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Help Us Improve the PC Area At PAX

VapokVapok Just a Guy.BostonRegistered User regular
Hello Friends,

On the heels of PAX Prime 2013 ending, those of us managing the PC Room are wanting to take a step back and look inwardly to see how we can make the PC Room (both BYOC and Freeplay) a better experience for all. In doing that, we'd like to look externally to you, our wonderful attendees who consume the products that we put together for you.

Couple notes on how we desire this conversation to go. We're looking for positive improvements, suggestions, as well as things we're currently doing really well with. There may be things you suggest that we have no control over, and there may be things that you suggest that we have complete control over. We also can't guarantee that we implement everything that comes from this thread, or anything at all for that matter. What I can guarantee is that the folks who want to make the PC Room the best it can be, will be reading this, myself included.

Please try to keep this discussion on topic. Suggestions that you provide that are not specifically in response to the PC Room, I'd like to minimize as much as possible. The same goes for any banter among people who comment. We're open to discussion if we remain on topic, and we'll likely even ask for more information if there's something you strike upon that intrigues us.

The goal being, building the best PC Room (Freeplay and BYOC) that we can possibly have for PAX East 2014 and beyond. Please present your feedback with thoughtfulness. And if we don't respond directly to you regarding your suggestion, do not think it's because we don't like it. We might choose not to respond much at all, depends on how the conversation goes.

If you like a suggestion that someone else posts, use the AWESOME link in their post so that I can see how many of you truly like it. That's better than quoting someone and saying "this rules!" Cause it allows us to see just how broad that suggestion reached to you all.

Here are some talking points for folks to consider?
  • BYOC In General
  • Atmosphere of the PC Room (includes music, etc)
  • Thoughts on Exhibitors? Want to see more? Do more? etc?
  • PC Freeplay Software List and Tournaments
  • What can we improve?
  • What are we doing right already?

There are other points for sure, but these should help get the conversation going. We look forward to your responses!

Thanks!

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Vapok

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    Ana NgAna Ng Registered User regular
    I don't have a new suggestion so much as a positive affirmation - last year at East I spent a good chunk of time in the PC freeplay area and I was very impressed with the entire operation. While I know some of it was just the time of day that I showed up, I never felt like I had to wait forever in line to play, and everything was working like a well oiled machine.

    I also very much appreciated that at the very end of the night on one of the days (probably Friday) my group was given a few minutes to wrap up the L4D2 campaign we were doing - that we had been working on foreverrrrr - instead of being kicked right off. You guys rock and it made our night.

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    EtterEtter Registered User new member
    Perhaps this has been fixed, because I didn't go to Freeplay at all in 2013 - but our major complaint in 2012 is that we arrived in FreePlay on 2 different occasions and got seated, played for about 10 minutes and were then asked to leave because a tournament was starting and needed the computers we were sitting at. They weren't able to relocate us - just had to go to the back of the line and wait to get in again.

    It was frustrating. We thought if those machines were going to be used for tournaments they shouldn't have been given out in the first place. Or we could at least get priority placement when other machines came open.

    As I said, we didn't even try to go to FreePlay in 2013 - so it's possible this is a non issue. Or we just got really unlucky on two different occasions in 2012.

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    MalfeisMalfeis Protagonist. 2d10 hit die. Chaotic Neutral. Registered User regular
    I've been to every PAX East/BYOC thus far, and I have to say that in 2013 you guys knocked it out of the park. Check-in was fast and simple, the security and layout was perfect, as was the management of the exterior noise (to the extent it *can* be managed in a building with 50,000 caffeine-addled gamers). And, I might add, this was the first year that the network cooperated each time I sat down to play a game - whatever voodoo y'all did worked great. Kudos - you guaranteed I'll make a shot at getting a spot again this coming year.

    The only problem I had (and it was probably with me) - I found it hard to keep up with both the exhibit hall and the events at BYOC. If there was a schedule of tournaments/organized games I must have missed it, aside from blundering into one as I came back to relax and play a bit. Communication to get through to people like me might help keep us coming back more often. Try flares. Or a clown with laser eyes.

    Idea (I'm sure I'll keep adding as time goes on):

    Convince some of the PC hardware vendors actually stop by BYOC to maybe give a talk on their hardware - not an infomercial, but just a one-on-one mini-panel on performance tweaks, modding, advantages of this-over-that on the PC room stage. Maybe a quick Q&A with the folks from Corsair, Cooler Master, Nvidia, etc. BYOC attendees are the core of their business, and it would be nice to get some more time with them other than 30 seconds of chat in the craziness of the show floor that amounts to a sales pitch and a button to take home. One of the best moments (PC-wise) I had was at the 2012 show where I chatted with one of the guys from Corsair about how he designed one of their (then) newest cases for nearly an hour. He even gave me a few suggestions for cutting/modding the case for an idea I was mulling over. I feel like this might add another draw to BYOC beyond "I should stop by before the raffle starts" for some.

    PAX East 2015 checklist: 3 Day Pass [X] Accommodations [X] Travel [ ] Time Off [X] BYOC [X]
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    WackBagWackBag Registered User regular
    Also an attendee of every East BYOC, my 2cents...

    1. Make sure BCEC Staff is aware of PC Drop off area! :) I'm sure this has been straightened out just had to put it in there!
    2. If it's possible, I know the BYOC PC tourneys are published on the intranet, but if there's also a way to publish the times of the non-pc event/games so we can make sure were around. (unless I completely missed it).
    3. More BYOC PC Tourney/Events. Maybe have timeslots/prizes set aside for "player suggested tourney's" or if a group wanted to get together for an impromptu TF2 tourney or something.

    Overall the experience last year was a blast, Check in/out was a breeze, it just felt like last year, there wasn't enough going on (or published) to keep my around the BYOC area. I'm not sure about no-shows but It felt like the room was 80% empty most of the time.

    Also, it almost felt like Corsair was a sponsor of the BYOC as much as they were around/ doing things. I thought that was great, wish more vendors were that aware.

    Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong or missed something. I'm sure someone will.

    Pax East 2014 checklist:
    3 Day Pass [X] - BYOC [X] - Accomodations [X] - Travel [ X ] - Time Off [ X ]
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    FireWaterFireWater Registered User regular
    To address your concerns point by point:

    BYOC In General
    Can't comment, though I am looking to attend the BYOC this year so who knows, I've heard its good!

    Atmosphere of the PC Room (includes music, etc)
    I thought it was fine, last year's PC Freeplay was bigger than the year before, though I do have some thoughts for additions (I will post more below)

    Thoughts on Exhibitors? Want to see more? Do more? etc?

    More exhibitors I think would be cool as there is still a LOT of open space in that area.

    PC Freeplay Software List and Tournaments

    Please if possible, announce potential tournaments prior to badges going on sale, I think different people would the opportunity to compete with their teams if enough notice was given.

    What can we improve?
    Stability of the machines, last year a few crashed on me and I was lucky enough to jump from machine to machine without incident.

    What are we doing right already?
    Organization is great, enforcers are nice (haven't met one that was snarky yet, and believe me I would let them know).

    Future Suggestion:

    Offer a gaming laptop area, where players can bring their own equipment and set up and play. I think a lot of guilds and other players who want to link up could REALLY enjoy this. Since there are so many gaming laptops shown at PAX, it might not be a bad idea to mix in some demo units as well.

    This would be easier than the BYOC and Freeplay because players just bring their own equipment and LAN. You can sell CAT 5 cables or just make sure that all the ports have a cable. Players can just bring their gear, and when they are done, or their time is up pack up shop and move along. Since there is so much space, and maybe exhibitors don't want to be in the PC area, and just on the main floor, I think this would be a great way to network with gamers, conduct tournaments etc...

    It would be like the Tabletop free play area, with laptops and internet access!

    Vapok, would that be reasonable?

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    taumesontaumeson PAX PC Room Manager Minnesota?Registered User regular
    Every single post so far is my favorite. The team did an excellent job this year. And these suggestions are fantastic.

    1. Vendor time on the stage to talk to BYOC attendees. Might get a little pushback based on the fact they are doing exactly this in panels and in their booths, but it would be good to get in front of PC-based attendees at a different level than for the general public.
    2. Better BYOC communication. Mr. Lector, I am there with you.
    3. Laptop area. I think we would still have it be BYOC, but perhaps a little denser -- and we could definitely expand BYOC more. I'll have to check in on the amount of networking gear we have access to.

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    FireWaterFireWater Registered User regular
    I am curious, as to why some tables can't be setup with access to network ports to make a mini BYOC come as you go?

    Are there security concerns? Expanding the BYOC would be great I am looking forward to joining it (with my laptop)

    I just think an area for gaming laptops, bring your own would be sweet!

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    VapokVapok Just a Guy. BostonRegistered User regular
    edited September 2013
    @FireWater, To comment on what you're calling a mini BYOC come-as-you-go, if I understand what you're talking about, you're describing a scenario where tables out in the open were setup that allow anyone to sit, plug up, and do something with the intention that they stay for a few minutes and then leave. I think it's safe to say that this idea has a great intention but that execution would be more difficult than you think.

    The biggest problem I see is that without some kind of system in place, I see attendees taking advantage of using that space for extended periods of time preventing other people from making use of it, and then causing some people to get frustrated because they've been waiting an hour to use that space. Which could lead to unexpected additional queue lines to form.

    So to solve for that, would mean putting in some kind of time limit scenario which means we'd have to staff that location with an Enforcer. While it might look like our Enforcer pool is infinite, many times, departments are actually running on less Enforcers than needed. Implementing a new system like this will cause more strain on those departments that would staff it. Again, resourcing seems like an easy problem to fix, but I can assure you, that's one of the hardest parts of putting a PAX together.

    If I were to try and create a middle ground scenario, it would be to still require people to purchase a BYOC badge, but that maybe we bunch laptops together in a more dense configuration allowing for more people into BYOC (if they're using a laptop). What makes this more difficult from a planning point of view, is that we'd have to obtain that information (that you're bringing a laptop) upon ticket purchase, which is currently not something that is setup.

    Having said all of that though, I think you highlight some interesting areas that might be worth taking note on to see what exactly is possible for us to do in this regard.

    Thanks for the suggestions!

    Vapok on
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    Vapok
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    FireWaterFireWater Registered User regular
    I think a compromise might be an expanded BYOC for Laptops only, no monitors or anything, it would just require the one electrical outlet instead of two, still the same number of network ports. I have to imagine that laptops overall would take up less space and may allow for more BYOC people.

    I get that there are enforcer limitations, hence making execution difficult or even impossible. I did remember seeing A LOT of floor space available last year, so maybe just expanding the BYOC may address that need.

    It could also be that even if you announced what I had suggested originally (hypothetically) maybe people wouldn't even use it. Who knows.

    Expanding the BYOC for a laptop section (not for status, just for space) I think would be a great idea, how many seats do you think you could add?

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    K41NK41N [E] PC Gopher Monkey Mahwah, NJRegistered User new member
    I'm trying to think of anything that came up during PAXEast '13...

    1) I'd definitely say getting more Vendor Satellite booths setup down in the pit would be a good sell. It kinda felt like while the gaming enthusiasm was there, the vendor and manufacturer presence wasn't as strong, if not nearly completely absent entirely. I remember in PE'12, Intel's tournament area was nearly inside of PC Freeplay, so it drew a bigger more engaging crowd and interest in what they were doing. Even bigger than that tho is we have all this awesome hardware that is setup for all the comps, but yet no easy way for people to snag those products than wandering around the con trying to find their booth.

    2) Advertised Tournaments via a secondary Projector on the airwall or more signage would be a good thing I also think to draw people.

    3) Maybe figure out a cross-event with TableTop Gaming since theyre right next door to us? Magic the Gathering Duels of the Planeswalker 2014 is out now, maybe that could be used in some fashion for a digital Magic Tourney?

    4) More gaming posters put up for current games out or coming out? Also in PE'12, vendors had more Demo stuff to show in our area than out on the show floor. Again, this is just an off-the-cuff idea, PE'13 just seemed to have fewer demo stuff to play and test out.

    5) Enforcers get lightsabers. I realize the economical burden this would cause in issuing plasma fueled sidearms to [E], but I believe its in the best interest of all PCFP and BYOC that we be armed against roaming Sith!

    So there's my own 5, hopefully it helps spark some ideas~

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    [H]olyGeekboy[H]olyGeekboy PAX dad and PC builder ClevelandRegistered User, ClubPA regular
    VAPOK!

    In general, I have to say I really enjoy East as a PAX Experience more than Prime, but the Prime PC room this year was so spectacularly excellent (thanks to the hard work of yourself and Neverender), I think we should carry over best practices.

    We need someone like Pyro (is Pyro coming to East?!) running that PA system. Someone who sounds authoritative, yet humorous. Who can provide updates and announcements, with a little bit of random color.

    We need to manage flow through the PC room so that we're not overwhelming the PC Security guys who are trying to block the BYOC entrance. This has been a big issue for two Easts now. It is, to me, the biggest logistical issue. It's not an issue at Prime because of the flow of the Annex. It's a huge issue at East because the map shows the most direct path from Expo to Tabletop and the Food Court as right through BYOC.

    Setup and Teardown: We can manage that stuff internally, but nice damn job at Prime, man.

    Peace, Love and Video Games:

    -Roger

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    [H]olyGeekboy[H]olyGeekboy PAX dad and PC builder ClevelandRegistered User, ClubPA regular
    PS - Atmosphere: The music was an awesome touch, especially for those standing in line at PC Freeplay.

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    K41NK41N [E] PC Gopher Monkey Mahwah, NJRegistered User new member
    We need a continuous cycle of Tom Sawyer by Rush being played 24/7

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    flatlineflatline Registered User regular
    K41N wrote: »
    We need a continuous cycle of Tom Sawyer by Rush being played 24/7

    This might actually be worse than the time Red threatened to play nothing but the theme from Robot Unicorn Attack (and remixes).

    East 2014 Status: Badge [ Friend got it ] Hotel [Crappy] BYOC [YES] Transport [ ] Name on Forum Badge [ ] Challenge Coin [ ]
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    TrandescentTrandescent Registered User regular
    edited September 2013
    My only gripe was that there was giveaways/contests held in the BYOC area the same time as tourneys in the freeplay area (Example: Keyboard crushing contest at the same time as the CS:GO tourney, shuffleboard during FTB tourney, etc).

    And I know this is a stretch but is it possible to remove the BYOC passes from the website registration? East BYOC was virtually empty..

    Trandescent on
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    PAX East 2018 4-Day Pass [X] BYOC Pass [X] Hotel Reservation [X]

    See y'all at PAX East 2018!
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    aBByNormaLaBByNormaL Registered User regular
    Too far to lug my desktop computer but I could see my daughter wanting to bring her laptop for Minecraft :lol:

    PAX East 2016 .... gots my Passes [x] Hotel [x] Flights [x] Packed [..] .... ok we're all good !!!!!
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    flatlineflatline Registered User regular
    And I know this is a stretch but is it possible to remove the BYOC passes from the website registration? East BYOC was virtually empty..

    I'll be honest, the last two years I haven't really been in BYOC much, it was more of a quiet(ish) place to sit down between other activities. The amount of time I spend there is roughly dependent on the people I'm rolling with (not all of whom do the BYOC thing) and the quality of other panels/games/tournaments. Last year we did a lot of tabletop, and the year before there were some network issues (beyond the control of the BYOC [E]s) the first day that kind of sucked. Still I always splash the $35 or whatever to have the space. One of my goals for 2014 is to do a little bit more in the BYOC area again.

    East 2014 Status: Badge [ Friend got it ] Hotel [Crappy] BYOC [YES] Transport [ ] Name on Forum Badge [ ] Challenge Coin [ ]
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    VapokVapok Just a Guy. BostonRegistered User regular
    For some context, Prime 2013 BYOC was an entirely different experience from what East has experienced the past two years. This year, for PAX East 2014, our goal is to bring that experience to PAX East and make it an awesome PC Room for everyone, but most importantly, for BYOC, for the casual gamer, the pro gamer, and for the case mod experts and novices alike.

    Thats our vision, and we'll be looking forward to making that a reality. One big factor that will affect us is the natural environment and space that we're in for East, which is much different from Prime. It's much harder to create an atmosphere at East because of the large expo floor that we're in, where as at Prime, we're in a conference center floor, made of carpet, with walls, and partitions.

    We're going to do our best to replicate last Prime's experience for East 2014. =)

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    Vapok
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    TrandescentTrandescent Registered User regular
    flatline wrote: »
    And I know this is a stretch but is it possible to remove the BYOC passes from the website registration? East BYOC was virtually empty..

    I'll be honest, the last two years I haven't really been in BYOC much, it was more of a quiet(ish) place to sit down between other activities. The amount of time I spend there is roughly dependent on the people I'm rolling with (not all of whom do the BYOC thing) and the quality of other panels/games/tournaments. Last year we did a lot of tabletop, and the year before there were some network issues (beyond the control of the BYOC [E]s) the first day that kind of sucked. Still I always splash the $35 or whatever to have the space. One of my goals for 2014 is to do a little bit more in the BYOC area again.
    The problem was that there were people who had no idea what BYOC even was, but bought a pass just in case. I don't think we even filled half the seats at EBYOC 2013 (going by stations set up at tables rather than people), compared to filling almost every seat EBYOC2012.

    8elUgf9.png

    PAX East 2018 4-Day Pass [X] BYOC Pass [X] Hotel Reservation [X]

    See y'all at PAX East 2018!
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    BekerBeker Child's Play Program Director SeattleRegistered User, Penny Arcade Staff regular
    In an effort to create a "space" for BYOC, maybe have one of those large tents set up indoors to completly enclose BYOC? It would help reduce noise, you could have more control over lighting, and would make it seem like a seperate space. Would have to bring in seperate cooling systems probably though which would be a downside.

    -Beker/Erick
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    WackBagWackBag Registered User regular
    Beker wrote: »
    In an effort to create a "space" for BYOC, maybe have one of those large tents set up indoors to completly enclose BYOC? It would help reduce noise, you could have more control over lighting, and would make it seem like a seperate space. Would have to bring in seperate cooling systems probably though which would be a downside.

    Anybody else picturing BYOC in a circus tent? Awesomesauce!

    Pax East 2014 checklist:
    3 Day Pass [X] - BYOC [X] - Accomodations [X] - Travel [ X ] - Time Off [ X ]
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    FireWaterFireWater Registered User regular
    Any word about adding a laptop section BYOC or just in general?

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    zerzhulzerzhul Registered User, Moderator mod
    There won't be any decisions made that fast. This sort of thing takes a long time.

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    rileyperrileyper Registered User regular
    make sure all security watching the main designated entrance to the byoc when the floor closes i had a hassle with one of the personnel. They demanded a Staff/enforcer/speaker/exhibitor badge

    Pax Prime 2014 checklist: Accommodations[x] Travel [x] Time Off [x] BYOC [not attending :(]
    Pax South 2015 checklist: Accommodations[x] Travel [x] Time Off [ ] BYOC [x]
    Pax East 2015 checklist: Accommodations[ ] Travel [ ] Time Off [ ] BYOC [ ]
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    KilonumKilonum [E] Somewhere near BostonRegistered User regular
    What exactly do you mean? Last year the only people allowed into the BYOC area were certain exhibitors (those with a presence in the PC area), PA staff, MCCA security, BPD, and attendees and enforcers with a BYOC badge. So if they were asking to check your badge they were doing their job.

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    WackBagWackBag Registered User regular
    Kilonum wrote: »
    What exactly do you mean? Last year the only people allowed into the BYOC area were certain exhibitors (those with a presence in the PC area), PA staff, MCCA security, BPD, and attendees and enforcers with a BYOC badge. So if they were asking to check your badge they were doing their job.
    I think what he meant was BCEC Security, wouldn't allow him on the floor after the expo hall closes with a BYOC badge. They wanted one of the others listed.

    Pax East 2014 checklist:
    3 Day Pass [X] - BYOC [X] - Accomodations [X] - Travel [ X ] - Time Off [ X ]
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    MalfeisMalfeis Protagonist. 2d10 hit die. Chaotic Neutral. Registered User regular
    True, some enforcers didn't quite understand that people were still in BYOC after hours and were just trying to leave...same with the BCEC rent-a-cops letting us in early the first day - I had a rather long, exhausting discussion with one at the skywalk entrance on Friday morning this year before they relented.

    PAX East 2015 checklist: 3 Day Pass [X] Accommodations [X] Travel [ ] Time Off [X] BYOC [X]
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