WHAT IT IS:
Battlegrounds Gaming Engine (or BGE, for short) is cross-platform virtual tabletop software for playing virtually any boardgame, wargame, card game, or dice game (our flagship product, Battlegrounds: RPG Edition, aka BRPG, is specifically tailored for use with RPG games).
There are a number of free digital game conversions and commercial Game Boxes already available for BGE, but the real value of BGE comes from the fact that it is also a toolbox for creating your own digital game conversions, either of physical games that you already own, or of games of your own design. BGE is an excellent tool for game designers who wish to use a “digital prototype” during the game’s development, and is also ideal for playtesting their designs and any game system tweaks.
BGE provides you with all the tools you need to conduct a gaming session: a game board – with an optional hexagonal or square grid – on which to place and move your digital miniatures and game components, a virtual dice roller with both standard and polyhedral dice, text chat functions, drawing tools, and much more.
Because it’s generic, BGE supports playing nearly any game, including those using house rules. BGE provides the game engine, and you provide the game rules and virtual game components.
We think you’ll find that BGE is a user-friendly (and incredibly flexible) gaming environment, and also a very accessible and empowering game-building “toolbox”.
WHAT IT ISN’T:
BGE is not a game itself, but rather a tool for playing a game that you already own. It doesn’t have any game-specific artificial intelligence to implement your game’s rules. In fact, one of BGE‘s greatest advantages is that it isn’t game-specific; it’s generic enough to use with any game rules.
OTHER POTENTIAL USES:
You could also use BGE to generate stunning visuals for play-by-post or play-by-email games. With a little imagination, BGE could also be used for other types of online collaboration.
While online gaming is not a replacement for playing in person with your friends, using BGE in your game sessions does offer some significant advantages over traditional face-to-face gaming.
For starters, the visuals can be greatly enhanced. Even if the original game had sub par game components, you can always create nicer-looking digital components to spruce up the game, or even completely re-theme the game, if you want. Audio clips (both music and special effects) can also be used to set the tone or enhance the mood. Some game mechanics, such as complex turn sequencing, can be automated and simplified using BGE, leading to faster, more-streamlined gameplay. It may also be possible to play large games that might require more than one copy of the physical game, since digital game components are easily “cloned” to make as many copies as you need.
WHAT YOU NEED:
To play a game using BGE, you need your game’s rulebooks and any charts and tables, just as you would in a face-to-face game session. You will also need digital game components to represent the physical game components. These can come from downloaded files, from your own scans, or from original artwork that you create using a graphics program.
The more familiar you are with your game’s rules, the better, but if needed, BGE’s Library feature can provide you instant access to important reference materials, like charts and tables (due to copyright limitations, you must scan these in yourself).
If playing online, all participants also need an internet connection (broadband is highly recommended, especially if you are the host of the game session).
HOW IT WORKS:
Whether playing on the internet or on a LAN, the process is the same: one person hosts a game session. BGE’s peer-to-peer networking system effectively turns the host’s computer into a game server. Other players then join the session by logging into the host’s game (using either a Gamer Client, or the free Demo). The number of clients that can connect at one time is 16 (15 players plus the host). However, note that large groups (over 8-10 players) can easily become unwieldy, and depending on the game being played, some players may get bored waiting for their turn to come around again.
Once everyone is logged in, the participants communicate with each other via text chat, which is built into the application. Optionally, they can also communicate via a voice chat (VOIP) application running in the background (see the Links & Resources page on the Battlegrounds Games web site for various free third-party VOIP software options). Generally speaking, games that use voice chat tend to move a lot faster than games that do not. BGE allows a log of the entire text chat to be saved, for those who like to keep a record of what happens in a game.
The participants move their virtual miniatures or other game components around on the game board and/or on the virtual game table, in accordance with the game’s rules. The host may move any item in the game, but each player may only move the minis and/or other game components that have been assigned to them.
Read through the list of BGE‘s features.