Making the VASSAL Miniatures Game Part 1

The first thing that needed to be done is scale. I needed something that would be appealing visually, just like a miniatures game.  A suggestion on the VASSAL website was to make 1 pixel equal 1 millimeter.  The reasoning was that when you had to place somethng, it could be translated easily into pixels and all you would need to do is plug in the coordinates.  No translation required.  Simple enough.  However, I decided on 2 pixels equals 1 millimeter.  The reason i did this is because 1 pixel equals 1mm was simply too small to see the detail on the figures.  The graphic to the left illustrates what I mean.   The graphics are relatively small and have clear backgrounds.  We will get into that later. 

The first item on the agenda was maps.  Maps are easy.  Whatever map you want, you can make it easily by first, expressing the size of the map in millimeters and then creating a graphic that is twice that size in pixels.  For example, a 2 foot by 2 foot map would be 600mm on an edge.  This translates into 1200 pixels on an edge.   Once the graphic is created, you can use a fill of your favorite color for the ground.  I wanted my map to be an olive color.  The second thing you need to do is transform the map into an irregular array of different colors.  I used an HSB noise function to do this.  Finally, I blurred the image with a heavy blur.  This created a nice texture that is reminiscent of a game mat. 

For the miniatures themselves, I modified and reused miniatures from the Junior General site.  There are quite a few drawings for paper miniatures.  Each unit is a clear graphic with several miniatures on them.  The games I play all use a standard base size for a game called DBA.  Most stands will have either 2, 3 or 4 figures on them.  They all are 4cm wide and variable in-depth.  My first problem was that using real sized graphics, I could not fit the proper amount of figures on the stands.  So what I did was adjust the size of the stands to 4.8cm wide and then when I scaled them for the game, I simply used 80 pixels for the size and the stand were scaled correctly for the virtual environment.   Obviously, you will need some knowledge of how to use a paint program like Paint Shop Pro.   There is also a free program called Inkscape.  I have not learned how to use it but it seems to be quite nice.

The clear background is useful for keeping the size of the miniatures graphics down.  The units are by the graphic size but the color of the map will provide the background of the miniatures.  The miniatures simply float on top.


2 Responses to Making the VASSAL Miniatures Game Part 1

  1. Dale Hurtt says:

    You got it backwards, didn’t you? You say 2mm equals 1 pixel, but I think you mean 2 pixels equals 1mm. That way the figures gets larger.

    I am looking forward to this, however, I wonder how easy it will be to move units along ‘perfectly’ straight? How will you measure accurately? (Not that you can on the table, anyway.)

    Finally, if it is a square grid, how many facings are you going to do? Didn’t you do 12 for AMW? Or was it 16?

    I would like to help, just so I can learn VASSAL module design better.

  2. acarhj says:

    Hi Dale,

    You are so right about scale. I do have it backward! I’ll fix it soon.

    The original game is a miniatures game like any other table top game. I added 24 facings. Later, I added a square grid.

    As for being perfect lining stuff up? It is honestly not any worse than a table top. You still have to face each stand and drag them around but we do that on the table top too. It would be nice to be able to wheel entire groups but we can’t have everything.

    For square grid games, you use the same pieces but, obviously, you would only face to 90, 180 or 270 degrees.

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