Travelling, and Visions of the Future

· by Steve · Read in about 6 min · (1094 Words)

I’m jumping on a plane for a business trip now and so my presence in the Ogre community will be somewhat more muted than usual until the weekend. It’s weird - I’d almost feel like I needed a sitter, if it wasn’t for the army of people doing such a good job already looking after the community πŸ˜€I know I’m at risk of repeating myself, but I don’t think it can be said enough - I really appreciate all the time people put in of their own volition on the forums, looking after other Ogre users.

It’s that time again when I start thinking of where we go next with Ogre. Guiding Eihort through to a final stable version (with all the logistics that involves) early next month will be taking a great deal of my time, but Shoggoth now looms large on the horizon. I’m hoping to spend more dedicated time on Shoggoth than I could on Eihort and hence cut down the time between versions to less than a year this time (even though the Eihort feature set certainly warranted the wait), although that does depend to a large degree on how the Eihort alternative licensing goes. Having spent all day every day on nothing but Ogre for December and January, I would have loved to have continued that trend, but financial realities require that this month had to be dedicated to replensihing the coffers and so Ogre has been mostly a spare-time thing again this month. With all the personal life issues that entails πŸ˜• My hope is that even a small number of people will be interested in the Ogre Unlimited License such that I can dedicate more day time like I did in the last two months without plunging towards the red πŸ˜€I’d also really like to use any funds raised this way to purchase more test platforms - such as an OSX platform and a separate box for hot-swapping graphics cards without endangering my primary development machine. I can’t justify either of these things for my personal use (I’ve tried to convince myself that MacBook prices stack up against a regular laptop, but I never can) but they’d be a huge boon for aiding Ogre development. I’ll need a Vista machine soon too to support people running that - probably could use a 64-bit version since I’ve had a report of some small issues that seem restricted to that.

I’m actually having a solicitor in London draw up the final OUL right now, ready for the final release. That certainly isn’t cheap πŸ˜‰ I really don’t like having to deal with all this stuff - I’m just a developer who likes creating stuff really - but, as I’ve discussed before, as much as we’d like to survive completely on good intentions, eventually every relatively popular open source project has to get involved with the green stuff. Some cynics might think I’m just out to make a fast buck out of Ogre, but seriously, there are much simpler and faster ways for me to make money than this πŸ˜€The difference is that I believe in Ogre, really strongly, so I’d rather spend my time there. I still don’t think it’s good enough yet, although it’s come far further than I ever imagined it would back in 2001, and I think to really take it to where it deserves to go requires continuing growth - and not all of that can be done for free - in terms of resources like hosting and hardware, but also in terms of time. I could quite easily spend every evening and weekend just addressing things that are raised in the forums, never mind getting everything else done πŸ˜€We get a large amount of help from the community which is hugely welcome, and the team is great at picking up the things that need doing - but at the end of the day the buck stops somewhere, and someone has to make sure even the unglamourous jobs get done properly, even in areas which don’t directly affect them. That’s the difference between a good project and a great one, IMO. My hope is that having a funding model will initially help me spend a consistently high proportion of day time on Ogre, as well as a manageable amount of freely given spare time (I can’t help myself! I tell my wife I try to limit time on it at the weekend, but it’s hard), and in future, who knows. Funding is way too uncertain at the moment for me to ask anyone else to take the leap of faith I have and give up a reliable day job to help Ogre grow (hey - come take a massive pay cut! It’ll be fun! :)), but who knows what might happen in the future.

I have a number of significant features I’d really like to add to the Shoggoth list, but it depends how the next couple of months go. One affects the extent of the SceneManager rework I have in mind - SceneManager was designed to allow people to completely, totally rejig their scene parsing if they wanted, really to give them more flexibility than pretty much anywhere else. But, very few people have actually used that power, probably because the defaults are mostly ok for them. So, my intention is to completely overhaul this and build a much richer, far more large-scale replacement for SceneManager where there is a macro-scale structure which shouldn’t really need changing, ever (although the option will still be there), together with a micro-scale structure which is where most people will plug in any customisations. The smaller scale of these customisations will probably encourage more experimentation than has happened with the existing SceneManager approach too. Finally, the additional firmness of the macro-scale SceneManager definition should help people write world tools more easily. I have one in mind myself, as you know πŸ˜€In many ways the complete flexibility has put people off developing really robust world geometry editors simply because of the individuality that existed - those that have done it have mostly kept the stuff to themselves because they’ve just built what they need, and it’s not designed for external consumption. A firmer backbone structure should, I hope, promote more tool sharing of that nature.

Anyway, that’s enough waffling. As you can see, I’m not running out of ideas yet πŸ˜€As happy as I am with Ogre and its advancement over the years, I really can’t help but keep wanting to make it better. Guess that will never change…