Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at XPVR or how we go about delivering those incredible multiplayer virtual reality experiences that you all love?
Join us as we give you a sneaky peak behind some of the magical wizardry here at XPVR along with what we've been doing to prepare for the exciting day we can reopen after the Covid-19 lock down.
looking our best.
Whilst our technology is impressive, a visit to our store isn't just about a great gaming experience. It's a sociable, fun experience that begins from the very moment our guests walk through the front door of our venue. Every small business owner is guilty of seeing things that customers don't ordinarily notice. For us however, our customer service and store presentation standards are something that we wont compromise on. XPVR is our second home and naturally, we want it to be looking its very best when we re-open.
We've been noticing scuffs, paint chips and some minor damage to walls and doors over the last few months. The odd jobs had been stacking up around the place and we took this opportunity of lots of extra (isolation) free time to finally get around to doing them.
We've touched up some high traffic areas of the store, including respraying the entrance door handles that were looking a bit worn. Several of the windowsills have been re-glossed and our front desk counter has had a fresh lick of paint. 10 months of constant use had started to take its toll on the counter top trim!
We've repainted the anti-slip floor in the cloakroom area, as well as touching up and repairing some of the flooring on the first floor too. Unfortunately the floor paint we used to touch up the floor upstairs with has dried a completely different colour shade (despite being from the same original can) so now the ENTIRE upstairs floor needs to be completely repainted... ugh....
We've always been very particular about cleanliness inside the store, but we've taken the opportunity to really give everywhere a major deep clean, including air conditioning grilles, vents, headsets, controllers, stair treads and those hard to reach nooks and crannies that nobody ever reall
y looks at. It's amazing how much dust can settle in just a few weeks of the store not being used! We also believe that a ghost with really muddy shoes has been using our VR-Walkstations in the last few weeks. We vacuumed thoroughly before we closed the store back in March, but we discovered more mud has gathered since underneath the two base plates?
Top tip: To clean your computer keyboard(s), first unplug and then tip them upside down to gently shake out any loose debris and crumbs (We know - yuck, right!). Use the soft brush nozzle attachment on your vacuum cleaner to get in between the button keys before using micro fibre cloth that has been very lightly moistened with antibacterial spray to wipe over the entire keyboard. The cloth shouldn't feel soaking wet, only ever-so lightly damp to touch.
LOTS OF UPDATES.
All of our computers require constant maintenance. Behind all of the amazing tech, glowing lights and shiny equipment inside the store lays some impressive software to keep it all running. When we're open, we schedule downloads to come through overnight so as not to disrupt the gaming experiences of our guests, particularly those that are playing online. Most software updates are then installed by our team as and when, usually before we open the store for the day or towards the end of the evening before we close. Doing this daily (when we're open) prevents a back-log of update tasks, especially as some of the updates/patches/security fixes can easily be several GB in file size.
When we're closed, these updates start to backup for each individual computer. The longer you leave it, the more work (and time) it takes to get everything updated and working its best. We've now been closed for just short of 5 weeks and knew it was time to fire everything up again .... and wait, patiently!
We have a fantastic, high-speed fibre internet connection, but nothing could prepare us for the backlog we faced today as we powered everything back up and running again.
Now you might ask, why don't we just leave everything off and switch it all back on again just before we know we are going to re-open? The problem with this is that it takes time, patience and a realistic expectation for things to go wrong. Developers are constantly updating their software to be the best it can be, however in doing so, sometimes their changes are not compatible with the other software we are using. This could lead to our equipment not being ready for when we do re-open, along with up to 10 computers that need individually troubleshooting.
Each computer can take several hours to maintain, download updates, install the updates and then test to ensure it is working correctly. Each of our 10 computers required the following to be downloaded, installed and tested today:
Steam VR update (EVERY home gamer knows how problematic these can be!)
Individual game update/patches (we have 40 individual games in our library!)
Graphics card management software update
Graphics card driver update
Arcade platform management software update
...even the TV screens connected to the computers required an update ! :D
As part of the maintenance, we regularly keep an eye on the computer's error logs to spot signs of something not working quite right, or often something that has stopped working without us knowing. We also monitor the performance of our internal graphics cards and hardware. Unusually high temperatures, high fan speeds and/or slow response times often signify there might be trouble.
So if your lights flickered or your internet slowed down in Stoke on Trent today - now you know why!
Join us next week for part 2 of our behind the scenes look at what goes on at XPVR - Staffordshire's premier virtual reality experience.
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