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Subject: Augmented Reality as a part of a boardgame mechanism rss

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Michel Dauguet
Thailand
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Dear fellow geeks,

As anyone found a compelling game incorporating Augmented Reality (AR) as one of its core mechanism?

I was very inspired by Alchemist, admittedly not an AR implemention, but featuring a great little optical card recognition as part of its core mechanism. I have yet to find a game which takes a similar approach with an Augmented reality app. In this post, by Augmented Reality, I mean a digital textual or graphical elements overlaid on the physical board captured through a mobile device's camera.

The concepts and videos that I have seen so far, although interesting and sometimes spectacular, did not seem to break new ground in game design, the way Alchemist did with its card reader app.

I am in the very early stage of developing a game concept which attempt to use Augmented reality as a core game mechanism. What if AR could be used to give each player a personal and randomized 3D representation of a (desired) future state of the game's physical central board?

Elevator pitch: You are an astrologer eager to outshine the competition by making bold predictions to your king about the features of a future city which has yet to be built.

1 - The physical board would represent the Land on which the city is to be built. With physical components/tiles representing monuments placed/built by the players' actions.

2 - Through their device (smartphone or tablet camera), the players can see a "AR city" in the form of a virtual 3D village overlaid precisely on the video feed of the physical board (think private hologram). This Augmented Reality is the astrologer's "vision" or personal mental map for the future city. Such Vision is the basis from which the astrologer may make his predictions: For example the prediction "a temple will be built on B4", can be made by the player happens to have a church in B4 in on its mental map. He will then need to make sure that this prophecy will come to be (bribing the king's Priest could help).

From there one can imagine that the players compete to influence the construction of the city to validate their "predictions", or, alternatively, to modify their "vision" (as the AR image can be modified under certain circumstances) in order to be able to make opportunistic prediction conforming the outcome from the efforts other players in aligning their own prediction with the unfolding development of the city (note: player's predictions are public information so even if you cannot see another astrologer's mental map, you can hear their prediction and piggy back on their vision).

From time to time players can check the alignment (or misalignment) of the board features with that of their current vision by peering into the game's app, which will render the semi-transparent 3D model overlaying without hiding the view of the physical board and its physical components.

Is there anything out there that remotely or directly looks like this?

Do you think that an AR app used in such a way would provide way compelling new gameplay mechanism?

Does it feel like a superfluous technological gadget which could be easily implemented with physical components for a better gaming experience?

I will gladly develop a more detailed description of this game as a WIP if the concept gets some traction, but I am equally interested to hear the opinions from those who think this concept is rather uninspiring.

Thanks for your input.

p.s. English is not my native language, apologies for any mistake.
 
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Sturv Tafvherd
United States
North Carolina
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In my opinion:

Make the game work without the augmented reality.

Then, "fix" the tedious record keeping by adding augmented reality.

As a very odd example: I play Scrabble with people who are doing other things while playing the game (we're all parents with young kids, and occasionally need to resolve some conflict between the kids). So, there is a lot of downtime between turns. And I've already worked out some of my options for my next turn. The problem... with all the things that can happen while waiting, I sometimes lose track of my options and where they fit on the board.

The augmented reality solution: I take a snapshot of the board, and then play with my virtual tiles. The A.R. app would also keep track of my options... and maybe even work out the score for me.


edit:

Please, please, please steal that idea for an Augmented Reality Scrabble app! Anyone!
 
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Matt Lee
United States
East Meadow
New York
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I think a big problem is that nobody has come up with a compelling AR concept yet that improves on the mechanics of the physical boardgame itself, or speeds up something in the game vs. slowing it down.

For now, I've seen people tossing around concepts like using the AR to "see" around corners and alleys in a city ruins landscape, for example, but the idea of moving a phone around the board and turning it to visualize what is there is clunky and much slower than a clearly visible board with well defined terrain elements and perhaps a ruler to verify line of sight.

Of course, the flip side is if you can present a really attractive implementation and simplify it as a great gimmick for a reasonable price, you may get a lot of success from the novelty aspect ahead of others.
 
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Matt Clark
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pixyfrog wrote:


Elevator pitch: You are an astrologer eager to outshine the competition by making bold predictions to your king about the features of a future city which has yet to be built.

1 - The physical board would represent the Land on which the city is to be built. With physical components/tiles representing monuments placed/built by the players' actions.

2 - Through their device (smartphone or tablet camera), the players can see a "AR city" in the form of a virtual 3D village overlaid precisely on the video feed of the physical board (think private hologram). This Augmented Reality is the astrologer's "vision" or personal mental map for the future city.

..

From time to time players can check the alignment (or misalignment) of the board features with that of their current vision by peering into the game's app, which will render the semi-transparent 3D model overlaying without hiding the view of the physical board and its physical components.

Is there anything out there that remotely or directly looks like this?

Do you think that an AR app used in such a way would provide way compelling new gameplay mechanism?

Does it feel like a superfluous technological gadget which could be easily implemented with physical components for a better gaming experience?


I think the "private view" mechanism could be very interesting if done right. Also, I like the comparison concept of planned vs actual.

Have you seen "Roar! Catch the Monster"? It's AR, but nothing like your concept.

I think AR has lots of potential, if it's done right. In my opinion, it should only be used to enhance the board game experience and not be the main feature.
 
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Austin Andersen
United States
Berrien Springs
Michigan
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I don't like it one bit if it is something that is required to play the game. If it is something optional/extra that can be used with the game but is not required, then I wouldn't mind it and perhaps would be interested. Generally, I like my board games to be low tech only requiring adequate lighting to play.
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Marek Zitnansky
Denmark
Copenhagen
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Have you tried Mask of Anubis? I think it's closer to your idea than Alchemists.
 
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Robbert Vervuurt
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I think Roar! Catch the Monster does this in a way you describe.

 
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Karl
Austria
Salzburg
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While your game seems to be interesting I don't see why this could not similarly be achived by hidden victory cards. Maybe it would need a combination of several ones and maybe transparent cards ala Mystic Vale or Gloom, but it shouldn't need a VR device. At worst a normal smartphone with a reference sheet on it should suffice.
 
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Florian Woo
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kilrah wrote:
...but it shouldn't need a VR device. At worst a normal smartphone with a reference sheet on it should suffice.
He was not talking about VR-devices. He was talking about augmented reality, e.g. realised with an ordinary smartphone or tablet.

To contribute something to the highly interesting OP: I personally would love to see a board game which includes AR cleverly. If it is just a gimmick, leave me out. If it adds something valuable to the gaming experience, which is tough to realise with conventional material, it would be a great idea.

I can remember that a lot of AR-projects failed even in handheld video gaming (e.g. Invizimals for PSP, which was similar to Pokemon Go but around 7-8 years ago). So I think it's tough to come up with a good concept.
 
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Andreas Alexiou
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Amsterdam
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I think to some extent World of Yo-Ho does this. The camera of the phone reads the board when the phone sits on it and reveals elements that are not visible in reality (e.g. a roaming monster). Players at certain times can pick up their phone and through the app interact with the game: select missions when in a port, check the scoreboard or fight each other (select weapons, special abilities etc). You might want to check it out.
 
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Scott Radtke
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Milwaukee
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One of essential features of a boardgame is that all the rules are known to all players at all times. The appeal of video games or app assist is to handle rules. The information is hidden or obscure. You're only ever going to appeal to a limited market. But that's great as long as you know it going in.

There's a large number of folk who play boardgames to put down their screens.
 
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Matt Clark
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Board games give a wonderful tactile feeling that you can't get from a device, but devices could be used to enhance the joy of physical games. The usage of the device needs to be subtle, otherwise you risk losing that tactile feel.
 
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