Principles and Vision

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nwah
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Principles and Vision

Post by nwah » 03 Sep 2017, 19:51

I've been speaking to a friend lately that has been emphasizing the importance of a coherent vision and strategy in the success or failure of groups.

OpenMW is one of the few success stories in the world of open source gaming, and just so happens to be a reimplementation of my favorite game, but we must be realistic about the rare position of this project. Most open source game projects are complete failures.

Why has OpenMW been such a success while others have failed? There's more than one single reason. Surely the fact that Morrowind's community was unusually geared around modding well before OpenMW ever existed had something to do with it, thanks to Bethesda's unusual pro-modding approach.

But one fact about OpenMW stands out. It has had a singular, obvious, irreproachable vision for 1.0 that everyone was on board with. Be a complete reimplementation of Morrowind's engine. Whatever minor disagreements or fuzzy edge cases existed were trivial compared to the simplicity of this shared vision.

But every once in awhile, I hear rumblings about how we will be unshackled in a post-1.0 world. We won't need to worry so much about compatibility. We can do whatever we want.

Let's think very carefully about this. In a completely different domain, you have had countless attempts to replace Javascript within browser, because everyone seems to agree that it is lacking, and so there were many projects like Dart that attempted to replace it but languished. There is only one exception. Typescript had a singular focus, aiming to be a strict superset of javascript, and to compile back down into javascript. Every competing project with another mission has failed, even if it had theoretical benefits in terms of purity and starting from a clean slate.

I make one humble proposal, as a longtime admirer of this project, a donor to scrawl, etc. I ask that we come up with a vision and small set of basic principles that we will not violate. And I ask that one of those principles be that we stick to being a strict superset of all Morrowind formats (ESM, ESP, BSA, etc), and that our files can always be compiled back down into a valid Morrowind file.

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DestinedToDie
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Re: Principles and Vision

Post by DestinedToDie » 03 Sep 2017, 20:39

The idea behind the talk about post 1.0 features is that OpenMW would become an engine that doesn't just run Morrowind, but also be used to make new Morrowind-like games. While OpenMW is already somewhat capable of this, strictly following a hardcoded Morrowind rule-set would restrict all of the newly made games on OpenMW to be carbon copies.

On the other hand, we could add new things on-top of the .omwaddon format that allow game developers (and modders) to do new things in addition to having the Morrowind-like mechanics as their base. This would add in extra information to omw.addon, which the original Morrowind engine will not be able to read. I'm not sure if that will produce a crash or the engine will simply ignore and continue running the converted .omwaddon->.esp file.

You propose the theory that if we stay strict in how we manage the project, then the project will be successful. But I don't quite understand why exactly you chose the manner of strictness that you described. Our current main goal is to completely replace the Morrowind engine and make it preferable for players to adopt OpenMW as their engine of choice. However when we don't go the extra mile after 1.0 in adding new things to the .owmaddon format that the .esp format cannot do, then that doesn't make OpenMW preferable in that area, it will be the same as Morrowind engine and people will have less inclination to make the move from Morrowind to OpenMW as OpenMW would provide no improvement.

To me it seems that you're suggesting we take a step that goes against our interest in both being preferable to the old Morrowind engine and also becoming a game engine that would attract developers who would make new games on it. Perhaps I'm missing something and somehow this will help OpenMW instead of hurting it, but if we want strictness, then why not instead hear what our lead developer Zini has planned out for post 1.0 and strictly follow that plan?
Last edited by DestinedToDie on 03 Sep 2017, 20:50, edited 1 time in total.

Chris
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Re: Principles and Vision

Post by Chris » 03 Sep 2017, 20:50

nwah wrote:
03 Sep 2017, 19:51
But one fact about OpenMW stands out. It has had a singular, obvious, irreproachable vision for 1.0 that everyone was on board with. Be a complete reimplementation of Morrowind's engine. Whatever minor disagreements or fuzzy edge cases existed were trivial compared to the simplicity of this shared vision.
It also helps to have a person in charge. Someone to lay out that vision and enforce it, someone who can give a final say over a disagreements, and who's not afraid to say "no" to an otherwise good idea because other things are more important. Someone that has the skill to make the right calls, and is capable of getting their own hands dirty, so to speak, and do what needs to be done themself.
But every once in awhile, I hear rumblings about how we will be unshackled in a post-1.0 world. We won't need to worry so much about compatibility. We can do whatever we want.
I think it's more correct to say we'll be less shackled by vanilla features. OpenMW will never (purposely) break compatibility with vanilla Morrowind. What it will do after 1.0 is add more modding capabilities, allowing modders to change things that they couldn't in the original. Vanilla Morrowind will still work as it should, but mods will be able to do new things.

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raevol
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Re: Principles and Vision

Post by raevol » 03 Sep 2017, 21:50

A lot of what we are trying to do (post 1.0) is natively support the sort of things that were only possible with binary hacks before, like MGE and MSE. By definition those things aren't supported by the vanilla engine.

So I disagree on your point that we should remain bound to the capabilities of the original engine, but I do agree on your point about having a coherent vision for post-1.0 features. We need to have a way, as a community, to say no to facebook integration for example.

However, I feel defining that kind of vision as hard and fast rules will be difficult. I think that we as a team and as a community will have to discover the best way to handle these sort of things when we get there. Everyone should be supportive of adding PBR rendering, for example, but no one should support adding Great Wall censorship features to TES3MP, for example...

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Deltaxus
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Re: Principles and Vision

Post by Deltaxus » 04 Sep 2017, 09:17

I make one humble proposal, as a longtime admirer of this project, a donor to scrawl, etc. I ask that we come up with a vision and small set of basic principles that we will not violate. And I ask that one of those principles be that we stick to being a strict superset of all Morrowind formats (ESM, ESP, BSA, etc), and that our files can always be compiled back down into a valid Morrowind file.
I think this is too limiting. I am working on re implementing Oblivion's script engine right now (the lexical analyzer atm), there are functions implemented in Oblivion but not in Morrowind, those couldn't possibly be compatible with Morrowind.

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psi29a
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Re: Principles and Vision

Post by psi29a » 04 Sep 2017, 09:26

I think we've oriented ourselves around Zini and Scrawl as the strongmen of the project. However if people want to fork the project, they are free to do so. The general idea behind GPL is that the forks are available for us to pull back in the features that make OpenMW better. So while Morrowind has been our focus, that doesn't preclude expanding the scope if it doesn't hurt Morrowind.

I think the big reason that OpenMW has had any kind of staying power is because of Zini and Scrawl, someone that has already been there to give guidance and is consistent even when there are periods of inactivity.

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raevol
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Re: Principles and Vision

Post by raevol » 04 Sep 2017, 12:44

Zini and Scrawl are truly the champions of OpenMW. Not to downplay the contributions of others, but we truly would not be here today without those two.

nwah
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Re: Principles and Vision

Post by nwah » 04 Sep 2017, 19:27

Truly Zini and Scrawl are the two people whose opinions will be the primary deciding factor, since nobody else has been of this much help since Nicolay's comparatively brief role as originator of the project.

I have immense respect for both. I became worried when an older post was necromanced in which Zini had an unshackled vision of a post-1.0 world, and said that our ESMs are already deviating.

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2505

nwah
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Re: Principles and Vision

Post by nwah » 04 Sep 2017, 19:30

Deltaxus wrote:
04 Sep 2017, 09:17
I think this is too limiting. I am working on re implementing Oblivion's script engine right now (the lexical analyzer atm), there are functions implemented in Oblivion but not in Morrowind, those couldn't possibly be compatible with Morrowind.
I believe mixing game assets is not allowed by Bethesda, so it would need to remain a separate project from OpenMW. But Elder Scrolls already has incompatible files between games, so it would be ok (even if not ideal) if the open source files were also incompatible, as long as the corresponding ESM versions for the separate game engines were each compatible with the proprietary engine equivalents as both a strict superset, and retaining the ability to compile back down to the common subset.

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Br0ken
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Re: Principles and Vision

Post by Br0ken » 04 Sep 2017, 21:21

nwah wrote:
04 Sep 2017, 19:30
I believe mixing game assets is not allowed by Bethesda
...in their games/engines, I suppose? ;)

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