Teburu and the evolution of the board game: when the board game becomes smart

Teburu and the evolution of the board game: when the board game becomes smart

Teburu and the evolution of the board game

Reinventing the way to play a boardgame is not easy: the board game is more dry and minimalist in its components and limited to a precise number of physical pieces. Obviously this does not affect the experience, and there are still many people in the world who have fun with a cardboard board and small wooden tokens, thanks above all to interesting and well-set game mechanics. The potential that board games offer to developers in terms of design are numerous, but the practical possibilities remain a bit limited today: there are those who focus everything on components, others maintain a more minimal line, and more and more often we have seen our board games flanked by smart applications, real digital companions designed to assist us during games. We are talking about applications that keep track of statistics or mark the rhythm of shifts.

The next evolutionary leap of technological integration in the boardgame world was recently made by the Italian company Xplored with Teburu, a game system that integrates in the traditional physical experience of the board game, consisting of the board, miniatures and dice, a tech element that not only helps the player but also improves and enhances his gaming experience, in ways never before explored.

In recent weeks we have had the opportunity to be told about Teburu and the first experience developed for the game system entitled The Bad Karmas and the Curse of the Zodiac directly from the founder and CEO of Xplored. We tell you everything in our interview with Davide Garofalo from Teburu.

What is Teburu

Promotional image of The Bad Karmas and the Curse of the Zodiac Let's start from the basics. What exactly is Teburu? We are talking about a game system composed of all the traditional elements of the boardgame experience, but revised and rethought with a tech soul. In the Teburu box you will therefore find a board, bases for miniatures, dice and so on, to be used in conjunction with games optimized for the platform. The board, for example, looks like a normal cardboard board, in which, however, a layer of sensors, an RFID antenna and various other electronic components capable of instantly reading everything that happens on the game board are drowned. The bases of the miniatures are then equipped with an RFID tag, a magnet and the larger ones even with LED lights. Finally (our favorites), the smart dice: if you roll the dice on the board, the system will be able to understand the result of your roll. All this information is obviously managed by a central system, a common tablet or smartphone, and shared on the devices of the participants. In both cases it is necessary to apply the title you are playing at that moment.

Damage inflicted by attacks, parries, movements and everything that happens on the board is recorded and reported in real time to all players. The application can also act as a tutorial for the game and accompany the game with cutscenes between rounds. This was immediately the first aspect of Teburu that fascinated us, because let's face it, there are two types of table players: those who love to collect, catalog and remember by heart every single component included in the titles of their collection including the dies, and those who just want to play, without worrying too much about picking up, clearing out and above all managing platforms with numerous colored tokens.

From this point of view, Davide told us how one of the first objectives during the development of Teburu was to create an experience capable of streamlining these aspects, without the people at the table losing the typical feeling of playing at the table. "For us it was essential to focus on the concreteness of the product" Davide tells us, "We participated, as long as we could, in many trade fairs and sector events because it was essential for us to study the behavior of the players, and verify that their interaction with Teburu was the same as with any board game.

I remember when we presented the project at Gen Con 2019: it was a very important moment because we received enthusiastic feedback! "In fact, Teburu's goal is to allow players to focus mainly on what happens on the board, to experience the game and the interaction with the other participants without having to worry about correctly scoring the points or keeping track of progress with infinite tokens (or worrying that at any moment the cat may upset the game table. Don't lie, we know: it happens).

Promotional image of The Bad Karmas and the Curs e of the Zodiac From 2019 to today, however, things have happened and also a lot. We know how much the pandemic has impacted the gaming world and Xplored has had to face multiple difficulties. The company, in fact, does not only deal with board games, but is part of the world of games, toys and video games. We are talking about a company that creates video games, mainly mobile, with special attention to phygital products, or toys-to-life, which integrate the physical aspect with the digital one. To give you an example, Tori, the platform developed by Bandai Namco, integrates applications and games developed by Xplored. The pandemic years were clearly difficult, in which inevitably all companies tried to stabilize their situations rather than open up to novelties and new investments.Moreover, most industries suffered a sharp slowdown, for a long time the shipments of materials have been blocked, without forgetting the semiconductor crisis and everything needed to compose electronic circuits.

Yet, despite all this, Xplored, instead of following the trend of the economic blockade that has characterized most of the 'video entertainment and boardgame industry, has decided to relaunch, relentlessly putting his team (made up of about twenty people) to work on the prototype of the first title optimized for Teburu, entitled The Bad Karmas and the Curse of the Zodiac.

What struck us a lot about Davide's story was how diverse the Xplored group is. In fact, to create Teburu and subsequently The Bad Karmas, it was necessary to write the application of the game, study the prototype from an industrial design point of view, work from a creative point of view on the final aspect, and obviously create compelling and interesting mechanics.

Karmas vs Zodiac

Render in color of the miniatures of The Bad Karmas and the Curse of the Zodiac If you think the Teburu system is bold, it's because we haven't told you how it works yet in detail The Bad Karmas. We are talking about a cooperative title, a tactical game in which players clash with huge bosses, in total twelve and each linked to a zodiac sign. The game integrates tactical elements typical of skirmish, and RPG and character growth elements. In this way the players will have to both focus on the enemy in turn and make decisions that will also impact on the horizontal growth of their character. Each meeting takes place in a different environment and which consequently brings with it a series of different strategic choices, but that's not all.

"Our bosses are intelligent and aware" Davide told us. "Thanks to the Teburu system, in fact, the Zodiacs are controlled by an artificial intelligence, conditioning their behavior and tactical choices. There will be bosses who will use direct physical attacks, others at a distance and still others who will tenaciously target players with certain statistics". Furthermore, each boss behavior is studied according to the zodiac sign: for example, Libra will try to maintain a strong balance of the position of the players on the board.

At this point of the discussion we allowed ourselves a small digression with Davide, because (from the writer's experience) it was inevitable not to think about the work done by Steamforged with the board game of Dark Souls and subsequently to that of CMON with Bloodborne, due to certain elective affinities between these videogame IPs and a game system like Teburu. If we think precisely of the Dark Souls board game, where the boss fights and the attack pattern of the monsters are conditioned by a deck of cards repeated in rotation, just to simulate a certain degree of predictability typical of the Souls boss fights, we find spontaneous to ask ourselves what a Teburu optimization of the same board game would be like. "It is true, there is a certain affinity that binds these video games to an experience like the one offered by Teburu and The Bad Karmas. In fact we could have - and initially we thought about it - create optimizations of titles of this type, but to the in the end we came to the conclusion that the best way to enhance Teburu was to create a new game, which was ours and original in terms of IP "tells us Davide.

Adapting a title like Dark Souls or Bloodborne for Teburu would certainly have drawn attention to the company and the product, but it is also true, and in this we agree with the words of Davide, that the expectation that is usually created in the heart of a player is a very risky element, and it is equally clear that, for simple reasons of transposition, the video game experience can never be like that of the board game and vice versa. "Just think of the type of work we have done regarding the graphic interface of The Bad Karmas application: thinking about our philosophy, everything shown on the screen must be informative in content and suggestive in form but, with an adaptation from a video game, this work would clearly have destabilized gamers "

Render of the miniature of Gemini, one of the bosses of The Bad Karmas and the Curse of the Zodiac To create a new IP from scratch, we agree to be was the best choice. And it must be said that The Bad Karmas has great appeal. To begin with, the choice to create bosses starting from the zodiac is undoubtedly intelligent and also a lot of fun. In fact, we are talking about a theme that everyone knows and even if you don't believe in astrology, it instills a little curiosity even among the most unbelievers. We know so much: now you are curious to know what the boss of your zodiac sign is like! An easy expedient capable of speaking to everyone, and which in the past has also made the fortune of other productions ... it is no coincidence that the 12 Houses is the best series of Saint Seiya! Moreover, such a common starting ground as the zodiac will help the players to orient themselves during the action, because if the behavior of each boss is linked to the zodiac sign, knowing the distinctive traits will surely help the players to find the weak point of their enemy. , which however is never manifest at the beginning of the game, but must be discovered by the players themselves. | "Think of a great classic of 80s cinema like Big Trouble in Chinatown: the point is not to emulate Big Trouble in Chinatown but to try to rethink it in a contemporary way. What that classic 80s would be like if it had been shot in the 20s of 2000 ? " Davide explains to us. This idea came directly from the mind of Christian Cantamessa, former Rockstar developer and currently working on The Initiative, but very close to the Xplored family. Head of Design of the company, on the other hand, is another veteran of the industry, Riccardo Landi, an Italian game designer with 15 years of experience behind him. Last but not least, the artistic side of The Bad Karmas, supervised by Andrew Baker, New Zealand Concept Artist who oversaw the design of the Zodiacs and who boasts in his portfolio the creatures of Love & Monsters, The Hobbit and the mighty Kaiju of Pacific Rim.

The interview with Davide was really interesting, as well as representing a breath of fresh air in the board games sector which currently lives by many oxymorons: a market so full of possibilities but struggling to proceed. It must be said that Teburu is not an absolute and definitive evolution of the bordgame experience, but one of the possible futures ahead of us. A future that we can't wait to try and if you too are of our opinion, at this link you can find the Kickstarter page of The Bad Karmas and the Curse of the Zodiac.

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