Saturday, April 14, 2012

Portrait of the General as a Young Webcam


 The view of General Spry

A few days ago  I got a small wireless webcam on a whim. I'd been talking to Ross of Game of the Month via the webcam that came in my shiny new labtop. It was interesting to hear Ross's voice after reading his blog for so long and one of the fruits of this extremely interesting chinwag was hearing about Ross's experiences playing game via Skype. 

I'm very lucky to have a relatively wide group of wargaming pals within a stones throw of home, but there are friends who either live abroad or who aren't in a position to join in the regular fun. There was also another intriguing possibility.

General MacKinnons view

The footage above is very rough, I'm having difficulty adjusting the focal length of the webcam, but I think it's sufficient to get some idea of what I'm aiming for. This is the Busaco scenario set up and the footage is taken from the British generals point of view. I'm not entirely sure what I'll do with this or even it I'll do anything, but the possibilities it presents bear consideration.

A game could be run using the webcam to shoot footage from the perspectives of general of each side.  That footage could then be sent to a player using Vassal to keep track of the cards, the position of his own troops and roll dice. A typical Napoleonics game takes less than an hour, though I imagine this would lengthen the process considerably.

We shall see if this goes any further. 


  1. Great potential here...
    I look forward to see where this idea goes.

  2. I really love this idea. Quite a blend of the old and new.

  3. What make and model of camera are you using?


  4. a fine idea , i shall follow this developemnt with interest

  5. This seems like a very fruitful line of research, though the clarity of the pictures needs some work. It certainly seems better than what I am trying to do in an ACW campaign I am currently running, which is sending digital photos to the participants, sometimes in Powerpoint with notes added. Very time consuming. If I could get online with a participant, show him the view from his lines, explain his options and get his decisions, that would make things move so much faster.
    If you need a research collaborator, my dear Kinch, pray let me know.

  6. Jim,

    I'm using a Maplins 2.3 mp camera. I can adjust the depth of field, but I'm unable to get the entire table in focus.

  7. I may take you up on that Padre. Drop me a line if you're interested in taking this further.

  8. Gentlemen, thank you for your kind words, I think some sorting out of the logistics will have to happen first and a wrap around backdrop will be a necessity to cut down on visual clutter.

  9. I enjoyed our chat.

    Lighting seems to make a big difference. More being better for clarity and depth of field.

  10. True I may put a shade over the window as the light from it makes operating the webcam almost impossible form the french side of the table.