Modules & Contributors, a discussion...

I would like to open a discussion on the current system for module authorship on the website.

As it stands now, modules exist in a sort of “first dibs” reality where the first person to create a module for a given game becomes the gatekeeper for all future contributions, having as he does the power to approve (or decline/ignore) requests by others to join the contributor list.

I believe this runs contrary to the spirit of community participation that Open Source in general, and VASSAL in particular, is based around.

Please note that modules designed in-house by publishers (such as GMT, MMP, etc.) are wholly & reasonably excluded from this discussion.

I cannot think of a good reason why becoming a contributor, and thereby able to upload module revisions to the main site, has any sort of limitation.

Surely anyone who would take the time to bother improving an existing module can be relied upon not to upload a broken one?

Multiple revisions of modules existing on the same module page would not be a problem provided a brief comment is included as to what changes have been made in each revision.

I am not making the claim that some primary contributors are malicious or selfish in their desire to control their modules. What is a real problem though is contributors throwing up a new module and then - be it through time, circumstance, or what have you - becoming unreachable and thereby indirectly locking the module from further improvements.

I think being a contributor should be voluntary without restriction, without need for approval from someone simply because they came before. If I find a small error/omission in a module or see something I can improve with a 5 minute fix I don’t want to have to email the contributor and ask to be added and then wait days/weeks/etc. for him to check his email and do it.




Mister Judge Dredd … same advice till now, i vote for you as the “Keeper” of the Keys … :stuck_out_tongue:

The list must be managed …

A couple of thoughts. Some people asked for specific permission from the game authors for creating the VASSAL module , not sure how would this extend to other people working on the same module.

Now to the thoughts. I wouldn’t rely so much that anyone , just because the are willing to work on a module would not break the module. Sometime people are well meant, but don’t really know what they are doing. It has happened to all of us.

On the multiple revisions, that would be the way to overcome the previous point. If the latest one was broken, then it was a case of reverting to the previous one.

As a side issue, I’ve been searching for the Sniper module, oddly enough, not even the contributor has the files anymore. So there is a module in the list , that not only is not obtainable (please prove me wrong, it would be much appreciated), but effectively does not exist because the file was deleted by everyone that had it. This could be overcome if downloading of an uploaded module was only possible to a certain group of registered users, that way it would not depend on a single individual to distribute the files, and this would allow for the creation of play-tester groups. Just another idea.

  1. Softbug, I had totally forgotten about that. Thanks for the laugh!

  2. jmlima, if someone asks an author for permission to release a VASSAL module for their game, I believe that author is granting permission for their game to be played over VASSAL, not for that particular person to create a module. The difference is important.

Another point, which I thought of later, is this:

If Person A decides to create a module for Game X, which at the time is not represented, and does so, that person effectively owns access to that game’s VASSAL library.

If Person B comes along later and wants to create a module for Game X, perhaps taking a difference approach structurally, procedurally, artistically, or whatever (module design’s flexibility makes this entirely possible) he cannot post it without Person A’s permission.

Even though Person B’s module is scratch-built, Person A controls whether or not it is posted to the VASSAL website.

I don’t think this is a reasonable system.

No, not at all. Person B is completely free to create a new entry and post the module as ‘Game X (Improved version)’, over which person B will have complete control. It will be up to users to decide which they prefer to use. If person B provides better support, users will naturally move away from the original version to the ‘improved’ version.

It’s not a perfect solution, but it is better than your solution which would have persons A & B fighting over postings to the Game X directory and deleting each others files. The best solution, of course, is for A & B to work together. Open Source does not mean letting anyone do anything at all to the product. Many Open Source projects have controlled updating of the source. Open Source means that person B is free and able to take the initial version of the module and improve it.


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I quite agree with Brent on this. I think that anyone who wants to should be able to post their design of a game module even if there already is one posted. The only exception is that if someone wants to alter or update a current module then they of course should do so only with the permission of the original author.

As an example, I have a PanzerBlitz module that I designed which I prefer over the one currently posted on the Vassal module list. It doesn’t have all the “bells and whistles” that the posted module has but the graphics are, in my opinion, much superior. I use it exclusively to play by email with another wargame friend of mine. I never uploaded it because I didn’t feel it was necessary and also because the currently posted module is better suited for online play. However, I think that if I wanted to I should be free to upload it because it is my own design and uses unigue graphics.

I have also “upgraded” and revised graphics for several other existing posted modules for my own personal use. I would never think of uploading or sharing these because they are not my original work even though some of the changes are my own. If I felt these changes were warrented enough then I would contact the original author and ask his advice.

I have also noticed that some have posted “announcements” of a module in progress on the module list. I don’t think it is appropriate or fair for someone to “lay claim” to a module just because they have stated their intention to make such module and “legalize” their claim by posting an unfinished module on the Vassal module list. Some of these “claims” have been there for months if not years. If someone else can design a module and post it before these so called “claims” are posted then by all means do so. People should not be able to claim “dibs” on a game module just because they were the first to post intention to make such module. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be able to make such announcements, but they shouldn’t be able to claim exclusive rights over future game modules.

In conclusion, if someone has an “original” module design, using unique graphics and editing, then by all means offer it for posting. If however someone just alters an original existing module then it should be submitted only with the permission of the original author.

I feel the above is the only way to allow diversity and at the same time keep civility in the Vassal community.

Thus spake “Brigz”:

This issue is one which Brent and I were discussing (in person) two weeks
ago. I’ve long thought that the way which we present module information
hinders people who want to contribute. Once we’ve released 3.1.0, I’m
planning to spend a few weeks developing some better infrastructure for
handling modules.


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I think this approach is unwieldy, and would clutter the module listings, but I’m willing to hear how you would apply it to this scenario:

Player A creates Module 1
I come along and see Module 1, and then overhaul it.

-rescan & align all maps at a much higher quality
-completely redraw all counters, implementing prototypes along the way
-rescan all tables & charts
-add the option of playing with the maps oriented vertically or horizontally
-add map zoom
-add show/hide all pieces
-add a turn tracker

In fact, the only original part of the module remaining are the players’ hands & cards, the original implementation of which need not be improved.

I should add that I have emailed the sole person listed on the contributor’s page and am awaiting a reply.

Should this still be posted as Game X (alternate)? Because I don’t think I should have to do that. I think adding it to the listed files for that game’s page with appropriate notes in the wiki is all that should be necessary. Otherwise, what’s the point of each game having a wiki page at all?



In the short term, there is a workaround for the problems you have noted. Also, If a main contributor dissappears, you can always ask Rodney to make you the contributor. This has happened a number of times in the past.

In the longer term, Joel has already stated that he intends to revamp the module handling, and I’m sure will be interested in your ideas.


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HI Men,

I don’t know if anyone noticed but there is already an example of more than one mod design it’s Great Battles of Alexander by GMT.We have four different mods.

Later, 8)

Technically true, and I tend to agree. But there are potential pitfalls.

I asked for, and got, permission to do a Federation & Empire from Steve Cole (ADB). I’m sure if someone else asked (and reminded him how Vassal works again), they could get permission too. But, there are some strings attached. Notably, among other (generally obvious) things, that the module cannot be made available on an independent server for public download. A new person working on it off the basis that I did one may not be aware of all this and have a very grumpy SVC descend on him.

In better news, it looks like I can host it through their forum, and they have a new web-person in place who can do that. I just need to wrap up my current working copy and send it off to them. :slight_smile:

As a somewhat infrequent contributor (1776, Tactics II, Ricthofen’s War) I feel that anyone who has a module for a game, regardless as to if it is a game already posted, should be able to post. I also have a pet-peeve about modders who say they’re going to do a game or are working on one and yet leave their ‘bookmark’ on the site without EVER posting a mod. That’s just a rude tease. I purposely don’t even announce a mod until I have something to post. I may be bare-bones but at least it’s there.
If you post a mod for a game and don’t intend to update it then others should be able to post there own updates, perhaps not on your modpage but certainly on one of their own.

I believe we discussed this topic extensively about 6 months ago.

Two things came out of it

  1. If you cannot come to an accomodation with the current ‘owner’ of the module page in question, there is nothing to stop you from creating a new module page and posting your version of the odule there.

  2. The Vassal website and module library will shortly be moved to a new server and will be substantially restructured, with a different module submission system.

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I have noticed a thread about this new site and server restructured …

But can you give us a little information about it ?

  • Does actual links will be kept ? because if a page refers to a dedicated vassal module page … does the new restructuration will kill the link ?

  • When do you have planned to do it ?

Thank you



The new site is Joel’s project, I’ll leave it to him to reply.


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Thus spake “soft-bug”:

Every old URL which has a direct correspondence on the new site will be
redirected to the correct URL on the new site. Things like modules will
have new URLs, but I intend to make sure that the old URLs continue to

My guess is that it’s at least one week away, but less than four weeks
away. I’m going to start converting data from the old site to the new
site this evening; I’ll have a better idea of when we’ll switch after
I see how difficult converting the data is.


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