Bring Dungeons and Dragons to your $15,000 game table

Kevin Kelly
K. Kelly|03.27.10

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What happens when you marry board games and video games? The electrical pixel explosion of that chocolate into peanut butter hasn't been fully realized yet, so besides a handful of Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne and Hasbro Family Game Nights, there's not a heck of a lot going on. However, what happens when you force role-playing games and video games into a shotgun wedding? Pure magic for rich people.

During GDC we took a look at a student project called SurfaceScapes that brings D&D to the Microsoft Surface. It's not just a simple "Ooooh, touch the screen to activate your character sheet!" port of the pen and paper game, but a touch-tastic experience that will blow your mind. Plot a miniature down on the Surface, and it recognizes your character. You can pull up radial menus for actions, spells, and attacks, see your line of sight, move your character, and run the entire game just using your power of touch.

The game transparently handles all of the mechanics. Have a character that was set on fire a couple of rounds ago? The Surface will let you know if you're still burning. Not sure where your area of effect spell is going to hit? The Surface tells you. Basically, it knows everything. And if you're a Dungeon Master worried about people seeing behind your precious cardboard screen, don't sweat: you'll run the campaign from your laptop, which interfaces with the Surface.

What's really amazing about the project is that it's being run by a few student at Carnegie Mellon University, and they don't even have the support of D&D license-holder Wizards of the Coast. Although with Wizards and SurfaceScapes both at PAX East this weekend we hope they meet up, handshake a deal, then Wizards can use all of their riches from Magic: The Gathering to subsidize the cost of the Surface and make them affordable for normal joes like us. And if you happen to be rich enough to purchase one of these ... invite us over already!
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