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Open Source Programming Python Games

Battle For Wesnoth Seeks New Developers 58

jones_supa writes: Twelve years ago, David White sat down over a weekend and created the small pet project that we know today as the open source strategy game The Battle For Wesnoth. At the time, Dave was the sole programmer, working alongside Francisco Muñoz, who produced the first graphics. As more and more people contributed, the game grew from a tiny personal project into an extensive one, encompassing hundreds of contributors. Today however, the ship is sinking. The project is asking for help to keep things rolling. Especially requested are C++, Python, and gameplay (WML) programmers. Any willing volunteers should have good communication skills and preferably be experienced with working alongside fellow members of a large project. More details can be found at the project website.
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Battle For Wesnoth Seeks New Developers

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    The game is ok...I've played it for a few tens of hours over the years...but what are all contribution of which the summary speaks? Sure more scenarios and such, but new features, changes to game play dynamics, ??? I haven't seen anything new in a while.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Did you miss the rather big update in November? http://wesnoth.org/start/1.12/
      I personally think that it might be better to make a completely new game than to keep reworking an old title, but the game has seen some pretty big improvements over the years.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 25, 2015 @02:34PM (#50181755)

    I think it's time for Wesnoth to declare itself in deep freeze. Stop tinkering with the project. Do what professional game developers do: Freeze the format of game definition files. Don't change them, breaking third party addons, every time you release a new version of Wesnoth. In the linked article, this developer whines about "unmaintained mainline campaigns". If the WML (Wesnoth's own language used to describe game rules and campaigns) did not change with every Wesnoth release, breaking third-party content, content developers would be able to spend time making better compelling content instead of playing the "catch up with the developers' arbitrary API changes" game.

    The Wesnoth developers did this to themselves. They now have 10, count that 10 unmaintained campaigns in the main game. If Wesnoth was properly managed, those campaigns would be fully functional today. The Wesnoth development team did not have the discipline to keep the content interface stable.

    • Hes right. This is not an immature game. Freeze the api and then start a wesnoth2 with a new gameplay idea AND without so much cruft. Great time to bring in new devs cut unnecessary stuff and generally break eggs (you know, the fun parts of the development process). But do it knowing that its time for that.

    • I think it's time for Wesnoth to declare itself in deep freeze...

      Disagree. Keep making it better, that is true superpower of an open source media project. Not constrained by lily livered market drones or tight assed accountants. For example, Improve the animation engine and fill it with new high quality content. Major amount of work, but fun and will move the game look forward a couple of decades.

      Some aspects of the game production values are just great, notably the music. Bring some of the other production values up to a similar level. Add creature comforts like zoomabl

      • None of this makes the game any better, nor fixes the broken campaigns. Animation engine? Seriously? For a turn-based strategy game?

        But it is what developers like to work on. Who is demanding zoomable magnification? The game uses icons. "Endless incremental improvements are possible." That's the main problem here.

        • Who is demanding zoomable magnification? The game uses icons.

          Bitmap icons, which always end up looking like shit in a couple of years. How about turning all graphics into SVG? It would instantly make the game zoomable, ensure nice sharp visuals on every platform, benefit future OSS projects and give obsessive micro-optimizers something useful to do - or at least I've never seen a fast SVG implementation.

          • Who is demanding zoomable magnification? The game uses icons.

            Bitmap icons, which always end up looking like shit in a couple of years. How about turning all graphics into SVG? It would instantly make the game zoomable, ensure nice sharp visuals on every platform, benefit future OSS projects and give obsessive micro-optimizers something useful to do - or at least I've never seen a fast SVG implementation.

            The more practical thing that is pretty much standard these days is to code it in OpenGL, which gives you zoom for free. Most new projects lose the sprites too and go with 3D. Then lots of standard content generation tools can be brought into the mix.

        • Animation engine? Seriously? For a turn-based strategy game?

          I take it you never played civilization?

    • by mvdwege ( 243851 )

      But, but, but...I thought The Great ESR had made maintenance of WML easier so that campaign maintenance was less of an issue?

  • by Squiggle ( 8721 ) on Saturday July 25, 2015 @03:10PM (#50181889)

    I have many fond memories of wasting too much time playing Wesnoth. Thanks to all the people who brought the game this far and here's too many more years! /cheers

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Saturday July 25, 2015 @04:29PM (#50182207)

    I miss the single player adventure games like from Sierra and Lucas Arts where you can engross yourself in a story game line, and have work to solve puzzles and you celibate when you continue the story plot, without having to use twitch like hand eye coordination, or play online with a bunch of people just trying to mess you up.

    But those times have ended. It is too easy and tempting to get spoilers on line, people tolerance towards game frustration has diminished...

    Now he made a popular open source game, people liked it and it grew for a time. That is great... however times change, and popular games soon become tiresome. Updates and fixes and new content doesn't really excite as much after a while.

    There isn't really that much to gain in Open Source games, because of the entertainment value of the game vs practical value. A game will offer a few months of joy perhaps a couple of years, then it will get old and tiresome, and they will be a new one out. You are better off selling it make a lot of money from it, then go on to new projects once it has peaked. I am not trying to be Mr. Anti Open Source, but Open Source works better on serious infrastructure type of projects, Operating Systems, Web Servers, Databases, programming languages... These tend to have long term demand, and invested interests on maintaining the project, including full time support. If my company is dependent on the success of an Open Source project, it may be useful, to hire resources to contribute to it, it may be a better value then buying stock into a closed source company, as you are actively contributing you get a better say on what goes on in your critical infrastructure software needs.

    • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Saturday July 25, 2015 @06:50PM (#50182777)

      If you miss adventure games, there are still good ones out there, but most of them are being made by smaller studies or indie devs (check out Steam). Plus, there are a bunch of old classics in addition to new adventure titles available on GOG. Did you know King's Quest is being remade, and is coming out this fall? It's hard to say if it will be any good, but it look promising, and it does sound like they're trying to remain true to the spirit of the original. The adventure game isn't dead by any means. It's just found a smaller, comfortable niche.

      and have work to solve puzzles and you celibate when you continue the story plot

      Still, I'm not sure I'd care to give up sex for the sake of a videogame, no matter how engaging the plot.

    • by Smauler ( 915644 )

      I miss the single player adventure games like from Sierra and Lucas Arts where you can engross yourself in a story game line, and have work to solve puzzles and you celibate when you continue the story plot, without having to use twitch like hand eye coordination, or play online with a bunch of people just trying to mess you up.

      You haven't been following the gaming scene much recently, have you? There are a plethora of high and low budget new games almost entirely based around the story, and lots of peop

  • Wait, Malcolm in the Middle did the graphics for Battle of Wesnoth?!
  • It's actual work (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Saturday July 25, 2015 @05:16PM (#50182437)

    What you're asking for is developers to volunteer their time to work on what is the most difficult and least-rewarding part of game development - bug-fixing, maintenance, and compatibility issues. As a contract programmer, I get paid a lot per hour for helping out projects up against a deadline. It's difficult, frustrating work, and it takes me several times longer to find and fix a bug than a regular dev who has been working on the project for the last few years. Even so, they pay me to do this, because any bug I do find frees their internal devs to fix other issues.

    In short, it's *real work*. There's a reason you generally need to pay people to do this. The previous devs have already finished the fun part of the game - designing and building the game from the ground up. What's left is now is the hard, shitty work - trying to fix all the bugs, and work around an old, crusty engine that can't seem to keep from breaking scenarios from release to release - signs that there are serious under-the-hood problems (which they sort of admit themselves).

    I wish you guys all the best, and hope you find some philanthropic devs to help you. Unfortunately, any free time I find myself with goes into my own personal project. There's simply no way I can spread myself even thinner.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I did help this project out long ago back when it was young project.
      I was doing bug hunts and you know how I was treated?

      The place was one giant drama fest. Leads for development were ten year old pixel artists.
      Anyone stupid enough to go over and help that project deserves what they get. Nothing more funny than
      people working on open source project being treated as though they are getting paid for it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Wesnoth's proven RNG issues kind of sour me on devoting any help to the issue. http://maradns.blogspot.com/2010/07/wesnoths-rng-has-statistical-weaknesses.html This site shows the issues in question, but it fails to discuss how game-shattering these issues really are. Factions that are built on big expensive units get screw by lucky hits much more than factions that rely on massive numbers of expendable units, and poison is basically the optimal strategy because it guarantees damage. The undead faction has

  • Quite a few years ago I was using Linux as my primary desktop, cool. Wesnoth was a semi-clone of other TBS fantasy games, cool. Played it, got stuck, didn't want to spoil it by looking for solutions, eventually gave up and learned that due to a game engine change the main quest was impossible. I was seriously pissed, why bother spending all that time and effort when all you're going to get is a proverbial "fuck you". Games are not like productivity software where you're talking degrees of functionality. It'

    • I'm playing it for the first time. It's fun. No need to get worked up over a bug that most probably doesn't exist any more.

  • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Saturday July 25, 2015 @09:50PM (#50183283)
    It's not a sign of failure to say the game is finished with development.
  • by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Saturday July 25, 2015 @10:53PM (#50183453) Homepage

    I remember Battle for Wesnoth when it was just beginning. I love fantasy wargames, but most other people don't. Wargamers want hardcore reality, and fantasy fans want roleplaying, so they don't often meet and when they do it usually pisses off one camp or the other. I played it, enjoyed the hell out of it (it's basically Panzer General with some bits rearranged), and was disappointed when the main campaign ended abruptly in an unfinished scenario. Oh well, it was clearly under development, I'll come back later. That's how this kind of thing works.

    When I finally saw a link to it a few years later, I remembered it and excitedly tried it again. This time the main campaign worked and there were other campaigns to download. Great! But...the campaign I played was poorly written because it was easy to get into a walking dead situation, where you had no chance to win, none. I complained about it on the official forums and was told I needed to have developed at least 2 third-level healers by the scenario I couldn't finish. Are you kidding? How was I supposed to know that? Isn't this kind of bullshit that killed the adventure game?

    Larry had GRASS, but GRASS is also a word for CANNABIS, which in turn is a kind of HEMP from which you can WEAVE a ROPE, so WEAVE GRASS and you have a ROPE.
    -- Adventure game logic

    I started hanging around the forums since I liked the game so much and was disturbed by what I saw. The game was chosen for a "Google Summer of Code" project and had all sorts of artists and other nongamers hanging around. Super, you think, right? Not really. These people weren't with Wesnoth to make a better game, they were here to as a sort of training session. They didn't give a crap about the game itself, and it showed. They were real keen on doing the 90% of fun work, and leaving the 10% of hard work unfinished. And hell, why not? It's for your class project, after you get your letter grade for class or your SoC participation verified or your bullet point on your resume, leave it for others to finish. It's open source, if you don't like it change it yourself. And IMO this is why Wesnoth is where it is today. It's not a game, it's a continual software development project first and foremost. It can never be finished. If that ever happened, there would be no more resume polishing, and that would be a great tragedy.

    I'm probably going to get an angry Wesnoth fan rebutting me with something like, "you're not a member of the community! Your opinion doesn't count because you're not a part of our ecosystem." And you know, you're right. I'm not. I'm just someone who likes fantasy wargames.

    • by professionalfurryele ( 877225 ) on Sunday July 26, 2015 @10:37AM (#50184897)

      Wesnoth is a pretty fun multi-player game. With a decent map design and thanks to them finally fixing the broken RNG it can be lots of fun to take the now reasonably balanced factions and fight with them.

      That said I consider Wesnoth a fundamentally broken design when it comes to the single-player game, for exactly the reasons you state. It has many of the bad aspects of a rogue-like without many of the good aspects, and frankly good story design is next to impossible in it. I've tried writing a few scenarios, the WML interface started out awful, and is now much better, but the core problem with the game remains.

      First randomness should never be a core element of game design. You can use it to add a bit of spice, but you should never win or lose a game because of luck. in multi-player this is less of an issue as a best of three between two players will almost always be won by the better player, but in a 12 scenario campaign one streak of bad luck at the wrong time results in either save scumming, or restarting the scenario.

      If moving a unit to a location is the best possible move you can make in a scenario where things are about even between two players it shouldn't be possible for the consequences of that decision to utterly screw you because of unlucky RNG calls. In Wesnoth this can happen all the time because the need to maintain veterans all but insures you cant afford to lose things like your high level healers.

      Crafting a story line in Wesnoth is next to impossible because it gives you very few options to insure that the player is ready for future challenges. One of your late game scenarios require they have lots of impact damage to survive? Well you'd better contrive some absurd reason for them to only be able to recruit that in this scenario so they can level a few of them up. You end up with absurd video game logic where you have to artificially constrain the player just to hint strongly enough at the needed force compositions.

      The game also has extremely non-linear difficulty because being slightly worse at the game gets compounded. If a scenario is made slightly easier, then the campaign ends up much easier because the slightly better resources you get out of that scenario allow you to win the next with fewer losses, and so on. As a result many of the mainline campaigns are either absurdly easy or incredibly difficult.

      Finally character development is very difficult. The game forces players to split their army in to bits they give a crap about and cannon fodder. The bit they are supposed to give a crap about is usually too large (~7 would be a good number as this is an amount most folk can keep track of at once, but in most scenarios it is closer to 15 or 20 and it has to be to face the diverse range of threats bigger campaigns throw at you). Meanwhile the low level units you use to screen just become faceless entries in a spread sheet because you bought them specifically to die in your better units place. As a result the player becomes completely detached from the story elements and character. I frequently forget what I'm doing in a scenario outside of the current objectives because world building is virtually impossible.

      And the community doesn't respond well to these or any other criticisms. They like the random element, they don't seem to give a crap about characterisation, world build, lore or story telling. They are focused on the mechanics within a scenario. Well if that is their gig then that is their gig, but I honestly regret playing many of the campaigns I've played, I'd rather I had done something else.

      • And the community doesn't respond well to these or any other criticisms. They like the random element, they don't seem to give a crap about characterisation, world build, lore or story telling.

        FWIW, I'm not a member of the community. I play Wesnoth off and on for a few weeks every couple of years. I also like the random element and don't much care about characterization, world-building, lore or storytelling. Not that I don't like those things, just that Wesnoth is more of an occasional light diversion for me, so those things don't mean much.

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