Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have made the difficult decision to convert U-Con 2020 into a virtual convention and cancel our physical event for 2020.
U-Con 2020 is going virtual. Instead of U-Con providing the gaming space, gamemasters will be responsible for providing “virtual table top” (VTT) link, a URL, or some other directions that take you to the online service on which the event will be held. Many of us have been playing and running games online for some time, including tabletop RPGs, board games, miniatures, and card games. Some gaming can be done through the same online video conferencing services you’d use for a work meeting or a class; other types of games make use of specialized sites which provide graphics, dice rolling, board game components to move around, etc.
It takes some adjustment, but it does work. Many gamers already have some experience playing games online. If you’re new to this, we hope to share pointers on how to run and play virtual games. It’s more fun when everyone knows how to play!
Hardware and Software
In order to participate in virtual U-Con, you’re going to need a few things. You will need a computer with an internet connection, a microphone, speakers or headphones, and an optional video camera.
For game events, each gamemaster will use the tools of their choice, as we describe below. This could range from a simple video conference software to specific software. We ask all gamemasters to let their players know what kind of software will be required to play in their games via their event submission.
U-Con Social Hub: Discord
U-Con will also make use of a platform called Discord, a versatile chat and audio/video conferencing tool. We plan to use this platform as one central hub for our activities. While it may not be necessary to join Discord to participate in events, it is likely to enhance your experience.
Discord will be used for the following:
- Help from U-Con Staff
- Social activities
- Video conferences for games (when requested by GMs)
- Virtual Vendors
We will provide additional details regarding our Discord setup as it is available.
You can download the desktop application or access discord through a modern web browser. Creating an account on Discord is helpful.
- Discord server invite: https://discord.gg/GqNq5j3
- How do I use Discord? See this video tutorial about using Discord.
Due to the pandemic, all events will be run online with video conferencing and game software. Gamemasters are responsible for selecting software platforms which will likely include video conferencing, and in some cases this will also include special game software, such as Boardgame Arena. Gamemasters must provide these selections with their event submission so that prospective players are aware of required software, computer hardware requirements (such as needing a high-end gaming computer), and any costs. Players must be able to make their own judgement on whether joining such a game is feasible for them.
At the end of October, gamemasters must provide a specific meeting link as well as any last-minute information for their players. The form is available from the envelope page of the gamemaster. Warning: submitting malicious URLs is grounds for banning from U-Con, so ensure that the URLs you submit are safe.
At the gamemaster’s option, U-Con can provide a video and text channel on our Discord server for their game video meeting. Please be aware that those without tickets may be able to find and enter game channels. Disruptive individuals can be reported to our Discord moderators.
The registration system has been updated so that selecting tickets is easier than ever. Use your login account on the U-Con registration site (creating one if necessary) in order to access the system. Ensure that you have an envelope for yourself and any party member for whom you need to select tickets. Ticket selection will be opened in early October.
Warning: please do not create envelopes for party members who already have their own envelopes and login accounts. Instead, contact us to allow another login to access your account and select tickets on your behalf.
Around the end of October, each gamemaster will provide meeting and game information via the registration system. The information will be available to players who have signed up for tickets on their own envelope page.
- Release tickets for events you do not plan to attend. No-showing an event may prevent it from running and ruin the fun for others.
- Check the “fill” of your event to ensure that it has enough players in order to run.
- Check the software requirements for your events in the days prior to your events. Download, install, and test any required software if possible.
Finally, the registration system will remain OPEN during the convention weekend to accommodate last minute changes.
3rd Party Software Support
U-Con will not be providing direct technical support for third-party platforms. Please do your research on these platforms in advance, and run any necessary downloads well before the start of your event. Please check out GenCon’s library of how-to videos covering several of these platforms.
Some third-party platforms have been identified as some of the more commonly used platforms for U-Con Online events. Use Discord to ask questions as knowledgeable members of the community may be present to assist. If you are more experienced with platforms, consider sharing your knowledge. It’s always more fun when everyone knows how to play! As always, be kind and considerate towards one another so these channels can be effective community resources throughout the convention.