Sunday, April 26, 2020

Smashed Blocked

I wasn't expecting to mention Block By Blockwest again but since I was hyping it I guess I should also post an update about what happened. In a scenario woefully familiar to anyone who ever tried to play a hot new MMO on launch day, the servers managed to stay up for twenty minutes before bursting into flame.

The organizers attempted to salvage the event by whitelisting everyone logged in at the time then closing the doors to newcomers. More controversially, they continued to accept $15.00 payments for V.I.P. tickets, adding those people to the whitelist. Unfortunately for everyone that wasn't enough to mitigate the exceptional demand and the event had to be cancelled before it had really started. The Twitter feed tells the tale as does this NME report.

The organizers aren't giving up. The event has been re-scheduled for May 16th, by which time they hope to have scaffolded their infrastructure sufficiently to withstand the onslaught.

Given that Minecraft has already hosted successful events during April, featuring artists with major-league followings and international reputations (American Football, Charlie XCX) it's very clear that virtual festivals are a viable proposition but unless you have Epic Games' resources, maybe setting up a bill that looks like an actual festival, featuring headliners with a global reputation plus nearly forty support acts, many with very strong fanbases of their own, all performing on three seperate stages in the game and livestreaming on several socia media platforms simultaneously, does smack a little of hubris.

Easy to be wise after the event, I guess. Let's hope the people behind BXBW can get the show up and running in a few weeks' time.

I'm pleased to report that I did manage to catch the first twenty minutes before everything crashed and burned and what I heard and saw was very enjoyable. I had the website up as I was playing EverQuest II. At 3pm Eastern Standard Time, eight in the evening where I am, I clicked on Stage One to hear the opening act, Cannibal Kids.

They were new to me. They have a light, dance-inflected indie sound that made a fine backdrop to my latest run through the Corral.

There was a live feed on the website showing the stages in game. I watched the little blocky figures running around and dancing. It looked like a lot of fun. I wished I was "there". I watched for a minute or tow, then I flipped back and carried on playing EQII with the music in the background.

I was somewhere between the first and second named when Cannibal Kids' short set ended and someone astonishingly foul-mouthed began to hype up the crowd. It was obviously intended to get people's attention. It certainly got mine. Someone at the controls noticed pretty quickly too and the stream was cut after about twenty seconds of "colorful language" to be replaced by two people doing what I guess was a parody of the kind of announcers you hear on American sports radio.

They introduced the second act on Stage One, Dangerboy, who sounded pretty good from the half a song I heard before the stream cut out again. This time it didn't come back.

I tabbed out and checked the website. I closed it and restarted it. I tried the YouTube channel directly through YouTube. Nothing.

Mrs Bhagpuss popped her head round the door and asked if I wanted cheese on toast. I did. We had that and a cup of tea while we watched two episodes of series 45 of University Challenge on YouTube. It's one of our lockdown rituals. We have quite a lot of them by now.

When I came back about an hour later there was a notice up on the website explaining what had happened. My hour's absence had dumped me from whatever whitelist they were keeping. I couldn't get back onto the livestream so I forgot about it, finished my instance, went to bed and played Animal Crossing Pocket Edition.

This morning I checked the site again to see if there were recorded highlights to watch, which is when I found the whole thing had been abandoned.

All in all it was pretty entertaining and quite memorable. I learned a few things. I discovered some new bands. I'll go through the running order before the rescheduled event so I have a better idea who I want to watch next time.

The event raised $5000 in its truncated form, which according to the website, meets their goal. If they were only expecting to make $5k I'd have to wonder a) why they invited such an impressive line-up of performers and b) if they had any realistic idea of what would happen at all.

Oh well. As someone pointed out on Twitter, nobody risked their lives and everyone still has food and shelter.

We fail, we learn, we rise.

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