Help me schnappt Hubi in English?
July 25, 2012 3:00 AM   Subscribe

Sprechen sie Deutsch? Could you help me work out how to make an English version of Spiel des Jahres winner for 2012, Schnappt Hubi!?

In Schnappt Hubi! (YouTube, in German, 08:31), two hares and two mice navigate a 4 x 4 house. As they move, they reveal different kinds of walls between the rooms. Some have a hole in the bottom that lets mice move through, but not hares. Others have a gap in the top that lets hares jump over, but not mice. It looks like some other walls simply block everybody or let everybody through.

Finally, there seems to be a 'secret door': put an animal either side and it will open. This seems to release Hubi the ghost, starting the second phase of the game. The animals then look for Hubi - if two catch him in the same room, they win. Anyways, it all looks very cool and very fun, and it's made for kids the same age as my kids.

The current version of the game uses an electronic 'compass' gizmo that randomises the walls, keeps track of whose turn it is and where the players are, reports what kinds of walls lie in which directions, and so on. The device also communicates clues (may require BoardGameGeek login - try mazout / mazoutmazout) about where the magic door might be (by referring to the animals on the floor tiles, eg 'black owl'), and presumably clues about Hubi's location. The device communicates all of this in spoken German, with sound effects. It's like Stop Thief! for the kindergarten set.

However, in this video (YouTube, in German, 07:51), the developer discusses an early prototype that appears to use a paper-based compass device, and counters to track Hubi's location. I'd love to be able to recreate this 'manual' version of the game of the game for my kids.


From the videos / pics / threads linked above, and perhaps from your own first-hand knowledge of the game, can you tell me (or just wildly speculate) how the manual prototype worked, or could work? I'm assuming there was a mechanism for randomising walls (drawing them out of a hat?). But how do you gives clues about the location of the door, and about Hubi's location? How are these tracked while keeping it secret from the players? Or were these not features of the prototype game?

Or have I got the wrong end of the neutrino wand entirely, and the prototype was just for the developer to say 'Make a prettier version of this, and throw in some electronic wizardry as well, and make the electronic thing look like this flat paper thing?' That is, it wasn't actually a functional game at all?
posted by obiwanwasabi to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total)
Response by poster: The rules (in German!) if that helps.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:12 AM on July 25, 2012

Sorry, it's not clear from your post: do you speak any German at all?
posted by colfax at 4:08 AM on July 25, 2012

Response by poster: Simple greetings, simple directions, simple requests - really basic tourist stuff. I've read enough German children's books that when I watched the videos I could readily understand many of the phrases said by the compass thingy (eg hare window, here you can pass / get by) and the names / colours of the various animals (eg red mouse, white owl). But not nearly enough to have even the faintest idea what's going on in the developer interview.

My wife's family is German (though her German is terrible, as they only spoke English at home in Australia when she was growing up - I suspect that her Niedersachsen father and Thuringian mother couldn't stand their respective accents.) We'll definitely ask the aunts to send over the game (along with another Halli Galli, as ours has mysteriously disappeared), and I'm pretty sure my kids could learn the small repertoire of phrases the compass says. This is more my inner bloody-minded reverse engineer wondering whether / how this worked without the electronic compass.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:41 AM on July 25, 2012

Best answer: I haven't had a chance to sit through the prototype interview yet, but I think your best bet for this is to have an extra "player" (an adult) with a paper copy of the board who controls Hubi and gives clues.

For creating the walls, I would make a bunch of chips and lay them face-down over where the walls would be. Then the players can flip the chips over to see what they've encountered. The Hubi player should place the magic door when the others aren't looking, and mark where that is on his copy of the board so that he can give hints to that too.
posted by specialagentwebb at 5:55 AM on July 25, 2012

Find the developer and ask him. Germans do speak English.
posted by Namlit at 6:12 AM on July 25, 2012

I don't know the specifics in your case, but a lot of these games already have fan translations of the rules among the other wealth of information specific to the title's listing at At the very least, you will find other fans of the game and a lively discussion. It's a good resource for anyone who likes that sort of thing. My cursory glance at the game's page didn't show an English translation yet, but there is a lot of other good stuff there, and that is where you will probably be able to connect with someone who has the game and is passionate enough to do what you are asking.
posted by seasparrow at 6:37 AM on July 25, 2012

Best answer: In that interview he states that the "labyrinths" aren't generated randomly, the compass randomly chooses one of more than 700 pre-made ones. It seems like he and his family designed them during the prototype-phase.

Hubi (i.e. the compass) apparently calculates the likelihood of encountering players for each room and moves accordingly. The developer wrote that program himself during development and played the part of Hubi on a PC while the testers played on the board.
posted by pishposh at 6:47 AM on July 25, 2012

I do speak German and I do translations, but the pdf file isn't loading for some reason. If you send me the text you need in English, I can give it a try.
posted by MinusCelsius at 9:37 AM on July 25, 2012

MinusCelsius, I had the same problem. Have you tried Right Click, Save Target As?
posted by pishposh at 10:06 AM on July 25, 2012

Response by poster: pishposh - thanks for taking the time to watch the developer interview and clarifying that there was some sort of electronic AI involved from the start. The bit about Hubi 'watching' the rest of the board and moving accordingly is very interesting!

specialagentweb - given pishposh's comment, it seems like I can either design my own software, or do pretty much what you've suggested - have a grown-up monitor the secret door and Hubi behind the scenes.

/waits impatiently for Hubi Raspberry Pi project
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:21 AM on July 26, 2012

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