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Why not have MoM on a computer?


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#1 GrimJester

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 08:43 AM

I am a fan of Lovecraft and board games.  Buying Mansions of Madness was almost not a choice for me.  However, I've played the game three times as a Keeper and once as an Investigator and although playing the game was fun and memorable, the setup time, and storage time negated the fun.  As Keeper, if at all possible, I set up the game ahead of time, and the first time it took me 1.5 hours to do it (including double checking).

I played it again last night with a couple of people who love board games and role-playing games.  The wife brought up something that I've been thinking about board games for a long time now:

This needs to be on a computer.  Preferably online with voice chat.

Some will say that board games are best enjoyed face to face, and I agree, but I think that there are those who would enjoy the fun of these games online for many valid reasons.

The biggest problem, of course, is MoM's setup/storage time.  Sure, you could spend 3-4 hours and extra money devising systems to speed it up a bit, but come on, that shouldn't be necessary.

Also, if MoM were online, the game could be updated without much difficulty.

Yes, there's a lot of effort involved with doing a project like this for MoM, or other games, but consider this: Just make a virtual tabletop with virtual pieces.  Forget the AI.  Forget integrated rules.  Let the players handle the rules.  Just use the computer for setup.

MoM is a great game, but it wasn't meant for the table.  Arkham Horror, I'm looking at YOU too.



#2 gbup

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 04:59 PM

Sometimes I feel that the most Lovecraftian aspect of Mansions of Madness IS the setting up of the board!  Don't you just feel like Professor Armitage as you assemble the pieces, double checking the card numbers and placements, knowing that one misreading could mean the end of the world?  Or at least ruin the evening…

The first time I set up the game I will admit I was a bit stunned by the whole process, and was laughing quite madly by the end.  But as the game played out I did marvel at how everything ran so smoothly (fortunately I wasn't one of the brave early buyers who had to deal with game breaking errors).  I personally love the amount of cards and their physical presence, and yes, even the setup - like yourself I do this way ahead of time.

However there is definitely something to be said for digitizing board games to enable you to play a session with far away friends.  Voice chat would be essential.



#3 GrimJester

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 07:49 PM

You have a point there.  Which Keeper hasn't gone mad while considering the impossible angles of the room tiles and the cyclopean piles of cards?

I hope I didn't come across as not liking the game.  I do like the game.  As a role-player and board gamer, I think the board set up is very clever.  The Threat system is also a great way to put the Keeper/DM in check.  The combat system is a bit clunky, but the descriptions make up for it.  Lastly, the Trauma cards are both functional and an integral part of the unfolding story.  The game design is awesome as far as a thematic board game is concerned.

I just can't get over the setup time.  It's like driving to a friend's house, an hour going and an hour back, only to spend 2 hours there.  The enjoyment of the visit is diminished by the duration of travel. You can make an argument that only one player is taking the hit here, but hey, that player is ME.



#4 9-Jack-9

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 10:18 AM

It's incredibly difficult for a company with expertise in one area (board games) to break into a very different realm (video games). You need to put forward a lot of investment in advance (hiring developers who know what they're doing, or outsourcing the whole project). That's a difficult sell in a tough economy, and when the profit on many board and card games comes in slim margins.

That said, I think there's a huge opportunity in the video game world for electronic versions of board games, especially in terms of relaxed turn-based play. Like many folks in the western world, I lead a busy life, and it's difficult to get a consistent group of friends together for board games. There's obvious appeal in turn-based sequential play: everyone can submit their turns when time permits, and then the game generates a new turn for everyone to take.

I play one such game, a turn-based play-by-email (or dropbox) game called Solium Infernum. (Imagine something like Civilization, except you're an aspiring demon lord of hell, and your primary tools are deceit and manipulation.) It's a fantastic game but the user interface is terribly opaque and it's not very friendly to newbies.

With all of the variables in their games, Fantasy Flight would have an even more complex task ahead of them. Their ideal strategy would be to come up with a single game engine that facilitates the building of multiple game properties within it. There would be a number of hurdles -- for example, figuring out how players would handle "interrupt" events (like the keeper's mythos cards). But I do believe that this is the most significant aspect of the future of board gaming, and though the demand for print board games won't disappear, FF will eventually be missing out if they don't concurrently put some investment into the online multiplayer sphere.



#5 9-Jack-9

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 10:19 AM

But yeah, if you're pressed for time, MoM works best if you play host to your friends. When I really want to get in a game after work, I often set up the board the night before. That way, everything's ready to roll when people come over.



#6 AUCodeMonkey

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 07:29 AM

I've kicked around the idea for about a year now of creating some APIs for playing board and/or card games on the computer. A bunch of the guys in my usual gaming group are married and have kids work odd shifts, and/or are just plain busy. I'd love to be able to play against them in more things more often, but getting face to face time can be a nightmare trying to set up. I'll get around to doing that eventually… but work, family and other projects keep getting in the way



#7 9-Jack-9

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 11:22 AM

Yeah that sounds great. I mean, the average age of a gamer is in the 30s these days, and despite having kids and families, it's the older guys who are going to have more expendable income to buy this kind of stuff. I would gladly plop down $50 or $60 for an online Mansions of Madness. Plus you can ensure that all turns are run through a central server, solving the pirating problem. Of course, then you have continuing business expenditures after a product is launched, but that doesn't seem an unsolvable problem.



#8 GrimJester

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 04:23 PM

I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who would like to see Fantasy Flight games online.  However, I think we're not on the same page when it comes to what the final product would look like.  I'm picturing something along the lines of a virtual tabletop.  This concept is moving forward for role-playing games.  The basic idea is that the virtual tabletop only contains maps, tokens, cards, dice and voice/cam chat.  Setup would be automatic, but the players would handle game mechanics just like they always do.

Of course it's not that simple. Fantasy Flight would need to program ways to add components which could be moved, flipped, shuffled and rotated.  As was mentioned earlier, this would only need to be done once.  Then Fantasy Flight would only have to add the graphics for the various tokens, boards and cards for their games.  A little thought would have to go in to the player interface, limiting certain players from handling certain pieces and other elements, but since it's not programming AI or any other rules, I think it's very possible.

The real question is, "Is their enough demand for this?"  How many people would appreciate the ease of setup and/or are unable to get enough people together at one location to play?



#9 AUCodeMonkey

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 03:06 AM

I agree that a virtual tabletop is a great way to approach it. However, because of the frequency of which I play these games a lot of times I forget rule intricacies (Arkham Horror + expansions anyone? ) and thought there may be some use in helping with the rules as well. I laid out a base framework on paper last night, but since I know jack about graphics programming I haven't even thought about how to approach that end…



#10 GrimJester

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 06:04 PM

AUCodeMonkey said:

I agree that a virtual tabletop is a great way to approach it. However, because of the frequency of which I play these games a lot of times I forget rule intricacies (Arkham Horror + expansions anyone? ) and thought there may be some use in helping with the rules as well. I laid out a base framework on paper last night, but since I know jack about graphics programming I haven't even thought about how to approach that end…

Look into a program called Multimedia Fusion 2.  It handles graphics easily and allows for people to program extensions.  I have off during the Summer, I could make a demo of the interface using MMF 2 if there's still interest.

You can find a demo of MMF 2 at clickteam.com.

As for rules, if this is an official FFG product, I see no reason why the PDF for each game wouldn't be included in the interface.  A PDF is superior to the manual because of the find function.

 



#11 jeffvandenberg

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 03:33 AM

 I have discovered that organization really helps reduce the set up time for the game, because it can be cumbersome. I have all of the story specific cards (events, clues, etc.) for each story in their own small manilla envelope. I also have each card type sleeved and rubber banded together so that they can't get lost and spread out forcing me to sort them out when I want to set up. Characters are also each broken out into their own manilla envelopes. 

Having the players actually set up the physical board while they talk over character choices is also a time saver. 

All of this has allowed me be able to set up a game in 20 minutes or less, which is longer than many other board games, is quite manageable for a game of this size. 

Just my experiences…



#12 happykusinero

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 01:26 AM

I'm always the Keeper whenever we play and it's tiresome, the sheer amount of planning that goes with it is just insanity.

Thankfully I labeled and sorted all the pieces and placed them in a fishing tackle box (the one with many small compartments) you now have the "Keeper Box" :)

Whenever we play I just open the box place the pieces and keep the box beside me, setup is now a breeze

I hope the idea helps



#13 peterholthoffman

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 06:46 PM

My friends and I played MoM last night as the very first board game we ever played. It was great! The complexity was exactly right for us.

 

Unfortunately, we live in different cities and were only able to get together for Thanksgiving. We'd like to keep on playing over the Internet which is why I am here looking for ways to do that.

 

We want it play as closely as possible to the board game, just as has been proposed here. We'd also like to have at least VoIP and preferably webcams so we can see each other in addition to the board.

 

Setup should default to manual but maybe there could be an automatic set up in case people spontaneously decide to play and can't spend the time on set up?

 

I don't expect anything will come of this post as I see this thread is pretty old but I had to chime in with my support for the idea.

 

In the meantime, does anyone know of an online game we could try in the meantime? There are six or seven of us and we would prefer to be the only players, at least to begin with.



#14 Lilikin

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 03:16 PM

Why does everyone want to computerize board games?

 

Board games are a social events and in every genre I know there is a much better computer game tbh which you can play single or multiplayer the mechanics of boardgames are designed to be simple and fast to play a computer game you can get away with a lot of mechanics you wouldn't other wise


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#15 FantasticDan

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 08:25 PM

I would love a computerized version of MoM. Most of my friends arent hardcore gamers, so when I try to introduce them to a game like MoM or AH it can be overwelming. I think that if there were a computer game takes care of all the setup and rules, it would be a lot more accessable to more people. Then once they realize they like the game may want to try the tabletop version.




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