Topic: Short analysis of SW and OD

dezGusty on January 06, 2013, 11:30:03 AM

dezGusty

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Hi folks!

What follows is a short analysis of Summoning Wars and Open Dungeons, to see if it would make sense to have a merger between the two projects (at least from the development standpoint). This does not go into licensing, or art issues.

Libraries:
- OD
  - OGRE 1.7
  - CEGUI 0.7
  - pthreads
  - SFML for graphics & audio basics.
  - actionscript for scripting
  - uses standard OGRE configuration dialog.

- SW
  - OGRE 1.7, or 1.8 (TODO: begin testing support for OGRE 1.9?)
  - CEGUI 0.7 (support for 1.0 in the works)
  - single threaded
  - OpenAL (directly, not through SFML). Could be upgraded to SFML.
  - lua for scripting
  - uses standard OGRE configuration dialog.

Map:
OD - generated via code - destructable terrain.
SW - static geometry. Could be upgraded to destructable terrain, which seems to be the superior mechanic in terms of gameplay.
Static geometry is better in theory in terms of performance, but has its limitations when handling shaders.
And on the topic of performance, any integrated graphics card delivered with new laptops should be more than capable of handling an OGRE based game.

Camera:
OD - free movement
SW - constricted to player location. Cinematic sequences also available.
Should be no issue. The engine should support multiple cameras anyway and switch between them.
   
Controls:
OD - mouse selection, drag & drop, map scrolling; will need shadows, non-explored map locations.
SW - mouse controls targeting.
Engine could be generalized to allow the game to behave like an RTS.

VersionControl:
OD - git for code, SVN for media (source files for media).
SW - mercurial for code. Not sure about the media... Does anyone still use the SVN for that? I know it was used at some point...

Verdict:
- a merger is possible, but will take some effort.
The goal would be to have a common (core) engine and to have add-ons or mods for the extra behaviour of OD or SW.
I would recommend to do things in small steps.
  (E.g.: a new branch to try to see if SFML would make more sense to use instead of OpenAL, libogg, libvorbis & all the others directly).
This does have the drawback that we would need to have a visible progress rather quickly. If the OD team would not be able to make any progress while we adjust the engine.

Additional notes:
- I would like to try some changes for SW even if there will be no merger: (E.g. using SFML).
- A merger would imply that one of the teams needs to readjust most of its internal organization: We will all need a lot of goodwill and understanding.

Please give some feedback on the mentioned issues, and also bring new things to my attention if you believe I may have forgotten anything.
Thank you,
dezGusty
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Comments: 6

Skorpio on January 07, 2013, 08:24:38 PM
Reply #1

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The questions remain: What are the benefits and the downsides of a merger? Is it worth the effort? Will it perhaps cripple one of the projects and make future developments more difficult?

As I said before I think collaborating on the art front would be no problem, but I have concerns about a complete fusion of the two projects.

(posted the same on the OD forum)
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dezGusty on January 08, 2013, 01:43:09 PM
Reply #2

dezGusty

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Quote
What are the benefits and the downsides of a merger?
Benefits:
Lower number of needed developers, due to the common code-base. A higher number of developers could mean better testing, or peer-review, etc. A more generic engine is typically better in the long run, as it reacts better to changes.

Downsides:
Projects need to be adjusted, so that they share a common code base, around which to add the project specific code and resources (modding, lots of scripting). A lot of work will have to be done without having any concrete results to show to the players.

Quote
Is it worth the effort?
In the long run, yes.

Quote
Will it perhaps cripple one of the projects and make future developments more difficult?
There is that chance. There is also the danger that some team members may feel alienated by the process.

Quote
As I said before I think collaborating on the art front would be no problem, but I have concerns about a complete fusion of the two projects.
Collaborating on the art front is a great start. It will not be possible to do anything directly on the coding side.

On the development side, we will try to improve the existing engine to also be able to handle the scenario of OD gameplay.
Basically making the engine more like warcraft, where basically anything can be modified and scripted.
I hope this answers your questions.

Sorry for the delays. I'm currently switching back from Win8 to Win7 and it wasn't a smooth ride so far.
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poVoq on January 08, 2013, 04:33:01 PM
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poVoq

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Still think it would be a good idea... however by now I am starting to think OD is really beyond revival, especially with this ( http://forum.freegamedev.net/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=3945 ) project recycling most of its art assets.

If feasible it would be probably great to "recycle" some code from OD in SumWars, to have a more flexible engine as you wrote, and IMHO even more important for progress, to have an (ingame) level/dungeon editor.

Anyways, thanks for taking your time to look into it!
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West on January 08, 2013, 11:49:49 PM
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I'm not entirely clear on what level of merger we're talking about here. Just backend-wise, so we have a single code base/game engine/assets for two separate game projects (a bit like two different modules in NWN or something), or are we talking about scrapping both games and starting over from scratch with story and everything?

If the latter, I must bow out I'm afraid.
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dezGusty on January 09, 2013, 08:11:50 AM
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dezGusty

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Hi West,

we were only discussing the possibility of a merger, and what that would mean at different levels.
We're definitely not scrapping both games and starting from scratch.

What is feasible for the time being is to share some of the art and to make the engine more generic (single code base), so that it supports both games. (I haven't played NWN, so I guess it would be like 2 different modules in NWN, but I can't say for sure what that means exactly  :) ). The assets for the two games don't necessarily need to be merged, but it seems some ideas are shared on that front already.
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West on January 11, 2013, 01:56:50 AM
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West

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Hi West,

we were only discussing the possibility of a merger, and what that would mean at different levels.
We're definitely not scrapping both games and starting from scratch.

What is feasible for the time being is to share some of the art and to make the engine more generic (single code base), so that it supports both games. (I haven't played NWN, so I guess it would be like 2 different modules in NWN, but I can't say for sure what that means exactly  :) ). The assets for the two games don't necessarily need to be merged, but it seems some ideas are shared on that front already.

OK, well that's a relief. :)

The NWN thing was just an example. What I meant was, are we going to create a singular game engine and repository of assets that lets us (and maybe players as well, eventually) create different campaigns or mods whatever you might call it. A bit like Wesnoth does it. That seems to be the case, and I fully support this move if it means we can help each other out. Time permitting, I'm not adverse to the thought of providing the OD guys with some music if they need it.
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