…I can’t get no sleep…
The latest public showing of Fragmental happened a few weeks ago in Edinburgh, at Insomnia Scotland. Traditionally these large scale LAN party events take place in Birmingham, but for the first time it has branched out and this was the inaugural event in Scotland.
Insomnia Scotland – Edinburgh EICC
The event started for me on the Friday night, when I finished work then headed home to Edinburgh to what I thought would be a very quick setup, test, then off to the pub for a beer. What should have taken half an hour, took 3 and a half hours. After spending the first 15 minutes in almost total darkness, it turned out the wireless Xbox One pads decided they had no intention of binding to the PC. One change of wireless adaptor later, still no joy. The tech guys from Multiplay Events then tried it on their PC. Nope. In the end, the fallback was to go with wired pads, which is no real problem, just having wires everywhere is a bit of a nightmare and a trip hazard. And OCD hell for anyone so afflicted…
No beers were had that night.
Halfway through the day, comedian and host of Videogame Nation, John Robertson, wandered by our booth. He was performing his show, The Dark Room that night, and I’d already promised to go to his show in the evening if he played Fragmental (despite the fact I already had tickets. Shhh…). Fair enough, if I must go and see one of the best comedy shows of the last few years, then I’ll take that one for the team! He was immediately good at the game, and full of praise for it, and I’m inclined to think he meant it and wasn’t just being nice. As he wrote on Twitter…
He also went one further and at the end of his show that night, in a packed auditorium, told everyone they should go and play Fragmental on day 2. Cheers Robbotron!
Overall the first day went well, with myself, Dave and Alex on hand to help fill any spare slots to ensure all games had the maximum 4-players. We had always expected Fragmental to be a post-pub game, for people who remember these kinds of games from the 90’s, but surprisingly there were a lot more children playing the game and loving it. And a lot of parents who opted to just stand back and watch. (I took this to mean they were too scared to get beaten by their kids. Which to be fair, did happen quite a lot)
At the end of the day, Dave and Alex headed back to Dundee, leaving me to chat to some of the cosplayers, watch The Dark Room, and totally ignore Craig from We Throw Switches who was apparently waving for about a minute and like a blind idiot I never noticed. After that I headed off to the Beltane after party, which is a bit of an Edinburgh institution. I’ll not attempt to explain it all here, but as expected it went on until 5am, at which point I thought I should probably call it a night. Or morning…
Many, many beers were had that night.
The doors open time of 10:30 came and went on day 2, but nobody appeared. For a good half hour I thought this might be the most awkward disaster ever for an expo, then one of the organisers mentioned that there had been a brief power cut overnight, causing all of the competition PC’s to reboot then start windows updates. Pfffft! So they had to delay the opening to the public for an hour, which was a nightmare for the organisers, but quite funny otherwise.
Instead of Dave & Alex, who cleverly wanted to have at least some of their weekend to themselves, I was joined on the 2nd day by Billy, eager to show off his digital baby. The attendance was visibly lower today, but we still had a steady stream of people wanting to play Fragmental, including many returning for 2nd and 3rd games. My personal highlight was a girl of about 7 turning to her dad and proclaiming that he had to buy it because it was amazing. I agreed completely, which pretty much decided the issue, lest he look like a bad parent.
It wasn’t the biggest show in the world, but Insomnia Scotland had a good atmosphere, lots of good games on show from the past 4 decades, and plenty of kids playing indie games and not just Minecraft (although the area with rows of children all silently hooked up to Minecraft was an ultra creepy sight). Hopefully it returns next year, bigger and better!
An acceptable amount of beers were had that night. 😉
At this point in time, I think we’re pretty satisfied that we have a game that is fun, accessible and addictive. What we need to do know is get this thing finished and in the hands of the journalists! Until we have AI in and working (coming soon in the next update), we’re somewhat limited in the coverage we can get, as it is simply not a fully finished game experience yet, especially for the solo player. That said, media coverage is something we need to think about well in advance, and on that note, we got our first, albeit brief, write-up…
Stuart Cullen from The Scottish Sun took a few soundbytes from us at the show, and we made it into his final write-up. I was going to crop the image to just include our bit, but that would deprive you of the chance to win one of 20,000 holidays from Walkers…