DMsGuild
  1. #1

    DM / Host on dialup success story

    EDIT: I've updated this post to include the way modules now work in FG, using "Host" instead of "Client" data.

    So with the help of a lot of people on this forum - Griogre and Foen in particular (thanks guys) - I've successfully hosted a FGII session with VOIP on dialup.

    For the benefit of any future low-bandwidth DMs - or groups with low bandwidth players - I thought I'd detail my steps here, as a kind of reference.

    The group

    One guy in France on broadband, one on Norfolk Island (in the Pacific) on a very poor wireless connection, two guys in Australia (one on dialup and one on broadband) and me in Montreal, on dialup. So five of us, three continents and an island.

    The setup

    1. As the host, I had two phone lines, each with a separate dialup connection, one into my desktop, another into my laptop. My standard dialup plan seems to work on two lines at once.

    2. The laptop just ran Teamspeak. My research indicated TS had the best performance at the low end codecs. We used Speex 9.3, on a server I rent out of Texas for $3 a month. The quality wasn't at Skype levels, but it was just fine. And with five of us talking, the line didn't choke up once. And we didn't use push-to-talk either, it was a talk-whenever-you-want free for all. Other than the typical lag, the VOIP worked great.

    3. The desktop ran FGII.

    The Modules

    They key to hosting successfully was the use of modules. I put all images, personalities and maps into modules and emailed them to my players on the night of the game. Before connecting, they dropped them in the FGII modules folder. To make it work, when exporting the material into a module I had to:

    - Save the maps and images as "Host" data. This way, the players/clients aren't able to access the images.
    - When the GM shares the image, the information is read from the module on the player's computer (if the player does not have the module, everything works as normal, the host sends the image to the player).
    - That way, the maps and images all load locally. The players actually reported that large maps (over half a meg) loaded instantly, quicker than my voice reached them via TS.
    - Force load the modules on the players' machines.

    The Tokens

    - I used high res tokens, but just put them in the shared token folder, rather than host folder.
    - My players connected to the server a half hour before game time and by the time we started play all the tokens had transferred across to the players' machines.
    - As a result, during game play, the tokens also loaded locally and instantly.
    - Sure, the downside is they can look at the tokens in advance, but that doesn't tell them a lot really, and if they want to spoil it for themselves, that's their problem.

    The miracle

    With those obstacles conquered, the game ran smoothly. And man was it fun! I think it's remarkable - and a testament to the power of FGII - that such a low bandwidth setup can host a game with tonnes of high quality maps, images and tokens. I really didn't hold back. I lavished all the material I wanted on players with zero load times.

    Now the only thing I need to do is fix that pesky timezone problem. The game started at 3am here in Montreal. I just wish the Earth was flat so the sun would rise at the same time for all of us.
    Last edited by Astinus; December 11th, 2008 at 15:55.

  2. #2

    Join Date
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    Very impressive!

    rv

  3. #3

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    I'm glad it worked for you. You did some new stuff with modules which I think others will find very useful. Big high rez maps are a real problem to transfer even with broadband bandwith. The making of client map packs could be useful to a lot of GM's.

  4. #4
    Ged's Avatar
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    Because the dial-up question comes up every so often, I think I'll make a link from the FAQ to this post as a way how it can be managed. Thanks a lot for sharing the experience.

  5. #5
    Foen's Avatar
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    Good work Astinus, you put a stack of effort into researching the setup and I'm really glad you got a great game out of it. Send us another post when you've fixed the timezones!

    Stuart

  6. #6
    Sigurd's Avatar
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    Well Done

    Organized and resourceful.


    Good stuff,

    Sigurd
    J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, "I wish life was not so short. Languages take such a time, and so do all the things one wants to know about."

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