(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ GOOD GAME
April 19, 2014 12:32 PM   Subscribe

Tabletop Simulator is a, well, simulator for tabletop gaming. The trailer shows a number of applications: classics like chess and chinese checkers, RPG campaigns, and games using a standard deck of playing cards. And if you're looking for something with less structure you can set up domino chains. The game supports net-play with friends (video has a bit of cursing), with the option of flipping the table if the game isn't going your way.

The game is supported on STEAM, making net-play easier, and also providing access to modifications created by other players via the Workshop. There are no rules, making it good for creating your own games. Over on The Nexus modders are already hard at work recreating popular game environments for other players.
posted by codacorolla (34 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Arkham Horror?
posted by JARED!!! at 12:44 PM on April 19, 2014

Oh, I forgot to mention, there is an undo button. So if the physics goes crazy or someone table flips you can return to the last stable state.

JARED!!!: I feel like someone has to be working on it. I've also seen people floating the idea that this might be the program that makes Warhammer affordable.
posted by codacorolla at 1:01 PM on April 19, 2014

Definitely gonna check this out. Thanks for posting.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:07 PM on April 19, 2014

Oh I remember seeing this on RPS or something and being really interested. I know VASSAL has been around forever, but this just seems cool.
posted by curious nu at 1:11 PM on April 19, 2014

vassal is great and all but i can't wait to simulate twilight struggle with a physics engine
posted by p3on at 1:31 PM on April 19, 2014

I immediately went and bought this. That it allows the user-creation of new games pretty much made me run to my PC and purchase it.

It seems like an incitement to infringement, which is (indirectly) the attraction for me.

I mean, I don't want cool tabletop game designers/publishers to lose money, but within minutes I predict I'll be experimenting with implementing a favorite game or three. First of all, pinochle, which my family plays and is of course not anyone's intellectual property. Second of all, maybe Acquire which is a favorite game from my youth and is someone's property (although it's three years older than me). Third up, perhaps Mille Borne, also a favorite game from my youth (and one which I did successfully complete a software implementation of, including computer players, way back in 1983).

"I know VASSAL has been around forever, but this just seems cool."

I did not know about VASSAL; but the physics engine and eye-candy of Tabletop Simulator is pretty darn appealing.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:34 PM on April 19, 2014

I saw this on Steam last night. Huh, I thought. 3D, proprietary VASSAL.

I've also seen people floating the idea that this might be the program that makes Warhammer affordable.

Any such module will be sued into smithereens by Games Workshop. Ask the VASSAL community.
posted by JHarris at 1:51 PM on April 19, 2014 [6 favorites]

(It seems unlikely they could get Games Workshop to agree to a licensed version; if that were going to happen, they'd probably have already licensed it as a stand-alone game by now, as WH40K is a game that screams out for computer aids.)
posted by JHarris at 1:54 PM on April 19, 2014

Is there any way for companies to prevent people passing around these modules privately, for their own purposes? I mean, sure, they can go after ISPs and whomever the same way that's done with other IP protection tactics. But who's going to stop me from playing my implementation of, say, Mille Borne with some friends?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:56 PM on April 19, 2014

IIRC Games Workshop has said that they have no plans to do anything whatsoever with computers that could possibly threaten their miniatures sales.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:11 PM on April 19, 2014

Including little things like accidentally hitting pieces with the dice, and big things like flipping the table, instead of abstracting the physics away like you normally do with board games on the computer, is an odd call. If you want to go all out, you could include the cat that decides it should hop on the table to see what all the humans are interested in.

I definitely see the appeal of not implementing the rules of the games. It makes development a lot easier, and it allows the players to use house rules or whatever they want. It also kind of makes the game more of a social thing, that the rules of the game only exist as a result of you mutually following them.
posted by RobotHero at 2:28 PM on April 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

Something I've wanted for a long time is a minimalist webapp that would just simulate a deck of cards. Not the rules of any game, but just managing what card is where and who can see what. For many boardgames the play-by-email style works fine, but when there's hidden information to track, as in games using cards, that's harder: either you need an extra impartial person to manage the deck or a whole lot of tedious crypto-esque business.

This... although it fulfills my desiderata it's pretty much the aesthetic opposite of what I was after. Physics, who ordered that?

Does anyone know of something more minimal?
posted by finka at 3:16 PM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

finka, OCTGN might be what you're looking for. I used it to play Android:Netrunner online for a while, and I think that it's basically the place to play all of Fantasy Flight's LCGs. But it's a windows program, so ya gotta use WINE or something to run it on a real OS. ;)
posted by zscore at 3:30 PM on April 19, 2014

The first trailer on the Steam store page makes it seem like this is more of a game-piece flinging simulator than a true implementation of game play. All I know is having to roll virtual dice in the middle of a crowded virtual table cluttered with highly-knockdownable virtual gubbins is going to get old really fast. Do they have an option for non-physics-based dice?
posted by Strange Interlude at 3:35 PM on April 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

After experimenting with it for a few minutes, I'm disappointed ... but that's mostly my own fault. I'd like to see more ability to implement game mechanics (and to selectively control the physics, per Strange Interlude's complaint). Perhaps I've missed something; my examination was perfunctory.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:52 PM on April 19, 2014

I'm pretty interested in this game because i love tabletop games, but I'm having a hard time imagining i will play games on it when i don't play the games that are literally sitting within arms reach already sooooo
posted by rebent at 4:26 PM on April 19, 2014

I can't decide if this is compelling or not. Seems like it just provides you with a shared 3D space and tokens, and leaves scoring up to you, just like playing a game face to face, which I think is pretty cool. As much as my brother and I love boardgames, we've never really gotten into playing a lot of stuff online because the regimented turn systems tend to kill that "just hanging out" feeling which makes games so fun. But yeah, on the other hand if every dice roll is going to knock stuff over that's not going to be much fun.
posted by usonian at 4:35 PM on April 19, 2014

But who's going to stop me from playing my implementation of, say, Mille Borne with some friends?

Only that you would have to create the implementation yourself, or get someone else's that you got through channels not visible to or otherwise effectively attackable by the licensee or licensor of Mille Bornes (Winning Moves and Hasbro, respectively). Maybe torrent collections.

If you want to go all out, you could include the cat that decides it should hop on the table to see what all the humans are interested in.

posted by JHarris at 5:52 PM on April 19, 2014


This is really on a tangent, but we played a game called Dweebs Geeks & Weirdos where who draws a card each round is determined by who tosses a chip closest to a target. So of course the cat decides to start pouncing on them and we agreed to count the closest chip post-pounce. And that was the best part of that game; there need to be more party games that incorporate cats.
posted by RobotHero at 6:34 PM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

My question is if players actually play the game or just continually flip over the table, which is what I would do.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:19 PM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Where's the undo button?
posted by Phssthpok at 9:12 PM on April 19, 2014

Ooh, it's Garry!
posted by you at 10:55 PM on April 19, 2014

Could you just make the game pieces much heavier than the dice to avoid knocking over? A solution that's difficult in the real world but easy virtually.
posted by rikschell at 11:46 PM on April 19, 2014

And that was the best part of that game; there need to be more party games that incorporate cats.

There are games where you physically flick a car around a track. A (real, physical) game involving the active participation of a cat doesn't seem impossible, although given the legendary uncooperativeness of the species, care should be taken in the design for unexpected events like cat ignoring board, cat stealing pieces and running off, and cat plopping in middle of board looking up at everyone and purrring smugly.
posted by JHarris at 12:35 AM on April 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

This has interesting implications for games of Nomic.
posted by rifflesby at 12:46 AM on April 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

Where's the undo button?

The menu on the left hand side of the screen has an arrow at the bottom of it. That's undo.
posted by codacorolla at 7:29 AM on April 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

I set aside some time today to prototype the battle system for a deck building RPG I've been working on. The basic idea is that players engage in character creation through putting together a deck of red, green and blue cards. Red cards represent brawn, green cards represent bravado and blue cards represent brains. In combat players draw to 7 cards, which they then spend to move (with green cards giving two spaces of movement instead of 1) or to put together skill books, which are combinations of cards that are discarded together to trigger attacks and other skills. For example, discarding Red Red Green together is a combination strike, and deals 1 damage twice to any two adjacent targets (which you then add weapon bonuses to).

You can see the game board and custom cards I put together in this screenshot. The red pawn is Hector (who's doing pretty well!) and the yellow marble is the last unit of a totally screwed troop of kobolds.

I've gotten used to the UI controls. Pressing "T" while holding an object allows you to mitigate mistakes with the physics system, since it's placing the object instead of dropping. I had one minor SNAFU when I knocked two kobold marbles against each other, but that was easily fixed. If I'd had to roll the dice, then it would've been easy enough to do it on the felt off to the side, making sure that I didn't interfere with my game-space at all.

One thing that definitely needs to be improved is a hand system. Right now managing more than a single player's hand would be a huge pain in the ass, and occasionally cards would flip when I didn't want them to while picking up Hector's cards to discard. However, from the official forums, this is a common complaint and something I'd imagine is being worked on as the game proceeds through alpha.

It would also be nice to have dummy players for prototyping. Let me make 2 or 3 spots on the table, and then jump between them.

Another awesome addition would be a bunch of geometric primitives that you can put your own textures onto. For example, in the above game, it'd be nice to have a separate mat for the time track and the hex map. It'd also be nice to have individual mats which represent each kobold, and a bunch of mats to represent Hector's skills and items. The ability to design your own table-spaces would also be cool. Like, give me the ability to draw out mats that can then have custom textures assigned with a really basic 3D editing interface.

Of course there are a few other things. Like the ability to press a key when mousing over an object to lock its position in the game-space (also something I think they're adding), and just more pieces in general. A lot of these things will probably also be tackled by modders as the community develops.

Altogether this was about ten times more fun than a similar prototype I'd done with a hand drawn grid, some blank cards and balled up pieces of paper for tokens. Having everything in the virtual environment just felt right, and it was super easy to pull virtual game-pieces out of thin air. I really like it so far.
posted by codacorolla at 11:04 AM on April 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

I see the utility of 3D for maybe a 3D tactics board game or war game (are there any?), but other than that, it seems like added perception and modding overhead.

Still, there is no easy-to-set-up and -mod, networked-over-Steam VASSAL, so these guys have improved the world a bit. Anyone know where the modding docs are?
posted by ignignokt at 11:42 AM on April 20, 2014

ok so, I'm an insatiable game tinkerer. I've got this idea for a game that involves revealing the map as the players move around the board by flipping tiles.

Is there a way to create a grid of flipped tiles that would not be messed up by the physics? Can I create custom images to go on the tiles?

Because if so, I might have to get this game.
posted by rebent at 6:11 AM on April 21, 2014

At this point: sort of, but not really. You could make a custom deck of cards that would have the map on it, but to be honest cards are one of the pickier physics objects, and it'd be difficult to line them up properly. In future: almost definitely. As soon as modding support becomes more robust, players will have the ability to create custom pieces in 3D modeling software and import them. Then it'd be a matter of making flat rectangles with low centers of gravity and texturing them with whatever you wanted.
posted by codacorolla at 6:36 AM on April 21, 2014

Nice. If that's the case, I could see this being an incredible tool for designing tabletop games
posted by rebent at 7:19 AM on April 21, 2014

I've been looking at various resources around the net, and came up with some cool stuff for designers who are interested in the platform:

Berserk's forum has feedback sections as well as a sort of creative workshop forum.

In the creative forum, there's an AWESOME tool that makes it much easier to build decks.

The sub Reddit has some good discussion going on as well.
posted by codacorolla at 9:34 AM on April 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

This looks good. Board games via distance is always a good thing.
posted by RolandOfEld at 3:20 PM on April 23, 2014

I have yet to play a game that did physics simulation on arbitrary objects without being a horrible pain to control and subject to bizarre and immersion-shattering bugginess (I mean, we laugh at Goat Simulator, but its physics aren't noticeably worse than in Bethesda's games), so the idea of a fiddly board game simulator with a physics engine screams "endless irritation" to me.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:48 PM on April 23, 2014

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