How suggested features die 'miserable deaths'

One of my recurrent question in my interviews with Wesnoth developers, contributors and users relates to negotiations between users (and their wishes for game improvement) and developers (and their efforts to improve the game).

Being a quite mature project, Wesnoth already developed its own governance mechanisms to deal with users' feature requests. I consider the Why doesn't Wesnoth have my favorite feature FAQ as an artefact of this maturity, however the way in which this disclaimer plays out in practice, in the daily life of the project, is of interest for my research and it does not show in the FAQ.

As of now, the account quoted below is one of the best description, I received during my interviews, of how ideas get suggested, discussed, implemented/rejected in the Wesnoth project.

Data collection - Overview on interviewing

At the end of March, I wrote this entry about recruitment for interviews. If I recall correctly, at that time I had a total of about 13 interviews (few completed, some undergoing, many yet to start). Four months later, recruitment and interviewing are still one of my major activity, and this is the current situation:

  • 21 interviews successfully completed:
  • 10 interviews currently undergoing:
  • 7 interviews on hold/waiting for confirmation:
  • 2 refusal only, so far.

Surprisingly, the most chosen interviewing medium is the forum private messages system. 9 interviews happened over e-mails, 4 through IRC and one face-to-face. All the remaining interviews run through the forum PM. I did not expected it, but it is a nice surprise.

Successes and transitions in Wesnoth-UMC-dev

The Coordinated Wesnoth UMC Development Project aims to solve some common issues found in cooperative and solo development of add-ons for the Battle for Wesnoth, by providing facilities for coordination, organization and collaboration using SourceForge.net’s great platform for open-source projects. (Link)

It looks like Wesnothian people really like (and probably need) this platform for collaborative add-on development. Indeed, few days ago, the Wesnoth-UMC-dev project hit the 10000th commit to the repository since the day the project was launched, in 2008.

Since the day it was launched many new add-ons were registered to the Wesnoth-UMC-dev project and many new contributors started using the platform. As of today, the UMC-dev registry lists 88 projects more or less equally divided amongst, Eras, Campaigns, and miscellaneous utilities. Few of these got registered in 2008, in UMC-dev's early days, however, many others joined in the following years.

On motivations - Quote from the field

"Stumbling upon people on IRC channels who recognize me as the “Wesnoth guy” (or even “<CAMPAIGNNAME> guy” in one opportunity about one month ago, in a system admin-oriented Linux distribution IRC channel no less) is also very motivating." (Wesnoth developer&contributor, 28/06/2011)

On features suggestion - Quote from the field

 

"People have a lot of ideas about how Wesnoth could be improved. Some get turned down because they're bad. Some get turned down because they're not possible. A lot get turned down because they're already possible to do in an add-on. But some get turned down because of “developer preference”. Those are things where the developers just like something better a certain way." (Wesnoth contributor, 12/06/2011)

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