Hey everyone! We’re back with a new blog entry, and today we will tell you more about pros of board games going digital. Imagine a situation like this. You are sitting with your best friends around a huge wooden table playing your favorite board game. It is quiet, nobody bothers you and you have all the time in the world to enjoy each others company. Is this too idealistic for a real world? It is, and not even a single digital board game can provide that, but with Tabletopia we will do our best to deliver this kind of experience. Plus add a lot of cool things which are not possible in real world.
And to do that we will use all the advantages of digital format. Most importantly, it allows you to play where and when you want and invite your friends, find worthy opponents, show your new board game to potential publishers. The possibilities for matchmaking are endless. Secondly, you don’t have to be a millionaire or collector to try all the games you want. We will have thousands of games just a click away. Even those that are too expensive, not published yet or out of print. Is that all? Of course not: let us talk about advantages of digital format further.
Please be seated!
What is the first step to start a board game in real life? Taking a sit at the table and setting the game, of course! How do we handle seat management at Tabletopia? Players are allowed to freely choose their colour and how they are seated “around” the virtual table. Whenever chosen order or color is blocked because of the game rules or players’ interests are in conflict, you can change placement in a matter of seconds.
In order to avoid chaos and solve potential conflicts, final arrangements are up to the host of the game. We also allow another option, simply randomizing players’ colors and seating order
at the beginning of the game. Naturally, in this case there will be no disputes between players.
Plug and play
As soon as we started working on Tabletopia, we decided to implement “multi-setup” option for games. This means you can choose one of the predefined layouts of the game pieces and start playing immediately. Obviously, we won’t force you to spend your precious time to take everything out of the box and put on the table like you do in real life. However, you will be able to do everything manually whenever you decide to change one of the predefined setups.
Hopefully, you will still do that just for fun, because we plan to have a lot of different layouts. All you have to do is just choose an appropriate setup and start playing immediately. Depending on the game we will have setups for different number of players, setups for different languages, setups for different levels of skills (for beginners and pros, for instance). And you can be sure you won’t have to clean the table and put everything back into the box as soon as game is over.
Typically board games have a turn order going clockwise. However, some games have a more complicated pattern. Tabletopia supports all of these variants and can indicate whose turn it is. Active player will be able to make a move and pass the turn to appropriate “next player” as soon as it’s done. To avoid situations when someone is thinking about their turn too much, you can set a turn time limit. This will make a game more dynamic, but is not always necessary when you are playing with friends.
Another limiting option defines objects that active player is able to interact with. Again, this is more useful for games with strangers or novice players when someone could accidentally move a piece he’s not supposed to. Finally, you can limit interaction with the table to active player only. This is also useful for some games.
We also have plans to implement a system similar to PBEM (play by e-mail). In especially long games, when a match lasts days or even weeks, players will be notified when it’s their turn.
Just take a look!
Now let’s talk about perspective. Since we can’t get you a real chair, we decided to give you a total control over the camera position. The game creator will set two default cameras for you. Those are “Best player view” (available when pressing 1) and “Overview of the whole game area” (press 0). But you are not limited to those two predefined cameras.
You can freely move the camera, change the angle and distance (scale) to get a better view of the gaming area. You can also save camera positions by pressing Shift + 1-9 and then instantly go to a saved position by pressing 1-9. Think of it as moving around the real table to get a better look at the game or hover over some particular area on the table.
We also have magnifying view accessible via Z hotkey. And by pressing Spacebar you can quickly have a close up view of game objects like cards, tiles, tokens and counters.
It’s action time
At the end of this blog entry we will provide several examples of how most important actions in Tabletopia allow you to spare a lot of time.
1. Take, draw or deal a specific number of objects from a stack or bag. This is self-explanatory and has impact on every board game ever created. Later we are going to implement special shortcuts for different forms of drafting.
Draw to your hand 15 cards from pre-shuffled deck of your choice. Easy and fast.
2. Shuffle deck. In fact, we have a “random element” feature, which shuffles all decks automatically when the game starts. But you can use this option at any time later in the game if needed.
3. Multi select and multi actions. This works exactly like you used to on the desktop of your computer. Click and hold shift key to select many items one by one. Or hold shift and select a zone by dragging your mouse – every game object inside will be selected.After that you can flip, turn, take into your hand or put in one deck all selected objects at once. Or, if you do not need them anymore in this game, place them all into special “waste bag”.
You can also make some objects stationary by locking them with the L key. When locked, objects won’t be selected during multi select. You can later unlock them if needed.
4. Automatic placement/adjustment and magnet net.This is most easily explained on this example. When cards come into your hand, they are automatically turned face to you. But when they go back into the deck, they are automatically aligned to other cards in the deck.
Magnet net is a developer tool that can be added to a flat surface and used to automatically align items placed on it. Magnet net can be even set in a way that all items always face a certain direction, which is also useful for cards. Sticky items is a similar feature to make game pieces neatly and accurately “glue” to each other. This is useful for hexes, tiles or dominoes.
In Master of Galaxy we use magnetic maps for both game board and cards.
5. The last on the list, but not among Tabletopia digital lifehacks, is undo feature. Of course, you can undo your turn manually by putting the piece you moved back. But “undo” will make it easier and faster for you. Depending on the game setup, “undo” can be turned off or on. This feature is still under development and we will come up with more examples of how it works later.
Hopefully, you like our digital lifehacks. That’s all for today, but not everything we have to offer! Soon we will tell about game counters, sandbox mode, rule enforcement and playing with AI. Stay tuned for more and see you at the digital table!