Welcome to the FreeOrion Project. This post should give you a basic heads up on where we are, what we need, and how you can get involved.
How To Find Out About FreeOrion
The best way is to do two things: play the game, and read the design documents (acessible via wiki). As it is, the game isn't really playable in the sense that you can play versus the computer, what with there being no AI yet. Nonetheless, it should give you a good idea of the direction in which we're headed and some of the things we've accomplished so far.
Details on the future of the project are a little hard to come by, because as much as we have decided upon and built, there is as much or more that is yet to even be discussed, much less implemented. We have our mission statement stickied on this board, so that's a good place to start, but if you have questions like 'Are you going to be more like MOO2 or Birth of the Federation or Medieval: Total War?' then there is really no official answer yet. We're in the progress of developing a separate design document just for our combat engine, and that document will be up for public review once it's spent a little more time in the developers' collective womb (an unfriendly place where there are no commas). That will be the next big indicator of what's coming down the pipe (and what you can help with), but even that is going to be opened up for a more public discussion before it becomes official.
How you can help
There are several ways to help out the FreeOrion project. We are interested in recruiting people who are committed to what we are trying to do and can remain involved in the project over the long haul. Obviously, this project is dependent on the good will and effort of the people who spend their free time on it. We don't want to burn anybody out or ask more than you want to give. On the other hand, this is not an easy project. Development houses with paid, full-time people spending years on titles like this haven't always got it right. But if you buy into what we're doing and have the patience and energy to learn from and work with people from around the world on one of the most ambitious open source gaming projects since FreeCiv, there is a place for you here.
At the moment, the distinction between someone 'on the FreeOrion team' and someone who visits us regularly and contributes anything to the project, be it code, art, music, content, or design debate, is mostly a cosmetic one. While the more complex discussions may spend a round or two in a private discussion between a few developers before they enter the public arena, they still inevitably enter the public arena. You don't need permission to join a discussion, make some models, some art, or some FX, improve on a UI widget, or anything like that; you should read the forums and confer with the team leads so that you know where to focus your efforts, but some of the best stuff in the game has come from people who just showed up and cranked out some work. Don't wait for an invitation. See something you think you can improve upon and improve upon it. It may not be relevant to what the team is focusing on just then, but if it's better than what we have, it'll stay around until it can be incorporated or discussed.
More generic things we might want but aren't really asking for
- Server hosting & donations: Are you independently wealthy? Do you own a server farm on a fiber link the size of Indiana? We try to keep our out-of-pocket expenses as close to zero as possible, so if you'd like to donate server space and bandwidth or cash for us to pay for our own, there's a donations link on this board, or else contact me and Tyreth directly.
- Web design: Our wiki front page has served us well for a while, but if you want to spice it up a bit (while retaining as much of the functionality as you can), we think that would be cool and we'll autograph a FreeOrion t-shirt for you. Provided you also design and produce a FreeOrion t-shirt and mail it to each of us.
Developers and Content Creators We Particularly Need
- AI programmers: The FreeOrion AI is one of the biggest challenges we have to deal with. Not only do we need a strategic, empire-level AI capable of making rational decisions in all kinds of game environments, but we also need a tactical, real-time AI capable of giving us players a run for our money on the battlefield.
- FX people: As appealing as the 'no sound in space' approach was to all of us, we're inevitably going to need lasers firing, missiles exploding, Spathi pleading for the lives, and so on. We haven't really had much of a need for this in the past, but it's going to be a very popular position very quickly.
- Artists: We've been extremely fortunate to have some very talented artists with the project for quite a while now. As the game grows, more art is needed for the UI, ships and space, the tech tree, alien races, et cetera. We don't want to burn out the handful of artists we have, so if you're handy with photoshop or 3D tools, we'll pay you twice as much as they pay me.
Finally. . .
There are a few posts on the general announcements board pertaining to a couple things we end up discussing a few times a year. Before you ask a question or start a new topic, check to see if it's already been addressed. We're all about constructive criticism and talking about arcane and convoluted topics until our eyes (or, in my case, eye) pop out of our heads, but we will fairly swiftly dismiss any subject that's been decided with any degree of finality. There aren't too many such subjects out there, but if you read the announcements board and particularly if you read the design documents, you shouldn't have any problems. When in doubt, please feel free to PM or email me.
Thank you, and welcome to FreeOrion!
Surprise and Terror! I am greeted by the smooth and hostile face of our old enemy, the Hootmans! No... the Huge-glands, no, I remember, the Hunams!