Interesting session this evening, using the newly installed Zoom set-up for a 3-way chat - Stryker, Goya and myself. Videoconferencing. We had some problems with my broadband playing up a bit, but it's obvious that this does offer the opportunity of some remote miniatures gaming. Quite exciting, really - Stryker showed us around the 6mm ACW game he is soloing in his hut at the moment - looks good.
I realise that a lot of people are already doing this, but it's unfamiliar to us, so a fairly trouble-free toe in the water would be a fine idea. We may change our minds at any time, of course, but at the moment the plan is that we should set up a 3-way game to try it out - and pretty soon.
Agreed Thoughts / Guidelines / Givens (any minute now we'll have a Terms of Reference):
(1) for a 3-player game, the host should be umpire and general runner-about, the remote attendees will be the two commanders.
(2) the first game shouldn't be too large, or we will put ourselves off.
(3) a gridded game would work well, since the table layout should be easily visible, and there is no scope for getting bogged down in (remote) measurement - it would also be useful for the commanders to have paper maps of the table/board, for their own reference.
(4) since I have a very clearly marked-out gridded table, and all the necessary figures, I could be the first host - and we might have a look at the CCN scenario 006 for The River Coa in the Peninsular War. We'll use my Ramekin dice-driven activation system, so we don't have problems with the Command Cards, and I'll do all the dice rolling at my end - on camera, of course [The Lovely Rita].
|Lovely Rita in her previous job|
I assume that all this would work OK. Snag #1 is that I have to get my hands on a webcam. I realise it is possible to set up a smartphone or other device to work as the webcam, but I have an aversion to solutions involving gaffer-tape or wishful thinking, so an actual webcam which just works out of the box would be good, especially for a klutz like me - the scope for dropping an iPhone from a height of 2 metres is too obvious, and just think how that would spoil the game...
I see that the prices of conference-quality 1080p webcams are just about what you would expect - very high - but there are cheaper options, and the options are getting cheaper and better all the time. I had a look to see what is available second-hand on eBay, just to get some experience without busting the bank. When I checked these used items back against Amazon and elsewhere, I realised that, in general, new webcams are on sale cheaper than second-hand ones, and often the spec is better. This is obviously an area where technology is improving and prices are dropping fast. Hmmm.
I was looking at customer reviews on various pieces of kit - some of the Logitech units look good, but it's hard to tell with my current level of understanding without actually trying one out. That's as far as I've got - we have agreed that we would like to try something, and it would be nice if it worked without a huge amount of hassle. At this point I really would welcome some suggestions, if anyone has experience of this stuff, and would be kind enough to help out a little. Any camera recommendations? Any "don't ever do what I did" stories? All welcome.
One small downside of Zoom, of course, is that a "meeting" involving more than 2 people is limited to 40 minutes unless you have a paid account, in which case you are talking about $15 a month. As a loss leader, Zoom are currently waiving the 40-minute limit for new subscribers, and there are some supposedly "special" offers to help during the lockdown period. That's all fine, but I had a think about it. If multi-way Zoom is obviously a good thing to have access to - particularly if old chaps driving across Scotland with vans full of soldiers and scenery are likely to meet with the disapproval of The Polis for the foreseeable future, then $15 may be a snip. When I think about it, I currently pay a monthly amount for an Audible audiobook membership from which I haven't ordered anything for a while, and I also pay for a Spotify account which I never use.
I could get myself organised and save most of $15 a month with very little effort, so that's not such a disincentive. And, of course, I could then keep in contact with my long-lost relatives - two at a time, if need be. Hmmm.
If I can sort out what I need to do about a decent camera - and some reasonably decent ones are only about £30 these days - this looks rather like a goer.
|Stryker does Zoom - scary|