Vassal’s Strengths: Well over a thousand game modules available, PBEM support, more automation if you’re willing to learn scripting
Vassal vs BGE Module Comparisons
There are not very many cases where a direct one-to-one comparison of game modules is possible, but for the few cases where it is, I hope the screenshots presented below will show that BGE clearly provides the better gaming experience.
You actually can’t get this Vassal module anymore, as the game designer requested that the module, which was created and released without his approval, be pulled. But I had already downloaded it, so I was able to post these comparative screenshots.
The Battlegrounds version of Zombie Plague comes with a rulebook specifically tailored for playing the game in BRPG.
(there is no Vassal equivalent)
Expansions to the base game
For starters, ZunTzu is “abandonware”. It will not receive any further development, while BGE will. ZunTzu has never supported the Mac platform, BGE did (up through Snow Leopard), and if v2 gets developed, it will again, with even better performance.
ZunTzu’s process for building modules requires that “spritesheets” be made in an image editor, and sometimes also masks for said spritesheets. The module builder must then create their module by editing XML and inputting coordinates to specify where each game component resides on the spritesheet. This process is not particularly user-friendly, and the majority of the program’s users will therefore never even attempt to create their own game module.
BGE, on the other hand, uses a WYSIWYG approach to creating game conversions (modules). It’s all done with selecting items from popup menus, pressing buttons and checkboxes, and moving sliders. Anyone who has basic knowledge of how to use a computer can put together a game in BGE, because BGE never expects or requires that the user do anything as “geeky” as editing XML. BGE accepts individual bitmaps to use as each game component. This approach is far more intuitive for most people, although it sometimes necessitates using an image editor to “prep” their files, or a utility to extract the images from a PDF.
BGE is far more full-featured than ZunTzu. One of ZunTzu’s strengths is its simplicity, but it’s also a weakness, since it’s easy to outgrow or be limited by it’s featureset.
ZunTzu’s Strengths: Hundreds of existing game modules, a great zoom feature, built-in voice chat capability. better management of stacks of counters/units, 3D dice
Finally, there is the commonly asked question…
“Why should I pay for your product when there are other similar products available for free?”
To which my response is that NO other product, free or commercial, has the same exact feature set (and particular implementation of any given feature) of my products. First of all, “similar” [in intended function] is not the same as “identical except for the price tag”. If the other options fulfill your needs, by all means, use them. I’m simply giving gamers an additional choice, and there’s also no reason someone can’t have more than one VTT in their digital toolbox. I offer free demos of my products so that each person can evaluate for themselves whether they want or need what my products offer.
I saw a great quote the other day which seems pertinent here:
“ANY technology that saves you more money than it costs you, is, in effect, cheaper than free.”
By way of example, if a commercial app costs you a bit of money up front but saves you hours of your time and grief, is that not preferable to a free (possibly unintuitive) app that you end up futzing with for hours to get the result you want, with no one to turn to for immediate support? It largely comes down to what you think your free time is worth. My apps come with comprehensive documentation to aid the user, perhaps so thorough that the page length of the User Manuals scares some people away. To them, I would point out that a long user manual and a full feature set does NOT mean that the software is hard to use, just very complete.