I play in a RPG (old school with dices) with some friends who happen to live several hundred kilometers away from me. So we interact over Videochat.

Now our Game master wants to use music to enhance ambient and our current system doesn't provide a good feature for that (or if if does I don't know it).

We don't care where the system is (so, its fine if I have to setup a server or login to an web-service or whatever - Technology is irrelevant).

We don't mind paying for that system. We payed 200€ for our webcams, so the software should not be massively more expensive.

Our network is rock solid, if the software has problems with dying connections, we don't mind. But our network is sometimes slow (good latency, low throughput) so if the software has good compression etc. that would be nice.

Must have:

  • I must be able to choose which camera / microphone I want to use (my laptop has one, but thats crap. My expensive Webcam has a great one.)
  • It must be able to accept an audio file (format irrelevant) that then is played on both sides.
  • It must be able to let one side adjust volume of that music OR must be able to autoadjust the voice (=input on mic) of the speakers in a way that voice always wins over music.
  • If hosted on my server I must be able to do some basic security stuff
  • It must be able (by default or configuration) to automatically reduce video quality for better audio quality or otherwise ensuring that the speech gets through (as long as the network permits).

Strongly needed (If your recommendation fulfills all must and some nice to have this point can be ignored):

  • There should be a way to interact with it with Windows and Linux. The Linux part may involve technically complex stuff (wine etc.), the Windows part may not.

Nice to have:

  • It allows sharing of images.
  • It has collaborative editing possibilities. (Draw a line in 3 colors, Erase that line).
  • It has a plugin system that allows emulation of dice. (Show 3 random numbers in a given range)
  • It allows control of music and other things through a third device (Tablet computer - any technology)

I did some testing around with various solutions a while ago, but none very in-depth so I might have overlooked something. Currently the game master plays the music on his IPad and I hear it along with his speech, but that reduces the quality of the music to around telephone and the understandability of his words to "tricky", so thats why we want a change.

  • For anyone currently reading: I test roll20.net at the moment and will write a recommendation if it turns out good. – Angelo Fuchs Aug 30 '14 at 16:37

I would advice you zoom.us. It's an meeting/cloud video conferencing software on Windows and Mac.

Let's go through your requirements :

The good :

  • You can choose which camera/microphone to use. audio/video configuration
  • It has a functionnality that covers many of your requirements : you can share your screen. So you can display an image on your screen and your friends and you can put annotations on it (on a map for example) with lines and colors.

    annotation menu drawing menu

  • It also allow you to share the computer sound so you just have to get your music played by your music player.

The bad :

  • I don't know about linux integration (wine etc), it's natively windows and mac (android and iphone compatible also).
  • It's free for 1 to 1 meeting, but for your use, you will have to take a paid plan ($9.99 per month).
  • Didn't use it enough to notice if the video ajust depending of the quality of the network, it doesn't seems to be in the settings of the software.

If you have other requirements, you can check a list of functionnalities here : zoom pricing

  • Welcome to Software Recommendations! Thats one complete answer you have there. Well done! I will test zoom as soon as time permits and let the other ones in the gaming group know so they can test it as well. – Angelo Fuchs Aug 30 '14 at 16:39

I found and settled for roll20.net. It was specifically designed for situations like mine so it was a super hit. It is way more than a video conferencing system, though. Its a Tabletop gaming online system. It allows one to create (or upload) maps, have characters on the maps, have stats of the characters that you can script dice rolls to, etc. etc. If you are a Tabletop style gamer and want to improve your experience, this system is for you.

Roll20 uses WebRTC as its video conferencing system which is bound to become a de-facto standard soon, so I don't need additional plugins etc. It requires one to have a compatible browser (FireFox works, others most likely too) but I expect this to be less and less of an issue in the future.

It also supports video conferencing via Google+ with a Google+ Plugin. I have not tried this.

I have a paid subscription to the site (~10€ / month), so I'm not quite sure which options are available in the non-paid version, but I remember that the only real reason I bought the subscription was the custom character sheet generation.

The dots:

  • Choose which camera / microphone I want to use. YES I can configure this for WebRTC.
  • audio file YES
  • It must be able to let one side adjust volume of that music YES The Master of the game gets control of the music.
  • reduce video quality for better audio quality Kinda WebRTC does that automagically. But I hope there will be improvements to this in the future.
  • Windows and Linux. YES

Nice to have:

  • Sharing of images. YES
  • Collaborative editing possibilities. YES
  • Emulation of dice. YES lots and lots and lots of this. Its even scriptable and you can configure all of this in advance.
  • Control of music and other things through a third device. Don't know was not required, yet.

After re-reading this post it feels like an advertising so I want to explicit point out that I have no affiliation to this site in any way other then my subscription and use

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