For those of you who missed the compelling idea when it was first featured here last October, SurfaceScapes is a virtual tabletop gaming application that uses the Microsoft Surface's multi-touch screen to help immerse players and handle various aspects of tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons.

Seeing the buzz behind SurfaceScapes, which was created by several Carnegie Mellon University students enrolled in the college's Entertainment Technology Center program, the Microsoft Surface team followed up with one of the application's developers, Michael Lewis, to learn more about the project.

Along with talking about how the idea originated from a conversation with Penny Arcade's Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, Lewis describes the team's goal for SurfaceScapes:

"The goal was really to explore how to enhance table top role playing games. Role playing has been brought to computing in the past, but Surface offers a unique opportunity for maintaining a lot of the traditional roles and expectations of table top gaming, while still enhancing it in significant ways.

That said, Surface allowed us to really explore the possibilities of merging physical objects with virtual interfaces and we've spent a lot of time learning how to best utilize that, and working out some of the problems that arise when creating new interfaces for a traditional table top game."

You can read the first half of the interview on the Microsoft Surface blog. The second half, which looks at the project's design experience and progress, will be available in the near future.