Archive for February, 2009

Cleaning up (before she comes)

Heya and welcome to yet another PARPG news update!

We’ll start with some aspects that the team has agreed upon in the course of the last week:

  • PARPG will feature a branching tree dialogue system as found in Fallout and the Infinity Engine games.
  • Graphics will be rendered from a real isometric perspective, not using similar orthogonal perspectives such as dimetric or trimetric projection.
  • Player and NPC movement will happen on a square-shaped grid. Some other games use a hex-shaped one but art creation seems far easier for squares and we can’t foresee any obvious mechanics-related reasons why we should go for a hex grid.
  • Rivaling factions will occupy different parts of the world map.
  • Crafting mechanic as found in Arcanum. Creating custom ammunition or moonshine (as fuel or booze) are possible use cases.
  • Post-game slides to show how the actions of the player character influenced the game world. Yes we got inspired by Fallout & Arcanum again 🙂

Furthermore a lot of brainstorming was going on at the forums, wiki and especially the IRC channel in the last days. Nothing set in stone besides the point outlined above but we discussed mechanics such as food, water and sleep management as well as character classes vs. class-less ruleset and character backgrounds that you could choose at the beginning of the game.

The work on PARPG seems to come along quite well and considering that we wanted to have agreed on the basics of setting and mechanics to start recruitment in early March, we seem well on track. At the moment we’re currently trying to fill two specific positions on the team:

  • Python / C++ programmer for engine evaluation. We’ve decided to give FIFE a try but we don’t want to set things in stone before somebody, who has experience in the field, helped us with engine evaluation.
  • Writer for fleshing out the story. So far only the setting has been somewhat fleshed out, but we would appreciate help from a native speaker with an interest in writing and literature to come up with a story that suits the setting.

Concerning engine requirements for evaluation purposes: qubodup and zenbitz recently started to compile a list of such requirements at the wiki. They’re both coming from a game mechanics background so while we can compile list of features we like to see supported, we’re lacking somebody with the programming background who could actually turn the list into a real engine requirements list. Both articles should be a good starting point for interested programmers nevertheless:

Furthermore the fantastic qubodup recently awesomified our blog, forums and wiki themes. Great work qubodup! Last but not least our graphics expert Lamoot started to compile a list of other isometric games and how they’re implementing certain graphics-related features. Such a list should be pretty useful when it comes to implementing these kind of features later into PARPG: Graphics field research.

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Grandmaster newsflash

Hah, one week without any news update. Fortunately things don’t seem to slow down but instead we can pick up quite some pace. On the other side writing news takes time; so don’t expect to see more than one news update per week.

Boiling down the options:
When PARPG was founded there was a rather blurry vision of creating a post-apocalyptic isometric roleplaying game. Fortunately some first contributors joined the writing department and they are currently boiling down possible options for the setting of PARPG. Desert wasteland is quite overused as it was featured in almost any PA game. So considering the other possible options, we decided to settle on a post apocalyptic winter setting. Snow ahead in PARPG!

Furthermore we wanted to agree on a theatre for PARPG early to avoid too broad discussion about the future direction of the game. North America has been featured in the Fallout games, Eastern Europe in Stalker (not an RPG though) and Zero-Projekt will take place in Germany. We wanted to choose a region that hasn’t been covered in any major RPG yet but is at least well-known enough to not run in a lot of research hassle due lack of information. So we agreed on Northern Europa / Scandinavia and Lamoot created a first proposal for possible borders of a PARPG world map. You can find it at the forums.

Game mechanics:
Setting is not the only area that hasn’t been nearly fleshed out yet. Zenbits joined the gang lately and began to boil down potential game mechanics for PARPG. The mechanics that we’ve already agreed upon (which are just a few), can be found at the PARPG wiki. There are a bunch of additional proposals concerning mechanics, that can be found at the wiki and the forums. So it will definately take us some time to further flesh out these aspects of PARPG.

So what’s next?:
We received quite some feedback concerning leaving the engine question open at this stage of development. The majority of the feedback suggested to rather pick one engine to start development with and to look out for alternatives in case we find out that the initial choice is not really suited for PARPG. I can see the benefit of agreeing on an engine early but there are some drawbacks on the other side as well. But you convinced me at least to a certain degree. We’ll try to get things going with FIFE and look out for alternatives if needed. We’re currently looking for a Python / C++ programmer who would help us with engine evaluation. In case you’re interested to get involved in this field, feel free to get in contact with us 🙂

That’s from my side for today, see you next week.

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Reading comprehension check failed

Looks like I did not properly read the Sourceforge FAQ last time. I thought that they would set up hosting for PARPG within three work days but this apparently just applies to newly registered projects. PARPG is new in this form but I would like to take over the parpg sourceforge ID from an existing (vapourware) project. Taking over an existing project doesn’t take three days but rather three weeks so don’t expect to see the project hosted at sourceforge before the end of the month. On the other side it was a good idea to send in the registration early; if everything goes as planned, the account should be still available when recruitment is planned to take place. Sourceforge has a quite useful help wanted section so this should be a great place to recruit potential contributors.

On a related note: I officially announced the project at some forums over the weekend (RPGcodex, NMA & FreeGamer) and so far feedback is a mixed bag. I did some last minute modifications to the announcement, giving the wrong impression that the project would be a pretty much a carbon copy of Fallout. That’s of course not the case. Next time I won’t try to close all kind of yet unfilled gaps with Fallout concrete. The majority of the information that can be found at the key design elements article are personal suggestions and not decisions that are set in stone.

The purpose of the early project annoucement was to get some first feedback by the community. There seems to be already some interest in getting involved once actual recruitment starts so I thought about how interested community members could contribute at the moment. I started to flesh out the articles for each development department at the wiki today.

Writing down the requirements of the project management department was pretty easy for me because I know the field pretty well from my involvement in FIFE. The articles of the other departments just contain a bunch of notes and questions at the moment. This is where you can join the fun. In case you’ve got a graphics, audio, writing, programming or gameplay design background feel free to join the wiki effort and add your ideas to the relevant articles.

And in case you think about contributing on a somewhat regular basis, feel free to create a personal profile at the wiki.

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Yet another status update

So it’s update time!

A bunch of things to report today and I want to keep it short as writing on these kind of postings drains my time, it’s almost in the middle of the night and I finally want to leave the library 🙂

So here we go: the progress of the last days:

  • Fleshed out the roadmap article at the wiki. I’m fully aware that this is an imaginary and idealistic roadmap. However it’s still useful to have such a kind of plan at hand to know into which direction you are heading.
  • Mailed the cvsdude support about the commit notification issue. Looks like they hosted PARPG on a new server where this functionality was broken. Anyway, it’s fixed now and the CIA commit bot is now properly reporting SVN activity at #parpg (@ freenode).
  • Asked the OpenAnno team if they could host an IRC logging bot for us. They kindly did so; special thanks to Phiker for setting everything up, that was really appreciated. Logs are currently not password protected and can be found here.
  • Customized the Trac starting page.
  • Elaborated on my decisions and proposals for the technical framework of PARPG.
  • Community member Lamoot started to collect all kind of notes concerning a possible dialogue system, needed FIFE functionality, settings ideas and phasing of development at his personal wiki page. Note: all of this is pretty much work in progress.

Next steps for the next couple of days:

  • Customize sourceforge account in case they finally accept my hosting plea.
  • Flesh out more articles at the wiki. I haven’t decided which will be the next one yet as I ran out of ideas today. But I’m sure that I’ll come up with something tomorrow.
  • Announce the project at the FIFE blog and forums.

That’s it from my side for today.

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Trouble with sourceforge

I received a notification by sourceforge that my project registration plea has been rejected. Looks like they would like to have more technical information about PARPG. Unfortunately it seems that sourceforge does not store the project description that you’ve sent in, in case you want to overtake the project id of an existing sourceforge-hosted project. As “parpg” was already taken, I applied to overtake this project id as the currently registered project is vapourware: existing since 2.5 years and no single commit in this time.

So I sent in a more detailed project description this time, featuring more technical details and saved all the information at the wiki just in case it gets lost again due another rejection of my registration plea.

Last but not least I thought about what kind of content should be available as separate articles that are hosted at the blog instead of at the wiki. To me it seemed that at least the most important articles for public interest should reside at the blog as well, though more detailed versions can reside at the wiki. The wiki articles would feature rather developer-related information. For now I’ve decided to go for these blog articles:

  • About: short project description.
  • Development: important development-related information. Help wanted, SVN, Trac.
  • Downloads: links to the latest available PARPG release for different platforms. Could contain a link to a full-featured download section at either the wiki or sourceforge.
  • Screensots: for all the fancy visuals once development has started.
  • Legal notice: legal information about the person who’s responsible for the content. There is a discussion if this kind of information is required for German domains in general or just in case the website is aiming at making profit. I added the legal notice nevertheless to avoid possible issues with lawyers who try to make a quick buck with missing legal information.

I really wanted to add a separate “Help wanted” article at the blog as well instead of simply listing the open position as a paragraph of the “Development” article. Unfortunately the space for these kind of articles is limited visually; once you add too many articles, it will look quite ugly. As the articles listed above seem pretty essential to me, I decided to not have a separate help wanted article for now. That’s for it for today, hopefully SVN commit notifications will get fixed soon. Next step is elaborating on the Python programming language and the FIFE engine choice at the wiki.

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