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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-07-14, 01:11 AM Thread Starter
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Default Shared-Screen Tabletop?

I'm just curious if anyone suggested something like this before. And since it doesn't really fit into any category in the tabletop subforum, I figured I'd stick it here.


Has it occurred to anyone that most mid to high-end graphics editing software combined with sharing a screen ala Skype would allow people to play tabletop games online, in real time, no serious networking, programming, or fuss required? This isn't referring to Vassal, either, which is dependent on pre-programmed values and mechanics, but a direct simulation of the tabletop by moving "pieces" across the screen. I said mid to high-end editors because these allow you to move and rotate objects around without worrying about hefty editing of any kind, which is perfect for simulating playing pieces.

Now I know that a good third of the hobby is the miniatures, but the other two thirds (the game and the interaction between players) still count, don't they? I'm sure there are plenty of folks out there who would like to play but lack the money to buy anything, or the local community to take part in. This isn't a replacement but it's certainly a bandage.

Picture this: You log into Skype and get into a chat with a few friends, no matter where they're at so long as they have a big enough screen and a microphone. One of you fires up something like Adobe Flash, or Photoshop, and begins sharing their screen using existing Skype abilities. The others blow that camera up to full screen.

The editor already has independent "objects," styled like tabletop pieces, ready to go. The background is a top-down view of some battlefield or another. Other objects are off to the side, such as rulers, blast markers, you name it. And off to the side of the window is a browser with Random.org, enabling any number of custom dice throws, including named dice using a list randomizer. At this point, one of two things happens: Either the person with the editor follows the command of other players when it is their turn, or they go the extra mile and use shared computer programs to let them manipulate the pieces on the screen themselves.

At this rate, the only thing required is the art assets, which could be grossly simplified if absolutely necessary. Otherwise you could use existing rulebooks, or any number of custom rules, without having to worry about whether or not another program is up to date.





If using a simulated board which requires a ruler is too much of a hassle, you could always play any number of games based on hex grids and the like, which makes the process even simpler.





The best part about this is the ability to save an ongoing game with 'unerring accuracy' whenever required. The game state can be frozen in time simply by saving it to a new file, which for redundancy's sake could be sent to all the other players in the event of a computer crash. You could even keep periodic saves on separate files, which, strung together, show a turn-by-turn progression of the battle.

Not only would this system let you play specialist or otherwise less popular games with greater frequency than allowed by driving for hours to the nearest lively shop, but it would also let you test any number of custom rules, or even custom games, on the fly, without any huge investment of money into new pieces or terrain.


Comments? Ideas?


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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-07-14, 04:58 AM
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This right here is Genius. People have probably thought of that before too.

This is great even if you have miniatures but no one to play with. In a reasonable range.

You may not be able to use your miniatures but you could still enjoy the game

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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-07-14, 05:05 AM Thread Starter
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In a strange way, people with artistic ability (or just plain ingenuity) might be able to make their own "models" for it. Flash 8 (old, but effective, and my point of reference) has a quick and easy tool to convert any image into vector art for easy scaling: If you took a decent picture of your models upright or even sideways and sent them to me, I could use that tool to "trace" them and stick them on top of top-down bases. That way you could still show them off to some extent, give or take the added labor of doing so.

In fact, now that I think about it, Flash is an animating program that has a timeline of individual frames. You could save each turn, or even each piece's movement into a frame, then duplicate it onto the next frame. Publish it and you instantly have a blow by blow animation. You could put the thing on Youtube for crying out loud and show a whole battle's progression within minutes.


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Wing Commander Silo Barstad, Imperial Navy 3355th Fighter Wing

Last edited by Warhawk; 10-07-14 at 05:09 AM.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-08-14, 05:25 PM
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If you haven't seen tabletop simulator on steam then check it out. It's pretty unfinished but there are already hundreds of mods for various board games and I'm pretty sure I saw one with models for various tyranid units.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-08-14, 07:13 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samules View Post
If you haven't seen tabletop simulator on steam then check it out. It's pretty unfinished but there are already hundreds of mods for various board games and I'm pretty sure I saw one with models for various tyranid units.
I know there are programs here and there that try to simulate tabletop games, but that isn't the point. Didn't you read the original post? Using a graphics editing program on a shared screen removes all of the hassle with online networking, removes the need to rely on what has or has not been programmed at any given point in time, and even lets you use custom graphics including photographs of your own painted models. It requires no additional knowledge of how a system like Vassal works since you're moving pieces, rulers, and markers around on the screen exactly as you would on the table itself. It gives you exactly the same flexibility in gameplay as the table does, and even more when you consider the fact that you can conjure up whatever units, terrain, cards, and dice rolls you want with very little time, effort, and especially money. And instead of some arcane UI that isn't optimized for certain kinds of games, you're playing it exactly as it was meant to be played on the tabletop. In fact, once you had some graphics separated into tabletop "pieces," even someone totally unfamiliar with Flash could learn how to move them around correctly within 5 minutes or less.

I'd like to see a single program that lets you do all of this and swap between entirely different games at the drop of a hat, basically for free, that can be learned in less than 5 minutes.


"There are old heretics and bold heretics, but there are no old, bold heretics. How do I know? Because I make sure of it myself."

Wing Commander Silo Barstad, Imperial Navy 3355th Fighter Wing

Last edited by Warhawk; 10-08-14 at 07:17 PM.
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