Lessons from Magfest 13

Posted by Justin Lindsey on Thu 29 January 2015

There was lots of amazing people that came out to Magfest13! I was really pleased with all the folks that came by the Indie Game Showcase to try out Lunaform. This was our first time showing the game to people that weren’t friends or family, and I was pretty nervous about it. A Facebook post from a couple days prior called on friends to test out the game, and it revealed that we definitely needed a tutorial, and we definitely needed better conveyance of the mechanics in the game. It was after work Thursday (Jan 22nd) that I was trying to hack in some dialog to the beginning of the game but that caused all kinds of weird bugs. I stayed up until 1:30am to sort the bugs out and get the game built for PC/Mac/Tablets. I tried to get some sleep despite my excitement and terror of showing the game the next day.

Our team was super pumped Friday morning, and even more excited once we got to Magfest. I made a huge mistake not taking advantage of the loading dock, because after we hauled all of our stuff to our table we were sore and tired. Here is what the booth looked like:

Lunaform Magfest Booth

My favorite part is when the booth was full of people playing the game:

Magfest Booth Full

There were a couple really good lessons from showing the game at Magfest:

Convention Lessons

  • Halls or some kind of throat lozenge is necessary for maintaining a voice while talking to 200+ people
  • Having a team of friends help you run the booth helps distribute the excitement and exhaustion
  • Having chairs for the gamers to sit in, even camping chairs, helps them rest their feet
  • Take any chance you get to check out the other indie booths, it can be hard to leave your booth
  • Our cooler full of water and caffeinated drinks was clutch
  • Saturday is the worst day to buy food outside of the convention (~300 people at Elevation Burger)
  • It’s okay to leave at some point and go sleep
  • Our Magna Cart was easily the most useful tool for hauling the gear in and out
  • Expect your hardware to fail at least a couple times

Game Lessons

  • People actually enjoyed the game!
  • The game needs to be explained more in a ‘proper’ tutorial
  • Having the dialog text cycle at the bottom while the user is trying to play is bad
  • Need a better way to display your current health to the player and when your about to die
  • Need to support different color palettes for different kinds of color blindness
  • The game needs to support the ability to switch input modes (click + click vs click + drag vs keyboard)
  • Turning a hex white when it’s selected causes confusion as to what the original color hex you have selected is
  • The game keeps people focused on the middle where all the action is, so clicking Hugo the robot in the lower left for upgrades was rarely discovered in game
  • The upgrades weren’t explained very well and were confusing. Upgrades need to be shown earlier in the game so the player knows what they do
  • The last level had a couple bugs which made it unbeatable and really frustrating to folks who got really far and wanted to beat it
  • The difficulty curve is waaay to steep in the game at the moment, so there needs to be more levels in between to balance it out
  • People had some really great suggestions for features, including 2 player coop and 2 player versus
  • Our ‘bulldozer’ and ‘wrecking ball’ players found bugs I didn’t even think were possible
  • People really enjoyed the music!
  • Tablet version became the ‘easier’ version due to the speed of tapping and lower frame rate
  • I wish I had put the game on Steam Greenlight before the convention so I could tell people to vote for it
  • After talking with the Flamberge dev, I should use a whole lot more coroutines to clean up some of my timer code


  • 150 packets of Gushers were consumed by our gamers
  • 250 honey sticks were consumed by our gamers
  • I got 24 business cards from other Indies/Reviewers/Cool people
  • The longest individual play session was around 30 minutes (27:18)
  • The last level was attempted over 20 times but never beaten (it’s impossible)
  • Roughly 80% of people quit at level 5.

There were a lot of take aways from Magfest, and one of the largest take aways was having more confidence in the game. I think if I can address some of the issues and bugs that came up, while continuing to improve the game, then it will be something people might want to play!

Also check out all the Magfest13 Indies that are on Greenlight and follow/vote for them!

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