Is PAX getting too big?

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  • zenprimezenprime That Cat that ain't a Cat T-Town, WARegistered User regular
    edited September 2011
    The queue room felt packed this year, though I swear it's because we didn't have line games and junk on the screens this year.

    Also was I the only one who felt the WSCC staff was actually nasty this year? I got yelled (not shouted, actually yelled) at for not having my badge turned the right way, and on sunday they crushed us all together in the queue room, telling us stand up to fit more in even though the place was just about empty all morning. Enforcers: always polite, always helpful, always understanding. Thanks guys!

    Size wise, I think the problem was with lines in the expo hall. Some booths obviously planned for having major lines, but a lot didn't. They should be responsible for managing their lines (Not Enforcers!) and making sure traffic can flow around their booths.

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  • spitfirekspitfirek Registered User regular
    This was my first year at PAX, and it felt VERY crowded to me. The most disappointing part was when I got to a line 4 hours early because I wanted to make sure I would get into a panel(previously getting to panels 1.5-2 hours early got be in the back or worse, outside). So many ppl showed up early that there became a fire hazard with the lines for the other panels in the area and we were told to move elsewhere. Well, me and my friend(and other good ppl) left and came back at the appropriate time when the Enforcers told us to... just to find 400-500 ppl in line ahead of us. This was not the Enforcers fault, there were just that many d-bags that did not leave the area or that did not hear that they needed to move out and when the other lines cleared up they got in first.

    To fix this problem I think that there should be pre-PAX registration for panels. "Sign up" for panels that you want to see online. The PAX staff can then figure out how many ppl are going to be at each panel and, if needed, move it to a different theater or maybe even ask the panel if they could do 2 or more shows(if it is super popular). Maybe even assign "fast pass" spots in the panels to the ID badge for those that sign up in advance so they do not have to wait in line and crowd hallways(show up 10-15min early and get your ID scanned and then go directly into the theater). There will of course be overflow lines for those that did not sign up or wanted to see a panel impromptu style; but the lines will be much smaller and thereby move faster and cause less crowding.

    I know it is a lot of work to setup this type of system, but with the number of ppl at PAX this year(and it just keeps growing larger) there needs to be something done to fix the overcrowding.

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  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    spitfirek wrote:
    This was my first year at PAX, and it felt VERY crowded to me. The most disappointing part was when I got to a line 4 hours early because I wanted to make sure I would get into a panel(previously getting to panels 1.5-2 hours early got be in the back or worse, outside). So many ppl showed up early that there became a fire hazard with the lines for the other panels in the area and we were told to move elsewhere. Well, me and my friend(and other good ppl) left and came back at the appropriate time when the Enforcers told us to... just to find 400-500 ppl in line ahead of us. This was not the Enforcers fault, there were just that many d-bags that did not leave the area or that did not hear that they needed to move out and when the other lines cleared up they got in first.

    To fix this problem I think that there should be pre-PAX registration for panels. "Sign up" for panels that you want to see online. The PAX staff can then figure out how many ppl are going to be at each panel and, if needed, move it to a different theater or maybe even ask the panel if they could do 2 or more shows(if it is super popular). Maybe even assign "fast pass" spots in the panels to the ID badge for those that sign up in advance so they do not have to wait in line and crowd hallways(show up 10-15min early and get your ID scanned and then go directly into the theater). There will of course be overflow lines for those that did not sign up or wanted to see a panel impromptu style; but the lines will be much smaller and thereby move faster and cause less crowding.

    I know it is a lot of work to setup this type of system, but with the number of ppl at PAX this year(and it just keeps growing larger) there needs to be something done to fix the overcrowding.

    As somebody else said, all you've done now is create a "standby" line that sucks just as hard as the regular line, since a fair percentage of people who "register" won't show (and everybody knows it).

    May I ask what panel you're talking about? The reason I ask is that it's my understanding that the number of panels that had the kinds of problems you describe could probably be counted on one hand, so I guess I was curious if it was one of those, or if maybe the problem was more widespread.

    I'm also curious how you'd suggest a panel could do more "shows." Even assuming it's the kind of relatively set content where doing a second show would be possible, have you looked at the schedule grid? There's not, like, a huge surplus of panel space (which is to say open theaters). A second show of whatever panel you're talking about means some other panel simply doesn't happen. And since a vast majority of PAX attendees probably didn't care enough to try and get into your panel (as with any panel) that may not be the best solution for everybody.


    I can agree that if a panel looks to have a huge, early lineup another solution may need to be found. Perhaps make up some "entry" passes, move everybody down to the queue room, then hand the passes out as they get ready to move towards whatever theater? So, say your panel is up on 6th floor. You line up in the queue room, and when the time comes to form the line outside the theater (usually after the preceding panel has finally seated) they'd just hand out the "passes," and have everybody move upstairs in an orderly fashion. This way people could line up in an organized manner a bit earlier than is possible now, so situations like yours wouldn't happen?

  • spitfirekspitfirek Registered User regular
    mcdermott wrote:
    As somebody else said, all you've done now is create a "standby" line that sucks just as hard as the regular line, since a fair percentage of people who "register" won't show (and everybody knows it).

    May I ask what panel you're talking about? The reason I ask is that it's my understanding that the number of panels that had the kinds of problems you describe could probably be counted on one hand, so I guess I was curious if it was one of those, or if maybe the problem was more widespread.

    I'm also curious how you'd suggest a panel could do more "shows." Even assuming it's the kind of relatively set content where doing a second show would be possible, have you looked at the schedule grid? There's not, like, a huge surplus of panel space (which is to say open theaters). A second show of whatever panel you're talking about means some other panel simply doesn't happen. And since a vast majority of PAX attendees probably didn't care enough to try and get into your panel (as with any panel) that may not be the best solution for everybody.


    I can agree that if a panel looks to have a huge, early lineup another solution may need to be found. Perhaps make up some "entry" passes, move everybody down to the queue room, then hand the passes out as they get ready to move towards whatever theater? So, say your panel is up on 6th floor. You line up in the queue room, and when the time comes to form the line outside the theater (usually after the preceding panel has finally seated) they'd just hand out the "passes," and have everybody move upstairs in an orderly fashion. This way people could line up in an organized manner a bit earlier than is possible now, so situations like yours wouldn't happen?

    I know that a lot of ppl wont show, which is why there will be standby lines, that is unavoidable. BUT, if you can cut down on the line size at all, it would be a good thing.

    The panel I waited 4 hours for and ended up in the back of the room was Skyrim, every other panel I went to I showed up 1.5-2 hours before and ended up in the back of the room too. It was very disheartening to be all pumped up for a panel enough to wait 2x longer than the average person just to get "cut in front of"(for lack of better terms) by 400-500ppl. There may have been only a few panels that were that way, but if there was a way to know beforehand that 4k ppl wanted to get into a theater that only holds 600 ppl then there might have been some changes made to accommodate those ppl. I am happy I got into the panel, there were LOTS of ppl that didn't... that hallway was PACKED and Enforcers were sending ppl away left and right.

    I didn't check out the whole facility, but from what I saw there were a few rooms that could hold smaller panels easily that were not really being used most of the time. If the staff knows ahead of time(by ppl signing up online before the PAX even starts) they could maybe stream into the "extra rooms" or, if the panel members are cool with it, they might agree to doing a 2nd show at a different time/place. Most of the shows could easily be done multiple times as they are mostly scripted or crowd driven (Q&A) and will be different for each group (which I don't see as a bad thing).

    I personally wouldn't mind if they had a "queuing area"(away from the crowded halls) where you could show up multiple hours early and get a "head of the line pass" so that you didn't fill up the hallways. For the panels I went to I would have been more than happy to wait 3-4 hours, as long as it guaranteed that I would be in the front of the room. But isn't that really just the same thing as my idea? but only in physical space instead of on a computer?

    I'm just trying to throw out suggestions to help out, Im not trying to be a dick or anything. I had a GREAT time at PAX and am looking forward to going again, I would also like to see it get better and better each year.

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  • tvethiopiatvethiopia Registered User regular
    mcdermott wrote:
    ...and have everybody move upstairs in an orderly fashion.

    i think the key problem with this plan is that this is MUCH easier said than done.

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  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited September 2011
    tvethiopia wrote:
    mcdermott wrote:
    ...and have everybody move upstairs in an orderly fashion.

    i think the key problem with this plan is that this is MUCH easier said than done.

    True.

    Also, spitfirek, I hope I didn't come across as a dick or anything. Yes, Skyrim was one of the few that was like that.

    Physical space is better for lining up earlier than a computer, because it gives others a physical depiction of what kind of line they're looking at for the panel. Instead of "gee, I didn't know there were already X people pre-reg'd, fuck." EDIT: Also, because it cuts down on the uncertainty level of who will show up...4K registered may mean as few as 300 showing up, if it's up against another popular panel.

    Plus, aside from just a couple panels, you could easily get in with a minimal wait time. I guess front versus back is an issue for some, but really I think most of the "cures" are worse than the disease.

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  • mrt144mrt144 King of the Numbernames Registered User regular
    Nerds hating on nerds for being nerds at a nerd convention. Boggles the mind.

  • spitfirekspitfirek Registered User regular
    mcdermott wrote:
    Physical space is better for lining up earlier than a computer, because it gives others a physical depiction of what kind of line they're looking at for the panel. Instead of "gee, I didn't know there were already X people pre-reg'd, fuck." EDIT: Also, because it cuts down on the uncertainty level of who will show up...4K registered may mean as few as 300 showing up, if it's up against another popular panel.

    Plus, aside from just a couple panels, you could easily get in with a minimal wait time. I guess front versus back is an issue for some, but really I think most of the "cures" are worse than the disease.

    Yes, others that didn't pre-register would be able to see the line and get the same response of "dang I cant get in cuz there are too many ppl here" earlier and could go somewhere else... but that's what you get for not pre-registering, so I don't see it as a problem.

    I don't see how it would cut down on the uncertainty of how many ppl will actually show up. Just make it so that a person can only sign up for ONE panel at a given time slot. If there is another popular panel going on at the same time, yes they might go to that one instead... but the odds are they won't if they KNOW they have a spot available in the one they signed up for and they only have a small chance of getting into the other one.

    And yes only a few panels may have had this problem, but if the staff knew this ahead of time then there would be a much smaller chance of a problem because things could be changed before PAX even started to make it a non-issue.

    Even if it is just a rough head count of how many ppl want to go to specific panels(ie. they don't actually get a "pass"), it would help out a ton to know how many ppl want to get into each panel.

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  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    I guess for me the main thing is that pre-registration kills some of the spontaneous feel of PAX. I mean, I pencil in a few panels and such before I show up, but I almost always end up scrapping 90% of my plans once I get there, and just see what's going on. I imagine there are plenty of people like me who would indeed scrap their pre-registered Skyrim panel if they got into a good game of tabletop or got invited out for off-site shenanigans at that time.

    But part of the beauty of PAX is that it's cool...you can just kinda do what you want to do.

    I also think that they have a very good idea of how large any given panel can expect to be. I doubt even Skyrim/Irrational was a complete surprise. They don't need any "soft" pre-registration to gauge that interest. I am a bit curious why (looking at the schedule grid) nothing was in the Pegasus during that time...but it's my understanding that the Pegasus was smaller this year anyway. And of course the main and Wolfman were occupied with AcqInc. I know that FatUglyorSlutty filled up the Kraken during that timeframe (surprising to me, actually), so I guess what I'm getting at is that panels fill. It's kinda how it is. Other than finding a way to allow people to line up earlier, I don't see any solution. But I think what I don't want to see, and what I'd imagine a lot of attendees don't want to see, is some sort of system where you have to start pre-registering for all the things you actually want to see. Because if there's one thing that'll be more awesome than PAX selling out after like three weeks of badges being on sale, it'll be Acquisitions, Inc. "filling up" after two.

    As it stands, for nearly every panel, you could get in if you were determined to do so. What I see are solutions in search of a problem.

    I suppose you might think that tweaking the scheduling grid could alleviate some of the problem. I'm willing to bet that a lot more thought goes into that grid than either of us realize, though.

  • tsrblketsrblke Registered User regular
    I'd take Skyrim and Irrational Games an an anomoly of timing. Why 2 popular panels were scheduled back to back is beyond me. Throw in the delay getting the Irrational Games panel loaded into the room, and you have a recipe for disaster.
    But here is the interesting thing @spitfirek, you said you showed up for skyrim 4 hours early, but lines start only after the panel before it gets let in (in this case about 90 minutes.)
    Othere's clearly had the same idea. So what this tells me is we need a better way of clearing spaces from people who aren't actually in a line, and milling about for the next line to begin. (Better scheduling would of course also prevent this.) The real problem IMHO was that when people were told "Please vacate you can't just stand here and rush the line" they didn't do A and then tried to do B). Effectively you had 2 lines worth of people up there.

  • BanthaBantha Registered User regular
    tsrblke wrote:
    But here is the interesting thing @spitfirek, you said you showed up for skyrim 4 hours early, but lines start only after the panel before it gets let in (in this case about 90 minutes.)
    Othere's clearly had the same idea. So what this tells me is we need a better way of clearing spaces from people who aren't actually in a line, and milling about for the next line to begin. (Better scheduling would of course also prevent this.) The real problem IMHO was that when people were told "Please vacate you can't just stand here and rush the line" they didn't do A and then tried to do B). Effectively you had 2 lines worth of people up there.

    I was also among those who showed up early for the Skyrim panel.

    The announcements of "There is no line for Skyrim, if that's why you're here, please leave" were completely ineffective because no one did leave, and there was no enforcement of that policy. Why should I, who've been standing here for 30 minutes, leave the area when the guy next to me who just got here 30 seconds ago isn't leaving? All that would accomplish is that he gets in line before I do. And since no one was actually making people leave, no one was leaving.

    What needs to happen is an understanding that certain events are going to be popular and therefor lines need to be formed as needed. Even if the previous panel hasn't entered yet and is still using the "line space", that doesn't mean there can't be an additional line for the next event. It could be as simple as an enforcer going to the end of the line for event A and having a sign that reads "This is the end of the line for Event A, the start of the line for Event B is behind me". Or a separate area for another line.

    What ended up happening instead was chaotic and insanely uncool. People simply milled about the hallway, waiting for the Skyrim line to form. People that were there for hours ended up further back in line than people who'd been there for minutes. The hallway was crowded. The stampede of people moving into "the line" was dangerous and nearly caused more than a few injuries to people that just happened to be walking by.

    Did we all get in to the event? Probably. Was it organized, a friendly environment and welcoming? Not even close.

  • tsrblketsrblke Registered User regular
    @bantha
    I'm not saying that was happened was proper in any sense of the word. It was chaotic and needs to be taken care of, but starting a line for a line is an arms race. Imagine lining up for a panel 6 hours early. Yikes! Nevermind the fact that in this case we were probably pushing firecode in that part of the building anyway. (Which is why it couldn't work).
    A better solution would be to actually enforce the "Line starts when last event ends" policy. I agree it was chaotic, and as I said in my original post this was because no one stepped up and enforced a policy that already existed.

  • Moe FwackyMoe Fwacky Moderator mod
    tsrblke wrote:
    I'd take Skyrim and Irrational Games an an anomoly of timing. Why 2 popular panels were scheduled back to back is beyond me. Throw in the delay getting the Irrational Games panel loaded into the room, and you have a recipe for disaster.
    But here is the interesting thing @spitfirek, you said you showed up for skyrim 4 hours early, but lines start only after the panel before it gets let in (in this case about 90 minutes.)
    Othere's clearly had the same idea. So what this tells me is we need a better way of clearing spaces from people who aren't actually in a line, and milling about for the next line to begin. (Better scheduling would of course also prevent this.) The real problem IMHO was that when people were told "Please vacate you can't just stand here and rush the line" they didn't do A and then tried to do B). Effectively you had 2 lines worth of people up there.

    My best guess as to why 2 popular panels would be scheduled back to back: force people to decide between them, and leave fewer people disappointed at not getting into one or the other. I have no doubt that multiple people wanted to see both, and therefore had to choose one, allowing other people the chance to see the other one.

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  • tvethiopiatvethiopia Registered User regular
    Moe Fwacky wrote:
    tsrblke wrote:
    I'd take Skyrim and Irrational Games an an anomoly of timing. Why 2 popular panels were scheduled back to back is beyond me. Throw in the delay getting the Irrational Games panel loaded into the room, and you have a recipe for disaster.
    But here is the interesting thing @spitfirek, you said you showed up for skyrim 4 hours early, but lines start only after the panel before it gets let in (in this case about 90 minutes.)
    Othere's clearly had the same idea. So what this tells me is we need a better way of clearing spaces from people who aren't actually in a line, and milling about for the next line to begin. (Better scheduling would of course also prevent this.) The real problem IMHO was that when people were told "Please vacate you can't just stand here and rush the line" they didn't do A and then tried to do B). Effectively you had 2 lines worth of people up there.

    My best guess as to why 2 popular panels would be scheduled back to back: force people to decide between them, and leave fewer people disappointed at not getting into one or the other. I have no doubt that multiple people wanted to see both, and therefore had to choose one, allowing other people the chance to see the other one.

    if this were the case, wouldn't it make more sense to schedule them at exactly the same time, in well-separated locations? one right after another in the same space doesn't really make sense for two popular panels. then again, i'm sure planning when and where to have which panels is ridiculously complicated, with so many panels and only so much time/space, especially if people involved in different panels have limited schedules. i'm sure pax planners did their best.

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  • gorgeousplanetgorgeousplanet Meat Popsicle OregonRegistered User regular
    I like the idea of some kind of pre-reg for panels. Yeah, I pencil in a schedule of events I want to attend and end up scrapping 90% of them, too... Because I can't justify waiting in a line for over an hour when there are things I can just walk by and enjoy. So I usually only go to one panel during the hours the expo hall is open, and maybe one in the evening after it's closed. Halofest was really cool because all the panels were being broadcast live on overhead speakers through the whole area, so even if they ran out of seats everyone in the place got to hear what was going on. I think the main stage panels should absolutely be streamed into another, larger space.

  • tvethiopiatvethiopia Registered User regular
    Halofest was really cool because all the panels were being broadcast live on overhead speakers through the whole area, so even if they ran out of seats everyone in the place got to hear what was going on. I think the main stage panels should absolutely be streamed into another, larger space.

    maybe streaming to a screen in the queue room?

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  • Moe FwackyMoe Fwacky Moderator mod
    tvethiopia wrote:
    Moe Fwacky wrote:
    tsrblke wrote:
    I'd take Skyrim and Irrational Games an an anomoly of timing. Why 2 popular panels were scheduled back to back is beyond me. Throw in the delay getting the Irrational Games panel loaded into the room, and you have a recipe for disaster.
    But here is the interesting thing @spitfirek, you said you showed up for skyrim 4 hours early, but lines start only after the panel before it gets let in (in this case about 90 minutes.)
    Othere's clearly had the same idea. So what this tells me is we need a better way of clearing spaces from people who aren't actually in a line, and milling about for the next line to begin. (Better scheduling would of course also prevent this.) The real problem IMHO was that when people were told "Please vacate you can't just stand here and rush the line" they didn't do A and then tried to do B). Effectively you had 2 lines worth of people up there.

    My best guess as to why 2 popular panels would be scheduled back to back: force people to decide between them, and leave fewer people disappointed at not getting into one or the other. I have no doubt that multiple people wanted to see both, and therefore had to choose one, allowing other people the chance to see the other one.

    if this were the case, wouldn't it make more sense to schedule them at exactly the same time, in well-separated locations? one right after another in the same space doesn't really make sense for two popular panels. then again, i'm sure planning when and where to have which panels is ridiculously complicated, with so many panels and only so much time/space, especially if people involved in different panels have limited schedules. i'm sure pax planners did their best.

    Back to back in the same space has the same affect as at the same time in different spaces. If two popular panels are back to back, there is no way anybody will get into both of them, and will still have to choose one over the other, reducing crowding and disappointment for not getting in for both.

    E6LkoFK.png

  • tvethiopiatvethiopia Registered User regular
    Moe Fwacky wrote:
    tvethiopia wrote:
    Moe Fwacky wrote:
    tsrblke wrote:
    I'd take Skyrim and Irrational Games an an anomoly of timing. Why 2 popular panels were scheduled back to back is beyond me. Throw in the delay getting the Irrational Games panel loaded into the room, and you have a recipe for disaster.
    But here is the interesting thing @spitfirek, you said you showed up for skyrim 4 hours early, but lines start only after the panel before it gets let in (in this case about 90 minutes.)
    Othere's clearly had the same idea. So what this tells me is we need a better way of clearing spaces from people who aren't actually in a line, and milling about for the next line to begin. (Better scheduling would of course also prevent this.) The real problem IMHO was that when people were told "Please vacate you can't just stand here and rush the line" they didn't do A and then tried to do B). Effectively you had 2 lines worth of people up there.

    My best guess as to why 2 popular panels would be scheduled back to back: force people to decide between them, and leave fewer people disappointed at not getting into one or the other. I have no doubt that multiple people wanted to see both, and therefore had to choose one, allowing other people the chance to see the other one.

    if this were the case, wouldn't it make more sense to schedule them at exactly the same time, in well-separated locations? one right after another in the same space doesn't really make sense for two popular panels. then again, i'm sure planning when and where to have which panels is ridiculously complicated, with so many panels and only so much time/space, especially if people involved in different panels have limited schedules. i'm sure pax planners did their best.

    Back to back in the same space has the same affect as at the same time in different spaces. If two popular panels are back to back, there is no way anybody will get into both of them, and will still have to choose one over the other, reducing crowding and disappointment for not getting in for both.

    yes, but you then have the problem of people for BOTH panels trying to line up at the same time in the same space, because people trying to go to the second one want to be super early and some people are too stubborn to clear the area when told to do so. panels running at the same time in different areas don't have to deal with lines backing up onto each other and blocking up hallways.

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  • Moe FwackyMoe Fwacky Moderator mod
    People are not permitted to line up for a panel until the line has cleared for the panel before. Additionally, panel rooms are cleared between panels. If people are refusing to clear an area they shouldn't be lining up in, that's an issue to take up with the enforcers in the area.

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  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    Moe Fwacky wrote:
    People are not permitted to line up for a panel until the line has cleared for the panel before. Additionally, panel rooms are cleared between panels. If people are refusing to clear an area they shouldn't be lining up in, that's an issue to take up with the enforcers in the area.

    The problem you run into is the fine line between the normal loitering that's expected around the con center, and "waiting to line up." Because anytime you get a line getting ready to form, people will start "orbiting" the area anywhere the enforcers don't actively keep them from doing so.

    So what happens is those that otherwise would have been around, say, 90 or 120 minutes prior lose their spots to people who start milling about 70 minutes prior (assuming lineup starts 60 minutes prior). It turns into a clusterfuck of "who can wait around to line up without looking like they're doing so."

    I remember the enforcer who was by Bandland dealt with this really well on Sunday for the Wil/Felicia line...he basically let us form a little mob and mill over in the corner, out of the path to anything, until the line started moving. And everybody who came later (after us) got pushed into further and further "mobs" in out-of-the-way places, until finally a second line was formed. As opposed to telling those of us who were there first (well, second...after those actually in the "closed" line) to hit the road, and letting those that came after us in ahead of us.

    Did any of that make sense?

  • matguymatguy Registered User regular
    mcdermott wrote:
    Moe Fwacky wrote:
    People are not permitted to line up for a panel until the line has cleared for the panel before. Additionally, panel rooms are cleared between panels. If people are refusing to clear an area they shouldn't be lining up in, that's an issue to take up with the enforcers in the area.

    The problem you run into is the fine line between the normal loitering that's expected around the con center, and "waiting to line up." Because anytime you get a line getting ready to form, people will start "orbiting" the area anywhere the enforcers don't actively keep them from doing so.

    So what happens is those that otherwise would have been around, say, 90 or 120 minutes prior lose their spots to people who start milling about 70 minutes prior (assuming lineup starts 60 minutes prior). It turns into a clusterfuck of "who can wait around to line up without looking like they're doing so."

    I remember the enforcer who was by Bandland dealt with this really well on Sunday for the Wil/Felicia line...he basically let us form a little mob and mill over in the corner, out of the path to anything, until the line started moving. And everybody who came later (after us) got pushed into further and further "mobs" in out-of-the-way places, until finally a second line was formed. As opposed to telling those of us who were there first (well, second...after those actually in the "closed" line) to hit the road, and letting those that came after us in ahead of us.

    Did any of that make sense?

    The problem of having people for both events lining up at the same time/place is a problem (not people trying to get in to both events.) While it's not allowed to line up for event #2 while Event #1 is still in line stage, it's going to happen and the people that don't follow rules/instructions were the people that benefited.

    I think what people are trying to get at is wanting a system that benefits the people that follow the rules. Whether or not that system actually "works" better from an efficiency standpoint may be a lower priority to a fair system. It seems like it became apparent that telling people to go away doesn't work, especially in an area where people are milling about anyway.

  • Lindsay LohanLindsay Lohan Registered User regular
    While I don't think that PAX has necessarily gotten too big - I probably would be disappointed in either PAX this year if I was a more serious gamer than I am. At East, the lines for Star Wars or Duke were insane, but since I was more interested in smaller stuff like Bastion or Ms Splosion Man, I never waited that long to try games that interested me.

    I think part of the issue is that PAX is becoming a media event. The media badge people were a huge pain at East and I read similar complaints about Prime. They need to step up the requirements for a badge and tell the folks given them that it is NOT something they can use to jump lines or hog the booth reps. Along with that, the booths are setup in a way that makes them look visually impressive, but yet allow less people play the actual games.

    I get that you want to make this big impression - but if your booth can't accommodate people actually getting in and playing your game, it fails. This isn't a trade show to put on your best dog-and-pony show for corporate vendors, it's to get gamers excited and no foam castle or giant robot sculpture does that as well as simply letting us play. Trim down the booth bells and whistles and use the real estate to let more gamers play...or even setup a remote demo area in an extra room somewhere during a few peak hours.

  • tsrblketsrblke Registered User regular
    Moe Fwacky wrote:
    People are not permitted to line up for a panel until the line has cleared for the panel before. Additionally, panel rooms are cleared between panels. If people are refusing to clear an area they shouldn't be lining up in, that's an issue to take up with the enforcers in the area.

    To be entirely fair, my wife and I did comment (nicely I promise!) to an enforcer that we had no idea what to do. We wanted to follow the rules and leave (we were only there 5-10 minutes before the official line up time, that got pushed back because they couldn't load the Irrational panel). We did in fact leave twice (once to go to the Expo Floor, where we ran into E and Stepto from Xbox) and once to wander through PC freeplay (Where we talked with the Digipen people). By the 3rd time we were told to leave and come back we noticed leavers were certainly in the minority, so I confess we stayed (plus by now it was 2:20-2:30, well past line up time.) I mentioned to an enforcer (I don't remember who) that we had left, but felt that following the rules was going to cost us and we were burnt out on that. The enforcers in general looked flummoxed by the sheer number of people, I'm not sure they really knew what to do. (And to be fair I wouldn't have either.) So clearly some communication went awry somewhere that should probably be fixed.

  • TangoTango Registered User
    edited September 2011
    Remember that:
    1. There were probably thousands more people onsite than expected, due to counterfeit passes.
    2. The scale of the counterfeit pass issue was just becoming apparent in the few hours before the Skyrim panel started - that is to say, we had to try and hold down all normal PAX operations and try and investigate/deal with the fake pass issue and try to manage a very challenging line situation on the 6th floor.

    Tango on
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    Tango wrote:
    Remember that:
    1. There were probably thousands more people onsite than expected, due to counterfeit passes.
    2. The scale of the counterfeit pass issue was just becoming apparent in the few hours before the Skyrim panel started - that is to say, we had to try and hold down all normal PAX operations and try and investigate/deal with the fake pass issue and try to manage a very challenging line situation on the 6th floor.

    Yeah, I think people need to remember that Skyrim/Irrational (those were the two panels, right?) was like, one situation. It was bad, and possibly could have been handled better, but it wasn't like this was a recurring theme everywhere (at least not panelwise...the expo floor was pretty bad).

  • witch_iewitch_ie Registered User regular
    This was my first PAX and while I had a blast, I agree it was really crowded. For panels though, I think there is an easy solution...virtual PAX. If it was possible to virtually attend a panel, especially with timing flexibility, I think a lot of people both physically at PAX and in the gaming community at large would go for it. It wouldn't be exactly the same and you wouldn't get your special horned hat, but it might help with the crowds while at the same time opening PAX up beyond its physical capacity.

  • Cultural Geek GirlCultural Geek Girl Registered User regular
    I'd like to note that last year I had the exact problem described above (being sent away and coming back to find a full line) with the original Acquisitions Incorporated panel. I showed up two hours before the line officially started, was told to come back at X time, came back 3-5 minutes before X, ended up barely making it in. By X:10, I believe the AI line was "capped", and everyone who had returned at the correct time was in the back eighth of the theater. So it wasn't just the counterfeit badges... this is a thing that happens at really popular panels no matter what.

    The problem this year was, I think, somewhat compounded by all the people who heard the story of the Acquisitions Incorporated line last year (and other similar line problems, that's just the only one I was aware of.) So far in every circumstance like this, the spawn campers have benefited and the people who follow instructions miss out.

    I want to make it clear that I'm NOT blaming enforcers for this problem. I don't see any easy solution myself. I have no idea how someone could really and truly clear an area like that, and make sure nobody just lurks there, without being crazy draconian and rude. There are some "old school" line randomization techniques that might work, but they were all designed for small-scale SF cons, and would be a logistical nightmare at PAX.

    I wish I had a better suggestion.

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  • spitfirekspitfirek Registered User regular
    The easiest solution is if everyone followed the rules of PAX, specifically: "DON'T BE A DICK"... but that obviously doesn't happen. The counterfeit badges prove that more than anything. I know that on the internet ppl are going to be dicks no matter what, but I would kinda hope that IRL they wouldn't be.

    I like the idea of a "virtual panel" for some of the panels, but swag is a big thing for a lot of ppl also. For example at the skyrim panel 2 ppl got xbox360s w/ custom skyrim skins, not to mention everyone there got a horned hat(which I know isn't much, but it is one of the cooler swags I got this year). Plus(I don't know if others felt the same way) I had seen the Skyrim demo played online at other conventions and such before but in person it was a whole new experience. I wanted to get skyrim even more after being there... a LOT more(if that is possible).

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  • tsrblketsrblke Registered User regular
    spitfirek wrote:
    The easiest solution is if everyone followed the rules of PAX, specifically: "DON'T BE A DICK"... but that obviously doesn't happen. The counterfeit badges prove that more than anything. I know that on the internet ppl are going to be dicks no matter what, but I would kinda hope that IRL they wouldn't be.

    I like the idea of a "virtual panel" for some of the panels, but swag is a big thing for a lot of ppl also. For example at the skyrim panel 2 ppl got xbox360s w/ custom skyrim skins, not to mention everyone there got a horned hat(which I know isn't much, but it is one of the cooler swags I got this year). Plus(I don't know if others felt the same way) I had seen the Skyrim demo played online at other conventions and such before but in person it was a whole new experience. I wanted to get skyrim even more after being there... a LOT more(if that is possible).

    It's definitely a tough choice. I know I choose skyrim over AI for 2 reasons: 1) AI was going to recorded and posted somewhere later and 2) I knew I wasn't getting in line to try skyrim myself.

    Now that all being said, if I knew for sure where I could see the entirety of the skyrim demo online at a later date (which Bethesda said was happening) I may have still gone to skyrim, because the chance to yell out stuff at the dev's and have them do it was great.

    Also I'm with you Spitfirek, I (and the wife) wanted Skyrim tons after that. If they had offered to let us preorder right then and there I'd have signed up. (Sadly it seemed to be the one game coming out this year sans preorder bonuses there.)

  • matguymatguy Registered User regular
    spitfirek wrote:
    The easiest solution is if everyone followed the rules of PAX, specifically: "DON'T BE A DICK"... but that obviously doesn't happen. The counterfeit badges prove that more than anything. I know that on the internet ppl are going to be dicks no matter what, but I would kinda hope that IRL they wouldn't be.

    I have a feeling this wasn't the intention, but I want to point out that most of the people with fake badges probably didn't know they were fake, and probably shouldn't/wouldn't be cited for breaking the "Don't be a Dick" rule. For the most part it sounds like the people that made the fakes probably weren't inside the WSCC, which are the people that I would fully condemn for breaking that rule (although I'm fairly certain they don't care if we don't like them.)

  • B for BusinessB for Business Registered User regular
    tsrblke wrote:
    Moe Fwacky wrote:
    People are not permitted to line up for a panel until the line has cleared for the panel before. Additionally, panel rooms are cleared between panels. If people are refusing to clear an area they shouldn't be lining up in, that's an issue to take up with the enforcers in the area.

    To be entirely fair, my wife and I did comment (nicely I promise!) to an enforcer that we had no idea what to do. We wanted to follow the rules and leave (we were only there 5-10 minutes before the official line up time, that got pushed back because they couldn't load the Irrational panel). We did in fact leave twice (once to go to the Expo Floor, where we ran into E and Stepto from Xbox) and once to wander through PC freeplay (Where we talked with the Digipen people). By the 3rd time we were told to leave and come back we noticed leavers were certainly in the minority, so I confess we stayed (plus by now it was 2:20-2:30, well past line up time.) I mentioned to an enforcer (I don't remember who) that we had left, but felt that following the rules was going to cost us and we were burnt out on that. The enforcers in general looked flummoxed by the sheer number of people, I'm not sure they really knew what to do. (And to be fair I wouldn't have either.) So clearly some communication went awry somewhere that should probably be fixed.

    I was one of the enforcers up there trying to manage those lines. It wasn't that we were lost or confused about the situation, it's that we couldn't maintain any control over the huge groups of people that were hanging around waiting for skyrim to line up. There was only 6 or 7 enforcers on shift for that theatre, but by the time Skyrim was ready to line up, we had at least 25 enforcers there and it still didn't help. Now looking back, some of it could be blamed on the high number of counterfeit passes floating around. I'm just going to go with it was already going to be a very popular panel. We were getting really frustrated because nobody was listening to us. (and we were warned about a potential fire hazard. multiple times.) We tried to ask people to clear walking spaces, maintain some sort of pathway to walk through, and we just didn't get it. When we finally got everyone into the theatre for the Irrational panel, we announced that people could start lining up for Skyrim, just a huge blob of people jumped into line. It was so many people so fast, we couldn't manage it at all. People had packed in there so much, there wasn't any room for them to do anything. It started to get a little testy after a few minutes, after they realized they'd be there for a little while. I had cleared it with my deputy and told the people in line they could expand the line a little to give everyone a little more room. Just a little while later, we were warned again about a fire hazard, and had to ask people to stand back up and pack back into the designated areas. So yeah, it was crazy.

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  • TOGSolidTOGSolid Drunk sailor Seattle, WashingtonRegistered User regular
    To fix this problem I think that there should be pre-PAX registration for panels. "Sign up" for panels that you want to see online.
    That's...not a bad idea actually. It'd give the PAX Gods a heads up on potential crowd issues. I don't think it should guarantee you a spot since the resulting clusterfuck of potential bitching about missing out on panels would be a nightmare, but as a way to gauge potential panel popularity it'd be a great tool.

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  • tvethiopiatvethiopia Registered User regular
    TOGSolid wrote:
    To fix this problem I think that there should be pre-PAX registration for panels. "Sign up" for panels that you want to see online.
    That's...not a bad idea actually. It'd give the PAX Gods a heads up on potential crowd issues. I don't think it should guarantee you a spot since the resulting clusterfuck of potential bitching about missing out on panels would be a nightmare, but as a way to gauge potential panel popularity it'd be a great tool.

    like a 'what panels do you plan on attending?' survey? that does sound like it could be useful, except that usually by the time panels are announced, they are already scheduled for particular times/locations.

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  • tsrblketsrblke Registered User regular
    @B for Business

    To be entirely fair, I wasn't critiquing anyone's enforcing abilities. You were, in fact, presented with a nearly impossible to solve puzzle. How to handle masses of humanity that probably shouldn't have been in the same part of space/time in the first place. Then a curveball! The Irrational panel is forced to load late, making this worse.
    In actuality the enforces did the best they could considering the circumstances. Merely being frustated (as opposed to say, pure choas) is success! (FWIW, by "flummoxed" I wans't implying ineffective, or bad. You were unable to do the impossible. And I think that may have upset a few people, high bar you set for yourself.) My point was merely that there has to be some way to avoid said circumstances in the future. Yes, the unpredictables (load in failure of AV streaming equipment!) will never be accountable for, but something could be arrived at that prevents this sort of thing in the future. That's also probably less of your (or my problem) anyway.

    To reiterate. Y'all done really well. I use the phrase often: "The best they could hope for was to not fail miserably." You guys did that and more. (You may have actually been able to succeed.) Which is more than I could have said about myself had I been in your shoes. (which is probably why I'm not in your shoes!)
    But IMHO, that doesn't change the fact that you really shouldn't have been put in such a crappy situation in the first place, with no real official policy/rule to help you.

  • EnragedTemplarEnragedTemplar Registered User regular
    I got into skyrim on saturday. i got into the expo hall waiting line at 6:30am; ended up being 40th or so in line. at 10am when they unleashed the horde, i jogged. no fast walking; something under a full run to the skyrim booth. i got 5th in line and all 16 stations were filled with press. I waited 8 minutes to play my 15min demo (it seemed like 5 :c ). when i got out the line was at a 4.5hour wait and wrapped 3 times around the booth.

    i dont remember having these drastic times at pax 10. heck at PAX 08, me and my friend bought our day badges AT THE EXPO. the will call and registration were where the penny arcade merch both was this year. waited like 15mins in line for our badge. longest line was a 20min wait for gears of war 2 that year.

    oh the memories.

  • B for BusinessB for Business Registered User regular
    tsrblke wrote:
    @B for Business

    But IMHO, that doesn't change the fact that you really shouldn't have been put in such a crappy situation in the first place, with no real official policy/rule to help you.


    :^:

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  • TOGSolidTOGSolid Drunk sailor Seattle, WashingtonRegistered User regular
    edited September 2011
    tvethiopia wrote:
    TOGSolid wrote:
    To fix this problem I think that there should be pre-PAX registration for panels. "Sign up" for panels that you want to see online.
    That's...not a bad idea actually. It'd give the PAX Gods a heads up on potential crowd issues. I don't think it should guarantee you a spot since the resulting clusterfuck of potential bitching about missing out on panels would be a nightmare, but as a way to gauge potential panel popularity it'd be a great tool.

    like a 'what panels do you plan on attending?' survey? that does sound like it could be useful, except that usually by the time panels are announced, they are already scheduled for particular times/locations.

    Yea, but it'd at least give Commissar Khoo and the Enforcers (best band name ever btw) a heads up if something is going to get absolutely slammed and if a massive scheduling conflict does pop up (i.e. Irrational/Skyrim) then it can be dealt with while there's still time.

    TOGSolid on
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  • TangoTango Registered User
    TOGSolid wrote:
    Yea, but it'd at least give Commissar Khoo and the Enforcers (best band name ever btw)...
    Point of order: Khoo is actually the God-Emperor of PAXkind.

  • palmerpalmer Registered User
    adastra wrote:
    Tango wrote:
    You might not realize how big Tabletop was - pretty much the entire main areas of the Second and Third Floor? All those rooms were Tabletop. Plus Tabletop Tournament on the 1st floor, and the WOTC area in the Annex. After Expo, Tabletop was the second-largest thing in the WSCC this year, in terms of space assignment, expected Attendee throughput and number of Enforcers assigned to work.

    It was really hard to gauge the size/scope of Tabletop without looking at a map, since it was so spread out. I think that the separate locations also made it less inviting and perhaps a little confusing for some.

    As a first timer who came primarily for tabletop... it blew monkey chunks.
    Only after leaving, and poring over all my swag, did I determine that I had missed over a quarter of all the tabletop rooms. In the end there were what, something like fourteen separate tabletop rooms, PLUS tabletop zones out of rooms (like Steve Jackson) spread across 3 floors... in areas with low visible traffic (keyword visible, they didn't look busy, so why would I assume they are?).
    Plus, a lot of rooms were labelled Tabletop on the maps but were in fact specific showrooms for tabletop companies *cough*Paizo*cough* which is extra unhelpful.
    Between the maps all looking the same, and the floors looking very samey (esp. 2 and 3), it made finding my way around a PITA, and I missed tons of stuff because I couldn't find it or, I walked right past it thinking it was something I had already seen.

    Frankly, I missed one tabletop tournament because I couldn't even find the tourney room. Walked right past the entrance ten times over the course of Friday without noticing, then couldn't find it in time later, because I was on the wrong side of the floor.

    The maps are TOO abstract and "chunky". The lack of discernible landmarks left them extremely hard to orient.
    The vertical banner maps next to the escalators were the WORST, because they were, from a reader's perspective, UPSIDE DOWN.
    Also, completely lacking "You Are Here" markers.

    By Sunday I was used to this stupidity, and STILL had trouble orienting myself. Despite having strong map-reading skills.

    The lack of landmarks, and the overall lack of detail/genericness of the maps made them extremely hard to use.

    Also, Indie Games On Demand slightly irritated me by not being On Demand, but rather highly scheduled (games ONLY started on the even numbered hours)

  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited September 2011
    palmer wrote:
    adastra wrote:
    Tango wrote:
    You might not realize how big Tabletop was - pretty much the entire main areas of the Second and Third Floor? All those rooms were Tabletop. Plus Tabletop Tournament on the 1st floor, and the WOTC area in the Annex. After Expo, Tabletop was the second-largest thing in the WSCC this year, in terms of space assignment, expected Attendee throughput and number of Enforcers assigned to work.

    It was really hard to gauge the size/scope of Tabletop without looking at a map, since it was so spread out. I think that the separate locations also made it less inviting and perhaps a little confusing for some.

    As a first timer who came primarily for tabletop... it blew monkey chunks.
    Only after leaving, and poring over all my swag, did I determine that I had missed over a quarter of all the tabletop rooms. In the end there were what, something like fourteen separate tabletop rooms, PLUS tabletop zones out of rooms (like Steve Jackson) spread across 3 floors... in areas with low visible traffic (keyword visible, they didn't look busy, so why would I assume they are?).
    Plus, a lot of rooms were labelled Tabletop on the maps but were in fact specific showrooms for tabletop companies *cough*Paizo*cough* which is extra unhelpful.

    Yeah, that's just a bit lame.

    Between the maps all looking the same, and the floors looking very samey (esp. 2 and 3), it made finding my way around a PITA, and I missed tons of stuff because I couldn't find it or, I walked right past it thinking it was something I had already seen.

    Frankly, I missed one tabletop tournament because I couldn't even find the tourney room. Walked right past the entrance ten times over the course of Friday without noticing, then couldn't find it in time later, because I was on the wrong side of the floor.

    The maps are TOO abstract and "chunky". The lack of discernible landmarks left them extremely hard to orient.
    The vertical banner maps next to the escalators were the WORST, because they were, from a reader's perspective, UPSIDE DOWN.
    Also, completely lacking "You Are Here" markers.

    By Sunday I was used to this stupidity, and STILL had trouble orienting myself. Despite having strong map-reading skills.

    The lack of landmarks, and the overall lack of detail/genericness of the maps made them extremely hard to use.

    Also, Indie Games On Demand slightly irritated me by not being On Demand, but rather highly scheduled (games ONLY started on the even numbered hours)

    To the bolded, I find that surprising. But I didn't really look at the banner maps enough to verify that they didn't have markers. If not, that needs to get rectified....even if it's just a sticker an enforcer places on it after it's posted up.

    For the rest...well, it's hard for me because after three PAXes (PAXen?) I feel like I know the convention center like the back of my hand, but it seems like there are enough landmarks on each level map to orient yourself. At least provided the orientation of the escalators and such are drawn correctly. You've got the escalators, JamSpace, Handheld Lounges (for levels 2/3), then for 4 you've got Bandland, the Merch Booth, Info, and a map of the exhibit hall booths (so you can find the ones you're near when you're in there). There's not much to 6.

    I can agree that tabletop is pretty damn sprawled out, though. Especially when you get into the unmarked areas that aren't in rooms.


    Oh, and as for the orientation of map banners, from what I can tell they are all consistently oriented...so while it might seem "upside down" from where the reader is standing, for a lot of people a consistent orientation (such as north-up) is preferable. From my memory, all the posted banner maps follow the same north-up (or at least north-lobby-up) orientation as the ones in the program.

    mcdermott on
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