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LawsonThompson

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Reply with quote  #1 
This was my first-ever "general public" event hosting Artemis. I took my "LTE Bridge" (Lawson Thompson Experience) to the Southern-Fried Gameroom Expo in Atlanta on June 10 thru 12.

Schedule:
  • Friday: 4PM to midnight
  • Saturday: 10AM to midnight
  • Sunday: 10AM to 2PM.
Scheme: 30 minutes per mission, set to Siege mode with "Few/Some" of just about everything, with slight tweaks depending on the crew experience. Difficulty got up to 5 or so.

Google Photos album: https://goo.gl/photos/2JbnfaCcUtELqEmz7

Quick take: Artemis was very well-received! 30 minutes was just enough time to get a taste, and there were many “repeat customers” who played multiple missions. The room was perfectly sized, though the location may have reduced the “walk-in/impulse” traffic because it was not near the main game floor or arcade room. We had all ages play, 8 years on up. Definitely would do again! Need more staff to help out spread across the day, and for loadout.

CkoFb_-UkAAcloV.jpg       
The Bridge: it's my "Artemis LTE Bridge" (Lawson Thompson Experience!) which includes 8 touchscreens. This is essentially the same bridge setup as we did at our daughter's birthday party.

What Worked

  • Bridge layout (Helm + Weaps, Science+Comms+Engineer+Observer): The bridge layout worked well, and ensured the pedestrian traffic avoided treading on any power or network cables.

  • Observer view: positioned in the back of the room and visible from the hall, drew in a few passers-by.

  • Projector: worked perfectly, good stable and bright picture.

  • Room temp stayed comfortable; it appears to have had its own thermostat.

  • Mission settings of “Siege, 20+ minutes, level 2+” with Light Cruiser was challenging enough to newbie crews to allow them to make some mistakes and not die instantly. (Except for mine fields with shields down… heh!)

  • 30 minute time limit is just enough time: first 10 minutes with assistance from volunteers as training guide, then step back and just advise if something confusing happens mid-game.

  • Bridge gear: relatively stable: the only software crashes were self-inflicted due to forgetting about a bug in one of the original product installers, and removing a USB keyboard/mouse wireless dongle mid-game.

  • Touchscreens: definitely a draw, even if they aren’t necessarily well-behaved.

  • Audience: having seating for an audience was very good; we had audience for nearly all missions, and a few missions with 8+ in the audience, not including staff.

  • Room privacy: some of the crews became very vocal, in a good way! Having a separate room ensured the party didn’t disrupt anything else going on.

  • “Ardent” missions: The Ardent campaign missions were solvable in just barely enough time for experienced crews.

  • Helm joystick: added on Saturday, and was preferred by about 75% of helmsmen.

  • Positive Feedback: some very pleasant surprises during the expo.

    • Met a few attendees who came primarily to play Artemis.

    • Husband + wife on crew, with wife playing helm for the first time, turning around wide-eyed after the mission and calling out with an incredulous smile, “That was #&(%ing AWESOME!”

    • Kids playing, then later bringing their entire family to play.

    • At least two families played together in multiple missions.

    • Pretty neat audience responses, including shouts and applause during particularly good battles, and groans of despair when the crew was in dire condition.

    • Several attendees asked technical questions about the software and bridge setup.

 

What Needs Work

  • Audio: possible a game bug, the music was way too loud and needs adjustment at the start of each mission.

  • Signage/Advertising: Needs some way to indicate that spectators are welcome! Once invited in, most passers-by would stop and watch a while, and half of those who watched would later come join a crew. Having a video screen outside the room may be the way to “nudge” folks to watch.

  • DMX lights:  Only had one small pinspot “splashing” some color on the ceiling. More lighting would make a dramatic stage-dressing effect.

  • Setup/Teardown staffing: Need more help than expected during setup and teardown. Teardown had zero help, except for one avid fan who stayed behind to disconnect cables and such, and loadout was lacking too.

  • Signup: could have used some better design work on the signup sheets to reduce confusion and encourage ad-hoc signups. Lacked staffing to have someone at the table full-time.

  • Dealing with “overbearing” players: Had a few players who could have affected the mood of the crew in a negative way. For example, one experienced player was “captaining” from his position at Science, talking over the designated Captain. It’s all part of the social aspect of Artemis, but staff may not feel comfortable telling someone to “pipe down and let the Captain be captain!” Maybe it’s better left alone?

  • Adult beverage control: ensure that late-night crowds keep their tipsy beverages away from gear. No disasters, but only barely so. No drinks on the table, please! Place on the floor, or in the back of the room.

  • Touchscreen calibration: Discovered that hotel pens with tips retracted make excellent styli. Should recalibrate the screens for this and provide styli?

  • Planar POS touchscreens in general: They are a great draw, but they’re not iPads, requiring more force than some players were able to comfortably induce. The 32” ELO for Science was a mixed blessing. It looked amazing, but the multi-point touch feature caused phantom taps and had to be disabled.

 

What Didn’t Work

  • Consistent availability of staff: Needed to have 3 people on hand at all times, so one can take a break/food/bathroom/nap. Troy had no time to see the rest of the expo (still enjoyed the Artemis though!)

  • Scripted Mission “Havok in the Hamak Sector”: First attempt crashed due to well-known bug. Another attempt worked, but the game master launched the crew with a light cruiser instead of a dreadnought class ship.
    Lesson learned: Never test on someone else’s bridge time! Plan in advance if you’re going to permit a “bonus” like a scripted mission.

  • Training Video: Troy never finished his Artemis training video; having a video running for the audience in the back of the room may be useful.

 

What To Try Next Time

  • Hosted training video: Put the training video on YouTube and provide a QR code scan to direct people to it. They can watch on their mobile devices in advance.

  • Monitor in hallway: somehow arrange to have a screen in the hallway. Short-range wireless HDMI might be preferred to WiFi, if Ethernet taped to the floor isn’t practical.

  • Multiple Bridges, or “Pro Hours”: some crews wanted a greater challenge after their first run. Provide a second bridge for expert players with scripted challenge missions, or allocate a block of time for skilled crews to take over the bridge at higher difficulty.

  • Bridge vs. Bridge: if multiple bridges are possible, let two pro crews battle it out against each other, perhaps in a scripted or GM’d event.

  • Keep score: find out how to determine which crew was the “best”, encourage some friendly competition.

  • Cleaner layout with ceiling-mount or short-throw projector: If the projector didn’t “split the room”, it would be possible to put a table front and center with Helm and Weapons at one table, with a widescreen Data screen (Tactical) between them.

  • Boost difficulty, Dreadnaught with 2 fighters: Requires a bit better hardware than was used, but extra fighters to jump into the game would have been interesting. We tried it, and it was definitely plausible; just too slow on the laptop we used.



If you've read this far, thanks! You get a spoiler!

On Friday night, one audience member quipped, "Hey, I bet this would be great at Dragon Con!"

I replied to her somewhat off-handedly, "I tried to volunteer there a few years ago, but it seemed so overwhelming! It was difficult to figure out who I was supposed to talk to."

"You need to talk to him," she replied, pointing to... Kevin Stallard, track director for video gaming at Dragon Con, who played the next mission on the bridge!

Kevin and I talked shop a bit; he made a phone call right after the mission ended then said, "I'll be in touch."

And he did. 

Next stop: DRAGON CON 2016!


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MarkBell

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Reply with quote  #2 
Congrats on the event!

And double woot on Dragon Con!!!

The lessons learned is maybe some of the most important parts of these reports - thanks for a thorough list. Sounds like it went well overall. In addition to DMX lighting, do you think additional set dressing would have been a draw? Or just more to load out and break down?

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parpar88

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Reply with quote  #3 
Congrats on your success! I heard Dragoncon is a great con, if its the one I know that is in Atlanta, Ga.
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Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #4 
That's wonderful news, Lawson!

I'm sorry Hamak bugged on you. As much as I love that mission it's never been a great one for conventions because of the audio component. To fully enjoy the mission, the whole crew needs to be able to hear the audio communications.

I'm working on another mission for WorldCon, which is just before Dragon Con. I hope it will be released by then.

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William

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Reply with quote  #5 
Fantastic feedback on Southern fried game room. Now Dragon Con is extremely large occupying multiple buildings on multiple floors so any information on how to locate the Artemis rooms would be appreciated.

If bridge crews decided to go they offer a parade that would be a good way to promote Artemis by wearing your Artemis Uniforms. Of Course the red shirts will be represented, running around trying not to die. Large groups of storm troopers all saying keep moving keep moving.. It seems to be an excellent 24 hour experience. 
LawsonThompson

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkBell
Congrats on the event! And double woot on Dragon Con!!! The lessons learned is maybe some of the most important parts of these reports - thanks for a thorough list. Sounds like it went well overall. In addition to DMX lighting, do you think additional set dressing would have been a draw? Or just more to load out and break down?


This particular room had dimmable lights, and I'd turn them down to about 20%, barely enough to read printed material during the mission. The room was primarily lit by the game screens and DMX lighting. Basically anything that wasn't emitting its own light faded into the background; so set pieces for decoration only become less necessary.

This helped hide the fact you're still in a hotel conference room, and drew attention to all the screens. Placing the two largest 32" screens in the back of the room (Science and Observer) helped draw in passers-by: HOWEVER, one unexpected side effect of dimming the room lighting is that those same passers-by thought when the lights were down they shouldn't interrupt by walking in!

During missions I would stand in one of the two doorways, and if I saw someone looking curious, I'd step into the room and motion them over, saying, "We have audience seating in the back if you'd like to sit for a while!" 

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