As a stream viewer, the whole event was fantastic. I was so happy for you guys that I actually cried. My only negative is that sometimes the Host on stream 1, reading donations, was very LOUD compared to the runners. But overall the stream was fantastic. Stream 2 was managed by Geeky Goons. They did one hell of a job on that stream. You could tell easily, compared to stream 1. So looking forward to next year.
|RoboSparkle likes this.|
Even though I will probably repeat some of points that were already made, here goes my feedback.
1 - Hotel.
2 - Side activities.
3 - Stream/Tech
4 - Hosting/DonationReading/Moderation
I guess, that's about it. If I happen to remember anything major, that I wanted to mention, I will put it under edit line.
|Pottoww, Fatzke and RoboSparkle like this.|
This years Venue was really great as mentioned by pretty much everyone. However, a few things I'd like to complain about since I'm a whiny sucker:
|MangoHatface and RoboSparkle like this.|
GIGANTIC FUCKING POST WEEEEEEEE
So, before I say much of anything I'd like to preface this by saying that the event was a huge, ginormous step-up from previous years and I very much felt the effort from everyone involved. I very much enjoyed myself and I have every intention of returning next year. My sincere congratulations to everyone involved, you took a risk and I think that it paid off admirably in all respects.
i feel the need to get that out there because everything I write sounds like complaining from here on down
The hotel this year was extremely choice real estate, like I do not think you could ask for a much better location than that. Many food options within walking distance, shopping mall, proximity to train station, bus ride away from hitting the beach or pool? Like damn dude, that's godlike. That location is hands down the best location for any marathon I've ever been to in terms of just the raw convenience. Not a super touristy location or anything, but in terms of the basic travelling considerations, it's S rank, very hard to beat.
The rooms themselves were nice. Hotel rooms are one of those things where it's only noteworthy when done badly, so the fact I have nothing much to say about it is good. Free hotel breakfast, also choice, free ice cream, ESPECIALLY choice. It's hard to beat free ice cream in any calculation.
Event room sizes on the other hand were a bit of a mixed bag. Stream room was appropriately large although I'm still not especially convinced mixing the stream room with the general purpose practice/casual room is a hot idea, I thought it was mainly done that way for lack of space but it seems to be done on purpose. Especially with the streaming stations located at the very back of these loud-ass rooms so you have people chatting away in their own bubble in the back of this decidedly non-bubble-like room. The attempt to carve private spaces out of non-private ones is very reminiscent of like, a convention floor style atmosphere, and I'm not really sure how to digest that, it seemed like it invites participation for being smack dab on the floor, but seems like it doesn't from the noise-cancelling headphones so you couldn't really do "roundtable" streams as such. Odd. I'd have thought that sort of thing goes in its own space, really.
On the plus side I never felt hard pressed to find a big-ass CRT or PC if I wanted to do something. Part of this is just that I keep really weird waking hours, so I'm usually up at ass o clock in the morning and had practically the entire main hall to myself. Either way, yay, equipment!
Maybe this is all part of a larger space issue though, since much of the side rooms seemed rather small. Stream 2 is still rather cramped with there being basically no gap between runner and audience, I know this is part of the point and appeal of Stream 2 but I'll get into that in a bit. Board game room couldn't really hold the amount of people using it, Tournament room could not really sustain more than one tournament at a time (I kinda got away with running Evil Zone during a mario kart LAN but I only had to use one setup to run mine). Quiet practice room was sandwiched between Stream 2 and the board game room and was therefore basically never quiet, I'm not exempt from guilt on that one since I also used it to just screw around, but for its intended purpose it could do with a more secluded location.
Arcade was neat, love 2 play quick and the crash but again just being smack dab in the middle of the lobby I feel somewhat limits the size of it all? Also, I've started hearing quick and crash sound effects in white noise because the noise of the game was endlessly pervasive and I like quick and crash as much as the next guy but that's a bit much. I liked the hotel, but being restricted to that one floor of the hotel and it's fairly tiny side rooms the whole thing is actually kind of small? Giant hall aside, I'm not sure how the event can upscale from there with the general lack of space for side rooms.
The scrolls that got set up for people to scribble their names and times onto at the games throughout the event are great.
I also very much resonate with the complaint about the lack of a dining area. Keeping food out of the other rooms is very much the right choice because holy shit are y'all bad at cleaning up after yourselves (if I knew who was leaving the half-finished cans of Red Bull all over the place NEAR THE ELECTRICS I would dunk them on your head, do not waste the source of my power) but after you've gone out and bought a pizza, are you supposed to just squat on the curb and eat it there? There were seats outside of the hotel that we kind of assumed was for this exact purpose, but one altercation later with a pissed off staff member who wordlessly approached us and attempted to pick up and throw away pizza while we were in the middle of eating it (whoever that was can seriously go fuck themselves into next year, by the way, a simple "not here" would've sufficed) indicates that no, they're not actually for that purpose? You can eat in the hotel room sure but it's not exactly a very pleasant group dining experience. I mainly got around this by going out with THE LADS and eating at Max. Max is so good.
Side rooms were also locked in the early mornings at an unspecified time for an unspecificed reason and were only openable by unspecified persons at an unspecified time. People sometimes left stuff in those rooms so this was a problem. Fair enough if they're going to be locked, but it really needs to laid out when and who to go to if they need unlocking.
Overall mind you it's still a giant fucking leap from the arena, but a cut below some other places I've been. Good step in the right direction.
i actually had no issue with badge checking myself but tech/organisers need separate badges from the rest of us. I'm apathetic to whether runners have their own badge, but the lack of badges differentiating staff made it a bit harder to tell who to ask when I had some setup queries. And I did have a few of those. There were eventually like, tags slapped onto existing badges but still not really parseable at a glance.
Alrighty, now let's get onto aspects of the actual production!
The Host With The Most
Hosting was largely much better than previous year but still ran into noticable problems at times. Intermissions between games were frequently stilted, awkward, rambling or sort of incoherent. At times they didn't have much to discuss with the games or clearly didn't really know what they were talking about and were just shooting from the hip. I don't blame anyone in particular for this, it's symptomatic of there not being much of a plan for these segments, I'm assuming. Most people if you just go "make it work!" will probably not be able to produce entertaining filler on the spot, it's hard, I completely understand that. Sometimes they'd just kind of plug a sponsor and that'd be that, sometimes they'd go on about a game or runner. It wasn't like, completely awful or anything, but at times felt extremely improv and not in the good kind of way. A clearer plan of action would help with this.
Donation reading was a bit hit and miss. Some readers were very pro-active in feeling out the low moments to ask if they can read something, pepole with a good sense for that are credit to team(whoever did the reading for Birth By Sleep was pretty good at this and I commend that). Other readers either struggled to comfortably read out loud without repetition or stuttering or just were plain not ready to field a request to read something, resulting in too long a pause while they tried to see if there were any donations to read and then quickly trying to segway onto plugging a sponsor instead. Donation reading needs to be snappier than that, the reader dragging their "turn" out, so to speak, mucks up the pacing of good commentary. I'm not saying you have to talk like a Micro Machines advert, but keeping up is extremely important. I know getting confident speakers at a European event is a harder thing since English is often not the first language, but it's no less of a relevant concern.
Checking the donations as well, better than last year, but some shitty ones still got through and got read live on air. Kinda keeps happening.
A petty gripe, but I started trying to preach the good word of the phrasing "if you have something you'd like to read" instead of asking directly for donations to dodge the awkward admission of not actually having any donations at that particular moment, allowing the reader to gracefully plug something else. Some readers would respond to this opening by saying "no donations" anyway. Honestly, just never say "no donations". Even if the runner asks and you don't have any, just ignore that shit and plug something anyway, fuck it, I'm not sure anyone would notice.
you know last year had that flashing box that indicated when donations were actually present to be read? I kinda liked that idea, it had some issues what with hosts having to be super on the ball about turning it off and on and stuff, but I think the concept is worth something.
THAT HOT MARATHON TECH
the awful games block was amazing and the secret tech of bouncing between two setups to seamlessly transition was amazing and I'm shouting this out specifically because it was both so, so fucking good, but an inspired production tech-wise. Good effort. Strut that tech, that's what gives ESA a unique point.
Buttons! I love these. I love smacking that shit to start the timer. It's my favourite thing. I want one for my house.
The lack of a couch for co-commentators was weird and like, immediately threw me, it muddies where people are supposed to sit, means camera framing is always having to be adjusted on a per run basis. People just sort of grabbed chairs and sat wherever seemed right, that can't be good for framing!
Otherwise, while commentating and running, Stream 1 felt like a good environment to be under, it brought out the best in my performances and a few others too. It's about the sort of thing I look for in a marathon, which segways me neatly onto...
Stream 2 And The Unpopular Opinion Hour
yeah I know this is going to be an unpopular opinion, particularly since ESA seems to have really committed to this idea. But I still do not like second stream, like, anything about it really. As a concept it's executed competently, but I think the base level concept is awful and the premium it imposes on the event suuuucks.
So, much of my issue with it stems from the fact that it's shunted off into a secluded room where the audience is like pretty much right behind the runner. This means the audience can interact more directly, for better or worse, yelling into the mic from the back, or just being goofy or whatever. This is part of the appeal of Stream 2 and it's fine if you're in on the joke and catastrophically fucking awful if you're not. Nothing major happened this time, but I still don't see any real improvement over last year in this regard, it can still totally happen. I still don't see any real like, pointers on the general tone of Stream 2 and Stream 2 being like that is the major reason why I continue to just refuse to run on it. Most of the runs I do don't really suit that kind of atmosphere. A friend of mine said it best when he joked out loud during Rabi-Ribi
He was joking, but I actually think this is an exquisite summary of the dynamic of Stream 2. If Stream 2 is just going to be the "meme stream" then that's perfectly fine, but as it stands I don't think it fully commits to this which just mixes the signal about what style should be brought for it. The scheduling doesn't reflect this either, with a mixture of runs of all sorts, perhaps a bit heavier on the longer RPGs than anything else. If Stream 2 exists to be the experimental stream for strange ideas, then I don't get that sense either since Stream 1 was plenty unafraid to get fuckin weird (Geoguessr was weird and also inspired), so it just felt like Stream 2 was "Memes + Stuff That Didn't Make The Stream 1 Grade". I know that's not what it's supposed to be, but that's what it feels like.
It's all ignorable for me since I am allowed to just request to not be on it, but I don't really like the dynamic that imposes on game submissions either, since I do have dumb bullshit runs I would be completely happy to meme it up with on Stream 2, but it just comes across like I'm being fucking picky or like I think some of my runs are "better" than Stream 2 if I specify that only some are to be considered for Stream 2, when in reality it's just the fact that I think they're a poor fit tone-wise. Particularly since there's then a chance that I get scheduled for only Stream 2 if none of my Stream 1 games made the cut, and having ran exclusively on Stream 2 before for a year, I declare it patently not worth the time/cost. If I'm already gonna be there, may as well shitpost, but putting time and effort to attend just to do runs that appear on it doesn't feel like a winning proposition for either of us.
This complicates game submissions immeassurably for me which is why I just opt to ignore it to keep it simple for myself. I don't think this is optimal.
Some really good runs got squared off onto it as well which feels strange, why not just crush the two into one schedule of high quality? Why cut the goose down the middle? Is Stream 2 for That Weird Shit? Or is it more RPG focused? If the former, why so many totally ordinary runs. If the latter, you have basically invented bad RPG Limit Break and if I were an RPG runner I'm not sure I'd feel too great that Stream 2 is the likely home for me.
The viewer split between 1/2 as well is like, 95/5 and that can't feel too great for anyone running on 2 but I don't really understand the incentive for the event to split the viewing audience and donations even in that small way. The event doesn't get donations consistently enough to always have something to read in the first place, splitting it further feels like spreading yourselves even thinner. ESA is already kind of a mid-sized event so splitting seems like an odd call.
The likely counter-argument that I have seen posted already is "stream 1 should promote stream 2 more!"
Why would Stream 1 ever do that? What exactly is the incentive for Stream 1 to plug a different stream for people to turn off the one they're currently watching to go somewhere else? The goal of the stream is to keep people watching that one. And I heard tell of mixed signals from people who were hosting on Stream 1 about whether they should plug Stream 2 or not. The signals are mixed all around on this one and I kind of just think the signals are busted on surface level, you will always hit this paradox. So Stream 2 inherently relegates itself to be marginal unless Stream 1 wants to actively undermine itself to promote it. This dynamic seems less than ideal?
I've also read plenty of complaints from viewers on Something Awful to know this is not exclusively a me thing. To paraphrase their feelings, they kept missing things trying to bounce between the two streams and just found it hard to keep up with the content. I don't think the intended(?) aim of Stream 2 being "something you can swap to, to suit your tastes" is working very well in this light. The viewers aren't navigating it too well, I don't think channel hopping is something Twitch viewers are used to.
One common complaint raised by them as well is the fact that on the website, the Stream 1 and Stream 2 schedules are not side-by-side, but Stream 2 squared alllll the way at the bottom. This made it even harder for them to figure out what the heck was running on the two streams at once, and was by far the most common complaint about Stream 2 I read on there.
I don't get what Stream 2's goal is, here. I get mixed signals on the intended tone or point of it and I've never quite understood what benefit it actually brings to the event in a metrics-y sort of way? Like, surely there's something because y'all are clearly brighter sparks than me when it comes to event management, but it's not obvious to me at all. Having a lot of content to put on YouTube? Because that's like, all I've got. Running an entire second stream as well seems like a whole hell of a lot of effort when from over here it doesn't seem like it's doing a whole lot for the event.
so yeah came out swinging there but that's more or less how Stream 2 scans to me, seems like it just causes weird ripple effects with everything else in the event to an aim that I find unclear and causes even more confusion over the tone of the event. Hey, tone!
This is a more abstract concern but I may as well bring it up anyway. While I think this ESA had a much firmer grasp of its own identity than past events, there are still some confusing elements.
ESA itself seems to want to position itself as something akin to "GDQ except you can say fuck a few times", or something of that nature? If I'm wrong then hey-oh that's the problem right there, but that's the sense I get. One of the issues with this is that attempting to court any position that communicates itself as "less strict than GDQ" will inevitably attract people on the complete opposite end of the spectrum who are total douche canoes. You can see this from a lot of things orbiting ESA, tone of the chat (which veered into pretty shit at times), attendees who's presence I can only describe as having to be endured more than anything (some of these people have even been banned from marathon duties so I can only assume people are aware of how much ass this is but then I still have to put up with some of them??), the whole flag incident and even posts in this very thread with cool insights like "These GDQ rejects think they run they show." revealing that they are less interested in ESA as an event unto itself and more that it's being seen like somewhere to be free from GDQ's ""censorship"". Tonal confusion like this practically invites that kind of person.
I know from experience and discussion that this is not at all what ESA actually wants, but I'm honestly unsure if it's possible to have your cake and eat it too in this regard. I don't see why not, but I'm generally uneasy about the pains that will inevitably be endured in trying to achieve it given how people have vastly different and occasionally stupid ideas about the bounds of acceptability. I have no firm answer, but I get the sort of sinking feeling it's going to inevitably converge on a GDQ-esque set of values anyway if it turns out that you cannot in fact, have it both ways. I find ESA exists in a weird in-between state at the moment where sometimes I just have to fob off some edgelord that the event's confused tone attracts. It's an infrequent occurence, but it's not really the sort of thing I want to deal with on holiday.
Concealed The Conclusion
you know I do this a lot where I write like war and peace and then end by re-assuring that I still enjoyed myself very much and I highly appreciate all of the effort put in by everyone and I wonder if it starts to sound insincere.
But just so I'm very clear, this was the best ESA to date. The best one. Head and shoulders. You all definitely have something to be proud of with that one, every ESA past a certain date has a shown pretty steady improvements which is why I bother laying out every single thought I had here in the first place, I actually think it could be of some value.
One of the questions on the survey was the "Would you recommend this event to others?" "Y/N" and I find this an interesting question because the answer depends on geographic region. If you're in Europe, it's a no brainer, absolutely. But historically I've had a hard time recommending attendance to my American friends. Hard to justify the cost of travel to visit Nowhere, Sweden when you have GDQ in your backyard, innit? This event I feel got a lot closer to me being able to finally sincerely wholeheartedly vouch to those people that they should attend. Closer. Still some ways to go, I think, especially since getting Americans to remember countries besides America exist is already a challenge but this event was an incredibly promising step forward. I have faith ESA can get there in time.
I hope I can continue being optimistic about ESA.
Tezur0, Qlex and 3 others
I'm not in the "muh free speech" camp at all, ESA chat should be moderated to get rid of people who just want to be disruptive, but that doesn't mean you should treat it like Club Penguin where you ban things regardless of context and don't aim for consistency and don't assume good faith. There is a reason why I gave a specific example; I think chat moderators should reevaluate it and try to see it from the perspective of the people following the run.
The flag incident was awful, I agree. ESA is not a venue for advocating for Apartheid or any other hateful policy. But I don't think "Sex Truck" in chat attracts racists. On the contrary, by banning harmless messages you're just giving them ammunition; they can point towards such incidents and say "look, the system is deeply flawed, please listen to our whitewashed fit-for-the-masses alt-light garbage".
|MizterConfuzing likes this.|
I'll try to keep it short since I know you guys are already working on most of the points i wish to make about this event.
1) Better badges. I know you guys had big plans for this event's badges that didn't come through in the end. I hope next year you can at least realise the different badge designs for Attendees, Volunteers, Crew etc.
Besides that, I don't know where to begin to sing the praises for this ESA:
1) Better location, with much easier access to more central airports.
See you guys next event.
|Fatzke likes this.|
This is the first time in four years that I have not attended in person. So instead I stayed home as a viewer and enjoyed the quality runs.
All in all it seemed like a good marathon.
|crazycharlieh likes this.|
• I want the coffee maker to be running 24/7. I know, we got free coffee (and popcorn, and ice cream, and cold fresh water) and complaining about it makes me feel spoiled. But, when the marathon is being ran throughout the night, and people completely ignore a "normal" sleeping schedule, it makes close to no sense to me to only have coffee available during the afternoon. I assume this was due to hotel regulations and/or lack of hotel staff during the night, but some way it should be doable, maybe?🙂 (I do know you could buy coffee downstairs, this is not a big issue for me, just a wish if possible for next year)
+ Amazing event this year. Hotel and location was a huge plus, the entirety of ESA felt so much bigger, better and cleaner without losing the classic, amazing ESA feel. Tabletop room was a great thing to have (although, yes, improve on a mafia room 😉 ), arcades were amazing and stream 1 room really felt like the main attraction (as it should).
- My biggest concern this year was a common theme for ESA in my opinion, namely issues regarding different kinds of information. A lot of information was dealt out and spread through Discord, but some more clarifications could be set in the actual physical world as well. Who do you talk to about common questions, what if something happened, who handles specific tech questions, etc. I was also late to ESA and missed the volunteer meeting (I assume I would have made it if my train arrived on time and not 8 hours after schedule) and I tried to catch up by talking to other donation readers, hosts and tech before my first shift. I spent an hour or so to learn everything and then people agreed that I was fit for fight. Except I wasn't. On my first shift there was a lot of issues based on things I had not been told and the tech people on place didn't know what to do since they didn't operate the donations at all.
I do understand that this is partly (maybe even mainly) my own fault for not researching even better before my first shift, but a lot could be avoided if I, or the tech guys, knew who immediately could help me out, either before or while the issues proceeded, to avoid me being unable to do my job for the first 30 minutes of my shift. Again, I am taking responsibility for my own lack of knowledge, but mistakes and problems do occur. And when they do, they should be dealt with asap..
There were also other informative issues, but those have already been spoken of while still at ESA.
In general though, great event, 9.8/10 would go again! ESA just continues to improve! Can't wait for next year, with or without free coffee!
Good points :
Points that can be improved (nitpicking) :
- The rooms were used well with one intriguing adventure that I had : The tournament room. For Puyo Puyo Tetris and another tournament I couldn't find people who had their GDoc time slot alotted. I had to walk around until I would find some of the concerned people in Stream 1 room.
- I was a little surprised that Ristar was in, I don't think that I had a notification aside from discord and I was not checking discord that often so I heard it from someone else first. If a bonus game gets in the schedule I think it is best to send an email to the runner 🙂
- I think the interviews were lacking a bit, and could have added a lot to the intermission hosting shifts. Could there be a form for the runner to fill indicating whether or not they would like to be interviewed, and anwsering a bunch of questions beforehand? This would ensure that the interviewers and the interviewed would have some anectodes to share and talk a little bit.
- I liked a lot that the streams were referencing each other in a bottom bar, but I don't think that was the most understandable thing for newcomers (especially when stream 2 was down, but still referenced in stream 1 as playing "Pringles"). I'm nitpicking here, but could it be that the feed of stream 2 can appear on stream 1 sometimes?
- Last and not very important, but the first donation incentives on stream 2 were a little too high for me
All in all : An amazing event. Going back to France hurt. Thanks to everybody who made this possible. See you next time!
|Fatzke likes this.|
Don't have much to add except that this was the single best event I have EVER been to. Everything was perfect. The only comment was that the hotel rooms' AC weren't working. But everything else was perfect! Free ice creaaaaaaaaaam
Also, I paid for a hoodie but I got there late and supply had ran out. Staff said they were happy to give a refund but I haven't had one yet, so I just wanted to post here while I remembered as a friendly reminder. 🙂 Thank you guys, you've outdone yourself!
|Fatzke likes this.|