Ryzom: Behind the Scenes #3
The Storyline project
Interview with Tamarea
What is the storyline project?
Tamarea: It is a project whose ambition is to put the Storyline, and therefore the progress of History, back at the centerof the game. For this to do, we return to the sources in our way of conceiving the game evolution, using the framework proposed by the Lore team to play roleplay events, hosted by the Event team or scripted, which will be followed by permanent adds to the gameplay related to these events. Thus, instead of having on one side events and on the other side heterogeneous gameplay adds, we will have regular gameplay additions that will logically follow the progress of History, as events unfold. With, of course, a place for the “Power to the Players”, since the turn of events will depend in part on the actions of our players!
Why have you created this project? What are your expectations?
Tamarea: This project was born from a double observation: on the one hand, unlike the events that followed a guiding principle, gameplay additions were made in a disparate way; on the other hand, since our teams are small, devs and level design lost time juggling between the permanent projects planned by the game design and the temporary and recurring technical needs of events. It therefore seemed beneficial to us to gather around a common project and to unify our efforts to move it forward together. Thanks to the Storyline project, roleplay events and gameplay additions will no longer bicker attempting to monopolize developers and level designers, but on the contrary will enhance each other. Members working on adding content will do so more serenely and with less stress, since they will all work together towards a common goal.
What could go wrong?
Tamarea: A cup of coffee spilled on the dev's keyboard, or worst: no coffee anymore!!! More seriously, the test phase will be very important to avoid the things to go wrong because of major bugs.
Can players have an impact on the storyline project?
Tamarea: Yes, of course! The Storyline will respect the “Power to the Players”: they will have choices to make, which will influence future events through “multiple choice” scenarios. We also seek to ensure that the choices and actions of factions, organizations and guilds can also have a real impact at stake.
Do you have any more to say?
Tamarea : Yes! The next Season is due to start in January. It will be sequenced over several episodes, each of which will include a series of events and will end with a permanent gameplay add. This Season will allow, among other things, to complete and put into play the various gameplay projects that have not yet been completed or are under development. The two themes that will be developed during this Season remain secret for the moment, but we will produce and distribute images and videos all along the tests progress in order to reveal a little more!
Free the Code, free the World - Koallasu's publication about Ryzom
Interview with Maupas
Hello Maupas! First of all, can you please introduce yourself? How long are you playing and working at Ryzom? What are you tasks?
Maupas: Hello, everyone. Introducing myself is not really easy, since (like a number of members of the Ryzom Team) I actually have two identities in our little world and I usually never mention the one I have in the real world. As far as the latter is concerned, however, you should know that I live in France and that my mother tongue is French. And, with regards to the player (whose, because of the "Non-Disclosure Agreement“, I must keep silent about the names of the characters he animates or have animated), that he has been present on Atys (then Aniro, in fact) since December 2004. As far as we are concerned here, I am a member of the Translation Team and of this team alone. That is to say none of our readers, probably, has ever met Maupas - a skeletal Matis with long black hair - on Atys. I joined the team, upon Tamarea's “offer of employment“, in the spring of 2016.
What are you tasks in the team?
Maupas: I am there in charge, with Margote and for the benefit of all the other teams (and sometimes of players), of translations from French into English (and vice versa) of all types of texts:
- official announcements to be posted on the forum (on which I also sometimes intervene after publication);
- words and texts from the game interface;
- dialogues and other speeches anims or NPCs will utter during events to come;
- IC texts, stories and stories proposed by the players;
- documents establishing the Lore, for the use of lorists only or to be published on wikis;
- instructions for use of tools of the teams (ARK, KanBoard, etc.)…
- ... And, of course, “Behind the Scenes“ issues.smiles
In fact, not a week goes by without the team having some grain to grind. If I mentionned Margote above, that's not only because she is the cream of Trykers, but also because:
- no translator works alone: the rule within the Translation Team is that any L2 text translated from L1 by one of us must be checked/fixed by another whose mother tongue is L2 before publication or implementation; thus Margote often corrects me,I often correct Margote and sometimes we both successively corrects texts translated into French by other team members;
- if Tamarea is our “team leader“ in title, Margote is actually the one who organizes our work... With a touch that I think is appreciated by all. smiles
What are the tools you use to carry them out?
Maupas: We have changed them sometimes since I joined the team (and we will probably change them in the future smiles), but currently they are:
- KanBoard, for the scheduling of the team's tasks (mainly handled by Margote, therefore);
- ARK, or more precisely two interfaces with ARK, which allow us to translate into the game languages (except Russian, for the moment) either the texts of the game interface, or the NPC parts of the dialogues, whether they are recurring (mission launches, training, transactions, etc...) or unique (IC and OOC events);
- NextCloud, which offers us a team closet where we can store, in PAD or ODF files, the documents being translated and archive the quadrilingual documents we produce;
- DeepL, which, as in game, provides us with a draft of a translated text that our task is to improve and somewhat “fluidify“ without betraying the meaning of the original... Meaning moreover not always easy to understand, even if the text is written in your own mother tongue (the jargon and elliptical form of patch announcements, for example, are for me the absolute horror smiles);
- various online tools, at last: DeepL Linguee and Word Reference, or even Wikipedia, which are often of great help to me personally in this work of “refining“ acronyms, idiomatic expressions and other consecrated phrases, as well as various slang and synonyms dictionaries (The Online Slang Dictionary, CRISCO, SYNONYMY, etc.).
Maupas: It will be more personal, if you don't mind. I said above that I was “a member of the Translation Team and of this team alone“... But this is not quite true: as I contribute from time to time to Encyclopatys, I am a kind of de facto member of the RF Team that was recently formed around Zorroargh (Craftjenn, Dorothee, Nilstilar, Vorazun, etc...) for the development of the Ryzom wikis. I would like to take this opportunity to invite “Behind the Scenes“ to take an interest in this team for its next issue. smiles In addition, since my “real life“ will soon give me a little more time to devote to my favorite game, it is quite possible that I will soon add an ARK string to my... bow. Because, as the impromptu conversation reproduced below suggests, PtitBill suffers from his loneliness and that I like to share enough to be able from him to learn a lot (and quickly: his mother tongue is also French smiles) about this skill.
Excerpt #1 “… the virtual world of the internet is composed of virtual communities, some of which are worlds, some of which are not, but motifs of autonomy and freedom pervade all these virtual communities from the smallest online forum to the internet as a whole.”
Can you tell us more about Koallasu's publication about Ryzom, called “Free the Code, free the World“? What's it about?
Maupas: I can at least make a brief presentation of it. This is an ethnographic article that examines, based on the case of our favourite game, the ability of MMORPGs to “make the world“, to generate coherent universes. In doing so, it shows how Ryzom revealed, on the occasion of the successive crisis that have shaken it over the past fifteen years, its particular coherence around the notion of freedom, from the game as played (game mechanics, types of action, sets, background, etc...) to the game as built (coding and communication tools, ways of working of the dev team, etc...), including the game as lived (community of players, mutual support, attitudes, etc.). But I must confess that if I suggested to Tamarea to translate it (and to you to mention it in the present issue of “Behind the scenes“) that's because I learned, while reading it, a lot about the history of Ryzom and thought that other players interested in the said history could also learn a lot (as soon as they would not be put off by the particular vocabulary it uses. smiles
Excerpt #2 “These chronotopes of worldness also afford political engagement, collaboration and conflict across scales. Particularly important is this last chronotope of Ryzom/Atys as a space of liberty: the freedom of Ryzom as software is the freedom of the world of Atys; the “sandbox” properties of the game-world as a space for enacting new “emergent” narratives (that is, unplanned and unscripted “bottom up” rather than scripted “top down” narratives), embodies the liberal political philosophy of the designers, creators who build their worlds as spaces of freedom; the “bottom up” emergence of distinct communities of play territorialized within individual servers leads to each server becoming an autonomous world unto itself, raising conflicts when these server worlds are merged together. Each case I will consider here involves a moment when Atys as a world, whether as game or as an individual server, ceases to exist, producing a sense of real loss or bereavement, and a concomitant political engagement to revive, and at the same time “free”, that world.”
And who is Koallasu?
Maupas: Koallasu is the name of the character animated on Atys by the canadian academic Paul Manning (Trent University, Ontario) whom Tamarea asked us, almost a year ago now, to be the most welcoming when he would ask us for interviews to illustrate and support the article in question. I personally never met him in the game, but the few exchanges we had then allowed me to notice that he knew Atys better than I did. The article that “Behind the Scenes“ gives you to read today is therefore also a unique piece of “gonzo“ journalism (if Koallasu will pass me the expression).
Excerpt #3 “… the Free Ryzom Campaign crowdfunding video (2006) […] addresses itself to a broad public of “virtual travelers”, that is, generic denizens of the internet. Against a panorama of virtual landscapes of Atys, the video asks them “have you ever dreamed of owning a universe?” and then announces that “Others are pursuing the same dream…” Who are these others? In the images that follow, The Free Ryzom Campaign is represented as a collectivity consisting both of players and developers, whose distinct perspectives on the game-world as world and as software are blended into a hybrid image, using a mixture of capture footage of player avatars from inside the world and real world footage from the “backstage” of the designers' world. Chronotopes leak into one another as capture footage from the world of Atys is laid bare, exposing the artifice and showing underlying structures of code, while the real world images of designers are shown occupying the same real world spaces with three dimensional animated versions of Ryzom creatures.”
Do you have anything more to say about this topic?
Maupas: Yes: to specify, on the one hand, that the article and its translation (which is not a team work, and therefore has not been checked/fixed) are free of rights and, on the other hand, that I have now to keep the promise made to Koallasu in February, namely to send him this link upon publication. smiles
A secret island in matis land. It's a very small island. But you can feel the power of this place. It seems very important for Atys, even if only a few Homins are allowed to visit it. Maybe we can find something interesting here. Over there! We can see a Tryker and a Matis, sitting around a campfire. It seems they have an interesting discussion. Let's try listen to them...
Maupas, the Matis: Hello P'tit Bill! Just a word to inform you that I checked this document yesterday and translated it into english, as if it was to be published on the forum. I realized that it came from the RTeam Library (and, probably, from you smiles). So the mess of images and .ODT documents I brought up in commentary in the team task manager was probably not needed. Too bad for me, you'll say! Except that my work on this "how to" gave me a very interesting and instructive insight into the way the Level-Design Team works and the amount of brainpower that is needed to develop Ryzom's mini-games. I'm wondering now if this "how to" would not deserve to be published (possibly in the "Behind the Scenes #3")? Because if a player, as a little "dev-mind" as I am, would been interested, I guess others (including the rabid fans if the games proposed by the Brotherhood of the Fortunate Gubani smiles) would be as well. What do you think?
Ptit'Bill, the Tryker: Hello Maupas! Yes, this is the doc that Ulukyn and I produced after cogitation during the preparation of the game of the Three Barrels. I completely forgot about that document. I am better at imagining activities where players are all killed in excruciating pain than at giving prizes. smiles In fact, any activity always need a long preparation. From the basic idea, for example “three barrels, one winner, one loser and one exploding and killing the player” to the game playable on Atys, there is a whole progression, a whole writing process:
- whether or not there is a link with roleplaying (personally, I prefer when there is one);
- splitting the concept of animation (event) into several stages;
- determining the actions that the player will have to perform;
- definition of the scenography;
- NPCs and other elements possibly needed;
- dialogues with the player;
- system messages;
- information panels required for the end user to know what to do.
In short, a large number of points to see before even thinking about the question of the gains that the player can expect from the mini-game. I am an obsessive of the visual impact of animations (events) and small details that for many people go completely unnoticed. Everything must be or seem "logical" and "natural" while still bringing originality and novelty. It is up to us at Level-Design to ensure that a NPC is not a simple motionless window dressing that always says the same text. It is up to me to make the animations (events) on Atys give the impression of a living world where the players find their place and it is even better if this place is active and acts upon the Atys' world and future.
Maupas, the Matis: Well... You spontaneously gave us there the "kicker" of the publication I am hoping for smiles Without answering my question, however.... I think I'll pass on our little exchange to Tamarea if you let me (after all, she's the one who put the task in the task manager of the TranslationTeam: she probably has some ideas about it in her mind).
Ptit'Bill, the Tryker: Well, when I say “It is up to us at Level-Design”…. I'm in fact a bit lonely here. But saying “up to me” would bother me a lot. It's better anyway for people to think that “I” am several smiles: a team working with only one individual is not good, even if it is indeed the case.
Maupas, the Matis: At the same time, we could maybe take advantage of BTS #3 (I guess Tamarea will welcome the proposal smiles) to bring you some colleagues!
Ptit'Bill, the Tryker: Those who are missing are ARK scripters mainly (not devs!). Graphic designers too.... Having to wait months for missing elements is very penalizing. Most of the time I "tinker" with existing elements to fill the gaps (see the infernal machine in Zorai OP or the mounds of bark instead of drilling spots). 2D and 3D graphic designers! I asked for tables with “papers” on them years ago... For instance, for the last games on Silan to build, I used the only tables available (those used for the florist's occupation) to serve as a work surface for the cook.... It's not the best for realism. A table and textures to simulate documents or pieces of meat would have been better. In short.... At Level-Design, “we” do with what “we” have to best meet what is asked for!