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WNY's largest LAN Party Returns July 12 - 13 - 14


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Our thoughts for MLP'018 Winter

January 22, 2018

Firstly i want to say thank you to everyone that attended our event, and another thank you to the 50+ people that took the time to fill out our post-event survey. This is going to be a long post so I hope you stick with it.

New Things

This last event was probably the toughest on us internally, we had a lot of new things going on and for the most part, we are very pleased with results. Here are some of the new things that we did this time:

  1. New internal server clustering - This includes things like the mlp.lan site, the DJ, annoucemeents system, Discord bot. At our last event we had some serious problems with just overusage and not having enough horsepower to make sure things ran smoothly. We had next to no issues with the music DJ hiccuping (although there were other issues we'll get to). But for the most part, things ran smoothly and work as expected. As always we have some bugs to fix and things to improve on and we'll get to that.
  2. New layout - This is always a challenge. It's one thing to put whip up something in Photoshop, it's another to envision it properly to make sure we have enough seating, space, power, and network access to ensure that everyone has a good experience. This resulted in us laying an entirely new backbone for our network. Re-labeling all the main network lines, crimping and testing all the new cables. We probably spent 100+ man hours on cabling alone. But it once it was up, it worked well, even if it chewed a ton of our setup time
  3. New internal communication - For the most part, every staff had a radio all weekend and this helped a ton, along with critical staff re-seating and where we positioned ourselves worked real well.
  4. Helpdesk improvements - Not entirely new, but after our first helpdesk run we improved a lot of things and I think this is the area where we made the most improvements that you'd get to see, and it reflected in our post event survey.

Worth Mentioning

Just in case you were wondering, there are some things we'd just like to say regarding our events and expectations. 

  1. This event is not, and never intended to be, a serious competitive environment. Our main objective is to have a great social event that brings gamers from all over to have a fun, relaxing weekend with some fun, healthy competition. We've made our decision for that to be our primary focus, and to NOT focus on serious competitive gaming. Competition is great, but in our experience when you label LANs and tournaments with big prizes or cash tournaments, we don't like the environment it brings. Don't expect us to pivot and invite hardcore competition, it's just not the direction we want to go right now
  2. Our internet is definitely unique and we try to make the most of it. At present, we have access to two separate internet connections. The first is a 100mbps connection where all the steam/origin/blizzard/uplay/etc downloads go thru and get cached. If you are downloading a game that's where you are getting it from. This is also why some people are downloading at 25MB/s and some 100KB/sec. The second connection is a 300mbps connection that we use for everything else: actual game traffic (which does get priority in our QoS), internet browsing, wifi/mobile stuff, netflix/youtube, twitch, etc. Most people seemed please with this. There are improvements to be made but this gives us a solid experience. 
  3. We're all volunteers. All of us do this because we love it, and want to put on a great event. We don't benefit from this monetarily in any way. Even the Jerseys you saw us wearing this event was purchased out of our own pocket. 

Survey Feedback

This is probably why you're reading, so thank you for sticking around this long. 

What went well:

  • We stayed on schedule for the most part aside from some longer than expected tournaments and the delay to CS:GO (more on that later)
  • Nearly everyone said they had a great time and look forward to this event every time
  • People loved the atmosphere and general vibe all weekend
  • Chair rentals were a huge hit and we're looking into ways to make that more viable for people
  • People loved the board game room (and we are looking at ways to really expand that)
  • Overall, we got a lot of positive comments on the tournaments
  • Guild signups went over well and we'll continue to look for ways to make managing your groups easy.

What didn't go so well

  • Music - We'll start here, as it was probably the most mentioned thing. A few people decided to take the music hostage playing the same stuff over and over again. We're going to be implementing a moderation queue as well as banning tracks and people who abuse the system. The point of the DJ is to have stuff you want to listen to as everyone's tastes are different. Since we didn't have this, we shut it off and just put up a playlist. Due to the rewrite of the core software we weren't able to implent this but trust me, it's coming
  • Trophies - Ok so this might deserve its own post but for now this the situation. We didn't get trophies. Could we have communicated that better? Absolutely. It wasn't until after the event that I found out the reason as to why: the LANFest sponsor providing trophies decided to stop. That's really it, just one day decided they weren't going to ship them and not tell anyone. We're unsure at this point what we're going to do moving forward but we will do our best to ensure that each person gets the trophy they deserve.
  • CS:GO - We had some issues with the servers. The setup the person always uses decided to stop working for more than 1 server. He struggled with it on his own for over an hour before other staff got involved. We then built 2 more servers and got them running as soon as possible which took another hour or so, but we got it. In the future we plan on having more people involved with tournaments and servers so that this isn't a problem. We did test this, but this problem didn't really manifest until we had them all running with everyone trying to connect, something that isn't exactly possible all the time. But we'll try to do better to make sure this is in better shape moving forward
  • Our router "died" - At some point over the weekend we noticed our router couldn't keep up with the traffic demand. It was a router we've used in previous years, and it's a full fledged computer that has always served as our router (not some off the shelf netgear POS) with an operating system that was designed to function solely for that purpose. So we built a new one with better hardware, reconfigured it, swapped it, and everything improved after that. Contrary to what one person said in our survey, we were not relying on "some random attendee" to fix our router for us. Nope, sorry that wasn't the case. Even if that were the case, it'd be welcome. 
  • Food - Some people had issues with concessions. Your comments (good and bad) will be forwarded to the concession staff at the fairgrounds. 

Moving forward

Again the feedback is invaluable, as it helps us focus for the next event. Our biggest focus for us this time around will be a stronger emphasis on tournaments and servers. People want more games, better servers, less downtime, and we totally get that so we're on it. Also, one way or another we'll do our best to get PUBG at the next event. 

Thank you everyone!

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