(Topic ID: 122955)

TPF: Great Show....Terrible Tournament(s)


By Tsskinne

4 years ago



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  • Latest reply 4 years ago by Chet
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    #1 4 years ago

    Just wanted to share my impression of the Texas Pinball Festival with fellow pinsiders in hopes that it may be viewed as constructive criticism for future years of the show. I'm writing this while I sit at the airport watching Wrestlemania on my computer so I will be jumping back and forth....hopefully it remains understandable. I want to open by saying the show is really awesome and I do recommend it to anyone in our hobby, but it wasn't perfect and I will explain why.

    I will start with the positives.

    Location: Amazing space, ample room for all of the games, in addition to plenty of room to move around meaning very few lines. For a person like me flying in from halfway across the country it was close enough to a major airport and plenty of places to stay either at the show or within walking distance for affordable prices. Also there were lots of restaurants and stores within walking distance for anything you may need.

    Games: There were an awesome number of games, far more than I have seen at other shows including expo....and to be honest the quality of games were far up from many other shows that I have attended. I believe the prizes that were given out for the games at the end of the show is a big motivator for collectors to come out and share, and they really were just awesome to see and play. There were plenty of vendors as well showing off parts, leds, mods, etc.....and many of them also brought games this is without doubt the strongest aspect of the show....and although this is my first year, the auction games being available for play the entire time was hugely beneficial to the show and it was awesome that Fun Amusements did that. Also wanted to note that although many games on the floor that were for sale were priced high, people did seem willing to negotiate and reasonable, saw lots of games change hands including I think 4 separate WCS, and 2 NGG.

    People: From the Pinside Meet n' Greet to the random strangers from around the country I met, the show really had great people. As with any large gathering there were plenty of individuals there to possibly rub you the wrong way....but overall lots and lots of friendly people present to make the experience awesome. Our hobby is full of these individuals and it is a large part of what keeps me involved.

    Stern, JJP, Spooky: All three manufactures had awesome showings at the event. I think the clear winner was Spooky pinball, and no secret I got in on AMH about 4 months ago and my game is getting near its build date, but they were able to sell 25+ games at the show. I don't think that Stern or JJP did that. however they had their games there....I got to play Whoa Nellie and the Hobbit. There were 4 Wrestlemania LE and several pro models available, without these companies putting those games out there our hobby wouldn't be as fun so I thank all of them. That being said I did pick the AMH in the tournament whenever I could, and I spent a lot of time waiting in line at their booth to play the game and just as in December when I ordered I am very excited for what is coming to me very soon.

    Now with the negatives, and I don't want this to sound terrible, but honestly it was a pretty bad tournament experience and for those individuals who are organizers of the event I apologize, this is not meant to be a personal attack....I simply hope you can take it as constructive criticism and make improvements for the next years.

    Tournament(s): Ok, a very large part of my desire to travel all the way to Texas was to play in the several tournaments that they offered. I am not a great tournament player by any means, but I do enjoy competing, and especially at such a large event with such great players. Unfortunately this aspect of the festival left and extremely sour taste in my mouth. On the positive side TPF did offer several different tournaments to meet the preferences of a broad group of players. There was a broad selection of games, and most of them were in pretty good shape.

    On the negative side the tournaments were terribly organized and explained, they did not come anywhere near meeting the schedules as they had been described on the website, the technology/software that was used for scoring was comedically terrible, and overall it was incredibly sad to see such an awesome festival partially ruined for me by this aspect. The format as explained to me was designed to maximize points under the new IFPA system, but from what I can tell the qualifying format was simply chosen so that the tournament could maximize the amount of $ that flowed into it. At a cost of $3 per game, or $2.50 if you bought tickets in pairs, it was incredibly expensive to have to qualify on roughly 30+ games over the course of two days, for 5 separate tournaments, not counting the team tournament, the kids tournament, and the women's tournament.

    My easiest and biggest example was the Texas Tilt (essentially modern dmd games) tournament. The qualifying was cut off at 4:30 pm yesterday, with the finals to start at 5:00. If you finished in the top 5 either day you knew you were in the finals as a top 10 seed. However, if you didn't finish in the top 5 either day they would add your scores from both days together and if you were in the next 30 highest scores you were then also in the finals. The problem here is you had no way as a player to see your scores or other players scores from the previous day so you had no clue if you were in the tournament or not. As of 5:15 the finals had not started, and I had not been notified that I had made the cut so I decided to go to dinner with some friends assuming I was out. I returned at roughly 7:15 and headed to the restroom, on my way there my phone rang and luckily two friends from the tournament were calling me to let me know that I did indeed make the cut and I was currently being called to play and they were about to forfeit my game. So roughly $60 in qualifying money would have been down the drain, luckily I made it in time and was able to put up a respectable finish in the tournament. On that note also, the 40 man bracket was incredibly difficult to understand who you were playing, and why and when was a complete mystery. This was again not posted anywhere public but instead just on one sheet of paper.

    The next tournament I was to play in was the Texas Shout Out (other modern dmd bank). I qualified 5th the first day and therefore assumed I didn't need to play the second day. Turns out that they were still going to add those points from the second day and since I didn't play that bank due to already qualifying I automatically became the lowest seed in the top 10.....this could totally be my fault for misunderstanding, but again I have never seen any other tournament run this way. The qualifying was to stop at 7:30 pm last night (Saturday) with finals at 8 PM.......at approximately 1:15 AM we were finally told that the tournament would be postponed until 9 AM today (Sunday). So essentially what that means is I spent 7:15 PM (should have been 5 PM but I went to dinner since I didn't know I was in) to 1:15 AM sitting in the tournament area. During that time I only played 4 games of pinball. That is roughly a game ever 1.5 hours. I was told to stay in the tournament area meaning I didn't get to go and enjoy the 400+ pins on the floor for free play which I had paid another $60 for my full weekend pass.

    I came to the event to play pinball, I understand during a tournament I will stand in line and wait, but the poor score keeping software and complete disorganization of the tournament resulted in me losing lots and lots of time when I could have enjoyed other free games at the show.

    Lastly today during the final tournament the Wizard tournament, which I viewed as the big one for the show being the one to finish last....well it simply ran out of time. The A bracket was able to finish, but instead of allowing all of the B&C brackets to finish the proper way by playing head to head as they had in all of the other tournaments we suddenly were just told to play one game on Iron Man, and they would rank our finish by our scores....not by any of the scores that we spent lots of $ on during qualifying. Worst of all there was no communication or understanding between the tournament directors and volunteers. I was simply told that we were playing Iron Man to determine our seeds for the B bracket, it was only after my game that I was told by the tournament director that it was simply that score that would determine my placing and not my seed for any continued matches because I was just done now. Had I known this I would have played a bit differently.

    Overall the impression I had was that the tournament(s) were far more than the tournament director was able to handle, he basically bit off way more than he could chew.

    My suggestions for improvement are as follows, and with that being said they are simply suggestions.

    1. You don't need two separate days of qualifying to stand as individual days, simply let people qualify for the two days as one continued event and high score over the two days is first...its as simple as that.

    2. Don't establish cash prizes before the tournament, simply award % payouts based on what the tournament makes. I was left with the impression that this was a for profit tournament, and I don't think that should be the reasoning behind a pinball tournament.

    3. Use software, or a spread sheet that actually functions. There were so many scoring malfunctions that I can't begin to explain. The volunteers did a great job of entering scores and working with what they were given, the reality is the software was just terrible. The website looks like it was built in 1998, and functioned just as well. I know there is plenty of other software available that has been used at tournaments, and especially PAPA events, hopefully you guys can get your hands on that ASAP. I know the hotel's wifi was blamed for a lot of the problems, but I had the same problems checking scores over my LTE and 4G connections, as well as on the wifi at my hotel, it was simply the software/website not being suitable for a large tournament.

    4. If you are going to have a woman's tournament (which I think is a great idea) give them their own bank of games perhaps, or I dunno how about you actually make them fill included by having their scores viewable online as well. I spoke to several of the female players who were not happy with that, and I definitely agreed with how they viewed it as a slap in the face.

    5. Trophies are great, I got to take home two, I like them....but they are not necessary. If part of the charging for two separate days of qualifying is to pay for the roughly 70+ trophies you gave out.....eliminate it. Make it top three finishers get trophies and thats it, we don't need them for B & C. Make it a real overall finish. Print a paper certificate for the rest.

    6. Greatly improve your volunteers for score entry/data collection. The amount of time spent with players waiting for a score to be recorded was ridiculous. I have seen single tournaments with 1/5 the games you had available that have had more score keepers. Offer incentives, free tournament entry tickets, a shirt, a hat.....something. I truly appreciate all of those who volunteered this weekend, I just wish you had more support, and I hope that we as players treated you kindly and with respect.

    7. Lastly more clearly label/define the different tournament areas for the tourney. Maybe run just two tournaments one day, and two the next, with a finale on the third. I've only run a few small tournaments, 30 players max, but I was sure to have my ducks in a row once I agreed to come on as director. I suggest those involved with planning for next years TPF and it's tournaments do the same. If I can be of assistance please let me know. I don't know that I will be back next year, but I can do my best to help from afar and I am sure there are plenty of other players who were there that are going to be willing to chime in at least based on what I was hearing as we stood around not playing pinball for hours on end.

    Again, I understand that tournaments are hard to run, and I thank you for putting all these tournaments on this weekend, but please make improvements for future. The best advice overall is Keep it Simple Stupid (KISS, just like on CFTBL), do not over complicate something that there are already tried and true proven methods of success for in these tournaments. I'll discuss this on the next episode of The One and Done Podcast that I hope to record from the airport tonight after I finish watching Wrestlemania, that being said The Undertaker is about to come out so I am ending this. Had a great time in Texas, and again I apologize for the length and rambling of this post, and I strong recommend to any other hobbyist checking out this show.

    -Tommy Skinner

    #2 4 years ago

    Thx to all the people who put on tpf! They worked so hard! Major tourney issues, I agree. I will leave it at that out of pity for Marcus and team. Super hard job. I am sure they will continue to try to improve! The major tourney issues this year will inspire them!

    #3 4 years ago

    I transferred your post to my Kindle, put a bookmark in it, and will finish reading tomorrow.

    #4 4 years ago

    Yeah sorry, tried to be detailed and have an explanation for my feelings. Figured it would be too long for most to read here, but oh well, felt better.

    #5 4 years ago
    Quoted from Tsskinne:

    Yeah sorry, tried to be detailed and have an explanation for my feelings. Figured it would be too long for most to read here, but oh well, felt better.

    It's all good. Just busting balls. And here's two thumbs up to say I'm sorry!

    #6 4 years ago

    That tournament sounds like it was a cluster*#&$.

    #7 4 years ago

    Haha not offended.

    #8 4 years ago

    I think there was a plan to have text message notifications. I signed up for them prior to this weekend, but never saw anything.

    I agree about feeling "locked in" to the tournament area and not getting to enjoy the rest of the show.

    Between the tournaments and dutch pinball having a very un-dude early bedtime, I never got to see big lebowski

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    #9 4 years ago

    First off, I do appreciate all the hard work that the tournament directors and staff put in. I know it was super stressful, and you guys were working your butt off all weekend. THANK YOU. The tournament is why I came, and at the end of the day, pinball tournament is better than no pinball tournament.

    That said, I have to agree with a lot of what Tommy said. A lot of the stress and craziness of this past weekend could have been mitigated with some better planning and organization. And better technology.

    I also agree that how entry fees are distributed should be more transparent. Those tournaments raked in a lot of money. I would love to see a larger cut go back to the players, and I do not necessarily mean larger payouts (though, that is also good). I'd be happy to see a portion of entry fees go towards better internet connections, better software, hired scorekeepers, signage, projectors for scores, text message systems, etc. The smoother a tournament runs, the better it is for everyone.

    Again, thank you Marcus and team. I am looking forward to an improved tournament next year. I am happy to offer advice and help where I can.

    #10 4 years ago

    I just got back from TPF and I heard numerous complaints from tournament players about the the conditions and lack or organization for the tournaments...I didn't play in them, so I cannot speak from personal experience. The actual show is fantastic with well over 400 machines... The hotel that sponsored the event is also very good with free breakfast and happy hour drinks for their customers.

    #11 4 years ago

    I know that Marcus is a great pinball player and passionate about tournaments and tried his best to organize a great tournament this year. I'm sure that he will take everyone's praise and/or criticism seriously and use it to ensure that next year's event is much improved. I'm sure that the more constructive the comments are, the more he'll deliver next year.

    #12 4 years ago

    Sincere thanks to everyone involved in running the tournament for their hard work and patience, and especially for keeping a level head and working through issues as best they could when things got a bit heated.

    There have already been some detailed comments and I'm sure there will be more, but I think there was just too much of almost everything and despite best efforts it kind of fell down under it's own weight. I hope it will be streamlined for next year, with a priority on more visible and audible communication and standings.

    I didn't see anyone mention it yet, but I really enjoyed having a game with a camera on it over in the Shoot Out area. It was nice to have something to watch and chat about while waiting in line. That's one thing that would be nice to see more of.

    #13 4 years ago

    Totally didn't see this thread, I was busy typing and editing while this was posted. I very much agree with Tsskinne's take on things. I posted my impressions here:

    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/official-2015-texas-pinball-festival-thread/page/19#post-2348146

    #14 4 years ago
    Quoted from perryd:

    The hotel that sponsored the event is also very good with free breakfast and happy hour drinks for their customers.

    Free breakfast or "included" breakfast?
    Also note that the hotel hosted the event, for a fee. They did not sponsor it.

    #15 4 years ago

    I had a blast at TPF, but have to agree with the OP that it wasn't smooth sailing. I know arranging tournaments is hard work, and in an event like that technology is bound to cause issues, so considering that it could have been much worse. The volunteers keeping score especially deserve thanks for being positive despite the high demand for attention.

    I'm new to tournaments, and I did try to understand the rules from the website. Still I missed the key point that you need fri+sat combined scores to even have a chance to qualify (unless you are really really good). I think having signs with simple instructions and what games were in which tournament would have been a great improvement. Many players can't be there all 3 days so having to rack up points both days to qualify definitely is a bummer.

    Schedules slip, but please consider having simple instructions on how to play in a tournament, not have to qualify based on combined points but just ranking over 2 days and ability to see where you are in rankings real time. This would be a huge improvement

    Big thanks for all the volunteers and organizers, had a blast despite tournament not being as smooth as it could have been

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    #16 4 years ago

    First, I want to thank every person who provided games, hours and in my case, incredible patience.

    The TPF has always been the highlight of my pinball year and the show did not disappoint.

    Unfortunately, the tournaments did. And I am not going to offer up any excuses. It should have been better.

    All of the constructive criticism is being taken seriously.

    I agree that five tournaments was simply too much.

    Coupled with the fact that our TPF custom software was not optimized for the incredible traffic we experienced. We were confident that our software could handle the load because we have used it in countless tournaments. We were wrong.

    I accept all responsibility for anyone having a poor tournament experience. The only solace
    I can offer is that lessons have been learned and future events will be better.

    Once it became apparent that scores were disappearing, being saved against the wrong machine and/or tournament, I had to spend more time fixing data than I did taking scores.

    The scorekeeping will be improved.

    The tournaments will learn from our mistakes.

    And all of the advice and complaints are not going to be ignored.

    And while it was painful, we did complete five IFPA events that will each be worth close to 50+ points.

    And I am proud that my 100% volunteer crew did a fantastic job.

    If anyone cares to communicate directly with me and discuss future improvements, my mailbox is always answered.

    Marcus

    #17 4 years ago

    Marcus, thanks for chiming in, and I (and I am sure all other tourney players) appreciate all of your efforts and the fact that you are listening as well. Glad to help if possible, reached out on another forum and a few players are recommending Adam Lefkoff's software which sounds easily attainable. I also know of another software from a programer in MI, but I'm not sure how public he has made his as of yet. Again thanks.

    #18 4 years ago

    I went into the festival fully expecting to play some of the tournaments, but after watching how qualifying was going on Friday and talking to people I decided not to bother. I personally think that there were just too many divisions. At $3 a pop, trying to figure out which division to enter was too tough as just playing each machine once was going to be a big chunk of change and an even bigger chunk of time. Far and away the tournament had some of the nicest games there, which is what it should, but it had a LOT of the best classic games that were ONLY available to play in the tournament area. I really love having variety in a tournament, but there were at least 6-8 games in the tournament area that I had never even seen in person before and would have loved to play them, but not at $3 a shot. I know it is a hard line to balance on, but it is already an expensive weekend as it sits. There were several prize winning machines in the tournament area that I never even got to look at as the tournament was always going on and that area was off limits to non-tournament players.

    FWIW I thought last years tournament balanced this aspect really well as nearly all of the tournament games had duplicates out on the show floor for people to play. It seemed like nearly half or more of the 25+ (?) tournament games were the only of their kind at the show. (working at least)

    I know Marcus is really passionate about this tournament and really works hard all year to make it happen and it sucks that it had kind of a bad showing, but I know he will only strive to make it better next year. I really do love playing in tournaments, but the time it takes at a show like this really makes it unappealing as you can't really enjoy the rest of the show or seminars if you are playing in the tourney.

    #19 4 years ago

    I played in the Shoot out and had a good time. The tournament staff was definately overwhelmed and I want to thank all of them for there hard work as it had to be exhausting. The only thing that really disappointed me was that I played the shootout because I was told on Friday when it opened that the finals would be Saturday night. I had to fly back on Sunday morning so I could not play on Sunday. The tourny did not start until after 1:00 AM and then got pushed back till Sunday morning so I didn't have a chance to play after the first 2 rounds. That kind of made me feel like my money was waisted on the tourney. With that said it was great to get a little more experience and I appreciate all of the hard work of the staff trying to make it work.

    I can see why pinside is so dramatic now. There were some real peaches playing in the tourneys. I met some awesome people but there were a couple of the biggest assbags Ive ever seen in my life. Poor sportsmanship, disrepsect of the staff and most importantly the machines. I will never take a game to a show for tourny play based on what I saw. Lots of great people but several real jerks.

    #20 4 years ago
    Quoted from jgentry:

    I can see why pinside is so dramatic now. There were some real peaches playing in the tourneys. I met some awesome people but there were a couple of the biggest assbags Ive ever seen in my life. Poor sportsmanship, disrepsect of the staff and most importantly the machines. I will never take a game to a show for tourny play based on what I saw. Lots of great people but several real jerks.

    Wasn't at the expo, but played in a small local tournament late last year and it was an eye opener. Some really great people (Trent from Tilt Amusements was Awesome), but a couple I wanted to see thrown out.

    #21 4 years ago

    Tommy- classy way to explain your issues/concerns. Look forward to your podcast about the event.

    #22 4 years ago

    There are many things that need to change about the tournament. I will do a series of posts in them since I am at work and keep getting interrupted with having to do work.

    PROBLEMS FOR NOOBS:

    1) Registration personnel do not have any clue how the tournament works. As a result may people end up buying a single ticket unaware that it is effectively worthless.

    SOLUTION: Sell a "Tournament Starter Pack" that contains enough tickets to put up one score on each game. Have them explain to the players they need to play each game at least once to have a chance of qualifying.

    For example, let's say the tournament has 10 games and we go with current pricing ($5 for 2 games)
    The price list next to the register would say:

    TOURNAMENT

    Starter Pack: $25
    Additional games: $3 for 1 $5 for 2

    #23 4 years ago

    PROBLEM FOR NOOBS #2:

    Format confusion. To most noobs, their idea of a tournament is a single elimination bracket like March Madness. A noob-friendly explanation of:

    a) The concept of "qualifying"
    b) The qualification format
    c) The finals format

    should be prominently posted in a physical location. Not just on the internet, what we want is 3 gigantic posters.

    Also, if the format can't be explained adequately for noobs in a poster, it probably shouldn't be used at a show like this.

    Example: Let's say the tournament was a basic 10-game Herb with a double elim best-of-3 final taking top 8, next 8, next 8 for A B C divisions. (i know this wasn't the format used but it is similar to formats used in the past and at other events, and this is just for an example of what posters could look like)

    Poster 1 would explain that there are 2 phases to the tournament, qualifying and finals: In order to qualify, you must put up at least 1 score on each of the 10 games, the top 8 qualifiers will go to A division, the next 8 (subject to IFPA rank restriction) will go to B, the next 8 (subject to IFPA rank restriction) will go to C.

    Poster 2 would explain that your best score on each game will be ranked against all other players best scores, and that you score Herb Points for where your score places in rank, and the total Herb Points will determine whether you qualify and your seed. Call them Herb Points so players don't get them confused with the points on the game.

    Poster 3 would show a sample finals bracket and explain that you need to win 2 out of 3 games in a match to move on, sending your opponent to the losers bracket. Explain that the higher seed gets choice of game, and that the losers bracket winner must defeat the winners bracket winner in 2 MATCHES to win.

    Also have another poster that shows payouts and prizes.

    10
    #24 4 years ago

    I wasn't there, but I've heard several comments like that from the OP, who thought the tourneys this year were a cluster. The OP brings up a good point about why this major event was such a cluster this year, that the tourney was "designed to maximize points under the new IFPA rules."

    When the rule changes were revealed last year, I expressed concerns that this would fundamentally change the tenor of events, in that it would push events to have more games or longer qualifying just for the sake of boosting the point value of the event, and that quantity would not necessarily equal quality. It's unfortunate that this had to happen at a major event, but I think it's quite illustrative of how alienating the new point structure can be.

    As for our neck of the woods, the last tournament I ran locally also tried to boost maximum points by having a lot of games required to play, and the tournament went on forever. For the first time in my 2 1/2 years of running tournaments, I had several players decide to leave and forfeit the remaining rounds just to get home at a decent hour. It was a big huge bummer.

    IFPA 5.0 has a good intent, but its execution is flawed. Once events become more about points than they are for fun, we are going to see competition pinball's appeal shrink.

    #25 4 years ago
    Quoted from DarthXaos:

    PROBLEM FOR NOOBS #2:
    Format confusion. To most noobs, their idea of a tournament is a single elimination bracket like March Madness. A noob-friendly explanation of:
    a) The concept of "qualifying"
    b) The qualification format
    c) The finals format
    should be prominently posted in a physical location. Not just on the internet, what we want is 3 gigantic posters.
    Also, if the format can't be explained adequately for noobs in a poster, it probably shouldn't be used at a show like this.
    Example: Let's say the tournament was a basic 10-game Herb with a double elim best-of-3 final taking top 8, next 8, next 8 for A B C divisions. (i know this wasn't the format used but it is similar to formats used in the past and at other events, and this is just for an example of what posters could look like)
    Poster 1 would explain that there are 2 phases to the tournament, qualifying and finals: In order to qualify, you must put up at least 1 score on each of the 10 games, the top 8 qualifiers will go to A division, the next 8 (subject to IFPA rank restriction) will go to B, the next 8 (subject to IFPA rank restriction) will go to C.
    Poster 2 would explain that your best score on each game will be ranked against all other players best scores, and that you score Herb Points for where your score places in rank, and the total Herb Points will determine whether you qualify and your seed. Call them Herb Points so players don't get them confused with the points on the game.
    Poster 3 would show a sample finals bracket and explain that you need to win 2 out of 3 games in a match to move on, sending your opponent to the losers bracket. Explain that the higher seed gets choice of game, and that the losers bracket winner must defeat the winners bracket winner in 2 MATCHES to win.
    Also have another poster that shows payouts and prizes.

    Some good suggestions here. I think a great thing would be to have fewer concurrent tourneys going on. Have a standard 10 game tourney with the different divisions and then maybe have a 5 game classics. A lot less confusion and less decision making regarding having to choose what to play in. You could still have the women's, kids, split flipper as well but I think the whole thing would be more manageable and let tourney players have the opportunity to still enjoy the show instead of spending the entire weekend in the tourney area.

    #26 4 years ago
    Quoted from Tsskinne:

    5. Trophies are great, I got to take home two, I like them....but they are not necessary. If part of the charging for two separate days of qualifying is to pay for the roughly 70+ trophies you gave out.....eliminate it. Make it top three finishers get trophies and thats it, we don't need them for B & C. Make it a real overall finish. Print a paper certificate for the rest.

    I have to disagree here - B and C players need motivation too and certificates don't do it.
    70+ trophies is overkill, but 1st - 3rd in each major division is important IMO.

    #27 4 years ago

    I missed this show, but the tourney at last year's SFGE was pretty expensive, too. Having to play so many games at $2.50 each added up quick. I played $20 plus the free entries and bailed. To expensive to compete for me. Sounds like that is the new normal. You gotta be able to dump a lot of money in qualifying or be so good you qualify in one or two tries.

    #28 4 years ago

    Are the results of these tournaments posted anywhere?

    #29 4 years ago
    Quoted from cody_chunn:

    or be so good you qualify in one or two tries.

    That's part of the problem with the TPF format this year. Even if you managed to get top ten on one day, you had to come back the next day and replay the entire bank (at $2.50 a game) to qualify. If you were *really* good and made top five you STILL had to play the whole bank the next day if you wanted to protect your guaranteed entry seed position.

    Basically, you were required to pay and play everything twice, no matter how good you were the first time around. Besides the money, the time waiting in line and playing games that you know are just "filler" or obligatory while there are hundreds of other games out there to play for free is not fun.

    #30 4 years ago
    Quoted from ZenTron:

    Are the results of these tournaments posted anywhere?

    Qualifier information is available here:

    http://pinballtourneys.com/TPF2015/

    It doesn't look like the brackets were actually used though. I believe there were some format changes due to time constraints.

    #31 4 years ago
    Quoted from zsciaeount:

    IFPA 5.0 has a good intent, but its execution is flawed. Once events become more about points than they are for fun, we are going to see competition pinball's appeal shrink.

    It's still early - these are just growing pains for tournament directors, right? Yeah, everyone wants to make their tournaments worth as many points as possible - but there is a price to pay for that...as there should be. I'm sure it's very hard to figure out if you're running a big annual tournament and only have one shot at doing it right (though you'll be ready for it next year), but if you run monthlies you get lots of opportunities to play around with it.

    If you only have 3 hours, which I'd imagine in the case for most monthlies, then you just do the best you can with that period of time. The less people are sitting around waiting to play, the more valuable your tournament is. There are tournaments that last two or even three full days - they are going to earn more points than a 3 hour affair.

    The goal isn't for every tournament to grade out at 100%, it's to reward the ones that do with more points than the ones where people only play a handful of games and then head home.

    #32 4 years ago
    Quoted from Law:

    Qualifier information is available here:
    http://pinballtourneys.com/TPF2015/
    It doesn't look like the brackets were actually used though. I believe there were some format changes due to time constraints.

    thanks, anything for final standings?

    #33 4 years ago

    It's interesting to read this as I read the tournament guidelines last week before the festival started because I was interested to see how they were structuring them, and that was basically my take-away - really difficult to understand, and INCREDIBLY expensive.

    I want to attend this event next year, and I hope the tournaments come around to fall in line with what I've come to expect from large tournament pools.

    Sounds like those who run it are open to suggestions and dedicated to improving it.

    #34 4 years ago

    Great thread.
    Special thanks to Marcus (Xerico), for keeping his cool in what was I'm sure a meltdown situation for most other humans.
    Next year can be saved by better software and a slightly simpler format.
    I also agree that the new IFPA format favors grueling over fun. I can only hope that they can learn and adjust as fast as the local branches can.
    Overall the TPF was great, but I wish as a tourney player I could have enjoyed more of it.
    Leon Moncla

    #35 4 years ago

    First of all, huge thanks to Marcus for his dedication and graciousness displayed during the colossal and crazy TPF tournaments. It gives me a panic attack just imagining trying to run something so huge.

    The OP makes some fair observations. This tournament was way to big to weather a software failure. That should be the primary aspect to address. The score entry log jam was more of a connectivity issue than a shortage of scorekeepers. Fixing that issue would help tremendously.

    My biggest hope would be to improve the communication. Spending 15 consecutive hours tethered to the tournament area waiting to be called to play with no idea whether it would be 5 minutes or 2 hours was terribly aggravating. Let people experience the show. Contact them via smartphone when they are needed.

    Finally to the OP: having more volunteers starts with YOU. If you don't think there are enough available, I'm sure they would welcome your volunteering to help.

    Thanks again to the staff, exhibitors, and volunteers for making TPF such a great event!

    #36 4 years ago
    Quoted from alveolus:

    Finally to the OP: having more volunteers starts with YOU. If you don't think there are enough available, I'm sure they would welcome your volunteering to help.
    Thanks again to the staff, exhibitors, and volunteers for making TPF such a great event!

    Fully agree but there wasn't readily available information or communication from staff on how to do this, and because of the large size of the several tournaments for qualifying there wasn't much time for players to do other things. Other tournaments I've seen offer incentives to volunteer, usually a free entry or two for every hour you score keep or sell tickets, that sort of thing. There is obviously a big push at TPF to provide incentives for collectors to bring out their games and it's very effective, there should be the same to get tourney volunteers. If I return I'm happy to help, and if I don't return I'm still happy to help through brainstorming improvement ideas or things I can do from a distance to make it a better experience for those in attendance at future shows.

    #37 4 years ago

    ISSUES FOR EXPERIENCED PLAYERS 1: Payouts

    This is another MAJOR issue with the tournament. Now I understand that at TPF the tournament in part acts as a fundraiser to support the event, while most major tournaments are independent of the shows they run at and return all or most of entry fees to the players in prize money, and I understand that TPF cannot do that as door fees themselves will not pay for the show (the reason they have more free play games than any other show is comped entry fees for every game brought).

    However, it should be possible to at least return SOME of the money to the players.

    If fixed prize amounts are going to be used, then a format with a fixed number of entries needs to be used.

    If an unlimited entry format is used, then the prize needs to reflect that.

    My suggestion would be to have it be XX% of the entry fee goes to the prize pool, and XX% goes to supporting the show, and make it transparent, because the players deserve to know.

    #38 4 years ago
    Quoted from zsciaeount:

    IFPA 5.0 has a good intent, but its execution is flawed. Once events become more about points than they are for fun, we are going to see competition pinball's appeal shrink.

    My hope is that things will shift more back to creating "fun" events after the initial shock of the WPPRtunity available wears off for organizers.

    The great thing about the v5.0 formula is that you can try and make everyone play a ton of games, but if it ends up alienating players to the point where they don't participate, you ultimately hurt the tournament value more than helping it with the reduced player count.

    #39 4 years ago

    I'd like to offer a little different perspective if I may. I was a player in the tournaments and am not privy to any internal workings.

    There were 5 IFPA tournaments running concurrently. Each tournament had 6 machines available for qualifying. A full entry into any given tournament was $30 such that you played all 6 machines one time Friday and one time Saturday. There was plenty of time to make a full entry. There was plenty of time to enter every tournament and play every game, it was certainly doable and still see the rest of the show. Making multiple entries in all tournaments to improve scores was time prohibitive and did become expensive. Players had plenty of options for strategy: Enter all tournaments with potentially fewer retries, enter a subset with more time for retries, or enter one and the most time for retries. Of course, your choice dictates your final cost. The only thing I think was a problem specifically with having these choices is that you must play all the games in a bank on two separate days. A show attendee that comes in Saturday must qualify in the top 5 for the day to have a chance. If you don't play Friday, you might as well not play at all and that's not good. Other than the 2-day separate requirement, there really is no problem running 5 tournaments.

    Now, I'm just a player/observer, so the following could be completely wrong:

    The software broke. When the software breaks, you shift from automated to manual. Computers can do in milliseconds what takes hours to do manually. However, if it's broke, it's broke. You either abandon the tournament or you go manual. The only choice was to go manual. Going manual took a long time for sure, but there was no other choice. Marcus and his group did what they had to do to maintain the integrity of the tournament and get them done. That group is certainly physically and mentally exhausted. The software was tested to the extent possible and it worked. Once live, it broke. It happens all the time with software in every facet of software use (even airplanes have flown into the ground with well tested software). Had the software worked, the tune would be much different. Brackets would have auto-generated instantly and players would have known where they stood during qualifying. Instead, 40-player brackets had to be determined by hand (times 5 tournaments). Raw data had to be queried and compiled and exported and sorted by hand. The director could not have known how long it was going to take but could only put his head down and do it as quickly as possible.

    Computers and software are necessary for tournaments of this size. When the software stops computing, there is *nothing* you can do but to go manual. You can test to the extent you can test, but if it breaks you have to improvise. If you must pin the blame on someone, it sure shouldn't be Marcus - as the tournament director, he got it done in spite of the system breaking. Pilots are invisible when nothing breaks. Pilots are awesome when something does and they get you down safely.

    #40 4 years ago
    Quoted from Law:

    That's part of the problem with the TPF format this year. Even if you managed to get top ten on one day, you had to come back the next day and replay the entire bank (at $2.50 a game) to qualify. If you were *really* good and made top five you STILL had to play the whole bank the next day if you wanted to protect your guaranteed entry seed position.
    Basically, you were required to pay and play everything twice, no matter how good you were the first time around. Besides the money, the time waiting in line and playing games that you know are just "filler" or obligatory while there are hundreds of other games out there to play for free is not fun.

    Dang. Sequestered squeeze play. That does indeed suck.

    #41 4 years ago
    Quoted from ifpapinball:

    My hope is that things will shift more back to creating "fun" events after the initial shock of the WPPRtunity available wears off for organizers.

    There's a word that's gotta make the new pinball lingo list

    #42 4 years ago
    Quoted from pinballcorpse:

    There's a word that's gotta make the new pinball lingo list

    Fun?

    #43 4 years ago
    Quoted from alveolus:

    Finally to the OP: having more volunteers starts with YOU. If you don't think there are enough available, I'm sure they would welcome your volunteering to help.

    People keep bringing up how expensive it is to be in the tournament. For all their funds they should not be expected to volunteer in addition to paying through the nose.

    #44 4 years ago
    Quoted from dung:

    People keep bringing up how expensive it is to be in the tournament. For all their funds they should not be expected to volunteer in addition to paying through the nose.

    Thirty bucks to enter a major tournament isn't expensive. . .

    #45 4 years ago

    I agree $30 dollars for a major tournament isn't bad...however $30 for a major tournament managed the way this was feels more expensive. Those are the rates PAPA charges and they provide a much smoother tournament operation in my experience.

    #46 4 years ago

    ISSUES FOR EXPERIENCED PLAYERS 2: Game selection and setup

    Major changes to games NEED to be written up and posted on the backglass. POTC had the ship feeding the bumpers every shot instead of catching the ball. BSD had an autostarting Mist (the magnet that brings the ball across was not working). Players need to be aware of things like this before they start their game.

    Games need to be set for tournament play. America's Most Haunted was giving extra balls and random mystery awards.

    #47 4 years ago
    Quoted from Rush1169:

    Thirty bucks to enter a major tournament isn't expensive. . .

    $150 to enter all of them because without it you have no shot at qualifying for State is.

    #48 4 years ago
    Quoted from dung:

    People keep bringing up how expensive it is to be in the tournament. For all their funds they should not be expected to volunteer in addition to paying through the nose.

    So, what is your solution? Pay the scorekeepers? That expense will just get passed back to you one way or another.

    #49 4 years ago
    Quoted from DarthXaos:

    Major changes to games NEED to be written up and posted on the backglass. POTC had the ship feeding the bumpers every shot instead of catching the ball. BSD had an autostarting Mist (the magnet that brings the ball across was not working). Players need to be aware of things like this before they start their game.

    Chimming in. No horse in that race, was not attending the TPF and cannot judge the tourney.

    What I can say about organizing a tourney (I do it quite often) is that I often do not have full control on the games I can select for a tourney - we play with the cards we have been dealt. I would definitively give the info you ask for the games I bring. Regarding the other games, if someone offers to add a nice-looking AMH to a tourney I organize, I would ask about extra balls or random awards but odds are I won't be able to check it.

    #50 4 years ago
    Quoted from DarthXaos:

    $150 to enter all of them because without it you have no shot at qualifying for State is.

    Very much this. I stopped participating because it felt like to do so was just paying my way into a better position to rake in all the points. It didn't feel like it was about playing pinball well or battling it out on a fair playing field or having fun.

    Those are my feelings. I'm sure that the people that took home trophies and points very much deserved them and are excellent players. I would have liked to play some games with them outside of the tournament area.

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