Involving more people in free games. Framework for connectin

Involving more people in free games. Framework for connectin

Postby ledongchieu8 » 10 Sep 2018, 08:52

Good morning . I have something to say and hope I can do it in some way giving some meaning. I want to expand some thoughts about ways for moving us towards better and bigger free game projects. Please bare with some unfinished and rough thoughts. You are welcome to expand or reshape.

First about the present scene of free games:
a) We have a lot of game projects.
b) Most of the projects are small scale.
c) It is hard to contribute in any project

What I want to do is to change c, and let it be totally easy to contribute to free game projects. If we get lot more creators involved we will probably also change point b. We should see more big scale free game projects.

How do I suggest making it easy for creators to contribute in free game projects?
My idea to do this is to meet the possible creators where they are and invite them to do random tasks in their field, perhaps within the most active free game projects.

Different kinds of creators will be at their different places. A graphics creator will perhaps be at Blender or Gimp or Mypaint. An audio creator will perhaps be at Ardour or Audacity. A written text narrative creator will maybe be at Libreoffice. A code creator will perhaps be vim or something.

All groups of creators could get invitation in their most used crative application tools to contribute in the most active projects. Maybe in Blender the creator hit the «new task» button and the program finds something to do. Perhaps «make a 3d model of a sword for Erik the viking king for the the awesome game Erik» (BTW I think Blender are working on a cloud based asset management system at the time).

I think lot of people would like to contribute if they got the tasks presented in the applications they use. Then I think we could have really rapid and huge developments in free games.

What do we need?

We need an application for game design, where designers can list and describe what they need.
The items in the list must have an online place for asset storage.

Then we need hooks in the different applications..

We need probably lot of work on this and many details I do not see at the moment.
…...

Well, now my writing spirit is over for this day. I hope you got a rough idea.
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Re: Involving more people in free games. Framework for conne

Postby SecureUvula » 12 Sep 2018, 02:53

In any case where untrusted users can contribute content or ideas, the limiting factor usually ends up being moderator time.

Someone has to stop an army of Internet trolls from filling Blender with a billion "Make a picture of the sad frog" requests and drowning out anything useful.
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Re: Involving more people in free games. Framework for conne

Postby eugeneloza » 12 Sep 2018, 05:59

let it be totally easy to contribute to free game projects

Unfortunately you can't make "totally easy" something that's inherently hard. Sure, there are some simple tasks, that can be done easily. But contributing a project is usually preceeded by at least understanding the project specifics.
E.g. someone needs a dialogue for his/her RPG game. And a writer decides to write it. What this dialogue is about? About elves? About mecha? Is it about love or about ongoing war? You can't answer those questions until you have a deep understanding of the game's universe and concepts. E.g. you can't contribute some useful text to FreeDroidRPG unless you understand the lore of that game.
Same for all other types of art/assets/code.
Yes, there are ways to make something "easier". Like in the example above, the one requesting help may write an extensive explanations on what he/she expects from the committed dialogue. That takes a lot of time on the developer side, you know :) And if the developer has spent an hour writing out all the ideas he/she needs to be in the dialogue, he/she has almost written it himself by now. Moreover, what is the chance that he/she will get the requested contribution? Maybe, all that time was just wasted and the call will never be answered?
to meet the possible creators where they are and invite them to do random tasks in their field... at Blender or Gimp or Mypaint... at Ardour or Audacity... Libreoffice

Well. For the last week I was hell busy with writing a stenograph of a PhD theses defense at our academic board. I haven't slept for several nights. Now I feel completely wasted and exhausted. And "everything I want now" is a pop-up saying: Hey, you're using LibreOffice, right? Come on, write some 4-5 pages of fantasy story for an upcoming FOSS platformer!
It's a very wrong idea to go to people in their workplaces and show them "ads" and "pop-ups" instead of letting them do their hard work. Moreover, that'd be a very suspicious behavior if my Audacity or Mypaint installation would knock-knock an unidentified server over the Internet to get some untrustworthy data, maybe also wasting someone's bandwidth.

The idea is nice, but overall needs a lot of polishing.
I guess a much better approach would be a huge portal where tasks can be "asked for" and "calls answered". Like https://www.blendswap.com/requests - but for all sorts of assets. Where people would come in their spare time, looking for "something fun to do". Thou, that's not anywhere near "simple" or "easy". Just another (among thousands of thousands) spot to ask and hope for the question to be ever answered.
Moreover, FOSS doesn't mean "zero money". Some FOSS projects do commission their art assets for real money, they can obtain through donations or other routes. Some projects run "bounties" to do this or that for a reward. So, you're more likely to get an answer at a art-specific forum where not only "free" painters are gathered, but maybe some pro might want to have some fun and draw a cat in PhotoShop for your free project for a cup of hot chocolate?
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Re: Involving more people in free games. Framework for conne

Postby dulsi » 14 Sep 2018, 15:33

Linux Game Tome tried to help games along at one point. They picked a game and tried to get a lot of contributions. The first and to my knowledge only game they did was TuxKart. The game ended up forking to SuperTuxKart because the original developer wasn't happy with the contributions.

If you want to do something like you suggest, I think the model they chose is a good one. Instead of just trying to increase contributions on all games focus on one for a month or more. However it also shows the danger of that approach. You have people joining the project who don't have knowledge of the game. Without some indoctrinization, they can go in a direction that the project doesn't want.
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Re: Involving more people in free games. Framework for conne

Postby charlie » 15 Sep 2018, 11:05

If you want to help more people get involved, then follow the recent threads started by Julius. He has done a lot of the legwork on finding the best options for tying the community together better. In truth, he needs more support from the likes of myself (time limited due to family + started a new business this year).
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Re: Involving more people in free games. Framework for conne

Postby c_xong » 17 Sep 2018, 00:50

dulsi {l Wrote}:Linux Game Tome tried to help games along at one point. They picked a game and tried to get a lot of contributions. The first and to my knowledge only game they did was TuxKart. The game ended up forking to SuperTuxKart because the original developer wasn't happy with the contributions.

If you want to do something like you suggest, I think the model they chose is a good one. Instead of just trying to increase contributions on all games focus on one for a month or more. However it also shows the danger of that approach. You have people joining the project who don't have knowledge of the game. Without some indoctrinization, they can go in a direction that the project doesn't want.

Where's the danger? To the original developer maybe. But it sounds like the system worked splendidly; TuxKart is dead but STK is one of the best FOSS games today. The original developer's management was flawed, and the initiative unlocked the potential of STK.
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Re: Involving more people in free games. Framework for conne

Postby Arthur » Yesterday, 10:55

I know it's not on topic per se but since the subject came up I want to give my impression of the history of TuxKart/SuperTuxKart. Disclaimer: I wasn't around at the time of TuxKart becoming SuperTuxKart.

From my understanding though, the HappyPenguin Game of the Month guys approached the original creator of TuxKart, Steve Baker, and cooperated to do large changes, and they all decided to rename the project SuperTuxKart in order to reflect the big changes that had happened. However, the relationship soured after a while, with Steve going back to the previous TuxKart release and pulled some of the changes he found usable from STK (some if not all of those changes were his own work). So in a sense, he "forked back" SuperTuxKart into a final version of TuxKart.

At the time, his reason for "taking his ball and going home" so to speak were that according to him they didn't know what they were doing and "left the project in an unfinished and broken state" if I am quoting correctly from memory. Progress on STK either had slowed a lot either a bit before or after that (not sure exactly timing-wise, and not sure I care to go archive digging again in the mailing list), and it got abandoned for many months. Coz and hiker picked it up again, at first independent of each other and later cooperating after learning of each other. Neither of them had been involved in the GotM team nor with TuxKart so they were shielded from the drama that happened earlier.

From what I've heard, STK at the time of being taken over by Coz and hiker indeed suffered from terrible performance, a lot of it due to physics raycasts that were sent in an unnecessarily large amount, probably by accident. Paring them down fixed a lot of the performance issues, and along with other fixes SuperTuxKart 0.3 was released by the new team.

So from what I can tell after the fact, Steve Baker tried to keep his game playable after some mishaps by the less experienced GotM made STK pretty much unusable on the hardware at the time, and that among other things was the cause of the split. I believe the performance issue was just the straw that broke the camel's back. The GotM team had also lost their steam and STK essentially died and laid dormant for quite a while until it was picked up again. I only started writing to the mailing list between 0.3 and 0.4, but from what I have figured the split and disappearence of the previous team happened due to unfortunate circumstances and communication problems, not because of malice from anyone.

Whew, sorry for the wall of text, that was probably longer than anyone wanted to read.
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Re: Involving more people in free games. Framework for conne

Postby dulsi » Yesterday, 15:24

c_xong {l Wrote}:Where's the danger? To the original developer maybe. But it sounds like the system worked splendidly; TuxKart is dead but STK is one of the best FOSS games today. The original developer's management was flawed, and the initiative unlocked the potential of STK.

Arthur's explanation is a more detailed account and was what I found on Wikipedia before posting. Basically the Game of the Month work left STK in a bad state. It was people afterwards that got it into the game you like today.

I don't know how Steve Baker managed the project but I've always found him to be a good guy.

I still think a Game of the Month style development could be a good system. I think you just need to make sure people are on the same page. Also set the expectation that everything will be added. If people are involved in the project only for a limited time and the original developer will need to maintain it afterwards, the developer may need to say no.
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