I want to begin by saying this is not a complaint that the system doesn't work for me. I got 182 this year and got all the events I wanted, including buying True Dungeon tickets for my entire group and getting in a 7th Sea second edition game. I was at my computer, verifying the accuracy of my countdown clock, credit card ready, continuously clicking over a greyed-out button on those last few seconds, and reloading the page through new tabs rather than the refresh button. I did everything right and it worked out.
To be fair, the countdown to clicking the button gives an illusion of control, but what I did was no different than what thousands of other attendees were doing. I just got lucky and got a good number.
Wouldn't it make more sense to have wish lists process automatically? Everybody who has a wish list in the system by 12:00 noon on May 15 has their list submitted to Gen Con and they're all processed in a random order. It takes away the illusion of control but it does away with the 503 errors and the problems of people losing their place. It does away with the need to take time off work (I work nights and weekends and gave up paid hours to do this). It does away with browser errors. It takes what's already a random process and makes it officially random.
I know a lot of people screamed and hollered when housing went to a lottery system and we'll get the same screaming and hollering if event tickets do to, but we're getting screaming and hollering already due to the technical errors of the current system.
What is the benefit of clicking that button yourself? Why wouldn't you want it automated?
It would make a lot of sense- many people don't get put in line when they click the button, instead getting 504 errors, and never having their list processed until they go back in after the website crashed.
What you suggest makes a lot of sense, which means that Gen Con will probably never do it.
Had to request today off work; yes, totally absolutely, want this automated. Maybe not submit every wishlist...instead have a 'yes I want this to be submitted' box in plain view in two or three places, so those folks just messing around don't get submitted.
But even if it was every wishlist, in 2 hours the 'extra' ones would be emptied anyway.
We have considered other approaches, and I'd love to talk through the possible repercussions at a later date when things aren't so hectic.
But the first big thing is that wish lists aren't like access to the hotel block. If wish lists were just processed automatically whether you were here or not, someone could set up a wish list and sit on a bunch of tickets - locking later attendees out - even if they aren't on the site or aren't even going to buy anything.
There are ways to possible mitigate or address issues like that, but it's not quite as much of a simple, obvious slam-dunk as it might seem at first.
Plus it would require significant additional development, so it hasn't been something we've had the time and resource to explore in the past.
tl;dr - we consider different approaches every year and we will keep doing so, but it's not as easy or obvious of a change as it might seem right now, so we'll want to talk through the possible details of this later to look at in a future year.
Gen Con LLC
What if the "submit wish list for processing" button went active an hour before events go on sale, and everyone who clicks the button before the start time was then shuffled and put into a queue at random, instead of this quasi-"first come first serve" system?
You'd still have to have everyone available to buy event tickets as soon as they go on sale, but this way you make sure people who aren't at their computer around that time don't get in, and can't sit on tickets, while everyone who is there gets a fair chance at getting an event without the bad luck of the website crashing as you go to click the button.
Now, if you've decided to camp out on a crapton of tickets, [a] you had to pay for them all, [b] if you need to surrender some you're going to lose money (the 5% refund tithe) on that deal.
An excellent disincentive for that sort of behavior.
Yeah, it's a pain to have computer glitches and be #3922 in the list and missing out on events that you were really hoping for (placed at top of wish list), just remember young ones the days when you got the event catalog in the mail, had to choose your events (and top few hotel choices), and mail them in to Gen Con. After that, you had to wait at least a week or two to see what you got and where you will stay. Admittedly there were a lot fewer attendees that made that possible but truthfully I would much rather have to deal with system glitches and high processing numbers than to ever have to deal with that again.
Gramma Codger of the Mecca Days
As an example, this year I knew I wanted to play True Dungeon, and wanted to do it sometime on Thursday evening, but I wasn't picky about time. So I added tickets to every TD event Thursday evening to my wishlist, so that as long as one event had enough tickets for my group, I'd be able to get in. Turns out I got tickets to two different events, so I could pick which one I wanted. If the cart auto-checked out for me, I'd be stuck with two different TD events, three tickets each, and a sudden $350+ charge on my card when I was planning on something under $200; even with a refund, the 5% on tickets that expensive would still be pretty significant.
How about the system processes the first wish list item of everyone who hits the submit button before the deadline.
Then it processes the second item of each person, and so on.
I agree - just ask me to agree to buy anything in my wish list and then process the list and charge my credit card. It is my responsibility to make sure the credit card info is right and that the card will work.
Just think ink of the removed load on the front end servers!
Instead of at least 6000+ hitting the button at the same time, that is all done off line. System resource consumption becomes 100% predictable since you know the number and size of wish lists.
There is just no value in the current method to the customer that I can see.
I do think the opt-in autoprocess/autobuy process is worth further exploration by the Gen Con team. It is bad for those who plan to overbook and then delete stuff from their cart when their list processes, but you have to discourage this sort of practice anyway if you want a higher percentage of people to get a higher percentage of their picks when event registration opens up.
I'm just going to say thank you for sharing Gen Con's concerns, Derek. I may not always agree with everything Gen Con does but I appreciate that Gen Con does listen to its fans and is always working to improve things.
We don't always have that luxury, but I try to exercise it when we reasonably can.
What if people pay for a better spot in the queue? Just Kidding!
I am always a bit disappointed when i click "submit" right on the downbeat of noon, only to see a 4000+ place in the queue, but it doesn't bother me that much.
The only thing that I wonder is whether I am in the queue so high up while my friend who also clicked at noon gets 327... Should I be examining my browser choice (I actually use Chrome normally, but when I saw the message about my browser not keeping time properly, i switched in the last 45 seconds to Safari) or network latency (just had Charter out and things seemed good - No, i didn't just have my ISP out to prep for Gencon ;) ).
Just one thing to consider, when talking about "round robin" style event queue processing.
You really don't want to do round robin. You want to do "zig zag", where you go back and forth along the queue. So if, say, you have ten people in queue, you do 1 through 10, then do 10 again, doing 10 through 1.
10 is "punished" by being last in line the first time through the processing and so is the first in line on the second round. (similarly 1 is rewarded by being the first to process, and so in the next round is penalized by being last).
I'm *told* this is how sports draft picks happen, but I know literally nothing about that field, so I'll assume that's correct. :-)
On each pass you want it to go through each person's list until they get something or run out of list, then move on to the next person. (Not just handle the first thing on their list.)
I like the idea of reshuffling everyone after each pass as well, rather than using a single fixed order or a snake (dballing's "zig zag"). Alternatively, you could shuffle after going out and back once. There's a lot of neat things you can do when it's all done server-side in one big batch.
We've talked about the same sorts of suggestions for the last few years, since they went to the click-at-open-to-enter-the-queue setup. I expect a lot of that discussion got wiped out, though. (Why wipe chunks of the old forums and not either wipe everything or leave everything for reference? ::sigh:: )
So basically, making it auto buy would eliminate the need to sit and wait. Less customer time means both better customer experience and better system resource management.
That at would be a great first step as it is very close to the current system.
Round robin (aka random selection process) would be a great next step. Order by priority rather than by wish list and process randomly by priority (do everyone's first choice first, etc.).
Even just the first one would be much better than what we have now. Basically the TSR system using a web form instead of a snail mail one!
Folks, this thread is not about a round-robin or similar system, it was initially started about changing when/how wish lists are submitted for processing.
Round robin is a separate idea and should be taken to a separate thread if you actually want to debate possible scenarios.