Thursday, 16 January 2014

Playing by Google Hangouts…

Since D is off doing his second PhD, and with C feeling a little under the weather, last night’s game - the first real session in Allansia using Magic World - was played with only me and my wife at the actual table. Now, playing by Google Hangouts means:

…never having to tidy up.

With two young kids, our house is in a state of permanent toymageddon. Having people over for Games Night gives us a very good reason to tidy up. But playing by Google Hangouts means that we can wallow in our sloth! Like the Hobbits in Lord of the Rings, it’s all just trickery with camera angles.

…that the players have, very consciously, take turns to speak.

With everyone at the table, it is easy for one player to slip into the background while another holds court. The limits of Google Hangouts, such as occasional microphone drop out, cross-talk being rendered unintelligible, etc. are, in this case, its virtues. For the game via Google Plus to work, all the players need take care that everyone else has had the opportunity to have their say. And I, as Referee, have to ensure that everyone has actually heard my descriptions and the answers I give to any questions. D realised this very early in last night’s game, and instituted a set order in which the players would speak.

The limits of Google Hangouts actually improved play at our ‘table’. And, because I didn’t need to tidy away Duplo, it gave me more prep time.

Still, it's not very sociable, is it? And no one brings me any snacks - the Referees due reward!


  1. Two downsides I've noticed. Firstly, it's possible for one player to more easily dominate the discussion, and second, it's possible to really miss things. For example, we ran through the Tower of the Stargazer and turn out we entirely missed a statue and a suspicious stack of crates in the very first room. None of us heard the DM mention them and he never mentioned them after that. That's wasn't the first time crucial things were missed.

  2. I'd actually recommend RollD20 and Ventrillo (for the audio) as well over Google Hangouts. Roll D20 works great for the neccessary maps, dice rolling, and such. Ventrillo replaces Roll D20's audio functions and is, simply, more robust and includes the all powerful DM tool "Mute all" function where he/she can automatically force the rest of the participants to shut up and stay shut up until he/she is finished speaking.