Thursday, July 28, 2011

Google+ Video Chat Games: Tips and FAQ

Constantcon is in effect. We got a whole gaggle of people on this thread signing up to run games via Google+ video chat this week.

Figure I'll address some things that've come up...


-The video's a little fuzzy, if you want to show players a diagram or something, maybe use sharpie.

-Jeff's good idea: Once you have players for a game all ready to roll, create a new "circle" containing only the players in that game. Start a thread and have them post their character basics in that thread.

-Remember: just because you're in a given time zone, not all your players have to be. People keep weird hours.

-Alexander Osias points out you can use this to schedule time zones. You may think "oh, I'll just use a time zone map" because maps are friendly and fun. But beware: daylight savings time makes things all screwy. Use something with a brain.

-If you have a blog and are running a game that isn't full yet (or would like to start up a weekly game), I suggest putting a little widget in the corner of your blog (if you have one) describing the game and saying all the details you put in the Constantcon comment thread.

-2 hours seems like a good time. Though allow some lead time for character generation if it's a system with meat on it.


-Why should I announce when I'm running a game here? Why not just announce it on G+?

Because, even assuming everyone who might want to play in your game is already in your circles, G+ still isn't perfect: on your feed, if one person in your "Online RPG pals" circle announces "Hey I'm starting a game in 2 hours" and then 12 people announce "Hey, here's something WOTC did today that pissed me off and/or a picture of my cat", then your game will get buried in peoples' feeds.

Even if every gamer in the world eventually gets on G+ and adds you, until G+ finds a way to tag posts (and everyone uses that system) and/or people stop wanting to tell other gamers that they have a cat there will have to be an outside sorting mechanism for games starting up. This is the mechanism.

-Is there some certain game system I should run?

Run whatever you want. Please run whatever you want. Sooner or later someone's gonna try it, you might as well be a pioneer. GURPS, OD&D, FASERIP, FUDGE, Mechanoids, Kill Puppies For Satan--whatever makes you happy.

Tips: 1) Be prepared to explain the mechanics as you go along, many people will be new no matter what system you use--this isn't that hard. 2) If you like to keep your life simple, start with a rules-lite system. 3) The only hard part is character generation--if it's D&D-related you can just tell people to give you race, class and 6 stats before the video session starts and smooth out translation issues then. I do this all the time, it's easy.

-Isn't playing with people you don't know weird?

Yes. That's why it's fun. If the game sucks you can always say you hear your mom calling and have to leave.

-How long is Constantcon going on?


-Can I start a campaign?

Yes. You can do whatever you want. Stop asking.

-I want to do a game where______ is that ok?

Yes. Everything is ok. It's your con, too.

-Would anybody out there maybe possibly be interested if I ran a game of_____?

Yes to whatever you were about to say. Pick a time and post it. If nobody else is interested, I am. I'll play anything once.

-I see all the guidelines
here about how to announce that I want to GM a game, is it ok if I just, like, totally ignore some of those guidelines?

Sure, just prepare for the possibility of people not signing up for your game and don't complain that I didn't warn you and that this G+ game thing is totally bogus and nobody loves you.

-Hey, I'm up to GM anything whenever, can I just announce that and wait for the game to assemble around me?

Well you can, but it will make scheduling really hard and take forever and require a million emails back and forth and re-announcements once you have a time and de-announcements to say you are no longer available "whenever" because you have games scheduled now and...

So if you actually want to roll you may be better off actually saying a day and a time if nothing else.

Remember: The more specific you are about when you are running your game, the faster shit will get itself organized. If you're worried people won't be able to make that specific time, just say like "3-5pm(flexible)"and if anybody wants to change it they'll hit you up.

-Can I just say I'm available to GM any time?

No, because you're lying, because you sleep, and maybe work or go to school. If your free spirit just cannot be contained to one hour, at least put a range of hours you are available (in two different time zones, as usual). If you say "I am available whenever" then you are begging several questions--do the community a favor and answer them up front so as not to generate more noise (as opposed to signal) than you need to. Anyone answering your thread is immediately going to ask what hours you're awake
--please realize that ahead of time and deal with it.

-Help, I'm having technical issues with G+!

Post here. Or, if you can, on G+. People will probably help you out. If I don't comment it's 'cause I don't know.

-How's the video quality?

It ain't Stanley Kubrick--but do you need Stanley Kubrick? It'll freeze for a second here and there, but relax, you'll live. Audio's pretty good.

-Why do I have to send you an email saying who I am on G+, why not just add you?

"I always thought it must be quite handy being called John."


"You can tell when you're going nuts."

"Sorry? I don't follow.”

"I mean, a real sign of megalomania, when a John starts thinking that
'John' will do. 'Hi. It's John.' Or: 'Yours ever, John.' So what? Everybody's called John."
Martin Amis "The Information"

Plus if your screen name is DisplacerBeast28 and your G+ name is Fred Walsh I am not going to make the connection. And if I don't then I won't know who you are or why you started following me (art fan? porn fan? somebody's ex-boyfriend? Spambot?) and I will not add you to my "Online RPG People" circle.

A lot of people who follow me on social media are anonymous citizens who don't want to be followed back or play RPGs.
So if you want in, please send an e-mail to zakzsmith at hawt mayle dawt calm and type your actual Google + name into the text of the email using the letters of the alphabet if you want to be added. "Hi, RPG, Fred Walsh G+" is enough. "Hi, add me on G+" isn't.

-I'm shy.

Wear a mexican wrestler mask.

-Won't that Constantcon thread you keep linking to eventually get hopelessly long and confusing eventually?

Nope. Once a week I am going to close comments on it and post a new one where people can post games they're running that week.

-Wouldn't it be cool if James Raggi, James Smith, and James Maliszewski
all agreed to GM games in one week and called it JamesCon?


-Do I need a webcam?

No, you could just use a mike. Do be aware that webcams are like 10 bucks though.

-I need a G+ invite!

Complain here. Motherfuckers will hook you up.

-Who rolls the dice in a videoconference game?

It's up to the GM. The GM can roll all dice, you can use the dice robot app on the Dragonsfoot forums (you have to register) (I'm sure someone who isn't me can explain it), or you can just all roll your own dice and trust each other because we're grown-ups here.

-Is there some ap that allows me to do (some crazy thing I want to do on G+ chat)?

I have no idea. Maybe ask people on G+.

-Wait, why are there no comments allowed on this post?

Comment here.
It's more efficient.

-I like you, Zak, but I don't want all your weird readers hitting me up for my game. What do I do?

Then post your GM schedule game on your blog. And tell me you did so I can decide if I want in.

-I am grumpy/antisocial/a luddite/just really busy. Will you ever shut up about G+ games?

Yes, soon. It's just all this is in a delicate stage right now and I would like to give this opportunity the attention I think it deserves.

-When are you playing, Zak?

I get up whenever and am generally awake until 4am pacific time/noon london time. My schedule is totally unpredictable, especially on the weekends, but since I paint and play simultaneously I might roll whenever.

-Are the girls playing?

Yeah. Though their schedules are even weirder than mine. But, like, Connie played in a G+ game like 2 days ago.