Date: 1994-01-21
From: John
Subject: Piece Size & Design

My Dear Mr. Duk:

I have been dabbling with designs for new color pieces and so far am completely frustrated. I'll keep plugging away at it, but have several questions for you. To wit:

  1. Can I get a final ruling as to precise piece dimensions? There is some confusion as to whether we settled on 17x13 pixels or 18x14. You will recall that when gridlines are formed in the "correct" manner, an extra pixel of height and width is required for each coordinate. Is that extra gridline pixel taken out of the original 18x14 size to yield a piece size of 17x13, or are the gridline pixels added into the map thereby increasing the overall map size by 99 pixels in each direction and yielding a piece size of 18x14?

    I would prefer to settle this now as I may end up spending a lot of time designing pieces at one size or the other and it will be a nuisance to add or subtract pixels later on. I have no preference but seem to recall that you might favor one over the other due to concerns with odd vs. even dimensions. Am I right that the latest version of Alex has not yet implemented "correct" gridlines?

  2. A general design issue. If we were ever to release Alexander as a commercial product (stop laughing!) I would feel a tad bit uncomfortable at the many similariries to the existing Conquest game. It would be nice to produce a thoroughly original product. However, when it comes to piece designs, I am at a loss how to do this. Try as I might, I can't seem to design pieces at the tiny scale required that are both recognizable and original. It seems that when you only have 17x13 pixels there are just not very many ways to draw an aircraft carrier. Thus, unless we move in a radically different direction (like using letter-blocks to represent pieces, C for carrier, D for destroyer, etc.) our pieces will be virtually identical to the Conquest pieces.

    What do you think about this? I don't much care for the letter-block idea. Are you comfortable with the idea of borrowing designs almost pixel by pixel from Conquest? Do you have any alternative ideas?

  3. One of my design ideas is to place essentially black Conquest-style piece designs against a beveled color square. We need at least two player colors (with the possibility of additional colors if we ever produce a 3 or 4 player option). My first instinct is to use red and yellow (the red menace and the yellow peril) on the theory that these two colors will provide the best contrast against the greens and blues of the map itself. What do you think?
Yours in haste,

Epicurious J.

P.S. Created my first Newtonbook voice card yesterday. Very promising!