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Submitted by P Danhiez, posted on February 15, 2002

Image Description, by P Danhiez

This is a shot of my first (personal) game : ZooChess. I've writen it in my spare time (6 month), and all the code is in C++ using OpenGL. A friend designed all the chess-pieces.

The engine (called ZooEngine) has some features like bump mapping, water effect, etc.. I draws polygons (45.000 for ZooChess) and the GUI is totally in 3D. Stop ; this is not the aim of a game, this is only a technical approch.

When I was looking for chess game on internet, I only found "beautifull-commercial-games" and "horrible-free-games". That's why I decided to write my own chess game, and I hope I've reach the equation : "beautifull-free-game".

So, you can play on internet or lan (classic host-client management) or you can play in solo mode (a basic AI I've writen...).

This game is totally free, and you can download it here :

or directly here :

Have fun !


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Archive Notice: This thread is old and no longer active. It is here for reference purposes. This thread was created on an older version of the flipcode forums, before the site closed in 2005. Please keep that in mind as you view this thread, as many of the topics and opinions may be outdated.

February 15, 2002, 10:56 AM

very nice, i've been looking for a good looking free chess game


February 15, 2002, 10:58 AM

I love the menu effects


February 15, 2002, 11:06 AM

Looks amazing - trying it out... :)

Jesse Chounard

February 15, 2002, 11:13 AM

Nice.. I like it alot.

You might try adding simple reflections and see how they look. (Like with a marble board or something.)

It's really easy to fake reflections, just by drawing the pieces inverted on the plane of the board, drawing the board with blending enabled, then drawing the pieces again.

Anyway, good work. I'll download it when I get home from work.

Albert Sandberg

February 15, 2002, 11:47 AM

US Chess Live has a downloadable client which is damn good but you can only play unranked if you're not a member of some kind which costs money (but you can be a member outside us too). Still it's cool. The addy is offer some cool online chess (and other games) with ranking and alot of features. Last time I was there it didn't cost a dime but it was a while ago.



February 15, 2002, 11:56 AM


But I agree that you should try to add reflections, cube maps, and of course bumpmaps (DOT3 with specular) for the pieces and board (bumpmapped wood looks very nice).. *drewl* that'd be even more awesome! :)

Thumbs up!


February 15, 2002, 12:01 PM

Oh, and try to use vertex shaders for waving grass on that island, and use bumpmaps for more realistic clouds!

Man, I really like those new GeForce3 Ti 200 features! :)


February 15, 2002, 12:23 PM

just try to download it in the moment...makes a really good impression....but at the first view I absolutely dont like the design of the pieces....they all look too similar and dont really have style...
however, I think the idea with the sky and the "flying" mountain is really good and playing it should be really a pleasure...


February 15, 2002, 12:33 PM

i agree with bigben, a little bit less detailed for me...

why not applying a stencil shadow to the chess-pieces? ( maybe with derivated lod objects)

..or drawing the sky with a dynamical gradient backdrop ( and the sky texture over it) to fake day-night scenario, hmmm maybe its a little bit to heavy for a chess game - but i think a nice idea :D

nice work!


February 15, 2002, 01:01 PM

Thanks for your constructive comments :)

I tried to bumpmap all the pieces, but the frame rate slowed down to 15 fps on my GeForce2, so... I decided to reserve it for the cubes

That's true, I should try the reflection and/or shadow for the pieces, but the number of visible polygons is large (~40.000 for the pieces), and I think the frame rate will slow down another time.... argh..

But yes, I will try all this in the next days ! Maybe it will be a new IOTD post ?



February 15, 2002, 01:02 PM

Indeed, a "beautifull-free-game".


February 15, 2002, 01:10 PM

Cool looks really nice!

Have fun


February 15, 2002, 01:29 PM

Ah.. it crashed when I wanted to set one of the pieces.. :/

(no errors in log, it just crashed after selecting a tile (which became red))

I'm using a P!!! 933 with 256 MB SDRAM and a GeForce3 Ti 200 and XP


February 15, 2002, 01:51 PM

Crashes on start, here is the log:

Creating main OpenGL devices..

************************* Zoo Engine *************************
**** Color : 16 ****
**** Depth : 16 ****
**** Buffer : double ****
********************** Successfully Loaded **********************

.. devices successfully created !

p3 600mhz; 256mb RAM; win2k; voodoo3 3500

I thought it was the whole 16bit color thing but it doesn't apear to be from the log.

Pierre Terdiman

February 15, 2002, 02:15 PM

Starts correctly (though the popup window looks weird?), but framerate drops to 1 or 2 fps as soon as the menu enters the picture. The cursor seems to have vanished as well, so I just can't start the game. Is there a way to use an alternative menu, maybe ? Or perhaps an option to disable the bump on the cubes.

Log file seems ok otherwise.

Note that I currently have a TNT2 Ultra for test purpose. ("slow" by current standards but hell, not that slow).

Sniper BoB

February 15, 2002, 03:08 PM

pretty cool! However turning the board around every time the computer needs to go either A gets me disy, or B disorients me enough so that I have to rethink my next move which I had already planned. Other than that and the fact that I can't tell my pawns from my biships... EXCELLENT WORK! And yes the menu effects are pretty sweet.


February 15, 2002, 04:06 PM

Crashed on my WinME, Duron 750Mhz w/ NVidia 8 MB card(small graphics, I know.)

Creating main OpenGL devices..

************************* Zoo Engine *************************
**** Color : 32 ****
**** Depth : 24 ****
**** Buffer : double ****
********************** Successfully Loaded **********************

.. devices successfully created !


February 15, 2002, 04:16 PM

Good job for refering to others efforts as "horrible" while you
stole your sound file and probably the idea from another free
chess game that was posted on a few months ago.


February 15, 2002, 05:18 PM

Yeah, and use 3D volumetric textures for the clouds, and implement a fully-realistic weather system complete with storms and precipitation. And have a day/night cycle with realistic moon phases. And deformable terrain!


February 15, 2002, 05:23 PM

Exactly how did he steal the idea? Because it's 3D that makes it stolen? Please! And some of the main graphical features in the chess game you reffer to are not present in this one. So exactly where do you get the idea that it was stolen?


February 15, 2002, 05:44 PM

That sentence should have probably been broken up. What I meant was
that he probably got the idea to make a 3d chess game after seeing
this other one. The sound file however is stolen.

Luke Philpot

February 15, 2002, 05:44 PM



February 15, 2002, 06:12 PM

I will answer to your questions/remarks/comments :

- Richard : strange crash on your computer, I have quite the same configuration at work. Very strange..

- Gen Witt : the crash is "normal" :) It's your card, voodoo3 3500, which doesn't support all the extensions that the engine try to load. I will put a "rescue-branch" for these type of cards.

- Pierre : the TNT2 doesn't support the texture_env_combine with dot3 extension I think. So, it's normal (exactly as with the voodoo3 but doesn't crash -- good Nvidia drivers :] ). I will put the same "rescue-branch" (disabling dot3)

- Sniper Bob : you can disable the "automatic" camera movement by pressing the 'A' key, and you can move manually the camera with HOME and END, or with the mouse while clicking. (you can see all the controls in the option menu)

- MeatRoaf : sigh.. yes, a small card.. same problem : not all the extensions are supported and my program brutally crash. Sorry, it's my fault..

- JoePoo : hu ?! I took the sound file (~2sec) at work, some month ago, in a freeware which I've forgotten the name, yes. If there is a problem with it, I can put it back from the game. No problem for me :) But, you can be sure I've not "stolen" the sound file, it's a file I use for my tests and which seemed me to be good, that's why I decided to let it in the game..

on the end, excuse me for my pooooor language (I'm french)



February 15, 2002, 06:35 PM

I could care less about the sound file. Just calling everyones
efforts before your own horrible is completely asinine. The fact your
took a sound file from someone elses work is just icing on the cake.


February 15, 2002, 07:33 PM

Ooh, yeah, volumetric clouds (including those 'light rays' or however they're named) are even better!


Hiro Protagonist

February 15, 2002, 09:43 PM

I got the same crash, with the same log on my XP p3 1GHz with a GeForce2 64

Jason Kozak

February 15, 2002, 10:42 PM

It may have simply been bad word usage, so stop jumping to conclusions. I got the impression that he meant horrible in a graphical sense, which is quite true in most cases, and the exceptions aren't always easy to find.

As for your claim that he "stole" the idea... give me a break! I could understand if there was some new innovative gameplay, but this is Chess, in 3D, with multiplayer. It's not exactly the most unique idea in the world.

Finally, this represents 6 months of work in his spare time. That's no small measure, so stop trying to cut him down. Until you've posted an IOTD of your implementation of your completely original idea, keep your unjustified comments to yourself.

IMO, the point of an IOTD is to gather constuctive criticism (and perhaps a little praise :), not baseless accusations.


February 15, 2002, 10:44 PM

please do not divert board, just because you resent him. in no way did he imply that everyone elses efforts were stupid, and it is hardly doubtful that his chess program is very nice looking. please refrain from debunking the hard work of others unless you have probably cause. thank you, I know you probably have no cruel intentions, but you would probably be more helpful if you had suggestions and not slanderous remarks.

Timothy Barnes

February 16, 2002, 12:22 AM

I love the chess board. Its much prettier than my PDA chess game...


February 16, 2002, 01:26 AM

I had the same's my log:

Creating main OpenGL devices..

************************* Zoo Engine *************************
**** Color : 32 ****
**** Depth : 24 ****
**** Buffer : double ****
********************** Successfully Loaded **********************

.. devices successfully created !

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