Author Topic: Welcome to the Rendering Engine Overhaul Project  (Read 87552 times)

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Offline FUBAR-BDHR

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Re: Welcome to the Rendering Engine Overhaul Project
And you have to realize that the mods are the clients of the SCP.  Without them you would have an engine that no matter how good would sit on the shelf.  That is why backward compatibility is one of the golden rules.  You don't tell clients what to use you give them the product they want or you don't have clients. 

This doesn't even get into the support nightmare removing a feature would cause.  You would have years of post of why doesn't so and so work.  I followed the install instructions but it wont run. 
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Offline Spicious

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Re: Welcome to the Rendering Engine Overhaul Project
I don't see how letting every 'client' dictate how things should be done helps; especially when they apparently have different/conflicting visions of how it should work.

It doesn't seem that limiting to require any new non-trivial feature to have an upgrade path to the new version of the engine given say a design doc of how the new version will fit together.

And on the topic of missing features: why won't shadows work for me anymore?

 

Offline karajorma

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Re: Welcome to the Rendering Engine Overhaul Project
I don't see how letting every 'client' dictate how things should be done helps; especially when they apparently have different/conflicting visions of how it should work.

There's a huge difference between letting clients dictate how things should work and actually asking them for suggestions on how things should work before trying to code a solution that pleases the greatest number though.

And both of those are very different from saying "**** the clients. I'm going to make it work how *I* want and they can learn to like it"
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Offline chief1983

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Re: Welcome to the Rendering Engine Overhaul Project
portej05 isn't advocating that either, but becoming incapable of finishing a feature because of a futile attempt to please everyone fully can't be allowed to happen.
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Offline karajorma

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Re: Welcome to the Rendering Engine Overhaul Project
Of course you can't please everyone. Which is why The_E's post mentions a fairly good compromise.
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Offline Nuke

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Re: Welcome to the Rendering Engine Overhaul Project
a major overhaul is gonna cause things to break, theres no way around it. theres only so much optimizations and bugfixes can do. its not about pissing off modders, its about preserving the engine's usefulness.
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Offline Goober5000

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Re: Welcome to the Rendering Engine Overhaul Project
Archiving the subforum due to the departure of portej05 and Hery, and also due to the fact that current evidence strongly suggests any overhaul would be an epic failure.

 

Offline chief1983

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Re: Welcome to the Rendering Engine Overhaul Project
Wouldn't want to talk that over with me first?  I was left in charge after all.
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Offline Goober5000

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Re: Welcome to the Rendering Engine Overhaul Project
Oh?  I thought it was almost entirely portej05's and Hery's beast.

I'd be more than happy to talk it over with you though.  I'll catch you next time on IRC or IM (can't run either at the moment).

 

Offline Iss Mneur

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Re: Welcome to the Rendering Engine Overhaul Project
Archiving the subforum due to the departure of portej05 and Hery, and also due to the fact that current evidence strongly suggests any overhaul would be an epic failure.
From this discussion, I did not get the impression that this project would be an epic failure. I got that it will be a long hard project, that could potentially piss people off.  

To those that are worried about the Engine Overhaul Project (EOP) breaking things, and those that want the EOP to break things.  An engine that does not have any content to run will never last.

The thing is, even if the project falls short of actually changing any code in the engine, the first step of the project, documenting the current behaviour, will still be useful to future work on the engine.  I think karajorma and The_E have the best idea, when we get to the point of designing the route we are going to take (which will be a while yet as we have not really started to even document the engine), asking everyone, especially the TC's to list the features that they are currently using and would like to see would be the best way for the EOP to result in an engine that content makers will actually use.

Yes this project has drawn strong criticism from members, but this is because none of us want to see FS2Open, Freespace, and all of the mods and TC's just fall into obscurity after 10 years of going on.

Edit: Clairified, and added second paragraph.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2010, 12:48:06 pm by Iss Mneur »
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Offline Zacam

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Re: Welcome to the Rendering Engine Overhaul Project
Hmm. Goober5000 is:

An SCP Project Leader? Check.

A Hard-Light Administrator? Check.

God? Fail.

Not the best decision I've seen made.
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Offline Goober5000

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Re: Welcome to the Rendering Engine Overhaul Project
An engine that does not have any content to run will never last.
News flash: The FSO engine has no shortage of content using it, and more is being created every day.

Quote
The thing is, even if the project falls short of actually changing any code in the engine, the first step of the project, documenting the current behaviour, will still be useful to future work on the engine.
Agree, but this does not require its own separate forum.  Even if it did, using the "overhaul project" forum would be misleading.

Quote
Yes this project has drawn strong criticism from members, but this is because none of us want to see FS2Open, Freespace, and all of the mods and TC's just fall into obscurity after 10 years of going on.
Utterly false.  This project has drawn strong criticism because of the way it has been conducted and the quality (or lack thereof) of the work that has been done so far.


God? Fail.
Hyperbole?  Fail.

Basically, this project was starting to trend towards the old disasters of shoddy, unmaintained (and unmaintainable) code, and was already bearing rotten fruit.  Based on what it has accomplished so far, the best solution is to isolate it and let it die off.  Otherwise it would be like a parasite feeding off a host.

 

Offline chief1983

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Re: Welcome to the Rendering Engine Overhaul Project
Perhaps we should start a Documentation Project though.  That's something I could sink my teeth into.
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Offline The E

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Re: Welcome to the Rendering Engine Overhaul Project
Yes, as we have sort of agreed, any overhaul is dependant on building some documentation beforehand.

Having a separate subforum for that to coordinate matters might be a good idea. It's easy for threads to get lost.

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Offline Iss Mneur

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Re: Welcome to the Rendering Engine Overhaul Project
An engine that does not have any content to run will never last.
News flash: The FSO engine has no shortage of content using it, and more is being created every day.
Thank you for taking me out of context, the comment was *not* directed at you Goober5000, but those that are worried about the project breaking the existing content or the engine being rendered unable to do anything.  I guess unless you are one of the ones that is afraid of the engine being broken by the project. In which case, I reiterate, the goal of the overhaul project is not to break the engine, but to modernize it so that will be set for the next 10+ years.

I have also updated my quoted post to help clarify this, I admit the original version was not as clear.

Quote
The thing is, even if the project falls short of actually changing any code in the engine, the first step of the project, documenting the current behaviour, will still be useful to future work on the engine.
Agree, but this does not require its own separate forum.  Even if it did, using the "overhaul project" forum would be misleading.
Misleading in what way? Yes, the documentation part, which is only the *first* part of the overhaul project, does not really require its own forum. But as the first stage of the larger project that does require a separate forum (if only for organization sake).  There is no reason that all of the stages of the project use the same forum.

This is one of those "shoot for the moon, even if you miss you will land among the stars" type projects.  Just because you (Goober5000) do not think the project will be successful or completed does not mean that this is what will actually happen.  I know, I know, you have the experience with the SCP, but cutting it off before it has even failed? Really? Especially when there is some semitrance of consensus on the way forward?

Quote
Yes this project has drawn strong criticism from members, but this is because none of us want to see FS2Open, Freespace, and all of the mods and TC's just fall into obscurity after 10 years of going on.
Utterly false.  This project has drawn strong criticism because of the way it has been conducted and the quality (or lack thereof) of the work that has been done so far.
So you don't care if FS2Open and its related content falls into obscurity because the engine slowly become useless on modern machines? As Nuke mentioned, "[The Overhaul Project is] not about pissing off modders, its about preserving the engine's usefulness."

Or is it that the overhaul project has not actually produced any concrete? If so, I address this below.

"... [T]he way it has been conducted..."?  What is wrong with the way it has been conducted?  I only see some passionate people arguing over the destiny of their favourite space game engine.  Even within the arguing their was a semblance of consensus on how the Overhaul Project was to proceed, as mentioned above by me and by the The_E in the post he snuck in while I was typing.

On a related topic, you (Goober5000) wanted a Mailing list, because other serious open source projects have them.  As we reminded you on IRC then, the forum of the discussion has nothing to do with the "seriousness" or the quality of the project. The "seriousness" of a project rests entirely on its ability to get things done and to have mature, logical, and open discussions about the future of the project in the so that all stakeholders (ie. the mods and TCs) have knowledge about and the ability to provide input on the changes.

"Serious" opensource projects do not have a site administrator shelve the project because he feels that a project has not done anything useful, when it still has a leader and in still in the planning stages with active discussion.  It would be one thing to have the current project leader request the archival, but based on his response to the archival, it was obviously not his idea.

God? Fail.
Hyperbole?  Fail.

Basically, this project was starting to trend towards the old disasters of shoddy, unmaintained (and unmaintainable) code, and was already bearing rotten fruit.  Based on what it has accomplished so far, the best solution is to isolate it and let it die off.  Otherwise it would be like a parasite feeding off a host.
What code?  As far as I know the only thing that has come out of this project thus far is the 70 some posts in this forum. This project was never intended to be a quick "fix" for the engine, it has always being a long term project.  I don't think anyone that has participated in this discussion does not understand that this project will take time.

How can this project "trend towards the old disasters of shoddy, unmaintained, unmaintainable code" when no code has been written?  Are you prophetic now? What rotten fruit has this project bared? A discussion about FSO's future? The idea that we can and should do something about the 1990's coding style? One of the original project leaders has left in a huff?  Another has decided that his own projects would be a better use of his time? No code thus far? That the members cannot decide on how to go about implementing the big features that have been brought up?

Now, do not get me wrong, old code is not a bad thing, but FSO is turning into a mishmash of everything, every style and more hackish with every new feature and as a result is becoming more inconsistent and harder to read and pickup for new coders.  Making the code accessible to new coders is what allows "serious" open source projects to grow, especially if they have chip on there shoulder like our licence.
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Offline DaBrain

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Re: Welcome to the Rendering Engine Overhaul Project
I'm really sad it turned out this way.


I really thought the FSO might have a future thanks to this project. Maybe I was a bit too optimistic.
There is incredible much work to do and I don't think I can blame anyone for not being willing to do it. Especially considering I could have only been an advisor until later when new content might have been needed.

I think the most serious issues are:
-The collision system can't handle complex models (causes holes)
-The limitation to one core
-We can only use one shader depending on the maps on the model
-Mapping channel limitation
-Less than basic particle system, so we have to waste tons of memory on frame effects


On the other hand there are many nice things too:
-FSO is still very open for modding
-A huge feature set (sometimes people forget how many things can be done in FSO...)
-Pretty good tools
-The flight behaviour still feels great
-Powerful mission editor
-Wiki (hey, it's really not bad!)
-Great community


Is there anything we can do? I don't want to give up on FSO...
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Offline chief1983

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Re: Welcome to the Rendering Engine Overhaul Project
We lost the bulk of the manpower we currently had available at the time for this project, including the original leadership.  There's virtually nothing that could be done right now to approach where we were going with it but there are some things we can do in the meantime.  Like I said, we might as well get the documentation part going as that's going to be useful no matter what.
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Offline Mongoose

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Re: Welcome to the Rendering Engine Overhaul Project
Color me really confused here, and as a non-technical person I most likely am, but where did this whole concept of "FSO has no future without this project" spring from in the first place?  Exactly why would the engine just "fall off into obscurity"?  Correct me if I'm wrong, but in today's gaming world, the space sim market is pretty much nonexistent, and the open-source space sim engine market even more so.  This isn't the world of FPSes, where there are probably a good six or seven highly-moddable engines out there that would be idea for your average mod project along those lines.  For anyone looking to put together a large-scale space-combat-based sort of mod, FS2_Open is pretty much the only ready-made option available out there; even without the Source Code Project, it has to be just about the most easily-moddable space sim ever released.  The fact that we currently have active projects from multiple sci-fi universes utilizing the engine is a clear testament to that.

Now, am I saying that the engine isn't in need of significant improvements?  Of course not.  Actual members of the team know far better than I exactly what needs to be done, but even I could tell you that there are several areas where there's massive room for optimization and expansion.  But at the same time, I don't see this as being some sort of do-or-die scenario.  I hear people talk about terrible collision-detection and lack of multithreading, but what I've seen with my own eyes is my crappy old P4 machine be able to handle even Blue Planet's huge set-piece missions without slowing to an unplayable crawl...and that's with a video card that was low-tier even when it was created six years ago.  Yes, certain things need fixing, but even as it stands, the engine responds pretty damn well when placed under duress.

You guys have already done an amazing job with this engine, and it's my belief that, even were all development to cease right here, the FS2_Open engine would continue to be relevant for some time to come.  Don't sell yourselves short. :)

 

Offline karajorma

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Re: Welcome to the Rendering Engine Overhaul Project
I'm going to lock this for now and I'll reopen it in 2-3 hours (after my class) when I've said my piece. It seems to me that both sides are needlessly annoying each other and creating animosity where none is needed.
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Offline karajorma

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Re: Welcome to the Rendering Engine Overhaul Project
OK time to make my position on the Overhaul Project clear because I suspect it's one that most of the SCP will agree with but this thread shows that if someone doesn't intervene everyone would take corners and bicker away about it.

Goober is obviously worried that the Overhaul Project will be another Ferrium. Bleeding coders away from the SCP for a project that is doomed to fail. I doubt that there is anyone here who would want that to happen. Yet it is also obvious that with Portej05 and Hery gone this project is already short-staffed (hell, it was short-staffed with them, let alone without them).

Others are worried that sooner or later major parts of the engine will need to be overhauled. If this isn't done, sooner or later the engine won't be able to compete with modern engines and will slowly bleed away as people get sick of its limitations and poor performance compared with other engines.

 As I mentioned several times to Portej05, talk is cheap, it's action that speaks volumes. Designing the overhaul (no matter how much work is done on it) won't help us at all if no one is going to actually do it. So what I propose is this.

1) We shelve the Overhaul Project for six months

2) We make a concerted effort by the SCP to improve the documentation of FS2_Open and to profile and refactor the code which currently causes the greatest slowdowns. Goober mentioned having a list of some of the biggest bottlenecks provided by Taylor, I say we fix those now as they will give the code an immediate boost, something that is worth having. Even if we eventually do work on an overhaul this refactoring would keep FS2_Open performing well for quite some time and thus would allow mods and TCs to work with a powerful engine while whatever changes were made.

3) We make an effort to find and improve the worst code in the engine. The stuff that causes lots of bugs. Taylor has been doing this for a while with his pilot file change and I've taken a few steps of my own in this direction by getting rid of block variables and all the crap they caused. I intend to do more of this.

4) We reinstitute and this time enforce the rule that no coder can commit new features unless they have fixed a certain number of bugs or refactored a certain amount of crappy code.

5) In six months we see where we are. If we have good documentation and large sections of the code have been improved then we have proved we have a team capable of an overhaul and we can start discussing one. If on the other hand very little has changed then it would be stupid and egotistical to think we have team capable of taking on a task as major as overhauling graphics or adding multi-threading.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2010, 02:47:56 am by karajorma »
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