Virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality all have numerous applications, but the gaming industry has always been at the forefront of the technology. Gaming is all about immersing yourself in other worlds, and mixed reality is the best way to do that. But, what we’ve seen so far is mostly single-player oriented, with games and devices that are designed for one person to experience alone. Today that changes, because Spatial MRX has launch on Kickstarter with a holographic mixed reality system developed with multiplayer tabletop gaming in mind.
Fans of deck building and tabletop RPG games can probably already see the potential here. Imagine playing the kinds of games you already love, but enhanced with mixed reality visuals and digital tracking. You can play a deck builder similar to Magic: The Gathering, and watch as a perfectly-played card comes to life and your chosen character decimates your opponent. A tabletop RPG like Dungeons & Dragons can show your characters battling, while keeping track of your levels, stats, and equipment. You can even play military strategy games akin to Warhammer 40K, tower defense games, top-down shooters, and physics puzzlers — all on your actual table with physical pieces.
The best part is that Spatial MRX doesn’t require any clunky, expensive, uncomfortable VR headsets. Instead, the mixed reality graphics are projected onto a special holographic screen from the smartphones and tablets you and your friends already own. Each Spatial MRX unit incorporates a platform to rest your tablet or smartphone on, a holographic screen, a camera, and an included gamepad. The holographic screen reflects your device’s display, while also letting you see through it to the table. The camera tracks cards and pieces on the table, so the system knows where to show graphics and how to orient them, while the gamepad lets you play action-oriented games. Put that all together, and you have a window through which you can look into the virtual game world.
While augmented reality games already exist, they all require you to either wear a headset or hold your phone up continuously to see what’s going on. The beauty of Spatial MRX is that it slides seamlessly into the gameplay you already enjoy, without diluting the experience with cumbersome tech requirements. The large holographic window gives you the ability to play comfortably without even thinking about the technology behind the gameplay. Just place Spatial MRX on the table in front of you and start playing.
There may be tie-ins with existing franchises in the future, but for now Spatial MRX will be playable with a selection of exclusive games. Most of these are similar to the tabletop games you already play, and there are also a couple new concepts that are only possible with the Spatial MRX system. All of the games can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or the Google Play store. At launch, they’ll work with an iPhone 6 or newer, iPad 2 or newer, Samsung Galaxy S6 or newer, and Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 or newer. Compatibility for other Android smartphones and tablets should be added as development continues.
Those games include: Mythico, a card battler like Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh! that automatically tracks your attacks, buffs, stats, and levels, and which displays holographic depictions of your characters acting out your plays. HoloCraft, which lets you build entire dungeons using more than 20,000 prefab components, and then roleplay through them in the style of Dungeons & Dragons. WarTable gives you real-time strategy gameplay in squad-based multiplayer with army building and leveling. Onslaught provides fast-paced tower defense. Junkyard Towers is a party physics game, where players attempt to build unstable towers before their opponents knock them down with catapults. And, finally, Bolt challenges players to run an obstacle course created by an adversary, while avoiding their cannon fire.
All Kickstarter backers will receive those five games for free, but there is also an option to upgrade to an Unlimited Activation pass. That will give you access to the five games at launch, as well as all future releases. In an ideal setup, each player will have their own Spatial MRX, so there are backer options that give you a discount for bundling either two or four rigs.
A single Spatial MRX with the five launch games is $60, or $85 for Unlimited Activations. Two rigs with 20 Activation Codes is $110, or $150 for Unlimited Activations. Four Spatial MRX rigs with unlimited activations is $250. Rewards should ship in March of 2019, but backers who choose the Founder’s Club reward for $700 will receive theirs three months early. The Founder’s Club reward includes two beta Spatial MRX rigs, Unlimited Activations, a product advisor board seat, and monthly Skype meetings with the Spatial MRX team.