Covid and RPG Tabletop
by Nina

Today I am going to tell you how the Covid Pandemic changed our hobby, what we experienced and the good and bad experiences of having a pastime that you share with multiple people while not being allowed to meet people.

Like it was in the past

In the time before Pandemic, I had several groups with Danny in which we played Dungeons and Dragons with different people in different campaigns. Among other things, the group we first met in years ago still exists. On average we were in 4 to 5 active groups in the last years, which met once a month to once every two months. In the most active times, there was at least one day of gaming every weekend of the month. This was a great time to spend many great moments with our friends. Most of the time we invited everyone to our house because we had a lot of space and a big table. 

In the year before the pandemic we could not keep this regularity, because we had bought an old sailing ship that needed a lot of care and time. However, we did our best to keep as many weekends free as possible to spend time with our friends.

Mostly we met on Saturdays at 1pm and exchanged news, talked a bit and told nonsense. After all, we often hadn't seen each other for a month and therefore had a lot to talk about. The pure playing time was then a few hours with a small interruption when the pizza was delivered. In my campaign, we often sat together until midnight with beers and nibbles until I couldn't talk anymore or had nothing prepared. 

RPG and Covid Lockdown

Then came in March 2020 the first Covid Lockdown... In Germany it was forbidden to meet with people outside the own household. At times you were allowed to meet max 1 person from another household. Therefore, our meetings as we knew and loved them were taboo for the time being. 

In the first lockdown, we tried Roll 20 for a campaign that included Jan and Jessi, so that you could have contact with other people at all and not be completely deprived. From a technical point of view, it worked quite well, except for one friend who had an old laptop that was not able to provide a satisfactory gaming experience. Over Roll 20, our meetings lasted 2 hours max, though we also met more often during the week, which made the short meetings perfectly OK. However, we quickly noticed that it is more exhausting to talk to 6 other people via video chat. Sometimes the connection is bad, sometimes 2 people are talking at the same time and you can't understand one or the other. It was also an adjustment to explain everything without being able to show anything. After all, it's not possible to point your finger at something over a distance.

This kind of meetings frustrated us more and more, because we missed to see our friends and to sit together comfortably and to have fun. Therefore, in the summer of 2020, we stopped again with Roll 20. But that was also the time when we started programming Infinite Realms. So we could at least dream how it will be again someday, with all the great possibilities Infinite Realms offers. 

We also managed to host the one or other round during the summer almost like we used to. The infection numbers were low and there was hope that we had survived the pandemic. 

In the fall of 2020 came the second wave and a new lockdown with strict contact restrictions and mandatory testing for all areas in which you have contact with other people. It was therefore again not possible to meet. We therefore continued to put our energy into the development of Infinite Realms.

The first session after the Covid Lockdown

Due to a strict testing strategy and because more and more people were vaccinated, the infection numbers allowed us to meet again with 10 people from different households in spring 2021. We therefore made an appointment with the round in which we also tried Roll 20 and we all got excited, like little kids visiting a candy store! We knew that after such a long time we couldn't just gamble, no we had to exchange ideas, report how we were doing.

Just spending time together. Therefore, we met already at noon, everyone did a Covid self-test beforehand to be on the safe side and then we had a lot to talk about over coffee. Later we moved to the garden and fired up the BBQ and had a delicious meal, a beer and lightheartedly enjoyed our friendship and time together.

At that time Infinite Realms was already so far that a working beta version was available. We were tingling in our fingers to finally show our baby to our friends and see the reactions. It was a great feeling to see the glow in their eyes and hear that we had created something great! 

Of course we played the first game after lockdown with our software to do a stress test. Does everything run smoothly in hours of operation? Is everything functional and is it really fun? 

What can I say, it was bombastic. We had so much fun, everyone came out of their shell, had great ideas, got involved. We made the best out of that day, which I'm sure had something to do with the fact that we missed everything so much. 

So for us, the lockdown was a good way to recognize what's really important and appreciate that more. Friends are priceless, as is the time spent together and the memories that come from that! Also, we were able to work on Infinite Realms and make great progress. I will never forget that first session after so long, we laughed tears and just enjoyed each other's company to the fullest and that is what our hobby is all about. It's not the game, the rules or the battle maps; it's the people we share the hobby with. 

Welcome to Infinite Realms
by Jessi