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Subject: Does playing on VASSAL change the game experience? rss

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Filip W.
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I've just started using VASSAL as a prototyping tool and playing my first playtest using it I encountered a strange feeling: the game became tedious! I longed back to playing with solid, physical pieces.

Now I'm trying to analyze that that says about my game; is it that the game itself isn't viable in some way? Is it only the fact that I'm used to much more spectacular graphics and smoothness of gameplay on the computer? I can't figure it out.

Do you have any similar experiences when shifting from board to Vassal? If so, what did you do to counter them? Any other ideas?

As an aside: my design is a typical Euro, lots of cubes to be moved and placed, lots of optimizing.
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B C Z
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What it says is that there are a lot of little bits to move around, yes?

Sometimes this is fine, but every operation in Vassal is an operation you will have to do on the physical board as well.

If you are tracking 'things' but only need to know levels, consider another way to track other than a pile of blocks in front of you.

If you are moving the same item four times, consider if that can be reduced in some way, or streamlined.

Vassal is like a magnifying glass. Any bookkeeping operation will become magnified.
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I. J. Thompson
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I'm not sure if the tedium of solo playtesting on Vassal can be helped, but I can say that multiplayer playing/playtesting via Skype on Vassal makes it almost as good as the real thing!
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Andrew Walters
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Different games actually require different manipulations of the pieces. VASSAL is fine for some games, and does require some repetitive dragging with others. You might want to make a super bare-bones physical version of your game just to learn about the differences between VASSAL and regular play.

In general, I think if in "real life" you would pick up several pieces at once to re-arrange or distribute, VASSAL is going to be annoying.
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Filip W.
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ijthompson wrote:
I'm not sure if the tedium of solo playtesting on Vassal can be helped, but I can say that multiplayer playing/playtesting via Skype on Vassal makes it almost as good as the real thing!


How do you do that? Do you need to set up a server or upload your module? And by "playtesting via Skype" do you mean having a conversation going while playtesting or something else?

TIA
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Filip W.
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andreww wrote:

Different games actually require different manipulations of the pieces. VASSAL is fine for some games, and does require some repetitive dragging with others. You might want to make a super bare-bones physical version of your game just to learn about the differences between VASSAL and regular play.

In general, I think if in "real life" you would pick up several pieces at once to re-arrange or distribute, VASSAL is going to be annoying.


This might be it. I've got a physical prototype (which I don't want to pull out daytime since the kids are at an age where they like to eat small things - like eurogame cubes ) and the interesting (planning) part takes longer than the uninteresting (bookkeeping) part since moving the cubes to their correct places requires only a single sweep of your hand while it requires multiple motions in VASSAL. On the other hand I imagine that I could automate it somehow, but that would require more time in making the module that it's worth at the moment as the rules are still fluid.
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Nate K
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I think it does change the experience with some games. I just played Chad's amazing version of my own Derelicts of Sin game on Vassal. I had a lot of fun, but had to juggle several windows to make the game fit on my computer screen, which isn't a problem when playing on a table.
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John "Omega" Williams
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Vassal, and usually any PC port of a board game, tends to change the experience one way or another.

Moreso with Vassal for some games as theres usually no automation for tasks that would normally be done very quickly via hand on a physical board.

Also, if you are a very tactile person then the PC version will possibly seem stale or tedious where in actual physical manipulation its quick and easy.

Same question was brought up some time ago about playing game via Cyberboard.
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Chad Mestdagh
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kurthl33t wrote:
I think it does change the experience with some games. I just played Chad's amazing version of my own Derelicts of Sin game on Vassal. I had a lot of fun, but had to juggle several windows to make the game fit on my computer screen, which isn't a problem when playing on a table.


Yeah, sorry about the window thing.

I debated about putting Kyle's player board and the card table on the main screen. But then I ran into a readability issue. I would have had to make the map screen really huge to do so. Looking back, there was no reason that I couldn't put the cards on Kyle's window. That would have made at least one less window. (and dramatically improved the usabilty.

Oh well. My purpose was to try to make the module really fast. (in preping for the summer madness that is about to come.)
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I. J. Thompson
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filwi wrote:
ijthompson wrote:
I'm not sure if the tedium of solo playtesting on Vassal can be helped, but I can say that multiplayer playing/playtesting via Skype on Vassal makes it almost as good as the real thing!


How do you do that? Do you need to set up a server or upload your module? And by "playtesting via Skype" do you mean having a conversation going while playtesting or something else?

TIA


Yes, just upload your module to wherever your friends can find it, then you can both play it on the Vassal server (it doesn't need to be 'approved', or anything).

As for Skype, yes, I just mean the ability to talk in real-time while you're playing. I find text chat to be the most tedious part of Vassal, and it's the reason I don't play Battlestar Galactica on there anymore.

Also, when it comes to moving multiple pieces, remember that you can drag a box around 'em!
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Nate K
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radchad wrote:
kurthl33t wrote:
I think it does change the experience with some games. I just played Chad's amazing version of my own Derelicts of Sin game on Vassal. I had a lot of fun, but had to juggle several windows to make the game fit on my computer screen, which isn't a problem when playing on a table.


Yeah, sorry about the window thing.

I debated about putting Kyle's player board and the card table on the main screen. But then I ran into a readability issue. I would have had to make the map screen really huge to do so. Looking back, there was no reason that I couldn't put the cards on Kyle's window. That would have made at least one less window. (and dramatically improved the usabilty.

Oh well. My purpose was to try to make the module really fast. (in preping for the summer madness that is about to come.)


I didn't mind, Chad! I understand why you made it the way you did. And if I had a larger screen, it wouldn't have been a problem.
 
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