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Author Topic: Third party interfaces and "Losing control of the project"  (Read 52330 times)

Mithaldu

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Re: Third party interfaces and "Losing control of the project"
« Reply #195 on: July 30, 2008, 09:59:51 pm »

Toady, one thing that might need being addressed: How do you feel about suggestions to the interface?
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Toady One

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Re: Third party interfaces and "Losing control of the project"
« Reply #196 on: July 30, 2008, 10:06:36 pm »

No, not at all, though I can certainly improve on what I've got now to a large degree even without external input (which I, of course, love to receive). [emphasis added]

There are now some very good threads going on, and there are more specifics than usual, and that's all good.  I should be able to alleviate a lot of those problems at some point.  I've been holding off on certain things like the arrows vs /*-+ stuff and the q/t/k stuff and the UHKM stuff because when I go through and gut the screens, changes there would be lost.  So I need to do the gutting (eg getting rid of the 80x25 requirement, etc), which I think I can do in pieces, without visible changes, as the rest of the game progresses.  Beginning that process is on the short term list, along with the yellow dev next stuff.
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Mithaldu

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Re: Third party interfaces and "Losing control of the project"
« Reply #197 on: July 30, 2008, 10:14:50 pm »

Apologies for missing that, and thanks for the answer. :)
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Jamuk

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Re: Third party interfaces and "Losing control of the project"
« Reply #198 on: July 30, 2008, 10:15:18 pm »

Yay! I was right! WOOT!

 :-X I must apologize for that immature outburst, I just could not resist expressing my happiness at being correct, because I like to be right.

And also, um, and also, um... nevermind.

Damn I wanted to come up with something beneficial to say in addition to my gloating but I can't think of anything...
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Toady One

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Re: Third party interfaces and "Losing control of the project"
« Reply #199 on: July 30, 2008, 10:20:17 pm »

Apologies for missing that, and thanks for the answer. :)

It wasn't hard to miss among those other words, he he he.
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Torak

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Re: Third party interfaces and "Losing control of the project"
« Reply #200 on: July 30, 2008, 10:26:31 pm »

We can report posts?
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Omega2

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Re: Third party interfaces and "Losing control of the project"
« Reply #201 on: July 30, 2008, 10:32:01 pm »

We can report posts?
There should be a "Report to Moderator" link on the bottom-right of every post.
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Langdon

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Re: Third party interfaces and "Losing control of the project"
« Reply #202 on: July 30, 2008, 10:33:08 pm »

I believe Toady works on what is most interesting to him at the moment, and this belief is based on what I have read in his dev notes (far clearer than most other software authors I've seen). No matter what you think is "best for Dwarf Fortress", one thing is certain - Toady will work on what Toady wants.

Oh, absolutely. I agree that he does what most interests him, and thats all fair and good. Having only donated $0.02 USD to this project thus far, I don't presume any personal entitlement. And don't get the wrong idea, I really want to send my army of thirty dwarves on a loot and pillage run to finally end these goblin ambushes.

Sorry if you thought I was accusing you of "presuming any personal entitlement". I'm just taking issue with your statement that interface is the most important issue with the DF project. Sure, its the "#1 most requested feature" but there are some of us who feel the interface is fine as it is, and feel that it is steadily improving (just not as fast as other features, such as the general world gen code).

Toady does sneak in some improvements from time to time, such as the multiple floor/wall construction and the d-b forbid/melt/dump area designation menu. It's just I feel that huge, sweeping changes to the code to accomodate third-party interfaces (APIs, DLLs, etc) will severely impact Toady's coding time (read: take him away from playing with the fun army and caravan arc code) to the point that it may delay the next few releases.

Yes, I am being selfish here. I want him to hit his stated goal of releasing a new version every month or so, as I believe he said he does not want to go several months between releases as with 38c and 39a.

However I have worked in a mod before, the Project Reality mod of Battlefield 2. They had robust gameplay changes in mind when they started out. Simple things, like changing accuracy levels for weapons and removing kill messages, created a totally new feel for the game. But we still had ridiculous crap left over from the original Battlefield 2. Maps had to be re-balanced for the new casualty rates. Capture points had to be shifted. And mappers like myself didn't want to go back into old product to fix it up, we wanted to make new product we could proudly give to the community with our signatures written in the pavement somewhere. But if we didn't practically draft developers to fix maps, we'd continue with good gameplay hampered by a bad game enviroment for much, much longer.

That's how I feel about an interface. It takes precedence not because its fun or interesting to work on, but because all of this amazing stuff is hidden under an old coat of varnish that makes other gamers, with donation money burning their pockets, walk by and say "So what?". I'm not here to cry and get my way. I don't need a 3D or 2D sprite interface. I just think its in Dwarf Fortress' best interest, even if its not interesting to Toady, to improve the interface through whatever means he prefers. And its my opinion a good way to do that would be through a 3rd party interface.

<snipped PS parts>


And again, my opinion differs from yours. In a perfect world, Toady would not have to live off donations. In this world, having "other gamers, with donation money burning their pockets, walk by and say "So what?"" is not important, in fact is not an issue. In this perfect world, Toady would keep coding DF even if nobody else but his brother played it.

In the real world, of course, Toady does have to satisfy at least some of his user base, the portion that donates regularly. In my opinion, again, what you (or I) think is "best for Dwarf Fortress" may not be, is probably not what Toady thinks is "best for Dwarf Fortress".

I've been there. I've been in two-year projects that reach a point where I can't drum up enough enthusiasm/faith/motivation to write one more line of code. Like Toady, I've also quit a steady paycheck to go off and live in relative poverty in order to do what I love. I know where he's coming from, and I know that the compulsion to code, the fey mood, if you will, is dependent largely on how much enthusiasm you have for the project, for the cool results, for the fun parts.

I don't think many commercial programmers (the ones I know at any rate) have ever grasped this concept, that you code not because it's your job, not because you need to eat... but because you can't sleep until you've gone to your workstation and bled out your latest wonderful idea onto the screen. Right now, for Toady, those ideas all have to do with the caravan and army arcs, but some small interface improvements do pop up from time to time.

Of course, I'm not comparing myself to Toady, as I would never have been able to work on a single project for as long as he has, but I think I understand, at least partly, his reluctance to give up his baby, his life's work.

Counterstrike is a mod that has far outstripped it's parent game, Half-Life. Now imagine what if Half-Life was an indie game, with its creator dependent on donations for his primary income. How would Indie Valve feel if some kid came in with this cool mod that everybody was playing, and only a few people donated to you because they liked Gordon Freeman's adventures? Most players would be donating to the Counterstrike guy. Doesn't matter if the base Half-Life donators gave enough for you to make a decent living - you'd still feel somebody had hijacked your work, had ridden to fame and fortune on your shoulders, on your work.

edit: Toady posted. Damn, I type too slow. :-P
« Last Edit: July 30, 2008, 10:38:47 pm by Langdon »
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Torak

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Re: Third party interfaces and "Losing control of the project"
« Reply #203 on: July 30, 2008, 10:34:05 pm »

We can report posts?
There should be a "Report to Moderator" link on the bottom-right of every post.

Yes, there should be. We should suggest it to toady.
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As you journey to the center of the world, feel free to read the death announcements of those dwarves that suffer your neglect.

One billion b-balls dribbling simultaneously throughout the galaxy. One trillion b-balls being slam dunked through a hoop throughout the cosmos. I can feel every single b-ball that has ever existed at my fingertips, I can feel their collective knowledge channeling through my veins. Every jumpshot, every rebound and three-pointer, every layup, dunk and free throw.

Cave King

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Re: Third party interfaces and "Losing control of the project"
« Reply #204 on: July 30, 2008, 10:34:52 pm »

If Toady stopped making DF (which he never will) I would donate loads of money to him to keep making it.
Thing is I have no way to donate otherwise I would have already.
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Omega2

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Re: Third party interfaces and "Losing control of the project"
« Reply #205 on: July 30, 2008, 10:36:08 pm »

We can report posts?
There should be a "Report to Moderator" link on the bottom-right of every post.

Yes, there should be. We should suggest it to toady.
I said that in the sense that "there is" a Report to Moderator link on the bottom-right of every post.

At least here, that is. Maybe it's not showing up on your browser, for some reason. What are you using?
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Torak

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Re: Third party interfaces and "Losing control of the project"
« Reply #206 on: July 30, 2008, 10:38:04 pm »

I said that in the sense that "there is" a Report to Moderator link on the bottom-right of every post.

At least here, that is. Maybe it's not showing up on your browser, for some reason. What are you using?

I'm just screwing with you, I know there's a report button. My first question was more of sarcastic rhetoric than anything.


Also, if someone reported one of Toady's posts, would the forum implode?
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As you journey to the center of the world, feel free to read the death announcements of those dwarves that suffer your neglect.

One billion b-balls dribbling simultaneously throughout the galaxy. One trillion b-balls being slam dunked through a hoop throughout the cosmos. I can feel every single b-ball that has ever existed at my fingertips, I can feel their collective knowledge channeling through my veins. Every jumpshot, every rebound and three-pointer, every layup, dunk and free throw.

Omega2

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Re: Third party interfaces and "Losing control of the project"
« Reply #207 on: July 30, 2008, 10:39:21 pm »

Ah.

Okay.

As for reporting Toady's posts... don't be silly! Obviously, that would happen only if someone reported the post AND divided by zero at the same time! :P
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Toady One

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Re: Third party interfaces and "Losing control of the project"
« Reply #208 on: July 31, 2008, 12:33:14 am »

Somebody reported one of my "chill out" posts because they wanted the argument to keep going, he he he.
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isitanos

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Re: Third party interfaces and "Losing control of the project"
« Reply #209 on: July 31, 2008, 12:37:08 am »

However, reflecting on the position I'd be in, there are things not to like about it.  How many threads were there about broken utilities when this version came out?  If more than half the player base comes in off a third party interface (and given how much the current interface sucks, and how much it is a source of first time downloaders dropping the game, this is not only imaginable, it is very, very likely), how would it be if it broke at each release?  There's no way to mitigate that without my direct involvement -- imagine a release down the line where you can suddenly move dwarven armies around on the world map, with a tactical view and various options.  That interface can't write itself, and it wouldn't be a quick patch, though certainly dedicated people, assuming that about whoever is maintaining the front-end at that time, can pull things together rapidly.  The pressure on me to work directly with them to get the interface out at the same time as the game itself would likely be immense and disruptive, given what little evidence we have from broken utilities.  That's not to say that I often get requests to work with utility writers (other than from the writers themselves, who I generally accommodate), but this would be at a different order of magnitude.

So what's the exact risk there then?  First, I don't want to work with other people.  So, assuming I don't do that, there's now a constant amount of pressure on me and a general disruption in the forums.  The latter could be mitigated with some announcements/guidelines, etc., but the pressure wouldn't go away.  Monetarily, it's impossible to say what on earth would happen, but if I supported the third party interface directly pre-release, I'd likely make more money, but I'd be unhappy.  If I didn't support it directly, but it was there, I'd still likely make more money, but I'd be unhappy.  That's not to say that I don't want to grow the audience and allow more people play the game, but I want to do it in a way with which I feel satisfied, even if that ends up being slower or just plain worse than a hypothetical third party alternative.

Hmm. As the guy who started this thread, I obviously was hoping for a different conclusion to this discussion. I'm a big fan of open-source development, where enthusiasm for a project can make new features develop at an amazing rate, and I was hoping that at least the interface of DF might benefit from it, freeing you to work on the Army Arc, among other things. But sincerely, thanks for posting, and especially for explaining your position in such a detailed way.

I tried hard to put myself in your shoes and see things from your point of view, but apparently I failed to understand one thing (correct me if I'm wrong): the general atmosphere of the forums and feedback you receive from players is an integral part of your happiness. I was imagining that you could just let the mess settle down by itself after every release, but since I am not this forum's moderator, I can't really tell how it feels to have a big mess of threads about stuff not working.

When you speak of pressure, are you picturing direct pressure? I have a hard time imagining people screaming at you on the forums, except maybe for the occasional moron that can be ignored. Wouldn't people rather be putting pressure on the third-party developers to update their interface ASAP? But maybe you'd feel pressure nevertheless because you dislike seeing that people cannot play the game.

One thing I'd like to point out, though, is that you seem to think that a single interface, "The front-end", would come out of third-party development. Even though that's possible, open-source usually seems to bring diversity (look at the number of linux distros), especially in a single-player game where people don't have to use compatible clients, so they can play together. So I think we'd likely see an improved ascii client, a 2d tiles client, an isometric client, a 3d client, and maybe several of each one. In my view it would distribute the uproar, so that at least not everybody would be complaining about the same thing  ;D . But I don't know if you see that as a relief.

Lastly, I may have a good way of mitigating the breakage of third-party clients at every release, without requiring your direct involvement. Assuming that you develop your own open-source interface at the same time as your closed-source server, you would likely publish your interface changes to a public SVN server. You would probably do it incrementally, at the rate of one or several commits a day - akin to backing up your work whenever you've made a step. In that case, you can bet that enthusiastic developers will watch those changes keenly, to see what's going on with the interface. This means that third-party client makers will already know that moving "dwarven armies around on the world map, with a tactical view and various options" is coming for the next version (from your very detailed dev notes), so they'll have time to plan which kind of interface they want to provide for that. And since they'll see the necessary code changes evolve gradually, because you'll always need an up-to-date interface for bugfixing, they'll be able to follow closely your development. They might have to adapt to your last minute changes, but otherwise I believe that the days of bugfixing prior to release could be enough for some of them to finalize their clients on time.
Now of course, you have to feel comfortable with that way of working.

Oh, and by the way: thank you for this great game and keep having fun developing it  ;) .
« Last Edit: July 31, 2008, 12:42:46 am by isitanos »
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