Tuesday, July 26, 2011

You May Now Play Whatever Whenever Forever

Despite all the rot we talk on these blogs, we all know there are only 2 real problems with RPGs:

-it's hard to find players, and

-even if you have players, it's hard to throw a game together on the spur of the moment since someone has to be mentally ready to GM.

D&D With Porn Stars is happy to announce:

These problems have been solved.
Thank Google + free multiperson video chat. Let the RPG renaissance begin. Play any game any time from anywhere with anybody.

Me and some D&DWPS readers rustled up an insomniac's pick-up game of D&D (Labyrinth Lord, technically) ex nihilo last night:

I said "Hey who wants to DM?"

Il Male stepped up.

Then got 2 other players, made some Labyrinth Lord PCs and then we rolled--took less than an hour from "Ok, who wants to play" to "Alright, roll characters".

And this was, note, in the dead of night, when hardly anybody comments on this blog.

Antion was a halfling, Graham (no blog yet) was a dwarf, and I was a wizard named Gruesome. Il Male did an ace job getting us rolled up and equipped fast.

We ran from some skeletons, talked to a corpse hanging from a tree, fought some goblins (I wish I could roll as well as I did last night all the time--didn't have to use my one spell once) then met a baffling witch who fucked up Graham's shit with a riddle and so I had to shoot her in the stomach.

IMPORTANT: If any other PCs want to rescue us in subsequent Google + sessions: we are trapped in the northmost (?) room under the weird looking tree behind the graveyard. We have 25 gp and will split it with you in exchange for our freedom!

Check it:

Like I said: Google + has free multiperson video chat built right in. If you have a camera on your computer (or just audio) and anyone you know anywhere is on Google +, you can get in on The Neverending Con.

If you're like me and your eyes glaze over when you see computer stuff, let me walk you through it:

So step one is get a Google + invite from a friend.

Step Two: Once you get that you show up on the site and go "looks like facebook" then you leave.

Step Three: Forget you have it until you decide it's time to play GURPS Supers at 3 in the morning with someone in Madagascar who must be a good DM because he likes Motorhead as much as you do, at least judging from his comments on your blog...

Now what:

So once you have Google + you can get to your page by clicking like so...

...which takes you to a very Facebook-looking page. Here are the important bits about this page:

-there's a green button on the right that says "start a hangout" which you can use to start a video session (only if you're not already in one on Google +)(though you can use Google + and Skype simultaneously--the people will be able to hear each other).

-If one of your friends has started a video session, there will be a green button allowing you to join in under their name, where this Larry Page guy has his message written in the picture. Click it and you're in.

This is what a video session looks like (only perhaps the people in your session may look a little less...festive...than the models in this Google PR photo I found on-line.) Anyway, important bits to remember are in red:

A-Hitting this button will make a little text chat window appear in the margin which allows you to type shit to the other people there. It's good for keeping track of dimensions of rooms, PCs names, etc. Also, if it's hard to hear someone talk you can type something in. Usually the audio's pretty good, though.

B-Hit this to invite new peeps to the session. You can do it by name or by "circle" (Google + name for a ton of people you've put in the same category)

C-This button theoretically lets you all watch the same youtube video but it doesn't seem to work yet.

D-The program senses whoever's talking and makes their head big. (Beardy is talking here, apparently). However, if, for example, the GM is holding up a map to the screen and you want the big camera to stay on one person, just click on their little head. To switch it back, click the little head again.


-Some people get asked to download a plugin when they first start a Google + vid chat and can't join until they've done it. After you download it, you should be cool.

-The thing freezes occasionally. (4 times in 2 hrs for 5 seconds each time with us, probably because we had a player in Italy) If this happens, just use the text chat thing in the corner for a few seconds while it unfreezes.

Personally, since I sit at a desk painting all day most days and can play tolerably well while painting, I predict I'll be using this a lot. If you try to add me on Google + please shoot me an email (zakzsmith at hawt mayle dawt calm) to say what your screen name on there is so I can add you--I get a lot of random requests for random reasons but if I know you're from the gameblog I will add you on to the right "circle" rather than to my "who the hell is this?" box.


If you are interested in DMing a Google + game this week, please get your pitch together: Day, Time (describe the time you're available using at least one western hemisphere and one eastern hemisphere time zone so peeps can figure out whether they're around), system(s), level, do we need to bring anything? (like, say, a 3rd level character) and anything else you think might make your pitch intriguing--setting, etc.) and I will put up a new post tomorrow where you can leave your pitches for this week in the comments (I want to give everybody a day to sort of let it sink in.) Please include a way ppl can contact you OUTSIDE of Google + so that you can tell who they are when they request you and you can discuss details.

Playing a game at midnight Pacific tonight. Comment on my most recent Google + post if you're in.


Anonymous said...

Damn skippy buddy! Sounds good. Hopefully I'll have copious free time to either join a Neverending Con game or throw some shit up myself.

I've been using Skype for sessions recently, but no video. How is the vid quality for Google+? Is it insanely choppy or good?

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Awesome. This looks really cool.
I am going to have to give it a try.

RobChandler said...

Damn I just had missed that post you made last night too. Had just went to bed. I am usually up really late on Fridays and Saturday nights (being in my 30s and having no life anymore really lol). If i can catch you guys on I'd love to play. My google+ profile is http://gplus.to/rwchandler for those who want to hit me up.

Rabid said...

Alas, I've not managed to get onto Google+ yet so I'm waiting on it'd grand opening.

Does Google+ have (either now or planned) a facility for games/apps? Not being a Facebook user (no, just NO) I'm not sure how they work there, but given Google's love of open source style third party extensions I'm excited about the possibilities of users being able to add extensions to things like the video chat facilities.

I'm picturing a whole slew of utilities aimed at people wanting to play RPGs; say, dice rollers and intergration with Google Docs for quick, shared user access to things like character sheets and the like.
Haven't actually played any P&P RPGs for years but what I'm envisioning in my head right now is giving me a seriously squee-inducing nerdgasm!

Anonymous said...

Sadly I can't do it this week. I leave for Baltimore for Otakon (anime convention) with friends. I'm hoping they have a role-playing panel as they have in the past two years I've gone.

I would definitely be up for a get together in the future, either playing or running.

Jeff Rients said...

Hmmmm. I spend up to two hours each morning just knuckleheading around the internet before the wife and kid wake up. When the weather is good I'm out on the balcony, well out of their earshot.

Zak Sabbath said...


looking at your twitter I believe your first 2 hours of consciousness coincide roughly with my last 2...

Zak Sabbath said...


...so yeah, get a pitch together

Pierce said...

Yeah,,, I'm stuck at step 1. How exactly do I get onto google+ or get an invite? It says on the google+ page that they are exceeding their capacity- does that make me out of luck?

Zak Sabbath said...



Also: Pierce if you have skype you can skype in to one of the ppl playing and they'll be able to hear your voice.

Capheind said...

Brilliant. This may just be the solution for my strong desire to actually game again, and the lack of nearby folks to do it with.

thekelvingreen said...

Pierce, post an email address and I'll send you an invite.

I don't have a decent microphone, so I can't get involved in a Hangouts game just yet, but one day maybe.

Taketoshi said...

anyone who's interested in an invite, go ahead and email me such at:

shaun dought m dought haskins ayt gmail dought com

And any OSR folks currently on, feel free to add me.

Urban said...

Hi everybody! I think it would be cool to try out this awesome feature. Maybe you've never heard of me so here is a quick introduction: Im from Hungary, I play together with Melan and Premier and this is our recent campaign: http://dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=26&t=45943

Feel free to add me on Google+: hartyandim[at]gmail[dot]com

Also if you need an invitation, just send me an email!
Matyas Hartyandi (Urban)

Anonymous said...

I should be working on my dissertation instead of faffing about the interwebs. But next week I'll totally be up for it.

By the way, lack of "squares", as in shared spaces, is a problem with Plus: if I want to organize a game with whoever is ready I can only communicate with my "followers" or commenting on someone's post.

Anyway, you can find me there as Tsojcanth, of course

Lasgunpacker said...

Sounds great! next step, record a session which has some interesting play.

Cnet just had an article about USB microphones, which may be of interest to those of you doing this more often: here. That way you could skype/google+ even without a camera.

Logan said...

Longtime reader, first time commenter, etc. I am kicking myself for not thinking of this when I saw the hangout feature on google+.

@Pierce: Unfortunately I think you may be out of luck for the moment if you have an invite and it says capacity is exceeded, but keep checking back--I think Google has been opening and closing admissions pretty frequently so you should be able to get an account within a day or two.

Eric said...

I could really use an invite too - efnord at google dot com.

Pierce said...

@ Everyone (particularly Zak, Kelvin, & Logan)
Thank You.


my email is rocky_14_me@hotmail.com

Scott said...

I've been thinking of trying this out at some point, assuming I can get over my fears that a) I am a hideous troglodyte and b) I will put on some Tito Puente during a session, grab two ferrets, and make them dance mambo or lambada (the Forbidden Dance) in front of a scandalized internet.

Zak Sabbath said...


Bah! All this can be remedied with the judicious application of an alias ("Thoolio The Magnificent"?) and a wrestling mask.

Forrest said...

This sounds like a hell of an idea, I'm game. having read lots of good stuff on these blogs, I'd resigned myself to probably never actually playing with any of you, but perhaps Google really does have a fix for everything. I'm still without an invite to G+ myself, but I'm sure one will turn up, they always do.

prfd said...

This sounds amazing, and sort of weirdly titillating and intimidating (?) at the same time.

I am on the Google+, and can also help with invites if that's possible, though it sounds like they've frozen them?

I am moving this weekend, but after that (and let's be honest, maybe even before) I would totally be down to play.

I also have a short campaign I could run (for 4 players) but I'd need a little time to bone up. Maybe next week tho?

email for the record: patrick dawt davison aht gmail dawt com

Forrest said...

@Shaun & Anthony

Hey, thanks for the invites, I'm in and on it seems, so they are allowing new people for the time being at least.

Seth S. said...

currently working on getting an invite, but it seems like you can't even get in with one, but this sounds awesome, I'll see if I can work out a pitch

Seth S. said...

oh and email is scschroeder2@eiu.edu in case anyone wants to send me an invite regardless

??? said...

Even if this were the only good feature of G+, it would make it totally awesome. I've always like the idea of gaming via video chat and if I can do it with people from across the world, even better (and hey, chance to improve my spoken English).
If anyone has an invite left and wants to send it my way, that would be brilliant :) jedediah AT das-maeuseasyl.de

Capheind said...


I tried to friend as many of you gents as I could, but apparently you can't search by email address. Not really up for a game tonight, but I'm up quite often and itching to game. Albeit not so often that my girlfriend becomes irritated and injures me.

thekelvingreen said...

Pierce, Eric, Jedediah and Syrus W, you should all now have invites.

Anathematician said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anathematician said...

I can not type sometimes.

I would enjoy an invite please if someone would be so kind.

Yetisamurai at gmail dot com

Quick question. Am I fucked if I do not have a camera?

??? said...

I do, thank you very much!
Anathematician (cool name!): you should have an invite.

Anathematician said...

Thank you.

Scott said...

Another possibility for folks who don't have invites yet: I just downloaded the free G+ mobile app for my iPhone and, upon first starting it, was given the option to create a new Google account. So if you have a smartphone and download the app, you may be able to get in that way. No idea if this works in practice, as I already have an associated gmail account and used that, but it's worth a shot on those days that G+ is maintaining its facade of exclusivity.

arcadayn said...

Hey guys! I just happened to have recently bought a web cam, so if someone wants to shoot me an invite, I would definitely be up for DMing.

arcadayn44 at g mail dot com.

Zak Sabbath said...



Anathematician said...

Is there a game this evening? and again if I do not have a webcam am I fucked?

Chris said...

Hi I currently DM a Pathfinder Group and one after a motorbike accident of our players cannot leave home for a while. This sounds just like THE way to go on with our Kingmaker campaign.
If someone would invite me I‘d also happily DM for folks in the western european timezone once in a while :)
invites to cscheibel ayt gmail punkt com
TIA and two thumbs up for this blog!

thekelvingreen said...

Chris and Arcadayn, you are both invited to the party.

arcadayn said...

Thanks kelvingreen! I'll play around with it some and hopefully have something together by the weekend.

Zak Sabbath said...


give more details about your time availability please

Hartful said...

Are there any games looking for players right now or in the next 6 hours. I have a chill night shift at work with nothing to do and would like to try getting paid while playing.

Zak Sabbath said...


you and me both.

anyone? bueller?

Hartful said...

Ah shit well I'll cross my fingers for tomorrow night any time after 11:30 pst. Hmmtm probably should have posted this in the other comment thread...

Jesse Carter said...

if anyone wants to add me, my email is: essejeroom AT gmail.com
going out to buy a webcam just for this....and for dudes on chat roulette....

arcadayn said...

I just finished with my first G+ game and had a frickin great time. I'm thinking about setting up another game. Any players interested in another Swords & Wizardry game?

James said...

I'd like to join a game sometime. I'm in the Middle East right now, and grew up with the Mentzer boxed sets of OD&D, so I prefer simpler rule sets. I'm using a google profile, with my aol account, so I should be usafa1 at aol dot com. Thanks ahead of time. I just created the google + account.

And Arcadayn, I'd be up for a Swords and Wizardry game, though my schedule might be a bit odd for some because of my shift schedule and the time difference.

James said...

I'm not sure if it has already been said, but I just discovered something in regards to the calendar. I could not see the calendar of games on the right side of the website until now.

That is because I use Mozilla Firefox with Ghostery privacy add-ons so I can block advertisements and websites that Snoop on my internet browsing habits.

Once I removed Google+1, Google Analytics, and Google Friend Connect from my Ghostery blocked list I was able to view the calendar. FYI, for those having problems.