Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Skyping in Players

I’ve recently added virtual players to my Southern Reaches game via Skype.  The first player was a regular who was sent to a different state 440 miles away for 3-6 months by his employers.  It’s a small town and he knew no one there, so he requested we try using Skype so he could stay current in the campaign and get his gaming fix.  He even offered to supply the camera.  So we gave it a try.

The second player is a friend I’ve chatted with online (Erin Palette of Lurking Rhythmically fame) and done some editing work for who showed some interest.  The Southern Reaches game is designed to be easy to add players and I now had the capabilities to do so, so I made the offer.  She prefers to not transmit video (in fact, does not have a camera), but is willing to set an avatar and communicate verbally.

Things we’ve learned:
  • Having some folks present and some only on a screen takes a little getting used to, especially if, by request, the camera only points at the map.  The reduction in facial clues and body language sometimes makes for awkward communication, with folks either talking over each other or huge pauses while everyone waits for someone else to speak.
  • Microphones are important.  The camera I have has a directional mike, which I point up to catch as talking as possible, but a lot of the more quiet stuff gets dropped or missed, especially if multiple people are talking at the same time.
  • Voices need to be projected.  As part of my job I attend teleconferences with some small regularity, so I’ve learned to project my voice at the microphone when communicating through an open mike.  Not everyone in my gaming group has those skills, which contributes to stuff getting dropped.

I’m still adjusting to the remote players myself.  I am not certain that this is providing as good a game as could be had, nor am I 100% certain that it is something I want to keep doing.  I think things would go better if we were all using a virtual table top of some sort, but that side-steps why we get together in the first place.

So to sum up: We are still experimenting with this and I’ll have more to report in the future.

[So I've been more busy at the DayJob in the last five business days than I was the entire five weeks prior to that.  This has eased off, so I should be able to maintain a regular posting schedule again.  I have a post queued for tomorrow already and will write up an adventure log for Friday (I have notes from multiple campaigns ready to type up).]

EDIT: Named a name - Erin at Lurking Rhythmically.


  1. What did the 'virtual' players think of how the process went?

  2. A bit kludgy but fun overall. The hardest part was hearing what some of the players at the far end of the table were saying, resulting in me gonig "Huh?" a lot.

    Also, Patrick, why no shout-out link to my blog?

  3. A habit of not naming folks without their direct approval. Now corrected - you are listed not once, but twice. Better? ;)