Gen Con Online is this week and we have been testing and perfecting the remote experience to fine tune the experience. In early July we had gotten things to a stable state that included separate control boards for each paddle. This helped to make sure that command responses were tied to the specific paddle you were playing with and would not be hung up by the board trying to sequence multiple inputs at one time.
Individual control boards dramatically changed the response rate by limiting the hang ups to individual connections instead of creating issues system-wide. My personal wifi sucks and is pretty inconsistent (it might also be my laptop) but the other players were able to generate much more consistent results.
The system will be running from Reese’s house which has a much better internet situation. In multiple tests, his setup was able to consistently keep all players running. This setup is going through the internet so hiccups are going to be common and while people may have gotten used it in their zoom calls, you can notice it keenly while playing a dexterity game like this.
The top down experience was interesting as it provided the necessary feedback the players needed: to see Chewie’s board state, compensate for their internet lag, and fire their paddle accordingly.
To better simulate the Loopin’ Chewie experience, we decided to test out a multi-camera rig where each player can see their own paddle’s view. In the crappy screen cap I took, you can see where I’ve pinned the red player camera in a zoom meeting while also pulling up a separate window for our “fire” button. The webpage is a simple login page that we’ll provide each player before the game start.
I’m playing Red in these POV videos and you can tell that I’m pretty terrible. The key to remote play, as we are finding, is consistently finding that fire timing to compensate for your lag. I found it a little late in this game and wasn’t very consistent. From my video
Here we have the yellow POV camera set up. The Green cam failed right before this test but we’ll have it up later today for some additional final testing this week. You’ll notice in this video, yellow’s paddle was strong enough to shake two of his tokens loose and drop them without Chewie even touching them. This is an issue in the normal game too but with remote play, you won’t have any control over holding the token storage down to limit this nor will you have any control on how hard you hit the paddle.
Our solution is using gaffer tape to secure the paddles and limit the vibration as much as possible. In the videos above, we only have a single piece of gaffer tape to secure each paddle and make sure the game doesn’t wander around the table. After several more tests, we were able to secure the paddles better and limit the paddles causing a non-hit token to drop.
The project has been very exciting to see things go from “is this even possible?” to full blown play of Loopin’ Chewie. Our tests have had players locally in the Denver metro and Boulder metro areas and as far away as California. I’m really happy to see all the progress we’ve made and that is all due to Reese’s dedication to the project and tapping into his expertise in electronics and web design. The big day is Saturday August 1st and I’ll be with Reese to help host the event live.