The Challenge of Table Space
Board games are vehicles for friendships, old and new. Board games are more than art on cardboard and the digital version of them needs to be more as well. Capturing the feeling, the essential experience, of a title is what we strive for. But how do you qualify that?
Perception, the process of becoming aware of something through the senses, is learned behavior. Humans take it for granted because it's something we taught ourselves during infancy. Replicating a real world board game into an online environment requires us to examine these mechanisms of perception we don’t give much thought to. The goal is to make the interface as unobtrusive as possible so the players can enjoy the game and the other players.
Space the first but not final frontier! Many digital board game ports take the shortcut of limiting the player’s perception strictly to the board itself. Though this approach helps with the action of the game, it is very impersonal and isolating. In Sovranti, we hope to create a place where you can see more of yourself in the experience. That starts by creating a space where you, your friends, and the game can be represented while still keeping the user interface (UI) unobtrusive and maintaining the fun.
Table layout is the first critical challenge of our space - specifically, trying to get everything onto the smallest table possible. Just like television which places the actors closer together than they might be in real life, since your window into our space is limited to your PC or mobile device. We need to bring everything together, but still keep it feeling comfortable and visually make sense for the goals of the game.
We start any title’s layout with the game's common area and then balance it against the players’ individual play spaces. Since one of our goals is to make games easier to learn, we also then have to look at the layout from a new player’s perspective and how they might need to move through that space to understand the game. In real life, that would be determined by the length of the player's reach and where they sit in relation to any individual elements. In Sovranti, everyone has the best seat. They are all central with the board facing the correct way and in reach of everything they need.
Part of getting the table layout right is integrating the UI. We’re not only rebuilding the game, we’re creating tools so you can access and learn the game more easily. Those UI elements need to be in balance with the visual aspects of the title, but also common to all the games so that each game in Sovranti is a little easier to learn than the last.
Lastly, we need to leave “room” for player feedback. Everyone is different and not everyone plays games the same way. Translating this into an online environment is about testing our vision and seeing if it meets player expectations and how they want to play the games. Rules enforcement shouldn’t obliterate individuality.
Publisher: Fight in a Box
Sovranti Developer: Chuck
Newly released to beta, Hedgehog Hop challenges you to bump your team into the dance mob and make friends. Scoring points in the “Grand Finale” based on largest groupings of certain hedgehogs determined by your lead dancer. Developer Chuck has been working on bringing the hedgehogs to life creating a table layout which can contain the large dance parties. Below is an image of early table layout testing.
Chuck: “Who doesn't love Hedgehogs!? We've been hard at work on Hedgehog Hop and can't wait to get it in the hands of our Beta testers. Translating the fun of a sliding tile-based game to our platform has been interesting; bringing each dancing Hedgehog into play requires not only sliding all of the other dancers around, but also calculating scoring based on dance move, color and style."
Things to look forward to:
Animating the slides as new dancers are played.
Allowing players to play from their hand or from their backup dancers.
Messaging all players how the last dance move scored.
Stay tuned for more- and remember to keep your Hedgehogs dancing!