Category: Personal Log


Open Content in Games

Permalink 04:26:14 am, Categories: Personal Log  

On the first day of sessions (Saturday), one of the sessions I attended was that of managing content in open source games. There was a previous session on open source games in general, which I will cover in a later post. A very important question in open source games is how we can develop games with high-quality content, but still manage artists who are not familiar with open source development procedures?

The folks from Battle for Wesnoth began talking about their problems in getting content for their game. Originally, they stated, they had a system that had fairly bad graphics. Over time, it has become a much more aesthetically appealing system, with animated sprites and high-quality artwork. Over time, they were able to find a good artist to place in the position of lead artist. The lead artist is the person who signs off on all the artwork in the game, whether it be textures, conceptual artwork, or sprites and animations.

One thing Battle for Wesnoth developers had to deal with is younger artists. They were able to get artwork from a number of teenagers, but this artwork was fairly low-quality, due to the lack of experience of the artists. So, at times, it was necessary to just tell people that their artwork wasn't of the quality necessary in Battle for Wesnoth. On the other hand, they admitted that they accepted artwork from a number of artists who weren't initially very good, but improved over time.

Worldforge is another project that had representatives present in this session. Worldforge isn't exactly a game, really, but rather an open source world-building application. The requirements for this application are incredibly massive, and a method is needed for developing a method of accepting, rating, and storing assets. The representatives from Worldforge stated that they have begun building an application that takes assets from artists, and stores and presents it for evaluation from an administrator. Ideally, it would be nice to have a system that can rank assets, present it for approval to an administrator, then if approved, commit it to the asset version control system. The application they presented is called Wombat, and they are asking for help from open source developers to evaluate and improve this application.

BZFlag also spoke about their asset-management system. A primary problem they encounter is that artists don't understand licensing. One of the things they had to place into their application was an option for "I stole this" for artists submitting content.

One of the things that I find more difficult about content in games is finding artists. I realize that expecting artists to commit assets into an svn server is probably not going to work, but how does one come upon artists to begin with? I think this is a very important question, as both groups brought up the idea that artists aren't as familiar with open source software development as computer scientists are. Thus, they aren't as exposed to the different groups as we are, and don't have any idea that they can get experience with an open source software group. Some of the questions that I have are, "How can we advertise in a more effective method, to minimize budget constraints, to get artists more interested in our projects?", "How can we keep artists around, once they've developed a single piece of artwork?", "How can we help improve a mediocre artists' skills?", and "How can we express to an artist what we need done, and have them actually do the necessary work, rather than what they want to do?".

More pictures and posts to come!


Google Mentor Summit 2008

Permalink 06:01:54 am, Categories: Personal Log  

So, I just got back to Roseville from Mountain View, CA. It was pretty nice there, so it's not quite so wonderful to return to 34 degree (F) weather here in Minnesota, but home is home, and I'm glad to be back.

It was a great trip. It was my first time attending the mentor summit (as this is the first time I was a mentor for gsoc), and I had a great time. I learned a ton, and had the opportunity to meet a large number of very interesting people. In addition, I learned quite a bit about open source management, as well as game development in general. I intend to share all of these things with you over the next few days, but I need to get some sleep right now, so I will leave you with the next best thing: pictures! (more to come, I promise)

Marten Svanfeldt (left) and Scott Johnson (right) at the Wild Palms Hotel

Marten Svanfeldt (left) and Scott Johnson (right) at the Wild Palms hotel

Chris Want (left) and Kent Mein (right) from the Blender Foundation in the Google Lobby

Marten Svanfeldt hanging out with some open source developers, waiting for the bus to the Googleplex

Outside the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA, USA


Personal Log

Permalink 06:45:51 pm, Categories: Personal Log  

This will probably be my last post before the Google Summer of Code deadline (which is tomorrow). I will still be posting with the same frequency as I did over the summer, as I work on the remaining elements of the COLLADA Conversion System - I just need to make sure I make a clear distinction of what I did before the deadline, and what is being done after the deadline. This post is that distinction. In addition, I won't be committing anything to the repository until next weekend, in order to give the reviewers a chance to look at what was done before the deadline.

That said, there are a number of things that still need to be developed in the COLLADA Conversion System. A list of these things is available at:
Please note that the list isn't complete, and a lot of the things currently on the list will be (hopefully) finished by the end of the summer or midway through the fall. I fully intend to keep working on this project throughout the fall and winter.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who so graciously helped me this summer, including (but not limited to): Fossi, thebolt, MistaED, res2k, and jorrit. In addition, I am really thankful that the Crystal Space organization gave me this opportunity - it was an excellent experience, and a whole lot of fun! I think that this was the best way for me to begin contributing to the Crystal Space codebase, and I recommend to anyone interested in the same to apply for the Google Summer of Code next year with Crystal Space.

Finally, if you are interested in contributing and/or helping with the future development of the COLLADA conversion system, please feel free to contact me at I will give you up-to-date reports on what I have accomplished since this posting, and help you get acclimated to my coding style.


Personal Log

Permalink 03:47:18 am, Categories: Personal Log  

I have been mulling over the concept of Triangulations, and I feel that I have come up with a good solution to the triangulation problem. First, I think that the class csTriangulate2 will suffice for most of what I need in the COLLADA conversion. However, I will need to adapt it to handle general polygons, including those with holes. I figured since I will be performing this, it might be a good idea to make sure that the triangulation class conforms to the SCF system, and give it an interface - say something like iTriangulator. Thus, the inheritance will look like:

      |                               |
csTriangulate2                csTriangulate3 (new)

I realize that my schedule has slipped a little bit, but in order to get things back on track, I plan the following re-vamped schedule for the remainder of the summer:

Triangulation: July 2 - July 3
Finish Geometry Conversion: July 4 - July 13
Materials and Texture Conversion: July 14 - July 28
Lighting/Scene Conversion: July 29 - July 31
Physics Conversion: August 1 - August 10
Animation/Rigging Conversion: August 11 - August 20


Personal Log

Permalink 06:05:17 am, Categories: Personal Log  

I didn't realize that I was supposted to update history.txt in the docs folder after each change I made to the code. Unfortunately, over the past 2 weeks or so, I have neglected to do this. I updated the history.txt file to give a brief overview of what I have done to date, but it is a very general overview. If anyone would like a more comprehensive annotation, please see either the SVN log, or this log.

For future reference, I will be updating history.txt before each commit. I apologize for any problems this may cause, and will update the history file to add more depth if folks feel the addition I have given (June 2, I believe) isn't sufficient to describe my work over the past 2 weeks. Note that this currently only affects my SVN branch, not the CS main branch.


Personal Log 28 May 2007

Permalink 03:34:59 am, Categories: Personal Log  

I will be traveling from Grand Forks to Minneapolis for the better part of the day tomorrow. As such, I probably won't be making a log entry for 29 May 2007. I will be addressing the following issues when I get back home to Minneapolis:

  • Determine problems with parsing of XML files using current setup
  • Make UML class diagrams more concise and readable
  • Develop Use Case documents
  • Finish basic application and parsing of a simply XML file

Once these items are finished, I will begin working on the geometry conversion functionality in the COLLADA conversion library.


Summer of Code to Begin

Permalink 12:27:22 am, Categories: Personal Log  

Ok, well I intend to keep a daily log here of my work on the COLLADA conversion utility/library for GSoC. I probably will be posting off and on until around May 20, but after that, it will be a daily (perhaps more than daily) log. I am really excited to begin working on this project. I have been looking forward to it for the remainder of this semester - thinking 'man...if I just get through these next couple of weeks, then I get to do cool stuff' Hehe. Anyway, for those of you who I have never met, my name is Scott Johnson. I'm a PhD student at the University of Minnesota. I have worked with Crystal Space for about a year and a half now, but this is the first time I am going to get the opportunity to really get my hands dirty with the engine itself (rather than applications that use it). I hope this will be a jump off point for me to start working continuously on different parts of the CS engine.

Say hi if you get a chance - my nick on irc is jwir3, and I'm always willing to chat over email. scottj {at} - I love meeting new people, especially those that share my interests, so don't feel shy to drop me an email!

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