Gamewell Games

Games being developed for the Gamewell platform span over a variety of different genres. We challenge ourselves to incorporate tangible objects in our games as a major part of user interactions with the table. At the same time, we want to utilize the multi-touch capabilities of the table, so ideal games on the table would include both interaction methods.

We currently have one fully functional game, ColorCross, and two more games in development. Each game features unique aspects that add to the variety of games offered by the Gamewell project.

Completed Games

This twister-inspired game focuses on getting multiple people to be physically involved in the game play without having to compete against each other. It is a collaborative game where each player holds two tangible objects tagged on the bottom with unique fiducial markers. We use brightly colored upside-down plastic cups as the tangible playing objects. These were selected for their size, which is comfortable to hold in an adult hand, and for their visual look, which fits with the colorful graphical aesthetic of the game. An earlier version of the game used flat circular discs, which players found difficult to hold during gameplay.

As the game starts up, the table is divided into four color quadrants: red, blue, green and yellow. As players place their tangibles on the table, color orbs under the objects (which start off white) randomly change to match one of the four colors of the quadrants. The objective of the game is to get every object to match up with the corresponding color quadrant by moving them around the table. At the end of each round of the game, the color orbs switch color again, and players must scramble to rematch the new color orbs with the quadrants. The challenge is introduced when players become tangled from reaching over and under each other. While impossible to enforce, the most important rule of the game is that the players should never let go of their objects, since the tangling fun factor of the game is reduced if players swap objects at the start of each round. As the gameplay progresses, the timer for each round becomes faster and players must struggle to keep up. After a certain number of rounds, the game ends and the group's score is displayed as well as the high score.

Games In Development

Wizard Duel
Currently in development, this new game introduces the idea of networked tangible tabletop gaming that spans the two (or potentially more) digital tables, each running the Gamewell platform. The inspiration for the game comes from tower defense games, in which players must attack and defend their respective bases.

The idea is a competitive attack and defense real-time strategy game where both players stand at the end of their respective table. Each player has a "cloud" of magic that floats near their end of the table. Using finger touches, they can concentrate and focus this magic (visually represented as particles on the table surface) into attacks. When a player gathers enough magic from their cloud, they can send a wave of particles off towards the other end of their table. When the outgoing attacks reach the end of the table, they will appear on the other player's table, heading towards them. From the opposing player's perspective, bright spots on the end of their table give an idea of where the enemy is gathering magic or where their defenses are weak.

In addition to the particle gathering attack, players can also use tagged physical objects that correspond to different types of defense or offense towers. For example, some towers will concentrate attacks if an attack passes through them, while others may disburse the attack and weaken the enemy attack.

Players must strategize carefully. While attacking often may give them a better chance of damaging the opponent's base, it will also leave their own base defenseless. When using towers, some may require a small charge to power up, which will pull from the magic cloud and will put a strain on the amount of magic resources available at any point in time. To date, we have implemented an early prototype of the Particle Adventure game that incorporates interaction with particles, and randomly placed towers. We have tested the particle interaction with players and found it to be fluid and satisfying. Next steps involve the development and testing of tangible attack and defense towers.

Drawing from traditional board games, we decided to make a turn based chess-inspired board game with a twist. While the beginning look and feel of the game may be similar to chess, the idea of having a dynamic playing field is made possible only through computing. So far, we have created a paper prototype of the game which has been tested with players, and we are currently beginning development of the digital implementation of the game.

The initial board consists of twelve pieces in a grid setting, much like chess. The tangible playing pieces are: Footmen, Horsemen, Wizards, a General and a King. Each piece has its unique way of moving around the board as well as its own strengths and weaknesses, which ensures a balanced playing field.

The footmen are the equivalent of pawns in the game. They are only able to move straight forward or diagonally forward until they reach the other side. The Footmen can attack any enemy adjacent to them, however since they are a basic unit with the least amount of armor and attack power, it is unlikely but still possible to win the battle. Beyond the basic attack, footmen have no other special powers. The horsemen have the ability to move two spaces per turn in any direction, and have a slight increase in attack power over the footmen. The piece also has the ability to jump other friendly pieces, similar to the knight piece in chess. When attacking on roads, it has an increased mobility due to being on horse, thus an extra attack point during battle on road. Wizards, like horsemen, have increased attack power and can move two spaces per turn, but not more than one diagonally. While mountains and fortresses usually increase defense capabilities, the bonus does not apply when attacking an enemy in these areas. Both the horsemen and wizards have the ability to traverse lakes. The most powerful pieces of the game is the general, where it has high attack and defense power and can move three spaces in any direction per turn. The goal of the general is to protect the king, so if a player loses his or her general, the king, who usually has mostly the same abilities of footmen, gains a desperation bonus to attack and can move an extra piece per turn. Much like in chess, if the player's king is killed, he or she loses the game.

The battlefield has terrain with different benefits in terms of combat, and is constantly changing. Every three turns, a piece of the landscape changes, therefore players must be aware and develop versatile solutions in response to the sudden changes. The limited mobility and slightly longer board represents warfare so that movements and advancements are more tactical. A piece cannot simply move across the board to take out an enemy in one turn. Instead, players must strategically get to their opponent and battle; much like during actual warfare, the enemy would put up a fight.

The terrain of the battlefield also adds a unique aspect to the game where different terrains such as lakes, mountains or roads can help certain pieces while hurting others. For example, lakes can block all pieces except for wizards and mountains can provide defensive bonuses for pieces but can also slow players down.

Game play
While the basic chess-like style of the game remains the same, a number of chance elements are added for an extra twist to the game play. For example, the way combat works in the game is that anytime a piece attacks another, the attacking player must win the same number of rounds (dice rolls) as the defending player's defense points. Otherwise, if the defending player first wins the same number of rounds as the attacking player's attack points, the attacker must retreat and no harm is done to either player. This combat system allows the defender a chance of survival without penalizing the attacker. And while the battle is based mostly on the status of the pieces, it adds an element of chance through dice rolls by the players. These are handled through a random number generator system on the table. We plan to test both tangible and finger based methods for handling dice interaction.