Saturday, September 10, 2005

Zillions of Games

I've "discovered" a nifty new program: "Zillions of Games". I'd say it's a collection of games, but it's not limited to that... it's a general engine for running almost any conceivable abstract board game. The program includes an AI (artificial intelligence) capable of running and actually playing any game you can specify in the language.

"Language?" Sure! The commercial version of Zillions has doesn't just come with dozens of games... it doesn't stop at providing you access to over a thousand more free games on the Zillions-of-Games website, either... it allows you to specify your own games as well. For about $25 you get a complete game authoring system; just add your favorite paint program. This has got to be one of the stand-out best values in commercial software.

To test it out, I implemented Eugene de Wolf's game, "Qui Vive" (not related to the commercial board game of similar name). Two hours after having gotten my registration key I had playable copy of the game. That's not an exaggeration, either. I've implemented this thing at least a half dozen times in various languages, and it's never been this easy. You simply define the board & pieces, define the moves, and define the winning conditions: the Zillions AI takes care of everything else, and it doesn't play half bad, either. If you live in the Windows world, I suggest you try it out (I'll be checking it out in Linux under WINE shortly).

Zillions can be downloaded as a demo that allows you to play a number of games. Purchasing a key on-line unlocks all of the game features. Oh, and if you want to try out Qui Vive, you can get it by clicking on the graphic or click here. It requires a purchased copy of Zillions to run, but you can check out the source code (it's in the 'qui vive.zrf' file).

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