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Author Topic: Workflow coining  (Read 4540 times)
Q_x
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« on: December 01, 2009, 11:04:50 AM »

Just a not-so-simple thought:

I was working out the "grain" object and stumbled. "What the grain is actually". Dirt glued onto sandpaper. Pattern you'll see when you cut through stone. Magnified silver you'll see on blow-ups on traditional photography.

We have two quests in production, only a dozen of other ideas, and I was confused and lost within.

So...

How about making huge, clear template for quest/story in Wiki, with all links to tickets (and back, so all you need to put in description is "inventory items for blabla quest" as title, and link in description "environment and buildings for blabla quest", "dialogs for blabla quest", so all concept work, finished portraits, assets, dialogs could be put into one place, so that makers could feel things better and understand faster, the "ticketing" person will have less job, overview will be immediate and the workflow will be more fluent?

Workflow (when making graphics) that go this way:

WRITING produces story > STORY IDEA polished and pubplished IN WIKI in "Tasks To Do" list - specified, normalized, clear > NEEDED THINGS listed for writing/graphics/audio/programming department > TRAC TICKETS for sound (audio), NPCs (animation), NPCs (portraits) inventory (2D/3D), assets and environment (3D)
TRAC TICKET > WORKING PERSON takes the job and fills ticket > WIP IN FORUMS - discussion, reworking, polishing until agreed> FINISHED PIECE: PREVIEW ON WIKI AND WORKING FILES IN TICKET - this may look different, but couldn't be simpler
CLOSING TICKED as done, MARKING THINGS AS "100% DONE" ON WIKI.

Wiki can include "most urgent" or "errors" section if there would be need to improve something.

The thing is explained on quest example, but may be generalized on any interdisciplinary task or anything you'll interact with in game - like the main menu or HUD, as far, as this is big thing, interconnected, when wider approach or overview is needed.

What we need to prepare is:
Making the quest/task template on wiki (I can do this for graphics)
Making the workflow clear and verbose for all depts on wiki (I can do this, its partially done for graphics)
Fill-in or at least link (and mark pages as "old and non-standard") things done so far.

This will also make things like collections a lot easier, as you'll need to browse "ToDo tasks" and "Done tasks" only to catch *all* NPCs, items, dialogues and so on.

Lots of work - but I really have to bend myself to have clear overlook of what has been done so far, what every dept. is doing, who works where and what is for what.

The point is to get permanent things into Wiki, temporal discussion (WIP, proposals, ideas) into forums. Browsing through tones of tickets and looking for points to correct is rather silly, so all errors spotted after completion should go to its creator via PM or be pointed on IRC/forums or by getting particular wiki page from Done back as ToDo.

The second point is to make the workflow really fluent and the overview really easy before the techdemo will gather new persons here.

This is not a kind of finished idea. It is partially done sketch of how workflow may look like.  It needs some serious tinkering and discussion of how the things should look like in some not-so-distant future.

I'd rather work when I'll get: what exactly has to be done, how to do it, where to submit proposals, what to do with files when it's OK. In ideal world I would get all this things from coordinating person. But I know what life is and my third point is to gather all the needed information related to HowTo (describing qualities and ways of work, clearing workflow and what gets where) in one place and all related to ToDo (what tasks need to be done) in other.

If it will come into production - there would be nice if we have tags like [A], [G], [W], [P] marking which depts have some work to be done in particular task.

Is this needed - not now, but soon it will be.
Is this necessary - I don't know
What are the Trac tickets for - for saying "I will do this and this" and uploading working files after finishing.

Personal:
I've borked my Linux system yesterday. I've got grub error 18 after kernel upgrade, means I have to repartition my hard drive in different manner - this however will have to wait until I'll buy new HDD in some not-so-distant time, cause the one I have now is too small for my things. So now, having one partition untouchable and the other nearly full, I'm unable to compile PARPG. However I have all the tools to make my job with Windblows.
 





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Kaydeth
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« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2009, 02:23:34 PM »

Why do you feel that we need to change the current workflow? What advantages would your system bring?

Synchronizing tasks in two different systems (wiki and trac) is a much much much more difficult concept then you might think. For that reason I think we should stick with Trac and only Trac for production tasks.
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Q_x
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« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2009, 02:38:00 PM »

Trac makes problem with two things: getting overview of how related things go in different tickets and what exactly thing should look like. IMHO other tools oriented on workflow and interdisciplinary overview are necessary - at least in media-related depts - not necessarily when coding.
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shevegen
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« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2009, 04:57:45 PM »

Quote
The point is to get permanent things into Wiki, temporal discussion (WIP, proposals, ideas) into forums.

I do not think that this will work. The advantage of the wiki is that you can edit what people write, including stuff I wrote myself. With the forum, things usually "die down" after some time discussing it whereas the information stays on the wiki for a long time.

One of my favourite todo list on the wiki is http://wiki.parpg.net/TechDemo_Asset_ToDo right now because one can get an overview what is still missing/needed.

I dont get this amount of information just using trac alone right now because trac only lists the single items, and I have no idea how important they are. But with the todo list on the wiki I can look at what I think is important right now and try to talk to people to help out. Right now sirren is the most active modeling guy by far, I think before any better organizing effort we should try to see if we get to find more people that can help him modeling stuff.

About the workflow - there are many things which currently are not good. The dialogue stuff could be simplified a lot. And I have more ideas to simplify it even more, by "injecting" common knowledge into NPCs. But right now I really think we should keep it simple until the techdemo milestone has been reached. Zenbitz also has several ideas to improve it.

Quote
I'd rather work when I'll get: what exactly has to be done, how to do it, where to submit proposals, what to do with files when it's OK. In ideal world I would get all this things from coordinating person.

But if you look at the asset todo list, it really is obvious what is missing! Pick anything you like to help out with. We need more NPC portraits! We need dialogue! We need proposals to simplify creating things (and connecting them to quests... the syntax with quests is sometimes strange right now)

If you still think you need more coordination, Zenbitz can easily hand out tasks. :>
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zenbitz
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« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2009, 08:35:27 PM »


Q_x - the problem is simply that we don't have either a lead writer/manager or lead artist/manager.     We could anoint someone leader of these departments, but, for example, we only have one active writer (me) and I am writing.  I could spend my time managing the writing department (me) but then no writing would get done.

So, I agree in principle that having a strong management pipline would help the process... but mostly we don't have enough people doing actual work.

But if anyone is reading this and doesn't have something to do, please ask... as shevy says, I will find something..
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Q_x
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« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2009, 09:21:39 PM »

Zenbitz, you're right, writing, same as doing graphics stuff is more important now. But without management - we won't be never able to make this much bigger project. And figuring out clear and clean workflow and - more important - documenting it wisely, will make such management trivial. And so - it is better to do it before techdemo and iron out all bugs and flaws.  "It" means pointing out exactly what goes where and how the workflow looks in most popular cases, not even necessarily changing anything if was OK so far.

I've been doing some refactoring of wiki - graphics dept mostly - and I'm confused since then. I know the basics:
1. Look at ToDo, find a ticket, look at quest somewhere to gain full knowledge
2. Post WIP at forums
3. Wait for feedback and correct
4. Post at wiki and ticket.

Just cannot gather the flow in any reasonable order when things related to external depts are important, like the unfortunate lack of knowledge in "grain" item, so this is why the idea of dividing/gathering things into interdisciplinary things emerged.

So when part of writing job will be ready - you can take it as ToDo list of dialogs, items, add your job you've forgotten and so on. And all people interested in doing things will look and know what is not done yet, what is needed what is currently going on upon particular quest.

The newest ToDo list with portraits and graphics looks really good for me. Maybe its not as verbose, as I wish. But I see no sense of writing descriptions longer than doing graphics, I'm sure gathering all the things took enough job.

But again - my point is to reorganize things in the manner you do the "quest design" job (and other such task - may be "main menu" that requires graphics, coding and music + clicking noise) in the way that is ToDo list for others. And all management is writing tickets, marking things as done and spotting most critical things to do - means the half of things you do now gathering the third or fourth active ToDo list, filling up the details in two or three places (for graphics it is uploading file: in forums as WIP, in wiki under ToDo, in wiki in gallery, in ticket).

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zenbitz
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« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2009, 10:41:18 PM »

the problem here is that I was too lazy/busy to write the graphics trac tickets so I asked barra to do it, and he doesn't know the quests that well.

I think the general problem with the "quest detail" or "quest object detail" is that they are just not done yet.  I never wanted to write them, I just volunteered because someone had to, and we had to get something done.  That's why they are a little silly, I am just writing them as they go.  Whole swathes of detail are left blank, not because I haven't written it down but because I havne't thought of it / made it up.

My (feeble?) hope is that people doing the art or dialog (other than me) will read what is there, realize it's unfinished, and just fill in the details.  Like for example, "grain"  -does it really MATTER what the grain looks like?  It should just be something reasonable - so you created something reasonable, a bag of grain!  Is it perfect?  Who cares!  It's done and it works.  It's a stupid throw away quest about making beer in a demo.



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