Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Further Experiences With Roll 20

As regular readers of the blog already know I'm running a Force and Destiny game via Roll20 with some friends. The game has recently expanded from 3 players to 5, and with three sessions under me I have a bit more than first impressions to go by. I wanted to talk quickly about that today so folks can see some of the pros and cons I've come across while using the medium.

Better Focus
One of the things I am really liking is that Roll20 seems to help players focus on the game. I'm not sure if it is the fact that everyone is on their computer and there are visual elements to the game, or if it is the lack of being in a room with other people that cuts down distractions, but it feels like we get more done in the three hours I run Force and Destiny than the four hours that most of the in person games I am in run. Obviously mileage varies from session to session, but in general I'm very pleased with the amount of "on topic" that I am getting not only out of my players, but out of myself as well.

Life Is More Prone To Interrupt
On the other side of things, life is better able to interrupt it seems. Whether it's neighbors stopping by to see a newborn, a small personal emergency, or just someone wanting to stop in and say hi life is better able to find people when they're scattered at their respective homes than if they're gathered as a group in one place.

Loss of Social Cues
For one of my new players this is also their first Roll20 game. For them they were intrigued by the fact that they can't read the player's social cues. In person we have body language to go with. Online with voice chat you have tone and word choice and that's it. The change in dynamic is interesting to say the least.

More Later
Unfortunately, that is all I have time for right now. I continue to be intrigued by roll20 and think this experiment is by and large a successful one. If you haven't already you should give it a try. It has a lot to offer, and I'm becoming quite the fan.


  1. Really like your Roll20 coverage. It's very topical - remote gaming is here to stay. Technologically, it will continue to improve & I think it's acceptance will continue to explode...and the R20 platform, in particular, is riding high.

    I've used it extensively for almost a year & am a fan.

    Have you tried utilizing messages to individual players, "Whispers"? It's an intriguing tool since, unlike with note passing, other players really have no clue it's going on.

    I have made a goal to work in some of this asynchronous information in every session. Try pre-preparing Whispers to certain players for sessions that are based on their background and/or personality. If you prepare them in advance, it only takes a simple copy-paste during the session. Or pre-prepare a generic Whisper that you'll send to whomever makes a die roll.

    Would love to hear your thoughts on any of it.

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  3. The loss of Social Cues is probably the thing that I miss most about playing online.