New Year 2020 Updates

Happy New Year! We're closed for the holiday on a day where people stop to assess their lives, reflect on the past year, and look forward to changes into the new year. For me that means revisiting LAN Mob and Rome Revolution Esports, understanding what I've learned over the last year, and making plans for the coming year. So read on for some announcements on the coming year, but first I wanted to touch on some thoughts on change, habits, accountability & time management.

Change is about Habits

Sometime change can be as easy as flipping a switch, deciding that something in your life will change and willing it so. But often - and especially when we take to undergo major changes to ourselves - change can be difficult. One thing I've learned is focusing on setting new habits is the most effective way to bring about difficult change in your life. Devoting 15 or 30 minutes a day towards whatever it is you're trying to change, and making sure you don't miss a day, eventually the habit will become a part of your daily routine, and those small chunks of effort will add up to change over the long term.

Accountability & Time Management

I've learned to help hold myself accountable by sharing some of my efforts publicly, which is part of the reason for me putting this blog together. By externalizing the change you want to make you not just have to hold yourself accountable, but others can as well.

An easy cop-out we'll rationalize with ourselves when we don't feel like practicing a new daily habit is "I don't have time". While some of us can lead very busy lives, if you sit down and do a quick time audit - breaking up your last week into its different parts like school, work, family, meals, sleep, leisure - you'll find a good chunk of hours of free time you're spending on leisure activities. While everyone needs a little bit of play time, those are the hours where you're going to make meaningful change in your life. So you don't want to become a dull boy like Jack and have all work and no play, but you can find ways to carve out parts of that fun time and direct it into forming new habits.

With gaming and esports this poses a bit of a grey area, because often when we're playing games to improve at them we can also be having fun, so that line between leisure and work can get blurred. So maybe if you already have a daily habit of putting three hours of daily practice into a game that you're serious about improving in, you can carve out some of that time to do something different. For example instead of playing three hours of matches, perhaps you can play two hours, add a half hour watching a new video or streamer, and another half hour inside a practice tool running through repetitions, learning new techs, or new characters. You're still putting the same amount of time into developing your game but now using that time in a different way.

Alright enough about that, let's talk about the changes we're making at LAN Mob for 2020!

HTC Vive VR headset

Virtual Reality Pricing Reduced

Our Virtual Reality pricing is being reduced to $10/hour (down from $15/hour). We felt the Vive was being underutilized and with some of the new tech we've added at the front desk including a wireless add-on to the headset and a customer-facing monitor it's made the running of VR slightly easier on us. We have a second battery on order that should be arriving later this week which should allow us near continuous operation of the wireless headset. We've also greatly increased our library of games offered through Viveport and our collection of installed games is nearing 100 VR titles. If you've never tried it we can promise it's unlike anything you've ever experienced, and if you have tried it you should check out our new list of games available. There are lots of unique experiences to be have with Virtual Reality!

Rewards Programs Review

Originally we started out with just VIP at LAN Mob - a $25/month program that included perks and increasing rewards - and we now have some individuals that are going on 35+ months in that program. Over time additional members rewards have been added including ggCoins and now SP and SL Prime. Separate these are all great programs, but when combined and with the ramping up of coin earning in December these programs added up to a bit too much in player compensation. To take an example - a 1-year VIP receives a 25% discount on their overnight lock-in ($18.75) and if they play the full 14 hours with Super League Prime they are earning at max around 7,000 SP for that night, which at our current coin redemption rate is around $14 in comps. Tack on the free pizza and it's very close to being a "free" night for those taking maximum advantage of all the programs!!

So we haven't 100% settled on how we're going to repackage the VIP, but we do have to make some adjustments. We like where things are going with SL and SL Prime and are likely going to embrace this direction, so our new VIP offering will likely include the SL Prime package in some way, which means we have to cut back on our old VIP offerings. However we realize some people have been paying into this every month to keep their VIP streaks going or are actively working to reach higher levels. So our plan is to "grandfather" everyone in the program currently (there are 13 of you) to where you can continue receiving the benefits of the program and growing your streaks if you wish, but if your streak lapses you will be dropped from the program.

Our last bit of right-sizing has to do with coin earning rates, now known as SP (SuperLeague Points). These have been greatly increased in the last few weeks through the SuperLeague program with some prime national averages topping 500 coins per hour, and those rates may be changing more into the new year. It's been suggested that centers set their local vault prices to match those in the SuperLeague vault, which is 3,000 coins = $1. So effective today we are making that change and will be monitoring coin earning rates over the next few weeks to see if we need to further adjust. We want to make the average trip rewarding but also encourage people to save up for some of the sweet SL vault loot that is available.

I would be remiss not to mention SuperLeague Prime here - the cost is $8/month and includes two free hours, so it essentially pays for itself, and allows for 5x coin earning, entry to special SuperLeague events, unlimited SL Vault purchased, and more. You can sign up directly through your client or purchase at the front desk from us. We are working on a way to package this into a new VIP package which will likely include some bulk hours similar to the current offering.


Rome Revolution Esports

We had a wild year with Rome Revolution, sponsoring some of our Smash Ultimate players to RGC back in November and entering three different League of Legends teams into several tournaments and leagues throughout the year. I'm happy that we can continue to offer this locally-focused program for players looking to improve at competitive gaming, and this is an area I'm going to continue to pour more resources into as we move into the future.

Smash Ultimate

For Smash Ultimate, we saw both Misfire and Kremling make it out of pools at RetroGameCon, which was an impressive feat for what was likely two of the youngest competitors in their first large 100+ person tournament that saw players from as far away as Vermont competing. The Upstate/Central/Western NY Smash scene is kind of tough because we have our population centers spread so far apart, you have to travel 1-2 hours between communities. The waiting is also not very fun - the TOs doing the best job they can given their resources - but if you fall in a later pool it can be hours sitting and waiting for your match. Often the venues are less than ideal for Smash competitions, and this is something I'm aiming to fix in the coming years.

Competitive Smash - and most fighting games - just have to be an offline scene right now. Online connections are too unpredictable and lag prone to be considered for professional play. Even if you gathered 100 LANs and certified their Internet connections as designated playing grounds, there are still going to be those few frames of lag that just kill the competitive side. Short of a nationwide google fiber - which is years if not decades out - I don't know if we'll ever see play lag-less enough to make the cut.

Current Google Fiber. Missing: New York State - actually the entire northeast.

So the current Smash scene, and especially for those regulars at LAN Mob in Rome, has to be an offline one with a lot of travel involved. We'll continue to offer the weekly and look at ways to juice the attendance going forward, but the path to Evo is going to take a lot of local grinding. I don't think I would ever entertain the thought of putting another player on a plane to Vegas until we can see them placing top-3 at Syracuse, Rochester, Albany, Buffalo events respectively. The player would also need to show they can win a big 100+ person event like that, as it gets towards the top the skill curve gets steep, so it takes another level of play to overcome that. When I can see a player doing that, I'll know they're ready for the big time. I also feel like planning a trip to the holy land at Xanadu would be a great barometer for how far some of our players have developed, so that may be in the works for this coming summer.

Two major changes will be taking place this spring/summer at LAN Mob for Smash. The first being we're going to be adding a Smash roster to the Rome Revolution Esports program. This will be a team of five (four starting players plus one alternate/sub). These players will be given monthly opportunities to travel locally - expenses paid - and compete in regional events around New York State. The team will be fluid month-to-month as players circumstances and placings change - if a player is struggling for a period we may ask them to sit for a while to work on their game in exchange for another player who is hitting their stride.

The second major change to the Smash program involves paid coaching - we'll be facilitating paid coaching through the LAN starting this spring. This is clearly something many of us need, and also a valuable way for coaches themselves to improve and perfect their own play. For this program I'm parsing the players into three categories: early development, intermediate, and elite. Based on each person's level of play, different coaches will be made available to them. I wouldn't want to pair an intermediate player with an elite coach, because that is not the best use of an elite coaches time, and also not very challenging in terms of play for an elite coach. On the lower end we'll likely be offering the option between two coaches with two very different styles, and the players can choose between either coach or try them both over two separate sessions.

I recently was able to start making some API pulls from Challonge and populating databases with tournament stats, player match histories, and more. A screenshot above of one of the player dashboards being built for the LAN Mob community.

League of Legends

We had some huge gains this year in League of Legends, with many of our members reaching Gold ranking and a few breaking into Plat. We entered a single team into Titan Esports Season 1, and two teams into Season 2 for Silver & Plat leagues respectively. We also sent two teams to compete in the SUNY Poly Fragfest this past fall.

While I'm happy with the progress many of us made skill-wise in game, we hit some significant bumps with the program into the fall. It was an eye opening experience for me, but in a very good way that prepares me to enter this next phase of growth. I'm really happy that we're figuring this stuff out in the early phases when we're still a small org, rather than later on down the road. The experience also taught me that we have a great thing started here and has been a huge motivator to continue to build the best program we can.

We've adjusted some things structurally for the new year, and expect to see some tryouts posted in the coming days on our socials. I'm also handing over more of the day-to-day responsibilities to the team captains, and focusing more of my energies on recruitment, coaching, and acting as a decision maker when the captains are split on a decision. This also frees me up to focus more on the business-end and devoting more resources effectively into the program.

Other Games

We've had a ton of interest in other games including Overwatch (currently on hiatus), Rainbow Six Siege, CSGO, Fortnite, Call of Duty, Teamfight Tactics and others. At the end of the day it comes down to resources, so as we continue to grow you'll see more games being added under the Rome Revolution banner. Every team requires a certain level of maturity and professional approach, and we've found when the maturity is lacking things can degenerate quickly. So it starts with just not player interest, but having those mature community leaders.

Upcoming Event - Brawlhalla!

Brawlhalla event is Thursday January 2nd - $5 buy-in! Our current Brawlhalla champ Augg will have to defend his title. Expect friendlies to open sometime after 6 pm.

Upcoming Event - Halo 2v2 Team Slayer

Sunday January 12th - 2 pm, $10 buy-in per team. More details on our facebook event here:

Who remembers where they were when this trailer dropped.

Upcoming Event - Smash Sunday Event

Sunday January 19th - 2 pm registration, 3 pm start - $5 venue/$5 bracket, pot bonus based off weekly attendance.

Ultimate Singles, Ultimate Doubles, Melee!

We might make this a regular monthly going forward but we'll have to see how things go! Our experience is we get a different crowd showing up for these, but the money events are going to draw the best competition, so we're really hoping to see more of our regular players showing up to face the best. It might not always mean walking away with a cash, but it's definitely going to be the most challenging brackets.

Upcoming League - Game TBA

We haven't yet decided on the game, but we'll be launching a tournament league this spring. It will be featured on Tuesday & Thursday nights at the LAN, have a large buy-in, and see teams rotating out every week to compete in person. Expect this tournament league to run for around 8 weeks with a finals weekend event. We're considering a few games for this format and have yet to decide what game to run, but it will likely be a team-based game.

Winter Wondermob

If you're not on our Discord, you should hop on and check out all the Wondermob challenges we have planned. The Discord invite link is available in store, we have it posted all over. Every day a new challenge is released, and we're keeping a scoreboard on the Discord of who has earned the most points. We'll be running this event through the end of March and also have some prize unlock challenges tied to the event, which is more of a scavenger hunt/codebreaking theme. Not every challenge requires you to visit the shop, and if you complete a challenge the day it's released you'll earn double points.

A sample of challenges.
In closing I promised a hint to try to help move the Wondermob prize unlocks along, which has been hidden in plain sight in the last blog post for a few weeks now. All I can say is sometimes the font is white.
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