Recommended items necessary to design modules for Vassal ?

I was wondering what would be the necessary and/or required items to have/know to be able to design modules for Vassal ?

I know there is a tutorial and all, but I suspect that if one has better knowledge/skills of some items, that he/she would be able to design some better built modules.

For the sake of some technology challenged people, when replying, assume nothing so more people might benefit from the information as well. If there are some very useful books, do list the author and/or publisher as well.


I don’t think that it is necessary to use specific tools or items for building a module.

I discovered Vassal a few weeks ago and started my own module the second day !

It’s for Warhammer Fantasy Battles. Sure it helped to see how the module for Warhammer 40k, a similar game, worked.

So, I would first make the guess that you load modules similar to your desired game. When it is a card game, try to load some existing card game modules in the Vassal modul editor and try to understand how some game basic work, for example drawing cards oder playing them from hand.

Then use the editor help, it’s by far more helpful than the short tutorials here.
Knowing what a trait exactly can do für you is very helpful.

Third: For making the game graphics it’s handy to have a good image editing software like some older photoshop version for example.

And then try and error, try and error, try and error.

This way you can make a module more or less without former existing knowledge of Vassal.

I would say Photoshop skills will give you the biggest single advantage in designing modules. Knowing how to crop, re-size, use layers, automation etc. is huge. At least 90% of my time designing modules has been spent entirely in Photoshop.

Second, Visual Basic scripts. Windows has it, it’s simple, does the kinda stuff Perl does but there’s no need to install anything. Use it to write scripts to automatically import, name and sort counters; You should be spending the least amount of time as possible using the module editor itself.

Oh and one more thing, get a cheap flatbed scanner; They’re gold!

Or the Gimp if you don’t want to spend any money.

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On 14/01/2008 at 10:34 PM bsmith wrote:

Brent Easton
University of Western Sydney

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The problem with putting time and effort into learning Gimp is if you go to a potential employer and tell him/her you’re a Gimp expert, they’re just gonna look at you as if to say “what the hack is that?”; Now if you mention Photoshop, that’s instant recognition!

Thus spake “bsmith”:

If you don’t already have a bitmap editor that you prefer, I’d recommend
the GIMP. It’s free, open-source, and works quite well.


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On Jan 14, 2008, at 10:34 PM, bsmith wrote:

On the Mac side, you have pretty much the same options for Photoshop
and Gimp. Unix shell scripting using the Terminal application
provides one method of automation for tasks, especially when combined
with the free ImageMagick tools.

I’ve used that technique to provide support for electronically cutting
out counters from the artwork files for a game. It involves a bit of
work figuring out the counter alignment, but then it can process the
counters automatically. This proved quite useful for supporting the
production of Vassal (and Cyberbox) modules during the development
phase when counters were changing with some regularity.

One way to save some money on the PhotoShop side is to go with the
more limited PhotoShop Elements package, which IIRC runs around $100.
It has more than enough features for doing the maps.

Now, if you want to hand draw maps, I think Illustrator is a better
choice, but it is a bit pricey. There is Inkscape <


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Being quite fluent in Gimp (I couldn’t afford Photoshop), I can easily say that I work in another graphics program, but I can migrate to Photoshop in a couple of days (I’ve used Photoshop, basically the same thing, a bit more powerful, and stuff is in a different place).

In that case, you should just migrate to GIMPshop now and spare yourself the learning curve later on.

but there is a problem of still not being able to afford shop :wink:

Thus spake “Briggs”:

The GIMP will eventually be better than Photoshop, if it’s not already.
Then you’ll be glad you learned the GIMP instead.


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What I meant was, since GIMPshop is GIMP with a Photoshop-esque interface (so I understand, I’ve never actually used it), then you could learn to use Photoshop (more or less, at least for the purposes of your resume) without having to pay for it. A prospective employer is more likely to look favorably on an applicant who claims to be able to use Photoshop than one who insists s/he can learn to use Photoshop. This is based on the worldview that all prospective employers are PHBs who don’t realize that there are alternatives to MS Office and Adobe Photoshop.

On Jan 15, 2008, at 11:41 AM, meng wrote:

Not to mention the growing prevalence of automated resume screening
procedures that simply look for keyword matches. And other low-level
filtering by human resources minions, before you even get to talk to
the PHB.

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Me i use PhotoFiltre Studio … it’s approx 35 usd but it’s very simple tool to learn and very powerful … you can save your work into file that contains all layers and then you can change as you want and finaly save into png or gif or …

I have started with PhotoFiltre (Free Version) one year ago …

Now i could do things like this (module in Progress)

Figures & Maps : … ost&id=528

Battlefields & Fate : … ost&id=525 … ost&id=584

Assembly Phase : … ost&id=405

Expeditions Phase : … ost&id=406

Art Design is 80 % of the time passed … :open_mouth:

Whaouuuhh beautiful job Soft Bug…

Since we’re posting some work here :wink:
In gimp, I’ve done these, and much, much more :wink:

the last thing was made entirely in gimp, nothing came from an outside source…

So you certainly don’t need Photoshop to have nice stuff :unamused:
And really good job, softbug!

No-one is doubting you can use Gimp to produce stuff as good as PS.
But why work for an organization which thinks Gimp and Linux are great pieces of software? That would mean they know their shit, which would mean you have less chance of getting away with using Vassal all day. :open_mouth:

Crappy but popular software like Visual Basic, MS Office and Photoshop are great to “master”, you can work in a hair salon for 2 hours and get paid for a 40 hour week! :laughing:

Well …

I think it’s out of subject to compare which is better than …

The thread was here to discover a kind of useful toolbox for designing a Vassal Module. It’s up to the module designer to choose the right tool for himself …

I’m very interested about Scripts like tools … a sample will be welcome to show in which case it could be used …

On Jan 16, 2008, at 5:03 AM, soft-bug wrote:

Well, you weren’t very specific, but I’ve had good results using the
ImageMagick tools and shell scripts.
This works quite well on Unix systems, which includes Mac OS X –
which is where I’ve done it.

An example would be the following CSH script for extracting individual
counter images from artwork for the counter sheet. The tricky part is
getting the dimensions and offsets correct so you get reasonable
results, but the process is a bit involved.

#! /bin/csh # # Counter Extraction Code for Top Front BB counters. # # extractTF file dir [prefix] #

Input parameters

echo “Beginning”

set src = $argv[1]
set dir = $argv[2]
set prefix = $argv[1]
if ($#argv > 2) set prefix = $argv[3]

echo “Initializing”

General Configuration

set rowsize = 9
set colsize = 10
set imagewidth = 990
set imageheight = 765
set tempfile = temp$$.gif

set xsize = 4900
set ysize = 4900

These values are x100 to allow more resolution when

using integer arithmetic.

set border = 166
set xstart = 2200
set ystart = 3200
set hgap = 3300
set vgap = 1150

Other items

set PAGE = +repage
@ xtemp = $xsize / 100
@ ytemp = $ysize / 100
set SIZE = ${xtemp}x${ytemp}
if (convert -version =~ 5.5) set PAGE = (-page +0+0)

if (! -d $dir) mkdir $dir

iterate over counters

echo “Resizing to ${imagewidth}x${imageheight}”

convert -resize ${imagewidth}x${imageheight} $src $tempfile

echo “Looping”

@ x0 = $xstart + $border
set col = 1
while ($col <= 2)
echo “Doing Column $col x100 = $x0”
@ y100 = $ystart + $border
set row = 1
while ($row <= $colsize)
@ x100 = $x0
@ y1 = $y100 / 100
@ y2 = ($y100 + $ysize + $border) / 100
echo “Doing row $row y1 = $y1”
set i = 1
@ row2 = $row + 1
while ($i <= $rowsize)
@ x = $x100 / 100
echo " Doing counter $i at $x x $y1"
convert $tempfile -crop ${SIZE}+${x}+${y1} $PAGE $dir/${prefix}-
convert $tempfile -crop ${SIZE}+${x}+${y2} $PAGE $dir/${prefix}-
@ x100 = $x100 + $border + $xsize
@ i = $i + 1
@ y100 = $y100 + $ysize + $ysize + $border + $border + $vgap
@ row = $row + 2
@ x0 = $x0 + ($rowsize * $xsize) + ($rowsize * $border ) + $hgap
@ col = $col + 1

rm $tempfile

echo “Done”

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