Re: Post 1.0 Plans
Posted: 11 Jul 2018, 07:47
Reading these columns since a few weeks now, I can't help but wonder as well how you guys picture openmw in one, five or ten years. The following considerations might seem to stray a bit from the conversation but I'm hoping that bringing a broader, out of the box view might help focusing on more immediate choices, like which scripting system do you want to implement.AnyOldName3 wrote: ↑10 Jul 2018, 23:18This is a decision which will determine if OpenMW remains a way to play Morrowind, or becomes the basis for new pet-project games, other open GameBryo/Creation Engine reimplementations and real games plenty of people will spend actual money on. I don't think we should be thinking in terms of the next one or two years of implementation and maintenance work, but five to ten.
It took a decade to achieve an -almost- feature complete multiplatform foss implementation of a game that's been released 16 years ago. However excellent this game is (was), your audience here is a niche. It's actually a niche of a niche, targeted at nerds (in the good sense) who want to play the game in a stable way on multiple systems, plus a couple devs happy to delve and learn, for the sake of it of for adding competences to their resume.
But what's next? I felt the intention to extend the engine flexibility to produce a fully open source engine for... original creations? But what's going to be your audience? We're in 2018. There are big boys out there and you're going to compete with monsters like Unreal or Unity.
Without entering the whole debate of foss vs closed source, I'll just take the example of Gimp and Photoshop. I'm a photographer/retoucher by trade: I produce content, use available tools for it, make sales.
Photoshop is light years ahead of its counterpart on the quality and productivity levels, despite the fact it really lacks competition and Adobe is laying a bit back on its commercial success tbh. It's not free, I pay a monthly free for it, but it's largely compensated by the output result, the time I save and the extra satisfaction and amount of clients I'm able to serve.
The image manipulation audience is waaay wider than the gaming community on a single title from 16 years ago. Despite this, Gimp is still lagging a lot behind. What's the perspective for OpenMW development in a tiny niche? As we saw recently, with Scrawl's gone, it's like half of the manpower away, at least on the graphic side of things.
In the mind of a producer, making content for a decent game requires tens of thousands of man-hours. Anyone planning to venture on such an endeavour needs to sustain himself, pay his rent or his mortgage, buy his groceries and raise his kids, while hopefully making a dime on top of it. If so much time is invested, it needs to be compensated somehow and it needs an audience hence sales hence money. And money (aka target population) is and will always be the core of any kind of motion for interesting productions. What's the chance for a guy or a team to make a big hit out of a small budget and an engine that replicates graphics and mechanics originating from 2002, with 98% of the player base running Windows? Damn slim. The best bet is to go for a modern commercial solution, make more sales out of it and soften the cost of proprietary software.
On the other hand, BGS announced a month ago that TESVI was in pre-production. And that's a godsend.
A lot of the fan base is going to get a nostalgia trip on the last three episodes of the franchise, waiting for the next big thing to happen. There's time ahead, a big minimum of two/three years. Among this player base, there are definitely a handful of capable developers waiting to be recruited.
In that perspective, OpenMW could mutate into OpenOblivion, then OpenSkyrim, with David's TES4MP and TES5MP along, and the glory of being able to play these titles in a stable way, with 4k textures with no mipmaps for pubes and scripts running like a crossroad in India without fearing a tragic random logless CTD. You'd be surfing on the massive amount of mods already hosted on the Nexus, without even talking about the modding tools like MO2, xEDIT etc.. Millions of man hours devoted to creating content for these games, already made, already documented, most of it stable and finished.
See what's graphic modders have been doing so far: as an example, Boris from enbseries spends more time figuring out how the shaders have been implemented in the binaries than actually coding his own functions. Imagine the results of his work if he had an open framework to make his algorithms shine the way they should. Oblivion was the worst, requiring a dozen dll (w)hacked inside to make it -somewhat- stable.
Embrace that. Make it easier for content that has already been produced, documented, and for which communities are still active. This is your audience, your talent pool, your way to get people onboard and make things move forward.
If you're still wondering where you should go with the future scripting system, here is your clue.
Make it work with what's existing already. Make it happen and reinforce the fact that the TES series is unique in its longevity thanks to its modding capabilities and that 7, 12 and 16 years later, people are still wandering the provinces of Tamriel. Keep walking this path, get Wrye, Boris, Fore, ElPresidente and many more onboard and maybe in ten years from now, one of you could land a job somewhere in Maryland, and perhaps convince Howard to release the sources of their next engine, or at least expose much more of its innards to the community. What a game-breaking change (no pun intended) that would be for the whole industry.
On a final note, I want to emphasise the fact I'm not undermining everything that's been done here in any way. OpenMW is a jewel of its kind. I've been amazed how you guys have been able to get it that far on just your free time and DAMN it's stable and well designed. Congratulations for that. If you've been able to pull it off until now, there aren't any reasons not to keep going.