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Feedback - General Experience (2016

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We hope you had an amazing experience meeting and playing against your fellow Extra Lifers at Extra Life United 2016!

 

United is an event we hope to grow every year and we strongly believe that the only way to do that is to ask you, the participants, to provide us with feedback.

 

We'd love for you to share your thoughts about the overall experience of Extra Life United 2016.  Please let us know what you loved, what worked well, what didn't. Be sure to share your favorite and less than favorite  aspects of the overall Extra Life United Experience.

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I think it would've been valuable to break off into track-specific meetings Tuesday night after the opening ceremonies and lay down exactly how the tournament was going to work, setting brackets that night so that game play could begin quicker Wednesday morning.

Obviously there were technical issues Wednesday as well (games still needing to be downloaded, etc.) but having everyone on the same page in terms of matchups and specific tournament rules would have eased the stress on organizers and competitors respectively.

Having food and drink brought in a couple times for lunch was wonderful, necessary even.

The playoffs were great to watch but I'd have preferred to see all three tracks represented - make players compete in all three before eliminating them, maybe do two pools of four then top two reach semis, then do the "pick from a list, best-of-three for semis and finals instead of just finals.

I suspect I'll be posting a lot on this thread. It was so fun and yet still has lots of room to improve! Thrilled to be a part of the process!

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The shirts were awesome this year, but I'm not sure that they ran true to size... simply giving us a size chart when ordering shirts could be immensely helpful, because as any lady will tell you, sizes are rarely consistent across brands. Furthermore, i believe the organizers very much underestimate the amount of sweating gamers do - especially in intense tournament situations. There was much stink to go around after 2-3 days of wearing the same shirts. After all,  I'm sure 'Smelly Gamer' is the last archetype we wish to confirm to those not in the culture. I appreciated the decision to give us two shirts for the two days for ELU '14, but I understand the cost involved especially with shirts as nice as those. So perhaps, a compromise might involve issuing a bottle of Febreeze or a laundry voucher to each of us? Lol.

 

I would also like to mention the fact that I feel like there was little to draw us into the areas of the other tracks, but then again that could be the fact that I spent lots of time back at my room resting and trying to stave off this cold that I find to have hit me full force now that I'm back home. I do very much agree that the track specific meetings would have been a big improvement, especially given a certain unfamiliarity among organizers with our specific track - but these are concerns that I will bring to the track specific feedback thread.

 

I found the schedule did not allow for much socializing time among us, and I think that it would be awesome to schedule significant hangout time. Yes, there was an hour of open play following the meeting at the beginning of ELU, but I think it would be awesome to work in several hours specifically for offsite fun - Like the annual Epcot group trip! Heck, put THAT on the official schedule! I'd really like to be sure spending money on a park ticket will be worthwhile. :)  ("drinking around the world" is optional.)

 

Despite some minor snafus though, ELU was fantastic fun and better than the prior one. I expect the same trend of improvement for next time!

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I feel like I'm going to repeat a lot of things that were already said or that I already commented on in the PC Track feedback forum. 

 

I agree the shirts were really amazing. It was kind of hilarious that we were only given one shirt for 8+ hour days for 3 days. We did all turn into the gamer stereotype by being a bit smelly. I do events like this as a living and I knew the shirts were more expensive but maybe a nice shirt and a cheaper t-shirt would have worked a bit better. 

 

I liked the bag we got as well and the snacks in it were thoughtful. 

 

I liked the layout and I stated some comments about it on the PC track forum but it was good and bad for being in such a close proximity to the streaming and the other tracks. I flip back and forth on the layout being good and bad though. 

 

It would have been cool to be able to play more- maybe a point system tournament so we weren't standing around most of the time (not a horrible thing, we got to chat and watch other games). 

 

The food was awesome and the snacks were greatly appreciated, and the staff members were all great (they kind of have to be at Disney though, don't they?!) 

 

I put this in the PC Track but I'll repeat it here. I hope next year we have some time created for Guild members to meet and go over best practices and policies. Many of us did this casually throughout the event but having Extra Life leadership there to guide and collect this feedback/discussion would be really helpful for Guild members. Even if it's during a lunch break and not a required meeting- just a chance to meet other guild members and go over what has and has not worked for us. 

 

Same with the time to play with the kids- this was the most incredible moment of the whole event for me. It was awesome to see so many kids and families interact with gamers and we enjoyed it just as much. Because I'm an old grump- it was a bit late in the night for me so I missed a chance to hang out for a long time, but that was a "me" issue. 

 

I think having a few more volunteers would have helped a bit too- I heard people tried to volunteer but the spaces were already filled. 
 

The pin exchange was a cluster- some were moving along the line of tables while others were queuing up behind each table so the whole process wasn't clear. It worked out okay in the end, but I heard many people get frustrated at people "cutting" only to learn that they were moving a long a completely different line. 

I do want to give kudos to these forums for preparing attendees about the exchange. I saw a bunch of people with wonderful little gifts so the meeting didn't feel so one sided. 

 

I found out there was a discount to the parks via the Momentum conference but we weren't shared this information. I know a lot of us love going to the parks with each other and having this info would have been nice because a lot of people couldn't go due to funds but would have been able to knowing the cheaper option was there. It was someone in a facebook post that said we could get cheaper tickets through the momentum link. 

 

Having the time to meet our hospital reps was a great opportunity too. It was nice to see them just as excited about what we do as we are. 

 

 

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On 2/28/2016 at 1:04 PM, K8Morosky said:

Furthermore, i believe the organizers very much underestimate the amount of sweating gamers do - especially in intense tournament situations. There was much stink to go around after 2-3 days of wearing the same shirts. After all,  I'm sure 'Smelly Gamer' is the last archetype we wish to confirm to those not in the culture. I appreciated the decision to give us two shirts for the two days for ELU '14, but I understand the cost involved especially with shirts as nice as those. So perhaps, a compromise might involve issuing a bottle of Febreeze or a laundry voucher to each of us? Lol.

 

 

This was a lesson I learned last year.  They gave us two (tshirts, not fancy jerseys), but as someone who doesn't mix well with stressful situations in sweaty climates (and competing is stressful!), I burned through those pretty quickly.  This year I brought several undershirts and swapped those out.  Helped mitigate a bit, though the jersey was still overdue for a wash by the end of the second day.  Would be happy to pay a little more to get a second one next time around--and by a little I mean whatever they cost.  Those things are awesome and if they were put up for sale as swag they'd fly off the shelves quicker than they could be stocked.

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We rinsed our shirts in the shower and hung them overnight. Worked like a charm!

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29 minutes ago, Sean Rooney said:

We rinsed our shirts in the shower and hung them overnight. Worked like a charm!

Spoken like an old hockey player!

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Something else to consider--a lot of the console and PC games were indy games.  Indy game makers are by and large grateful for any exposure--like a huge charity tournament streamed to Twitch.  Invite them!  Plan ahead next time and if we get some indy games, contact the developers!  I guarantee they send someone out to participate and help in any way they can.  Use that!  Tag them on Twitter while posting the stream link, get retweeted.  

 

I could go on and on and on about the marketing side of this, but you get the idea.  A decade in internet marketing will do that to ya!

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14 minutes ago, Bacchanalian said:

Something else to consider--a lot of the console and PC games were indy games.  Indy game makers are by and large grateful for any exposure--like a huge charity tournament streamed to Twitch.  Invite them!  Plan ahead next time and if we get some indy games, contact the developers!  I guarantee they send someone out to participate and help in any way they can.  Use that!  Tag them on Twitter while posting the stream link, get retweeted.  

 

I could go on and on and on about the marketing side of this, but you get the idea.  A decade in internet marketing will do that to ya!

 

I agree, and I had this conversation with several other folks as well. A lot of devs already love charity focused gaming. 

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I loved being able to meet the families and the overall kindness of the gamers. I got to meet people that I truely hope to stay in touch with for a very long time. I thought the setups were cool and really appreciated being able to meet and talk to Extra Life staff. 

 

Things that did not work well: Tournament Play was not very well organized, I was bummed by the last minute changes to the games on the PC track but also was happy that it made an even ground. 

 

My favorite moment was getting hugs and thanked by the Champions in person.

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Oh yeah @Bacchanalian mentioned somewhere that if buying more of those shirts was an option- I would pay any price. They were really cool and I would love to have more to wear while I do guild events and stream. 

 

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This can be feedback as well as a question:

What did folks get for paying to be a spectator? Seems to me anyone could've hung out as a member of the public at United without paying for a spectator pass, rendering the pass itself obsolete.

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1 hour ago, Sean Rooney said:

This can be feedback as well as a question:

What did folks get for paying to be a spectator? Seems to me anyone could've hung out as a member of the public at United without paying for a spectator pass, rendering the pass itself obsolete.

 

In theory, someone without a Momentum/Extra Life badge should not have been in the conference space. 

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Overall I had a fantastic experience and really no complaints at all. One thing I think that could help make things run smoother and more on time would be have the brackets made up ahead of time. Since registration closes a few weeks before the event this could easily be done. Have times and station numbers posted for each matchup. This then makes it the gamers responsibility to be at the correct station on time. If a gamer is a no show after an allotted amount of time 10 minutes or so then they forfeit their round. This will keep the tournament moving and on schedule. 

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Like pretty much all the other posters, I have got to start with the fact that the overall experience was amazing.  The one suggestion that I have for next year is for the open play after the pin exchange.  When the Champions came to our area to get to play with us, the only games that were really available were the games that we used for the tournament.  Not only were they a bit limited in scope, but they were also not necessarily very easy for some of the younger kids to grasp.  I did get permission to add my personal account to one of the xbox to open up additional games and that station stayed active the rest of the night.  I think it would be a good idea to have some more kid friendly game options ready for that night (Lego games, Minecraft, etc.)

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In talking with some of the champion families, they'd like more time to interact with us. Even if it's just putting us in the same room as them for breakfast, no pressure to interact but leave the door open, both figuratively and literally.

 

This might also lead to a couple more free meals for us ;)

 

I thought the food we were given was great. Loved the Caesar salad in particular - big and made me think 'hey, I'm eating semi-healthy with this bowl of high-fat dressing, cheese and croutons!'

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22 minutes ago, Sean Rooney said:

In talking with some of the champion families, they'd like more time to interact with us. Even if it's just putting us in the same room as them for breakfast, no pressure to interact but leave the door open, both figuratively and literally.

 

This might also lead to a couple more free meals for us ;)

 

I thought the food we were given was great. Loved the Caesar salad in particular - big and made me think 'hey, I'm eating semi-healthy with this bowl of high-fat dressing, cheese and croutons!'

 

The Champion game time was definitely a highlight. Last night I played with one of our families during our Guild Meeting here in Colorado, and it was so much fun. I would love to have more of this both locally and at ELU! 

 

 

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14 hours ago, StephenMarcum said:

Like pretty much all the other posters, I have got to start with the fact that the overall experience was amazing.  The one suggestion that I have for next year is for the open play after the pin exchange.  When the Champions came to our area to get to play with us, the only games that were really available were the games that we used for the tournament.  Not only were they a bit limited in scope, but they were also not necessarily very easy for some of the younger kids to grasp.  I did get permission to add my personal account to one of the xbox to open up additional games and that station stayed active the rest of the night.  I think it would be a good idea to have some more kid friendly game options ready for that night (Lego games, Minecraft, etc.)

I experienced this as well, and though she eventually went over to play Speed Runner with some of our PC guys, it took awhile to get one of the CMN champions a game she could play and enjoy.

 

Nintendo games are usually a little more approachable and user-friendly for young kids. Not sure what our supply of Nintendo consoles are though, as that's a big consideration (what we have access to, etc)

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So first off I wanted to thank everyone who attended, volunteered, and organized this event. It was an incredible, life changing experience and I will definitely be attending each year as long as my funds allow! I figured I would throw my general ideas for next year into the ring here. My PC track-specific notes are located below in this box as well, in case you want to read a detailed account on that.


We will start with the overall tournament stuff, since as some of you may know, I won the grand finals so I got to experience this all the way from beginning to the end from a certain standpoint, and I'm not biased because I won. There are definitely things that could be improved for next year. 

Overall Tournament

Basically, I think that the games list should be officially set at LEAST 1 month in advance and given out to all participants much like this year. Practicing the games diligently on my stream was not only fun, but it gave me the opportunity to really promote Extra Life, Extra Life United, and what it stands for to a lot of people. ("Why are you playing SpeedRunners Loomin? You usually play Rocket League" "Well because I'm practicing for this awesome event that supports amazing kids... etc etc etc") There was also a pretty big sense of community going on the forums where people were organizing play in order to practice with one another. It was just a fantastic way to meet other Extra Lifers before the big week, and through these Game Lists I was able to feel a lot more comfortable talking to other attendees since I had met them previously online.

I also think that set rules should be established for each game at the same time of the announcement of that game. There were many occurrences across all the tracks were the rules would change midway through, like the control scheme for NidHogg, the difficulty setting on Madden, or the Catan short version rules to name a few. Leading up to the event many were asking questions about each specific listed game, and most of the time the questions were ignored. Don't be afraid to work with US, the actual gamers, (i.e experts) in determining the games list for each track. We will tell you which games would work best and what rules will work best for each game chosen. Let us help you help us. Open communication is the best communication.

Speaking of the games list, I thought that it was absolutely unacceptable that our games list for the console and especially the PC track was altered at the last minute. While I understand why this happened due to internet & bandwidth issues, perhaps the games should have been installed on the hardware weeks before the event, or the bandwidth should have been tested and fixed before as well. From my conversations, a LOT of people were upset about this, including myself as I had only played 1 of the 4 games announced in my track before. Some might argue that the surprise games made it an even playing ground, but I spent my own personal money on the games I thought would be played in order to practice and was happy I knew what I would be playing at the tournament. Everyone had an even playing ground when we KNEW the games beforehand, as we all had the same time to practice, whereas if they are random, it becomes unfair. "Random games" are much better suited to be in the grand finals and the top 8.

To echo the thoughts of others in this thread, it seemed a bit disorganized. Brackets should be made after the online event registration closes and made public, rules and games lists clearly stated for each track, etc etc. We definitely needed more Tori's Angels and I love the idea to assign 1-3 Angels to each SPECIFIC game. I talk more about this in detail on my PC Feedback thread.

We were also told that it was going to be a round-robin tournament instead of elimination. It ended up being elimination. While elimination mighty be the best format for the time we have (and I also talk more about this on the other thread, but the gist of it is) if it's going to be elimination, then maybe make it double elimination or assign overall points towards the top 8 (and even money) to anyone who advances even 1 round. I think it would be pretty motivating to people if say, you win round 1 of a certain game and you take home $25 for your hospital. Win round 2 and then you take home $50 and so on and so forth. Looking at the distribution of $1750 for 1st in each game and $850 for 2nd, I think it could be slimmed down throughout the rounds a bit. We should be expecting more $$$ this upcoming year anyways, so this would be a fun way to get EVERYONE feeling good about their performance. I mean hell, I'd be happy to share $10,000 of my $50,000+ winnings to be distributed to anyone who won a single round. ~ $40,000 is still a HUGE amount of money for the grand winner.


Moving on to the grand finals and the top 8, I thought that the randomness of it was a pretty fun way to end it. While the games shouldn't be random in the rest of the tournament, it provided a spark to the entertainment value of it. No one had played any of the games in the top 8, so it was pretty fun to watch and compete in. However, the same issue of the rules being clarified beforehand still apply. 

I also was upset and disappointed that Tabletop was not represented in the Top 8. I felt bad playing a tabletop guy in the first round with an indie PC game where we both had to use controllers. I definitely had an unfair advantage. Both Jaime and I honestly expected Connect 4 or another tabletop game to be the final game, and were both kinda bummed it didn't happen, just for the sake of the tabletop players. Maybe next year the entire top 8 can have a similar format to the grand finals, where the first game is a random game and then afterwards the loser can counterpick a game to best of 5 games. This format was so much FUN and it would eliminate all tabletop gamism (is that a word?) that had occurred this year.

Space

The conference area and the resort were absolutely gorgeous. The console gaming sofa's were sleek and modern looking (although maybe a bit small). The set-up was pretty much jaw dropping for someone who has never attended any gaming tournament or event before (like myself) so I definitely have no complaints. Keep up the amazing work here!

Food

While the boxed lunches were fantastic, I heard a rumor that they were $50 a piece and that attributed a lot to the high registration cost. Surely there is a cheaper alternative to these. The giant supply of Redbull and other drinks was also amazing and much appreciated.

Shirts

When I first saw the shirts I had the biggest smile on my face. The quality and sleekness of them are incredible. I love the shirts and maybe if you find a way to cut costs with the food, you can give us 2 nice shirts next year for the same registration cost! :D

Misc, Last-Second Thoughts, & Other Stuffs

 

More Computers and Xboxs would solve the time issue. We could honestly probably do a round robin format if we had much more Tori's Angels and more gaming stations.

I would have loved to been able to register with my gaming name. It felt weird to have my personal name being blasted all over the stream. Let us register with our actual names and have those on our badges, but let our gaming names be the biggest text on the badges and be what they call us by on stream and on the brackets. It's just something that's hugely tied to gaming culture, and I was kinda shocked we used real names so much.

The pin exchange seemed somewhat chaotic. The lines were enormous and cutting was prevalent. Maybe if more conference space could be utilized for this, it would help the flow. Also putting up velvet queuing areas for each kid would not only help line formation and flow, but it would let the kids feel even more like rock stars! 

A time to sit down and talk about guild best practices would be pretty cool, but with our current time frame, it would be hard to fit that in. Maybe with Extra Life United 2018 we can have 3 or 4 full days. :)

Maybe opening a 4th track next year, "Nintendo" would be absolutely amazing. Not only is Nintendo kind of separate from hardcore console and PC gaming, but it would allow for the systems to be on hand for the kids during Open Play, where as Nintendo is typically more kid-friendly anyways. Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros, Time Trials in any platformer ever? There's tons of options for tournament play here. Also how amazing would it be if the grand finals was a Mario Maker course designed by some of the champion kids? Just spitballing :) GIVE NINTENDO TRACK ELU!

That's pretty much all that's on my mind. Remember to check out my PC track post for more detailed insights, and I will add any additional thoughts or comments below as they come to me! Can't wait for ELU 2017 and already excited to meet more amazing kids and their families!







 

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To follow up on @Loomin's comment about our gamer tags on the name tags/brackets, he and I played first round at Nidhogg and spent some time chatting afterwards.  When he realized I was from Colorado, he asked if I knew Rick from Colorado.  Turns out I'm Rick from Colorado and he and I spent some time practicing Rocket League together in the weeks before ELU, but had no idea until we happened to stumble there during a conversation.

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