FOSDEM '08 is a free and non-commercial event organised by the community, for the community. Its goal is to provide Free and Open Source developers a place to meet.


Interview: Stéphane Magnenat

Stéphane Magnenat will tell us all about Globulation2 at FOSDEM 2008.

What would you like to achieve with your talk at FOSDEM?

I would like to explain why and how Globulation 2 is different from the common trunk of real-time strategy games (RTS). I also hope to present and clarify some key elements of its software architecture. My wish is to welcome new contributors, showing that Globulation 2 is both original and accessible. If this presentation starts an in depth and lasting discussion about open source RTS, I would be equally pleased.

Was there a Globulation 'one' before '2'

Yes. It was our first attempt at reduced micro-management RTS. It was not really fun to play, but has provided us with invaluable experience to start Globulation 2. I will briefly talk about it in the presentation. There is some more information at [1].

Which games inspired Globulation2?

Globulation 1, Settlers, Warcraft, and Caesar.

Globulation2 is a cross-platform game. Is that all handled by SDL, or does it require more effort?

Mostly. Only some minor elements, such as the location of user preferences, are not handled by SDL. One exception is Voice over IP, which is platform dependent, as SDL does not provides abstraction for audio input.

Are you generally satisfied by SDL as a library?

Yes, although it is not perfect. For instance, the sound subsystem is weak. I am also concerned about its future, as its development stopped years ago.

Traditional games are usually released 'when they're done', while Globulation 2 is release incrementally. How is that handled?

Not always very well. A recurrent problem we face is the lack of lasting developers. Really brillant people come, implement great things, and then disappear for a while. They are not to blame, such is life, but it makes monotonic progress towards a pre-defined goal rather difficult. Furthermore, it sometimes results in partially broken releases, such as the 0.9.1, in which LAN games do not work. Yet overall, the situation is getting better.

In summary, Globulation 2 is released when someone has a sufficient motivation to do so. Unexpected broken features excepted, Globulation 2 is rather stable, so we are clearly going into the direction of 1.0 right now. As Aaron Seigo has said some days ago about KDE 4 : "When one perpetually releases alphas/betas a few things happen: people don't test it aggressively enough, third party developers don't get involved, core developers continue doing blue sky development rather than focusing on release qualities.".

Right. So what's missing for a 1.0 release?

We need a stable code base and a balanced gameplay. Furthermore, additional gaming content such as well tuned campaigns and maps would be welcome.

We also have a long list of improvements we would like to add, but we can postpone them all until after 1.0.

You're using SCons as build system, and they're present at FOSDEM as well. What will you tell them if you meet?

Well, I'm not the person who wrote the SCons scripts so I'm not in good position to answer. Personally, I would like a better integration with Debian (or other) packaging tools.

Have you ever experienced game addiction?

No, but I know some people who did, and it is not really nice...