Thousand Parsec HackWeek at the Googleplex

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

On the 7th of August, the Thousand Parsec core developers congregated for the first time at the Googleplex. We arrived in Mountain View, CA from six locations around the world for a week long hackathon including coding, frivolity and fun!

The Thousand Parsec project was started in January 2002 and is a framework for creating a specific group of games, often called 4X games (from the main phases of gameplay that arise: eXplore, eXpand, eXploit and eXterminate). You might be familiar with some of the games that Thousand Parsec draws ideas from such as Reach for the Stars, Stars!, VGA Planets, Master of Orion and Galactic Civilizations. The ultimate goal of Thousand Parsec is to allow multiple different 4X games be playable in a single client.

A primary focus of the week was to increase the playability of the “rulesets” (different game implementations). We spent plenty of time playing games, especially the Risk and Minisec games. While tempted to spend a week just playing games, we also fixed numerous bugs, cleaned up obsolete code, made lots of client improvements and reviewed Google Summer of Code students’ work.

By having many of the core developers in one location, changes could be made significantly quicker. An example is the new “Who is ready?” feature, which lets players know who is holding up the game and hence they are now able to guilt them into hurrying up! You can check out all the improvements that we made during the hack week by cloning out our latest git repositories and following setup instructions on our wiki.

Thousand Parsec still has a long way to go before it is as polished as the games which it draws ideas from, but hopefully with the continuing work by the contributors on line and in person at additional meetups, we have a bright future ahead.

Google Summer of Code was instrumental in making the hackfest happen. The event was primarily funded though the mentor payments, and the majority of the developers consisted of former Google Summer of Code students. Stay tuned to this blog for a wrap up of our 2010 Google Summer of Code student projects coming soon!

In the above photo you can see,

Alan ‘alanp’ Laudicina (from Canada), a Google Summer of Code student in 2009, working on MTSec ruleset.
• Lee ‘llnz’ Begg (from New Zealand), project co-founder who wrote majority of the C++ Code.
Kornel ‘Epyon’ Kisielewicz (from Poland), a Google Summer of Code student in 2009 and again this year. Working on refactoring the C++ server.
Tim ‘mithro’ Ansell (me, from Australia), project founder who wrote the majority of the Python Code.
• Vincent ‘Iwanowitch’ Verhoeven, (from Belgium), a Google Summer of Code student in 2008, created our premier AI, daneel-ai.
• Eugene ‘jmtan’ Tan Jie Ming (from Singapore), a Google Summer of Code student in 2008, working on 3d client.

By Tim Ansell, Technical Solutions Engineering Team