Game Design

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  • FreeOrion designs generally follow the Roadmap, with each major milestone having a corresponding Requirements document. The requirements documents for each version represent finalized design for that version, which will be closely followed by the programmers for implementation. There are generally few official or final design decisions that are not documented in the most recent design documents, though exceptions may occur in some cases (see the FAQ for details).

  • To create a coherent game, we strive to follow FreeOrion's Game Design Philosophy. This is quite important, as new comers who are not aware of FreeOrion's philosophy are very likely to propose ideas that are simply incompatible with the game we're trying to make.
    • "Realism" is an often controversial topic, and many newcomers falsely assume we are trying to make a realistic galaxy simulation. An explanation of FreeOrion's relationship to realism is here.

Design Forums

Most design work for FreeOrion happens in the Design Forums. The various subforums are discussed below.

  • Game Design This is where the real action is. The threads in Game Design are meant for formally proposing and debating ideas for features pertaining to the topic at hand. Staying on topic in these threads is important, so when in doubt post to Brainstorming instead. You should be aware that ideas in threads in progress have probably received some serious thought. It's seldom helpful to blurt out ideas without making yourself familiar with the ideas and reason previously discussed in the thread. The ability to start new treads in 'Game Design' is limited.

  • Brainstorming If you have an idea for the game that doesn't fit into a current DESIGN thread, then use this board. Just about anything goes here, so long as the Rules are obeyed.
If an aspect of the game has already been decided upon, it generally doesn't do a lick of good to rehash the topic. So it's best to take a look at the Roadmap and Requirements documents before posting. Posts regarding parts of the game scheduled for further down the roadmap may be forgotten by the time the subject is officially opened.
Please don't post descriptions of specific species to Brainstorming, use Story instead.

  • Story contains discussion on the backstory of the game as well as ideas for alien species. Since species are near the end of the Roadmap, not much attention is currently paid to the Story board. However many good ideas for species have been provided, and people are welcome to contribute more, as long as they understand that not much will be done with these ideas for quite a while.

  • Design Archive This is where old Design and Public Review threads go to live in blissful, locked retirement.

  • Content Creation This is where content for the game is discussed. Technologies, ship parts and hulls, buildings and specials that appear in-game need to be designed and created.

Guidelines for Contributors

  • Decent English is a good thing. While it'€™s understood that not everyone speaks English as a first language, contributors should strive to make their postings as comprehensible as possible. Elite hacker speak, text messaging abbreviations, and other butcherings of the language are not at all encouraged. No one will embrace your idea if it's so badly described that no one understands what you mean.
    • Similarly, use punctation and paragraphs to break up the flow of words into logical chunks. A large, solid chunk of text is hard to digest, and easy to lose your place in.

  • It's seldom enough to simply explain how your idea works. If the idea had self-evident value we probably would have thought it up and included it already. The presentation of any new ideas should include an explanation of how and why the idea improves the game.

  • Not all good ideas can be included in a single game. Make sure your ideas work with our design Philosophy.

Design Team Titles

The FreeOrion Design Team is responsible for maintaining and developing the gameplay of FreeOrion.

The Design Team consists of a Lead Designer and the Creative Team, of whom one or two members fill the positions of FreeOrion Designer. These terms are defined as follows:

Creative Team: Members of the FreeOrion community who contribute regularly to discussions on the Design board and in public reviews may be inducted into the Creative Team. This is an honorary title; it provides no additional authority or responsibility. We very much want to credit everyone who contributes regularly to this project, no matter what phase they came in on; consequently, people who frequent the Game Design board and post according to the rules, offer valuable insight into difficult questions, or otherwise exemplify the qualities of professional, critical debate, discussion, and design that are vital to the FO design team are brought on the team.

FreeOrion Designer: Members of the creative team who hold this title are considered part of the FreeOrion development team, and may have additional responsibilities relating to writing sections of the design document, technical documentation, forum moderation, conducting public reviews, and other administrative tasks. These positions are not always filled.

Lead Designer: The Lead Designer is responsible for managing the design team, acting as a liaison to the other project teams, and for writing and maintaining the design document. The Lead Designer will direct discussion on the design board and conduct public reviews in accordance with the FreeOrion Mission Statemnet and other stated goals. The Lead Designer is also responsible for the workflow of the public side of the project -- integrating ideas, suggestions, and proposals into the development process.

Game Design FAQ

Q: I've been very active on this project and you haven't added me to the Creative Team!
A: Recognition as part of the creative team is at the discretion of the design lead. There are no hard-and-fast rules as to when the team will be updated or what one must do to be on it, but this is on purpose, because there is also no difference between someone who is on it and someone who is not in terms of contributing to this project, and that is why we are here. The FO Creative Team is essentially a group of people to which the FO project wants to extend a 'thank you!' for one reason or another who might otherwise not get credited (as programmers, artists, translators and musicians do).

Q: Should I email/PM you and complain?
A: You can, but this could be in poor taste, so if you really and truly feel slighted, then absolutely contact me, as I maintain this list. This is not a 'club,' it is not exclusive, and there are no special privileges, which is why we are leery of having 'joining requirements' or anything silly like that. We all work for no pay, so it's just one of several ways we have of showing our appreciation.

Q: I want a special title other than 'FreeOrion Creative Team!'
A: Such titles are rarely awarded. When it happens, the recipient has demonstrated particularly useful contributions, often in a specific area that greatly helps the project.

Q: I've posted three million times on Brainstorming or Rants and Raves or <some other board>. Why don't you add me?
A: You must be active on the Game Design board. The brainstorming boards and the 'chat' boards are provided as a convenience, and the FO team cannot always follow them.