Com-cast Ep. 36: Boardgame Empire


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Composed by: Grant Kelly


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Boardgame Empire


•Do devices like the Microsoft Pixelsense or Lenovo Horizon represent a genuine opportunity for expansion?

•What sorts of games or genres are conducive to touch experiences?

•Can these types of devices retain and improve the social experience presented by table card games?

Quarterly Review




•Console race

•Broken big launches

Solifluktion's picture

Welcome back guys. Good to see the podcast isn't dead.

OmegaZero's picture

Oooh, the long-awaited return of the ComCast is about tabletop gaming? I am totally OK with this. Also, prepare for another typically long comment of mine :p

Did you really just call the Pixelsense a "giant, table-sized iPad"? The irony is attempting to murder me.
In regards to the crossover between Tabletoppers, Videogamers, and Minatures people, I'd think that something over 50% of Miniatures play Tabletops, and something north of 50% of Tabletop players also game electronically. Good to see that there is an overlap now. I wonder how games like Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter, and KotOR have affected the ratio, or if its just a slow change over time without any such obvious turning points.

Skylanders (and, let's be honest, trading cards, tabletop books, and miniatures) is the return of physical DLC. This used to be a thing back in the late 90's/early 00's where you would get a game and then certain extra features could only be played with a $5 disc from a specific retailer. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing (I'm inclined to say bad purely because it's paid DLC).

As far as renting out a Pixelsense for a game, it would be great. But there's a few issues.
1) Money. I'm sorry, but anything that requires me to spend money sucks.
2) Locations. It requires me and my buddies to go out to the FLGS, which means the store will have had to shell out $10k, which they don't have.
3) Formatting. Somehow, the DM/GM is going to have to interact with the table. With 5 other players, that's going to be a hassle, and for their personal notes and whatnot they're going to need their own screen at the very least, plus time to prepare it and load it on to the table. Alternatively, if it's just each player looking at a tiny portion of the table that happens to be acting as a tablet, you've lost the social aspect.
For these and a multitude of other reasons, I suggest you guys take a look at, a website that runs nearly any sort of online tabletop session, along with video/voice chat. It's basically exactly what you described about what ought to happen when a member can't physically make it to a session. It's an even more digital representation of your magic table, it's free, and it allows people to play globally (eg, I play with a group based in Connecticut when I'm a few hundred miles away). While it's a better feeling to pull out pen and paper with a group of buddies, that means you all have to gather in one place and you need to have $120 worth of books. Roll20 is free.
In regards to dice, you can always find out the top face of a die given the bottom face of the die. And trust me, sometimes it's a good thing for the GM to be able to fudge dice.

I think you're wrong about the conflict over "gamer identity." I don't think it's about hating on niche genres, bashing indie games, or seeing games that aren't Halo of Duty as "an existential threat." The stereotypical 12-year olds have never heard of indie games, and I suspect that demographic is among the most radical of gamers. They have no "gamer identity" as you define it, and the segment you have in mind as the original, founding culture of gamers is what, 30-40 years old now? I have trouble imagining that they're radical enough to go to internet war over something like this. Apart from the eternal console wars and the annoyingly vocal raging trolls/idiots/12 year olds, I see gamers generally in solidarity with each other.The conflict lies elsewhere, although I don't know where exactly.

Part of the reason an FPSMMO might work over, say something like a Fallout MMO, is because FPS and MMO are typically very fast-paced. Fallout is much slower and more careful. Something like Borderlands, which was a mix of FPS action and MMO PvE, grinding, and loot systems, is the closest we've had to an FPSMMO prior to Destiny. Mechanically, the only differences between Borderlands and Destiny are the number of people in the world at any given time, and the narrative.

Microsoft knows they have to be very careful with Mojang. I can't see them doing anything stupid with Minecraft. They're holding one of the world's best-known games in their ahnds; they CAN'T do much to it without their PR department getting lynched by an angry mob. In the short-term, I foresee no change. In the long term, I expect Minecraft to get back-end updates, improvements, and fixes, mainly boosting frame rate and the like. Any intervention on Microsoft's part elsewhere will get called out by players and modders and look what that got them back when they were announcing the XBox One.

I haven't yet managed to snag a run through of Survivor in TLOU, but NG+ makes it so much easier. Don't bother with Unity because even after the patches they've thrown at it; while you can assassinate people, the Mirror's Edge-style freerun controls are nice but will randomly jump you to "cover" or "ledges" that are nonsensical. And in the world of easily-downloaded patches and hotfixes, it's become acceptable to ship games that haven't been QA tested properly. Ten years ago any bug that managed to get shipped would be tiny and implausibly difficult to encounter; now, because devs can fix things, it's not an issue anymore. If anything, this is just more incentive to wait 6 months before making a purchase; not only will the price have come down, but the game will actually work by that point. You bring up a good point that this not only applies to the games, but to the consoles themselves, with the X1 being updated every other day and the PS4 having undergone several major binary surgeries. It's a wonder of modern technology that we're able to fix all these issues we keep finding, but...why weren't they found in the first place? 

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