Interactive Card Game Table

Crafter, designer, gamer and all round geek, Isaac Englart, is the man behind the Picard Table. Isaac will be based at The Edge over the coming weeks, developing and testing this neat piece of hardware. Isaac will be keeping you posted on how his development journey to date is going. 

How would you feel playing a card game where you can actually see the explosions when your spaceships attack your opponent? Where your creature cards literally summon a creature who strolls over to your opponent and throws down a gauntlet?  Imagine if the table you are playing on recorded and displayed your current scores and kept track of the rules so it can make you aware of your wrong moves as soon as you make them.

My goal is to make this a reality with Picard Table.  The Picard Table is an interactive card table that uses a camera to track the cards you play and augments them and your game using the display embedded in its surface.

This post is the first in a series about the development of Picard Table’s second prototype leading up to its display at The Edge in November this year.  This post is an introduction to the project and a brief discussion about what its future will entail.

Prototype I

I am currently in my final year of a Bachelor of Information Technology at the University of Queensland.  Picard Table started as a group project for the final year Studio class “Physical Computing” during first semester this year.  It resulted in an exhibition here at The Edge where all of the projects from the class were displayed.

Picard Table

This semester I have taken another Studio class where we are able to choose our own individual project to develop.  I decided to continue work on Picard Table as I felt it did not reach its potential last semester.  While development is being continued on my own this time, the original team is still in the background and keen on continuing the project together once my assessment for the semester is over.

At the exhibition last semester my team and I managed to put together a polished prototype of Picard Table, however it lacked a lot of functionality that we initially hoped for; primarily the game play.

In the few weeks leading up to the exhibition we struggled to get the card tracking functioning reliably enough to be able to play the game we designed – Humans Vs Aliens.  Nevertheless we did manage to get the basic card tracking working as seen in this video from the exhibition:

Picard Exhibition Demo from Picard Table on Vimeo.

Prototype II

I am thrilled that Picard Table has been invited back by The Edge for display here at the end of the year.  Having been given a second chance to work on Picard Table this semester, I will be able to make several improvements to the system as well as focusing more on the card game itself.

First up, I will be re-designing the card game itself.  Since the initial idea, we always wanted to make sure that any game we developed for the system worked primarily as a physical card game before we augmented it with Picard Table.  This was true for the first version of the game, Humans Vs Aliens, but I felt the game was lacking and failed to engage the players other than the fancy effects of the table.  The basic premise of the game will still stand, that you play either aliens or humans and are fighting to destroy your opponent’s planet, but the mechanics will be reworked to make it more exciting for the players.

Secondly, the table needs to be able to see and control the game play.  I want the cards to interact with one another, and the table, smoothly and reliably.  This will require an overhaul of the whole basic system design and image tracking engine used.  Our initial prototype utilised Flash to create the basic system and game, and used a Flash based AR (augmented reality) tracking engine called FLARToolkit to track the cards.  We discovered in the first prototype that FLARToolkit was not fast or reliable enough for Picard Table.  For the new version Flash will still be used to create the game, but I will be looking at alternate ways to track the cards.

So as Picard Table progresses towards The Edge installation in November, I will be keeping you updated on my progress.  I hope it will provide you with some insight into Picard Table’s development.

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