So, my name's Josh. My friends call me Cheese. I run twolofbees.com with my wonderful partner Miriam, where we hope that our artwork brings a smile or two to people's faces. I'm a Free Software enthusiast and have contributed code and graphics to Neverball. I run the Tasmanian Linux Users Group meetings in Launceston (Australia), and I was on the organising committee for linux.conf.au 2009. I've also given talks to OCLUG in Ottawa (Canada). I have six guitars, a keyboard, a flute, a harmonica, a set of bongos, and play all of them very badly. I tend to write about things in Long Winded Fashion when they excite me. Currently I'm excited about interviewing people working on projects relating to Free/Open Source communities. I've worked on several Half-Life mods in the past and have a couple of work-in-progress games that I'm hoping to find time to complete soon. My first computer was an Amiga 500, and I suffer heavily from Amiga Users Syndrome to this day. My kingdom for a line break.
Posted by Cheeseness on Jun 19th, 2012
Below is an excerpt from an interview I recently published with Robert Kooima, original developer of the open source game Neverball. The full two part interview can be found here: Cheesetalks.twolofbees.com
What motivated you to make Super Empty Ball (Neverball's working title) open source? Do you have any specific reasons for choosing GPL2?
There was never any doubt in my mind that my work should be open source. I had been an open source user for many years and I admired its philosophy. I was drawn to contribute to the free software movement, but I never succeeded in making so much as a scratch in the Linux kernel, emacs, gcc, or any of the other notables. If I couldn't contribute to something significant, then perhaps at least I could try to create something significant. Of course I knew that nothing that I could do would be as important as the kernel or the compiler, but there was an obvious gap in open source gaming that I stood a chance of helping to fill.
As for GPL version 2, it was simply the most current version at the time. I do appreciate the viral nature of the GPL under the right circumstances, and I do feel that it's not appropriate in all cases (so I apply the MIT license to much of my output), but GPL was definitely the right choice for Neverball.
What goals did you have for Puttnik (the project that eventually grew into Neverball)/Super Empty Ball when you began? How many of them have been realised, how many of them are still relevant, and how many has Neverball grown away from?
My primary early goal was to produce a stereoscopic virtual reality miniature golf game with a motion sensor attached to a putter. I did all of those things, but never did put them together. My work both with Neverball and with immersive virtual environments grew vastly beyond a simple putt game, so I don't feel there was an opportunity missed.
How did you go about opening up the project to community contribution? Did you find it easy or difficult to allow others to have input and bring their own ideas and priorities to the project?
It was very difficult, but I got past it once I let go of my ego. I think it's an all-or-nothing issue, like pushing a baby bird out of the nest. It's tough but necessary. Once the decision is made, then it's over. I feel that an open source project lead can have either total control or zero control, and anything else will lead to animosity, infighting, and failure.
How have you found the experience of working together with people from other countries and cultures?
Earthlings are easy to work with.
What do you think the most major and significant developments have been since/including the first community release? Have there been any surprises?
I really can't point to any one thing. I'm deeply impressed by people's ability to make sense of the bowl of spaghetti that I cooked years ago, tearing out single strands here and there and delicately threading better pastas in their place. It's a solid piece of work now, and everyone who has contributed to it should feel proud.
I guess the single biggest surprise was Nuncabola. Where a normal code fork begins at the source and heads somewhere else, Nuncabola is like an anti-fork: it begins with a completely different code base and ends up at the same place.
Don't forget you can read the full two part interview (as well as a detailed history of the Neverball project) at Cheesetalks.twolofbees.com