It may be the digital board game system that finally catches up to Teburu

It may be the digital board game system that finally catches up to Teburu
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After nearly two decades covering Gen Con, the world’s largest tabletop gaming convention, I’m sick and tired of hearing about digitized tabletop gaming tables and consoles.

Touch-sensitive screens, motion-sensing cameras, RFID-enabled bits, AAA-licensed headsets, virtual reality solutions… I’ve heard every sound that’s been made in the last few years. The problem is that almost everyone involved in a digital tabletop game console is selling an overpriced solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. There are so many great board games out there right now, thankfully, most of them I can ship to my house overnight, and none of them require a software update to work.

But what if a digital solution that really added something to the experience was an almost transparent digital platform that contributed to the immersion and speed of the game? Earlier this month, I was introduced to Teburu, a startup project by experienced game developers It has been studied. I was skeptical at first, but if anything succeeds in this fantastic little slot, I think it could look as terrifying as Teburu.

At the center of the Teburu system is a rectangular game board, about the same size as the average Monopoly board; it’s just that one side of it is covered with a thin, pre-printed adhesive layer full of sensors. A matching board game goes up. Each of your pieces has RFID tags under them, which the game board can detect as they move across its surface. A dongle with two antennas is attached to the game board – one for RFID chips and one for Bluetooth. It’s for dice, two simple six-sided dice that are smart enough to know which side is up, and for other Bluetooth-enabled devices like speakers, tablets, and smartphones. The most complex element is a single, fancier plinth for larger miniatures – call them boss miniatures – illuminated by multi-colored LED light at four points around the edge. Here it is: Four soft-intelligent peripherals connected to smartphones that, by today’s standards, everyone keeps in their pockets all day.

So what does this digital kit allow you to do? Well, first of all, it allows the game to always know where the players are on the board. This allows developers to program behaviors into enemies, or environments for that matter, that trigger based on where you move your pawn. In my demo Bad Karmas and Horoscope Curse, this meant that each of the four player characters had a unique voice for their footsteps. As my character climbed over the lava pit, I could hear the crunches and crunches of the molten rock below. Using my smartphone, I was able to select a skill to use from a small hand of cards displayed on my screen. When I picked up the dice and rolled, I got a six and it made a unique sound as I managed to hit the boss. That boss’s back lit up, indicating that I threw his shields at his left rear. The game then switched to the player to my left, whose turn began with a unique musical flourish.

Two large avatars of the zodiac signs, a rock monster and a winged horse, stand on the table.

Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

Cancer and two-headed Osiris-like figure.

Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

Player character models in basic style and historical clothing.

Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

Characters in medieval and futuristic clothing.

Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

A collection of Zodiac monsters and player characters set in each of four different historical eras.

At every moment during the demo, the Teburu system supported my efforts to play the game. Hyperlinked keywords were accessible, immediately opening mini-menus to remind you of their in-game effects. The interface intelligently moved around the room in focus, drawing the entire party’s attention to the main screen – the tablet – which displayed global information about the encounter, and in turn to my personal screen, which served as my personal sideboard. It’s easy to see how Teburu, a hugely popular pick in board games since the start of the pandemic, could enable solo play.

Instead of being a difficult quirk or the sole focus of every interaction in the game, Teburu simply helped me, adding to the experience without detracting from it. It was nice.

“[The hardest part was] user experience or game flow,” said Riccardo Landi, head of design at Teburu. “You have the game board, you have the physical dice, you have three or four—five! – screens to view. [It’s about] how the game tells you what to do, when the game tells you what to do. It’s about the timing and rhythm of the game, because if things happen too fast, you lose control. “If they happen too soon, you don’t want to play.”

For someone who spends hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on perfect plastic terrains, trays, dice towers, paint, and other odds and ends to support my favorite tabletop games, Teburu suddenly makes sense. I could definitely see myself shelling out the $100 or so required for the system to upgrade the games I love.

However, the catalog of only one game – which has yet to be sent to backers – is quite limited. The team tells me that most of the hardware work is out of the way at this point. Development began five years ago, founder and CEO Davide Garofalo says, leading to nine patents. To make sure the company has enough equipment to meet potential demand, Garofalo says it stockpiled the components it needs to make more — mostly the hard-to-find special chips and antennas needed for connectivity. They are just waiting, ready for the next wave.

The only thing missing is bigger games and at least two more have been announced so far. The jewel in the crown is a new partnership with Paradox Interactive. Soon, Teburu will begin creating original games based on the European publisher’s World of Darkness properties. starting with Vampire: The Masqueradethey hope the line will expand to both Werewolf: Apocalypse and Hunter: Reckoning. Teburu’s team wants the trilogy of games to be connected in some way, with the events of one game flowing naturally into the next.

“It’s going to be a city management game,” said founder and CEO Garofalo, “where you’re the Anarchs who are set to rule Milan over the Camarilla. Then we’re doing a werewolf title and a hunter title, but they’re going to intertwine with each other in a cross-chronology. [way].”

More than turn-based tactical adventures Bad Karmas, these World of Darkness games will be narrative driven. Think of a campaign as a co-op RPG in a box Gloomhavenbut with the PC acting as Dungeon Master.

“Imagine something like that Arkham Horror Second Edition, where you walk into a place and pick up a card,” Garofalo said, citing one of the leading app-enabled board games on the market right now. “Instead of picking up a card, we have a whole narrative design—like in a video game—that’s about who you are, what the moment is. , to what is happening at that moment in the timeline, etc. The system suggests the right story event for you, allowing you to choose between different possible options. They can be narrative or investigative, or related to other characters [in the game with you at that point in time]. So it’s not a role-playing game; it’s a board game experience – but very much a story.”

But when we’re talking about the metaverse and virtual reality taking up most of the cutting edge development and marketing energy these days, why not go the whole hog with an augmented reality or virtual reality system? Garofalo believes this is another solution in search of a problem. People are still physical beings, after all, they like to gather around the table.

“I believe we’re still monkeys around a monolith,” Garofalo said with a hopeful smile, “or a tribe around a campfire.”

Look for more crowdfunding campaigns from Teburu in the coming months and years. Bad Karmas and Horoscope Curse The base comes with the Teburu system and is available as a late deposit bonus through Game found for the equivalent 178 dollars.

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