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Thread: Game development similar to TAO on top of lichess

  1. #1

    Default Game development similar to TAO on top of lichess is an open source, massively multiplayer (900,000 games per day) chess site with user login, leaderboards, game replays, chat system, casual and realtime rooms, matchmaking, etc. It also supports many chess variants, and since it is open source, we can write our own TAO variant, and modify everything. While a TAO variant won't likely be hosted on itself as it will require higher than normal modification, everything needed to make a clone is available from github.

    lichess looks like a 2D game, but with a few mouse clicks, you can change the renderer to be '3D', which closely approaches an isometric game. It would not be very difficult to create a truly isometric renderer option, most of the time involved would be in creating the artwork in the first place.

    My idea is to clone, and create a new variant (and remove the existing variant/chess option). The new variant would have a larger 11x11 'chess board', with 3 squares on each corner that is unusable, creating the same arena as TAO has.

    The main things that will have to be added to the existing lichess system are unit animations, the ability to attack at range not just 'move' like in chess, unit stats like hp, armor, wait turn logic, direction to face, and other properties (enraged, paralyzed, etc). However, implementing all of this on top of lichess should be a lot easier than trying to create a multiplayer system with leaderboard, matchmaking, chat, and the game logic from scratch. A great reason to do it this way is the sophisticated AI and leaderboard (stat tracking) capability built into lichess. That said, a good or even mediocre AI is not on my to-do list at all, that would come after multiplayer is functional if at all.

    I have three main things I want to change from the old TAO. I want all free users to have all units - grey and gold, and I want all matches to be fought with identical (mirrored) sets, which will be generated semi-randomly to create a more human problem solving experience. Finally, luck will be completely removed by instead having armor reduce damage 100% of the time, but not completely eliminate it. Armor on the front will reduce damage by 50%, armor on the sides will reduce damage by 25%, hits on the back will take full damage, or something along those lines. This will create a fair, truly competitive turn based strategy game, much like chess, but with better visuals and a deeper ability to strategize (because positioning, facing direction, paralyzing/stoning, etc) creates a richer strategy experience. Chess, while no doubt hard to master, is very simple and abstract.

    Each user would have their own "MMR" or rating or skill level, and would try to be matched with similar skill level players. While the sets would be identically mirrored for each player, similar to the starting default set of TAO, units would be semi-randomized, sometimes playing with a lot of gold units, sometimes none, sometimes two of a unit, etc. Both players would get the same units each match, and there would be a special rule preventing the first move by black (the second player) copying whites move exactly - to prevent copy cat games.

    I also have ideas for fancier elements to add on top of what tao had, such as the ability to kick one of your own units a few squares forward (this ability limited to one special unit, a new one that tao didn't have of course), and damage an enemy if it comes into contact before the normal kick distance is through (it will also stop before that enemy), and other elements along these lines which allow more possibilities than the standard walk and attack TAO dynamic. Another example, would be a unit that can be upgraded/evolved into a stronger version of itself, after a number of incubation turns (if it lives and is not frozen/paralyzed or defocused in that time, etc). This would punish overly defensive players for example, for being too defensive and allowing such things to go on unchallenged, while the attacker can break incubation focus.

    Let me know what you think or if you would like to help out by contributing graphic design, sound effects, or coding. I'll be creating the 2D vector graphics as that is easy, but the isometric graphics will be difficult. I'm currently thinking of using this video tutorial, which allows you to take 3D character models and their animations from Dota 2, import into blender, and then modify them (creating entirely new characters, so as not to infringe on copyright, but obviously having the advantage of not having to start entirely from scratch).

    Last edited by luw1990; 11-05-2017 at 03:49 PM.

  2. #2


    Interesting idea. You'll likely get a super scalable game server that way. Though I'm not sure how difficult the modifications are going to be from lichess.

    - Not a huge fan of the mirrored sets idea - One of my favorite parts is making my own sets.
    - Am a fan of the removal of of RNG blocking to replace it with flat blocking
    - Am a fan of creating new units to make the game more interesting

    Best of luck!

  3. #3


    I have been thinking of tweaking the mirrored sets as well, the current idea is to make a bunch of carefully constructed sets, such as turtles, rushes, ordinary sets, etc. and have players vote on which one they want right before a match starts, and whoever randomly loses the coin toss and has to fight with the set their opponent picked gets to move first, but both sets in a match have to be identical in my mind for the game to be truly fair and competitive. Both players could also choose the same set if they were friends and wanted to test one, etc.

    One possible way to make the game even more fun and still be considered fair would be to allow each player to build their set at the beginning of the match, one piece at a time. You could save template sets to choose from if you didn't care to alter the set each time, but at least you would have the option to adapt to wherever your opponent placed their pieces.
    Last edited by luw1990; 11-11-2017 at 09:56 PM.

  4. #4
    Cyber Police Chief CPC's Avatar
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    Feb 2008


    Interesting...have you done any work on this?

  5. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by CPC View Post
    Interesting...have you done any work on this?
    Just found myself reading through this thread, and even though I'm a few months late, I would also like to know if any progress has been made?

  6. #6


    I'm actively working on this, although a bit has changed with time (naturally).
    I have 90% of the front end done, and 25% of the back end done.
    The game will be playable in the browser and on mobile, and it will be in 3D, though I doubt I will let the camera be user-controllable, it will probably remain fixed at an isometric view.

    Below is a screenshot of the 90% complete front end. Movement, combat, death animations are all done. (Mage & Cleric not shown here) The main front end parts that are incomplete are particle effects like fireballs or arrows for the archer/mage attacks, and the 2D UI (buttons and menus) which shouldn't take too long.

    The back end will be fully server authoritative (no cheating) and network multiplayer. At this point I'm not going to implement any kind of single player, but eventually I will make a hot-seat multiplayer so you can play your friend at the same computer or play yourself to practice and learn.

    In terms of board size, it will be exactly like TAO (the extra space outside the rock path is just for choosing a direction to orient, units won't be able to move there). This mockup also doesn't have a grid graphic separating the clickable tiles which will be added, and many other things that will probably change, this screenshot is just a very early look.

    Units will be more limited at first for this game than TAO: Knight, Spearman, Archer, Mage, Cleric. I'll just add more units with new mechanics over time once the initial beta is out.

    Unlike TAO, I'll probably add more than one attack to each unit (probably 1-3), with an ultimate for each unit that can only be used once per match or something like that. I'm also going to try to make abilities that alter the terrain (similar to TAO shrubs). The mages will be the most complicated units, and each player will probably have 3 of them in a match which all do different things to keep the game interesting. My main goal here is to implement things like using knights to kick units 1 tile away (and do damage) or use mages to teleport friendly or enemy units into beneficial positions. Basically, abilities which change the position of enemy units in some way.

    I'm going to keep random-chance blocking, but only for units with shields (spearmen, knights), and of course they can't block from behind. No more archer blocks for example. Magic attacks will remain unblockable.

    One key difference from TAO is the inability to customize your set - instead there will be a list of pre-configured sets to battle with at the start of the match, one player will be randomly selected to choose the set for both players, and the other player will have first turn. The sets may be randomly mirrored (offsides) or not (samesides), but the important thing is this removes the 'my set beats your set' factor, and I hope the game will be more competitive. To prevent the boring result of mirrored moves, it's important that there exist a lot of abilities to affect the positioning and state of enemy units (TAO examples: paralyze, poison), so the games quickly introduce non-trivial problem solving, so that's a priority for this game.

    The game will be free for as long as I can afford to keep it that way, if all goes well I'll implement a $4.99/mo subscription option that gives fair perks, like the ability to customize the appearance of units and use extra abilities and units. The way I'll keep this fair is that if a subscriber fights a non-subscriber, the non-subscriber gets to use a mirrored (or not) set of the subscribers chosen set (without the subscribers cosmetics) for that match. The advantage of paying members will be that they always get to play with the higher unit/ability variety, and look cooler. I may add more benefits to subscribing but the important bit is that I won't make the game pay to win or even pay for advantage. My goal is to make this a competitive game like chess that will eventually have official tournaments, but with more interesting mechanics and graphics than chess.
    Last edited by luw1990; 09-21-2018 at 09:10 PM. Reason: higher res img

  7. #7


    Here's a sneak peak of a possible knight ultimate attack (where he leaps forward over a required empty tile, to attack the unit at a destination tile, knocking the target back (if the tile behind them is empty) and doing damage. It's an ultimate because normally, knights can't attack 2 squares away, and it will do more damage than usual. Hopefully will be useful for de-initiating a key unit from getting a kill when they come off recovery.

    Last edited by luw1990; 09-21-2018 at 08:49 PM.

  8. #8


    A brighter take on the game

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