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 Post subject: 0.4.6 roadmap
PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:30 pm 
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I wanted to bring that up for quite some time now, and always got distracted by something more urgent, but now I simply have to: we need to consider what of all the things we are currently working on should get properly finalized for 0.4.6, and also what date (roughly) we want to aim for. Having Dilvish (one of our leads) back in business is just perfect for that purpose. :D

The main reason why I have to bring this up is the current state of affairs: we have quite a lot of wip going on right now, with the recent influx on new contributors (which is a very good thing of course!) we currently open up more new projects and things we work on than we manage to finalize, meaning, I don't see us reaching a point in the forseeable future where we could begin to enter the phase of consolidation required to prepare a release. Now, assuming that we don't want to go the entire year without a release, I (in my capacity as the release manager) am facing a bit of a challenge here, because I'm going to take a "autumn break", that is, I won't be available in September/October this year (or at least, I won't have enough FO time to take care of a release). Looking at the current development that might end up exactly the time where we finally get ready for 0.4.6, which would be really bad timing for me.

So, unless someone else is desperate to take over for me ;), there are two options:

a) We aim to get 0.4.6 ready before my autumn break, which means August at the latest. Which, considering how much wip needs to get wrapped up, means that we have to start wrapping up things asap. Taking that into account, and looking at past experiences, I'd say "asap" means this month (April).

b) We take it easy and postpone any release until after my autumn break, which most likely would effectively mean no release before the end of the year.

The biggest challenge to get ready for 0.4.6 is probably the AI, with all the changes of/additions to game mechanics we had in the last months I guess there is still an awful lot of adjustments required. Which is why I'm so glad our AI lead Dilvish is back right now - your timing is impeccable. ;)

So, before we go into the details of the release roadmap, my dear fellow devs, what should it be? Option a or b, or has anyone another suggestion?


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 Post subject: Re: 0.4.6 roadmap
PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2016 1:21 pm 
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My regularly stated opinion that we need to release more often than we do still stands. August would be better because otherwise it's more than a year.

Having said that, getting the balance right of all the new stuff is going to be a pain, given the AI needs to be adjusted quite a lot for the new big stuff, especially fighters, we do basically need to not be planning/doing anything else big that affects how they work (at a guess).

For balance: I think the Starlane Bore unlocks too early, I was hoping to do a pass on the damage control techs and the productions costs of a few ship parts (especially armour), but they're not urgent. I definitely want to get the Drydock changes in (which needs then to be tweaked for balance when we get a feel for how the numbers work). I also want to do some tweaks to monster weapons and detection, finishing off the excellent stuff Vktor has done, but that won't affect the AI much if at all. Oh, I'm also done on the expansion shipyards being allowed to be built alongside prerequisite thing, the splitting up of the text files messed me up on that, fairly sure that will need some AI tweaks but I'm mostly doing it to reduce player annoyance/unnecessary delay, it doesn't seem overpowered if the AI isn't aware.

ETA: I also think we ought to consider jumping to 0.5.0 soon, we've put in a LOT recently, I think it justifies a new version number (but not this release, need to test)

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 Post subject: Re: 0.4.6 roadmap
PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2016 4:23 pm 
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Releases are good. However nothing should be released before it is ready.

I'de say lets see what can be gotten ready for either an earlier release or a later release then go from there.


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 Post subject: Re: 0.4.6 roadmap
PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2016 4:36 pm 
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AndrewW wrote:
I'de say lets see what can be gotten ready for either an earlier release or a later release then go from there.
If we can't wrap up things in time we have to postpone the release anyway. The decision we need to make now is if we want to try for a summer release, because in this case we need to change our focus somewhat and concentrate on wrapping up the current wip.

If we don't do that, but just continue and see how things develop, I can't imagine we will be ready for a release in summer. More likely at the time when I'm not around, which is what I want to avoid (unless, as I said, someone takes over for me).


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 Post subject: Re: 0.4.6 roadmap
PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2016 5:23 pm 
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What about going for both options, I mean, two releases?

0.4.6, this summer, with everything which is already on board - and it's a lot of changes since last September.

0.4.7, this winter (December-ish), with fighters, Drydock adjustments, AI tweaking, etc.

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 Post subject: Re: 0.4.6 roadmap
PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2016 5:45 pm 
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Cpeosphoros wrote:
What about going for both options, I mean, two releases?
To do that, we have to get 0.4.6 out in summer, which is the decision we need to make first (and the one why I opened this thread).
Quote:
0.4.6, this summer, with everything which is already on board - and it's a lot of changes since last September.

0.4.7, this winter (December-ish), with fighters, Drydock adjustments, AI tweaking, etc.
Even if we leave everything which hasn't already been incorporated/merged into master, there is already enough stuff in master that needs fine tuning, AI adjustments, balancing, testing to be able to make a release. But before we begin to consider what to include in 0.4.6 and what to leave for the next release (be it 0.4.7 or 0.5) we need to decide if we want to make a summer release at all.

And the point of my question in this thread is exactly that: shall we try to aim for a summer release (everything else aside). What to include, how quickly that can/should be followed by the next release is subject to follow-up considerations.


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 Post subject: Re: 0.4.6 roadmap
PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2016 12:34 am 
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Vezzra wrote:
Even if we leave everything which hasn't already been incorporated/merged into master, there is already enough stuff in master that needs fine tuning, AI adjustments, balancing, testing to be able to make a release. But before we begin to consider what to include in 0.4.6 and what to leave for the next release (be it 0.4.7 or 0.5) we need to decide if we want to make a summer release at all.

And the point of my question in this thread is exactly that: shall we try to aim for a summer release (everything else aside). What to include, how quickly that can/should be followed by the next release is subject to follow-up considerations.


I see your point, but if the only thing holding against a summer release would be the new things not being ready - adjustments to the current things apart - then I think the decision on timing depends on the decision on contents.

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 Post subject: Re: 0.4.6 roadmap
PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2016 12:56 pm 
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I would like to get the drydock update in as it's basically ready to go with the AI updated to an extent—it needs fine tuning but we've agreed the numbers and we can do that in the run up to release.

I'm less confident about Fighters, they are really cool but getting the costs right and the AI running well with them is more of a challenge—having said that, getting them into an official Release version will mean we get better feedback on them overall and it would be a nice headline "Look, New Thing" feature to have, so I would like to get them in,

I think to get a Release done by August (because, basically, the timescale means RC1 needs to be out in the first week of August at the latest so we can get the testing done) we need to ensure that no new not already planned or mentioned features go in, and no major changes to scripts or costs are considered, just tweaks for balance of existing stuff.

So, question for people like Geoff and other backend devs—what have you got in the works at the moment that ought to be in the next release, because some of it might need to be postponed and/or rushed (if there's something that imrpvoes performance, etc that'd be good to have, but if it's somehting that'll need balancing or AI tweaks then it's almost certainly worth delaying).

I really think we should aim for early rather than late, which means staying focused on what we can get done. And also making sure we get all PRs and similar sorted through properly.

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 Post subject: Re: 0.4.6 roadmap
PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2016 2:39 pm 
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Cpeosphoros wrote:
I see your point, but if the only thing holding against a summer release would be the new things not being ready - adjustments to the current things apart - then I think the decision on timing depends on the decision on contents.
Well, yes and no. That's one way to come to a decision, I'm actually doing it the other way round: deciding if we want to go for the summer release (which, btw, is my preference), and if yes, we can then decide what we want to include in the release and what we should better put off (because we won't get it ready in time).

@Geoff and Dilvish: What do you think? For obvious reasons, your opinion/vote/decision on that is important, I can't really decide that all by myself... ;)


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 Post subject: Re: 0.4.6 roadmap
PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2016 2:46 pm 
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I think a release can and probably should be ready well before August. Perhaps June? What major roadblocks to that are there?


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 Post subject: Re: 0.4.6 roadmap
PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2016 5:54 pm 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
I think a release can and probably should be ready well before August. Perhaps June? What major roadblocks to that are there?

Balancing and getting the AI up to speed with some stuff. Specifically, I don't see Fighters being fully balanced, tested and the AI working with it well by May, which is what we'd need. If, on the other hand, we bring out the current Trunk and merge Fighters in afterwards then it could be started fairly soon, there are some balance tweaks I want to make but nothing vital and I think everything else is working OK. I would really like the Drydocks to be finished soon and in the next Release but it's not essential.

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 Post subject: Re: 0.4.6 roadmap
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 4:07 pm 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
I think a release can and probably should be ready well before August. Perhaps June?
Even better. The question is, what do we want to have in the release, and what can be wrapped up until then.
Quote:
What major roadblocks to that are there?
Basically what Mat already mentioned. The biggest things being the AI adjustments to various new/changed features/mechanics. And in that departement that adjustments for fighters/carriers are probably the most labor-intensive I guess. Then there are the revisions to weapon upgrades and supply propagation. As far as I understood, the adjustments to the AI that have already been made to deal with those changes have been only basic ones so that the AI isn't completely broken, and need further fine-tuning to get the AI to use them fairly well.

IIRC, the same still applies e.g. also for the new colonization mechanics. I'm not sure the AI has been completely adjusted to those changes, and there are probably al lot of bigger and smaller changes the AI hasn't been more than only rudimentarily adjusted. There have been changes in tech tree layout (e.g. Mats revamp of the stealth/detection tech tree) I assume the AI might need some fine-tuning as well.

Mat wants to get the drydock revision in, which will require still more maybe not exceedingly difficult, but still non-trivial AI adjustments.

All that amounts to quite a lot of stuff, and I wonder if we can get all that wrapped up, balanced, fine-tuned and properly tested to get the final release out by the end of June.

Anyway, I think we have at least a general consensus now that we want to make a release before I take my autumn break. Lets hammer out the details and get an overview of what we want to include in 0.4.6. To be honest, I've sort of lost track of all the things added/changed in the last months, and of all the wip going on right now. So, before we can do anything else the following things:

  • @AI team: can you give us a rough summary about what work needs to be done on the AI for the release? Perhaps organized into things that absolutely need to be done to address changes already in master, things that are important and should be done but aren't strictly necessary, and optional things.
  • Which things are currently worked on or have been worked on recently, which need to be wrapped up before the release?
  • Which things have to go in and can't be left out (for whatever reason)?
  • Which of the other things should go into the release, which shall be left out?
  • Please review the open issues and PRs on the github tracker and apply the above questions to them. I've renamed the "next release" milestone to "0.4.6", and created a new "post 0.4.6" milestone (which will get renamed to "nest release" once 0.4.6 is out). Issues/PRs that will go in will get the "0.4.6" milestone (many of them have that already of course), issues/PRs we decide to leave out will get the "post 0.4.6" milestone, issues/PRs without milestone are yet undecided.

Everyone of you knows what they are working on or have been working on recently themselves, and what others have been working on, and can therefore contribute to our intial brainstorming here. We need the help of all of you, so we don't miss anything important. Mat has already mentioned two things:

  • Revision of drydocks (which he votes to get in).
  • Fighter/carrier, which is one of the big questionmarks. Please give your comments/opinions on if we should leave them out or get them in.

Keep in mind, the more we want to get in, the longer it will take us to get the release out. So consider carefully.

Please provide your feedback! :D

One final thing: please refrain from starting new projects, and concentrate on consolidating things, preferably starting now. ;)


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 Post subject: Re: 0.4.6 roadmap
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 7:33 pm 
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As you've mentioned it, the changes I made to the stealth/intelligence tech tree and parts shouldn't need any AI adjustment as I checked before I did it and the AI doesn't currently use the parts in designs anyway (it does research planetary stealth which was specifically why I kept them as was and created new techs for the parts). It would be nice if the AI was rudimentarily capable of hiding it's scoutships, etc but given we've all agreed we want to revamp stealth but that it's not a priority I think that can easily wait.

Beyond that, yes, agreed.

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 Post subject: Re: 0.4.6 roadmap
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 9:12 am 
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Mandatory:
-Fighters branch needs more adjustments if we put it in.

High priority:
- The AI is not adapted for supply propagation changes at all. Probably should. Probably also non-trivial, but I have to play more games to actually decide what is good to do and what not. Then again, I can't remember complaints on how the AI sucks at the new system, so potentially not too important and small, simple adjustments are just fine.
- Basic adjustments to new drydock logic if Mat changes more of it...
- Weapon upgrades need some more minor adjustments (should not be too much work)
- The AI research path needs to be checked and adjusted (feel free to make suggestions if you think specific techs are researched too early/late etc.)

Low priority:
- I have some mostly finished reworked shipyard logic which works seemingly fine lying around since December. May or may not be included.
- There is some WIP research rework. Currently doesn't really seem to make viable decisions. I don't know if anyone is working on that at the moment.

Some things I wouldn't plan to include in the release that were mentioned (unless someone else wants to do it or has already started working on it):
- Stealth/Detection implementation
- Improved colonization logic
- Support for some crazy complicated parts such as solar webs. Don't expect it to happen any time soon.
- At least 785 other things which need improvement including pretty much any part of the game and spanning the entire range of complexity and concerning things that were added "recently" as well as things that were surely introduced before 2010.



I definitely won't have any time for FO development until end of month though.

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 Post subject: Re: 0.4.6 roadmap
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 5:36 pm 
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Morlic wrote:
Mandatory:
-Fighters branch needs more adjustments if we put it in.

I think we should probably hold off on putting that in and prioritise the other stuff, I suspect I'm not going to be happy with the cost balance until I've played lots and that'll require seeing what the AI comes up with and tweaking things a few times, at the moment I'm still scratching the surface of what to do with the tech tree and similar.
Quote:
High priority:
- The AI is not adapted for supply propagation changes at all. Probably should. Probably also non-trivial, but I have to play more games to actually decide what is good to do and what not. Then again, I can't remember complaints on how the AI sucks at the new system, so potentially not too important and small, simple adjustments are just fine.

It does OK, currently, unless the human player does something to take advantage of the lack of knowledge of how it works, if you get a good supply species in or near their border and/or conquer a smallish world, and then put that world on Logistics, you can fairly easily completely isolate all production centres and then walkover them once you've won eliminated the main fleet, as planets don't even share resources in system if it's not in your colour. They're not awful, but that needs looking at.
Quote:
- Basic adjustments to new drydock logic if Mat changes more of it...

Not just me, I think we've got the basics agreed on now, just need to get it all coded up and then tested.
Quote:
- Weapon upgrades need some more minor adjustments (should not be too much work)
They do seem to be handling this fine, in many ways I think the change helps them as it means very early built ships aren't immediately obsolete.
Quote:
- The AI research path needs to be checked and adjusted (feel free to make suggestions if you think specific techs are researched too early/late etc.)

Detection needs to go up in priority a bit, beyond that I'm not normally noticing any major howlers, although Adaptive Automation is now much higher on my personal priority list than it ever was, and I agree with many others it's probably overpowered as is, but I don't want to change that specific thing without a look at the bigger picture.
Quote:
- Support for some crazy complicated parts such as solar webs. Don't expect it to happen any time soon.

Solar webs are really cool, played a bit more with them this week, but I still don't know the best logic to play with/use them, so have no idea how to advise you guys to adapt, so agreed, low priority. If at any point you (or someone else) does get time I'd like to reduce the per part production cost down to the 40/50 range but it needs to stay high until you guys can look at it properly.
Quote:
- At least 785 other things which need improvement including pretty much any part of the game and spanning the entire range of complexity and concerning things that were added "recently" as well as things that were surely introduced before 2010.

So about normal then ;-)

Seriously, thanks for that summary, it clarifies stuff I thought I knew and is useful for us to make decisions on.


I definitely won't have any time for FO development until end of month though.[/quote]

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