Rather than start a new thread, this is probably the most appropriate place to sound off on my (and I guess in part "our") experience at FITES 250 2013.
Personally, I thought it was a pretty good time and very well organized by the FITES guys themselves. A lot of my issues stem from a severe lack of planning and coordination on our end. I wasn't involved in a lot of the planning and design leading up to the LAN. I think we put far too much time effort into the Field Day maps. That time and effort should have been spent doing a better job planning the 6's and Highlander tournaments, which were the cornerstone of our presence at the LAN.
We dropped the ball big time on the introductory meeting - I have NO IDEA what happened there. As far as I knew that's when we were all getting together to go over everything with all the players, but it ended up just being 6v6 stuff? We'll do better at that next time.
I think it's important that we make the distinction between whether or not we're there to play or we're there to work. I tried to do both the first night and very quickly found myself overwhelmed and disenfranchised. I think that adversely affected my enthusiasm for the remainder of the event. We, as an organization (eXtv), need to make the determination of where we're focusing our efforts well ahead of time in the future. It seemed like a lot of the decision making was happening on the fly, and I think that seriously diminished our ability to properly plan for and work around problems that cropped up.
In regards to the Field Day events, I think next time we need to have those as an on-going event over the course of both days. It seems like a lot of players didn't get an opportunity to try the maps and I believe we ended up dropping at least 3 events that I was looking forward to seeing played. An idea I had was to have a dedicated station for playing these maps near where we're casting so that we can make it more of a fun event and an experience, rather than just an afterthought. Now that the bugs are somewhat worked out of the maps, we can work on improving the rough edges and making it more accessible to non-TF2 players next time around.
As far as streaming and casting goes, I think once we got the internet issues sorted things went pretty smoothly. We did something like 15-20 hours of casting to our channel (twitch.tv/extvesports) over the course of the 3 days and for most of it we were averaging 80-120 concurrent viewers. Granted, that's actually really low for our casts, but considering it was a 3 days event and we had that many watching the whole time, I'm ok with it. We ran into some serious issues with the lighting (next time we need to have a dedicated casting position with better lighting so the webcam can pick us up - once we moved up front it was much better - something to think about and talk about if we do come to the next 250). We also need to think about bringing dedicated video hardware to produce a higher-quality cast. One of the things that really upset me was that our main guy, eXtine, brought a pink netbook to an event he was intending on streaming and casting. So basically that meant one of the other guys we had was going to lose their PC all the time. Again, this is on us not making to more clear of what our actual role was at the event. I thought I was coming to play and cast a little, but I ended up actually playing maybe 2 hours during the entire thing. I'm ok with that, it's 100% on us, but next time we need to make sure we have the correct hardware in place.
I probably have more, but I think I'll close with just some nuggets and tidbits...
- next time we'd like to have a few more people with us, and we might try and get a dedicated PC for streaming.
- didn't get a chance to try the food but it smelled pretty good
- I got yelled at for drinking the water in the other room, maybe next time clearly state whether that's fair game or not? I was staying at the hotel so as far as I'm concerned it was fair game.
- hide the swtiches next time... I'm not sure how much of those internet issues were actually issues and players doing some rogue IT support
- we need to do a better job of communicating our needs, intentions and schedule with the admins. seemed like we were stepping on each other's toes all weekend
- trivia was fun, maybe do some more of that?
- the trophies were awesome, but the TSA totally broke mine on the flight home... nothing a little hot glue can't fix, though
- Andrew (sorry, can't remember his game name) did an amazing job coordinating everything and MC'ing the event. He made it possible for us to get a decent stream during a vast majority of the 6v6 stuff and we're totally in his debt.
- this won't be popular, but I think you guys need more plugs and time for the sponsors. I heard FrozenQ probably 5 times during the whole thing? if we do the Field Day stuff next year we'd love to play it on a case designed by FrozenQ and prominently displayed for all the contestants to admire as they play and watch
- we need to do a better job hyping our presence and the cast itself. everything we did felt piecemealed together at the last minute (because it was). we were scrambling to get streams running and the quality reflected our lack of preparation. that said, eFFl nor myself expected to be doing any streaming or casting from our machines, aside from actually streaming us playing games... but that's on us and we'll do better next time.
- the service in their lounge was kind of disappointing, but that's not on you guys - food was ok. that chili was definitely not legendary and I'd like to see this "award" that it supposedly won.
- holy crap was it hot back by us. we were in the last row and it had to be 80-85 degrees back there. I'm not sure there's anything you guys can do, just due to the sheer amount of machines and the enclosed space, but a couple fans circulating air might help in the future.
- grab bags were cool, but I felt like there was a severe lack of product information. again, this won't be a popular opinion, but the sponsors need to be more present and visible. the guy from CPU magazine just looked sad and bored. why do i want to engage with a dude who looks like he doesn't want to talk to anyone? I know it's a pain in the ass to get sponsors for gaming right now (coming from an organization that has sponsored teams to LAN's and rained $15k to get 2 teams to Europe) you've got to give these guys a return on their investment. granted, the failures I saw were firmly on the shoulders of the reps the company sent, but if we're going to broadcast the next LAN and target 500-1000 concurrent viewers the whole time, these companies might want to take notice and maybe send somebody who is awake and engaging. it'd also be nice if they gave us Crap to give out on the stream. that helps get viewers and promote your product.
Alright well that's about it for now, might post more later as we decompress and debrief ourselves on the event as an organization.
Thanks again for an awesome weekend - hopefully we can better portray the LAN next time around.