Carnegie Mellon students have shown a version of Dungeons & Dragons that operates on the Microsoft Surface multi-touch platform to CrunchGear writer Devin Coldewey. Disclosure: it’s not even a professional development, but actually a student project, which says even more about the level of innovation going on at that level. Check out the video experience after the break.
They’ve really taken advantage of the Surface’s ability to recognize the little tags, and your “control” token lets you place your inventory, actions, and so on wherever is convenient. The game keeps track of your guy even if, say, you spill a drink and have to move him and clean up. There’s actually a whole dungeon-master backend on a separate screen that can be manipulated in real time, adding or subtracting monsters, guiding the characters, and so on.
Combat was straightforward, and they noted that a lot of that is being beefed up in the new version. Lots more moves, better dice, and so on. Of course there’s work to be done, but it seems really promising, and remember this is a project put together by a handful of students. They have some stated goals, but with some of the students graduating, the future of the project is uncertain (but not dire). I’m guessing Wizards of the Coast is going to pay through the nose for it — I’m sure they see what it could be with a budget and an extra couple devs working on it.
I’ve personally had a chance to play around with Microsoft’s Surface interface at Disneyland’s Innoventions center, and like Coldewey, I do believe that this kind of collaborative, intuitive gaming is something I can easily see in bars, lounges, and even schools all over the place. All that limits mass deployment now is a matter of cost.