austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Station wagon rides

CST explained to bunny_hugger the things she could do to secure a spot in the top-16 of the state. First, of course, is to play in every tournament event she could. You get points, for state, just for participating. Second is to do well in them. You get more points for doing well, and even more points for doing well in events with a lot of people in them. Third is to run her own tournament near the end of the year, and, preferably, do very well in that.

He said he'd help run it, which everyone who's run anything will recognize as the trick you use to fool someone else into doing something. The Constitutional Convention was able to talk George Washington into being President by promising him that John Adams would do all the real work. Adams actually wanted to do the work, because he was that freak every organization needs, and is why nobody respected him.

But would it be crazy to do? We have a venue, the hipster bar where the Lansing Pinball League meets. It has sixteen pinball machines, plenty for a reasonable-sized turnout. And many of the machines are from the glorious 90s, some of the best ever made: The Addams Family, Medieval Madness, Tales of the Arabian Nights, Indiana Jones, Monster Bash, Theatre of Magic --- that's six of the ten highest-rated modern games on the Internet Pinball Database, and other tables there like Attack From Mars and Lord of the Rings just barely miss the cut. It's a friendly bar, so people could hang out and get a drink or, theoretically, something to eat in-between games. (Well, they've been doing some nice stuff with incubator kitchens lately.) We didn't have anything scheduled for the last week of the year. Many other people wouldn't either.

But here's what's crazy about it: the machines are in decent shape, but not the prime tournament-grade shape that every other pinball tournament enjoys. We could send nagging little notes to the operator but whether they'd be fixed was completely beyond our power. Every table has some issues with it, some very minor or even esoteric (Getaway doesn't build the supercharger bonus when the kickback starter targets are hit), some big but just irritating (Tales of the Arabian Nights often has the sound card fail), some game-breaking (World Cup USA was giving out awards at inappropriate moments, and Indiana Jones had a habit of keeping one ball and ending the game rather than giving it to the player). Nobody at the bar has a key to open any of the games, so even a simple problem like a stuck ball would spoil a match and knock the game out for the rest of the night. These are the reasons CST decided a year-plus ago not to hold a tournament there. (The place had many fewer games, and in worse shape, then, it must be said.)

However ...

Fifteen pinball machines would offer some redundancy. If we suppose ten percent (one or two) are out of order at any time, and even that another ten percent (one or two) go down during play, that's still eleven or twelve machines available. bunny_hugger found a set of contest rules drawn up by a pinball league that has no key access to their machines, and so has a set of procedures in place for how to deal with game malfunctions. (Most of them amount to ``yeah, life sucks, doesn't it?'', but there are some problems that can be positively ameliorated at least.)

The popular ``four-strikes'' tournament would also be fairly straightforward to run, and not too demanding on machines. In this format two players and a table are drawn at random and play; players are eliminated as they get four losses. Everyone coming's guaranteed at least four rounds of play, and the number of tables needed shrinks as the night goes on, and if you have too many people for the number of tables you can stack, letting people wait for a machine to become available. There's a popular app, Brackelope, that manages all the pair- and table-selecting and even works out the rankings of everyone who finishes.

So it looked like this could be a low-stress, easy-to-manage way of getting one more tournament and hopefully a good number of points in just under the wire.

Trivia: The United States was the prime supplier of arms to Guatemala until 1944, when the country held its first democratic election. The United States stopped supporting the country's military afterwards. Source: Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, Stephen Kinzer.

Currently Reading: Marketing The Moon: The Selling Of The Apollo Lunar Program, David Meerman Scott, Richard Jurek.

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