With the rise of online gaming, tabletop gaming such as Dungeons & Dragons exists as but a shadow of its former glory. While it’s seen a slight resurgence in local tabletop bars, the genre has become a niche of sorts. Online gaming certainly seems easier than gathering 10 of your friends once a week in the same room, but there’s something more about tabletop gaming. There’s something to be said about the social element, interacting with real people instead of non-player characters. Instead of a pre-fabricated storyline, the people in the tabletop session help guide the story. With the Dungeon Master (DM) guiding the action, it’s more organic and lifelike playing with friends. While some offerings such as Neverwinter and Dungeons and Dragons Online explore this concept to a degree, there’s an upcoming title offering to take it to the next level. That title is TaleSpire by Bouncyrock Entertainment.
TaleSpire takes tabletop to tech
TaleSpire is an upcoming online game that merges tabletop gameplay with online gaming. In a clever twist, the graphics and models actually resemble real-life tabletop pieces. Instead of fully-animated baddies and moving characters, the map has everything from digital dice rolls to animated spells on it. This gives TaleSpire a very familiar feel to fans of the genre. The developers aim to give players full control of their adventures, with online DMs able weave their own campaigns in real time from the comfort of their couch.
The sky’s the limit with TaleSpire’s Taleweaver
One might wonder exactly how building a tabletop world online will work. In TaleSpire, the developers offer a creation tool, named TaleWeaver, for all your modding needs. Adding tiles, buildings, and more will be made easy via this tool. TaleWeaver, technically a Unity project, will allow DMs and other modders to craft their perfect world and easily import it into TaleSpire ready to go. The assets in the game are all fully scriptable as well, making certain encounters and tile behavior a breeze. The world terrain is made easy via large blocks that can then be populated with tiles.
Dungeon Masters make their own rules
While TaleSpire does offer its own rule system, DMs will be perfectly able to alter it however way they see fit. In addition, dice can be completely customizable for each campaign. Indicators, called GM flashlights, can be used to show players certain areas of interest. Bouncyrock promises that the game will be fully “system agnostic” and rely entirely on campaign customization. DMs will also be able to see things such as fog of war and player line of sight, making controlling the action that much more dynamic.
TaleSpire might be the cheapest tabletop yet
One such drawback of tabletop gaming is acquiring all the game maps and models. Assets for Dungeons & Dragons and the like can come with a fairly hefty price tag. The developers of TaleSpire understand this, and they plan to set up a fairly easy payment solution. While they’re unsure on the exact pricing of asset packs, there will be an option to both purchase them individually or subscribe for full access. The game is currently only $20 on Kickstarter, which is a good sign for Dungeon Masters on a budget.
When’s this game coming out?
TaleSpire is currently still running its Kickstarter campaign, but they have a full roadmap. The developers aim to launch Early Access about eight months after the campaign concludes, meaning we’re looking at an April release. They’ll be starting beta testing this coming February, as well. In addition to the features listed, Bouncyrock is looking to implement features such as video chat, dice roll effects (such as the infamous natural 1), and monsters that climb walls.
An idea for such a game has been discussed for many years. A digital version of the tabletop experience aims to offer the same compromise that Magic: The Gathering Arena offers for card games. It will be interesting to see just how many features Bouncyrock will be offering once Early Access launches. One thing’s for certain — 2020 will see a lot of dice rolls.