I've added a bit about advertising to the first post; go back and read it.
- The gameplay is ridiculously skilled and the highest quality you'll find anywhere, and getting everybody together in one room creates a pretty great atmosphere.
The odds of us getting into one room are about as high as the odds of SonicAD missing a PokÃ©mon match to join us, i.e., really low. inb4 I'm banned.
From what I saw, I'm not entirely sure I want any of us sleeping sprawled across chairs with a pizza box over our faces as a curtain anyway. :P That said, I encourage people to get on webcam this year and to act out a bit -- I felt like I had to force too much commentary last time not because there was nothing to say, but because people were extremely quiet. Talk about the game, the level, related topics... hell, talk about what you ate for dinner if there's that much of a dearth. Anybody can watch a YouTube video of a game if they don't want the human element, so we need to bring that element into it.
- Donation incentives. Prizes, challenges, Best Final Fantasy... that sort of thing.
We're already planning to try such incentives this year, as has been stated. We did this in a limited capacity last year, with attempts to garner audience participation and a Sonic CD soundtrack battle, but we're definitely doing it much more this year.
- Something else that comes to mind is the choice of charity combined with the reading of donation comments on air. Cancer is something that affects a lot of people, as evidenced by the number of personal stories that were read out on SDA's stream. That combined with the fact that we read donation comments on air probably helped people to feel a more personal connection with the marathon.
Before the first marathon, TimpZ raised concern about the choice of charity, and several people spoke up to support Child's Play. It's true that fighting cancer or disease directly in the hopes of a future cure creates a bigger response from people than comforting those already ill, but that does little for people that are currently afflicted. When I asked in the Christmas marathon topic about overall plans, there were three replies out of the first seven that addressed the concerns about using Child's Play, and all of them supported it. We also made a point last marathon to read every donation comment.
...if we cut out the crap and stick to the games where we can provide the highest gameplay quality, then we can provide a better viewing experience.
I'm not sure if I entirely agree with you here. I'd say that many of the better moments of the marathon are from when things went off the rails. Skypatrol certainly wasn't practiced, Chaotix co-op was the farthest thing from practiced (even playing it in the practice room at AGDQ with Skullboy was a mess), Sonic Shuffle is impossible to play at high quality, Megamix was done blind, your Sonic 1 Special Stage 1 attempt was hilarious, etc. Let's not forget that half of the Sonic fanbase throws a bitch fit if you treat a speedrunning glitch as serious business. That doesn't mean that streaming good quality runs is wrong, of course -- in fact, it's great -- but creating an enjoyable stream runs deeper than the quality of the runs.
- It's constant entertainment. The stream runs 24/7 - you can just turn it on whenever you want and there'll be something going on. (I bring this up because I still really really think we should do a 24/7 marathon next time.)
Random idea that came to mind while I was typing this - what if instead of having a marathon lasting a week or however long, we just had one burst lasting a day or so with as much Sonic speedrunning as we can fit, and then held those "marathons" more often until we gained enough traction to make them longer? It's a somewhat unappealing idea on the surface, but if we cut out the crap and stick to the games where we can provide the highest gameplay quality, then we can provide a better viewing experience.
The problem here is how often the same games are played. One reason I pushed for the Christmas marathon to be shorter is because our game pool is limited -- we've streamed some random stuff on TSC_Streams outside of the marathon, but if we're going to plug a Sonic Marathon for Charity (tm), we need to stay close to that. Frequent 24 hour streams would get very repetitive very fast, unless we build our channel like some of the more famous speedrunners and aim to stream similar content repeatedly; I'm not sure if we could organize ourselves to stream like that constantly. Even if all of this came together, all of the content from the previous marathon added together only adds up to about three straight days, and keeping only the quality content would make that even shorter.
Feel free to rebut anything I've said, by the way. If I'm wrong and these are good, practical ways to increase our scale, I can accept that.