Author Topic: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up  (Read 2473 times)

Crimson Wizard

  • Local Moderator
  • AGS Project Tracker Admins
    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2013, for spearheading the AGS 3.3.0 project
    •  
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    •  
    • Crimson Wizard worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
      Crimson Wizard worked on a game that won an AGS Award!
The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« on: 31 Dec 2017, 21:59 »
Following are the reasons why this project was screwed up from the very beginning. Just for the sake of history. I'd like to believe this may help someone to avoid same mistakes, but people seem to rarely learn on their own, so IDK.

Actually, I cannot think of anything that was made right here, from the first steps every mistake that could be made was made.


1. The problem with AGS was the reliance on old library that was already badly working on contemporary systems in 2012. Instead of immediately moving to better up-to-date library (SDL2 or Allegro5), or framework (like ScummVM) the old library was patched to somehow work on wanted platforms.
Usually the patching was performed by a single person. After such person took their leave, little information remained about their work, and whenever any kind of issue arised with the port, it took a lot of effort to figure out what to do.
Often the library was patched having only one particular port in mind. Sometimes a functionality was added right into this patch, different from the rest of the engine, causing inconsistences.

A lot of additional work related to device controls and graphic modes could be omitted, if we could rely on modern library. For example, I had to rewrite graphics renderers 5 or 6 times adding better display mode selection over those years.

The result: AGS is still based on same old library that work worse and worse on contemporary systems.


2. The problem of AGS was that Windows version was glued to particular old version of MSVS, which was even non-free. Instead of immediately looking for a way to remove that dependency, we kept it for several years.

Result: many potential contributors could not contribute because they could not even build it.


3. The problem with AGS was bad program code. Instead of immediately refactor it from top to bottom, this was only partially complete before we switched to compatibility fixes, and then - adding new functionality. Because of that a lot of time was wasted trying to hack new stuff into existing code. Supposedly, the bad code also scared away other potential contributors.

Additional moment: there was already a refactored code made by ScummVM developer, licensed under same license as AGS, which could be used, even if partially. But it was never used.

The result: AGS still has got a lot of non-refactored code which is barely known, and many features or fixes that were very wanted were never added because of that.


4. The problem with AGS was that the engine and editor contained a lot of legacy support that was practically useless for making game in current day, but cluttered up the code and made it difficult to develop it further.

Instead of splitting out legacy support into separate branch, we not only kept it in the engine, but increased its amount by adding support for even older games.
Because of this, adding any new feature required a lot of extra time, necessity to test whether ancient games still run with this engine after every update. This additionally mixed up with the non-refactored code producing more mess.

It may be hard to fully recognize consequences of this decision. A lot of system limits are there only because of legacy support and old plugin API support. There was a time when I spent over half of a year trying to remove these limits while keeping the legacy support, but in the end just threw the code out, so ugly it was.
Similarily, a lot of features could not be easily added simply because there was some fragile legacy stuff that could break.


Result: amount of time just wasted for nothing is impossible to calculate. Neither it is possible to know how much we could have done more if not for this.
Number of potential collaborators probably did not want to participate in project because of confusing code.


5. The problem with AGS was that with very little number of collaborators nevertheless we sometimes wasted time on something that could have been avoided. It was in our interests to take easier routes requiring less job where possible. Instead, the project started with one developer willing to write a class library specifically for AGS instead of using standard one. Another developer kept waiting several months for those classes, purposedly trying to avoid adding standard ones into engine. When it became clear that there will be none, instead of immediately switching to standard library, that second developer, for the reasons he cannot even explain today, decided to follow suggested idea and write these classes himself. In the end he did, kind of, but then realized that with them he will be drawned into maintaining utility classes instead of working on engine itself, so, again, just threw the code away. So, now we do use standard library, but nearly two years were lost.

This is only one such example. I could probably remember other not so useful stuff that I wasted time on, because someone said (in the end many things I did were not even added to the release).


6. The problem with AGS was the lack of automation. Everything had to be made manually. No automatic builds, let alone tests, nothing. If a person wanted to suggest features or changes, developers had to manually build and test their version to just make sure it compiles.
There was no way to know if all ports are still working or were broken by some of the recent additions except for building them all or waiting when someone tries to. And not everyone could build all the ports, naturally.
Making a full release package with all the data - demo game, templates, etc, - became such ordeal, that frankly, I tried to delay release every time until more changes accumulate, simply because I did not want to go through all this too often.


7. The problem with AGS was terrible organization. This was a project without actual leadership nor vision. There was no development plan, no documentation. Everyone just did some stuff as they see fit.
There was very little communication between game developers and AGS developers. With lots of ideas it was difficult to filter out things that were actually important to many people. A lot of critical nuances stayed unknown until occasionally mentioned years later.
A lot of tasks, even mentioned on forums, were never solved, even though several people could state their interest in that. Good example is this thread:
http://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=51340.0
Just look at this:
Add spoiler tag for Hidden:
The help file is getting more and more out of sync with the actual Editor. <...>
The issue with the help file is that it's generated from some old LaTeX dialect, which in turn creates an old-school Windows help file (.chm files). <...>
We need to find a solution.
I can help.
I used to use pandoc and sphinx, I was passing on the AGS topics and this is the first thing I thought "I know how to automate this!"
<...>
Can someone point me the source files?
From 2014 to 2018, and it did not move anywhere. Meanwhile, this is not even related to engine code or C++.

If organization were better, perhaps a number of other problems not directly related to coding engine could have been solved. (e.g. this: http://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=55646.0)
Simply because people could notice that such task exists.
« Last Edit: 01 Jan 2018, 00:18 by Crimson Wizard »

Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #1 on: 01 Jan 2018, 00:06 »
Yep, I can only agree with all the points.
We were just unlucky.
No one with extensive knowledge of game engines ever stepped in to steer us on the right path (suggestions of full rewrites do not count).
No one wanted to take leadership so everyone made his own attempts at trying to improve things, myself included.
We have a cleanup branch now, but I lack the eagerness I had 4 years ago.
Most templates are outdated and use old script api versions which confuse newcomers.

I'm also kinda rusty on actual AGS usage, I feel like I've spent more time wrestling with the source rather than actually making games with it... I kinda feel out of touch.
Thanks to my job I no longer find any joy in developing.


- Alan

Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #2 on: 01 Jan 2018, 02:41 »
I am so sorry about the documentation thing,  could glue scripts, but they would probably run on Linux - low motivation for documentation. The terrible organization is really the biggest problem because it generates work that is wasted. Today I got an answer from Nick on Twitter saying he will DM me the stuff for building. I have to say I just wanted to use the tool instead of working on it.

AGA is right though that we could really use some tool to help with organization.

Snarky

  • Global Moderator
  • Mittens Earl
  • Private Insultant
    • I can help with proof reading
    •  
    • I can help with translating
    •  
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #3 on: 01 Jan 2018, 08:01 »
Mistakes are the way we learn things.
These mistakes... I mean, they could be a lot worse. (I also think that in an exercise like this, you see all the problems with the path you ended up going, but you don't really see all the problems with the other paths you could have chosen.)

The main takeaway here seems to be that there's been a lack of high-level planning or vision that meant important decisions weren't made and things just sort of muddled along. So what can we do about that going forward?

One option is that you and the other engine contributors take some major decisions and make some longer-term plans, and then inform the community of what you've decided. Whether that's merging with ScummVM or switching to SDL or whatever else you feel would be beneficial.

Or if you feel you need someone to advise you, pick a person/some people you would trust, and ask if they could draw up a plan or pick some choices.

Or if you think it's someone the community needs to decide, create a poll and have us vote.

I am so sorry about the documentation thing

Yeah, same. That's one part I thought I could help out with. I started learning about the different documentation formats and tools, and I was planning to devote some time to it once I'd finished my degree and found a job, but that ended up taking a year longer than I anticipated, and other stuff kept cropping up.

Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #4 on: 01 Jan 2018, 16:41 »
Question. Going from Allegro 4.4 to 5 involves any meddling in the Editor? The reason I ask is because building the Editor is a LOT harder (configuring MSVS) to me than the Engine (typing "make [enter]"). My stupid idea would be building against Allegro 5 and fix each error until it builds, which is something very stupid, but makes the task brainless - assuming the calls to Allegro are mostly wrapped in the code so there aren't that many, IDNK if this is true though...
« Last Edit: 01 Jan 2018, 16:50 by eri0o »

Crimson Wizard

  • Local Moderator
  • AGS Project Tracker Admins
    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2013, for spearheading the AGS 3.3.0 project
    •  
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    •  
    • Crimson Wizard worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
      Crimson Wizard worked on a game that won an AGS Award!
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #5 on: 01 Jan 2018, 17:07 »
Question. Going from Allegro 4.4 to 5 involves any meddling in the Editor?
Yes and no. Editor still uses Native.dll library written in C++ which uses Allegro 4 to do some things (probably not much now, but still). On other hand, whether Editor depends on Allegro 4 does not make any obligations for the engine to use same.

My stupid idea would be building against Allegro 5 and fix each error until it builds, which is something very stupid, but makes the task brainless - assuming the calls to Allegro are mostly wrapped in the code so there aren't that many, IDNK if this is true though...
It's hard to say if this is the optimal course. Their APIs are incompatible in other ways, not only like in function names. First of all, Allegro 5 is event-based while Allegro 4 is poll-based. You will have to at least write a new startup code and an event loop with Allegro 5, and change AGS game code to respond to events instead of polling device states in any arbitrary moment in code. So, in the end, you would have to restructure the code somewhat.
Other thing that comes to mind, IIRC Allegro 5 drawing algorithm is different, it assumes that you set target surface first and all the subsequential operations are made on that surface. In Allegro 4 you need to pass the destination bitmap for every operation. So the order of drawing operations has to be double checked to prevent mixing drawing to separate destinations.
Probably all the graphic renderers and software filters will have to be rewritten completely if not just removed and replaced by something different, because they are not needed with Allegro 5. Therefore all the graphic initialization routine should be different.


I've mentioned an alternative recently: https://github.com/adventuregamestudio/ags/issues/403#issuecomment-350581132

I actually began coding it for the sake of experiment, but paused when all this conversation about ScummVM started. Maybe I should've upload the code somewhere in case others want to use it/participate, but it is in such raw state now with literally nothing visual working except for a window created with some debug overlay, that I am not certain.
« Last Edit: 02 Jan 2018, 13:26 by Crimson Wizard »

Joseph DiPerla

  • Joseph DiPerla, Adventure Game Creator Wannabe!
    • I can help with backgrounds
    •  
    • I can help with characters
    •  
    • I can help with play testing
    •  
    • I can help with story design
    •  
    • I can help with translating
    •  
    • I can help with voice acting
    •  
    • I can help with web design
    •  
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #6 on: 02 Jan 2018, 01:01 »
I am not really a C++ or C# developer. I am still learning how to print "Hello World" ;-) But would it at this point maybe be easier to consider keeping the editor as is, but rewrite the engine and Native.dll from scratch so that it is a fresh, new engine that still functions the same so all the familiarity of AGS is still there. Or would that be too difficult/defeat the purpose?
Joseph DiPerla--- http://www.adventurestockpile.com
Play my Star Wars MMORPG: http://sw-bfs.com
See my Fiverr page for translation and other services: https://www.fiverr.com/josephdiperla
Google Plus Adventure Community: https://plus.google.com/communities/116504865864458899575

Crimson Wizard

  • Local Moderator
  • AGS Project Tracker Admins
    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2013, for spearheading the AGS 3.3.0 project
    •  
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    •  
    • Crimson Wizard worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
      Crimson Wizard worked on a game that won an AGS Award!
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #7 on: 02 Jan 2018, 13:13 »
But would it at this point maybe be easier to consider keeping the editor as is, but rewrite the engine and Native.dll from scratch
Native.dll is a part of editor, which should be eliminated and replaced by C# code.

so that it is a fresh, new engine that still functions the same so all the familiarity of AGS is still there. Or would that be too difficult/defeat the purpose?
Depends on what purpose that is.

I was advocating full rewrite many times before, but now I am not interested anymore, so it's up for other people.
Also, IDK if that even makes sense considering new engines are starting to get released, which already supercede AGS in several important points (portability, script language, possibly unicode support since that's C#).
« Last Edit: 02 Jan 2018, 13:16 by Crimson Wizard »

Danvzare

  • The Man with No Name
    • I can help with AGS tutoring
    •  
    • I can help with play testing
    •  
    • I can help with proof reading
    •  
    • I can help with story design
    •  
    • I can help with voice acting
    •  
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #8 on: 02 Jan 2018, 13:44 »
While this is all 100% true, and really showcases just how messed up AGS is.
I can't help but feel a sense of pride with this community, who have not only gathered around this clearly flawed engine and editor, but continue to release many great games with it. Even many commercial ones!

Despite these many MANY shortcomings, we all continue to use AGS. And that's just amazing. :-D

Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #9 on: 02 Jan 2018, 15:01 »
Two things: as to all open source projects, it seems we need a leader, benevolent dictator.

Second thing: for me AGS is the combination of adventure features with being good with pixels. If the being good with pixels is important for everyone, then it appears something like SDL makes more sense - no penalty from the lots of bitmaps. If the pixels are not that important, then Allegro 5 seems like the proper backend, but in this case, for me, there other engines that appear to work better.

The greatest strength for me in AGS is the editor that is very good and the scripting language that makes no distinction between things that happen synchronously or asynchronously, so the code looks like a sequence of thoughts.

Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #10 on: 03 Jan 2018, 02:57 »
Quote from: eri0o
we need a leader, benevolent dictator

You are referring to no one else than... Gurok.


(his cat looks even cuter)
« Last Edit: 10 Jan 2018, 09:43 by Amélie »

Crimson Wizard

  • Local Moderator
  • AGS Project Tracker Admins
    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2013, for spearheading the AGS 3.3.0 project
    •  
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    •  
    • Crimson Wizard worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
      Crimson Wizard worked on a game that won an AGS Award!
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #11 on: 03 Jan 2018, 14:36 »
If the being good with pixels is important for everyone, then it appears something like SDL makes more sense - no penalty from the lots of bitmaps. If the pixels are not that important, then Allegro 5 seems like the proper backend

What do you mean by "good with pixels"?

Danvzare

  • The Man with No Name
    • I can help with AGS tutoring
    •  
    • I can help with play testing
    •  
    • I can help with proof reading
    •  
    • I can help with story design
    •  
    • I can help with voice acting
    •  
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #12 on: 03 Jan 2018, 16:24 »
What do you mean by "good with pixels"?
He means it's good for low-res games.

Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #13 on: 03 Jan 2018, 23:34 »
Since the future direction is undecided and different people have different ideas about what would be best, perhaps in the short term it is best to concentrate on what exists now and how to preserve it. So I would suggest this 2 step plan:

- Get the existing ScummVM port working with current features
This gives a route to try and keep older games working, plus a replacement engine that could potentially work with the existing editor (potentially just the debug tools would need changing?). Someone has kindly done a lot of work on this already so this is perhaps the easiest way forward.

- Look at the situation again
If the ScummVM port can't accommodate the compatibility quirks for old games, at least there is now a working engine for games which are current which does not have the issues of Allegro 4. If it can have fixes for older games, that is a bonus (and if not anyone who has the source for their old game is free to upgrade it through the existing editor and get it working). You haven't asked ScummVM devs to add a continually developed engine that will get updated for new features, just one additional legacy engine (so very little rocking of the boat for everyone involved)

None of the above need impact Alan's AGS4 cleanup branch, someone suggesting their own engine as a replacement, or someone who wants to start from scratch. If the ScummVM backend looks good for continual development at this point, and there are no forthcoming alternatives which show advantages, there is now the option branch it and drop the compatibility quirks or speak to ScummVM devs about ongoing development and support. If anyone would like me to post/suggest this in another thread/forum, or try speaking to fuzzie about what was already done, please let me know and I will do so.
« Last Edit: 03 Jan 2018, 23:46 by morganw »

Crimson Wizard

  • Local Moderator
  • AGS Project Tracker Admins
    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2013, for spearheading the AGS 3.3.0 project
    •  
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    •  
    • Crimson Wizard worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
      Crimson Wizard worked on a game that won an AGS Award!
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #14 on: 06 Jan 2018, 19:29 »
What do you mean by "good with pixels"?
He means it's good for low-res games.

Then, what is the difference between how Allegro5 works with low-res games and SDL2 works with them?

Monsieur OUXX

  • Cavefish
  • Mittens Vassal
  • Mittens Half Initiate
    • I can help with proof reading
    •  
    • I can help with translating
    •  
    • I can help with voice acting
    •  
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #15 on: 06 Jan 2018, 20:03 »
I would like to say something important though. I really mean it:
What you did, CW, was not useless. It was not useless. You can be extremely proud of yourself.

You (and others) have made AGS live through Windows XP, Vista, 7, 10! What it means is that, during close to a decade, there was a tool that was doing (almost) perfectly what it was designed for. Thanks to you. God knows what have might happened to the community if the working branch has been put "on hold" for a full refactoring? It might have died. People might have lost interest. They might have stopped their game in the middle of development. I'm not only thinking about games such as Gemini Rue, but I'm even thinking about games like "Indiana Jones and the Fountain of Youth" which very recently switched to Unity. Without a continuously working AGS, these projects might have died.

I'm perfectly aware of how 20 years of spaghetti code can kill AGS on the long run. But I also know how a rewrite from scratch could have killed it instantly. We'll never know how things could have went. But we know how they did go: AGS kept working almost smoothly for 10 more fucking years. Amazing.

So, thank you. Thank you thank you thank you.
« Last Edit: 06 Jan 2018, 20:05 by Monsieur OUXX »
 

Crimson Wizard

  • Local Moderator
  • AGS Project Tracker Admins
    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2013, for spearheading the AGS 3.3.0 project
    •  
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    •  
    • Crimson Wizard worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
      Crimson Wizard worked on a game that won an AGS Award!
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #16 on: 06 Jan 2018, 20:16 »
But we know how they did go: AGS kept working almost smoothly for 10 more fucking years.

It really wasn't. It's not working smoothly, and it has a lot of big problems that should have been addressed years ago, but never were, reasons including we were busy with things we should not be doing in the first place. Like ones I mentioned above.

Simple example: I am spending months hacking Direct3D and OpenGL renderers, and still there. If AGS was working on SDL2, all this time could have been saved for something more important. Maybe I would still have motivation to work.

but I'm even thinking about games like "Indiana Jones and the Fountain of Youth" which very recently switched to Unity.

Well, is not that a true illustration for what AGS project is.
« Last Edit: 06 Jan 2018, 20:49 by Crimson Wizard »

Monsieur OUXX

  • Cavefish
  • Mittens Vassal
  • Mittens Half Initiate
    • I can help with proof reading
    •  
    • I can help with translating
    •  
    • I can help with voice acting
    •  
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #17 on: 06 Jan 2018, 23:48 »
Welp. If you really insist on not seeing your true merits, then I can't stop you ;-) but I think you're wrong to rain on your own parade.
« Last Edit: 06 Jan 2018, 23:58 by Monsieur OUXX »
 

Monsieur OUXX

  • Cavefish
  • Mittens Vassal
  • Mittens Half Initiate
    • I can help with proof reading
    •  
    • I can help with translating
    •  
    • I can help with voice acting
    •  
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #18 on: 07 Jan 2018, 14:27 »
I'd say the first strong leadership decision to take would be to state : "starting from this date, we stop upgrades to AGS 3.x". All of them. AGS 3 is dead. All in favor?
 

Crimson Wizard

  • Local Moderator
  • AGS Project Tracker Admins
    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2013, for spearheading the AGS 3.3.0 project
    •  
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    •  
    • Crimson Wizard worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
      Crimson Wizard worked on a game that won an AGS Award!
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #19 on: 07 Jan 2018, 15:13 »
I think I know what troubles me most. In the past people said many times that AGS has its own niche, as an easy to use hobbyist tool for adventure games. Other tools, like Unity, require quite some programming skill to start with, or if you use advanced tools like AC on Unity, that costs money.
If there were a real alternative to AGS - that allowed to just jump in and make characters walk around rooms and talk to each other without much hassle - then I could just walk away in peace. But it really hurts me to think that we screwed this opportunity to keep such tool running. It makes me mad to think that I am also responsible for this. I know what you may say that I weren't, but since I participated, I had a chance, and did not use it properly.

E: For example, I heard Wintermute is still developed as an opensource project. But I never used it, so IDK if it works same as AGS.


I'd say the first strong leadership decision to take would be to state : "starting from this date, we stop upgrades to AGS 3.x". All of them. AGS 3 is dead. All in favor?
Okay, I wasn't really going to do any more upgrades anyway.
« Last Edit: 07 Jan 2018, 15:27 by Crimson Wizard »

Monsieur OUXX

  • Cavefish
  • Mittens Vassal
  • Mittens Half Initiate
    • I can help with proof reading
    •  
    • I can help with translating
    •  
    • I can help with voice acting
    •  
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #20 on: 07 Jan 2018, 15:52 »
Is there a forum thread that deals with AGS 4? Not a thread to discuss what it "should" do, but a technical-ish thread discussing what's currently in that branch? I couldn't find anything.
 

Crimson Wizard

  • Local Moderator
  • AGS Project Tracker Admins
    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2013, for spearheading the AGS 3.3.0 project
    •  
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    •  
    • Crimson Wizard worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
      Crimson Wizard worked on a game that won an AGS Award!
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #21 on: 07 Jan 2018, 15:59 »
Is there a forum thread that deals with AGS 4? Not a thread to discuss what it "should" do, but a technical-ish thread discussing what's currently in that branch? I couldn't find anything.
I know only this: http://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=55314.0

Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #22 on: 07 Jan 2018, 16:22 »
Or continue here with a new thread. (Would be sweet to see bicilotti coming back as a community leader.)

Saddening that AGS' lifecycle is coming to an end. Hopefully something new will take it's crown/ cup...
« Last Edit: 08 Jan 2018, 12:38 by Amélie »

Crimson Wizard

  • Local Moderator
  • AGS Project Tracker Admins
    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2013, for spearheading the AGS 3.3.0 project
    •  
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    •  
    • Crimson Wizard worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
      Crimson Wizard worked on a game that won an AGS Award!
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #23 on: 07 Jan 2018, 18:12 »
I wrote this some time ago, but was reluctant to post it. Probably because my thoughts are in chaos, and I cannot come to single decision.

I will leave it here under a spoiler, but before that: my biggest concern with starting a new version of the engine is whether it is really needed. In the light of existing and upcoming projects. There is XAGE by Clarvalon (I do not know much about it, except that it can create games by converting from AGS project), MonoAGS by tzachs (which has a lot in it already, but seemed overcomplicated to me, which I kept telling to tzachs, probably annoying him greatly; also its way of creating games may be quite different from AGS). There is announced Javascript engine by Scotch, which I also do not know anything about, nor its progress (And although I personally like javascript for the ease of coding, I do not know how much game developers, including those who develop commercial games, will like games to primarily run in browser). There is Unity on its own, and Adventure Creator for Unity (which supposedly is easier to use, but not free). There is Godot engine (which I am not familiar with yet), and someone mentioned that few AGSsers were trying to create an adventure game framework in it.
There is even Wintermute still (one of the recent games made on it, or at least so I heard).
Maybe others that I am not aware of.

Unfortunately, I am not familiar with the whole "market" situation very well, with demands and expectations of game developers. For instance, I start coding something today, and year later find out that another group of game developers have switched to Unity, or anything else. This concern was among the reasons that stopped me from actually trying anything new all these years.


Anyway, here is my "text":
Add spoiler tag for Hidden:
What about this.

We design a very simple engine based on the following concepts:

1. Keep old AGS in mind but do not rely on it. We may use ideas and even code as a reference, but not trying to perfectly match its behavior. Even in terms of copying something, only modern stuff is applied. If someone would like to achieve full compatibility, that could later be done in a form of a engine "mod", or plugin. There are options here, but the point is to just not think about it during this starting stage.

2. As simple as possible. We do not have much people who may work, and less who know programming well (not meaning to be rude here :p), and the future is uncertain. The first version of the engine should be as bare as possible with minimum functionality enough to make an "adventure game". In regards to game objects only obligatory basic stuff is coded, assuming the rest will be filled in by script modules and/or future contributions.
Objects API need to be very simple and flexible, so that scripters did not have to make hacks trying to remove unwanted behavior.

3. As simple as possible #2. Use most simple solutions for a problem for starters. If someone wants anything more sophisticated, they may add it later, after engine is working.
For example, what may be the most simple way to package game files? ZIP archive? Then ZIP archive it is. Would be that technically convenient to write game data and savegames in key-value text format (like JSON or XML)? If so then do that.
If game creators would require something less "hackable", that may be added later at demand (there may even be an engine mod with closed-source package format reader for paranoic commercial game creators).
For the same reason as above, prioritize use of existing libraries to do the "dirty work" when possible, and when they actual suit the needs, instead of creating our own solutions.

4. Made of replaceable/switchable stuff. Engine program must be divided into components that work more or less as "black boxes". For example, "resource manager" that gives a game data by demand from any of the available locations without need to specify actual location. Resources are read by "resource reader", which may read from simple file, from ZIP archive, from old AGS-like data blob attached to exe, or whatnot. Pathfinding has its own manager and associated data component present in the room. Engine just sais "Pathfinder, give me path from X1,Y1 to X2,Y2", and manager does that all alike, regardless of whether there is a bitmap mask for walkable areas, or polygon-based solution, or node graph.
Scripting works same way. There is a script manager that may be told to load script from file X, execute certain function with predefined name there, and able to translate script calls to the engine API. But scripting language itself is not bound to the engine. That may be AGS script for starters, but also any other script language like Lua or Python, or even Mono-based C# may be supported as plugin or engine "mod".

5. We use AGS Editor as a IDE. Making IDE is not easy, and even though it may not be perfect, but we already have a GUI workspace, which may be relatively easily adjusted to compile with new engine following new rules.


(Of course, all this assumes that I won't be working alone, because for instance the Editor would need some overhaul too)
« Last Edit: 07 Jan 2018, 18:24 by Crimson Wizard »

tzachs

  • AGS Baker
  • Mittens Vassal
  • Parking Goat- games that goats like!
    • I can help with translating
    •  
    • tzachs worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #24 on: 07 Jan 2018, 19:29 »
MonoAGS by tzachs (which has a lot in it already, but seemed overcomplicated to me, which I kept telling to tzachs, probably annoying him greatly; also its way of creating games may be quite different from AGS).
Annoying maybe in the sense that you're giving me more stuff to think about (and more work), but definitely want more of that, it's great help. And I'm claiming "in progress" for the complexity and AGS-ey workflow stuff, hopefully it would get much better.

Regarding other engines, here are a few you haven't mentioned:
Blade Coder is an open source one that looks impressive.
There's the commercial Visionaire studio.
The framework for Godot is called Escoria.
Calin's engine Adore. And there's also Sludge.

Crimson Wizard

  • Local Moderator
  • AGS Project Tracker Admins
    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2013, for spearheading the AGS 3.3.0 project
    •  
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    •  
    • Crimson Wizard worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
      Crimson Wizard worked on a game that won an AGS Award!
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #25 on: 07 Jan 2018, 19:35 »
Blade Coder is an open source one that looks impressive.

Ah, yes, I've seen it in the past, several years ago. Don't remember how it looked back then, but perhaps it was also a reason for me to reconsider to start anything.


MonoAGS by tzachs (which has a lot in it already, but seemed overcomplicated to me, which I kept telling to tzachs, probably annoying him greatly; also its way of creating games may be quite different from AGS).
Annoying maybe in the sense that you're giving me more stuff to think about (and more work), but definitely want more of that, it's great help. And I'm claiming "in progress" for the complexity and AGS-ey workflow stuff, hopefully it would get much better.

Hmm, well, there is a lot I can say, but I am a bit hesistant sometimes, because many things look too much "integrated" into the engine already.
« Last Edit: 07 Jan 2018, 19:42 by Crimson Wizard »

Joseph DiPerla

  • Joseph DiPerla, Adventure Game Creator Wannabe!
    • I can help with backgrounds
    •  
    • I can help with characters
    •  
    • I can help with play testing
    •  
    • I can help with story design
    •  
    • I can help with translating
    •  
    • I can help with voice acting
    •  
    • I can help with web design
    •  
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #26 on: 07 Jan 2018, 20:25 »
Like you and Scotch, I prefer a Javascript game engine. I would even love to help out in that end too if time permits. I even researched part of this here http://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=55283.msg636571906#msg636571906. Someone say the word and we can work on it in Javascript! Who cares what other engines are out there. Let's make OURS!
Joseph DiPerla--- http://www.adventurestockpile.com
Play my Star Wars MMORPG: http://sw-bfs.com
See my Fiverr page for translation and other services: https://www.fiverr.com/josephdiperla
Google Plus Adventure Community: https://plus.google.com/communities/116504865864458899575

Snarky

  • Global Moderator
  • Mittens Earl
  • Private Insultant
    • I can help with proof reading
    •  
    • I can help with translating
    •  
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #27 on: 07 Jan 2018, 20:47 »
although I personally like javascript for the ease of coding, I do not know how much game developers, including those who develop commercial games, will like games to primarily run in browser

Just because the scripting language is JavaScript, that doesn't necessarily mean the games will be browser-based, does it? You can embed a JavaScript engine in a standalone native application, like Unity has been doing with its UnityScript/JavaScript (though they're apparently deprecating it).

Monsieur OUXX

  • Cavefish
  • Mittens Vassal
  • Mittens Half Initiate
    • I can help with proof reading
    •  
    • I can help with translating
    •  
    • I can help with voice acting
    •  
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #28 on: 07 Jan 2018, 20:55 »
imho I think that we should rationalize this.
Firstly, only my two cents: I think that only people who know about IT (at least) and programming (at best) should jump in.
Secondly, I think we should avoid the usual neverending thread of "opinions". We should have a neat, proper table of all the pros and cons of each project and/or underlying tech, with boxes to tick: The following quesitons come to mind immediately:
1) relying on a cross-platform tech? (yes/no)
2) which licensing?
3) Is it only a graphics renderer or a full multimedia engine? In other words: does the graphics rendering come bundle with the audio and potentially 3D or GUI rendering, or are these separate libraries?
4) Is it only a game engine or an Editor too?
5) How old is the tech?
6) What third-party libraries is it using (full list)? How old/robust/well maintained/too restrictive are they?

so on and so on.  Really, I think the table presentation would help a lot to assert the amount of "invisible tweaking" required. Everyone who's been a developer knows how huge can be the gap between something out-of-the-box and something that requires to integrate several technologies, study how to build it (on several platforms), study its limitations, clearly see the "little things" that are missing, study the maturity, etc.
« Last Edit: 07 Jan 2018, 21:06 by Monsieur OUXX »
 

Crimson Wizard

  • Local Moderator
  • AGS Project Tracker Admins
    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2013, for spearheading the AGS 3.3.0 project
    •  
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    •  
    • Crimson Wizard worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
      Crimson Wizard worked on a game that won an AGS Award!
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #29 on: 07 Jan 2018, 21:20 »
Firstly, only my two cents: I think that only people who know about IT (at least) and programming (at best) should jump in.

I agree on the list below, although I'd argue about "only IT people", because before you make a tool you set up goals for this tool ,and that goal usually relates to needs of potential users. What I mean, the list of "things" also need to include something from gamedesign perspective as well.

Monsieur OUXX

  • Cavefish
  • Mittens Vassal
  • Mittens Half Initiate
    • I can help with proof reading
    •  
    • I can help with translating
    •  
    • I can help with voice acting
    •  
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #30 on: 07 Jan 2018, 22:25 »
Firstly, only my two cents: I think that only people who know about IT (at least) and programming (at best) should jump in.

I agree on the list below, although I'd argue about "only IT people", because before you make a tool you set up goals for this tool ,and that goal usually relates to needs of potential users. What I mean, the list of "things" also need to include something from gamedesign perspective as well.

OK, but then even that should be rationalized as a poll:

"sort the features below by order of importance: (each point receives a unique number going from 1=most important to n=number of questions=least important)
- AGS games working on Windows
- AGS games working on non-Windows Desktop OS'es
- AGS games working on Mobile devices?
- Same 3 questions for the Editor
- AGS having primitive 3D abilities or at least abstract rendering surfaces (to make it clearer: useful for modules that manage walkable areas, downhill walkable areas, layers, parallaxes, cast shadows, rain/particle effects, and to a certain extent Tweening, etc.)
- AGS being good at hi-res graphics and/or video-like animations (lots of frames and alpha), smooth sprite movements
- AGS being good at pixel games (no blurry or artifact effects caused by window sizing or sprites alignments/scaling)
- AGS being able to emulate 8-bit games
- sound engine (ambiant loops, localized sounds, etc.)
- talkie games (dialogs and sound assets management)
- collaborative game-making (primitive versioning + file merge + maybe permissions)
- etc."

In addition, my intuition is that the answers provided by people who have actually already released a game should have more weight. And the answers from people who made commercial games should have even more weight. (Obviously, not because they are "more important" but because we can assert that they had more pressure to make a game that actually works and appeals to the players)
« Last Edit: 07 Jan 2018, 22:51 by Monsieur OUXX »
 

Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #31 on: 08 Jan 2018, 01:14 »
I will try to shine some light on why I think Unity works... If any normal person opens Unity, you can't possibly say "this is great piece of software". BUT once you commit to learn all the rough things in Unity, the same language you used to build your very tiny, probably in a jam, C# game, well... You can use that same knowledge to build tools for it! The base can be a magic proprietary box that mostly does nothing, but you now can build your own tools to make games with the same knowledge you have for making games, and you can share those tools. And you can share assets too! In the end I see Unity as this thing that Has a store to share stuff, and build across multiple devices, but that when you just install, it does nothing.

In AGS you have 3 type of people:
1 - people who can script, using AGS Script
2 - people who can make plugins, using SOMETHING (I have no idea how to make plugins).
3 - people who can mod and advance the engine, using C and C++.
...
and a secret 4th type:
4 - people who can draw Adventure Game Stuff.

Being good in 1 and 4 doesn't contribute much to becoming 2. And the majority is too distant from 3.

So to create Yet Another Game Engine, I think the idea that would work would be just like Unity. Have something basic that does nothing, a package manager for distributing assets, and start from there. I would strongly advice being 2D AND 3D, choose ONE and stick with it. Doing the 2 there is already GODOT.

Also AGS Script is typed, which allows very good prediction of things while typing. I would advise against bare javascript, python or other non typed languages. I like that AGS Script is very non-verbose when compared to C#, making easy to sketch commands in forum (without smart predictions of things).

I would ignore collaborative and just guarantee things to work with git.

Also I think such engine should have as priority having an asset for AGS like workflow of game making, but you know... Allow if someone want to one day add a Mario Maker asset or crazy RTS designer asset, SIM RPG MAKER asset.

tzachs

  • AGS Baker
  • Mittens Vassal
  • Parking Goat- games that goats like!
    • I can help with translating
    •  
    • tzachs worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #32 on: 08 Jan 2018, 03:58 »
Hmm, well, there is a lot I can say, but I am a bit hesistant sometimes, because many things look too much "integrated" into the engine already.
Oh, there's more stuff you hasn't shared? Please do. I keep refactoring things and changing approaches, so even if something looks too much "integrated" now, it might not be in the future (and even if I disagree with something now, it still gets stuck in my head for later re-evaluations).

Quote from: Snarky
Just because the scripting language is JavaScript, that doesn't necessarily mean the games will be browser-based, does it?
True, you can target desktop with Electron for example, and I believe there are also solutions for mobile (and also, for mobile, you can have a web page appear as a native application, this is something Construct does, for example)

Quote from: Monsieur OUXX
1) relying on a cross-platform tech? (yes/no)
2) which licensing?
3) Is it only a graphics renderer or a full multimedia engine? In other words: does the graphics rendering come bundle with the audio and potentially 3D or GUI rendering, or are these separate libraries?
4) Is it only a game engine or an Editor too?
5) How old is the tech?
6) What third-party libraries is it using (full list)? How old/robust/well maintained/too restrictive are they?
Answering for MonoAGS:
1. Yes
2. Kept the same license AGS uses.
3. 2D graphics, GUI and audio (no 3D planned in the near future).
4. Working on an editor.
5. New.
6. I list all the current dependencies here. They are all actively maintained. I do plan to do some changes to that in the not too distant future (switching from Mono & DotNet framework to Dotnet Core, and using FFMPeg for both audio and video are the 2 big changes I want to make).

Quote from: eri0o
In AGS you have 3 type of people
I couldn't agree more, that's why in MonoAGS the scripting language is c#, the engine is in c# and the editor will be in c# (and the editor will use the same GUI framework the engine provides), so really if you know how to script games, it gets you closer to understand the tools.

Quote from: eri0o
Have something basic that does nothing
So this is a philosophy that while I definitely see where you're coming from (and I think you and Crimson Wizard are on the same page here), I think is not as fitting to AGS. The main advantage that AGS has over an engine like Unity in my view is that the adventure stuff is built in, ready to be used. Stuff that's not going to be used by a lot of people should be in separate packages but stuff that's considered core to the genre, I want it built in and maintained as part of the engine.

Monsieur OUXX

  • Cavefish
  • Mittens Vassal
  • Mittens Half Initiate
    • I can help with proof reading
    •  
    • I can help with translating
    •  
    • I can help with voice acting
    •  
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #33 on: 08 Jan 2018, 06:50 »
Quote from: Monsieur OUXX
1) relying on a cross-platform tech? If yes which one?
2) which is the licensing Of that underlying tech ?
3) Is that underlying tech  only a graphics renderer or a full multimedia engine? In other words: does the graphics rendering come bundle with the audio and potentially 3D or GUI rendering, or are these separate libraries?
4) Is that underlying tech  only a game engine or an Editor too?
5) How old is each of the few central underlying tech or lib (name them) and the main project itself ?
6) What third-party libraries is it using (full list)? How old/robust/well maintained/too restrictive are they?
Answering for MonoAGS:
1. Yes
2. Kept the same license AGS uses.
3. 2D graphics, GUI and audio (no 3D planned in the near future).
4. Working on an editor.
5. New.
6. I list all the current dependencies here. They are all actively maintained. I do plan to do some changes to that in the not too distant future (switching from Mono & DotNet framework to Dotnet Core, and using FFMPeg for both audio and video are the 2 big changes I want to make).


@tzachs not accurate enough! :) could you please have a look at the bits I added in italics in the quote above?
 

Monsieur OUXX

  • Cavefish
  • Mittens Vassal
  • Mittens Half Initiate
    • I can help with proof reading
    •  
    • I can help with translating
    •  
    • I can help with voice acting
    •  
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #34 on: 08 Jan 2018, 10:26 »
Like you and Scotch, I prefer a Javascript game engine.

I would immediately leave AGS if it switched to a weakly-typed language. Thse are awful and cause a billion of human mistakes. Best evidence from the main actors themselves : http://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=55283.msg636571805#msg636571805
 

Mandle

  • NO PIXEL LEFT BEHIND!!!
    • Mandle worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #35 on: 08 Jan 2018, 13:35 »
I had a chance, and did not use it properly.

ME TOO!!! Many times!!!

Everyone, in hindsight, says this exact same thing many times during their life.

But the fact that they failed does not negate the fact that they tried.

Only those who never tried should feel the regret of never succeeding.

Crimson Wizard

  • Local Moderator
  • AGS Project Tracker Admins
    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2013, for spearheading the AGS 3.3.0 project
    •  
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    •  
    • Crimson Wizard worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
      Crimson Wizard worked on a game that won an AGS Award!
Re: The reasons why this project is/was screwed up
« Reply #36 on: 08 Jan 2018, 14:12 »
Like you and Scotch, I prefer a Javascript game engine.

I would immediately leave AGS if it switched to a weakly-typed language. Thse are awful and cause a billion of human mistakes. Best evidence from the main actors themselves : http://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=55283.msg636571805#msg636571805


To be fair, there is TypeScript superset (kind of extension) over JavaScript that adds type checking. Although it requires to use additional compiler.