I have been having tremendous fun over the last few weeks competing in an Online tournament that’s been arranged over Facebook by Troy Miller on the DiceMaster Unlimited page.
It’s had 36 registered players from all over the World and has been a great opportunity for our World-wide community to get together, hang out (pun intended) and roll some dice. We’re on week four and I’ve been playing with guys in the States mostly, folk who I have regularly interacted with over Facebook/Reddit/The Reserve Pool/Slack and I’ve loved the chat and socialising around the globe as much as the games.
Playing matches online can be a bit of a weird experience, and can bring some challenges, but it’s proving to be a bit of a success in my eyes and it’s my hope that events of this nature will continue.
Here’s my set up, for those who are interested (Cup o’ tea & half eaten crumpet clearly there for added British-ness):
I’ve yet to encounter any significant audio or video issues – asides from the occasional blurring (mostly caused by the Current Mrs Six deciding to start streaming on Netflix in another room while I’m mid-game) and infrequent touches of trans-Atlantic lag that haven’t been all that disruptive. Everyone I’ve played has been happy to call out some stats when there’s been a bit of blurring on the line or clarify something or other when needed.
As you can see: to get a good, solid shot of my play area I am using an old mic stand that was hanging around from the mis-spent musician days of my youth, with the high tech addition of some Blu-Tac to hold the web-cam. I’ve had the stand for decades, but a quick search on Amazon shows me you can get similar stands for £10 – £20, and they are widely available as free standing (such as I’m using) or with a desk clamp.
The camera I’m using is a Logitech c270. It’s decent enough for the price (around £20). As I said earlier – I’ve not encountered any real video issues and a quick check with all my opponents at the outset of a round has confirmed it’s fit for purpose. If I end up playing more games online (which, if this event is anything to go by, I can think of no reason why I wouldn’t) then I might consider something more fancy – it’d be nice to offer a sharper image to my opponent’s eventually. That said – I don’t imagine we’ve all been playing with anything much more exceptional than the one I’ve been using, and I’ve had little issue with what I’ve been seeing of my opponent’s play areas.
It’s probably not all that necessary to use a stand and an external cam; I’ve definitely heard tale told of peeps using the installed cam on their laptops or tablets, carefully angled, with little detrimental impact for their opponent. I have, however, chosen to do this for a couple of reasons. First – I just love showing off my Mister Six playmat with that great psychedelic Phillip Bond artwork from The Invisibles comic book. Also; it affords me a little extra space for courteous little touches like shaking & drawing from my bag in full view, or making the roll fully visible. And finally, seeing the whole mat in such a way makes it feel more… real… and enhances the experience to bring it a little more in line with the face-to-face game.
As to the call method – I’ve found myself quite indifferent between the two most commonly used: Skype and Google Hangouts. It seems that Hangouts has been more popular with my opponent’s during this event, but playing over the internet in the past I’ve used Skype just as much.
Google Hangouts has allowed us to have spectators (placing themselves on mute, of course) but I have historically found Skype to be slightly better – a touch more stable & clear. That said, the difference is negligible really, and I’ve been happy to accommodate whichever my opponent prefers.
The only real challenge I’ve had to overcome is time zones – playing with opponents from all over the world has sometimes been ackward to find time slots that not only fits for us both in terms of work & family commitments but also means it’s taking place at a reasonable hour for both of us. So far though all my U.S. competitors have been very friendly & obliging – it’s just required a few messages back & forth to figure something out. It’s not an issue if you are planning on securing a casual game on a whim through Facebook, but your level of availability and flexibility is something to consider if you commit to something more formal, such as the current online tournament.
So, anyway, it’s onto round 5 this week and I’m currently sitting at 2W 2L, which ain’t too bad but ain’t going to be top cut worthy even if I win my last games, which is shame, if only because I’ve had such a blast I want it to keep going.
Maybe Troy will get another one off the ground soon…