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Up Topic Rybka Support & Discussion / Aquarium / Rybka GUI - board design
- - By Zruty (*****) Date 2007-06-22 13:29
Right now we started working on the board & pieces design in the upcoming Rybka GUI. We'd like to hear your opinion on this matter.
In this topic I'll post some of our own efforts and we'll appreciate your comments on them.
Any references to the existing (and good) boards & pieces designs are also valuable to us. We do not ask you to work on us for free and create new pieces sets, we're collecting your opinions :)

A few starting notes.

1. We are NOT considering 3D board and pictures (I mean real 3D, with board rotating and piece models) for now.

2. We don't discuss the 'external' stuff like arrows, board & piece markers etc. _now_. We are now focused on the board and pieces. The neighbouring topic of 'Ideas for a new Rybka' was really helpful in this matter and we'll implement some of the suggestions from there, but later.

3. The pieces will be in the vector format, most probably it will be SVG.

4. I wonder how much different piece sets is necessary for the GUI? ICC, for example, has at least 30, but I think this is too much.

Here are some nice examples of SVG pieces sets.
Our first sketches are attached to the post.
Parent - - By Zruty (*****) Date 2007-06-22 14:07
30 ICC pieces sets in one package can be download from here. That's 4 Mb.
Parent - By Victor Zakharov (*****) Date 2007-06-22 14:52
Not sets. These are screenshots that can be used for inspiration and discussion.
Parent - - By Sam Gamgee (**) Date 2007-06-22 17:12

> 30 ICC pieces sets in one package can be download from here. That's 4 Mb.

From the ICC sets I personally like number 4 and 9 best - they are simple and aesthetic at the same time. (Though aesthetics always lies in the eye of the beholder, I guess ... ;-))

Best regards,

Parent - - By Dadi Jonsson (Silver) Date 2007-06-25 20:20
I also like 4 and 9, 14 and 17. There are other similar sets. Most of the sets I would never use.
Parent - - By Michael Waesch Date 2007-06-26 12:27
6,9,10. If pieces can´t be identified easily it´s very hard to play because one constantly is busy with identifying the pieces instead of thinking about moves. Most of the sets are plain ugly. I would never use them.

Parent - - By Felix Kling (Gold) Date 2007-06-26 15:26
They should look like pieces on diagrams in a chess book, everything else is as useless as a 3d board :)
Parent - - By Uly (Gold) Date 2007-06-27 03:57
Well, with the vector format idea there shall be no problems left, if you don't like all the pieces available you create your own :)
Parent - - By Michael Waesch Date 2007-06-27 04:38
Buying a program and then to have to design you own pieces? :-I
Parent - - By Uly (Gold) Date 2007-06-27 04:52
It's at least better than "Buying a program, hate all the pieces that come with it, and have to live with it".

Of course the best solution is that the Rybka GUI comes with pieces we all already love, and I think there's a consensus about liking the ICC09.jpg pieces.

I also would recommend to get rid of all the other ugly ones that nobody is going to use (The other day I tried to play chess with such funny pieces, and my performance dropped significantly[*]), if we're going to have 30 piece sets, let all of them be good and usable.

[*] Am I the only one that thinks that most of the 3D piece sets that come with Chessmaster 10 are useless?
Parent - By Michael Waesch Date 2007-06-27 05:33
I don´t buy a program where I hate all the pieces - or where I can´t have a look at them before I pay the bill.

Parent - - By Felix Kling (Gold) Date 2007-06-27 10:28
If I would create my own pieces, I guess I won't like them :)
Parent - By Michael Waesch Date 2007-06-27 10:32
If I created my own pieces, well it wouldn´t even be pieces ... :(

Parent - By Uly (Gold) Date 2007-06-27 11:35
Heh, I'm pretty sure the creators of the ugly pieces we're talking about don't like their own pieces either ;)
Parent - By MoKy (**) Date 2007-06-30 10:44
Some free fonts
Chess Usual is my pet
Parent - - By Sam Gamgee (**) Date 2007-06-22 17:10

> 1. We are NOT considering 3D board and pictures (I mean real 3D, with board rotating and piece models) for now.

Although I understand that 3D board and pieces may have some appeal in an aesthetic sense I never used these views in other GUIs and, frankly, do not see any real use in them. But then, it's a feature that might appeal to many users/customers and, thus, increase the popularity of the interface. And those of us who don't need it can easily choose a simple 2D view.

> 4. I wonder how much different piece sets is necessary for the GUI? ICC, for example, has at least 30, but I think this is too much.

Are you sure there can be too many TOO MANY piece sets? ;-) Seriously, 30 should be more than enough. It would be great to use a file format for pieces and board which enables "computer guru users" to custom-create there own sets and share them here in the forum, if they like. (Sorry, I do not know much about programming etc. - maybe the intended SVG format just offers this.)

Best regards,

Parent - By Victor Zakharov (*****) Date 2007-06-22 17:36
Sure, SVG is open vector format.
about SVG in wikipedia
Parent - By alopez Date 2007-06-22 18:07
Personally I like the simple and very efficient chess boards and pieces.
That's why I use the Fritz 5 colour scheme with Fritz and I'm using it as well with BabasChess (FICS)
Black squares: RGB=167, 126, 92
White squares: RGB=231, 208,167
I don't like the margins on the chess boards (or at least I want to be able to set it to "0")
I don't like the coordinates (who use that anyway?)
For the pieces I like Fritz set as well or set nb 9 on the ICC images
Parent - - By Uly (Gold) Date 2007-06-22 23:04

> 3. The pieces will be in the vector format, most probably it will be SVG.

Does that mean that the pieces will be able to use basic vector effects like feathering, transparency, gradient and Bevel?, if so, the pieces shown look sort of dull, and I think I'd want to see more normal looking ones.

> We do not ask you to work on us for free and create new pieces sets

Still, the idea of allowing us to create our own piece sets and share them sounds the best :)
Parent - - By Dadi Jonsson (Silver) Date 2007-06-23 11:49

> allowing us to create our own piece sets and share them sounds the best

SVG allows you to do that. The advantage of SVG (and vector format in general) over bitmap images is that a well designed SVG pieceset can be automatically scaled both up and down without loss of quality.

There are free tools available that allow you to design your own piece sets. Inkscape is one of them. Inkscape is available for Windows, Linux and OSX. An example of showing off some of the features of Inkscape: Photorealistic car. There is a book available online which contains a good introduction and exercises for new users: A Guide to Inkscape. Here are some of the features of Inkscape:

"Supported SVG features include shapes, paths, text, markers, clones, alpha blending, transforms, gradients, patterns, and grouping. Inkscape also supports Creative Commons meta-data, node editing, layers, complex path operations, bitmap tracing, text-on-path, flowed text, direct XML editing, and more. It imports formats such as JPEG, PNG, TIFF, and others and exports PNG as well as multiple vector-based formats."

I don't know if the first version of the Rybka GUI will support all these features.

You should definitely check out the link that Zruty gave above for some examples of SVG piece sets. I have included one of the examples below.

Another example of a very nice and free SVG piece set: Wikipedia: Table chess pieces. I scaled the white king to 350x350 px to demonstrate how smooth the pieces are even at large sizes (see image below). This would not be possible with bitmap pieces. However, since Inkscape supports bitmap tracing, it can be used to convert bitmap pieces to SVG format.

There are thousands of free SVG images available that might be worth looking at to see what possibilities SVG offers: Wikimedia Commons: SVG. There are also 18000 SVG images available at the Open Clip Art Library (currently off-line due to server move).
Parent - - By Victor Zakharov (*****) Date 2007-07-02 16:02
A few examples of SVG board with lines and markers.
Very small
Parent - By Uly (Gold) Date 2007-07-02 17:38
I think the arrows would look much better with a black (transparent) outline :) (And, they would look much better thinner, specially in the tail, I think it would look better if the tail was thinner than the rest of the body).
Parent - - By Uly (Gold) Date 2007-07-02 19:37 Edited 2007-07-02 19:51
Oh, let me show you what I mean.

This image is based on turbojuice1122's idea of having crossbones at the end of blunders, and based on your new diagram. Everything is a vector, so I see no problem in implementing something like this:

(I didn't include some things I didn't understand, like having geometrical figures over the pieces, or ghost arrows around the board)

My comments:

1. I'm glad the carets idea is being considered :)

2. I think we're suffering from a "Too much arrows" problem, but I know these are just examples and that the board won't be overloaded.

3. The curved arrows only work for knights, because they jump over the pieces, but it looks awkward coming from bishops, rooks or the queen, because they do straight moves.

4. Too much color causes confusion (What do the blue arrows mean? etc.)

5. I hope the ghost pieces idea is still around.

6. I like pieces with thick borders, as the thin borders of shown SVGs don't cut the cake for me.

7. I don't know if this is going to be something the user has to draw manually on the board or if the GUI is going to draw it based on Rybka's evaluation.

Parent - By Victor Zakharov (*****) Date 2007-07-03 16:35 Edited 2007-07-03 16:39
Here is an update . It is only checking of SVG-graphics components. Final set and chess sense will be done later.

Crossbone is a good idea and will be implemented. Really any image can be placed on the board.
1. :) thank you for idea. Shadows will be considered two.
2. Surely it is sample.
3. I think we will not disable them specially. Anyway it is not the time to discuss this just now. As well we will try dotted and bi-directional arrows.
4. It is sample
5. Ghosts are in the plans (most probably it will be additional set to show them)
6. Thanks, it will be considered later
7. I don't think a user should draw something, but I think it will be possible to change standard markers and images with own SVG-images.
Parent - - By Kyodai Date 2007-07-13 13:53
I think this Fantasy theme is extremly well done. In my eyes the pieces are original, classic and stylish - all
at the same time! Personally I prefer this theme without shadows - and be careful with the colour of the black
squares. In the example above black pieces on the black squares are simply creating too much darkness.

Some years ago I worked quite a lot with creating chess pieces from different fonts - like condial, merida, adventurer etc.
The work was manually with .bmp:s of course - mainly for Chess Tiger. This is like the return of an old hobby...;-)

Parent - By Dadi Jonsson (Silver) Date 2007-07-13 16:09

> This is like the return of an old hobby...;-)

Except that this is possibly much more rewarding (and addictive :)) than bitmap hacking. You just need one good conversion and then you have perfect resolution at all sizes!

I did a quick and dirty experiment with conversion of Merida to SVG and it seems that it's easy to get very good looking SVG pieces.

I used these two tools:

1) FontCreator 5.5
2) Inkscape 0.45.1

Here are the steps needed for converting to SVG:

1) Open the font in FontCreator. Since it is probably a symbol font you can't use it directly in Inkscape. Select all the glyphs and copy them (Ctrl+A and Ctrl+C). Create a new font (File > New) and paste the glyphs into the new font. Then save it. Note the keyboard mapping for the white/black pieces on a white square so you know how to produce the piece images in the font. Install the new font (Font > Install).

2) Start Inkscape. Select the font tool and then the font you just created. Type in the letter for one of the pieces. Select Path > Object to path. Open the document properties (File > Document Properties) and select the appropriate page size. It should be the same for all the pieces and the width (in pixels) should be equal to the height. Make sure that there is some space between the piece and the edge of the page (the page will map to a square on the board). After you have set the page size you can use the align and distribute tool (Object > Align and Distribute) to align the piece on the page (square).

3) Repeate 2) for all other pieces.

In 2) I like to simplify the path that is generated. For that use Path > Simplify. Before you do that you might want to open Inkscape Preferences (under the File menu), select Misc and reduce the Simplification threshold. I set it to 0,0005 for my experiment. After that (if you really like working in Inkscape!) you can tune the piece manually (replace circle-like shapes with real circles/ellipses, reduce the number of nodes even further, etc. etc.) or even make a new piece by tracing the old one using the Line/Bezier tool!
Parent - By StAhlig (**) Date 2007-06-23 11:00

... well, these sets and board designs are obviously a matter of taste ...

I totally agree with you that 3D boards should have no priority - I never used them in other GUIs.
I consider 3D to be just a gimmick.

Based on your 'sketches' I would prefer the 3rd but honestly speaking none of those three really 'lights my fire'.
Regarding the link to Wikipedia piece sets: I like the 1st - this is quite good although not great. All other piece
sets there just try to be funny and I would not use them.

I would not think that a GUI needs to provide more than e.g. 4 piece sets of convincing quality,
especially if an open format is used.
Parent - By Dadi Jonsson (Silver) Date 2007-06-25 21:01

> 1. We are NOT considering 3D board and pictures

No, definitely not a top priority.

> 3. The pieces will be in the vector format, most probably it will be SVG.

That's good news :)

> 4. I wonder how much different piece sets is necessary for the GUI?

I think that 8-10 piece sets would be more than enough for the first version. Additionally there are already 8-10 free SVG piece sets available (I assume that they can be used with the Rybka GUI). This would mean that right from the start users could select from 15-20 piece sets. Since you plan on using SVG I think that users will be quick in adding new piece sets.

The basic requirement is that there will be at least 2-3 nice looking traditional diagram piece sets to choose from. The standard piece set in Chess Assistant is a good candidate for such a design. These piece sets should be plain and simple, no pseudo 3D, beveling etc.

For the rest of the piece sets it's OK to use your imagination. I would say that the piece sets that you show in your post fall into this category. They are nice and simple, but not exactly traditional diagram piece sets.

I assume that additional piece sets will be released with later versions of the Rybka GUI.

As for board design I think that you should offer some simple ones: Solid colors for the squares and the border. The user should be able to choose the colors (but a few nice looking standard color combinations should be offered). In addition you may offer some more fancy looking boards (wooden, marble, granite, metal, sky, clouds, water or whatever).
Parent - - By Gr00vy (**) Date 2007-06-27 20:19
You should seriously consider shadows.  I am not a fan of 3d, nor of overly fancy boards and pieces.   But shadows and depth of pieces just makes a better in color representation, and makes the pieces feel as if they should be touched and moved (a good thing I think).

I think pieces as fonts was an exceptional idea at the time (for display, printing, quality and speed), they are less important now, with the possible exception of print publication quality for things like color printing and trapping.  Quality SVG libraries should exist on most platforms now, and shouldn't be any more difficult than instrumenting TTF files.   However, there are awfully good TTF files out there for chess pieces and it seems like the only reason not to use them, is because chessbase does.  I think you should probably look for a win here, like a scripted game publisher that doesn't require any external files that can be copy and pasted into the web and blogs.  There is a picture here that shows SVG shadows and it much better than any of the three you show here.  Speaking of which, shadows on the pieces is infinitely more important than shadows on the board.

You should also consider for use by many tourney players in the states, to have an exceptionally good green/buff board and pieces. 
Parent - - By Uly (Gold) Date 2007-06-28 14:00

> However, there are awfully good TTF files out there for chess pieces and it seems like the only reason not to use them, is because chessbase does.

The pieces on the TTF files are already vectors, so my guess is that making them SVGs that can be used in Rybka GUI should be trivial.
Parent - By Dadi Jonsson (Silver) Date 2007-06-28 16:14
That's correct. I have already done some tests on a TTF diagram font and converted a few glyphs to SVG. The only practical problem is that some SVG software doesn't support symbol fonts, but you can get around that limitation without too much trouble. Of course copyright issues must be considered ;)
Parent - By rivaldo (***) Date 2007-06-28 11:00
I like classical pieces like dyche3 and vector in blitzin2. there's absolutely no need for 3D piece sets. 3D in a 2D chessboard are absurd. ok chessboard could be also displayed 3D, but finally the monitor screen is 2D :-).
Parent - - By korsmonaut Date 2007-06-29 02:06
One thing that I would like to add (I know I am new to the forum) is that giving the pieces a little breathing room in the square is helpful. Nothing worse than having your pieces crowded together... well, ok, something are technically worse. =) But having space around the pieces helps me "see" the board better. And a clean set - sans bevels and drop shadows, with sufficient contrast between the dark pieces and the dark squares and that isn't overly stylized is always appreciated.
Parent - - By korsmonaut Date 2007-06-29 02:08
The support of user created sets would be awesome...
Parent - By Uly (Gold) Date 2007-06-29 23:04
It's been said that it will have that support.

As for the "space around the pieces", since we're working with vectors, allowing us to change their size relative to the squares... Should be trivial (Am I repeating myself?!)
Parent - - By Torstein (*) Date 2007-07-03 14:30
Please keep them simple and unobtrusive looking as possible. Looking as much like a printed diagram as possible. I am very conservative in this matters, and I feel a lot of chess players are. To be quite honest, I feel that ChessBase has made the best set possible with its standard piece set in Fritz and ChessBase,  simple, beutiful and unobtrusive. I suggest you keep them as an ideal, when you make your own pice set.
The samples from your post was much to fancy for my taste. 
Parent - By Teflon Date 2007-07-16 03:49
Hi, is this Rybka GUI public or secret? If public, what is the download link please?
Parent - - By premraj_n (**) Date 2007-07-20 07:01
I am using Chessbase and i like the "Fritz" piece that it has.Also background "Rock"
Parent - - By Uly (Gold) Date 2007-07-20 22:55
I think that those pieces are copyrighted and cannot be used on Rybka's GUI.
Parent - - By Felix Kling (Gold) Date 2007-07-20 22:58
The Rybka GUI will have similar pieces, since those "fritz" piece set is looking like every standard set, look in you chessbooks and you will see that the pieces used there also look like those of the fritz gui (the differences are minimal)...
Parent - By kaustubh (**) Date 2007-08-01 16:14
Rybka GUI chess pieces should be easily recognizable while playing, some chess pieces make it difficult to play because of there weird design.
Parent - - By Fulcrum2000 (****) Date 2007-08-01 16:37
Yes I agree, i also like the "Fritz" pieces most. But maybe there are copyright issues ?.
Parent - By JhorAVi (***) Date 2007-08-01 17:02
May i know if this is the same team who will work on the next version of "ChessAssistant?" if theres any?

I wish the next ChessAssistant will inherit the visuals of the coming Rybka GUI.

If that happens, I will never need Rybka GUI :)
Up Topic Rybka Support & Discussion / Aquarium / Rybka GUI - board design

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