Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Pros and Cons of IRC-style Gaming

IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat, and for quite some time was the way to communicate with your friends on the net. It's a live-chat bulletin-board type system, where what everyone types shows up immediately on the screen for all to read. The possibilities for RPGs should be obvious.

Over at the Fear the Boot forums, Yaotl was curious how well this sort of thing works. Blindeye's response is worth posting in its entirety:

OpenRPG you say? I've used miRC for 10 years to roleplay. But here's the pros and cons to chatroom roleplaying:

Pro: Each line of description and dialogue will be more well thought out.

Con: Everything takes twice as long to do thanks to non-instantaneous internet transferring and the time it takes to type a message rather than speak it. Also... Typos.

Pro: Dice programming mean rolling goes really quickly

Con: Not being able to see your group's sheets, or having to keep track of them yourself can be confusing.

Pro: OOC can take place in a separate chat room entirely, clearly separating IC and OOC and keeping things more immersive.

Con: Real Life can disrupt it more easily, as can computer error. "brbs" and "afks" come in, random disconnects can be frustrating, and all sorts of things that you don't have at the physical table.

Pro: You don't need to worry about having people close by, all they need is a computer.

Con: Game attendance seems a little less for certain. You're just crossing your fingers that everyone shows up.

Pro: You can log the entire sessions really easily, and review it later, or be able to go back and check things from previous sessions.

Con: Descriptions can be harder to get across, it's not as easy to quickly doodle what a room looks like, or use your hands to illustrate things. There are ways around this, but it requires file sharing, and a bit more legwork. No Grids to run off of, no miniatures or anything. It all needs to be communicated through text.

I think that's all I'll get into. I don't know what OpenRPG is capable of... I'll have to look it up. this is all based on mIRC alone.

OpenRPG is a great little program that has built-in dice rollers and white-board/table-top-style miniatures support. And it's free, so you really can't beat that.

For myself, I prefer some of the more common IRC programs, and find many of the bells and whistles of OpenRPG to be distracting. But that's just me.

And if typing isn't for you, there's always Skype, which allows you to talk over the internet, without the fees of long-distance phone calls and all of that. Why Skype isn't replacing most people's land-lines for long-distance telephone communication is beyond me.

In any event, distance is no longer an issue when it comes to getting the old group together for a few hours of RPG fun.

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