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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2016 2:24 pm 
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Now that 0.4.6 is out, we could try to collect a few ideas what we want to get done for the next release. Maybe, with some concrete goals defined, we can move along a bit more efficient. :D

My proposal is this: There are two big projects in the works, Fighters/Carriers and the Influence/Colony Upkeep mechanic.

The first one is already implemented and mostly needs creation/balancing of content and the required AI adjustments. We postponed that for after the 0.4.6 release, so I think now is the time to return to that and get it done.

The second one is in an "advanced design stage", as I would put it, with some experimental implemetion already done by SilentOne IIRC. We put that on hold too to focus on the release, but now I think we can and should resume working on this.

These two, together with all the AI adjustments that will be needed so the AI can handle these additions should be more than enough for the next release cycle. I propose to focus on these as the major projects for the next release. As these are quite significant extensions/changes to gameplay, I also think that bumping the version to 0.5 would be justified.

Of course, whatever we manage to address of all the current open issues and PRs will go in too. On github I've closed the "Release v0.4.6" milestone and renamed "post 0.4.6" to "Next Release", then assigned the "Next Release" milestone to most of the issues and PRs that didn't have any milestone set. I only left those unassigned which aren't really bound to any release anyway, where it is not really important when they get addressed, where I haven't been sure what to do with them, or where I thought that they won't be addressed for the next release.

That does not mean that all the issues and PRs now tagged for the next release have to go into it, but that I consider them as potential candidates for 0.4.7/0.5. @Everyone, feel free to dig through all the open issues and PRs and suggest reassignments as you see fit.

What do you guys think? Is that a reasonable game plan? Are there other important things you think should go into the next release? Or do you have completely different suggestions? Comments and opinions welcome, let the brainstorming for the next release commence. :D


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2016 3:06 pm 
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Vezzra wrote:
We put that on hold too to focus on the release, but now I think we can and should resume working on this.
I agree. My free time is currently very limited, but I should be able to get back to "influence" once your hiatus is over. I certainly don't want you to miss out on the discussion! ;)
However, I don't think I'm suited to do the (majority of the) code. I'm reckless enough to put something together for my own testing purposes, but I'm dubious my coding skills are sufficient for the actual implementation.

Other than that, a core feature I really miss badly is diplomacy with the AI. That's something I would love to see on the roadmap soon.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2016 3:08 pm 
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Agree 100%, was going to suggest bumping to 0.5 as soon as possible anyway, and definitely if we got both Fighters and Influence done.

If possible though, if we can get Fighters done relatively quickly, putting that out as 0.4.7 with Influence (which should take longer) being 0.5.0 should be something we can try—this is dependent on opinions of you as release manager and the AI team more than anyone else, but the last two/three releases have been a year+ between them, before that they were more common and I think should be if we can manage it, new players coming in go for the Release, and if we're getting new player feedback for stuff that's been fixed for nearly a year it's wasting everyone's time, plus, y'know, Fighters are cool.

I don't have any specific projects in mind at the moment, but there are some long term things some of which are dependent on other stuff—I want to do a balance pass on species, possibly adding more, and we know the tech tree needs work already and will need even more for Influence, I don't know how much we want to do before/after that: opinion from someone in the AI team there would be very useful as I want to minimise their workload.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2016 3:22 pm 
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To avoid another year-long release cycle, it might be good to make v0.4.7 primarily about fighters.

I expect various other additions and tweaks to get included as well, particularly optimizations of the existing scripting organization.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2016 9:02 pm 
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I have no objections to making a 0.4.7 release with Fighters/Carriers as the primary element, and postpone the Influence/Colony Upkeep stuff for a subsequent 0.5 release. That's certainly a reasonable alternative to doing a 0.5 release including both. Considering that SilentOne also hasn't much time now it looks like we have a basic consenus here, so I propose to put that plan into action. Depending on how complicated it will be to adjust the AI to the new mechanics and how much time our current AI team will be able to invest, we might get the next release out fairly quickly.

Which means that we can (and should) start with resuming work on the Fighters/Carriers branch and focus our efforts on that. Of course the long list of issues and pending PRs should get their fair share of our attention too, so we can get done as much as possible of these for the next release (and whatever else we might consider important along the road).

@AI-team: any rough estimates on how long it might take you to make the AI fit for Fighters/Carriers?

Well, I guess we've got enough work for everyone, lets get movin' ;)


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2016 9:25 pm 
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The Silent One wrote:
My free time is currently very limited, but I should be able to get back to "influence" once your hiatus is over.
In that case making 0.4.7 about Fighters/Carriers and the Influence stuff after that sounds like a good idea, so we should have plenty of time to design and implement this.
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I certainly don't want you to miss out on the discussion! ;)
Me too, me too... ;)

However, don't worry, it's not that I'm going to vanish off the radar the next few weeks. Actually, I should have a fair share of free time for FO stuff, but I won't be at home, where all my computers reside (including the ancient Windows machines), so producing builds will be somewhat more difficult (which is why it has been so important to get 0.4.6 out in time, as producing builds is kind of essential when making a release... ;)). Only my loyal laptop will accompany me. 8)
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However, I don't think I'm suited to do the (majority of the) code. I'm reckless enough to put something together for my own testing purposes, but I'm dubious my coding skills are sufficient for the actual implementation.
I think you're a tiny little bit too modest - after all, our old leaders of ancient FO times obviously deemed you worthy of committer status. AFAIK you've been part of the dev team far longer than anyone else of the current team, with Geoff being the only exception. So you can't be that bad - IIRC you've been programmer primarily, and the graphics stuff you did was only secondary, so to speak.

Anyway, I'm sure the more capable coders of our dev team will lend you support when the time comes. So just go for it and put up what you have for review, then we can work from there I think. :D
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Other than that, a core feature I really miss badly is diplomacy with the AI. That's something I would love to see on the roadmap soon.
Yep, me too, but that feature depends more than anything else on the AI team. I guess the basic mechanics (empire-empire relations and treaties) won't be that hard to implement, but getting the AI to interact reasonably among themselves and with the player on the diplomatic level might prove one of the biggest challenges for the AI team. I'm curious though to hear their opinion on that now - AI team?


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2016 10:07 pm 
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MatGB wrote:
I don't have any specific projects in mind at the moment, but there are some long term things some of which are dependent on other stuff—I want to do a balance pass on species, possibly adding more, and we know the tech tree needs work already and will need even more for Influence, I don't know how much we want to do before/after that: opinion from someone in the AI team there would be very useful as I want to minimise their workload.


Mat - I have been doing a bunch of fiddling around with species to work on balance. I should be able to make a bunch of stuff available for folks to check out and playtest to see what they think fairly soon. When proposing changes like this, is it good practice to also update the descriptions in the stringtables so that the changes can be incorporated wholesale if people like them? Or does it make more sense to hold off until after the first couple rounds of feedback?


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2016 11:18 pm 
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Depends on work, we certainly won't merge in without the updates, but a work in progress PR is a good thing, the odds of a balance pass being approved without changes are negligible anyway.

My personal priority is to reassign the troop good/bad stuff, Sloth assigned some of them fairly randomly and it was always meant as a tool for balance—there aren't enough Good Attack troop species, and Mu Ursh need to get Bad Attack Troop as a balance (they are meant to be pacifists afterall).

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2016 11:24 pm 
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0.4.7 being the carrier/fighter patch seems reasonable.
I won't have much time until November. After that, I'll hopefully be able to put some time into the AI again. I'd guess end of the year seems doable for the AI fighter adaptations.


About diplomacy: Nothing really planned so far from my side. Much depends on what you want the AI to do and what diplomacy options will be implemented in the future. The current state of diplomatic options in my opinion does not warrant spending much/any dev time on it. There is no benefit of having a peace treaty at all as they can be broken immediately and without consequences (correct me if I am mistaken) - so why bother with it?
Peace must have some sort of incentive for an empire - otherwise there is never a reason for the stronger empire to accept peace (or to not break the peace treaty and surprise attack at any given time). So I think an interesting diplomacy system should be designed first, otherwise it remains a very low priority for me.


@Species Balance: Unless there are drastic new issues arising, shouldn't bother the AI too much and require only little changes.

@Tech tree rework pre/post influence: I expect that influence mechanics may require quite some extensive AI adaptations. I prefer not having to worry about a changed tech tree (excluding stuff directly related to the influence mechanics) at the same time. So either do it well beforehand so that the AI is already adjusted and well-tuned before influence is introduced or do it afterwards. I am fine with both approaches.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2016 9:27 am 
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Vezzra wrote:
In that case making 0.4.7 about Fighters/Carriers and the Influence stuff after that sounds like a good idea, so we should have plenty of time to design and implement this.
Sounds good to me as well.

Vezzra wrote:
However, don't worry, it's not that I'm going to vanish off the radar the next few weeks. Actually, I should have a fair share of free time for FO stuff, but I won't be at home, where all my computers reside (including the ancient Windows machines), ...
That's good to know, in that case I'll resume contributing to the influence thread soon(er).

Vezzra wrote:
IIRC you've been programmer primarily, and the graphics stuff you did was only secondary, so to speak.
No, that's not quite correct. I contributed art mainly, on the programming side I only implemented the first and very simple AI. I used to be a passionate hobby programmer in pre-job times, and I think I have a solid grasp of how to code, but I'm not very familiar with C++ and there's a huge difference to what Geoff, LGM-Doyle or dbenage-cx (and others) are capable of. It's not that I wouldn't give it a try; however, it might take more time for the experienced/professional programmers to correct my contributions than write the code themselves.

Vezzra wrote:
Anyway, I'm sure the more capable coders of our dev team will lend you support when the time comes.
That would be appreciated & required. ;)

Morlic wrote:
The current state of diplomatic options in my opinion does not warrant spending much/any dev time on it.
If there's sufficent interest in implementing diplomacy sometime soon, diplomatic options and the whole diplomacy mechanism would be something for a new design thread.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2016 1:46 pm 
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Morlic wrote:
I won't have much time until November. After that, I'll hopefully be able to put some time into the AI again. I'd guess end of the year seems doable for the AI fighter adaptations.
Excellent. That means we even have a basic schedule. Assuming the necessary AI adjustments will be done by the end of the year, I suggest we plan the 0.4.7 release for January 2017.
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About diplomacy: Nothing really planned so far from my side. Much depends on what you want the AI to do and what diplomacy options will be implemented in the future.
Of course the basic diplomatic framework needs to be designed before we can put any thoughts into the necessary additions to the AI.
Quote:
The current state of diplomatic options in my opinion does not warrant spending much/any dev time on it. There is no benefit of having a peace treaty at all as they can be broken immediately and without consequences (correct me if I am mistaken) - so why bother with it?
Peace must have some sort of incentive for an empire - otherwise there is never a reason for the stronger empire to accept peace (or to not break the peace treaty and surprise attack at any given time). So I think an interesting diplomacy system should be designed first, otherwise it remains a very low priority for me.
Well, the main incentive for an empire to make peace/cooperate with a weaker empire is to join forces against a stronger third empire, isn't it?

But I see your point - without any additional rules that make diplomacy more AI friendly, it's very hard to program an AI that can offer a decent challenge on the diplomatic front to a human player, as evaluating how far another player can be trusted, trying to foresee his moves, all the possibilities at deception, backstabbing, etc. is practically impossible for an AI to perform at a level that can really challenge a human player.

It's actually a similar problem as with starlane travel: we decided to stick with starlane travel only and don't do offroading at all to make things easier for the AI. I think when designing diplomacy we should try to make it as AI friendly as possible (without making it too boring of course).
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@Tech tree rework pre/post influence: I expect that influence mechanics may require quite some extensive AI adaptations. I prefer not having to worry about a changed tech tree (excluding stuff directly related to the influence mechanics) at the same time. So either do it well beforehand so that the AI is already adjusted and well-tuned before influence is introduced or do it afterwards. I am fine with both approaches.
I strongly prefer to implement influence mechanics first, adjust the AI accordingly, and once that works sufficiently well, we can think about a major revision of the tech tree. Because when adding influence we'll have to extend the tech tree substantially anyway, which means either a stop-gap solution where we just add a bunch of essential techs and do a major revision of the tech tree later, or redesign the tech tree immediately.

Which means, if we do a big revision of the tech tree first, we'll have to do another one at some point. If we do influence first, just add some essential techs to get things going we only need to do one big revision of the tech tree afterwards. At least that's what I expect how it will turn out...


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2016 1:51 pm 
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The Silent One wrote:
If there's sufficent interest in implementing diplomacy sometime soon, diplomatic options and the whole diplomacy mechanism would be something for a new design thread.
As I expect diplomacy to be one area where influence will play a big part, I think we should get a solid influence framework in place first before wasting any efforts on designing a diplomacy framwork. Once the former is in place, we have a good foundation to build on the latter. :D


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