Please help me find a group video chat solution that works better than Skype!
April 18, 2011 7:39 AM   Subscribe

Please help me find a group video chat solution that works better than Skype!

You folks helped me out with this question and now my group is happily having weekly online Pathfinder sessions.

So far we have been using Skype for group video chat. One player paid for some level of skype subscription to enable it. When it works, it works great. Last night however, it did not.

We constantly had issues with players dropping, and one player could not get connected at all and he had to miss the session. So I'm asking:

Is there a better piece of software to use for group video chat?


- works on Windows and OSX. There are 5 households connecting, two from a mac, three from windows machines (7 and XP). These homes span three provinces.

- Can do group video via the built in or external web cams we're all using.

- can be free or paid, preferably not super expensive but I'd like to hear all options.

- We do not mind hosting a server or otherwise having to tinker to get the software working.

Alternate answers for bonus points: Is there a way to improve Skype or attempt to diagnose what was going wrong? We have fairly tech savvy folks in the group and are willing to kludge a solution together.

Also, I searched and found some similar requests for web cam software and such, but nothing recent enough to be relevant.
posted by utsutsu to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
One thing that I have found that does help with Skype is to use a wired connection instead of wireless. I am not sure why, but Skype seems to hold up better in my experience when using a wired connection instead of a wireless one. I suspect that something in either the lag or occasionally intermittent nature of wireless connections causes issues.

Other than that, I would suggest making sure that all other bandwidth hogs are turned off. Disable things like file sharing, torrenting, etc.

I would also point out that the video portion is the one hogging bandwith: do you really need video? Could you not use an audio chat system such as Ventrilo?
posted by baggers at 8:11 AM on April 18, 2011

I saw a demonstration of ooVoo once a few years ago, and it seemed nice. The demonstration was at my university, though, so I can't speak to what it would be like with people connecting from different locations. They say they support up to 6 people, and they have a monthly plan or a pay-per-use plan.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 8:12 AM on April 18, 2011

Response by poster: baggers: we did try making sure nothing else was running on anyone's connection, but we didn't try all going wired. Honestly, that probably isn't possible for everyone without being fairly inconvenient, but I'll try!

We could definitely use teamspeak or vent or something, but we actually really enjoy the video connection. It makes us feel kind of like we're all around and greatly helps for the heavier role playing sessions.

DiscourseMarker, I will check it out, thanks!
posted by utsutsu at 8:46 AM on April 18, 2011 can get a private room 4 your group
posted by america4 at 8:58 AM on April 18, 2011

Perhaps Stickam would work? You could have the
GM start up a private chat, then add each of the players' cameras.
posted by jjb at 5:23 PM on April 18, 2011

Flash media server or its open source equivalent Red5 is what you'd use if you were to code and host this yourselves -- you can also buy FMS hosting services from a number of reputable sources. However you'd lose some functionality, like for example file sharing, unless you were to code those as well.

The hosted version of this would be adobe acrobat connect, which starts at around $30/month
posted by 3mendo at 6:24 AM on April 20, 2011

Have you tried tinychat?
posted by reddot at 6:59 PM on May 15, 2011

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