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I'm a big fan of board games like Neuroshima Hex, Tigris and Euphrates and Ticket to Ride on my iPhone, as it lets me learn and practice games in my own time before sitting down to play them with friends and family. However it can be tough to get everyone around the same table at the same time, and even though multiplayer games help alleviate this, there's something lost when you have 4 people hunched over tiny devices instead of sitting around a game board. I believe Apple's current product line is well poised to solve this problem.

The Apple TV is a little box you plug into your TV that connects to your WiFi network and lets you do things like watch Netflix, or stream your iTunes music collection over the network. However it has one killer feature that many people don't know about, called AirPlay.

AirPlay lets you press a button on your iPod Touch/iPhone/iPad (and soon Macs) and send audio/video from your device to the TV, or mirror what you're seeing on the device to your TV. This is a nice enough, but an additional feature is that an app can send a totally different feed to the TV compared to what it's displaying on the screen, as demonstrated in this video of Real Racing being played on and iPhone and Apple TV:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddnRxlspUYA

As you can see, the game world is being rendered on the TV, while the iPhone is being used as a controller and for displaying various status to the player. How could this approach be extended to the board game world?

Imagine you and your significant other are home for the evening when you get a Game Center invite on your iPhone from friends of yours, another couple looking to play a game Catan. You accept the invitation which launches the game and starts up AirPlay. Now your TV is displaying a beautiful 1080p rendition of the game board, your iPods/iPhones are showing you the cards/pieces/etc. you have, the microphones in each device are picking up what everyone's saying, and you can all hear each other from the speakers in your TV.

All in all a much more satisfying experience and a way to recapture a lot of that shared experience of board games that's lost by having 4 people play a game hunched over tiny devices.

It seems like most if not all of this tech is available in the Apple ecology already, are there any board game apps out there that take advantage of it?
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Witek Wasilewski
Poland
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Hey everyone - take a minute to watch some ads - first on Californication, now on bgg!
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Gabe Alvaro
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godunow wrote:
Hey everyone - take a minute to watch some ads - first on Californication, now on bgg!

I don't understand this comment.

To the OP: This is all possible now. No developer that I know of has yet attempted this particular combination of features for a board game app. Some of the feature you mention like audio conference, hidden info on different screens, have hardly even been seen on their own let alone together in one app like you describe. I will be certainly excited when someone takes this approach. I could see just a handful of developers taking on such an ambitious project, but I think there is a tremendous backlog of board games they will probably port with more "traditional" feature sets. Bring up this idea a year from now, and the possibility will look more realistic I'm sure.
 
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blindspot wrote:

Some of the feature you mention like audio conference, hidden info on different screens, have hardly even been seen on their own let alone together in one app like you describe.


Yeah as you can see in that video I posted there are a couple games that are currently doing the "AirPlay split screen" (for want of a better term) approach, but I can't name a single game that does multiplayer voice chat for example. Board games are consistently some of the top sellers in the App Store and with Apple's push into the living room, a game like I'm describing almost seems like it would be perfect for one of those Apple ads.

I only have two apps under my belt and am more of a systems plumbing programmer rather than a game designer, but I'll take a look in the iOS APIs and see if I can figure out how much of this stuff is already there - it could be some of it's being held back for the next major version of iOS which may accompany an actual Apple TV set, if rumours are anything to go by.
 
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