Touch table Space Base

I’ve finished converting Space Base for the touch table. Space base is a fairly quick card drafting game where you buy cards to fill in 12 columns. Each turn two die are rolled and you can take rewards from either both die or the sum of the dice. Cards give money, income, victory points and some have more complex abilities that need to be charged before use.

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Touch table Brass: Birmingham

The original Brass has always been one of my favorite games. It’s a complex economic and network building game that rewards both multi-step planning and quick adaptation to board conditions. Brass: Birmingham is a 2018 re-design of the original that slightly changes the theme, simplifies some rules and adds a third resource but leaves the feel of the game intact.

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Touch table King and Queen Domino

I’ve completed a touch table conversion for King Domino and Queen Domino. King Domino is a relatively simple tile placement game with the interesting mechanic where the player who chose the “best” tile goes last in the next round. Queen Domino takes the kingdom building and tile placement mechanics from King Domino and adds city tiles that can have buildings added to them.

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Touch table Galaxy Trucker

I’ve been working on a touch table conversion of Galaxy Trucker since October. I’ve completed the base game and a few of the expansions (new tech tiles, five players, and side B ship hulls). I’m still planning to do at least some of the Rough Roads expansion.

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Touch table Between Two Cities

I’ve completed a touch table version of Between Two Cities with the Capitals expansion. I had a hard time getting excited about this conversion and it took me two months to put in the 50 hours needed to write the game.

But I’m glad that I finished it. The conversion plays well and it adds another relatively easy 7 player game to the touch table.

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Wing Commander and retro gaming

Wing Commander came out in 1990 and, along with Doom, was one of the first great PC action games. The game required a 12 MHz CPU, 640 KB RAM and supported 256 color VGA graphics at 640×480. I played it on a 386 25 Mhz. It’s been a long time and I’m no longer sure about this, but I believe that I bought a sound card and joystick mostly for this game and Wing Commander II.

During the latest GOG sale, I re-purchased the whole series of games for $14. The game will still play on a modern computer mostly thanks to DOSBox which is software that emulates an old PC running DOS. Playing games in DOS was not quite as simple as gaming today and I remember struggling with the MS-DOS extended memory manager (EMM386.SYS) so that the game could use all of my 2 MB of memory. DOSBox and GOG hides all of that and the game runs with minimal effort.

Playing Wing Commander on my modern computer (i5-8600K, 16GB, Windows 10, 4K display) is a reminder of how much computers have improved in the last 27 years. Here is the game running in a 640×480 window on my desktop:

It is a little hard to see, but the game, running in a emulator, is taking 0.9% of my CPU and 0.4% of my memory. 640×480 is 4% of my 4K screen. In most ways, computers today are 100-1000x better than computers in 1990, so this shouldn’t really be a surprise.

One thing that I’ve really enjoyed about playing Wing Commander again is using the Roland MT-32 sound. The earliest PCs just had a PC speaker which could play a single (square wave) tone at a time. My first computer was a Tandy, and one of its big advantages was that it had a three tone speaker. A few years later, you could buy dedicated sound cards from Adlib or Soundblaster. These had multiple channels and could play 8 bit (square wave is on/off, 8 bit allowed 256 levels) sound. The Roland MT-32 was the holy grail of sound quality at the time (and at $550 it was much to expensive for me to justify). It is a MIDI playback device and had built in high quality samples of instruments that the software could play. So for the game, it was kind of like providing sheet music to the Roland.

Today there is an emulator for the Roland MT-32 called Munt which  supports DOSBox. Here is a video comparing the sound quality of Wing Commander II with the Roland and a high end Sound Blaster card.

Touch table Settlers of Catan

I’ve finished my touch table conversion of the Settlers of Catan board game. I also converted the expansions: Seafarers of Catan and Cities and Knights

It ended up being a larger project than I expected, but I’m pretty happy with the game.

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Touch table Automobile

I’ve made a touch table conversion of the board game Automobile. This is a board game that we don’t play much anymore, but that will be significantly nicer as a computer game. It is a fairly complex game where the players spend a lot of time counting their money and the number of cars on the board. In this touch version, the computer automates the piece and money manipulation and provides a lot of assistance to the player in counting the supply and demand of cars.

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Touch table Azul and Medici card game

I made two small games for the touch table: Azul and the Medici Card Game. Azul is a tile placement game that was published recently and that I played at our last game day. The Medici card game is a variant of Medici that makes the game a bit simpler by removing the auction aspect. This does introduce a bit more luck, but Medici was already a bit random and the new version plays much faster.

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Touch table Notre Dame

I’ve completed a touch table version of the board game Notre Dame. In Notre Dame, players add influence to different sections of their city by playing action cards. Some sections give the player additional influence or money which can be used later while others are better for generating the prestige needed to win the game.

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