Prepping for PAX Prime
The last few weeks have been incredibly busy here at OSnap! Games. A lot goes into showing at any expo but an expo the size of PAX Prime is another beast all together. In case you hadn’t heard Quasar has been selected to show in a new area named PAX Rising! When we received the news we had to very quickly change plans from attending PAX Dev to attending PAX Prime.
The shows we’ve taken Quasar to so far have been local to the province, and we’ve been lucky to have been allowed use of a local colleges small trash can Mac Pros whenever we needed. For PAX Prime though using those machines was not an option. They’re incredibly expensive and we’d hate to have something happen to them in transit or at the show. To us this was the biggest hurdle we had to get over to show at PAX. We aren’t a company with a lot of cash to burn, we’re small and we have very limited funds and PAX is a big expense without having to worry about hardware.
We decided it was best to build two Mini-ITX machines that could fit in our carry-on luggage for PAX Prime and all future shows we intend to have a presence at (PAX South/East). We put together a computer that could handle Quasar at 60+ FPS and bought two of everything.
We spent this past Sunday assembling the machines so that we’d have time to ensure the game ran as smooth as possible on them. We also needed to modify the game so that we could easily run it on a network with no internet access and a copy of our backend software running on one of the two machines.
Josh (Duetoxplode) and I had never built a computer using Mini-ITX, we both have full towers, so we decided it was best to start with the case and try to get the lay of the land so to speak. Don’t worry, there’s no liquid in that cup in the background just screws!
We removed every panel that we could to get it down to its bare bones. We started wondering where the SSD was going to fit, as well as where the HDD for ShadowPlay storage was going to fit (only one of two machines will be recording during PAX). So naturally we started placing it around in an attempt to find the best spot. We settled for the area that was meant for the optical drive for the SSD and the case had the perfect spot for a HDD above the motherboard.
Before installing the motherboard we quickly wanted to see how the power supply sat in the case. Once that was settled we decided to move on to the motherboard and processor. I still can’t believe how small these Mini-ITX boards are. Installing the processor and factory heat sink (no frills on this build) was as simple as usual but as soon as we went to put the motherboard in the case we realized we’d made our first mistake. Installing the HDD where we did made it incredibly difficult (impossible) to screw the motherboard in place.
It was at this point we also noticed an issue with the way the SSD was installed. There was no way to connect the power supply to it. We decided at this point it was best to install the GPU and see what room we had to work with before deciding where the SSD could go.
It then hit us. Of course! The SSD goes on the underside of the optical drive bay so that the SATA and power connections were hanging off the end of the optical drive bay!
With the SSD in place and the GPU sitting perfectly in the single PCI-E slot we started on the last leg of this interesting trip. We connected the power supply to the motherboard and various hardware and started installing Windows 10 and other important software (STEAM!)
Once we knew everything was working and we’d tested Quasar on the first of two machines we finalized the build by bunching up excess cable and moving it to the best and most out of the way spots available.
As someone who had never built a Mini-ITX machine this was a learning experience. I don’t think I’ll ever give up my full tower case but it’s maybe something for the future offices of OSnap! Games.