Review Of 2010

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2010 marks the Arianne Project's 10th birthday, so what better year to review progress of this open source project?

Arianne comprises a multiplayer online games framework and engine to develop turn based and real time games, called Marauroa, and the various games which use it. Of those games Stendhal, a MORPG, is the most popular and actively developed.

Project of the Month

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Arianne was chosen as SourceForge project of the month in March. We were on the front page of http://sourceforge.net throughout March and we have our own permanent feature page at http://sourceforge.net/blog/potm-201003/ - you check out an interview with the project leaders there. We saw downloads double over this time, and saw increased interest in our development too.

Project Activity

Arianne has ranked highly on activity over the year on SourceForge. For some weeks we've been ranked as highly as 2nd place, and are almost always in the top 25 each week. In 2010 we entered the top 50 all time activity ranks, too.

For another year we welcomed new developers to the project, this year storyteller, Laguz, Bluelads4 and omero, all of whom started as Stendhal players. Other developers who continued to contribute in 2010 are hendrik, kymara, kiheru, madmetzger, yoriy, plassy, tigertoes and martinf.

In 2010, we announced 13 Stendhal releases and 7 Marauroa releases (with some minor bug fix releases too).

Stendhal Milestones in 2010

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Stendhal changes include major client improvements and a lot of exciting new game features and content.

We launched a sophisticated new sound system for music and sound effects, with a lot of new audio added at the same time. The system supports localised sound, fading, sound on events, and management of sound groups. To simplify the user interface in general, we added a mode where single mouse clicking will walk, attack, look, harvest, loot, or perform some other action based on what is being clicked on. The mouse cursor shows what the action would be. In September the whole client got a new look and feel, with the GUI rewritten entirely in swing. This enabled us to move floating panels off the gameplay area and onto new, fixed side panels to the client.

We took our first steps towards a magic system, by introducing fire, ice, dark and light attack and defense types for combat for creatures and players. Pathfinding has had huge improvements, with players and creatures able to plan routes that dynamically account for moving entities and resistance in objects such as grain and corpses.


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Early in the year we introduced a NPC facilitating delayed player-to-player trading. He tweets new trades. Later, a trade GUI was added for live trading. These long standing feature requests being fulfilled meant that finally the trading table in Semos could be removed and players can trade safely.

Many, many new NPCs, quests and items have been added, maps have been beautified and texts (such as descriptions of objects around the world) enriched. Highlights include the Wizards Circle quest, automatic rat raids with their own Pied Piper, a meta-quest - the Ultimate Collector, and the Semos Mine Town Revival Weeks which had a new game. The Kalavan Orb and Haizen's mazes also provide new experiences.


Marauroa Milestones in 2010

Marauroa is the engine of the Arianne project. It handles client/server communication and storage of players to the database. At the beginning of 2010 we added support for the installationless H2 database in addition to MySQL. Setting up a Stendhal server is now as easy as installing Java and unzipping the Stendhal Server download.

There was a fun event in Stendhal at the end of February which we named Clone Wars. As a result, Marauroa now supports configurable limits on account and character creation and number of parallel connections per IP address. This is just a precaution, Marauroa did handle the huge amount of parallel characters very well. In preparation for the POTM, we overhauled our documentation, integrating and improving JavaDoc, Wiki and Website, so that new developers can easily start using Marauroa.

The summer was focused on improving performance: Database access is now completely handled asynchronously, which greatly reduced lag spikes. Message from the clients are now processed in parallel to the normal turn in most cases. For the developers, we added support of a new datatype called maps. This required a change to the Marauroa protocol and while we worked on it, we added support for multiple protocol versions, so a newer server can now talk to older clients and vice versa.

We concluded the year with adding support for a test server environment which shares some database table with the main server. So players are now able to test the upcoming releases with their own characters. Marauroa is the first sub project that switched from the version control system CVS to git.

All through the year we fixed minor bugs and improved stability.

Website

Our websites arianne.sf.net and stendhalgame.org both saw a lot of improvements. A lot of information for example about the different regions and dungeons has been contributed. It is now possible to link multiple characters together into one account with one password. A login history makes it easy to spot unauthorized access. We improved the character pages by adding details on equipped items; you can check recent events in the game; and you can filter the hall of fame for your friends. Last but not least postman messages are now available on the website for all the characters of your account.

Statistics

The graphs below demonstrate some of the year's statistics. All except the Ohloh codebase graphs (in blue) are for 2010 only. Downloads and SourceForge web traffic have been quite steady. The code base graphs are from project inception and show increasing year on year activity, with a particular increase on comment ratio in 2010. Comments are a sign of higher quality code and make it easier for developers to understand.

Our continuous integration bot Hudson automatically warns us in #arianne of development code failures, and also automatically finds potential code issues (findbugs warnings). http://stendhalgame.org hits have increased over the year. Website hits are a good indication of rising interest in the project and reflect advancements in site accessibility. The improvements to the engine Marauroa can be seen in the server side lag graph for 2010. Finally we show player count and IP statistics for the main server of the Stendhal game.

Community

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In March we celebrated Arianne's 10 year birthday and Stendhal's 5th year with a 4 day conference in Hannover, Germany. We also held development meetings in game, to consult with and inform players about Stendhal development, developers meetings in #arianne and a social meeting in the summer. Many of the meetings have write ups.

Community involvement has been high over the year, with players organising some really nice Stendhal Events such as quizzes, games and a special Tournament in the Spring. Players have also contributed by making bug reports and suggesting ideas for improvement, and of course just by playing and being part of the world :)

Outlook

For Stendhal in early 2011 we hope to achieve some important features for motivating players and making game play more interesting. The first of those is a quest progress log showing details of open and completed quests. Also in development is an achievements system - the game is about lot more than just earning XP and a visible achievements system will consolidate that. Stendhal is, of course, a multiplayer game, and yet group play has so far not really be encouraged. A group system to facilitate team play is in development.

Stendhal's already a very rich world and throughout 2010 many long wished-for feature requests have been fulfilled. We'd like to move out of beta and release a stable Stendhal 1.0 in 2011. Currently this isn't possible because there are still some performance issues on certain platforms, and we would need to have a series of stable releases before we could really say that 1.0 was ready.

Later in 2011 or beyond, we plan to implement containers and a magic system, starting with simple spells. And of course there will be many more interesting quests and challenges.




Thank you for reading!

If you enjoyed this review, perhaps you'd also like to check out kymara's talk Stendhal : the past three years which was written in March 2010.

If you're inspired to contribute to the next years progress and beyond, please join us at #arianne.