Engine Terminology

Engine Terminology

Various things about Spring that do not fit in any of the other forums listed below, including forum rules.

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AF
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Engine Terminology

Post by AF »

I've said for a long term that we're marketing the engine as a game and then falling flat on our faces when people treat it as a game and then start flailing around because, it isn't.

Its a mismatch, that leads to massive flaws in the usability and expectations, followed by major problems getting to grips with the engine, and attracting new players.

This has always been disputed by forum posters, but as demonstrated by a string of threads involving users baffled by this problem, and one thread in which a user directly asks, "is this a game or some kind of platform", I think we can without a shadow of a doubt say that it is a very real problem that is trivial to fix.

My proposal is that from now on, we stop offering a 'spring' download, and instead simply rename it to the 'spring engine SDK'.

Thus, the whole affair becomes a lot more logical. e.g:
Install the spring SDK and grab BA vs Install and play Spring

The latter of which is actually impossible. How do you download and install spring then play it? You cant! You have to add all these extra steps like downloading a game like BA or Evo, but this isn't mentioned anywhere in the documentation, or even on the download page!


To implement this, there would need to be only minor changes. The download page and the installer filename would need to be changed. Also, some documentation, mainly concerning how to start playing, would be changed. The simple addition of the word SDK after the word engine would be all that is needed in 99% of cases, and it would make a massive improvement for helping new users.

To summarize:
  • Add the word SDK to the end of the phrase 'spring engine' on the download page
  • Rename the spring engine installer to the spring engine SDK installer
  • Update the new user instructions to use the new terminology (aka insert the word SDK here and there)
  • Change the wording of the installer accordingly
  • Observe the massive improvement in usability and straight forwardness that results
Last edited by AF on 10 Jul 2010, 19:10, edited 1 time in total.
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very_bad_soldier
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Re: Engine SDK naming

Post by very_bad_soldier »

AF wrote: Thus, the whole affair becomes a lot more logical. e.g:
Install the spring SDK and grab BA vs Install and play Spring
Why should we rename the spring package to "Spring SDK" when it clearly is NOT an SDK (or not only an SDK)? It seems awkward to me that you have to install an SDK to be able to play a game. SDK is the wrong term. People will come here and ask "Where can I download the engine to play a game? All I can find is the spring SDK but I do not want to develop a game!"
If you want to rename the spring package, renaming it to "Spring Runtime Environment" or something would be more accurate.
Last edited by very_bad_soldier on 10 Jul 2010, 14:22, edited 1 time in total.
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Forboding Angel
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Re: Engine SDK naming

Post by Forboding Angel »

Tbh, it more or less is an sdk. Plus, people know what an sdk is, runtime environment makes people scratch their heads.
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very_bad_soldier
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Re: Engine SDK naming

Post by very_bad_soldier »

People who know what an SDK is usually do not download it until they want to develop something. Having to download an SDK if I just want to play a game makes me scratch my head.
zerver
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Re: Engine SDK naming

Post by zerver »

If we want to increase the user base, we should probably rename it to "Total Annihilation II" and put the Cavedog logo in the upper left corner.

SDK will have the opposite effect IMO, and even "Engine" might scare away new users.
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AF
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Re: Engine SDK naming

Post by AF »

If it is not an sdk then it's a game? But it isn't a game at all! Downloading the spring installer and running it does not give you a game at all!

This is a symptom of us marketing the engine as a game then providing an engine instead, an utter mismatch of what is expected and what is gotten, it's confusing. Arguing in favour of bad terminology using a technicality does not help us at all.

All I am advocating is a name change that would have no functional changes.

We should be providing our games as individual packages. That an end user has to download the spring installer at all to play BA is a gaping whole I am surprised has not been filled by the community. The spring installer is in all but name an SDK for development, and users will inevitably download it to play a lot of the games we have to offer.

Since not all games under this engine are going to be providing installers to make it easy on their users, we need to make sure that the second path to getting in game is as easy as possible.


Making this change is the best way at the moment to clear up a very common misunderstanding. Wether it is accurate is an argument that is besides the point because it is more accurate an what we currently have, and it has advantages, whereas I do not aee any advantages to the current terminology that causes nothing but confusion
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very_bad_soldier
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Re: Engine SDK naming

Post by very_bad_soldier »

I totally agree with you: It would be good to change the name to something that describes better what you will get when you download it. I just think the term "SDK" would be misleading also.
Seriously, what about "SRE" - Spring Runtime Environment? Just like Java does it (JRE). As nearly anyone knows Java and knows he needs the JRE to run java apps, we can use the same mechanism: Users need to download SRE to run spring games.
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AF
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Re: Engine SDK naming

Post by AF »

Because at that point we have a rather odd predicament in that we can call it the spring runtime, or the spring engine, or the spring engine engine, or the spring runtime runtime, etc etc, it's slightly unsettling since engine and runtime are somewhat interchangeable.

Whereas the title SDK, doesn't have that issue, and is somewhat accurate in that there are numerous developer items in the installer at the moment, and more under consideration, e.g. experimental MT build, headless, LAN server, archive mover, unitsync, etc. all that would be left to add is mapconv and Flozis ABC example SDK mod, but even those two aren't necessary.

The Spring SDK as such would be used to assemble games, and is this not what we're forcing most of our end users to do by downloading and installing it, followed by acquiring maps, and acquiring games, to assemble an install?

One other alternative is 'base package' but its uncomfortable terminology and kind of ambiguous
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forest_devil
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Re: Engine SDK naming

Post by forest_devil »

leave it as it is. this site should be for people wanting to develop a game or the engine.

if they want to play a game on the engine then it is up to the makers of that game to offer their own site/download for a package including the engine a lobby and the mod (plus perhaps some maps and lua etc etc etc)
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AF
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Re: Engine SDK naming

Post by AF »

Its been pointed out to me in private that there is much controversy over the title of SDK, as many consider the installer an SDK, but many do not and are opposed to it.

To this, we need to at least fix the following:
  • The spring engine installer needs the word engine in its filename
  • There needs to be a link on the download page indicating where to find games and that it is a second step of sorts.
  • The 'Download and play' link on the frontpage is incredibly misleading, and should be changed to something like 'Download the Engine', or changed to point to a 'Get Started' page
  • Release thread titles and news updates still refer to 'Spring' not 'Spring Engine' on the frontpage
Last edited by AF on 10 Jul 2010, 19:09, edited 1 time in total.
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AF
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Re: Engine SDK naming

Post by AF »

forest_devil wrote:leave it as it is. this site should be for people wanting to develop a game or the engine.

if they want to play a game on the engine then it is up to the makers of that game to offer their own site/download for a package including the engine a lobby and the mod (plus perhaps some maps and lua etc etc etc)
Sadly there is a large component of the content development community here who refuses, cba, or disagrees with that sentiment, much to the detriment of us all.

Then there's the people who want to see spring be a game not an engine. This is further compounded by the manipulation of the site to 'advertise' spring as a game, their game, not as an engine, to the point they put more effort into advertising their game on the frontpage, than they have on making their own marketing efforts.

We have a problem right now, solutions are needed!
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hoijui
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Re: Engine Terminology

Post by hoijui »

from your 4 points there, AF:
1. as it is not only the engine, but also lobbies and other stuff, an other name may be better, spring_base_package?
2. the contra argument there will be, that this can be done with the lobbies included in the package. it can not hurt to mention it there though.. i am pro that.
3. & 4. are fine with me
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FLOZi
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Re: Engine Terminology

Post by FLOZi »

hoijui wrote:from your 4 points there, AF:
1. as it is not only the engine, but also lobbies and other stuff, an other name may be better, spring_base_package?
2. the contra argument there will be, that this can be done with the lobbies included in the package. it can not hurt to mention it there though.. i am pro that.
3. & 4. are fine with me
+1 from me, for what it's worth
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AF
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Re: Engine Terminology

Post by AF »

Its important it's mentioned, just encase someone is downloading the installer to put on a flash drive to take home where there is not internet connection, only to realise they now need content and have to go back. An example being downloading at a friends house, or downloading and bringing it into school to play at lunchtimes, where there are limits, or mobile broadband where one has to weigh up if its worth using the limited bandwidth
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Forboding Angel
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Re: Engine SDK naming

Post by Forboding Angel »

zerver wrote:If we want to increase the user base, we should probably rename it to "Total Annihilation II" and put the Cavedog logo in the upper left corner.

SDK will have the opposite effect IMO, and even "Engine" might scare away new users.
Good! Send them to the game's websites.
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SinbadEV
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Re: Engine Terminology

Post by SinbadEV »

SDK implies a set of tools to develop a game... it is a pretty glaring misnomer both in the context of source games and spring.

One idea that seems AWESOME to me is the "MTX" thingy from MekTek.net... essentially you don't download a game or an engine, you download a tool that is used to download and install games... the fact that those games happen to share some runtime packages, resources, etc is transparent to the end user... kinda like steam...

might be a good option... us smart-folks who have been around since Spring WAS ACTUALLY TASpring still will still install the latest engine and then download games and maps using the lobby but our "gateway" would be this "new thingy"... ideally this "new thingy" I've described would be developed as an open-ish platform that could be tailored to suit any number of games (for spring and other engines) and could be set up to connect to multiple content servers...

maybe even something like "aptitude" and "apt" for windows... which would be awesome... google searches came up with a few ideas but nothing as awesome as I want...
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FireStorm_
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Re: Engine Terminology

Post by FireStorm_ »

It seems to me that main advertising of any engine is essentially its games.

When I first heard about Spring, I saw some pictures of what looked like TA and some cool StarWars art, and thats what made me wanna play those games. So in my case Cavedog and Lucas did the most part of the advertising.
Probably when you're in that state you don't care about the terminology until you've seen some awesome explosions.

now my opinion:

Not distinguishing between game/mod developer and player is just as bad as not distinguishing between engine and games.

Shouldn't the focus of advertising spring be on game/mod developers? Then they in their turn can advertise their game/mod among potential players.

i.e. Steam is described as follows:
"Steam, The Ultimate Online Game Platform"
I don't know if there are people who think steam is a game. Probably some people do for some time.

And is Steam advertised?
Does one think: "I've gotta get Steam because it is awesome." ?
I think it more likely people think more in lines of:
"That is a great game, I must play it! Wait, i need something called Steam before i can run it? Well that game is so cool, I'll click any install-buttons you want me to, as long as I get to play it in the end."
I think same goes for Spring.

Spring is described as follows:
"Spring is a powerful free RTS engine developed for Windows and Linux"
What more can you do? It doesn't make me think Spring is a game.

to summarise:
Don't try to promote buckets of paint(engine) to people who like pretty paintings(players). Promote the paint to the artist(modder). He has to sell the paintings.
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caldera
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Re: Engine Terminology

Post by caldera »

Promote the paint to the artist(modder). He has to sell the paintings.
Yes, but the modders and their games dont have something you can call a real playerbase (except BA). Thats why i like Sinbads idea so much...
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enetheru
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Re: Engine Terminology

Post by enetheru »

For the ultra simple fix as suggested originally perhaps "framework" would be a nice in-between word.

But my main point.
what is springrts.com?

I propose a few suggestions.(as I'm just a random)
* Host site of the springrts engine
* Portal site to games made using the engine

The portal part is important to the health of springrts as an engine as its a really good marketing tool, to show off its capabilities.

Consequence is that gamers(customer) will come here to get their stuff to play the games.

Its good business sense to provide a good experience to the customer as it will increase the network of the whole environment.

I hope that validates the need to provide a good user experience on springrts.com for a customer of the games derived from the engine.

now my take on the customers experience.
I know my opinion makes little difference however I am brave enough to give it ;), If it helps my credibility, I've work help-desk for 4 years in an ISP having to give instructions to the lowest common denominator.

The main page promoting "download and play" gives a fair expectation of two actions. and people will become upset when things aren't so simple.

it then takes you to the downloads page which isn't marketed at all its a series of links with no clear direction.

so on the main page a "want to play games?", "check out the games!"....whatever... is better than a slightly misleading label.

AFAIK there are two main components to getting a game going.
1. engine, 2. games (? 3.AI ?)

People usually don't read down so they should have large pretty labels next to each other. lesser items like alternate lobby and server below that in smaller labels.

Then after that give them the choice of OS if relevant

The games section should be pretty and give advice on which one to choose, linking to an immediate download from the game's official website.

That's only 3 pages deep which is manageable for most people it gives clear distinction to the games that they are seperate because the link leads you away from the springrts.com domain but doesn't make it a hassle to get the game files.

I apologise if I have completely missed the point.
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AF
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Re: Engine Terminology

Post by AF »

I would disagree with sinbad since what he suggests would further confuse the actual purpose of the installer and thus the site and our purpose.

But a lot of good points have been raised since. The installer on this site is aimed at developers, power users, people who either want to assemble games and installers, or people who want to assemble a customised install ( the prevalence of which at the moment is very high ).

Regarding games and the portal, right now there is an unhealthy focus on exclusively advertising games as games, meaning that we're relying entirely upon the merits of those games branding and marketing expertise, to the point that we're willing to compromise the engines image because we allow content developers to muscle in ( a minority albeit a very vocal one ).

For example there are no banners on the frontpage or top header that show off the engine, they all show off a game with a big logo in the corner. Textually we may go some way to fixing things, but visually the site screams IM A GAME.
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