Build me a Machine
G’day everyone! I just had a call will Dillion (WasabiOne) where he talked me through the current status of the NS2 Community Development Team (CDT). Dillon is one of the prime-movers of the CDT, and is a great source of information. I was wondering what was going on with NS2, as I imagine many of you may have been.
Right now the CDT is primarily focused on setting up a ‘build machine.’ Let’s call it ‘BM’ for short. A BM is a computer that takes all the code, textures, models, and other components of a game and mushes it together into something you can play.
In the olden days, a BM at Unknown Worlds handled the mushing. That BM was taken offline several months ago for various reasons. One of those is that in the long term, a community-controlled and configured BM will be optimal for a community development.
Putting together a BM is tough work. Lots of delicate dependencies need to be configured. Access needs to be secure. Seemingly little things like generating minimaps can cause headaches. It is taking quite some time to set the BM up.
When the BM has been set up, the real fun starts. I posited to Dillon that Subnautica, which I work on, had seen great success with an automated ‘experimental‘ build. That is, a version of the game automatically created by the BM at regular intervals, say three hours. Dillon and the CDT were way ahead of me, and already intend for the BM to be configured to this.
I think that will go a long way to opening up the CDT process. There will no longer be a behind-the-scenes version and a public version of Natural Selection 2 – Everything will be public, all the time.
Other possible features Dillon talked about were public display of all CDT checkin-messages. Checkin messages are little snippets of text that members of the development team write when they have changed something in the game. A similar system operates on Subnautica, and allows anyone to see what the team is up to.
None of this can happen until a BM is up and running. The CDT is busting gut to get it running. When it is running, and automated builds start happening, all of us NS2 players will be able to participate much more actively in NS2 development.