PARPG development has ceased but the art will live

PARPG development has ceased.

Don’t be sad about it, instead be glad that so much wonderful art has been produced and licensed under free licenses that can be used in other projects!

Find all the art on http://opengameart.org/art-search?keys=parpg

Expect this domain to run out soon!

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Ceasing PARPG Development With Style

PARPG has ceased development. Last words can be read and spoken in “the end” thread.

There are two things left for us to do:

  1. Upload all concept and 3d art to OpenGameArt.org.
  2. Move on to other projects.

Some game projects that are free software/open art and overlap with PARPG’s goals are:

There are also two projects that stem from PARPG:

  • fife-rpg, a rewrite of PARPG so it can be used to easily create other RPGs.
  • PPARPG, a Panda3D implementation of the PARPG idea.

Hope to see you there soon!

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The Future of PARPG – and whether it has one or not

Hello,

There are some questions what to do with PARPG in its current state.

The biggest problems are in my opinion:

- a lack of general recruiting. Two weeks project report and asking for contributors was a very good way to recruit fresh blood.

- lack of active coders (compared to i.e. ~2 years ago). I think right now only Beliar is making additions to the code somewhat regularly.

- lack of time by people in general, in some areas at least, combined with a lack of motivation to increase the time commitment. For instance, when barra had more time available, he did regular reports every ~2 weeks and asked for recruitment. This worked nicely back then, people helped out a lot more, but there just does not seem anyone able to replace barra.

So the question is, what to do with PARPG?

There will surely be many opinions. I’ll give you my own one first:

- I think we should make one final release, as soon as possible, and then declare this to be the “how far we managed to go before we failed”.  I’d even like to propose a deadline, last day of March 2012.

We should then zip up the project and distribute it to people who want to keep it for nostalgic reasons :D Perhaps someone is able to revitalize the project again? Or, it’s just memory of a project.

Of course it may be possible to push the game forward still. But I myself would not know how, at the current state.

If the project is discontinued, perhaps someone else will resume at the point where we left? And even if not, we worked on a game project for quite some time, met new people, which is never a bad thing!

Barra has said that he will pay for the hosting in 2012, but I think if we can’t find a way to revitalize the project before end of 2012 anyway, it could be closed much earlier.

Any ideas, feedback, to the forum please.

Edit 17 Februar 2012: There will probably a meeting in the next 2 weeks, probably at the weekend (one?), to discuss things. Have a look at the forum and give your opinion please.

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Forum Down

Hello,

Just a quick and short note – the forums are down, the database seems to have crashed.

Q_x has mailed to barra, who will hopefully manage to fix this soon (and perhaps even manage to upgrade WordPress version :D )

Edit: Works again! Thanks barra, that was fast!

Edit: At 30 December 2011 the forum is down again, with another error message. Beginning to wonder what’s happening.

Edit: At 03.01.2012 the forum works again. Hopefully it’ll work for a longer while now, thanks to the one who fixed it (was not me, I am just trying to let you know) :)

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Radio silence

We’ve reached the cache in the evening. It’s the most remote place we’re keeping our stuff in. Small, desolated shack on the mountain stock, close to a big lake. Believe it or not, we have a generator stashed there, hopefully in working condition. But… Does the radio we’ve been carrying all the way from the bunker work at all?

1… 2… 3… Hello, is anybody out there? 1… 2… 3… Hello? Does anybody read me?

I know you’ve all been waiting too long for this batch of news. Harsh winter is hitting our little place in the middle of nowhere, covered with waist-deep snow. The winter that seems to be like a white odyssey. After two loud years, we seem to have a couple of quiet ones. Things are happening, just the snow slows us more than we’d expect, days suddenly got shorter, last of our dogs were eaten long ago, and we’re pulling the sled on our own. Snowshoes, cold and hunger. We’re not out of our rations though, so we’ll keep on moving with slow, steady speed, hoping for a community of cheerful people, their full plates and warm shelters behind every hill we’ve been approaching.

During this period when our batteries were dead, and we were lost in the wild cold lands, quite a lot things happened.

First of all – we have quite a lively fork, PPARPG, lead by Arikel, most widely known due to formerly being involved in The Mana World. You’ll find the project at IRC: #pparpg on freenode, and the code is here: https://github.com/arikel/PPARPG . In a nutshell, PPARPG is 3D game set more or less in mood and world of PARPG, and the game is based on Panda 3D engine. We’re happily sharing all possible resources and hoping for success.

What’s even more surprising, is MrWillis, Rowan the Preacher and Q_x are working together on a sideproject: traditional game, that seems to be a cross-breed between paragraph and board game. You can browse the mailinglist here: http://groups.google.com/group/parpg-sideproject

Also good news: after over a year of being lost, Shevy found his way back to our snowy place. He wrote our last post, so you probably knew this before. He has been given some rusty nails and an old hammer to keep our formal stuff in one piece. After neglecting our docs for a while – we call it a major overhaul!

Beliar codes quite a lot, repairing and adding new features to our code, like tweaking NPCs behavior, or working on a scripting system. Finally, he has also made and successfully tested a build system, also releasing some files that are packed and ready to check them out:http://sourceforge.net/projects/parpg/files/snapshots/.

These are not small things, I think. Every single one of those deserved a separate blog post, separate cheerful “yaay!”, quite a bit of excitement on its own. The bitter truth is every single village we’ve approached so far was abandoned, scavenged and empty, everything that we thought was smoke coming out of a friendly home was a delusion our hungry brains tricked us with, just to keep us going. And man, this winter – will it ever end?

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Improving the PARPG Wiki

Hello,

I am back and working to improve the quality of http://wiki.parpg.net/ – any ideas to help here are very much appreciated.

qubodup wants to know who I am – fair enough! I’ve been trying to lead the Project for a while although not with that much success. Then I had problems in reallife so I had to make a break.

I’ve been quite active on the Forum (ranked 4th on the amount of forum posts – of course that does not say much about the quality of the content) and on IRC (when I was active, that is, but I can almost always be found on Freenode IRC anyway).

My impression so far was that the Forum generates a lot of ideas, many of them good, but after a while, plenty of these ideas are also forgotten eventually. Or they become outdated slowly as contributors leave the project or make a break.

That is one reason why I am trying to focus on the Wiki for now and try to improve its quality.

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Big Changes Ahead

Greetings PARPGians!

Its been a while since we last updated the blog, and boy have a lot of things have happened in that time! I’ll try and outline what we’ve accomplished in the past few weeks below.

Moving On Up (to Assembla Source Hosting)

The single biggest change we’ve made is that we now use Assembla (http://assembla.com) as our source repository host. Although Codesion, our previous host, has done a lot for us over the years we decided that it was time to update to a distributed version control system and Codesion’s offerings in that area simply did not meet our requirements. However, we will continue to use our Trac page for bug tracking and keep our old svn repository online, at least for the foreseeable future.

One of the really neat things about Assembla is that it is built with Agile Programming methods in mind. Our Assembla workspaces provide tools for asynchronous communication, posting progress reports, viewing repository changesets and managing milestones and backlog items. Although we’re still getting used to Agile methodology, I think that most of us would agree that it has significantly improved our communication and collaboration habits. Overall, we’ve been very impressed with Assembla’s free hosting. It is by far the most professional free host we’ve seen, and has tons of features that we haven’t even figured out how to use yet!

Feel free to explore our Assembla pages at http://parpg.assembla.com and get a feel for how it all works.

Through the Looking Glass: From Subversion to Mercurial

One of our primary reasons for changing source hosts was that we wanted to migrate to a distributed version control system (DVCS). Subversion simply wasn’t scaling well enough for us, since we often had two, three or even more developers working in parallel. Add in the fact that each of those developers was working on some experimental changes and… well you get the idea.

So we said good bye to subversion (well, sort of – see below) and migrated our codebase to Mercurial. We narrowed down the field to either GIT or Mercurial, and most of the developers agreed that the learning curve of GIT was too steep compared with Mercurial’s subversion-like behavior and commands.

There have been a few stumbling blocks to implementing and using the new Mercurial repositories, but we’re starting to get used to the new workflow. So far the extra flexibility of Mercurial has been very useful, at least to the programmers.

Three Repositories Are Better Than One

As if changing our source host and VCS wasn’t enough, we also split up our codebase into three separate (but related) repositories: parpg-core, parpg-assets and parpg-tools.

The parpg-core repository contains the core code framework which makes up the PARPG application, and as such contains the majority of our Python source code.

The parpg-assets repository contains all of our game data – object definitions, sprites, maps, dialogs, music and sound fx, etc. Unlike the other two repositories, which are Mercurial repositories, parpg-assets is a subversion repository (the reason for this is explained below).

Finally, the parpg-tools repository contains the source code and supporting assets of the various tools and utilities we’ve developed over the years to help us create game content.

Our justification for splitting up the code like this was that the binary asset files don’t change very often and yet comprise the bulk of the storage space (more than 200MB in all), which would have significantly slowed down clones of the repository (DVCSs copy all history in their “check-outs”). Compounding this problem was the fact that Mercurial (and most other DVCSs, actually) don’t handle changes to binary files well and tends to create a lot of bloat with each commit. To solve this issue, we moved most of the binary files into parpg-assets – a subversion repository which is able to handle changes to binary files much more gracefully.

To prevent parpg-core from drifting apart from parpg-assets and parpg-tools, we made parpg-assets and parpg-tools subrepositories of parpg-core. What this means in practice is that any time you clone parpg-core, you will also clone/checkout parpg-tools and parpg-assets, respectively. This is a feature of Mercurial that was really fleshed out in the 1.7 branch, so you’ll probably want the most recent version of Mercurial clone parpg-core.

Distutils, SCons and (now) WAF, oh my!

Just to make things as confusing as possible we also changed our build system (twice). Originally we used Python’s distutils installer to build and install everything, but unfortunately as the project grew more complex we discovered that distutils was very difficult to extend and was really starting to slow down development. To be fair the distutils module was developed to build, maintain and install Python libraries, not games with thousands of assets and dozens of tools.

SCons seemed like the natural replacement for distutils, since FIFE (our rendering engine and game framework) uses SCons as its build system. But right from the start we ran into problems with SCons. First, SCons didn’t like our Python code and we had to write a custom extension to get it to correctly install and optionally compile our Python code. Then SCons didn’t like our 8,000+ asset files and we had to write ANOTHER extension to get it to correctly copy our assets (and very, very SLOWLY at that). Then SCons had issues verifying which files had changed between the build/installation directory and the source, which required YET ANOTHER extension (you can see where this is going…).

In the end, we abandoned SCons in favor of its bastard child, WAF. WAF is an old fork of SCons that was developed by a couple of KDE developers. Although much less mature than SCons, WAF has proven to be more than stable enough for our purposes. So far, WAF has been very easy to work with: our current build script is a fraction of the size of our previous SCons buildscript, and yet does everything that SCons could do and more. WAF is also many times faster than SCons, which makes development a lot quicker. Finally, WAF comes as a self-contained script, which means that we distribute WAF along with PARPG – eliminating any issues with users using an outdated or incompatible version of the build software.

Our WAF build system is still being tested, but it should be in the main parpg-core repository soon!

The Times They Are A-Changing

We have even bigger changes planned in the weeks and months ahead, so stay tuned!

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Sprint Post-mortem

More than a month ago the PARPG team ended the 1-month Character Customization Sprint. It was all about designing and implementing character stats and creation.

The participants talked about the sprint on chat and in this forum thread but let me sum up the opinions that were expressed (a few contradictions and conflicts of interest ahead ;) ):

Positive

  • The sprint was a success
  • The short, regular meetings (2 per week) were motivating and increased  efficiency
  • PARPGians are “Fennecs
  • Critical code that needed fixing was identified
  • Trac tickets were helpful for keeping overview

Negative/Suggestions

  • There were bottlenecks between departments – department-specific sprints could work better?
  • Sprint target (character customization) has little importance for gameplay in early versions of PARPG – figure out higher-priority targets?
  • Sprints should be shorter / contain less tasks
  • More small (non-[epic] user story) tickets would have been helpful – somebody responsability for writing new tickets needs to be defined
  • Subversion is hard to work with using a clean development style

Dependency Graph for Ticket #264 (Character customization based on stats and attributes)
Dependency Graph for Ticket #264 (Character customization based on stats and attributes) Everybody likes pictures! :)

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Notebook Inventory & Character Creation/View Mockups

I want to show you some of the mockups we made!


Inventory Mockup by qubodup from January (tabs added yesterday)

Inventory Mockup by Q_x from January

See this thread for more details.

A week ago the sprint started and so far my feeling is: awesome! We’re all working towards finishing a feature of the game in parallel! But I’ll save it for the sprint postmortem. :) Let me show you this week’s mockup progress:



Mockups by qubodup from the past week

What’s amazing is how much artist effort goes into one mockup image. Check out the attribution file to see a list of all authors that made art used in these images.

Hopefully, we’ll manage to implement character creation into the game soon!

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PARPG goes Agile

Heya and welcome to a short PARPG news update.

Agile & Scrum

If you’ve watched our wiki closely over the last four weeks, you might have realized that the PARPG team has been researching Agile software development in general and Scrum as one Agile framework in special. When we had our first stab at the project from early 2009 until early 2010, we ran into a couple of issues we couldn’t really cope with back then:

  • Lack of focus on actual development goals
  • Lack of agreed upon development guidelines and processes
  • Lack of communication and coordination between the different development departments

After qubodup recommended a Scrum book to me, I checked it out over the last year’s Christmas holidays. I started to realize that Scrum could help us to stay focused, have an agreed upon process and ensure that developers actually communicate with each other.

Unfortunately I’m somewhat short of time and can’t go into detail, but if you would like to know more about Scrum, Agile and how we’ll utilize it in the future, feel free to check out the Agile article series at our wiki.

Sprint prioritization meeting

As part of going Agile, we’ll have our first sprint prioritization meeting at Friday, 4th of February, 11PM UTC±0 at our new sprint IRC channel #parpg-sprint. The channel will be used for strict on topic sprint discussion in the future. If community members would like to attend the sprint prioritization meeting, they’re welcome to do so. This said: discussion will be restricted to PARPG developers to keep the meeting as productive as possible.

Agile articles

All developers who participate in the meeting are encouraged to check out at least these three articles to be prepared for the meeting:

This said: the other Agile articles at the wiki are good reads to get started as well, so if you got some more time on your hands, feel free to check them out.

Concept art sneak peek

As we subscribe to the philosophy, that a news update without some fancy to look at isn’t a good news update, there you go. Gaspard worked on some environment concept art:
Environment concept art by Gaspard

See you at the next PARPG news update, scheduled for mid February. The next news update will cover how the writer application process turned out!

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