#RPGaDay2015 Day 22 - Perfect Gaming Environment

This is kind of weird for me since it's been several years since I've had a regular gaming group physically present. That's not to say that I've not been gaming, rather I've been doing my gaming online.

So let's start with physical environment - really what I need for that is a reasonably big table with enough seats for all the players and some space for character sheets, maps, munchies, etc. Now that I have kids I've grown to appreciate being able to isolate that space a little bit to give the group some privacy (and since our humor would often not be suitable for kiddies).

Gaming online has come a long way. Our first effort was when a player moved away and continued to game with us. We used a webcam, a video messaging app, and aiming the camera carefully at any maps we might be using. It worked reasonably well.

Our next experiment was with Fantasy Grounds. It's worked well - it's a Windows Application designed to integrate character sheets, maps, dice rolling, etc. Over time I drifted away from it for a few reasons. First of all, it required the use of a PC. I was a Mac user for a while though now I have two main devices - a Chromebook and a Microsoft Surface. So using Fantasy Grounds required having either a PC or a virtual Windows environment. Secondly, though for supported games it was great, we found it a bit problematic if you wanted to add a new game to it.

What we use primarily nowadays and that I find works very well is the Roll20 online app, integrated with Google Hangouts. Google Hangouts gives us video and audio. Through Roll20 we have character sheets, dice, maps, etc. Character sheets are created and shared by other users. They're not trivial to make, especially fully integrated ones like those for Fantasy Flight Games' Star Wars RPGs. But even a layman can create a basic one pretty easily - I was able to take a Fate character sheet and tweak it for Atomic Robo pretty easily, though it didn't integrate perfectly with dice rolling. It's a platform independent solution - we've had players come in using Chromebooks, Linux, Windows, and OS X. It's not perfect - we've had some hiccups with audio quality, some performance issues, etc. but it does work rather well.

So I've been asked to define perfection though. Well realistically my gaming for the foreseeable future is going to be online, so I'd like to see that improve. Perfection would be something like Roll20 without any of the hiccups and having a perfectly integrated character sheet that also doubles as a character generator. Oh and that allowed us to easily share youtube videos so that everyone is viewing the same thing since we sometimes goof off and laugh at things we find on youtube...

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