Posts: 1 906
Joined: 21 Nov 2004
The Future of Ares
Good morning, fellow community members!
It is the first day of a new year, lending itself to thoughts about what to do and what to accomplish in the 364 days to come.
That, of course, includes us thinking about Ares and where it's going.
I recently posted my own, personal view of things
, independent from the other developers and not as an official piece of Ares news.
As you can see from the location this text is posted in, this post is different. This is our official, mutually agreed upon position on Ares's future, and this is the way it's going to happen.
My original post did trigger some discussion, and, as predicted in the post, led to some verbal support and promises to test more, but ultimately, that was about it.
AlliedG released an Ares/LB-based mod the other day
, which is cool and certainly helping promote Ares, but all the publicity in the world doesn't help if it doesn't lead to more people helping develop Ares¹. As long as it's still us few developers stuck with the code and no testers, from our perspective, nothing changed.
Worse, even, if such promotion is successful, it'll only lead to more feature requests and more bug reports, leaving us stuck with even more work under the same conditions.
You can imagine that doesn't sound all that awesome to us.
So what options do we have?
To be frank, the obvious choice would be to end Ares.
Even if the other developers hadn't shared my feelings before my personal post in November, quotes like
(06.11.2010 17:54:37)Modder666 Wrote: I'd point out the fact most of those "probably switching" modders lol at Ares due to the way it's developed, the feature list, and how instable it can be at times. While you may think they're switching, rewiring an entire game from one patch system to another is NOT the easiest thing in the world to do, and would set them back so much time it's not even worth doing for current mods. [...]
certainly didn't help dispel my personal interpretation of how little the community truly cares for Ares, and got them thinking, too.
Add to that that developing Ares, both due to its nature and due to the lack of active testers, is kind of a pain, and just calling it quits sounds like a very good option - especially since LH_Mouse's edition of the oh-so-beloved NPSE (NPSELHME?) is supposedly going to be released in English, giving the community a more compatible, PPM-present YR extension to flock to.
However, that's just not how we roll.
Put bluntly (and I'm sure some people will protest), the issue isn't with us. The issue is with the community. We're perfectly willing to code Ares, and the amount of feature requests shows that the community is perfectly willing to receive Ares. It's just not willing to help bringing it about, and we're tired of working all on our own, with a single, trusty tester here and there, only to get complaints when development isn't proceeding fast enough.
Therefore, Ares development will change fundamentally. We will stick to the previously decided-upon quick release cycles
, and we will release Ares 0.2 no matter what. However, how much we develop after that, even 0.3, will be entirely up to the community:
From 0.3 on, we require a minimum crew of active supporters.
As long as that minimum crew isn't active, we won't work. It's as simple as that.
We will provide a list of positions we need under active service, and if one of those positions isn't filled, or the person who volunteered isn't working, we'll just do something else.
We have no problem working on Ares for the community if the community helps out.
But we're done working for bug reports and silence.
We will provide an overview page on the forums of the current state of the Ares Crew, complete with color coded ratings of a position's current work. If the rating goes black, Ares gets halted - plain and simple.
The Ares Community Support Crew
In order to keep Ares running after 0.2, the ACSC must consist of at least the following people at all times:
- 5 Active Testers
This is the most obvious one. Our issues with testers are known, and we're sick of it. In the future, unless we have at least 5 active testers, we'll cease development.
In case you're interested in helping out, being a testers includes, but is not limited to, checking and trying to confirm as many issues as possible, whether they affect you or not, whether they interest you or not.
We need feedback on issues all the time, no matter if you can confirm the issue or not.
If you can confirm an issue, that's important to us.
If you cannot confirm an issue, that's important to us, too!
We are not interested in people who'll only try out new features and post "me too" every once in a while.
We need detailed examination of all reported issues and the effects of all code changes.
We especially need regular tests of existing features, to make sure new developments didn't break old ones.
If you can't or won't do that, don't volunteer.
We need testers, not players.
- 1 Documentation Maintainer
This guy's job is simple: Keep the user manual and the readme up to date.
If a new feature appears, add it to the manual. If there are notes to be made about it, add them. If it's unclear how it's used, ask the developers and update the manual. If somebody reports an issue with the manual, check it and fix, if necessary. If Launch Base or Ares usage changes, update the readme, etc., etc.
It's really as simple as that: Look at the manual and readme from an Ares user's perspective, see if they're complete and clear, and if they're not, make it so they are.
You won't have to guess how stuff works, and you won't have to read C++ or Assembler code, we'll happily answer all the questions you might have.
We just want someone to have a dedicated eye on the state and the style of the manual.
One tiny requirement would be that you are capable of following simple markup conventions in so far as that you should be able to replicate existing manual entries.
You don't even have to understand how the manual "gets pretty", you just have to understand what to copy-paste to make it look right.
- 1 User Support Agent
Again, a simple job: Check the forums frequently, and if people have trouble with Ares, try to help them.
That's all there is to it.
If there's no one with a problem, you don't even have to work.
We just want to be sure that, if somebody has a problem, there someone's there to help, or at least to guide the user somewhere he can get help.
Basically, your job is to make sure people who come here for help don't feel abandoned.
Requirements: Being able to post on the forums, being able to read the user manual and readme, being able to try out stuff in Ares.
- 1 Project Ambassador/PR Guy/Ares Evangelist
Once more, a simple job: Just hover other forums and sites and represent Ares where necessary.
If there's a question about Ares on PPM, be there.
If there's a discussion about YR extensions on Revora, make sure we're described accurately.
You don't have to lie, you don't have to badmouth other patches, you're not supposed to be aggressive, you're just supposed to be there and represent us.
Requirements: Being active on the majority of currently open and active community forums, being enthusiastic about Ares, not being a goddamn moron, troll, asshole or otherwise unfit for being a representative.
Also, the ability to talk to the User Documentation Maintainer in case you're unsure about the feature set helps.
- 1 Promo Material Creator
Job difficulty? You guessed it: Simple.
All you have to do is work with Ares, make your work shiny, and then make screenshots and videos of it.
That's all there is to it.
We need a continuous stream of pretty screenshots of all the features in Ares so people can see how Ares can look and extend their mods.
In addition, we need one "exemplary" screenshot of each feature, for the documentation.
Requirements: Being able to mod YR, being able to mod YR with Ares, being able to hit the screenshot key, being able to properly convert screenshots to PNG.
- 1 Project Manager
This job is about the only one on this list that's a little bit harder: Keeping it all together.
The Project Manager's job is basically one of control, coordination and oversight.
The Project Manager is not the leader of the project. He's more of the administrator of all things not code. Essentially, us coders provide Ares, and the Project Manager makes sure everything else is ready for it. In return, in order to make sure he can do his job right, the Project Manager is directly involved in the decision making process and an important voice in the direction of the project.
- In terms of the Community Support Crew's work, he's the main administrator. When positions are vacant or volunteers need to be replaced, he's the one assigned to do it. He coordinates the different people (e.g. making sure the Promo guy gets the PR guy a few nice shots if he needs them somewhere), he expands the team when necessary, etc., etc.
- In terms of development issues (bugs and features), he helps decide which issues to focus on for the next release, by contributing the perspective of a non-coder and having information from the User Support Agent and the Project Ambassador about the wants and needs of the general community. He also helps decide when to target releases for, and what to do when release dates need to be re-evaluated.
- In terms of overall coordination, he's the one making sure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goal at the same time - e.g. if there's a release scheduled, he's the one making sure that the coders code enough, that the Documentation Maintainer updates the docs, that the Promo guy produces enough material, that the PR guy spreads the word, and that a few news posts detailing features of the new release are made.
The Project Manager makes sure all parts of the project are in sync.
Requirements: Being trustworthy, being capable of organizing half a dozen people, being enthusiastic about Ares, being interested in Ares's success, being calm and reasonable, being communicative and willing to (learn to) use Internet Relay Chat, not being easily frustrated and wanting this particular position for its duties. Let me make that last part very clear: Don't take this job if you really just want advanced access to Ares, and don't take it for its title. Only volunteer if you want this position because you are passionate about coordinating projects like this, or because you want Ares to succeed.
There is no point in applying for this position if you don't want the full scope of what it entails.
Also, since this is a pretty important position, we'll be very careful who we select for it. Knowing us is a definite advantage.
As you can see, except for the Manager position, all these jobs are essentially simple.
There's nothing hard about taking a random Ares feature, building a demo-mod around it, taking a dozen screenshots and uploading the prettiest one, for example - it's just that all of these jobs combined, added to coding, are too much to handle for the few of us. We just don't have the time to code a dozen features, test them all in twenty scenarios each, test them all in random combinations with each other and stock features, screenshot them all, update the documentation, help users on the forums and spread the word about Ares in the community all at the same time, all the while talking to each other making sure we're not doing duplicate work or missing something.
So this is how it is. The jobs above need to be done. They are simple. If the community cares enough about Ares to want it to continue, it shouldn't be an issue to find someone who says "okay, I'll regularly make cool screenshots of Ares's features", for example.
On the other hand, if we can't even find a few people to do these simple jobs, then it's quite obvious the community simply doesn't care enough about Ares to help out even with the easiest tasks, and we'll not continue to work until that changes.
So yeah. It's up to you. 0.2 will be released. After that, if the community wants the Ares project to continue, it will have to get off its ass and help.
If it doesn't, Ares 0.2 will be the last Ares to be released.
P.S.: Observant readers will have noticed that the position of "coder" is missing from the list above. We are always in search for new coders, and if you want to help code, feel free to talk to us about joining the project. The reason coders aren't on the list is that the list represents the people we absolutely need in addition to us coders for the project to continue. Basically: We already have coders. If we don't get additional coders, that sucks, but we still have three to work with. But we have 0 documentation maintainers, and if we don't get additional ones, that's an issue.
¹ While promotion doesn't help development, AG did report several issues with Ares in the process of making his mod, which did help Ares development.
(01.06.2011 05:43:25)kenosis Wrote: Oh damn don't be disgraced again!
(25.06.2011 20:42:59)Nighthawk Wrote: The proverbial bearded omni-bug may be dead, but the containment campaign is still being waged in the desert.