We love playing tabletop games with our friends, but one of the downsides is the downtime when you aren't in the current game. Who wants to wait around and watch until it's their turn to play?
ARena is an AR tabletop platform that enables interactive social engagement from everyone in the room, whether they're playing or spectating.
What it does
ARena enhances the tabletop gaming experience by introducing a whole new set of interactions that have never before been possible without AR. For example, spectators are able to make wagers, such as who they think is going to win the current match, or how the match is going to turn out on a more specific level. The currency you win could be used for things such as being able to buy your way into the next match. You could also have temporary or persistent rankings based on win-loss ratios, to keep track of who really is the best out of your competitive group of friends from week to week, day-to-day, or hour-to-hour. To top it all of, the King of the Hill would earn a symbol of victory, such as a holographic crown on their head. These are just simple examples, but the possibilities are endless... including interactions that alter the mechanics of the games themselves.
How we built it
Developed from the ground up for Hololens, we used the Microsoft MR Toolkit with Unity and C#. For our art assets, we used Photoshop and Illustrator for concept art, and Maya and Substance Painter for the 3D models.
Challenges we ran into
We had a lot of trouble getting our dev environment to successfully compile and build, and deploy to the Hololens. The massive debugging took up the majority of our developers time in the beginning, but luckily our talented designers were able to flesh out the overall aesthetic, UX, UI, and the majority of the concept art by the time we were ready to begin serious development.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Staying positive through a strong belief in the heart of the concept, despite our major initial hurdles with integrating the Hololens toolkit with our development environment. We loved working with each other, and it was an extremely collaborative effort on all ends.
What we learned
How to get development environments ready for Hololens development in Unity, and that if you have the will to overcome hardships, it is always worth the persistence. Our concept is stronger because we were forced to strip down the benefits of AR down to it's core: dynamic interactivity that brings people together through shared experiences. Simply put, the best AR apps are UX-centric, and that's what ARena is all about: improving the experience for people who love to play games with their friends.
What's next for ARena
Our MVP demonstrates just some of the systems that this platform is capable of. We have a whole backlog of extended features will bring tabletop games back as a mainstream pasttime.