Online gaming lobby/muster system?

I’m considering organising an online meetup where I would have a random number (probably less than 20) of players joining and then folk pitching and joining games live. Has anyone had any experience with this?
Any thoughts on what would be the best way to do this?

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Story Games Columbus is figuring something out similar and I linked them to an old planning document for Gauntlet Games Now (at the bottom). It was pretty successful for the Gauntlet and it was expressly meant for a relatively unknown number of players to show up and get organized into games. It took a lot inspiration/modeling from Games On Demand, I believe, and I think @JimLikesGames knows something about that?

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1zjB-gUHy_b40b7FoYdRJQQWCrF9ybfLJXEXuQsNch0w

ETA: and here’s the working document from SGC: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1lckTmBPzyb78Fz_hXJltuYud80iQwFgWsznoToS-QHI/mobilebasic

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Yeah, GGN was a direct effort to duplicate Games on Demand-style play in an online setting. We had GMs pitch in advance and then mustered via Discord at the time of the event, allowing folks to choose their preferred event in random order.

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@yoshi was the organizer, and I think he still stops by here from time to time. He probably has good advice to share.

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Okay, so I have a lot of thoughts on this. Yes the Games on Demand model was definitely used for a lot of what GGN turned into. The mustering at at New Mexicon was also an inspiration as well as the donut at GoPlay Northwest.

The procedure we had was adjusted and customized to the Gauntlet Infrastructure.

Here is the basic run down, in a roughly chronological order of things I did.

  1. Set up a meeting time (For GGN this was create a event on the Gauntlet Calendar). This event needed to have enough lead time that I could get people to facilitate games.
  2. Promote the event, ask for volunteers to facilitate games. Reach out to specific people and ask them to run games for me.
  3. Create a menu of the games that are on offer, here is a link the the last event I did in October of 2019, https://drive.google.com/open?id=1kJTNh14BenkpXlAAN5FFw05xASuBt9kPyYwj1niXvC0.
  4. Let everyone who has signed up for the event know what the menu is, and remind them of the day of procedure in an email a week before the event.
  5. Day of Procedure.
    a. Get online join the “mustering” voice channel 30 minutes early so if people have questions or want to test equipment and do sound tests before hand they can.
    b. Post a link to the latest game menu (it may have changed in the week since when you sent it out) to the Mustering text channel.
    c. Hangout/wait until start time and talk with people. In this time, which was often quiet for me, I setup the mustering/boarding groups. If this is a busy time, you might want to do this ahead of time. This is basically evenly distribute the signed up people into different groups, try not to have more than 4 people in each group. Make new groups as needed if people who did not pre-register ahead of time show up.
    d. Go time.
    1. Post/link membership of the mustering groups. Ask, “If you are not in a group, let me know so I can put you in a group/make a new group”, type in mustering chat that if you can’t hear me, let me know cause you’ll need to hear what is going on.
    2. Go over the procedure (possible again, depending on how many people had questions before hand).
      “We are all gathered here, I will be announcing one mustering group at a time. Each member of that group will TYPE into the mustering channel which game they want to join. Each person makes their own choice on what game to play, so you may all be in different games or the same game depending on your own individual choices. If we need to break ties, like there is only one spot remaining in a game and two people want it. We will go with the response order in the text channel. Once every person in that group has chosen a game, I’ll announce the next group. Repeat until all groups have gone. I might ask for some adjustments at the end of all assignments as we might want to re-arrange to make sure more people can play, such as having someone move to get a minimum number of players for a game that doesn’t meet it’s minimum player count yet or having someone move from a nearly empty game to a partially full game.
      Once game assignment/mustering is done. Each facilitator will post the link to the link to their video call in the “launch pad” text channel. This can be a zoom link, a hangouts link or some other link. This is also a space where you can post links to character sheets, randomizers, roll20, etc. Just be clear for which game you are posting this links.
      Now let’s get started.”
    3. Do the procedure out lined above. End with, “Enjoy your games, and remember to thank each other for playing and facilitating. I’ll be available in the general text chat or via direct messages if needed. have fun!”
    4. Stick around and be accessible in case anyone needs anything. If running more than one session that day, do some prep for the next session, get some food, go for a walk and relax a bit and get ready to help host the next session.

Notes:

  1. The 4 player max per group is so that it’s not overwhelming, it also helped to get people who wanted to play together to play together. So if you joined with a buddy you could request to be in the same group, so when your group came up to select you could decide together from which remaining games still had enough slots for your whole group. This becomes much harder as the mustering group is bigger than 4.
  2. I used rollforyour.party with a custom “deck” of images for each of the mustering groups. So each was visually distinct and had some better names than “Group A” or “Group B”. For the Gauntlet I based these of some people’s individual keeper names.
  3. I really wanted people to have a choice when they came. But I also wanted to make it easier for the people volunteering to facilitate for me. In games on demand the facilitator has two games on offer. For this I requested the person just pick one game to have on offer. The CHOICE for the participants was on the different games available. The only time I really let the facilitator have more than one game, was when I was the only person offering games, I put two games up and we we as a whole group decided which game to play together (sometimes this came down to a random roll).
  4. Google Slides was great for menus, but also worked pretty well as a process board to show what groups had already been chosen, who chose what games, etc.

Anyway, that’s a huge wall of text. If you or anyone else has questions let me know, here or somewhere else. I generally don’t check here often, but I still get messages if someone pings me like @Jesseabe did above.

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@yoshi This is AMAZING! We are putting together a process document for the Story Games Columbus meetup, do you mind if we add your process to it? This is exactly what we needed. We’ll be sure to link here and credit you.

Here’s our work in progress document:

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Yes, thank you so much!! SGC will make use of this for sure. Google Sheets sounds great for menus. Or we could just post the menu as an image in the Discord text chat, then split off into channels that match the menu selections?

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Yes, you can totally use this for that meetup. I would say if you want to credit me, my twitter handle would probably be a better identifier, @yoshicreelman.

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So slight clarifications:
Google Sheets are fantastic for character sheets (also known as character keepers, because you have the characters for the entire group in one file)
Google Slides are great for menus, because it’s really easy to do one game per slide. and really easy to copy the slide and then change details. Basically using any existing menu slide as a template for other games. I generally color coded the individual menus, with the Summary slide. This summary slide had all the groups and the group memberships on it, it also had all the available games on it with summary info. As the mustering progressed I would be constantly updating the summary slide as people chose games. The fact that Google Slides updates in real time meant other’s just “viewing” the slide file could see the changes in real time.

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Ah, I see I misunderstood some details. Thanks for the clarification! Have to look into these Summary slides; sounds very useful.