• January 2021 Meeting

    You are cordially invited to attend the next Mindbridge monthly meeting. As a response to the coronavirus (COVID-19), Mindbridge will again be holding this month’s meeting online using Zoom. If you’ve never used Zoom before, we’d recommend checking out their support site’s Getting Started topic. Details of how to join the meeting will be shared via the Mindbridge Foundation Google Group.

    Date: Wednesday, January 6, 2021
    Time: 6:oo PM

    Location: Online (Zoom)

Thoughts from UK Games Expo

A silver lining in the Covid-19 cloud is the opportunities that virtual gaming and virtual conventions is offering us. Many of us love to attend our conventions in-person because it is where we connect, meet new people, and try out new games. And virtual gaming is a bit clunky most of the time, and it just isn’t the same when you aren’t together.

But have you ever had a convention you wanted to attend but couldn’t? Can’t get time off work, or just can’t afford plane tickets and/or the hotel costs? UK Games Expo was one of those for me. I always thought that I’d like to attend someday. Because of C-19, this year UK Games Expo went virtual, and offered free badges.  A friend and I got together on Zoom, then we “wandered” the exhibit hall. It was fun! We had the whole exhibit hall to ourselves and could browse to our hearts content, ooh-ing over that game and aah-ing over that accessory.

As we browsed we found a game called D6 Dungeon, which was a Kickstarter earlier this year. We hadn’t heard of it before, but it looked interesting, and we saw that they were doing virtual game demos and live plays. So we signed up to watch a live play on Sunday morning. We had a good time watching the live play and talking with the game creators. There were only about six people in the discussion so we got some nice one-on-one time with them. We decided to purchase copies of the game and made some new friends across the pond. And they were interested in doing some virtual live demos/plays at Gamicon in February.

This made me realize that C-19 is teaching us to step out of our boxes. When we get back to having in-person conventions, what great opportunities we will still have with the virtual gaming lessons we have learned. How will we be able to utilize this?  How many conventions will I still be able to attend in a virtual manner after the crisis is over? I hope a lot! There are a lot of additional benefits to in-person con-goers. Global access to guests we haven’t been able to access before, virtual demos and expanded online dealer rooms. And for those people who can’t attend our cons in-person, they could still watch live streams from the in-person con, attend game demos and live-plays with in-person attendees, participate in con events and have virtual seats at in-person tables, as well as access the dealer rooms for con attendee specials.

Though this isn’t the world we want to be in right now, it is great to see the gaming community coming together to create spaces that expand our access and can grow our conventions in ways we hadn’t thought of before. We should seize these opportunities and use them to create new spaces where we can be together, even when we aren’t able to be close to one another.

Our hobby is full of amazing people, and in attending the UK Games Expo I was reminded of how big our community is and how much we have to share.

Until we can be together again in-person, game on… virtually!

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August 2020 Minutes

Mindbridge Meeting Minutes 7 PM Wednesday August 5, 2020 online

  1. Call to Order
  2. Minutes – reading waived
    Treasurer’s Report down about $1.7k from last month
  3. Convention Reports Read More »
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A Noobs Guide to Discord

Discord is a proprietary freeware instant messaging and VoIP application and digital distribution platform designed for creating communities ranging from gamers to education and businesses. Discord specializes in text, image, video and audio communication between users in a chat channel. Blah, blah, blah.

In other words, it is a place where you can text chat or voice chat with other people.  It’s free, and you can start up a discord account with either the Discord app, or go to Discord.com and use it online.

For tabletop gaming, you’ll see it used a couple of ways. Conventions may use a Discord “channel” as their base gathering space, with different “rooms” where you can go for panels, information, or to use the audio services in conjunction with a game space like Tabletopia or Tabletop Simulator (we’ll get to those in a later post).  You may also see it used for text based chat gathering areas to discuss that “rooms” topic. Video gamers will also often use Discord for their group audio.

If you are planning on doing any online gaming, it would be wise to have a Discord account. There are many helpful videos to get you started with an account. Unless you are planning to host an event, you won’t need your own discord channel. Once you have downloaded the app to your device, it will ask you to create a username, and ask you to enter your email and create a Discord password. (It is advisable to not use the same password as your email). Then click “register”. At this point, it will ask you to create your Discord channel. You don’t need to do this. You can go to the line that says “Have an invite already?” if you know what server you want to join. The admin of that server will need to give you access. If you are going to an event, your event admin should send you instructions on joining their server. In my experience, it is usually a link that you click that takes you right to that server.

Here are a couple screenshots of what you might see in a Discord server. One is from AnimeIowa and one is from GenCon. Both are post-convention so many of the options are grayed out. Once there, you can browse through the different “rooms” to see what is happening. Rooms will be text chat unless you see the word “voice” at the beginning. You should have been given directions or a link as to what “room” your event will be in if you purchased a ticket or signed up for the event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The one thing you may need to supply to get access to an area is your username. This is the name you created when you made your account plus a four-digit code that Discord assigns you. You can find this in the bottom menu on discord. At the very right is a little mask looking icon. Your name and the number will show up at the top of the page. You don’t always need that, but it’s helpful to know where it is if you do.

 

A couple of points of protocol once you’re there. Stay on topic if you are in a text chat room, and keep your discussion civil and positive. If it is family oriented programming, make sure your comments are at least “PG”. For voice channels, make sure you are giving everyone a chance to speak. When you are at a table together, it’s easy to have side conversations and comments, but when everyone is speaking on the same level, those get distracting and it makes the game or conversation last much longer than it should and takes time away from the subject at hand.  When you aren’t actively speaking, it’s wise to mute your microphone to make sure that the channel is clear of any background noises from various attendees. Especially if you are in the same room/house as another person in that room, as you can get a lot of feedback and echoing from your multiple microphones.

So that’s the basics for discord in regard to tabletop gaming. I hope that is helpful for other newbies out there.

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Thoughts on Virtual GenCon 2020

GenCon 2020 was my first virtual convention. I attended one seminar (about Tabletopia), the Doubleclicks concert, played the new game from Smirk & Dagger, “The Night Cage”, and browsed through the GenCon Looking Glass (virtual exhibit hall). Although a far cry from the hundreds of gaming hours that I would put in at in-person GenCon, it was a big step for me. I have been wary of jumping into the world of virtual gaming. There are so many platforms and programs. It’s daunting.

I have had very limited virtual gaming experience, but am working my way into it. Gamicon has a staff discord where we have been holding meetings. Discord seems to be the major communication channel for every virtual convention that I have seen (which isn’t many tbh). I have also played a few games on Tabletopia and Tabletop Simulator. I’ll have separate posts with better introductions to these platforms.

GenCon’s lure was the free ticket. How could I go wrong with a free ticket? It was a great motivator to give it a try. This was super smart on their part, because it got people engaged, if only for one or two panels. Their e-mail communication regarding what was happening, when events opened up, etc. came in the form of an email newsletter and was helpful, informative, and really got me interested in joining in the con.

When the events opened up, I didn’t immediately jump in. I really wasn’t sure if or what I wanted to participate in. Then I saw a note that Tabletopia was doing a seminar about their platform. What a great opportunity to learn from the company, showing a hands-on demo about how the platform works. I had already used it, but was excited to see what they had to say. Bonus: it happened during my lunch hour and was free. I signed up.

I follow the Doubleclicks, and got an email from them saying they were doing a GenCon concert. I’m in! Sign me up.

I had Kickstarted “The Night Cage” and saw that they were doing demos at GenCon, so I checked it out. $1 ticket. Great! Saw they were using Tabletop Simulator, which I had struggled with a bit. I thought it would be a good experience and I would get to actually play the game before I got it.

So how was the experience? It was great. The communication on how to find your event, turn in your ticket and attend was really good. I knew the discord was there if I had problems, but I didn’t need it for anything other than “The Night Cage” Demo. I received an email notifying me that my event was coming up with the link to the event for both the Tabletopia seminar and the Doubleclicks concert. They were informative and fun.

Due to personal life happenings, I was unable to attend on Saturday, but had scheduled my game demo for Sunday afternoon. I received a reminder email, went to my ticket page, redeemed my ticket and followed the instructions that were put in the chat linking to the discord channel. Lo and behold, it was none other than Curt Covert himself on the other end (Yay, love that man!). Everyone showed up and we got started. He gave us the code for the Tabletop Simulator (TTS) room, and I got in easily. Everyone already had their TTS accounts all set up, so with very little waiting we were able to get started. Curt did a demo on the TTS controls and the game at the same time, and we got right to playing.  (It’s a great game by the way.) Everyone was polite and friendly. While I would have loved meeting everyone in person, it was still nice to sit down to a game with some new people and try something new.

I sat down after the game to look at the virtual exhibit hall, which they call the looking glass. This is where I was really impressed. It had the feel of the actual exhibit hall, without all the traffic. It is a web page filled with Icons. When you click on an icon, a splash page comes up for that vendor. The splash pages contained an image, the company name, a brief blurb, and links to their website, promotional page and/or their GenCon events. You could sort the icons by artists, authors, charities and exhibtors. Each Icon was the company logo and was searchable, so if you were looking for something specific, you could easily find it. I lost so many hours in there, but it was fun. I’d love to see this continue in the future, and would love to know how they set this up so we could do something similar for our conventions. It’s up until the end of August 2020, so check it out here.

https://www.gencon.com/looking-glass?x=9344&y=9856&z=3.75&c=17

Overall, GenCon was a good experience. I am glad I only did a few things. I am not sure I’d take off work and make it a “staycation” and fill the day with lots of things, like I would do at an in-person convention, but I would certainly do it again. Their end of con survey asked what I would pay for a virtual convention like this in the future. For the right price point, I can see this being an alternative way to attend GenCon for those of us who can’t get the vacation time to attend in-person, and still be a part of the event. I’d still rather attend in-person, but I can see this being a way to include more people in the GenCon experience and expand to people who have barriers to attending in-person. My concern with running the two in tandem is the strain it would put on the game companies. I can’t imagine having the experience I had with Curt from Smirk and Dagger, if he was also running games in-person. I imagine online experiences would be delegated to lackeys, and for smaller game companies, this would be a hardship to try to staff. We’ll just have to see what happens next!

Did you go to Virtual GenCon? What did you do? How was your experience? Please keep comments PG and on topic. Thank you.

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