The office gaming tourney thread
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  • davyK
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    I will update this from time to time with notes on some events I'm running in work. Readers may want to be inspired to doing something similar...I posted about this a while back and got lots of suggestions - thought I'd report here on how things went.

    There are two formats

    Knockout
    The first format is preferred but is harder to organise because it requires organising a tournament bracket and relying on people turning up at appointed times which is tricky in a work environment because, funnily enough, work gets in the way of play!  :)

    I tried to run 1 event every 2 months held over a lunchtime - so we had an hour or so at most for a 16 person knockout format.

    Game properties were:
    * 2 player Vs mode
    * A game lasts approx. 5mins
    * Game has to be accessible - no learning of levels or tracks required. No complex control issues. I have a "familiarisation session" the day before the event so people can get used to the feel of a controller and game.
    * Must be enjoyable to watch

    There is a slight retro theme but it wasn't compulsory - modern formats welcome - but older games tended to satisfy these conditions.

    Satisfying these requirements isn't as easy as it sounds. Driving games aren't much fun to watch, either are FPSs. I've still to be convinced if a fighting game is suitable - a novice crowd will just mash buttons and the newer ones just have so much going on its hard to appreciate what's going on when spectating.

    I had use of an old data projector and big screen - it had composite, s-video and VGA connections. Big screen gaming is well worth trying to get set up - it's excellent.

    Games tried are:

    1. Tetris (vs first to 25 lines) played on SNES

    Went down a storm. The young 'uns found the old console quite quaint and the old Russian Tetris music went down well. We tried the "hard core" version first - win by forcing the other player to fill their pit up first - but rusty skills proved for a non-aggressive and thus boring game to watch - we switched to game B - first to 25 lines - garbage on - which was much better.

    Howls of derision on misplaced pieces etc. Cheers as yours truly was sunk by a Tetris when only needing one more line. Final was best of 3 - overall a success.

    This game looked great on the big screen - 16bit pixels scale up quite well when you are talking about a simple looking game with crisp visuals. Blocky - but all is clear and quite pleasing looking.

    2. Virtua Tennis 2 (first to 3 games) played on Dreamcast with arcade sticks.

    People loved the controllers - playing with a stick is almost like getting back to nature in these identikit pad dominated times. It added a physicallity to the game - much slapping of buttons and clicking sticks ensued.

    It's a great old game is VT2 - and onlookers were agape at the quality of the graphics for a year 2000 game "Why did this console fail?" was the cry. Several people commented on how enjoyable a game is to watch. I used the Dreamcast's VGA box for direct input to the projector and it looked great.

    Much merriment to be had at the more ham-fisted competitors with nervous running around  etc. A few guys were really good and they brushed us aside - a tight final went to a tie-break and it made for enjoyable spectating. Those who went out in the first round hung around until the conclusion.

    3. Typing of the Dead (2 player versus mode over 1 level) - played on Dreamcast with keyboards

    It being an IT section I expected a keen level of competition among the keyboard warriors and I wasn't disappointed.

    Noone had heard of this one but doubts melted away as soon as people saw the game and had a go. This game is quite simply inspired - it shouldn't work but it does. The slightly dodgy graphics (old House of the Dead 2 engine) and even dodgier voice talent only adds to it.

    The field of 10 was whittled down by a single score attack challenge on the training level. The top 4 scores went through to the knockout phase using the 2 player versus mode on level 1 of story mode.

    2 player TOTD is hilarious and extremely competitive - once one person types a word it is gone - the other player scores zero if they are typing the same word - and a p1(red)/p2(blue) marker is displayed after each word is "won"; so you have a rough idea of who is ahead (the score isn't shown until the end of the level). It is actually very well thought out as a 2 player game and isn't just a tacked on option. This, plus the general weirdness and the brilliant word list (which opens up infinite possibilites for double entendre) adds up to a superb tournament game. Highly recommended if you can get the gear. I've no idea if the PC version is still a viable thing or not.

    4. Super Monkey Ball (2 player competition mode over 5 levels with bananas on track) - played on Gamecube

    As the guys had never played it before we just played Beginner levels 1-6 (skipping 5 which is a bonus level) and levels 4-9 for the final.

    I forgot how great this game is with a roomful of people - lots of laughs and this mode is highly competitive as you are racing to pick up the bananas as well as racing for the goal so some decisions about short-cuts have to be made - and the banana count is hidden in the final level.

    There were some comments about how the controller looks - its Fisher Price styling is even more shocking nowadays but it is beautifully responsive - especially with this game.

    I have been very wary of using a 2 player split screen game for the league as it can be hard to follow. Monkey Ball is workable because of the level layouts -especially on the shorter earlier levels. Using a projector helps a bit too of course but you still have to work with a slightly restricted view. The guys were doubtful when they heard that 2 player was split screen but the experience was highly enjoyable both from player and spectator viewpoint.

    When you consider the other modes available in this game it represents brilliant value for money really.

    I found Super Monkey Ball a pleasing looking game but the GC connected to the old projector via an RGB SCART to s-video adaptor was pretty ropey but it got the job done. The bright colourful abstract look of the game means a super crisp display isn't required - and it looked fine when sitting back a few feet anyhow.


    5. Combat Game 6&7 - Tank Pong (simple & complex maze) played on an Atari 2600

    Total bemusement from the younger ones who found it hard initially to adjust to the simplistic controls (some are half the age of the hardware), and the reset switch on the console is a novelty - but that old 2 player versus gameplay is still intact. At times this game was a riot. It went down extremely well.

    I had to use the black and white mode because for some reason the assembly of various cables, adaptors and a Sony VCR required to use a projector resulted in loss of colour - but in a way that made it better.

    It's pretty competitive and we played the version that allows you to bounce bullets off the walls and obstacles. The mechanics of the game allow for quickly emergent tactics that have modern counterparts such as spawn camping - you can maneouvre your opponent into a position where you can ream off several hits without reply but it makes for comeback play too so its all good. The more complex maze used for the 3rd place play off and final stymied that tactic quite a bit anyhow.

    This is a timed game (2' 16'') so its easy to plan the event which helps in an office lunchtime environment.

    Overall a success - and again seeing those ancient images on a screen-size never imagined by the developers because of a projector makes it great for spectating. I considered this one a bit of a gamble but it paid off - it isn't something to return to in a short space of time but I can see it featuring in the programme in future years should the league live on.


    6. Tap Runner - 4 players - 1st to 3 wins - played on Nintendo Wii

    Had a field of 8 so two groups of 4 played until one player won 3 races and the top 2 qualified for the final which was first to 3 wins.

    This really went down a storm and attracted loads of spectators too. We had one day for warm up which meant everyone was pretty close in skills which made for blanket finishes etc. Inspired little game and while it doesn't hold up to extended sessions - for this sort of thing over an hour or so during lunchtime it was perfect.

    Group games started at level 2-1. Started at 3-1 for the final.

    Even with a composhite (sic) connection to the projector this was fine...if one person lags far behind the camera zooms out to handle it which can compromise the size of everything sometimes but it wasn't really an issue as people didn't get left too far behind.

    7. Virtua Striker 3 ver. 2002 - one match with no extra time - penalties on - played on Nintendo Gamecube

    Just used a straight knockout format with this. This is a pure arcade game so it can be off-putting for those used to more modern takes on the game but it meant it was a great leveller - at any time you only have 2 buttons to worry about.

    You have very little time on the ball and it can be a frustrating as you can't really create runs and there is no dash button - it seems to be about quick passing and relying on the AI for player positioning. You can change to offensive, neutral, attacking formations in the real time though. It's also pretty hard to keep the ball from climbing when shooting.

    The game looks pretty good even now - the player models are well animated. The crowds look particularly good with flag waving etc and makes for quite an atmospheric game. It also of course has that Sega arcade feel.

    Games were low scoring - all 1-0 wins. There was only one game that went to penalties. The penalty mode is quite good and its a pity we didn't get to experience it more. Towards the end we were starting to "get" the control scheme - you need to kind of switch off and pass quickly , allowing the AI to do the rest and I feel if we had we more time with the game then we would have scored more.

    Still an enjoyable event. I've never really enjoyed football games that much but this one has a certain charm to it. Fans of the genre would probably get more out of it though they may get a bit annoyed at the limited controls.

    8. Baku Baku - sudden death 1 set - played on the Sega Saturn

    This is a 2 player puzzle game with a simple animal-to-food matching mechanic but it is implemented with that Sega panache - and graphically is a clean yet effective blend of 2D and 3D (the animals eat the food and are rendered as large cartoon-style munching animal heads in 3D). There's a weird soundtrack that features odd sounding instruments that reminded me of mandolins and harpsichords -  it still looks and plays great.

    The more food gets eaten in a move, the more garbage gets dumped on your opponent. Creating chain reactions really ups the total garbage. Players get the same sequence of animals & food but they soon get out of synch because a garbage attack takes the next N symbols from the queue.

    Had a warm-up day for this and players benefited from it, and the big brick of a Saturn drew some attention. After initial bewilderment at the look of this game it went down really well. Any game that involves monkeys munching bananas and "boxed in pandas" is always going to be good value. There are 5 speed levels - we played on level 2 which isn't too quick but moves games along.

    Again, playing this on the big screen via a projector brings the whole thing to life. Even though I could only manage a composite hookup the simple, bold graphical scheme held up well.

    A match lasted on average about 3mins - perfect for the office lunchtime tournament.

    This one comes with a hearty recommendation.

    (I won by the way - was a close final but I squeezed out a victory with both of us with almost full pits in danger of topping out at any time - I just held on for the win).

    Oh. And females were attracted to this game. More so than Tetris. Saw some women who sat and watched who had never shown an interest before. Odd.

    Score Attack

    The 2nd format is much easier to organise but the downside is you lose some of the competitive edge. However it is a very good compromise. A score attack format allows people to have as many goes at a selected game as they like when they have the time. If the game doesn't support tournament style high score tables (and I have yet to find one that has a high score table that only records each person's best score. XBL leaderboards do this but this isn't feasible to use in this scenario) then you need to manually record them and rely on honest witnesses.


    9. Kaboom! - one player mode high score challenge - played on Atari 2600

    I'm wary when using Atari 2600 games. Simpler gameplay is great for getting people involved but I worry about going too far. I needn't have worried about this though. Kaboom is one of the best games on the 2600 and most people took to this really well. One of our intern students was fascinated by how something so simple could be so addictive.

    Others admired the simplicity and purity of the design - and in particular loved the fact that the bottom-most bucket is removed on a life loss - so turning the screw on the player - totally at odds with today's handholding in games.

    Learning that you have to toggle the reset switch on the console to start a new game is one thing to get to grips with -  but the paddle is another thing entirely. Was funny seeing younger guys struggle with the controls and trying a variety of different grips, but everyone adjusted quickly (some more than others though - you could tell early on who would do better).

    Maybe I'm a Kaboom savant but I don't remember finding my first games as hard as the competitors did. Kaboom is a pretty tough game but not that tough. Having said that there are some youtube video that show how hard this game is for a lot of people.

    This event attracted more people than usual because I was told that they shied away from the combative nature of the 2 player versus format I have used up until now. The Kaboom event was over 3 days and people played it in one player mode as many times as they liked more or less whenever it suited them.

    This has made me think that I should introduce one or two more events of this format.

    10. Pacman CE - played on xbox 360

    Forwent the projector because I had access to a large screen that I could hookup via HDMI for the optimal experience. As expected this was hugely successful. CE is that rare thing that improves upon the original. I used a HORI arcade stick but CE's control seems to be optimised for the 360 pad analogue stick - so I would use that instead in the future.

    11. Daytona USA- played on Dreamcast with wheel controller

    On the Dreamcast with VGA, this looked great with a projector. You need the wheel though. This port is notoriously fidgety with the pad - though you can fiddle with the sensitivity in the setting. The wheel at default is much preferred. Track selection is important. The 777 speedway is just a bit too simplistic to keep the interest up and as really it's all about one corner on that track. So I picked the Dinosaur Canyon track which only takes a 2 or 3 laps to learn and then I used TT mode to track the best lap time. Highly competitive and very enjoyable.

    12. DoDonPachi  - played via MAME (Sega Saturn optional)

    Used shmup MAME - only one credit allowed. Used a Mayflash stick with the Windows 7 PC. Could have used the Saturn port but that's a bit blocky in comparison.  The Saturn port has a score attack mode which would have been handy but I just used shmupMAME and disallowed any score that didn't end in 0 (the game adds 1pt each time you continue). I also set the difficulty down using the game's service mode. People forget how much they love shmups and this went down a storm. Girls didn't like it much though a few tried it.

    13. Super Star Soldier - played on Gamecube

    Used the rather attractive Gamecube version (JP only though - so not that convenient to get hold of). Like most games in the series this has a caravan mode - 2 min and 5min options which is perfect for the office setup. Opted for the 2min mode and it proved to be highly addictive but again, the girls weren't interested.

    14. Donkey Kong - MAME

    Tough, old school game. Far tougher than it looks. But great fun. MAME again with the Mayflash stick and it worked well. Expected this to do well and it didn't disappoint.

    15. Tapper - MAME

    Wasn't as popular - plenty played it but not as many recorded witness scores. Enjoyable though and would use again. MAME + Mayflash sticks again and it worked well.

    16. Tetris (arcade) - MAME

    Ever popular. The Atari arcade version doesn't zeroise the score after continuing and continues can't be disabled in the service mode so if your witnesses aren't trustworthy that could be an issue. But who would cheat at this sort of thing? Worth bearing in mind though. Highly popular - as much as the versus knockout format. This version lets you skip up to 7 levels at the start and gives a score bonus. People used this to jump to level 8 with a 40K bonus. This kept the game turnover time down as it gets murderous at level 11. Would use again. Again - MAME + Mayflash and it worked well.
  • MK (SNES) balloon fights are always good.

    GoldenEye?
  • regmcfly
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    Goldeneye Stacks is always worth a shout.


    Also Bomberman - always bomberman.
  • davyK
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    Can see Bomberman and MK battle mode matching the crowd I have...

  • 10 player bomberman, yes.

    One of the burnouts could make for a good one. Maybe Takedown. Generally quite an exciting game to watch with all the traffic and crazy crashes. The ability to knock each other off the road never gets old.

    Or, for old school, Micro Machines/Mashed.
  • Skerret
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    NBA Jam?
    Skerret's posting is ok to trip balls to and read just to experience the ambience but don't expect any content.
    "I'm jealous of sucking major dick!"~ Kernowgaz
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    Heberekes Popoon (or similar) is tetris-y but funny to watch

    Soccer Shootout indoor games (Snes)

    Sensi

    Point blank? Was there a home version? Does it even have vs?

    Peggle??
  • davyK
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    Typing of the Dead a success - see original post for details.

    It's a real pity more people didn't get to play this game - I believe there was even an arcade cabinet version in Japan....no doubt pre-Sega-implosion. I miss Sega.
  • Typing of the dead is excellent. I like how the guns are replaced by Duracell powdered dreamcasts with attached keyboards.
  • davyK
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    Just had the Christmas Tetris tourney - I won - go me. We played the SNES version on the Tetris & Dr Mario compilation cart.

    Me winning means there is a draw for the league (after Virtua Tennis 2, Typing of the Dead and Tetris).

    The guys have called for SF2 Turbo on the SNES as a tie-breaker - its been a while since I've played that (console must remain in work overnight so I can't get sneaky practice in!!)

  • SF2 Turbo should be used to settle world conflicts.
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    super puzzle fighter.

    bishi bashi.

    worms. (controlls may be to awkward on second thoughts).

    any pinball style games.

    bejewled. (score attack style).
    psn/steam:daviedigi

    raziel once wrote..."davie's to nice for this forum"!
  • davyK
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    Was humbled in the SF2 Turbo tiebreaker.....the young (to me) lad clearly had the moves still hard-wired into his head - so I'm not the office gaming champ then...It is surprising how well SF2 Turbo on the SNES still passes muster in the looks dept when played on a big screen and projector - very impressive. Plays as well as ever of course.


    league starts again end of Feb (its one game every 2 months).

    Dec is Tetris on SNES
    Oct is Typing of the dead on DC (halloween et al)
    June is Virtua Tennis 2 on DC (wimbledon et al)

    So Feb, Apr and August to fill - the above suggestions have me thinking hard.

    Will keep SF2 Turbo as the tie breaker

    Thinking of Tap Runner, Monkey Ball and maybe Donkey Konga for the other months.....I'm going for variety in genres - bishi bashi is a great shout though.
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    Can I come and play VT2 please
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    It's a great old game VT2 and it's perfect for my office gaming set up - the VGA box fed through a projector onto the big screen really makes it.
  • davyK
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    New office gaming season to start in 2 weeks...we have agreed on these games:

    Feb : Super Monkey Ball (GC) 2 player vs competition mode over 5 levels.
    Apr : Combat (2600) Tank with bouncing bullets in simple maze. 
    June : Virtua Tennis 2 (DC) first to 3 games
    Aug : Tap Runner (Wii) first to 3 wins
    Oct : Typing of the dead (DC) score attack training level to get last 4 , then 2 player vs knockout on level 1.
    Dec : Tetris(SNES). 2 player versus - First to 25 lines with garbage on.

    'twil be fun getting the 2600 running through a projector. I'll post about how the new games go in the OP for those who are interested.
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    Atari 2600>>Freeview Box>>HDMI>>Projector

    Maybe.
  • VT 2 is amazing. Bet it still plays brilliantly.
  • You should play tie breaker for the virtua tennis to mitigate first serve advantage!
  • davyK
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    Mod74 wrote:
    Atari 2600>>Freeview Box>>HDMI>>Projector

    Maybe.

    Have an old Sony VCR with composite out - hope it does the trick. Hadn't thought about using a Freeview box - cool idea.


  • davyK
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    WorKid wrote:
    VT 2 is amazing. Bet it still plays brilliantly.

    Yep - and it is quite a sight on a big screen.

    You should play tie breaker for the virtua tennis to mitigate first serve advantage!  

    Last year the level of "skill" meant there wasn't an advantage (though we had a tie break for the final) but yeah - probably need a tie break this time.
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    davyK wrote:
    Mod74 wrote:
    Atari 2600>>Freeview Box>>HDMI>>Projector Maybe.
    Have an old Sony VCR with composite out - hope it does the trick. Hadn't thought about using a Freeview box - cool idea.

    If you have a VCR with composite out that should work, I think.

    I'm not even sure if a Freeview box reads the same type of signal the Atari gives out, was a guess based on the fact a Freeview box would normally be a lot easier to get a hold of than a VCR with composite out.
  • davyK
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    yeah - one I have worked with old analogue TV so in theory it should work with a 2600.
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    We're starting a Fifa '13 tourney next week. It's alongside some sort of real life tournament and I got Arsenal.

    Unfortunately I haven't played a Fifa game for about 10 years.
  • davyK
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    Cool - good idea that - linking it up to real life events. It's the reason I schedule Virtua Tennis in June.

    Tried the 2600 through my old out-of-use freeview box and to my surprise it didn't work...convinced it would have. I guess freeview signals must have some header info that the box looks for. Back to using a bulky old VCR for connecting to the projector then.

    Must try the 2600 on my Sony panel which has an analogue input..
  • davyK
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    Monkey Ball competition today - played on the Gamecube. There's a split screen mode in which you race over 3-5 user selected levels. You set number of bananas awarded for 1st, 2nd and third and you can select to have the level bananas for pickup too.

    We played 2 player over 5 levels with 5 bananas for a win and opted to have the level bananas switched on.

    As the guys had never played it before we just played Beginner levels 1-6 (skipping 5 which is a bonus level) and levels 4-9 for the final.

    I forgot how great this game is with a roomful of people - lots of laughs and this mode is highly competitive as you are racing to pick up the bananas as well as racing for the goal so some decisions about short-cuts have to be made - and the banana count is hidden in the final level.

    There were some comments about how the controller looks - its Fisher Price styling is even more shocking nowadays but it is beautifully responsive - especially with this game.

    A resounding success and one to keep in the league.

    When you consider the other modes available in this game it represents brilliant value for money really.

    The GC connected to the old projector via an RGB SCART to s-video adaptor was pretty ropey but it got the job done - looked fine when sitting back.

    (I didn't win - even lost 3rd place playoff)

  • Couple of suggestions from me if you ever need 'em Davy...

    Powerstone
    Bust a move
    Got to be a version of track and field in there too.
  • davyK
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    I've yet to be convinced about any fighting game as being watchable to a semi-casual audience. SF II Turbo was successful but only because those who played it knew it backwards - it had a small field of players and spectators. It is only used as an end of season tie-break.

    Bust-a-move is a good call though I use Tetris already and like to keep mixing genres up in one year but yes - it is worthy of the office league format.

    As is a Track n Field game - I'm going to try Tap Runner in August which was part of a low profile Sega release called Let's Tap for the Wii that didn't do that well but is a riot in multi-player.
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