Like last year the university of Aachen helped us organize the Crystal Space conference. It was again a great success. The weather was nice (sometimes a bit too nice) and about 40-50 people attended. On the organizational side we decided to do things a bit differently this year. We now had two tracks: a user track with demos and talks that are useful to people who use Crystal Space and CEL, and a developers track. This last track was more informal with several of the devs talking about an important subject in Crystal Space. In these talks we made plans and discussed things to do in the future.
This conference wouldn't have been possible without the organizational help of the university of Aachen (the ZLW/IMA RWTH-Aachen department) and the financial help of the sponsors: CAE, Software and Support Verlag (software-support.biz), ZLW/IMA (www.zlw-ima.rwth-aachen.de), and RWTH Aachen (www.rwth-aachen.de). So a lot of thanks to these companies! I especially want to thank Prof. Dr.-Ing. Klaus Henning for giving us the permission to organize this conference and of course Uschi Rick and Mareike Lueken for doing the actual organization before and during the conference.
One of the important highlights of this conference was the presence of Ton Roosendaal (project manager of Blender. He wanted to talk to us about the new Apricot project. This is going to be a collaborative project between Blender and Crystal Space. You can read more details about this project here.
Here is the plan that we came up with at the conference:
Core Team and Roles
We plan about seven team members. Here you see an initial idea of how this team could look like:
- Crystal Space: core developer, bug fixer, render engine: Frank Richter (Germany). We decided to pick Frank for this role since he has a huge amount of experience with almost every part in Crystal Space and he knows a lot about shaders (this is going to be very important in Apricot).
- Crystal Space: integrator, scripter: Pablo Martin (Spain): Pablo made blender2crystal. It goes without saying that this places Pablo in an ideal position to serve as the bridge between Blender and Crystal Space. In addition Pablo has a lot of experience with Python, Crystal Space and Crystal Entity Layer.
- Blender: integrator, tools: Campbell Barton (Australia): Campbell has a great deal of experience with Python in Blender and helped a lot on blender2crystal already. He is the ideal choice for helping Pablo with the integration task.
- Blender: character anim tools: Brecht van Lommel (2-3 months): Brecht is also part of the Peach project and will take an important role as an advisor. In addition he will also be able to tackle a bigger coding task.
For the following roles we have no people yet. We plan to do a recruitment campaign in the near future. This recruitment will be organized mainly via the Blender artist community, because we are looking for the best designers possible. Proficient Blender experience is a requirement. Having past CS experience is a great extra, but no requirement:
- Lead game designer, levels, gameplay (Blender)
- Textures, modeler, 2d and 3d designer (Blender, Gimp)
- Character animator (Blender)
For audio we will depend on external contributions (sponsor). Someone in the team will be responsible for integrating it into the game.
Marten Svanfeldt is available for physics coding, render manager coding, advising role in general, ...
Campaign Support / Game DVD
Concept: The plan is to produce a DVD with the the full game experience, including movie playback (intros), user accounts, configs etc. There will also be good (video) tutorials/howtos, the full studio database, and a 64 page full color DVD size booklet with documentation + tutorials. Game + DVD will run on Windows+Linux+OSX
Explore: get funding for extra authors, writers to come over? Jorrit will write booklet docs + tutorials. Philippe: has an E-learning authoring system we could use. Needed: Blender side author. Do docs and game translations?
Need incentive for early sponsors; like credits, or a title screen with all names scrolling?
Getting the artists first in the team will help us making nice mockups and ideas for the above.
This is a proposal. Not yet a fixed plan:
- Aug 27 2007: announce recruiting
- Sept 20 2007: team defined
- Oct 12-14 2007: presentation Blender conference
- Nov 1 2007: start donation/presale campaign
- Nov xx 2007: preproduction workshop, and Dutch Game Days (NLGD) presentation
- Jan 2008: START
- June/July 2008: DONE
- July 15 2008: presentations CS Conf
- Aug 2008: presentations GDC europe
- Nov 2008: presentations NLGD
CS development needed
We have to work on several features in Crystal Space to make this project possible. Here is a list of a few of the major needed improvements:
- New character animation module. Align with blender or re-use code?
- Threading, at least physics/collision in parallel. Preferably character module?
- Trees+grass render system, also might require render-to-texture?
- Render Manager. Work on this is already in progress by Marten Svanfeldt.
- Python UI for CS editing & export, custom properties.
- Texture memory issue (ogl) for library system in Blender.
- Playback & prototyping.
- Check on visual logic editor, nodes? The old logic proposal?