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Deep Meeple: Enter The Cardboard Dungeon/ by /

24 Aug

The Future

As followers of both The PUGCast and my Twitter will know, for a while now I’ve been working on a setup to be able to live stream board games. Now that the time is almost here, I thought it would be nice to start up a mini-column dedicated to these efforts, as well as any board/tabletop game related articles the O:P team may create. Welcome to Deep Meeple.

Thanks to new distribution and funding models like crowdsourcing and series like Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop, there has been a renaissance in board & tabletop gaming over the past few years and it was inevitable that at some point that would dovetail into world of live streaming. Of course there are huge challenges to setting up a even a simple board game streaming pipeline. Board games themselves require no small amount of physical space. What camera(s) do you use? Lighting? How do you mic the player(s)? How do you capture all that into the streaming computer? What is the layout like? Will you need to switch angles? The list goes on. It’s orders of magnitude more complex than any video game stream setup, which is why there aren’t more people doing it. Board games are very hot right now, and while there is a ton of great YouTube content out there, there are still relatively few board game live streamers for just this reason.

This year I’ve found myself in the fairly unique position of having both the time and resources to tackle something like this, so over the past couple of months I’ve set to work. I’ve talked at length about that goals and challenges of my setup in PUGCast 61 so go have a listen to that for the details, but thanks to a successful test recording I had a rethink and now, well, things have changed again.

After sorting out all the complications around cameras, audio, lighting etc, there was one remaining challenge: time and energy. Even at my most efficient, it would still take upwards of 1.5 hours of physical labour to set up the rig, and about half that to tear down. Considering most board games come in at a minimum 1 hour of play time, that means that any time I wanted to do a stream it would be a quite lengthy and fairly exhausting proposal. We do use our dining room table for other things, after all.

As friends will know, we have a tiny spare room in our apartment that I call The Nerd Cave. It’s where I keep some collectibles and my game stream setup. After last week I decided that the time was right, so I set about this week to convert The Nerd Cave into a dedicated streaming studio. All of the video game setup was moved to our office (so there will still be video game streams) and after a couple of days of pretty intense work, I now have a dedicated space to stream & record board games that does not require the huge setup & teardown of the previous rig. Flip a few switches, configure a couple of cameras, and it’s ready to go.

It all went very smoothly and I’m thrilled with the results. The stream looks and sounds better than ever, and thanks to the quick setup time I’ll be able to stream on a much more regular basis. My plan is to run several campaign-based games in an anthology structure, then have those archives in playlists on YouTube.

Still a few finishing touches to work on but my goal is to run the first stream next week (likely Wednesday) so I hope you’ll join me either for the live stream or watch the playthrough on our YouTube channel. It’s been a lot of hard work but I’m very happy and excited to get this rolling.

You can check out the Let’s Play of the first test stream here:

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