Smörgåsbord! is a fast paced meaty multiplayer party game based on rummy for the Original Sifteo Cubes. Each player starts with a plate of various meats and tries to create a specific menu. Trade with the central tray and other players to get your secret menu first and scream “Smörgåsbord!” to win. Sifteo Cubes is a video game system consisting of three or more cubes with screens that can sense being near each other, tilted, turned over, clicked, and shaken to interact. More information can be found on the product wiki entry.
I designed, programmed, and contributed to the art for this game. The game was created to explore fast paced party games. It was originally conceived as a travel based game called Roundabout that had players globetrotting to play culturally themed mini-games.
In Roundabout, multiple players stand in a circle and complete the action they have on their cube before being given an instruction on who to pass their cube to for the next destination. As the game progresses the cubes fly from hand to hand and person to person in a frantic effort to not fail any one single activity. Doing the wrong action or waiting too long would mean the player holding that cube loses. Occasionally there would be team based activities where all the cubes would perform one action together. This could be frantic if one player happened to be holding multiple cubes.
Each level is a different country that the players are visiting. The actions were conceived to be similar to real life actions so that players would instinctively know what to do with the cubes in this context. Some of these actions were also timed so that the team had to do it in a certain order to proceed.
I researched beyond the standard set of gestures using these cubes to get to what I consider secondary set of less obvious gestures that are fun to watch. Some of these actions are punching with the cube in your fist or spinning the cube like a top.
Unfortunately the heavily graphical load and development time it would take to create a large library of unique and interesting mini-games was more than the system and studio could handle at the time. Smörgåsbord! was created from the Brazilian churrascaria themed meat trading game so that there would be a fast paced multiplayer game. Players were supposed to tap cubes with every other player once. It would have been easier to use a drinking theme and tap glasses to say cheers however all Sifteo games are family friendly.
In Smörgåsbord! players are encouraged to both race against each other and cooperate to finish the game. Food is on the four edges of the screen side of the Cube and players trade by tapping the chosen food item side to the chosen side of another Cube. This physical action done quickly over and over led to a fun and hectic environment as players had to communicate and touch cubes quickly with other players but also take the items out of the central area before anyone else got it.
The screen resolution of this generation of Sifteo Cubes is a small 128 x 128 pixels. Smörgåsbord! explores the idea of having multiple pieces of public and private information displayed that can be quickly understood without words. Originally the cubes would only show your private information, the secret menu, when you held the cube up to shield it from other players. Unfortunately the accelerometers were not quite quick enough and other players would often see your secret menu before the Cubes caught on to the change. The game shipped with players pressing the screen button to change between their menus.