by Ted Timmins
Last week, Bryn and I returned from PAX East in Boston (which for those of you that don’t know, is in the United States of America!). It’s quite the flight for us Brits to get out to the US, where trying to find a way of spending around 7 hours with no wi-fi, internet or online gaming usually means ending up watching a film you’ve already seen, but this time you get to watch it on a tiny screen where the brightness and contrast mean the TV might as well be a black and white TV from the 70’s. Fortunately for me and Bryn though, we had various super top secret stuff we could talk about to pass the time…
Anyway, onto the event itself! The first day was spent setting up the Fable Heroes booth, which was right smack bang in the middle of the event. We were amongst plenty of other great Xbox Live Arcade games like; Deadlight, Bloodforge, Trials Evolution, Joe Danger: The Movie and more! This meant that the area around the booth was always jam packed with people wanting to play the latest and greatest titles that Xbox Live Arcade has to offer. The area was so electrically charged with awesome games, I was literally shocking everyone with static shocks. It got so bad, that when I took down a devkit with a static discharge, I was very politely asked by the Xbox 360 booth managers to go and buy myself a new pair of shoes…
Our “Marketing Guy”, Patrick Perkins (who’s actual job is to manage the marketing for all of our Fable games, and beyond – so never ever mock him, not least on a very public blog post) had organised one of the greatest things I’ve ever held in my hands, ever. A custom made, strictly one-of-a-kind, super limited edition Fable Heroes Xbox 360 Console. This console was to be given to the person that achieved the highest score over the weekend, which certainly brought a lot of attention to our booth! However Patrick had not just organised the greatest console ever made, he’d also organised exclusive PAX East Fable Heroes T-Shirts to be awarded to anyone that could beat either myself or Bryn – complete with the title “Dev Slayer – PAX East 2012” on the sleeve, so these weren’t going to be easy to win!
At the end of the first day at PAX, we’d given away less than 20% of our total allocation of T-shirts – winning T-Shirts wasn’t an easy challenge for the gamers of PAX! So on the 2nd day, we thought we’d spice things up a bit; “Beat a Dev, or a previous Dev Slayer” – we were going viral! We asked previous winners to come back on the 2nd day wearing their Fable Heroes shirts to take on new contenders. This was great fun, and the gamers from the previous day returned in full force willing to take on the role of a Dev!
The really great part of the entire PAX East trip for us, was meeting some of the most hardcore Fable fans we’d ever met, as well as people who had never played a Fable game before. Regardless of whether people had or hadn’t played Fable, everyone left the Fable Heroes booth with a huge smile from ear-to-ear. Gamers were having FUN! We had parents playing with their children, we had Fable fans having the time of their lives, and we had ‘hardcore’ gamers fighting to see who could be the best! Seeing parents playing with the kids was great, as with Fable Heroes we really wanted to create a game that you could play as a family – which was how “Family Mode” came to exist (a lesser competitive version of Fable Heroes, where you have a team score rather than individual scores), but we didn’t want to alienate hardcore gamers who have begged for a harder Fable game for years – which was where “Challenging Mode” came to exist, and take a deep breath … you can die in it! So dependent on your mood, you can play Fable Heroes with your family, your friends, or punish yourself in Challenging Mode
When speaking to the Fable fans, there were a lot of questions about when we’ll hear more from Fable: The Journey. When we mentioned that the gold you earn from Fable Heroes can be transferred across to Fable: The Journey to give yourself a head-start when the game releases later this year, people were getting really excited! When we also mentioned that you can unlock more playable puppets for Fable Heroes from within Fable: The Journey, the roof almost exploded off the expo! Fable fans were excited to hear more, so keep your eyes firmly peeled to Lionhead.com for the next Fable: The Journey announcement!
On the final day of the show, we still had loads more T-Shirts to give away – so we were running competitions like “Loser wins a T-Shirt” (which was really funny trying to watch people get the lowest score instead of the highest), and various other funny little competitions. But more importantly, there was a highscore to beat to win the custom Fable Heroes Xbox 360 console! With just 30 minutes left of the show, the high score was at 17,580 (which was higher than what I had predicted before the show at 16,000! So the PAX gamers were good!). With each level taking around 15 minutes to complete, this meant that the last 30 minutes were frantic – with the previous highest scorer returning for the final day to challenge the new top score! In the end though, no one could beat the young lad, and he took home the custom console with a huge smile on his face! The losers were gracious in defeat, but given that they all had “Dev Slayer” T-Shirts, everyone went home with something to be proud about
And that brought to an end PAX East – the best event that I’ve ever worked at with some of the greatest video game fans I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. The days were long, the static shocks were damaging, but the enjoyment from the fans playing Fable Heroes had made everything worth it. The biggest surprise of the event for me was the sheer number of people who said that Fable Heroes was their favourite game of the show. When you’re at the same event as such HUGE games like Assassins Creed 3, Max Payne 3, Far Cry 3 etc, it’s great that an Xbox Live Arcade game won over the hearts of so many gamers – and I think it speaks volumes for Xbox Live Arcade as a platform for original, FUN games!
Thanks to everyone that attended the show and the Fable Heroes booth, and who knows – maybe we’ll be back with something else next year
Ted & Bryn