Runechess (3D Fantasy Chess Game) Alpha / POC

Hello, I would like to share with you a project that I have been working on for some time now - it’s a game called Runechess.

Runechess is a revitalized, enriched version of traditional chess, the unique aspect being the special abilities each unit possesses. Crucially, these special abilities can only be used once throughout the entire game. Despite the introduction of this novel feature, I have preserved the most fundamental aspect of classic chess - the ability to anticipate our next moves, as there is no element of randomness.

The conception for the game originated when I became intrigued by chess and recognized the vast disparity in experience between newcomers and seasoned players. Years of practice and memorized openings often present a formidable challenge for novices. Hence, I endeavored to create a novel twist to somewhat level the playing field.

Currently, I am sharing a not entirely refined version of the game which may occasionally present bugs. I decided to take this step as I’m beginning to experience fatigue from working on the project. I require feedback from others, to discern whether the game will resonate with anyone.

Gameplay involves moving the pawns by dragging with the left mouse button. Using the right button allows the activation of special abilities. Since I have yet to devise a tutorial to explain the rules, I have provided descriptions of each unit below:

Mage: This unit corresponds to the rook in traditional chess. Its special ability is tile destruction - it can eliminate an unoccupied tile from the board, blocking any passage through it.

Rogue: This unit moves as a bishop would. Its unique ability allows it to teleport behind a unit if there is an unoccupied tile behind it. If the unit happens to be an enemy, the Rogue simultaneously captures it.

Knight: This unit plays the same role as the knight in chess. Its specialty allows it to make a normal move but with the added benefit of pushing away the opponent’s units by one tile, provided the tile is unoccupied. If an opponent’s pawn is pushed onto a tile previously destroyed by the mage, the pawn falls into the void and is removed from the game.

King: This unit is analogous to the queen in chess. Its special ability is self-sacrifice - it can kill itself to teleport any allied pawn to its location.

Queen: This unit functions as the king in chess. Its special ability allows it to castle with any unit vertically or horizontally, provided no other unit blocks their path.

Priest: This is the only unit with a novel movement pattern. It moves only vertically and horizontally by one tile. Its unique ability is to resurrect a unit that has been captured. Each tile stores information about the last piece captured on it. The Priest can resurrect the unit if it is on an adjacent tile.

I like to consider Runechess as chess with a bit more complexity. I hope you will appreciate this concept and I eagerly anticipate your opinions and insights.

I leave a link to the game itself:


Nice! Would be good if there were a way to play anonymously (no login) - or I missed how to do that? I thought about using chess.js for an making a demo, but never made the time. Looks really cool in the screen captures…


Thank you for your suggestion. I just added the possibility to play with the bot without logging in.

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This is an AWESOME concept!

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Thank you :slight_smile: Glad you like it, especially since you were one of the people who helped me with the distribution of animation between models. :))

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How do I execute a move order? I selected a pawn (or the knight) and now it showing a green preview. I tried to click on any of the two previews but nothing happened?

The console shows 2 “pointer up” message and a bunch of zeroes.

Help :face_with_spiral_eyes:

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Sorry for the issue you have to click and drag the figure over the green preview instead of clicking on it. I know it could be a bit counterintuitive but Ill try to fix it today so the both ways would work.

Its same for casting the spells right click on unit and drag over the target

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First, congrats for your idea and the gameplay. It sounds really cool.
I’d love to be able to give it a good try but (you wanted you feedback, didn’t you)… I feel currently unable to get the full experience. I’m not a very good coder (not my job) but I do know quite a bit about gaming, UI and UX.

Yes. I can hear you on that. It must have been a long journey and likely you did 90% of the work (the hard work) so far. Problem is, the user doesn’t care. The user will always focus on the experience and the missing parts.

The missing parts? You have about five minutes to engage the gamer to continue with the experience.
I’m not against changing the rules of UI/UX if it serves the gameplay experience. But users/gamers have habits. Getting a user/gamer to adopt a new habit and ‘embrace’ your UI/UX is a daring and challenging thing. And then, you would first need to evaluate if this new way really serves the experience/gameplay.

Let me make this a little bit clearer for you. Today, when launching the game without necessarly referring to the text in your post, I’m completely lost. No tutorial or walkthrough. Interaction and pointer actions I have the habit to use in similar games don’t seem to do anything. I don’t know if (i.e. when highlighted) the move/drag I’m making is a preview or an immediate action. I don’t know how many move I can make and which turn it is? Sometimes, I could move a number of pieces before my turn ends? I don’t know if it’s a bug since I have no information about it.

So, yes, creating games is a burdain and mostly a frustration. You have done a lot and the most challenging part and you do not yet get the rewards/cheering you probably deserve. My advise: Forget the small bugs for now (you can fix later) and put just this additional 5 or 10% effort into the creation of the gaming experience. Think of the new gamer that just launches your game and ‘meet and greet’ him. Give him a hand and a chance to discover the game and make his first steps with success. In short, engage (convert or commit) the user to the game.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m very impressed with all you have done so far. It’s unlikely I would have done all of this just on my own. I shall send you strength to overcome your ‘fatigue’ and I hope my feedback can also help you focusing on the last aspects that could make the difference at this point. Also, don’t hesitate to cc me if you want my opinion (my opinion only) on your work putting the final (yet VERY IMPORTANT) touches to your project.

Meanwhile, congrats again and have a great day :sunglasses:

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Ohhh! I see. I guess to better highlight the intent (i.e. is drag&drop and not click-click), remove the preview if the mouse leaves the chess piece. Or sth like that.

And please do not overhaul your entire control scheme just because a single guy like me was too dull to try some alternatives. I think I get why you opted for drag&drop because it feels more like dragging a chess piece over a board, right? That is fine. Again, just mention it somewhere or signal it to the player.

Also agree what @Mawa said. Writing tutorials is the most boring shit ever. But if you want to address a wider audience, no way around it.

Overall I would like to see more - reading in this thread your progress and looking forward to screenshots, new features, fixed bugs, up to final Steam release.

Gameplay report

lol! I love dragging pawns around. But can you get some different animations for the other classes? Speaking of animations: if the enemy makes a move, can you animate that? Also varying idle animations.

Well, may be silly me again. But I am not going to sit there and learn the available super powers. If I hover over a chess piece, give me a box that explains its super power and how I trigger it. In other words, I could not figure out how to activate any of the powers. I am a gamer. Spoon feed me.

So since I have not seen any of the super powers I can only give my expectations: want unique effects for each power, I want screen shaking, shader shockwaves, particles, and glowy stuff. Yes, I know. Designing effects is difficult - I have learned that not too long ago. But they drive your game.

Oh! I have just taken an enemy pawn. This was disappointing :pleading_face: No death animation or anything. I mean it does not need to be a gorey gib explosion, but cell fracture it, explode its triangles, Thanos zap it with a point cloud system, anything pleasing for the eye. (Bonus points for sth like this:

I found it difficult sometimes to distinghish between the different classes; e.g. wondered why my Knight could not move; turned out to be a Bishop. Might possibly be just a perspective thing? Camera control might have helped.

Super subjective
Taste is always super subjective. I dislike strawberry ice cream. Others love it. I do not like your user interface. I have also been working on a game. I am not too happy with my own UI. But after a year and countless attempts I have gotten it to a “bearable” state. I am not an artist. The method that worked out in the end was: well, we are on the web. And there are these sites like 193 CSS Buttons that boast with awesome effects. My UI is basically an aggregate of countless css pieces copy&pasted together. (plus icons and sprites of course)

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Thank you very much for your interest in the project and for mentioning player engagement. I will definitely take it to heart when working on making the game accessible to a larger number of players. I admit that the game is not intuitive, but that’s partly because my main target are players who play standard online chess, and the gameplay in Runechess proceeds in the exact same way. Admittedly, there are no skill mechanics and I concede that without any tutorial, it would be hard for anyone to figure out how to use them and what they do.

I also agree that the UI is a bit slapped together as it’s not a finished product yet. However, there should be at least some indication of whose turn it is. I’ll add this as soon as I can. I’m not taking this personally, I’m aware that the game needs more work and I value every comment. Thank you for understanding my exhaustion from working on the project. I appreciate it a lot and I must admit that I’ve already gained energy for further work after you guys directly mentioned what you don’t like about this game.

After reading your post, I would like to add the following improvements:

  • Improve the UI to provide more information about whose turn it currently is.
  • Highlight units that can move or use skills during the current turn.
  • Tooltips which can be turned off in the settings (enabled by default for new players) that would suggest what the user can do and how, e.g., characters highlighted in green can move this turn and you need to drag them, or a character in blue can’t move but can use a spell which can be done by dragging with the right button.
  • I would wait with the direct tutorial for now, as many things in the game might still change. For example, the board size might change after tests, or new units might be added, or the way spells work might change. I haven’t made the final decision on this matter and I’d like the players testing the game to express their opinions on whether they like the skill set, whether something is too powerful, etc… I tried to design this game in a modular way so such changes will be easy for me to implement from the coding side.

Regarding the ability to move multiple units in one turn, this must have been a bug, as such a possibility does not exist.

Thank you again for pointing out the issues. I will definitely want to hear more feedback. Today, I was actually working on cleaning up the code and separating parts of it, because it got a bit messy. This won’t change anything for the user, but it will definitely allow me to develop the game more efficiently.

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Hahaha, dont worry I won’t be overhauling that only for you :smiley: I wanted to do that from the beginning, as online chess games offer similar mechanics. I only left dragging for now because I had trouble implementing both systems in a way that they wouldn’t conflict with each other. Fortunately, we now have Chat GPT and I’m sure we’ll handle this together :smiley: And yes, as you said, I like the dragging because it feels more natural and it also allows for some fun animations, which I see that you also liked, and I am very happy about it :))

Speaking of animations and effects, I totally get you and I can already visualize all the possibilities that could be incorporated here. Towards the end of the project, once the game is ready for release, I’d like to simply pay people who would create custom sounds and custom models with animations for the game. I definitely see room for effects like the Thanos snap that you mentioned. As for the camera, I’d prefer to keep it static for now. I can envision experienced players planning several moves ahead and I don’t think there’s room for camera movement in all that, but considering a change in perspective is definitely worth thinking about.

Yes, unfortunately, the UI is lacking and looks the way it does because I used the Tailwind framework, as I’m not a CSS master and don’t have much patience for such things. But I’d very much like to change it to something more suitable. Just like with models and sounds, closer to the official game release, I’d like to find someone who would spruce it up properly.

I’m speaking about the future because there are still a few issues I need to address before that. The entire flow of playing, inviting to a game, and the ranking system doesn’t work exactly as I’d wish yet. I feel this is crucial for players to have the motivation to compete against each other and show who’s better. Moreover, I don’t even have the most essential feature which is the player’s profile, so I still have a bit to do in that regard.

Thank you very much for your comprehensive post and feedback. I will definitely utilize the points you included, if not now then in the near future. But combining your post and the earlier one from mawa, I see that both of you highlighted the lack of any guidance for the user about what they can do and how to do it. Therefore, this will be one of the first things I will focus on.