Another one in the bag

May 30, 2011 by Tim

The 6th annual Digital Overload LAN party is now in the bag. I’m home from Baltimore, and I’ve managed to sleep off some of the exhaustion.

This year’s event was an event full of changes. We picked up Digital Overload and moved it to a whole new city and venue, which brought with it a lot of new opportunities, but also a lot of new challenges.

I was pleased to see that despite relocating, our event grew in size this year. We had a lot of awesome tournaments and events. I know that Microsoft’s XNA panel had a good turnout, and personally I enjoyed watching the Mortal Kombat and You Don’t Know Jack tournaments.

This year also marked the first year I was able to take a step back from running the event, letting the awesome folks at Black Star Group take over most of the planning and logistics. This freed me up to actually play a bunch of games with people over the weekend, something I haven’t been able to do much of for the past events. I even played in the Warmachine/Hordes tournament on Saturday, and placed second!

Saturday evening I ran some beta testing on the CAD board game, which went very, very well. We didn’t get to run as many tests as I’d originally planned due to time restraints, but the people that did play the game seemed to really enjoy it, and offered some very valuable feedback. I’ll be making some tweaks and adjustments based on the suggestions, and I plan to run another round of testing at ConnectiCon in early July.

The tabletop area was also really active this weekend, with Magic:TG events running all weekend long, and a healthy supply of board games on hand, which many people took advantage of. I myself had hoped to get a game of Battlestar Galactica in, but wasn’t able to find the time.

Overall, I had a lot of fun this year. It was great to see so many familiar faces from past years, and it was great to see so many new people who got to attend the event for the first time this year!

However, this year’s Digital Overload was not without its problems. The biggest of which was the shoddy internet, which caused a great many problems for attendees. I myself was looking forward to playing League of Legends this weekend, which ended up not being possible due to lag.

It is a LAN party, and thus the intention is to play games over a LAN. However, developers are making it harder and harder these days to play games without an internet connection. Starcraft 2 is a perfect example. So internet is something we need to try and offer at the event.

It didn’t work out this year. The convention center wanted $26,000 for their internet connection, which I personally think is ludicrous. We had an alternative solution prepared that, under initial stress tests, looked promising. However it failed to hold up to the stress of hundreds of gamers.

I know this was incredibly frustrating for those who attended the event hoping to play certain games online like Starcraft 2 or League of Legends. I shared your frustration this weekend. I know a lot of you found other LAN-friendly titles to play, even going so far as to break out the original DotA, but it doesn’t make the internet problem any less annoying.

Every year at Digital Overload, from the moment the doors open, to weeks after the doors have closed, myself and all of the staff are compiling lists. Lists of things that we’ve learned, things that we want to try and improve on, or change for the following year. This was definitely a learning year for us, and we’ve definitely got some stuff we need to find better solutions for for next year.

Despite a few hurdles to overcome, however, I had a lot of fun at this year’s event, and all of the people I spoke to had fun as well. So I want to thank everyone who came out for the weekend to make Digital Overload the awesome event that it is! And please don’t forget to hit up the forums with your suggestions, and what you did/didn’t like about this year’s event. With your help, we’ll make Digital Overload 2012 flawless!

A huge thanks to all of our sponsors for all of their support! Thanks to them we were able to give DO2011 attendees thousands of dollars worth of swag and prizes!

Funcom let us use some fully unlocked Bloodline Champions accounts for a tournament. I hadn’t played the game yet, and I gave it a try during the event. I had noooo clue what I was doing, but it looked fun anyway! I’ll definitely be checking this one out some more this week!

As usual, SUMO provided us with a ton of their awesome beanbag chairs, and they were thoroughly enjoyed by all. Though someone left the zipper open on one, and someone unknowingly jumped on it. Beanbag-innards-SPLOSION!

Thanks to ConnectiCon for running Magic Drafts and Tournaments all weekend long!

And finally, big, big thanks to Brian and the 8×10 in downtown Baltimore for hosting an awesome after party for Digital Overload, and to Pixelseed and the bands who came out and played! You can check out these and other great chip tune bands at Byte Nyte! And if you’re in the area, make sure you keep an eye on the 8×10… the owner mentioned something about “Mortal Kombat Mondays”, now that they have a huge projector for their Xbox 360!

I’ll be posting more on this year’s event as I start to decompress. So much information to digest!

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