Author Topic: Soldat now and tomorrow  (Read 49659 times)

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Offline Michal Marcinkowski

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Soldat now and tomorrow
« on: October 29, 2010, 05:01:09 am »
I've been quiet lately because I have been thinking what to do. EnEsCe can't develop any longer as much as he would want to or as much as anyone would want to. It has been like this for some time now. 1.5.1 should have been released a couple months ago but it seems it was impossible. Now I know this for sure and I need to take actions to continue Soldat's growth.

EnEsCe has done a lot of work on the new version and I want to be sure it does not go to waste. We badly need a dedicated developer or team. I can't contribute because I decided some time ago that my main focus will be Link-Dead. Besides I'm not that much into Soldat in the moment to really do any good for the game. I'm sure there are people that know were to head with this and all I can do is supervise the work and make sure it is of best quality.

I have three options right now:

1. Find a dedicated developer and maintainer (because that was my job and then EnEsCe's) or a small team that knows how to code in Borland Delphi. I'm looking for SERIOUS volunteers. This IS hard work - I don't know if you imagine. I know Shoozza is always eager to step into the Soldat developers shoes and do some coding, but I am wondering if he is the best choice. We can all see what happened with his Open Soldat. People like FliesLikeABrick and jrgp are too busy with their own stuff and working on the web aspects of Soldat so it must be somebody else.

2. Sell Soldat entirely for a sum of money that satisfies me and let a professional company further develop it.

3. Open source Soldat. This means just give it out to the world and let the issue sort out by itself. This does not mean hundreds of people will start developing Soldat. It can be seen in most open source projects there still are just 1 or 2 people doing the work while the rest makes small patches. Which is cool but open sourcing brings 3 problems:
a) hacking - since everyone has the source, hacking is easy as pie. But this has another side to it; since everyone has the source they can also produce equally good anti-hacking software. This seems to work with the Quake trilogy games.
b) I can't cut off the hand that is feeding me. Soldat is my only source of income and I deserve to get money from it and continue my work on other games. So I still want to sell registrations. This is not impossible with open source, it's a matter of making an appropriate license.
c) another problem is Soldat uses some commercial libraries. If it would go open source this means those libraries would have to be replaced by something else which might take some time to prepare.

That's all for now. I'll be following this thread, you can find me also on Quakenet:IRC.

Offline Monsteri

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Re: Soldat now and tomorrow
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2010, 05:23:01 am »
Hey, you can't just leave soldat.
Sorry if I'm insolent.

Offline scarface09

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Re: Soldat now and tomorrow
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2010, 05:32:59 am »
I believe you should get 1 or 2 dedicated developers. This way you can keep track of what's going on and they are able to update the community with some real good feedback and news. However, in the end it's your choice, your game, but you have made a great community out of this game and remember these people have made the game its success.
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Offline ramirez

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Re: Soldat now and tomorrow
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2010, 05:36:20 am »
I think that open sourcing the project would be the best for obvious reasons. Hacks already are a big enough problem, at the very least that gives the chance for the community to do something about it. If that can't be done now, then getting a team of developers would be next on my list, with one lead developer leading that team. Just don't give an exclusive dev position to just one person, or what happened with EnEsCe might happen again, and we'll be waiting ages for updates. I'm sure there are plenty of talented and interested developers who'd like to help. Although openSoldat didn't really pick up, I think that Shoozza might be able to do great things to Soldat. Another person I know has the skills and right mindset to improve the game is Toumaz, but I don't know if he's interested in being a developer in the project.

Offline zakath

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Re: Soldat now and tomorrow
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2010, 05:53:01 am »
I would nominate Fryer, he updated polyworks added stuff like animated gif as well as new polys support for 1.5.1 so he has a sense how stuff works already, also he has coded several games before so he has the skills needed. however I agree with ramirez that there shouldn't be just only one person in the dev team.

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Offline Fubister

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Re: Soldat now and tomorrow
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2010, 06:00:22 am »
I agree with ramirez and zakath, Shoozza, Toumaz and Fryer are really capable of doing it however, I would also add to the team you two lads. So my suggestion for new dev team is: Shoozza, Toumaz, Fryer, zakath and ramirez.

Offline Veritas

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Re: Soldat now and tomorrow
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2010, 06:37:49 am »
As usual, I'm gonna pitch for open source and address the issues.
a) hacking - since everyone has the source, hacking is easy as pie. But this has another side to it; since everyone has the source they can also produce equally good anti-hacking software. This seems to work with the Quake trilogy games.
As the dude in my avatar put it: "The enemy knows the system." There is no real security through obscurity besides delaying the release of hacks. Delaying is useful though, so a central server could be used similar to BE, which would hide some of the detection from hackers.

Quote
b) I can't cut off the hand that is feeding me. Soldat is my only source of income and I deserve to get money from it and continue my work on other games. So I still want to sell registrations. This is not impossible with open source, it's a matter of making an appropriate license.
This is where the Portal comes in. With an open-sourced game, anyone could generate keys without a problem. If you keep registrations server-side, you can use it to unlock features such as stat-tracking and so forth, without any issues with licencing as registrations don't affect things client-side.

Quote
c) another problem is Soldat uses some commercial libraries. If it would go open source this means those libraries would have to be replaced by something else which might take some time to prepare.
You could let people do this for you by just releasing the code and not bundling the commercial libraries, maybe.
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Offline Shoozza

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Re: Soldat now and tomorrow
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2010, 06:50:24 am »
Ok well lets start...

I think you are a bit unfair with the openSoldat argument:
Creating a game from nothing is a difficult (and different) job compared to fixing bugs and adding features.
And creating a Soldat like game is a really huge task - else there would have been a lot of soldat clones flying around atm.

I always wanted to work on soldat with other people - teamwork is important (and has to be learned)
And I strongly believe that the community needs to have something to say - don't ignore feedback and try to keep the discussion objective as possible (no flamewars please) or nothing good will happen.
I see no need to exploit the soldat developers position - it just causes damage

Also I think it's not a good idea to keep me fixing bugs with soldat hacks :P
It eats much more time then doing it in the real source... and the hacks break once a new release comes out.
I think fixing bugs with hacks should show you that I am really SERIOUS about soldats development.
Who else would continue fixing bugs after being rejected from working on his favorite game year after year.

I'm also working on another soldat related delphi project called ARSSE (not all the time and alone because KeFear disappeared, sadly) and it has seen more releases then soldat has ever seen in his whole lifetime and it's not really clean code :P (It has Hungarian variable/function names and comments :D and the Unit1.pas contains almost all the code)
So I am actually dependent on the stuff the devs create.

I think the way I handle bug request and feedback for ARSSE and chatMod is not so bad, is it ;).

Also why did you give me an outdated version of soldats sourcecode back then? To contribute to soldat, right :P?
It was weird that back then my first commit accepted but once I started continuing to commit stuff the main dev got angry and told me to stop. I was shouted at for contributing - pretty much motivating you know :P.
I even had do talk to you to get bugfixes accepted (UAC and logout rendering issue in soldat).

Please make soldat open source or get it a nice dev team don't sell it to other people so that I have more issues to get stuff in it...

The community should get a nice and fun game without easy to fix bugs and with short release cycles.
I hate to see this whole game die slowly because of inactivity...
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Offline darDar

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Re: Soldat now and tomorrow
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2010, 07:13:40 am »
I´m only for the 1. point, cause Soldat will only stay SOLDAT with that choice.

I also suggest a dev team which should contain ~3 people.
Development will be much faster, the communities voice can be handled much easier and so on.

Selling Soldat to some random campony is a step which will have non predictable consequences. This step should only made if your affiliate is okay.

So in my opinion there should be a dev team, I would suggest Shoozza as his attitude is the right one.
There are also some new strangers here in the forums who to made an application.
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Offline PQ

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Re: Soldat now and tomorrow
« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2010, 07:34:19 am »
Once a Pole, always a Pole. :P

You do know that you will never be able to get a good reputation again if you go for the 2nd choice right? (don't know if you've followed the Oracle/Sun thing)

The 1st and the 3rd option are not that different. You will always get a team working on an open source project, the only difference is that you might attract people that are not into soldat yet. 
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Offline jrgp

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Re: Soldat now and tomorrow
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2010, 08:37:26 am »
I'm happy to see an official and long awaited announcement has been made.

I'm either for point 1. or point 3., but I'd be fine with point 2. if the company is willing to give MM royalties he can live comfortably off of.

But this has another side to it; since everyone has the source they can also produce equally good anti-hacking software. This seems to work with the Quake trilogy games.
It gives me great joy and satisfaction to see you finally admit this fact that so many game devs refuse to believe.

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Offline Hellboy

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Re: Soldat now and tomorrow
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2010, 09:38:21 am »
In my opinion the best way to have a successful development in the future is to get a small team. As main developer Shoozzaa, he's the one who most deserves it and I think zakath is able to do something good as well.
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Offline Bonecrusher

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Re: Soldat now and tomorrow
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2010, 10:39:21 am »
The dev team should be open to recruit new members just to help them solve one of the bugs and then leave peacefully waiting for another time they can help. That would make it faster(extremely important for the 1st release as the community have been waiting for like a year). As I have already mentioned Shoozza would be the best choice for head of the dev team imo.

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Offline L[0ne]R

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Re: Soldat now and tomorrow
« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2010, 11:19:45 am »
1. Find a dedicated developer and maintainer (because that was my job and then EnEsCe's) or a small team that knows how to code in Borland Delphi. I'm looking for SERIOUS volunteers. This IS hard work - I don't know if you imagine. I know Shoozza is always eager to step into the Soldat developers shoes and do some coding, but I am wondering if he is the best choice. We can all see what happened with his Open Soldat. People like FliesLikeABrick and jrgp are too busy with their own stuff and working on the web aspects of Soldat so it must be somebody else.
Like others have already said: openSoldat was being made completely from scratch with completely different code structure. In addition there was lack of participation and involvement from other people (which was supposed to be a major support for oS), which didn't help either. So using openSoldat as example doesn't really work here. I'm sure Shoozza will do a good job helping with existing Soldat, especially considering that he's already done a lot for it.

But in any case, more than one person working on the game is still a very nice option. No, not an option - a necessity.

2. Sell Soldat entirely for a sum of money that satisfies me and let a professional company further develop it.
I don't have high hopes for something like that. Soldat would either become a lame sparkly kiddy shooter (like BoosterTrooper), or become fully commercial, or partially commercial with even more and stricter limitations for non-regged players. IMHO, an indie game is best in hands of indie developers.


3. Open source Soldat. This means just give it out to the world and let the issue sort out by itself. This does not mean hundreds of people will start developing Soldat. It can be seen in most open source projects there still are just 1 or 2 people doing the work while the rest makes small patches. Which is cool but open sourcing brings 3 problems:
a) hacking - since everyone has the source, hacking is easy as pie. But this has another side to it; since everyone has the source they can also produce equally good anti-hacking software. This seems to work with the Quake trilogy games.
Hacking is already a problem now that BattlEye is gone, except right now there's nothing being done to fix that. I doubt that open-sourcing will make this issue any worse. Those who want to cheat can already do that.

If the source is kept closed - the solution would be updating the built-in anti-cheat, but the question is: would there be enough people who can do this kind of work on a (very) regular basis? I think with open source there are better chances of getting frequently-updated anti-cheat.

b) I can't cut off the hand that is feeding me. Soldat is my only source of income and I deserve to get money from it and continue my work on other games. So I still want to sell registrations. This is not impossible with open source, it's a matter of making an appropriate license.
That's understandable, although not very fair since you didn't really support the game or its community and let it get to a state it's in now. :/

Anyway, there's another option I can suggest: get money off donations and possibly in-game ads like many other games do nowadays. If Soldat finally starts looking and playing like a finished game - more people are likely to support it and more people would consider using it for advertising.

Or like you said yourself - just decide about the license and keep the game partially commercial like it is now.

c) another problem is Soldat uses some commercial libraries. If it would go open source this means those libraries would have to be replaced by something else which might take some time to prepare.
Well, preparing alternative libraries is something a new developer team could do as they work on the game. Then, once libraries are replaced, it could go open-source.



-----------

Anyway, it's really nice to finally see some action towards Soldat's future. I just wish it has been done sooner. A lot of time and players have been lost before it got to this point. But I hope that from this point on, Soldat will finally stop going downhill and return to its former glory (or even better).
« Last Edit: October 29, 2010, 12:11:38 pm by L[0ne]R »


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Offline jimmyman

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Re: Soldat now and tomorrow
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2010, 12:21:38 pm »
Shoozza and L[0ne]R pretty much posted exactly what I was going to write, but I may as well add a few things.

I know Shoozza is always eager to step into the Soldat developers shoes and do some coding, but I am wondering if he is the best choice. We can all see what happened with his Open Soldat.
I don't think that is a very fair connection to make, and a classic straw man fallacy. Building on an existing game (ideally with a team) is very different to writing a whole game from scratch without much support. I think that Shoozza has more than shown his commitment to Soldat throughout the years.
I personally can't think of many people who have done more for Soldat than him (with the obvious exception of you, of course).
He writes hacks to fix bugs when the dev was ignoring them (given, perhaps he had his reasons to). That alone is quite note-worthy. Then we have the fact that he develops ARSSE, chatMod (the first and only hack to have been given support by you to my knowledge), etc. Those two projects only make his commitment to Soldat more obvious.
I personally think he would be a great developer, preferably part of a team though.

2. Sell Soldat entirely for a sum of money that satisfies me and let a professional company further develop it.
I don't think it is very likely that that would end up well. I think the best option would for it to be kept in the long-term community, rather than out-sourcing to a company. Of course, it's your game so you can do whatever you want with it lol.

a) hacking - since everyone has the source, hacking is easy as pie. But this has another side to it; since everyone has the source they can also produce equally good anti-hacking software. This seems to work with the Quake trilogy games.
This may sound ironic coming from a long-term member of AN (and one of the admins), but please hear me out. I have never supported the use of hacks to ruin games, and it annoys me as much as the next person when someone comes in and ruins the server by running riot with hacks. I have only ever been about programming hacks to learn, and perhaps use privately.
Not everyone is of the same opinion however, so lately with BE off, the level of hacking really is a bit ridiculous. Making it open-source could allow some of the anti-hacking systems which have been in development (by Massacre for instance) could really become a real possibility. As L[0ne]R quoted, security through obscurity is no security at all. Sure, it can make it a bit harder to write hacks for, but it also makes it easier for serious exploits to be discovered by the white-hats. Look at most Linux distros, they are very secure for the most part. More secure than Windows for example. This is the magic of open-source software.

b) I can't cut off the hand that is feeding me. Soldat is my only source of income and I deserve to get money from it and continue my work on other games. So I still want to sell registrations. This is not impossible with open source, it's a matter of making an appropriate license.
Yeah I can understand that. That is a decision you will have to come up with alone. Just try and keep in mind the possibility of donations, as you might be surprised by the number of us willing to donate to you.

c) another problem is Soldat uses some commercial libraries. If it would go open source this means those libraries would have to be replaced by something else which might take some time to prepare.
This is really only a short-term problem though. A dev team could replace those libraries with open-source versions given a bit of time. Investing that time to transfer to the new libraries would probably end up being a good thing for Soldat in the long term, and is only a small speedbump.

Offline n0b-

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Re: Soldat now and tomorrow
« Reply #15 on: October 29, 2010, 12:32:20 pm »
Sell it to valve, I need hats.


Offline DragonSlayer

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Re: Soldat now and tomorrow
« Reply #16 on: October 29, 2010, 01:23:19 pm »
I think option 2 would be really good if some real developer picked it up but I'm not sure if that's really going to happen. I don't mind Soldat going commercial and that's pretty much the only downside of a real team of developers picking it up. Of course it's also very likely they'd like to code the game from the scratch or at least redo huge parts of the code so the end result might not be completely similar to what Soldat is right now but that's not necessarily a bad thing at all. And as upside at least we'd get regular updates, proper anti-hack system and much more bug-free game plus likely a nice graphical upgrade as well. As downside, the community would most likely be less involved and then there's the fact that Soldat is probably going to cost money at that point which I don't mind but some people surely will. But like I said, I don't see this happening and I have no idea what kind of money MM is even talking about.

Getting a team of dedicated developers is the next best thing that could happen to Soldat and of course it'll take time for them to get things rolling but as long as they have drive to get things done, I'm sure things will get done. Taking over a project like Soldat is huge job for a single person and we saw how that worked out with Enesce so a team is definitely preferred, though having one main developer to run the team is a good idea so the game will have some direction. Also MM, you mention that Soldat is your source of income and that you want to keep getting money from the registered users which is perfectly fine and makes sense but you do realize that if no one continues developing this game for you, your income will stop in no time? What about the people who will develop this game for you? Are they gonna get paid? You probably should work out some kind of a fair deal. If you can't do that, selling the game will probably make more sense unless you actually can find enough developers who just want to develop the game for the fun of it. But I fear that isn't going to last forever and at some point they'll want part of the revenue and truth is, they're entitled to it. If you don't wanna do that, do consider going open-source.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2010, 01:25:33 pm by DragonSlayer »

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Offline Illuminatus

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Re: Soldat now and tomorrow
« Reply #17 on: October 29, 2010, 01:42:46 pm »
I'm looking for SERIOUS volunteers. This IS hard work - I don't know if you imagine. I know Shoozza is always eager to step into the Soldat developers shoes and do some coding, but I am wondering if he is the best choice. We can all see what happened with his Open Soldat.

I don't want to repeat what the others said but I think you're getting it wrong. What Shoozza has done (openSoldat) is in my eyes just an act out of sheer despair. He wanted to contribute long time ago, he even got the sourcecode from you and then suddenly he was rejected to help in developement. Still he didn't give up, made fan-apps and maintained them over time. Then he thought about porting it to Linux, but only since you didn't want it he started the new project, building up a Soldat clone out of nowhere.
It is only understandable that you will lower your interest in it if you still have hopes to join development of Soldat.

Also I don't think we're searching a new developer for the next 5 years. The first priority is to get 1.5.1 done and to maintain it for the next 6 months to make it stable and fix as many bugs as possible. Also we would need some solution for the cheating-problem. When this is done Soldat is in a really good state, so development could focus on new features and improvements (there are lots of suggestions and I'm not talking about vehiculs or dragonflies) and hopefully this will attract new users.
Also I want to say that it wouldn't be a problem if Shoozza would leave Soldat development after.....a  year for example. As I said in the beginning: it's not like he needs to be Soldat's last developer. EnEsCe made some great work with fixing bugs and improving Soldat. But still he lost his focus on the development after some time. Then it is just fair to tell the community that you lost your interest or you don't have enough time anymore and we together could decide on a new solution (again (a) new developer(s) or finally open-source).

What I want to stress is this: Soldat IS dying. I think we're all seeing it in terms of active public-servers. Soldat is still lively in the competive scene but this one doesn't attract the new users. Most of the players there play it for more than 1 or 2 years. So if we want this amazing game to live on or to revive it in my opinion we need to act now! So - pls MM - make your decision fast so we can finally get a new release public which will hopefully satisfy the users need and improve the mood in here.
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Offline Snow

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Re: Soldat now and tomorrow
« Reply #18 on: October 29, 2010, 02:48:18 pm »
I can understand your frustration. I'm wondering if open-source is the best way to go. Then you would have the best of options 1 AND 3, as people like Shoozza who always have wanted to be dedicated developers can work on it, but also it would open it up to be developed by anyone who wants to contribute. I could see Soldat go back to the way it was in 1.2.1, but with the new poly types included. Some of the things that Enesce added have to be undone - like the portal. I just want to open up soldat and be on the server within 10 seconds. I think having the source within the hands of a dedicated community will renew interest in the game and people who have played the game for years will then be that much closer to it. It would mean so much to true hardcore dedicated soldat players who can also code. So the source would also be fiercely protected against asshole hackers. And speaking of hacking, even if the source is out there, how hard is it to do server-side version checking and checking for edited or changed code.

I'm in school studying programming myself and who knows, after some experience, in a few years (and after learning Delphi), if Soldat is open source - I might just contribute too. I have ideas of things I would love to see possible with Soldat that would not at all interupt gameplay, the interface, networking, etc. For example, one thing I would love to see that I posted once in the OpenSoldat forums, was to see a camera function that would allow broadcasting of a game - panning and zooming in and out of a map (to the point that you could display the entire map with all players on it). That way tournaments, such as the finals could be watched live.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2010, 02:54:17 pm by Snow »
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Offline leo[argentina]

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Re: Soldat now and tomorrow
« Reply #19 on: October 29, 2010, 03:49:20 pm »
Well, finally something happens.
I think the best choice is to make it open-source, with shoozza and 2 more as main devs so other people will be able to contribute, but the game will have a good developing team. But getting delphi programmers isn't easy, as it would be if the game was written in C, etc. Also, the cheaters will be able to do something good for the game, like an anticheat system.
Just my opinion.