New chess variant - developer required

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Charles Shaw

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Jun 7, 2021, 2:48:37 PMJun 7
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Dear Colleagues

Hope this finds you well and healthy. Not sure if this is the right forum to post this but I think many people here are technically-minded and have an interest in chess game development -- which is the Venn diagram I am looking for.

To be brief, I am currently looking for a developer to implement a new variant of chess. 

Specifically, I am looking to make a Minimum Viable Product so that the game can be tested on users of various ability levels. 

Obviously I am not looking to reinvent the wheel, just to make some tweaks to an existing engine and introduce around 2-3 important rules. Perhaps it may be a good idea, as long as it is acceptable to Jeroen, to take the current android-chess app and tweak the engine so that the new variant is playable. This is strictly for UX purposes, at least for now, as the game has been in development so far and only a small circle of people have played it.

The new game variant is a genuinely cool innovation if you are passionate about chess. So, if anyone is interested for a bit of freelance work then please get in touch.

Thank you in advance for reading this and best wishes.

Charles Shaw

Jeroen Carolus

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Jun 9, 2021, 2:43:40 AMJun 9
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Dear Charles,

There may be a few things to take into consideration before using the android-chess app as a starting point.
The engine is written in C++ and is not well documented (devs so far have only reused the Android part as far as I am aware).
If you want to publish it as a new app in the Play store, some tweaking to the namespace of the app is required (but many devs have done that, so no real blocker).
In case it requires UX changes, be aware that the app is more than 10 years old and is quite old fashioned (e.g. no dragging of pieces), so if it would serve as a starting point for an actual app in the store, this may become a problem on the long run.

Can you share the actual idea of the variant, or is that not for the public space (yet)?

Cheers,
Jeroen



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Charles Shaw

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Jun 10, 2021, 5:21:37 AMJun 10
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Dear Jeroen

 

Thank you very much for your interesting and comprehensive reply.

 

I am able to share the idea of the variant, but this would be conditional on signing a Non-disclosure Agreement (NDA).  There are two reasons for this:

 

First, our team would like to protect the IP. Although the IP around the variant has been patented in United States, it is still going through the necessary steps in UK and Europe. Please understand this caution, especially as so much investment has gone into legal fees already.

 

Second, I feel that it is important to comprehensively test the UX as this variant represents a subtle departure from historical norms. Designing fascinating and well-balanced sets of game rules is not easy. Modern chess has evolved over centuries, but without a corresponding historical reference, it is difficult to forecast how rule changes would affect game dynamics. Rule design is an important component of game development, and even little changes to game rules can have a significant impact on a game's overall playability and game dynamics. The process of fine-tuning and balancing rule sets in games is difficult to predict theoretically. Within the variant I described earlier, there are 2-3 variations of the main theme that could do with further testing. This brings me to my next point.

 

What I would like to create initially is a minimum viable product (MVP). This could be done, for example, by taking an existing chess app and modifying it so that it can be played online. This game is best played human vs human. Playing it against the computer would give the human a strong handicap (in a way this is the opposite philosophy to Twilight Chess if you are familiar with that variant). One notable feature of the new variant is the elevated degree of decision complexity for human players. Having said that, I also feel that only slight modifications are needed to adapt existing chess engines.

 

In terms of languages, Python seems to be the lingua franca so that would do fine. For Android some kind of Java wrapper would likely be required, as Android likes Java.

 

So far, the variant has been shown to a small group of London-based chess enthusiasts and one GM. The results have been positive and there is a strong consensus that the idea has merit. Once the MVP is built and the necessary legal matters finalised, it seems a sensible idea to show the game in silico to a wider group of people to identify distinct attributes that can be further varied either in UX or configuration. After that, an agency will be commissioned to build the final version for Android/iOS and Steam.

 

I hope this information is helpful and, once again, thank you for your comments so far. Needless to say, please do not hesitate to let me know if you require any further information.

 

Charles

Jeroen Carolus

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Jun 10, 2021, 6:21:59 AMJun 10
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Dear Charles,

Ok, once I become too curious I would have to sign NDA and implement it!

If I understand correctly, the MVP should be human-vs-human oriented playing online?
If the above is correct, then using Android as a platform seems the wrong choice to me. It can be a simple website which can then be played from any modern browser (on Android, iOS, desktop).

I can elaborate on that more if you could confirm the above.

Cheers,
Jeroen





Charles Shaw

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Jun 12, 2021, 2:10:42 AMJun 12
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Yes, exactly that. The MVP should be human-vs-human i.e. oriented for playing online. It would be possible to play vs a computer but the decision complexity for a human would be so high that playing vs a machine would be, I think, impractical. And not fun.

I guess the closest thing I can describe it (without giving away the IP) using another game as an analogy. consider Scrabble or randomized scrabble. For example, the Wordfeud app is a perfectly reasonable example of a two-player board game that is analogous. Obviously, Scrabble != Chess, but I hope the point I am trying to convey makes sense. 

However, I do understand your point regarding a simple website. 

Charles

PS Apologies if not clear as it is difficult to convey the game dynamics. In fact, I only 'got' the idea once I played it with the inventor, after which I had the "a-ha" lightbulb moment. Perhaps a Zoom game may be a better idea, if you are interested, which we could organise at some mutually convenient time in the future. Thanks again.

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Jeroen Carolus

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Jun 12, 2021, 2:34:24 AMJun 12
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So regarding the rise in popularity of Chess lately, it would indeed be a good timing to try to bring a new variant.
I am a bit concerned with the notion of the decision complexity being high. Just from a commercial perspective - for something to become popular/successful, it usually has to be simple. But if the fun factor is good, who knows. 
Perhaps it's best to set op this zoom call, but upfront I can already tell you I do not have the time to implement it. But I always like to share some knowledge or give advice, especially because I am working on an app on the side that is in the MVP stage at the moment; see https://www.resolf.com/
Cheers, Jeroen

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