Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Running games on G+, my verdict

I have now played in a few games on G+, and it works quite fine. The biggest issue is trying to figure out which timezones works for everyone so you get a group together. Having tried to run a game I found there were some issues compared to a face to face game, though.

My first issue was surprising to me, having played successfully. I was not getting the kind of visual queues I apparently rely on a lot when running a game. Setting scenes and doing descriptions I often do without thinking to much about it, but this time it felt stymied and stunted. Without being fully aware of it, I think I rely quite a lot on getting eye contacts and seeing my players listening to me. Now they might be listening intently, but if their webcam wasn't trained on their eyes, or if they glanced at another window I kind of felt a bit out of touch. Clearly this is something you can adapt to, but I didn't know I was so dependent on it!

My second issue was the question of where the characters were in relation to each other. Usually I don't play with minis. Instead, I usually drop down some dice on the table to show how is where. Now I had to get Roll20 up and make sure everyone was looking at it. It felt a bit awkward. Those who have been running games online seem to like Roll20 a lot, so I guess it can work fine as a virtual table, but for me it felt clumsy. I had to choose if I wanted to get that eye contact, look at the chat window, or at the virtual table. Maybe if I could have them all in different windows and have them all side by side it would work better?

The last thing is dice. I like rolling dice. The feel of a nice die in your hand as you toss it is part of the experience for me. In the game I ran we used physical dice for the most part and it worked fine. Like I said, if you want to cheat you've already misunderstood what it's all about anyway, so why should I even try to stop you? But, I found I missed the feeling of everyone huddling around the table, waiting intently for that crucial die to land. Maybe the virtual dice rollers are the way to go after all?

All in all, I think this is the way to go. I have no idea of how well Google feel their new platform is doing. They have been known to kill off things before, and I hope it's working well for more people than the rpg crowd. It's clearly where people are getting their game fix these days. RPGA events and cons is good, but this is it. Let's hoep Google keeps it alive!


  1. I'm with you on Roll 20. It does look to be a useful tool, but I don't like my games being tied to the map. I also like to sling actual dice, but also agree that dice rollers add that element of the whole group waiting to see what the roll is.

    When I eventually get round to running something I'll go mapless and use real dice to start with. Depending how that goes I might add Roll 20 for it's dice app (and text chat can be useful too) but won't use any maps.

  2. Try that at first and l see fi it works for you. I'm happy I started map less and with physical dice. Now I have learned a bit about how it really works out for me, and now know what to do when I one day might try a game that needs a map.

    I'm curious to hear about how it works out for you.

  3. Any advice on how to get started using G+ and Roll20?

  4. Hi Dan

    The way I did it was I created a hangout with my wife, who sat at the same table as me. Then I could try to add her to circles and try to invite whole circles and individuals. That helped to get to know the interface and how to get people online.

    Roll20 is more fiddly, but if you just visit their website and sign up there, you can create an example campaign and click the little button that say "start campaign in google hangout" or something similar.

    After that I just read as much as I could of their help pages, they are quite good. Another good way to get a crash course are the tutorials on YouTube, like this one:

    I hope that helped somewhat.


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