Preset Primer

Please read through this primer once fully, before trying to do anything. Its purpose is to show you how to create a simple, non-rules-checking preset in Game Courier, Fergus Duniho's chess variant software. You will have a board and pieces which you may freely move about. The legality of such moves must be determined by the players.

Let's say you want a 10x10 board, and like the Grand Chess board. But you are going to use some unusual pieces, and don't know exactly what icons to use, so you want a choice of icons.

Go to the Grand Chess preset:
Click on the "Abstract pieces Fullsize board as HTML table" button on the left. This takes you to a page with a standard 10x10 chessboard and pieces made from geometric shapes.
Scroll down that page, if necessary, until you come to the EDIT button. Click it. Scroll down this new page, examining it up to the Comments section. You're just looking to see the general layout and get an idea of where things are at this point.

Next, open this in a new tab:
You will see Uri's Chess1, an example page. Scroll down the page, if necessary, to the EDIT button, and click it. This will take you to the next page, which is my initial start to edit Fergus Duniho's Grand Chess preset. Compare it with the original Grand Chess preset.

Now we're going to change things. You will be creating your own preset from a clone of the Grand Chess preset.

Go to Fergus' original Grand Chess preset edit screen. Put in your name and ID# and a new settings and game name - I suggest you use your name in both of the settings and game fields in this practice edit, to get used to changing both settings and game names - DO NOT USE the same settings or game names as are already used [believe me, you don't want the hassles you can have]- for this practice preset, or any game you are working on.
Hit update in your practice window only, not in my example window.

If you make a mistake, kill the window and try again in a new window. I recommend for people just starting that any time you make a mistake, kill the window and start all over. It can save complications. Yes, I learned that the hard way, in case anyone is curious.

Familiarize yourself with the different sections of the edit page. The top has the board and pieces. Scrolling down a bit will take you to the sections you will first change. Directly below the board is where you will make your changes. The first block of fields contains the username of the person editing the preset, that person's password, and the settings name. It also contains the Update and Save buttons.

Below the User-Password-Settings block is the larger Name-Code-Shape… block. In this block, you will change the name. Again, do this only in your practice window, not the example window.

Below that is 6-8 large rectangular areas with specific game info - for Grand Chess - [often] in [some of] them. Erase everything in those boxes.

Just below those rectangular boxes are 2 little checkboxes. The one on the left says "exclude pieces not in setup. Make sure that is unchecked. [no little green mark]

Go back up to the top, under "Password", and hit SAVE. This will put you in a screen that tells you what the saved settings are, and gives an active link.

Click on that link, and it'll bring you to a new edit page. Examine the rectangular boxes [the bottom one will probably have new info in it - that's okay, it's your info now] to make sure they're empty, and look at the exclude pieces box to make sure it's unchecked.

When the exclude box is not checked, you will get the full piece set specified, not a truncated one.


Note the boxes that say "Render as" and "Scale". Render is set to HTML, and scale to 100. Change the scale to 50 and update. Nothing happens.

Now, change Render to JPG or PNG, and hit update. Note the changes in the board's appearance. Then set scale to 50 and update. The HTML table form is always 100, no matter what you set it as. The others are scalable.

Go to "Set", change it, and update. Look at the choices. Then go to "Set Group", and change that. Go back to Set, and see the new pieces. Warning: Alfaerie Many is all the pieces - great if you have high-speed connections. Every piece available is pretty much in there, though the specialty sets have some different pieces.

Note the "Files" and "Ranks" boxes are empty. You can specify the designation for each rank and file here. Now, down at the bottom right, you have "Columns". That is currently set to "10". Unless your board is going to have 10 columns, change it to the correct number [or erase it - it may fill in a blank box automatically - if you've put in the "Code" correctly.]

"Code" - This is the ffen "diagram" of the initial setup, using the piece ID's from the piece set. This is where you actually build your game.


In the "Code" section, you specify, square by square, what's on the board. I've changed the piece set to Alfaerie Many [I hope you have a fairly high-speed connection - if you've got dial-up or something really slow, the AlfMany is probably too big to load or load in a reasonable time. If this is the case - let me know, and I'll use a different piece set.]

Empty squares are indicated by numbers.

First square coded is the upper left; coding goes across, then back and down one row.

Black is small letters, white is CAPS.

Empty squares are denoted by numbers.

You may separate rows with the fore-slash: "/" but it's merely easier, not necessary, if you've specified how many columns there are.

A missing square [say you trimmed off the corner squares] is denoted by a dash "-", and also by a period [I'm pretty sure]: "."

Any piece that is designated by a single letter only may be put into the code as just that single letter, capitalized for white, small for black.

Any piece that has more than a 1 letter only designation must be put into the code string in these brackets: "{" and "}". Thus, the guard, code gu, is put into the code string as "{gu}" for black, and "{GU}" for white. Note added pieces [guards] on board.


This is David Jagger's excellent game, preset by Peter Aronson. And the following is what I did with it:
Comparing the fields of the 2 games' edit page shows exactly how I changed Peter's preset for mine. While you have to type in moves by hand, you can fit the taxi and up to 3 pieces in each square that appears on the gameboard.

The last examples are Raumschach and 3D [Sideways] Great Shatranj:

I hope these brief instructions and examples will demonstrate how to create simple but varied presets to play a wide range of games upon. Enjoy!

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