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Realistic tabletop gaming comes to tablets

A project on Kickstarter aims to create a realistic, interactive 3D gaming tabletop with cross-platform play.

A project on Kickstarter aims to create a realistic, interactive 3D gaming tabletop with cross-platform play.

(Credit: Brendan Duncan)

Tabletop miniature gaming has its pitfalls. There's organising all of your players together in one place. There's transporting your army. There's painting your army, which can be a lot of fun, but tends to leave little pots of Citadel paint all over your home. Occasionally, your cat will gnaw on one of your marines and break its standard.

A new suite of apps promises to deliver a realistic, 3D tabletop experience that can be played remotely cross-platform with games such as Pathfinder, Dungeons & Dragons, Savage Worlds, Rolemaster Classic, Castles & Crusades and Call of Cthulhu. Available for Android, iOS, Mac and PC, 3D Virtual Tabletop is seeking funding on Kickstarter to bring tabletop to the screen.

It currently has apps available for Android and iOS (as well as a PC demo) that shows a little of what the app can do, but creator Brendan Duncan of New Zealand wants to make it as much like a tabletop experience as possible.

At the moment, maps consist of a flat grid with with features painted on, and pawn-style character tokens that can be moved around, snapping to. There's a range of sample maps and tokens available, and you can even upload your own. We tried it on iOS, and this could be achieved by accessing the iPad's photos — so you could conceivably snap photos of your miniatures and table layouts, and add them to the app.

It also features pinch to zoom, two-finger rotation, one-finger scroll viewing and a top-down view, which changes your characters to flat tokens.

It's the stretch goals we're most excited about. Duncan hopes to add full 3D miniatures, a chat box, dice rolling, stat tracking, area of effect, line of sight and fog of war, loading and saving prepared scenarios, condition markers, dynamic lighting and dynamic lighting. We'd also like to see some 3D terrain added to that list, but it's off to a pretty flying start.

Of course, since you can already download the app, what does funding it get you? Well, 3D Virtual Tabletop will work on a subscription basis. Without a subscription, you will be able to run the app in an offline mode — which means it won't be able to connect to other devices. You can play it offline, passing a tablet around a room, but if you're going to do that, you may as well play on a table. Online, you will be able to have up to 20 players on a single tabletop.

The subscription will cost US$0.99 per month, but Kickstarter backers can scoop up 12 months for just US$9 for any platform. Head over to the Kickstarter project page for more info.