Zillions of Games
Zillions of Games is an inexpensive commercial Windows program that will let you play an endless variety of Chess variants and other abstract board games. It was originally designed for Windows 95, and it has not been updated since 2003, but it has continued to work with subsequent versions of Windows, up through my latest version of Windows, which is Windows 10. It will probably work with later versions of Windows, and if you have used it on a later version of Windows, please leave a comment about this so we can report it here. If you have Linux, you can use it through WINE.
It is no longer available on CD, but you get still get it from their website's store. They are giving the demo away for free, and they are accepting a modest donation through PayPal to unlock it.
Instead of having the rules of specific games hardcoded into it, it reads external files, written in a Lisp-like language, that describe rules for individual games. Out-of-the-box, so to speak, it comes with instructions for playing a wide variety of strategy board games and puzzles. Out own focus is on Chess variants, and the Zillions OTB tag identifies games on our site that Zillions-of-Games comes with files for.
But beyond what comes with Zillions-of-Games, it allows you, me, and others to program new games for it. The editors of this site have no commercial affiliation with Zillions of Games, but many of us, and many other contributors to our site, have programmed several games for Zillions of Games to play. Because Zillions of Games fits so well with our interest in designing and playing Chess variants, we have amassed a large collection of Chess variants that you can play on Zillions of Games. Some are of pre-existing games, and some are of new games created with the aid of Zillions of Games. Besides serving as a means for playing various games, this program has proven useful for testing games, and its limitations have sometimes shaped the design of a new game.
Our Collection of Zillions Rules Files (ZRFs)
The file that Zillions of Games reads to know the rules of a game is called a Zillions Rules File, abbreviated as ZRF. A ZRF is usually packaged with a set of graphics and occasionally with a set of audio files, though some don't require any external files that don't already come with Zillions of Games. Our ZRFs and accompanying files are stored in various ZIP files. You will need a zip program, such as the free PeaZip or 7-Zip, to open these files. When you unzip a file, be sure to keep the directory structure intact. A ZRF will tell Zillions that it can expect to find graphics and audio files in specific locations. Since we have too many ZRFs to quickly display without a fast broadband connection, this page just provides a starting point for browsing through our collection.
These two reviews were written shortly after Zillions of Games debuted in late 1998. They should give you an overview of the program, but do not take into account any of the later features. Zillions of Games is currently at version 2.0, which is significantly more powerful than the original version.
- Review of Zillions of Games. By David Howe.
- Additional review of Zillions of Games. By Hans Bodlaender.
- Zillions of Games. Official home page. (Link.)
- Zillions' own ZRF Collection. (Link.)
- Jens Markmann's Art of Games. (Archived Link.)
- Wikipedia article on Zillions of Games
- Wishlist for features in next version of Zillions of Games. Maintained by David Howe. (Link.)