Blacklisted 3 Postmortem
BL3 was the largest Project M tournament in New England history, and if memory serves correctly, the 3rd largest Project M tournament on the East Coast of all time (I refuse to fact check this because I don’t care, but feel free to call me out in the comments section).
I was hired early on in the process to help. I was part of a team that discussed issues, but final decisions were typically left to the Head TO.
Blacklisted 3 Team:
Harmak: Head TO — in charge of all the shit, makes the decisions
GTown: Head Floor TO — run the event the day of, makes event decisions as they come up
Kunai: Casting/Seeding — in charge of both of the aforementioned
paperfairy (me): I actually still don’t know what my role was. But I was in the group chat and I advised on stuff because I run of a lot of tournaments and people like them, I guess.
I’m going to go over some common questions I’ve heard about Blacklisted 3. If there a question you had that isn’t listed here, its because I had no control over that particular aspect or decision, OR I forgot about it. Feel free to pester me on reddit/Facebook/Twitter and I’ll be happy to clarify.
Why were you a streamer, not a TO, for the event?
VERY early into the process, after I was brought on, Great Value Smash (the organization I own) was hired to:
- run the side stream
- assist with the tournament
- help advertise
- provide equipment if needed
I think we did all of THOSE things pretty well. As we got deeper into the planning process, it become apparent that GameUnderground did not (and still does not) have a regular streamer since Ovis left. This left the question: who is going to be the board operator for BL3?
At this point, GTown, an experienced TO with his own legacy was pretty confident he could solo the event, so I did what I thought was best — I offered to run the main stream while the others handled the floor. I did what I thought was best for the event. I wasn’t perfect, but we weren’t going to get anybody better than me without having to dish out cash that we simply didn’t have, and I still stand by this decision.
Why did the main stream have so many problems?
While I volunteered to be the board operator, I’ll be honest and say that the hardware side of streaming is still very much a mystery to me. The GVS co-owner and broadcast manager, Dual, is a very talented man that truly makes the entire thing look effortless — he makes my job much easier because he makes sure I don’t ever have to worry about it.
That being said, GameUnderground has very different equipment than GVS does, and I’m going to ahead and say that I truly believe GVS’ stream is the better stream. The plan was to arrive to GameUnderground early in the day on Friday, spend the day getting their stream to at least match ours in quality, and then run the event on Saturday and Sunday, with Dual and I switching off if a problem occurs.
Of course, a wrench was thrown into the plan when I got a new job. My training for that job was the week of BL3, and my vehicle was the only thing that could transport the staff and our equipment from CT to MA. I left training a day early, flew back to CT from Denver, picked up everything and drove straight to MA. We arrived at 7pm.
It was not enough time. We did the best that we could and finally went to bed at 3am.
…this didn’t work, as you saw. Much of the weekend from our end was spent desperately trying to get at least to an acceptable level. This was most obvious when listening to the caster’s audio levels (an explanation that requires technical knowledge that I don’t have), but other things that broke include:
- YouTube autouploader — the script we purchased from Bird (this kid is a fucking legend, BTW) worked perfectly on our home venue’s Internet connection/upload rate, but this did NOT scale up once we were in a new venue with two streams during autoupload at once. This should have been tested the night before, but none of us thought of it. I imagine this will be fixed in time Supernova and Shine. As of you reading this post though, I imagine all the sets are already up, perhaps without thumbnails, though, which will be coming later in the week.
- Caster camera — the power cable for the caster’s camera has a loose port, and would randomly disconnect without us noticing until it was powering down, as you all noticed during the stream. We never actually fixed it, I just became hyper aware of the issue and would reconnect it every few sets just to make sure.
- Overlay covering the game clock — GU’s stream computer uses different stream software than us, and handles resizing differently, and our software caused blue screens when we attempted to use it. There was no way to fix it in time, as our artist, Moon-Doggie, was live at the event without his equipment.
- Top 8 game audio desync — HONESTLY guys, this is something we have NEVER experienced before and we have literally NO idea what is/was causing it. It’s not a bug we were able to reproduce in real time, but looking at the VODs on both Youtube and Smashcast, the problem is absolutely still there. Dual claims a reboot would’ve fixed it, but we decided not to disrupt the momentum of the tournament and kept going, particularly because it was so late into the game. I also stand by that particular decision.
Ultimately, the lesson to be learned here is to never again agree to do something using somebody else’s equipment. There’s too many unknown variables and not enough time to get things the way we want them, and so, we apologize for our failure on that front.
What the hell was up with side events?
This was 99% me, so I feel comfortable talking about it.
The original event was planned to be 5/6 man RR pools into 64 Pro and 64 Ammy brackets. This left 33% of entrants with nothing to do after Pools were over. I am strongly of the opinion that FGC as a whole is terrible at making events actually worth the time of all of the people attending the event, and its something that I want to (and plan to) change. That being said, Frostbite 2017 inspired me to run side events in order to give lower level players a reason to come aside from going 0-x.
I’m willing to admit that I overdid it.
I also really wanted BL3 to be a CELEBRATION of Project M, so I wanted to do a bunch of side events that would be exclusive to PM that would help deepen the appreciation for the game as a whole. If I am involved next year, I will absolutely continue to try to do this.
What’s the most interesting is that the BL3 staff got more complaints about a side event capping than we did about all other things (schedule, seeding, anything else) combined. APPARENTLY, people really wanted to play in side events.
Too many side events
Sure, fine. There were a lot, and this was a common complaint but… I still don’t actually see the ISSUE here. There were a lot of OTHER problems that I think led to people saying this, but decreasing the number of side events wouldn’t have solved them.
That being said, I’m not opposed to doing less if people actually want less.
Side events took up too many setups
I actually don’t understand this one.
Side events only consumed 10 or so setups over the course of 2 days. After 3 PM on Day 2, Pro Bracket was being run on five setups, Side Events capped at 16 entrants, so they consumed 8 at the most, (and only for two rounds) so 19 setups were for casual play. (There were also 2 setups that were not used in any official capacity after Pools!)
The true problem lies in the fact there were 32 setups for a 192 man event, which means 33% of players could be playing at once. This is very very interesting to me, because most nationals don’t even reach 20%, but there are some which are praised for having ‘tons of setups’ regardless of the number of side events. I’m very interested to observe this trend at future events.
I’m interested in discussing this one in particular, so hit me up via DM.
But I can very easily see why its easy to blame side events because you couldn’t plug in. I get it.
Side events should be restricted to one day
I’m torn on this one. YES, signing up for a side event prior and then realizing its not until Day 2 sucks, but this goes back to the justifying the price to the lower level players: why are they paying venue for the weekend if they’re only getting value out of one day? How else can we fix this? (Question for players that didn’t make ammy bracket: are you just happy with ladders instead?)
I think the actual solution here is to not allow pre-registration for side events, and just have sign up sheets in the venue, and run them sit-n-go style (signups continue until it fills at 16, OR a certain amount of time passes). This requires more staff, but I think when done correctly, makes everybody a lot happier. The existing implementation only requires 2 TOs, which is nice, given what we had. I’ll be working on this one as time goes on.
The events were wack
Final list wasn’t my doing, the events I chose were sick and received well. 😜
I think that’s everything that I personally had a hand in. Unlike usual, I’m willing to engage people in the FB/reddit comments section because I want live feedback for this, so long as things remain intelligent and civil. If I hit like and stop replying, just assume I’m done.
I am personally sorry if BL3 was a negative experience for you because of a decision I made. At the end of the day, I just want good events to happen, and I want players to enjoy them. I’ve literally devoted my life to this, and I plan to keep working at it.
Shoutouts to Cupcake, Clunk, Domlax, and KaZ, who were BL3 volunteers. The event ran perfectly on schedule, and you have them to thank for that. Give them a follow/tweet/hug, they absolutely earned it.