Tag Archives: Dev Diary

Rocket 5’s Casual Connect San Francisco 2014 Wrap-Up

The Phantom PI Mission Apparition launched on the iOS App Store at midnight July 24th across the globe just hours after winning the coveted Indie Prize Critics Choice – Best In Show Award at Casual Connect 2014. The Phantom PI was also nominated for Best Story.

The Phantom PI Indie Prize Awards

We really didn’t know what to expect at Casual Connect, but we had some friends who had been before and they all recommended that we go. Our friend Wendy suggested that we submit our game to the Indie Prize Showcase and then we had the privilege of meeting the organizer Yulia at PAX East earlier this year. She also suggested that we submit our game to Indie Prize which, if we were accepted, would get us 2 free passes into the event plus table space to demo our game. The entire event was filled with surprises for us starting with being accepted into the Indie Prize Showcase along with 90 other awesome indie games, which for us was already an honor.

We had also heard about the Pocket Gamer Big Indie Pitch a few times (we almost went to the one at GDC) and it turns out they were holding another one at Casual Connect, so we decided to sign up. First off, if you’ve never pitched your game at a Big Indie Pitch event, you totally should! It’s very casual, the one we went to was held at 111 Minna Gallery which is a really cool bar south of Market. The people who run it are really nice and you do the pitches in a “speed dating” format so it’s not like you’re up on stage in front of a big crowd. There were 5 tables with 1 or 2 people at each table (mostly gaming press but also a couple of folks from Samsung who co-sponsored the event). Each team had 3 minutes to pitch at each table and then at the end of the whole thing, the judges deliberated over who should win the prizes. PRIZES? What we didn’t know going in is that 1st place gets $5,000 worth of advertising on Steel Media websites (Pocket Gamer, 148Apps, etc). Ok, so why am I telling you all of this? Because we actually ended up winning the thing for our Phantom PI pitch! And this is before Casual Connect even started.

The Phantom PI Big Indie Pitch Winner

What I failed to mention until now, is that we had submitted The Phantom PI to Apple a week before and the game had been approved for sale just as we were leaving for San Francisco. So already we’re freaking out about being done with the game and we’re super nervous about whether or not we’re going to be featured the following Thursday and how the reviews are going to be and all of the stress of being away from our office during launch week… and well I’m sure you can imagine what we were going through.

Alright so the next couple of days were at Casual Connect showing our game along side all of these other great games. We met a bunch of great people, made some new friends and played a lot of games. The 2nd night of the show they hold the official party where they also give out awards for games in the Indie Prize Showcase. We went out to dinner before the event and weren’t expecting to win anything so we kind of dawdled a little. When we finally got there, they had already given out most of the awards so we were kinda bummed that maybe we missed getting nominated for one of the categories (which we did!). Anyway so we’re about to walk off to the bar when the announcement for Best Game in Show comes up and Yulia goes “The Phantom PI Mission Apparition”. What the what?! We were in shock, we’re still in shock. We staggered on to the stage, I almost dropped the glass trophy right onto the marble floor but somehow managed to grab it at the last second, I look up and this dude shouts “nice catch!”. It was magical. The game was also nominated for Best Story which we found out the next day.

The Phantom PI Indie Prize Best Game In Show

About an hour later, The Phantom PI started showing up on App Stores around the world, first in New Zealand, and then on around the globe as midnight raced on. The next day was a blur of sending out press emails from the Casual Connect floor (hooray for good wifi!) and stress over whether or not we’d be featured. Someone with a UK app store account confirmed early on that we were featured there, so that was a good sign. And then at about 2:00 west coast time, it showed up in the US App Store refresh!

So that was our trip to Casual Connect which was easily the craziest and most eventful show we’d ever been to. If you read this far, thanks for sticking with me! Oh and as I write this, we just got confirmation that we’ll be attending PAX Prime so we hope to see you there!

Oh and be sure to grab your copy of The Phantom PI Mission Apparition from the App Store!

Our PAX East 2014 Wrap-up

By now PAX East 2014 is well behind us but it feels like only yesterday when we were setting up our booth and inviting folks to stop and play The Phantom PI.

Rocket 5 PAX East 2014

There’s this amazing high that comes from being part of a show as big as PAX. This was our first time attending a PAX event so we didn’t quite know what to expect. I mean we knew it was gonna be big with something like 60k people attending and passes sold out months in advance. But the energy of the show didn’t really hit us until 10AM on Friday morning when the doors opened for the first time. We heard this huge roar of a crowd erupt in the distance and at first we were like “that’s a weird noise”. And then a moment later there was a rush of people running through the show on their way to be first in line to play their favourite games. That’s when we knew. PAX is a show that’s 100 percent for the fans of video games. And we felt right at home.

Rocket 5 PAX East 2014

Over the course of the 3 day event, hundreds of people stopped by the Rocket 5 booth to play our game. And the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. We made a lot of new friends and maybe even scored some actual fans! One person played the game for 4 hours (hi Stacie!), she made it to the last level of the demo but she had to stop before she could finish the final puzzle. She came back the next day to finish the game and told us she had a dream about how to solve it! Then there was this little girl who turned to her mom while playing the game and said “mom, I love this game!”. And a little boy when asked if he liked it goes “naaaaa…. not really”. lol

Rocket 5 PAX East 2014

Getting ready for a show like PAX was no small amount of work for us, but it pales in comparison to the amount of time and effort put forth by the Indie MEGABOOTH organizers and volunteers. It was an absolute honour for us to be chosen as one of the games to be in the Indie MEGABOOTH and we’d like to say a special thank you to Kelly and Christopher for all of their hard work and general amazingness.

We’d also like to thank the Indie MEGABOOTH sponsors for their support including Creative Labs for providing speakers and headphones. Microsoft for providing us with a Surface Pro 2. Intel for providing a 42” TV and stand. And Alienware for providing a desktop computer and Dell monitor.

The next stop for The Phantom PI will be the Bit Bazaar Spring Fair on May 10th 2014 so if you’re in the Toronto area be sure to stop by!

PAX Press For The Phantom PI:

Rocket 5 at Bento Miso’s Bit Bazaar Winter Market

Cecil Sparks feltie

Cecil Sparks at the Bit Bazaar, photo by Yewbert The Omnipotent

On December 7, 2013, Bento Miso hosted the Bit Bazaar Winter Market. Organized by Jennie and Henry Faber, it was a fantastical!  With about 30 game developers, artists and food vendors, and an estimated 2000 visitors over the course of the day, the free event was a huge success.


Christine and me at The Rocket 5 booth at The Bit Bazaar Winter Market, 2013.

We played games! We looked at art, and bought a fair amount of it too! We ate chocolate and amazingly delicious pot pies (Beef! Chicken! Veggie! Lobster!!!!). We drank cool, refreshing, locally crafted beer.  AND we showcased The Phantom PI Mission Apparition Beta release all day long!

Christine demonstrating The Phantom PI

Christine is the demo queen.

We took local illustrator/mega-talent Rachel Kahn’s advice and decked out our table – Cecil-style!  With two stations to play our game at, our booth was always busy. We provided comfy mini-chairs, which ended being a good idea because some folks played through the entire game!

One of my favorite features of The Phantom PI Mission Apparition is the digital collectible cards that the player collects in their Paranormal Investigator’s field guide.  The art on them was created by our friends from San Francisco to Toronto and each card is in a unique style. The cards were so pretty that we decided to print them up as a set of 30 cards, and they turned out gorgeously!

Phantom PI Collectible Cards

The Phantom PI Mission Apparition collectible cards: Marshall Staxx illustrated by Andrew Schneider.

Cathy’s Personal Winter Market highlights:

Rachel Kahn’s cromnulent table, resplendent with gorgeous smelling candles (for sale!) and her awesome (smart, funny, personal, provoking) art. I have  a copy of By Crom, and a little bird told me that I’m getting one of her original paintings for Christmas!

Asteroid Base and Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime:  The game gets better and better, and Matt Hammill’s prints are insanely lovely.

Matt Hammill's Lovers Print

Matt Hammill’s gorgeous prints for Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime

BTW, thanks for the lovely compliment, Asteroid Basers (Jamie and Matt), in your post-Bit Bazaar interview on bigsushi.fm:

Christine Love & Nadine Lessio’s Interstellar Selfie Station. The best!

My Space Punk 1 print by Jenn Woodall.


There were too many things to buy, but I did get this rockin’ Space Punk.

I mentioned the delicious cold beer, right? Thanks to Liberty Village Beer Co!

Fate Tectonics by Golden Gear Games!

If you’d like more info about the Bit Bazaar, here are some press links:

Henry & Jennie Faber’s post.

That is my adorable felted bat friend (and my hands) that you can see in the video interview of Henry Faber.

Guys With Pencils  were present at the Bit Bazaar. Listen to their podcast! That’s our booth in the lower left corner! Rachel Kahn, thanks for mentioning our crazy felties (needle-felted characters)!

A view of the Bit Bazaar from the arcade area.

From the Guys With Pencil’s site!

There are so many more noteworthy highlights from the Bit Bazaar! If you are in the Toronto area next spring for TCAF, be sure to check it out!

Rocket 5 feltie characters.

Ciao from Cecil, Baublebelly and their crazy feltie circus friends!