Here is a short description of what I have in mind for ZunTzu 2:
ZunTzu 2 is about improving ZunTzu 1 while keeping the same philosophy of the virtual game table.
I believe ZunTzu 1 is suffering from these limitations:
- it is not a web application, and thus could be intimidating for new users
- the connectivity issues can drive users mad
- there's no lobby service to meet players, chat and discover games in progress
- there's no tool to help with game box design
- finding and sharing game boxes could be made easier
- the user experience can be improved for some types of games: collectible card games, some dice scenarios, some card scenarios, game money, score tracking, ...
- game editors will welcome conversions if they are given more control on how their games are used online
Regarding 2: Silverlight has serious cross-domain networking limitations for security reasons. The idea would be to tunnel all communication through a network of Access Points. Access Points would communicate with each others using UDP. Users with UDP connectivity could host an Access Point on their computers, others would connect from Silverlight to an Access Point shared by another user. The list of Access Points will be maintained by a centralized server.
Regarding 3: the lobby service will be built into ZunTzu 2. The list of games and users will be maintained by a centralized server.
Regarding 4: the design tool will be built into ZunTzu 2. The design process will be kept simple - it's a strong point of ZunTzu. Users will be able to tweak game mechanics during games, to lower the complexity during the design phase. All existing game boxes will be compatible.
Regarding 5: users will be able to download missing boxes from other users as they join a game. It will thus be possible to have games mixing components from several different boxes - game extensions!
Regarding 6: this will be the most fun obviously, and probably the most difficult to make right. I'm thinking about multi-selection, viewports, undocked dice, blocks, timestamped notes, bean bags, score-o-meters, timers, ...
Regarding 7: the centralized server could be used for License Activation. Here is an example of a typical licensing scenario: each cardboard game box packs a paper with a product code to unlock the game in ZunTzu.
Some proof-of-concepts will have to be made to investigate possible issues:
- how to display huge graphics efficiently? ZunTzu 1 uses hardware-accelerated graphics and compressed textures - not useable with Silverlight. Is there a limitation in the memory working set of Silverlight?
- how to implement voice communication? With the lobby service and users moving in and out of games, using a third party tool will become more and more difficult. A built-in voice communication system will be a big plus.