[DISCLAIMER] I apologize if this is not the appropriate section. My topic vets if and how some products are blurring the boundaries between your kitchen table and the laptop sitting on it.
In addition, I do not own the rights of any of the products I am going to mention and I am not trying to sell them to you in any way. At best, I am trying to find people to play them with [/DISCLAIMER]
I would like to talk about two very specific titles, Armello and a weird game called Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes.
KTANE is most definitely a tabletop social interaction game using your pc as a prop. You have to defuse a bomb on screen, while your friend or friends are looking at the bomb defuse manual (Printed form a provided pdf or read from any other device with screen) and you will constantly YELL at each other.
They will be giving instructions that you will not comprehend and ask for details you will fail to provide properly, while looking at a manual, which is a puzzle in itself.
This parallel attempt at solving the same puzzles from different prospective is what makes this game such FUN.
All the screaming, countdown panic and random alarms going off from the game will help shape one of the weirdest, yet remarkable gaming experiences I have ever had.
Armello instead, for those who do not know it, is literally a video board game. You can find it on Steam and it is only playable through video gaming platforms, but mind you, this is not a videogame vaguely reminiscing of board games mechanics or a video game port or simulation of well-known board games. It is very simply a Digital Board Game.
It has a lovely theme, mountains of incredibly well conceived, splendidly drawn ANIMATED cards, a randomized game board made of hexagonal tiles (optional yet gorgeous seasons change through paid DLC) and DICE. Lots and lots of dice. It is specifically designed to feel and play as a board game, but only virtually.
I do believe it has the potential to be licensed and produced as a standalone board game, even though some of its core mechanics properly streamlined by automation) would add to playtime and perhaps create a bit of a chaotic experience. Nonetheless, if physically reproduced I am confident that, with a bit of study and proper testing, it might end up being a modern classic in the board gaming landscape.
In the meanwhile, I fail to categorize it as a video game since whenever I have to advice video gaming friends about what to buy I always call it a board game, because that is the kind of experience Armello provides.
When played with three friends in a room or over a voice chat service it is one of the best board gaming experiences I could ask for. It has EXPLORATION, TACTICS, NARRATION, INTRIGUE, CHARACTER GROWTH, DUNGEONS, BETRAYALS, ALLIANCES, DIPLOMACY, and DICE!
It makes people rage and laugh and think and YELL and try hard to overcome the board's perils and outwit their own friends.
Unfortunately, its biggest "flaw" so to say is that it might be very, very hard to "sell" to friends.
Video gamers will consider it a board game and Tabletop enthusiasts will classify it as a video game. Both sides will then disdainfully refuse to approach it and might even present good reasons to dislike it, from the price range to the gameplay itself.
- It is gorgeous but not tactile
- it is cheap but you'll need everyone to buy a copy, If you do not already own a gaming hardware you won't even consider buying one just for this.
- It is slow as a videogame and leans a lot toward multiplayer.
- As a board game, it does not work as well if you are playing it with random strangers instead of friends (despite some lovely exchanges I had through the in-game pre-structured chat system).
Yet Armello’s fun factor is MASSIVE if played among friends, especially if acquainted with board gaming. It will not require anything more than a few bucks and a steam account for anyone to run it properly and enjoy it. (Despite working as a Product Manager for an indie development studio, my current machine is a real potato)
It is also regularly tweaked, maintained and updated, with random drops ever expanding your (Ghost) dice collection.
What do you think?
Do you know of other titles that blur the boundaries between tabletop and desktop as well as these two?
More importantly, who wants to play?