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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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Fixed PARPG Techdemo 1 Win32 installer

We were informed today that PARPG’s Techdemo 1 installer for Win32 is actually broken. We did some research on the topic and it became clear that the problem is caused by ActivePython. The download URL for the ActivePython installer is hardcoded into the PARPG Techdemo 1 installer. As the ActivePython developers moved around some files on their server lately, the old ActivePython installer can’t be downloaded anymore and therefore PARPG can’t be successfully installed unless you untick the ActivePython box.

We decided to address this problem right away and compiled a fixed installer that contains a working ActivePython URL. You can download the updated installer here: Updated PARPG Techdemo 1 installer

We recently overhauled our download article at the wiki as well. Setup instructions how to install the updated PARPG techdemo 1 installer on Win32 can be found here: How to install PARPG Techdemo 1 on Windows

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Writer application process

Heya and welcome to another PARPG news update 🙂

Writer application process

As you might remember: we were looking for a lead writer for PARPG recently. Quite surprisingly for us, not just one but a couple of writers were interested in filling this role on the team. We considered to use a formal application process to handle this but after quite some discussion on the team we realized that giving writers a formal task to work on might not work out that well in reality due a couple of reasons.

A formal work sample will tell us nothing about the communication skills of a writer. Furthermore a work sample doesn’t really give us any idea how well (s)he can adopt established workflows or if (s)he’s interested in actually helping out with defining these writing workflows/guidelines.

Therefore we decided to invite every interested writer to spend the next four weeks with us working on the game. Writers will brainstorm with the other developers. We will develope a creative vision for the writing department together. You have the chance to contribute with your creativity by fleshing out new writing content (as proposals) or reviewing existing content and revising it with the other developers.

If you’re interested in contributing to the project as writer, please check this article at the wiki where all the details of the process are covered: Writer application process

Next news update scheduled for early February. We can hopefully tell you by then how the writer application process worked out 🙂

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O Lead Writer, Where Art Thou?

Heya and welcome to yet another PARPG news update!

This is the first news update in about 5 weeks, so you must be asking yourself if we have been rather lazy lately. The good news is we haven’t 🙂 We have actually been that busy that we didn’t find the time to write a news update. But now I finally found the time (and motivation) to sit down and write this damn news update. So without further ado: here’s your monthly dose of awesome PARPG news!

PARPG looking for a lead writer

PARPG is now actively looking for a lead writer. In a nutshell: our past writing efforts never took off in a consistent and structured way. When the project started, we’ve agreed upon some basic setting guidelines and wanted to leave the rest to the to be found writers. Unfortunately that process didn’t work out well in reality. Interested writers in the past mostly focused on fleshing out NPCs or proposed potential storylines for the game. At the same time, no writer was really willing to commit to fleshing out setting elements and what kind of writing themes would be worth exploring in the game. So now we’ve got loads of writing ideas (TM) sitting in the wiki but there is almost no consistency to them. Therefore we have decided to tackle the problem from a slighty different angle than in the past.

We’re looking for a lead writer who would be willing to commit to the more substantial parts of the writing process. We’re looking for somebody who is not afraid of making decisions in the fields of setting, themes to explore and storyline of the game. Obviously somebody who is familiar with the post-apocalypse genre would be strongly prefered.

If you’re interested in the details, check out the detailed lead writer advert at the wiki!

New wiki content license

Related to our new writing efforts: we’ve switched the license of our wiki content. In the past we have been using GDFL, we’ve recently switched to CC 3.0 BY-SA. The main reason is that writing content will mostly reside at the wiki first, so it makes sense that wiki writing content and ingame writing content are published under the same license. If you’re interested in the details, check out updated license article at the wiki: http://wiki.parpg.net/License

In case you want to license your former wiki contributions differently, please let us know at the forums.

GUI progess

We’ve spent a lot of time over the last weeks to flesh out how our GUI should actually work. To cover all details here would be overkill, so I’ll cheat and simply send you to the forums for details. Check out this thread where GUI discussion is still ongoing.

Updated portraits

Our favourite art-producing husky has done it again. Gaspard has updated some of his prior portraits recently, so enjoy:
Hoardir:
Hoadir updated

Jacob:
Jacob updated

Synnove:
Synnove updated

Massive project documentation update

The main reason why I’ve been incredibly busy lately, is that I gave our project documentation at the wiki a major overhaul. Workflows have been fleshed out, departments have a new structure, content has been categorized. This was a massive undertaking and is still ongoing. But it was really necessary because some departments were and are still in pretty bad shape. Categorizing all the existing writing content was essential as you can’t expect that interested writers wade through dozens of outdated articles without any indication what these articles are about.

As project management work is usually not considered to be the epitome of excitement, I won’t go into lenghty details. If you’re a sucker for project management and would like to learn from our mistakes, check out this article: http://wiki.parpg.net/How_to_manage_your_department

That’s all for today, next news update scheduled for February 🙂

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PARPG picnic massacre blues

Heya and welcome to yet another PARPG news update! There’s quite some news to report, so let’s get started.

New Python programmer on the team

We were looking for a new experienced Python programmer for PARPG, to get the project back on track. And well, we found one 🙂 We’re glad to welcome Technomage on the team who already got his hands quite dirty on a bunch different tasks.

Plans for techdemo 2 fleshed out

As pointed out in the last community update in early November: we decided to limit the scope of techdemo 2 in terms of features to get the release out in a reasonable timespan.

There will be two main objectives for techdemo 2:

  1. Document the current dialogue engine and extend / modify it to ease future maintenance and working with it
  2. Implement basic support for character stats and character descriptions

Technomage already took care of the first task and documented the old dialogue engine at the wiki. Furthermore he even compiled a list of proposed changes to the dialogue engine that have been already partially implemented and commited to our SVN repository. There are still some bits and pieces missing, but the dialogue engine rewrite is on a good way 🙂

After all planned dialogue engine changes will be implemented, we’ll look into implementing basic support for character descriptions and primary character stats. We’re not sure at this point if the techdemo 2 release will feature a GUI for these stats, but there will be at least an (ingame console) interface to query, modify and write this data to disk.

Switching to git in discussion

We’re currently discussing the pros and cons of switching to a distributed version control system among the team. Git would be pretty much the first choice for such a system but there are some roadblocks left that we’ll need to clear before actually switching. Right now there seems to be no host who offers free of charge git hosting plus Trac integration for it for open source projects. As we use Trac for milestone planning, tickets and a couple of other of its features, Trac integration for git would be pretty much essential to us.

Anyway, if you’re interested in the details or even want to contribute to the ongoing discussion, head over to our forums where the topic is currently hotly debated.

Notebook GUI concept

As it’s often said: “pictures or it didn’t happen”. We agree that every community update at the blog should come with something fancy to look at, so there you go. Graphics artist Q_x started to work on a notebook-style GUI mockup for PARPG that will likely be used as graphical foundation for a couple of different features: character stats, journal, list of quests, etc.

Here’s the mockup for the character description and primary stats of the player character:
Notebook GUI mockup

If you want to provide feedback on the notebook GUI mockup, feel free to do so at our forums. Anyway, that’s all for today. Next news update scheduled for mid December; prolly shortly before Christmas 🙂

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The PARPG revival experience

Heya community 🙂 Long time no see

The reason why I’m posting again is to report that I’ve decided to try to help to get the project back on track. I’m still sorting out my study-related problems, but things are at least on its way now so I feel more comfortable to invest at least a certain amount of time into PARPG, whenever possible.

As you may or not may know: I stepped down in March after techdemo 1 had been shipped to focus on my studies. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find a new project manager for PARPG in the next weeks. While the developers who were left gave their best to move forward with the project, problems arose nevertheless and the project fell at least partially apart :-/

The devs who are left (Q_x, Beliar and I) discussed how to move forward with PARPG today and we decided to give the project another try with a change in scope. We’ll be focusing on the programming side of things for now until we’ve shipped a second techdemo. The reason for this is rather simple: there aren’t many developers left at this point and coordinating the work of all departments was quite complicated in the past.

So here’s the plan for now: we’ll try to get a new experienced Python programmer on board to help us in this field. While Beliar did a great job to extend PARPG in some fields, it’s simply too much work for a single programmer. We’re looking for somebody who either already has prior experience working on team projects (open source or not) or extensive solo Python programming experience. Basically someone who could provide guidance in the field due his experience. We’ve posted help wanted adverts at gamedev.net and sourceforge.net today, so hopefully somebody willing to contribute will spot these adverts 🙂

Furthermore we decided to limit the scope of techdemo 2. The second techdemo will only feature an overhauled dialogue engine and an implementation of basic primary stats for player and non-player characters. We don’t plan to add any new content for the upcoming techdemo releases besides (placeholder) art that is needed for the visualization of new features, e.g. for the dialogue engine or the primary stats of (N)PCs.

That’s basically all to report at this point. I plan to keep you updated about our progress (or lack thereof) trying to revive the project at least once a month here at the blog. In case you’re a Python programmer and would like to help us getting things rolling again, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.

The best way to reach us is to visit our IRC channel: #parpg, at irc.freenode.net. If you don’t have access to an IRC client at this point you can simply click on this link to join the channel in your web browser: join #parpg in your web browser.

That’s all for today, see you in December with an update concerning our efforts trying to find a new programmer.

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PARPG developer meeting at Sunday

Heya lads. Just a short note from my side: the developers who are still around will hold a meeting at Sunday, 13th of June, 5PM GMT at our IRC channel (#parpg @ irc.freenode.net). The main topic for the meeting will be to find out who’s still around and how the project could be continued. If you’re interested, please visit the IRC channel at that time. Q_x will be acting as meeting moderator (I assume). Unfortunately I’m still busy and therefore won’t be around.

For more information about the meeting, check out this thread at the forums: http://forums.parpg.net/index.php?topic=701.msg8091;boardseen#new

P.S. I haven’t found the time to write down lessons learned from PARPG development and looking at my current timetable, it doesn’t seem that it will happen soon. I haven’t given up the idea yet, but don’t count on it happening soon.

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PARPG in need of new maintainer

The PARPG project is looking for a new maintainer who wants to take the project over.

Current situation

The project lost quite some steam in the last months and we decided to ship what we’ve achieved until this point as techdemo 1. Now that techdemo 1 has been released, a number of devs stepped back from their positions or are missing in action. Some developers who are still involved at this point have started to compile an early proposal for techdemo 2: PARPG techdemo 2 proposal

The role of the maintainer

There are two possible ways of approaching the open maintainer position:

  1. Act as project manager
  2. Act as lead developer

Project manager approach

The project manager focuses on spreading the word about the project, keeping the community up to date about progress or lack thereof and recruiting new developers for the different departments. First and foremost you would have to attract a new lead developer who takes over responsibility for heading the programming department of the project. Our old lead developer recently stepped back from this position and chances are small to make important steps forward in the programming department without somebody in charge who feels responsible for it.

Lead developer approach

The lead developer approach is different to the project manager one as you’ll rather act as lead developer of the programming department yourself instead of trying to recruit somebody for the job. This comes with pros and cons. While it will be easier for you to push the project forward code-wise as you don’t depend on any help from others in case you can’t attract additional contributors, you’ll also have less time for project management tasks that might be rather vital to the success of the project. At some point, the project has to attract new contributors at least in the graphics departments (2d & 3d), so you’ll either have to find somebody who takes over the recruitment tasks or do so yourself.

Development departments

Here’s a more detailed listing of the situation in the different development departments:

Project management

The former project manager barra (me) stepped down recently to focus on gratuating from university. So there is currently nobody who takes care of the project management related tasks. A list of important tasks has been compiled at the project wiki to give interested contributors who are willing to help out in this field some pointers to get started: list of important project management tasks

If you’re tackling the maintainer position from the project manager point of view, you’ll likely invest most time into these tasks.

Programming department

The old lead developer maximinus recently stepped down from his position as well. Two contributors in this field are left: b0rland & beliar. While both has been contributing to PARPG since several months, they don’t have the time on their hands to take over the lead developer role. So this will be up to you in case you decide to go down the lead developer route as new maintainer.

The main tasks of the lead developer are to support the other developers who are still around to further flesh out the techdemo 2 proposal and coordinate the implementation efforts once you’ve agreed upon the plans for this release.

Graphics department

Right now there is only one 3d artist (Sirren) and one 2d artist (Q_x) left on the team. As there are quite a bunch of graphical assets available in SVN, finding additional new contributors in this department is not strictly essential to the success of the project in short term perspective.

However you’ll reach a point sooner or later where you would likely want to add new graphical assets to the game so recruiting new contributors will be quite vital to the project in long term perspective at least.

Audio department

While there is currently no composer who’s working on new audio tracks for PARPG, the situation is not that bad. A number of composers contributed audio tracks to PARPG since the project was founded so there is no immediate need for new tracks for the next releases.

The situation looks quite different for audio effects. Techdemo 1 basically ships without any audio effects and it would be welcome if this would change with the next release.

At the end of the day audio effects feel like icing on the cake to me though. While it would be great to find an audio effects engineer who contributes to the project, additional graphical assets seem even more essential to me at this point.

Writing department

Zenbitz, who’s also the lead game designer, recently stepped up and decided to volunteer for coordinating the writing department as we were not able to set a story frame into stone yet. Attracting new developers in this field is not useful until a story frame has been fleshed out that provides both enough room for creative freedom but also enough guidance to ensure that writers follow a general agreed upon direction.

Game mechanics

As mentioned above: zenbitz has been the lead game designer since the project was founded and he intends to stick to PARPG. You can check out his game design plans at the project wiki: PARPG game design

So there’s no immediate need to attract additional contributors in this field at this point.

PARPG infrastructure

The entire infrastructure (blog, forums, wiki, trac, svn, etc.) will be left in place for at least another full year. I’ll try to be around and do my best to support anyone willing to take over the maintainer position.

Ways to contact me

In case you want to discuss becoming the new maintainer of the project, feel free to contact me via IRC or email.

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Media gallery extended

The brave qubodup recently gave our media gallery section at the blog an overhaul.

You can now listen to all ingame audio tracks that ship with PARPG there now as well. Feel free to give it a listen.

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PARPG techdemo 1 video available now

A fine lad who goes by the name of igronomicon recorded a video of playing around with PARPG’s techdemo 1 release.

Feel free to check out his video at youtube:

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