What if your battle mat was interactive? What if you had a virtually infinite set of map tiles and 3D miniatures? What if the your playing surface automatically tracked line of sight, range and movement? What if a team at Carnegie Mellon peered into our gamer dreams and made this all actually happen?
Microsoft Surface is a touch sensitive screen that lays flat on a desktop. There are many potential uses for this still in-development technology (I have a feeling artists and architects are going to love it), but perhaps the ultimate use is the interactive D&D tabletop demoed here. The feature set sounds strikingly similar to a couple of D&D-loving 12-year-olds sitting around the gaming gaming table throwing out “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” ideas. In fact, I probably had this exact idea with my friends 18 or so years ago, when the actual technology to make it happen was pure science-fiction material.
Now, I’m aware that there is a whole contingent of gamers who abhor this type of thing, who hate the extent to which miniatures and grid maps have infiltrated D&D, and who will compare this to the ultimate “video-gamization” of our classic pen and paper RPG. They have a certain point — no pens or papers here, just control objects. And the virtual dice are straight up awful. Take a look at the video and decide for yourself. Personally, I’m just trying not to drool.