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Hello and couple questions

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13 days ago
Hi everyone,
I'm new here (well - new to the Zero-K forum, not to the SpringRTS Engine and community - but been gone for a decade or so :D ).
My questions are mostly in the direction of Devs (that'd be GoogleFrog and Licho that I "know" from back when).

In how far might you guys be interested in an creating or using a space for shared discussion amongst Libre / Open Source RTS games? I'm not thinking along FreeGameDev.org's free for all, but something rather more structured, with a clear and common goal of making games that (at least could) appeal to your average gamer.

In that vein perhaps - in how far might you be willing to compromise or put in extra work on infrastructure if it meant facilitating a lower hurdle to switching from one game to another (this one, admittedly, is more of a mid to long term thought.

Please pardon my directness - I guess I could perhaps go a little slower, but then I don't see much point in beating round the bush :P. Course, I don't need any answers asap, and I guess views might evolve over time (at least I'd hope so :) ).

Regards,
Sean (of Engines of War "fame" :P )
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13 days ago
Oh, and sorry, if there's a better place to ask / discuss these questions, then I'm happy to repost if pointed there. (idk - eg on Discord, for better interactivity, etc. - I would've asked there, but Discord is a higher hurdle to me then registering here on the forum :) . )
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quote:
put in extra work on infrastructure if it meant facilitating a lower hurdle to switching from one game to another

What is the current hurdle? It should roughly boil down to picking a different entry from a drop-down list (or equivalently saying "!game bla" in a room) which is already fairly low.
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13 days ago
I guess what I would think is sweet (again - more long term thinking here), is if as you said, you chose from a dropdown, but then the Lobby was reskinned for that game (ie put simply - switch from BAR Chobby to Zero-K Chobby and vice versa). Think Half-Life and then you change to the Counter-Strike or Team-Fortress "mods". That would rock I think :D.

Sorry, I'm rambling. I will look into the various current games more closely (I've already fired up Zero-K , and I must say I've very impressed!).

Thanks for the reply in any case, regards,
Sean
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13 days ago
quote:
in how far might you be willing to compromise or put in extra work on infrastructure if it meant facilitating a lower hurdle to switching from one game to another (this one, admittedly, is more of a mid to long term thought.
Without commenting on actual details, but as you know about springrts from a decade ago, you do realize that at some point there was a "server split". 10 years ago I think all games where on the same server and all lobbies at that time would allow all games, which is not the case anymore.

This is not a comment on wishes/possibilities/ideal scenarios, but more on what would be good to be taken into account if such path would be to be proposed again: understand what happened and have a strategy to avoid it in the future. Maybe you know the expression "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
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Tbh your message FRrankmalric sounds like a begining of some epic ballad. Starting with the Great Server Split and ending with a dark and sorta archaic warning.
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quote:
what would be good to be taken into account if such path would be to be proposed again: understand what happened and have a strategy to avoid it in the future.

The trouble I see with creating infrastructure (be it a server or whatever else) which is intended to serve more than one game is that if and when those games have more specific and potentially conflicting requirements for the infrastructure, compromises will need to be made. Those compromises will not please everybody and can quite easily please nobody.

The server split of CA/ZK, and more recently BA, from the central Spring server both pretty much boil down to that concept. The compromises required to keep CA/BA together with the other games on the same server became too unwieldly for one or both parties, and so they split.
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13 days ago
While AUrankAdminAquanim's explanation of the split makes sense from a high level perspective, I never tried to look into "could the server technically be done differently". The way I see it is that most developers care about a game. Maybe if we would have had someone caring much more about the server things would be different. On top of that there are also non-functional aspects like: what technology is the server written in, how well is it documented, how nice are the developers and so on, how easy you can update/test features, etc.

Currently I have no opinion on what can be better and in which conditions, but pointing out that the problem is more complex can't hurt.

Not to mention, the benefits should be considered as well. As a player I think I am currently quite fine with more lobbies. For games with much smaller population this can be a problem (you login and for hours there are no other started games maybe you would consider trying/playing something else), but once you reach a certain threshold does not matter much.
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13 days ago
Hi.

quote:
In how far might you guys be interested in an creating or using a space for shared discussion amongst Libre / Open Source RTS games? I'm not thinking along FreeGameDev.org's free for all, but something rather more structured, with a clear and common goal of making games that (at least could) appeal to your average gamer.

This sounds somewhat interesting, but I don't see us being able to put any work into it.

quote:
In that vein perhaps - in how far might you be willing to compromise or put in extra work on infrastructure if it meant facilitating a lower hurdle to switching from one game to another (this one, admittedly, is more of a mid to long term thought.

Again, I don't see us doing much extra work. Are you aware of the current state of modding in ZK? Any Spring game can already be run on the ZK via a fairly straightforward mod UI. Featured defaults exist so that people don't even need to go to the site. The current mods are all ZK mutators, but there is no technical reason that has to be so. Little extra features and fixes are just a PR away. So if you mean switching in that sense, then it already exists.

If you mean switching in the sense that ZK would also bundle BAR, then I don't see the point. Two game packages are harder to build and coordinate than one. The actual game sdz required to run something on Spring is not the whole game experience.
quote:
I guess what I would think is sweet (again - more long term thinking here), is if as you said, you chose from a dropdown, but then the Lobby was reskinned for that game (ie put simply - switch from BAR Chobby to Zero-K Chobby and vice versa). Think Half-Life and then you change to the Counter-Strike or Team-Fortress "mods". That would rock I think :D.

A lot more would be required than a simple lobby skin. Campaigns, tutorials, lobby layout, singleplayer, AI etc... are all important too. Playing ZK with BAR default settings will result in a subpar experience, and vise versa. Different development teams will have different ideas about what is important. It sounds like a maintenance nightmare.

Just download ZK and BAR separately and switch via something like Steam.

Of course, smaller games without their own infrastructure may have to run on one of these servers, like old Spring, which sounds good to me. I'd like to see that come back. So you can certainly do 'switching' in that sense. I just think that the most polished experience will come from games presenting themselves as standard standalone games, and that large games should strive for this level of polish.
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13 days ago
Thanks for all the feedback - some things I was aware of, many not :) !
I'll be digesting and come back to you !
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3 days ago
Sorry for the delay - I meant to answer within a couple days, not more than a week later :/ (had some urgentish family stuff to sort).

Marlric, Aquanim,

I think you both make some good points on real hurdles (for the concrete example of shared Multiplayer servers). I wouldn't lean out there and say they can be overcome, but it was just a specific suggestion - and while there are other hurdles for other things, I'd still be optimistic that it can work in some areas. Perhaps I need to spell out some more of my (long term) ideas :).

( P.S. I quite like the epic "Great Server Split" ballad :P )

GoogleFrog,

First, happy to hear you're open to the idea, if (understandably) reserved regarding investing time into it. (wouldn't make much sense for me to want to carry things further if there's no interest in the first place).

Totally agree with this sentiment: "I just think that the most polished experience will come from games presenting themselves as standard standalone games, and that large games should strive for this level of polish. "

I'm guessing one of the levels of cooperation I'd be looking at (to spell out one of the long terms), is something akin to eg the Battle-Net client. I've realised over the week that this would have a number of significant issues though (esp: either you'd be losing Traffic / visibility from Steam, or you'd need to deliver on 2 content platforms, which is certainly a horrible solution as well :/ ).

So no, I didn't mean for Zero-K to bundle BAR, or vice versa (but I guess a "Humble Libre Bundle" offering BAR, Zero-K and 0AD might be a nifty marketing gag :P ).

I guess the two main angles I'm thinking from are: Increase visibility (Communities, let alone players, are often not/hardly aware of other great Open-Source RTS titles)
and
Creating a space for shared discussion (+ potentially joint projects).

I guess more from me when I've gotten more feedback from other communities (I've only asked / got replies here and on 0AD yet..)

Regards, Sean
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3 days ago
PS - I'll be moving onto the Discord - so happy to keep talking there as well :).
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3 days ago
quote:
I'm guessing one of the levels of cooperation I'd be looking at (to spell out one of the long terms), is something akin to eg the Battle-Net client.

If you're offering to essentially create a steam-style launcher then I'd be happy to build to it, as long as the system for automatically building to it is as easy as the system that Steam has. If it isn't as easy (say, if it's as annoying as the system on itch.io), then we'd have to think about the cost of continued maintenance.
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