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Submitted by Will McGugan, posted on August 25, 2002




Image Description, by Will McGugan



This is Net Chess Pro. I first started it over 2 years ago, forgot about it, then picked it up again about a year ago. It's a part time project, with occasional evenings and weekends spent hammering away at it. I had intended to wait till I had a beta for you guys to download, but I've recently found myself on the job market again and I thought this would be a great opportunity for self promotion. I'm looking for work as a programmer in Scotland, preferably Glasgow or a home working position. My CV is on http://www.willmcgugan.com/

With Net Chess Pro you can play email games, network games or against the computer using any engine that supports the WinBoard protocol. The top screenshot shows Gnu Chess kicking my ass (not that I was really trying). Possible moves are shown by ghosted pieces, a useful feature for beginners. All moves are rule tested - it wont show you moves that leave your king in check, or put your king in check.

The app can send email moves and a text message as a small attachment. The attachment file-type is associated so that double clicking it will launch the game. Network games have a unique (as far as I know) feature. As well as a chat-box, players can annotate the board by drawing on it with the mouse, a kind of shared white-board. You can use this to discuss moves more easily, or play hangman if you prefer.

Moves and other game events are announced with a pre-recorded voice. I have my own voice sampled and 2 others for those who can't understand my Scottish accent (you should hear me trying to say 'en passant'). I've made it as simple as possible for users to add their own voices to the game; basically voices are stored as a WAV file per word.

The graphics are rendered using OpenGL, it doesn't use any extensions and will break textures up so that it will run on lowly hardware. The board scales to accommodate the window size, and each piece has an alpha channel for anti-aliasing and effects like drop shadows. Again I've tried to make it as simple as possible for users to supply their own graphics. I did the board you see myself - not bad for programmer art but even a trained chimp can render a chess board :P.

The second screenshot is the front end. It's a page of dynamically created html that displays things like the tip of the day, statistics, saved games and such. It's a very flexible system that makes it easy to create a user interface. The html contains specially formed links that send events when clicked - so that a link can select menu options. On top of the second screen shot you can see one of my realtime bump-mapped splash screens. What can I say, I'm an old demo coder ;)

The app was written with the help of wxWindows. I can't recommend it enough, my previous GUI applications involved blood and tears, but this was relatively painless. WxWindows can do a heck of a lot more that windows and dialogs, I would even consider using it for less GUI oriented games.

I will probably sell Net Chess Pro as reasonably priced shareware with a cut down free version so that you don't need two registered copies to play with a friend. Publishers, if you are interested please contact me on zenadsl2039@zen.co.uk. Also if you would like to contribute a voice, or board (in return for a free copy and mention in the about box) please get in touch.

When it's ready, I'll post a beta version on netchesspro.com (nothing there at the moment). Before anyone asks, I do have plans for a 3D version but the 2D game is a priority.

Will McGugan


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