UKSM’i64 – Matt’s Post Event Report

UKSM
23rd April 2019

Hot off the heels of UKSM’18 the staff was feeling incredibly downbeat, and we didn’t really know how we were going to recover from putting on such a terrible showing. Luckily a Discord member by the name of Jesse reached out to us and offered us the ability redeem ourselves with a showing at Insomnia. I think it’s safe to say that none of us really knew what to expect when going into UKSM’i64. It was the first time UKSM had ever made a showing at an event that wasnt its own. Fortunately that decision was likely the best route we could have chosen to take the event, and we managed to raise £337 for SpecialEffect. In this short blog post I’ll be going over what I think were the highlights and disappointments of the Insomnia event, and what we’ll be looking to do going forward.

The Bad

It is likely impossible to avoid having no technical issues at all, but the technical issues at UKSM’i64 were especially bad. The biggest of these issues occured on Sunday, where for some reason our streaming PC decided that it would rather not be a streaming PC anymore and that instead it wanted to become a fairly useless paperweight. We were pushed back by over 2 hours because the streaming PC was using 80% of its CPU on encoding the Elgato footage, which caused our audio to become incredibly laggy and distorted. We eventually fixed this… by moving over to our back-up PC and rebuilding the entire stream layout from scratch while the Crash Team Racing run was happening. Unfortunately this meant we had to cut two runs, Grizzzzbear’s Prince of Persia run and Paradox’s Little Big Planet run. Run cuts are never ideal, but both runners were incredibly respectful and understanding of why we had to do what we did. We hope it never comes to that again in the future.

On the point of CTR, CRTs also need to be spoken about. While we had asked Insomnia to provide NTSC compatible TVs, the sets we were given clearly were not. I don’t really think this was Insomnia’s fault, CRTs can be finicky and getting hold of the right ones can be difficult. We didn’t have time to test them before the event and paid the price, players had to deal with black and white gameplay. Luckily this didn’t really affect anyone in a meaningful way, other than GGDuane’s Metroid run. We will endeavour to get appropriate CRT sets for the EGX event later this year.

Audio was the final technical issue we really had to deal with over the course of the weekend. It was painfully clear that the microphones we were using weren’t really fit for the purpose of a live streamed marathon in a convention hall. The microphones were constantly peaking and while the noise reduction did its best to reduce the amount of convention noise it was ultimately fruitless. Conventions are noisy places, but we will try and improve the quality of audio for the next event.

Aside from Technical issues the only bad thing I can think of is communication of information. We really fell short on that this year. There was nothing below the stream on the Twitch page until the last day and we didn’t post in the discord when we were going live. Runners also found getting into the event difficult as we didn’t really designate a meeting point. All of this will be rectified for the future.

 

The Good

With the bad out of the way, it’s time to focus on the good… and there was a lot of it. In many ways, despite the technical issues, this years UKSM was the smoothest and most enjoyable both for the staff and I assume the majority of the runners. I believe that this was partly due to our location. Being inside an event like Insomnia, with so many other things happening throughout the event, gives runners the ability to meet up and do other things while waiting for their runs or after their runs. I spent so much more time making new friends with our runners than any other year, and the event felt just that much more positive because of it. Speedrunning marathons are interesting, but in my opinion if a run is happening that you don’t particularly enjoy there isn’t usually anything else to do and it may end up feeling a bit stale. Being inside such a bustling and active convention allowed us to avoid that pitfall. Due to this convention setting we also had plenty of people passing through the booth to take a seat and watch the show… even if a fair few of those people may have just been trying to rest their feet in a place where chairs and benches are a luxury commodity.

The other major good thing at UKSM’i64 were the stage runs. Rekuyx, Pho, Drakodan and Argick all put on fantastic live main stage speed run showcases, from Super Monkey Ball and Alex Kidd to Sonic Adventure DX and a blind Sonic Adventure 2 Boss Rush. These events were viewed by hundreds of people in the main stage arena of Insomnia, and from the reports we heard back the public absolutely loved them. It was really cool for us to see the UKSM logo and our runners up there in front of a massive live audience, and gave us a glimpse at what the future of UKSM could be like.

The runs that were performed were all done to an incredibly high standard, with one World Record by Tky even being broken on the Sunday! We also tried something a little bit experimental out on the final day of the event, presenting viewers with longer form tutorials instead of your standard speed runs. This seemed to go down really well both with the online audience and live audience, and is something we will continue to explore in…

 

The Future 

To put it simply… the future for UKSM is incredibly bright. We have at least one event to come, EGX, with another smaller showing at the next Insomnia in August potentially on the cards.

When I accepted the invitation to Insomnia two and a half months ago I was worried that we wouldn’t necessarily be able to pull it off and so decided to treat it as a bit of a dry run for the upcoming EGX event. A chance to learn what running UKSM at an event like Insomnia would mean for us, and to learn what we would need to do differently. We learned a lot. We learned a lot about audio, a lot about event PCs, a lot about keeping kids doing Fortnite dances off our stage. We’re going to take everything we’ve learned about this years event and funnel it directly into the EGX event in October, an then we’re going to make it even bigger and better than what we just experienced. With a stage that can seat 100 people and four days over the course of the EGX weekend we’ll be able to bring a fantastic event to people at home and at the event itself.

This was just the beginning for UKSM, and I’m glad you were all here for it.

 

-Matt, UKSM Founder