• March 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, March 3, 2021
    Time: 7:oo PM

    Location: Online (Zoom)

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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A whole new world of gaming.

I have been a game reviewer, teacher and fan for many years. In 2017, I stopped reviewing on this blog because I felt that there were many other people doing the same thing, in much better ways. The sheer volume of games out there became daunting and honestly, I was overwhelmed.

But today, as I reflect on GenCon 2020, I realize that much in the gaming world has changed. We have entered a new era of virtual tabletop games. No longer are we able to attend in-person conventions to re-connect with friends, and our circles are closing in to a very few close friends.  Virtual conventions are working on this, but haven’t yet reached their pinnacle. We will get back to that world, in time, but it will have changed due to these new ways of gaming.

So I’d like to start a discussion with you. I’ll make posts about my experiences with various virtual game platforms, reviews of online games I’ve played, and general observations sharing what I’m learning as I navigate this new world.

I hope you will find this useful, and will join in this discussion, sharing your experiences and knowledge with me. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I want to let you all know, if you are struggling with this new way of gaming, that you are not alone, and together, we can keep our community alive and thriving.

Michele

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July 2020 Minutes

Mindbridge Meeting Minutes Wednesday July 1st, 2020 at 7 PM using Zoom

  1. Call to Order
  2. Minutes – reading waived
  3. Treasurer’s Report – down almost $5k
  4. Convention Reports Read More »
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