Reviving Vega Strike

Development directions, tasks, and features being actively implemented or pursued by the development team.

Reviving Vega Strike

Postby charlieg » Tue Dec 08, 2009 11:46 am

Firstly, if you have not read the thread 'Most Recent E-Mail Communication with jackS' then I recommend you do.

Summary:
  • Main VS devs are focused on a new 3d engine which they plan to port VS to
  • This port may not happen for a few years or more

VS, in it's current form, 0.5.0, is effectively abandoned. The old team want to move on to bigger and better things, out of which they hope to create a new Vega Strike with basically a totally new codebase.

What does this mean!?

Vega Strike is not dead. While there are players and contributors, there is life.

What is needed are:
  1. People willing to take over content authorization
    Essentially deciding what is canon and good enough to go in to the game out of existing contributions and the best candidates for this are the most prolific contributors - Fendorin, Turbo, etc
  2. People with basic VS knowledge to tackle the mandatory leg work
    People prepared to take contributions and get them in to the game, then to build a 0.5.1 release
  3. People with basic developer knowledge to start cleaning the codebase
    Like the work safemode started - basically documenting, untangling the spaghetti code, giving other onlookers a better chance at finding/fixing bugs and/or implementing new features

New features should be off the menu.

An updated release 0.5.1 with the plethora of content that has since been contributed needs doing as a matter of the highest priority.

I think it is safe to say that at this point the original community/devs have thrown down on this, and will give those who step up to the plate the necessary rights to publish a new release and revive this game.

I am prepared to use my Free Gamer blog and other avenues to canvas for developers to help out with the game, but I need to know it is not in vain. Who else is prepared to step up?
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Re: Reviving Vega Strike

Postby Fendorin » Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:41 am

OK
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Re: Reviving Vega Strike

Postby RedAdder » Thu Dec 10, 2009 5:06 pm

I'd like to keep the project alive.
My primary skill would be programming in C++
Disclaimer: Not sure if I can find the right code in the codebase, and I'm more of a git user than friend of svn.
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Re: Reviving Vega Strike

Postby charlieg » Fri Dec 11, 2009 12:23 pm

Perhaps you could set up a git repository using one of the free git tools for Vega Strike? Then any revival efforts could use that for more flexible distributed source control instead of relying on everybody having the right permissions on a centralised resource.

Just a thought, could trial it and see if it helps. :o
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Re: Reviving Vega Strike

Postby chuck_starchaser » Fri Dec 11, 2009 5:33 pm

I'll help any way I can, though "can" is a big word. I agree about your 3 points.
Well put.
Exactly.
Cleaning up the code base is a HUUGE job, though; it will need someone of the
caliber of Safemode, or an army of coders.
Then again, some coders are so quick it's breath-taking...
I'll email Klauss and point him to this thread. He's the only one I know that knows
quite a bit about the engine; and although he no longer has time for development,
he might have just enough time to answer questions from new developers.
Regarding Git, does SF support it? And what about access to the SF account?
Someone will need that to set up Git. I would offer wcjunction's server, but right
now my financial situation is so uncertain I'm concerned about luring a project
into a site I may no longer be able to afford.
Thanks for bringing new hope.
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Re: Reviving Vega Strike

Postby chuck_starchaser » Fri Dec 11, 2009 6:17 pm

Update:
Klauss says "Just make them ask, and I'll try to find the time."

He also mentions there's a thing called "git-svn" which works as a front-end to svn, and many people use it as a way to transition from svn to git without doing it all at once.
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Re: Reviving Vega Strike

Postby Deus Siddis » Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:08 pm

I am still here and while I might not have a lot of time at this moment, I am not going anywhere and want to keep helping this project forward with whatever good I can do as a modeler and texturer and perhaps organizer of somekind.

But charlie, what we really need are skilled and motivated coders. And secondly at least one content integrator, like pyramid was.

I believe we already have still involved with this project the people who can handle very well the other roles you mentioned. But when it comes to coders and integrators we are sorely lacking and have been so for a long time now.
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Re: Reviving Vega Strike

Postby chuck_starchaser » Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:47 am

The one time I tried to use Pyramid's Unit Converter I ran into all kinds of trouble; but back then
I was in Windows; now I'm in Ubuntu, and perhaps it will work for me now. I also believe he
wrote at least some documentation on the integration process. I might be able to take on that
role, if I manage to figure all that out.
With fingers crossed, that leaves coders.
First job for coders, IMO, would be for them to get the engine to compile.
I got the engine to compile in Ubuntu, but the executable had sound problems.
In Windows, I don't think anybody can get it to compile, anymore; I hope I'm wrong.
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Re: Reviving Vega Strike

Postby RedAdder » Sun Dec 13, 2009 6:49 am

I have a Code::Blocks project sitting on my PC which uses the vc8 (VC++ 2005) compiler toolchain and a very old copy of VS.
I recall making some changes to a python invoking part of the project, and recompiling libpng in VC++ 2005.
Have not noticed difficulties with the binary. On the other hand, I haven't tried pulling a new version and recompiling for ages.
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Re: Reviving Vega Strike

Postby stingray18 » Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:57 pm

Hi,

I've monitored this forum for the last two years and would be more than happy if development of this game would be continued / restarted. As I do software development for a living I'd like to help out with coding/documentation tasks.
Regarding building the engine: I grabbed the latest revision and built it under Opensuse 11.1 with configure;make. The cmake option fails with locating the variuos ffmeg includes.
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Re: Reviving Vega Strike

Postby chuck_starchaser » Sun Dec 13, 2009 7:42 pm

I've heard it said that there are required libraries that people have neglected listing in
the configuration. I guess that would be one of the first areas needing work.
When I compiled for Ubuntu I had problems, but I had a friend visiting that day who
knew in seconds what needed to be done to make it compile; I'm pretty sure ffmpeg
was one of the libraries, and there were a couple more, IIRC.
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Re: Reviving Vega Strike

Postby klauss » Sun Dec 13, 2009 8:06 pm

ffmpeg was checked and mostly worked in ./configure, but I've heared that some distros have the headers in some weird places, and ffmpeg doesn't install any helper tools like pkg-config (which would certainly help a lot). So even if you get it built, you should check that ./configure didn't disable ffmpeg support (it will fail silently since VS can live without it).

cmake... I don't know about the status of the cmake build system. It was something safemode started, but I'm not sure how "finished" it was (ie: if it handled everything properly), I don't use cmake, I've always stayed with autotools. He might have more details though.

EDIT: I even had ffmpeg properly listed in the VC8 project, but I really don't remember if I comitted that or if it worked for everyone. I don't use windows any more, so I can't be certain.
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Re: Reviving Vega Strike

Postby Deus Siddis » Sun Dec 13, 2009 8:30 pm

chuck_starchaser wrote:The one time I tried to use Pyramid's Unit Converter I ran into all kinds of trouble; but back then
I was in Windows; now I'm in Ubuntu, and perhaps it will work for me now. I also believe he
wrote at least some documentation on the integration process. I might be able to take on that
role, if I manage to figure all that out.


I think that could be a big help, there is a hefty backlog of content that has built up since pyramid left.
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Re: Reviving Vega Strike

Postby chuck_starchaser » Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:30 pm

Deus Siddis wrote:I think that could be a big help, there is a hefty backlog of content that has built up since pyramid left.

Reading the Unit Converter manual page...
Apparently I need to have mesher :)
There's a link for downloading it, but for Windows... I guess I have to compile it?

@Klauss: I remember positively that there were *at least* three missing things, libraries, that my friend
told me to apt-get, and then it compiled.
(And then the sound never worked properly; sounded like Morse code; all broken up. Someone else at the junction
forum compiled in Ubuntu and got bad sound; same problem.)

Klauss, do you remember what you changed in the VS shaders last time? I remember you telling me I had done
something incompatible.
Asking because, since then, I've done changes to the PU shaders. I found a way to tell the shader whether to expect
to find shininess in spec alpha or not; and whether to expect to find an AO in glow alpha or not, by playing with the
alpha values for specular and emissive in xmesh. I want to bring the VS shaders up-to-date on this, so that I can
start providing shininesses and AO's right away, with or without Techniques. Or, are Techniques in the engine
already? I think you said they were in; but then also said you were going to re-code them... What about cube-
-maps? But anyhow, I don't want to re-introduce whatever bad things I did to the shaders, that you fixed.
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Re: Reviving Vega Strike

Postby charlieg » Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:38 pm

stingray18 wrote:Hi,

I've monitored this forum for the last two years and would be more than happy if development of this game would be continued / restarted. As I do software development for a living I'd like to help out with coding/documentation tasks.
Regarding building the engine: I grabbed the latest revision and built it under Opensuse 11.1 with configure;make. The cmake option fails with locating the variuos ffmeg includes.

Hi stingray. Since you are a developer perhaps you could go ahead and get it to compile?
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Re: Reviving Vega Strike

Postby stingray18 » Tue Dec 15, 2009 2:39 pm

charlieg wrote:Hi stingray. Since you are a developer perhaps you could go ahead and get it to compile?


Hi,

yes, that was and is my intention. My last entry was a bit short. So it got it compiled successfully under Opensuse 11.1 with gcc4.4.0. I also had no sound issues: I heard music during start of the game, and also had sound effects and voice during the first seconds of the game. After that I quit the game. I will check if ffmpeg was compiled into the game as well, as I learned from one of the previous posts that VS will run without it.

My intention is to install (K)ubuntu as well as this is a widely used linux variant and there is at least one bug entry in the bug tracker about compilation problems.
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Re: Reviving Vega Strike

Postby charlieg » Tue Dec 15, 2009 4:35 pm

Did you need to make any modifications to compile in OpenSuSE?
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Re: Reviving Vega Strike

Postby stingray18 » Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:49 pm

No, no changes at all.

Just to make sure, I deleted vegastrike/trunk/vegastrike from my hdd, did a fresh svn checkout, then used

bootstrap-sh, configure, make and then had a binary.
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Re: Reviving Vega Strike

Postby JsnMtth » Thu Dec 17, 2009 3:27 pm

I'm interested in the code clean-up and development. I'm currently buried in work and will be until January.

I'm working on getting a working Windows XP compile using MinGW, autotools and GCC-3. I will
eventually be sucessfull. It looks like I'm going to have to make some changes to the code get it
to properly compile. I might as well clean up and document the code while I'm figuring it out.

As far as cmake ... Show me the free documentation (or write it for the community)
without it it becomes a barrier for developers joining.

I have a git repo of the project, currently its not suitable. It would need to be
separated into submodules, also something needs to be done about the svn-externals for
boost and python. Currently they need to be manually downloaded (and patched for
gcc-4.4 and up). Lastly, git has POSIX requirements. That means on windows you need
cygwin or a mingw-msys environment. Mercurial might be a better alternative, it is written
in Python and is similar to git in functionality (I like git better personally). Also a "Server" might
not be necessary. A few community members could host a repository at home with dynamic DNS,
people could pull from the closest server to them. GitHUB does occasionally make exceptions
for large projects too, and may host a "central" repo for bleeding edge users.
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Re: Reviving Vega Strike

Postby charlieg » Thu Dec 17, 2009 7:03 pm

Stingray, what do you envisage yourself working on if you can develop for VS? Do you have anything that you find particularly compelling? Have you looked for the lists of common complaints?

There's a lot of talk about refactoring or at least documenting the codebase to make it easier to work with. Is this something you have experience of doing?

We need somebody to give developers direction...
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Re: Reviving Vega Strike

Postby chuck_starchaser » Thu Dec 17, 2009 9:36 pm

Charlieg; that's not likely; stingray is not familiar with the code; nor is jsnmtth, for that matter. As urgent as I agree it is to clean up the code (and I've been pushing for it for years), that's something people can only begin to hope to be able to do once they are quite familiar with it; like after working with it for about a year... minimum. Cleaning up the code is not the easiest task; it is the hardest. What new developers need is simple, tiny objectives to pursue: Find a particular bug; implement some little feature. Right now three things need looking into:
  • Compiling for Windows
  • Sound problem under Ubuntu
  • Cube-maps: All the plumbing is in, already; the ONLY missing piece is code to read DDS cubemaps.
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Re: Reviving Vega Strike

Postby JsnMtth » Fri Dec 18, 2009 12:59 am

I have the feeling that getting the code to compile on windows is going to require getting familiar with a big portion of the code. At least in places where the code interacts with the OS in different ways (like the networking code for example). I was hoping to play with an entire system here or there rather than hop around. I think getting my head around one system at a time is a good idea, or perhaps the different "new" developers can do so in different systems. So far I've been able to identify:

Networking
Scripting API
Rendering
Sound
Physics
Economy
Faction Relations
Ship Armaments
"Base Interface"
Game State

(help me if I'm missing something big)
I'm not familiar with any of them, but their all interesting.
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Re: Reviving Vega Strike

Postby chuck_starchaser » Fri Dec 18, 2009 10:44 am

Yes; you're missing the AI.
Which, by the way, Klauss was telling me, paraphrasing, "That's a part of the code that
simply can't be cleaned-up; nobody could; it's so messy it has to be completely re-written;
and [given the messiness of the AI's interface] it might be easier to write a new engine."
So, I reiterate my case: We need to set small, atomic targets, and make sure they get
done. If we set the goals too high, the results will be discouraging, and in 3 or 6 months
there will be questions about why "nothing's getting done". From a team morale POV,
we need to ASAP see lists of items crossed out. From a practical necessity POV, we
need lists of small items crossed out, too.

EDIT:
For a bit of perspective, you could say that nothing has changed much:
Vegastrike the Game has been stalled for a very long time, with only Fendorin doing a
lot of work on the arts department; but in the big picture, the effort to document the VS
universe was progressing at a snail's pace, and so was story-writing.
Vegastrike the Engine was not evolving much, either, due to an obsession with adding
a multiplayer feature, IMO; but in terms of code clean-up, that stopped when Safemode
left; and engine features requests grew to a kilometric list (see the Modding Engine
Room forum), and not a single requested feature was ever implemented.
So neither the game nor the engine were abandoned recently; they were abandoned
a long time ago. The fact that this fact is now more official is probably a good thing.
So, let's not make the same mistakes as the departed teams. We need to set realistic
goals and long lists of small items and be sure they happen.
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Re: Reviving Vega Strike

Postby stingray18 » Fri Dec 18, 2009 11:52 am

Well, as I've written before, I've been reading this forum (and the source code) for quite a while. To get into the code, I'd start to check the reported bugs and look for the sound issue in Ubuntu.

I think, documenting is a really good thing and should be done in at least two ways: a text file describing the modules and their contribution to the engine (a "static" view) and the behaviour of the engine during startup, playing, shutdown (a "dynamic view). In addition to that, comments in the code should be added where necessary. From my experience the "views" stuff is harder but more helpful, because it helps to get the big picture. Design documentation like that is normally done in UML.

A lot of information is buried in the forum that could contribute to the design documentation, especially the dynamic part. The static part (classes, packages) can be derived from the code with the help of a appropriate UML tool. We should agree on such a tool start to fill in the information.

Besides, I agree with chucks proposal to do small steps, especially after such a long time of "sleep" and with new developers.
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Re: Reviving Vega Strike

Postby charlieg » Fri Dec 18, 2009 12:02 pm

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