Online vs. Face-to-Face

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Amaril
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Online vs. Face-to-Face

Post by Amaril »

Question: Is online gaming as good as face-to-face gaming?

Context: As my personal life is becoming more restricting, I find it more difficult to set aside large blocks of time to play D&D, especially with a child due in August/September. I've been considering online-only games played using either MapTool or WotC's upcoming D&DI Gametable (the latter only because of premade tokens, custom miniatures, automatic availability of maps from Dungeon, built-in VoIP, etc.).

Most of my friends say that would rather prefer face-to-face games rather than something online and for a number of valid reasons (it's a matter of preference, and preferences are subjective anyway). Some have even refused to play online. Still, one or two appreciate the feasibility of playing from home without having to travel to someone else's house, drag a bunch of crap with them, and have a hard time being able to do so with kids.

It's for that last reason that I and one other player are considering playing online for an hour or two during each week rather than try to schedule an entire evening away in our already busy schedules.

With all of that in mind, I know some of you play games completely online. As such, do you find the experience just as enjoyable as playing in a face-to-face game?

revinor
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Re: Online vs. Face-to-Face

Post by revinor »

Amaril wrote:Context: As my personal life is becoming more restricting, I find it more difficult to set aside large blocks of time to play D&D, especially with a child due in August/September.


Forget about any social activities longer than 15 minutes for the first few months. If your players are cool with making half an hour break every 15 minutes, give it a try ;)

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Amaril
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Re: Online vs. Face-to-Face

Post by Amaril »

revinor wrote:
Amaril wrote:Context: As my personal life is becoming more restricting, I find it more difficult to set aside large blocks of time to play D&D, especially with a child due in August/September.


Forget about any social activities longer than 15 minutes for the first few months. If your players are cool with making half an hour break every 15 minutes, give it a try ;)
Yeah, that much is true. I anticipate sleep being a priority and or no such thing as free time. The idea is to play for one or two months before hand, take a break until January or so, and resume playing then. If there's one or two nights that happen to come up before then, cool. If not, no bigge.

In any case, I'm still curious about the experience of playing online vs. the experience of playing together in a room.

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strokes
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Post by strokes »

I was lucky enough to be able to take a couple of months off of work for when my daughter was born. I would agree with the others in saying kiss your free time away, at least for a few months. I run a game on OpenRPG, and even though I stated the game would continue, thinking I would have plenty of free time to host such an event, I had to postpone the game during this time, just because there was so much going on in my RL.

As far as finding an online game more satisfing, the game which I had been running on OpenRPG is one of the best games I've ever been involved with. Online players tend to be flaky at best, (at least on OpenRPG) and it sometimes takes a while to find a core group of players who are interested in the long haul. But once you find those players, I believe your in for one hell of a game. I also find foks really get into RP more on a online game, maybe because foks are very comfortable in their humble abodes, and they feel safe behind their computer screens. Whatever the reason, players tend to act out their charaters a bit more, at least in my experience.

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Amaril
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Post by Amaril »

strokes wrote:As far as finding an online game more satisfing, the game which I had been running on OpenRPG is one of the best games I've ever been involved with. Online players tend to be flaky at best, (at least on OpenRPG) and it sometimes takes a while to find a core group of players who are interested in the long haul. But once you find those players, I believe your in for one hell of a game. I also find foks really get into RP more on a online game, maybe because foks are very comfortable in their humble abodes, and they feel safe behind their computer screens. Whatever the reason, players tend to act out their charaters a bit more, at least in my experience.
That's interesting. Do you think there might be less flakiness with a group that is composed of close friends and family members who are live close by rather than random strangers on the Internet? Was the flakiness due to the lack of tangible commitment?

I ask because I actually do expect and respect if someone isn't able to play on any given night, possibly even at the very last second, becuase something came up at home (e.g. - baby's crying and won't go to sleep, toddler is sick, spouse/partner is ill or away and cannot tend to the kids, etc.).

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strokes
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Post by strokes »

That's interesting. Do you think there might be less flakiness with a group that is composed of close friends and family members who are live close by rather than random strangers on the Internet? Was the flakiness due to the lack of tangible commitment?


Yeah, there's no doubt in my mind that you'll find less flakiness with a group of close friends, family, etc.

And Yes the flakiness is due to the lack of tangible commitment. But, once you find a good online gaming group, and sometimes this might take a while, I think you'll have a game that will at least compete in the fun arena with a table top game.

The particular game that I host online was actually originally started with a close friend and one of my family members, all of us gaming buddies from ages past. I actually started the game as a means to get us all hanging together again, even though we are spread out across the country. Two and half years later we are seven players strong (GM included), with the newest player coming up on his 1 year anniversary date.

I had to recruit heavy, advertising the game on several different boards to gain other player interest. The game has had players come and go, but now it seems as if I have a solid player base, which may last through the duration of the camp.

I suppose if I had close friends and family near by that could show on a regular basis for a table top game that would be best. But if online would be a more reliable means of getting together... better than not playing at all, right.

strokes

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Post by UntoldGlory »

Here's my situation, so you know where I'm coming from:

I've been playing D&D a long time. I had a very established group of friends who gamed many, many systems together, and also hung out, did Holiday's, that sort of thing. I moved in '05, and though I've kept up when them via forum, we didn't start gaming online together until fairly recently. Since I posted the suggestion that we play online (which was in response to hearing about DDI), there has been overwhelming response. We searched and searched for what to use until 4E came out and stumbled upon maptools. (We actually tried and discarded it at first, because we couldn't see each others tokens, turns out we were on different maps. :oops: ). Now we don't plan on switching to DDI. We have a MASSIVE group (10 people including DM), and actually had to tell some friends that they'd have to wait till next campaign. We've only had 2 sessions so far of our actual campaign, plus an initial playtest session and a 4e playtest session.

Comparison:
If your group is heavy on combat and light on RP, then internet play might be a far more enjoyable experience. Individual player views, macros, vision and light, these things are far, FAR better than a rubber battlemat (though I miss rolling dice).

If your group is Heavy on RP, or very mixed, then the online play loses something. Even with voice chat, not being able to effectively use facial expressions, pantomimes, and body language is a large detractor. Also, it can be difficult to have multiple conversations at a time, and OOC chatter can get mixed in confusingly with IC chatter.

If gaming is really an excuse to hang out with friends and you don't like sports, then internet play in only suggested if you have no other option.

It is nice to be able to do shorter sessions more often, but I think your estimate of a "couple hours" is unlikely, at least at first. Our first session killed an hour just getting everyone's maps properly loaded and such. Next session was faster, but I think you're still going to lose about half an hour per session getting everyone online. Four hours is about the shortest session I'd try.

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Post by Dracorat »

I would say online is not as good as face to face, but online beats the tar out of nothing.

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Post by VorpalWarrior69 »

Hey Amaril,
I can only speak for my group, but playing online has definately increased our enjoyment of the game. We used to play twice a month, but now we play every weekend, sometimes even more than once a week.

Here are the plusses for us:
1. Not being away from home. Wives, kids, pets, etc... Our significant others give us a lot more slack when the game is online, because we are still at home and available.
2. A well done map beats a hand drawn battlemat any day. With an already drawn out map that is blackened out (FOW), the players are imparted a sense of not being finished. The players rest less, adventure more, and just get more done in general. It's a completely psychological thing, but I swear that the amount we get done in a given night has doubled (and I generally credit it to the players always wondering what is in the next darkened area).
3. We actually roleplay more, using the token impersonation function. We were, however, always a very roleplay light group and I expect that other peoples experiences there are significantly different.

Now...this all comes with a caveat. All of these guys are my friends from the last 15 years, and talking on the phone with them is just like being there, because we all have established ourselves. I can't imagine playing with some random person who wanted to call up and join our online game. I feel very strongly that they would need to go through the gauntlet of a couple face to face games before I'd feel comfortable with them. That's just me, however.

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Amaril
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Post by Amaril »

This is all very helpful! Keep 'em coming. :)

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Post by Michael Silverbane »

I vastly prefer to play face to face, whenever possible.

Sometimes, however, that is just not possible... Or, its not possible to play with the people that I want to play with face to face.

I've got some very good friends that I really enjoy gaming with, and many of them are strewn to the four winds, have kids, weird jobs, or otherwise are unable to get to wherever a physical game might be held. In these cases, a virtual tabletop is a real godsend.

I am running a game where one of my players is in Chicago, one in Kansas City, one in St. Louis, and two of them (along with me, the DM) in Columbia. That's players in three states, three of which I would never hear from, except for the virtual table top.

This, for me, is the biggest benefit of the VTT.

Later
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