PARPG - a nuclear winter RPG moving towards a 2nd techdemo

Discussion in 'General Gaming and Hardware Forum' started by mvBarracuda, Feb 7, 2009.

  1. mvBarracuda

    mvBarracuda Vault Dweller

    Apr 11, 2004
    I was not sure if this is the proper place for these kind of announcements but as it's Fallout-related and a standalone game I went for this section. Mods and admins feel free to move the topic in case I failed at picking the right subforum :-)

    What is PARPG?:
    PARPG is the working title of an isometric open source roleplaying game based on a post-apocalyptic setting. The project is currently still in its early planning stages. It will be a hommage to the golden age of RPGs of the late 90's and early postmillenium years. Main source of inspiration will be the Fallout series but also other classics of the genre, e.g. Arcanum and Planescape: Torment.

    There are no fancy screenshots in this announcement so in case you're just looking for the eyecandy don't be disappointed: there is none at this stage of development.

    The vapourware trap:
    You've seen such announcements prolly over a dozen times before and the vast majority of them might have turned out as vapourware in the long run. There is no guarantee that PARPG might not suffer from the same tragic issues however I'm trying to explain why this project has a better chance of succeeding than some others that you've seen in the past.

    My main source of confidence is my prior experience in the field of open source development. I was one of the founders of the open source game engine project FIFE and worked on the project over the course of three full years from 2005-2008. While working on FIFE I learnt a fair share about project management in general; but also about public relations, developer recruitment, maintenance of development-related infrastructure (SVN, Trac, Wiki) and software engineering in particular. This development background will hopefully help the PARPG project to succeed in the long run.

    I know that it's impossible to remove doubts about the future development of the project at this moment. Some might still know me from my involvement in FIFE and I can hopefully convince the ones who don't know me yet with solid progress over the course of the next months.

    Technical framework:
    There is no final decision about all details of the technical framework of PARPG yet. What can be said is that the majority of the game-related code will be written in Python. Python - the 2.5x brach of it for now - was chosen as it features an easy to adopt clean syntax (yes, we are aware of the whitespace complaints), comes with a large standard library and seems to be well suited for easy and fast prototyping of game concepts. We might need to mix in some C or C++ in case time-critical code turns out to be too slow in Python.

    The most important decision besides the programming language of choice is the question which engine to use for PARPG. FIFE might be well-suited for the task, however I'm not a programmer so I won't try to enforce any decision in this direction. One of the key principles of the project is subsidiarity: leave the important decisions to the departments that understand them. Therefore we'll sit together with interested programmers later to see what kind of choices we have (FIFE, GemRB, custom engine based on libraries like pyglet, etc.) and decide about it once we feel like having a clearer picture of what we want to achieve and what kind of technical framework would be needed for this purpose.

    Setting, gameplay, key design elements:
    The game is to be set in a post-apocalyptic world similar to that of Fallout. Key elements include:
    * Cold war in the past ending with an atomic war with no winners.
    * Collapse of society as we know it.
    * Hardship to survive in a radiated environment, between bands of highway men, mutants and other deviant forces.
    * Irony and parody of the cold war and the retro 50's vision of the future.

    The exact setting is yet to be defined. There are numerous interesting locations to be picked. The game could be set in a snow-covered world, or in a more temperate climate or perhaps in a desert as the original Fallout. It could include successors to the remains of the Soviet Union (ever wondered how soviet vaults would look like?), remains of other allied nations or anything else, interesting enough to fit this setting. The final decision would be on a community of skilled people with imagination, in which great ideas would hopefully evolve.

    Gameplay is planned to be a combination of meaningful, well-written dialogue and turn-based combat. The player would have multiple progress paths through the game and not all would include combat. The combat itself would be turn-based and include various tactics to overcome your foes.

    Everything else besides that is up to the people who are attracted by the points outlined above, have experience in the relevant fields and would like to get involved in PARPG development. A compiled list of key design elements as well as important remarks about the project philosophy can be found at the PARPG wiki.

    What is done:
    So what is done so far? A couple of things: I've set up the basic infrastructure for the project (blog, forums, SVN, Trac, wiki) and I've started to outline the concept at the wiki. I might need three additional weeks to flesh out the remaining details that are currently flying around in my head but haven't been written down yet. Once these steps are tackled, I'll start to try to recruit developers for the other development departments: writing, gameplay, programming and graphics. Audio / music is not a top priority at the moment so we could get started without any developer in this field though having a composer or an audio engineer on the team is surely a nice plus.

    What's still left to take care of:
    A couple of things are unfinished business at the moment. I'm still waiting for a final decision from sourceforge if my hosting plea gets accepted. Hopefully they'll get back to me in the next couple of days. Furthermore there are a bunch of wiki articles left to flesh out. I'm not totally sure what kind of essential information is still missing before actual recruitment can start but that's why I decided to announce the project at this early stage of development.

    The purpose of this announcement:
    I'm posting this announcement on a couple of forums where I'm either actively contributing or at least lurking on a regular basis. Hopefully there are community members out there who would like to provide early feedback. The best part of it is that there is still a lot of things to decide so your informed opinion can make a real difference.

    Feel free to sign up at the forums, take a peek into the project wiki, visit the development blog or simply join the project's IRC channel. All kind of early feedback concerning the game (development) concept outlined at the project wiki is really appreciated.

    Last but not least one final word about contributions: the project is still in its planning phase. That means I'm still busy writing down my ideas to convince other developers to join the effort. Once concepts are properly outlined - which will be hopefully around the end of February - official recruitment can start. The contribution policy is: power to the people who understand what they're doing and who don't mind spending some time on doing so. That means that although all kind of feedback is appreciated and will be taken into account, decision making will happen among the developers of the revelant department who invested their time into the project. We prefer the rule of decisions based on informed discussion over the rule of decisions by simple majority vote.

    If you would like to know more about the next steps of PARPG development beyond the developers recruitment phase, feel free to check out the roadmap article at the wiki.
  2. Dude101

    Dude101 Vault Fossil

    Aug 3, 2005
    After we finish MR in a few months, I will be looking for a new project to write for. If its you at the helm, I am sure it will not end up vapor ware.

    Deathlands may be a good idea? it is just a matter of ripping apart the books.
  3. Aaron

    Aaron It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Jun 8, 2006
    Hmm, I was thinking about this since you posted it, as I'm quite content that I want to try world design in game industry, but;
    I wouldn't start a 2D game. As much an isometric fan I am, I still think that the future for RPGs is in 3D; although completely the other way than beth treats it. Especially FIFE doesn't looks like an engine that's worth building a plan on it. Sorry, I just had to say this.
  4. mvBarracuda

    mvBarracuda Vault Dweller

    Apr 11, 2004
    Fallout, Arcanum and Planescape: Torment worked great in 2d. It's not meant to be a mainstream RPG so I'm not too concerned about the large mass appeal. Furthermore creation of 2d games seems to be a more realistic goal for small indie and open source teams. I know that Age of Decadence took the 3d route but other games like Eschalon looked quite decent with their 2d engines and I think that we can achieve a similar visual quality.

    While a real 3d engine offers more flexibility in certain aspects, it also complicates the development of such a game. Therefore I'll stick to the isometric 2d route. FIFE is surely neither perfect nor feature-complete but the decision to use FIFE is not set in stone but it's my personal proposal for the programming department to take a look into it first as it seems to be the closest engine to what we would need for such a game. GemRB would be possible as well and seems far more feature-complete but the potential drawback is the smaller flexibility: it could be rather bound to IE titles gameplay.

    EDIT: I'm fully aware the FIFE development is currently stuck. My point is that the engine is likely complete enough to use it as basis for a custom game. Zero-Projekt & OpenAnno utilize the engine and they seem to come along quite well so why shouldn't it work for PARPG. Of course we'll end up implementing the gameplay code on our own and it's rather likely that we'll need to modify the FIFE C++ core as well. But these kind of efforts can benefit FIFE development as well. At the moment the project is an experiment: I personally hope that my prior experience and the amount of time that I can invest on a weekly basis are sufficent to help the project succeed in the long run. There is no guarantee that it will work but I feel better prepared than other similar efforts that were tried in the past, e.g. Black rain.

    We'll see how it will work out :-) I'll keep you updated about all progress and setbacks.
  5. Continuum

    Continuum Vault Fossil

    Nov 8, 2006
    Re: PARPG - a post-apocalyptic RPG in early planning stages

    May I cast my vote for this? ;)

    This must be snow-covered world! :D All this desert based things are crappy and boring... Imagine something like this: copy.jpg

    And snow storms of course! :D

    No to mention how cool characters could look when wearing "heavy", "anti-cold" clothes! :D
  6. Lexx

    Lexx Background Radiant
    Moderator Modder

    Apr 24, 2005
    Agreed. Snow sounds nice.

    I also would like this scenario. But please... not again desert.
  7. Josan12

    Josan12 Vault Senior Citizen

    Oct 15, 2007
    This is a great announcement! Excellent news. FIFE is awesome. Along with what Arron said: the only thing that concerns me is the old question of whether 2D is outdated or not. I can never decide. I find i swing back and forth from 2D to 3D and back again :crazy:

    I guess i think ultimately the quality of a game comes down to what effort and detail and inspiration goes into it. Not the engine. I guess the engine just makes some things 'easier'. I don't know. I'm no expert.

    Anyway, i would be willing to contribute to the art. :salute:
  8. zenbitz

    zenbitz First time out of the vault

    Dec 18, 2008
    How about forest/jungle.

    Whatever "cataclysm" occurs - something (bio/chemical) has enhanced plant growth - so cities/suburbs/fields are mostly overgrown forest now.

    If you ever visit a US Civil War battle field, and compare it to pictures from ca. 1860 - it's quite interesting to see how OVERGROWN many of them are (of course that is 150 years)

    I think that there is an advantage here also in that "open fields" (eg., desert, snow) are going to be difficult to do well (i.e., WAY better than FO) with the usual isomorphic engine - particuarly when you also have "indoor" parts of maps and/or entire maps.
  9. Golan2072

    Golan2072 It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Sep 1, 2005
    For some apocalyptic inspiration, look for pictures of the abandoned Chernobyl area in Ukraine. It happened merely a little more than 22 years ago, but nature has fully recovered (and more) in the meantime. Granted, no bombs went off there (except from a hell of a non-nuclear explosion in the power plant itself), but there was extensive fallout.

    Look at what weeds, trees, roots and wildlife could do to more-or-less civilized lands in twenty years without maintenance, cleaning or organized forestry...

    Some links:

    Looks more lively IRL than in S.T.A.L.K.E.R...

    Anyhow, these RL photos and articles show a "post apocalyptic" zone of sorts which is:
    1) Not a desert.
    2) Green and full of vegetation.
    3) Yet very apocalyptic in many ways! :twisted:

    Some evocative photos:
    Fallout-esque propaganda signs
    Collapsed part of a statue looking like a missile...
    Abandoned APC ala S.T.A.L.K.E.R!
    Mother Nature reclaims a school part 1
    Mother Nature reclaims a school part 2
    Russian PIPBOY?!
    Decaying city square and hotel (well-represented in S.T.A.L.K.E.R btw)
    Kindergarten turned agricultural laboratory (equivalent to S.T.A.L.K.E.R's Agroprom)
    Wild Dogs
    Hotel Room
  10. Aaron

    Aaron It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Jun 8, 2006
    Yeah, there are so many unexplored pa settings out there, both snow and jungle sound really cool.
  11. zenbitz

    zenbitz First time out of the vault

    Dec 18, 2008
    Great point about chernobyll. Radiation is "bad" but it's the hard core waste products (from enrichment particularly, but also power plants) that have the extreme half-lives. Radiation damage is either
    a) acute, painful, and ugly (actually FO does this pretty well) for exposure in the 200-1000 rads/rems
    b) causes increased mutation rate and cancer probility (long term damage).

    People began rebuilding Hiroshima and Nagasaki _days_ after the bombing, and Hiroshima was back to it's pre-war population in 10 years.
  12. Sirren67

    Sirren67 Look, Ma! Two Heads!

    Dec 7, 2004
    Hello mvBarracuda, and hello everybody.
    Just out of curiosity:


    Number of colours?

    How many orientation for creatures?

    Will be movement handled by the engine or will be handled directly by animated sprites à la Fallout?

    Different sprites for each weapon (Fo), or layered ones à la Diablo?

    In short I'm busy with BG&E, but I'd like to see my critters in a different engine than Fallout's.
  13. mvBarracuda

    mvBarracuda Vault Dweller

    Apr 11, 2004
    Heya Sirren, all of this is yet up for discussion. The engine is not really limited in these regards (besides lacking support for layered sprites). Orientations per character depends on the choice of grid that we'll use. In case of of a rectangular grid for character movement you're pretty much bound to either 4 (just allowing diagonal movement) or 8 orientations. In case we go for a hex grid, 6 orientations are pretty much set. At least that's the common way for isometric games that feature a hex grid.
  14. Lexx

    Lexx Background Radiant
    Moderator Modder

    Apr 24, 2005
    What I personally don't like so much... I've read the key design elements but every few sentences I read Fallout. I know that you don't want to make a exact Fallout copy, but when I've read this, I saw Fallout here, Fallout there, then I read something about the Fallout setting and the timeline - and this all leads me to the conclusion that it still has something more to do with Fallout than just using it as inspiration source?

    I - for myself again - would say, start with the basics (thinking about the ruleset- I would like a similar thing like GURPS) and then go for a early alpha build where you can move around with some player dude (even if this is just a stickman). At least this is what I would do in the beginning...

    Also I say, go for the snow setting. :> This is far more interesting than anything else. Not again desert or so.. this becomes already really dull, just like Zombies in movies, games, books and everywhere else. Man, I loved Zombies years ago but now I am sick of it because you see them everywhere.
  15. Continuum

    Continuum Vault Fossil

    Nov 8, 2006
    Layered sprites... Lack of this uber cool feature is the most annoying thing in 2d engine... lack of ANY customization in how characters/weapons are looking... And because of that 3d is better than 2d for me.

    Yeah, there's no other option than snow if you want to create something cool and unique! Everything else is simply boring... desert here, desert there... jungle here, jungle there... who needs more of this crap? :D
  16. Aaron

    Aaron It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Jun 8, 2006
    I would say go with the 8 orientations way, it looks the best.

    Another question. Would you keep the gore, the pulp from Fallout? Or a more realistic world?
  17. zenbitz

    zenbitz First time out of the vault

    Dec 18, 2008
    You could probably do a hex grid with 12 orientations (face or vertex). I am partial to hexes from ye olde paper wargames.
  18. Lexx

    Lexx Background Radiant
    Moderator Modder

    Apr 24, 2005
    But with 12 orientations in a 2D engine... this could eat up a shitload of free graphic space or space on the HDD if you include some more character sprites.

    Also I vote for layered sprites. It seriously is a must have in todays 2D games.
  19. Ausdoerrt

    Ausdoerrt I should set a custom tit

    Oct 28, 2008
    I'd say I think a game with 3D models for characters, weapons, etc. but prerendered backgrounds would be best (kind of like TOEE, it was written in python, too BTW)
  20. zenbitz

    zenbitz First time out of the vault

    Dec 18, 2008
    Well, all we need is an open source TOEE-like engine then.