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Up Topic General / General / Future of the project
- - By Clonkonaut [de] Date 2012-09-25 18:38
I'm writing this because I am deeply concerned about the future of the project. It has become very quiet around here lately and in irc, too. I don't think we can excuse ourselves much longer by any 'summer vacation'.

Everyone knows that we are no longer a group of pupils and students. A few people are fortunate enough to work in a regular day job, others do stressful Master or PhD studies. I myself are facing the conclusion of my study with the biggest and hardest exam in next year that will demand highly increased learning efforts.

I think it is time to assess our possibilities, see who is still able to actively participate and contribute and how much time is there to spare; concepts and goal need to be cut down accordingly. We might even reach the bitter conclusion that there is no future. We don't have any backup developers, no recruits to take over the work and we lack the major community support prior Clonk titles could claim.

In assessing one's own work, you might just want to consider the following categorisations:
- Unfinished jobs: The most pressing stuff but also the experiments. Finishing what is halfway done is the least we could do and if we can't do it, I guess it's the deathblow for us. The experimental stuff in the other hand is mostly diverting when really we are in such a crisis.
- Possible jobs: This is stuff that in theory is needed to finish current plans according to concepts laid out. But we might just cut down everything that's too much until we end up with something we can finish.
- Concepts: Many and more concepts are lying around waiting to be picked up. I don't think we still can rely on anything of this getting done and thus should stop talking about anything that will be there "in theory".

I will also go through the team members, list, if present, what you are doing and ask what you want to do. Please don't feel challenged by me mentioning something you left unfinished but planned on finishing. I think it's just best to get everyone up to the same state and talk about such things in an objective manner. I don't want to judge anything.

To start off, I will write down thoughts on my own work.

Clonkonaut
I really only started working on the project a year ago when I began my abroad in Ireland. I had this concept on settlement ready and Newton asked me to take over the management of this part of the project. I don't I always spent as much time coding for OC as I could have done (especially seeing what amounts I did on personal projects). By now, I have stopped working on OC. I do have unfinished stuff though:
There are still parts of my settlement concept which aren't done yet. Especially the whole cloth production line, with cotton and related buildings. I don't want to introduce new content which can't be backed up by any graphics whatsoever as there are still other objects waiting for such. As long as this isn't in the repos, it can easily be struck out from the concept.
Also I have starting working on my scenario draft (Raiders of the Lost Castle) but still this would produce a demand for graphics we can't supply. So I would have to downsize the concept and make something I could do with everything currently available.

I actively tried to encourage any 3D artists I know to start working for OC, tried to recruit Matthias and Saiodin to work on buildings but nothing worked out. I can easily assemble every open and possible modelling job but it needs someone to do the work. I see our major problem in not having anyone left to do 3D work. Without new models there will be no new content. All we can do is refine what we have into a playable state.

ck
I'm picking you next because on the last attempt of making a new release you picked a task that was chosen as 'needed for release'. The results are in the rope branch. Yet there remains work to do and I'm asking you if you see the opportunity to finish it. If not, we can leave out skylands. If yes, there is a concept which not necessarily needs graphics but mostly coding. Still, as categorised under 'concepts' we shouldn't count on it.

Secondly, because this always was your domain, I'm asking about the render code. When performance issues were reported, the answer always was that the render code is not optimised. Is this something you could do? Or could somebody else?

PeterW
You are the only one who recently committed new stuff and not just some fixes. I understand that you are working on the lights / shader experiment and more or less always picked such a project on your own. Because you are still working on it, I guess you plan on finishing. The question I have is if you - just in case - would take over other engine tasks such as render code optimisation or the rope branch.

Guenther
You are also someone who chooses his own projects and eventually publishes it. I don't have anything more to ask from you than I had for Peter. Maybe in addition you would like to say something about stuff you have floating around and want to finish.

JCaesar
As far as I understand you work on the floating point branch. I do see the appeal for this feature as it always was one frequently asked for. But in case we really have to cut our losses and downsize the project, I fail to see the possible benefits. I just don't see the modding community getting as big as it was with CR. Anyway, are you planning on finishing this? By running over various discussions about this in #openclonk-dev I understand that there are major difficulties, is this right?

boni
You put great effort into overhauling the controls and then even redesigned everything again. Do you want to look further into this or call it a day?

Zapper, Maikel
I put you two together because both of you have been very active coders but I know of no project from neither of you. Without artists I don't see great chances for scripters of ever getting much work again. What is left is only playtesting and refining, making everything and making it perfect. You always were very busy doing this, so I just ask you still intend to do so or are too busy elsewhere.

Ringwaul
I do hope that you are still reading this forum. For long you have been not just our lead but only artist. The big question is if you ever intend on working on the project again or if you tired up in which case I think, no one will judge you. It is just this question to make sure that we do not have any active 3D artist left and thus must downsize our expectations.

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I am sorry if anyone feels left out by this listing. Please feel free to state out your own status.

Finally, I don't think it will help getting into too much detail about concepts and other ideas we had along the way. Really, this is about available manpower in the near future.
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Parent - By Zapper [de] Date 2012-09-25 19:34 Edited 2012-09-25 20:06
In the last three months Kenny and I started porting over the spirit of the old CR-Caedes project for OpenClonk, and we are pretty far actually :)
A few minutes ago we had the last test round.

Projects for me on non-Caedes OC would be finishing the mechanism system (which is already started but not too far), more on the animals&plants stuff, small polishing on the sword - other than that, I hope I have nothing left open (?)

PS: Since I am still a (~fourth) semester student, I'll still continually have - sometimes more, sometimes less - time available
Parent - - By ala [nl] Date 2012-09-25 19:47 Edited 2012-09-25 19:52
Ok, I'm really really busy at the moment (and will be in the next months as well).
But perhaps in 1 or 2 months I could help you out with small tasks on regular basis.

Clonk-Scripting, precise testing (maybe with other CR players) and work on landscapes (bmp and txt) are tasks I'm very familiar with.

I know from other projects that it keeps things going if more people are working and talking, even if it's only small stuff.

-------------

Maybe a good idea would be to handle tasks I have to do anyway, you could give them to me right away.

-Since I have to work on sound editing for university you can just dump all sound editing tasks on me.
-electronic sound creating (like steam-punk sounds?) is something I'm supposed to do in sound design lessons, I'm a beginner - but you can dump those tasks on me too.
-sound recording is something I can do too. I have access to microphones at university (just recorded a saxophone yesterday;)).

-I'll have to get good in Photoshop too, so perhaps I could do some texture smoothing (or other tasks) as well (I noticed some ugly lines in peters light-log screenshots on the textures). Oh, but I'm a Photoshop beginner as well - but I'm forced to learn it this weeks.

However I will have little time to follow the project, so I probably won't pick up tasks on my own. But if I'll get tasks, I do them.
Parent - - By Clonkonaut [de] Date 2012-09-25 20:39
Unfortunately, scripting is the best provisioned part of the overall work. As Maikel said, it's heavily dependent on other people, especially the graphic department which is empty.

Sounds always were a do-it-yourself kind of job. Whenever I did search for new sounds, I just scanned through the object pack and consider where a new sound might fit. There is no one having real overview.

You can also go into music. I still have a finished Westlund pack ready to ship with OC and I know that you opposed using it. Newton never came up with music neither did you. But feel free to do so ;)
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Parent - - By ala [nl] Date 2012-09-26 09:33
Ja!,
it turned out much more difficult than I thought.

I composed some music between two years and 1 year ago (3 atmosphere pieces (for Night, Snow, Cave), and 3 unfinished pieces (for Mountain, Caves again, Lava) and 1 melee try). They fit more into exploring(big focus) and settlement (a little) - and into my first thoughts in which direction OC might turn to. And are not well suited for the melee type open clonk turned out to get (they would perhaps fit into the CR pack DynamicWorlds).

Well the big problem is - that there are two steps after composing: 2) Arranging a piece. 3) Producing a piece.
These steps can only be obtained by getting more experience, that's why I postponed the whole thing again and again.

Most of the stuff is atmospheric guitar only (I at least wrote everything down), I played some of the tracks on a couple of CMs and asked for opinions. I have some midi tracks, and I have 2 pieces that made it past arranging into the production state (I picked up one last week, because it is the only way I can meet a deadline).

In addition some tracks turned out a bit differently than intended after working on them and moving a bit away from all Clonk ideas and more into experimenting , for example I used the night composition for a orchestration demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZc5_zDXaLQ (Arranging is mastered here, but not proper production)

In university I have to compose and arrange about 15 pieces anyway for this semester, schedule is really tight..

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Hm I just got an idea: I might try to register Clonk as a university project. This way I could work on it and get points for it :) - but if they won't accept it, than the pieces are pretty much frozen for another year. Some demo video might be cool for this.
Parent - - By ala [nl] Date 2012-10-05 19:03

>Hm I just got an idea: I might try to register Clonk as a university project. This way I could work on it and get points for it :) - but if they won't accept it, than the pieces are pretty much frozen for another year. Some demo video might be cool for this.


Hehe, I actually did this ;) - more about that soon to follow.
Parent - By Zapper [de] Date 2012-10-06 11:15
cool :D
Parent - - By Zapper [de] Date 2012-09-25 20:07
PPS: I always forget it, but do we have a list of what models are needed? :x
Parent - - By Clonkonaut [de] Date 2012-09-25 20:28
Well, no, but as I said, I am able to summarise everything needed. A few days ago (maybe a week) I received a pm from someone asking about rendering tasks, so I already have something I will just quote:

A small first-time job would be to improve the existing chemical lab. You can improve the model as you wish as well the textures. It is not absolutely needed to improve models since for the first settlement release we can go with whatever we got.
The model is here (sketches three postings above it): http://forum.openclonk.org/topic_show.pl?pid=19024#pid19024

You could also try and experiment with our exporting mechanism. To appear in the game all models need to be exported into the Ogre mesh format (.mesh). A tutorial on how to export is found here: http://wiki.openclonk.org/w/Artists_Guide
The chemlab model also needs some refining in case of exportability. The model isn't rotated in the right way and the size is probably wrong, too. If I remember correctly, 1 BU (Blender Unit) is 1 pixel in the game. But don't trust me in this, could be complete rubbish. I know that there is a conversion rate between bu and pixel at least. If you want to do this, it's best to join #openclonk-dev on euirc and ask if someone knows the correct answer. This task could give you a little insight into exporting. It is nice to know the proper way of exporting because models which are prepared for export can be used in the game right away without tedious correction via script.
To see how everything works with other models, you can clone the resource repository where all the .blend files and stuff are located. It's here (and here is our quick Mercurial guide).

If you don't feel like overhauling someone else's stuff, you can of course make a yet not modelled building. We have two open requests: Gold Idol and Accumulator.
More creativity is needed with the buildings without sketches / visual concepts. The more or less leading style ideas are from Fungiform and these three threads should give you a vague impression on how he worked: 1, 2, 3.
We still need concepts for the armory and the inventor's lab.*

We also need textures. The kitchen and the shipyard are still grey. If you know your way around texturizing, you could also do that. Saiodin had some nice ideas on textures: http://forum.openclonk.org/topic_show.pl?tid=2496
But I guess we also lack experienced 2D artists who are able to draw these 'comicesque' textures.


* I forgot to mention the loom / spinning wheel at this point
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Parent - - By Zapper [de] Date 2012-09-25 23:29
I'll create a topic in the artist subforum with the compiled list. And will see tomorrow if I can get some done myself
Parent - By Zapper [de] Date 2012-09-25 23:42
Parent - - By Maikel Date 2012-09-25 20:17
I can just say that, indeed my work very much depends on others. And that being a PhD student takes a lot of time after the summer...
Somehow I just need some motivation to start working on OC again. I would really like to be involved in settlement again, especially
play testing and tuning. But also design concepts there.

But I think the biggest issues are graphics and getting new people involved in the project, I think for the old people the love for the project is
too big any way to abandon it... at least that is the case for me. Indeed it seems hard to motivate people to do the graphics, somehow they
rather work on CR projects (still) and create something which is really "theirs".

We just need a motivator...

Btw: What about organizing a motivating coding/playing/concepting night in Hamburg?
Parent - By Zapper [de] Date 2012-09-25 20:21

>Btw: What about organizing a motivating coding/playing/concepting night in Hamburg?


If it's a weekend and someone lets me sleep over, I could try to get a Mitfahrgelegenheit and attend ;)
That obviously doesn't makes sense if the Hamburg-people can't attend anyway.
Parent - By Clonkonaut [de] Date 2012-09-25 20:40

> But I think the biggest issues are graphics and getting new people involved in the project


Definitely. I have tried to get someone for the past 5 months and by now I'm likely to give up.
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Parent - By Shadow [de] Date 2012-09-26 01:45
A idea I had while reading this topic is about the project of Dragonclonk. If you'r watching the CCF you can find his openclonk-project named EnvironmentPack. May you can ask him to help you out with your problem having no one left making 3D-Models for you.
Parent - - By PeterW [gb] Date 2012-09-26 10:05

> The question I have is if you - just in case - would take over other engine tasks such as render code optimisation or the rope branch.


Well, if someone explains to me in sufficient detail what that ought to be about.

I don't have any particular thoughts on how the render code should look like (currently just trying to learn the bits that I need to work lights into it). I heard some things about optimizing particle drawing - that part I understand. But I think according to the last counts particle drawing wasn't really that pressing a problem?

On ropes I'm completely blank. Didn't that use to be G√ľnther's topic or something?
Parent - By Zapper [de] Date 2012-09-26 13:01

>But I think according to the last counts particle drawing wasn't really that pressing a problem?


That depends on what makes a problem pressing :)
It's not slower than in ClonkRage, sure. But when I changed the fire effect back then, I hit the limits of the particles - again. If we only could draw twice the amount of particles, everything could look so much nicer already.
And the improvements I have in mind would probably not double the limit - but rather increase it tenfold. Or even more.

The difference to optimizing the mesh drawing code is that the things one would have to do with the particle drawing code would be pretty straight-forward.
Parent - By boni [at] Date 2012-09-26 13:39
Respect CoN, huge post ;)

>You put great effort into overhauling the controls and then even redesigned everything again. Do you want to look further into this or call it a day?


I'd love to pull the 2nd redesign through. I think what OC REALLY needs to be widely successful (compared to old Clonk) are good controls + UI. And usually you can't determine the best till you've tested them. ;)
It's definitively still on my radar. The problem just is that I had quite a bit to do and got distracted by other games. I've been working in August and am also coding on my bachelo project. Also this year really seems like the absolute horror for productivity, with Diablo3, GuildWars2, Borderlands2,... released in such a short time. Every month I have more to play instead of less >_<

TL;DR:
Yes, I still want to do it, but it'll probably take some time till I get to start it.
Parent - - By AlteredARMOR [ua] Date 2012-09-26 14:58
Feel a need to put some of my own thoughts...

When I started contrinuting to OC it seemed to me as an interesting place for gaining lots of experience in 3D modelling. Though I was not as skilfull as other modelers (Ringwaul for instance), it was a very entertaining application of efforts

I still feel a bit uneasy after completely ceasing contribution without saying a word (especially when we were in a great need of - even mediocre - 3D artists). Un fortunately, I can no longer contribute to OC (not even further develop any skills in 3D modelling) for personal reasons mostly - things just turned out not the way I expected.

Sorry for not being very helpfull to the community.

I still empathize the project greatly. It would be a great loss if it comes to an end so early when there a lots of interesting things to be done.
Anyway, thanks to everyone still envolved in development for the great job you do!
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Parent - By Zapper [de] Date 2012-09-26 15:00
Thank you for everything you have contributed so far!

And good luck with everything else in your life, of course :)
Parent - - By Newton [de] Date 2012-09-27 17:53
I already told you on the telephone, so I will make it short here: I fully agree. Your post should make an impression on anyone who cares about the future of the OpenClonk project. And so does it on me. We must all work together now to get OC to some finished state where we can be content with it even if we have lesser and lesser time in the future to work on it.

I hereby invite to a preparation meeting for some "Rescue OCM" which should take place very soon. The preparation meeting is on this weekend in Hamburg. As the other devs who live in HH (Maikel, CK, Clonkonaut) signalled, they have only time on one day - so the heart of this meeting will be on Sunday after noon. For anybody who does not live in Hamburg: if you want, you can also come. You can crash on my couch then, I am free for the whole weekend.
The primary goal of this preparation meeting will to evaluate what is still missing to a mature version, what we must and what we can finish with the manpower we have and decide on what we must cut away. If we are together and motivated, we can also start working on some tasks but this is secondary.

Also, you forgot Sven2
The new controls have been unfinished since almost the start of the project. I reckon the only thing that is missing would be the player controls configuration dialogue in the menu. I guess this really is something that could also be finished by someone else than Sven2 if it turns out he has no time any more to finish this.
Parent - By Zapper [de] Date 2012-09-27 21:02

>preparation meeting


I would have liked to come, but just three days in advance is a bit too short for me
Parent - By Clonk-Karl [de] Date 2012-09-28 18:40
Great, I'll be around on Sunday. Just not until very late since I need to catch a train Monday morning at 6... :)
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Parent - By Clonk-Karl [de] Date 2012-09-28 18:39
Yes, I see an opportunity to finish the rope works, the question is just, on which timescale? Obviously, as Maikel already said, it's more motivating to work on it when the whole project is heading somewhere and progress is going on in all other areas as well... a bit of a chicken and egg problem.

I (or somebody else) could try some optimizations to the mesh rendering code, but it's not something I'd particularly like to do, especially since the game runs perfectly fine on my computers. Of course one should do a proper profiling of where most time is spent, but what comes to my mind is: Reusing the depth buffer for more than one mesh, storing vertex data in VBOs (which avoids uploading vertex data every frame for unanimated objects), computing skeletal animation on the hardware (which avoids uploading vertex data every frame for animated objects. One would need to upload the transformation matrices, though, but this is less data), or implementing LOD for meshes and/or textures. I think there is an OGRE tool which can automatically create less detailed meshes.
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Parent - By Ringwaul [ca] Date 2012-10-01 09:51
I still lurk the forum these days, but I haven't been able to ever find time to really participate in any discussions or sit down and do something productive for OC. I certainly miss the days when I could just sit for hours upon hours modelling or scripting to my hearts content.

Currently my situation is very rocky and I am not going to make promises I know I can't keep; but I will say that when I'm in a more stable/less hectic situation I will make an effort to help the project again.

By the way, has anyone made some postings on sites like gamedev.net for amateur developers to train their skills on a free project (OpenClonk)? Since the project is in such dire need of modellers, it couldn't hurt to try to attract some new talent to the community.
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