Comparison with Zillions of Games

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If you are familiar with Zillions of Games, you will notice many similarities with Jocly. Both are frameworks for playing and developing a large number of board games and provide a generic artificial intelligence to play against.

There are however a number of differences that must be noticed.

Playing

Platform

While ZoG is only available on Windows desktops, Jocly is web based and can run on any desktop platform (Windows, Mac, Linux, ...) and mobile (smartphones, tablets).

User Interface

When it comes to providing a graphic interface for players to manipulate the board and pieces, Jocly goes much further than ZoG. Jocly offers both a 3D interface (for browsers that implements the WebGL standards, i.e. Firefox and Chrome) and a fallback 2D mode (for Internet Explorer and many mobile devices), where ZoG only has support for bitmaps.

Artificial Intelligence

There is still room for Jocly to improve its AI, but since it is implemented in Javascript, a high level interpreted language, it cannot compete with ZoG which is compiled to native processor binary code. The good news is that processors and Javascript engines improves over the time, leading to better performances.

Another difference is that where ZoG hold its own heuristics, the developer must provide them manually to Jocly.

A heuristic is what the artificial intelligence tries to optimize when choosing the next move to play. On many games, the sum of own piece values minus the sum of opponent piece values is an obvious heuristic to setup.

Remote playing

ZoG only offers remote play on LAN and modem connections which is a bit outdated in regards to nowadays technologies. Jocly has immediate Web live play mode (using standard web technologies) as well as per-turn mode, with persistent game where players receive mails with a web link from where they can see the current state of the board and input their move.

It might be interesting to note that when playing live games on Jocly, it is possible to see both players webcams inside the 3D board scene, all of this using standard Web technologies with no plugin required (WebRTC).

Support/Maintenance

ZoG has not released a new version for over a decade while Jocly is being actively developed.

Pricing

Although ZoG has a free demo version with 48 included games, access to the full unlocked version requires purchasing a run-time application. Using Jocly is free.

Games availability

Since ZoG has been around since 1998, it has a much larger range of supported games than Jocly for now.

Developing

Programming language

In ZoG, games are described in a lisp-based language called ZRF. This gives a nice formal framework to the game rules, but introduces a number of limitations when ZRF has no predefined instruction for a given feature. The Jocly approach is quite different since games are developed in Javascript and use APIs to define the rules and user interface. The good with Jocly is that developers can do almost anything they want, the bad is that they must write more code.

In theory, it would be possible to write a ZRF interpretor in Javascript for Jocly to run any ZoG game. If you are willing to develop that kind of tool, let us know.

Game distribution

Distributing a newly developed game with ZoG requires that the user downloads the ZRF file, purchases and downloads the ZoG runtime. On Jocly, you just put your game in your web site for people to start playing.