Online tabletop roleplaying – maybe not yet

Since I’m essentially too lazy / too busy / too scared to try this myself, I was (as I said here) interested in how this article over at the Chatty DM site progressed.  Well, he’s posted the first update on his online roleplaying report, and it sort of agrees with what I’d feared, what I’d briefly experienced and what I’d heard elsewhere.  You should go read the excellent article on the Chatty DM site clearly, but here’s a salient comment,

I think my feeling mirrors the others. When I did the rounds of the players I knew most, we all had the same thing to say. We all agreed that while a virtual tabletop RPG sure beats not playing at all… it remains a weak replacement for the real thing. At least, if our experiment is an indication of how such games are played… and my gut feeling tells me that they are.

Shared storytelling & roleplaying are such physical activities1 that it’s hard to see how things will get much better without a) seriously good video conferencing that supports multiple people or b) seriously good shared VR interfaces.

For the first option, I’m imagining the ability to accept multiple incoming video feeds at once, and to place those images on your screen in such a way that you can see them all at once.  Maybe some composite image ability so you can paste the video into a chair around a fake gaming table on the screen.  I have no idea of the bandwidth or processor requirements to deal with that but I suspect we’re not quite there yet.

The second option is more immersive, with everyone wearing VR headsets and seeing the images from everyone elses video cameras in the same virtual space somehow, again, even more processing power required and plenty of bandwidth.

At the rate things are progressing, how long will it be before we’re there? 24 months? 4 years? 10 years?

  1. physical in the sense that your presence and facial / body language are key to having a shared experience []

2 thoughts on “Online tabletop roleplaying – maybe not yet”

  1. I spend a lot of time using the ‘net for a whole range of stuff, and I’d love to be able to use it to successfully tabletop, so I’ll be following the articles closely. I looked at a couple of the apps a while ago but never had the time or the need then to see which worked out better, so it’ll be particularly interesting to see what you discover.

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