Running a Hybrid gaming setup is trickier than running a normal face to face game. As I’ve discovered, it is less than wise to just turn everything on and hope for the best. With that in mind, I’ve developed a pre-game checklist.
Following the checklist helps me have more fun with my chums by eliminating most of the technical problems that occasionally reared their ugly heads.
In the Afternoon
Here’s what I do during the afternoon of the game beyond the normal preparations (such as reading the adventure, finding dice that hate the players and so on) any GM would make:
- Charge my iPhone to 100% (I use my phone as a webcam, and although it is charged while plugged into the Mac why take the chance of the camera dying mid-game?)
- Charge my iPad Pro to 100% (I use my iPad Pro for screen-shared mapping and if it died mid-game we’d have a problem).
- Take a lateral flow Covid test and let the group know the result via our Slack channel. (I’m keen not to infect any of my chums with the lurgy).
One Hour Before Game Time
Beyond the normal pre-game setup any GM goes through, here’s what I do about an hour before the game:
- Turn on the Mini Mac and TV; check for app updates, but don’t install any. (I have learnt that running updates—particularly for Zoom and Camo—immediately before the game can go horribly wrong).
- Check Bluetooth connection with keyboard and trackpad and their battery charge levels.
- Set Do not Disturb on iPhone; turn on Camo.
- Set Do not Disturb on iPad.
- Check broadband speed and make sure the Mac Mini and iPad Pro are connected to the same wireless network, and that the Mac Mini’s ethernet connection is—well—connected.
- Turn on Camo on Mac.
- Turn on Zoom; join meeting.
- Check Bluetooth connection with keyboard/trackpad.
- Check screen sharing via AirPlay with iPad works.
- Hide own video. The people actually at the table don’t need to see themselves.
The Final Word
And that’s it. At the end of the day, my gaming time is precious and I don’t want to waste mine and my friends’ time with pointless problems that could be easily avoided. Following this checklist helps me eliminate most of the technical problems that have impacted our online fun over the last year or so. During the game, it puts the technology into the background and makes space for the fun!