Open House

April 11, 2005 at 1:19 PM | Food, Good Times, KSU, Music, Nerd, Site/Personal | No Comments

So Friday and Saturday was K-State Open House. We had our Quake III Dodgeball mod (for CIS690) set up on the first row of computers in Fiedler, so we could have a max of 5 on 5 games. It seemed like it did pretty on Friday. Open House is a 2 day ordeal… I’m not really sure how it works really, but the first night isn’t really as popular–it’s usually more of the setup/test day. I’m not even certain if it’s publicly advertised… Anyways, the College of Engineering cancels classes on the Friday of Open House; maybe it’s only classes after noon, I’m not sure… I don’t have any Friday classes so it didn’t help me in the slightest. I got to bed at like 4:30AM on Friday because I had decided to hang out at Aldie’s, head out to the bars n shit. I had to get up at 8:30AM for setup on Saturday, but I got up like a soldier and did what needed to be done. I found Sam passed out on the couch downstairs on my way out… apparently he’d done something similar. He showed up later at like 11.

One of the last minute changes that we made to the mod was we changed out the texture of the dodgeballs to something that resembled these purple foam CIS department balls that we were giving away to people. Seemed like a nice touch, since the map resembled Ahearn and now the balls resembled these foam balls that kids can take home… details that kept things interesting.

As we found, the mod had some kind of bug that was making Quake crash out pretty hardcore. It was some memory access error that we’d never seen before. I guess we should’ve playtested the thing some more beforehand. Even by the end of Saturday’s Open House hours, it was difficult to figure out what was the cause of the problem, because sometimes it would happen during the death sequence (so we thought it had to do with the teleport code), but sometimes it happened to people floating around in spectate mode… so yeah, who knows.

The CIS department had always set up Open House in Nichols, but it’s so far out from the other buildings that not many people made the venture out to check us out. This year, somehow, we were set up in Fiedler library, amongst the other Engineering displays. Yes, our department is located in Nichols hall. But I’m not sure whether people were aware that by setting up Nichols every year, we were dooming ourselves. Was it pressure from within to stay in Nichols, the building shared by CIS, Theatre, Dance, and other performance arts? Or was it pressure from the College of Engineering, whom I’ve always thought secretly (though not always so secretly) regarded CIS as its bastard child?

The simple change of location made a huge difference. It was busy enough on Saturday that there were times that I didn’t get to play. Kids pouring in the doors n shit… kids love computers.

Er… I should say kids love computer games.

All around Fiedler were a number of other CIS displays, but they didn’t really stand a chance to a 10-computer LAN game, as one might expect. I almost felt bad for some of the people running the other displays. Ain’t nobody running up on them, ain’t nobody checking out their displays. Sad, really. But what can you do.

So all in all, our project (as an Open House display) was a raging success for how incomplete it was, especially on Saturday. I know we still have a number of things to add and fix on it, but for display purposes I thought it was pretty impressive. And it was fun too!

Anyways, we started shutting down around 3 on Saturday. Our particular display was vastly easier to tear down than everybody elses, since we were using the Engineering department’s computers. They were rocking Deep Freeze so all we had to do to clean up was restart all of the computers that we had installed the game on. (It was a double-edged sword, though, because we wouldn’t have needed to come in early to setup if they didn’t use Deep Freeze).

That night, Sam and I attended the Engineering Open House Awards Banquet. Steel Ring members go around during Open House hours, and observe and judge all of the displays. It’s usually ARCHE that wins all the awards. Those tickets to get in were $9 a piece for a student ticket. I’m not sure how much the other kinds of tickets were, but I would have to imagine that they were more. I had gone with Sam the year before too, and I remembered what a fucking sham this banquet was. I distinctly remembered that the chicken that they served was dry as fuck. My god, you’d have to fuck up pretty bad to dry chicken out like these people did. But it’s not like I paid for it, so whatever. I hoped and hoped that this year, they didn’t serve chicken, because they don’t know how it’s done.

Anyways, this was where I got an award for best CIS display last year, for a Java Battleship game (that I worked on with 2 other people in CIS525) that I’d set up a display for, complete with posters, a kickass setup, and an improved version just for Open House. Thinking back on it, the game itself sucked because the game Battleship sucks. It gets so old, so fast. You find it interesting for a little while, purely out of nostalgia, but it quickly fades as you realize why you quit playing that monotonous game years ago. But I guess if Steel Ring thought it was the best display amongst the CIS displays then so be it. That’s not saying a whole lot, though.

The banquet itself is held upstairs in the Union ballroom, where a lot of these types of catered events take place. I used to go to a lot more of these things back before I actually attended K-State. We got there and we were a little early so we had to wait around in the lobby full of snooty engineers and alumni. If there’s anything that I despise more than engineers or alumni, it’s Engineer alumni, for obvious reasons. They had a cash bar going, with like $3.75 for a domestic and more for glasses of wine n shit. They know how to make a buck, I’ll give them that. There really wasn’t anybody there that we cared to talk to, but we found some other CS students, so that was a relief. These sorts of events are designed to be networking opportunities, but not so much for disgruntled CS students. We didn’t give a fuck… it’s not like we would want to network with these engineers anyway.

So when it got to 6PM, we got in line to get in. At the entrance, somebody took tickets and the line split 6 ways into equivalent food lines. The room was pretty full by the time that we made it to the food so I was afraid that we would be forced to split up and talk to some of these people. The food consisted of a salad, mixed fruit, potatoes and gravy, vegetable medley, chocolate cake/apple pie, cinnamon roll, and (not suprisingly) dry ass motherfucking grilled chicken… on a lovely rice pilaf.

Luckily, Michael had miraculously secured ourselves a table. Probably the best table in the house. We were right there next to the exit AND we had a fabulous view of the brass band (plus 1 guy on a banjo) on stage. So we sat down, started eating, having a grand ol’ time. On my way to our table, I’d seen Liz, who was already sitting down. I acknowledged her with a point, smile, and an eyebrow raise (all that because I cannot wink, for the life of me…). I don’t mind her being an engineer at all, because I know her and I can’t stereotype an engineer once I get to know them. She came over and we talked for a little bit–things were a little awkward because of the party last weekend, but I think things are OK now?

So we ate and watched the band, who played these songs in a style from the 20′s (or 40′s?) that for some reason reminded me a great deal of LucasArts’ Monkey Island series. It was fantastic and the food (except for that blasted chicken) was good. In what I thought to be a rather bold (maybe even defiant) move, like 5 of us from the table got up to get seconds… nobody else had done so, and especially not in a swarm like we did. We filed back through the room of round tables seated by elegantly dressed people, with our plates of food back to the table and resumed.

And as if that wasn’t enough, as soon as they got done acknowledging the Steel Ring members in the room, we ducked out of the exit. The whole table. I’m sure people saw us n shit, but I had thought this through. I thought that it would better to leave all at once (despite the attention that it would bring us) rather than to insult everyone’s intelligence by leaving one at a time with false excuses and cheap parlor tricks. At first, I was like, “OK, you call my phone, and then I’ll get up out of the room to quote-unquote take the call… and then shortly after I’ll call one of you and you can leave, and so on and so on…” But yeah, I think that would’ve gotten more negative attention.

So at least we minimized the attention on us by leaving during a moment when everybody was distracted, applauding standing members of Steel Ring. But undoubtedly, some people must have seen our table leave. And of course, some of them must have known that our table consistedly mostly of CS majors. So… of course, I wouldn’t be surprised if our lack of respect for engineers will probably get CS shunned from similar events in the future. But we only did it because the College of Engineering treats us like its bastard child. It’s the classic vicious circle. Classic vicious circle of mutual disrespect.

We walked out to the front of the Union, laughing, high-fiving each other… all in all a great sense of accomplishment. Made some cracks at the engineers for a bit before finally disbanding. The sun was still up. We were in the banquet for approximately 1 hour–just enough time to eat and roll. And man, I was so full. Not Thanksgiving full, but pretty dang full.

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