Since the coronavirus hit I’ve been spending a lot more time on streaming, and unfortunately neglecting this blog a bit. In fact, last night Dan and I did a re-do of our Wandering DMs episode from Sunday. It turns out we had some pretty bad audio issues that made the VOD from Sunday unwatchable — and I’m sure it was just as bad for the folks who stuck it out watching live on Sunday. However, we both felt like it was much too important a topic to brush under the carpet, so we completely rerecorded the show.
What was the topic? The same as this post – playing games over the internet. We discussed all the technology available for moving your regularly scheduled game night online. Starting with logistics over Facebook, email, forums, or chat rooms, through the variety of options for live video chat, and ultimately going over several options for virtual table tops. Here’s the video if you missed it:
When we got to the virtual table tops, unfortunately our background became more academic than practical. I did a fair chunk of research for the sake of the show, even tinkering solo with some of the options, but I have yet to play an actual game on any of these platforms. My regular Sunday group has been discussing moving our game online, but we haven’t gotten past the logistical problems yet.
I think I must rectify this. The fact is, gaming over the internet is one of the few fun, social outlets we have available to us now that everyone is cooped up in their homes. I’ve found a lot of people are asking me how to go about it, and I’d like to position myself to be able to give real advice born of practical experience, not just the same info anyone could get searching the web themselves. Also, the fact is, I kind of just want to have some fun playing games with my friends online. I think folks are turning to me for advice because of all the online games I’m already doing for our channel. That seems reasonable, but there’s a creative/performative element for those games that have their own demands, which can be fairly different from games run by folks who just want to blow off some steam and hang out with their friends.
So last night I proposed to Dan that we try out a little experiment just for the fun of it. I thought we might try the tabletop RPG equivalent of “2 gamers on a couch”. More than just a media trope, this is actually a style of play that I’ve heard discussed professionally in the video game industry. The notion is this – 2 gamers sit on a couch and play a single player game together. In reality one player is clearly more in direct control, but for games that involve puzzle solving or lots of story elements, the strategizing and conversation of the two gamers is actually a good chunk of the fun. Anyone who has ever watched Super Replay knows what I’m talking about here. And believe it or not, some game dev teams have strongly considered how their game works for and even attracts this style of play.
My idea is this — we’ll get together and play through some of the old SOLO D&D modules. Once in the past we actually played a couple solo board games this way – Barbarian Prince and the flash version of Dark Tower to be specific. Since old school D&D is really our favorite, I pondered what’s the closest we could get to that, while still playing an essentially one-player game with no DM? The first thing I thought of was actually the old Tunnels and Trolls solo adventures, but of course, classic D&D has four such adventures itself.
I think we’re going to try it tonight. Will we stream ourselves doing it? Yeah, probably. I mean, we’ll certainly use the software we’ve accumulated for streaming to make it presentable to each other, so we might as well press the stream button while we’re at it. But don’t expect our usual production quality. There won’t be intro sequences or credits or anything, our goal is to do this primarily for our own enjoyment. If folks tune in, it may be entertaining to get feedback on our choices as we play the game. So long as that adds to the experience for us we’ll explore it, but my primary goal is to have fun playing a game with my pal Dan. My secondary goal is to learn more about how to use some VTT software (I think we’ll try Roll20 first). Streaming it for the entertainment of others is a distant third.
So, if you’re bored tonight, take a poke at our channel and see if we’re streaming. Or just check my Twitter, I’ll probably post there if/when we start. Or, just wait for my follow up post on how it went. I’m actually really looking forward to it, and hopefully it will be educational, as well as a good time.