Difference between revisions of "SoC Information for Google"

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==== Who will be your backup organization administrator? Please include Google Account information.====
==== Who will be your backup organization administrator? Please include Google Account information.====
David White (davewx7@gmail.com)
David White (davewx7@gmail.com) -- Link ID: sirp
==== Who will your mentors be? Please include Google Account information.====
==== Who will your mentors be? Please include Google Account information.====

Revision as of 18:40, 10 March 2009


SoC Information for Google

Describe your organization.

The Battle for Wesnoth, or simply Wesnoth, is a free turn based strategy game with role playing elements designed in June 2003 by David White (Sirp), who currently works at Google.

The game's general philosophy (both for gameplay and coding) emphases simplicity. The core rules are meant to be easily learned but also provide interesting gameplay and diverse strategies. Strength of the project is reflected in application of Wesnoth Markup Language (WML), which provides a simple language to easily customize scenarios. It has created a significant modding community that has generated a considerable amount of user content.

The first stable release (1.0) was on October 2 2005, with the latest stable release (1.6) anticipated in the next few weeks. According to Ohloh, a site that collects activity statistics on open-source projects, the Wesnoth development effort is in the top 2% of largest and most active projects.

Wesnoth has grown substantially and is considered one of the largest open source games around.

  • two servers (stable and developement) with a usual minimum load of more than a hundred players
  • more than two thousands downloads a day
  • 3 million downloads via sourceforge.net, many more via various mirrors of Linux Distributions
  • best rated game at the linux game tome
  • game of the year 2007 and 2008 at linuxquestions.org
  • One of the top 20 rated projects on Freshmeat (currently 14th highest rating, and the highest rated game).

Wesnoth's most notable features include;

  • A mature project, but with active development and many improvements
  • High quality artwork: both graphics and music
  • Very well­-balanced by a tireless team of playtesters
  • Fun, unique gameplay
  • Even after five years of development, and a very solid, fun product has been created, there are still plenty of new developers, and the number of commits to SVN is still increasing
  • Strong support of internationalization with many supported languages and thus experience in working with not native English speakers (more than half of our developers are not native English speakers)

Why is your organization applying to participate in GSoC 2008? What do you hope to gain by participating?

Most of our developers have particular areas of interest in which they work. Though they are efficient in their areas, there are other, presently uncovered, areas of the code with a need for improvements but a high barrier to entry for casual contributors.

If a student were dedicated to any of these uncovered areas, we believe that person could be brought up to speed relatively quickly and function as a peer of the existing developers.

By bringing new people in and allowing them to be actively responsible for an area of code, we hope to kickstart some areas of the project that have lagged behind

Did your organization participate in past GSoCs? If so, please summarize your involvement and the successes and challenges of your participation.

Wesnoth participated in GSoC 2008 with four students. Out of these, two were great success (that is they became full-fledge developers before the actual start of GSoC), did huge improvement during GSoC (A new recruitment algorithm for the AI and the basic structure for a new level editor), and are still active developers in the Wesnoth community.

Of the two other, one of them was very active for the first half of GSoC and provided some useful infrastructure for AI development that we plan to use this year in GSoC, but was much less active and didn't reach expectations for the second half of GSoC. The lesson we learned is that great students should be left on their own, that's the best way to have them work, but average students should be monitored much more closely than we did. If things seems to start to go wrong, it's important to react very quick, to meet with other mentors and get things back on track early.

Timezone problems were also a serious barrier for student/mentor communication, and we will take that more seriously into account when pairing mentors and students

For our other students, multiple problems collectively led to failure

  • We should enforce IRC communication, E-mail is a barrier. This applies both for students and mentors. Both should be on IRC several hours a day, with a huge overlapping of the hours.
  • We should be more strict about mid-term evaluation. If the student is slightly lacking at mid-term we should get the message clear that he needs to get back on track.

If your organization has not previously participated in GSoC, have you applied in the past? If so, for what year(s)?

We only applied and participated in GSoC 2008

Who will your organization administrator be? Please include Google Account information.

Nils Kneuper (Ivanovic)

crazy.ivanovic |ATTT| googlemail.com

What license(s) does your project use?

Our project is entirely GPL.

All code is GPL.

All art is GPL, 99% was made for the project, everything else was taken from content that was checked to be GPL.

For more information on the licenses for the game and wiki, see Wesnoth:Copyrights.

What is the URL for your ideas page?

Our main summer of code page is located at http://www.wesnoth.org/wiki/SummerOfCodeIdeas

This page contains various coding ideas and the thought the development team has already given them.

It also contains a list of the developers that are the most active on IRC and their domains of interest.

What is the main development mailing list or forum for your organization?

Regarding development, the most important discussions are also posted on "wesnoth-dev@gna.org". Beside this some work happens at http://www.wesnoth.org/forum/. In particular, all art development takes place on the forum.

Most work and discussions take place in our (logged) IRC channel #wesnoth-dev.

What is the main IRC channel for your organization?

All our IRC channels are on the freenode network

  • #wesnoth-dev is the main development channel, where most discussion takes place and students are required to be in regularly if accepted in our org for SoC
  • #wesnoth is a generic channel for the community
  • #wesnoth-mp is a separate channel for multiplayer games and balancing

Does your organization have an application template you would like to see students use? If so, please provide it now.

We plan mainly to meet potential students through our IRC channel, but the following questions are Wesnoth specific and are worth pondering for any student, even if we don't need a formal answer

  • Basics
    • Write a small introduction to yourself.
    • State your preferred email address.
    • If you have chosen a nick for IRC and Wesnoth forums, what is it?
    • Why do you want to participate in summer of code?
    • What are you studying, subject, level and school?
  • Experience
    • What programs/software have you worked on before?
    • Have you developed software in a team environment before? (As opposed to hacking on something on your own)
    • Have you participated to the Google Summer of Code before? As a mentor or a student? In what project? Were you successful? If not, why?
    • What development model would you use (e.g. keywords: V-model, XP programming, agile programming, iterative; with the help of prototyping, formal specifications, tests, etc).
    • Open Source
      • Are you already involved with any open source development projects? If yes, please describe the project and the scope of your involvement.
    • Gaming experience
      • Are you a gamer? If so...
      • What type of gamer are you?
      • What type of games?
      • What type of opponents do you prefer?
      • Are you more interested in story or gameplay?
      • Have you played Wesnoth? If so, tell us roughly for how long and whether you lean towards single player or multiplayer.

We do not plan to favor Wesnoth players as such, but some particular projects require a good feeling for the game which is hard to get without having played intensively.

  • Communication skills
    • Though most of our developers are not native English speakers, English is the project's working language. Describe your fluency level in written English.
    • Are you good at interacting with other players? Our developer community is friendly, but the player community can be a bit rough.
    • Do you give constructive advice?
    • Do you receive advice well?
    • Are you good at sorting useful criticisms from useless ones?
  • Project
    • Did you select a project from our list? If that is the case, what project did you select?
    • If you have invented your own project, please describe the project and the scope.
    • Why did you choose this project?
    • Include an estimated timeline for your work on the project
    • Include as much technical detail about your implementation as you can
    • What do you expect to gain from this project?
    • What would make you stay in the Wesnoth community after the conclusion of SOC?
  • Practical considerations
    • Are you familiar with any of the following tools?
      • Subversion (used for all commits)
      • C++ (language used for all the normal source code)
      • Python (optional, mainly used for tools)
      • build environments (eg cmake/autotools/scons)
    • Which tools do you normally use for development? Why do you use them?
    • What programming languages are you fluent in?
    • What spoken languages are you fluent in?
    • At what hours are you awake and when will you be able to be in IRC (please specify in UTC)
    • Would you mind talking with your mentor on telephone / internet phone?
  • Detailed answer (optional, but writing skill is a good predictor of ability to work on a programming team, so you will improve your chances by responding to this).
    • Write a small essay (750-1000 words or more) explaining why you want to participate in a Wesnoth GSoC project. You can use the above questions as guides, but feel free to throw in more information if you feel it is relevant.
    • What is your perception of 'open source'? Briefly explain what you think of the whole 'open source' concept, how you discovered open source, what you expect to gain/experience by participating in an open-source project. (Answer separately or as part of above mini-essay)
    • What motivates or inspires you to write programs and develop software?

'to be completed'

Who will be your backup organization administrator? Please include Google Account information.

David White (davewx7@gmail.com) -- Link ID: sirp

Who will your mentors be? Please include Google Account information.

David White (davewx7@gmail.com)

Jeremy Rosen alias Boucman (boucman2|ATTT|gmail.com)

Mark de Wever aka Mordante (mordante.wesnoth|ATTT|gmail.com)

Jörg Hinrichs alias YogiHH (joerghh.hinrichs|ATTT|googlemail.com)

Patrick Parker a.k.a. "Sapient" (patrick.x99|ATTT|gmail.com)

What criteria did you use to select these individuals as mentors? Please be as specific as possible.

Our first criterion was that all the people had to be volunteers. According to other open source projects, being a SoC mentor takes a lot of time and the person has to be ready to spend quite some time with the student.

Dave is the project leader and one of the most knowledgeable in C++. He has also written the Formula AI code which we plan to develop via the SoC. He is well known in our community for formulating simple but effective explanations for complicated topics, and has good design intuition. The growth of Wesnoth demonstrates his capacity to get other developers to work together and keep them involved in a thriving community.

Boucman is one of the oldest active developers around. He has rewritten the whole animation engine and made it an easily pluggable system allowing artists to easily specify exactly how they want the units to appear. He also started many community oriented projects like the Art Contribution section of the wiki (now automated) and the WML Reference Manual. He is responsible for dispatching and sorting the patches at http://patches.wesnoth.org and has created the new developer process we currently use.

Mordante is one of the most active developers on our IRC channel. Not only has he done preliminary studies and coding in multiple areas that are candidates for Summer of Code ideas, he also is one of the coders with the best overview of the Wesnoth code. A large part of his work involves refactoring polishing existing code. Next to that he's very active with fixing bugs which leads him to all areas in the code base.

YogiHH has been with the project for more than two years. He did a major refactoring to the gameplay engine and worked quite a bit on the multiplayer code. He also has been a professional trainer for C/C++, Java and C# for many years. Right now he works in a project where he serves as a mentor for a junior developer.

All other developers listed in the ideas page are the leading capacities we do have for the respecting areas. Have a look at our list of people who to contact for which regards. In general all our developers will mentor all students. That is, questions should just be asked in our IRC channel, where basically every developer who has an idea can directly answer.

When choosing the mentors, we have kept in mind that most developers can answer most technical questions, and we have chosen people that are well known for interacting with new-comers/external developers and can provide general guidance and design advice, more than people with specific technical knowledge.

What is your plan for dealing with disappearing students?

The first thing to do is to avoid this situation altogether.

Wesnoth is a game, and as such has lots of developers that are not coders. In particular, artists are well known in the Wesnoth community for being very sensible about criticism and our community is used to people being sensible to critics.

We will try to choose students that accept criticism and are able to filter constructive criticism from useless one. The Wesnoth developer community is used to judging people according to these criteria and the special title we are going to give to applicants will allow us to easily spot any such problems and discuss them before they grow out of control.

If a student disappears, his mentor will be in charge of recontacting him to see what is going wrong (available time, tension with other developers, with members of the community etc...). Depending on the actual problem, the mentor and the student will have to agree on possible ways to defuse the problem.

If a student disappears completely and there is no way to get back to him, there is little the project can do except salvaging whatever can be salvaged from the code (the students will have SVN write access, so most of the work will be committed either to trunk or to a specific branch) and find a core developer to take on the job. This will probably be slower and less effective for the project, but it's the best we can do.

What is your plan for dealing with disappearing mentors?

All our mentors are long time developers that volunteered for the job, so we don't expect that to happen. We took the time to ask other former GSoC projects about the workload needed to be a mentor, and our mentors accepted the job knowing the amount of work it involved.

However, should it happen, we would continue to mentor as a developer community the student until we find a new "official" mentor to take on the job.

What steps will you take to encourage students to interact with your project's community before, during and after the program?

Wesnoth has a particularly healthy community, both for developers and for players.

Our general policy regarding new coders has always been "two patch... you're in" In other word, anybody that is able to get two non-trivial patches applied is offered commit privileges.

We have a developer responsible for applying patches and guiding new developers into our community. This is a well known and effective process we plan to apply to students, directing them to our EasyCoding pages (these project are usually a couple of hours long and has been chosen to provide easy access to code)

Usually, patches go back and forth a couple of time, to make sure that all secondary things are in place (indenting, coding style, modified makefiles etc.) The idea is that coder education should take place before the coder gets commit rights, but that getting new coder in is one of the most important things to maintain our project alive.

If the student is proactive and ready to join IRC, all the developers are usually very welcoming, and good at directing newcomers to quickly give useful results.

We also plan to give a special forum title to any students. This will allow all forum members to tell them apart from normal users and give them read/write access to the developer only forums. This will also allow us to quickly spot any problem they might have interacting with the player community. We have a very mature developer community, but our player community is made of all sort of people of all age and education, and it can be rough at time.

What will you do to ensure that your accepted students stick with the project after GSoC concludes?

Since our community has a history of having developers easily and quickly join, we expect the student to be a full-fledged developer quite fast (probably a little after the end of the bonding period).

Thus there will be no "end of GSoC" transition. At the end of the Summer of code we expect the student to be responsible for the part he developed, and to continue taking care of it, just as other developers are responsible for their part.

See also

Summer of Code Ideas - The root where all information regarding SoC is (or better should be) linked from.