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Author Topic: NAM: Development  (Read 469068 times)

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Offline Wiimeiser

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Re: NAM: Development
« Reply #1620 on: October 23, 2018, 04:18:55 PM »
If I can figure out what is up with the QuickChange Xpress issues
What seems to be the problem? Not plopping properly?
Pink horse, pink horse, she rides across the nation...

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Re: NAM: Development
« Reply #1620 on: October 23, 2018, 04:18:55 PM »

Re: NAM: Development

Offline paddy0174

Re: NAM: Development
« Reply #1621 on: October 24, 2018, 05:51:16 AM »
I have to agree with mattb325, if the number of active developers go down, the system behind needs to be more focused. And from my point of view, it wouldn't be to harsh on users, to simply leave things as they are, especially for some outdated content like the Maxis Highways. I do see the point, that some doesn't want or can change to the RHW, but that really doesn't mean, they need to get new features or updates behind the already existing version(s). I think of this is an alternative, you simply cannot invent new things, if you always have the pit fall not to only cover backwards compatibility but to release new features. At some point, there is simply no way to make everyone happy....

What brings me to my second point. I do know and understand, that it is always some kind of a hard dicission, to "open up" things. But as I said before, I would love to see at least a discussion about making all these things "open source" and make use of collaborating and developing tools, the internet gave us in the last few years.

Let me just describe my thoughts, how this can go further:
  • make the code and ways to work the code public
    Why? A lot of people are able to help, but only a few are willing to go that deep. But right now, nearly all tasks are stuck upon you three, even the easiest and frustrating tasks with a lot of repeated steps... That can be outsourced.
    If there is somewhat like a repository, everyone can see, what is going on, and where a step in can be made. But, if handled via github/gitlab or any other collaborating software, you still would have the control. PullRequest is the key phrase here.
  • make the development strictly bound to what you like
    Sure, if you ask ten people, you will get twenty opinions, what is needed, and what can't be left out. Nope, sorry, that's not the way it works. As of this moment, everything in NAM should be considered as a starting place at zero. Whatever is in there right now, it stays. But only the things you decide will get new development or just bug fixes.
    The good ol' three:
    1.) nothing is done, no new features, no bug fixes (if a user wants to use it, fine, if he wants to improve it, sure, go ahead, make yourself comfortable with github and make a pull request)
    2.) bug fixes (strictly bound to things, where a new version has broken something)
    3.) new feautures
    => what mattb325 said
  • a healthy discussion about the financing for the work on the NAM
    what I would really like to discuss, would be the financial aspect of this. My "vision" would be, to make something like a non profit found, that takes care of the financing. I know, I know, everyone tells you the same, not needed, the costs for the site are already hard to get and so on.
    I wouldn't have thought about such a way, if I hadn't the perfect example for: Contao (formerly TypoLight). They did it this way, right now the main developer is a paid employee, and a lot of projects get paid for by the non profit foundation.

And for the end of that long post, I just want to go a bit deeper into the last point. I do know, that working on things, you don't like totally, can be a PITA. Getting some money for the hard work you do, doesn't make it less frustrating, but it makes up for it on another edge: go have a big and tasty dinner with your gf, wife, mother whatever. Buy the new keyboard or mouse from this money, whatever. At least it gives you one thing: you have something in return, it is more like "the community shows you respect and aknowledges your work", then the big money, but hey... :D :D :D If we are lucky, in a few years or months the foundation could support ST and SC4D for their monthly costs.

I for one would love to get one larger summ to a foundation, knowing that this helps not only on one corner, but over time can asure a still runnning system.

And btw, I don't find it offensive, to pay for things I want to have. Right now, I would be looking for someone to make a diagonal ERRW crossing over a diagonal road, and I would be willing to pay for that extra. Sure, I cannot pay hundreds of dollars for that, but a few bucks... If this pushes something forward, I want to have... And if the project is something, more people want, why not letting them pay for the fast track?

Just my two cents, and at the end one personal note: I am not a native english speaker. I try my best, but if something in this text is wrong (wrong use of words or grammar) or if there is something that comes down offensive, please let me know. It isn't meant that way, so please bare with my english and correct me! :)

Back to the game after nine years - and everyday I find something totally new! :)

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Re: NAM: Development
« Reply #1621 on: October 24, 2018, 05:51:16 AM »

Re: NAM: Development

Offline Tarkus

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Re: NAM: Development
« Reply #1622 on: October 25, 2018, 08:55:48 AM »
Just want to put in a few quick words while I have a down moment (just completed the third day of a four-day span of 12-hour work days--5:30pm to 5:30am--and about to call it a night/morning).

No one has to worry about the base Maxis Highway features going anywhere.  They pretty much require zero technical support from our end--the NAM features that exist for them are ancient and heavily battle-tested--and the only component that bumps elbows with them is the Maxis Highway Override.  It's highly unlikely they'll get any updates in their default form--there's been none in the past 7 years, and maybe two in the past 13 years--but we're not going to completely push them out of the NAM ecosystem. 

In fact, the only things that have been fully pushed out are (a) things that have been found to be seriously broken--i.e. the original attempt at Draggable FAR in NAM 28 (May 2010), which caused a CTD whenever one plopped a Car Ferry, or (b) are designed in such a way that they actively prevent future development.  The original "automatic" version of the Road Turning Lanes Plugin, is the only such case.  It was pulled in NAM 31, after being largely responsible for the initial NWM release having a development cycle of 4 years, and then threatening to take Draggable FAR for an especially long detour.  The faction of the team that had been most adamant about keeping it ended up joining the removal chorus after that.  (Had it been limped along to the present-day, it would have also impacted the Draggable Road Viaducts, and--in an ironic twist--the FLEX Turn Lanes.)

As far as the QCXs go, there's still a lot of internal fact-finding needed there, but suffice to say, the plopping side of things (aside from the lack of proper preview models at present) is not the problem, and works exactly as intended.

I'll have more on Matt's and paddy's thoughts tomorrow.

-Alex

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Re: NAM: Development
« Reply #1622 on: October 25, 2018, 08:55:48 AM »

Re: NAM: Development

Offline paddy0174

Re: NAM: Development
« Reply #1623 on: October 25, 2018, 11:45:47 AM »
Thanks for your always detailed answers! :)

And take your time, no quick answers needed (at least on my side) :D
Back to the game after nine years - and everyday I find something totally new! :)

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Re: NAM: Development
« Reply #1623 on: October 25, 2018, 11:45:47 AM »

Re: NAM: Development

Offline Tarkus

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Re: NAM: Development
« Reply #1624 on: October 27, 2018, 12:20:54 AM »
As promised, I'm back.

5) Simplify or split the installer: is it possible to leave the last known built installer that worked really easily for you as is and then add a second/third installer for new stuff added?

. . .

If the issue is around the monolithic installer which, to my eye as an outsider, seems to be a series of either/or selections related to content and interchangeability of such choices,  surely the end user can run a few separate installers based on their choices? EG: one for LHD; another for RHW; another for RRW; another for legacy, etc,  over and above a "base installer" of content that you as the developers determine to be a standard or ideal set up.

With that first process, that does actually fit with something that has been periodically discussed internally--the notion of having a "frozen core", coupled with a series of more frequent update packages, containing new/improved features, fixes, etc. that would be applied to it.  The "core" would be briefly "thawed" out once enough updates had been issued, with those updates being rolled in, and the core "re-frozen", starting the process again.

The result of the latter process would likely result in something that looks more akin to the NAM 30 paradigm.  While that didn't require quite the level of installer complexity, were readily maintainable, and didn't really cause any of our more experienced users to sweat during installation, it did cause some issues for the general user population.  In the 6 years during which the NAM existed in that configuration, our consistent #1 tech support issue was the infamous Red Arrow Bug, which resulted from people messing up the process of updating versions, or trying to mix-and-match incompatible versions of the various separate download components (i.e. trying to run RHW 5.0/0.50 with NAM 29, or RHW 4.1/0.41 with NAM 30). 

NAM 31, for all its issues (there was a reason people called it "NAM Vista"), did end up completely eliminating the Red Arrow Bug.  That said, some of the modern conveniences in the present installer could theoretically be ported over to smaller installers without much issue (save for the occasional user who has a sticking point about installing Java, since the TSCT and Controller Compiler require it), and could potentially introduce some new improvements to a refined version of the old approach.

I think there's quite a few potential ways out of the current situation (including also writing a new Monolithic script, taking what worked from the current version, and working it into a steroid-infused version of the NAM 30 script), though they're pretty much all going to require some dedicated time working on packaging and logistics, rather than development.  If they end up making it such that we don't have to spend much time on those tasks later on, however, I'd consider it a worthwhile investment.

  • make the code and ways to work the code public
    Why? A lot of people are able to help, but only a few are willing to go that deep. But right now, nearly all tasks are stuck upon you three, even the easiest and frustrating tasks with a lot of repeated steps... That can be outsourced.
    If there is somewhat like a repository, everyone can see, what is going on, and where a step in can be made. But, if handled via github/gitlab or any other collaborating software, you still would have the control. PullRequest is the key phrase here.
  • make the development strictly bound to what you like
    Sure, if you ask ten people, you will get twenty opinions, what is needed, and what can't be left out. Nope, sorry, that's not the way it works. As of this moment, everything in NAM should be considered as a starting place at zero. Whatever is in there right now, it stays. But only the things you decide will get new development or just bug fixes.
    The good ol' three:
    1.) nothing is done, no new features, no bug fixes (if a user wants to use it, fine, if he wants to improve it, sure, go ahead, make yourself comfortable with github and make a pull request)
    2.) bug fixes (strictly bound to things, where a new version has broken something)
    3.) new feautures
    => what mattb325 said
  • a healthy discussion about the financing for the work on the NAM
    what I would really like to discuss, would be the financial aspect of this. My "vision" would be, to make something like a non profit found, that takes care of the financing. I know, I know, everyone tells you the same, not needed, the costs for the site are already hard to get and so on.
    I wouldn't have thought about such a way, if I hadn't the perfect example for: Contao (formerly TypoLight). They did it this way, right now the main developer is a paid employee, and a lot of projects get paid for by the non profit foundation.

And for the end of that long post, I just want to go a bit deeper into the last point. I do know, that working on things, you don't like totally, can be a PITA. Getting some money for the hard work you do, doesn't make it less frustrating, but it makes up for it on another edge: go have a big and tasty dinner with your gf, wife, mother whatever. Buy the new keyboard or mouse from this money, whatever. At least it gives you one thing: you have something in return, it is more like "the community shows you respect and aknowledges your work", then the big money, but hey... :D :D :D If we are lucky, in a few years or months the foundation could support ST and SC4D for their monthly costs.

With respect to #1, everything technically is already out in the open in some way or another.  The current version of the RUL code is on a publicly-visible GitHub account with an easy to remember URL (https://www.github.com/NAMTeam).  There was once an internal Gitlab for the non-RUL stuff (.dat files), but the server for it crashed and it has not been brought back.  That said, as long as one has a tool like ilive's Reader or Tropod's SC4Reader, it's quite easy to peer inside any of the mods files.  Granted, the contents may not make much sense if one isn't familiar with how the game's transit network implementation operates, but there are tutorials and spec guides around for much of it, either on the NAM How-Tos and Tutorials board, or the old Wiki.  We're also still around to help out with any questions. 

Most of us learned how to do all this stuff by sheer determination.  Back in 2006, when I started, I really wanted to be able to cross an Avenue Viaduct over an RHW--something which the initial RHW release (1.2/0.12) couldn't do.  At that time, there were hardly any NAMites around at all (2006 was surprisingly rough for SC4), and it took me a couple months of studying the documents that were out there (which were far more convoluted than what is available now) in order to start being able to do things.

#2 is actually pretty close to how we approach things.  We do generally try to work on the projects that will bring things we want to see come to the game, and that we will enjoy making.  This does sometimes result in a rather freewheeling developmental process, in which projects get started, shelved, and then brought back (sometimes multiple times) before seeing the light of day, but it's helped us stick around for almost 15 years now.  I would say that "taskmaster" types would probably go insane being on the inside of the project, because our approach often borders mild chaos.  We only start to tidy things up and bring order once we think we have enough stuff ready to release.  The elusive "golden ticket" would be the ability to do that on smaller batches with a quicker release cadence, without it causing issues on the end user side.

As far as #3 goes, the response to anyone who has offered to monetarily contribute to development has indeed been to direct them to give to SC4D and ST, for fostering our continued existence.  While I don't think anyone would really say it out loud in the past, beyond the previously oft-cited angles of wanting to "do it for fun" and "not turn a hobby into a job", I think that is in part due to concern for the logistical and interpersonal issues that could potentially result from money entering the equation. 

If one looks at the credits and acknowledgements list for the NAM, as of NAM 36, there's about 120 unique names on that list, whose contributions vary considerably in type and scope.  The list of those actively and regularly contributing to development was around 30 people at one point in 2010.  Particularly with some of the internal politics that happened in those heady times, there was no way that the introduction of money into the development process would have produced a good end result.

Would it be nice to make a little extra cash?  Sure.  And I take it as a significant compliment for what we've built, that people would be willing to pay for it.  The idea of an SC4 non-profit is also intriguing.  But even with a smaller team in a smaller community, I would still have some pause about some form of the same issues happening. 

-Alex

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Re: NAM: Development
« Reply #1624 on: October 27, 2018, 12:20:54 AM »

Re: NAM: Development

Offline mattb325

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Re: NAM: Development
« Reply #1625 on: October 27, 2018, 05:19:56 PM »
Thanks for the info....it would always tricky to balance the perceived needs of newbies vs. seasoned players.

I know when I've had requests for BATs where the person has offered to pay (it happens a lot more than one might think) I have always directed them to make a donation here at this site if I end up batting it....taking money for bats feels like I should be wearing prophylactics  ::)

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Re: NAM: Development
« Reply #1625 on: October 27, 2018, 05:19:56 PM »

Re: NAM: Development

Offline Wiimeiser

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Re: NAM: Development
« Reply #1626 on: March 05, 2019, 04:09:56 AM »
(Continued from this post)

I really wish there was some way the community could help speed things up... All I can really do is give ideas and bug reports... I have a lot of spare time, but I lack the required skills and attention span to be of any real help myself...

If other active community members could share their thoughts, maybe we could get an idea of what needs to be done...
Pink horse, pink horse, she rides across the nation...

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Re: NAM: Development
« Reply #1626 on: March 05, 2019, 04:09:56 AM »

 


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