EPIC Werewolf time!!!

My parents were deeply worried that I was doing too much again. Specially after what happened to me with mybrushwithdeath almost two and half years ago. I can tell you and them that my blood pressure is normal…

So what have I been up to…? Because my blog has also suffered due to the hectic schedule.

On Tuesday 30th Connected Social and 31st EpicWerewolf…!

EPIC Werewolf

Epicwerewolf

The concept of Epic Werewolf was to run werewolf in two rooms.

One room would be kitted out with cameras and a normal game of werewolf would be going on. In the second room would be an audience watching live and some physiologists, behaviour scientists, experts watching along live and giving a running commentary on top of the live video. The people in the first room (the players) wouldn’t be able to hear the second room (the audience) but the second room would see and hear almost everything. All those little comments, subconscious ticks and obvious body actions would be exposed to an audience in a way which has only been seen in TV poker.

Great concept I thought and the Manchester science festival were interested too. However not interested enough to put any serious money behind it for a number of reasons. Because of this the idea had to scale down quickly. The interesting part is the game was originally going to be quite small to allow everyone a chance to have a go but we had to change that due to the amount of people who signed up and wanted to be players not the audience.

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We switched venues quite a bit and thought about a place with internet connectivity so we could broadcast it live to the internet. In the end we settled on Islington Mill in Salford because of the great spaces they have and how creepy it would be to go to deep dark Salford on Halloween.

Anyway the challenge which was worrying me was how to setup the cameras and computers. I had imagined using something like Ingex but we didn’t have resources or cameras. I came up with a number of solutions including using Skype, Hangouts, Bambuser, etc… but in the end I settled on the much easier streaming multiple Videolan’s VLC on my quad core i7 laptop to the weaker dual core Dell xps machine I still have. Everything was fine except I couldn’t get any of my decent cameras (Sanyo Xacti’s) to show up correctly. Meaning I only had 3 webcams including the build in one. I swear I had 2 at home but couldn’t find them even when searching the whole flat.

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On the day I setup 3 VLC services streaming and Vee from Larkin About used her macbook’s built in camera with Bambuser. On my Dell, I took advantage of the overview mode in Ubuntu 12.04 to show all cameras views and one of them being a browser window with Bambuser running from the Mac. However the problem seemed to be the mac would drop the wifi signal every 20mins or so. This was a pain but to add even more pain to the setup, my Dell laptop would get upset with the Flash plugin and throttle the CPU to death.

We pushed ahead anyway and by 6:30pm we had our first players. By about 7pm we had quite a few but no bar… We delayed while we tried to find out what happened to the barman and it turned out the barman was booked for 7:30pm not 7pm. So we started a 25 person game in the bar room and the another one next to it 10mins later to catch people who were running late. It was noisy and hard to hear people talking but it kind of worked out ok.

Those games came to a end about 8:30pm where we revealed what was so Epic about the night. Everyone was given a raffle ticket at the start of the night and between Larkin about and myself we pulled 12 numbers out of a cup and announced them over the pa system to the 50+ strong crowd.

The lucky 12 were lead to the 2nd room which was cold and slightly unnerving to play out a game of werewolf in front of the cameras. Our experts watched from the room and then came into the main room to talk through some of the things which were happening in the game. The problem we had was for the audience the cameras were not exciting enough in part because the of technical difficulties but also there just wasn’t enough to view. So instead we quickly had the experts give a quick overview of what they had seen and then a small Q&A about what not to do when playing werewolf. This was fascinating and made it clear there was more than just luck going on in a game of werewolf.

Massive thanks to Ben, Penny and Liz for being our experts for the night and giving us great insight into the silly things we all do without even noticing. Thanks also to Martin Rue, Mark Kirschstein and Larkin About for support through the night.

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After the Q&A we kicked off a series of werewolf games right through till the witching hour of midnight. We even had the barman involved in the last game.

It was a excellent night and I was amazed with the turn out of people. So many people and such a great vibe throughout. I only wished we could have got the epic part working smoothly. Well theres always next Halloween I guess?

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A bit of funding and who knows what we could great? Multiple rooms many cameras and many more types of sensors? Possibilities are endless! This is certainly not the end of #EpicWerewolf

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.