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DarcReaver

Application - Gameplay Developer

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Position: Application as  Gameplay Developer.

Do you understand that Wildfire Games is a non-commercial project, work for 0 A.D. is volunteer, and work is done for free? - Yes
Do you agree to distribute all your work for Wildfire Games under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license? - Yes
Are you sure you are not wanting to work on something programming related? - Yes

Name: DarcReaver - Hendrik.
Email: I don't publicly post my e-mail, but in case it's needed I'll send it over via pm, np
Location: Kassel, Germany.
Availability: around 10-15 hours/week.
Age: 28
Occupation: currently employed as leading Estate Engineer for a town community. Planning and coordinating the construction of elevators, power supply systems, heating and ventilation systems among other stuff
Skills and Experience: I've been playing various RTS games in the past and been heavily employed in game design department of various modding communities, most notably Company of Heroes franchise, C&C generals, Battle for Middle Earth series and Warcraft III. My experience in modding lies somewhere around 10 years, and I've been playing RTS games since around 15 years. I know many different types of strategy games and played quite a few of them on a competitive base, meaning tournaments, ladder matches etc. I worked with different types of editors that allow modification of existing game engines, most notably corsix mod studio and Warcraft editor. Also I'm doing .xml editing for some simulator games, modifying properties, sounds, physics etc. to create authentic driving experiences.
Motivation: I know that there is no officially available position as a "gameplay developer" on 0ad, so I'm doing this application as some sort of iniative. However, I do think that there should be more discussion and progress towards creating interesting, unique and outstanding gameplay patterns that will make 0 ad stand out from other RTS games on the market apart from "it looks nice" and "it has a lot of content". Creating a game flow for the game is very important and from my experience in the game making area this is what has to come before betatesting. The current design, while having interesting aspects, lacks original patterns aswell as missing long term motivation for keeping a player base. After the conversations in the gameplay testing forum I decided that I'm officially applying to help out. (link to topic below) Don't be scared of my harsh tone, I am usually nice and helpful towards others, but depending on the situation sometimes more drastic words are needed to underline and emphasize a certain position in a discussion. Being nice doesn't always do its job.

 


Personality: My personality tends to switch between the "terror that flaps at night" and "Launchpad McQuack" combined with enthuiasm, depending on my mood and the matter I'm dealing with.
Short Essay: I searched for an alternative RTS game that combines an ancient Age of Empires 1 setting with polished graphics and modern gameplay patterns, that's how I noticed 0ad.
Staff: Noone in person, but I had a series of conversations with community members like wowgetoffyourcellphone, niektb and Karamel.
Favorite Game: All time favorite is company of heroes. Apart from that I'm into the Dead Space universe and the new Tomb Raider series. Also The witcher is pretty nice.
Work Examples: http://www.easternfront.org/, http://www.moddb.com/mods/coheastern-front, http://www.moddb.com/mods/menace-from-outland/

Edited by DarcReaver
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13 hours ago, DarcReaver said:

I do think that there should be more discussion and progress towards creating interesting, unique and outstanding gameplay patterns that will make 0 ad stand out [...]

I definitely agree on this one! Thanks for offering your effort and experience to 0 A.D. @DarcReaver!

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1 hour ago, stanislas69 said:

Hey @DarcReaver wasn't expecting you to get involved that sounds like good news :D

I'm already working on a gameplay analysis and improvement concept actually. 2.500 words so far.

Edited by DarcReaver
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Good.  I would say one thing about your assessment of 0 A.D., while I do not like the current state of citizen-soldiers, I do not find the concept itself bad.  It simply needs to be better implemented.  What could really make this game great is if there could be distinct changes apparent in the units with utility from the beginning stage to the later parts.  It will be hard to make work, but it could be done.

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3 hours ago, Thorfinn the Shallow Minded said:

Good.  I would say one thing about your assessment of 0 A.D., while I do not like the current state of citizen-soldiers, I do not find the concept itself bad.  It simply needs to be better implemented.  What could really make this game great is if there could be distinct changes apparent in the units with utility from the beginning stage to the later parts.  It will be hard to make work, but it could be done.

I agree on this, it's an interesting concept. I'm trying to work in a system that works in a similar way but better for the game flow. I can't tell specific details, but I think it's a satisfying compromise between concept and playability.

Edit: 4.800 words. I'll prepare a couple of pictures, polish it a bit more after I got some sleep and present it tomorrow on the forum. After that I'm expecting to be granted a WFG Badge :P

Edited by DarcReaver
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5 hours ago, DarcReaver said:

After that I'm expecting to be granted a WFG Badge :P

May be a Phd as in piled higher and deeper looking forward to reading it.

Enjoy the Choice :)

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I'm looking forward to reading that document!

The lack of a coherent gameplay design is the main issue that prevents us from going to the beta stage and eventually releasing a 1.0 version in my opinion. We need someone with dedication for this task!

I've been working on game design for several weeks but then got stuck with a problem I haven't been able to resolve yet. There has to be a plan who could implement missing features in a reasonable timeframe, otherwise it's not going to work. As soon as your design includes some very though technical requirements, this becomes an issue. In my case, I felt that fighting mechanics in this game are quite dull at the moment and I wanted to include some formation fighting mechanics (see: http://trac.wildfiregames.com/wiki/FormationsWip). When looking at the technical aspects, I realised that all our pathfinding code is currently designed around single unit pathfinding. The formation system we have is basically a hack that works more or less OK in most cases, but it would require a major overhaul to meet the quality requirements for such a formation fighting system. Because the fighting system has such a strong impact on other aspects of gameplay, I stopped working on the design and started looking into pathfinding.

How would you handle such issues? It's always a possibility to work around such technical problems with the design (drop formations, reduce population cap). You actually see that a lot in commercial games. One part of me thinks that perfectionism is misplaced here (if large companies with big budgets do it, why shouldn't we?). On the other hand, I'd like to strive for more than just another generic RTS that copies the same mechanics we have seen in commercial titles for years or even decades now. Maybe both is possible with a very clever design...

 

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(IMO making units more expensive would soften the performance issue with pathfinding/unit AI at least slightly. I wonder how we want to test what works out well if we have a pathfinding only working for formations though. But I agree that the current implementation of formations is by no means mature - and I think all PPL working on formations/unit AI are aware of that.)

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43 minutes ago, Yves said:

I'm looking forward to reading that document!

The lack of a coherent gameplay design is the main issue that prevents us from going to the beta stage and eventually releasing a 1.0 version in my opinion. We need someone with dedication for this task!

I've been working on game design for several weeks but then got stuck with a problem I haven't been able to resolve yet. There has to be a plan who could implement missing features in a reasonable timeframe, otherwise it's not going to work. As soon as your design includes some very though technical requirements, this becomes an issue. In my case, I felt that fighting mechanics in this game are quite dull at the moment and I wanted to include some formation fighting mechanics (see: http://trac.wildfiregames.com/wiki/FormationsWip). When looking at the technical aspects, I realised that all our pathfinding code is currently designed around single unit pathfinding. The formation system we have is basically a hack that works more or less OK in most cases, but it would require a major overhaul to meet the quality requirements for such a formation fighting system. Because the fighting system has such a strong impact on other aspects of gameplay, I stopped working on the design and started looking into pathfinding.

How would you handle such issues? It's always a possibility to work around such technical problems with the design (drop formations, reduce population cap). You actually see that a lot in commercial games. One part of me thinks that perfectionism is misplaced here (if large companies with big budgets do it, why shouldn't we?). On the other hand, I'd like to strive for more than just another generic RTS that copies the same mechanics we have seen in commercial titles for years or even decades now. Maybe both is possible with a very clever design...

 

Actually, this is an interesting statement I thought the formation/pathfinder issues were fixed in the newest alpha. I'll implement some edits into my design document to consider these informations. As a sidenote:

On Eastern Front we created workarounds as temporary solutions. Those workarounds usually did what they were intended to do, like changing weapon values for a certain unit or creating certain combat bonuses, but they looked less polished or even goofy. but that didn't matter as long as the effect was similar to the one we desired to have. I often did such things to save time on implementation of new features that might got removed if they didn't turn out well. I didn't count those conceptual ideas, but there were countless variants that were included and then removed again. This required lots of time, but at least in the end I could argue with others on criticism  of "what if XXX would be done in YYY way" type discussions, since I could answer that "we actually DID test that, but it turned out that it sucked".

15 minutes ago, FeXoR said:

(IMO making units more expensive would soften the performance issue with pathfinding/unit AI at least slightly. I wonder how we want to test what works out well if we have a pathfinding only working for formations though. But I agree that the current implementation of formations is by no means mature - and I think all PPL working on formations/unit AI are aware of that.)

Back to 0 AD and your third paragraph aswell as FeXorRs statement: Fighting indeed is a very large part of a game, and has to work flawlessly. If the combat system is more annoying than actually fun this leads to frustration and abandonment quickly. Saying that, I also noticed that there is too much what I call "useless pop". Imo the game has too many gatherers without much of a logical background.
This topic will be further elaborated in my design sheet with a proposed solution to at least soften or even fix the problem without having to change everything upside down.

As for a battalion system: If there is no realistic chance to generate a working system for using battalions I'd just abandon the system for now and use a more basic approach: train units as one entity, but each training simply spawns multiple units. The amount of units is either directly defined in the unit properties .xml or via a separate file.


I can provide some examples how the technical ascpects are handled by other games in case it's beneficial or necessary. But I believe this should be a separate discussion topic.

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On 3/4/2017 at 2:34 PM, DarcReaver said:

Edit: 4.800 words. I'll prepare a couple of pictures, polish it a bit more after I got some sleep and present it tomorrow on the forum. After that I'm expecting to be granted a WFG Badge :P

First off, I think you do bring up a multitude of great points that have long been problems in your Gameplay Guidelines thread and it's clear you have spent a lot of effort into it. :)

However, in my view, the team isn't just twiddling their fingers waiting for new ideas to implement :P; this is a contribution-based project and we do need people to carry them out. On that line of thought, I think (personally) you'd have a much more convincing application if you took the following steps :

  • Create a few patches and submit them to separate tickets on either code.wildfiregames.com or trac.wildfiregames.com. Small patches that a specific issue are best instead of a megapatch (e.g. Decrease movespeed of units, increase population of houses, Move hero production to earlier phases) are much easier to review and merge.
  • Join and be active in our IRC and multiplayer lobby. You can probably find a lot of others willing to help. If you have any technical questions, #0ad-dev on IRC is a great place to ask.
  • On 3/3/2017 at 0:35 PM, DarcReaver said:

    Don't be scared of my harsh tone.

    It helps if you tone (;)) this down as well, since if you do get accepted, you would indeed get a "WFG Badge" and your actions and tone will reflect on the team as whole.

 

 

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14 hours ago, scythetwirler said:

First off, I think you do bring up a multitude of great points that have long been problems in your Gameplay Guidelines thread and it's clear you have spent a lot of effort into it. :)

However, in my view, the team isn't just twiddling their fingers waiting for new ideas to implement :P; this is a contribution-based project and we do need people to carry them out. On that line of thought, I think (personally) you'd have a much more convincing application if you took the following steps :

  • Create a few patches and submit them to separate tickets on either code.wildfiregames.com or trac.wildfiregames.com. Small patches that a specific issue are best instead of a megapatch (e.g. Decrease movespeed of units, increase population of houses, Move hero production to earlier phases) are much easier to review and merge.
  • Join and be active in our IRC and multiplayer lobby. You can probably find a lot of others willing to help. If you have any technical questions, #0ad-dev on IRC is a great place to ask.
  • It helps if you tone (;)) this down as well, since if you do get accepted, you would indeed get a "WFG Badge" and your actions and tone will reflect on the team as whole.

 

 

Edited once more*

Yes, there were quite some hours invested for that matter.

About the "new ideas" to implement, let me rephrase a couple of points first:

Point 1:

Excerpt from your design document:

Developers do not seem to be content to further the traditional RTS in the same vein as Age of Empires, Command and Conquer, Red Alert, and Warcraft II. Though some are fleeing, we are going to stake a claim in the RTS genre. There is still much innovation to be made. This for us means:

 

A.        Less tedious/mindless micro-management

 

B.        More strategic thinking

 

C.        Greater stress on planning, formations, and tactics

 

D.       Choices, Choices, and more Choice 

 

I certainly understand that creating a game from scratch completely volunteerily is a hard thing to do. 

However, I'm certainly not responsible that you guys did not follow your own design guideline and focus on art instead of gameplay first.

My "new ideas" put the the game more in line with the design document. This is necessary because there is no gameplay setup from wildfire in a way that resembles the design document description which seems to be more like a "fable" than something that is actually translated into the game. Once more: no matter which pattern you follow. There has to be worked on the game design regardless of who you're listening to, be it me or someone else. So you will have to put effort into the game.

Point 2:

I can of course submit random tickets changing files. But to be honest: Whats the point if there is noone on the time who says "yes, we'll support the concept and it should be put in place." ? 

That's what a game design developer does, or a leading game design developer in that respect. You don't have one, so I suppose you should decide on whether you want one to actually create a game, or you don't. 

To show goodwill I'll create some tickets for the sake of starting the whole matter the next weekend. I'll see how well I get along with the ticket system and how much I can contribute.

 

Point 3: 

If the wildfire team lacks manpower / enthusiasm to setup game goalsI advise once more: 

Setup a roadmap:

We want this like that with XXX features until point X.Additionally Z and so on.

When done start kickstarter campaign with a proposed year's salary for a 40 hour/week c++ coder and then go ahead and let him do features that otherwise won't be included. Alternatively optimizie existing code.

Even if there are many people who code for "approval" out there on the internet, not everything might be done well enough to warrant it in a game. So you should find solutions for that matter.

 

Edited by DarcReaver

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Personally, I haven't seen you playing multiplayer matches, could this be because you are using a different nickname than on forums or something else?

In my opinion, before suggesting a total revision of the whole game you should be intimately familiar with current gameplay in order to see what to improve.

(No offence intended by this remark)

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1 hour ago, Hannibal_Barca said:

Personally, I haven't seen you playing multiplayer matches, could this be because you are using a different nickname than on forums or something else?

In my opinion, before suggesting a total revision of the whole game you should be intimately familiar with current gameplay in order to see what to improve.

(No offence intended by this remark)

none taken.

I played a couple dozen matches in alpha 19 and like 10 games in the recent alpha. After noticing that nothing has changed gameplaywise I stopped since I don't see a point in playing this game multiplayer. The only version that might be worth playing is Delenda Est. I don't know which "current gameplay" you're referring to, because there is none in the current public.But well, opinions may differ.

If I want to play a historical macro game I rather play a good one, like Stronghold or AoE II. Even AoE I is better.

Edit, okay maybe this was a bit too harsh once more. But there certainly is no gameplay comparable to a "real" RTS game that the game takes inspiration from. And there's the core problem already.

Edited by DarcReaver

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24 minutes ago, DarcReaver said:

I played a couple dozen matches in alpha 19 and like 10 games in the recent alpha. After noticing that nothing has changed gameplaywise I stopped since I don't see a point in playing this game multiplayer. I don't know which "current gameplay" you're referring to, because there is none.But well, opinions may differ.

If I want to play a historical macro game I rather play a good one, like Stronghold or AoE II. Even AoE I is better.

Nothing has changed gameplay wise?

Unfortunately that's not true, you probably just peek inside, see no "obvious" changes and go away again. If you want to improve anything you should keep track with the game.

You say you played a bit in alpha 19 and 10 games in recent alpha.. does that mean you skipped alpha20, or you are unnotified that alpha 21 has been released?

Quote

I don't know which "current gameplay" you're referring to, because there is none.

Pardon me, but I feel you are absurdly negative, just because this game still needs lots of work on it doesn't mean you have to say that it is 0 right now (that IS what you are saying).

You should also go make a mod with all the suggested changes and then we can see how well it turns out and maybe even consider implementing some elements into the official release. The changes you propose are of a huge magnitude.

I am also a bit unclear as to what "Gameplay Developer" title would entail. From what I read so far I can only deduct that you suggest changes and want others to implement them  right away?

Edited by Hannibal_Barca
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1 minute ago, Hannibal_Barca said:

Nothing has changed gameplay wise?

Unfortunately that's not true, you probably just peek inside, see no "obvious" changes and go away again. If you want to improve anything you should keep track with the game.

You say you played a bit in alpha 19 and 10 games in recent alpha.. does that mean you skipped alpha20, or you are unnotified that alpha 21 has been released.

Pardon me, but I feel you are absurdly negative, just because this game still needs lots of work on it doesn't mean you have to say that it is 0 right now (that IS what you are saying).

You should also go make a mod with all the suggested changes and then we can see how well it turns out and maybe even consider implementing some elements into the official release. The changes you propose are of a huge magnitude.

I am also a bit unclear as to what "Gameplay Developer" title would entail. From what I read so far I can only deduct that you suggest changes and want others to implement them  right away?

Nope. Since you're an active player you're biased and thus discussion with you is a waste of time, so I won't continue this, have a nice day. :)

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8 minutes ago, DarcReaver said:

Nope. Since you're an active player you're biased and thus discussion with you is a waste of time, so I won't continue this, have a nice day. :)

I am an active player, that might be true. But I find it strange that you march in and want to change this and this without any previous contributions to the game. Many people in lobby also feel the same - and not all of them play that good. Also you are evading my questions with a single "nope" which is not really a good answer for someone planning huge changes to the game. Every player has a right to know and inquire about the exact nature of any change in the game which he is currently playing.

So you are saying that only people who don't play the game should discuss changes to it?

Sorry, but you are very blunt and rude, how can you possibly get along in future with developers or other people if you are chosen as "Gameplay Developer"?

Edited by Hannibal_Barca
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3 hours ago, Hannibal_Barca said:

I am an active player, that might be true. But I find it strange that you march in and want to change this and this without any previous contributions to the game. Many people in lobby also feel the same - and not all of them play that good. Also you are evading my questions with a single "nope" which is not really a good answer for someone planning huge changes to the game. Every player has a right to know and inquire about the exact nature of any change in the game which he is currently playing.

Sorry, but you are very blunt and rude, how can you possibly get along in future with developers or other people if you are chosen as "Gameplay Developer"?

I've proposed contributions since fall 2015 and already proposed that there should be some kind of gameplay design should be taken care of. Since over one and a half years there was 0 progress in this department, no unit layout changes, no major teching differences nothing.

As of "knowing the game mechanics" please read this thread:

If you have points to discuss you can put them there. I didn't want to sound arrogant but I don't have an interest in discussing with you right now.

Edit: Another point as of "you only seem to be inclined to have your changes put in the game regardless of what others think". This is plain wrong. I noted numerous times that all I'm doing is to state that there currently is no sufficient core gameplay in 0 ad to consider it a real RTS game.

After comparing the very own Wildfire design document to the game it's pretty obvious that the game doesn't reflect those design rules at all. Instead, you have the opposite on most departments. Military is simple and has no tactical depth, resource gathering and economy requires way too much individual micro and there are large amounts of unnecessary micro actions required.

I went ahead and provided a possible layout for an implementation of the design into the game.

I also stated on several occasions that I don't insist on my changes being put in. But in case my ideas and concepts are dismissed, there have to others who create a working, fun concept that implements 0 ad core design into the game. And it seems to me that noone on developer side bothers with gameplay and provides a working alternative to my concepts. 

That's why I'm applying for that position, so I can create and provide concepts that can be turned into the official game which actually improve it. There is no point in making mods. Look at Delenda Est - It's much better than the original game, yet noone plays it because it's "not official". I also was part on Sibyllae Vox, which tried to balance out 0 ad but got almost 0 responses from non-mod makers aswell, so the issue is with mods in general, not only with Delenda Est.

Players tend to take the original game as measurement of "how the game is intended to be. Mods are for fun".

 

Edited by DarcReaver

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