualify a game. We won’t chase down problems that relate to mechanics, design or anything along those lines. Mostly what we’re looking for here is a playable version of the game in its most recent state. This helps give us an idea of where you are in development and what potential the game has, given the time available before the show.
(As a side note – please, for the love of all that is holy, don’t name your build ‘Build’ or ‘Windows’ or ‘Unity’. We’re downloading and playing hundreds of games so including the company and game name shows that you are thinking of the end user experience as well as ensuring more judges can play your game and rate it!)
Screenshots in general are something I think more teams should put additional effort into. These get highlighted in press articles, Google searches and give a first visual impression of something that is inherently a visual medium. It should be easy to wordlessly understand what’s going on in the screenshot and/or communicate something defining or unique about the game. Screenshots are also the first impression judges receive when assigned a game, so if this conveys something memorable it’s more likely to get additional eyes on it. This type of first impression also applies to marketing your game in general. You have limited opportunities to get someone’s attention – knowing how to take advantage of that is a large part of the battle.
We also request a 3-minute-long gameplay video. This lets us quickly refresh our memory on a game or, if there is an issue getting your build to run, we can still take a look at the game and provide some low-level feedback. It’s for your benefit! We get a surprising amount of teams that still only submit dramatically cut trailers and 20 min Let’s Play videos… These can be helpful, of course, but need to be in addition to the raw gameplay footage.
(This is also a pretty good indicator on whether someone is actually reading the instructions. When you’re trying to get 80 companies to submit paperwork on time for a convention, the ability to read and follow instructions is an important indicator of how capable you are of executing on requests, and how much extra work you may cause us and our vendors!)
We recently got this pretty perfect gameplay video from the Radiostatic team, makers of Flamingo!. It was so impressive that I asked them if I could use it for this article.
What makes this so effective?
- It is three minutes long. No more, no less!
- It introduces the team and the game.
- It explains how the game plays out.
- It explains why the design of the game is interesting.
- It demonstrates a near-perfect vertical slice of the game within the time constraint.
- It closes with a ‘for more information, contact us at (their email)‘
Overall we’re trying to get a good insight into not only the game, but your company and personality as well. It’s more akin to a job or college application than a game review, since by having your game selected you also become part of the larger MEGABOOTH community. We take a large number of teams and put them into a high-stress and time-pressured environment which requires quality participation from every member.
In short: the better prepared that you are in the submissions stage, the more appealing it will be to work with you.