One Year of VTT Play

Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
The pandemic forced me to use VTT to GM role-playing games. It took a few games to adapt to the new format but once we found our digital legs I have to report that we played more sessions than during the previous one year period using the face-to-face format.

I GMed 4 sessions of D&D 5e, 10 sessions of Fantasy AGE, 5 sessions of Modern AGE, 1 session of The Expanse. As a player I participated in 4 sessions of the Dark Eye, 2 sessions of L5R (ffg) and 4 sessions of 40K Wrath & Glory. For a total of 30 rpgs sessions.

I recently started a second group which means I'll be GMing every Friday. Instead of every two weeks.

Did you play more RPG sessions during the first year of the pandemic?
 

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tommybahama

Adventurer
VTT has been great. I've played more D&D but still can't find groups for games outside of D&D like WFRP that are in my time zone.

If you are a GM you can turn your hobby into a side gig making $30 an hour. Not a bad way to make some scratch.
 

TheSword

Legend
We were able to go from a weekend (double game) every 6 weeks or so to a weekly game. I was also able to set up a second weekly game so definitely more gaming played.

One of our monthly players, and DM can’t do online though so looking forward to getting monthly back once restrictions lift in May.

I’ll definitely keep at least one of the weekly games though. It’s just so easy. 3 hours of concentrated gaming. We get so much done!
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
When the lockdown first began my group (which had only played two face to face sessions at that point) moved to remote play (not VTT, but a two-camera battlemat set up) played more often than normal (every two weeks instead of every 3 to 5 weeks) but after a couple of months, as thing returned to a semblance of normal (or the requirements of living required people to go out more despite the surges) we moved back to every 3 to 5 weeks. Now that we are all vaccinated we are having our first face to face session since February of 2020 on May 1st.

Once I got pretty used to this new method I started up a second group with friends all over the place (currently, we have a player in the pacific time zone and another in central european time zone, with two in ET, so we have to start play at 1 pm ET, so that is 10 am in LA and 7pm in Milan) and we play that on every 3 to 5 week too.
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Did you play more RPG sessions during the first year of the pandemic?

Well, I was mostly GMing before Covid-19 hit, and my game has been on hiatus for a year, so I have been playing more.

They certainly get cancelled less often when people don't have to leave their homes!

That's not seemed to materialize for me, especially in the latter half of the year. Stress and general fatigue have been a big deal, and a lot of folks working from home started suffering "Zoom fatigue" and didn't want to be in online meetings for entertainment as well as for work. Migraines and being "on call" for work have also led to cancellations.

At this point, I have four different groups that I play online with. Three of them aim for a session every other week, and one aims for every week. I think I am averaging one session a week of actual play.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
a lot of folks working from home started suffering "Zoom fatigue" and didn't want to be in online meetings for entertainment as well as for work.
I ran into a little of that (had two folks drop out of my secondary game due to this). Other times, we have found it helps for everyone to turn off their personal cameras and just have the battlemat camera be the only one on and everything else is just audio. We don't do this every session or all of the session but based on how we're feeling and/or if there is any lag due to overuse of bandwidth for video.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I ran into a little of that (had two folks drop out of my secondary game due to this). Other times, we have found it helps for everyone to turn off their personal cameras and just have the battlemat camera be the only one on and everything else is just audio.

Two of the games are audio only already. This doesn't seem to make a significant difference in whether folks are up for playing.
 

Sithlord

Adventurer
My hobby shops never stopped the games where I live. But we are nowhere near an urban center of even close to modest size. Our local government just told everyone to be careful if they are around the elderly. And we did have a player zoom in to play because he lived with elderly family members. I found that odd because he still had to go to work everyday with lots of people. But we respected what he was going through.
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
I game a lot less.

I own an FLGS and I used to run Saturday learn-how-to-play sessions. I've taught hundreds of people to play D&D. I love it! Unfortunately, in-person gaming has not been considered safe and we have cancelled all in-store games of any sort for the past year.

I've played face-to-face with my kids a few times, and my Tuesday night home game has been by Zoom, but we don't get near as much done. We get the occasional Thursday pick-up game in too, online. I also play in multiple play-by-post games here on ENWorld which means I play at least a little bit every day.

So I really can't complain much when I say that it's less because I still have the luxury of quite a bit more gaming than a lot of people get to do. It's just less than I normally get.

I suppose I have first world problems, but I really miss real face-to-face play, and I miss teaching new people to play (I've had a lot of interest in it at the store - 5e has been picking up players at an amazing rate and a lot of them could use a fun demo.)

Hey, at least my store is allowed to be open! I feel for the restaurants, movie theatres, and gyms that have had to close down. Again, things could be worse for me, so I hate to complain.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
We were playing weekly prior to the pandemic, alternating GMs from week to week. If anything, we game less. Before, we could play board games if we had not enough people. Now, we sometimes play video games, but we often end up doing nothing.

Personally, I hate the VTT experience (both as a GM and a player). I look forward to when we can game in person again once we’ve all been vaccinated and everyone feels safe doing so.
 


schneeland

Adventurer
I think I played about the same during the first year. Now that we're into year two, it's starting to look a bit better and it seems I will have weekly games, maybe even twice a week (this has not happened since I left university).

Overall I have come to like online play, if only in a very light-weight way (we use Owlbear Rodeo, Discord calls with audio only and physical dice and character sheet). The more elaborate platforms (Roll20, FoundryVTT, etc.) are not really my cup of tea.
 

Retreater

Legend
During the pandemic, using VTTs, I've been playing/running a nearly unreasonable amount of games. Here are my estimates:
12 sessions of Pathfinder 2e
1 session of Pathfinder 1e
25 sessions of Swords & Wizardry
25 sessions of Old School Essentials
77 sessions of D&D 5e

Other hobby-related achievements include painting probably 200 models. Learning 3D printing and printing around 40 miniatures. Writing and securing a publisher for a 5e adventure.

It's really taken over all my free time, and I will likely need to scale back as the world reopens, just to have time for non-gaming socialization and other activities.
 

MarkB

Legend
I'm up from one weekly and one fortnightly game before the lockdown to three weekly games now (DMing one, playing two). One of those is due to wrap up within the next week or two, but I may well seek out a replacement.

One of those games is with our local gaming club, which has kept gaming all through lockdown after switching to VTT. For that one, we run games on Friday evenings in quarterly segments, with the next one due to begin in July, by which time it may be possible under UK regulations to return to face-to-face gaming.

And honestly, I'm not entirely looking forward to it. Going from being able to drop into a game at two minutes' notice, with Roll20 and D&D Beyond spread out conveniently across two monitors and everything at my fingertips, to having to drive 20-30 minutes each way at the end of a long week and flip through multiple game books with reading glasses and managing a character sheet with pencil and paper? Sure, the social aspect will be a lot nicer, but the whole thing feels a little exhausting in prospect.
 

Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
And honestly, I'm not entirely looking forward to it. Going from being able to drop into a game at two minutes' notice, with Roll20 and D&D Beyond spread out conveniently across two monitors and everything at my fingertips, to having to drive 20-30 minutes each way at the end of a long week and flip through multiple game books with reading glasses and managing a character sheet with pencil and paper? Sure, the social aspect will be a lot nicer, but the whole thing feels a little exhausting in prospect.
I was having this exact discussion with my wife this afternoon. The central location to play is not at my house which means as a GM I have to travel back and forth physically. It can be exhausting, more so, when we recently had a snow storm and parking is not easy in the residential areas.

Having said that my friend invested $$$$ in an actual RPG table with cool widgets just before the shut down. I told him we would play at his house to try it out as soon as we can.
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
I'm up from one weekly and one fortnightly game before the lockdown to three weekly games now (DMing one, playing two). One of those is due to wrap up within the next week or two, but I may well seek out a replacement.

One of those games is with our local gaming club, which has kept gaming all through lockdown after switching to VTT. For that one, we run games on Friday evenings in quarterly segments, with the next one due to begin in July, by which time it may be possible under UK regulations to return to face-to-face gaming.

And honestly, I'm not entirely looking forward to it. Going from being able to drop into a game at two minutes' notice, with Roll20 and D&D Beyond spread out conveniently across two monitors and everything at my fingertips, to having to drive 20-30 minutes each way at the end of a long week and flip through multiple game books with reading glasses and managing a character sheet with pencil and paper? Sure, the social aspect will be a lot nicer, but the whole thing feels a little exhausting in prospect.

Ah the joys of being an introvert. I understand where you are coming from. When we get back to F2F games I expect some of my players (who have discovered D&D Beyond during the break) to be bringing tablets and phones when they used to expect me to keep their character sheets for them. I don't like phones at the table, but we may have to allow for phones AS LONG AS THERE'S A CHARACTER SHEET ON THE SCREEN.
 

Sithlord

Adventurer
It kinda makes me sad to see a game with already expensive books require a gatekeeping tools that previously required only a pencil and paper to show up and play. They could use other players books once they showed up. As a young teen for me the price barrier to online and computer playing would have been an expensive barrier of entry for me. And i am sure it is to many today.
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
It kinda makes me sad to see a game with already expensive books require a gatekeeping tools that previously required only a pencil and paper to show up and play. They could use other players books once they showed up. As a young teen for me the price barrier to online and computer playing would have been an expensive barrier of entry for me. And i am sure it is to many today.
Pandemic aside, you can still do all of this. A lot of people do. Until the pandemic, that's how I've always played (and taught others to play). There's just more variety now. Some of my players will always show up with dice and a sheet. Heck, right now, while we're playing online, most of us still roll real dice.

Only in some people's minds does more options make the old options "obsolete".

One of my players used to miss the game every time he had to fly away for work - I expect that now that we've learned to play online, we'll just have one of us bring a laptop when he misses and have him play by zoom while the rest of us play at the table. That'll be nice.
 

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