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.