My regular gaming group usually has a few members attending the gaming session remotely. While we prefer to meet in person, with the distances involved and other obligations, it is often impossible for everyone to make it in person on any given day.
For remote gaming we currently use a hodgepodge of tools:
UStream: This is primarily used to allow remote players to see the battle map. It also allows us to record the session for later playback.
Skype: This is used for voice communications with remote players.
Gtalk: This is used for private conversations and notes to the DM.
Google Docs: We use a shared spreadsheet to keep track of initiative.
Despite the somewhat ad hoc nature of this set of tools, it works relatively well for allowing the occasional remote player to attend.
However, we have recently begun talking about running a separate “online only” game. The theory is that we would run this game more frequently (i.e. probably weekly), but for a more limited timeframe (i.e. 2-3 hours). Since this game is going to be completely conducted remotely, I believe we will need a more robust toolset.
Currently, I am looking into using RPTools to run this game. RPTools includes a MapTool for the digital battle map, a TokenTool for the virtual minis, a CharacterTool for keeping track of character info, an InitiativeTool, and DiceTool. It seems like a nice all-in-one solution for pure online gaming.
I would like to know what other people in the RPG community are using though. I know some people are big fans of other online game tables like OpenRPG and KloogeWerks. What do you use in your group? Any tips on how to make a remote-only game more enjoyable? Any suggestions would be appreciated!