Thursday, December 29, 2011

My First Time...Gaming on G+

Two weeks ago I played my first game using Google+ Hangouts.

This was a D&D 3.5 game based on the computer game Dwarf Fortress, so all of the PCs are dwarves. Many of the players were also in my True20 Freeport campaign. The reason for running over G+ is because half the players are out of town -- C. moved to Ohio before the Freeport game ended, and D.W., the DM for this game, moved to Mississippi shortly after it ended.

To play, we needed to join the same G+ Hangout. Additionally, D.W. set up maps with tokens for PCs and NPCs using the free Maptools software, which required each of us to connect through a VPN.

I did have some technical issues, but none of them were the fault of D.W. He and C. had worked out the bugs during their initial session. All I had to do was follow the emailed instructions. At first I tried using my usual desktop machine. I picked up an inexpensive webcam after work, brought it home and plugged it in. The camera test worked fine. Maptools worked fine, but I could not get into the G+ Hangout.

Mrs. Kaiju wasn't home, so I moved the webcam and the Maptools and VPN files (including my token) over to her Win 7 laptop. I was able to finally connect to the Hangout and see/hear everyone, although now Maptools would not load. Since it is a Java program, I tried to update Java but the update failed. It took a complete uninstall and reinstall of Java for Maptools to work.

Maptools is an impressive bit of software. I was concerned about how it might work, but it ran great, and D.W. put a tremendous amount of work into the maps for this session. The maps loaded quickly and token movement was easy and fast.

Overall, my experience with G+ Hangouts and Maptools was very positive. Once I moved to the laptop, the only issue was that I kept being dropped from the Hangout about every 15 minutes. The Google error messages kept saying it was a server error, but I was the only one being dropped. Once I can get that settled (and upgrade my desktop PC), things should work well. It's no substitute for face-to-face gaming, but being able to video chat with friends across the country in real time is terrific. I'm looking forward to more G+ gaming with them and local friends, and maybe some gaming with other bloggers too.

1 comment:

Simon Forster said...

I use Map Tools for a weekly on-line game, and have done for over a year now. If you take the time to set it up, prepare the maps and tokens, it makes for a fun gaming experience. Not as good as face-ti-face, but not far off it at times. Works better for Old School dungeon crawling than it did for Star Wars SAGA.