I hope this is the right forum for this question, I apologize in advance if it is not.
It would be my first time having a setup like this. I've run games over maptools with every participant using ventrilo (an audio communications app) but now I'm running a group of four around the table and one of my maptools players would really like to join.
What equipment would be necessary? I trust the player's dice rolls, but could he see the map and group with a single laptop setup for Skype? Would I need another webcam or some other equipment?
I appreciate any feedback!
If you are wanting to use maptool and are behind a NAT (you probably are), they will need some way of connecting to your maptool server. I've used Hamachi for this in the past, but have not used it in ages so I don't know how well it fares nowadays. Failing that, you can do screen sharing on skype to show the map, but they won't be able to interact with it and you'll need a 2nd pc to have the GM view of the map in front of you (you'd be sharing a player view).
If you're using a physical map instead of maptool, then a webcam would be necessary as the one built into your laptop likely won't have a good angle on it (with a separate one, a group member can adjust it as necessary). Beyond that, nothing else is needed.
As its just one player who might be joining us from long distance, I wanted to use a physical map. So a second webcam would have the group set?
I want to avoid a digital map, just to keep that tactile feel of the game with the group at the table, but I also would love to have an old player join us... so if it really came down to it, I would use an app to do so.
I actually don't have any experience with Skype, so its good to know that it has the ability to handle those kinds of situations.
Thanks for the replies!
For the webcam, the most important thing imo would be a long enough cord so that they can get a mostly top-down view of the map (makes counting squares a ton easier). Skype supports video calls, so just do one of those and set the webcam as the video source. You can set video source and audio source separately so you can still use your laptop's built-in microphone. It's usually pretty good about echo cancellation so broadcasting on laptop speakers should work fine as well.
I'd recommend testing the setup in advance if possible, so that things go mostly hitch-free come game time. Nothing kills the mood faster than fiddling with skype for half an hour while you try to get it set up right.
Skype is nice and simple to set up for bringing an external player to the table.
I'd suggest having good speakers for your computer and that the player who is connecting has a decent microphone (preferably a headset to prevent any noise feedback) so that everyone can hear each other clearly.
As for the camera to show the physical map on your table, a webcam on a cheap tripod will be the best solution as you can mount it above the map and also raise/lower it if needed to change the zoom level.