The Chess Variant Pages

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Charles Gilman wrote on 2011-11-26 UTC
This is quite a hard page to follow. It took me three readings to understand it fully, although it didn't help that I was exceptionally busy with submissions of my own. At first reading I thought that the same names were being used for different pieces in different games. The rebranding of pieces even when their 'powers are identical to' the standard pieces is a major obfuscation, particular reversing the sexes of the royal couple for no apparent reason - at least, none that I could spot anywhere on the page. Then there are the huge gaps under the array diagrams, making for a lot of extra scrolling between the different games. What are these gaps for? It might be that the actual rules of these games are easy to understand if presented well, but they are not presented well on this page.

Glenn Nicholls wrote on 2011-11-26 UTC
Charles Gilman
  I think we have had some discussion before on presentation and I recall saying then that this is a matter of personal style and preference; nevertheless there is always room for improvement and here are the reasons to answer your points. 
  The page that these CVs derive from is a Word Document which has formatted and coloured headings etc. which obviously make reading the page easier, but all this seems to be lost when loading onto the Chess Variant Pages;  if there is a way to keep the colouring and formatting etc. I would appreciate knowing how. 
  In all my variants the names I use are never duplicated for different pieces and are always chosen to suit the particular game they appear in.  
  The reason for the changing of roles for the Royal Couple is as I pointed out years ago in TigerChess i.e. the idea of a medieval King sheltering in a castle whilst his Queen goes into battle is not sensible and also the standard names of some pieces such as Rook and Pawn I simply find out of keeping with the idea of Chess and so I never use such names. 
  The gaps between the diagrams have come about because each diagram uses one page on my Word Document and the text then continues overpage.  I would be quite happy to reduce the gaps but the original images have them so as to expand to fit on one page of my Word document.

Frank wrote on 2011-11-26 UTC
How ironic is it that Gilman found someone else's page hard to read?!

Charles Gilman wrote on 2011-11-28 UTC
Thanks for the explanation. Taking your points in turn:
	Yes, I had forgotten that the game with who wears what clothes and waves what flag was one of yours. This page isn't quite that bad, which is perhaps why I didn't realise that it was by the same author. In that respect at least, your style has improved.
	Regarding layout, the best advice that I can give is the advice given to me after my first few variants appeared, which was to get to know how to write HTML pages and do all the pages that way. It was certainly not my natural way of writing out a variant page originally, but I have grown used to it now. Normally I write my pages out using Notepad, but I can still open them in Internet Explorer offline before finally posting them, although graphics appear as empty frames save for a red X in the corner. With the modern 'post-your-own' pages, if I spot anything wrong when I do actually post I can always edit it, correcting both the posted page and the master document in parallel.
	I realised by the time I posted my first comment that you hadn't used the same name for different pieces in different games. I was just explaining that I had thought so on first reading to illustrate the confusion that I felt. On the other hand you say that you do vary names to suit a particular game. This does, I'm afraid, add to the learning curve. Should they play your variants, the general membership would most likely refer to pieces moving as King, Queen, Rook, et cetera by those names. Computer implementations would most likely use the familiar images.
	Now that you mention it I do recall someone saying something similar to what you said, but not whether it was you. I recall someone from the Middle East saying that to reflect that side of chivalry the consort shouldn't really be in the game at all - and that in war itself it was still the king himself whose death was the real decider. It would be useful to have either a restatement of your reason in the text, or a link to the page originally stating it. Again, to most players it would be intuitive that the King and Queen mean what they usually mean.
	The gaps would not arise in HTML, as you could paste just the content into images. There are a few tricks for saving space if you're worried about that. If you're set on putting the full piece type and allegience into the starting squares you could have an image for each camp, and then a separate image of height 4 and width 8 (in the 8x8 cases) with pixels of alternate colours for midboard.

'How ironic is it that Gilman found someone else's page hard to read?!' Not at all ironic. Over the years I have taken notice when shortcomings in my pages have been pointed out, both correcting them in the relevant page and keeping the advice in mind for future ones. Here are a few examples of how I have brought clarity to my pages:
1	When I follow a principle over several pages I am careful to include links between them.
2	When two of my variants have a piece with the same move it has the same name.
3	When two of my variants in the same geometry have a piece with the same name it has the same move.
4	When two of my variants in different geometries have a piece with the same name the pieces have the same length move and may be even more similar.
	If anything I feel undercriticised right now, at least as regards constructive criticism. All the errors that I have fixed on my Man and Beast indexes are ones that I spotted myself. I would far rather readers cite some apparent error or inconsistenciy with such qualification as 'Are you sure this link is correct?' or 'Is the word Talipoot or Talipot?' (it is the latter) or 'Have you been lax in your cutting and pasting again?' than just think to themselves that the page isn't up to standard and disregard it forever. Even 'a better name for this would be...' is welcome unless it is an entirely facetious suggestion.

Glenn Nicholls wrote on 2011-11-30 UTC
Charles Gillman

Referring back to your original comment that you fully understood the page after three readings, this seems entirely reasonable to me, how long did this take? About an hour or so I would guess and again this seems entirely reasonable: it is not unknown for a player to take this long making a single move in a game.

I have had another look at the page and the presentation again seems entirely reasonable bearing in mind that I am not by profession a computer expert.  The gaps after the diagrams take a second to scroll through, if that, and the whole page can be scrolled through in twenty seconds. I have tried to reduce the gaps even so but this unaccountably leaves a red line beneath the diagrams and so I am going to leave them as they are.

I am puzzled as to what the problem could be that has this second response of yours which also answers another person (Frank) and which veers about from mostly one irrelevance to another, but then (and you seem to be inviting criticism) the same could be said about much of the Man and Beast series.

Ben Reiniger wrote on 2011-11-30 UTC
The main distraction for me as far as layout is the bulleting.  Using html bulleting would be considerably more readable.  Also the headers would be a bit nicer in the cv standard format, and I agree that the long spaces after diagrams is irksome; I don't know why a red line would come about when deleting that space...

I haven't really read through the entire thing, but I find the snippets I have read to be fine text-wise.  (I understand renaming standard pieces for thematic/historical purposes; however, I too find it harder to read the result.)

Charles Gilman wrote on 2011-12-01 UTC
The second part of my comment was to illustrate how my pages avoid the obfuscations that I was criticising, and so it is not 'ironic' that I am doing so. The crucial word in my inviting criticism is constructive - suggestions for where I can correct errors and improve presentation.

Glenn Nicholls wrote on 2011-12-01 UTC
Charles Gillman

The 'Ironic' comment was, as I have already pointed out, made by another person called 'Frank'.

Charles Gilman wrote on 2011-12-03 UTC
'Charles Gillman'
I still don't see what I have done to deserve this. What name (personal, not piece) did I misspell?

'The 'Ironic' comment was, as I have already pointed out, made by another person called 'Frank'.'
I never said that it wasn't. People commenting on a game have a right to reply to each other as well as to the person inventing/posting the game.

Glenn Nicholls wrote on 2011-12-03 UTC
Charles Gilman

I have now noted the correct spelling of your name.  Thanks for pointing this out.

By way of constructive criticism I would suggest you answer comments by separate people separately yourself, this ensures there is no confusion or obfuscation.

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