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View Full Version : DM / Player Tools D&D on a Microsoft Surface



harmor
12-17-2009, 10:37 PM
http://gizmodo.com/5428620/way-more-dd-on-the-microsoft-surface

Do you guys think that something like this could be more common in 5-10 years?

wizarddog
12-17-2009, 11:06 PM
I think we might see D&D/Roleplaying Cafes in the future.

tesral
12-18-2009, 08:52 AM
That clip points out all the good and bad of using a computer at the table. Note the DM has to keep lowering the screen on the laptop, that is the bad. It gets in the way. The interactive table is the good.

I would love to know how the Surface is telling the minis apart.

The real down side is you need a Surface to do this. Not a cheap piece of hardware.

You can do something like this (with a lot less interaction) with one of the new cheap projectors and a piece of white Lucite. I've seen one example where the DM created a map table that used rear projection to show the map on his computer on the table.

wizarddog
12-18-2009, 07:41 PM
The pieces have small ID tag placed on them. The table reads those items from the surface and you assign attributes to them. They have two other vids that show that. If you notice, the dies they placed on the table allowed them to bring up their stat menus to do the actions they want.

The laptop issue was more that the DM just had it in his way and was trying to plan the scenario as they play. A better session would be for the DM to have all of this done before hand and simple glance at the screen set to the side. The DM apparently does not need minis either as the screen creates the monsters and moves them. Some of which allows it automatically to move in way as to not provoke OA.

The sad thing is that I often hear from other players, that to keep track of all of 4e things, a computer would do a better job. And this just showed that to be true.

The designers to want to also have be usable for other table top games like warhammer.

I don't see this as a home use thing (yet). I'm not sure of those tabletop costs. If I had the initiative, I would create tabletop roleplayer cafe's where players can go play their game on the system in a place that served food and drink. That would be kinda cool. It it would not have to be limited to just tabletop. You could have whole gaming; computer online and table top all in the same space.

What a crazy world.

Swordnboard
12-21-2009, 03:52 PM
To me the whole point of Pen and Paper roleplaying was to get away from the computer game and into a world of the imagination where anything goes... The surface is cool, but if I wanted a computer game there are plenty of those out there already. Heck, you could play as the DM and take a couple friends through a NWN2 module or campaign you built.

However, I do like the idea of using a projector/light table for a grid instead of a printout akin to what tesral suggested.

Is the surface the future of RPG gaming? Probably not, but it is pretty neat.

tesral
12-21-2009, 06:23 PM
However, I do like the idea of using a projector/light table for a grid instead of a printout akin to what tesral suggested.

Is the surface the future of RPG gaming? Probably not, but it is pretty neat.

The hardware is an arm, leg and a few teeth. That alone is going to slow down adoption. I like using it as the map, but not top replace the figures.

jameskennedy2265
12-21-2009, 06:55 PM
w0w that's so cool looking. I'm going to try and look and see what I could do with this stuff.

Darcantith
12-22-2009, 07:48 AM
Doesn't seem at all practical any way you look at it. As tesral mentioned, the price of the hardware will slow down or completely prevent widespread use. I will concede it's a novel idea and some damn innovative tech involved, but the staring down at a bright LCD screen with low ambient light for 4-5+ hours does not appeal to the health of my eyes. Sure doesn't mean I won't try it though.

tesral
12-22-2009, 02:24 PM
You are looking at $13,460.00 to get a surface in your home, never mind the EUA that sells your soul to Microsoft (Yes, I read it). That is without the $1,800.00 protection plan, or the $440.00 "semi-annual maintenance fee".

Bend over spread your wallet and kiss your cash goodbye.

So, nice idea, it isn't going to be common. Not when I can buy a computer and projector for a tenth that cost. I could buy everyone in my gaming group a laptop and network them, and have money left to get some nice furniture as well.

nijineko
12-22-2009, 02:41 PM
i think the "work-in-progress" tag was just about right. nifty-neat, but i think this could be duplicated with off-the-shelf tech for a whole lot less.

tesral
12-22-2009, 04:34 PM
i think the "work-in-progress" tag was just about right. nifty-neat, but i think this could be duplicated with off-the-shelf tech for a whole lot less.

I was thinking that myself. The surface uses nothing unique. Couple thousand for the big screen monitor. A touch base, RFID tags and reader. Recruit a good FOSS developer or five that like that idea.

Frankly I believe there is nothing Microsoft has done that cannot be done cheaper and better by just about anyone.

harmor
12-24-2009, 09:09 PM
The hardware is an arm, leg and a few teeth. That alone is going to slow down adoption. I like using it as the map, but not top replace the figures.
I wonder if you could still use it as a map, but when you place them on the map the outline the square (touch surface)...and then you could do things like touch a submenu and that would allow you do show your line-of-effect, etc...

tesral
12-24-2009, 09:40 PM
No doubt. Fro mth4e Video they are doing some neat stuff with it.

MortonStromgal
12-31-2009, 08:58 PM
There is a guy who built his own using linux and some parts. I'll try to dig up the page again. Honestly I've never seen a point to surfaces in all the demos I have seen... until I got an itouch, now I'm thinking while not ideal (yet) it has potential.

here is one, not the one I was thinking of but instead of $1200 they paid $350 http://www.tomshardware.com/news/multi-touch-surface-PC-DIY,7484.html

Dark
01-03-2010, 02:51 PM
To me the whole point of Pen and Paper roleplaying was to get away from the computer game and into a world of the imagination where anything goes... The surface is cool, but if I wanted a computer game there are plenty of those out there already. Heck, you could play as the DM and take a couple friends through a NWN2 module or campaign you built.

However, I do like the idea of using a projector/light table for a grid instead of a printout akin to what tesral suggested.

Is the surface the future of RPG gaming? Probably not, but it is pretty neat.
Truer words have never been spoken Swordnboard.

Skunkape
01-05-2010, 08:13 AM
I think you'll see players who will adopt that method of play and those who won't but like most technology, the price of the unit will come down and that's when you'll see more people adopting it.

It is a cool idea.

tesral
01-05-2010, 09:21 AM
I think you'll see players who will adopt that method of play and those who won't but like most technology, the price of the unit will come down and that's when you'll see more people adopting it.

It is a cool idea.

The perfect suck storm of Forry and Windows.

The hardware will have to start being given away in cereal boxes. Gamers are cheap.

The Surface is too expensive by a factor of at least 20 when you find out it can be duplicated by open source hardware and software for under 500 dollars. For 500 bucks I might even look into the thing.

Ishcumbeebeeda
02-04-2010, 07:25 PM
I had never even heard of this tech until I saw this, and now I want it and I wanna play 3.5 on it! (Though, I think I'd rather hire someone with MUCH more know how than me and have them build me the "under $500" version Tesral was talking about....)

tesral
02-05-2010, 05:19 AM
Form factor. The surface sits at about coffee table height. That's fine for a few things, but way too low to game on really. The monitor would have to stand extreme acute angel viewing. Most LED monitors are not up to that. Passed 45 degrees they are hard to see. One of the reasons the Surface sits so low.

I agree that and LED tabletop with touch capacity has a great future. I don't think the Surface is the right engine.

Imagine if you will a table station with a monitor for your character sheet and books. No paper in you tabletop gaming, no books chuntering the area. I'll keep my dice. I'm funny that way. Everyone has a station and the middle is the map.

The deal is it could be done with a server and thin client stations. Cheap no, you are looking at an outlay of as said, about 500 for the center station, a couple hundred for each thin client, plus the server, another 700 of so. However the end result would one kick ass RPG game room.

Not just RPGs either. Once you have the setup, nothing keeps you from playing any board game that exists and can be programed. Or even video games if that floats your boat.

Ishcumbeebeeda
02-05-2010, 03:39 PM
Imagine if you will a table station with a monitor for your character sheet and books. No paper in you tabletop gaming, no books chuntering the area. I'll keep my dice. I'm funny that way. Everyone has a station and the middle is the map.

Though you know a lot more about how to realize it that I did that was exactly what this made me think of!

tesral
02-05-2010, 11:09 PM
I'm something short of a developer, but something seriously better informed than an end user, or tech support.

Regicide
02-06-2010, 02:49 AM
I like this new machine, but I also like the physicality of rolling dice. Why not make bluetooth dice that tell the machine what they just rolled? The machine could even make the appropriate dice light up with a different color for each player when they need to be rolled by them.

tesral
02-06-2010, 10:22 AM
Balance would be an issue I think. Getting the dice to roll fairly while packed with electronics. And do you want to pay 50 bucks a die?

Regicide
02-06-2010, 12:12 PM
You know how you could get a remote control helicopter for under $50 now? Crazy stuff. When I was a kid, I never saw one for under $300. And this is back when a loaf of bread still cost a buck in my neck pf the woods! $50 turns into $7 in no time, and soon we'll be paying $30 for the entire set. And $5 for a loaf of pumpernickel. It's not really that complicated to produce- once it's actually designed. The sort of monied scum that can afford the rest of that hardware might spring for it while it's still $50 a die though.

Want to make them even cheaper? Just encode the sides of the things and roll them on a sensitive surface with the actual electronics in it. That way balancing the things won't be a problem and miniaturization won't be such a big deal.

Frankly, I'd never bother with the whole virtual tabletop anyway. My laptop is great for storing PDFs and it's nice not to have to do all the math to generate characters and apply buff bonuses. Makes a nice DM screen too.

That's as far as I'll be going, I think. The computerized tabletop is cool though, and I still like my dice idea in theory.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
02-06-2010, 12:48 PM
The potential is awesome.

Frobozz
02-06-2010, 11:12 PM
Dice Monitor: Overhead camera hooked to a computer running vision system software. This is cheap these days and vision systems are becoming common place in the industrial environment. They can easilly see what dice are being rolled within the boundaries of the screen and read the numbers off the tops of them. As a programmer, it would take me about a day to program using .NET, a $100 web cam and National Instruments Measurement Studio.

Regicide
02-07-2010, 03:11 AM
That's pretty awesome, Frobozz.

lomifeh
02-16-2010, 10:16 AM
The thing that makes surface what it is is not just a monitor with touchscreen in a coffee table. The thing has cameras to track things placed on it to track placed objects (via recognition) and can via a wireless connection read info from devices if they have the right stuff built in when placed on them. That is what makes it neat.

Dumb terminals per tesral's idea are not a new thing, what has consistently killed them is bandwidth requirements and cost. You need a good size, dedicated pipe between the stations and the server to run it properly. Also the server has to manage a lot so it needs some decent power behind it. You can do it today though with off the shelf parts though for a situation like this. More interesting to me is the forthcoming iPad for this. I imagine a tablet-like device for each player that talks to a server with the GM having their own to manage some stuff on the server side.

This actually gives me an idea of something to work on.

tesral
02-16-2010, 11:12 AM
Terminals are nothing new. However the six to eight stations we are taking about will not impact a well built Linux server, even on standard PC hardware. Gigabyte ethernet is a plenty big enough pipe.

What has killed thin client is mostly the cost of the terminal vs. the cost of a PC. Terminals are too expensive. One can build a sufficient server or server cluster to handle any load. You have to spent the money to do it right. Those that cheap out on the hardware find it doesn't meet the need.

The iPad concept is a good one, however I don't think the iPad itself is a good implementation of that concept. Big step backwards actually. the thing cannot even muntitask, which means you can't have your character sheet open and look up a book at the same time. We are not even looking at cost.

lomifeh
02-17-2010, 10:05 AM
Well the dumb terminal is not what has cost a lot, it's been the infrastructure where you are hit with the cost. I've built out these things in the past.

For this to work in any setting you'd want wireless for comfort. And you could build in an app to read the books and show a character sheet at the same time. That is what I was thinking. A touchscreen would be ideal. You want something to not get in the way of the game. A large terminal would do so, so you'd need something small. Handheld would be ideal.

As for what will impact the server, it depends on a lot of things. What are the apps being served for example. Odds are a small number of stations would not cause an issue but you need to look at a few factors to do it.

BTW, the iPad does do multitasking. A lot of people don't really understand what that means. What it does not do is allow all apps to run at the same time, or be run background. So far it seems only specific apple apps will be able to do so, similar to the iPhone. It might sound like nitpicking but there is a big difference in terms of the technology. Just for background I am a developer of iPhone apps.

tesral
02-17-2010, 11:43 AM
I would want something more capable than the iPad. As a computer it is low end. From everything I've seen it is either an over sized iPod or an under capacity netbook.

I see two ways of building the table. Either with its own dedicated terminals, or set up to handle player owned computers.

For the built in terminal I would build it in. It would be part of the table surface. Networking would be cat5e for speed and security. Touch screen and keyboard.

For player owned computers table design would change to get the screens under the table surface. A shelf that let you set up the laptop. A glass top on the table so you can see the screen but have it under the table so the table sight lines are clear. The hinge on my laptop gets a real workout on game days. The computer pocket would have to be big enough.. I've seen players use everything from netbooks to 17 inch desktop replacements. In that case wireless and the option of cat5e plugs as well. (Yes, I'm a real fan of wired networking whenever it is practical.)

Years ago I saw a table I would love to have for gaming. It was a deep V shape with a smaller table across the top of the V. It would give everyone a clear line of sight on the GM and each other while focusing attention on he GM. The universe being what it is I will never see that table again.

Ishcumbeebeeda
03-05-2010, 11:54 PM
This thread's a little old now, but I just found this (http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/1339130) and it seems relevent, so I figured I'd post it for anyone interested.

tesral
03-06-2010, 12:52 AM
Looks like an open source version. Late and I can't turn up the volume to really hear it.

DM_Running_Farland_3.5
07-06-2010, 07:53 PM
I've been playing D&D since before I've been playing computer games...or even video games all that much. So playing it with Pen&Paper isn't always what I'm after. I'm after enhanced gameplay. If this was mass produced, I would build a room just for being a geek.

tesral
07-06-2010, 10:20 PM
Sure, any technology that enhances the game.