Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Defender World Record Marathon Update, 11 / 11 / 2013

Ahh. The joys of classic arcade gaming. Apparently old Williams' machines are finicky. Very much so. In fact, so much so that people that work on them have a lot of "must dos" when they give recommendations. It's been a real eye opening experience since this machine decided that it wants some more attention. No pressure. 

RAM board - RAM to be
replaced. And the dreaded
ribbon cable at top.
Well, before I go into this update, I owe some thanks to the people that are helping. I want to thank my family for their support during this event. They've put up with my late nights and the concern and being told they can't touch the machine and that they were going to have to make me food and put up with a bunch of people in the house and everything else. They're troopers. Thank you all!

I want to thank Josh Jones, who calls me every night to talk about the event and what needs to be done next. Without him, there's no way I would be doing this. He is going to try to stay up with me the whole 80 hours. I think he's crazy, because he's supposed to be the one to tell me that *I'M* going to have to stop if I get too tired or loopy. 

Sound Board - should be fine
I also want to thank Josh's family. He just had a grand-daughter! And they are all supportive of him coming over to the house for, effectively, five full days. 

There are also so many others that need to be thanked, like Jenny Bendel, marketing badass. She wrote a huge press release that made it all over the place. I blame her for adding the most pressure of all. Good one Jenny! 

Jason's Beastly UPS
I want to thank Jason Hughes for coming to the house to measure the voltage of the machine, and ultimately bringing over a ridiculously large USB to give the machine some extra juice in case of a power outage. The bonus is that it also produces clean power!

This event has been very interesting for a number of reasons. I have a lot of friends that have known I was going to try for it, and have just been wondering when it would happen. Finally, it's here. 

Power Board on left (to be replaced)
Picking a day and time has made it real. Starting our charity page made it real. Publicizing the event has made it real. Having troubles with the machine has made it real. Having MORE troubles with the machine has made it real. Having people write articles on the event has made it real. Getting phenomenal advice from people online has made it real. I could go on and on. 

We're a few days out and the technical issues with the machine have gotten worse, not better, no matter what I try. It seems that something drastic needs to be done, much to the dismay of my grocery budget. And it's something that should have been done the instant the machine started getting fussy. I have to buy new parts and install them before the event. All the bits and pieces are shown throughout this update, so you can see what we're up against.

ROM Board - hopefully fine!
I put together a list today of items I need to replace for Steven at http://www.arcadeshop.com/parts.htm. They should ship tomorrow and be here by Friday (YIKES!): 
  • Power board (he suggested installing this first)
  • New RAM - 25 chips (Apparently there are 24 needed, so they send you one extra. Wonder how they figured that out? I love it! Makes me feel like I can make at least one mistake.)
  • Lithium battery kit (requires soldering, which I am not equipped to do in any way)
  • Ribbon cable (just in case because my current one apparently SUCKS)
  • Joystick rebuild kit (because, well, awesome - but not sure I will install because I am so used to my old floppy stick... yep I said it) 
I suppose I will become a repairman by Friday night in time to sleep before starting Sat. morning.
What every machine
should be wearing
Now, just to make matters even MORE interesting and more filled with pressure, some of my advisers are, VERY SENSIBLY, suggesting that I move the event due to the complete uncertainty of the machine's temperament. After all, I could get someone to come service it and give it some "armor" before I go for it. 

The thing is that I *agree* with them that it's really the "right thing to do." The problem is that this is the first time I have ever done a marathon. I've done some big games over the years, but nothing like this. I just simply haven't had the time to invest. Well this time it's put up or shut up. 

My thought is that Josh and I will learn a TON from doing this event. And if something goes wrong, we're going to learn from it and do it again as soon as possible. This is like the way I like to work: make mistakes as quickly as possible and iterate. 

Scary or fun?
I liken it to going to a circus where there's a high wire act with no safety net. Why would you go watch that? Well, it's kinda because you think they're going to fail, but you don't want them to... it adds to the allure. I think that staying awake for the duration is part of it, keeping the game alive without failing that is another part of it, and the final piece of the puzzle is "will the machine make it?" 

I can't say for sure which one's going to fail, although it is clear to me that the third part can be mitigated by a damn good tech. And I'll need one for sure for an 80 hour run, I'm certain of it. 

On Saturday, you're going to get the best show we can muster up, no matter what. And if I fall off the high wire because of machine failure, we'll all be disappointed, no one more so than me. I don't want to let anyone down after we've all worked so hard to get ready for this, but I see pushing the date back before I know for sure it's going to break as just too much. It's kinda depressing to quit before you have all of the data. Right now, it makes sense to move the date. But I want to take that chance and I want you all to come along with me. I won't plunge to my death, and we'll all be disappointed together. We might just train the cameras on Stargate and I'll see what we can do on it because the marathon score for it isn't nearly as high as Defender. 

The issue on Stargate is that I'm out of practice on it... maybe making sure I can stay alive in the game is the death-defying experience we're all looking for anyway! 

All I need now is a soldering iron, flux, and a voltmeter. And calm. Like "Mr. Miagi-style" calm. The next few days are going to be nerve wracking. 

The stream can be watched here: www.twitch.tv/billyjoecainlive

Send in donations for the Mission Soup Kitchen: www.gofundme.com/defendingcharity

See you on the stream?!? I hope so!


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