Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The 24 Hour Setlist - Postmortem

The 24 hour singing marathon is over and raised $780 for Connecticut Children's Medical Center. Thanks to everyone who donated and if you haven't and still want to, I just found out that Extra Life keeps collecting donations until the end of the calendar year before it goes to the hospitals.

The marathon itself was a pretty epic experience. I felt like I was sitting in a room separate from time while the hours flew by in the outside world. The biggest surprise was how little of a strain it put on my voice. I was expecting to have a lot of trouble and bought a huge case of water bottles and lots of cough drops...but I barely used them. I'm not sure what to credit for that - maybe it was the heavy training I did the weeks beforehand or maybe it was the all the fruit I ate that day (moisture, yo)- but my voice proved inexhaustible. My body, however, was a different story. Around 5:30 am, the 20 hours of singing hit me like a brick and I struggled to stay awake for the last hurrah. Still managed it, but I butchered Def Leppard's "Rock of Ages" by basically singing it in my sleep.

I've been asked if I will do it again in 2016. It's early, but I lean towards yes. Still, there will be many things to address before I can fully commit to another day's worth of song. I'll list them here to better explain myself and just for my own reference.

Streaming Tech Issues

This is by far the biggest problem that came up during the marathon. The livestream crashed every hour. That's not hyperbole by the way, it actually crashed once an hour. You could set your watch by it. The last two hours or so of the marathon was done totally offline because I was just too tired by then to put up with that bullshit. I'm not sure exactly where the problem lies, either. I was using a pretty new and powerful laptop and the capture card came highly recommended. It could be just that our internet isn't powerful enough, although I upgraded it last year after I started working for Degica so I could download games easier. I hope during the intervening year I can figure out a solution or else I'm not sure it's worth it.

More Focused Song List

This year's song list was thrown together a little sloppily. I basically just scrolled through the Rock Band 3 list and picked songs I liked in the order they appeared. With the benefit of hindsight, I can put together a new list that better captures that feel of increasing challenge I wanted. I can also eliminate songs that just weren't good for this. One example - Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" is good for a laugh, but that song is so repetitive that I almost fell asleep while singing it when I finally got to it around 6:45 am.

And I don't need to do every Iron Maiden song. Should probably keep it to the best of the best.

The arrival of Rock Band 4 brought a lot of new songs onto the platform and the weekly DLC additions have resumed, so next year's list will look a lot different than this one which is fun. I'll also have to rein in the amount of songs. I had 335 songs and I was sure I knew how the timing would work but that didn't work out. Near the end I was three hours behind schedule, meaning that I was singing songs at 8:30 a.m. that I expected to be singing at 5:30 a.m. Because of that, I didn't even get to the "Gauntlet" of 35 tough songs I had planned for the end before the 24 hours were up. A lot of the delay can probably be blamed on streaming issues, but I still think I would cut the amount down to 300 even.

The State of Rock Band 4

Rock Band 4 is a new game with a lot of changes to the interface, most of which are only noticed by hardcore fans. Still, one particular change makes it much harder to set up a 24-hour marathon. In Rock Band 3 you can create and save lists of songs to play through in full at a later time. I put in all the marathon songs in 3 sets of 100 plus the aforementioned "Gauntlet" which I didn't get to. It was very handy to just hit a few buttons and have 100 songs play uninterrupted.

Rock Band 4, for reasons that are not clear, removed this feature. In other words, I would have to scroll through the master list of songs and select each one. Repeat this process 300 times. If you thought this year was behind schedule, doing it this way next year would be nuts. However, it may not be this way in a year. The developers plan to keep patching in changes to the game and have already fixed a few fan complaints this way. We'll hope that something emerges within a year that will make this more feasible.

That's it for this year. I would encourage anyone to get involved with Extra Life. It's really a great cause.

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