Automating the Chimera website

Hey Anna,

Given the size of Chimera and how time-consuming it is to manage bookings and game selections manually, I think it might be time to do some more automation in terms of data collection and dissemination.

We could:

  1. put all the game selections in a database table (instead or as well as sending an email), and link them to the registrations
  2. give you an online interface to that database to assign people to games
  3. automatically assign everyone to their first choice, but give you the ability to move them and visibility of their second choice
  4. give you an automated online output of the list of players in each game with email addresses and character preferences

That way you could just copy and paste the automated detailed player lists to the topics you create here in the yearly Chimera GM forum, rather than having to create the lists manually, and it would contain all the details.

We may also want to consider storing all the game details in the database, so that they can be edited online as data rather than requiring HTML & FTP. That would save time when making the site for Chimera each year. And it would mean that when a game fulls up, you could mark it as full in the database and the site would automatically behave appropriately (game would be removed as an option from game selection, game page would have a note at the top saying it’s full, game could be marked on the timetable as full, etc).

All this would take some time, but may well be achievable for Chimera 2012. It would have a limited effect on players (they’d just get the same results faster, and the interface would look the same to them), but I’m guessing it would have a huge effect on you and your ability to get info to GMs.

I’ve been thinking about this since I spent all of Queen’s Birthday weekend doing data entry, and was going to post this weekend asking for help in getting something like that made. It’s definitely at the stage where the convention has grown bigger than ever before, and I have less time than ever before, so bypassing the part where I need to manually create spreadsheets and lists would make my life so much easier.

I personally think it’s a little unfair to allocate people on a first come first served basis. There is a big rush when the site goes live but I can’t see why a person who registers at 7:01 on “go-live night” should really be treated any better that a person who registers 2-3 days later.

Maybe we could do allocation after 7-10 days so people with other life commitments, like jobs and families, can get an equal chance at the good games.

First off, the matter of how I allocate people to games is one seperate to the fact that managing the number of sign ups manually is becoming difficult and I need technology to help.

Secondly, this year, 70% of reigstrants got into all their first choice games. The remaining 30% ended up with one second choice game each.