Monday, September 21, 2009

DnD: Maiden Voyage of the Digital Game Table

After a long summer packed full of vacations, weddings, conferences and the always-hectic start of a new semester, our group was finally able to get together Saturday evening for the official debut of the Digital Game Table. As I was out getting groceries for the evening's meal (we all have dinner together on game nights), I happened across what I felt was a DM-worthy vessel for my gaming grog of choice:

$3 at Wal-mart. Elixir of Dew sold separately

I'm not sure if the others were as excited about using the table as I was, but they really stepped things up a notch with the snacks - and this was after we'd already had dinner, complete with ice cream and grape pie.

Homemade salsa, apple slices, sliced cheese n' crackers!

Having already spent a good deal of time earlier in the day trying to find the best position in which to tape the Wiimote to the projector, I had hoped that getting everything set up and running would not take long at all. Unfortunately, I did not anticipate the connection issues between my new laptop and the older one my friend brought to serve as the player client (the one that is hooked up to the projector).

Eventually, we identified one of the issues as having two different versions of MapTools installed. We got the latest version installed on both machines, but still could not connect via the server - possibly due to some of the default Vista security settings on my laptop, now that I think about it. We were finally able to connect using a Direct Connection, fortunately, and get the game started.

Now that we have a better sense of lighting and accurate line of sight, who wants to go down the Scary Hall of Imminent Doom first?

This was a learning experience on so many levels - one of which was figuring out how the party should move on a map outside of an encounter. Even a short walk down a hallway can take a long time when everybody moves one at a time. In the future, I think we will try having the group selected and moved as one until they see/hear/perceive something that, at which point they can choose maneuver individually.

This was also the point at which we realized the Wiimote was slipping out of position. Things would be going fine, then, suddenly, the calibration would become skewed. We wound up connecting a wireless mouse for 'back-up' and having the wheel really made zooming in and out easier for the players - but everyone was still determined to use the pen as much as possible.

This was about the 4th time the Wiimote slipped down . . .

Taping and re-taping was a temporary fix at best, and the constant need to re-calibrate really killed the momentum of the game.

. . . and this was somewhere around the 8th.

3/4 of the way through the evening, I finally get the bright idea to tape the wrist strap to the top edge of the projector, instead of trying to tape the Wiimote itself flat against it. This was a huge improvement and only required two or three narrow strips of duct tape, as opposed to the wads I was wasting before.

Best move anyone made during the entire session

After all that, the party finally arrived at the climactic showdown they'd been working towards for so long . . . and made it through one round of combat (10 crawling claws, 2 Bonewretch Skeletons, 4 Decrepit Skeletons and 2 Skeleton Archers being led by a Deathmaster Deathlock Wight are a lot to wade through in a turn). The good thing about using MapTools (and Trackwork) is that I can save things right where we left them and be ready to go for next time.

I'm really excited for our next session. We got over all the technical hurdles *knock on wood* and, during the course of the evening, figured out the best way to position and attach the Wiimote to the projector. So next session, we should be able to jump right into an action packed encounter and have a smooth integrated gaming experience, rather than the experience of wrangling the hardware and software to play a game.


  1. I'm working to build my own digital gaming table, and I was hoping to see your step by step setup. Can you check why the pics aren't showing up in this post?


  2. D'oh! Looks like I (re)moved the directory the pictures were linked to.

    I'll try to find the originals and get them re-posted by this evening.

    Sorry for the inconvenience! -_-"

  3. Okay, the images should be appearing now.

    Good luck on building your game table; I'd love to see how it turns out!