Friendly Fire

Hybrid Boardgames, Smartphone games, & Co-located experiences

Board Games can be more!

We are developing hybrid games – a mix between tabletop games and video games – to give the players a novel play experience by combining the best of both worlds: The captivating social interactions of physical play and the computer’s ability to augment and facilitate the play experience. We believe the power of hybrid games has yet to be utilised.

“Cover Blown!” is a multiplayer, hidden information, mobile/boardgame hybrid, which has 3-8 players taking the role of cops bluffing and logically solving a murder mystery covered up by a secretly corrupt cop.

We make games!

We want to be at the frontier of Hybrid board games! The space between analog- and digital entertainment is not realized and taken as serious as we want it to be. We strive to design novel play experiences seen nowhere else, by searching and prototyping in this unmapped design space. Just Imagine a hybrid board game-MMORPG. Or a physical idle-clicker board game system hooked up to the internet of things. We have the ideas and the skills to execute them – our challenge is convincing the world they have yet to experience the unique and exhilarating experiences co-located hybrid board games has to offer.

What is Hybrid Board Games?

Any analog play experience that uses tangible assets together with digital elements – aside from the obvious I/O controllers (like a keyboard and computer screen) – is considered a hybrid play experience. Aside from our currently in development game Cover Blown!, a great example is World of Yo-Ho; http://www.yoho.io. But what exactly is the point of combining digital and analog game elements? First, let us take a look at the benefits of each media isolated:

What does digital components give?

Depth without complexity

The key benefit of digital games is the computer. Aside from engaging the player by rendering beautiful scenery or glorious battles, it does one specific thing perfectly; it follows and mediates rules. For instance, the player does not need to know all the physic rules of their 3D game, but can just give the computer input and orders to move around. Furthermore, digital game designers can choose which rules they want to reveal to the player and when in the game they should be revealed, but also which rules they want to keep “black boxed”. The overall result of the computer as a part of the play experience is that rules can be much more complex than analog board games, yet mediated in a way which helps the player understand what to do.

 

Saving Progress

Furthermore, digital games allow us to start and stop playing on our terms. The ability to save game progress is arguably the most important design element in the success of the casual mobile gaming wave.

Real-time Gameplay

While some board games do achieve real-time gameplay, digital games just do it better. Having the computer judge who shot first in competitive e-sports is more precise and reliable than having a referee or the players themselves decide.

What does analog components give?

Co-located Play Experiences

With the board game renaissance, it became clear that people still want to stay physically connected and play together. Similarly, couch games have recently been making a comeback, pleasing our hunger for that “scream with/at your friends” play experience. There simply is just something different about being co-located with your friends and foes that has yet to be sufficiently mediated by (VR) technology.

 

Tangible and Tactile

Although many moons ago, the rise of Steam and digital distribution have given players games on demand, but with no physical box or element to display on their shelf. If you ask us, board game boxes decorate shelves just as good as books and lexicons. Furthermore, opening a game, revealing all of its components, looking, holding, and feeling them, is all parts of the thrill. A part of playing board games resembles that of playing with toys or admiring artworks, which is one of the strengths of recent successful miniature board games.

Hybrid board games

So why do we believe hybrid boardgames a part of the future? There is no reason the analog and digital elements cannot be married in a nice cocktail drawing on the strengths of both. The challenge is to design and control each digital or analog element so that they compliment each other rather than predominate one making the other seem gimmicky or obsolete. But if executed correctly – combining the best of both worlds and exploring the design space between – it yields new and very exciting play experiences that have never been seen before.

Who We Are

Mathias Munk Ulrich

Game Designer, Project Manager, SoMe & Front-end Developer

Carl Johan Hanberg

Programmer, Game Designer, Sound Designer & Music Composer

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Contact: info@friendlyfire.dk

©2019 – Mathias Munk Ulrich & Carl Johan Hanberg – All rights reserved