Knights in shining armor

Since there was some negative commentary about the looks of Knights in my previous post, I took the popular advice and used Plasma’s clock in Knights. And you were correct: it looks much more pleasing to the eye now. The Plasma guys know what they’re doing.

And here is a shot with the KDE default widget style and colors. The theme is a variation of the previous one, again from the XBoard program. It doesn’t really fit in either, I know.

This unfortunately introduces a new dependency: You need at least one Plasma theme, and those reside in kdebase-runtime-data. This should not be needed for a chess game, so I plan to add a check for a theme and fall back to the previous solution if none is found. As noted by Aaron in the comments, hard-depending on kdebase-runtime is fine. Thanks for clearing that up, and sorry for spreading FUD.

The second thing was the horrible white background. The easy solution is to use a dark theme, all programs looks better that way. Really, be sure to try it if you haven’t already. Unfortunately, this is not so good on laptops (at least not on mine) because it does not mix well with lower screen brightness. Anyway, the proper way to do it is to allow the theme to specify its own background. I’m no artist, so no themes have it yet, but adding a simple mono-color rectangle that matches the board colors can make a big difference. I did check it though, with an even more horrible blue rectangle, so I’m sure it works. You just don’t want to see my tests, believe me.

The third thing is a kde-styled theme. There are six themes available now, but most are copies from other program and none of them looks kde-ish. I have wrote to kde-artists, but got little response (only about using the Plasma clock, big thanks for that). So if anyone is interested in making a nice kde-theme set of chess pieces, you’re very welcome πŸ™‚


20 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by mutlu on 8. November 2010 at 00:17

    Nice improvement. While you are at it, the colors used (e.g. the green) are not the ones defined by oxygen. Oxygen has chosen a desaturated set of more pastel-like colors for all KDE apps to use. Have a look at them when you have the time.


  2. Posted by Aaron Seigo on 8. November 2010 at 00:40

    “and those reside in kdebase-runtime-data. This should not be needed for a chess game,”

    This is actually an incorrect conclusion. kdebase-runtime is a hard (runtime) dependency for KDE applications. Build time deps go into kdelibs, runtime ones go into kdebase-runtime. So any KDE app can rely on kdebase-runtime being installed. This is why the default SVG theme for use with libplasma (which is in kdelibs) is in kdebase-runtime.


  3. Posted by damian on 8. November 2010 at 01:09

    It looks nice but 1 question, how does it look with a clearer theme? the default is clear so it should look good


  4. I was thinking the game looks crappy too. Now it’s way nicer, but that puke-green is really awful, annoying and makes a bad contrast with the grey, so please get rid of it.


  5. Posted by Martin on 8. November 2010 at 10:19

    What about to move graphics to QML?


    • Posted by noughmad on 8. November 2010 at 13:39

      I have thought about that, but I don’t think it would do any good. The graphics are not interactive (except the simple moving of pieces), and features on them except those provided by static SVG files are not really wanted in a chess board.


  6. Posted by Thomas Kamps on 8. November 2010 at 14:20

    +The Plasma clock looks much better then my clock for KNights.
    +The Rest Time is no Input-widget anymore.

    Is is possible to combine the Resttime label and the progressbar?


    • Posted by Thomas Kamps on 14. November 2010 at 17:55

      I have made s small Proof of Concept:

      Use the Codes as you wish. It its just code created by Qt-Creator and a simple convertion from seconds to hh:mm:ss.
      Nothing else.


      • Posted by noughmad on 14. November 2010 at 19:35

        Thank you, and I’m sorry I didn’t reply to your previous comment. An you can see, it’s definitely possible.

        However, I don’t know if it’s more clear/usable this way. I will try a similar code in Knights right now right now.

        Update: It works, and it looks fine. I think I’ll keep it, thank you very much πŸ™‚


  7. Posted by yoda on 9. November 2010 at 12:27

    great work, but still look is far from good (clocks are ok)i made little mockup:

    for noughmad:
    – get rid of this white space on the side
    – use standard oxygen/air/kde colors
    – use graphic details from widget style, curves, gradients etc
    – still need new figures (they are nice to retro style but default should be kde4-like-style = more polished, modern – but not to shiny)


    • Posted by noughmad on 9. November 2010 at 18:17

      Your mockup looks much better, but it’s still missing the pieces. I think I would add an option that if the theme does not have a background element, the standard KDE background color is used. I will think about that.


  8. Posted by akreuzkamp on 9. November 2010 at 16:12

    I don’t know if it’s technically doable but wouldn’t it be better if the clock turns anticlockwise as the timecount also goes backwards?


    • Posted by noughmad on 9. November 2010 at 16:43

      Of course it is be doable, in fact it was this way until this week. However, as far as I heard, real chess clocks run forward.


  9. Posted by otr on 14. November 2010 at 20:33

    A lot of very basic functionality (in regards to FICS) is missing. There is no chat feature, the ability to seek games is badly limited, there appears to be no way to resign or offer draws. At the very least, there needs to be a FICS Console so it is possible to send commands to the server and interact in that manner.
    I’d worry about completing the feature set before fussing over themes or which direction the clocks run. Knights looks like a promising project, but as it stands right now it is completely unusable for online play.


    • Posted by noughmad on 14. November 2010 at 21:13

      I never played on FICS before starting work on Knights, so there are still things about it I don’t know. Even basic things like castling have been fixed only recently. I also don’t know any serious player there.

      I realize that resignations, draw offers and in-game chat are very basic features, and I will try my best to add them ASAP. I would also be very happy if you (or anyone) could help me with it, if only by providing a sensible workflow for starting a game.

      Why I’m fussing about themes and clocks is that I know how to add features to the code, but have to rely on others for theming.


      • Posted by otr on 14. November 2010 at 21:43

        I would love to help, but unfortunately I’m not much of a programmer.

        A good place to look for a baseline feature set might be eboard ( which is my preferred FICS front-end on Linux (it is GTK+, one of the things that has kept me on GNOME is the lack of a full-featured chess front-end in Qt). For playing on FICS, having the console is an absolute must, since no GUI can realistically implement all the functions you might want to access through the console there. A graph of open seeks is also very useful.


      • Posted by xiando on 16. December 2010 at 17:47

        I only play using eboard right now and FICS is where I play. otr is right, Knights will never be any alternative until it has the basics needed to have fun on FICS. I use the console window for lots of things, joining tournaments, watching games, getting game history and on and on. Some of it, maby all eventually (but that’s lots of work..), could be done (ab)using a GUI, but that’s much work and a console would be my preferred way to do things anyway.

        Good job on Knights, the KDE4 port is coming along but it still lacks a lot of basic things. It would be nice if it could compare to eboard sometime soon, though.


        • Posted by noughmad on 16. December 2010 at 18:49

          I agree on your point, that’s why I released a stable version yesterday, so I can focus on new cool developments now. FICS console is first on the list, I have already started to integrate KonsolePart inside, as well as replace the many dialogs with only one. A separate chat widget will also come soon.


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