Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ah the frustrations of gaming online...

Does anyone know of a cross platform, free or cheap video conferencing solution? I've looked into actually setting up my own server but as far as I've found, it all looks tedious and/or involves the use of Windows. I have a couple of servers I use that are running linux remotely, and I can run a Mac or linux server locally if I have to (and have before for other reasons). I'm not really into acquiring a few static IPs again just for this purpose and dynamic dns has been a bit of a pain in the ass in the past so I'd like to avoid that too.

I've been using voip and video for awhile now before running into problems with one user. It's clearly something with that one user's settings, but after spending a couple of hours troubleshooting it remotely, I'm now inclined to look at workarounds instead of necessarily trying to fix it. I thought about Skype, but there isn't a beta (for the video conferencing option) for Mac, and though iChat is great it obviously isn't available for Windows or linux. I've looked at a number of options but either they won't support more than two simultaneous users, won't work with all platforms, or else are pricey. The most promising alternative would seem to be a free solution I found once using an Adobe account and some 3rd party's server that I now forget, but their servers were always overloaded. Anyhow, any thoughts or suggestions on the subject are appreciated.

I've played once before via an online forum and may try it again someday, but I'm not very enthusiastic about the idea. Playing D&D in a forum, text chat, or email seems about as close to D&D to me as playing golf on a Wii does to actually stepping onto a green with a club. Not that I'm a golfer or anything... just saying. I should also say that I'm not totally averse to those kinds of games, just that my order of preference would be a live face to face game, followed by a video conference game, followed by an IRC or other live chat game, followed by a web forum play by post game. I wonder what Mr. Gygax would say about these various game mediums, or did he?

9 comments:

Loquacious said...

Google chat maybe? You might find the following helpful.

http://lauby.blogspot.com/2010/10/bonus-rpg-content-boring-technical.html

Risus Monkey said...

Ugh! We had similar problems when doing our Pirates vs. Vampires game.

Paul said...

I looked around a couple of months ago for multi-platform group video chat solutions. There is http://www.paltalk.com/express/ but I havent tried it yet. Also http://www.tokbox.com/ which has a free version.

Skype can do group video on Windows, and says they will have it for their Mac client later this year. Vivu makes a $10 Skype plugin that supports group video for Mac and Windows.

There are also various paid services like GoToMeeting, WebEx, and ooVoo.

Don Snabulus said...

So...18 years later we haven't gotten very far with this medium. Sigh.

This article is from the OS/2 days remembering when video conferencing was "here today."

ze bulette said...

@Loq: I don't believe Google Chat offers more than just one on one video conferencing.

@Paul: Thank you for the suggestions. I wasn't aware of paltalk express. I signed up and put their embed code up on a webpage to check it out. It seems a little clunky and the interface might be off-putting to some users but in other ways it seemed slicker than say, iVisit. The pricing for more than one video feed isn't that great though, considering the quality so I'm going to look elsewhere (send me an email if you feel like testing it for the hell of it though).

I think I saw that Skype plugin - that might be the best route. Skype seems really great (depending on your point of view) at traversing firewalls.

I'd already looked into GoTo, WebEx, and ooVoo. GoToMeeting and WebEx start at $50 per month (per user for WebEx!)... ooVoo is much more reasonable at $10-20 per month. Still, I'd rather be throwing that money at game stuff.

I couldn't find any decent looking projects at Sourceforge but there's a lot to sift through there. Lots of good ideas and abandonware.

@Snab: I dunno, the P2P aspects of Skype are brilliant and the system works pretty well - I just wish there was an open source alternative. Not to mention the development of video chats on mobile phones (Apple) recently. Easy, appliance-like video conferencing will probably follow shortly (famous last words). Likely before the oil runs out anyway. :)

Telecanter said...

How about Ekiga? Don't know anything, but heard of it from the Ubuntu side.

ze bulette said...

@Tele: I don't believe Ekiga offers support for multi-party video conferencing - it definitely won't work on Macs even through MacPorts (requires V4L).

Check out this development though. I just found that this morning. Looks like a HTML 5 implementation of video chat might not be that far off. (Famous last words again!)

Todd said...

Do you need full video chat or just voice?

If you want good cross platform voice server you can use teamspeak or mumble and mix that up with gametable or something for a shared whiteboard/dice solution.

ze bulette said...

I'm looking for video chat - I've run a Ventrilo server before (basically, the same thing as TeamSpeak) but I've gotten attached to seeing my players' faces.

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