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How to play Go, Backgammon, Mancala and International checkers within Zillions-of-Games
Some game made by Zillions developpement for the Mind Sport Worldwide web site are not available for Zillions-of-Games. For some customer, those games are really important to them and they cry for having them, but Zillions developpement is unable to comply. Take the time to read this and I will help you.
Zillions developpement is making a very nice program known as Zillions-of-Games. This program is not freeware (even if there is a free demo version) but let you play many abstract games against the computer or a human across the internet. You can also use Zillions game rules description language to "teach" Zillions a new game or invent a game.
Zillions development also made a program for the Mind Sport Worldwide web site on www.msoworld.com in order to be able to play between human (or against a robot) by connecting to a central server.In order to build that gaming system, they reused their Zillions-of-Games kernel and enhanced it to support the games requested by Mind Sport that were not possible or not easy to write under the existing version of Zillions-of-Games. To be able to implement Internal Checkers, they had to support a flag to force the maximum of capture, and to implement Go, Backgamon and Mancala they had to enhance the capabilities of the support for external DLL file (that already existed within Zillions-of-Games). They also had to write specific game engine to play those game better than what the internal generic game engine was capable of.
The problem is that Zillions development cannot distribute those DLL and new game to Zillions-of-Games customer (maybe they will get that right in some time or if they pay or if Mind Sport user community make lobbying to ask for that). Waiting for that historical moment, I need to respond to multiple messages from Zillions-of-Games owner asking to play one of those games and I am personally sensible on that topic because I am an International Checkers player.
Recently, Zillions-of-Games released a new patch to their program. This patch fix some existing bugs but also enhance the system to make it compatible with the engine in use inside Zclient. But the patch does not introduce those four games that are available within Zclient. However I am going to explain you how to use the DLL from Zclient inside Zillions-of-Games and how to generate the rule files to properly play those game.
I have not relation with Mind Sport (www.msoworld.com) except that I am registered on their web site (to play game on-line with Zclient) and that I have participate at the Game Olympiad where I became the Boku World Champion.
I have not relation with Zillion Development (www.zillions-of-games.com) except that I am a registered customer of Zillions-of-Games, a registered user on their message board and I sometime send e-mail to the support e-mail in order to ask about feature, bugs, problem I encounter when I write a rule file for Zillions-of-Games.
There was no leak of information neither from Zillions development nor from Mind Sport on the way or the possibility to do what I am going to explain to you. Everything was discovered using reverse engineering technique (which are legal in Europe, the place where I leave).
The procedure I am going to describe is provided to you without any warranty, and if you were to apply it, you take your own responsibility and risk. More important, using the program provided to decrypt the file distributed inside Zclient.exe or using the DLL within Zclient.exe for other purpose might be ILLEGAL in your country or not respecting the license agreement of that program.
And definitively, I don't feel responsible if someone use the program and knowledge describe here in order to publish, distribute decrypted file or DLL file without the proper permission from the copyright owner. Also, I don't support nor encourage any missuse of my program for any other purpose than the one describe here.
What do I need?
You need to own and install a copy of Zillions-of-Games.
You need to upgrade/patch your Zillions-of-Games to version 1.2.1.
You need to download Zclient.exe from Mind Sport web site and install it (see below).
You need to install and use my decryption program (see below).
Getting and installing Zclient
Go on the Mind Sports Worldwide web site
and go to the Play Games Online page
where they tell you how to Install Software
after you have downloaded zsetup.exe.
What have you install, what is missing
You have installed a new program inside the directory 'C:\Program Files\ZClient'. It contain the following sub-directory: 'Rules', 'IMAGES', 'Audio' and 'Engines'. That structure is similar to the one find in 'C:\Program Files\Zillions of Games'. The DLL files (due to a missing feature in Zillions version 1.2.1) need to be install in the Zillions directory. As far as I know, for the other file, you can safely move/copy the other directories inside the Rules directory and the relative path should work.
One exception however, the rule files are not *.ZRF but *.ZOG and are not readable text file.
Hopefully you can use my program zdecode to transform them into readable text file that you will be able to 'play'.
Getting and installing my Program
You need to download zdecode.exe my decryption program (only available in windows binary version).
For security reason or 'operation of choice' you may want to compile your own version using the source code also provided (after scrutiny).
Everything including a small documentation is included into a zip file for easy download.
Please keep in mind that the program is a free software without guaranty copyrighted by David GLAUDE.
You can copy all of those files or unzip the archive in the same directory as your *.ZOG files
How to decrypt the ZOG into ZRF?
Now you can use the program. I suggest opening a 'Dos Box' or 'command prompt' in that same directory. You can execute the program without argument to see the instruction message.
If you want to translate the file 'Go.zog' into a file named 'Go.zrf' use the following command:
zdecode.exe Go.zog Go.zrf
You need to repeat this operation for all the *.ZOG files you want to download.
Do you provide support?
Well, not really but you can try. The thing is that I don't play Go, Backgammon nor Mancala. The only reason for me to use that hacking would be to play International Checker. I have my own ZRF version the International Checker (jeu de dames) and I plan to release it very soon. I made my own version in order to have the right notation system (like the one used in competition).
There is another issue about support, I have not try to understand the *.ZRF file and I am not responsible for the *.DLL files they use. Those DLL are black box to me, they were developed by Zillions Development for Mind Sport Worldwide.
Anything else to say?
I hope I won't have problem for having release this information and I hope that both Mind Sport Worldwide and Zillions-of-Games development will understand that I do that in the best interest of everybody (them and you).
If ever they really don't like this page, they are going to release a new version of zclient with another encryption scheme, and this program won't work anymore. So be smart, be fast and make the necessary download before it is too late.
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