What with “social distancing” being the new normal, the scale of my remote problem changed. Instead of having one player remote, we’ve moved on to everyone remote, bringing a new set of challenges.
We played tonight with our new setup. We had no performance problems on my 20 Mbps connection; I do have a a wireless access point right next to everything for the best signal, with everything wired that can be.
We picked WebEx (currently free) in part because it will tile the people (much better as GM for a larger group than Hangouts). The audio was FAR better than past experience with Discord, and we had 6 people on WebEx, and usually only 2-3 on Discord.
We set up a smart phone, suspended from the ceiling, over the whiteboard running a separate WebEx instance. Instead of minis we used different colored dice (large 6-sided), further set to 1-6 to make them easier to distinguish.
I set up a laptop with WebEx as the view of the GM. That laptop was hooked to a 47″ TV, giving the GM a good grid view picture of all the players.
I set up another laptop (my usual “GM’s laptop”). I realized that when playing I don’t actually spend a lot of my time staring at the players but at staring at my resources and references. That let the WebEx system be just WebEx.
We discourage WebEx “private chat” between the players, as I feel it antithetical to the experience I’m trying to reproduce. I still send the occasional WebEx private message to a player (in the same way I would have passed them a card with information before). The next time we’ll have each player post their init # and action to the chat window, which will make working through a round easier. In those busy moments the chat got confusing; ordering it will help.
We had a 3rd camera set up as a side view of the whiteboard (to make seeing minis easier). But we’d switched to dice to represent the minis about the time my poodle got tangled up on one of the power cords, freaked out, and ripped the camera out of the PC and wall. Then in flight he ripped another laptop and another computer’s second monitor off the table before he completed his escape. Everything survived (tho recovering the initial camera took some reassembly). At least he didn’t pull the 47″ TV down.
Hope that helps. It’s both super low tech (the players don’t have to learn anything really), and somewhat high tech (a lot of hardware). At the end of the evening everyone was happy. While it took prep this time, it will take little next time, as I’ll leave all the hardware up. And at the end of the evening it felt like everyone had been over!