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Subject: A new type of board game platform… rss

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Ecarta Games
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We are a group of Danish students currently following a course in knowledge-based entrepreneurship at the university of Copenhagen. In conjunction with this course we are developing a business plan for a new platform for board games. The product, not fully developed yet, is based on electronic paper with a set of pieces also based on e-paper and therefore also able to change image. This means you will be able to bring all your games with you wherever you go. The whole “package” will weigh less then 2 kilograms, foldable and the dimensions will be no more then 30x40x2 cm. The actual board will be larger. The different games will be transferred to the platform via an USB-stick. When the game is loading on to the platform it will need some source of electricity (batteries or directly from the AC socket), but ones the game has been loaded it does not need to be plugged in. Due to the fact that the games are transferred via an USB-stick, in time, it will probably be possible to download new games from the Internet. Another application for the platform could be developing new games. People would be able to make their own games on a computer and transfer them to the platform. This will make it possible to share homemade games with your friends. For professional game developers it could make the process of developing a new game and showing it to possible publishers easier. For the publisher it would be an easier and cheaper way of selling new games. We are currently making marked analysis and are looking for some input. What do you think of this product? Would you bye it? How much would you be willing to pay for it? Any kind of comments will be more then welcome

Regards from the team behind Ecarta games.
 
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Jesper A
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What kind of games do you imagine beeing played on it?





Hint: Monopoly is the wrong answer
 
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Ecarta Games
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Strategic oriented games primarily.
 
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Harvey Wasserman
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Monopoly would be the right answer for people who like to play Monopoly. Imagine being able to download any of the many different versions of Monopoly. The best selling game in the world would fit right in on such a platform.
 
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Luke Morris
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Will you make virtual meeples?
 
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Mario Lanza
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I would probably buy it if the games were like the boardgames I currently play. Games that were more like video games and less like board games would not appeal.

I would probably want to sample the device before I bought it but I could reasonably see paying $600. If it was well supported, well implemented, easy to use, and it had a wealth of growing game options I could see paying more. Again, the price would largely depend on the delivery.

The creator of this device would be much more successful if he could make us feel like we were playing board games and not video games. It's hard to say if we board game enthusiasts would miss the tactile elements of the games we play. Many of us are computer people. There's something of a relief in getting away from computerized mediums and just handling cardboard and other real-world bits.

You might want to check out this similar item:
http://www.boardgamenews.com/index.php/boardgamenews/comment...
 
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Ecarta Games
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We are not in anyway ruling out family games since the marked for that kind of games is very large. We have to start somewhere, and that will most likely be with strategic games. But we would like to target a broad spectrum of board gamers over a period of time.
 
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Graham Smallwood
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I think this is a really interesting idea, and I am impressed by the tech behind it. Now, I'm not trying to be a troll or anything here, but I can honestly say that I would never buy it in a million years.

Adding tech for tech's sake to boardgames misses one of the points of boardgaming. The tactile pleasure of holding little glass gems, and little wooden blocks, and little plastic men. Not to mention the essential 3D-ness required in both aesthetics and functionality. (Easier to see 3D pieces, and some have hidden information.)

For me to want to invest in something like this, it would have to add to the boardgaming experience, without taking anything away. There are pieces of a million different form factors in all games. So even if you provided magic pieces that matched all those shapes, then I would still rather play with a real copy with little yellow wooden cubes than little yellow folded pieces of ePaper.

BUT, what about card games? Not standard-deck-of-fifty-two type card games, but rather real games that consist solely of dedicated cards. There would be no loss of quality going from real cards to ePaper cards (if thick enough), and the thing you would gain would be portability. If I could carry Battle Line, Lost Cities, BattleGrounds, Havoc, Coloretto, etc as one rolled up board and a single pack of SuperCards, then boo-yakka I'd buy that in a heartbeat. I'd pay... $100 for the system (with two games free) and $15 a game. Game price comparable to actual game price, and system price around Game Boy level.

Hey, lemme playtest it if you ever get a prototype.
 
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Jesper A
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CrocWrestler wrote:
Monopoly would be the right answer for people who like to play Monopoly. Imagine being able to download any of the many different versions of Monopoly. The best selling game in the world would fit right in on such a platform.

Harvey


True, but how many people would pay say... 5-700$ to play monopoly?

The people who would pay that amount for a game platform are people like us..... geeks.....

I don't know anyone playing monopoly that are commited enough to pay that much for something they play once or twice a year.

If i could play "real" boardgames on it i probably would cough up the money - if there was broad support by the publishers.

It would be nice to be able to load player aids examples and rules summaries during explanation of rules.

I fear that it will take some of the magic away though - gotta love cardboard
 
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Jesper A
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Most of the things Dorque said has been said in the danish board game newsgroup and in my answers in their questionaire. But we have to take into account that we are a relatively small market - but perhaps the only market that would pay for such a system.... depending on price of course. But if the price is right many families would probably buy one.

I don't see many of the mechanics i like in games translate easily to electronic paper - i would like to see it happen though.

 
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Harvey Wasserman
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alfons wrote:
True, but how many people would pay say... 5-700$ to play monopoly?

Franklin Mint Collector's Edition Monopoly
The Most Luxurious Version of the Famous Parker Brothers Classic
Only $59.95 per month (for 10 months), or $595 in cash!

Anyway, Monopoly wouldn't be the only game on this new device.
 
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Jesper A
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CrocWrestler wrote:
alfons wrote:
True, but how many people would pay say... 5-700$ to play monopoly?

Franklin Mint Collector's Edition Monopoly
The Most Luxurious Version of the Famous Parker Brothers Classic
Only $59.95 per month (for 10 months), or $595 in cash!


Sure, but that's a collectors item right?

Call it that, and you can ask any price you want, and still sell it.

 
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Champion Eternal
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This 'platform' will take away the tactile aspect of the boardgame - holding the tiles, moving the pieces with your hands, fanning out cards, shuffling cards, opening a new game box for the first time (and for the nth time, for that matter), etc.
 
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Harvey Wasserman
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A Monopoly tournament (see the Hasbro website), everyone playing on this new game platform, would be a great way to promote the new platform. (Or, substitute other considered games for a tournament.)

If you can solve the problems that have been mentioned, so that tournaments are not only possible but great fun, then you will have created your market.
 
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Michael Van Biesbrouck
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I'm interested in this if it is user-programmable and provides either cards or tiles. Have you considered providing piecepack-compatible pieces? There are over a hundred public-domain games for these pieces (many of them good) and a number of the best would benefit from custom markings on the pieces.

If a board base-set, square tiles, hexagon tiles, cards, dice and piecepack bits were all sold seperately then I would probably buy all of them. A bucket of wooden bits would be good, too (resource cubes, houses and meeples). I would support commercial games for this platform. (My wife would much rather my games didn't take up physical space.)

Reprogramming tiles or cards seems like a challenge. Perhaps if they were arranged in a handy matrix?
 
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Eric
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I'm not sure if I'd be interrested, I love 3D boards (Heroscape for example). I like Carcassonne because we still have the meeple to play with. I need tactile input from a game. If I want to play a video game, I'll go see Nintendo.

I can see some games, but how do you deal with games like Ticket To Ride ? You need to hold cards in your hands. Many games requires you to have some sort of secret information.

No place for Descent, Heroscape, Heroquest, Doom or World of Warcraft on this board. I think this would reduce the pleasure of the game unfortunatly. Good idea in theory, but in practice, there is a lot of challenges to find a solution.

Assuming that those issues can be resolved realistically, depending on how much cost each games afterward, let's say that the games would now cost about 5-10$ each, I'd be ready to pay up to 100$ for such a board. however, if the games still cost the same price as they are now, why would I need this board? It should be a free add-on to each games!

Realize that you do remove the "feel" of owning a game, since you can't "show off" your huge collection of games by displaying a USB stick and say "See all the games I got!". different boardgames needs different size, so you'd have to accomodate up to a certain size of boardgame.

Yet if you can do holograms, then it's a different matter!
 
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Chris Shaffer
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With the right games loaded on it, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. Think about it -- Civilization, Advanced Civilization, Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage, Rail Baron... add a couple of other expensive out-of-print games and the system has already paid for itself. Then add 500 public domain games, 100 of the top games from the BGG rankings... how could I resist?

Sure, I like my meeples as much as the next guy, but if this gets taken in the right direction, that e-paper will eventually be wrapped right around the piece and you'll have that little yellow cube you want to hold. Sure, it's wrapped in e-paper and has an RFID chip embedded inside, but you won't be able to tell the difference.
 
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Chris Shaffer
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Aljovin wrote:
I can see some games, but how do you deal with games like Ticket To Ride ? You need to hold cards in your hands. Many games requires you to have some sort of secret information.


Wouldn't the game system include a deck or two of blank cards made from e-paper? And you'd pick those up and hold them just like regular cards...
 
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Ecarta Games
Denmark
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There have been some quistions regarding games involving cards. To answer these the "package" will include a deck of cards able to change image probably also made of e-paper like the board and the piesces. This means you will be able to hold the cards in your hands and see messages that should not be vissable to other players. Therefore our platform will include the same options regarding moving the piesces around and drawing cards.
 
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Robert Washington
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Ecarta_games wrote:
What do you think of this product? Would you bye it? How much would you be willing to pay for it? Any kind of comments will be more then welcome

Regards from the team behind Ecarta games.


1) Given that e-paper has only very recently moved downward in price to the point where it's feasible to use at a corporate level (only a handful of retailers have signed on to use it for billboard only), I have to admit my first thought is that as a business proposition, this is a ludicrously premature. I very much appreciate that technology moves very fast, and it really shouldn't be too long before it becomes feasible, and you'll want to move quickly once it does, but this just feels like speculating on wireless phones in the 1970's - tantalizingly close, but not quite there yet.

2) I see problems in some of the reasons mentioned above - much of the "oomph" of boardgames are in the production values and the uniqueness of the pieces - though it's true it wasn't that long ago when most "complex" boardgames were using chits (counters) and paper mats, it's also ture back then boardgames of that nature weren't selling that well relatively speaking.

3) Overall however, I think it would work for many board systems, but is unlikely to become a "dominant" or "primary" system for distribution.

4) I personally would doubt anyone paying more than $100-150 USD or the equivalent of perhaps 2-3 "normnal" games. I feel this is a relative - comparatively speaking, once you pass this price point, you hit the point where someone could buy a DVD system and TV or a console gaming system for the same price, and the relative enjoyment will become hard to justify - why spend say $200 USD when you could get a PS2 for that same investment? I admit it's a personal "feeling" of mine backed by no real evidence, but I suspect the flagging sales of comic books in the U.S. comes in no small part from similar concerns - at an average $2.99 USD per, someone could rent (or even buy, if we look at buying multiple comics) a DVD or videogame OR see a movie and receive significantly greater visceral entertainment value.
 
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King of the Dead
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are you kidding? that would be freakin' awesome!

Imagine having cards like this... You want secret information? With these you could have dynamicaly updated secret information that you could share with allies or give dupes false leads in political games... Mutable game boards that would otherwise be a tactily (is that a word?) logistical nightmare.
Exploring a haunted house or dungeon and you should only know about the room you're in? well, then, that's all you know about without ridiculous contortions of the physical material.

Coat the meeples etc in that stuff and if a game requires a state change for your piece well then... there you go.. without the millions of pieces you would otherwise need.

I am trying to think of ways to use this type of technology for games and the more i think of it.. the more it seems like a boon.. .not for replacing multiple parts or making fancier new parts like we had in old games...

but it could really open up vast new territory that no one has ever thought to explore before. Why would they have since this stuff has never existed. It's like asking someone from the 13th century to come up with a better way of handling credit card transactions for online sales of sow ears. The buying and selling of pig parts they get.. no problem.. but that other stuff.... wha? It's not even in the realm of possibility for them to think of a sollution for you because those things can not exist in their world.

Ok, so i'm getting a bit crazy here with my analogy and starting to sound a bit evangelical...

In short.. Yeah, that stuff sounds pretty cool.

Ahem...
 
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King of the Dead
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I guess what I was trying to say in that last one but couldn't because I was sort of typing as the thought came to me and not really organizing it...

Was that I don't think that projecting existing board game concepts onto the epaper model is a good idea. And I don't think it's at all fair either. When you think of 99% of existing games on epaper the thought is pretty much going to be something along the lines of, "meh.. why bother?" at best or, more likely from this crowd, "hell no!"

Well, actually I would agree with you on both of those for the most part.

But as its own unique venue for entertainment I see it as having near infinite potential. Would games on epaper be a "board game"? Who the hell cares? That's not the question as far as I can see. The real question would be "Is it fun?" As with any medium if the answer is yes then bring it on!

I know it's not the same thing but I can't resist the analogy.... A lot of people liked the tactile feeling of their old paper and ink typewriters and they thought they did the job just fine thank you very much...
And that's very true. They did do a fine job and felt like well built tanks and the paper was nice to hold and all of that.
But, boy howdy, if these new fangled computers aren't nifty as all hell then I don't know what is.

A couple last thoughts. On video games...
If you play Risk or Go or chess or any other game whose board and pieces and even the rules set and randomizing mechanics etc are all internalized into a proccessor and displayed on a screen....
What are you playing? A board game or a video game?

And actually right now I would reccomend you do NOT go see Nintendo if you wanted to play a video game. They've been pretty dry now for the better part of a year. (exept for about three DS titles... but that's far outstripped by every other major player out there now)
 
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Houserule Jay
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Lots has been said already, TBL for me is, it is a fabulous idea and someone is going to do it eventually. The market will be limited by the selling price, yes some people will never convert but there will be tons that will depending solely on how affordable it is. Like the 'cat' mentioned, if you can share games especially OOP ones that are hard to get, the economics will just make sense in the end for collectors and even the gaming public. This assumes that it is user-friendly, adaptable, expandable etc etc..
 
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Robert Washington
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TheCat wrote:

Sure, it's wrapped in e-paper and has an RFID chip embedded inside, but you won't be able to tell the difference.


Umm, not with meeples, maybe, but fans of HEROSCAPE, DESCENT, and similar games will shonuff notice the difference between their beloved minis and a cube with a picture of a figure on it, and I don't expect them to be too enthused over the difference...
 
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Robert Washington
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Nazhuret wrote:
I guess what I was trying to say in that last one but couldn't because I was sort of typing as the thought came to me and not really organizing it...

Was that I don't think that projecting existing board game concepts onto the epaper model is a good idea. And I don't think it's at all fair either. When you think of 99% of existing games on epaper the thought is pretty much going to be something along the lines of, "meh.. why bother?" at best or, more likely from this crowd, "hell no!"

Well, actually I would agree with you on both of those for the most part.


I think you're allowing your enthusiasm for the technology to overshadow reality.

Reality: The market (audience) for this isn't going to just show up out of nowhere overnight just because the technology exists. It's going to be based on the same market for the current analog to this techonoglogy, which is to say the primary market for this will indeed be the current boardgaming market- if they aren't interested, ain't nobody gonna be.

Nazhuret wrote:

I know it's not the same thing but I can't resist the analogy.... A lot of people liked the tactile feeling of their old paper and ink typewriters and they thought they did the job just fine thank you very much...
And that's very true. They did do a fine job and felt like well built tanks and the paper was nice to hold and all of that.
But, boy howdy, if these new fangled computers aren't nifty as all hell then I don't know what is.


It's not a very good analogy since computers actually manage to replace typewriters, but as you say yourself, this technology won't replace regular boardgames. A better analogy would be with movie viewing technology, where neither video nor DVD has come close to replacing the big screen or the television. Them thar LCD screens shore is nifty, Clem, but I ain't gettin' rid of my 20-years plus life expectancy tube model for one anytime soon, nor will the eventual DVD release of SUPERMAN RETURNS keep me from seeing it in Imax...

Nazhuret wrote:

A couple last thoughts. On video games...
If you play Risk or Go or chess or any other game whose board and pieces and even the rules set and randomizing mechanics etc are all internalized into a proccessor and displayed on a screen....
What are you playing? A board game or a video game?


I think you answered this yourself - who cares as long as I enjoy it?

Nazhuret wrote:

And actually right now I would reccomend you do NOT go see Nintendo if you wanted to play a video game. They've been pretty dry now for the better part of a year. (exept for about three DS titles... but that's far outstripped by every other major player out there now)


Umm, no one's even mentioned Nintendo anywhere is this discussion that I can see, but whether or not they've put out something you personally find impressive this year, they remain one of the top 3 companies in the field after over 20 years and therefore someone to take note of regardless of their capacity to put out games you think of as "hot".
 
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