D&D on Microsoft Surface

What if you could roleplay at a table that actually contained all the game logic? It recognized your mini when you placed on the surface and presented an array of options available to your character and resolved the challenges based upon GM and Player input? In addition, you were not constrained to play within the rules (game logic), but could play “freestyle” any time you wish by simply switching of the rules?

Well, the technology is available today, but it’s real pricey (app. $12,000 USD). However, in about 10 years, I expect the price for such technologies will have dropped into the upper range of affordable and such tables might become something more than an uncommon sight.

If you have been following the Labs for any amount of time, then you are probably aware of my love of technology when it is used to enhance or facilitate the playing of roleplaying games. Recently, The Core Mechanic and Mad Brew Labs bounced some ideas about utilizing Social Media as a platform for playing RPGs.[1] [2] [3] [4]

Prior to the discussion of Social Media RPGs, I wrote several articles about the Future Technology of roleplaying. These articles focused on current technologies the hobby had yet to use fully[5], emerging technologies that RPGs could utilize[6], a look at augmented reality for RPGs[7], and finally a piece about the rise of the digital game table[8], which included a preview of Dungeons & Dragons being playing on the Microsoft Surface.[9]

The SurfaceScapes[10] team at Carnegie Mellon University[11] has designed the interface and logic for playing D&D on the MS Surface. The MS Surface site has done several interviews with the team, and if you’re interested in the technology, I recommend you read them.[12] [13] [14]

Otherwise, I present three videos that demonstrate the capabilities of the table:


[1] Roleplaying Games, Social Media Games, and the Shared Fence. The Core Mechanic. 2010-01-12.

[2] Bridging the Gap: RPGs and Social Media. Mad Brew Labs. 2010-01-14.

[3] Social Media RPG Platform. Mad Brew Labs. 2010-01-15.

[4] Social Media Role Playing Minigames. The Core Mechanic. 2010-01-15.

[5] Untapped Potential of Technology. Mad Brew Labs. 2009-05-06.

[6] Future Potential of Technology. Mad Brew Labs. 2009-08-06.

[7] Augmented Reality “Boardgame”. Mad Brew Labs. 2009-08-07.

[8] Rise of the Digital Game Table. Mad Brew Labs. 2009-10-19.

[9] The Microsoft Surface is a multi-touch table computer.

[10] SurfaceScapes is a student project for Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center.

[11] Carnegie Mellon University is located in Pittsburgh, PA.

[12] Dungeons & Dragons Done Right on MS Surface. MS Surface Blog. 2009-10-19.

[13] SurfaceScapes Follow-up: Bringing D&D to MS Surface. MS Surface Blog. 2009-12-08.

[14] New Gameplay Video with D&D on Surface. MS Surface Blog. 2009-12-16.

Listening to: Monster Magnet – Dopes to Infinity – Negasonic Teenage Warhead

6 thoughts on “D&D on Microsoft Surface

  1. @Jonathan: Damn Wired for trying to steal my thunder (this posted 30 minutes ahead of them, if they are on EST)!
    Just kidding, but really. Doesn’t really matter, though, I’d mentioned the SurfaceScapes stuff a while back.[8]

    Affordability is key, and I hear that tablet is going to cost in the $1,000 USD range… which is not affordable either, for what it does. I’d buy one for half that. That being said, Always Innovating’s Touchbook ($299-399), Lenovo’s S10-3t ($550), or Asus’ T91MT ($485) are attractive options.

  2. @Jonathan: I am pleasantly surprised by the base model iPad’s price point. of $500. Too bad it doesn’t look like it supports Flash, which effectively neuters a lot of the web.

  3. that may change. but its understandible why Apple has done that. Web based flash apps could probably replicate any iPod/iPad touch application (perhaps minus the touch gentures features) – thus, but closing Flash apps off they are keeping control of the app development space. Dev’s are forced to learn Objective C instead.
    .-= jonathan´s last blog ..The Apple iPad: It will change how we play =-.

  4. @Jonathan: Actually, you can develop Flash apps that support multi-touch. But WHY would I learn Objective C when the majority of internet users can access Flash, or even develop AJAX based web apps that anyone can use? The only thing the iClones (iPhone, iPod, iPad) bring to the table that is rare (but not unique) is an accelerometer. Also, Flash CS5 can now export apps as iPhone apps… so really, Flash Actionscript would be far more useful.

    The very reason Apple wants to force me to do it their way (and pay to do it) is why I would never consider developing on their platform. A lot of people ding Microsoft, but their developer tools are free and Adobe works with practically everything but Apple’s iClones.

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