To go into details on the technical issues, essentially we had a survival mode server (for those who don't play minecraft, that just means a random world is generated in which we start off with no supplies and have to build up weapons/tools/resources to "survive" in a world full of enemies) and a creative server (in which all supplies are available to you unlimited, you can fly, and you can't die). The survival mode we did not touch because we wanted those viewers who hadn't seen Minecraft to watch how you can go from having nothing to building a base, making intricate items and exploring the world in confidence. However, the creative server we had was worked on for months prior to last weekend. We each made our own extravagant mini-games such as FPS maps, races, and puzzles.
As far as our modding in minecraft went, Dan and Aaron spent an extensive amount of time modding the game to make a "spectator", who was essentially a ghost that could go from one person to another in a split second and show what they were doing. The spectator could also run/fly/walk around himself so that the audience could see all sorts of views. This way, if one of us was yelling about being chased by a creeper, we could immediately switch to that person to see the action. This was especially nice for minecraft, since there isn't always an exciting thing happening to one given person, but someone else might. A really nice addition that Dan and Aaron made was a tag on the left side of the screen that had an image of the person's avatar face and their username so you knew who we were spectating at that moment.
The setup of the room was challenging considering we have never done a LAN-based marathon before. 7 computers were running in one room, hooked up to 9 monitors, and at all times there were at least 4 laptops on top of that! We had a Starfox-esque communication setup where all of us were in google hangout and when one person spoke into their headset, their webcam would show us talking through the feed in the lower left hand corner. We also had an overhead view, to which when the narrator/spectator was talking, it would switch to the overhead view so you could see the whole room interacting.
Testing went well the night before...we had normal issues such as sound echo and occassional google hangout drops. However, these were minor issues and while broadcasting, we seemed confident to begin the marathon the next day.
However, when we started broadcasting on Saturday, we immediately experienced issues with choppy feed and sound issues. Dan decided that google hangout was taking more bandwidth since all of us were in google hangout on one LAN that was also hooked up to the minecraft server, the broadcaster, and all of our other setup programs. We resorted to switching to a single area mic in the middle of the room and having one camera angle default, which was the overhead view. It wasn't personal..it wasn't pretty. As if the communication screen wasn't small enough, that angle had 90% computers showing and 10% people, so many complained that it just wasn't as fun without that more personal touch of seeing everyone's faces close-up. Unfortunately, we had to sacrifice that in order to get a decent feed.
We proceeded to begin our survival mode adventure, building up a base and collecting items. We then went over to the creative server because Kelly had a game called "Capture the Obsidian" (essentially a minecraft version of Capture the Flag). We were having a blast playing that, but unfortunately the feed was still doing wacky things. Then, we all got kicked from the server and devistation hit: Dan's server running Minecraft crashed. As part of the crash, we couldn't boot up the computer or even get to the data. This was tragic, for Dan struggled to get the server back up...and could have lost everything he had on that computer, which didn't just have our creative server info that we had been working on for months...but all of his code for his work and years of information.
Dan spent a good rest of the afternoon attempting to fix the problem off-camera, and luckily Aaron booted up a new survival server from his computer so that we could still carry on with the marathon. This became our new server and we went from there to make this area our new home.
I wish I could say the rest of the marathon went smoothly, but unfortunately with the last-minute setup, we still experienced problems with sound, feed choppiness, and other bugs. Not to mention the devistation in the back of our minds due to the unsure loss of all of Dan's information, AND the lack of mini games we had because we could not access the creative server.
Luckily, we have some very loyal viewers who stuck with us the whole time and helped us through it all. We made over $2500 in 33 hours, an incredible feat especially considering the circumstances. Dan is still working on his computer, and fortunately his latest update is that although windows is not working, he has found the drivers and all the data on them!
Our plan is if he is able to get everything running at least close to 100% again, we would like to host a mini mini marathon, where we will go back to our creative server and play all of the mini games we spent all that time creating. That way our viewers can see our hard work paid off! Keep an eye out for when we plan that, because hopefully that will be coming up very soon!
Also an incredible thanks is in store for everyone who watched and dealt with our craziness: this mini marathon took possibly the most preparation of any other main marathon, and even so a lot of that preparation went out the window because of last minute issues. Thank you so much for staying loyal to us, and for helping us raise several thousand dollars to Child's Play Charity! We love you!