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Author Topic: Community-driven roguelike development project underway. Want to design a game?  (Read 26872 times)

Tuplis

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Hey everyone,

I originally made this post on the temple of the roguelike forums and one person suggested I might also find interested people in here. So here goes:

I'm Tuplis, a new guy here on the forums. I'm a 25-year-old fresh  Master of Science in Technology with software engineering as my major. I'm currently coding full-time for a software company. I specialize in agile software development processes.

I've been playing roguelikes on and off for about 15 years now and decided I'll finally make one of my own. During these years I've come to realize that one person can make a really great roguelike because of the ability to focus on "the good stuff" instead of drawing 3d models and all that stuff. So, here's my attempt at combining my specialization - agile development - with the process of making a roguelike.

[outdated]
I currently have a very simple game, simply called "Zombies". There's only one test map and a player character can run around and kill a bunch of zombies that will be randomly generated on startup. That's it. And there's where you lot come in.
[/outdated]

The central idea in agile development is to constantly publish release-level-polished functionality in small increments. This allows the product to rapidly evolve in face of changing requirements. So my idea is to have the community of players playing the game define what those requirements are - literally (nearly) almost all of them. Here's the complete run-down of the functionalities I've so far "locked", everything else is up for discussion:

-Roguelike. No emphasis on graphics beyond what ascii can represent. I've committed to writing in Java with the blacken library which I find sufficient.
-Zombie apocalypse theme. It's just what I want to do.

If I can gather a group of 5-10 active people, I can start churning away at it. I can work perhaps around 10 hours a week as I work full-time on the side. Agile development hinges on writing continuously excellent quality code in order to avoid rework and the idea is to constantly (weekly to monthly) release everything made up to that point so there will be constant progress. That amount of active people should suffice in creating me a backlog of work to chip away at. More are also welcome of course!

TL;DR : I'm looking to crowdsource the design of a roguelike game project run by an agile software development process.

So, who would be interested in this project?

Latest version:

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/84930267/Zombies-0-12-8-6-0.rar

Keybinds & help:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1nZK3IR_2ra0mXIB25uAFNfHphHMRocTD309Zuw-P-SY/edit

Credits:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1QcJteqBK42ryW0cNPrvW_JHCWXU5n_RpW_0gEBs45Tk/edit

Changelog:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1vgiqPBb-hJozND57uWOs2mRmPbKJfXF4BY97iZD23Nw/edit

Backlog:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ar3Z_84uVAcldDNNeW14SUI3N2VpN1lUU2tPajMzTkE

Rules for the backlog:

-Anyone can add stuff but use common sense about whether we need to discuss the feature first (eg. don't add stuff like magic spells)
-Every new backlog item needs to have end-user value. The value can also change over time: A random map generator is nearly useless in a game with almost no features and thus will increase in value over time. Conversely, a minor shift in game scope might make an otherwise important feature obsolete.
-When adding a new item, consider whether you can break it down to independent functionalities out of which at least one has end-user value in itself. Iterate this process until you can no longer break the feature down.
-Add yourself a column in the value-area if you want to contribute on that
-Ignore Effort unless there's a ? in there
-Add yourself a comment column if you need to. We'll need to address that if it becomes too wide/unreadable.
-Don't remove/change anything other people added (outside of typos)
-If you know what you're doing, you can stylish the file. Just remember that usability comes first.

Need troubleshooting?
-Check that your java path is set (http://java.com/en/download/help/path.xml)
-Target Java version is 1.6, make sure you have that or higher.

Regards,
Tuplis
« Last Edit: August 06, 2012, 12:12:39 pm by Tuplis »
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quinnr

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I would be interested in watching, not a ton of free time to suggest and play a ton, but community projects are always awesome and I support your idea!
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Girlinhat

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This would be a more appropriate forum for it.  "Other Games" is for games which exist to be discussed.  "Creative Projects" is for anything being generated.  Granted you could also have a thread in "Other Games" where you publish the releases and let people play.  Then again with this sort of project, it sounds like playtesting and coding are going to be the same action.

Regardless, this is indeed the place.  We have people making a ROM hack of Pokemon Red and Blue, masterfully renamed to Orthoclase and Microcline, although that humor is probably lost on you for being a damned beardless elf.  But that's alright, you're new here.  We'll get you some beard yet.

One big issue you'll run into here is that people aren't consistent.  You won't get 10 people working on it.  You'll get 30 people signed up with 3-4 working at any given time.  They'll cycle out over days and weeks, but you really won't get a group going from start to finish.  Shifts will be taken, like it or not.

That said, this sounds like a GREAT idea to just make a github or somesuch so that we can do branches and merges and whatnot.  Carry out a central release line, and then let people do branches as they modify bits of code as they see fit.  If it works, merge it.  If it doesn't fit, then let that branch die.  Allow that, and you'll see a lot of people making tweaks and mods to the code and then the community at large can decide if it gets merged with the main line or not, which is probably your best way to carry this out.  If you ask a question to 3 dwarves you'll get 5 different opinions.  Don't let us work together, it's brutal.  Let us do our thing, and we'll build off each other naturally.

I'm in though.  I have trouble starting a project, especially a roguelike theme, but if there's already a working engine in place then I can definitely help flesh out different areas.  I'd love to see what happens when you let the creative powers of the community shape a product.  You'll have WAY to many cooks in the kitchen and end up with a gloriously horrendous soup that you can't help but love.

Also: Expect tileset support.  Someone will eventually, sooner or later, make a tileset version.  Just, let it happen.

Tuplis

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Maybe I misrepresented what I want to do here: I'm looking to "crowdsource" the design, not the implementation. I want to see how good of a roguelike I can code by myself and having someone else do the design is done to maximize the value of the game to end-users.

Also: Can someone move this to the correct forum?
« Last Edit: June 12, 2012, 12:16:14 am by Tuplis »
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quinnr

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Maybe I misrepresented what I want to do here: I'm looking to "crowdsource" the design, not the implementation. I want to see how good of a roguelike I can code by myself and having someone else do the design is done to maximize the value of the game to end-users.

Also: Can someone move this to the correct forum?

At the very top or very bottom of the thread there should be a Move Thread button that the creator can use.
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eerr

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It doesn't have to move to creative projects- if you don't want it to.

The fit is slightly better, but works just fine here.

Also, girlinhat is quite sharp.
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Tuplis

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At the very top or very bottom of the thread there should be a Move Thread button that the creator can use.

Thank you, sir.
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Girlinhat

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Hmm, I wouldn't care if it stayed here.  We have things like Ultima Ratio Regum here (or however it's spelled) and that's basically in-development talk and all.  So whatever, I know I'll be more likely to see this thread in Other Games since I don't check Creative Projects often.

"Crowdsourcing" to me has always been a metaphor for "Lazy".  Or in the more eloquent words of xckd - http://xkcd.com/1060/

Although you needn't do that at all.  I dunno how other communities work, but 'round these here parts if you post anything, you're immediately struck with "This is cool/lame" and "You could make it more cool/less lame by doing this."  Opinions flow like water and the simple knowledge of something existing is enough for us to respond to the unasked questioned and offer our knowledge, or lack thereof.

In short - post what you've got, and keep the OP updated with a link to the most recent version, and everything will follow exactly how you want.  The community at large will post this thread with endless suggestions and discussions.  We're like, I dunno, some sort of accidental ultimate beta test think tank or something.  You'll rarely get a post like "knives are OP" but instead you'll get posts like "you should rebalance knives by lowering their accuracy" or something.  Being a community built around a brutal, low-graphic, strategy-focused roguelike of legendary proportions, we have a pretty keen userbase and generally lack the trolls, Minecraft fans, and simple shouters like you see everywhere else.

So just post what you've got and let's see what happens.  I'd also suggest going open source.  You'll be surprised how many people are fantastic bug catchers or optimizers, or can do things that you might have trouble with.  For reference on this, check Cataclysm.  It's open source, and there's a few members who pluck out some damned tricky bugs and others who mod in huge features.  Whales (the Cataclysm owner) picks and chooses what he wants to merge into the official release, and it works very well.

Tuplis

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"Crowdsourcing" to me has always been a metaphor for "Lazy".  Or in the more eloquent words of xckd - http://xkcd.com/1060/

Perhaps crowdsourcing is the wrong term. My intent is simply to ensure that the product of my work is at all times optimized in terms of end-user value and to that end I'll employ a bunch of end-users to guide my short-term development goals. Long-term goals are more or less emergent because I want to avoid the feature creep effect.

Also, I think I'll post the game later today when I get home from work (8-9 hrs from now) so you'll get to try what little there is to try. The reason I'd like people to "register" is so we can take the development discussion elsewhere. While I do welcome anyone who wants to contribute, I feel like even that nominal amount of commitment is sufficient to cancel the noise that we'll be sure to face in a public forum such as this.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2012, 01:08:02 am by Tuplis »
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Girlinhat

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As I said before, this isn't your average community.  "Public noise" is rather melodious.  But really, check around these forums a bit.  The ban list isn't updated for months at a time, the fact that we have a ban list says a lot, and about 90% of posts are thoughtful and constructive, if the topic needs constructing.  Failed topics get derailed very quickly, but that's expected.  If there's anything meaningful to discuss, you very quickly end up with several gentlemen sitting about the fire puffing corncob pipes and drolling on about details and balances.  This is really one of the best possible environments in which to develop a game.  Constructive posts, love of complexity, no shortage of imagination, and we only complain when things are too easy, and are happiest when the game is just barely unwinable.

Just trust me on this.  You were pointed here by someone else who said we're a good lot.  You're not familiar with our wistful ways quite yet.  Post what you've got openly, and it will turn out well.  Namely because 1: You'll get a lot of discussion going, and 2: People who register to your other-area will lose focus quickly and wander off.  Notoriously short attention spans.  You might have one person participate for 1-3 weeks and then go On Break.  In another environment that'd mean less participation.  On the main forums here, that means that they'll be replaced by someone else and shifts will change naturally.  And the strong will prevail to carry on their genetics to the next generation.  The circle of life will continue as per the natural order.  Or something.

Dariush

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Damn, that sounds awesome. I'm interested up to my ears and a little on top. Count me in.

Also, I completely support Girl's idea that this forum is the best place stray winds could have carried you to. The chance of 'noise' is almost nil. Well, unless you count PTWs and 'Keep up the good work!'s.

Thief^

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I'll definitely be watching.
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Tuplis

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Also, I completely support Girl's idea that this forum is the best place stray winds could have carried you to. The chance of 'noise' is almost nil. Well, unless you count PTWs and 'Keep up the good work!'s.

I still have my concerns on this type of planning/feedback which are rooted on my idea of the design process we are (or rather, were?) going to use. With that in mind, having "several gentlemen sitting about the fire puffing corncob pipes and drolling on about details and balances" as Girlinhat puts it, might not be an efficient approach to what I'm trying to accomplish.

What I need exactly is a bunch of players (I'm included in that bunch) that can provide me with a backlog of small-medium tasks such as "include a 'swoosh' every time the player swings his weapon" and "implement ranged weapons" along with some sort of a numerical score indicating the value of the feature to the end-user. The backlog can, in theory, be infinitely large as long as there's a consensus that a given feature is a desirable one (for example, if someone suggests magic spells in a zombie roguelike, we might not reach a consensus). When that feature is implemented is determined by calculating its priority value by dividing the value number by my estimation of effort in implementing it. Thus our collaboration serves towards rapidly developing a game with the most valuable features. The question is, can the proposed model of sitting around a fire achieve that goal? What do you think?

I don't want to appear difficult by setting up these restrictions but my agile self-organizing approach to the process of making this game is, for me, at least half the fun.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2012, 05:09:30 am by Tuplis »
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Springare

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So, if i understand you correctly you want something like

"Add a pistol, it should make 5-7 dmg with a hit ratio of 75% and a break ratio of 5% each shot"

instead of

"A suggestion would be that ranged weapons could break, and maybe inflict some player-dmg because of the little explosion the bullet makes in the pistol"?
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Tuplis

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So, if i understand you correctly you want something like

"Add a pistol, it should make 5-7 dmg with a hit ratio of 75% and a break ratio of 5% each shot"

instead of

"A suggestion would be that ranged weapons could break, and maybe inflict some player-dmg because of the little explosion the bullet makes in the pistol"?

Either one is fine. Those are balance issues that need a feedback loop regardless. What I want is stuff like:

-"We want you to add ranged weapons. We feel their value to the game would be 9 out of a maximum of 10 points"
-"We want you to add attack sounds. Their value is 6/10 points."

Then I figure how much effort it takes to add either. Guns would take 2 hours (priority = 9/2=4,5), sounds 1 hours (priority=6). So I decide to implement the sounds first, then weapons. In an ideal case, the backlog is so long that some of the features will be postponed until quite far, maybe 30+ days into the future.
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