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Subject: When a table game can think for itself, how do you tell it what to do? rss

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Nick Bentley
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We're working through a design issue for the game platform we're working on and writing about it. Specifically, we have 2 options regarding how players will download new games onto the tiles and looking for outside perspective.

See here


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Russ Williams
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No one else is replying, so FWIW I'll reply (even though I'm officially not in the target audience.)

Option 2 (each tile has a preprogrammed game) seems convenient for pure or casual gamers, but not for people who will want to tinker and make their own games, which seems like surely a major part of your target demographic. It also seems contradictory with the apparently intended open source model.

Option 1 (requiring Bluetooth) seems annoying (admittedly I'm a telephone dinosaur but I don't even own a Bluetooth-capable telephone). Also, if I was going to try programming my own games, no way would I want to be doing that development work on a telephone; I'd rather be working at a normal computer with a real keyboard, large screen, mouse, etc. So some way to connect a tile to a computer seems more plausible to me. Maybe have one special tile or gadget that you can plug into a USB port, and then touch it to the other tiles?
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Nick Bentley
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russ wrote:
No one else is replying, so FWIW I'll reply (even though I'm officially not in the target audience.)

Option 2 (each tile has a preprogrammed game) seems convenient for pure or casual gamers, but not for people who will want to tinker and make their own games, which seems like surely a major part of your target demographic. It also seems contradictory with the apparently intended open source model.

Option 1 (requiring Bluetooth) seems annoying (admittedly I'm a telephone dinosaur but I don't even own a Bluetooth-capable telephone). Also, if I was going to try programming my own games, no way would I want to be doing that development work on a telephone; I'd rather be working at a normal computer with a real keyboard, large screen, mouse, etc. So some way to connect a tile to a computer seems more plausible to me. Maybe have one special tile or gadget that you can plug into a USB port, and then touch it to the other tiles?


Thanks. Would option 2 be more appealing if you knew the tiles were still hackable as they are now?
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Russ Williams
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milomilo122 wrote:
Thanks. Would option 2 be more appealing if you knew the tiles were still hackable as they are now?

Yes!
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Nick Bentley
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russ wrote:
milomilo122 wrote:
Thanks. Would option 2 be more appealing if you knew the tiles were still hackable as they are now?

Yes!


Good, because we'll definitely do that if we end up electing for option 2!

thanks.
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TPoG
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First, I find the whole concept very interesting!

What worries me is durability. An important aspect I like about board games is that I can play them again and again also many years from now. And chess pieces or go stones are very durable. Thus, I would hate to fall in love with a (board) game, that it is suddenly impossible to play again due to break down of the electronics e.g. due to a leaking battery. Thus robustness of the components is very important to me.

If the components are solid, the open access approach seems the right way to go making sure the tiles have a use even if your company do not deliver and subsequently disappears. Thus, easy hackability is key.

Also, regarding robustness, I would guess that no matter what physical port (e.g. USB) you build in, it will sooner or later be obsolete. I may be wrong, but I would expect a wireless way of transfer (e.g. bluetooth) would be more likely to be available in a more distant future. Also, I would prefer that the tiles appear identical. Thus, you would need to hide a pysical port to some degree.

Looking forward to hear more about the progress with your smarttiles.
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Russ Williams
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The Player of Games wrote:
First, I find the whole concept very interesting!

What worries me is durability. An important aspect I like about board games is that I can play them again and again also many years from now. And chess pieces or go stones are very durable. Thus, I would hate to fall in love with a (board) game, that it is suddenly impossible to play again due to break down of the electronics e.g. due to a leaking battery. Thus robustness of the components is very important to me.

If the components are solid, the open access approach seems the right way to go making sure the tiles have a use even if your company do not deliver and subsequently disappears. Thus, easy hackability is key.

Also, regarding robustness, I would guess that no matter what physical port (e.g. USB) you build in, it will sooner or later be obsolete. I may be wrong, but I would expect a wireless way of transfer (e.g. bluetooth) would be more likely to be available in a more distant future. Also, I would prefer that the tiles appear identical. Thus, you would need to hide a pysical port to some degree.

All good points.

About the last one, it seems potentially good to make several diverse methods (Bluetooth, WiFi, USB, other types of popular cables, future ways we don't even imagine now, etc) to upload programs. These could be separate gadgets, which people could acquire individually as desired (including future gadgets with protocols we don't even imagine now), and then people upload from their computer/telephone to the gadget, and touch the gadget to the tile pool to then further transfer the upload from the gadget to the tiles.

I.e. it seems potentially good to separate the functionality of the gameplay itself (the hex tiles) from the functionality of uploading (separate gadget) instead of trying to include both functionalities in only the hex tiles. But I dunno.
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Spencer C
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Rather than open a new thread, I have a few questions about your plans:

- You mention an open design philosophy. Does this extend to the hardware itself? If somebody starts manufacturing clones, will that be a problem, or is it truly open like arduino is open?

- Related: Is your design philosophy listed somewhere? I haven't seen it if it is.

- What are your plans vis-a-vis the software side of things? It seems that the constraints of the system make it amenable to some simplified graphical Scratch-esque programming environment.


And, slightly more on topic: You mention that the pieces can communicate with each other via light. Is it possible to program via light from the screen of your smart phone? That might loosen the bluetooth restriction?
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russ wrote:
I.e. it seems potentially good to separate the functionality of the gameplay itself (the hex tiles) from the functionality of uploading (separate gadget) instead of trying to include both functionalities in only the hex tiles. But I dunno.


good point/idea!
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