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WorldForge is the original open-source MMORPG project, dating back to 1997

About WorldForge

The WorldForge project is about building tools to allow the construction of online role-playing games. The original community came together over a decade ago, out of a desire to create a game that was better and freer than Ultima Online. But as the aims of the project evolved and became more ambitious, the overall goal changed. Instead of one game, we instead decided build a flexible framework that would allow everyone to contribute their own unique ideas and goals to the Worldforge project, allowing a multitude of games to be created.

Our core focus is the construction of a complete system with all the tools, technology, content and artwork required to build complex persistent online virtual worlds.

The system we have built is playable, but currently far from complete. Though you can connect to our servers and visit the online world of Mason, it is not yet recognisable as a game - think of it as an advanced tech demo. Try the download links on the front page to see it for yourself.

To find out more about the WorldForge project, you can try reading our Frequenty Asked Questions. For a more in depth introduction, take a look at our Introduction or our Getting Started guide.

Introduction to WorldForge

Our vision is to foster an independent community, active in the development and maintainance of many unique roleplaying-oriented game worlds, with access to a rich collection of game rules and audio/visual media, a wide selection of server and client implementations, and a standard network communication protocol.

WorldForge's mission is to produce the necessary tools and technologies that will allow the creation of graphically rich games of cooperation and socialization. We strive to blur the distinction between player and maker, and wish to establish a positive community environment for current and future free game developers. Our efforts will culminate in a game, codenamed Belchfire, set in a well developed gameworld called Dural and using the Circe RPG rule system.

Our strategy is simple: Listen to what players, authors, and artists wish to do, and put the tools in their hands that makes it possible for them to realize their visions.

The WorldForge project evolved out of a desire for better internet role playing games. Where Multi-User Dungeons have had a great degree of success through the early years of the internet, games like Ultima Online have failed to build upon these successes to produce an advanced virtual world of any merit. Avinash Gupta and a collective of perhaps a dozen enthusiastic gamers began to share their vision of what a truely fantastic gaming experiance should be.

The project at this stage was called 'Altima', and you may remember our slashdot mention. At the time we had a huge amount of interest in the project, the mailing lists overflowed and the web server nearly melted. Slowly but surely a core group of developers formed, including many of the initial dozen who started the project. We lost Avinash and gained Bryce Harrington, who actively guided WorldForge until recently.
Pastel piece by Douglas Walsh

We now have a talented bunch of artists and some very bright programmers. Others are finding out that it takes a lot longer than 7 days to create a world.

In fact, anyone who wants to create a world can. WorldForge itself can be considered a 'development environment': providing facilities to anyone who wants to create their own game. As a free software project the source code for both the clients and servers are all freely availiable for modification and redistribution, as is the art we produce ourselves.

Though some may find our willingness to give away our work a little odd, remember that our goal is to have the best gaming experiences available. Commercial ventures are limited by time and funding, if it's not done on time and within budget, the companies responsible will go broke. For us it's just about having fun, and it will be done when it's done.

Since our ultimate objective is quite ambitious, we've adopted the strategy of producing a series of increasingly more sophisticated games. This allows us to "bootstrap" our way along, with frequent near-term products to spur us on and to periodically give us the ability to start from fresh sheets of paper and take advantage of lessons we learn.

If you would like to jump in and help, we would be glad to have you. We welcome suggestions on how to better present information on the project. There are a million and one jobs that need doing, including web design, documentation, brainstorming, testing, art, coding and music. Join a mailing list or hop on our IRC server for a chat.


    * We will succeed, given time
    * We want your help
    * Our Community welcomes everyone - artists, musicians, developers, managers, admin and especially players
    * We are making steady progress towards our goals
    * Our success will be your success
    * We are committed to producing our dreams

A Newbie's Guide To WorldForge...

Gather round everyone, there is a tale to be sung and all should have ears to hear it... - From the woods of Blankenshire North of Sabajhat, as spoken by the wizard Edglril
Download File by Tom Austin

Welcome to the idealistic world of Free Software computer game developement! Please leave all excess baggage at the front desk and proceed directly to any one of the fine lecture halls before you. If you're the impatient sort you may wish to skip ahead to the next page. If you are like me however, and like a good story you'll want to grab a soft drink and settle in your most comfortable chair whilst I spin a tale about what happens when people dare to dream.

You've probably found your way here due to one of a few reasons... The first, which I am suffering from quite terribly, is a hazy fog of impenetrable boredom. I find myself playing the Game Boy Color version of Link's Awakening hour after countless hour, draining the batteries in my pocket-sized wonder, wondering to myself - self, Where has the fun in video-games gone? Truth be told, I have no idea what has happened to the days when I would find myself thinking only of getting home from work, finding a nice quiet corner, opening a Coke, and fiddling away attempting to discover the secrets of some arcane tome, or the pulse-quickening experience of raiding an unexplored tomb. It's these fond memories of countless hours drawn into my own little world that attract me to WorldForge.

The second reason you might have found your way here is that sense of curiosity that came over you when you heard, read, dreamed, empathed about the ambitious project known as WorldForge. I waited almost a year to get involved in WorldForge, primarily because I didn't think I would have what it would take to be of any import. After only having been involved for a month, I understand... Everyone has something to offer.

Neither of these two reasons fit? Then you might be the Glory Seeker, and do not fear, there is a definite place in WorldForge for you as well. We need artwork, we need code, we need press, we need backgrounds, stories, content, music, web sites, mirrors, servers, and just about everything else you can think of. The irc is constantly flowing with discussion and praise / criticism of people's work. The code bins are teeming with freshly chopped algorithmically enhanced broccauflower.

    "I should like to smite a dragon today good sir..."
    "Mwha-ha and what do you suppose to smote the wyrm with? That floppy little hat?"
    "No sir, I dare not crease this hat, it has cost me 7 gilding..."
    - Exchange between Duron the Mad and Hector "Brutus" Claymore

It's all a matter of perspective really. If you aren't sure about getting involved in WorldForge, just get involved. The chances of you being pulled along in the current of great ideas are near 100 percent. If you need to find out more information to get a better feel for the project, you will find that all the doors to the kingdom are open, with ushers outside to take your coat.

Once you do get involved, you will find that everyone is more than willing to help with the smallest detail. We are all working for one reason or another, but the point of it is that this really isn't work. There won't be anybody standing over your shoulder telling you to do it differently because you're doing it wrong, rather, you might have someone suggest you try something another way because it will make the game better. This isn't some secret love potion that you get doused with when you sign up for the mail list, or learn how to emote on IRC... It is something that comes from talking with other people, who more often than not are like minded to yourself, and are willing to share their best ideas openly. Soon enough you will experience the synergy, the total sense of joy from having put your hands into the machine, then pulled them out again not only unscathed, but knowing that because you are here helping some larger thing is one step closer to being finished.

If you've come this far into WorldForge, you most likely have the desire to get involved in a project that isn't really owned by anyone but everyone seems to hold a little piece of this massive world in their hands. If you still aren't sure, just take a few days, look through the information in the Worlds section, take in the breadth of the work already done and you will see that this project is going to get finished. When it does, I for one want to be standing on that precipice, the wind against my side, staring out over the worlds that we have all created.

    In being asked for what I have begun this quest, I had answered only the goal. In achieving the goal I have found the quest to be only half finished." - Durik The Wanderer

After you have had some time to check out the Worlds section, be sure to thumb through our Media Repository to see what kind of artwork we've already come up with. Also, don't be afraid to ask for an account for Zope (our online web page editor) if you see something you can add to on the web site, please don't hesitate to run it by someone on our mailing list or on IRC, for without your input we are nothing. Adding items is simple, and if you have any trouble you only need ask for help on the infra mailing list as they are experienced in these matters and are always totally willing to help fellow travelers. If "interactivity now" is your motto then the is probably the best place to get in and start working.

I have found that being involved in a discussion during WorldForge work time is inspirational and helpful in simulating the close knit environment we are used to being creative in. IRC also adds another level to the project, or rather solidifies another already existing aspect of this distributed network project. I can't vouch for everyone, but I remember the days of yore, playing D&D in my friends attic - working in WorldForge is like that in so many ways. You sign up to take part, you choose a nickname, you get to know the other characters in the group. Working on this project is like a game in and of itself. There are quests for the perfect codec, the adventure of porting to strange and heretofore unknown platforms, hidden dangers in following specifications and the all too real fear of death (the failure of the project). Real-world forces affect the outcome here. This is the grand scheme, as my dad says, "The coupe day gracki."

In order to play along with the WorldForge team, you need to be completely open to exotic ideas and unexpected perspectives that you might not have considered. You'll do us no good sitting by the sidelines watching the parade go by, and once you realize that all you have to do in order to get up off the sidewalk is put out your hand, I think you'll have no trouble getting involved. There are no secrets inside these walls; if you have an idea with no way to realize it, share it with the group. If you have some time and some graphics tools, work on other peoples ideas. Chances are that whatever you end up working on will become something new and fresh, something your own. Once you upload it, show it to the group, or talk about it. You will discover that everyone has an opinion. This is just my own...

Now imagine the countless hours spent role playing with what became your closest friends, zero in on that memory, recall the sense of wonder at seeing the quiet one in the group (or if you were the quiet one) raise up and act out the slashing tearing final blow to the Drakolich with everyone cheering for victory, got it? Now imagine months later, you walk into your local software store knowing full well that Diablo 6 won't be out for another ten months, and envision that you see a free disc at the counter, a posterboard cut-out of a world encircled with a dragon, and a space-cruiser, big yellow letters detailing the name WorldForge 1.0. Now imagine you see your name in the list of credits on the back of the case and you see that something really can come of make-believe...

WorldForge Developer Orientation
New Beginnings...

Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Now I'll bet you're feeling very similar to way I did not so long ago... You have before you this very interesting (huge) project but you have no idea where to begin finding out about it. During the rest of this newbie guide I will open the cover of the WorldForge machine and show you its internal workings. So grab a wrench and get ready to get your hands greasy. No one ever said making a Free game engine was gonna be clean work. ;-)

I would imagine that you're now sitting there blankly with only a vaporous notion of what exactly WorldForge is. Allow me to clear this up for you...

WorldForge is hell bent on designing free tools, platforms and media that will enable people to easily create and extend their own online RPGs.

WorldForge is not one thing or piece of software, rather it is a host of components that, when complete, will contain everything people need to create their very own virtual worlds. To do this, WorldForge is currently developing clients, servers, network protocols and a cache of free media that anyone can use to realize their dreams of creating a MORPG (Multiplayer Online Role playing Game).

So why even bother with such a Herculean task and why is WorldForge necessary? We feel that so much effort has gone into reengineering basically the same (or very similar) game engines that the current crop of commercial games are scantly more than clones of one another, leaving little or no time and resources for exploring new and innovative game design or engaging plots. This is where commercial gaming companies have left the story and where WorldForge begins...

Before we properly start taking the WorldForge machine apart we need to thoroughly degrease your mind of any misconceptions that you might have. So often we hear newbies lament that they wish they could contribute to WorldForge but they can't code or do artwork and are therefore useless. The assumption that we only need coders and artists is a common but quite false misconception! WorldForge requires artists, writers, coders, game designers, web site designers, but most of all we need free and imaginative minds to help our project succeed!

"Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world." - Archimedes

To the uninitiated, the vast number of WorldForge projects can seem like a jumbled mess of unrelated projects. You can, however, reduce WorldForge into six major development efforts:

   1. Servers: These are the beasts of burden who do all the backend work that allows gameplay to happen, clients to connect, and remember where you put your socks last night (in-game of course) even if you don't.
   2. Clients: WorldForge has numerous clients varying from simple text clients all the way to full blown 3D clients with 6DOF at varying levels of maturity.
   3. Protocols: Means by which WorldForge applications can communicate (our main protocol under development is Atlas)
   4. Worlds Team: Conjuring new worlds for games to exist in and the game rules which define them
   5. Rules: We all fancy ourselves Game Designers now don't we? :)
   6. Infra: Server Maintenance [www, ftp, etc.], Connectivity, Web Site Development
   7. media (old): 2D/3D Art, Music and Sound Effects creation

Each of these areas needs people who are talented in many different disciplines. Even something as seemingly straightforward as the servers area will need the talents of people from various disciplines such as: system administrators, hackers, network and software engineers, database gurus, documentation folk, security fascists, and more! Other areas will need an equally diverse bunch (if not more so). We feel confident that no matter where your interests and expertise lie there is a place at the WorldForge table where you can pull up a comfy chair and set up shop.

WorldForge Developer Orientation
Your Place in Our Brave New World...

The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready. - Henry David Thoreau

Now that you have a good idea of the general development areas of WorldForge, let's start getting into the details about what games we're making here! While anyone can start a game based on WorldForge technology (in fact we encourage it!) we do have a logical progression of games that will enable us to create ever increasingly complex tools and games. Building a structure around which ordinary mortals can build the game of their dream is no mean task; however we are dogged and determined! Sounds like fun, eh? ;-) We think so, but there is a lot of work to be done and we hope you're willing to lend a hand.
Stage 1 - Build A Solid Foundation *Accomplished*

Acorn - Acorn is a fun loving game where you play the role of a swine herder trying to make a living in the peaceful village of Agrilan. Your goal is to fatten up your little piggies faster than anyone else while protecting your portly little piggies from the dangers that lurk within the forests surrounding Agrilan. Acorn is WorldForge's first 'real' game and is a proof of technology demo that will help us bootstrap up to more ambitious projects like Mason, The Sands of Syllus and eventually Belchfire. Cyphesis will serve as both the core and AI server for this project. Below you'll see a picture of a game of Acorn being played with our 2D isometric client, Uclient.

Acorn Screenshot
"I will give you 10 pence for that fine looking piggie but not a farthing more mind you!"
Stage 2 - Raise the Structure *Currently In Development*

Mason - Mason will be a game of whoozits, whatzits and thing-a-majigs that our imaginative players will be able to combine to construct marvelous new inventions and grand structures. Mason is a game for and by tinkerers, inventors and those who generally like to experiment and put stuff together. In this game players work together (and against one another) to construct ever more ambitious tools, buildings, and structures. Mason's handling of recipes, crafting, and invention aims to be far in advance of anything that's available in the current crop of commercial games. Mason will allow WorldForge to refine crafting skills, player-based inventions (yes you can invent new gadgets :-), an economic model, and collision detection. This will be the first game that features our media server, from which clients will be able to automatically download the latest game media. This is also the first game to use Stage as its primary server as will all other subsequent WorldForge games (although Cyphesis will still be used for AI purposes). If all this talk about whirring gadgets has gotten you curious then you should take a look at the Mason Home Page and read the "Introduction" section as well as the background story for Mason.
Complex Machine
Complex Machine by Hans Häggström
"Now where did I put those blueprints?!"
Stage 3 - Install The Plumbing and Wiring *Planning*

Sands of Syllus - A sand-scoured game of survival in the desert region of Dural known as Syllus. Sands of Syllus will be an open-ended persistent-world game. Each player controls the leader of a nomadic tribe that lives in the Dunes of Syllus region of Dural. Natural resources are scarce in this region, and widely distributed. It is therefore difficult to survive and prosper in one place; the tribes have to travel and trade in order to get the resources they need. Major themes are the search for food, water, and tradeable goods. Tribes can advance by growing in numbers, monopolising resources, gaining strong weapons and ancient knowledge, and learning useful skills.
A Night In The Desert
A Night In The Desert by Hans Häggström
"Stillness falls on the burning sands of Syllus, yet not all things sleep.
For some the impenetrable silence means a time to hunt... and feed..."
Stage 4 - Put On The Finishing Touches *Planning*

Belchfire - Belchfire (a working title) will occur in Dural and its storyline will be based on Dural's history and player driven events from earlier games! When Belchfire is complete it will be comparable to exisiting MMORPG efforts [Everquest/Asheron's Call] and in many ways surpass them. Belchfire will feature a persistent plot-driven virtual world with centralized game server(s), management / administrative clients, a distributed world/character management environment via a network of trusted servers, skill-based rule system with flexible character design abilities [Circe], emphasis on roleplaying and problem solving over combat, a media rich, detailed and believably realistic game world, multi-client support (2D & 3D) and sophisticated and highly interactive NPC AIs. Belchfire will also sport an easily customizable game world via scripting language(s). Whew, that sounds like a lot of work. You'd better get busy! ;-)
Warf Area
Wharf Area by Tom Austin
"To endure is greater than to dare;
to tire out hostile fortune;
to be daunted by no difficulty;
to keep heart when all have lost it -- who can say this is not greatness?"
-William Makepeace Thackeray

Ok! So you know about the various games that we're developing and you know some of the general areas of the project and now you're chomping at the bit to contribute. Well, in the next session you'll get the a much more detailed breakdown of development efforts within WorldForge.

WorldForge Developer Orientation
The Heart of WorldForge...

So now I have hopefully piqued your interest, and you have some fuzzy notion about what WorldForge is doing and the general areas of WorldForge development effort. Where do you go from here?

We're going into a bit more detail about each section of WorldForge and give you the low down about what kind of skills are needed in each area. Keep in mind that this is by no means an exhaustive list; only the things I'm able to come up with. While you're reading over the various pages, if you find an area that is of particular interest to you, click on the "Details" link. It will take you to a newbie guide or beginners tutorial for the area of interest (if one is available). If there is no "Details" link, take that as an invitation to ask around the mailing lists or on IRC and write a newbie guide for the offending area. ;-) Many other newbies are sure to appreciate your efforts!

The Funky Robot by Alain Bertrand
The Funky Robot by Alain Bertand

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be." - Douglas Adams

[Coding (C++ / Python), Software Engineering, Code Review/Auditing, Documentation]

    indri - Indri basically is everything that was learned by the team during work on STAGE. It will have simple, easily modifable game and rule code, which new developers can pick up quickly, experiment with, and produce some new entity or behaviour in our worlds in a few hours or an evening.

    Cyphesis - Cyphesis is the AI server for WorldForge. Cyphesis aims to achieve 'live' virtual worlds using goal-driven entities and ALife techniques. Low level parts of Cyphesis are written in C++, while higher level functions are mostly in Python with a little C++ included just for fun. ;-) Details

[Coding (C++), Software Engineering, UI Design, UI Artwork & Sound FX, Code Review/Auditing, Documentation]

    UClient - UClient is a 2D isometric WorldForge game client (DISCONTINUED) that uses libuta, SDL, and libAtlas-C++. The primary target platforms are GNU/Linux and Win32 (using the MING32 cross-compiler).

    Sear - Sear is a 3D client written in C++, utilizing SDL, OpenGL and Cal3d. It currently runs under Linux, Mac and Windows (through cross-compiling) and will connect to the Cyphesis and Stage servers. Sear is currently under development.

    Ember - Ember is a 3D client using Ogre it runs on Linux, Windows and Mac and will connect to the Cyphesis servers.

[Coding (C++), Code Review/Auditing, Documentation]

    Atlas - Atlas is WorldForge's communications protocol and is used to serialise and transmit objects. It is an object-oriented protocol for communications between processes. These processes may be on the same machine, or machines hundreds of miles apart. The protocol can use all manner of media to transmit information, including files, streams and possibly even shared memory in the future. Details

Worlds Team
[Creative Writing, Map Making / Drawing Skills, Concept Artwork, Character Sketches]

    Dural - A diverse realm full of history and wonder. This is the land where all WorldForge games occur in. There are numerous countries, cities, and wondrous places that need developers attention. All you need to get involved here is an active imagination and a thirsty quill!

[Roleplayers, GMs, Creative Writers, Play Tester]

    Circe - (pronounced sir-see) is a skill-based (levelless) gaming system designed for medieval fantasy game worlds where magic is powerful but rare. This system is intended to realistically model life as an adventurer in a medieval world in which monsters and magic really do exist, and gods do look down from the heavens. Details

[Server Admin, Web Developers, Tool Makers (CGI scripting, Zope Afficianados etc.), Creative Writing]

    Website - Maintenance of our website along with the development of scripts and other various web-based tools such as Zope!

    CVS - Maintaining the apparatus which holds the keys to our code base is indeed an important task! Help maintain user accounts and administrate permissions for various modules. Always wanted to be a sysadmin but lacked the opportunity? Well here's you chance!

Media Team
[Artists (sketching, inks), 2D Graphics (Gimp, Photoshop, PSP Users), 3D Artists, Musicians, Sound Engineers]

    Sketch & Ink Artwork - WorldForge needs talented artists to inspire both our gamers and developers to new heights! WorldForge will require lots of concept art, character sketches and even art for our website!

    2D Artists - GIMP, Photoshop, and Paintshop Pro users: here's your big chance to have your work viewed by potentially thousands of admirers! Character art (both conceptual art and in game art) along with texture generation are the primary efforts in this area. Details

    3D Artists - Boy do we ever need 3D art! We'll need models and textures for just about anything you can imagine. High poly count models with many textures will be used for renderings in 2D clients and for CGI and low poly models for real time 3D clients! Details

    Musicians - I guess the first thing you need to know is that the preferred format for submitting music is via OGG or XM/IT for all you old school trackers out there. If you're unable to submit compositions in OGG or XM/IT format then WAV or MP3 is just fine. The major thing we need right now is background music for our various games (mainly Acorn and Mason ATM). Details

    Sound FX - We literally need sound effects for just about anything that you can dream up! The diversity of games that will surely spring up with demand a wide variety of sound effects. If you'd like to record something more immediately useful, however, you might want to read over some of our game descriptions above and use your imagination (if you record it they will code) on what might be needed. A method which might be more sure would be to email the media mailiing list and/or drop IRC and ask us! The preferred submission format are WAV files although any other patent free uncompressed audio file is also acceptable.

After you find an area that interests you, I would encourage you to proceed to that area's section on the WorldForge website to learn all that you can about whatever has gained your interest. Be aware that there is a limit to what you can learn from the website, as the information is never as current as the information that the developers on IRC and the mailing lists (which you should have subscribed to already). Please be courteous to the developers as we're all very busy and may or may not be able to respond to you the moment you ask a question. After monitoring the lists and possibly hanging out on IRC for a week or two, you'll be in a better position to figure out exactly what area would suit you best. If you simply can't wait to start contributing then either drop by IRC or shoot an email to the appropriate mailing list and ask what needs doing. Before you send that letter or drop by IRC please take a personal inventory about your interests / skills (which you should've already done) so we'll know how best to direct you.

Congratulations! You've progressed beyond the irritating newbie stage. ;-) Give yourself a pat on the back. You're well on your way to making a meaningful contribution to the WorldForge community! While my short walk with you through the Newbie Guide is over if you if you are still thirsting for more knowledge and are interested in becoming further enveloped in the WorldForge community, you may contine your journey ....

The WorldForge project is the original open-source MMORPG project, dating back to 1997.

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« Last Edit: March 19, 2014, 06:58:20 PM by Software Santa »


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