How scary is this?

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Which piece representation is less scary?

Pictograms
14
58%
Mnemonics
5
21%
both would immediately chase me away
5
21%
both make me curious about this variant
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 24

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hgm
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How scary is this?

Post by hgm » Sun Sep 29, 2013 1:15 pm

I am thinking of how to best add Chu Shogi to XBoard. Using the traditional Japanese kanji pieces does not seem a good way for enticing people to try it. That leaves a representation with pictograms, or a 'mnemonic' represetation that makes it obvious how the pieces move.

The advantage of the pictograms is that people will recognize the symbols for the pieces that participate in Chess, for which they know how they move. (And to a lesser extent the pieces of regular Shogi, if they tried that before with XBoard.) They would not have a clue how the unorthodox pieces move, however.

For the mnemonic representation it is pretty obvious how everything moves, once you realize how the system works (which should take about 30 seconds). There is absolutely nothing familiar about it, however: even Rooks, Bishops and King look strange.

Image
Chu Shogi with pictograms

Image
Chu Shogi with mnemonic pieces

What do you think?

Daniel Shawul
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Re: How scary is this?

Post by Daniel Shawul » Sun Sep 29, 2013 2:47 pm

No doubt the pictograms. I immediately wanted to try this because of the awesome male lion! The tigress and the serpent are enticing too. Why were those missing in other variants, because everyone wants a lion to his fight!I mean we have bishops in every other variant but no lion. I would guess the serpent moves like a serpent (H,L shapes), but no idea about lion's movement but it shouldn't be anything less than anywhere he wants like a boss :)

carldaman
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Re: How scary is this?

Post by carldaman » Sun Sep 29, 2013 4:28 pm

Hey HG,

I love the pictograms. They immediately caught my eye and got me interested. :)

CL

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hgm
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Re: How scary is this?

Post by hgm » Sun Sep 29, 2013 4:55 pm

Indeed, the Lion is boss in Chu Shogi. It moves like a King, but then twice per turn! This makes it incredibly strong (about 15, when Q=9, even though the large board increases the value of sliders). The point is that it can snatch away pieces that are protected, as it moves away after capturing with its second step, before you can recapture him.

I am thinking of also adding a variant that is normal FIDE Chess, except that it replaces Nb1/Nb8 with such Lions ('Lion Chess').

Most pictograms are already in XBoard/WinBoard, including the 'Cobra'. (There is indeed no Chess variant I am aware of that uses it. I did not program a move for it in XBoard; it is used there as a so-called wild-card piece, which is allowed to make any move even with legality testing on. The only piece I know that moves like a snake is the Falcon of Falcon Chess: it makes Camel (1,3) and Zebra (2,3) moves, but not as jumps, but blockable if each of the three shortest paths to the destination is blocked. It thus has to slither in between the pieces. Really a missed oportunity to call such a piece a Falcon...)

XBoard currently supports 22 piece types, and the initial position of Chu Shogi needs 21. Using the Knight seemed to confusing, however, as there is no piece in Chu that moves anything like a Knight. So the image contains actually 4 new piece symbols: the Lion, the Tigress (well, actually it was drawn after a Leopard, nearly the same thing) and the Swords. The 4 existing pieces not used this way (Knight, Unicorn, Chancellor and Grasshopper) can all be used for promoted pieces.

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Re: How scary is this?

Post by bob » Sun Sep 29, 2013 5:26 pm

I think you have too much time on your hands after retiring. :)

Looks like you jumbled up the playing tokens from several games. :)

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Re: How scary is this?

Post by hgm » Sun Sep 29, 2013 5:41 pm

You would be surprised how many people actually play this game. (All Japanese, of course... :lol: ) And rightly so: it is one of the best games ever invented, and has been popular in virtually unmodified form for about 800 years.

Working on it is actually one of the most useful things I have ever done, in terms of appreciation by others. In making a stronger Chu Shogi engine you easily please a hundred times more people than when making yet another Chess engine. Except for a few testers, no one gives a hoot about Chess engines that are not within 100 Elo from Houdini.

But you are right about the pictograms, of course: I took everything I had which was remotely acceptable from other games, and even then I was still short a few. Chu Shogi has 36 piece types, if you count promoted types as well. (And 'Chu' means 'middle', referring to the size... :shock: )

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Re: How scary is this?

Post by Daniel Shawul » Sun Sep 29, 2013 5:46 pm

One thing that may scare people from trying variants, as you mentioned, is that it takes time to memorize movements of pieces and think without touching the board. I know this because I still have difficulty playing shogi, even with highlights on, which are only displayed after you click a piece. While the 'mnemonics' help to avoid this problem, it looks too geeky and players may feel like a computer playing with it. As I tried to make a point with the lion, its presence can attract people who just want to have fun and brag about crushing someone with their lion. I guess the reason why lion is unpopular in chess maybe because chess is a strategic game that favors devious politicians, bishops, queen and worthless pawns, instead of the more brute-force lion and other wild cats.

Maybe you can merge the 'mnemonics' on top of the pictograms for beginners , or find other ways to display highlights all the time. A wild idea for a phone app could be something that uses eye gesture to highlight while the user is looking at a piece!

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Re: How scary is this?

Post by hgm » Sun Sep 29, 2013 6:16 pm

I agree with most of your analysis. But I don't see how you could highlight moves of all pieces simultaneously while still being able to see which piece is responsible for the move. Using arrows would make the board look like a plate of spaghetti! (But it might be possible in Chu, where only few pieces jump, and a slider moving over a square implying it could also end up at that square.)

Note that I tried to give even the pictograms some mnemonic content, albeit not a systematic one. Pieces that move Rook or Bishop like move Rook or Bishop like, with some extra (King) moves. The Sword represent the Side Mover and Vertical Mover, sliding along the ray along which the sword points, and only stepping in the direction the hand protector points. The generals on the back ranks, and the Lance are supposed to be known from regular Shogi, which even inquisitive people probably would try first.

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kranium
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Re: How scary is this?

Post by kranium » Sun Sep 29, 2013 6:32 pm

i like both sets of playing pieces, very nice!

(but the mustard and pea green board theme is a real turn-off IMO...)

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Re: How scary is this?

Post by hgm » Sun Sep 29, 2013 6:48 pm

Thanks!

And the default board theme is wood anyway, and people that would like other themes would already have configured it to their taste for other variants before they ever get to see this. The board options are not variant-specific.

It is just that graphics with the wood theme are much less compressible than evenly colored squares. Which especially hurts for very large boards. And I don't want to waste too much bandwidth.

Image

Traditional Shogi equipment does not use checkering on the board, btw. Which I think is a grave mistake, in the presence of diagonal sliders. Especially on 12x12 (and they even do it on 36x36!)

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