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Latest Version: 0.44a (12,973 lines)

Mailing List Notes

The following letter(s) were sent to at least one of our Salp Wars mailing lists. They are archived here in the hopes that they might be useful to newcomers.

[salpdev] Salp Wars on SourceForge
 From: cowexchange (cowexchange@yahoo.com)
 To: salpdev@yahoogroups.com
 
Sorry for bouncing y'all around.

Since Salp Wars is GPL'd, I've set up shop at sourceforge.net. From 
there,

   1) Alpha-testers can submit feature requests, track bugs, and keep 
their test versions up to date.

   2) Developers can use CVS to guarantee they have the latest-and-
greatest copy of the source, and relatively easily contribute to the 
project. If you need help setting up CVS stuff, let me know and I'll 
try to help.

In the effort to clean up some of the dead sites, I'm going to remove 
this Yahoo group shortly.

If you're no longer interested in the Salp Wars project, then I thank 
you for your time; feel free to just trash this message and forget 
about it :-).

On the other hand, if you're still interested, *please* sign up for 
the project on Sourceforge (instructions below). Your contributions 
can only improve the project. If you have any friends who you think 
would be interested in helping out, feel free to pass along the 
message.

Of particular necessity are:

    o  Tile artists (must have Windows in order to use Tile Studio) 
to create map/weapon/item art.
    o  Sound effect gurus (any OS will do) to create PCM WAV files 
for in-game effects. Background music is also possible.
    o  Level/Game designers to design level/item/gameplay gimmicks 
and work with other team members to make this a reality. Ideally you 
should be able to create the necessary art yourself; that is, you 
would have similar abilities as a "tile artist". Of course, all 
suggestions are worth considering, so in essence all team members 
would fit into this "designer" category. Please note my "development 
philosophy" comments below for more on this.
    o  Alpha/Beta-testers currently must have an x86 (>=200mhz) 
running Win32 or Linux operating systems; this may expand to include 
PPC/OS X down the road. Your primary task would be to download and 
play with the latest build of the game once every week or two. 
Clearly, you should submit any bugs you notice, and make suggestions 
as they occur to you. The game should be exciting to play, so the 
smoother we can make your experience, the better.

Let me quickly explain the current state of the game, its potential 
direction, and my development philosophy.

STATE OF THE GAME
    It's not ready to be played yet. On the other hand, it's also not 
vaporware; you can download and play the latest build from our 
website (http://salpwars.sourceforge.net/). However, besides killing 
other rats, there's not much to do. For Windows users it's kind of a 
pain to install right now (since it's a zipped file in need of DLLs). 
If you need the DLLs necessary to play, let me know and I'll pass off 
a super-secret link that has all the DLLs in one place.

POTENTIAL DIRECTION
    The skeleton of the engine is in place, and though it is 
admittedly a primitive design, it should be general enough that the 
game can be shaped in various directions. For example, it plays like 
a Mario-style side-scroller right now, but there is very little 
keeping us from making a level where players fly ships through space. 
The point? If you helped with this project, you wouldn't 
be "following the master plan" or anything of the sort; there should 
be enough creative flexibility for you to entertain your own level 
ideas. It's an experimental projet.

DEVELOPMENT PHILOSOPHY
    I think everyone here is familiar with the "Rock" multiuser 
online games. I spent a lot of time coding and administering these, 
and over this time I think I've learned a few things about 
development, myself and others (not to say that I'm a pro or 
anything). Let me share a few of these thoughts with you, so you can 
get some idea what I'm like, or what development in a project like 
this might be like. 

    1) Interest, self-motivation is key. It doesn't make sense to 
volunteer for an unpaid project if you don't have the initiative to 
contribute to it. Once a project gets rolling, I think that other 
team members' motivation and contributions are self-propagating. But 
in order to get to this point, team members really have to be 
interested in what they're doing.

    2) Say what you mean. Specifically, if you become a team member 
and later decide that you want out, please don't leave people 
wondering. Just say it, get out, and get it over with. You might make 
people sad, but at least your integrity will be intact. Plus the team 
will have more time to find someone to fill your shoes.

    3) Actions speak louder than words. In Rock, we received many 
suggestions on how to improve the game. Unfortunately, many of these 
did not get implemented, for a variety of reasons. It's interesting 
to consider why the ones that *did* get implemented, were.
       Sometimes Kler and I would trade our skills with one another. 
For example, he'd create an item or area for me if I wrote code for 
something else that he wanted. In the end, we both ended up with what 
we wanted (with some realistic compromises).
       Similarly, you could tell that those who contributed most to 
the game had more of their ideas implemented. In other words, those 
who contributed most had the most influence on the game. A developer 
is clearly more likely to listen to an active team member than 
someone who has been "on vacation" for the last three months.
       Self-service work is really easy too. If I had a code idea, 
generally I'd code it. If Kler had a map/npc/item idea, generally 
he'd add it. You don't have to sell your idea to anyone, so if you 
have the skills to make your idea a reality, it's almost a guaranteed 
slam-dunk.
       Of course, some "peanut gallery" comments were still taken 
seriously. Some player-submitted ideas were so cool, or so easily 
implemented that it just made sense to do it (regardless of their 
active contributions to the game as a whole).
       The lesson here: though everyone has the potential to shape a 
game like Salp Wars, those who aren't active in the community 
probably won't be taken too seriously unless their suggestion "just 
makes sense". I don't write the rules here; I'm just sharing my past 
experience.

    4) If you've only got words, choose them wisely. If you have an 
idea for a game feature, but don't have the skills/tools to make it a 
reality, try doing a good job selling your idea. If it's art, try 
describing the important frames/characteristics of the art. If it's a 
weapon, try explaining all important logic behind how the weapon 
works. For example, "Add a stun gun" probably won't be taken too 
seriously as a suggestion. It also doesn't usually hurt to explain 
why you think an idea would be "cool"/original.

    5) Have fun. This isn't work; if it starts to feel like work, 
then take a break or ask teammates to help take some of the pain 
away. You'd be surprised how often this works.

I've learned more than that, but I don't want to spam you to death 
with random thoughts :-).

At any case, if you're still interested in contributing at any level, 
please "officially" sign up for the project. To do this, you'll need 
to create a user id at sourceforge.net. This isn't brain surgery. You 
can go to:

    https://sourceforge.net/projects/salpwars/

Then click "New User via SSL" in the upper right corner of the 
screen, and follow the yellow brick road to registration :-).

Once you have an ID, please mail it to me (cowexchange@yahoo.com) so 
that I can add you to the project.

Thanks for the read! If you have any other questions, feel free to 
mail or call me.

Tyler Goen
cowexchange@yahoo.com

Document last modified Wednesday March 20 2002, 19:41 UTC.