Seeking Advice: Computer Hardware and Gaming

Hey, Community!

So, I’m deeply considering running a few sessions of Conan 2d20 for the upcoming Con of Champions. But I’ve also been wondering if I should acquire new hardware for it.

I hate sitting at a computer, which is why my physical isolation gaming has been via Discord, using predominantly the Chat and Voice options in that utility. Maybe that’s a little too casual for formal attenders, though?

For my home games, now, everything is expedited via my phone and tablet. I do have a very nice PC. It’s built for gaming, and, when I say gaming, I say it was built for my teenage son (since moved out) who apparently is fairly well known for his ability with League of Legends.

When he moved out, he took everything but the computer and monitor. So, if I were to move to PC for Con of Champions, I need to acquire the following:

  • Mic and headset.

  • Keyboard.

  • Camera?

  • Anything else?

I intend to continue to use Discord as my platform for Con of Champions, so I’m looking for product advice for any of these listed components, keeping in mind my purpose and intended format.

Thanks, all!

Hey Gabe,

My 2 cents. A good gaming headset is essential for any online comm. It helps reduce feedback and comfort is key. A webcam is not essential, but can give you an added dimension to a game session. I don’t think you need to spend extra money on a keyboard, unless you are planning on playing twitchy games. I also think a 2nd monitor is very useful.

Semper Fidelis
HOOS-karl

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I do like my two monitor set up, gives me real estate for notes, or PDFs, or whatever.

I also don’t use a head set. I’m playing from a concrete basement, so there’s not atmosphere noise, I’m just booming into a mic.

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Headphones and a good mic, be it a boom mic (like a gaming headset) or something like a Snowball or Yeti from Blue Microphones are very common. If your headphones have a detachable cable with a 3.5mm plug, I strongly recommend the V-MODA BoomMic. Its around $20, and it works great. I use that a lot, but recently switched to using my AirPods and a Blue Yeti.

I’ve been enjoying having a video call for recent games, but I don’t think that’s required. Everyone needs the bandwidth to do so, and if one person can’t, it can bog down the session experience for them, as sometimes they don’t hear or see everything.

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Thanks, joe!

It’s particularly specific hardware brands that will be of use to me! I’m looking into your recommendations.

And thank you for your attitude about Video vs Voice. I do intend to use Discord, and I think it’s most prudent to confine myself to a Voice channel.

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I love the video chat aspect of Discord, but it needs to be a DM, not like a voice channel. We actually used it to share one player’s screen when one guy couldn’t get into Roll20 due to R20 having issues on Thursday.

(FWIW, my group now does a video DM on Discord, and maps/character sheets on R20.)

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I can’t advise on brand names, much.
I use a blue snowball as a microphone. Unprompted, I’ve been told that I sound really good / perfectly clear on a couple of occasions. No-one had said anything nice about my camera or keyboard.

I prefer video. At it’s least useful, you can tell when the audio feed from a player is not working. If there’s a lot of competition for attention I can see if someone is being talked over. I can also see if someone’s attention is drifting and I can force some spotlight on them.

I would absolutely advise headphones for everyone. A player with speakers and a live microphone means that I’m listening to myself speak on a half second delay. This is very off-putting.

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For my first “migration” of my home group to Discord, I tried Video via DM, but I think it must work so much better on a desktop PC. I was—and am—using an iPad, and the Discord video feed was stretched into narrow panels that entirely filled the screen.

I’m using Discord, in the first place, because I just want to kick back, casually, with a tablet at my usual game table, though my gamers are remote—do what I normally do. Just Voice, Chat, Dice Parser and tactical maps taken by my phone and uploaded.

But I think I should “step up my game,” if I’m going to do something official for Con of Champions.

There are some good recommendations here, but I’ll still chime in.

Keyboard, any usb keyboard will do the trick. You don’t need anything fancy as you’re not playing first person shooters online.

I tend to splurge a bit and try to hit the mid-market level for most stuff, then go Cadillac later. Headset/mic combinations are nice. I don’t know much about them. I know there are some gaming one’s out there by Turtle Beach, etc, that will probably do the trick. Because of the podcasting piece, I typically get separate headset and mic.

I prefer of the ear headphones. I have these that reside on the low end.

Then for mic, I’d typically recommend ATR2100 (this is what Brett uses each week), but that’s been discontinued so I’d go Samsun Q2u (https://amzn.to/2Xwmpu5)

If you’re not using video, then you don’t need a webcam, but I recently ran a game online to have everyone on webcam but one person. I liked seeing smiling faces, but that’s up to you. I’m a big fan of the Logitech C9xx series. I think the latest is the C930 (https://amzn.to/2Vt9iaJ)

If you’re going to use webcam and record, then I’d recommend getting some lighting too. I got this setup (https://amzn.to/2V2Zo0g) and mounted it high. If you look at our Twitch channel or Youtube, you can see the difference between Brett and myself.

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The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is also a common headphone. Its a popular entry into the audiophile community.

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I’ll plug my current headset. On sale too.

Semper Fidelis
HOOS-karl

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