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Subject: Digital platform for boardgames rss

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Simon Lindén
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Hi!
Does anyone have any experience of making boardgames in Unity?

I'm sure I'm not the only designer who find the prototyping stage of board game design both tedious and time consuming. Especially in stages of a game where you make a lot of changes and perhaps need to change many cards from game to game. I have tried the platform Tabletopia and I think it's great in many ways. However, it can become quite expensive if you have many games. I believe you get two games for free, five for 10$/month and 10 for 20$/month. I don't think I'm ready to spend this money just to be able to test more games more easily.

That's why I thought Unity might be a great tool just for testing things. I found one project in Unity which supported very simple games, but it didn't even have a card system that worked. Does anyone know of this sort of UNity-project which already has the appropriate classes created? Or do you use some other similar platform to test games digitally?
 
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Matt Lee
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Tabletop Simulator has been well received as well (and is a one time cost for the program)

https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/189443/tabletop-simulator
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I have used Tabletop Simulator, which gives you unlimited games for a one-time upfront fee. They often have sales so it is 8 or 10 dollars.

I have also used my own program, written in Java, which was initially going to be a simple matter of dragable pieces on a background map but morphed into a complete program with card editor, score predictor, and so on.

If you don't have any coding experience, Tabletop Simulator is probably the best bet. It is easier than paper prototypes in many ways, and multiple games can be saved partway through for testing specific scenarios.

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Bojan Prakljacic
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I have made all my prototypes (18 of them) in Tabletop Simulator.
After you have images prepared for the boards, cards, dices, etc, putting a mod together can be done in 15 min!.
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Pelle Nilsson
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VASSAL works great for this. Free (source code included), multi-platform.

http://www.vassalengine.org/

Great for sync or async (pbem) play as well as logging of every move (and every text-message sent) so you can record all playtest sessions and step through them forwards and backwards afterwards. And very simple to make a simple module with just some moving parts (but then there are lots of advanced features available as well to make a less simple module).
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Caroline Berg
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...124 to run fleeing from the mountain. ...125 to use a rope to climb the cliff. ...126 to quickly cast "summon stairs." ...127 to dodge under the falling rocks.
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Alandor wrote:
Hi!
Does anyone have any experience of making boardgames in Unity?

I'm sure I'm not the only designer who find the prototyping stage of board game design both tedious and time consuming. Especially in stages of a game where you make a lot of changes and perhaps need to change many cards from game to game. I have tried the platform Tabletopia and I think it's great in many ways. However, it can become quite expensive if you have many games. I believe you get two games for free, five for 10$/month and 10 for 20$/month. I don't think I'm ready to spend this money just to be able to test more games more easily.

That's why I thought Unity might be a great tool just for testing things. I found one project in Unity which supported very simple games, but it didn't even have a card system that worked. Does anyone know of this sort of UNity-project which already has the appropriate classes created? Or do you use some other similar platform to test games digitally?

As someone who has experience making video games in Unity - it is not the software I would choose to make a prototype board game. Other people have given great ideas for what to use.

Why wouldn't I go with Unity? Because it would be like designing your game twice if you were to use it. You would need to know coding to get the mechanics of your game to work, not to mention how to format the art correctly for a video game, and get it optimized...

As far as easy-to-learn game engines go, Unity also requires a fair bit of knowledge about coding if you want to do anything outside the scope of the code-snippets they provide (which is pretty much a given if you are making a board game) - there are other game engines out there which don't require as much information about coding.

In short - you would be doing all the work for making a video game on top of all the work for making a board game. So if it is just for a prototype game, learning Unity isn't going to be worth it.
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Jeremy Lennert
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In general, any computer prototype that enforces your game's rules is going to be essentially equivalent to creating a video game.

Making a video game typically takes significantly more time and technical knowledge than making a board game. Many video game designers create their prototype as a board game because it's faster to create and iterate a board game than a video game. So if you are trying to save time, this is decidedly not the direction you want to go in.

Programs like Tabletopia, Tabletop Simulator, and VASSAL can be much quicker because they don't know the rules to your specific game; you just input the pieces and enforce the rules yourself.


But if your goal is to turn a board game into a video game, then yes, you can do it with Unity. I have two such projects underway now (one in a professional capacity, one personal); neither is ready to release yet, but both have reached the point where you can sit down and play an entire game start-to-finish, so I can say with fair confidence that this is a workable approach. But it is neither faster nor easier than making a board game the old-fashioned way.
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Simon Lindén
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Great! I have heard of both VASSAL and Tabletop Simulator as well. They seem less user-friendly than Tabletopia, but I guess that for the personal prototyping they can be great time-savers. Good to hear how other designers are doing this.
 
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Simon Lindén
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adularia25 wrote:
Alandor wrote:
Hi!
Does anyone have any experience of making boardgames in Unity?

I'm sure I'm not the only designer who find the prototyping stage of board game design both tedious and time consuming. Especially in stages of a game where you make a lot of changes and perhaps need to change many cards from game to game. I have tried the platform Tabletopia and I think it's great in many ways. However, it can become quite expensive if you have many games. I believe you get two games for free, five for 10$/month and 10 for 20$/month. I don't think I'm ready to spend this money just to be able to test more games more easily.

That's why I thought Unity might be a great tool just for testing things. I found one project in Unity which supported very simple games, but it didn't even have a card system that worked. Does anyone know of this sort of UNity-project which already has the appropriate classes created? Or do you use some other similar platform to test games digitally?

As someone who has experience making video games in Unity - it is not the software I would choose to make a prototype board game. Other people have given great ideas for what to use.

Why wouldn't I go with Unity? Because it would be like designing your game twice if you were to use it. You would need to know coding to get the mechanics of your game to work, not to mention how to format the art correctly for a video game, and get it optimized...

As far as easy-to-learn game engines go, Unity also requires a fair bit of knowledge about coding if you want to do anything outside the scope of the code-snippets they provide (which is pretty much a given if you are making a board game) - there are other game engines out there which don't require as much information about coding.

In short - you would be doing all the work for making a video game on top of all the work for making a board game. So if it is just for a prototype game, learning Unity isn't going to be worth it.

I guess that I do have long term plans of making my games available as video games (or at least some of them). And I thought that if I start making prototypes in Unity, getting more used to the environment, it would be less work transforming it into a "real" game later (adding rule enforcement and AI etc). But I think you're right. Better focus on the design now, especially since I don't know Unity very well yet.
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Simon Lindén
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Antistone wrote:
In general, any computer prototype that enforces your game's rules is going to be essentially equivalent to creating a video game.

Making a video game typically takes significantly more time and technical knowledge than making a board game. Many video game designers create their prototype as a board game because it's faster to create and iterate a board game than a video game. So if you are trying to save time, this is decidedly not the direction you want to go in.

Programs like Tabletopia, Tabletop Simulator, and VASSAL can be much quicker because they don't know the rules to your specific game; you just input the pieces and enforce the rules yourself.


But if your goal is to turn a board game into a video game, then yes, you can do it with Unity. I have two such projects underway now (one in a professional capacity, one personal); neither is ready to release yet, but both have reached the point where you can sit down and play an entire game start-to-finish, so I can say with fair confidence that this is a workable approach. But it is neither faster nor easier than making a board game the old-fashioned way.

Good feedback. Your projects sound interesting. Is there more information available?
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Jeremy Lennert
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Alandor wrote:
Your projects sound interesting. Is there more information available?

Well, one of them is this:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/quicksilversoftware/hun...
which is currently in closed beta.
 
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