So long 2017. Hello 2018!

Happy New Year, everyone! Last year was a very busy year for us here at PlayTable. We’d like to close the previous year out with a brief recap of what we’ve been working on. From the outside, it may seem as though not much has changed from the original PlayTable design to now, but there is a crazy amount of work that we’ve been putting into each detail to make sure PlayTable is exactly what we wanted it to be for our fans.

This past year we focused on 3 main areas: industrial/hardware design, UI/UX design of the PlayTable OS, and content development.

First off, hardware design. You’ll see a recurring theme throughout this blogpost about creating a new take on a currently accepted use of screen technology. If you think about the screens you see today, the primary ones are: TVs, smart phones, computer screens, and tablets. The way these screens are designed and the criteria to consider all depend on the use cases for each. A phone screen will be very thin and small because this screen is meant to be portable and should fit in your pocket. A TV screen on the other hand can be quite large, but at the same time should be thin/light enough with brackets on the back to mount to a wall.

Then what about PlayTable? Since it’s not so common to see screens laid down flat on a table, there actually isn’t a precedent for what works best. In 2017, we spent a lot of time pressure testing the original ideas we had for PlayTable’s hardware design and seeing how best you can put a screen on top of a table. (we had a blog about this a couple months ago that you can check out!) Questions we’ve been thinking through are: how tall it should be, if it should have legs, what angles and bevels the body should have, where should the screen sit in relation to the frame, weight, screen size, etc. As you can tell there’s a lot that needed to be figured out because this is truly new territory for anyone.

Second, user interface and user experience. Similar to how there aren’t really any existing cases for screens to be laid flat on a table, there also aren’t many use cases for screens to be viewed from different orientations. If you think about it, you’ll find that most screens you interact with are meant to be viewed from the same orientation. While you may have folks sitting around a couch in a living room all viewing the TV from different angles, the screen is still right-side-up for everyone. This is a challenging problem to solve for as the crux of the PlayTable experience is about having people playing a game while sitting around a table, all viewing it from different orientations. On top of that, we also needed to figure out: how you should access your game library, the game store, the home screen, your account screen, how to hook your smart phone up to the PlayTable, what you should see on your smart phone once it is hooked up, what should happen when a smart toy touches the screen, and much, much more. Phew!

Lastly, content development. This has been a mix of doing a lot of legwork talking to publishers and designers to secure licenses as well as finding/working with developers to create games. While I won’t post the titles or the number of licenses we’ve secured here, 2017 was a great year in terms of bolstering PlayTable’s content library.

While we continue to secure more titles, PlayTable is also defining our content design paradigm. What this really means is: what should a game feel like on the PlayTable? We’ve spoken about this a bit in previous blogs, but what it boils down to is the user experience on PlayTable will be unlike any other. We’re going to have RFID interactivity with smart toys, users looking at the PlayTable from multiple orientations, multi-screen connectivity, and of course, touch sensitivity. While there are tons of digital implementations of board games that you can buy for your computer, tablet, or phone, those experiences often miss that feeling of playing a board game. We’re making headway on developing that paradigm with game implementations we’re working on now which will help dictate design decisions we make for all PlayTable content down the line.

All of this said, we hope 2017 has been as tremendous a year for you as it has been for us. We know 2018 will be even better because it is the year that the first generation of PlayTables will be released! Thank you all for the support and keep an eye out for all the PlayTable news ahead!

So long 2017. Hello 2018! was originally published in PlayTable on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Gurupriyan is a Software Engineer and a technology enthusiast, he’s been working on the field for the last 6 years. Currently focusing on mobile app development and IoT.