Recommend
26 
 Thumb up
 Hide
20 Posts

For the People» Forums » General

Subject: Upgraded Vassal module is now available. rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Judd Vance
United States
Wichita
Kansas
flag msg tools
Who's the master?
badge
"Just get that sucka to the designated place at the designated time and I will gladly designate his ass...for dismemberment!" - Sho Nuff.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
When it comes to making Vassal modules, there are two levels of "success." The first level is a functional module that allows you to play the game without any broken parts in it. The next level is enhancing it with features to make it easier for the user, taking advantage of Vassal features that can make it easier to play than it is on the table.

After playing a few games of For the People on the Vassal module with Larz, I found things in it that bothered me. The module is good and certainly works, but it had many areas I thought needed enhancing, so I set out to do them. Here is a summary of those changes:

#1) Toolbar:

The icon menu bar is just too busy. There are 3 icons to look at decks of cards (draw deck, discard deck, and removed cards). There are 5 icons to grab pieces. Because there are so many icons, there is not enough room to explain the icons. I cleaned it up by condensing and removing icons, which left me room to add three more: a "read me" icon (how to to use the module and explanations of the changes in the module), a charts icon, and an icon to determine how many cards are in each player's hand. Here is a comparison of the toolbars. The top is the previous version. The bottom is my enhancements (click the magnifying glass if this is too small):




#2 Pieces window

As I mentioned, the previous version has 5 icons opening 5 windows to view pieces, such as USA pieces, CSA pieces, PC markers, forts, and game markers. My first enhancement was to group them into one window and use tabs and better organization needed to put them into one window, and thus, only one icon on the menu bar. This is that one window:




#3 Getting rid of two windows:

The chit "cup" window was another icon on the toolbar with a strange looking "cup." I prefer to use a picture of a cup, and I put it on the map board next to the generals, so the cup is right by the action. In addition, I was able to get rid of the forts window/icon by putting the stacks (decks) of forts on the map, and I added a counter, so you can see how many are left. In the picture below, you can see the cup above the SW track and the forts on the left of the Amphibious Invasion track. As an additional feature, when you put the generals "in the cup" (on the picture of the cup), it flips them upside down to their reverse side:




#4 Consolidating the decks:

The next way I cleaned up the toolbar was by consolidating all 3 decks (draw, discard, removed cards) into one window, rather than 3. This allows 1 button on the icon menu bar to access all of them:




#5 ACTS or Vassal-capable:

In the current module, you can right-click on the draw deck and select a specific card. To my knowledge, there is no way for the module to alert the players that this has happened, which could allow a dishonest player to select a much-needed card (ex: Emancipation Proclamation). Also, if you right-click you can see the order, so that you know what card is next and the one after that and so on. You even know where any card is in the deck. The reason it allows this is because many players play with ACTS and it draws the cards, and then they use Vassal, draw the same cards, and then use Vassal for the board.

At the same time, there are players like me who don't use ACTS. I play with honest players, so I don't worry about the right-click "problem," but I don't like that possibility even being there. Therefore, I actually use two draw decks: one for ACTS (right-click enabled) and one for Vassal-only players (no right-click option). At the beginning of the game, the option is selected:



That is why the decks window has a "Reshuffle" button, rather than right-clicking on the deck. The button uses the players choice to determine which deck to send them to.


#6 Improvements to the player-hand:

In the current module, you drag the cards from the draw deck to your hand window. You can also right-click on the draw deck, and draw more than 1 card, thus dragging, for example, all 7. They entered your hand upside down. You then clicked a "Flip" button, and it flipped them all. However, the cards were often "stuck" together, so if you move one to the board, you accidentally move all of them. I improved this using "Draw card" buttons -- an idea I got from Joel Toppen's Washington's War module. Also, look closely at the icons on the menu bar of the hand window: see the "Random Discard" button (click the magnifying glass if you can't see it)? Click it and it will randomly discard one from your hand. The old module had no system. You could try moving them to the "chit cup" window, but it often left your cards exposed to prying eyes. You could roll a die and use the honor system from your hand, but if your opponent leads with a such a card, you have 7 cards in your hand: try to figure out how to resolve that with a 6-sided die. This new enhancement is more secure and much faster. (In technical terms, it moves all of your cards to an off-board shuffling deck, removes one random card, and sends them back to your hand -- it does it so quickly, you only notice that your cards appear to re-arranged.




#6 Extra feature #1: Cards in hands:

When you are playing by e-mail and play a card that forces an opponent discard, such as the Confederate player playing the "Onward to Richmond" card, it can get confusing trying to determine how many cards the opponent has. On my updated icon menu bar, you see a "Cards in Hand" button. Clicking it shows the number of cards in both player's hands:




#7 Extra feature #2: Right-side Tables:

My biggest pet peeve in the game was having to crook my head sideways in order to read the combat results table. Also, as the Union, I had to look at the Capitol and Reinforcement tables upside-down. No more! I flipped the top tables 180 degrees and the CRT 90 degrees: in the last case, I used my limited graphics skills to fill in the surroundings above and below the chart:






#8 Extra feature #3: Charts:

Larz heard me complain too many times about the lack of a window with charts. Besides the sideways CRT, I grew weary of continually going the rulebook looking up charts. That is what a player aid is for and a Charts window is an electronic player aid. This window has various tabs, showing all pertinent charts, including the tables on the map (that are all right-side up, now):




#9 Extra feature #4: Updating Army boxes:

I added a box to the armies to house elite units and then turned the writing on the boxes right-side up -- not for any special reason. I had no problem reading that sideways. I just did flipped the writing because I could:




#10 Extra feature #5: Descriptions:

When you move a marker on a track or move a general to an army box, the module tells you that the marker moved "offboard." The only named locations on the board were the point-to-point areas on the map. This made it difficult and annoying when trying to follow along with a play-by-email log -- trying to figure out exactly what your opponent did.
I went in and named every box on every track. Look below and click the magnifying glass. The top is the description box of the old module. The bottom is my module (in the top, I was the "Union" player. In the lower one, I was the "Confederate" player.) In both cases, I did the exact same actions, but you can see that the new descriptions are more thorough and you know exactly what I did.




#11 Extra Feature #6: Cavalry switching:

Another annoyance in the existing module was switching out cavalry generals with their brigades. I changed that. Now, you can right-click on the marker to switch it back and forth, and and if you are using the optional rule for cavalry replacements, you can replace that leader if he dies in combat.

You can also use this method to switch Van Dorn to his cavalry brigade and Sheridan from his corp general to his cavalry general.




#12 Extra Feature #7: No more "sticky" armies:

In a game with Larz, I had an army with 15 SPs in it. I had extra SPs in the space, so they had have their SP markers underneath the army marker. When I went to move the army marker, it moved everything and we didn't catch it until the end of the turn. I had plans with those extras, too. That problem is gone: armies no longer stick to SPs.


#12 Extra Feature #7: Better PCs:

No longer do players clone and delete PCs. I borrowed another great idea from Joel Toppen's Washington's War module and created nearly invisible boxes that go over each space. They cannot be moved, cloned, or deleted. If you right-click a marker in a Union space and place a PC, it places a CSA flag. Once that is placed, your option is to remove it. No cycling through flags looking for the correct one. Likewise, Confederate locations are either blank or have a USA flag, and border states allow either flag.
Likewise, state control markers are switched by right-clicking on them and are custom created for border states or Confederate states.
Right-clicking on a space is so much better than dragging, cloning, and deleting. Also, it goes without saying that you cannot move them, so there will be no accidental movements.

#13 Miscellaneous:

When you click the die on the toolbar, it will tell you the result in the description, but also, the icon itself will change to the new result, which is a new feature on Vassal version 3.2.11, so be sure you have downloaded this version: it won't affect your other games and modules if you are on any version of 3.2.1 or later, which you should be using, since that has been around for over a year.

The "Read Me" icon tells you how to take advantage of the features on the modules -- pretty much what I described above. It also tells the changes in the module -- again, pretty much what I said above.

I also created layers. The PC will always be on the bottom. Next is a fort/Iron clad, followed by the capital marker, than SPs/generals and armies on top. That means if you have a space with an army marker and drop a SP marker on top of it, it will automatically drop it beneath the army. No need to manually re-arrange them.

However, that means when you hover your mouse over it, it will only show the top layer and if there is a slash in the description above, it will show both. For example, if you have a PC and a SP marker and a general, hovering the mouse over it will show the SP and general, since they are the top level. In the old module, Larz taught me to offset the fort from the location, so you can easily see it. That is a good practice, so be sure to do it here, also.

I also pre-loaded the scenarios. That was really tough, so if you see an error in a setup, let me know.

IMPORTANT!!!!

If you have an ongoing game by e-mail, and you download this, be careful. If you double-click your .vlog file, it will open it in this new version and be a mess, since it was designed in a different version. To open it, open Vassal and your switchboard will show both versions (the older 1.21 and my new 2.01). You will need to open the old version (1.21 and select "Load a saved game" and then point to your .vlog file).


Link to module:
  • [+] Dice rolls
The play's the thing ...
Australia
Point Lonsdale
Victoria
flag msg tools
badge
Going thirty-eight, Dan, chill the f*** out. Mow your damn lawn and sit the hell down.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Simply awesome work.
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Judd Vance
United States
Wichita
Kansas
flag msg tools
Who's the master?
badge
"Just get that sucka to the designated place at the designated time and I will gladly designate his ass...for dismemberment!" - Sho Nuff.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I forgot to add:

When you play a card, right-click on it. You have choices to play it for OPS or Event. If there are restrictions (ex: USA holding a gray card), those options are grayed out. Another example is that if the Union plays the Red River Campaign card, the 'Play for OPS' option is grayed out.

Like the previous version, the module will automatically discard the card to the correct pile (discard or remove) and the message will alert the card played and if it was played for OPS or Event.
8 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fred Finkenbinder
United States
Maryland
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I concur - this module has been needed for a long time. It has been a while since I have played FtP in Vassal against an opponent. This module has me itching to put out a PBEM request.

I downloaded and installed the new module. One thing seems to be not working, at least for me. I played with it and put my leaders in the leaders cup...and then I couldn't get them out.

How do you get the leaders out of the cup?

Thanks again for putting in the effort to do this - now, perhaps I could influence you to do the same for Victory Games' The Civil War ;-)
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Judd Vance
United States
Wichita
Kansas
flag msg tools
Who's the master?
badge
"Just get that sucka to the designated place at the designated time and I will gladly designate his ass...for dismemberment!" - Sho Nuff.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
bigbadscrubb wrote:
I concur - this module has been needed for a long time. It has been a while since I have played FtP in Vassal against an opponent. This module has me itching to put out a PBEM request.

I downloaded and installed the new module. One thing seems to be not working, at least for me. I played with it and put my leaders in the leaders cup...and then I couldn't get them out.

How do you get the leaders out of the cup?

Thanks again for putting in the effort to do this - now, perhaps I could influence you to do the same for Victory Games' The Civil War ;-)
Drag them out of the cup, one at a time. They come out randomly. (See the "Read me" also, as it describes this).

Funny you should mention VG. When Larz and I finish our current game of FtP, we are going to try The Civil War. Larz told me he can't wait to play it, because he knows I'll hate it (edit: "it" being the Vassal mod) and then I'll fix it. (He knows me so well). That got me thinking that I need to quit griping about this mod and fix it and I did.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fred Finkenbinder
United States
Maryland
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
VG TCW is my all-time favorite - I am now among the core of PBEM players that always has 2-3 PBEM matches going. It is a great game and I have found that once FtP lovers and vice-versa stop trying to compare the two titles (even if such comparison can prove inevitable), then a great game can be had.

Anyway, I tried all the dragging in the world, and still couldn't get the leaders to come out. Is it because I was playing as a "referee?"
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Judd Vance
United States
Wichita
Kansas
flag msg tools
Who's the master?
badge
"Just get that sucka to the designated place at the designated time and I will gladly designate his ass...for dismemberment!" - Sho Nuff.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
bigbadscrubb wrote:
VG TCW is my all-time favorite - I am now among the core of PBEM players that always has 2-3 PBEM matches going. It is a great game and I have found that once FtP lovers and vice-versa stop trying to compare the two titles (even if such comparison can prove inevitable), then a great game can be had.

Anyway, I tried all the dragging in the world, and still couldn't get the leaders to come out. Is it because I was playing as a "referee?"
Yep. To play solitaire, use the "retire" and flip back and forth. I left the "Referee" option alone. I wasn't going to gut the entire module.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fred Finkenbinder
United States
Maryland
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I tried it under one side or the other and had the same problem. The stack of leaders vanishes into the cup. Oddly enough, if I fool with the "un-do" button, sometimes it reveals the chits to be flipped like they should be...
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fred Finkenbinder
United States
Maryland
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
The issue seems to be that the red "box" that you need to place the leaders in is behind the cup icon. Once placed in the cup/box you can't move the cup to get to the box proper...if that makes sense.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Millette
United States
Henderson
Nevada
flag msg tools
badge
God Bless the USA
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This is just simply awesome Judd. Thank you. Downloading the new module now...
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Judd Vance
United States
Wichita
Kansas
flag msg tools
Who's the master?
badge
"Just get that sucka to the designated place at the designated time and I will gladly designate his ass...for dismemberment!" - Sho Nuff.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
$@#$%!@$%^!@#^!$^!@$^!@$#^%!@#$!@#%!$^!#$^!$%!@$%!@$%!@$%

Yeah, when I set the layers, I didn't set the layer for the cup, so it's above the leaders and hiding them.

Crap.

I uploaded a fix to the blank setup.

I have to reset the scenarios. %$@$%!@$%!@$^!@$^!@$
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fred Finkenbinder
United States
Maryland
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Cool stuff man - looks great otherwise and I love what I see!

So I guess I should remove the installed mod and wait for the "fixed" version?
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Judd Vance
United States
Wichita
Kansas
flag msg tools
Who's the master?
badge
"Just get that sucka to the designated place at the designated time and I will gladly designate his ass...for dismemberment!" - Sho Nuff.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Yep. Go download it now. It's fixed.

I came up with a better solution: I added a "Draw General" button next to the cup. Click it and the generals pop out one by one randomized. I'm kind of digging how you put the generals in the cup and they disappear. It feels more like a cup. I may incorporate that into future modules. How geeky!
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rich Johnston
msg tools
I just wanted to add that I "finally" got around to updating the news for "For the People" on Vassal (I'm the news editor). Sorry for the delay ...I usually get the news updated within 24 hours but it's been a very busy week.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Judd Vance
United States
Wichita
Kansas
flag msg tools
Who's the master?
badge
"Just get that sucka to the designated place at the designated time and I will gladly designate his ass...for dismemberment!" - Sho Nuff.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Dr_Nostromo wrote:
I just wanted to add that I "finally" got around to updating the news for "For the People" on Vassal (I'm the news editor). Sorry for the delay ...I usually get the news updated within 24 hours but it's been a very busy week.
Don't worry. I usually wait a few months before I remember to create the news update
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve Petras
msg tools
Hi,

Wow, thanks for all those great updates!

Glad to see people using it and improving it. One note on #12, I'm pretty sure when I did the original version I had tried to do something similar, I created 'three-sided' PC markers, one side being transparent with a little red tab, that were supposed to sit, non-stackable, in each location. The players could then just flip to the appropriate side as required. I think I stole that idea from Twilight Struggle (in the interest of full attribution).

I think that makes me the Grandfather of the module now.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Montgomery
United States
Joliet
Illinois
flag msg tools
Dear Geek: Please insert the wittiest comment you can think of in this text pop-up. Then times it by seven.
badge
The Coat of Arms of Clan Montgomery - Scotland. Yes, that's a woman with the head of a savage in her hand, and an anchor. No clue what it means, but it's cool.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Looks great, Judd.

So, question - what type of programming experience do you need to add features like that? Rob Doane's modules are fricking awesome, especially stuff like the "Recovery" feature in GCACW . . . but I think adding those types of functionalities require some programming ability, right?

I'm working on an update to the Napoleonic Wars (Second Ed) and it would be great to add some of the "automatic" things.

Anyway - great job!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Judd Vance
United States
Wichita
Kansas
flag msg tools
Who's the master?
badge
"Just get that sucka to the designated place at the designated time and I will gladly designate his ass...for dismemberment!" - Sho Nuff.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
cmontgo2 wrote:
Looks great, Judd.

So, question - what type of programming experience do you need to add features like that? Rob Doane's modules are fricking awesome, especially stuff like the "Recovery" feature in GCACW . . . but I think adding those types of functionalities require some programming ability, right?

I'm working on an update to the Napoleonic Wars (Second Ed) and it would be great to add some of the "automatic" things.

Anyway - great job!
There is no programming code required in the sense of...

For I = 1 to 10
Print I
Next I

(Visual Basic code)

Instead, most everything is key combos. If you want to be able to delete a piece, you locate that piece, attach a "Delete" trait to it, and by default, when you right-click on it, it will say "Delete" and the key combo of CTRL D. If you don't like those choices, change them. The trick is that if you don't want the player to have that ability, you clear out the box for the word "Delete". That means when they right-click, they won't be able to select it.

However, if you click on the piece (highlight it) and click CTRL D, it will delete. The ability is there, but the player doesn't know it. THAT is the key to making all of the cool automated stuff happen.

Then, you set up Global Key commands and tell it to send the CTRL D to this marker. That's how you make markers disappear at the end of the turn.

The trick is get a strong understanding of the Global Key Command and the "Restriction" field inside of that trait. Also, once you figure out the "marker" trait, you combine them, and that's when the magic happens.

It may appear to be programming, but it's not. All you are doing is sending commands to pieces and putting restrictions on them. For instance, you send the CTRL D command to any piece with the marker trait "Deletable = yes". That way, it deletes the exhaustion markers (that have the marker trait "Deleteable = yes") while ignoring the pieces under it, that does not have that trait.

Go look at my upgrade to the Washington's War module. You will note that all cards have 5 marker traits:

removable = yes (or no. In other words, if you play the event, is it removed from the game?)
mandatory = yes (or no. Is this card a required play, such as War Ends?)
cardtype = battle, ops, event, war ends, etc.
cardside = us, gb, or both (gb = Great Britain)
reshuffle = yes (or no. Does the card have the potential to force a reshuffle?)

Next go to the card prototype, and check out the Dynamic Property. That shows all of the possibilities that a card can do, along with their associated key command.

Then notice all of the restrict command features on it. That is why the card play "appears" to be automated -- because these commands act like a traffic cop -- directing the flow of what the card can do.

Finally, see the "send to deck" and "send to area" and you'll see that is the final destination for each card. If you select the option to play it for British reinforcement, it will go to that area, etc.

*********

Then go to the French Alliance marker and check it out. You'll see I attached "Moved fixed distance" traits to it, to move it forward 1, 2, 4, or -3 "spaces" (actually, the distance needed to do that).

Then go look at Benjamin Franklin card and note it specifically. It is special in that when you play it, it has a global key command that sends a signal to the French Alliance marker and sends the key command to advance it 4 spaces. So by playing that card, it automatically moves the other.

See? It's all about the marker trait, the global key command, and the restrict commands.

Hope that helps.
4 
 Thumb up
2.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joel K
United States
Minnetrista
Minnesota
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
cmontgo2 wrote:
So, question - what type of programming experience do you need to add features like that?
I've stated umpteen times all over this site that VASSAL design requires zero knowledge of computer programming. People just refuse to believe me, but I'll keep saying it until I turn blue in the face!
7 
 Thumb up
1.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Sy
msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Hi Judd....I just wanted to thank you for the hard work you've put into the module. I'm really enjoying it and playing For the People is such a blast on Vassal.

A tiny tiny suggestion: when you pull generals out of the cup to put on the board, right now they're coming out face up. If you do it that way, you can figure out by process of elimination who the last general in the cup will be. You don't have that advantage when you play the game face to face because all the generals are face down.

Might I suggest that the generals are face down as they are pulled out of the cup and there is a capability of Flip Generals which will allow us to reveal all the generals at once?

Thanks again!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls