Challenges when converting tabletop games into digital

Board games are lots of fun. Maybe you feel like building castles. Or slaying monsters. Maybe exploring ancient ruins from a forgotten civilization. Or perhaps building an entire civilization for yourself.


There are endless themes, scenarios and objectives to pursue. One of the best parts, of course, is to do so together with those you love. Board games are facing a new Renaissance era for a couple of years now, becoming more popular than ever in many countries.


At Daisu, we work tirelessly to bring the best experiences from acclaimed board games, converting them into digital editions. But how do we do that? What are the main challenges and caveats that we have to keep in mind in order to create quality experiences not only for board game fans, but also for digital audiences that may have never played any board game besides Monopoly -- what, you never played Monopoly? Greetings from Earth then.


Board games come in all shapes and sizes, so there's no one-size-fits-all plan to use. We have to carefully study the mecanisms and intricacies of each game to understand what's the core of the experience for the player. What REALLY makes this game sing? Is it the immersive theme? Then we have to guarantee that it's not only present in the digital version, but expanded in ways that the original game could not do.


It can also be the rewarding 'take that!' mechanism, the feeling you have after a carefully executed strategy. After all, the more you love someone, the more powerful is the 'take that!' effect -- you know what I'm talking about. In that case, we can magnify it and prepare the player to have more of those moments, because a digital game usually guides you more through the experience than a tabletop can; after all, in a board game, you ARE the system.


So, the first step is to study each game in depth and understand its core. Then we create a prototype - generally what is called a greybox, a playable version containing only basic shapes and structures. The objective here is to be able to play the entire game loop and guarantee that it maintains the board game essence that we talked about.


This stage is not supposed to be shiny and glamorous; more often than not, it's ugly and clumsy. That's totally fine, we just need a basis to get it going.


If we can play the core loop of the board game and test it extensively, it's time to add some flavor to it. The User Experience (UX for short) involves all of the game flow, the path the player takes to play the game, perform actions, and understand objectives. In this stage, we work to refine the prototype and the game flow, so it's not only playable, but enjoyable. Colors start to pop up on screen, rough animations and effects take place.


From there, it's a matter of testing, getting feedback, adjusting and polishing. We need to be constantly playing the game ourselves and have others do the same - our beloved playtesters. The sooner we can get the game on the hands of at least one or two actual players, the sooner we'll have any sense of if it's working or not.


And once the game's out there, we still do the same. We get feedback and improve. And we learn. Oh boy do we learn. Each project is a different beast, with specific challenges and needs. We have an amazing team dealing with the problems and solutions on a daily basis.


And we have you, our players - the reason why we continue doing our best every time.

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