In late 2009, tabletop games company Bastion began using the FreeForm 3D modeling system to create detailed models of miniature figurines for its initial product, the Ex illis medieval fantasy war game.
Made by SensAble Technologies Inc., the FreeForm modeling system allowed Bastion to create molded plastic miniatures that look exactly like their digital counterparts-on a production timetable that shaved weeks off traditional modeling approaches.
“Detail is what sells war game enthusiasts,” says Frederic Forest, president of Bastion. “By designing digitally, we can sculpt the miniatures at 3 or 4 inches high, and then precisely reduce them to their 32-millimeter finished size, while retaining intricate detail in facial expressions, textures, clothing and weapons that spells realism and authenticity for our market.”
FreeForm’s “virtual clay” gave Bastion’s design team unlimited creative freedom, enabling them to quickly create electronic models of each character in the game. Designers used a haptic, or touch-enabled, device, rather than a computer mouse, to create the models. The haptic device gave designers the feel of sculpting in clay, so they could work faster and more intuitively.
In addition, team members could adjust undercuts and improve the parts in real time, so that the model obeyed the physical laws of injection molding. Because FreeForm allowed the ready creation of molded plastic parts with complex parting lines-the line along which an injection mold separates-Bastion’s team could make sure that the dynamic shapes they created to convey action could be successfully removed from the mold. Other features in FreeForm helped Bastion evaluate part volume, save material and control manufacturing costs.
The digital files FreeForm output for manufacturing required only minimal adjustments downstream to create spot-on molds, further assuring on-time production. With manufacturing of the miniatures proceeding smoothly, Bastion’s team was free to focus on other aspects of the game’s design.
Ex illis is a hybrid game that combines a tabletop war game with technology enhancements that make the game both easier to learn and harder to master. It includes a game mat and a set of between 70 to 100 miniature game pieces, as well as a technological component that is displayed on devices such as an iPod Touch, iPhone or a laptop computer.
The exquisitely detailed miniatures are assembled and painted by the hobbyist, who then uses the characters to play strategy games. The mat allows the player to have a global view of battlefield play and decide where to move the game pieces, while the digital device keeps score, applies rules and communicates moves among players.
For more information on 3D modeling systems, call 781-937-8315 or visit www.sensable.com.