Mario Marathon Ustream.TV Child's Play Charity

What's New for Mario Marathon 4?

If you've watched the Mario Marathon for the past three years you probably know we are constantly trying to improve and add to the event. This year is no different, we have several advancements which are all explained here for your convenience.

High(er) Def Video

HD Video

Following last year's event we ran a survey asking viewers what they would like to see as far as improvements. The number one request was improved video quality. Seeing as it was the number one request we couldn't really ignore it, so we went all out.

First, we upgraded our cameras. Out with the Logitech USB Quickcams and in with the HDMI capture cards and HD Canon camcorders and wide angle lenses. Next, new lighting rigs were purchased to help maintain the color balance day and night.

To share this higher quality video with the community in full 16x9 HD we scrapped WebCamMax and Flash Media Encoder in favor of Ustream Producer Pro. Using this Ustream custom software also means you can watch the Mario Marathon on the go from iPhones, iPads and other Ustream enabled devices. As a final step we upgraded our internet service to ensure uber bandwidth from us to Ustream's servers.

Donation Notification Sounds

In rewatching last year's marathon I noticed several donations which crossed the donation bar without receiving a proper acknowledgement from the team. Since Mario Marathon is nothing without the collective community this was a little upsetting. If your donation fell into this category we are deeply sorry and have a fix to prevent it from happening again this year. The donation bar on the top of the video feed has been upgraded with notification sounds which trigger each time a donation is made. A large list of the most recent donors is also visible to the team to handle rapid bursts of donations. In addition to donation notifications sounds also notify us when a new level is unlocked.

Reaction System

My goal is for everyone watching Mario Marathon to feel like they're getting together with a group of friends to play some great games. We try to interact with as many of you as we can via chat, twitter, e-mail, Skype, etc. This year we've added a reaction system which you see as four buttons below the video feed on the Mario Marathon website: LOL, Cheer, Boo, and FAIL.

Reaction Buttons

Clicking one of these buttons lets you respond in real-time to the events of the marathon. If enough people respond in the same way auditory reactions play at Mario Marathon Headquarters. Now we can hear you boos when we sing and cheers when we dance. It puts you one click closer to being in the room.

Wheel-of-Awesome

John is a genius. He began doing "The Mario" for each $1,000 raised sometime during Mario Marathon 2, that eventually led way to glorious duets of Tro-lo-lo and a slightly shocking and hilarious Truffle Shuffle. The shenanigans seem to come from all directions. This year we've formalized these $1,000 rewards with something we call the "Wheel-of-Awesome".

Wheel-of-Awesome

Each time the we pass a $1,000 mark the donation bar in the video transforms into a three reeled slot machine. The result of the spin challenges the team or a team member to complete a ridiculous task for the amusement of the internet.

Social Trivia

We wanted to expand on the prize contests we've held in the past to create a bigger, event long, challenge. The result is our Social Trivia game. Throughout Mario Marathon 4 the team will present "Social Trivia Challenges". These trivia questions about Mario and Mario Marathon related topics can be answered via Facebook or Twitter to earn points. The faster you answer, the more points you receive for each question. The more questions you answer, the more points you will accumulate throughout the event. A leader board is available to track individual progress. The more you watch, the more opportunities you will have to score points. The top players at the end will be entered into a drawing for a special prize.

Donors on the Level Checklist

Some levels in the Mario universe are kind of hard, others are teeth grinding, controller throwing, impossible. We wanted to be sure to thank those people who force us to play these gems by attributing their donations to the specific levels they helped to unlock. The level checklist now features the names of those who contributed to the unlocking of each level.

The Lost Levels

The Lost Levels has been added to the Mario Marathon 4 line up. It.s been requested for three years and now we are going to give it a shot. Prepare the failhorn.

Supporting Site Totals

Mario Marathon has been fortunate to have the support of hundreds of websites. Huge amounts of the community have made it to the event from major gaming news sites and internet forum communities. This year we are trying something new to credit those sites for their donations. Each donation made by a visitor from a supporting website is added to a donation total for that website. We hope this helps us demonstrate the impact sites like Penny-Arcade, Joystiq, Something Awful, and the rest have on the event. It may even spark some competition.

For those sites who really want to show off their support a custom Mario Marathon donation badge has been created. A small bit of Javascript code which can be embedded in your website gives your visitors the total donations raised and the share attributed to your site.

That's all Folks!

That's about all we've got feature wise, but that's not the end of our improvements. We are working on content to show off these features and create an altogether more entertaining event. We might have a few surprises up our sleeves as well.

Tune in during Mario Marathon 4 on June 24th to see it all come together in support of Child's Play Charity.

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