2016-02 meeting notes

published 01 Mar 2016

Hello everyone! I’m Ephemeral, and following from our previous promises to be more transparent about our vision and choices for the community going forward, I’d like to present something new to you today!

For the first time in a long, long while, the development team all sat down together for a good hour or so and hashed out a series of short-term goals for osu!’s future. To put a long story short, here’s what we came up with:

  • More communication needs to happen inside #dev as a whole, instead of people conversing between themselves for individual projects. A chief issue with recent events in particular was this very problem, and by addressing this in full, we can be certain that similar problems will not happen in that same manner again.
  • More support staff are needed to handle the influx of new tickets and reports. Broadening the team is essential for keeping up with community demand. In light of this, one existing support member was given a broader set of permissions to help tackle foul play offenses, and one entirely new support member was recruited to help out.
  • Development focus continues to be primarily on getting the OpenGL client up to scratch performance and structure-wise. The four core active developers have pledged their efforts to this focus. Completing this overhaul will leave the codebase in a much better state, and will serve as a very important step on the way to open-sourcing the game client.
  • The ranking criteria adjustments to beatmap difficulty spread will be dropped in their current format. However, later adjustments to a maximum cap on difficulties per mode will be put forward for community discussion and consideration at a later date.
  • The “Ranking Criteria Council” concept will be adjusted considerably, and also renamed. The group will continue largely as they do now, but their role will be simplified to that of an advisory nature, centered on giving targeted feedback and proposals for community consideration. The new name of the group is yet to be determined, but it won’t be anything “council” related.
  • Ranking criteria change proposals should be vastly simplified going forward. They must be conveyed in a single sentence, followed by a short explanation of why the change is for the best. Larger changes should be split into multiple smaller changes, and all changes will be put before the community for consideration and feedback before implementation.
  • We are rapidly developing new beatmap modding tools to streamline the modding process. This is being done internally as it’s a fairly complex system, but you should see it make an appearance over the coming weeks.

On the community front, a number of proposals regarding gamemode-specific criteria changes are slated for the horizon, as well as the recruitment of more QAT, and a full-scale rework of the current Global Moderator Team.

As far as the development front goes, completion of the new drawing hierarchy and framework in the coming months will pave the way for open-sourcing the client code as a whole. Once this has been accomplished, we hope to work towards the implementation of a new, more efficient system for handling ban appeals and restrictions.

We plan to hold these meetings every month going forward. Depending on how things go, audio transcripts of our conversations may be made available, but at the very least, we will continue to have these summaries of our goals for the next month made available here.

See you next time!

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Sprites and Containers in osu!

published 27 Feb 2016

I recently posted a video showing the progress we are making with a huge overhaul of how osu! draws objects on the screen. It probably didn’t mean much to most of you, so I thought I’d take a few minutes to explain what we are trying to achieve (and why it is so important).

Let’s dissect one single component on the osu! main menu!

Firstly, let’s split out all the different components and sprites. The visualiser is omitted for simplicity.

You can see the various components (thicker blue lines) and the sprites/components contained within them (thin blue lines). Next, we need to figure out where they are going to sit on the screen. In order to do this, we need an Origin point set on each drawable object, which becomes the location used within the sprite to assign a position.

The orange dots represent the origins assigned to each drawable object. Hopefully it should make sense why the specific origins are chosen in this example; they should make setting the object’s position as simple as possible. An origin can be set to any of TopLeft, TopRight, CentreLeft, Centre, CentreRight etc., and can also be overridden with a custom value for unique cases.

One piece of the puzzle is still missing, because in many cases we want to give objects a position from a specific corner of their parent. Think of the case of the FPS display, where we want it to be at the bottom-right corner of the screen. Rather than providing the screen’s width and height (which could change at any point!), it is much nicer if we can give it a position of (0,0) from the BottomRight corner. This is done using Anchors. Let’s look at the FPS display in a bit more detail!

The FpsCounter contains three sub-components:

  • Frame-rate display
  • Frame delay display
  • Dropped frames display

You can see in the diagram above how these are arranged in a (hopefully trivial) heirarchy. Now let’s figure out the positions, anchors and origins required to make this happen:

This is a very simple example as we don’t need to worry about assigning a different anchor and origin to a single object; they are always the same. This is actually quite a common scenario, but there are cases where this is not true. I’ll leave it up to your imagination where this would come up, but as a hint, consider that all scale/rotation animations applied are also based on the Origin.

You can click on any of the diagrams above to get a larger view. Please let me know if the explanations provided here are simple enough to follow, and if not, let me know where you got lost so I can improve on further posts.

As we are aiming to open source the client in the near future (this year), I plan on doing more posts like this to help people understand what kind of framework they will be exposed to. Oh, and if you want to know how we did things until this rewrite, think of the above example without the concept of more than one level of heirarchy

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meet ephemeral!

published 17 Feb 2016

Hi everyone, I’m Ephemeral! I’ve been with osu! for a while now (since 2009) and have been ambling about behind the scenes for nearly as long, helping stuff get done and the like. Some things have recently come to bear, and I’ve been asked to help bring some clarity to the matter.

As many of you are probably aware, things have been particularly rocky in the community over the past week or so. A number of fairly big changes were added, then removed, then readjusted and proposed again, then removed again.. A mess and a half, to say the least. Everything went belly-up for a little while, and we’re only now just starting to get our head wrapped around things again.

During this whole fiasco, one of the biggest issues expressed by the community is the lack of transparency in how “staff” decisions are made and affect the game. This is something that as a team, we typically struggle with. Most of our major discussions happen behind closed doors, a product of years of tradition dating back to the very first years of the game, when the community was far, far smaller.

For the longest time, the community was small enough that any concerns would trickle through the engaged user-base and ultimately end up being noticed by someone involved who could do something about it. Over the years, osu!’s community has grown above and beyond our wildest expectations, and it is entirely fair to say that we have dropped the ball on adjusting our decision-making practices to account for this.

So, going forward, we aim to be entirely transparent with our thought processes leading up to the big decisions that impact everyone in the community.

What better place to start than with the issues of the past week?

With that in mind, we have constructed a unified timeline of the decisions pre-dating the infamous “Mapset and Spread” restructure that sent the community into a furore, as well as the “Ranking Criteria Council” concept (which has been met with similar levels of disdain).

It is our hope that by placing the events leading up to the birth of these decisions into the public view, we can work together to find out the best way of moving forward from here, and to make sure that something like this does not happen again.

We have suspended all movement in the Ranking Criteria changes for (at very least) the remainder of the week, and will use this time to gather your feedback and our thoughts on how we may best proceed from now on.

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For Those Wondering How Osunext Is Coming

published 09 Feb 2016

For those wondering how “osu!next” is coming along, here’s some of the progress we’ve been making. It may look like very basic stuff, but let me give you an idea of what is going on here:

We’ve been working to clean up the osu! codebase so it is easier to follow and contribute to. The existing framework means visual objects inside other objects (for things like scrollable views) have been limited in how they can be transformed. Movement has been easy, but anything beyond that requires quite convoluted code.

This video is an early preview of a drawable class inside another drawable class inside a third drawable class. Each can have transformations applied to them, which affect all of their children (movement, two-dimensional scale, rotation, colour and alpha).

Input is also masked correctly to only propagate downwards to the correct objects. You might notice that the boxes themselves aren’t masked to their parents yet; this is something we are still working on.

I coded up this example in a few minutes just to show what we’re up to behind the scenes. The whole class is under 100 lines for this demo, and about half of that will be unnecessary once we finish correcting the viewport implementation (so children can set their own coordinate system independent of the parent).

Yes, the “osu!next” design is still yet to take shape, but once we get the basics down things will be really really fast to actually implement. We’ve been holding off until the framework is ready to accept lots of new pieces entering it at a rapid pace.

This is the culmination of an effort over the last year, recently brought up-to-date by smoogipooo TVO and myself. It’s been a struggle to keep it merged alongside the constantly changing mainstream branch, but we are currently mending it with the aim of merging it into CE in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

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2016-01

published 04 Feb 2016

It has been a while since I’ve posted on general osu! progress, so here’s a cumulative update for January! It’s safe to say we’re making good progress in a lot of areas, though personally I still want to see more happen faster.

Infrastructure Improvements

There has been a pretty large spike in concurrent users over the last couple of months. In order to keep things working smoothly with the increased demand, I’ve begun to add additional servers where they didn’t exist before. The first of these to be introduced was a dedicated score submission server, decoupling it from the main private API backend server (previously handled score retrieval as well). Deployment of specific web-based tasks has always been quite modular, so adding new servers fortunately comes with little overhead, apart from the added cost. Work continues this week as I prepare servers for the added load caused by Chinese New Year.

In addition to processing servers, I’ve also been expanding the download mirrors to make sure the osu! game client, updates and associated resources are streamed as fast as possible to the various regions of the world. More to come on this, since I find content distribution quite an interesting area to discuss!

Skin Preview

Now live on cutting-edge, skin gameplay preview has finally come back. Rather than a specifically crafted game mode, it will randomly choose a beatmap, set the mods to Autoplay and seek to an area of the beatmap where you can see some action. The options menu is now able to stay open in this mode, allowing you to make changes to the skin (and other settings) while instantly seeing how it affects gameplay.

New Interface Sounds

I mentioned these at the end of last year, but they are now added on cutting-edge. You can go check them out yourself. They are also all skinnable.

OWC Prizes

We got our workflow sorted for sending tournament prizes out. The main osu!store’s fulfillment centre is already under enough load, so we had to setup a second fulfillment centre specifically for handling these prizes. Everything is going smooth now, and all OWC 2015 prizes have now been sent out to the winning teams!

New osu!web releases

The new osu! website is slowly beginning to take form! The beatmap listing is now live (ignore the low quality thumbnails please), along with new sections on user profiles including history, beatmaps and achievements. Livestreams are also visible, though the design is in need of severe revision.

Progress on the new web is about 10,000x slower than I want it to be. I’m still trying to figure out how to improve this without sitting down and completing it myself. If you are someone that has seen the bounty system we are running but something is holding you back from contributing, please let me know so I can do everything in my power to help increase productivity on the project! I will be announcing many more bounties over the coming weeks, so keep an eye out here and on the github repo.

Reddit Presence

I threw some effort into trying to get some degree of order in /r/osugame (to the point I would be personally happy to return there). Things are looking good, with cheating reports separated into a new dedicated sub-reddit. There’s a lot of unique conversation, content and meta that doesn’t make it on the official osu! forums, so if you don’t already frequent that place, you may want to check the sub-reddit out once in a while and see if it’s something you want to follow along with!

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