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Acen 2012: The Recap

#1 User is offline   xtrastage 

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 09:57 AM

This year, Acen was a bust for me. It was my eighth trip down to Rosemont, and the first I could legitimately claim I didn't have much fun at since 2007. Acen has all the same problems each year, and those are usually minor inconveniences. But this year...this year they transcended minor inconveniences and become completely intolerable. Let's recap.

THE GOOD

(*) The MLP shoot on Saturday was fantastic, even if they did move us out into the freezing cold.
(*) It was nice seeing some new faces at Artist's Alley.
(*) A thousand thanks to the IRT staff manning the elevators and breaking up the idiots that do shoots in front of the doors and escalators.
(*) Kudos to the staff for making the fire alarm evacuation a quick and painless process.

THE BAD

(*) The Hyatt was a fracking madhouse. Now, this is my first time in the Hyatt, so I don't know how it usually is, but we were situated on one of the towers. It was bad; people partying in the middle of the night in the hallways, people in the rooms next to us trying to lure the (not legal drinking age) females in our group to do shots, a room below us was blasting the same three Katy Perry songs over and over and trying to tear through the walls, judging by the room shaking blasts that we heard.
(*) Staff really needs to learn how to make lines more efficient. I forgot my badge at home halfway down and, rather than going home, I just decided to buy another one in the Liberty Room line. I waited for an hour and half even though there were about 50 people in line. Only after an hour and 15 minutes and moving about 20 feet in line did someone get the bright idea to separate cash and credit into a single line. It was at least nice that they gave out sheets to fill beforehand, but that was just absurd.
(*) Panel campers should be lynched. Now, I understand that events fill up and that some are popular and necessitate lines. For example, Soap Bubble would be even more chaos if not for the line system. But, for real, there shouldn't be people lining up 2 hours in advance for panels in 60-person rooms. Can't the staff just allow no congregation?
(*) The game room...WTF's been going on these past few years? First off, why place the consoles in a different hotel entirely? That's extremely confusing and inconveniencing. Also, the arcade this year was even more sparse than last year. We have a third of the machines than we did when we had a third of the people. What's going on? What happened with Nickel City? Where did those machines come from?
(*) Panel cancellations were brutal, and I hated walking to the DT to find out that Anime Bingo was canceled. I checked the service desk before, but they said it was on. This is maddening.

And that be my story.

#2 User is offline   redx1 

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 11:08 AM

View Postxtrastage, on 29 April 2012 - 09:57 AM, said:


(*) Staff really needs to learn how to make lines more efficient. I forgot my badge at home halfway down and, rather than going home, I just decided to buy another one in the Liberty Room line. I waited for an hour and half even though there were about 50 people in line. Only after an hour and 15 minutes and moving about 20 feet in line did someone get the bright idea to separate cash and credit into a single line. It was at least nice that they gave out sheets to fill beforehand, but that was just absurd.


I agree 110% with this. I wasn't waiting in line for anything, but seeing a line for registration all the way outside and past the convention center building on Saturday when there where as many registration kiosks open is pretty excessive. I feel the registration system could be far more efficient.
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#3 User is offline   dorkatlarge 

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 11:35 AM

For me, ACen 2012 was an event that happened, and nothing more. I'm back at home now, trying to rest, and think about my experiences.

Murphy's Law is in full effect in regards to conventions. If something can go wrong, it will. I didn't witness any accidents, and I didn't see anyone leave in an ambulance, but unfortunately it's inevitable.

Hopefully the fire alarm was pulled by accident. If that was someone's idea of a clever prank, then that person should receive a warning at best, and a ban at worst.

It was disappointing to learn that Anime Bingo was cancelled, but I attended another panel a few minutes later. I left the con later on Saturday evening, after learning that the Anime Club panel would be delayed at least half an hour.

One person who registered on Saturday morning said that the line was a four-hour ordeal. Regrettably, I don't know if anything could have been done to reduce it...

I like large conventions for their variety of programming, and small cons for their lack of lines/crowds/chaos. I'll probably be back for ACen 2013, but I'll try to fit smaller cons into my budget as well.

#4 User is offline   char99char 

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 07:38 PM

Kudos to all the cross-players this year! It was great to see so many guys dressed up as their favorite characters. :)

#5 User is offline   JediNight 

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 12:17 AM

To reply to a few things here:
Equipment failure was the main issue with regards to Liberty. The systems for printing the badges were being problematic, delaying their ability to process people.

There were logistical issues with having the arcade machines in other locations AFAIK. Obviously it was not ideal to have them split, but with the con continuing to grow, there are large demands to be met for larger event space, of course.

As for the panel line camping situation: It's really a tough issue to deal with. If you don't set limits on when people can line up, then people feel obligated to show up hours early for panels they want to attend, which causes a fire hazard/line nightmare as they clog the area while panels before it in the same room would also be lining up. But at the same time, there are attendees that are still going to want to be at the head of the line that will always loiter just outside of the "restricted area."

And with panel cancellations: Unfortunately, we cannot control panelists with regards to showing up for their panels or fulfilling their commitments. It is indeed unfortunate how many were unable to happen this year.

PS: In order to avoid long lines, I cannot recommend enough to attendees to pay the extra $2 and get your badge mailed to you ahead of con. If your plans are rather shaky until closer to the con, you can still order a badge for Will Call up to a few weeks before Acen. My friend had his badge on Will Call for example, and Thursday night he only waited less than 10 minutes to get it.

This post has been edited by JediNight: 30 April 2012 - 12:24 AM


#6 User is offline   Dark Spellmaster 

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 12:37 AM

Rumor regarding the fire alarm situation was that there was someone who was playing with the extinguisher in a stairwell and the smoke from that set off the alarm. Yes a smoke detector is designed to locate any smoke, even the smallest amount.

Lines, you can't really expect a lot with malfuctioning equipment. Given the amount of people coming in and the use of the machines, something is bound to happen in regards to that. There are a ton of new set ups from what I understand for the departments where they are training them and actually there's a lot more professionalisim then there has been in recent years. Three cheers for that.

Campers, human conditions to get the best seat is to campout, see any movie premeire like Harry potter or the avengers or twilight, etc, and you already know what to expect when it comes to lines. The only thing to change that would be some sort of system for tickets, but even that will cause issues. Problem is with the no cogrigation is that you get people who "Really wanna see" so and so and make an issue of it. My only thought is that in the future, maybe take into account the popularity of the panel. Example, my DMC panel, they had to make rows in the back for it. People were against the walls for Castlevaina, and probably would have been more for the Transformers panel if in a larger room. Again it's an issue of how popular something is going to be, that is why you have campers. My only guess that could work is a situation where based on certain series, panels and people, have a pre registation deal maybe a week or two in advance where you sign up for the event to happen and then print out a ticket of sorts. Based on the number of people showing up for this, then you can judge your size, then again you have the same issue with the whole of people not knowing what they want to do till they get there. So pretty much damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Hyatt: If you were having that sort of issue, then report it. No I'm not joking. When you go to your room there's a direct number to the front desk, you call them and say, I'm in this room, the room next to me is offereing drinks to underaged teens, and the room below me is making way to much noise for sleep. Can you please send someone to tell them to turn off the music. They will take care of it because they don't want a bad rap for the hotel as not being able to control things. Also call the IRT, flag one down and be like, hey this is what's going on, can you please look into it, we are trying to sleep.

Lastly the game room: I asked about this myself. One reason they went with the hilton is becuase of a type of bag check over there, also more room for panels. The other reason for the lack of machines is that the supplier pulled out last minute due to problems on their end. So they had to rely on donations, which really hurt this year. Hopefully next year they can get other groups to help out. All in all I think they handed it pretty well.
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#7 User is offline   Jguy 

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 06:31 AM

View PostJediNight, on 30 April 2012 - 12:17 AM, said:

To reply to a few things here:
Equipment failure was the main issue with regards to Liberty. The systems for printing the badges were being problematic, delaying their ability to process people.


Just an fyi, there was nothing I was aware of from an IT standpoint that delayed the processing of badges. The printers are pretty old so it is understandable if they were starting to fail.
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#8 User is offline   Unka Josh 

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 03:28 PM

View Postxtrastage, on 29 April 2012 - 09:57 AM, said:


(*) The MLP shoot on Saturday was fantastic, even if they did move us out into the freezing cold.



I apologize that we had to do that for the photoshoot, but the crowding and noise were overwhelming everything else in the area. Hopefully, next year it'll be warm enough for a photoshoot that size to be comfortable outside.
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#9 User is offline   khraythia 

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 09:35 PM

View PostJguy, on 30 April 2012 - 06:31 AM, said:

Just an fyi, there was nothing I was aware of from an IT standpoint that delayed the processing of badges. The printers are pretty old so it is understandable if they were starting to fail.


Well...

(I think attendees deserve to know this. Feel free to pull this post if it reveals too much.)

There was an IT-related problem with Liberty. It was a miscommunication: we thought that they would have wired connections to our network, but they didn't. As a result, we had to scrounge up machines and peripheral cards to enable wireless access. For the most part, our computers are donations, so they do not have homogeneous capabilities (we tend to take what we can get) and some are in worse states than others.

The maximum number of machines we could provide that did both wireless network access and printing, at the time, was one.

We did get other machines up and running for data entry, and a couple of staffers also connected their personal computers to do badge lookup and printing, but I do not think that we acted fast enough, and as a result I think that IT un-preparedness pushed back badge printing in Liberty by a good hour and a half or so.

---

To address this, IT is obtaining hardware that can handle wired/wireless network connections and badge printing. (I can't make any promises just yet, but it looks like for next year we will have the resources to begin standardizing our hardware. If that ends up happening, it will be great.) I will also be talking with the ADH/DH about our room planning and emergency plans.

To attendees waiting in line at Liberty, I just want to say thank you so much for your patience, and that I am personally sorry for the mess. I've had to deal with insane lines at cons (like the registration breakdown at ACen a few years back) and I know how aggravating it is.

#10 User is offline   frzndaqiri 

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 07:07 PM

khraythia - Yes, I think JJ was trying to point out that the Reg hall and the reg system itself was 100% stable. We did have some unfortunate issues with networking Liberty into the mix which was beyond the actual reg system (we're trying to make sure that the system has the appropriate good karma it should have attributed to it!) and hopefully with a lot of new ideas floating around and coordination we can prevent that same issue from happening next year. :)
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#11 User is offline   rondo 

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 07:59 AM

Standardized hardware, especially from an IT perspective, is an absolute must. If backups can be had, pick em up too.

#12 User is offline   davebb 

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 01:32 PM

View Postxtrastage, on 29 April 2012 - 09:57 AM, said:

*SNIP*
THE BAD

(*) The Hyatt was a fracking madhouse. Now, this is my first time in the Hyatt, so I don't know how it usually is, but we were situated on one of the towers. It was bad; people partying in the middle of the night in the hallways, people in the rooms next to us trying to lure the (not legal drinking age) females in our group to do shots, a room below us was blasting the same three Katy Perry songs over and over and trying to tear through the walls, judging by the room shaking blasts that we heard.
*SNIP*


If you are in the Hyatt next year and there is a lot of noise in the hallways, please contact the IRT Hotline and possibly even hotel front desk. Especially if there underage drinking going on. Those rooms need to be called upon. IRT cannot kick the person out of the room for the noise complaint, but IRT can get in touch with the hotel security to handle that. IRT would get the badge names and have those people reported which could affect future attendance. But the problem is if the person isn't doing the issue when they get there, it's really not enforceable. So next year take the time to call IRT up and maybe you can get some sleep, and get some of these people attempting to provide alcohol to minors removed.
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#13 User is offline   Zerox20 

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 04:36 PM

View PostDark Spellmaster, on 30 April 2012 - 12:37 AM, said:

Campers, human conditions to get the best seat is to campout, see any movie premeire like Harry potter or the avengers or twilight, etc, and you already know what to expect when it comes to lines. The only thing to change that would be some sort of system for tickets, but even that will cause issues. Problem is with the no cogrigation is that you get people who "Really wanna see" so and so and make an issue of it. My only thought is that in the future, maybe take into account the popularity of the panel. Example, my DMC panel, they had to make rows in the back for it. People were against the walls for Castlevaina, and probably would have been more for the Transformers panel if in a larger room. Again it's an issue of how popular something is going to be, that is why you have campers. My only guess that could work is a situation where based on certain series, panels and people, have a pre registation deal maybe a week or two in advance where you sign up for the event to happen and then print out a ticket of sorts. Based on the number of people showing up for this, then you can judge your size, then again you have the same issue with the whole of people not knowing what they want to do till they get there. So pretty much damned if you do and damned if you don't.


While we make every effort to ensure the panel rooms will be large enough for the demand, it is actually something very hard to predict. We are going to try to clarify the application process a bit this year with regards to how large of a room a Panel needs. It was worded a bit poorly as many Panels just put 0-60 that were far beyond that. We did have some room spacing issues with what was suppose to be setup and what could actually fit as well once we saw it which are being addressed. I understand topics like Castlevania, DMC etc should be hugely popular, but sometimes things we expect to fill a room won't. When everyone applies for next year we will have a spot to put the approx # of people who attended last year for returning panelist to better situate the room. As for line policy we have considered the idea of no more then 30 mins before as far as lining up, but like was said above, people will just sit around the area and then wait for the signal and run and can become a huge safety issue. Trying to find a proper ticket system is being looked into for certain large events as well, but currently I do not see an easy way to 100% prevent it. =(
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#14 User is offline   JediNight 

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 06:01 PM

One of the things that MAY happen for next year would be imposing a No Loitering restriction on the Hyatt International Level (Basement). Especially on like Saturday night, there just isn't enough space down there to accommodate sitting around on the floor, having mini DJ parties, etc. AND properly arranging lines for events.

The Lobby Level (2nd Floor) of the Hyatt has a lot of space to socialize, and the Entrance Level (1st Floor) also has many tables in the back area of it for sitting down as well.

#15 User is offline   Dark Spellmaster 

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 06:06 PM

One thing about the tables, can you please make sure that they get cleaned off as soon as possible? I noticed people leaving food wrappers and such on table tops. Any chance that maintence could look into a way to get that area cleaned at times? I know the hotel is busy, maybe somesigns saying "don't leave trash here" or "Clean up when your done." ?
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#16 User is offline   frzndaqiri 

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 06:09 PM

If it has to be said - a sign won't help. :thumbdown:

Perhaps an increase of trash cans is needed? I think someone else brought up Disney having invested in studies of how long someone will hold a piece of trash before giving up and just dropping it. If it's left behind then either A. folks just really think that's appropriate or B. they looked around and couldn't see a trash can and figured it was better left on the table
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#17 User is offline   Dark Spellmaster 

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 06:15 PM

View Postfrzndaqiri, on 09 May 2012 - 06:09 PM, said:

If it has to be said - a sign won't help. :thumbdown:

Perhaps an increase of trash cans is needed? I think someone else brought up Disney having invested in studies of how long someone will hold a piece of trash before giving up and just dropping it. If it's left behind then either A. folks just really think that's appropriate or B. they looked around and couldn't see a trash can and figured it was better left on the table


*Raises hand* That would be me with the Disney comment. I learned about it in Business class and just thought of it when people were talking about how many people were littering this year. I have to agree, more trashcans in visible places would be a big help. I am not trying to sterotype, but there does seem to be a habit of a very highschool mentality of, leave it where the lunchlady can throw it out, rather then picking it up yourself and tossing it out. I wonder if it's because a number of people just view that area as an eating area?
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