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The Schemaverse Tournament - Planning for DEFCON 20

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  • The Schemaverse Tournament - Planning for DEFCON 20

    First off, thank you to TheCotMan for getting our DC20 forum up and running. Having this up early should really help to make this year's tournament a huge success. There is a lot to prepare for so I really appreciate having a head start.


    For those of you who have no idea what the contest is, The Schemaverse is a tournament played out completely inside a PostgreSQL database. It is a space battle game played using SQL commands or the interface of your choice. The best introduction to the game is to watch my DC19 talk "When Space Elephants Attack: A DEFCON Challenge for Database Geeks". It will give you a good idea on the gameplay mechanics, basic functions and overall goals (although if all goes to plan, the gameplay will differ slightly next year to make things more interesting).

    Some important links for the game include:
    The Projects Homepage: https://schemaverse.com
    The Projects GitHub Repo: https://github.com/Abstrct/Schemaverse/
    The Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/schemaverse
    and of course, our outdated wiki (learning it is half the fun right?): https://github.com/Abstrct/Schemaverse/wiki

    Myself and a couple other players also sit on irc.freenode.net in #Schemaverse. Everybody is more than welcome to come join us and ask as many questions as you like. Forcing me to repeat answers will just help motivate me to fix the wiki.

    Last year our tournament went really well (especially considering it was our first year). We had over a hundred people sign up to play and, although first place was won by a bit of a landslide, there was actually some fun competition that took place and some really neat hacks that were discovered. Since our DEFCON debut, the project certainly hasn't been sitting still. Our community has grown to over a thousand players, we have killed some rough bugs (and found new ones) and gameplay is continuously being tweaked to make it more interesting.

    Enough about the past though, now it's time to get down to business and discuss the DC20 Schemaverse Tournament. Here is what is going through my mind right now. Regardless of if you competed last year, take a read and let me know what you think. Everything below is open to suggestions and/or ridicule.


    DC20 Tournament Format - Classic
    The basic format of the competition is that you have from Thursday to Sunday morning to compete in the one ~72 hour round of Schemaverse. Registration happens at the Contest desk. I am open to the thought of pre-registration but not sold on it yet for the classic format.

    At the point of the round's end on Sunday, the player awarded the most trophy points takes the prize. Like last year, other prizes may be awarded for the most clever hack or best custom interface too.

    DC20 Tournament Format - AI Only
    Last year I had a great suggestion to have an AI only tournament going on side-by-side to the regular tournament. If you are not aware, in The Schemaverse, you can write "Fleet Scripts" using pl/pgsql to command your space ships on your behalf. Unlike the regular format where players can connect directly to the database and issue commands, the AI only tournament would require that you submit a script before hand and only your script would play for you. You would have no ability to manually interact with the database or alter your script once the round has begun.

    This obviously requires a bit of interest in the game long before DEFCON is upon us as players would need to understand the game enough to write a successful script. If we can get this interest, I think it would make for a really neat comparison to the classic tournament taking place along side it.

    If we can not get enough interest solely from the DEFCON community, I think it might be a good idea to open the AI only competition to outside contestants as well. I need input from the DEFCON organizers to find out if this is an acceptable option though.


    Prizes
    Last year our supporters gave us some great prizes to give away and I will certainly be in contact with them again. This included some PostgreSQL swag, Navicat software license, admission to the conference pgWest 2011 and finally some cash. If you have any suggestions for prizes that would motivate you to compete or if you know anybody looking to support a fun database oriented contest please, please, please let me know!


    The Contest Booth
    Last year was the first time I ran a contest, well, anywhere so putting a booth together was a bit of a new experience. I like to think I know where I can improve but you might have some additional suggestions for me. Here is what I will try to do better for next year:

    Business Cards - How I forgot this last year I'm not sure.

    One page sheet with:
    • Spiffy logo
    • Database Connection Details (Host, Port and Database)
    • Connection Strings for common languages
    • Connection Setting Dialogs for common applications (pgAdmin, Navicat, Database.Net)

    Projector! - This year I am going to request to have a projector in place at the booth to rotate between current standings and a visualizer showing the actual space battle taking place. Standings will be simple to pull off but a visualizer is going to take some effort. I think having people walking by and actually seeing the space battle taking place will make the SQL game happening underneath seem a lot more appealing.

    Manuals - If I can get some not horrible documentation written up I think having a couple manuals printed at the booth might help too. Would you sit around and flip through one?

    More chairs? More Power? Am I missing anything?

    Swag
    Last year we gave out buttons to new registrants that I felt were quite stylish. Did you like the button? Do you often find yourself wishing you had more to place them on items all around your house or person? From a purely selfish standpoint, seeing people wear my dumb buttons around the con gave me a huge amount of pride so I really don't mind tossing some money at the contest to make it happen again. But, if there is other small swag you would be more interested in, I am completely open to suggestions! (Sorry, I can't make a badge that runs psql though)


    Another Talk
    Obviously, just like this contest itself, I cannot even say for sure such a talk would be accepted but considering the level of complexity involved with entering the contest, would you like to see me write up another CFP for an updated talk regarding the game? Topics in the talk would likely include gameplay basics again (and what has changed) as well as some more details on hack attempts (successful and not) and "fun" things discovered about PostgreSQL throughout the development of the game.



    This pretty much sums up what is on my mind for now. Personally, I learned quite a bit about running a competition at DEFCON last year and I plan to put it all to good use to make this year way better. That certainly doesn't make me an expert at this so I really appreciate any input others may have.

    -Abstrct

  • #2
    Re: The Schemaverse Tournament - Planning for DEFCON 20

    Don't forget to watch for Pyr0's "RFI/CFI" (Requrest for Info/Call for Info) for contests/events, so that you can get the resources you need at Defcon and make sure your contest is listed in the program. (Existence of a forum is no guarantee of space or resources at con.) I mentioned this is the email I sent. Sorry to repeat this so much, but I like to be clear. :-)
    Originally posted by Abstrct View Post
    First off, thank you to TheCotMan for getting our DC20 forum up and running. Having this up early should really help to make this year's tournament a huge success. There is a lot to prepare for so I really appreciate having a head start.
    You are welcome. I am happy to help leaders/organizers of contests, events and social gatherings with a place to at least provide links and at best, space for discussion and planning of their contest event or social gathering.

    Right now, the name of this forum is:
    Originally posted by name
    The Schemaverse DEFCON Tournament (When Space elephants attack )
    Did you want to change the title/name?
    (Changing the name should not change the URL to threads contained in it, or URL to the forum itself.)

    Next, the description I have is from last year. Did you want to change this to include mention of the two different contests you plan to run based on this?
    Originally posted by description
    The Schemaverse is a space-based strategy game implemented entirely within a PostgreSQL database where you compete against other players using raw SQL commands. Use your SQL skills to interactively command your fleets to glory during this weekend-long tournament for the database geeks. Or, if your PL/pgSQL-foo is strong, wield it to write AI and have your fleet command itself while you enjoy the con! (Twitter)
    Ideally, descriptions should be short, and the above is probably about as long as a description should be. Details can be posted inside the forums in threads like this one.

    Did you have any other links that you would like to see added to the description? Some contests, events, or social gatherings have facebook pages, web sites/pages, signup pages, wiki, or more. None of these are required, but help to provide people interested in your contest with resources to learn more about it if such resources exist, like the ones you include in your post.)

    Please let me know if you want to change the name or description or want me to include more links to online resources like thos you included, and good luck with your contest.

    -Cot
    Last edited by TheCotMan; 01-07-2012, 04:11 PM.
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    • #3
      Re: The Schemaverse Tournament - Planning for DEFCON 20

      Originally posted by TheCotMan View Post
      Don't forget to watch for Pyr0's "RFI/CFI" (Requrest for Info/Call for Info) for contests/events, so that you can get the resources you need at Defcon and make sure your contest is listed in the program. (Existence of a forum is no guarantee of space or resources at con.) I mentioned this is the email I sent. Sorry to repeat this so much, but I like to be clear. :-)
      I definitely won't forget! I don't think I can beat last year's record of ~17 minutes but I will definitely respond to Pyr0's RFI once it's announced.

      Originally posted by TheCotMan View Post
      Did you want to change the title/name?
      I think the title is fine. I can't see changing it but I know who to ask should the time come :)

      Originally posted by TheCotMan View Post
      Next, the description I have is from last year. Did you want to change this to include mention of the two different contests you plan to run based on this?
      I think the description actually works pretty good for both events so there isn't a reason to alter it at this point. If I notice some confusion in the future then I may reconsider this.

      Originally posted by TheCotMan View Post
      Did you have any other links that you would like to see added to the description?
      Yes Please! It would be great if you could add http://defcon.schemaverse.com as the contests site.
      The page just forwards to my main site right now but it will be updated accordingly as we get closer to DC20. Other than that, just the twitter feed (@schemaverse), which is already listed.


      Thanks again!
      -Abstrct

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      • #4
        Re: The Schemaverse Tournament - Planning for DEFCON 20

        Originally posted by Abstrct View Post
        Originally posted by TheCotman
        Did you have any other links that you would like to see added to the description?
        Yes Please! It would be great if you could add http://defcon.schemaverse.com as the contests site.
        The page just forwards to my main site right now but it will be updated accordingly as we get closer to DC20. Other than that, just the twitter feed (@schemaverse), which is already listed.
        Description updated:
        Originally posted by Description
        The Schemaverse is a space-based strategy game implemented entirely within a PostgreSQL database where you compete against other players using raw SQL commands. Use your SQL skills to interactively command your fleets to glory during this weekend-long tournament for the database geeks. Or, if your PL/pgSQL-foo is strong, wield it to write AI and have your fleet command itself while you enjoy the con! (site) , (Twitter)
        Good luck!
        -Cot
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