Forums  /  ESA 2016  /  ESA16 Feedback Thread (Locked)
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Hey everyone,

ESA was gud.

I had a very fun time and I enjoyed the atmosphere. The trust of staff that I do my Tetris Arcade run and they record everything instantly has been a huge relief. I spent a wonderful time there!

I think everything has been said so far (I relate especially to this post by JohnUK89) concerning the pros and cons of the event except for this :

+ : The chairs were nice (I had to use something to get myself above the usual level for my arcade stick but it was okay)
- : Upon looking at the VODs, I noticed that the sound jumps from time to time. At first I thought the commentator was forgetting words in their sentence, but it's actually obvious that sound is skipped every minute or so. It's noticeable in every run but this one probably shows it best at 5m02s :

And also I was at the Elite Park Hotel (a good opportunity that presented itself) and aside from downtown being a bit scary at 3 AM it was great. I just didn't have a bad experience with the housing.

See you next mission!



Ok, so ESA this year was the first major speedrun event I've ever been to and I had a great time and could definitely stand to do it again, I met a shitload of people, took a ton of annoying pictures and played video games until I passed out it was awesome. Now with the uncharacteristic happiness out of the way time for serious posting

Venue stuff:

The venue's location itself was kind of inconvenient as it was absolutely nowhere near anything else and it was like a fair walk from there to anything, food, hotel, other random points of interest etc. The fact it was so far away from anywhere that gave food aside from that one pizza place (that kinda shut earlyish aswell) came to be a problem if you're like me and are vaguely nocturnal because there was basically bugger all food options during the night hours except for hot dogs from the front desk. I ate too many of those. That's a non-trivial issue as well for all the people who's runs (like mine) got pushed to fuck o clock in the morning due to all the tech issues.

also why did the price of a can of cola differ between front desk and kiosk they're in literal spitting distance of each other u wot m8

Venue itself was nice! Spacious, well air-conditioned and was pretty clean throughout the event, Wi-Fi was kinda shit. I have no real complaints about the venue itself though other than where it is. I'm going to voice a possibly odd complaint which is that we had a huge ass venue all to ourselves and we basically only used the one main room? A bunch of us basically set up a nest upstairs and never moved, but there was the huge B-Hall that saw almost exclusive use by two groups of people for Rock Band or mafia. Or sleeping. This isn't really a complaint about the venue or the event or anything, just...weird?


I stayed at Best Western Royal or whatever the hell its name was, which was really nice and is probably the best hotel I've ever stayed at. They had a pool and everything it was the tits. Main problem with it was it was an actual 20 minute walk from the venue and I hate exercise so that kinda sucked. Otherwise 10/10 hell yeah

Tech Delays And You (A.K.A My experience with the actual marathon):

When I arrived on the first day there was basically no way to actually see the stream other than getting a chair up close to the main TV or PC which made it basically impossible to see what was going on, the monitors for the stream for the crowd hadn't been setup yet. I was mildly butthurt about this because there was shit I wanted to watch on Day 1 that I just didn't. Also, similarly on Day 1 there weren't practice PCs, I personally don't care about that since I brought my laptop to play on but that was a complaint I heard from other people so I will relay. Both of these problems got solved eventually but still, delaaays.

SPEAKING OF DELAYS. I won't spend much time giving ya'll that much shit for the huge tech delays that pushed tons of peoples runs around and ended up moving me from a neat comfy 6pm timeslot to bumfuck in the morning when it was super hard to watch for people. I'm not mad. I'm not mad at all.

i lied I'm kinda mad. On that note though huge shoutouts to the surprisingly large people of utter nutters who stayed awake to watch me display profound arrogance for 50 minutes, ya'll crazy. But I mainly want to talk about what happened leading up to my run because it was kind of bizarre. Basically, just before Donkey Kong the setup was taking so long (heavens knows what causes setup for a super nintendo game to take 45 minutes but w/e) that the hosting staff started interviewing a bag of fucking popcorn to stall for time. I was mad, so I started complaining on Twitter, whereupon Planks sees my bitching and tells me to tell tech to skip the game, so I do and then I come right back with my controller in hand and tell them "If you need a run, I'm ready to rock."

Only I was not ready to rock, because even though I had tested my game and set it up literally several days in advance, the stream PC I set it up on had been disconnected from a whole bunch of shit and I didn't want to start messing with cables and re-attaching shit myself, so I just hurriedly set my game up on an entirely new PC instead, which didn't take very long because FP is like 200MB and I don't require much special stuff for that game. Despite being ready to rock quite a bit in advance and prior call to skip Donkey Kong to make up time, Donkey Kong did not get skipped because they did eventually get it to work after a setup time of like nearly a full hour or something. So I ended up doing my run at the scheduled time anyway despite proactive attempts on my part and call from head tech to try and get shit back on track. It actually ended up being lucky I got mad and tried to help things by being ready, because it made me discover that I wasn't actually ready because of the sodding PC getting disconnected from stuff, so that saved further delays at least, but if shit was in order we could've saved the schedule like 30 minutes or something instead of me just running merely on time.

My run itself? Absolutely fabulous, all was great. RoboSparkle bantered well during my run which was an unexpected spice to the proceedings, I smashed the fuck out of it and it was a ton of fun. I'm kinda sad the timer buttons weren't working, mostly because it looked like fun. Donation light is a good thing to have too, quality stuff to idiot proof things for idiot runners like me. The end of my run was kind of irritating though because in like the only instant setup the entire marathon had, basically as soon as my run ended they cut my mic and cut to SEGA Bass Fishing without telling me that I was off-air or anything so I kept blathering with closing commentary for like another minute without realising nobody could hear a word I was saying. Instant setup good! Would prefer some kind of indication to wrap it up though so I don't keep trying to fill dead space that didn't actually exist and inadvertently look dumb.

In spite of all of the bullshit that preceded it, my run was still a ton of fun to do and it totally felt worth it. I sleep at stupid hours anyway so being at 5am didn't really strain me that much, other people would probably be more pissed about it than I was.

this is also a completely random and slightly self-interested aside but Tetris was supposed to be right after my run but got moved to a normal time after shitloads of delays. Was there an actual reason for that like runner availability or did Tetris just get preferential treatment re:timeslot because it's Tetris? If former, whatever. If latter, I'm pissed.

I don't have a good closing statement for this load of rambling vaguely to do with ESA. I had fun, it was fun to be at. Please don't take any of my writings as explicit dissing of how it was ran or anything like that so much as me just calling it how I experienced it. I really did enjoy being there and ESA16 was fun enough to sell me on considering coming to future events, so in the end it was absolutely a positive experience for me. I'll see you dorks next yeaaar!

NixxusNixxus, AbbyAbby and 3 others like this. 

I don't know why this is the only thing I want to reply to so far but:

Naegleria - There actually was an elevator to get from the ground floor to the upper floor of the arena, you'd have to walk through the swampfort we had set up though. Also I don't know if the weight limit could accommodate a group of Americans. However there was a chair in there.


well yea but that was still a far walk from the melon room.

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Note from Planks:

Thanks for your feedback, chemi. However, as your account is new with no posting history, can you please get in contact with Planks over discord or twitter DM with proof of attending (ticket receipt from Biljettkiosken). Once you do I'll re-instate your post ASAP.

SvenneSvenne likes this. 
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I feel like some of my points will be repetition but I have a few things that I know can be fixed for next year and I've talked to a bunch of people from the org team and discussed things so it would be a waste not to summarize my points again.

First, some short bulletpoints about my situation:

- First Time at ESA, been to SGDQ15 and various smaller events
- Stayed from 23rd till 31st
- I had two runs in, one was pulled by myself due to tech issues (more on that below)
- I commentated for one run
- I did two host shifts
- I stayed at Scandic
- I arrived with car from Germany

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I feel like it is appropriate to start with a general summary of my personal experience at ESA without going into detail.
The event was cool but didn't fully meet my - arguably - very high expectations. My main goal was to meet my European speed friends and that point was pretty much fully met and my absolute highlight. The tech issues and the scheduling made the onsite enjoyment of the stream, and also scheduling my hosting, a not-so-fun experience. Having had to drop my run didnt bother me too much since the bad hardware on site made practicing basically impossible and I rather sit out than having a bad showing. The second "run" went well though. The event got a lot more enjoyable towards the end of the week after I got used to the several issues and just decided to make the best out of it.

First impression: Damn, this Arena is huge... and empty. It wasn't ideal for our event but it definitely was spacious. I personally wouldn't mind having the event in the same venue again if a few things were adjusted but I'd also welcome a slightly smaller, better divided venue.




+ Large space and room for the setup, never felt too crowded and the air was definitely breathable (the temperature was an issue but that's due to the hot first few days I suppose)
+ The side room on top ("Kitchen") and tables was a great spot to hang out and look over the venue without too much noise. I just wished it could have been turned into a "side-stream" / laid-back stream room with a similar setup as the bonus stream where people could have just streamed their runs - OR - turned it into a room where the live stream could have been watched from.
+ The B-Hall, although empty at first, was a great place for bonus activities. Having the Vive setup, Mafia, etc. there was a good thing.
+ Overall, the venue >itself< was clean and - given the large size - relatively compact.
+ The location wasn't too bad. Scandic was close enough and the mall + several restaurants were in walking distance. People complaining about the walking distance towards those locations are definitely too spoiled in my personal opinion.


Cons / Mehs:

- The empty seats were a bit depressing to look at. I know this is such a minor complaint, but the huge arena took away from the comfy feeling that ESA is known for. The place made the event look more serious/important than I felt it was.
- The distance to the city center is a bit too far. We still managed to walk to town several nights and it didnt bother me too much. But I can understand the complaints of others. I had the benefit of owning and bringing a car that enabled me to drive to more remote places and also drive people to the airport and the trainstation. I do not have insight in the bus transit but I am glad I got to avoid dealing with that.

The hotel (Scandic) was decent. The people inside friendly and the fact that there was a noise complaint was slight dampener but understandable. The breakfast was ok-good, the restaurant itself too expensive though. Overall, the pricing was in the upper-end of what I would have been willing to pay if I were asked to name a price per night. And this was with the coupon, several months ahead.

Honestly, I didn't bother watching the stream much. The lack of TVs in the beginning and the total lack of a projector + screen made it not that enjoyable. When supporting your friends (aka couching/sitting behind the PC area specifically) all you got to see was the runner's PC if anything at all... This is my single biggest suggestion, add a big central screen near tech or in front of the runners so everyone can see the run and the runner knows when they are live and can check the timer.
The layout was suboptimal. One example: Borderlands 2. Absolute catastrophy. Even my suggestion to simply add a black box as a layer between layout and footage to cover the misaligned layout to make it look a bit more bearable wasn't done during a 2h run. The layout wasted too much space and sometimes the people responsible didn't take the time to fully align stuff when it really isn't that much work.

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. The schedule was a hot mess. Obviously, tech issues in the beginning caused a big delay and moved runs back further and further as we progressed. But there were several things that could have been improved on site to fix it but instead every runner, tech and host was just asked to adapt to the delays.
One thing that can be improved for next time: PLEASE, do not put several races/coop runs behind each other, especially for PC runs. Setup time can be drastically improved if the run logistics are kept in mind when scheduling. Obviously, the hardware issues added to this issue, but still, some of the delay could have been easily preventable with clever scheduling beforehand.
And now another point: You guys realized you were 7h delayed. This is a very unwanted situation. Unpleasant situations require unpleasant solutions. Yet nobody proposed to move the 7h Final Fantasy Run towards the end (given the runner would have been available that day). That would have reset the entire schedule for everyone but this one runner (at least at that point). It could have more-or-less fixed the issues of having prime-time runs moved towards the morning graveyard slots.

I mentioned the delays. Fuck those delays. They basically destroyed my sleep schedule and made the commentary less fun. Throughout the event the time for certain runs kept being unclear and although the Horaro was updated frequently, it was still confusing.
But here's some room for my number one complaint during this entire event:

The PCs on site were... shit. Yes, that's Dreamhack's fault, but generally speaking, the environment for PC runners was pretty poorly managed. All practice PCs were super outdated. Sure, PCs are expensive, but if you are expecting PC runners to show up at your event and show their runs, you should provide PCs that are strong enough to run the games. And it wasnt just the poor hardware of the practice PCs... these machines were CLUTTERED with garbage programs and that's before anyone even laid their hands on them. I, and a few other PC runners who inquired about drivers were explicitly told to NOT INSTALL any driver software to keep the PCs clean but that really wasnt a concern when we first checked and found stuff like TeamViewer, Skype, DiscCleaner and other crap running on autostart + minimized in the background. Please, for next year, check your PC setup and make sure it runs. Because in theory, the one single main "PC" (aka laptop) that ran most of the PC games for the stream had better hardware than my own but refused to start my game. The one next to it ran it at under 30 FPS which is nowhere near enough and the game wouldn't render any textures on any of the practice PCs. This game isn't known to run badly, nor is it too old. We also had issues with games running just fine before we left and at time of setup for the run suddenly the game capture didnt work or the game wouldnt launch anymore.
FIND A DEDICATED SPONSOR FOR YOUR PC RUNS. If you want to use Dreamhack machines, make sure they work.

Hosting was fun but also tiresome. Due to scheduling I ended up with some of the worst shifts after already having had trouble with bad spots the nights before. It still worked out fine because my partner and I were motivated and excited for the whole thing. The tracker is definitely great, that part worked just fine. What I believe needs some improvement is the communication between tech and hosts. The hosts are the ones ON STREAM in front of all the thousands of viewers, live, so please please please make sure that the hosts get to know what is going on at tech in case of delays and how much longer we need to be on air. Most of the time it was just a guessing-game, looking at the runner and the guys at tech, and then communicating to the stream that "we are probably about to start" or "that we have small issues with the setup". Better communication would help. At one point we had a no-show during our host shift and the runner of the previous run left and not a single person was at any of the stations (console or pc). Meanwhile, the two people that were left at tech stood up and LEFT, trying to find somebody from the org team or the runner or whatever. So my partner and I were left on cam, live, without having ANYONE to talk to or anyone telling us what is going on. That wasn't the best feeling to be honest.
A permanent channel off-stream via headsets between tech and hosts (+ the runners during setup) would be fantastic. Sometimes the tech stuff didnt even hear the stream and werent aware of what we were talking at host station and cut us off or played an add over us (that improved slowly). They sometimes weren't aware that we ran out of things to say after 15 minutes of being on camera and that it might have been a good idea to cut to the wideshot/mute the mics.
Also, putting the hosting schedules towards dedicated games was fine but with the many delays it would have been wiser to go by timeslots.
... regardeles, hosting was fun. Exhausting, but fun.

To conclude, here are a few brainfarts of things that could be improved on:

- G2A scared too many people. Think of it what you want and I am aware that the benefits of basically no cuts were great but having people refuse to donate due to this payment site being used outweights the benefits in my opinion. The payment options didnt work well on mobile, the site itself for donations was too cluttered and small, something I've mentioned many times before, also talked to Maral about. I understand that this was a very recent addition and I guess it worked out, but for next year, build a dedicated donation site without the stream open, make the layout easier to use and user- (and mobile) friendly.

- The overall tech setup seemed too complicated. I don't know much about tech but I talked to people who do. And pretty much everyone agreed that some of the mechanics behind tech were too specific, too complicated or over-the-top and ended up breaking and bottlenecking the entire system. It worked the years before, even with two streams, so it came as a surprise to see this many issues.

- Gather tech and give them a group-runthrough for the setup. Often times crutial people were missing when shit went down and that could have been prevented if everyone was schooled on the setup beforehand.

- Make sure the camera positioning is actually capturing the people and not showing an empty venue. This slowly improved. A lower angle would have helped for a few runs, also sometimes some of the commentators were cut off...

- Not enough seating. Please make sure you have enough chairs inside the venue.

- The music should have been added from the start. Prepare that for next time in case shit goes down again.

- Give hosts an on-site mod account so they can use chat to update on the status and also moderate in case the scheduled mods arent around. We had to have tech crew (only people with access to a modded account) to do chat moderation during a run when the scheduled off-site mods didnt show up and spam got bad.

- Have people dedicated to communication. This does not only include communicating between runners, hosts and tech but also talk to upcoming runners regarding schedule changes - via social media or on site - and also READ and LISTEN and COMMUNICATE feedback from chat, reddit, forums and especially on site to the people that are responsible.

- Make it clear that people have to clean up their stations. It should be common sense but apparently many people had some lack of just that. Print out and hang up/tape down some signs telling people to actually throw their stuff away...

I guess that's all for now.

Thanks to all volunteers and everybody that worked their asses off to make this event great fun. I know I posted a lot of negative feedback but I tried my best to make sure I gave all positive feedback on site directly to the people involved. Things weren't nearly as bad as many people claimed they were. I personally had lots of fun.


NordNord, maralmaral and 6 others like this. 
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Late to the party but here will be my stuff, alot of repititon , alot might be new bla bla bla , here we go!

+ The hall (I liked the big environment)
+ Mass housing, was close and luckily I feel warm all the time so no problems with the AC for me.
+ "Kitchen", Atleast to heat and store food, still missing the one from 2 years ago.
+ Meeting everyone again! That alone is worth the event!
+ Internet access which was stable!
+ Hosting software, thank god for that tracker, The stoneaged programm from last year is just utter bullshit in tons of ways, so thanks to see a final good version this time!
+ The Trainingsroom! (As someone who trains everyday this was perfect! 😛 )
+ Sideevents (Hearthstone tournament, Bumperball, Mafia, HTC Vive, Rockband etc)
+ Hosting, had alot of fun and was way better then last year. I did not had to walk up twice to do the hosting job for someone else during a run I couch. 😛
+ Sofa and chairs, fucking finally we got rid of those awful chairs from the last two years.

- PCs, multiple reasons here, 1. Not enough PCs this year at all, 2. Gear was awful and couldn't run some of the modern games. 3. Were full with trash on arrival.

- Tech and delay, I know that the first 3 days were awful and I don't think I need to mention that, however just to add that to the list so this is not getting forgotten for next time. Just sad to see this since I loved the tech the last two years and this year was just bad.

- Tech, another thing which was pissing me off was that the runner got blamed for bad tech, just WTF, check the stuff first next time before blaming the runner. 😡

- Transition, Musik from the start when nothing was going on would have been nice and better communication. Sometimes the "Tech Ready" sign did not even get used at all, so It was a guessing game as a host to know if they wave to be ready or that they wanna say something or that dinosaurs are falling from the sky. Just please don't make this a guessing game for next year.

- Watching the stream at the event, I never felt like not watching speedruns then this year at the event, this was really dissapointing at the start, the TVs "kinda" worked but the setup for that was pretty late.

- 2nd stream, I know that alot of tech got send in later , but still this is just leaving a bad taste in my mouth when the 2nd stream got cut to improve the 1st stream tech and it still ends in chaos, I doubt that I am the only one who feels that way, mostly mentioning this as a reminder.

- Streamlayout, I feel like this years layout was pretty bad compared to the last two years but that is probably just my taste, anyways just adding this.

- Schedule, this schedule was a hot mess, I remember during the Borderlands 2 hosting shift it took around 30-40mins, even when I went through the Hosting stuff with Momo we were done after 20mins reading all sponsors, donation, and even Bitwars. I know that some even had longer ones with around 50mins to 1hr! That really shouldn't happen.

- Interview, all in all it was alright, but sometimes it felt like "forced" on people, and sometimes the hosts did not even know what to ask/say depending on their experience. Maybe put a cheat sheet like with the sponsors of generic stuff people could ask the runner since mostly the hosts were relaxing or not paying attention to the run at all.

All In all I'm happy about the Event and Meeting everyone, this is the main priority for me, just sad to see that all the stuff which happend on the stream or which was connected to stream was really just meh or bad this year. Normally I was everytime impressed and excited to see how fluent it works compared to gdqs e.g. but this year it was the other way around... 😕

Thanks for reading or not! Here is my hot potatoe to the thread.

One thing I forgot to mention,

Like seriously fucking hell!!!!

Seriously, I feel like beating those guys up for the waste and garbage they left behind, like if you are going to an event and you can't clean after yourself then don't fucking go and stay home where your mom is cleaning your shit. I just can't understand this. Tompa is not your cleaner!!!!!!!!!!!!

Matse007Matse007, NordNord and 5 others like this. 

Experience as an attendee (arriving, checking in, venue, cleanliness, etc),

+/-Although not as close as Skövde would have been for me, seeing how I just moved there, it wasn't too bad, 2:30 drive with car (since I'm not one to break the speed limits unless there's a game). Although gas is expensive in sweden, and so are trains and busses.

Checking in
+ No problems, didn't even have to show my ticket.

- Looked like a flea market, not really optimal
+ However, the area was big and open, with lots of space
- but barely any chairs.

+ I probably had one of the better experiences in the hotel, seeing how I booked my hotel in january, so it was really cheap, and the room was big, I also used some scandic friend points.
- People were loud
+ One of the ladies in the front desk flirted with me
- I didn't pick up on it until after I left.

AMVXAMVX likes this. 
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So from sitting at home

+ The venue looks to be almost too big for the event, but that provides room for expansions. Personally I liked the visual look of last years, but here we are and at least there seemed to be plenty of space to work with.
+ The schedule overall was quite good, plenty of variety of games and a good range. Some of the scheduled times and blocks left me confused, but overall it was really quite solid.
+ The mod team did a fantastic job, especially CBenni, Trollbear and Aura. They were constantly in there making sure it went smoothly.
+ I liked the look of the lanyard of the wristbands.

-The layouts. I know I made them. But I also know what we discussed when they were being made, and I explained my points for the things I thought would and would not work. As the people using them, I delivered on any requests made by the organisers. We can discuss this in private next year if I end up doing them, because overall I didn't truly like them this year, primarily for reasons that others have stated.

- The lack of communication when things were wrong from the tech/host back out. As a mod all we could say was "something, somewhere has gone wrong. And someone, somehow is fixing it". With no basis to work off, it becomes very hard to keep chat from turning full ravenous. I know how difficult it can be in those times, but just a literally "20min ETA" in Discord would have been something to work off.

-The signs on stream. The ESA16 - it was made last minute, get some stencils or something. Made the stream look like the ghetto. Not to mention that because of the sizing and camera, it read SA16 most of the time. Signage is only good when it delivers the message. Similarly, WTF was with the cat picture and all the other stuff. I would understand if there was a charity poster, but not just trickets that are seemingly random.

- The hosting. This is the biggest one for me, because this year, it was absolutely trash. Totally a fucking joke. I actually just muted and did other stuff in the breaks, most of the hosting was that bad. People were monotonous, talking about inappropriate things, completely uneducated about the runner(s) or game(s), or just simply unable to realise that if they don't know what to talk about, crap on about the charity and donations. Talk about the venue, the people, the event. So much downtime was literally wasted by someone mumbling into a microphone as if they were at a funeral rather than sounding chirpy, happy to be at the event and pushing the upcoming feature, rehashing what has happened and talking about the causes. I think a really tough screening process has to start happening on this area, because honest to God, it was more embarassing and damaging for the host and the event to be there, over having a blank screen inbetween games.

- Interviews caused damage when the people being interviewed either clearly did not want to be interviewed, or had nothing to go off. I think, it's good to have a balance. Like Planks said, some interviews were more hassle than they were worth and music should have been there instead. But some interviews, with presentable runners is appropriate. A 70% music, 30% interviews mix would be healthy.

- Attire, and presentation. I get that people are there to have fun, and part of being on holiday for some is being lazy. But I don't think it's presentable pushing charities with people being half dressed, or wearing "Hail Satan" on their shirts. It doesn't offend me personally, but if I was on the charity side of it, the business side of it, yeah, I would be offended by it.

- The Button. It was missed.

- I'm not going to mention on actual tech issues, because I don't know the issues that happened. What I will ask is PLEASE get your audio right. I know it causes 90% of the problems with broadcasting, but holy fuck, I thought I went deaf when that Player.ME commercials first started. Levels were very inconsistant.

- G2A did scare too many people away from donating. I'm on the side that agrees they have to go.

Okay extra stuff:
1) Planks, you're right. You avoid HDMI at all possible. If we're trying to get a stable as anything stream, have to treat it with SDI and more reliable XLR pathways.
2) Slask - next year buddy.
3) In a way I kind of like the concept Naeg has for a "chat" game during downtime, have one emulator/console permently rigged good to go, and just change the game to a silly one each time that can get chat involved.

So I know this seems more negative than positive, and maybe it's because it's the first time I've just watched the event from afar in a couple of years, but overall I think for all of the progress that was made in 2015, the event has taken a diagonal step backwards. We've got a new location, new issues, new people, new challenges. So we're not the same as last year - thus the side step - but overall I think from a viewer perspective it wasn't as good as last years. Especially off the back of SGDQ who brought a pretty solid deck to the table for their event.

NordNord, MergyMergy and 4 others like this. 
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This is going to be so long..

Some backstory:

Last year was my first ESA and I loved it.
Suzie asked me if I wanted to host at some point because she was exhausted having had done most of the hosting on her own throughout a big portion of the event. I was thrilled that someone like me who was just an ordinary attendee without any experience of the GDQ-tracker system (which was quite complex and alot of work for a host to do on their own while hosting) could take on such a "large" responsibility and help out. So I gladly did and was impressed by how community-driven this event was.

Feedback As a host-organizer and what I did:

Because of my enthusiasm regarding the hosting-station mixed with perhaps the lack of initiative taken from other staff-members, Planks approached me less than a month prior to the event saying "Maral, can we speak about hosting? Would you like to coordinate it at ESA16? Making sure we have someone at all times" etc and I said Yes. I asked IrregularJinny to help me with this (and Alko because he did it all last year, but he was very busy with studies, so unfortunately he couldn't.)

I went through the feedback-thread of ESA15 to see what could be done better and the biggest issues last year were with the host-station standing empty alot of the times, people missusing the hosting station for self-promotion and shifts being way too long for hosts to handle/enjoy (8h+).

- So we changed it down to around 4h-shifts. Which I find is a good amount.

- I also created some guidelines that could be found on the hosting station table (and later on discord) to prevent exessive self-promotion happening again. I know the heart and soul of ESA lies with the community and "fun is allowed" so I didn't want to create "rules".. hence "guidelines" to follow, i'll include links to them in this post below.

- Last year the charity-paper we had on the host desk was a full on A4 provided by Doctors without Borders and people would read through it with the most monotone voice to then stop halfway because it was just too much ResidentSleeper information in one go. So I decided to make smaller/short blurbs about Save the Children instead, so that mentioning the charity wouldn't be a monotone/negative thing, but more positive and less harsh on the hosts/crowd. Because we had sponsors and such aswell that I was told needed to be plugged, I added short blurbs for those aswell so all hosts had all the information they needed at hand.

Although a "schedule" was made and perhaps this wasn't communicated enough it was never a schedule "set-in-stone". By this I mean if ANYONE with better knowledge/interest or relationship with the upcoming game/runner wanted to host, all they could do is ask the pair currently incharge of the hosting station and they'd be given a greenlight to host. Or if anyone felt unfit to host they could contact me and I would find a replacement. Jinny was also a host-organiser but since he wasn't at the event for a large portion of the time, I didn't add him on the contact-list. The "schedule" was there to make sure the hosting station never stood empty.

A huge mistake on my part was when someone asked me to make the call (when the schedule got delayed) regarding if hosts should keep their slots as they were meant to be (time-wise) or if we should follow the schedule block/game-wise. I chose block/game-wise and it was just a decision I made on the spot without much thought into it and it was clearly... NOT THE RIGHT ONE. It affected so many of you (including myself) in a negative way and I'm really truly sorry about that.

In retrospect so many things could have been done better and I thought doing something like this for next year would be a great improvement: If the scheduling team brings out the schedule early i'll be able to have all the volonteers actually assign themselves to the specific runs they'd love to host via a google doc (this would be really great since the best synergy and entertainment is created this way) and then ontop of that also create a time-based 2-team like this year that are in charge of being around the hosting area those hours to make sure that someone is hosting there and if in nobody assigned themselves to a certain run then they will have to host the empty slots in that block.
Does that seem like a good idea?

So it will be like a google doc that all hosts have access too and will be able to just add their names to certain runs while still upholding with the security that the hosting area will never be empty and since it's such a community driven-event i'd still like it to be open for people to have the ability to TRY hosting even if they have never done it before.

Lastly I'd like to thank EVERY SINGLE volonteer who hosted and tried out hosting this year. Too my knowledge we managed to take away the biggest faults from hosting last year while still keeping it fun and that's really good, Thank you all. I realise many of you were "put on the spot" because of the lack of communication between the tech and hosting-station aswell as the tech-issues and because of this were put in a position where you had to improvise and go with the flow at your own expense- It's not an easy thing to do infront of thousands so thank you for pulling through and doing your best!

What we should take with us into next year is working on some way to establish a better communication-system between hosts and tech as it's what's needed the most after this event. I'd also like to see the hosting station.. not so dull, if the area would have been setup in a way where you could see the venue and people sitting there it would have been much cozier for people at home to watch. Hosting station doesn't need to look "professional". I kind of prefer the older set-up. At first when I arrived to the event (after stream had started) I was sceptical to the idea of having interviews, not sure who even came up with the idea, but as time went on, some of the interviews were actually pretty great. Let's ditch the microphones you attached to the ear or whatever, those sucked and brought more hassle than good. The best way is to keep it simple, with the big mic people could pass around.

For next year it would be great if in the game-submitting process people would add a note if they'd like to be interviewed or not. Because not all people do. It allows us to know who'll have an interview and allows the scheduling team to put their runs before a 4-ppl race or something that takes longer to setup. It also allows hosts to be ready and know that x-people wants to be interviewed and can prepare questions in advance or even better, communicate with the runner about the questions prior, which will help create a nicer vibe for people at home.

Also a big shoutout to; Pac, eidgod, Paranoia & Moggelix for joining me in my mission, buying random shit from their own pocket-money (spraycans and shizzle) in a desperate attempt to make the hosting area a little nicer/more fun. You guys rock! Although I understand AMVX feedback, it's not cool that only SA was shown most of the time and perhaps we went a bit overboard with some of the random things we bought, I think the SA could have been sorted by just adjusting the camera properly. Either way I think it was better than what it was prior to our attempt at spiffin it up.

Another thing I was incharge of was helping create the new tracker we were using. To my knowledge we needed a new one (and I've seen some people give great feedback regarding the new tracker, Thanks everyone!) Planks designed most of it and in my own experience this worked soooo much smoother for hosts than the previous tracker did although alot of changes could be made to make it even better (and there will be!).
The big worry (understandably so) for some people was that with this tracker we used G2A's Payment processor. The reason we used this was because it allowed for more payment methods than just creditcard or Paypal aswell as lower-fees than just a standalone paypal integration = more money to the charity. Although we did raise more than last year (I'd say we crushed it since we also had about 4k average less viewers at all times.)
It still stopped a good portion of people from donating because of G2A. I'm already looking into implementing a standalone paypal option aswell so that people are not put in a position where they'd have to compromise their moral standground to do something for a good cause. I completely respect, understand and agree that something should be done about this. So consider this noted.

Big shoutout to Planks for all the time and effort he put down on making the tracker. I feel like Planks worked really hard on this event and barely got any rest because of tech issues at the event. So a big hug to Planks, he's probably still exhausted.

As an Attendee: (i'll try keep this short)

+ I loved the wristbands this year, they were soooo pretty.
+ I loved all the sofas you could lounge and watch the stream in, great idea, if only we had a projector and showed this awesome area in the bg when hosting that'd be neat.
+ Challenges. Love that initiative. I really like the beezy challenge, thanks shrimp. P.S nice poster.
+ I like the T-shirt. Normally I don't wear event-tees around but this one had a really nice fit and looks kinda cool.
+ The people. Although I feel like time went by so damn quickly and I barely got time to hang with anyone it was still nice to see everyone.
+ The 4-player overlay was pretti cool.
+ Riku and Tompa's Piano playing. Next year there should be a segment where Riku or Tompa are the hosts but with a Piano just playing music

- I can only really echo what other people have said but for me personally I felt this venue wasn't very "intimate" and seperated people. Perhaps it is something we can't avoid as we grow larger but what I really liked about our past venue ESA15 was how close the venue was to town, lake etc. But with this venue (unless you had a car) sometimes going into town/hotel/lake became a dealbreaker in terms of going back to the venue. Which made people group up and one of the best things at ESA15 was how little people grouped up.. if people were at the lake/town/whatever you could just go there and join them in a heartbeat.
But that doesn't really work in växjö as the city is kinda shaped in a different way I guess. Atleast with the venue's location. But perhaps this could be fixed like Max mentioned in his feedback with better setup organization at the venue etc... growing pains 😃
- Would have been cool with a projector showing the stream in the venue.
- Security check. We had the manpower yet it seemed like nobody checked if we had wristbands or not so it would have been really easy to get in and take stuff. Luckily this was a small town and probably people who'd be willing to go steal like that werent even aware of the event, but in the future they will be if we have it there so security should probably be a lil better too.
- Lanyards, I don't get it. If we have wristbands then there's no need for lanyards. Most people just wear them one day and then take em off. I loved the band that came with it. It was pretty, but I would like for ESA to not put down their budget for lanyards again as it seems to have only costed the organisera extra hassle, effort, money and time.
- The air. I don't really notice stuff like that normally but it definitely hit me when hosting at some point how the air in the hall would really drain the energy out of me because of poor ventilation. I think the lighting of the venue made the venue look dull and dark too.
- The Tyr-flu. Took me legit 9 days to recover. (this isnt a serious complaint btw)
- The overlays (apart from 4player that one was kewl), whats wrong with our previous overlays?
- Intermission screen with no ETA of when stream would come back and no nice music in the bg, it scared people away like CRAZY. Nobody wants to watch that 🙁

Okay It's late and I'm not thinking properly anymore and I feel like most people said the most important things and we all know what can be improved but here's one last thing I'd like to add that I believe is probably the most important/valuable feedback I can give to organizers. There is no doubt in my mind that organizers worked hard from all ends, none at all but it was and is crystal-clear even to a blind person that this years ESA wasn't handled as a Team. The lack of communication was through the roof and it affected the event tremendously in a negative way. All organizers can do a stellar job and I personally think all organizers at ESA do a stellar job when focusing on their own skills and areas but without the very needed communication and openmindedness between them it all falls apart. If you want to organize a really good event everyone needs to put their differences and ego aside and be willing to listen to eachother and take in feedback aswell as give. Only then can you truly be a team and successfully move forward. Become a team again please. I love ESA. I hope this is not taken the wrong way, I have the best intentions when I say this.

Also naegleria mentioned in his feedback that some staff were unhappy with the amount raised. Whoever this staff-person is this is directed at you: I think that's bullshit because we raised more than we ever have before by over 4000 dollars with about 4-5k less in average viewers. I think we crushed in terms of fundraising and ya'll should be proud of yourselves for creating an event that has enabled so much good for the worlds neediest children. With matching that was over 300,000 USD.

I don't know if i'll be given the chance to be responsible for hosting again next year or not but whoever does - i'll be willing to help you out ^^ Something I've noticed with these events is that alot of people have alot of valuable feedback to give but not alot of people take initiative to actually help out. Which is very needed. There's only so much a handful of people can do, don't forget that all organizers are volonteers too! Anyway, Thanks for this year.

On a positive note- I guess we set the bar pretty low this year so next year is gonna be.. awesome? 😃

NordNord, SeductiveSpatulaSeductiveSpatula and 9 others like this. 
(edited: )

Sorry for the late response here, I hope this is still going to be read. 🙂

Edit: Ah, stupid me, I only now read the first post, I want to make it easier for you to sort this:

This year was not just my first ESA but my first speedrunning event I visited in general and being a runner kind of made a small dream I was working towards for the past two years come true. :') That the event turned out to be quite differently than I imagined was mostly on my end, but there's a few things I was surprised about on the organisational end.

Experience as an Attendee:

With all the feedback I'm about to give, I want to get rid of, at very first, that I am aware what a HUGE amount of organisation such an event needs and considering, the speedrunning community is nothing more but a small nerdy subculture of gamers, ESA never faced problems of catastrophical extent and I think we can all agree that things could have worked out a lot worse.

Also, I want to start with a very positive remark: The honesty and trust that was present in the community the whole event. People left their consoles, equipment, cell phones and all sorts of different stuff lying around only to find it again safe and soud (at least most of the time, as far as I'm aware). I once forgot my Apple earpod headphones at a pc and instincitvely thought "damn, they're gone now" but then I checked and they were still there, half a day later, on the table next to the pc. I am happy to see that there is a community on earth that still makes something out of honesty and doesn't steal all the stuff right away. I've been at other events and made way worse experiences. But all of this leads me to the first critical thought I had:

Was there too much trust in everyone? I was a bit surprised that nobody seemed to care if you wore the bracelet or not. You could just walk in wihtout having bought a ticket and nobody would have bothered, just wear a longsleeve, nobody would notice. Also, there was absolutely zero checking whether you had paid for the mass housing or not. I do not want to accuse anybody from the speedrunning community of being dishonest and I love how everybody trusts me that I did all the payments but it made the whole thing feel a bit unprofessional to me. I'm not sure if this was all intended; it's just a feeling I had.

I don't have complaints about the mass housing, except I was a bit surprised that it was pitch black the whole time but I guess that's good when people want to sleep at any time of the day. One minor complaint would be that some of the soap dispensers on the toilets were broken and the toilets didn't have any toilet brushes. Makes it hard if you want to leave the toilet clean but you can't. 😕 I was totally okay with the showers being a few minues away though. Another small thing about the mass housing: It said it was open until noon on monday on the thread here, which implies 12pm to me. We were all thrown out at 8:30. For me that was okay, since I was about to leave then anyway but for others who had planned their trip differently, they were still asleep at the time. Maybe next time an earlier time should be set as the deadline, so nobody needs to panic in the morning. 🙂

About the venue itself: I really enjoyed the atmosphere of runners practicing and showing what they could in the hall. Since it was in the same room as the stream, I sometimes wonderes, however, how seriously the streaming couch is to be taken. Sometimes the crowds playing Mario Party or Smash or whatever were louder than the audience for the speedrun, sometimes there was a loud applause when the runner needed serious time. I couldn't help but feel that it seemed a tiny bit disrespectful to the runners. Sure, you have this big room you've got to take advantage of it, but the stream felt a bit like side event sometimes and I was a bit sad that a few runners didn't get the support they deserved. (On a side note: A similar experience is described by the popular pastebin by mirrored, where he describes a similar experience at AGDQ13 in his reply to the apology.)

We all know about the technical difficulties that occured and I'm sure it's in everybody's interest to make it better next year. I'm not going too deep into that, I think we all know what went wrong and hopefully why. Of course, I am sad, my small run lost all hope of filling a gap in the schedule, since there weren't any gaps and the schedule just extended itself further and further away. Speaking of the schedule: It would be super neat to read the run estimate somewhere; even if you can just watch at the start time to the next run, you still have to subtract setup time and do a bit thinking for yourself to guess how long the run you might want to see could take.

Experience as a runner:

All the above mentioned freedom made it so the pcs were occupied most of the time. I never knew if the person who played on it was a runner here and getting oiled up for their run or "just" another attendee, practicing their run none the less. For me, as a pc runner who doesn't have a laptop, I took advantage of the early hours (between 6 and 10am) to practice my run but sometimes I wondered if anybody checked if the pcs were actually used by the runners who had to be ready for their run the most or by non-runners.

About my own run, I can tell, I was a bit surprised that I got asked "which machine is the game installed on?" when I got up there, as it wasn't installed at all. I was ¤extremely¤ busy the week before ESA and couldn't possibly keep up with every thread and read all the posts and the discord messages, so I assumed, all the important data was there in the first posts in the pinned threads, which I did read through numerous times. All other communication was Fatzke who asked me, if I would come to ESA to do the race but other than that I didn't get any information what to do to prepare the run. I'm sorry if I have overlooked it somewhere and sometimes I am really blind, but I just didn't know where to refer to before my run, so I just assumed I walk up there and bring my stuff with me. Fortunately, installing the game from USB stick really was quite quick and the true reason why our setup took so long was afaik the HDMI splitter not doing what it was supposed to do.

I don't want to dig up the whole issue with the race again, with the ESA laptop being extremely dark so that both Yajijy and Fatzke messed up a few things in their race runs, we all know about this by now.

Also, is it necessary to use XSplit when OBS is the actually superior program? 😃 (Please don't take this seriously)

SO, this being said, I have definite plans to visit another ESA and I'd love to be a runner again. 🙂 I'd also be open to support the tech crew to help make the overall experience better than this year.
See you all next year, hopefully. ❤️

AlkoAlko likes this. 

The game selection process was way too long and the cuts were not done in a good way. The first round of cuts was absolutely pointless, hardly reducing the list of games at all beyond trolls and late submissions. Might as well have waited an extra week or two and just gone with the second round where something actually happened and people got a better idea of what to practice. Speaking of second round, it was easy enough to tell that about a third of the stuff on there would have to be cut to fit the schedule, yet for some reason there was a comment along the lines of "we'll primarily be cutting games from the same series" giving people false hope. Not a huge deal but there was no reason for that comment to exist. The "reasons" for cutting games in the 3rd round were also a joke. It felt like half the comments were actual legit reasons while the rest were just memes and attempts at being funny and at that point you might as well not bother as you're just wasting your own and the runner's time. Keeping things lighthearted is fine, but feeling like you're not being taken seriously is uncool.

First day of the event was quite the trainwreck and nothing seemed to be in order. Watching the runs live was not an option as you could neither see nor hear a thing. A group of us were hanging around the stream area waiting for the show to start. Then we get told to go away because we didn't look interested in the run: a run we did not know was going on... Yes, the stream had started and Riku was 7 minutes into his run and nobody noticed. There was no intro, no hype, no nothing. We ended up sitting down at some tables with the stream playing on a tablet and my god the layouts this year were terrible. The ratio of cam and other stuff to game was just awful and none of the elements seemed to fit in their designated boxes. It looked like someone just threw something together without any idea of what elements would be on the screen and how they would fit. Add to this the lazy cropping of quite a few games, and the whole thing looked unprofessional and just incredibly sloppy.

At the end of the first day some decently sized monitors finally arrived and two were set up by the streaming area so at last you could actually watch the runs, sound was also finally (somewhat) fixed. What confuses me though is that 10 or so boxes of monitors were brought in and yet I only ever saw 3 of them in use. Where did the remaining 7 go? Also why was there not one set up behind tech so the current runner and couch could see how things were looking; when they're on camera, how the time is looking, stuff like that. Being on couch for PC runs was pointless since you couldn't see anything and the camera most of the time had you cut off anyway so you might as well not have been there. I assume there's a reason for a projector not being used like last year, but if I could change just one thing it would be to have that back. The couches were comfy and I don't mind having them around at all, however that was pretty much it for seating. There was an serious lack of chairs.

The venue itself was fine for the most part, although rather far from center of town. As expected air got pretty bad pretty quick, but we lived. The little kiosk by the entrance was good - not amazing, but good. One thing I really disliked about the venue and the setup though is how barren it looked. Both as an attendee and on stream, having this huge room with all its empty seats was honestly a depressing sight. Didn't nearly have the charm of the venue in Skövde last year. The way the tables were set up also made the whole thing feel more like a mediocre LAN than anything.

Scandic was alright, quad rooms were awful. The mall was fantastic and actually open reasonably late as opposed to Skövde which could be a bit of a struggle. Sadly with an event that is running day and night, reasonably late still isn't late enough and if you had something going on in the middle of the night you're kinda screwed. Offering something at the venue other than the rather unappealing hot dogs would be great.

Hosting was a pretty big turnoff for me. A lot of the time you had little to no idea when you were on stream and not, when you would be cut off by an incredibly loud ad, when tech was actually ready or just lighting the "tech ready" sign for fun (if used at all). The camera was most of the time angled horribly, showing the couch when it was empty and not showing it when there was someone there. There was so little communication going on between hosts and tech and it made for a very awkward and uncomfortable experience. The schedule changes naturally also completely screwed up the hosting and doing my two shifts from 7am to about noon was overall not very enjoyable. With how cringe some of the hosting turned out, especially for longer delays due to technical issues, I'd personally prefer just the overhead cam with some music rather than actual hosts. It'd be wonderful for segments where people actually have something to contribute, but a lot of the interviews and the stuff between runs just ended up being solidly meh.

On the subject of tech I have no doubt they did their very best and I don't wish the trouble they had to deal with on anyone, but it can't be ignored that the whole thing was a bit of a mess. There seemed to be only a handful of people who actually knew how to work the friggin jungle of a setup and when these people weren't around, panic ensued. People also overcomplicated things way too much, the way certain situations were handled and the comments made by the tech crew were laughable.

I would say there weren't enough practice PCs, but with how bad they were it wouldn't have made much of a difference. For the PCs for the actual runs the story was sadly not much better. By the time I started setting up on the MSI laptop, the night before my run, the poor thing was just a complete mess. I ended up launching the game with the integrated graphics card because it was the only way to not have the game just be a white box.

As far as donations go, tossing G2A and Gaming for Good together for handling your money is just asking for the perfect storm of shit. Seeing two sites with rather shady reputations (whether relevant or not) isn't really the most attractive thing for someone wanting to donate, and I know for a fact that people avoided donating because of this. I understand why it was done, but I don't necessarily think it was the best solution.

Overall ESA felt considerably less comfy than last year and I didn't really see many positive changes to compensate. I saw someone describe it as growing pains and I think that's accurate. You're always gonna go to an event like this for the people more than the event itself, but this year the people were pretty much all you had. It's a real shame, but this year's ESA did not at all live up to a lot of people's expectations.

I hope this was a learning experience and that next year turns out better as an event. See you all then, because I sure as hell ain't going anywhere ❤️

HeinkiHeinki, AlkoAlko and 6 others like this. 

Since my run was cut this year - and I spend much more time talking to speedfriends than actually running these days - I decided to approach this ESA more as a con than a marathon. I wanted to hang out and play games without really worrying about the stream or being constricted by the schedule. And with that goal in mind, ESA was a huge amount of fun. The extra roominess of the venue was great, the dedicated mafia space was great. There were almost always a good amount of setups available for casual gaming, random races, or fighting games. The proximity of the shopping centre made it a lot easier to get real food than previous years, even if the rest of the area was sparse. Apart from the rooms being a little small, I thought the scandic was great. And I'm not sure if the organisers can take credit for this, but even the weather was nicer than previous ESAs.

Unfortunately, ESA being so conducive to a fun casual experience is something of a double-edged sword. The impression I got is that most of the attendees (like myself) didn't care much about the stream this year. This was obviously very much exacerbated by the lack of a projector making it difficult to even watch from the same room. To be fair to the team it, definitely picked up later in the week, but the (extremely) shaky start turned off both external and internal viewers. There were some great concepts for the stream this year that just didn't end up being executed quite right, and in terms of overall production quality there were definitely two steps back for each one forward. I do regret not signing up to help out in any way with the stream, as ESA's ability to build and audience (and raise money!) is where I really want to see progress. The ability to deliver a great experience to attendees is already there!

I am trying to deliver constructive criticism, but the bottom line is, I had a great time and would definitely come back for a fourth(!) ESA.

AlkoAlko likes this. 

Thank you for taking the time to provide valuable feedback.

After all individually reading your replies, the ESA staff had a long meeting yesterday evening going though it all together. We're currently preparing a reply, we're hoping get it out late this weekend but it might be delayed a few days further. Our work schedules are currently nightmarish and while we don't want to keep you waiting for an official replay longer than necessary, we also don't want to rush it.

Stay tuned!

AlkoAlko, ElguElgu and 5 others like this. 
  [user deleted]

Sorry for late response, I've been on vacation since ESA and only just returned.

Observations of an attendee:

+ People were just as open, friendly and honest as one would expect from a geek gathering. Definitely the best part of the event; I met and had fun with a lot of nice and interesting people. I could also leave my stuff to the venue and trust it'd still be there the next morning.

+ There were enough CRTs and electricity to plug into pretty much whenever I wanted. While I was gone, I left my console and arcade boards for anyone to use.. but probably communicated this poorly. Next time I'll setup a more visible sign with basic usage instructions.

- Not enough chairs. This really boggles the mind, for an event where people are expected to basically sit for a week, the chairs aren't only uncomfortable, but there aren't nearly enough of them? This was the single most distracting nuisance, since especially during prime time the whole venue atmosphere suffered from it, people wandering around hunting for chairs and others holding their piss to not lose theirs.

- No big screen of any kind to see the runs on-site. There were two small TVs and a PA system for viewers, but they were insufficient and poorly managed. Even when I found myself a good spot to view a run on, I would often find the PA system turned too low and background noise from rest of the venue being louder. This made the marathon part of the event feel more like a sidetrack than the main attraction.

AlkoAlko likes this.