Fragapalooza 2011 - That's a wrap

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Well, its the morning after.  Fragapalooza is over, and I'm recovering.  I'm actually sitting outside writing this, enjoying the sun that I saw too little of for 4 days.

Day 4 of Fragapalooza was largely un-eventful.  I played a couple of games of Starcraft II, but that was about it.  I spent most of my time in the chatroom, and actually walking around talking to people.  there aren't too many games played on the last day, as everyone is pretty tired by then.  I personally had only slept 9 hours in 3 days, so the last thing I wanted or was able to do was concentrate on gaming for a long period of time in the morning.  I spent some time packing up my tent and emptying the melted ice out of my cooler, and worked on packing up my computer.  there isn't really much more to say about the day, because that's about all that happened.

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The closing ceremonies were the standard fare, tournament winners were recognized and prizes were given away.  It's been 5 years and I have yet to win anything, not that I'm bitter at all (ok, maybe a little).  One lucky person won an Alienware m14x laptop, pretty jealous about that.  There weren't as many prizes as there were in the past mainly due to lack of sponsors.  But while I do wish there were more, it's not the reason why I go to Fragapalooza.  I would still go, even if there wasn't any prizes at all, but they do help, and make for some fun at the end.  The random contests on Saturday night are more than good enough.

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The closing ceremonies did feature one really nice gesture by the staff and volunteers.  A custom made guitar hero guitar was auctioned off.  This guitar was made mostly of wood and had the Fragapalooza logo sculpted to form the body and end piece of the guitar.  It was actually really well done, and looked fantastic.  The staff and volunteers pitched in to win the auction, and presented it to Gil Amores, the President of Fragapalooza.  It was a nice moment, and a nice way to celebrate the 15th year of Fragapalooza.

The venue itself was fantastic.  I said in my first post about this year's event that I was excited because this was going to be the first time I had been to Fragapalooza in the same venue twice.  The facility was great, I enjoyed being able to go for a swim in the morning, and having a resturant on site was nice.  Not the greatest food I've ever had, but it did the job.  The only gripe I have is that Leduc itself doesn't have a whole bunch in it, but that's a function of the size of the city itself, and something that I can live with.

I cannot talk about Fragapalooza without mentioning the staff and volunteers.  As usual, they were fantastic, and their tireless efforts are appreciated.  The staff and volunteers are just that, volunteers.  The staff work year round to make sure the event is as good as possible for those who attend, and the volunteers at the event work hard to make sure everything goes as well as possible at the event itself, giving up some of their gaming time to make sure that we all have a better time.  It's not all very glamourous, I know I wouldn't want to be the one doing the overnight security shift, but they all do important work and the event would not be possible without them.  They deserve more credit than they will ever get, as they make the event go, and I thank them for that.

Now, I came to Fragapalooza this year thinking it would be my last.  If felt like it would have been good closure.  The 15th year of ragapalooza, my 5th.  There were many factors for this, including holidays next year, other priorities, etc.  I'm still not sure if I'm going to make it next year, but II've decided that it's going to be a much higher priority than it was going to be.  This has been one of my favourite years that I've been to.  Sure, the event is not as big, and it's a little harder than it used to be to find some games to play, but I had a good time.  the main difference this year is that as time is going on, I am having as much or more fun with the people there, not just the games.  I know more people, and I spend more time actually talking to the people, not just gaming.  Fragapalooza is more fun because I know more people, and have a better time with those people, this year was most evident of that than ever before.  That is the appeal that is going to keep me coming back, more than anything else.

Fragapalooza 2011 can be called nothing short of success.  There were no major issues or glitches, everything went smoothly, and most importantly, most people if not all, had fun.  It made me want to come back when I didn't think i was going to, so it must have done something right.  Thank you, Fragapalooza, for making this year's event awesome, and I can't wait for next year.

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Fragapalooza 2011–Day 3

I sit here typing this, on the Sunday morning of Fragapalooza exhausted.  Saturday lived up to it’s billing and tradition, and was my favorite day of the event.  Many games were played, several random contests were had in the middle of the night, and I got as little sleep as I could possibly get away with. The games were fun, including some games that I haven’t played in a long time.  I played the staples, like Starcraft II and Team Fortress 2, but I also took part in an Unreal Tournament 2004, err, tournament.  I came nowhere near winning, but that was a fun couple hours.  I hadn’t played that much in about 5 years, so it was nice to go back and give it another spin.  Another game that falls squarely in the nostalgia factor was Age of Empires II, which was a game that came out in 1999.  I played that game with a few other people for almost 3 hours.  I remember that game being among my favorites from about 1999-2002, and it was a ton of fun playing again, even if all of us playing were pretty terrible at it.  We played humans against the computer, and got killed quite handily by the computer on our first attempt.  The second time went batter, but just barely.  I think that AOE2 is a game that I am going to play a bit more when I get home.  It may be old, but it’s still fun.

The best part of the day though, didn’t come until the wee hours of the morning.  Two staples of Fragapalooza were held around midnight: the paper airplane toss, and the rock-paper-scissors contest.  I didn’t participate in the paper airplane contest because, frankly, I suck at it, but I was stoked for rock-paper-scissors.  The winner of the paper airplane toss had one of the longest throws I’ve ever seen.  There were a couple other throws that in any other year would have won,but not this year.  I ‘m not sure who won at rock-paper-scissors, because I lost in the first round for the first time ever, so I left in bitterness after.  (ok, not really bitter, but I was mad at myself).

I actually didn’t play a single game after about 12:30.  Most of my time after that was spent doing the chatroom trivia, participating in the general chat (which gets really weird at about 2am on Saturday after everyone has had no sleep for 3 days), and doing the random contests throughout the night.  The random contests are my favorite part of Fragapalooza.  They involved everything from getting the license plate number of a specific vehicle in the parking lot, finding people hiding in the venue, finding hidden object, and bringing random things to the head table.  I won a few things, didn’t’ win a few things, but was just generally entertained by the entire night, especially watching people frantically looking for one specific person, who was hiding in plain sight behind me, as we made fun of him and told people what he looked like. (don’t’ worry, I made up for making fun of him by giving him a wunderbar after).  There was even a lap dance at 4:30 in the morning that I will not speak further of, as that is not a mental image I want to plant into anyone, and something that I cannot un-see.  Things finally started to die down after 4:30, and I went to sleep shortly after 5.  I could see the sun starting to come up as I headed towards my tent, which was an interesting feeling.

I sit here on Sunday morning both happy and sad that this is the last day of Fragapalooza.  I’m sad because the event has been a blast, and I’ve simply had a lot of fun here.  But I’m happy because I don’t think I could have kept this pace up much longer.  I’ve had progressively less sleep each night, and I’m looking forward to going home and going to sleep tonight.  Taking Monday off work as well was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I’ll have a wrap-up of Fragapalooza probably tomorrow, but until then, there are still a few more games to play, and al of things to pack up.  but for now, let the last day of gaming commence.

Total hours of sleep at Fragapalooza 2011: 9

Fragapalooza 2011–Day 2

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So. Many. Video. Games.  Played a lot yesterday.  A lot.  Games I played yesterday include Starcraft II, Team Fortress 2, Half Life 2: Deathmatch, Dawn of War II, Unreal Tournament 3, and League of Legends.  A few of these games, I’ve played a lot.  Games like Half Life 2: Deathmatch, I haven’t played since 2004.  And yesterday was, somehow, the first time I had ever played League of Legends (but will not be my last).  Oh, and I played dodgeball at 1am, but I’ll talk about that later.

as is usual with Fragapalooza, things really don’t start picking up until the evening.  So after I was done writing about Day 1, it took a while to find a game to play.  In fact, I think that the first game I actually ended up playing was “avoid stepping on the people sleeping on the floor.”  At 9 am in some parts of the venue, that can actually be a pretty difficult game.  Lots of people sleep around the perimeter of the field, some sleep on the floor by their table, some sleep right in their chairs (no idea how they can do that). The first actual game I played was Starcraft II, which I hadn’t played in months, and I have no idea how I won both games.

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Dodgeball at 1am is a staple of Fragapalooza, and it’s as fun as ever.  This year they actually had real dodgeballs, which was a bit frightening, but no one lost an eye so I think we can call it a success, especially when 80 or so people participated.  And yes, we had a roughly 80 person game of dodgeball, with 4 balls.  2 games were played, and I can say that I did *much* better in the second game than the first.  In the first game, a lucky shot that I didn’t even see got me, I was one of the first 10 out on my team.  In the second game, I lasted into about the top 15, but I had 4 balls thrown at me at the same time, which is pretty hard to avoid. Smile  The best part about 1am dogdeball? it gets the blood pumping, and woke me up so I was good for a few more hours.

When I finally packed it in at about 4am, there was a brilliant light show to the north-north east.  it actually made it pretty hard to sleep when the tent was light up like daylight every 30 seconds or so.  If I wasn’t so tired, I would have stayed up to watch, as it was actually pretty spectacular.  I eventually fell asleep, but woke up to an absolutely wicked wind-storm at 7:30.  I actually thought my tent was going to collapse it was so windy.  I’ve spent a lot of time in tents over the years, and I think that this was the worst wind I’ve ever experienced while in a tent, and it was not fun.  So here I am, on 3 hours of sleep, with the largest coffee I can find beside me.  I don’t know how I’m going to stay up all day today, might just have to take a nap.

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I kind of wish that I had more to talk about here, but there simply…..isn’t.  The games are fun, but I’m sure not many people want a play-by-play of absolutely everything I’ve played.  The only thing I will say about the gaming is that a game of 12 vs. 12 in Team Fortress 2 remains one of the most fun gaming experiences I’ve ever had.  But since there aren’t as many sponsors this year, there aren’t as many random contests.  Nothing especially exciting has happened to me so far.  That isn’t really the fault of the organizers, and that doesn’t mean that the event isn’t fun, because I’m having a good time, just that nothing super awesome has happened, yet.  Saturday night is generally the best night of the event, so I can’t wait to see what it brings.  And now, back to gaming.

Total number of hours slept through two nights:  7.

Fragapalooza 2011–Day 1

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Well, we made it through an entire day of Fragapalooza without losing power.  That sounds trivial, but after going almost 18 hours without power last year, it is a pretty big deal.  That meant more time for games, trying to find games, and screaming at the trivia bot(more on that later).  Overall, Fragapalooza is off to a great start.

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People always trickle in to Fragapalooza throughout the first day.  I arrived at about 11, and the venue was less than 1/4 full.  That was fine with me, since it always takes a couple of hours to actually get everything set up.  It’s a few trips of bringing the computer in, bringing the cooler with the drinks and the food in, as well as bringing in things like my keyboard and mouse which, funnily enough, are pretty important.  Setting up the tent this year was actually a lot nicer, as I found a grassy area to put my tent up.  Last year I had to set the tent up on a gravel area, which made me feel like I was sleeping on the side of a mountain, so sleeping on grass felt so nice.

Thursday is always the quietest day of Fragapalooza, so I took mostly to playing Team Fortress 2, as it was one of the few “popular” games that I could consistently find people playing, with a few breaks in the action.  Though one of my favorite things about Fragapalooza is that people can hop into the chat room, and generally find people to play most games you may want to play. I spent a couple hours playing a worms clone (I had a team of ninjas!), where I successfully managed to murder myself several times, and a Tron-like game where I also successfully managed to murder myself several times.  but games like that are what make Fragapalooza, and I enjoyed it, and hope to play more of them today.

There have been a few glitches though.  Late last night we were trying to get a game of Left 4 Dead 2 running, and it kept error-ing, so that was annoying.  I’m itching to kill some zombies, so I’m looking forward to getting into that game today.  The other glitch was my with the friend that I’m sitting with.  His computer had issues that we spent about an hour trying to get fixed, but all is now well with him.  But overall, Fragapalooza is off to a strong start.

I also spent a couple of hours playing trivia.  A trivia “bot” in a chatroom channel spits out questions, first person to type the correct answer gets points.  Pretty simple in practice, but this year’s Trivia bot is cruel and torturing.  There have been some hilarious moments; when 10 people couldn’t figure out how to spell “hamburglar”  and it asking the exact same question twice.  but there have been other times when the questions are so obscure that no one has a clue, or the answer needs punctuation.  Though the worst part is the hints it offers.  ___-________ __ _______ is not a good hint, at all.  I’m a sucker, and kept coming back for more, but I may have to throw my keyboard through my monitor before the event is done.

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Quiet in the morning

As I begin day two, I had a good swim in the rec center pool, had a good shower, and am ready to go.  The worst part of the day? Waking up in a tent when it is 6 degrees outside. that was not pleasant.  It took a lot of effort and will power to crawl out of my sleeping bag this morning.

That’s it for this post folks, I need to get back to the gaming.  As always, you can follow me on Twitter @wunderbar for updates throughout the day.  Happy fragging.

Fragapalooza 2011

This year is the 15th year of Fragapalooza, and my 5th year going.  As I have done for the previous two years, I will be blogging every day from Fragapalooza, to give a sense of what the event is like.  I enjoy doing it, and I've received good feedback about how I've shared my experience. For those who don't know, Fragapalooza is a 4 day video gaming event that is held in the Edmonton area.  People bring their own computers, and play any game they want.  Fragapalooza is not as big as it used to be, but it is still a chance for 250 or so people to get together and play video games for 4 days.  It is a unique event in that it runs non-stop 24/7 from Thursday morning until Sunday afternoon.  I'm personally very excited for this year not just because this is the 15th year of the event and my 5th, but that this will be the first time that I'll go to the event in the same venue two years in a row.  I went to the last year at the Mayfield, the year at the SportEx, the year in Fort Saskatchewan, and last year in Leduc, in the Leduc Recreation Center.  This year returns to the same venue in Leduc, and I couldn't be happier.

The venue in Leduc was fantastic last year, except for the one major problem where we didn't have power for about 12 hours.  We've been assured that there will be no power problems this year, which makes me happy.  I really do like the venue, and can't wait for the event to start.

This year is a bit of a departure for me.  In previous years I tried to sit a bit away from the stage and head table, out of some of the higher traffic areas.  This year, I'm sitting literally right at the end of the row in front of the stage.  It should be an interesting experience, and I'm excited to see the traffic that comes by.  Though I'm sure i'll be less excited when there are a ton of people playing games on the stage at 3am.  Either way, it'll be fun.

I'm setting myself up in Tent City again this year.  Tent City is exactly as it sounds, an area for people to pitch tents.  If the area is the same as last year, it will be outside behind the building on a slightly rocky area.  The rocky area does not excite me that much, but I will live.  I wish tent city was closer to the doors to the venue, but considering I'm pitching a tent for free, I won't' complain.  Sleeping in Tent City is made significantly better by the fact that the Leduc Recreation Center has an excellent pool facility.  Last year, when there was no power on Friday morning, I went for a swim, enjoyed some time in the hot tub, and had a good shower.  I enjoyed it so much that I did it every morning during the event, and plan on doing it again this year.  this also takes care of my hygiene, which, unfortunately, can be an issue with some people at this kind of event.

All in all I'm super excited to get Fragapalooza started this year.  I can't wait to see what the organizers have planned for year 15 of this event.

I will be tweeting regularly at all times of the day on my twitter account, @wunderbar.  You can follow the official Fragapalooza account @Fragapalooza.  My blog posts will likely appear in the mornings, so look for them then.  And lastly, Fragapalooza is open to the public  to come and see from 10am to 9pm Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and from 10am to closing on Sunday.

I'll see you at Fragapalooza!

Oh, and I don't know how I didn't think of this until this year: but I bought a box of Wunderbar's for the event.  I'll probably give almost all of them away, but man, how could I not have thought of that before yesterday?