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Surfacescapes D&D Demo 162

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the gentlemen-start-your-dice dept.
Jamie found a video showing an unpolished idea demonstrating the use of Microsoft Surface for D&D. Looks like they are using 4th ed as the basis for the system. This comes from the Surfacescapes team at Carnegie Mellon, which strikes me as a very good place to be a nerd right about now... provided you make your saving throws.
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Surfacescapes D&D Demo

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  • Finally. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 19, 2009 @09:30AM (#29793103)

    Some proper Nerd News.

  • Re:D&D?? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 19, 2009 @09:42AM (#29793265)

    If they want this technology to take off, they need to get the porn industry on board.

    Porn and a shared surface? Ewwww.

  • by pamar (538061) <marino@noSPam.inrete.it> on Monday October 19, 2009 @10:13AM (#29793661) Homepage

    My god! Amazing! Who would have thought multitouch/surface technologies couuld be used for something like this! What's next, chess?
    ( joking, for the sarcasm impaired )

    Actually, I don't find the technology very suitable for D&D and other role playing games (while it would be perfect for chess).

    I have discussed this for ages with friends and strangers in forums. What people seem to miss is that a Role Playing Game is not a Wargame. It may have simulation elements, but it's - at its roots - a narrative game.

    This means that at some point the Referee (or DM or whatever you call him/her) will want to "cheat", hopefully in favour of the players, or more specifically "in favour of a good story". Automated systems - especially combat automators - will therefore either have to be sidestepped or manually updated on the fly - especially to edit out irreversible results like a deadly wound for someone in the party, or killing a valuable NPC and so on.

    A table automator makes things even worse: this kind of "cheating" would be even more blatant, and damage the game atmosphere.

    So, to sum it up: if you want to automate tabletop games with rigid rules and heavy bookeeping, like wargames, it's probably great (apart from the fact it does not alleviate some specific problems like being able to see the other's player pieces, how to simulate fog-of-war and so on, unless you force players to take turns at the table).

    If you want to participate in a shared narrative game (like I would say any RPG is, even those heavily influenced by wargames, like D&D) it's probably better to have a lighter set of rules, and allow the referee to edit things on the fly without having the players to necessarily spot any inconsistencies.

     

  • Re:Roll 1D20 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sgbett (739519) <slashdot@remailer.org> on Monday October 19, 2009 @10:19AM (#29793763) Homepage

    Which genius thought a 6 meg background image was a good idea?

    At that size I expect some pretty good embedded malware.

  • Awesome Potential (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AP31R0N (723649) on Monday October 19, 2009 @10:41AM (#29794095)

    4E is built for this sort of application. This might be better than what WotC had planned (at least for a meatspace game). If WotC is smart, they will build this on their own and then build modules for it. The potential is astounding. /4E is my favorite edition. //OWoD is my favorite RPG

  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Monday October 19, 2009 @10:50AM (#29794209) Journal

    What people seem to miss is that a Role Playing Game is not a Wargame. It may have simulation elements, but it's - at its roots - a narrative game.

    FWIW, I've played D&D as both a narrative and as a pure strategy tabletop game.

    Both ways of playing have their merits.

    I've seen D&D GM'd as a creative problem-solving game. I've seen it GM'd as a "storytelling" game. I've seen it GM'd as a Monty Haul game. I've seen it DM'd as a wargame.

    Automated systems - especially combat automators - will therefore either have to be sidestepped or manually updated on the fly - especially to edit out irreversible results like a deadly wound for someone in the party, or killing a valuable NPC and so on.

    And yet, in my opinion, those are the things that make rpgs interesting. What does the party do when someone is killed off? How does the GM adjust on the fly to keep the plot moving? How can the eliminated player still participate (adding a new party member, assisting the GM, etc). A GM who fudges die rolls in order to keep the party intact makes for a poor game, IMO... then you have players taking risks they wouldn't otherwise take. Why shouldn't an enemy NPC get lucky sometimes? Why shouldn't a friendly (or key-to-the-plot) NPC get unlucky?

    My point is, there are a ton of ways to play rpgs, and your particular favorite doesn't necessarily match everyone else's. And sure, you've talked to other people about it... but remember that there is a selection bias in your sample :).

  • by Abreu (173023) on Monday October 19, 2009 @10:52AM (#29794257)

    Well, there are several overhead projection systems currently used for D&D that only use the computer to show the maps and the movement as described by the DM. This allows for interesting line of sight and "fog of war" effects.

    IMHO, 4th edition is a lot simpler when it comes to combat and theres no need to automate the rolls, damage, or effects (unlike 3rd edition where you sometimes needed spreadsheets to recalculate your entire character sheet if someone altered your ability scores with a spell)

    In short, as a DM, my opinion is that anything that makes the combat part of a Tabletop Roleplaying Game easier and faster, while retaining narrative complexity is welcome since it allows the players to focus on the story and less on the mechanics.

  • by Abreu (173023) on Monday October 19, 2009 @10:57AM (#29794321)

    Well, as I posted above, I see nothing wrong with using the Surface (or a simpler overhead projection system on a blank table) to show the characters positions and keep the rest of the map obscured (maybe with a light radius focused on the character that carries the torch).

    Use regular dice and the regular rules for the rest... After all, if we wanted to play a videogame instead of a Tabletop RPG, we would already be playing one, no?

  • by IBBoard (1128019) on Monday October 19, 2009 @11:06AM (#29794443) Homepage

    The tokens I saw were very much "black and white", so while pips are "already a system" they're not necessarily one it'll be able to read. It'd also only work with most D6s, since all of my D4s/8s/10s/20s had numbers on, which will probably be more difficult to read and interpret from any direction.

    Besides, if all it can see is the number "1" then how does it know what type of dice you have to calculate what is on the upper-side? Most dice (except D6, I think) have triangular sides, so you couldn't tell from just the bottom face whether you've rolled a D8 or a D20.

  • by TriezGamer (861238) on Monday October 19, 2009 @01:14PM (#29796249)

    d20s, d8s, and d4s are triangular, d12s are pentagonal, d6s are square, and d10s are 4-sided and wedge shaped, though I'll be damned if I can think of the name for the shape without the caffeine kicking in this morning. I would think that using special dice encoded with a pattern of some kind on each face, indicating the value on the opposite face, would be the best solution.

Almost anything derogatory you could say about today's software design would be accurate. -- K.E. Iverson

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