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e4mafia

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Reply with quote  #1 
I ran my second quasi - public event ever this past week. Mostly for the purpose of figuring out what my setup times would be, and figuring some logistics of how to lay out the environment, and validate that I truly have everything that I need. Turns out I need a few additional long network cables. That in mind, anyone have any thoughts on bringing my own wifi to someplace public. Maybe set things to a lesser used channel? Or to 5ghz? I think those both may be a problem with the older machines I'm using. too bad the FCC would hunt me down if I were to hack my wifi's to use another frequency. It would solve all wifi communication issues, I think, as there's be no collision whatsoever. Well a boy can dream right?

I think my biggest limitation right now is the main screen. My projector isn't short throw, and to keep the front stations close enough to set up in a relatively small-ish area, I need to put it to the side. Fortunately the keystoning on it is actually pretty good, but it would be nice to put it in front of everything, along with the network switch and lighting controller. 

I also learned a few things about the frame I made for the lights and other things:  
[QUYODqq]    
1 - Everything looks better when its dark in the room
2 - The control receivers are too big. They were my first design using Eagle and I should have made them longer and thinner. These are too fat and stick out like a sore thumb.
3 - A screen backing would look better than a beige wall.
4 - better hiding of wiring would be nice.
5 - need a Better way of securing the horizontal pieces. I have an idea on that already to use a wider bit of PVC to insert these into and then secure them with a shear pin.
6 - Fun fact about DMX tools. Now that all stations put out DMX if the tool is installed on them, you shouldn't try to standardize the config on all your stations so you can swap for a server quickly when you're using ArtNet. Because then ALL of them send frames to the controller. Stomping all over each other, and effectively resetting the state every time they send an update. this does not look good. Everything running, then abruptly tuning off every 4 seconds or so. 
7 - a saggy table makes things look weird.


8 - I need more extension cords and power strips.
9 - most people seem to be shy about Captaining.
10 - the importance of comms seems a little hard to get people to realize the power of directing traffic.
11 - a mission without friendly ships makes comms particularly boring.

12 - I need a cleaner way of laying out the laptops. the monitor stands over the laptops seems like a great idea, but I'm not sure how practical its going to be. Defnitely a space saver, but I'm thinking of centralizing the laptops on each table into a single stack. And using wireless Keyboard / Mouse. Its a lot of batteries, but less cords.  Anybody wanna buy some keyboards and mice?  To offset my acquisition of the wireless? It will become a different issue when I finish building the custom control panels, based on AoR's tech. v0.1 will be ugly as all getup, probably labeled with Sharpie 😉 Gonna do weapons first because I think it will be the coolest/simplest ratio. I think people will dig the "Master Arm" switch I'm planning to work in.  


13 - The quick reference sheets were a HUGE help, and the players loved them. A couple need to be updated for 2.7. Also, below gives an idea of the environment I ran this in. The owner of this FLGS is a very good friend of mine, and was happy to let me run my experiments there. The captain in this picture is one of the employees - him taking the reins definitely pulled in other people to play, which was great. Didn't hurt that he was a pretty damned good captain either.
[Aa7aU2p]
14 - Graphical signage will probably be a big help at the con.

Some short video of play. You'll see the Artnet problem in action. Hated that I couldn't figure it out live. But the ship MUST sail regardless!
https://photos.app.goo.gl/TzbJbg4rqyvAFcmf6

LT - you seem to be the most experienced "Convention Guy" on the boards here. What lessons have you learned along your travels in Artemis con-land?


NoseyNick

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I get "access denied" on both your images   :-(

> 8 - I need more extension cords and power strips.

Always.

> 9 - most people seem to be shy about Captaining.

Absolutely! DON'T ask for volunteers - pick someone. Sometimes it will be obvious who to pick - they came DRESSED as Han Solo or whatever. Other times you'll deliberately pick the 8-year-old who looks like they need a confidence boost. If you can't go with your gut, doesn't matter, draw straws or pick someone at random. Give them a fancy chair (doesn't have to be an actual movie prop, just a slightly better office chair than the rest of the crew), ideally put it on a bit of a raised platform (as long as there's no safety concerns with it rolling off). Add a tiny touch of ceremony around it "captain, the bridge is yours!" and their confidence spikes just long enough to get into the swing of it. Have one of the organisers as their "number one", but don't "teach" them "you should do XYZ now", instead "seek advice" from them in directed ways like "Captain, would you like use to scan the enemy ships? [...yes!...] Science, you heard your orders!" or "Captain, would you rather we do X, Y, or Z?" or worst-case, if they're not getting the point, "Captain, may I be so bold as to suggest your weapons officer should be opening fire at this point?". Most will get into the swing of it, they'll all have their different styles, but that makes it more fun for the organisers - "Oh I see, you're one of THOSE captains are you?"  [smile]

> 10 - the importance of comms seems a little hard to get people to realize the power of directing traffic.

"Could we get any help from those friendly ships, Captain? Perhaps your Comms officer could be of assistance here?"

> 14 - Graphical signage will probably be a big help at the con.

Signage definitely helps people find you. Most Cons are also delighted to make frequent announcements, especially if you can hand them a short script to read out - "Have you ever dreamed of serving on the bridge of a carrier-class starship? Perhaps you've seen your heroes seeking out new life and new civilizations, and longed to join them on their missions? The TSN Excalibur is recruiting! No previous skills required, on-the-job training will be provided. Mankind is under attack. Your planet needs YOU! You could be Earth's last, best hope against the incoming Kralien invasion! Enlist at room 14b, shuttle craft depart every 30 minutes" but if you suddenly have TOO MANY people arrive, it's good to have an overflow / observation area with "data" and "observer" screens where they can "get into" the game, maybe get a bit of a chat / introductory spiel from one of the other volunteers whilst signing up for the next mission or the one after.
Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #3 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by e4mafia

1 - Everything looks better when its dark in the room


This is true of DMX lights and a projector screen. If you have white walls the DMX lights can do a lot but for some reason most bridges end up surrounded by dark walls.

It's a lot easier to travel with a projector than a large screen television, but the television looks better in a bright room. A television also photographs a LOT better, especially if you are using a video camera.

Quote:
Originally Posted by e4mafia
4 - better hiding of wiring would be nice.


That's always a challenge. Use cable channels and consider taping wires to the underside of tables.

Quote:
Originally Posted by e4mafia
9 - most people seem to be shy about Captaining.


That's true, and I hesitate to push a reluctant player into captaining. A bad captain can mean none of the players has fun, especially fighter pilots.

Quote:
Originally Posted by e4mafia
10 - the importance of comms seems a little hard to get people to realize the power of directing traffic.


This is another role that becomes a LOT more fun with a captain who knows what they're doing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by e4mafia
11 - a mission without friendly ships makes comms particularly boring.


Friendly ships are imperative. Also, BioMechs are confusing to Comms, a fact that I hope will be fixed next year in Artemis 3.0.


Quote:
Originally Posted by e4mafia
14 - Graphical signage will probably be a big help at the con.


I repeat over and over a stark lesson we learned at Cleveland Concoction: Your bridge is much more appealing if you have female staff members to welcome people into the room. It can be very off-putting to women when two men are standing outside a dark room saying: "You should come in here and play with us!"

It was actually Katie, the Director of Artemis Aramdas III and IV, who noticed this. At Cleveland Concoction 2016 I was one of two men trying to get people to come to our Artemis bridge but all the players were got were male and the bridge was undermanned or idle most of the time. Then at Cleveland Concoction 2017 Katie and another woman stood at the doorway inviting people to play. This created a space much more welcoming to women. That year half the players were female, the bridge was busy all the time, and everyone had more fun.


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e4mafia

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Reply with quote  #4 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NoseyNick
I get "access denied" on both your images   :-(
Will try to fix in a minute


> 8 - I need more extension cords and power strips.

Always.

> 9 - most people seem to be shy about Captaining.
Quote:
Originally Posted by NoseyNick

Absolutely! DON'T ask for volunteers - pick someone. Sometimes it will be obvious...

Really good advice, thank you. My bigger problem at this outing was the small number of people interested. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoseyNick
"Could we get any help from those friendly ships, Captain? Perhaps your Comms officer could be of assistance here?"

Another great tip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoseyNick
but if you suddenly have TOO MANY people arrive, it's good to have an overflow / observation area with "data" and "observer" screens where they can "get into" the game, maybe get a bit of a chat / introductory spiel from one of the other volunteers whilst signing up for the next mission or the one after.


Seems solid, thanks again. One of the things I'll need to work out for the Con in February is how to make use of walk-ons. As of now, the organizers are only doing pre-ticketing. Which if people are unfamiliar, won't lead to many sign ups, but the hoopla of signage, lights, etc will probably spur some interest, and if people don't have a way to sign up, then they won't be able to play. And I won't get the money for the ticketing. And of course I don't want to give free rides as thats not fair to those who played. Something to work out with the organizers. Would be nice if they let me take cash or Square on the spot or something. Too bad they don't have generic tickets like some other Cons. Plenty of time to figure out the details though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike
This is true of DMX lights and a projector screen. If you have white walls the DMX lights can do a lot but for some reason most bridges end up surrounded by dark walls.


I actually have some black curtaining and some lightweight photo-studio type framing to hang them from. Just happened to forget them for this one. At the Con in Feb. I'll be getting my own entire small room, so I can fully control the lighting in there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike
I repeat over and over a stark lesson we learned at Cleveland Concoction: Your bridge is much more appealing if you have female staff members to welcome people into the room. It can be very off-putting to women when two men are standing outside a dark room saying: "You should come in here and play with us!"


I definitely grok this one, and its one of the reasons my daughter will be my primary assistance for the con. She loves the game, and has a decent amount of confidence for a 14yo. And certainly not shy the way my 16yo is. She'll be a great asset I think, as she could easily step in to XO or captain a ship if needed. 

I think it would probably be beneficial to me and a simpler thing to work out a flat rate from the con, and just make everything walk on, as needed. Maybe people could buy an "Artemis add on" to their badge which makes sure the can gets some money for it, and people don't need advance sign ups. Maybe provide a way to buy that add on at the con, and could simplify everything for everyone I think. Perhaps change the con 75% or something like that of what I would roughly expect in individual ticket sales for a well attended con. Convincing them of the value of that for them is the trick there I guess. Maybe after seeing this con's results (hopefully they will be good) it will motivate them to better support it next year?

p.s. I think I fixed the photos.
ogremasch

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Reply with quote  #5 
I updated the cheat sheets and they were effective for my recent con experience.

One thing I would recommend is a list of your engineering presets. People will help you by changing the presets sometimes but they are pretty easy to set back if you have a list to go by. Plus new engineers find the list to be helpful.

I performed the role of XO or first officer often when a captain took their first go at it. Sometimes people asked for help other times they accepted the advice when offered, it's important to find balance though and not take over command. Just offer suggestions regarding possibilities and tactics rather than contradicting their commands.

See post from Mar 28th for separate files.

https://artemis.forumchitchat.com/post/revised-cheat-sheets-v-2-7-1-keybinds-hot-keys-10092590?highlight=cheat+sheets&pid=1308159422

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e4mafia

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Engineering presets are a great idea, with a short cheat sheet - spelling out the situations they are for. Thanks for that!

Angel of Rust

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Thanks for sharing!

Also on the subject of engineering presets, since you are planning to use a hardware-based controller scheme, you can hard-code the presets into the microcontrollers so that they are the same every time they are plugged in. That would make setup a lot faster and eliminate the guesswork for rookie engineers.

Something that I have been kicking around for the future is to do another training video. People seemed to really like the one I did for Armada III. It just needs to be a bit shorter. The cheat sheets are a great idea.
e4mafia

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Angel of Rust


Also on the subject of engineering presets, since you are planning to use a hardware-based controller scheme, you can hard-code the presets into the microcontrollers so that they are the same every time they are plugged in.


Thats an example of where my brain went when I first started thinking about doing controls. That ability to store info on the control board independent of what input / output is coming from the game. 

A couple of ideas I could implement (I think I've mentioned it elsewhere) 
  • "reset procedures" for the stations, which would need to be executed to return them to operation if they've been destroyed and then repaired. Give them a little something to add to the excitement. Could very easily be turned on or off by a special sequence of button presses. 
  • Self destruct protocols - engineering and captain each have a key to enable self destruct. Inserting both, turning the keys and then maybe some action on the controls would initiate the sequence.
Question - the teensy in the board can take in mouse input right?
Angel of Rust

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by e4mafia


Question - the teensy in the board can take in mouse input right?


As far as I know, the Teensy controllers are not really setup to take mouse input. They are, however, very good at providing mouse input to a connected PC. I used analog thumbsticks on my Block II controllers to control the mouse on screen. The Teensy-LC controller would "read" (measure the voltage on each axis) the position of the thumbstick and convert that into mouse pointer commands over the USB connection. My Block III controllers used a resistive touchscreen to control the mouse pointer in exactly the same way. If you're looking for a low-level solution, a pair of trackball encoders could be read by a Teensy to control the mouse. I don't know how optical mouse controllers work, so I wouldn't know how to implement that. If you want a mouse, my advice would be to connect it directly to the PC. With USB mice, there's not a limit on how many you can connect. It only becomes an issue if they try to control the pointer at the same time.

e4mafia

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Reply with quote  #10 
Should have been more clear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Angel of Rust

 If you're looking for a low-level solution, a pair of trackball encoders could be read by a Teensy to control the mouse.


A trackball is definitely one of the potential solutions I'm looking to do. When I said mouse , I guess I was telegraphing my age because a laser mouse never even occurred to me, and I was just thinking overly simple PS2 communications. 

When you said "resistive touchscreen" did you mean like this?
https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/newhaven-display-intl/TS-TFT3.5Z/TS-TFT3.5Z-ND/2626417?&gclid=CjwKCAjw8-LnBRAyEiwA6eUMGuPwUlItNbDjknIY6Qt3Kr9_Hx48NwH8xw9s0Rbx7PhUiCjtzaXJnRoCmGcQAvD_BwE
Using something like that would definitely be more simple to physically build into the panel than a trackball I think. And if this works then I don't need to worry about finding a used laptop touchpad somewhere.
shaunmlowry

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Quote:
Originally Posted by e4mafia
[...] anyone have any thoughts on bringing my own wifi to someplace public. Maybe set things to a lesser used channel? Or to 5ghz? I think those both may be a problem with the older machines I'm using. too bad the FCC would hunt me down if I were to hack my wifi's to use another frequency. It would solve all wifi communication issues, I think, as there's be no collision whatsoever. Well a boy can dream right?

I gave up on using WiFi in public spaces, there's just too much interference which ends up with frustrating lag and dropped connections.  Going fully wired makes setting up a bit more work but pays off with everything being rock solid for days on end.
Quote:
Originally Posted by e4mafia

I think my biggest limitation right now is the main screen. My projector isn't short throw, and to keep the front stations close enough to set up in a relatively small-ish area, I need to put it to the side.

I'd agree with Mike Substelny that a TV works way better in bright rooms and bright rooms work better for photos and videos. You can get a 1080p 55" TV pretty cheap these days and I find it's more than enough.  Whilst it takes up a bit more room in transit, you don't have to think about where to put your projector & screen on site and/or worry about it getting knocked over if it's near or in the play area.  Having said that, having a 100+" mainscreen from a projector is a great option for a darker room where you can control traffic around the projector and for that I'd recommend a decent projector screen.  Again it adds to what you need to carry around with you but the additional brightness you get with one over projecting on a wall gives you more options.
Quote:
Originally Posted by e4mafia

[...]   
2 - The control receivers are too big. They were my first design using Eagle and I should have made them longer and thinner. These are too fat and stick out like a sore thumb.

Again, I've gone fully wired for my lighting.  I use cheap FTDI USB/DMX converters and have soldered up a bunch of 3-pin DIN to RJ45 adapter cables for running cable over distance as the cost of cat5 cable is way lower than the equivalent DIN cable.  Most DMX decoders have support for both and in the case where they don't, I have adapters to go back to 3-pin DIN too.
Quote:
Originally Posted by e4mafia

8 - I need more extension cords and power strips.

I find the 360 Electrical extension cords a lifesaver: https://amzn.to/2HYkxlG You can use all the sockets on them without having to skip over any because a wall-wart covers one up because the sockets twist around so you can orient everything neatly.  The only downside is the actual cords are pretty short, so I usually either chain them with a longer single-socket cord or use one of these from IKEA instead, that have nice long cords: https://bit.ly/2QQjnvv

Bonus with both is that you can charge your phone off the USB sockets too, or as I use PC sticks for stations I can power a couple of stations off them.  The other solution I have to plugging multiple wall-warts into extension cords is a pack of these: https://amzn.to/2K3hhYO
Quote:
Originally Posted by e4mafia

[...]
10 - the importance of comms seems a little hard to get people to realize the power of directing traffic.
11 - a mission without friendly ships makes comms particularly boring.

I find that for shorter missions people can get really into insulting enemies to tactically draw them away from targets.  For that reason I put comms next to science and quite often hear the comms officer asking for second scans on enemies just to get the juicy details on the captains!

Angel of Rust

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by e4mafia
Should have been more clear


A trackball is definitely one of the potential solutions I'm looking to do. When I said mouse , I guess I was telegraphing my age because a laser mouse never even occurred to me, and I was just thinking overly simple PS2 communications. 

When you said "resistive touchscreen" did you mean like this?
https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/newhaven-display-intl/TS-TFT3.5Z/TS-TFT3.5Z-ND/2626417?&gclid=CjwKCAjw8-LnBRAyEiwA6eUMGuPwUlItNbDjknIY6Qt3Kr9_Hx48NwH8xw9s0Rbx7PhUiCjtzaXJnRoCmGcQAvD_BwE
Using something like that would definitely be more simple to physically build into the panel than a trackball I think. And if this works then I don't need to worry about finding a used laptop touchpad somewhere.


Yup! The resistive touchscreens I used were these ones:
https://www.adafruit.com/product/333?gclid=COSNk8j51eICFVOewAodXqMIWw
They are a bit cheaper, but still need to have some kind of recepticle or fitting to wire-up with that flexible connector. The biggest complaint I received is that they require more finger pressure to operate than people are used to with the capacitive touch screens. I wasn't ready to take the deep dive and figure those out yet.

20190606_190237 - Copy.jpg  20190606_190246 - Copy.jpg 
Based on my experience, there is only a benefit to having the mouse controlled by the same controller as the rest of the buttons if you intend for the controller to change the behavior of the mouse pointer in some way out of the ordinary. Otherwise, I think you're still better off just having a separate mouse/trackball/touchpad plugged in to the PC. In the long run, it'll probably be more reliable and less expensive. That being said, I really liked having a light-up touch pad for the novelty effect -- not something you'd get off the shelf. I totally understand wanting to build your own controls.

e4mafia

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by shaunmlowry

I'd agree with Mike Substelny that a TV works way better in bright rooms and bright rooms work better for photos and videos. You can get a 1080p 55" TV pretty cheap these days and I find it's more than enough.


Very true about the TV. I already had the projector, hence its presence in the setup. When playing in the house though, we. use my living room TV, which is on an adjustable mount over the mantel.

Quote:
Having said that, having a 100+" mainscreen from a projector is a great option for a darker room where you can control traffic around the projector and for that I'd recommend a decent projector screen.


also have one of those but need to resize the frame, or get a different screen. thinking about a pull down that's about the same width as the frame. Curious about how it will affect things weight wise. Maybe its time for some dumbbells and para-cord for testing!

Quote:

Again, I've gone fully wired for my lighting.  I use cheap FTDI USB/DMX converters and have soldered up a bunch of 3-pin DIN to RJ45 adapter cables for running cable over distance as the cost of cat5 cable is way lower than the equivalent DIN cable.  Most DMX decoders have support for both and in the case where they don't, I have adapters to go back to 3-pin DIN too.

This was my first foray into DMX land, and I decided (for better or worse) that I didn't want to be constrained effects wise, with what DMX tools can put out. Its a fantastic tool, but doesn't quite have the right stuff for the animations I'm trying to pull off. I'm also using WS2812b individually addressable LEDs, all driven by an Arduino. The setup is definitely wired, I'm sending a differential signal 485 style along with 5v power out to each light strip. RJ-45 all the way.

Quote:
I find the 360 Electrical extension cords a lifesaver:

Those are pretty cool. Fact. Thanks for all the feedback!

e4mafia

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Reply with quote  #14 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Angel of Rust

They are a bit cheaper, but still need to have some kind of recepticle or fitting to wire-up with that flexible connector.


Solder blobs and hot glue not cutting it? 😉 On the touchpad, I'm still considering using some parted out laptop trackpads too, but need to figure through the code before I commit to trying. Not that they are expensive, but why spend effort assembling and engineering it all together, only to have the teensy not be able to process it correctly. I've seen some decent tutorials out there for hooking them up to an arduilno micro and having it act as a USB HID. 
That said though, those resistive pads are pretty cheap and simple - always a good thing.
20190606_190246 - Copy.jpg 
Quote:
Otherwise, I think you're still better off just having a separate mouse/trackball/touchpad plugged in to the PC. In the long run, it'll probably be more reliable and less expensive. That being said, I really liked having a light-up touch pad for the novelty effect -- not something you'd get off the shelf. I totally understand wanting to build your own controls.


Thats exactly it. Wanting to crank the immersion up as high as I can, 1 station at a time. After seeng your light up now I'm having all kinds of bat-sh** crazy ideas about putting the touchpad over a small LCD display, and have some kind of animation happen in the background.....
ogremasch

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Reply with quote  #15 
I bought some USB trackpad mice from Amazon, 10 bucks a pop... my players hated them.
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