Kick Me?

Posted by | Posted in Game Development, GLSLPlanet, Life, Lua, Pioneer, red ship | Posted on 11-01-2013

I wonder if you could use KickStarter a bit differently, to fund individual developers? I haven’t really contributed much to Pioneer this last couple of months since starting at Crytek, it’s just consumed all of my time.

I’d like too contribute a lot more, in fact I have a fecking long list which doesn’t even include all of the things that I’d like to do with it:

This must be the same for some of the other Pioneer team too but our “real” jobs get in the way of the fun things we actually want to do.

So, how about KickStarter campaigns for individuals?
You list what you want to do, time estimated, and in priority order with whatever you think is a fair rate of pay for doing something you love.
Let say I did it, since I’ve just thought of it and don’t mind publicly discussing my finances :)

What if I could risk working for only 6 months next year (Hah! Again that is!). That would put my minimal funding for it at about £15k before tax to cover my mortgage and bills etc. Stretch goals would take you further through the list of things you hope to cover so I’d have:

  • GPU terrain,
  • orbitals,
  • water,
  • Faction Trade value differences.

For the first 6 months, and that would take £15k to get funding, if I got £15k then that’s what I’d deliver in that time before I bugger off and find more paying work, but stretch goals could also be:

  • 3D cockpits,
  • Threaded Job Scheduler,
  • Atmospheric Heating and re-entry effects,
  • Temporary decals showing shield hits,
  • Rewrite noise system to use graph/nodes.

They could take the rest of the year and require another £15k divided into £3k chunks for each stretch goal.

All of that is just an example list, I think I’d be doing a lot more than that in a year of solid development on Pioneer for a start! :D money is just a guess as well as I haven’t taken taxation into account or indeed how that would even work :/

What I’m wondering from you lot however is what people think of the idea itself? Getting people to pay for individual developers on Open Source projects isn’t a new thing, there’s lots of examples of companies paying developers fulltime, bounties are a common way of funding large features too so it’s not that odd an idea.

Any obvious problems or flaws in the idea?

Comments posted (6))

  1. If you’re seriously thinking about this, then I think we’d have to work out some agreement in advance about what features it’s ok to advertise, what their scope will be, and how reviews will be managed.

    Regarding features/scope: there are a couple of things in your list that concern me slightly.

    GPU terrain: if this happens then the possibility of everyone getting the same terrain goes out the window. That’s not necessarily a problem; we don’t currently give everyone the same terrain (it depends on the fractal detail level setting). However, if terrain is not consistent then we have to be careful about saves, or people changing their settings (e.g., if you’re landed on some rock and you save and give the save file to someone who is running with different terrain settings, they might load with the ship embedded in a mountain. It’s not difficult to fix, but we need to be aware of stuff like that and write the code appropriately). There has also been some concern in the past about GPU terrain not giving enough large scale variation, but I imagine that can be solved with a bit more inventiveness/experimentation, or some hybrid approach.

    3D cockpits: I see a serious problem with this one: we don’t have the artwork for it. That’s the primary reason that I’m against 3D cockpits in Pioneer. Honestly, *most* 3D cockpits that I’ve seen look like ass, and that’s with artwork made by professionals. You can make an argument for it if the 3D part is only window dressing with the UI/controls all being “holographic” or being projected in the pilot’s optical implant or whatever other handwave you want to use, but if you’re thinking of having actual controls or displays in the 3D part then I really think it’s unsupportable unless you want to use some of the funding to pay a professional artist/graphic designer to design it for us. The content problem is even worse if you want each ship to have its own cockpit model (and that also rules out paying someone to do it unless you also pay them to make a complete set of ships for us).

    Regarding review/merging:

    Obviously if you’re funded then you’ll suddenly be putting in more time than any of the other developers, and you’ll be working on major features and expecting to make progress a lot faster than we have been able to so far. So basically, if we don’t find some alternate way of handling reviews and merges then you’ll just fill the pull request queue with giant PRs which will sit around for months. That’s really why I think we need to agree on a set of features and what their scope is before you start, because that way questions like “do we want this? do we want it in this form?” have already been answered and review is reduced to pure code review and testing which makes it easier.

    Anyway, I’d be very happy for Pioneer to have a full time developer for a while, but it does need communication.

  2. Yes that’s the sort of feedback I was hoping to get :)

    Features and scope would have to be agreed, at least in principle, beforehand so that if I did write a 3D cockpit system it would either guaranteed to go in or acceptable for it to remain optional or perhaps just that it lived on a branch for other projects like Paragon to use? This would need discussion.

    “GPU Terrain”, “3D Cockpits” and everything else actually on my issues list is there for investigation and development not as things that I definitely have to get into Pioneer ;) So I can start looking into something, maybe even write it up and then decide that it doesn’t really belong or there are problems with it. I’ve done that several times.

    For those two cases specifically, GPU Terrain should produce exactly the same terrain as CPU Terrain so the only issues it has would be the same as CPU Terrain. 3D Cockpits would be optional for any ship. rather like LODs, it would simply be the “in cockpit” LOD with lots of detail for the bits you could see but probably completely missing 70% of the ship because you can’t see it from the cockpit.

    Maybe best not to pitch it as “Definitely get these features into Pioneer” but as a way of getting them done and available for Pioneer to take. If they sit as a Pull Request for a month or two that’s ok, they’re done and going through review, the Pull Requests usually throw up good discussion and code reviews so I view them as part of the process.

  3. Thinking about the future, we’re on the verge of being able to mind control things anyway, and even supply images directly to the retina. Given that such spacecraft may end up being very high-g environments, a cockpit would probably end up being a very solid moulded support with some some headgear beaming images straight from external cameras.

  4. Yes, there’s even been some work done on modern fighter pilot helmets to project the images from clusters of HD cameras mounted around the fuselage into the pilots vision.

    However, that’s the reality and what most people think of with space games is more akin to WWI / WWII fighter planes in space with dogfighting etc.

    It’s certainly more fun than flying along before being vapourised without warning or hope of defense :)

  5. Also, 3D cockpits and other things I listed were just an example of things we’ve had requests for. Not things I’d advertise for a KickStarter campaign :)

  6. no no, you don’t understand. What I am suggesting is that for this kickstarter project you actually come up with a way to plug things into peoples’ brains.