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FreedroidRPG is a mature open source sci-fi isometric role playing game. It
strives at providing an immersive ambience backed by refined graphics and music tracks. Besides the hack'n'slash action phases, dialogs with dozens of NPCs take care of storytelling. The player can fight with melee or ranged weapons, take control of his enemies by hacking, and remotely execute code on enemy robots. We have a storyline that we try to make strong enough to be appealing to people who are more after roleplaying than hack'n'slash. The development team is currently made of around four people - two coders, and two people taking care of game content, and we get occasional contributions from many other people. Those notably includes translations, music tracks and graphics. All of us are volunteers.
We gave a lightning talk at FOSDEM 2009 that can be found at http://fosdem.unixheads.org/2009/lightningtalks/freedroidrpg.xvid.avi
Why is your group applying to participate? What do you hope to gain by participating?
We are a small team, and our game project needs more people to unleash its full
potential. We do have a fully playable and working game, but some improvements we want to do require a larger workforce. The first thing we hope to gain by participating is therefore to get one or two new team members to help us. With more help we could deliver a finished game within one or two years. The second thing is that we have some technical challenges that are interesting to solve, and features to add, that require a fairly important involvement, such as two to three months of full time work. Summer of Code appears to be a perfect way to get those things done. One last important point is that we are trying to make our project more notorious, and attract new developers. Summer of Code offers us the opportunity to train ourselves on welcoming new people in our team, guiding them and keeping the motivation up; also we would be able to learn about the difficulties of newcomers in FreedroidRPG. We are applying to participate in GSoC 2009 because we think it can be beneficial for our project due to the reasons stated above, but also because we think the tasks we have to offer match the general spirit of Google Summer of Code : they range from easy to fairly challenging, are all technically well defined and well thought about by the development teams, and have the opportunity of teaching a lot about various aspects of open source and game development.
What criteria do you use to select the members of your group? Please be as specific as possible.
We will select people who are in the development team or very close to the team, so that all our members know the game very well.
We need people who know the game, the way we are working (for example the way decisions are made), and who are good at communication, since there will hopefully be a lot of things to say to contributors.
We already have a list of members for our group, made as stated above of the members of the development team who have expressed an interest in mentoring the work of somebody during the summer, and one or two of our users who have been with the project for years and can help people get started.
Has your group participated previously? If so, please summarize your involvement and any past successes and failures.
We have not participated in Google Summer of Code previously.
If your group has not previously participated, have you applied in the past? If so, for what sort of participation?
We have applied last year (2008) to be a mentoring organization.
What is the URL to the ideas list of your organization?
What is the application template you would like contributors to your organization to use.
We do not have strict requirements for applications, just the following guidelines:
What is your plan for dealing with disappearing contributors?
Should a contributor disappear during the course of the summer, we would try to contact him again to know what is going on, the objective being not to let someone vanish without him saying "I'm giving up" and maybe explain the reasons, in order to avoid surprises on any side. If a project is given up we will investigate in details what the student has produced - we plan on asking for e-mail weekly progress reports and make sure the student's work is hosted on the Internet, in order to keep track of what is being done - and see what can be used already. If there is valuable code the team will be committed to making good use of it as soon as possible. The idea is to make contributors feel responsible of their work, and make sure everyone is aware of what the other is doing.
What is your plan for dealing with disappearing members?
If a member disappears we will contact him and remind him of the promise to participate he made to the team. We've been working together for a long time and we know each other well, so there is hope the mentor would reappear after our discussion. If it is not the case another mentor would be able to take over. We have several people who know the game well enough to be able to provide support to contributors.
What steps will you take to encourage contributors to interact with your community before, during, and after the program?
The participants will be asked to join the IRC channel as soon as possible in order to see how we work. We'll also ask them to play the game and read all available documentation (not much :p), in order for them to fully understand the status of the game and what needs to be done before we can release 1.0. The idea here is to motivate them by encouraging the expression of personal feature ideas. We might also ask people to help a bit with the existing documentation, build scripts or translation support code before they start coding, which will force them to interact with the community and the codebase, and therefore is a good introductory exercise. During the program, we will ask to see weekly progress reports on the mailing list, so that everybody can read about the progress of everybody else. We'll also strongly encourage the participants to idle on the IRC channel, as it is by far our preferred discussion method. Hopefully students can continue monitoring the IRC channel and mailing list after the project is finished, in order to answer users questions, or maybe fix some bugs from time to time!
What will you do to ensure that your accepted contributors stick with the project after the program concludes?
We will try to select people who are interested in game development, in order to increase the chances of a perfect match between FreedroidRPG and what the students are personally looking for in an open source project. Our objective throughout the summer will be to integrate the contributors to the decision making process, in order for them to be able to get their views taken into account in the project, which should be a strong motivation factor. We expect that after seeing the game and the progress it will have made during the summer, contributors will want to continue helping us on the project, and believe in FreedroidRPG just like their mentors do.