About the community

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Corbeau
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About the community

Postby Corbeau » Wed Oct 11, 2017 9:04 pm

I followed a link somewhere and then followed something else, anyway, that's irrelevant, and I ended up here:

https://libregamewiki.org/The_Battle_for_Wesnoth

In short:
"The Battle for Wesnoth, or simply Wesnoth or BfW, is a fantasy themed 2D turn-based strategy game started by David White in June 2003. The game is programmed in C++ and its code and media are licensed under the GPL. This game does not require 3D hardware acceleration. "


The point of this? This:
Wesnoth has a large active community at the Wesnoth forum with about 10,000 members and over 280,000 posts in their forums as of February 20th, 2009.


So, how did they get so many people and what did they do and what do they have that we didn't and don't?

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VladimirSlavik
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Re: About the community

Postby VladimirSlavik » Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:54 am

Hard to say easily. FWIW, I used to contribute to Wesnoth a lot (maintainer of one localization team) so I saw the dynamics and whatnot firsthand for about seven years. Freeciv is a fundamentally different type of game, so many of my points may not be applicable. Let's see...

- The game had both strong multiplayer and singleplayer (campaign) experiences.
- The game had a free multiplayer server with moderators, linked to forum, etc.
- A casual game did not last more than a 2-3 hours at worst, making it easy to stuff the gameplay into normal schedule - no big commitment. Campaigns could be saved any moment, again no time pressure.
- Modding (UMC) was made easy, identical to official stuff, with a dead simple format and a rather flat learning curve (WML, one object per image etc.).
- Mods were encouraged by an official add-on repository, accessible easily from the game itself
- The high graphics standard and excellent rule balance that you see over there has been achieved only after the community started expanding.
- The community existed from the beginning and was never seriously hampered (IIRC). Look back at how many times the Freeciv forum crashed, now GNA etc...
- The community was really welcoming for both players and contributors. /me points to cazfi's thread about holding back from contribution as a good thing
- The community was concentrated around a single project, with single code base, singular communication vehicles (forum, irc, wiki), single modding scene...
- The community had on a single forum spaces for casual gamer lounging, modding, and the core dev stuff, with no barrier except moderation. People who came to whine about overpowered elvish rangers could always see what the cool guys are doing, perhaps learn a bit about how it's done, and take part in the serious stuff just by posting about why does not their file parse instead of op ranger chat. Arguably, that's here too - or not, since the code "just happens".
- BDFL? Who is Dave's counterpart here? At that, who is responsible for this, that, etc.? We have neither a visible leadership, nor visible "doers", it seems.

I can't really point to a single thing. It's all and nothing at once. Really, building an community / player base around a project is something of an exponential process: When it exists, they will come and make it exist. At any rate, making best of what's here and now is better than dreaming up some glorious alternative!

On a final note, somewhere else I remarked that on the surface, Freeciv feels like a finished, polished monolith, inaccessible with no place to start making impact by changes. Arguably, Wesnoth has reached that stage too, and it shows. Six years ago, their forums bustled with activity. These days, it's a ghost town. Those who take a look only now just can't compare and are lulled by the numbers, but it used to be far more glorious. So in a sense Freeciv sems to have already "won", too ;-)

cazfi
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Re: About the community

Postby cazfi » Thu Oct 12, 2017 6:57 pm

VladimirSlavik wrote:Look back at how many times the Freeciv forum crashed,

The freeciv forum reset might be the biggest single factor for the different numbers in members registered to forums. The old forums were a lot more active than what we have achieved now.

drgerg
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Re: About the community

Postby drgerg » Thu May 10, 2018 12:18 am

I really liked Vladimir's comments about campaigns. We have a few scenarios that can be used as a basis for a campaign. But we could use more.

What I'm thinking about is historical campaigns such as Spain and Portual during the age of discovery, the Apaches coming south out of Canada (based on oral history?), population of the Pacific islands, population of Australia and New Zealand, the Chinese navy sailing the pacific before 1492. I want to be careful how I phrase this because the local populations were wiped out! I am not trying to glorify the conquerors, what Vasco di Gama did as he explored the Indian Ocean is absolutely nasty/ruthless (listen to a Tides of History podcast on that subject or do your own research).

There could also be campaigns based on Ghangis Khan or the spread of a religion through a region.

I also feel that campaigns could be created on non-Earth based maps. I'm not a science fiction fan, but I'm sure that there are stories that could be adapted to campaigns.

Some of these campaigns should not end with a space race, or with world domination. As the developers work on diplomatic or cultural victory conditions, these could be worked into campaigns. Another way to end a scenario is for it to have a predefined set of technology, gold, and units, and run for x years. How well did you do after x years? If you start the campaign again, did you do better? I really don't want to get into leader boards because now we are incentivizing people to break rules and look for back doors to improve their score.

Vladimir's comments about being able to play 2 to 3 hours at a time, and saving a campaign, and coming back to it, a day or two later--these ideas I like and I agree with him that having more campaigns will help casual players stick around ( and post on these boards).

What I don't know is if existing scenario can be forced to use a defined ruleset. For example, I've never (knowingly) played with the civ3 ruleset. I feel that for certain campaigns, one ruleset would be better than another. I think (but am not certain) that rulesets allow for different technologies and wonders--I haven't played around in this area, so I definitely could learn something. I'm thinking of a minor wonder such as a "printing press" (again, go listen to a Tides of History podcast on that subject).

I also feel that we need more non-European naval vessels, a dhow, a junk, tea clipper, etc.

Thinking out loud, I wonder if there could be campaigns for single users, and campaigns for two users--again Spain and Portugal come to mind, as Spain discovers the Americas and the Pacific, Portugal discovers Africa, India, and other points on the Indian ocean. If I remember correctly there was a "treaty" between the two countries, so it wasn't the two countries fighting each other, nor was it a cooperative set of voyages, just two sets of competing peoples discovering what was unknown to them.

Finally, on another Tides of History podcast ( can you tell that I like listening to that podcast on my commute?), he mentions one of his sources is a economic historian. I'm going to go have to read a book by that person and see what ideas for campaigns spring to mind.

Hans Lemurson
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Re: About the community

Postby Hans Lemurson » Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:33 pm

On the topic of scenarios/campaigns, one of the genius moves that the Civ2 devs made back in the day was to include a playable WW2 scenario which let you just "jump into the action" and play around with modern units and techs. This let them show off the changes made and the new variety of units available which would normally be locked away as "endgame content". Without a scenario like that, the game can become a bit repetitive with the same basic low-tech tiny starts every time and Battleships and Airplanes being hours of gameplay away.

Scenarios (even without any ruleset changes) can let you play through situations and get into fights that would never happen over the course of normal gameplay. Big fights between evenly matched foes, underdog fights, races to colonize a new world, etc.

But for attracting new players, I don't think you can do much better than a big "Jump right into the Action" scenario where the empires and armies have already been built for you.

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XYZ
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Re: About the community

Postby XYZ » Fri Jun 08, 2018 7:00 am

On the topic of scenarios/campaigns, one of the genius moves that the Civ2 devs made back in the day was to include a playable WW2 scenario which let you just "jump into the action" and play around with modern units and techs. This let them show off the changes made and the new variety of units available which would normally be locked away as "endgame content". Without a scenario like that, the game can become a bit repetitive with the same basic low-tech tiny starts every time and Battleships and Airplanes being hours of gameplay away.

Scenarios (even without any ruleset changes) can let you play through situations and get into fights that would never happen over the course of normal gameplay. Big fights between evenly matched foes, underdog fights, races to colonize a new world, etc.

But for attracting new players, I don't think you can do much better than a big "Jump right into the Action" scenario where the empires and armies have already been built for you.


Well, its not WWII but WWI was in-build (used to be in the scenario section). Now you can download it together with German States scenarios through the mod installer. I created more scenarios that you can find here:

http://forum.freeciv.org/f/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=809

Thinking out loud, I wonder if there could be campaigns for single users, and campaigns for two users--again Spain and Portugal come to mind, as Spain discovers the Americas and the Pacific, Portugal discovers Africa, India, and other points on the Indian ocean. If I remember correctly there was a "treaty" between the two countries, so it wasn't the two countries fighting each other, nor was it a cooperative set of voyages, just two sets of competing peoples discovering what was unknown to them.


There is a Caribbean Colonization scenario. If you are looking for the scramble of Africa look for the Colonial Africa scenario.

I used to do some updates from time to time but I merely get feedback.

I also feel that we need more non-European naval vessels, a dhow, a junk, tea clipper, etc.


As for new units, I pushed the topic last week by creating new ones -specially for cimpletoon. Introduction depends now on somebody doing the necessary steps to finish the job.
Anyhow, a junk is among the new units. A tea clipper is not a chinese ship, it was only used there, but it looks like a frigate... Anyhow, among the new vessels are also a cog, a steamer and quinquireme...

New units:

http://forum.freeciv.org/f/viewforum.php?f=12

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Arbogast
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Re: About the community

Postby Arbogast » Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:49 am

A real shame this topic fell by the wayside...

Corbeau's remark:
"So, how did they get so many people and what did they do and what do they have that we didn't and don't?"
left me with recurrent thought. Indeed, I have munched that question a lot but since I never played Wesnoth not even visiting their site, thus I'm not in a position to comment the differences between Freeciv and Wesnoth. I'm speaking in a more abstract point of view based on my own experience here.

What struck me the most is the unbalance between "Technicity" (which implies IT knowledge) and "Playability" (which means "Hey, I just want to play but I would like to improve my defenses...). How many variants of the game itself? How many technical posts (Technicity) v/s how many tips on "how to play" (Playability)?
There are other points that I noticed, but that would be later and/or elsewhere.

Hope I'm making sense.

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Corbeau
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Re: About the community

Postby Corbeau » Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:00 am

Yeah, tech support here is somewhat lacking. Documentation, advice how to do something... Sometimes it SEEMS (not saying that this is so, just that is SOMETIMES SEEMS) as if the people who are maintaining and developing the game are doing it for themselves.

Which, basically, wouldn't even be the worst of things. When you do something for yourself instead of for the others, you do a better job (unless the others have a way of stimulating you). And, in the end, this is all just a hobby, nobody is getting any profit from it.

But some more user-friendly documentation or installation procedures would be more than helpful.

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Arbogast
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Re: About the community

Postby Arbogast » Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:00 pm

Well, I think the 'Techies' are
@Corbeau said "maintaining and developing the game are doing it for themselves."
But not only. I think they are helping everybody. So we have Techies and Players. Players come here for the latest uploads be them versions or tricks/tips. Not how to write a LUA script.
This is where an old adage on software developing comes in: You have vertical developing and horizontal developing. Vertical is tuning up a given software, while horizontal is expanding that software to all points. As for horizontal, look at Freeciv: Long turn, Freeciv Web, for Android, for Linux, and I'm forgetting many.
Now look at vertical expansion: Errors in the software, missing icons, and such.

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vodot
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Re: About the community

Postby vodot » Sun Jul 08, 2018 4:12 pm

I think the current paucity of community around this game is surprising, given how much more compelling a 4X Civilization game should be compared to a relatively simple tactical game like BfW (which is a *great* game I still play, and to which I too have contributed).

RE: reasons, what more can be said after Vladmir's terrific, insider post? Still, I'll add one thing of paramount importance to me although I may be in the minority: immersion, story, and theme. It has been hinted at or obliquely referenced here ("scenarios", etc.), but in my mind the main thing Wesnoth has that Freeciv doesn't is charm, or perhaps story is a better word.

Not just "scenarios" or campaigns, but the base feeling that the player is actually in the world, meeting with others in that world, leading an empire, making decisions that shape history. BfW has all of these weird conceits that put up obstacles to immersion (bad writing, weird portraits, awkward plot and mechanics, inexplicable scale, and on and on), but it's charm and story overcomes all this to deliver an immersive narrative and experience. Similarly, playing a retail Civilization game is much more than a remote simulation of a world's history- it's a crafted, immersive experience that pulls you into a narrative and world. That 'One More Turn' immersion is, I think, the soul of Civilization, and an open-source remake has got to channel that same soul in order to succeed.

RE: Scenarios; while campaigns and scenarios can enhance immersion, neither is required for it. Even the very first Civ game proves this, I think, by being completely devoid of scenarios (except 'EARTH', which is obviously the most important scenario) while still remaining rich with immersion and story: It had that glorious title crawl during world generation, the AI personalities, the beautiful and thematic interface, dialogue-driven diplomacy and barbarian threats, advisor interactions, historical and immersive in-game text and help, and immersive sounds/music. It did all this with minimal animation, no video or 3d models, no voice acting whatsoever, and virtually *zero* options or customization.

I love freeciv and have played hundreds of games over hundreds of hours... but while you can play a game of freeciv that is almost 100% mechanically identical to Civ1 or Civ2, it is a sterile experience by comparison. The frustrating part is that there is so much potential for freeciv to be better in this aspect. For example, many of the elements in freeciv that could potentially provide a sense of narrative are hidden away and not even shown to the player by default (the "messages" tab). The in-game text (whether menus, technologies, unit and building descriptions, help text, etc.) are flat and almost flavorless (or worse, they are overtly mechanical/gamey, immersion-breaking, or even cynical). Diplomacy is a conversationless and abstract calculus. The decision to make available hundreds of "Nations" and thousands of leaders means that writing unique dialogue or personalities (to say nothing of furnishing portraits) for them is impossible; the GUI is cold and so technical and overblown that it is undecipherable without tooltips and jarringly reminds you that you're just playing a computer game; and so on.

I say all this with great love for this effort and this game, and tremendous respect for those of us continuing to work at maintaining and improving it. I've been modding mine locally for over seven years now, and it's always the first thing I install on a new linux image or machine. I say all this in the hope that this is something we/I can help change over time, even if I am not sure exactly how.

One way I would really like to help is with the English text of the game. I would love to prepare a more historical/encyclopedic and immersive version of ALL of the in-game text (call it "immersive" or whatever)- is anyone actively working on something like that?