Skip to Content

A new type of board game platform...What do you think?

7 replies [Last post]
Ecartagames
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969

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? Any kind of comments will be more then welcome.

Regards from the team behind Ecarta games.

Rick-Holzgrafe
Rick-Holzgrafe's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/22/2008
A new type of board game platform...What do you think?

Sounds fascinating, and I'm sure we'd all like to own one. But I have a few questions.

Quote:
with a set of pieces also based on e-paper and therefore also able to change image.

I'm guessing that your "set of pieces" is actually a small number of personal pieces of epaper, so that each player can have a private display of his collection of cards, tokens, and whatnot, along with a larger central display for the common board and play area. Game bits (cards, tokens, markers, figures, etc.) would be drawn on these epaper displays and moved around and transferred from one to another by means of some command system. If the hardware is good enough, that sounds as if it would work.

If you're not taking that approach, then I'm interested in hearing about how your system will handle games with lots of cards and bits, and how it will handle private information such as hands of cards that the other players aren't allowed to see.

Part of the fun of boardgaming is the pleasure of handling the bits themselves, and the often excellent artwork on boards and cards. But of course, many people happily play their favorite games online, and assuming your epaper has a reasonably high resolution and good color, using your product would be better than online play because you'd be in the presence of the other players. So that shouldn't be a problem either, at least for many gamers if not all.

As a designer, of course I'd love to have an easily programmable, flexible platform for playtesting.

I think the big problem is liable to be the price. If it costs like an iPod or an Xbox, then you might have a winner -- as far as the consumers are concerned, anyway. But the market for iPods and Xboxes seems to be many times larger than the boardgame market, so you may have to be satisfied with much lower sales volume than those more popular products.

But if your device costs more, I suspect few people would be willing to pay. After all, they'll still have to pay for the games themselves, even if electronic versions are cheaper than cardboard ones. This is true of Xbox too, but the difference is that you can't play a video game without a video game platform; for boardgames, you just need the game itself, a table, and enough chairs. So you'll be trying to convince gamers to buy your package on the basis of not having to carry around such a huge weight and volume of games when they travel. That may be a tough sell.

As for us designers, as I said it would be a spiffy gadget to have. But again, price is a factor. I know how to build a homemade prototype without spending a lot of cash. It does take time, but so does programming, so unless your device had a very streamlined way to create new games, I'm not sure it would save me any actual time. (I'd be delighted to be wrong!) So you're trying to sell to me based on two advantages: one, once a prototype is built it should be very easy to make changes; and two, I can email a file to my BGDF buddies so that they can easily try out my new game on their own epaper boards. That's attractive, but I'm not sure how many of us would spend hundreds of dollars to get those advantages. Some would, I'm sure. The less serious of us, the hobbyists, might not.

Finally, there are the publishers. Using it as an easy way to accept a prototype from a designer sounds great, but from what I read most publishers don't look at that many prototypes. (A recent BGDF thread was complaining that many publishers no longer accept unsolicited submissions.) And they might or might not be interested in publishing in electronic format: they will be aware that they'll wind up fighting the copy-protection wars. Of course, that hasn't stopped the video game producers, movie makers, and music companies from jumping on the electronic bandwagon, so I expect the boardgame publishers would be willing to join in also. After all, there are already home computer and online versions of many of the most popular boardgames.

I wish you all luck, and I'm eager to hear more details when you feel ready to tell us more about your project!

VeritasGames
VeritasGames's picture
Offline
Joined: 08/01/2008
A new type of board game platform...What do you think?

I think that somewhere on these boards a few weeks back there was a thread about a game table already in development (in Japan?) that can display electronic game boards and interact with game pieces on top of the table. If I could find it, I'd post the link for ya.

Gogolski
Gogolski's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/28/2008
A new type of board game platform...What do you think?

VeritasGames wrote:
I think that somewhere on these boards a few weeks back there was a thread about a game table already in development (in Japan?) that can display electronic game boards and interact with game pieces on top of the table. If I could find it, I'd post the link for ya.

http://www.bgdf.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=3642

This board is actually quite different because it's basicly a large touchscreen layed flat on the table with speakers and a bit of computer in it...

Cheese.

larienna
larienna's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/28/2008
A new type of board game platform...What do you think?

I really like the idea of an electronic board game. The main reason is that I intend to distribute games as electronic PDF. If I can also distribute them on a electronic board, it will make it easier for the client to create the board since he does not have to print it and cut the board. It might also increase the sales since it reduce the build time. I am also a video game programmer so programming a board is not that complicated. Now I have a few questions:

Is the drawn board going to be a static image or can it changes during the flow of the game. Both solution are good and one is probably more pricy and might require more programming than the other. If the board is not a static image, then you are going to need a touch screen or some button to alterate the content of the board. Personally, I would better have a less pricy board with a static image and make slight changes once in a while by refreshing the board during the game.

You talked about a USB key, does this mean that the board does not have any memory by itself and that it must use the USB key as memory? The only draw back with this is that you need to buy an USB key, but it is not so bad because it can reduce the price of the board.

Does the USB key must be plugged in permanently during the game to display the image or once the images is uploaded it stay permanently on the board. I am not sure how e-paper works, this is why I am asking.

Need also more info on the "Set of pieces" since this set of pieces will abolutely need a touch screen to interact with the user. Else, it will have to be some sort of blank card where you can upload the image on it and it stay there until you change it. For external pieces, I think the only thing worth being made electronically is cards. The rest ( pawn, dices, tokens ) can be supplied easily by the user.

I need more info about how you intend to license the board software. If the license is open source, or free to use, then that's OK. If you intend to make the game develloper pay to get the right to devellop an e-board game, then there will not be many independent board game designer willing to develop games on this board.

Personnaly, I would like a board where you upload an image and it stay on the board, no touch screen or dynamic alteration, and where the price is not higher than 50$US. 30$US would be better but as new technological product, I don't mind paying 50$. If you can also make individual card where you can upload an image on it, it can be also a good product idea. Maybe at most another 50$US for a set of 50 card would be acceptable.

Keep sending some feedback about the project.

Caparica
Caparica's picture
Offline
Joined: 08/06/2008
A new type of board game platform...What do you think?

It is very interesting. I really would to know how this project develops.
There a question about epaper, as far as I know these things are monochromatic. Is this still true or do you have color epaper nowadays?

Paulo Junior
www.2concept.com/games

comfixit
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
A new type of board game platform...What do you think?

The concept is a good one. There are so many advantages, people can use this to prototype games, download games, authors can create the content etc... Not to mention the portability benefits you described.

To determine if it is a good idea you would have to have sufficient demand for the product. Since I think its fair to say your idea is very innovative and usefull I think people will want them, question is will people be able to afford them.

What will your marketing stratedgy be? Sell the units at or below cost and charge licensing fees like XBox. Do you plan to make a profit on the units and leave development open to everyone?

The important factor is this: can you make the system for a low enough price that people will purchase it. I have no idea what the manufacturing expenses associated with your concept are. But if it can be done at a resonable price and depending on how you plan to harvest profits with it I think its a fantastic idea.

Infernal
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
A new type of board game platform...What do you think?

A few month ago I posted somthing about using E-paper to make CCGs and boardgames. I thought that the bets way to use E-Paper was in the game board or in cards. Using E-Paper as chits could also have posabilities.

Quote:
Does the USB key must be plugged in permanently during the game to display the image or once the images is uploaded it stay permanently on the board. I am not sure how e-paper works, this is why I am asking.

From what I know of E-Paper once you set an image on it it will remain untill it is changed with out drawing any power or needing a memory device plugged in (so you could have a game uploaded to the device and come back months later and have the same game still ready to play).

If you used pieces with a RFID tag on them and RFID readers in the board (as well as some way of tracking the movement of a piece - short distance RFID?) you could use that as a form of input to the game as well (ie you could play a card and the RFID reader could read it and determine what the card is then perform any calculations needed like update you resources, change stats like health, etc). A simple processor in the board could handle most game logic and blur the line between computer games and board games.

Syndicate content


forum | by Dr. Radut