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That could be the first computer assisted board game

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larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008

A new board game was announced by fantasy flight which required the user to have an app on a touch device to play the game. The game is called XCOM, it's a board game adaptation of the video game:

First I loved the new XCOM video game, it's one of the best turn based strategy video game that was released in the last 5 years. Or maybe I should say that it's the only TBS game that was released. Since Koei is not making any more TBS and system soft alpha is not releasing in America, I had to start playing board games.

Recently, I had various discussion thread about board game design requiring abstracting concepts and mechanics which for me made it harder to design. So I need to take another game's mechanics and refine from there. While for video games you don't have to search for mechanics, you just implement a game by defining your database structure and operations the player can do.

I am currently searching what kind of design I want to do. I would be aiming maybe for single player board game. One thing that is annoying in board game is for example to upkeep information, while in a video game, you could make an update script that update values in a push of a button. So one thing for sure, single player board games could benefit from this.

I also said once that video games should learn from board games and vice versa. Maybe now it's the opportunity to have such kind of hybrid games. It could increase the possibilities of board games by making them less abstract.

Now I don't have any cell phone or tablet, so it would be currently hard for me to play the game. I don't really like it either the need to require additional material. But if many board games get's released this way, you could probably need only 1 tablet for all your games. And in multi-player games, only one of the player's needs the tablet.

One thing that seems interesting is that the application part could implement things which are easy to manage by an app but hard for a player. For example, updating values or other bookkeeping task at the end of a turn. On the other hand, the stuff hard to implement as a video game that can easily be handled by a human stay in the board game aspect. For example: applying unique rule text, very hard to do by a computer. So it seems like the best of both worlds.

Another thing, as a variant designer, even if there is a computer part to the game, it would not break much the possibility to modify the game, it might even increase it. First, the app could probably be modable. Which allow to do certain things like changing text on virtual cards that would not be possible in a real board game. Second, people could supply their own app. Else the board game part remains modifiable.

So as an ex-computer programmer, maybe my future is there, make computer assisted board game. It would probably work better for single player games, by making them easier to play, but it could probably be expanded to some multi-player game. Still, I would offer the option to do it with board game only method that would require more time and work in case somebody does not have a digital device.

The Chaz
Joined: 11/20/2012

Golem Arcana integrates an app, a stylus, etc.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Yes, On BGG ppeople

Yes, On BGG ppeople mentionned that game and "Leaders".

Buy what about the new possibilities that it can offer to game design.

Less setup time, less components, more flexibility or data storage?

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011
Hidden Info

I read through Golem Arcana on BGG but haven't seen anything about Leaders yet. Personally it seems a bit too high on overhead and start-up cost for me to be interested, but that's not what I really wanted to comment on here.

Initial impressions of Golem Arcana are positive, though it's obvious that its integration of technology is still in its infancy. The main comment of the connection between the game and peripherals is that the rules are managed for the players, making for a smoother tabletop experience.

There was only one comment where the author was excited about the possibilities of hidden information and how it can be utilized and integrated within the peripherals. I think that's where a game that uses this kind of technology can shine.

Maybe a year or so ago, I remember seeing a video about the Wii console and the Wii U development. The demo showed a kind of hide-and-seek game where the bulk of the players used the main screen of the game while they were hunting the player that used the Wii U. The Wii U player had a different perspective (over-the-shoulder third person view) and was privy to some other information that wasn't shared with the other players.

I'd say any board game that successfully integrates the "rules streamlining" present in Golem Arcana with the hidden information/privileged access shown in the Wii U demo would be one worth taking seriously. In my opinion, anything short of that is the equivalent of a computerized game aid, which people have been using for years now: excel tables, flow charts, score calculators, and so on.

Good luck to the Golem Arcana team. Hopefully the buzz doesn't die down before they take off.

DifferentName's picture
Joined: 09/08/2013
Board Games with Computers

There were board games with computers in them way back, like Omega Virus.

I'm really excited for this XCom game though. Designing a game with an app like this seems like it would be a tough challenge to make it more than a gimmick. It would need to be something that works better for the game than not using an app, and that works better as a board game than just making the whole thing digital.

Having the app in XCom will control the enemy UFOs seems like a good way to do it. This way, the computer can randomly pick a scenario for the players to go against, without anyone at the table knowing which scenario was picked. I imagine you could program a decent computer opponent to react to the players too, like you might have if it was 4 players against 1 alien player, but this way everyone at the table gets to be on the same team.

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