How we will do this - read, comment and contribute

Jack Claw was in development between 2006-2008 and was released in the Humble Frozenbyte Bundle for the community to play and build upon.
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fb_eelis
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How we will do this - read, comment and contribute

Postby fb_eelis » Thu Apr 21, 2011 6:21 pm


Hello everyone!


Here are some thoughts concerning the Jack Claw source concept:

(Remember, everything written here is just ideas/thoughts on how we could go on doing this. Feel free to comment on anything and if you happen to have a better idea on how something should be done, please share that opinion with us :))

First of all, I would like to say that this is a very good opportunity to people who are hungry for showing their skills to developers (not just us). Even if you are never hired to an actual game development studio through this, this is an awesome learning experience concerning group-working, which is definitely beneficial in the future for you - the applier. You need the same skills in crowdsourcing projects, than what you need when working in a normal game development studio. So it's basically a win-win situation for you. :)


Start of the project:


1st step - Show me what you got: (make us go "ohhhhh!")

When we start the project, we will give two weeks of time (can be shorter or longer, depending on the situation) for people to screw around as much as they want with the source code and do all kinds of crazy experiments. This will bring up whole new ideas to the community - you will see all kinds of cool stuff being done with the engine. Experimentations, whatever. Just go crazy! This will lead to where us and the community can decide what kind of game Jack Claw will be like.

2nd step - Let's go this way:
After the two week "intro", we give out points to the best 'show off' contributor (and to everyone who participated).
A voting will be held prior to the giving of points so we will see to which direction the community wants to take the project.


Points:
Points will be allocated to people always when they contribute something, based loosely on how "good" the contribution is. Points will be given even if the person just tries something new. Only the amount will be a bit smaller.
Points will eventually become a factor when deciding who should be leading which task or area, for example, designing stage 1 or making assets for stage 1.


Tasks:
After the initial direction of the project is decided, tasks will be updated on the boards. Tasks will be labeled under categories, such as Gameplay Code, Engine Code, Textures, Models etc. One task under Engine Code could be, e.g. "Create weather effects support", or something similar. Tasks will have a certain time limit and people can acquire tasks for themselves. People with more points are in a higher position when deciding who gets the task, if there are more than one person wanting to do the task. Points will be given on completion of the task, more than normal if it was done extremely well. Even if a task is left unfinished, some points will be given for trying, based on how much work was done for the task.

Merits will help you to get bigger tasks, such as designing a whole level/stage for the game.


Merits:
Merits can be earned through community voting, completing a difficult task and/or when you have acquired enough points you can tell us that you are interested on working on a specific bigger task or area. For example, if we want to design the first level of the game, we would make a task: "Design Jack Claw stage 1 in one week". After one week, voting would occur and the designer with highest vote count would achieve the merit "Design - Stage 1". Other game areas can be handled the same way. E.g. merits "Assets - Stage 1" or "Textures - Stage 1" (more than one people can have the same merit = they work as a group). By this way we ensure that people who really do want to participate on the project and contribute, are active and committed. The contributor will not be voted for, unless he/she does some work on the designing, assets, textures, or whatever is his/her task or area. And when he/she does the work, it means he/she is committed. One contributor can have multiple merits.

Also, lower profile merits could be given to people who are willing to do some kind of smaller scale work. "Design - Stage 1 (helper)" for instance. "Helpers" would be under the command of their "bosses" so that people with the merit "Design - Stage 1" would give orders to the people with the merit "Design - Stage 1 (helper)" etc.

Ultimately, we can be the "Main Designer" of the project, meaning that if there isn't enough voting or design concepts,
we can point out which kind of stuff we would want in the game. Of course, this would only be the last resort and in normal situations all the decision will be done by the community through voting.


Voting:
Voting will occur with polls through the boards (at least at first). Ultimatums given out the community, e.g. "Design stage 3 sound ambiance in five days" will have some people with ideas behind it. A voting will occur after five days have passed (in this case) between the given ideas. All board members are eligible to vote once. Multi-voting will only be a trivial problem, because people with this kind of interest in the project, does it by their hearts and are not in for the money (which is excluded from the project anyway). Loose-democracy is applied, meaning that re-voting and other necessary means to keep the project running can be used.


Art/Code hubs:
We will set up repositories for art and code for the community to put stuff in. GitHub is already working for the source code, for art we will find or set up a similar service. There needs to be a folder-like structure for the art stuff - for example, Stage 1 Art folder contains all concept, textures, models etc. for the game's Stage 1. This could probably be on our servers as well.


Like I said in the beginning, feel free to comment on anything! Every new idea is a possibility! Let's make this work, shall we? :)

CheatCat
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Re: How we will do this - read, comment and contribute

Postby CheatCat » Thu Apr 21, 2011 7:19 pm

I don't like the idea of giving people points for what they do? Would that be a highscore of who doing the best work?
Maybe that is so you work in your team, but for a community based project it sounds strange. And no, I have no idea how to do instead.

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FB_Lauri
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Re: How we will do this - read, comment and contribute

Postby FB_Lauri » Thu Apr 21, 2011 7:57 pm

Many crowdsourced projects/sites actually use scoring method, for example http://www.wreckamovie.com/ (includes also gaming projects), or various news/information sites, like http://www.mobygames.com/

Instead of just a simple single-point system you can also rank various sub-categories and thus find out who's best in what. Eventually, people who score high enough in certain fields are also worth doing decisions on that area (so yes it's also how a proper business handles things at it's best).

I agree it will be interesting and challenging to combine best business practices with crowdsourcing, and there we need the community's help as we are most experienced with the professional approach.

CheatCat
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Re: How we will do this - read, comment and contribute

Postby CheatCat » Fri Apr 22, 2011 12:33 am

And who are giving those points?

It would be interesting to see if there is another way to do this, the most common strategies I have seen in open source project is that you submit stuff as more or less modifications of bugfixes that the developer group can choose to include in their project. So when you got enough stuff included you might become a member of the developer group. That isn't really a community-driven project but rather a project driven by one single person or group.

Another method are similar to you point system, that you send some info about yourself, then the groupleaders and other important people decide if you can join a group (there is usually several groups in the projects that use this method) as some kind of helper. Then you climb up on a ladder from helper -> member -> active member -> ... -> grouperleader depending how much you are willing to work.

I think that your point system is better than those methods described above but I am still somewhat critic to it. Indeed it would be interesting how it work out. But, yeah, the only thing I know about projects is about those when you join what you think are good at and then you have as much power as anyone else in that group. With other words very small projects.

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StevenT
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Re: How we will do this - read, comment and contribute

Postby StevenT » Sat Apr 23, 2011 12:58 pm

I'm glad to see Frozenbyte is planning to have a leadership role in this project which will help get things off to a good start.

Some interesting ideas with the points and mini contests. I can certainly see where the advantage comes from in finding people good in certain areas using them. However I do think that adding points to things can sometimes result in people caring more about a number than the thing the number is about (xbox achievements, forum post counts, etc).

BTW, before you start the project properly I think you should think about moving the code to GPL as people have been suggesting. The current custom licence will likely put many people off from contributing.

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Urfoex
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Re: How we will do this - read, comment and contribute

Postby Urfoex » Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:15 pm

Hi folks.

Just posting some thoughts about the thoughts of fb_eelis.

I for myself am studying computer science right now, doing an internship and will be writing my bachelor thesis in some month (Are there any good ways to get a good thesis to get into game development?). I would love to get into the gaming business but only on small companies which are supporting Linux and are making games out if fun and love like Wolfire, Frictional Games, Frozenbyte or even create my own little developers forge and get my own ideas out into the reality. Just like many other people :D
I heard people talking about people working on open source projects, showing skills and having something to show of when they apply for a job. For that, for learning new stuff and getting to know new people it would be fantastic to work on something like "Jack Claw". Even the game itself and the trailer showed good intentions and got me thinking about new stuff to add. As this game is just a prototype nothing seems to be settled. Everything is open and changeable. That's great for coming up with new fantasies.

But ....


I like the idea of you, the Frozenbyte people, being the head of the development and driving the hole project forward. A project always needs a head-team knowing what needs to be done and caring about the quality of the project and also caring about the people working on the project. And as you already brought out some nice games it should go well. I heard some people talking about open source games and that their is nothing new, just remakes of old. Sadly it is somehow true. There is no "big" open source game I know of which showed something new. New stuff was always sold. That's way I hope having Frozenbyte taking the leadership this will bring out maybe the first innovative open source game and will not be getting another copy or remake of some old classics. Also giving away the making decisions on the actual game contents to the community seems quite nice. But that could lead to problems on how people will contribute. E.g. the community could decide that the game will only take place inside a big town and some people don't like that and want it to be placed in some neat little village. Thous people might fork the project and build their own version of it. Manpower would be split and two projects would evolve. It is not that bad considering that the base, the engine, will be equal on both projects and improving one project could help the other. But maybe a different decision will held on some engine-part and will also lead to to split. Now two engines will evolve differently.
On open projects like this one there will always be the risk of losing and parting of people.
Wikipedia e.g. lives also because of the community. But also dies from that because some of them are admins and some of them are just doing as they like (at lease in the german version). Many people got away from writing for it just because their work was denied.
So a collecting tank for things not getting in at first place should be around to catch stuff and ideas for maybe later usage. Also a little playground would be nice to play around with stuff and see if things would fit in. A multi-user-server where anybody could connect to and show of and test new stuff just like second life or garrys mod or minecraft could be helpful for that.
wi

The things mentioned about points, tasks, merits and voting are sounding nice. Having a hierarchy is a simple thing that needs to be in. There should be no discussion about that. But how the people will get up and down the hierarchy should not be by just getting points and merits. E.g someone has enough points to be the Stage One designer and I am just his helper. If I get some points now maybe I could have more points then him and could be the Stage One designer and he my helper. So a given task should not change its owner just because of some change in points. It should also be considered to call a vote for higher hierarchy positions with people standing up for their election. That way only people who want to do that part are getting the chance to it. And it would not only be the points of someone getting him the job. Take e.g. someone making little assets all day and night. He's getting lots of points for that but maybe he would not like to do bigger things. Also consider 3 people standing up for election with 2 of them having a little bit more points then the other but he being much better in leading. The vote will give one of them the position.

Like already mentioned the points should be on many categories. Just giving points in one scale on different parts would not be that good. If you does not finish a task but did what you did very well you would get the same amount of points as someone who finished the task but did not as well as the other. That way you would not know which one is somehow better in which area. Splitting things will show of these things. A textual commend on each task and/or merit would also be good. Because this is much work it would be nice to have a review-team for stuff like that.

Asset- and code-repositories are essential to a community project like this one.
But there should also be more then a forum to manage the hole project. Tracker for tasks, issues, bugs, feature-requests, a timeline with milestones, a wiki for explaining stuff and overview of now and then, maybe a mailing-list (Any pros-cons for mailing-list vs. forum ?).
There is software like FusionForge, Redmine, Trac to create an own hosting and project-management facility. Or free sites of the internet could be used. I looked into some and did not like much of them. E.g. seeing something like that "Developers must agree to grant SourceForge.net a perpetual license before they can host code on its servers." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SourceForge.net) holds me back from them. For my own projects I use http://code.google.com/p/ but that could be a little bit small for a project like this. I don't know. Maybe someone can tell us more about it and other of the facilities.

The first two initial steps mentioned are a bit *strange*. Making something cool and getting points to have an initial rating for the beginning is quite good. You need some first step to get to know the people which work on a project. But will that work?
It could be better to let each interested person come up with a little profile about himself, showing stuff he did and worked on. And that should not be only on the released parts of Jack Claw because not everybody will get his hands fast into it. Their was a nice speech of Icculus on flourish: http://flourishconference.blip.tv/file/4987565/ . He said something about different kinds of people contributing to projects. Some doing stuff like porting, clearing code, doing fixing bugs, other creating new stuff, building on top what is there. Maybe if you just consider the once making you go "ohhhhh!" you will miss many other. Like some already said in the other thread they just wanted to make Jack Claw playable with keyboard and mouse, other just wanted to port the game to other systems then windows.
Nobody should get killed in the first attempt to contribute to the project.

And one really big point I did not like inside the thoughts is the time-aspect. Maybe it was just bad for the examples but some of the given timings won't fit into a community project. People won't work each day the whole day on just this one project. They need to go to work or school, have family and friends. Their is not that much time on working for other things. And now with the nice weather coming up someone might get out more and would have even less time to work outside his normal work.
Imagine having done something an Sunday evening. Now you can get a new task. Maybe you grep one with just 5 days on the ToDo list. That could be till Friday. 5 days of work where you might get to nothing and then you get Zero points just because you had a normal stressful week. Also the 2 weeks mentioned for phase 1 could maybe a little bit short because getting into the code is not just done by flying over it. Also you would need some experience in some way to insert new features. E.g. you could not just implement tessellation without ever having worked with it before. So even if you would have some nice ideas you could maybe just not get them inside in time.
That is also why I would not make this the first step to categorize people willing to work on the project.


You should also think about a way to make some money out of the project. It should be a way that the community would not be offended. Something like a "Donate" or "Contribute" button on the project page or webpage would be good. Servers won't run on there own and also you guys and girls from Frozenbyte working with the community won't work for free. Maybe the game could also be sold on some platforms like android, iphone, ipad and such things to generate some money. That money could also be put into the community. E.g. making some events where everybody could win something. So everybody would have something from it. That way contributors would also get something more back then just seeing and being part of the evolution of the game.



So long and thanks for the fish!
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StevenT
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Re: How we will do this - read, comment and contribute

Postby StevenT » Sat Apr 23, 2011 5:13 pm

Urfoex wrote:maybe a mailing-list (Any pros-cons for mailing-list vs. forum ?).

What about IRC? Real time communication is awesome for meetings and collaborative problem solving. In terms of mailing list vs forum I prefer forums. Setting up a mailing list too probably wouldn't hurt though.

Urfoex wrote:Maybe the game could also be sold on some platforms like android, iphone, ipad and such things to generate some money

Bringing money/selling into the project could be quite a grey area and depending on the licence the code is under, impossible without contributors agreeing to some kind of dual licensing.

relaysignal
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Re: How we will do this - read, comment and contribute

Postby relaysignal » Sun Apr 24, 2011 6:02 am

Maybe create a Reddit community for the project? It can be private and let people vote (up or down) works. How's that?

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fb_eelis
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Re: How we will do this - read, comment and contribute

Postby fb_eelis » Tue Apr 26, 2011 1:36 pm

StevenT wrote:Some interesting ideas with the points and mini contests. I can certainly see where the advantage comes from in finding people good in certain areas using them. However I do think that adding points to things can sometimes result in people caring more about a number than the thing the number is about (xbox achievements, forum post counts, etc).


Urfoex wrote:The things mentioned about points, tasks, merits and voting are sounding nice. Having a hierarchy is a simple thing that needs to be in. There should be no discussion about that. But how the people will get up and down the hierarchy should not be by just getting points and merits. E.g someone has enough points to be the Stage One designer and I am just his helper. If I get some points now maybe I could have more points then him and could be the Stage One designer and he my helper. So a given task should not change its owner just because of some change in points. It should also be considered to call a vote for higher hierarchy positions with people standing up for their election. That way only people who want to do that part are getting the chance to it. And it would not only be the points of someone getting him the job. Take e.g. someone making little assets all day and night. He's getting lots of points for that but maybe he would not like to do bigger things. Also consider 3 people standing up for election with 2 of them having a little bit more points then the other but he being much better in leading. The vote will give one of them the position.


Hey StevenT and Urfoex,

The idea behind the points and hierarchy is not to give "jobs" to people only based on the amount of points they have. E.g. "For this job you need exactly 248 points" or something similar. The points are more like a meter which shows that who are active in the community and who are not so active. If some of you, for example, have 10 points and you've shown that you can do something neat and you want to do a specific job, you can, there's no "point limit" in that sense. But of course if there's another person with 200 points (showing that he/she is very active) and we can see his/her good record on the jobs, that means that that person is a bit higher in the priority list. This is only for the common good -> Of course we want to give out tasks to different people to show their skills but at the same time we need to make sure that the project is going forward all the time. Crowdsourcing projects tend to be quite slow projects - and that of course is understandable considering that there's a lot of different people involved.
If the person with 10 points _really_ wants to do the specific task, he/she can tell us why he/she would be better to do it. Everything is negotiable.

Merits on the other hand are required to be able to do some really important tasks. That is because the tasks which merit(s) are needed for are going to be the foundations of the project. So we have to make sure that these tasks will get done properly.

The first two initial steps mentioned are a bit *strange*. Making something cool and getting points to have an initial rating for the beginning is quite good. You need some first step to get to know the people which work on a project. But will that work? .... Nobody should get killed in the first attempt to contribute to the project.


Nobody is going to get killed in their first attempt of doing something :) We will give every opportunity to everybody and anyone's contribution in any way will be noted some way or the other.
Again, I must emphasize that the meaning of the first two steps are just to see what people can do with the engine, art, effects, whatever. And through that, give _ideas_ to people for something to start working on. (Or upgrade ideas already implemented) Of course it will take time for people to get their hands into the game and we are more than happy to wait. The two steps are only to encourage those who want to do something ASAP and to let loose the imagination of others. Based on these "experimentations" or whatever you want to call them, we can eventually decide the direction of the project.

And one really big point I did not like inside the thoughts is the time-aspect. Maybe it was just bad for the examples but some of the given timings won't fit into a community project. People won't work each day the whole day on just this one project. They need to go to work or school, have family and friends. Their is not that much time on working for other things. And now with the nice weather coming up someone might get out more and would have even less time to work outside his normal work.


This is definitely something what I want to emphasize even more. Do not think the time limits as limits - they are there _just_ to give some kind of time frame in which, POSSIBLY, the task can be completed. That is no way the final time limit of the task. Like Urfoex said, the examples were pretty bad and I definitely thought about those, should've I added them or not. I maybe shouldn't have, because it might confuse people.
The times can be thought as rough estimations and whoever is going to do the task, will have the opportunity to change the time frame to a suitable one.
We do not want to, in any way, limit the creativity of people by setting up time limits for the tasks. Please understand this 8)

You should also think about a way to make some money out of the project. It should be a way that the community would not be offended. Something like a "Donate" or "Contribute" button on the project page or webpage would be good.


No. We will not try to make money out of the project. We do this because of our love for games, not for the love of money. If there's someone who wants to donate something, we can, of course, add a donate button - but that would only be because someone in the community wanted that :wink:

CheatCat
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Re: How we will do this - read, comment and contribute

Postby CheatCat » Tue Apr 26, 2011 2:36 pm

fb_eelis wrote:No. We will not try to make money out of the project. We do this because of our love for games, not for the love of money. If there's someone who wants to donate something, we can, of course, add a donate button - but that would only be because someone in the community wanted that :wink:

Non-profit FTW. 8) But if the game are going to be multiplayer (it is hard to imagine this game as multiplayer, lots of Jack Claws fighting eachother, but that could be amazing perhaps) I guess someone must set up server, what isn't free. But I have seen some Open Source games who run at no donations and still have good servers for multiplayer games.

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FB_Lauri
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Re: How we will do this - read, comment and contribute

Postby FB_Lauri » Tue Apr 26, 2011 3:21 pm

Frozenbyte can fund necessarities for the development, like servers.

aceupmysleeve
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Re: How we will do this - read, comment and contribute

Postby aceupmysleeve » Tue Apr 26, 2011 7:06 pm

I think that this project model is fine and worth going forward with. It can always be modified if/when issues arise as a result of its use.


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