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1960: The Making of the President» Forums » General

Subject: ZunTzu Gamebox rss

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Gary Krockover
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I've created a ZT gamebox for 1960 as another way to play online. See http://www.zuntzu.com for more information and a link to the download.
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Jim Cote
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I installed this engine and played with the 1960 gamebox a bit.

- The black background is annoying. I don't know if this is ZunTzu or the gamebox itself. Would be nice to have a white option.

- I can't make the hand window tall enough to see the card text when I zoom the cards large enough to SEE the text.

- Double right click seems to be the only way to flip cards face up. This is an odd choice.

- There should be a button to maximize the board in the window so you don't have to jump through hoops to get back to a "normal" view after zooming in to a region.

- How do you get stuff from other "tabs" (eg cubes) onto the board?

Overall, I really dislike apps that use multiple "windows" for the various stuff. It completely loses that "playing the game at the table" feeling which is what ZunTzu (and other online systems) are trying to simulate. I want to see the draw/discard piles, the bag, the piles of cubes, etc right around the board. Click, tab, click, click, tab, click, tab, click, click, click is just not worth it. And the opponent can't even see what you are doing.
 
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Gary Krockover
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Hi Jim,

ekted wrote:
I installed this engine and played with the 1960 gamebox a bit.

- The black background is annoying. I don't know if this is ZunTzu or the gamebox itself. Would be nice to have a white option.


The black background (around the mapboard I assume) is a ZunTzu thing, though I could simply increase the size of the mapboard graphic by drawing a colored border around it. I could get fancy and make it look like a table even.

ekted wrote:

- I can't make the hand window tall enough to see the card text when I zoom the cards large enough to SEE the text.


This again is a ZunTzu limitation, but I'll ask Jerome (ZunTzu creator) if that window can be enlarged some more.

ekted wrote:

- Double right click seems to be the only way to flip cards face up. This is an odd choice.


Correct, that is the only way to flip pieces/cards.

ekted wrote:

- There should be a button to maximize the board in the window so you don't have to jump through hoops to get back to a "normal" view after zooming in to a region.


Personally, I find the zoom/scroll feature of ZunTzu to be one of the strongpoints of this application (unlike others that only offer scroll bars and just a few levels of zoom that you access via a button click). Holding down the right mouse button and then moving your mouse up/down will zoom in/out. Once you have the zoom level set, you simply left click and hold and then drag to move around the map. It becomes very intuitive after you've played on it for a little bit.

ekted wrote:

- How do you get stuff from other "tabs" (eg cubes) onto the board?


Two ways: 1. You can stack up blocks or cards or momentum markers then grab the stack by left click and hold on the bottom piece and then drag it to the tab of the window that you want to move them to (map window most likely). The window will change to whatever tab you're holding them over and then you can continue to drag them out onto the board. 2. After stacking up the pieces, you can double-left click to open the stack inspector. Then, select the other window via the tab at the bottom and then drag them out of the stack inspector onto the map. Note also that the stack inspector will allow you to "shuffle" the cards as well.

ekted wrote:

Overall, I really dislike apps that use multiple "windows" for the various stuff. It completely loses that "playing the game at the table" feeling which is what ZunTzu (and other online systems) are trying to simulate. I want to see the draw/discard piles, the bag, the piles of cubes, etc right around the board. Click, tab, click, click, tab, click, tab, click, click, click is just not worth it. And the opponent can't even see what you are doing.


If you prefer, you can move the stacks of cards and tokens/blocks to the main map window and play on just that screen. When synced up and playing live with another, your opponent will see whatever you see on your screen.

Thanks for your feedback. No doubt that I'll continue to make improvements after I've had a chance to play a few games and discover some needed adjustments.
 
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Gary Krockover
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Another note on viewing your cards in the "hand" window. You can zoom in on your card (you'll only see the top 1/2 of the card) but you can then left click and drag the card up enough to view the entire card without placing it on the table (and thus making it visible to your opponent). The card will continue to display a bit of transparancy (indicating that it is "hidden") but it is more than visible enough to read the text.
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Jim Cote
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GaryJK wrote:
Personally, I find the zoom/scroll feature of ZunTzu to be one of the strongpoints of this application (unlike others that only offer scroll bars and just a few levels of zoom that you access via a button click). Holding down the right mouse button and then moving your mouse up/down will zoom in/out. Once you have the zoom level set, you simply left click and hold and then drag to move around the map. It becomes very intuitive after you've played on it for a little bit.

I know all this. But you have to zoom in often when playing. Afterwards, you always want to see the entire map. This involves a lot of zoom and pan adjustment again. A single click to take to you 100% centered view would be so much nicer.

I don't put as much stock as you do in the pan/zoom function of ZunTzu. I'd much rather have more game control features like BSW or some of the more complex Vassal modules that actually help you PLAY the game. For example, the Twilight Struggle module for Vassal handles a lot of the mechanics for cards and influence markers. The AVL module selects drawn HQ's on the map and highlights all the hexes/units in range, even considering tracing paths across bridges and around the "corners".

The one thing that all the online module developers do wrong is to do a direct translation of the board game to the screen. Twilight Struggle, Wilderness War, Hannibal, A Victory Lost, etc. are all scans of the boards. If you can see the entire board, you can't read anything. If you zoom in enough to read text, then you can't see enough of the board to make decisions. Having to constantly zoom/pan is a show-stopper for me. The fact that ZunTzu caters to this feature means that developers will abuse it even more. All of these maps could be redone specifically for online play with simpler layouts and larger text that would require no panning or zooming at all for reasonably sized monitors.
 
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Gary Krockover
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That's ok Jim - I created this gamebox for those that might enjoy playing the game using ZT. I'm sure that a VASSAL and/or a Cyberboard implementation will be along some time soon. I'm not a ZT fanboi or spokesperson, but from what I understand, the design philosophy behind ZT is to recreate the experience of actually playing the boardgame but using your computer and thus it lacks many of the features that VASSAL has. If ZT doesn't suit you, then so be it. Thanks for trying it out though and for your feedback.
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Mike
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Oh man... ekted just wants to make me cry. cry This modules ROCKS and ROCKS HARD at that. I came on to alert the world of the existence of this module, but I found that the author of the gamebox already did.

I played a complete game of 1960 today on ZunTzu with my Dad who had never played it before, and he lives all the way across the country. I own the actual game, although I've only played it a couple times so far. It took us a turn to completely figure out how to use the gameboard on Zun Tzu, but it was mostly intuitive. Once we had it all figured out, it was a beautiful beautiful thing.

VASSAL and wargameroom can't compete!

I know I sound like I'm gushing (and I am) but I've played some games on VASSAL, and I've played Twilight Struggle on wargameroom.com. Playing on those, they do "work," but it's mostly an exercise in desperation and a bucket full of FAIL. Unless you've got practically all the text of cards memorized DO NOT ATTEMPT Twilight Struggle on wargameroom... and the same applies for 1960 on wargameroom. Why is that? Because none of the text for cards is displayed, you have to request the text of each and every card you want to know and then it's displayed in a text box below. On VASSAL, man, what is up... do they not know how to scale and interpolate images? I mean there ARE free image scalers out there to use. What I'm referring to, is that the board is super ginormous to begin with, and then when you scale it down so you can actually view the whole thing, it's very blurry because it scaled using a craptastic algorithm leaving things less than legible.

ZunTzu FTW!

On ZunTzu, using Gary's board, zooming in and out is fluid, and always produces a nice clean image. Panning is a simple matter of clicking and dragging, just like all your iPhones do. You can see the full image of all the cards in your hand, and to the contrary of ekted's statement, you can read the text on those cards. (I'm using a 19" monitor at 1280x1024.) You have a panel where your cards are stored, and this is normally set to auto-hide when your mouse leaves the panel, and to restore when your mouse goes to the bottom of the screen. I took a picture of my hand, and I'll upload it. Zooming is simple and lovely... the high res scans let you get up close when you want to focus on a region, or zoom way out for the whole picture. It's also nice because where ever you zoom in, the same happens on your opponent's screen, so it worked quite well to teach the game to my Dad.

The downside!

So I think I've hit the major high points of this, so I'll go over a couple things that were minor annoyances.
1. Political Capital Bag. It took us a while to figure out how to create our political capital bag. The secret? The cubes can "flip over" (right double click, same as cards) to a generic black question mark side. So we would gather up our rest cubes, flip them over, and then add them to the stack of political capital. Then we'd double left click to select them all, and then shuffle them a few times. The tough part comes when you need to pick say 3 cubes from what may be 40 cubes in the bag. What happens when you hover over a stack, is the stack expands so you can see each item more plainly, and if you leave the stack, then they collapse again. That means if you want to pull off three cubes (they come from the top), you start your mouse at the bottom of the stack, carefully traversing the diagonal stack of cubes without going outside of the boundaries, otherwise you need to start over. It can be tedious, so what we would do is break up the stack in to smaller bits, and then picking 3 from like 10 was no problem. If this could be dealt with some other way, that would be the greatest improvement to the game.

2. Having to leave the board to go grab pieces on the pieces tab. I agree with ekted?! But we figured out how to solve that... after about a couple turns, we dragged a bunch of cubes off to the side of the main board. Problem solved, no more tab flipping, and it might be better just to set them out on the table with the initial startup. You could theoretically do the same with the deck of cards, but this wasn't that much of an issue.

3. Decks weren't pre-shuffled. Realized this on turn 3.

4. Umm.. I dunno. I'm grasping at straws. The background wasn't my favorite shade of lime green? Actually black is perfect, please don't change this... it's nice and clean, no need to clutter up the board, there's already enough stuff going on. We don't need a stars and stripes background. The only other thing that could make this module even better is if it could actually interpret the rules, but I can also appreciate having it free form.

FINAL WORD:

1960 on ZunTzu is simply terrific. If you want to check out and learn 1960, or if you want to play your friends online... go to ZunTzu to do it, there's no better way (yet). My dad is asking when we can play again. This could be ZunTzu's killer app.

BONUS ROUND HINTS:
Double right click -- flips cards, seals, and flips cubes to "mystery" side. Use mystery side cubes for political capital bag.

Double left click -- select stack for stack inspector, use to shuffle decks and cubes.

Right click and drag mouse up and down: Zoom in/out

Left click and drag: drag items around, including map, cards, seals, cubes, etc.

Mouse wheel: rotates currently selected items... I only play with cubes rotated 17 degrees.


Thanks Gary for putting time into making this... I appreciate it, had fun today with my dad, and I've tipped you!
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Jim Cote
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comat0se wrote:
...contrary of ekted's statement, you can read the text on those cards.

Only when zoomed in close to full size. If you are viewing the entire board on the screen (I have 1600x1200 on 21" monitor) you cannot read any text whatsoever. For me, games that require pan and zoom, or tabbing between different windows, in order to play are just not worth the effort. Functionality always trumps rendering the game in its real-world form. This is not a criticism of ZunTzu per se, but a criticism of the module/gamebox design. However, ZunTzu does not provide the features necessary to design many games in a way that would work for me, and Vassal does (even if the module developers choose not to use them).
 
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Jerome Bonnet
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Hi!

ekted wrote:
A single click to take to you 100% centered view would be so much nicer.


Good idea, thanks. I'll consider a keyboard shortcut to get to min zoom and/or to get back to the previously used zoom.
And I'll remove the limitation of the hand height.
I'll also investigate a way to have the cards "pop up" from the hand when pointed to so that their texts can be read.

ekted wrote:
I'd much rather have more game control features like BSW or some of the more complex Vassal modules that actually help you PLAY the game. For example, the Twilight Struggle module for Vassal handles a lot of the mechanics for cards and influence markers. The AVL module selects drawn HQ's on the map and highlights all the hexes/units in range, even considering tracing paths across bridges and around the "corners".


All those enhancements require some actual programming by the module authors. Programmability is not a feature planned for ZunTzu at the moment.

ekted wrote:
All of these maps could be redone specifically for online play with simpler layouts and larger text that would require no panning or zooming at all for reasonably sized monitors.


I see your point. However redesigning a game is a big effort that not all module authors are prepared to make. And there's a limit in how much readable text you can pack on a screen. That's why having a good pan and zoom tool is important.

Note that ZunTzu is designed to make the best use of the screen real estate. No side panels or menu bars. Almost every pixel of the screen is allocated to the game. And you can even play fullscreen to get rid of the window frame.

ZunTzu's progressive zoom accomodates both low and high definition screens. Playing at 1920x1200 and 1024x768 are entirely different experiences. Soon everyone will have high density screens.
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Jim Cote
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ZunTzu wrote:
Note that ZunTzu is designed to make the best use of the screen real estate. No side panels or menu bars. Almost every pixel of the screen is allocated to the game. And you can even play fullscreen to get rid of the window frame.

But because of that, you have to switch tabs all the time in 1960. The most efficient use of the screen is to have everything visible and accessible. Otherwise, it's like playing a real life board game with the board on one table and the cards on another. The translation to the computer should make playing the game easier. All the games I mentioned above are about 4x more difficult playing online, and all because this one issue.
 
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Jerome Bonnet
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comat0se wrote:
Oh man... ekted just wants to make me cry. cry This modules ROCKS and ROCKS HARD at that. I came on to alert the world of the existence of this module, but I found that the author of the gamebox already did.


I agree Gary did an amazing work, scanning all those cards, although he's quite modest about it.

comat0se wrote:
The tough part comes when you need to pick say 3 cubes from what may be 40 cubes in the bag.


I know. Maybe Gary should consider defining the cubes as playing cards instead of counters. Decks of playing cards don't spread when you move the mouse cursor over them.
In the upcoming version of ZunTzu (almost done), the space bar is used as a shortcut to bring the top card into a player's hand. I believe it will improve the game experience.

Thanks for the review. ZunTzu is all about sharing a game with interesting people. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
 
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Gary Krockover
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First off, thanks Mike for your praise and wonderful feedback, I appreciate it! I played my first game of 1960 the other night, and we too had a very enjoyable experience.

On to your comments:

comat0se wrote:


The downside!

So I think I've hit the major high points of this, so I'll go over a couple things that were minor annoyances.
1. Political Capital Bag. It took us a while to figure out how to create our political capital bag. The secret? The cubes can "flip over" (right double click, same as cards) to a generic black question mark side. So we would gather up our rest cubes, flip them over, and then add them to the stack of political capital. Then we'd double left click to select them all, and then shuffle them a few times. The tough part comes when you need to pick say 3 cubes from what may be 40 cubes in the bag. What happens when you hover over a stack, is the stack expands so you can see each item more plainly, and if you leave the stack, then they collapse again. That means if you want to pull off three cubes (they come from the top), you start your mouse at the bottom of the stack, carefully traversing the diagonal stack of cubes without going outside of the boundaries, otherwise you need to start over. It can be tedious, so what we would do is break up the stack in to smaller bits, and then picking 3 from like 10 was no problem. If this could be dealt with some other way, that would be the greatest improvement to the game.


The Stack Inspector is your friend here. After you've stacked up your initial 20 cubes (10 of each side), you'll want to open the stack inspector with those cubes (flipped first of course) and then shuffle them. You can then pull directly off the top of the stack inspector. When it comes time to add new cubes, you can drag and drop them directly into the stack inspector window, so there's no need to deal with a large stack of cubes after you initially place your 20 in there. I'll take Jerome's advice though and play with making a version of the gamebox that uses the cubes as cards instead of pieces to see if it's easier to manage them that way (probably so). I'll leave a note once I've created and tested that version.

comat0se wrote:

2. Having to leave the board to go grab pieces on the pieces tab. I agree with ekted?! But we figured out how to solve that... after about a couple turns, we dragged a bunch of cubes off to the side of the main board. Problem solved, no more tab flipping, and it might be better just to set them out on the table with the initial startup. You could theoretically do the same with the deck of cards, but this wasn't that much of an issue.


In my next version, I'll set a number of cubes out to the sides of the map for each player.

comat0se wrote:

3. Decks weren't pre-shuffled. Realized this on turn 3.


Oops, this is true - I should zip up the module and include a simple set of instructions along with a note to let players know that they should shuffle the cards before play.


comat0se wrote:

4. Umm.. I dunno. I'm grasping at straws. The background wasn't my favorite shade of lime green? Actually black is perfect, please don't change this... it's nice and clean, no need to clutter up the board, there's already enough stuff going on. We don't need a stars and stripes background. The only other thing that could make this module even better is if it could actually interpret the rules, but I can also appreciate having it free form.


I borrowed the lime green "table" window from the Poker module that comes with ZunTzu. I need to fix the card draw/discard outlines for the Endorsement Cards anyway, so I'll probably go ahead and make an original graphic to use here.

comat0se wrote:

Thanks Gary for putting time into making this... I appreciate it, had fun today with my dad, and I've tipped you!


You're welcome Mike, thanks again for the feedback and the tip!!!
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Mike
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Here's a image of the full map in view, complete with my (readable) hand of cards. Make sure to click on the original button to see in full size.

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Jerome Bonnet
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GaryJK wrote:
I'll take Jerome's advice though and play with making a version of the gamebox that uses the cubes as cards instead of pieces to see if it's easier to manage them that way (probably so).


Well, I've changed my mind after seeing Mike's screenshot.
If cubes were as cards I'm afraid counting the cubes would become too difficult.
 
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Gary Krockover
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I'm going to play around with it when I get home tonight Jerome. Perhaps a suggestion for future builds of ZT; a "persistant" Stack Inspecgor. Something that you can throw things like cubes/chips/etc into that will always be in an inspector type window under that tab. Perhaps with the option of using a graphical overlay (the bag in this case). The difference here might be that it's not a Stack Inspector so much but a holding location for the pieces, so that when you drop them in there, that is there location - you don't have them in a stack inspector AND on the mapboard.
 
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Jim Cote
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You are trying to shoehorn what you want into what the system can do. Do not get caught up making game-specific tweaks to the system just to support a single game. Think about what is really needed in a generic way so that other games can use the evolving features.

For example, many games have the notion of a number of "counters" in a single space. You may want them all separartely visisble, or you may want them stacked with a number on top. You may want to move/remove one, some or all of them. Classical interface guidelines would suggest a right-click popup with something like:

increase
decrease
0
1
2
3
4
5
6

For non-stacked counters, shift click to select a set of multiple counters, then drag to move. Also, being able to drag to and from an off-board but on-screen supply is nice.
 
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Gary Krockover
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I believe that my suggestion would support any game that utilizes a chit-pull type of system. What would be nice is if the "persistant viewer" could be moved as if it were a piece. IOW, if you could throw chits/counters/cubes into a "bag" and then have the ability to move that entire "bag" and drop it next to your playing area, so that you have the chit-pull system right there next to the map. Of course, this is pretty much possible now - add items to a stack, open the stack inspector and then you can tab to the map window and the stack inspector will still be open right there next to the map.

What you suggest is how VASSAL/ADC2 currently handles stacks and individual pieces. Of those, the only thing that I (personally) would like to see added to ZT is the ability to drag and group select multiple pieces that aren't stacked (as if you were scooping them up with your hand). Note that in ZT, you can select individual pieces from the center of a stack and pull it out and then replace it into the stack where you want it (i.e., re-order the stack).

I realize that ZT isn't your cup of tea, and that's cool, so my suggestions are in lines with what Jerome has for his application - you have just what you would have if you were playing the game on your table but it's on the computer screen instead. So yes, it's nice that VASSAL will automate a lot of things for you, but as someone said in another message here; I like having to do things manually and not rely on those types of tools that I wouldn't have when I do play face to face. So, my physical copy of the game wont auto-deal my hand each turn and thus the ZT gamebox shouldn't either (as an example, per Jerome's design ideas).
 
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Jerome Bonnet
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GaryJK wrote:
Perhaps a suggestion for future builds of ZT; a "persistant" Stack Inspecgor. Something that you can throw things like cubes/chips/etc into that will always be in an inspector type window under that tab.


I came to the same conclusion (that's what I call "shared tray" in my roadmap).

However I've not found out the best way to implement it yet, but this discussion gives me ideas.
 
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Jerome Bonnet
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GaryJK wrote:
Of those, the only thing that I (personally) would like to see added to ZT is the ability to drag and group select multiple pieces that aren't stacked


An important feature for miniature gamers. It's also on my roadmap.
 
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Charles F.
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Selecting multiple items doesn't seem to work in this module - unlike with the PoG module I've tried out.

How come?
 
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Gary Krockover
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charlesf wrote:
Selecting multiple items doesn't seem to work in this module - unlike with the PoG module I've tried out.

How come?


The only items that are stackable in MotP gamebox that I've made are cubes and state seals (no need to move those though). If you stack up the cubes, you can move several at once.

Cards are handled differently in ZT, they don't stack so that you only grab the top card off the stack instead of moving the entire deck of cards.

POG has the counters which are stackable, MotP has only the small cubes.
 
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