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SoftBoard Game Development» Forums » General

Subject: Can Someon Compare and Contrast VASSAL, Cyberboard, ZunTzu? rss

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Sebastian Sohn
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'Bernard Wingrave'
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Re: Can Someon Compare and Contrast VASSAL, Cyberboard, ZunT
I can get the ball rolling here, but note that much of the below is based on what I have read, rather than direct experience. I have played games realtime on VASSAL, but I have not used VASSAL for play-by-email (PBEM). I haven't used Cyberboard or ZunTzu at all.

Play Modes
VASSAL: Realtime and PBEM
ZunTzu: Realtime only
Cyberboard: PBEM only

Operating Systems
VASSAL: "Windows and non-Windows"
ZunTzu: Windows XP only
Cyberboard: four versions of Windows (Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000 and Windows XP)


VASSAL has a lot more games available, currently, than ZunTzu. Finding a comprehensive list of games available on Cyberboard appears to be more work, so I am not going to attempt to make a comparison there.

ZunTzu FAQ wrote:
* Like VASSAL, ZunTzu was designed from the ground up to be simple and to be as close as possible to the game table experience. In my opinion ZunTzu is closer. Also, creating new game boxes is a lot easier than with VASSAL.
* ZunTzu has built-in voice conferencing: you can speak to your friends and hear them. With VASSAL that feature requires a third party software.
* ...ZunTzu is Windows only because it uses DirectX to provide advanced graphics such as smooth scrolls and zooms, and built-in voice conferencing.
* VASSAL uses a centralized server to help players meet. That feature doesn't exist with ZunTzu.


BGG user ekted and others have mentioned that VASSAL + Skype (phone over the web) is a good combination. Since teleconferencing is built into ZunTzu, Skype would not be necessary. Skype could also, presumably, be used with Cyberboard, if the players picked a time to exchange several e-mails.

See the sites below for more info:
http://www.zuntzu.com/faq.htm and
http://www.vassalengine.org/wiki/doku.php?id=overview
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/Cyberboard
http://cyberboard.brainiac.com/descript.html
http://cyberboard.brainiac.com/features.html

Edit: Added a couple of headers.
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'Bernard Wingrave'
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Re: Can Someon Compare and Contrast VASSAL, Cyberboard, ZunT
Quick comparison of the games offered:

VASSAL has about 20 eurogames (see this GeekList) out of 400 or so total. Mostly wargames.

ZunTzu has Poker, a Soccer game, some abstracts, BattleLore, and twenty or so wargames.

Cyberboard -- from what I can tell, this is mostly wargames.

Edit: reworded the first line, added space between items
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'Bernard Wingrave'
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Re: Can Someon Compare and Contrast VASSAL, Cyberboard, ZunT
Commonalities:

The programs are free. Donations are accepted.

The programs do not provide a computer opponent or AI.

VASSAL and ZunTzu do not enforce game rules. I assume the same is true of Cyberboard.

The websites for ZunTzu and Cyberboard state that players should own a (cardboard) copy of the game they are playing via either of these programs. I haven't been able to find a similar statement on the VASSAL website, but here is a page that addresses creating and playing modules; check out the section that starts "I want to make a module for such and such a game. Am I allowed to?"



How can I find the games that are available for each program?

VASSAL: Go to the VASSAL Module List. Click the column header to reorder the list by module name or creation date. Or use your browser's Find function, entering the game's name.

ZunTzu: Check this page and this GeekList.

CyberBoard: Trickier. Check the links listed at here. There's a sizeable list of gameboxes available here, but the site indicates that it was last updated in April 2007. Some games have their cyberboard gameboxes listed in the Links section of their page on BGG (example: Friedrich).

Edit: added ZunTzu GeekList.
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'Bernard Wingrave'
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bwingrave wrote:
Cyberboard: PBEM only

Cyberboard with Yahoo Messenger is a nice combination. A friend and I played the start of a 2-player game using both programs yesterday, and it was quicker than I expected. With Yahoo Messenger's file transfer feature, I didn't have to open any e-mails. Not quite as good as a live display, but not bad.
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Tim McCarron
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bwingrave wrote:
Commonalities:
VASSAL and ZunTzu do not enforce game rules. I assume the same is true of Cyberboard.


This is actually only somewhat true where vassal is concerned - it can enforce some game rules if the module is designed to implement them and the rules are not overly complex, but 95% of the available modules do not do this because it can be quite a chore to get it setup right. Also custom classes can be added to the core that do enforce rules if module designer so wishes to program them
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Hernan Ruiz Camauer
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Battlegrounds: RPG Edition is another one you might want to consider.

Playstyles: Primarily live online games, but can also be used as a prototyping/playtesting tool, and to generate game-state maps for play-by-forum games.

Operating Systems: Mac OS X, Windows 98, NT, XP, 2000, ME, Vista

Battlegrounds does not enforce rules or have an AI.
It supports many dice roll mechanics without any scripting required.
Has support for card decks, including user-created card decks.
Has built-in text chat, but also works well with a VOIP app like Skype, Ventrilo, etc.
Primarily intended for RPGs, but works quite well for many boardgames and some light wargames.
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'Bernard Wingrave'
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bwingrave wrote:
ZunTzu: Realtime only


I was told last night that ZunTzu has the option to save a game in progress, which surprised me. For me, this opens the platform up to the option of playing longer, multi-session games.
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R.S. Barker
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In my experience with Vassal and Cyberboard, I'm finding that the graphic quality of the game sets within Vassal is superior. Perhaps that is just my experience, but part of that superiority IMHO comes from how Vassal allows one to import graphics of a higher color spectrum - up to 16 million colors, and yet it also seems to shine through in games wherein you have a multitude of counters/cards/playing pieces needed.

I prefer Vassal because of some of the unique options one can set under preferences:

1) High quality scaling
2) The ability to set the ram allotment higher. This shines through when loading in a game like Talisman 3rd edition with all expansions active.
3) Use combined application window (requires restart of Vassal)

This is huge because you can break off and re size various windows allowing you to decide how big each window needs to be.

I also find that the Vassal community at Vassal.org is extremely helpful, wherein new updates are constantly being made available to the community. Their support is second to none.

*****

Cyberboard works well on my Vista system with nary a problem and while I enjoy playing games with it, I'm currently working on translating 1 game that is only available on Cyberboard and another which hasn't been translated to any PC based gaming system.

I do like Cyberboard for it's in-game designer window wherein you can create counters with the built in tools. But 3 games I've d/l and played have had graphics that look second rate to me.

Cyberboard has issues with their help/support system, and I always feel like help isn't available to me at a moments notice.

*****

As of right now, more war based games like ASL and strategy games like those made by Avalon Hill are available on Vassal, but there is a growing trend to change that discrepancy with more people learning the system and switching to it's flexible if difficult learning curve.

Hope that helps,

R.S.
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Adolfo Restrepo
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Can Someon Compare and Contrast VASSAL, Cyberboard, ZunTzu? In designer perspective
How about the Designer point of view?

Which one may Should use for prototyping what kind of games?
any suggestions?
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László K.
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Numerous CyberBoard game boxes are available here: http://www.limeyyankgames.co.uk
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R.S. Barker
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I hang out at Consimworld - like most Gronards do, and in my experience when the question of which system to use for a translation of a designers game is mentioned - Vassal seems to be the choice.

Again, this isn't a scientific study by any means, but comes from the 35 game folders that I frequent, and another 20 or so that are for games either in development, in Beta testing, or have recently been released.

Another factor is that every game I've seen where Vassal is recommended/considered on CSW is for a game based on some type of war system.

YMMV
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Gherardo
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I prefer Vassal for several reasons:
a) compatibility: I use Linux and Vassal is the only choice. I used on a netbook (resolution 800x400) and I'm sure it would run on a N900 phone or any other java-based device;
b) versatility: I play by email too, when I'm tired or my leisure time is limited;
c) open source development: it grows faster than the others and with less bugs.

I like ZunTzu "feeling" too and it wouldn't be a bad idea to develop a common standard for creating the modules.
As when we surf the Net: we use different browsers, but the content is the same.
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