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[Freeciv-Dev] Re: Documentation, Usability and Development

[Freeciv-Dev] Re: Documentation, Usability and Development

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To: Justin Moore <justin@xxxxxxxxxxx>, Freeciv Developers <freeciv-dev@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: [Freeciv-Dev] Re: Documentation, Usability and Development
From: Andrew Sutton <ansutton@xxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2001 15:21:17 -0500

On Tuesday 27 November 2001 11:04 am, Justin Moore wrote:
> It talks about what the average user wants in terms of documentation, but
> also drifts into usability.  Freeciv may have a pretty good game engine
> under the hood and be pretty flexible, but quite frankly the UI leaves a
> lot to be desired.  And I'm not just talking about the dialog boxes or
> which mouse buttons do what.  I'm talking about just getting the game up
> and running.
> <snip>

actually, alot of what you're saying is some of the general principles behind 
software engineering - more focused at the gui and usability, but software 
engineering indeed - something i've learned to really, really appreciate in 
my 2 years since graduating college (are you taking a class or something?)

anyway, if you're going to start ranting about quality, requirements, 
testing, and configuration management, then don't stop there :) talk about 
problem domain analysis, solution domain, some of the real stuff that drives 
good development. hacking isn't everything, and when you're trying to 
implement a highly complex rule-based, extensible game like free-civ, a good 
place to start is a complete analysis of the problem.

for example, freeciv aspires to
        a) implement the game rules of civ 1, 2, 3?, ctp, etc.
        b) provide some framework to allow others to develop rules, nations, 
        c) implement various aspects of civ progress
                - population
                - land
                - production
                - culture
                - etc...
        d) multiplayer
        e) accessibility of all game aspects by user
        f) player automation of micromanagement
        g) computer players
        h) algorithmic variation (parameter tweaking) (e.g. corruption debate)
        i) i'm sure there's lots more.

i've never seen this for freeciv - besides an older features list that still 
claims the game ships with 40 some odd civs and now that's up to, what 62? 
actually, its very rare to see this kind of analysis for any open source 
project - in fact, i don't know if i've heard of too many commercial games 
that go thru a software engineering process. hell, game developer magazines 
description of the diablo2 development process was laughable as far as 
software engineering goes: lets start with a prototype and then add features 
with no real roadmap...

anyway, if anybody's interested in doing this, i'd love to help. software 
engineering was one of my focuses in college and i think it would be great to 
sit down and do it for something the complexity of freeciv.


p.s. justin, did you think about a qt client? that would eliminate alot of 
cross platform woes and still allow the client to retain its open source 
status under the gpl. IMHO C++ is the only way to go for gui... and... well, 
everything else. e.g. rewrite the network IO stuff to use ACE, city classes, 
unit classes, player classes, nation classes, map classes, the list goes on :)

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