Stuart Spence Blog

Computer scientist and educator. Creator of ChessCraft. Senior scientific programmer at Environment Canada.

Fri 19 July 2019

Release 1.2: Human versus Human, Archers, Thumbnails

Posted by Stuart Spence in ChessCraft   

This wonderful update includes a new human versus human mode, ranged attack pieces (which attack without moving), and board preview thumbnails. I also removed restrictions on naming boards and pieces. Finally, many UI tweaks and some bug fixes.

Thank you all for your patience on this new version. I've had a very busy past couple months - we finished a software upgrade phase for the supercomputer at my work, I just moved to a new apartment, and my brother is now a father! But there's always time for ChessCraft.

Human versus Human

Two people can now play against each other on one device! Here's the new look for the Play menu:

chesscraft screenshot

Or select two player mode:

chesscraft screenshot

There are some new views for two player mode. For example, you can have black pieces flipped. Or all pieces flipped on black's turn. Some people want this apparently!

chesscraft screenshot

Board Preview Thumbnails

Gone are the days of guessing what board you're about to play, and finding out once you start a game... or worse, reading my elaborate board descriptions. Now the play list, crafting hub, and adventure map all show board thumbnails. I had some issues trying to get Unity3D to generate textures dynamically outside the main thread. Unfortunately this may be impossible... so it was back to my old friend coroutines. However, some Unity3D texture operations which I cannot spread out further, will cause frames to be a bit jerky. If you have a hundred boards created or unlocked and a slow phone (as I do) this can be annoying. So I've also added an option to turn thumbnails off too. And when you leave the menu to play, they stop generating.

Eliminating the need for board descriptions will make it a lot easier to translate ChessCraft into other languages...

chesscraft screenshot

Archers

The new archer piece acts like a bishop, but it does not move to capture pieces. You can also create your own ranged attackers! Implementing this was wonderfully easy. I didn't have to touch even one line of my AI code. I'm therefore really pleased with the software architecture of this project. Other special piece rules are surely on the way!

The hardest part was tweaking the when and where zobrist hashing occurs for my transposition table, which was not hard. Although, we choose the problems we want to work on in life, and I'm happy with my choice!

white archer sprite

Chess Clubs

Recently I emailed about 25 Canadian chess clubs and chess schools about ChessCraft. I also wrote a new page on the website with information for parents and teachers. We'll see if anyone finds the chess school island in ChessCraft useful!

One-Star

I'm thrilled to see that I'm getting really strong star ratings on Google Play. However, I just got my first one star review! This calls for some kind of celebration... but maybe just quoting the review itself is enough of a party:

"cant progress at all because I cant capture kings"

I had some email correspondence with them to help them out... should I ask that they change their rating? I think I want it to stay.

Next..?

Let me know what features you'd like next. I have plenty of ideas - though I prioritised human versus human because plenty of people asked for it.

white griffin sprite