Thanks for your feedback about this year’s event. We realise there were problems and in order to fully address everyone’s feedback, we’re going to go over these problems one by one, and leave the bigger picture and upcoming events mostly for a later time. It’s a lengthy read, but needs to be to address everything.
This post was co-written by the organising team, consisting of:
We’d like to take this opportunity to once again offer a sincere and profound apology to all of the runners and tech volunteers for your unbelievable patience. It willl be better next year.
Since we feel that this is an important point to address, below is a small breakdown on this with more details.
In an effort to keep event cost down, we’ve always tried to keep setup days to a minimum. This is because hiring the venue for a day that the event is not ‘happening’ has a very high cost. Next year however, we absolutely need two-three days of ‘setup time’ in order to make sure the early issues with the stream aren’t repeated. This will allow for setup, experimentation, learning and a 12-24 hour rehearsal stream to allow any initial setup issues to be worked out.
Our ambition was to go all digital for capture (Whole chain, unlike ESA15). We learned the hard way how one glitch can break the entire chain and make it very time consuming to debug. With an analogue chain we’d maybe introduce noise in the picture with a glitch, but not break it completely. This is where the above mentioned compromise comes into play, Digital equipment with the features that we need is still being actively used in broadcasting environments and the similar quality (not cheaper chinese) stuff that was using during ESA15 can cost up to 10x more than the ‘obsolete by broadcasting standards’ analogue version. Since we want to keep entrance fees reasonable while still trying to make the best possible outcome, we decided to take a risk here, which didn’t pay off.
Adding to the heap of technical issues, XSplit starting to become very unresponsive after prolonged streaming sessions. It’s safe to say that the unresponsive front end added several minutes per game, and in certain instances 10+ minutes, after everything else was setup. We have never experienced issues with XSplit in this magnitude before, not during any of the previous events nor during Dreamhack Summer where we used the exact same capture PC and hardware as ESA16. Outwards, the encoding was running smoothly and the local recordings are without errors, these facts added to the runners and viewers frustration because issues with Xsplit were isolated to that one choke point. This was especially visible during times when the tech had to prolong the setup as the capture cards kept getting locked after switching from hosting to the run in question. If the 10 player SWAT was anything to go by, this wasn’t actually that far away, except that this lasted for days.
For reference, the capture PC including any of its components never came close to high or even moderate load over the course if the event.
Next year we are going to explore other options, primarily beginning to build our own stock of practice PCs in addition to the three machines already in our possession. This is because we recognise the value PC gaming brings to the event. This will need to be weighed up against other costs, as even a small stock annually will be a significant part of the budget. These decisions will be made in due course.
Big screen being unused
Lack of projector
Day 1 lack of equipment
Lack of chairs
Växjö is far
Fortnox arena is far
Next year we are going to explore local options to enhance the ease of leaving the area. We would like to see the reception kiosk act as a concierge, providing better local info of places to eat, making restaurant bookings, etc. We are also going to explore a bicycle hire option that can be available to everyone at the time of booking (following great feedback from those that had them available at their hotel), and maybe even a minibus option to transport people between the venue, hotels and town easily, especially at night time when the buses have stopped running.
The remainder of the points regarded what are intrinsic problems with mass housing - it being cold and people snoring. We’ll provide better information next year going into the event on what to bring - sleeping bags, extra sheets and earplugs are absolutely key.
Interviews and hosting
At the end of the day, we don’t consider this a totally failed experiment. We will continue to fine tune the hosting format as it continues to bring a lot of memorable moments to the stream. We have a lot of information to work with for next year and feedback can be easily implemented.
We’ve realised that empty areas will not be spontaneously populated, and need to be prepared from the outset. Together with the better floorplanning, we’ll make sure there are tables, chairs and power in there next year.
The mass housing toilets were not cleaned nor were the paper dispensers refilled over the course of the week. This will be kept in mind for next year.
The mass housing floor was itself left in a less than satisfactory condition. If attendees themselves don’t prefer to keep it clean, a paid cleaning crew will be brought in after the event.
This is something that will of course improve as repeat attendees will get to know Växjö better and better information is provided.
The in-venue catering situation will be discussed in depth before next year, so that the catering better suits the needs of our attendees. Northern Sky intends to widen the selection of hot food that will be available during the night.
We will endeavour to do this but need to balance the fact that by and large we take submissions from people who’ve never run a game (so long as they show sufficient progress before Summer) and people who only practice in the run up to the event. These people benefit from late cuts.
Less relaxed event
In hindsight, not sticking to deadlines was a major mistake. Even though the intentions were good.
The Scandic will still be an option and we’ll be completely upfront next year about the nature of their offering. We will make sure we have accurate reports of the hotels so that you guys will know what’s up and be able to book accordingly!
Lack of second stream
We’re not closing the door for the return of the second stream as we have most of the hardware to make it possible, however we do not have the manpower. If we can find an independent second crew to run a second stream under the same standards as the main stream, we will consider. However, we also want to prevent the second stream from cannibalising volunteers from the first stream which is a big risk.
Hosting area / Camera work
Food services (Fridges, microwave)
No on-site mods
Intermission screen / No music
Donation light too flashy
Attendee <-> Organisation communication
Changing of mass housing location
Stream separate from practice?
Entry security (lack of)
Big red button
No practice consoles
24/7 emergency contact
Price of ticket
This a topic that will be discussed in more detail at a later time.
Needed more and better tvs
Gaming4good / G2A / Donation tracker
Gaming4Good offered to develop a tracker tailored to our needs free of charge. They also offered support throughout the entire event. Which is the main reason why we went with this solution.
The criticism of the tracker seems to be mainly with G2A and not Gaming4Good. They’re exploring options of payment processors other than G2APay who performed unsatisfactorily during the event due to the repeated blocking of the venue’s IP addresses.
We want to make it clear that we understand the heavy criticism of G2A and their practices, but for this event using the Gaming4Good tracker was our only viable option.
Pac has expressed enthusiasm about developing the marathon section of speedrun.com to have a built-in donation tracker system for the next marathon, so if that’s ready by then, we’ll definitely be using that instead.
maralmaral, BaffanBaffan and 46 others
"The remainder of the points regarded what are intrinsic problems with mass housing - it being cold "
I've been in mass housing for all 4 events I've attended, and this was more than just an intrinsic problem. It wasn't just cold, it was freezing. The previous two mass housings were not nearly as cold.
There must have been a massive difference in the temperature at mass housing depending on where you slept, cause it was always absolutely fine room temperature where i was. I had a thin sleeping bag and was sleeping in only shorts and it was comfortably warm.
|AlkoAlko and FatzkeFatzke like this.|
Yeah the only time I was this cold in Mass Housing was when, last year, I set up my mattress next to the giant industrial fan in the corner.
I think there were just crazy draughts coming in from the metal doors or something and I guess they couldn't be budget insulated?
"We have never and will never provide practice consoles. "
That's understandable. But as I mentioned in the feedback thread, you should definitely have consoles available for the stream. They would be just another part of equipment and would make things much easier.
Seems to me like it would be a good idea to post the proposed stream layouts on the forums before the event. Much like the shirt, changes can be suggested and hopefully improve them if need be. Pretty sure I recall this happening in 2015 (although I don't think changes were made because most were happy)
|AMVXAMVX and flickyflicky like this.|
What Sphere said.
Also, I challenge the assumption of '[w]ith working wifi'. I was basically internetless for something like four days because the Wifi wouldn't let me back in. I was then told that the trick is to be online at midnight and/or when people leave the venue. So I spent an entire night attempting to connect and it worked at like 5 a.m.
> For the first time this year ESA didn’t lose money.
This is a massive win. If these events are to continue, and to grow effective, this is really great news. Good work guys.
If I am able to attend next year, I will be available to solely work on audio and on-site communications. Similarly, if I can weasel a "low energy" solution for a secondary stream/bonus stream, I will be happy to accomodate for that.
AlkoAlko, HeinkiHeinki and 2 others
Regarding the wi-fi Issue, I have a theory that it simply ran out of IP addresses, typically you allocate a /24 block for such venues and that gives you a bit over 250 IPs for hosts.
However, the main issue was that the connected system didn't get an IP, wireless worked just fine once you had one.
Having simultaneous +250 users connected in wi-fi is something new to think about. It's simply an oversight.
IIRC, we had a /24 block allocated for the WIRED along with some spare public IPs but I didn't get any specs for the WIRELESS one so I can't be 100% sure.
|BaffanBaffan likes this.|