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Our previous marathons

April 19, 2010

This page provides details on the marathons we’ve run previously.  Some of this is a little dated, but it’s on my list of pages to update in the near future.

Ocean City Trinity vs. Sonic the Hedgehog
Date: November 22, 2008
Duration: 28 hours (24 planned)
Team: Tom C, Mason B, Sarah L, Dan L, Chris W (with sideline support from Alex L and Joe E)
Games:
Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Sonic CD
Sonic 3 and Knuckles
Sonic Adventure
Sonic Adventure 2
Sonic Heroes
Sonic the Hedgehog 2006
Sonic Unleashed
Sonic The Fighters
* All games featuring Sonic’s storyline only.  Sonic Unleashed was a blind run.  Sonic the Fighters was an unplanned game added for humor.
Donations: About $220 raised for Educare Foundation
Tom’s take: This was our first marathon, and given that I think it went fairly well.  I had this gut feeling things were totally going to fall apart on me, and while things got rocky just before we got started and lost a team member in the process, things did appear to go, for the most part, according to plan.  All of the main players got into a spontaneous yet well-functioning loop between playing the games and helping moderate on the chat, which became a usual routine, as did a recurring theme of awarding win points and fail points to people doing good or bad (at pretty much anything).I wanted to only run Sonic’s storyline partially for time constraints and partially because I felt that the main reason the 3D games have been poorly received was that they keep trying to add other gameplay styles that usually just don’t work or aren’t fun, though I was willing to revisit them if there was extra time left over.  Unfortunately, we didn’t quite finish our intended game list for two reasons.  First, I was expecting most of the team to have played the games beforehand, and it turned out there was a lot of gameplay with no practice or forewarning.  Second, I was expecting Sonic Unleashed to be about the same length as the rest of the series (the game was released just a few days before the marathon), and was overwhelemed by how long it took to get anywhere.  We extended the marathon length to see if we could finish it, but after a while we gave up on that.

For a first shot, I do think things went well and it served as a good guideline as to what to expect from that point on.

Ocean City Trinity vs. Super Mario
Date: January 16, 2009
Duration: 50 hours (48 planned)
Team: Tom C, Shawn B, Mason L, Phil S, Joe E, Alex L, Dan L, Nick B, Chris W, Sarah L
Games:
Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros. 2
Super Mario Bros. 3
Super Mario World
Super Mario 64
Super Mario Sunshine
Super Mario Galaxy
* All games to be played to 100% completion.
Donations: About $60 split between Human Rights Campaign and Stand Up To Cancer
Tom’s take: This time we ran a much bigger team, mostly to include other friends that showed interest in the previous marathon or wanted to make it to it but couldn’t.  In the end, sometimes I wonder if that worked against us, as it made it seem more like a party than an organized event.  Of course, the extra people made it very helpful in that people could rest or leave the site entirely to do other things, as nearly everyone did at some point.

Since Mario was such a popular game series for marathons, I wanted to do something to make ours different, and the 100% idea came out of that.  Of course, this also meant that I was expecting everyone else to pull their weight on the games more, which also didn’t quite come through.  We had around 100 shines collected on Super Mario Sunshine with all other games totally completed by the time we signed off, but hey…95% of our goal is still nothing to frown over.

Ocean City Trinity vs. Devil May Cry
Date: April 24, 2009
Duration: 48 hours
Team: Tom C, Shawn M, Joe E, Dan L, Phil S, Sarah L, Chris W, Alex L
Games:
Devil May Cry
Devil May Cry 2
Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition
Devil May Cry 4
Donations: About $50 raised for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Tom’s take: The team wanted a break from platforming games, and this is what we came up with.  We made a few more changes here in our usual routine.  For one, we removed fail points since a few team members were taking them too personally.  We also required that everyone play a significant portion of a few games to get into the marathon since I felt our total lack of practice was working against us before.

What we ended up getting was a pretty mixed bag.  On the bad side, our viewer count ended up being fairly low throughout the whole marathon, and even though we had a small handful of people staying through till even the wee hours of the morning, it was a disappointment compared to our previous marathons.  There were also a few scheduling problems, leading to a point where the same two people (Shawn and I, specifically) were running the show for about 5 hours simply because everyone else had either left the site or was asleep.  The removal of fail points seemed like a bad idea to the crowd, too.  On the plus side, this was our first marathon where we finished the game quota we had designated.  I was expecting this to happen, and planned to run through the games again on the next difficulty level up.  We did this on Devil May Cry 1, but no one else was good enough at the games to pull this off, and we settled on playing Devil May Cry 3 as Vergil until our time had ended.

While I do believe there really was more good than bad here, there were some issues, and if anything we’ve learned a few more things from them.

Ocean City Trinity vs. Suikoden
Date: August 8, 2009
Duration: 77 hours (72 planned), split as about 8 hours on Saturday and Sunday and 4 hours all other days
Team: Tom C (with sideline support from Sarah L, Joe E, Alex L, and Kyle C)
Games:
Suikoden 1
Suikoden 2
Suikoden 3
Suikoden 4
Suikoden 5
Donations: None taken
Tom’s take: This was, without question, an experimental marathon.  Primarily, I wanted to see if I could run a game series well known in the console RPG community but unknown in gaming as a whole, and I wanted to see if segmenting the marathon across a long period of time would be a good way to do things.  The first of those things was definitely no, as I got a fairly small crowd throughout the entire marathon.  However, I did see a lot of those people watching almost every night, and this is a format I may go back to at some point with a more well-known game series.

I ran literally all of the gaming and most of everything else this time around, and given that I think I did a great job.  I still felt like I was able to complete the games in a timely manner, most of which were under my practice time (and a couple under the time I thought I could get after said practice) and still was able to talk to the viewers and generally be entertaining with them.  The rest of the team tells me I take these marathons more seriously than I should, but in this case I think my dedication went a long way.

Ocean City Trinity vs. Mega Man
Date: November 6, 2009
Duration: 55 hours (48 planned)
Team: Tom C, Sarah L, Kyle C, Ricky W, Shawn M
Games:
Mega Man
Mega Man 2
Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters
Mega Man 3
Mega Man 4
Mega Man 5
Mega Man 6
Mega Man 7
Mega Man 8
Mega Man and Bass
Mega Man 9
Mega Man X1
Mega Man X2
Mega Man X3
Mega Man X4
Mega Man X5
Mega Man X6
Mega Man X7
Mega Man X8
* Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters was an unscheduled game added as to wait for others to arrive
Donations: $85 raised for Atlantic City Rescue Mission
Tom’s take: I was very nervous going into the marathon this time, as just a few hours before we were set to begin several of the friends I was expecting to help out with the show suddenly couldn’t make it, and the others were running late. By the time our schedule starting time rolled around, we had a total of one person here, but rather than wait around, I went right in. And then there’s the factor that the games were hard and not everyone prepared enough for that. And the end result of that, of course, is that I stuck around to help everyone else out that I probably pushed myself too hard in order to get everything done that we were planning to.  We even had to stop the stream totally at two points, one when I was feeling so tired that I took a few minutes to rest, and once after a brief panic attack probably arising from sleep deprivation.  Nonetheless, by the end of the scheduled end, we had finished 16 of our 18 games, and decided to finish out the intended game list and played the last two through the night (and, in the case of the final boss of Mega Man X8, later the day after).

So in the end, what we ended up with was an event where a lot of things could have gone wrong but nearly everything was salvaged, and I was very pleased with the end result.

Official Gamemarathons.com Star Fox Versus Marathon
Date: January 1, 2010
Duration: 36 hours
Team: Tom C, Sarah L, Shawn M, Dan L versus 1up Marathons
Games:
Star Fox
Star Fox 64
Star Fox Adventures
Star Fox Assault
Star Fox Command
Super Smash Bros.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
* All games had an achievement list with various objectives to complete in each game for a point total.  The Super Smash Bros. games were only played using Star Fox characters.
Donations: About $200 raised for World Food Programme
Tom’s take: The final score was 2515-1670 in favor of our team.  And in the process, we had a great time playing the games!

The idea wasn’t to just finish the games this time but to accomplish more in the games than our opponent team, 1up Marathons.  As such, we ended up not playing the games in any particular order, instead trying to pace ourselves based on who was available and what we thought was appropriate.  I think it turned into playing Star Fox 64, then the original, back to 64, Assault, the Smash Bros. games, Adventure, Assault again, one more shot at the original, Command, 64, then tried to rush some more achievements at the original and Adventure.  And let’s face it, the approach worked well.  We took a different approach and assigned specific routes and games to specific people this time around, a first for our group but standard for most others.  And it’s not hard to see why, as we were able to get a lot more done in the process.

I tend to judge how things went by looking at what went wrong, and this time, really, I don’t have much.  One of our expected players didn’t show, but we got along fine without him.  We tried to run a DS game using a special prop consisting of two webcams, a set of Tinkertoys, and some duct tape (really).  In the end, one webcam turned out to be incompatible so we only got one screen, and it wasn’t a great quality shot, but thanks to changing the screen focus when needed it did get the job done in the end.  And our other team couldn’t finish the marathon due to some technical issues I’m told meant the entire modem had to be replaced, but we were able to put together a great finale without them.  And that’s all I can think of that really went wrong.  In the end, nothing beyond minor nuisances, right?

So short version: our best marathon to date!

Gamemarathons.com Banjo-Kazooie Versus Marathon
Date: May 14, 2010
Duration: 48 hours
Team: Tom C, Sarah L, Dan L, and Jeremy F versus Triple Speed Runners and Gamin For Charity
Games:
Banjo-Kazooie
Banjo-Tooie
Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge
Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts
Diddy Kong Racing
Banjo-Pilot
Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing
Donations: About $180 raised for World Food Programme
Tom’s take: Competition wise, we got an early but narrow lead, but struggled to keep it around the halfway point, where we played Banjo-Tooie and generally had issues scoring enough.  Once we finally did complete that, we surged ahead with an extremely solid run of Grunty’s Revenge and held onto it for the next few games.  We didn’t quite finish everything on the list, having abandoned Banjo-Pilot a bit early and didn’t quite get enough time to finish the last few races in Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing.  But by this point we were a few hundred points ahead anyway, so no big loss.

Away from the games, though, there were a few standout moments involving just us the players and you the viewers, including:
* Several viewers trying to speak in rhyme, inspired by Gruntilda (we proved to be not good at it)
* Naming several of the vehicles in Nuts and Bolts after viewers
* Sarah stopping herself from dropping the F-bomb over frustration by instead using the less offensive and more British “bollocks”
* Tom’s tendency to win several minigames and challenges at the last second, which he swears was not intentional
* Dan ragequitting Banjo-Tooie after a tunnel took him out of the level he was in
* Jeremy officially being inducted into the group when a pizza crust was thrown at him
* Sarah being mistaken for her close online friend and Youtube let’s player Ssskinner, and us not realizing there actually was some resemblance until this happened
* Promising to sledgehammer Tom’s first Xbox 360 if the donation totals reached $360 (it wasn’t met, but we’ll save it for another marathon)
* Tom’s second Xbox 360 (i.e. the one we actually used) crashing at the beginning of Nuts and Bolts, requiring that we use a backup console for the rest of the marathon (it’s recovering now)
* Two Diddy Kong Racing courses, Frosty Village and Greenwood Village, as well as the Jinjo Village in Banjo-Tooie, all falling victim to the five minute rule (i.e. they burn down or are destroyed five minutes after leaving them)

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