stacking order and rotation

I have two different modules I am partway thru designed and both have a similar problem with stacking and rotation.

In one module which I started a long time ago I have stacking disabled. The can rotate trait for these pieces is set almost to the bottom of the list - I think maybe movement trails and perhaps one other trait are below it and that is all. However you can still drop a piece on top of another piece out of the palette onto the map. You can however only select the top piece and it will not exapnd out like stacked pieces do. All fine and well.

But… When I select and rotate the piece CW it seems to work fine. But if I select and rotate the (top) piece CCW it ducks underneath the other piece. This is repeatable every time.

In my newer module I have stacking enabled, and the stacking works very well with the offset adjusted and when you expand the stack it does everything like I want. And similarly the can rotate trait is almost at the bottom of the (nested expanded) list.

On this one any time you rotate a whole stack (oddly, rotating single units in a stack works just fine - have not tried multiple units that are not a whole stack yet) in either direction it reverses the stacking order of the pieces in the stack. And if you keep rotating it keeps flipping them back and forth. If there are three pieces in the stack they cycle thru all of them across 3 facing changes.

Any idea what could be causing this behaviour and how to repair it?
Help much appreciated.


Is there somewhere I can download these modules?


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The older one is at…
The newer one is at…

and I wonder…
in the newer module at least, not sure about the older I do not remember, I have the rotate command changed to use the left and right arrows.

it occurs to me that perhaps there is an undocumented (?) link to those keys that serves as a command to change the stacking order of the selected piece(s)?

i am going to try changing the rotate command keys and see if that fixes the problem. if so, aside from being exstatic about correcting the problem, it might be good to have the command key for stacking (or similar items) avialable in the trait for the module designer to set or least see and be aware of.

{edit - yes that is it exactly :smiley: - guess I just needed some coffee to juggle that random thought into my head}

Yes, the arrow keys have always changed the stacking order of pieces in a Stack:

Up = top
down = bottom
left = down
right = up

This is definitely documented somewhere…

What we really need is a complete update of the introductory documentation. But of course, this would take a huge investment of time and no-one wants to do it. It’s not something I even feel competent to do. Joel and I discussed this at some length - a real proper manual that covers all of the concepts and ideas, both for the Player and the Editor.

Joel is looking at MediaWiki as a source for building the manual (for ease of distributed input). MediaWiki has tools that allow it to generate HTML or PDF output that could then be distributed directly with Vassal.

The current Quick-start page is threadbare. The current Editor reference manual describes what you see, but doesn’t actually give you a decent overview, explain the key concepts, or give detailed insights.

We REALLY need some help with this, it looks to me to be THE major stumbling block towards wider acceptance.


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I write software for a living, I do not expect people who volunteer their time to spend a lot of energy writing manuals. Plenty of products you pay money for that do not have this kind of support. Not that it would not be nice if someone decided they wanted to do it, but it is a lot to ask of anyone.

But I do think a simple list compiled in one place of all the keyboard commands used by default in the modules, since we are stuck to using a key for every command, would be a big help right up front in the module design process within the wiki structure we already have in place.

It would require someone familiar enough with Vassal to know all of them (which obviously lets me off the hook), but it would not require committing to writing an entire manual or anything. Then there is the matter of how to get it into the help wiki structure so that module designers can see it.

And if its already done, it must be well hidden away somewhere because I have never come across it and I actually do use the help screens an awful lot. (if it is in the player documentation as opposed to the module designer docs that may explain why I am not familiar with it - I swear I have played a dozen or so games on Vassal now and never had any idea you could change stacking order with a key stroke and there are a few games I really wish I had known that!)

But anyhow thanks Brent.

Let me also just say, since I am thinking of it, that rather than an exhaustive enumeration of all the finer points of Vassal, one thing which may be more helpful is a collection of examples where you could look up and find which example you could see for how to do a certain thing.

Right now Vassal is very open and you can look at any module out there for exemplars, but the problem is that you have no clue which one to look at that does what it is you are trying to do… make any sense at all?

It is one of my pet peeves that everyone is happy for the programmers spend countless hours working on Vassal, yet almost no-one is prepared to step up and put in real hours helping with the non/less-technical side of the project.

There are very few key sequences that are common to all modules, the Arrow keys being just about the only ones. They should be mentioned in the Quick-start which is created for every manal and available in the help menu.

A set of ‘best practices’ for modules is something that has been touched on in the past. But this usually falls apart at step 1 when person A says 'Every counter should have a ‘^X Delete key’ and person B says, 'No, I never have that, I always use a Graveyard map and ‘G Graveyard’.

Brent Easton
University of Western Sydney

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I started this in the Wiki in the ‘FAQ’ and then later in the 'How-to’s section (See the Documentation link on the main page). But I feel like I’m talking to myself. I have personally written over 75% of the content of the Wiki, waiting for other module designers to jump on board and keep things moving, but it just hasn’t happened. It me takes a lot of time to create content on the wiki and I find I have I am far more productive writing code.

I do 100% agree with you and started the ‘How-to’ section specifically to address this need.

I still think we need a better, more comprehensive manual and I intend to start fleshing one out once Joel gets the MediaWiki up and running.

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Perhaps rather than being “common to all modules” it is the “used by default in the module” that is the issue. Module designers do not need to know about the key commands they put in themselves, well actually they do but it is their own responsibility to track that, but… there are several key commands that are included in a module if you just start the editor and save it without doing anything. Or defaults that come up in the editor when you add certain traits etc, even if not everyone used them it would be nice to know what they are.

more than just arrow keys, there is just for some examples…

PAGE_DOWN is the step forward key
ALT S is the server controls
CTRL SPACE is the mouse over stack viewer

those are just based on a quick scan of the empty module that comes up when you select “new module”. the arrow keys are nowhere to seen so it is logical to assume that there are many more keys that are used but not exposed to the whimsy of the module designer? and more that come up by default when you actually create a trait or object (ie the default delete key, even if everyone does not use it, would be nice to have mentioned in such a list).

this just seems really critical as long as all commands are key based, you simply have to know if the system is doing something with the same command behind your back, or you are screwed.

but… anyhow, I am sorry to go off down this road… I appreciate the help with original question, even though I stumbled onto the answer anyhow through whatever amount of caffeine was required that morning.

A new feature I have been working on is ‘Virtual Hotkeys’. Anywhere you currently type in a Control Key, you will instead be able to type in a string like ‘BlueSeen’ or ‘cleanup’. This will be translated internally into a control key that will not clash with any other control keys.


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