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Pygon
February 13th, 2008, 11:04 AM
(Latest report: WotC is unable to grant me permission to share it publicly. Sorry folks!)

(Regarding the missing pics: My hoster's forwarding of gamemodel.com to ttoprpg.com is being stupid. Every link to anything inside gamemodel.com, including these pics, chops the link to point directly to www.ttoprpg.com (http://www.ttoprpg.com), the home page. I'm hoping my hoster fixes their forwarding, fast. EDIT: They fixed it, hance the pics are visible again. Finally.).

I did a search but didn't find anything. If I do, I'll edit this post accordingly.

Even though I became very interested in HeroScape in December, I haven't actually played with anyone yet. A few people I chat with and own the game expressed an interest in being able to play online, so I got to work on a private little program that would allow us to represent figures, drag them around on a hex map, or count hexes as we move them, keep track of wound counters, etc.

It's coming together well, but I find myself wanting to keep adding more things, and I'm wondering how far is too far?

Just how much can be included in an emulator (rules, graphics, names) without crossing the line of legality with the copyrighted material? I haven't used any pictures directly posted by Hasbro, but I have fashioned my own with a digital camera, and I do include the names of the figures and their total life for clarity while playing. So far there is very little rules enforcement (just that figures can't occupy the same space). When I finally get 3D dice rolling, I was going to place skull and shield textures on them that I prepared from the scanned symbols from the manual, but they aren't in yet. The current lists of available figures and maps are hardcoded for now.

If anyone can provide a link that helps clarify this issue, or if you could provide a quick list of do's and dont's, I'd appreciate it. I wouldn't want the emulator to start spreading and have Hasbro come after me for hurting their profits if the emulator does its job TOO well (although I never see it handling collision detection on the figures, that's about the only thing I wouldn't bother with unless I make full 3D models of the figures, HA.).

Thanks for any insight.

Grungebob
February 13th, 2008, 11:16 AM
Sometime back, Hasbro made a clever move by mentioning that all folks who are making custom add-ons for the Heroscape game system need to add a disclaimer and mantion that all rights are reserved by Hasbro. This is really the best you can do, and I wouldn't eorry too much, as all you are doing is helping the game flourish.

Pygon
February 13th, 2008, 11:19 AM
I do have a license statement in the menu saying that all names and images contain intellectual property of Hasbro and fall under their reserved copyrights.

Grungebob
February 13th, 2008, 11:20 AM
I do have a license statement in the menu saying that all names and images contain intellectual property of Hasbro.

Here's Hasbro's statement:

Question

What are "Custom" Heroscape figures and terrain?

Answer

HEROSCAPE has a large fan base that enjoys creating custom additions to the established universe.

Custom additions are figures and terrain that are not created or distributed by Hasbro. We do not support or suggest using custom figures on our official HEROSCAPE battlefields, and we never include them in official scenarios and battlefields. Custom additions may not be copied from genuine Hasbro HEROSCAPE product.

The HEROSCAPE name can only be used to refer to genuine Hasbro HEROSCAPE product, it must be clear that any custom additions are not created by, distributed, or endorsed by Hasbro, and the following credit line must appear: "HEROSCAPE and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro. 2006 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved."

Pygon
February 13th, 2008, 11:22 AM
Excellent, thank you.

Darkomen57
February 13th, 2008, 09:45 PM
This sounds really cool! I'm very interested in hearing updates about it.

ZBeeblebrox
February 13th, 2008, 10:23 PM
Ditto

Pygon
February 14th, 2008, 01:18 AM
Here are some pics that I've posted to show the players that have been interested.

Unfortunately I can't promise when or if I'll provide a public download. It runs on Windows XP and 2000 and uses OpenGL, but requires registering a few Microsoft OCX's to work. Vista may or may not run it, I haven't gotten any results from my "tester" yet. Older video cards with flaky OpenGL implementations may experience odd graphical behavior (which is a headache for me, let me tell you!).

http://www.gamemodel.com/eSCAPEPic1.jpg
http://www.gamemodel.com/eSCAPEPic2.jpg
http://www.gamemodel.com/eSCAPEPic3.jpg
http://www.gamemodel.com/eSCAPEPic4.jpg
http://www.gamemodel.com/eSCAPEPic5.jpg

I REPEAT: This program may not become public, and if it does I make no promises on timeline, so please - feel free to ooo and ahh if you want, but this is mostly a personal and private experiment, so please don't treat it as a public contribution... yet!

For purposes of testing I snagged the hex textures from Virtualscape. I hope to fashion my own. The maps you see are Three Fronts (mine), Electric Delta (STAROCEAN980) and Migol's Tomb from the RotV manual.

I'm continuing to add figures, and have almost got the rest of the MarvelScape figures in there.

For the most part it's just a move figures, track wounds and roll dice interface. Eventually I'd like to add army drafting, turn counters and glyphs. I also still need to implement ladders and the door (ack!) I doubt I'll do much with rules and figure ability enforcement, since that's another whole headache.

Thanks for your interest.

whitestuff
February 14th, 2008, 03:23 AM
This sounds really cool! I'm very interested in hearing updates about it.It would be awesome. I can imagine having email battles with others 'scapers around the globe. That would be cool. :cool:

Darkomen57
February 14th, 2008, 09:57 PM
Awww, I'm on Mac.

Agent Minivann
February 14th, 2008, 11:08 PM
Awww, I'm on Mac.
When I read that I thought of Charlie Brown saying, "I got a rock." :(
:lol:

Pygon
February 15th, 2008, 07:33 PM
Still banging away - here's my baby, Sundered Walls (available in the 2 RotV download section - the map - NOT the program!):

http://www.gamemodel.com/eSCAPEPic6.jpg

I still have to add side walls to the bridges, doors and trees. Oh, and glyphs... sigh...

Creationist
February 15th, 2008, 07:52 PM
Does it use VS maps to make the battlefield or do you have to make them on the program?

Pygon
February 15th, 2008, 08:15 PM
Right now I'm hardcoding the maps, but they are built using a coded string that is parsed. If I decide to move maps into data files, that's likely how I'll store them (and I'll have to tokenize the nonhex stuff like battlements, ruins, etc.). I don't have a converter for VS yet.

Zzzzz
February 16th, 2008, 03:55 AM
Right now I'm hardcoding the maps, but they are built using a coded string that is parsed. If I decide to move maps into data files, that's likely how I'll store them (and I'll have to tokenize the nonhex stuff like battlements, ruins, etc.). I don't have a converter for VS yet.
Hi Pygon
Good job !
When you need VS map format, just send me a mail and I will send it to you (in fact I will send to you the C++ code for read and write map)

STAROCEAN980
February 16th, 2008, 04:38 AM
Woah! This is really cool Pygon! Awsome idea and your putting in mega effort. Very nice! :up:
Especialy since I see Electric Delta in there :wink: . Glad you like it. :)

Pygon
February 16th, 2008, 10:54 AM
Hi Pygon
Good job !
When you need VS map format, just send me a mail and I will send it to you (in fact I will send to you the C++ code for read and write map)

Thanks Zzzzzz! I'll fire off my email to you (I sent it via PM). I can't guarantee I'll attempt a converter at this point, but in my rabid push of continuing to add things, I'm sure it will end up on my list!

And thank you too STAROCEAN980. Frankly I'm a little surprised at how quickly some of these things are coming together. I've got doors with wounds, opening and closing (even animated!), and you can remove and put them back. Today I'll be adding the network communication for changing their states.

After that comes trees and glyphs.

After that, I think all that is really left is adding glaciers, then putting in all the Wave and terrain figures (oy, I may take a break before that happens).

STAROCEAN980
February 17th, 2008, 08:16 PM
How did you make this?
Are you a computer programer or something? Both you and Zzzzz are contributing these awsome programs! How do you do it?! :)

Pygon
February 17th, 2008, 11:33 PM
I started with MSVC 6.0, clicked New Project, MFC, Dialog-based, statically linked, added a few Components (requiring OCX's, bleh), and used some OpenGL routines that allowed me to make this last year!

Small lighting demo movie (http://www.gamemodel.com/demos/demo6.wmv)

And then voila! I spent 5 weeks programming my brains out learning how to use Winsock and arranging a server-client architecture, snagging textures from VS and clicking pictures with my digicam, preparing masks in CorelDraw... learning how to make pretty formatted text in a Rich Text control, show icons in a Tree list to indicate that other players are typing...

*pant pant*

Anyway, I've been enjoying the process. Glyphs are almost done.

But I'm still a little concerned about legality, especially that part of Hasbro's disclaimer that says you can't copy from existing HeroScape product, which in essence I have done entirely.

So for now, I'm the only one with a hostable version. I sent a client version to one other player, and that person now believes they will be playing HeroScape for the rest of their life :) so, I converted one!

If anything, me having the only hostable version equates to me setting up a map and calling people over to play. It's too bad you can't buy players off the shelf.

Anyway, yes I guess you could call me a programmer, but I only got into it for the games... :)

Pygon
February 18th, 2008, 12:43 PM
Nadious' The Gauntlet is now immortalized!

http://www.gamemodel.com/eSCAPEPic7.jpg

And glyphs work! (well, you just reveal, hide and remove them, and find out what they are, that's it)

STAROCEAN980
February 18th, 2008, 03:30 PM
I started with MSVC 6.0, clicked New Project, MFC, Dialog-based, statically linked, added a few Components (requiring OCX's, bleh), and used some OpenGL routines that allowed me to make this last year!

Small lighting demo movie (http://www.gamemodel.com/demos/demo6.wmv)

And then voila! I spent 5 weeks programming my brains out learning how to use Winsock and arranging a server-client architecture, snagging textures from VS and clicking pictures with my digicam, preparing masks in CorelDraw... learning how to make pretty formatted text in a Rich Text control, show icons in a Tree list to indicate that other players are typing...

*pant pant*

Anyway, I've been enjoying the process. Glyphs are almost done.

But I'm still a little concerned about legality, especially that part of Hasbro's disclaimer that says you can't copy from existing HeroScape product, which in essence I have done entirely.

So for now, I'm the only one with a hostable version. I sent a client version to one other player, and that person now believes they will be playing HeroScape for the rest of their life :) so, I converted one!

If anything, me having the only hostable version equates to me setting up a map and calling people over to play. It's too bad you can't buy players off the shelf.

Anyway, yes I guess you could call me a programmer, but I only got into it for the games... :)
I have no idea what you said, but it sounds like a lot of work! So you've been working on this for a year? Wow. What are these programs you're using? I've never seen them on my computer.(that I know of)
Keep up the good work! :)

Pygon
February 18th, 2008, 05:52 PM
Most of what I said was kind of a joke, having to "just" do all these hundreds of little things to put the whole thing together :)

The parts that do the 3D rendering (using the OpenGL API) were developed over 3 months last year for something else, and eScape only uses a small portion of those routines. But I'm glad I didn't have to rewrite them, although eScape did prompt me to add a little bit to them.

eScape itself has only been in development for 6-8 weeks or so.

* Development environment: Microsoft Visual C++ 6.0 Professional, SP5
* Graphics programs: Corel 10 Suite (CorelDraw 10 to trace out and export masks, Corel Photopaint 10 to square the initial pic and clean up the masks).
* Digital camera - Kodak EasyShare DX6440

I think that's it...

I could stand to upgrade to a later Visual Studio (the fancy ones with C# and .NET) but I can't install it without converting all my projects, and I would REALLY rather not do that. When I'm willing to put them away and drag the more vital source code into the new enviroment and start building other new projects from scratch, I'll consider it. Probably when I get a new rig someday with Vista.

Pygon
February 19th, 2008, 01:23 PM
Spring Thaw (not Kharma's, I didn't search before I named it!)!

Also available in the 2MS download section.

http://www.gamemodel.com/eSCAPEPic8.jpg

And with that, I think programming in all the official map placements is done! Whew. Well, I could add in more glyphs, but that part's easy.

Karkadinn
February 19th, 2008, 03:14 PM
I'm glad to see someone finally picking up this very obviously dropped ball. :) So long as you're using the program to support the official game and not compete with it, there hopefully won't be any trouble. Worst comes to worst, you could always separate it into a generic non-HS-specific program and then a HS-specific database file, like Apprentice does.
If you do decide to go public with this (and I'm not saying you have to, but there certainly is a demand out there), I have some minor suggestions for you. Whatever you end up doing, it has to be easy to use and streamlined for the public masses to accept it. One install file, quick connection and loading, intuitive interface, etc. Previous attempts have been workable, but clunky, and people would sometimes rather not play a game at all than spend five minutes trying to figure out how to get something to work to play. Sad but true. But good luck to you, whatever you end up deciding to do with this project. :)

Pygon
February 19th, 2008, 03:22 PM
Thanks.

So far, it's been easy enough to work. It's just that install that's the problem. I THINK it compiles into a workable install, but unfortunately I don't have a blank testbed to try it out on.

For now, though, the game will remain private, and the maps will remain hardcoded as will the figures available.

It would be nice if I could hear some word about whether or not it's ok to go public with it, but from what I've seen, Hasbro doesn't spend much time looking at what the programmers are doing. If anything, I'll probably get the blanket "property of Hasbro" etc. etc. statement.

0rbital
February 19th, 2008, 06:10 PM
Thanks.

So far, it's been easy enough to work. It's just that install that's the problem. I THINK it compiles into a workable install, but unfortunately I don't have a blank testbed to try it out on.

For now, though, the game will remain private, and the maps will remain hardcoded as will the figures available.

It would be nice if I could hear some word about whether or not it's ok to go public with it, but from what I've seen, Hasbro doesn't spend much time looking at what the programmers are doing. If anything, I'll probably get the blanket "property of Hasbro" etc. etc. statement.

Leave it free and never charge for it and you may not have any issue with Hasbro. If you charge for it or they release their own version of computer Heroscape then they may give you a cease and desist for it. I'd finish it up until you're happy with it and put it out on bit torrent. Get a coordinated effort going on here so we all seed it and you'll be set. Then you don't have a site hosting it that can be shut down, etc.

Pygon
February 20th, 2008, 02:32 PM
I'm trying to put in private chat dialogs so 2-player teams can talk with each other without anyone else seeing it.

The first one works great. The moment I try to create a private chat with a second player, it fails and the exe asserts out. Which is strange because I have a test button in the app that creates multiple dialogs of another type in quick succession without any trouble.

Sometimes, I hate MFC.

EDIT: Looks like it's working now. But I don't know why... I don't like that. I'll keep an eye on it. Meanwhile I'll keep adding all the bells and whistles to them

Karkadinn
February 20th, 2008, 11:04 PM
It would be nice if I could hear some word about whether or not it's ok to go public with it, but from what I've seen, Hasbro doesn't spend much time looking at what the programmers are doing. If anything, I'll probably get the blanket "property of Hasbro" etc. etc. statement.

IMHO, expecting a positive reply from a behemoth like Hasbro on a smalltime fan project, no matter how useful it is, is unrealistic, yes. Such things tend to fall under the same domain as fanfiction in my experience... if they approve of the extra publicity and don't see it as competition, they'll technically decry it but in practice look the other way. Copyright and IP laws are sufficiently screwy that acknowledging such things openly as permissible and beneficial is potentially risky, so yeah. You know the saying, no news is good news. ;)

Pygon
February 28th, 2008, 04:46 PM
All my Wave and Terrain figures are now added. Whew.

Ok, everyone stand together on one end of Ch1cano's Battle Bridge! Smile! *click*

http://www.gamemodel.com/eSCAPEPic10.jpg

Pygon
March 12th, 2008, 10:59 PM
I'm happy to report I figured out how to get the program to run in Vista, 64-bit no less! I had to set up my own Vista machine to figure it out, but hey, it works.

eScape also now allows loading of map files (custom .txt), so more maps can be added without a recompile. It can also save a game in progress and load it back up, either while the players are connected, or even before they connect, and it will attach them to placed figures!

It's still private, though. I'm just reporting progress for those interested.

Karkadinn
March 13th, 2008, 03:58 PM
Glad to hear good progress is being made. :) Also heartened that you're going with a common file format for maps... it makes it so much easier to make additions.

Pygon
March 14th, 2008, 01:27 AM
Plain old text files are just easier to program on and debug, too. I was debating on making the savegames binary, but pff... why? So they have the same format, except with an optional FIGURES block at the end. And the host already communicates the custom map files down to the client (it doesn't communicate the textures or the hardcoded army card data, since those are part of the package), so practically all the savegame work was done already. It just made sense.

What might be a problem is having to convert a physical map into one of these text files. You have to draw the map out on hex paper, plot out the hexes and their heights, and count over and down to place the other objects like ruins and trees, etc. When I add a new map, it usually takes me 1-2 hours, depending on how complex it is. I still need to get the VS file format from Zzzzz, so a converter for one of those files could be another option. That would allow someone to set up a map using VS, run it through the converter, and voila.

STAROCEAN980
March 14th, 2008, 02:31 AM
Sounds good Pygon!

Pygon
March 23rd, 2008, 09:21 PM
At long last, I finally played an ACTUAL online game of HeroScape with drafting and varied armies!

The map was Nadi's Table Turn.

My army:
Spiderman
Marro Stingers *2
Major Q10
Shiori

Army 2:
Hulk
Zettian Guards
Izumi Samurai

Army 3:
Abomination
Venom
Marrden Nagrubs

http://www.gamemodel.com/heroscape/eScape1.JPG

Stupid frogmen hopping all over the dang place. Hulk smacked Q10 with one hit. But my Stingers picked away at Hulk and Abomination until they were easier to kill. Abomination did a stomp and killed 1 Zettian Guard and all 3 Samurai! With imminent death in sight, Hulk lept over and killed Shiori. She was just filler anyway :) Spiderman took out Venom and spent 3 rounds trying to finish off the dang dogs, leaving him as the sole survivor. Whew. Took 3 hours!

rym
March 23rd, 2008, 09:38 PM
That's awesome! Glad you finally got to play Pygon. Keep up the great work you're doing. :)

Pygon
March 25th, 2008, 03:12 PM
Since one of the players asked about putting glyphs around the board, I added the ability to either place a glyph of your choice, or set up two random pools of glyphs from which you can place one at a time. It reports the placed glyph as random or non-random.

Dang players, always coming up with something. It wasn't an issue with my first player, he said he hates glyphs.

I still need to add the Marro glyphs (and the decoding of the names in the txt files), but that shouldn't be a big deal (EDIT: done. :) ).

You can't place more than one glyph on the same hex, nor can you move them. Yet.

Pygon
March 28th, 2008, 07:46 PM
Since placing and reporting order markers manually would be an initial turnoff, I got to work on an Order Marker screen that allows you to place markers, report them to everyone else, reveal one at a time, and clear them and start over. It's working well. It summarizes the order markers in a grid, shows which ones are revealed, which ones not, etc.

What Pygon sees:

http://www.gamemodel.com/OrderMarker1.jpg

What bob sees:

http://www.gamemodel.com/OrderMarker2.JPG

Unfortunately, it doesn't cover all possibilities. Namely, you can't remove any yet (see Dund (EDIT: hey, I didn't put that umlaut there!), Glyph of Oreld, Silver Surfer). So for now, that will have to be handled "manually".

If I really want to cover the possibilities, the app should show all the army cards for each player along with the counters on them, rather than summarize them by figure name. Then, if you want to remove any, you just right click the marker and select Remove, or right click the card itself and select Remove All Order Markers. Then the other player accepts or refuses (in case it's incorrect) the operation. But that means I have to handle army cards, which I'm not doing yet. It also means you'll have to decide which army card to place the first removed figure on if you're using a lot of commons (imagine having three Stinger cards and the opposing player controls Dund. Will you put all your Order Markers on one Stinger card, or put one on all three? This also affects how many you can move if one dies and it's on a card with an unrevealed Order Marker. EDIT: After reading Dund's card, splitting up the Order Markers wouldn't matter, not for him anyway.), which adds a level of inconvenience for new players. I'll want it to be as much drag-and-drop as possible.

All of this I have yet to get into the program. It will be a lot of extra work to accommodate, what, 5% of the playtime situations, if that. But if I want it to be a full emulator, then that's what it needs. It may be some time before this much gets in there. But in the meantime, simple Order Marker operation is now supported.

And then there's the possibility of a Ne-Gok-Sa on one side Mind Shackling a Ne-Gok-Sa from the other side. Yech. How do you track that even on the board game? How do you decide which army card to put more wounds on?

EDIT: Saving and loading games with Order Markers, along with the requisite repairing for disconned players now working. Next big project may be recording a game and allowing playback. Not sure about that one yet, though. Perhaps army card drafting (just a screen that tracks point totals and reports your draft to others) would be more economical.

Pygon
March 31st, 2008, 04:13 AM
14 more figures added. I keep visiting my local Target since they seem to put up a new Wave pack every week or two as they run out. I also ordered one from Hasbro.

Here they are on a peak in Hero-X's Trinity Canyon.

It would have been 16 but I was negligent and hesitant, and missed out on the Monks and Guards pack.

*click*

http://www.gamemodel.com/heroscape/eScapePic12.JPG

Bengi
March 31st, 2008, 06:56 PM
This is great Pygon. I hope you get it to a point where you're willing to go public. I'd love to be able to play online sometimes.

Pygon
March 31st, 2008, 10:11 PM
One barrier of going public is the trouble of manually registering those OCX's in Vista. Someone could screw up their machines trying to get it to work. So I'd like to get a more foolproof setup running.

Another is, of course, the legality of going public with it. It's still a foggy issue, and simply hoping Hasbro politely turns away because they don't see it hurting their profits isn't exactly reassuring enough. I don't know how far they could or would go if they felt the need, even though I would fully cooperate with their reserved rights.

In addition, not all figures are in there yet (I could put the information in there, but the figures wouldn't have the graphics), and it doesn't support custom figures or terrain. I'm not sure what everyone would want out of it, and I wouldn't want to get inundated with requests at this time.

Finally, I could just put clients out there, but I'm the only one running a Host, so my sessions might get banged with other people wanting to join :) If I go public, I would just release the Host version to everyone.

Karkadinn
April 1st, 2008, 05:01 PM
Since potential legal red tape is still worrying you, consider the efforts of your predecessors. Gempukku and Apparentice both use separated database files for their cards that are quite apart from the actual program. That way, if things go south, you ditch the database if necessary, but the main program itself is clean as a whistle. With an easy enough file system, you could even use that to enable others to update the database for their customs or for other official units later on, if you got sick of doing it.
And personally I'm hoping Vista will die a miserable death, but I can't blame you for striving for maximum compatibility. ;)

Pygon
April 1st, 2008, 06:03 PM
Separating the figure data into a file is certainly an option. However, it can also cause a massive headache if people hoping to hook up with each other decide to modify it for their own purposes and it causes overlaps. The Host could send its figure data file down to the connecting clients as an override, I suppose... but then everyone would need to make sure they have the same textures. Bleh.

I'll keep it in mind. Thanks for the insight.

Gomolka
April 1st, 2008, 06:45 PM
Despite the "cheesy" graphics of the maps, figures, etc, this is a huge step up for the HeroScape community. Hopefully some day you will have a full beta version open to the public for all to use.

Keep working at it and improving! All of your hard work will pay off some day. Maybe your services will be as good as or better than what VirtualScape has to offer.

Pygon
April 2nd, 2008, 01:04 PM
It isn't really my intent to replace VirtualScape. VS allows you to make maps, and does it very well. eScape is just a way to play online when you can't play in person.

At this time, improving the graphics also isn't on my list. The way it is now, it does the job, and that's all I need. I was never planning on offering full 3D figures, accurate structure models, pretty textures and shadows, etc. As such, it also won't support true LOS, doesn't check for collisions between figures (*cough* Nilfheim) and doesn't allow tweaking the positions and rotations of figures behind barriers, so it won't be something that can be used to sanction online HeroScape tournaments, because it won't and was never intended to truly replace the tabletop game. But it's a 90-95% accurate replacement, I think, and that's enough for casual play.

Here's a tentative list of things I'm THINKING about adding:

* (likely) More Wave figures and graphics, as they are available to me
* Move figure and texture references to a data file, host sends this file as an override to clients (not necessary if it stays private, of course)
* [DONE] Count land movement over bridge walls, battlements (2 from inside, 3 from outside) and ruins (height 6) where applicable.
* VS file converter (will make a .txt for eScape to load, or will load it directly)
* Army cards with Order Markers and destroyed figures on them, allows for more Order Marker and other operations (removal of Order Markers because of Dund, tracking where Finn was placed when destroyed, etc.)
* Army drafting with point value tracking
* 3D rolling dice with sound effects
* Directional lighting (not shadows, yet)
* Indicator on double-space bases to indicate facing, since all figures are billboards
* 3D viewpoint rotation for viewing inside rooms or under overhangs, or possibly limiting the height it renders so that areas under overhangs are exposed
* Private channels support more than 2 chatters for multi-person teams, tabbed access in addition to popups - I'll probably implement "team" chat channels organized by the host in addition to private chats allowed between two players.
* [DONE] Game recording and playback [not fully tested, but what I've done so far works] (how did I lose again?)
* [DONE] Support for Marro Hive placement
* Single exe install that works on 2000, XP and Vista
* [DONE] Add the rest of the Wave 1 glyphs, and Marvel glyphs
* Support for flag bearer dice

None of this stuff is really necessary since it can all be handled manually. But to have the program handle some of these things without having to type more to the other players is a plus.

ewabbie
April 3rd, 2008, 01:54 PM
You can use Installshield to install your program and it will register all your OCX's, dll's etc for you.

Pygon
April 3rd, 2008, 04:53 PM
The version of InstallShield I have doesn't handle User Account awareness in Vista, which is necessary to register the OCX's. It works great in XP, but it's a clump of files that I'd rather not distribute because it's also messy.

Dang it, the stores only have Wave 5 again. Grr!

STAROCEAN980
April 3rd, 2008, 05:01 PM
Good thing I have XP. :)

Pygon
April 11th, 2008, 05:01 PM
I now render Shades of Bleakewoode as translucent. Ooh...

I think I'll tackle game recording and playback next. This could get ugly.

STAROCEAN980
April 11th, 2008, 05:13 PM
Goid luck with that. :)

kaemonawa
April 11th, 2008, 05:36 PM
Is there any way that when you finish adding everything, that you could make the graphics better, then release it to the public?

Pygon
April 11th, 2008, 08:55 PM
Sure, I can make the graphics better, but I doubt I'm going to :) Good graphics are a lot of work. 3D models for each figure (not to mention the trees, glaciers, etc.) is a lot more work than I would want to do (or know how for that matter). I could attempt shadowing, but I haven't developed my rendering routines to that point. As I said before, the emulator serves its purpose just fine the way it is, so until I see a reason to improve the graphics, they aren't changing. Keep asking all you like, but the answer will continue to be the same.

Legality is still a concern, so it's staying private for the time being. As much as I enjoy the game and want to contribute something to the community, I'm not going to risk taking a dive for it. It isn't really my call, it's Hasbro's. But I haven't asked, and I wouldn't expect an answer if I did (for now).

Karkadinn
April 14th, 2008, 12:42 PM
Personally, I'm fine with the graphics staying simple. For comparison, take World of Warcraft... the most popular MMORPG to date partially because it kept with a low graphics benchmark. The more needless bling you add the more you exclude people who have lower end comps.
And Pygon, dude... I'm happy for the work you're doing, you have my respect, but you are seriously driving me crazy. :D This is like peering through the gates into heaven and not being allowed to go in.

Pygon
April 14th, 2008, 01:40 PM
I totally agree. The graphics may not be top-notch, but that doesn't stop the endgame from being heartpounding when a single roll determines who wins the match - and it's happened a few times.

Pretty soon here, I may be compelled to find out from Hasbro exactly what is okay to release.

By the way, record and playback works! Whew.

I played out a mock scenario of my map, Sundered Walls, with 2 teams. Braxas, Q9 and the two Drakes crushed everything else (Nilfheim, Charos, Mimring, Krav Magas, Stingers, Marro Warriors). I recorded the whole game, resulting in a 72k file or so. The whole fight took 7 rounds. The only problem I saw was that the chat area flickers a little when there is a lot of text and more is added (fixed). Well worth a weekend's effort.

Pygon
April 18th, 2008, 04:34 PM
I regret to report that after consulting WotC, they are unable to grant me permission to make it public.

Thanks for everyone's interest, but I'm afraid the program stays private.

Stripping out the figure and texture data into a separate file and allowing others to add them back in themselves doesn't create much of a layer of protection, since all it takes is one individual to add them back in, and that file would naturally reach everyone else's hands.

robbdaman
April 18th, 2008, 07:00 PM
I regret to report that after consulting WotC, they are unable to grant me permission to make it public.

Thanks for everyone's interest, but I'm afraid the program stays private.

I still fail to understand why it is a problem at all. As I expressed to you months ago, while Dungeons and Dragons Miniatures is still being played online on Vassal all the time, it just doesn't make any sense to disallow HeroScape the same freedom. I'm not sure who you talked to but in my experience if you talk to the right people in WotC they can make more sense than whoever it is you are talking to that is making non-sense. Perhaps you can PM who and what you have discussed and I can get in touch with someone who can actually give a definitive answer.

R~

Pygon
April 18th, 2008, 07:46 PM
Well, the email is from the Brand Manager herself.

Maybe she was just giving a blanket answer without really delving into it, but I'm not going to provoke the complications of having one person at WotC say one thing and another person saying another, then release the program and have them come after me because the issue is ambiguous and subjective.

Of course you can interpret "I am sorry to also say that we cannot grant you permission to use or share your Heroscape application with other players/fans" any way you like, but I'm certainly not going to play around with it.

They might have very well said the exact same thing about any program here that supports HeroScape, but honestly, my app crosses the line a lot worse than most of the other offerings.

STAROCEAN980
April 18th, 2008, 08:10 PM
I'm really sorry Pygon.

You havea amazing program that you put tons of work into. It's awful that you are not allowed to fully share your fruits with us like you planned.

Sorry man. :(

Draconious
April 18th, 2008, 08:18 PM
They are unable to, much in the way as the pope is unable too...

do it anyway ;).

Pygon
April 18th, 2008, 08:21 PM
That's ok. I had only actually played 3 games with it so far, really. Kind of frustrating, considering. I was happy with how it worked, especially after I got the record/playback part done, and it just seemed a waste to have a working app just sit there - so I figured I'd find out instead of keeping people waiting. Them's the breaks.

I did learn a lot though, lots of new little chunks of code I can apply to other things. There's a DnD tabletop emulator that needs converting...

Drac: Yeah, right :) not going to risk that. But hey, thanks for the offer! ;)

robbdaman
April 18th, 2008, 08:23 PM
They are unable to, much in the way as the pope is unable too...

do it anyway ;).

That is kind of what I am wondering. Players have been using Vassal for D&D Minis for years now without so much as a word from WotC against it. Granting expressed permission is unlikely because of the big corporate parent company, while them ignoring it's existence is another. I bet if I ask WotC how they feel about DDM on Vassal they'd say the same thing.

R~

Vermilyion
April 19th, 2008, 06:53 PM
This is great. A fried of mine has been working on simulating battles, and we had been talking about working it into a full computer version of the game, but to find this post and see someone ells is even father along than he is, is awesome. I am just sad that WotC is blocking it. I guess we’ll just have to keep working on it. What you have done is defiantly going to help inspire me, and hopefully it won’t be to long before there is something out there like this for us all to use.

Pygon
April 19th, 2008, 08:55 PM
At this point, I'd frankly recommend writing a general board simulator that can be set up with a scripting file to simulate any game you'd like - that way, the program by itself isn't an actual HeroScape emulator until the scripting file is added.

If WotC isn't "officially" troubled by Vassal being used for DnD Miniatures, there might be less concern.

EDIT: Then again maybe not. Latest email for clarification states I can't even use eScape privately.

jbbnbsmith
April 26th, 2008, 01:08 AM
At this point, I'd frankly recommend writing a general board simulator that can be set up with a scripting file to simulate any game you'd like - that way, the program by itself isn't an actual HeroScape emulator until the scripting file is added.

If WotC isn't "officially" troubled by Vassal being used for DnD Miniatures, there might be less concern.

EDIT: Then again maybe not. Latest email for clarification states I can't even use eScape privately.
The legal complexities of copyright law in today's technilogical world are truly astounding and confounding.

Nearly every board game has a Vassal module that allows online play. the assumption is that players already own the game and vassal is simply a tool that allows virtual play. I am fairly sure that the majority of people playing games using Vassal do, in fact, own the game.

I have played a lot of Diplomacy on line over the years. There are several web sites that have the maps, automated judging, and even links to rules. Is WotC planning to shut these sites down? Are they breaking the law? I honestly don't know. I do know that I own two copies of Diplomacy, and also own Colonial Diplomacy, and when I play Diplomacy on-line I have absolutely no guilt at all.

I never expect to see Hasbro endorse on-line Diplomacy, but I seriously doubt they will ever issue a C&D to sites that host these games, as I am sure there are many people who have purchased Diplomacy because they first played it online.

Given the tactile nature of Heroscape, an online version would always be just a pale substitute for a real table top gaming session. So what is the problem? But again, who am I to question copyright law and the application of that law. I suppose if my ability to feed my family depended on Heroscape sales I too could possibly feel threatened by an unauthorized computer version.

Pygon
April 26th, 2008, 02:30 AM
Part of my logic was that the emulator does not fully replace the game. You can't spin the figures behind barriers to prevent line of sight, nor does it handle any kind of collision detection between the figures and the terrain or other figures (Nilfheim being the most extreme example). In that way, it cannot and will not ever replace tabletop. But it comes real close.

What the game does allow you to do is play on maps that can easily have much more terrain and figures than you own. I modeled a single 4th Massachusetts figure, but the program allows you to play with 20 of them. Is that a problem? Maybe. You can play on maps that use 8 lava sets. I own 1. Problem? Maybe. Then again you can do the same with physical proxy figures and terrain pieces, or make them out of foam board, download all the figure cards from heroscape.com, decide 1-3 on a d6 is a skull for attack and 1-2 a shield for defense, buy some Yahtzee sets and play the whole game without spending a dime.

The simple boolean yes/no true/false fact is that the program replicates and would distribute their intellectual property, and to do so in even the slightest way makes it well within their rights to pretty much decide whatever they want about it. I used it with a few individuals before all of this (client-only mind you, so their copy is useless without me), and one of them is now actually buying Heroscape merchandise because of it. Is that a reason to give it their blessing? Maybe. But consider the worst case scenario: Sales might dip because people have the program and can play with any set and figure they like (as long as they are represented in the program), so they decide not to buy the product. I can see people deciding that in a heartbeat. I also know most posters here collect the game with a passion, so having the program wouldn't deter them. But that's not enough.

I won't bother rationalizing their position or my own. Their legal rights far outweigh any logic I might present, even in any "fair use" capacity. I did the right thing. I went to them in good faith, told them the program existed, and that I wanted to give it to the community, with only their permission. They said no. I'm not surprised, but my heart honestly sunk. I wasn't happy. But, I did what I wanted to do and got my answer.

I totally understand your disagreement, along with my own. But we hold no cards at all in this matter. Some companies are glad to hand out some freebies and supplements to help support their game. Doing so adds a lot. This just wasn't one of those cases. A shame to be sure. But the choice belonged to them, not us. And I certainly wasn't going to put an app like this out there, representing so much of their IP, without giving them their say in the matter.

My biggest regret is that I wrote the program because I bought so much HS merchandise and have noone to play with or any way to really enjoy it. Now my HS stuff is still sitting there, and I have much less reason to be passionate about it.

Zzzzz
April 26th, 2008, 01:45 PM
I just want that you know that if we receiving official agrement for create heroscape online game software, virtualscape will become also a way to play online and I'm happy that several software will permit to play online.

pomme
May 19th, 2008, 10:56 AM
Too bad about WotC. Thanks for all your hard work on this. Next time do it anyway and don't ask permission. All they care about is money. If you weren't making it off their product, or taking money from them, you would have stayed under their radar.

Firemaster
May 29th, 2008, 09:57 PM
Too bad you asked first. The worst they would have done is send you a C&D order and you would have had to take it down. Chances are they would have ignored it if you had put up without telling them.

Pygon
June 17th, 2008, 02:16 PM
Not that I can share the program at all, but that didn't stop me from adding some new figures:

http://www.gamemodel.com/eScapePic14.jpg

Sujoah has transparent wings! Schwanky!

Pygon
June 18th, 2008, 04:53 PM
And, the rest of Wave 8 (whew...)

http://www.gamemodel.com/eScapePic15.jpg

Time to rest... and enjoy the Wave 8 party! Did I win anything yet!?

(The scaling on the wolf is wrong, I know. It's fixed!)

Pygon
June 19th, 2008, 03:55 PM
I had a few moments, so I figured... what the hey.

http://www.gamemodel.com/eScapePic16.jpg

That's alotta honkin' figures. I just realized today that I'm only 8 small packs away from having all the small expansions. I was shocked! I doubt I'll bother with the flag bearers.

Karkadinn
June 19th, 2008, 08:08 PM
I know you're just doing this to mock my suffering. <.< WELL GO AHEAD AND MOCK! I'LL PROGRAM MY OWN HEROSCAPE EMULATOR! WITH HOOKERS! AND FLAP JACKS! ...in fact, forget the emulator!

Pygon
June 19th, 2008, 08:32 PM
I know you're just doing this to mock my suffering. <.< WELL GO AHEAD AND MOCK! I'LL PROGRAM MY OWN HEROSCAPE EMULATOR! WITH HOOKERS! AND FLAP JACKS! ...in fact, forget the emulator!

:mal:

Thanks for the chuckle :)

Pygon
June 20th, 2008, 08:05 PM
Bushes!

http://www.gamemodel.com/eScapePic17.jpg

Not great, but close enough for government work...

And yes, that's the Tr3s map!

I'll probably code it to tell you what defense bonuses apply, just like it does with height advantage.

Also, another problem has cropped up. For short figures (4-5), these bushes provide total LOS blocking. The actual physical pieces don't cover so well, although in just the right circumstance (about 30% for bush, 50% for tree?), they can provide total LOS blocking. I may need to finagle these models so they don't provide reliable LOS blocking all the time.

ItalianHammerUS
July 5th, 2008, 12:30 PM
That is an outstanding idea...if i were you instead of worrying about the copyright i would perfect the idea, contact WotC and sell them the program

It could work like this

Everytime you buy an Heroscape Master Set or expansion you get a unique code that allows you to use the pieces you purchased on line as well.

When 2 players meet they can use a battlefield created by pieces that 1 of the players owns and the figure they purchased.
This would solve the problem that many of us have of not finding people to play with.
I am sorry for my broken English but i am stil working on it:) (it is my third language)
Hope i was still able to explain my idea

phantomclone
July 6th, 2008, 05:37 PM
Is there any way that when you finish adding everything, that you could make the graphics better, then release it to the public?
:roll:
I wish! BTW, next time ask a more educated question:twisted:

To-BI-As
July 25th, 2008, 07:36 AM
Me likes it. :'D

Will there be all marro included? *-*

Pygon
July 25th, 2008, 12:46 PM
Me likes it. :'D

Will there be all marro included? *-*

There will be when I can find Wave 1 and Wave 2 without offering my arm in the process. But, it has to remain private, sorry.

aielman
October 31st, 2008, 10:43 PM
Just an FYI

There is no way that you will EVER get a major company to sorry ok any sort of even PARTIAL recreation of their product - just dont even try asking. However that does not mean they will immediately (or ever) shut you down for creating one. There is a reason that alot of board games are created online and companies dont shut them down, they are a free advertisement for their product (I have actually bought several games that I first played online). However even knowing this they CANNOT authorize these ventures nor will you ever get anything other then a "no you can't do that" if you ask. The copyright law is such that if they said ok anything they actually end up giving up some of the rights to their product for nothing in return. The best bet is to release it and see if you get a C&D. If you get one, you just take it down - no harm no foul.

BobFunlandFrank
October 31st, 2008, 10:45 PM
It would be cool nonetheless.... :neutral:

Pygon
November 1st, 2008, 12:04 AM
It would be cool, granted.

Let's look at a more worse case scenario:

* I put it out there for public use.
* Users copy the files and host it themselves so it can't be "shut down". You KNOW this will happen.
* Hasbro demands it not be used.
* People keep using it. You KNOW this will happen.
* Trail leads to me via the initial email I sent and this 7-page thread.

Seriously, guys. I'm not going up against the juggernaut. Develop your own and put it out there if you want it so badly, and take your own risk. All it takes is time, work and a little programming know-how.

If I put it out there, they come after me, and you all rally to my defense, is that going to do me any good at all? If Hasbro looks bad to HeroScapers.com because they litigated against the little guy who just wanted to play a game online and share it with others, does that pull me out of the hole I get buried in?

I'm glad you're interested and I appreciate it. But I'm not putting my neck out there.

aielman
November 1st, 2008, 10:48 AM
I understand your concern, just pointing out that the scenario you are worried about (litigation for creating the game for online play) has NEVER actually occurred. C&D's have been sent for a few examples where the creator tried to make money off of the creation, but other then that they just fly under the radar indefinitely.

The other argument would be just release the board part of the game and not the figures. While the figures are easily copyrighted it would be almost impossible to receive litigation on "you can make a map with stackable hexagons...."

Or one step further strip all boards and figures and release it like vassal. Allow it to be used to create any board game you want if you put the time into it but include no actual board game with the the game. (I would create some custom board game and include it as an example to create your own) That way it would be impossible to come after you even with this trail because while the system would allow it, you would not be the creator of it.

Besides, I would actually be way more interested in that program. :-)

Pygon
November 20th, 2008, 09:37 PM
Remaining Wave 2 figures added, and Archers and Kyrie. 6 small expansions left!

Here they are on Nadious' Hatlevig's Touchstone:

http://www.gamemodel.com/ePic18.jpg

Welcome home, guys...

*pets Krug*

GGGames
November 22nd, 2008, 10:27 PM
That is really cool. you should be really proud of what you have accomplished. You never know some day heroscape may be on-line some day. At least one can hope.

mccombju
December 1st, 2008, 07:28 PM
Fantastic work! I'm inspired by the great work that you've done here in creating this board game playing system (that, incidentally, can be modded to play Heroscape).

Maybe one day you will release this system, without the Heroscape source data files.

Anyways, keep up the great work, and keep posting your progress.

Pickledpie
December 1st, 2008, 07:48 PM
Great work! I am happy that some other than me thought of a cheaper, unlimited, unrestricted by the bonds of extreme distance from other players, version of Heroscape for the world. Too bad that WotC prohibited it. Which realy makes no sense because other Heroscape software is okay, such as virtualscape, and it is dissapointing to know that wizards is strictly enforcing the fine line between additions to the game and the game itself.

mccombju
December 1st, 2008, 08:08 PM
I can't help but think that Heroscape may be destined for an online computer game fate similiar to that of Magic: the Gathering, given that WotC is at the helm.

In this embodiment, you can play Heroscape online, provided that you pay a one-time access fee of US$10 and then purchase "virtual figures and army cards" at a rate of ~87.5% of retail prices (this is actually dictated by the market, not WotC i.e. one MtGO ticket is roughly equivalent to one USD; 1 MtGO ticket = US$0.85-US$0.90) under the pretext that said "virtual figures and army cards" can be redeemed or "cashed out" into real figures and army cards at any time. Of course, as time passes, this customer adoption-promotioning incentive of backing "virtual characters and army cards" with real characters and army cards will be abandoned in favour of charging people for "virtual figures and army cards" that are backed by nothing and whose sole supply is dictated by the company (just as current MtGO is).

On second thought, nah...

The above is probably just wishful thinking. Heroscape apparently isn't one of WotC's core franchises, after all.

Pickledpie
December 1st, 2008, 09:19 PM
Heroscape apparently isn't one of WotC's core franchises, after all.
Well it should be.

Pygon
December 1st, 2008, 10:43 PM
Thanks!

No promises on the online-board-game-that-just-needs-a-file-to-be-Heroscape thingy...

I haven't read much of the other online tool threads. None of them can do it?

mccombju
December 1st, 2008, 11:07 PM
I haven't read much of the other online tool threads. None of them can do it?

I'm pretty sure that Vassal can do it.

mccombju
December 2nd, 2008, 05:09 AM
Heroscape apparently isn't one of WotC's core franchises, after all.
Well it should be.

:hijacked:

I agree in that I think HS has wide appeal, provided that people are willing to actually try playing the game.

I think that getting people to actually play the game is a major hurdle to having the sales growth and popularity of Heroscape really take off. As a board game that apparently targets children (ages 8 and up), Heroscape competes via flashy pictures of dinosaurs, dragons, and laser beams on its packaging, in magazines, and on television screens with many other similarly marketed/positioned products.

This is one of the reasons that I think the Marvel Heroscape idea was brilliant. You borrow (read: license) credibility and appeal from an established brand by mounting this brand identity (Marvel Universe) on your own elegantly designed and fun game system called Heroscape.

Unfortunately, I think that the Advanced incarnation (more fun than Basic IMO) of Marvel Heroscape is less accessible from a gameplay perspective for newer players than is the vanilla Heroscape game. For instance, there is a tremendous amount of on-card text for all of the Marvel characters in the Advanced game. I suppose this is why the Basic game exists, but the Basic game lacks the addictive and exhilirating qualities of the Advanced game (i.e. every character plays like a Deathwalker and you are left wondering how your 8 Defense Sgt. Drake SotM got killed by an attack of only 3 dice).

I understand that a new Marvel expansion has been designed and revealed to consist of Punisher, Sandman, Black Panther, The Thing, Doctor Octopus, Bullseye, The Human Torch, Super Skrull, The Invisible Woman, and Beast. As Bill Lumbergh (Office Space) would say, "Yeah... Right... Listen, I'm gonna have to get you to go ahead and redesign that... Yeah... Thanks a bunch, Milton (err Hasbro)."

A more effective way to promote the adoption of Heroscape through the Marvel brand would be to piggy-back on the hype and success of major motion pictures. I guess from that standpoint, it's good to see Sandman, Doc Oc, Punisher, and some Fantastic Four members. It also begs the question why Daredevil or Ghost Rider would fail to make appearances whereas Black Panther would be included. Likewise, I think that the inclusion of X-Men characters/villains via expansions or a Master Set of their own would go a long way towards capitalizing on the Marvel brand power and increasing Heroscape's market potential.

Other brands that represent potential licensing opportunities include the DC Universe line, Alien vs. Predator line, Star Wars line, Halo line, et cetera. However, as much as we would all love to see who would win in a Heroscape duel featuring Chewbacca and Batman, this only makes sense to a company like WotC (under Hasbro) so long as customer adoption is increased dramatically in doing so. When Hasbro originally struck the deal (US$205M tranched over 5 years), they were also catering, in part, to having a portion of their portfolio consist of strategic licenses (in addition to core brands).

By contrast, WotC seems perfectly comfortable with growing/maintaining its internal IP/brand identity (e.g. MtG and now TSR's acquired D&D), and WotC will only resort to licensing deals so long as the increase in customer adoption is sufficient to warrant it.

As it stands, the revenue and customer base of Heroscape seems to pale in comparison with that of franchises like MtG or D&D.

WotC will only invest in Heroscape what that investment will sustain on the market. To date, HS production has been somewhat slow and limited. New releases (waves) are ~quarterly? to semi-annual?. Flooding the market with new licensed product lines (DC, AvP, Star Wars, etc.) wouldn't do well to increase adoption, because I assume that the children's toy market share that Heroscape commands is relatively static and that the children's toy market is only growing (or declining in a recession) at a slow rate. *Note* I looked but couldn't find miniature boardgame market analyses or data in online reports; nor could I find Heroscape sales figures.

Shifting our attention from the children's toy market to the adult boardgamer market, I postulate that the challenge is again in getting players to actually play the game. This customer segment isn't as taken by images of dinosaurs, dragons, and laser beams as the younger audience is. Such potential customers will likely base their purchasing decision on testimonials or first-hand experience (via actually playing).

Furthermore, this segment is more difficult to reach through conventional advertising channels. The best ways to reach the adult boardgamer are likely through Local Game Stores (LGSs), gaming conventions, and online product reviews. I enjoyed the following excerpt from Wikipedia, "Most Gen Con attendees are men between 20 and 39 years of age who earn more than $50,000 per year." Websites like Heroscapers.com and BoardGameGeek.com are likely where this segment will turn to find out more about Heroscape.

So I have harped on for a while now about how difficult it is for a game like Heroscape to reach its target markets in a meaningful way that demonstrates the HS value proposition (i.e. playing the game = fun for all). I will conclude by saying that WotC will make its investments into the franchises that will generate the best return and where WotC commands the strongest market position. As Truth has indicated in the latest Heroscapers.com podcast, this isn't Heroscape, in the eyes of WotC management; it's Magic: the Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons. Thus, while I agree with your conviction that Heroscape, by merit of its gameplay appeal, should be a core franchise, I just don't think it is (or will be) in the eyes of WotC management. Furthermore, I think WotC's corporate inertia and lack of action taken will help to entrench this perspective when Heroscape sales decline in 2009, spurred not only by a lack of new releases but also by an economic recession.

aielman
December 2nd, 2008, 09:26 AM
Yes pygon, technically you can play heroscape on vassal, however the game plays REALLY slow and its very very difficult to incorporate the 3d aspect of heroscape in a 2d environment (which is how almost all of the current systems work). This is why your game, even without the heroscape source files - which would make it 100% legal, would actually have a market. A game system that actually allows for 3d games doesn't actually exist at the moment.

mccombju
December 2nd, 2008, 07:44 PM
To reinforce aielman's point, Vassal is separate and distinct from Heroscape.

As you pointed out, inevitably, someone would mod your software's data files (just as they did for Vassal) to enable players to play Heroscape online. This mod effort would not be limited to Heroscape, but I'm sure would encompass many other 3D board game franchises.

Does that infringe on those franchises intellectual property?

Restated: Do those companies own clearly defined patents that give them the right to exclude from the marketplace a generic boardgame environment (in this case 3D) simulator?

My straw position:
NO. There is no way they own this IP.

Update:
Results of my first search indicate that WotC and Hasbro don't have any patents related to software simulations of 3D environments.
For interest, you can check out one of the Heroscape Patents (http://v3.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?KC=A1&date=20060302&NR=2006043674A1&locale=en_EP&CC=US&FT=D). (Pay special attention to the Claims section, as that dictates what a company may exclude other parties from on the marketplace.)

Does WotC have copyright protection pertaining to the Heroscape brand and system?

Absolutely.

If any indication of gaming franchises' brand identity were encoded in your software as it were released, then I suspect that they could litigate to seek damages. That is, they reserve the right to litigate and seek damages.

However, as aielman pointed out in another post, just because they haven't conceded their rights, doesn't mean that they will seek litigation. He suspects that they would confront you with a Cease & Desist notification. This scenario could be avoided entirely if a generic version of your software, with no infringing brand identity, were released to the public. In which case, you would not be infringing upon any of WotC's (or any other company's) copyrights.

Huggable Zombie
February 15th, 2009, 01:11 PM
The short of Copyright Law with regard to the Heroscape brand and license is this:

The character/glyph names and depictions are protected intellectual property and can't be reused or distributed without an express license by the copyright holder.

The boardgame layout and configurations are arguably not copyrightable, in part, because of the generic nature of them (hex-based shapes to mark map pieces have been used in numerous game incarnations and HS or WotC do not have a corner on the market of them); as well as the fact that each user can customize the map however they want and therefore there is no "previously-created" property that would be protected under Copyright (that's the argument anyways, not statutory law), as far as previously-created scenarios created by Hasbro- those would be protected as well.

The rules of HS are probably more of a legal gray-area than anything else because they can't be reproduced without the permission of the Copyright holder, but their implementation into a computer program wouldn't count as "reproduction." Arguably you can have a game with the HS rules implemented into the code so that the game works the way a HS table-top game would work, but you wouldn't be able to reproduce the rules of the game for new players to learn, because that WOULD be protected.

Basically, if you create a generic version of HS, with representations of the figures (but without the actual images or names), configurable maps, and the rule-set- you are probably in the clear to distribute it publicly (though not for profit, if you want to avoid a lawsuit). But at that point, you are really creating a game in the "spirit" of Heroscape, but not actually Heroscape- if that's ok with you than I say go for it. You may still get a 'cease and desist' from Wizards if they catch wind of it, which doesn't necessarily mean that they are GOING to enforce their right to the property, just that they are positioning themselves to.

Even then, the arguments above are how you would fight a copyright-infringement claim. Again, the question is- do you want to deal with all that? You could always put up a for-free, "Spirit of Heroscape" game and see what Wizards does- if they send you a "C&D" letter from there, you'll have to figure out how much you want to dig your heels in.

There's my pro-bono legal advice.

Markb97402
February 28th, 2009, 02:13 PM
It seems to me, all you have top do is have no figures, and a program that allows people to "add figures" to the game. This would also allow all of us Custom unit whores the ability to use this for play testing.

Draconious
February 28th, 2009, 02:32 PM
Technically Virtual Scape, using the image and likeness of the hexes, and 3D scans of the figures... is not much different then if it was a working game... so I say just go for it whoever wants to program it... :)

Purplebeard
March 2nd, 2009, 01:56 PM
Technically Virtual Scape, using the image and likeness of the hexes, and 3D scans of the figures... is not much different then if it was a working game... so I say just go for it whoever wants to program it... :)


So we should all hold on to our downloads of VS and not let the powers that be notice that it exists. Although I remember Craig saying that Hasbro stopped development of their own mapbuilder because better ones already existed out there. It was in the first podcast interview with Truth if I recall it correctly.

dok
March 2nd, 2009, 02:57 PM
You may still get a 'cease and desist' from Wizards if they catch wind of it, which doesn't necessarily mean that they are GOING to enforce their right to the property, just that they are positioning themselves to.

IANAL, but my understanding is that many companies basically view copyrights for these products as a primarily defensive measure. By attaining a copyright for the ideas and products of Heroscape, Hasbro keeps someone else from suing Hasbro for having copied THEIR ideas.

I can sit at my hope PC and play Settlers of Catan online against people from all over the world. I had to check a little box at some point during installation that stipulated that I owned the game, but nobody came into my house and checked. The (free) online software is not owned or licensed by the owners of the copyrights of Settlers.

The only scenario where Hasbro is likely to pursue legal action would be if someone tried to sell a really, really obvious knock-off game on a large scale. I can't imagine Hasbro pursuing legal action against anyone making a free emulator. They won't explicitly give you the right to distribute, for legal reasons, but they won't sue you. It just defies logic.

releasethedogs
June 3rd, 2009, 12:00 AM
another route might be to release the game but change it so it does not have any copyrights. So instead of skulls and shields dice you have dice with other symbols. You still have a game piece if a guy riding a dinosaur but he has a different name and looks a little different then the one that comes in the master set.
They do stuff like this for magic the gathering "emulators" all the time.

Skeletor
June 12th, 2009, 07:50 PM
How did I miss this thread!?!?!?

So need any play testers for wave 9?

Melwing17
June 12th, 2009, 08:14 PM
I absolutely love generic board game computer programs. If you have anything usable, feel free to send me a PM or e-mail about it. ;)

Pygon
June 12th, 2009, 10:24 PM
How did I miss this thread!?!?!?

So need any play testers for wave 9?

When I add figures, I just add graphics and the card descriptions. Everything else is generically run (rolling dice, moving figures, etc.), so as long as the figures and cards display, there isn't any more testing to do.

But I haven't touched the program for a few months now :(

releasethedogs
June 13th, 2009, 03:13 AM
so how about making it generic and then releasing it, id be excited to use it

Pygon
June 13th, 2009, 10:57 AM
That could still happen. Right now my time is taken up by learning web development technologies and trying to find work.

If I decide to do so, Heroscapers.com will be the first to know.

With all the time that has passed, I'm surprised someone else hasn't already done so.

bmaczero
July 17th, 2009, 04:58 PM
I can definitely understand not wanting to cross the line when it comes to companies like Wizards...but I'd like to point out an interesting fact:
http://www.magicworkstation.com/

MWS allows people to play Magic: The Gathering online with anybody. It has a database of all the cards, and allows you to build and use decks from the cards. It can be used for free or upgraded to the "pro" version for a fee.

Reading the legality stuff, it seems MWS has no official affiliation with Wizards. It allows people to play Magic online without owning the cards and even makes a profit off of it, yet it's been there for years, seeming undisturbed.

Just something to think about, I guess...

Pygon
December 18th, 2009, 11:37 PM
Wave 1 integrated.

I'm still missing some Wave 3 figures. And I have yet to acquire Wave 9 or 10. And DnD scape is soon coming. You'd think I'd be able to keep up...

http://www.ttoprpg.com/heroscape/eScapeWave1.jpg

Taelord: "Watch where you're putting that spear."
Kelda: "Be quiet. You cost too much."

Here's what it looks like with all the figures on the board... (http://ttoprpg.com/heroscape/eScapeAllFigures.jpg)

I just picked up Wave 9 from Walmart today.

lordhuch
January 19th, 2010, 11:46 AM
question why not just package up teh game compleet but disable the online feature for home use you load it up and you play it on the one comp instead of networked on the net ?

Pygon
January 19th, 2010, 08:55 PM
That would still involve distributing intellectual property of Hasbro - nevermind that you can still get card info and figure graphics from other sources anyway *cough*.

Mr Migraine
January 19th, 2010, 09:25 PM
question why not just package up teh game compleet but disable the online feature for home use you load it up and you play it on the one comp instead of networked on the net ?

Was that on purpose?

Pygon
February 22nd, 2010, 11:04 PM
Master Set 3 figures added.

http://www.gamemodel.com/eScapePic18.jpg

I still have Wave 9 and 10 to get done.

I'm also wondering if I should bother to support placing a double space figure on both a zero-height hex space and an adjacent normal space... these new rules really know how to cause trouble.

Strack9
March 15th, 2010, 06:09 AM
I'm also wondering if I should bother to support placing a double space figure on both a zero-height hex space and an adjacent normal space... these new rules really know how to cause trouble.
(emphasis mine) This has always been legal since a zero-hight tile is supposed to represent the same hight as the hex it covers. I don't think it would need a fix since, in a virtual environment, water, ice or lava etc. can actually be at the same hight as an adjacent normal space.
(I too find it aesthetically unpleasing how, in real life, a doublespacer sits at a slight tilt)

BTW, I am in awe of all your efforts and really hope (despite the unlikelyhood) that it will become possible to use them in the future.

DeathByUtgar
March 19th, 2010, 11:02 PM
.... that was 2008, what happened??????

DeathByUtgar
March 19th, 2010, 11:04 PM
son of a %$# sorry didnt see the 2010's nice stuff:D

DeathByUtgar
March 19th, 2010, 11:05 PM
:oops::oops::oops::oops::oops: yeah missed a whole 9 pages of ad ons.....

Cavalier
March 19th, 2010, 11:10 PM
And had a conversation with yourself.

Pygon
April 10th, 2010, 04:08 PM
Wave 10.

http://www.gamemodel.com/eScapePic19.jpg

Naturally I recycled the warrior and soulborg pics for this one.

I still have yet to plow through Wave 9 and 11.

Pygon
April 11th, 2010, 07:26 AM
Wave 9. On a roll!

http://www.gamemodel.com/eScapePic20.jpg

Wave 11 remains. Perhaps next weekend.

adbirk19
April 11th, 2010, 01:56 PM
cool if this comes out the whole site will do this. a game on the internet would be so .

lefton4ya
April 12th, 2010, 12:31 PM
The short of Copyright Law with regard to the Heroscape brand and license is this:

The character/glyph names and depictions are protected intellectual property and can't be reused or distributed without an express license by the copyright holder.

The boardgame layout and configurations are arguably not copyrightable, in part, because of the generic nature of them (hex-based shapes to mark map pieces have been used in numerous game incarnations and HS or WotC do not have a corner on the market of them); as well as the fact that each user can customize the map however they want and therefore there is no "previously-created" property that would be protected under Copyright (that's the argument anyways, not statutory law), as far as previously-created scenarios created by Hasbro- those would be protected as well.

The rules of HS are probably more of a legal gray-area than anything else because they can't be reproduced without the permission of the Copyright holder, but their implementation into a computer program wouldn't count as "reproduction." Arguably you can have a game with the HS rules implemented into the code so that the game works the way a HS table-top game would work, but you wouldn't be able to reproduce the rules of the game for new players to learn, because that WOULD be protected.

Basically, if you create a generic version of HS, with representations of the figures (but without the actual images or names), configurable maps, and the rule-set- you are probably in the clear to distribute it publicly (though not for profit, if you want to avoid a lawsuit). But at that point, you are really creating a game in the "spirit" of Heroscape, but not actually Heroscape- if that's ok with you than I say go for it. You may still get a 'cease and desist' from Wizards if they catch wind of it, which doesn't necessarily mean that they are GOING to enforce their right to the property, just that they are positioning themselves to.

Even then, the arguments above are how you would fight a copyright-infringement claim. Again, the question is- do you want to deal with all that? You could always put up a for-free, "Spirit of Heroscape" game and see what Wizards does- if they send you a "C&D" letter from there, you'll have to figure out how much you want to dig your heels in.

There's my pro-bono legal advice.

Does anyone remember Ken Griffey Jr. Winning run for SNES or N64, which had Ken Griffey Jr. and official teams but did not have any other real players because it did not pay for the MLB-PA license so had to make up player names. Or how after EA Sports got the exclusive NFL and NFL-PA rights, that other football videogame franchises had to start making generic teams. Two things happened: 1 - They didn't sell that as well as official products even though they were good games; 2 people took the time to recreate real teams and edit player names and stats to match real ones, with some games allowing the saving and opening of team files that someone else has made.

I could see this happening with HS emulators - Set up the game system but include generic heroes both in look and stats/powers. Then allow people to customize it and export/import character files with others. Although the act of trading character files with Hasbro liceneses might be against the law and there is always the threat of VCR/Napster like lawsuits if you provide the ability to allow other to have copyright infringement, but this might be the best bet.

Pygon
April 12th, 2010, 06:42 PM
Although the act of trading character files with Hasbro liceneses might be against the law and there is always the threat of VCR/Napster like lawsuits if you provide the ability to allow other to have copyright infringement, but this might be the best bet.

So even that can be a problem? If so, then making an engine that can support Heroscape might not be wise, because duh, of course that's what users would do.

Pygon
May 9th, 2010, 01:53 PM
And Wave 11 finally done.

Look at all that plastic...

http://www.gamemodel.com/eScapePic21.jpg


I'm only missing a couple Wave 4 packs (Soulborgs and Elves, and Greeks and Vipers), the flag bearers, and some GenCon exclusives (Skahen, Woo). Until August hits, of course.

nimaid
July 28th, 2010, 03:22 AM
Epic job!

Pygon
March 3rd, 2012, 05:11 PM
Greetings all.

Sorry to necro my old thread, but I finally got around to adding the Wave 12 figures.

Just plopping the pic here.

http://www.gamemodel.com/eScapePic22.JPG

Eventually I'll get around to adding Wave 13.

And sorry, still not planning the share the app.

dok
March 3rd, 2012, 10:30 PM
Pygon, you're aware that people are actually doing this already on google draw?

No ceace-and-desists, either.

Honestly, it's time to drop the humblebrag routine - there's no harm in sharing, really.

Pygon
March 4th, 2012, 02:10 AM
humblebrag?

categorize it anyway you like.
I asked, they said no.

I'm only posting it because people might be curious, to catalog my progress, and maybe inspire someone to do it themselves.

robbdaman
March 4th, 2012, 02:42 AM
Yeah, I have to agree with dok here being the game is discontinued and there are a few ways people have already started playing online keeping the application hidden serves no purpose. I can't tell you how many games discontinued and still in production even that I have seen being played on Vassal, Cyberboard, java platforms, etc.

dok
March 5th, 2012, 11:45 PM
There's a chasm between them giving explicit permission (something they can't do lest they lose some of their rights) and their simply allowing people to customize, digitize, and otherwise use the game.

You can play many in-print games online. (Catan, etc.) None of those applications have permission to use the images or game concepts that they do.

You can also play Heroscape online. That version doesn't have permission to use the images it does. Heck, Virtualscape doesn't have permission from Hasbro, either, and it's been around for years.

You're welcome to keep your stuff to yourself, but you're not doing it for any reason but your own.

GaryLASQ
March 6th, 2012, 12:18 AM
My HS site has been online for 6 years, and nobody said boo about taking it down. The only C&D email I received was when I tried making an army builder called Army Builder which is a name copyrighted by some other company, not Hasbro. (I planned to just rename it to Gather Your Army, but eventually lost interest in making it.)

Pygon
March 7th, 2012, 10:08 PM
Wave 13.

http://www.ttoprpg.com/eScapePic23.jpg

It's been a long road.

The last figure I have to add that I have access to is the Jandar flag bearer. I also need to upgrade to support dungeon tiles, shadow tiles, the cavern glaciers, treasure glyphs, attaching treasure glyphs to Hero cards, moving treasure glyphs around, and placing shadow tiles. Who knows when or if that will happen.

I've read your comments, and you're right, my reasons for not making it public are my own.

I'm glad people have their ways of playing online.

Pygon
March 10th, 2012, 11:50 PM
Support for Master Set 3 tiles and outcrops added.

Map: Shards!

http://www.gamemodel.com/eScapePic24.jpg

I have no idea how I'll add support for moving treasure glyphs around and placing shadow tiles yet.

The app also currently doesn't allow me to straddle a two-space figure across a space with 0-height hex and a space without a 0-height hex. So I'll have to figure out a fix for that.

lefton4ya
March 11th, 2012, 12:26 AM
Great job! I understand your reluctance to share the app, but I want to encourage you to make a public "Beta" to share as we would love to see it. Also check out StayOutOfTrees (http://www.heroscapers.com/community/member.php?u=7751)' Heroscape Online (http://www.heroscapers.com/community/showthread.php?t=39931) game he is coding. It would be cool if you could combine efforts on one project or at least swap code and/or graphics to reduce work on your own projects.