CMU Team Creates D&D for Microsoft Surface

The "Surfacescapes" team at the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University has created a proof-of-concept demonstration using Microsoft's Surface technology and the tabletop version of Dungeons and Dragons. The 3:24 video shows how the idea works by using virtual dice, scalable maps, and physical miniatures.

The clip opens up with the players "registering" by placing a "control object" onto the surface that point to the player's actual position. This is followed by registering the player's actual miniature, and then allowing the player to choose a stored character. Once everyone is set up, the system moves into the "exposition" part of the game where the dungeon master can insert a slideshow or text that sets the scene for the overall story.

After the introduction, the world map loads and is panned and zoomed by using another control object. Once players chose an area to explore, the map zooms down to the actual battle map, or rather the playing field. The video showed a scenario taking place outside a stretch of woods, with the DM controlling a dire wolf and two players controlling their miniatures. The players roll a virtual 20-sided die to determine the initiative, or rather, which party gets to attack first.

According to the video, the DM plays the game on a separate PC, thereby allowing the game to encompass the entire Surface field for the players. From his PC, the DM moved the dire wolf while the Surface system visually moved the beast from the field over into the woods. In the next turn, the party rolled a virtual 20-sided die to successfully launch a fireball, and then 3 6-sided dice to determine the overall damage.

Head here to see the proof-of-concept video.

Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then, he’s loved all things PC-related and cool gadgets ranging from the New Nintendo 3DS to Android tablets. He is currently a contributor at Digital Trends, writing about everything from computers to how-to content on Windows and Macs to reviews of the latest laptops from HP, Dell, Lenovo, and more.