Monday, August 20, 2012

FaceTime Battles

Heading off to the supermarket after playing a game via FactTime

As I mentioned recently, MadPadre and I spoke on FaceTime. However, a few days ago we took it a little further and managed to play a game of Command & Colours Napoleonics via my handheld video phone. I'm still slightly stunned that we managed to pull it off, I keep thinking I'm going to walk out of my house and see a flying car.  Bob Cordery I think was the first to mention it, at around the same time that I started thinking about mucking about with webcams, but FaceTime as a piece of technology seems robust and easy to use. I'm not sure that the webcam issue isn't a dead end.

The Padre has written about the experience and you can have a look at what he has to say here. Myself, I would offer the following advice to anyone considering doing the same.

Preparation - The host should have anything set up in advance, it saves a great deal of time. Have the board set up and the troops in place. It will save on time.

Walkthrough - Give your guest a walkthrough of the board and a tour of his forces. Padre didn't have a chance to look at the scenario before, but I gave him a rough idea of things and most importantly made sure that he got to see every unit in each army as curiously enough not everyone can tell a chasseur from a line infantryman when both fellows are wearing blue uniforms. Not even Wellington had to tell one Frenchman from another at a distance of over three and a half thousand miles.

This is my magic card device. One of the difficulties of a card based system via a video link is how to get the guest player to play cards when they're miles away. There are probably better ways of doing this, but this worked for us.

The Host player draws the appropriate number of cards and shows them to the front facing camera in such a way that he cannot see them. They are then placed on a board marked with numbers while the Guest player notes the number. The Guest player just calls out the number of the card he wants to play, the Host player draws it from the board and play proceeds from there. This was a little clunky at first, but once you've dealt with the initial hand it proceeds at a decent clip.

Steady panning - the temptation to throw the camera around like Baz Luhrman is alluring, but likely to give your guest motion sickness. Try and hold the camera steady and keep the picture wide for most of the time, this will ensure that your guest will have a clear idea of what's going on. Be prepared to move the camera quite a bit, but when you do move it, make an effort to do it smoothly.

Definately a good idea and certainly one I would try again.


  1. What a great experiance and I thought VASL was the way forward


    1. As do I and I have been giving it a go. However, this is rather immediate.

  2. Konrad Kinch,

    I thought that FaceTime had potential ... and you have shown that it has.

    I hope that this is the first of many such encounters.

    All the best,


  3. I've never even tried FaceTime yet. I really must get round to it. If only I knew someone else with the technology and an appetite for hex based wargames....

    1. Damn that is a pity - you ever find that fellow you should email him.

  4. Oh you kids with your fancy i-toys! :)

    Glad to hear it went well.

  5. How very clever! I had not tried Face Time before so having read your posts I tried it with my daughter (who was only upstairs!) much to her annoyance. But I can see the potential for sure. I like the way you set up the card system. This could open up a whole new network of C&CN players for example who don't happen to live near each other. I think my daughter found it a tad irritating to have her Fathers face beaming at her in the privacy of her own bedroom, but I told her it was all in the name of research and anyway it was Konrad Kinch's fault for giving me the idea!

    Great stuff.

  6. WarFace, FaceWar, CombatTime, iWar, MadKinch, BobBattle, brilliant idea, just need to give it a catchy name.

    All the best