Google Summer of Code/2009

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The 2009 Google Summer of Code was announced in February, 2009. BZFlag will again be applying as a mentoring organization. Given our enormously successful participation in the program in 2007 and 2008, we're very excited to be participating again and we're very happy to see the applications that were submitted. BZFlag will be accepting student project proposals from March 23 until April 3. Hints and tips on getting started, preparing a submission, and the application process were available.

Promotion Flyers

We're now soliciting designs for our 2009 GSoC promotional flyer. If you are interested in providing a design, please contact us!

Proposal Ideas

While there are lots of Ideas floating around of varying utility to the game, the ideas listed below are the specific areas that we are predominantly interested in seeing worked on as part of the GSoC. Please note that students are also welcome and encouraged to apply with their own ideas. They should run those ideas by one of the developers beforehand to make sure they are consistent with the scope and focus of the project, though, as there are some ideas which will not be accepted regardless of the quality of the application and applicant. We've additionally provided several project ideas important to BZFlag development that we would very much like to see proposals for, shown in following.

Suggest your own idea

BZFlag is always open to new development ideas and is under constant improvement. If you are familiar with BZFlag's current capabilities and would like to propose some new enhancement, we'd be happy to hear about. Please discuss any new ideas with the existing core developers (on our IRC channel), if only to make sure the ideas are in-line with the spirit and constraints of the game.

Cheat preventions

This task involves making BZFlag more robust towards preventing various cheats from working in the game. This task implicitly requires adding protections on the server, moving game logic from the client to the server, and/or adding heuristics and other measures for detecting and dealing with cheat clients. The student should have a strong grasp of the variety of BZFlag cheats that are available. Please go into detail about which cheats you're interested in preventing and how you intend to employ those preventive measures. For information on known cheats, check out the Known Cheats wiki page.

Global authentication daemon

The goal of this project would be to provide global account management system daemon that the client and servers would communicate with for account, group membership, and profile information. This effort preferably be written in C++, would need to talk to an LDAP server for persistent storage on the backend, and allow chaining across multiple daemons for data replication and failover service. The daemon would need to provide a well structured simple communications API that the game client and game servers can securely talk to.

BZWorkBench world editor enhancement

As a participant in last year's program, Jude Nelson started work on BZWorkBench. It is a world file editor with a very solid foundation but much work still remains to be done, including a cross-platform GUI, mesh support, and other editor features. Ideally, two students would work on this. For example, one student could focus on improving the GUI's workflow and ease-of-use, and another could focus on finishing the back-end object manipulation. The current GUI does not conform to a specific HIG, nor does its usability resemble many other 3D editors; this should change. The back-end still lacks support for many of the objects added in BZFlag 2.0, such as Meshes, texture matrices, dynamic colors, etc.

Enhanced server listing

The game client includes a simplistic listing of publicly available servers. This task would involve significantly enhancing the listing section in BZFlag to allow for various sortings (e.g. ping time, country, name, etc), favorites, recently used, specific additional information on specific servers, and all existing information. The task would involve coming up with a user-friendly design that is fully keyboard-accessible. It could leverage external gui toolkits, use BZFlag's existing gui library, and/or extend the existing capabilities. The focus would be on creating an intuitive and informative listing enhancement within the constraints of the gaming interface.

Modularization of game logic

Much of the game logic is presently mixed in with BZFlag's graphics code. This lack of organization make it difficult to find code when necessary, and does not allow bzfs, bzrobots, or other tools to utilize the game logic. The game code should be modularized into libgame so that all that is left in the client code is the graphics subsystem. This will also ease the possible future integration of a 3D graphics engine.

Dead Reckoning and other Networking Enhancements

The basic idea is to improve BZFlag's networking by performing dead reckoning on the server along with context-sensitive packet delivery culling. Much work has gone into the game towards moving more and more of the game state to the server, but there is additional migration and protocol changes required. Similarly, network utilization can be optimized by not relaying certain packets (like miniscule position updates to distant players) based on the current game state. Some useful background reading for this task include "Fairness in Dead-Reckoning based Distributed Multi-Player Games (pdf)" and "Accuracy in Dead-Reckoning Based Distributed Multi-Player Games (pdf)".

Network Testing and Simulation Environment

This task should provide a controlled testing environment for simulating network behavioral characteristics, including the ability to change virtual network parameters to induce different network conditions of lag and packet loss. This environment should provide a viewer capability to observe interactions of BZFlag clients being tested from the perspective of the player, the server, and third-party observers. This simulation framework should work with the client and server directly so that testing of actual changes may be performed in a stand-alone environment.


The mentors for 2009 are:

  • Sean Morrison (brlcad/learner)
  • Daniel Remenak (DTRemenak/Erroneous)
  • Jeffrey Myers (JeffM/JeffM2501)
  • Julio Jiménez Borreguero (Manu/jujibo)
  • Scott Wichser (Blast/Blast007)
  • David Wollner (JB diGriz)
  • Joe VanOverberghe (Donny_Baker)
  • James Lawrence (spldart)