Spanish studio The Game Kitchen is crowdfunding a comprehensive VR platform for board games that will focus on recreating the feeling of sitting around a table, and it’s already boasting several licensed titles in its library.
All on Board! will allow owners of both the Meta Quest 2 and Steam VR headsets to meet at a digital table and play board games from a catalogue of licenced titles and user creations. The platform will support crossplay from the jump, and the developers said they are “committed to supporting future technologies, features, and devices in All On Board!, as they become relevant in the VR ecosystem.”
One of the stated goals of the project is to eliminate as much hassle from the process of play as possible, cutting down the time between strapping into a headset and placing a worker. Part of that is integrating features already standard to other online platforms, such as automatic scoring and the ability to save and restore game states. The platform will apparently take full advantage of VR tech, as players will be able to pick up, manipulate and even chuck pieces across the virtual space.
Only one user in the group will need a game’s licence in order to play. That sounds like an odd thing to mention, but online multiplayer platforms have historically been allergic to sharing licences between several people. There will also be a matchmaking system allowing solo players to search for open tables.
The Game Kitchen is also betting on its planned suite of modding and creation tools to draw in would-be designers. According to a press release, All on Board! will take advantage of a built-in system of creating and playtesting prototype board games that doesn’t require any prior coding knowledge. Screenshots and the Kickstarter campaign video show off a logic tree situation linking conditional statements and actions together, similar to interactive fiction program Inkle.
Those who just want to play, and look good while doing so, will have the ability to modify the digital table, its surrounding room (these range from middle class living rooms to fantasy dungeons and the crew quarters of a spaceship) and the weird, bodiless avatars that all VR programs seem to use. Those Rayman-esque personas can change into funny hats and eyewear, hand accoutrements and the tippy top of a shirt. Players will also be able to change gestures and upload their own assets as mods.
The developers have announced seven licensed board games, so far, and plan to reveal another six or so during the length of the Kickstarter campaign. That library will reportedly expand between now and the platforms official release next year, and The Game Kitchen said the library will be regularly expanded after launch. Players will need to purchase a licence to the board games from the digital library in order to play. No information on prices has been offered at this time.
The games already announced include Black Rose Wars by Ludus Magnus, Rallyman GT by Holygrail-Games, Escape the Dark Castle by Themeborne, Sword and Sorcery by Ares, Infinity: Defiance by Corvus Belli and Istanbul by Pegasus Spiele.
The Game Kitchen is a video game developer based in Southern Spain and has previously released the popular 2D action platformer Blasphemous, as well as point-and-click horror series The Last Door. All on Board! is the studio’s first official foray into board games, but its staff says personal passion for both analogue games and VR tech led to this marriage.
Those who back the All on Board! Kickstarter campaign will gain access to an early playtest period set to begin sometime towards the end of 2022. The official release is currently planned for late 2023.