Tom Vasel | 1 Jun 12:49 2007
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[Review] Galactic Expanse Starship Battles

	I was exceptionally eager to get Galactic Expanse: Starship Battles
(Lost Battalion Games, 2006 – Jeff Billings), mostly because any game
that simulates spaceship combat is one that draws me in.  In fact, my
geekiness came out during the game, as I was explaining the rules to
another player.  I mentioned that "these rules make sense when you
compare them to real life", and then we all burst into laughter at my
version of "real life."  Still, I had no problem getting this game to
the table with science fiction fans.

	Galactic Expanse has one gigantic negative problem – the rules are
almost incomprehensible.  Fortunately, after struggling through them
and using an example of combat on the web, we found a pretty nifty
tactical space combat game.  The game sticks with its theme of
starships attacking one another – doing an extraordinary job of it.
There are four races of aliens, and each feels fairly different, while
well balanced.  If you can make it through the muddle of rules and
enjoy combat games with a bit of luck, Galactic Expanse is going to
delight your inner child.

	Each player controls a deck of sixteen spaceships, each a different
species (Nizk, Gar, Brean, and Sarn).  Spaceships have three offensive
weapons (strike craft, hyper speed torpedoes, and beam weapons), a
defensive weapon (railgun), shields, troop capacity, and thrust.  Each
weapon shows one to three dice (white six-sided, green eight-sided,
and blue ten-sided), although it's possible that a ship does not have
one or more of the weapons.  Shields also have one or more dice and
may also have a "veil", a "-2" modifier.  Each player shuffles their
cards, drawing six of them and placing them face up in two "lines" in
front of themselves.  Another deck of action cards is shuffled, with
each player drawing six of them to form their hands.  Each player is
(Continue reading)

David Bohnenberger | 1 Jun 15:03 2007
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Re: [Review] Galactic Expanse Starship Battles

Thanks. The game sounds exactly like an outer-space
version of LBG's Battlegroup. Oddly, I didn't find
Battlegroup too hard to figure out, and it certainly
doesn't have 16 pages of rules. Maybe LBG made a
mistake by trying to "clarify" things that didn't
really need clarification, thus bloating the rulebook?

I really liked Battlegroup, and consider it the best
of the "Naval War" style games I've played. This game
sounds good too.

       
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Brian Leet | 1 Jun 16:21 2007
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Re: Re: Surface

I can definitely see where an interface like this would be an
improvement for many games, but I'm even more interested in playing
hybrids that don't even exist yet, but this would allow.

The capabilities of a table like this for traditional miniatures
gaming absolutely intrigues me.  It could be like the Clix games times
ten.  How about a tall ships combat game where wind direction,
currents, smoke and real maneuverability are simply recognized in a
beer and pretzels complexity game?

On the flip side, any game with three dimensional elements will still
be a challenge for the Surface.  So, I don't see Heroscape being
replaced anytime soon.

The next question is whether this could work for a gaming cafe.  If a
business owned a copy of a game, could it implement a Surface version
for customers to play in order to protect the original purchase
components?

Brian

On 5/31/07, Randy Shipp <randyshipp@...> wrote:
> On 5/31/07, Matt Horn <mhorn@...> wrote:
> > Especially when the camels are made out of pastel-colored plastic.
>
> ----------
> Good point.  Hehe...
>
> Randy...
>
(Continue reading)

Ravindra Prasad | 1 Jun 16:32 2007
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Re: Re: Surface

On 6/1/07, Brian Leet <brianleet@...> wrote:
>
> ...On the flip side, any game with three dimensional elements will still
> be a challenge for the Surface.  So, I don't see Heroscape being
> replaced anytime soon.
>
> The next question is whether this could work for a gaming cafe.  If a
> business owned a copy of a game, could it implement a Surface version
> for customers to play in order to protect the original purchase
> components?
>

It seems like the key features here are the display and the camera. For
(current) 3-D games, you don't need the display so much since you're
building the board in space. Couldn't you just put the camera (and all the
smarts that go with it -- recognizing finger touches, movement of tokens,
etc) in the ceiling instead? It would be different, of course - need to
generate a 3-D model and figure out where the finger/token is - but that
should be doable with a second camera for binocular vision. Curt, did ya'll
work on any 3-D Surfaces?

RP

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Jon Theys | 1 Jun 16:33 2007
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Re: Re: Surface

No more tape measure, rulers, or cardboard AOE templates?  LOS and partial
cover info available on the fly?  That would be horrible (for my bank
account).

On 6/1/07, Brian Leet <brianleet@...> wrote:
>
> I can definitely see where an interface like this would be an
> improvement for many games, but I'm even more interested in playing
> hybrids that don't even exist yet, but this would allow.
>
> The capabilities of a table like this for traditional miniatures
> gaming absolutely intrigues me.  It could be like the Clix games times
> ten.  How about a tall ships combat game where wind direction,
> currents, smoke and real maneuverability are simply recognized in a
> beer and pretzels complexity game?
>
>

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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Ravindra Prasad | 1 Jun 17:20 2007
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Re: Re: Surface

Incidentally, there's already a device that does some very cool stuff: it
uses an infrared camera to detect blood flow in veins (stick your hand or
arm or whatever under the camera), and then in real time it projects that
information onto the surface in color code so that the veins appear as black
lines against a green background. Now what if we had generic 3D figures on a
3D board (no landmarks, just the surface topography)? Then, the projector
could project faces/bodies on the figures, and also project the terrain; and
any special effects. It's not perfect, of course -- a projection on a curved
surface rather than a hologram -- but it would be pretty darn cool!

RP

On 6/1/07, Ravindra Prasad <rprasadusa@...> wrote:
>
> On 6/1/07, Brian Leet <brianleet@...> wrote:
> >
> > ...On the flip side, any game with three dimensional elements will still
> > be a challenge for the Surface.  So, I don't see Heroscape being
> > replaced anytime soon.
> >
> > The next question is whether this could work for a gaming cafe.  If a
> > business owned a copy of a game, could it implement a Surface version
> > for customers to play in order to protect the original purchase
> > components?
> >
>
> It seems like the key features here are the display and the camera. For
> (current) 3-D games, you don't need the display so much since you're
> building the board in space. Couldn't you just put the camera (and all the
> smarts that go with it -- recognizing finger touches, movement of tokens,
(Continue reading)

Curt Carpenter | 1 Jun 18:54 2007
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RE: Re: Surface

Ravindra Prasad:
> Curt, did ya'll work on any 3-D Surfaces?

Nope. Not yet. Baby steps.

At least nothing that's made it out of the research labs.

Curt

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David desJardins | 1 Jun 21:57 2007

Re: Surface

Greg Aleknevicus wrote:
> Yes, but this is a statement about how things ARE, not how they have
> to be.  You CAN develop a computer game for very little money and, in
> fact, many do. Despite this, most of the games actually sold are big
> budget and require the backing of a publisher.
> 
> So my point is, why would the situation be any different for the
> Surface?

The issue for computer games is this: the games that cost millions of
dollars to publish are just a lot better than the games that one person
can write in their spare time.  And I say this as an enthusiast of
independent games.  There's just a lot you get for the cost of
developing something like Civilization IV, that can't be replicated by a
single amateur.

It's possible that this will end up the state of affairs for Surface
games, too.  Perhaps developing a "board game" for a tabletop computer
will turn into an activity that requires a budget of millions of
dollars.  But that can only happen if first there is a base of millions
of consumers to pay for that development cost.  So we're only likely to
get there through an incremental process, just as, the first computer
games were developed on much smaller budgets than modern games.

  -- David desJardins

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David desJardins | 1 Jun 22:03 2007

Re: Surface

Greg Aleknevicus wrote:
> If this were really the case, wouldn't the same hold true for computer
> games? I'm not terribly knowledgeable about that industry but it seems to
> me that the vast majority of computer titles sold come from publishers who
> are not strictly needed either.

OK, sure, if you are talking about "publishers" such as Strategy First,
which mostly just serve as intermediaries between developers and
consumers.  You could have the same model for Surface board games.  But
those publishers don't (for most of their games) perform the development
or graphic design functions that Larry was talking about, and which we
regard as characteristic of publishers in the boardgame space.  They are
just a channel.

  -- David desJardins

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David desJardins | 1 Jun 22:11 2007

Re: Surface

Larry "watsonsecond" wrote:
> I personally think that game publishers perform a remarkably valuable
> service, in terms of development and physical production.  There's a
> tremendous number of very talented amateur designers out there (and I
> play a lot of prototypes by such people every year), but the vast
> majority of games need at least some development.  In addition, these
> games rarely achieve the attractiveness and functionality of the
> professional physical design that most publishers routinely offer.

Here's a book for those who think we need "professionals" to filter the
output of "amateurs".

  The Cult of the Amateur
  http://www.amazon.com/Cult-Amateur-Internet-killing-culture/dp/0385520808

    "Keen, a writer, and failed Internet entrepreneur, spends 200 pages
    attacking the rise of the 'amateur' and the harm -- economic,
    social, cultural, and political -- these amateurs will cause."

      -- Larry Lessig http://www.lessig.org/blog/archives/003784.shtml

  -- David desJardins

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Gmane