Yes, indeed. The Software Architecture course at Aarhus University (which is where the FreeCiv founders are from) now contains the HotCiv project: "This project develops a framework for defining strategy games similar to the classic computer game, Civilization." The lecturer, Henrik Bærbak, wrote a textbook for the course: http://www.baerbak.com/description.html
We're always looking for more good developers!
Just enjoyably spent an hour remembering exactly how quickly an hour goes when playing freeciv.
(Remember: freeciv is a community effort. Complaining is always much easier than helping to make it better)
To some extent the same issue bugs open source art tools (like Gimp, etc), what those projects would need is some professional artists using them, at least every now and then. If professional programmers had a similar attitude to open source programming tools, our industry would look very different than it does today (remember buying a compiler, on floppy disks, in a shrink wrapped box?).
I wonder what personality trait in us programmers makes us willing to work without compensation on our free time and why it doesn't seem to be present in artists, user interface designers and others whose contributions would be valued by the community :)
Basically if you're programmer you can find some some project on github, check that some feature missing or bug exist and just by reading code implement or fix it. If you just stick to the project coding guidelines most of the time you'll get code review, advices, requests and then contribution going to be accepted. Easy.
In same time when you're UI designer it's not easy. UI designer would have to prove that his version of UI is better and why. As there is no one managing project and take decisions it's can be tough to argue with programmers.
And for artist there is usually no one to talk with at all. What worse due to lack of management most of open source games don't even have some list of assets they need, not even talking about art style guidelines.
So problem isn't the fact that artists don't want to contribute, but that there is no one to accept these contributions. Just as everyone they don't like idea of working for rubbish bin.
PS: Project where art contributions handled properly is 0 A.D. So open source game with quality art and style is doable, but require some management effort.
Eh, when we're talking about new features or major architectural changes rather than bugfixes, there's often quite a fight to get your code up-streamed when your changes are significant; it goes from "style" arguments all the way up to "your feature is a bad one"
this is probably similar to what would happen with art. If you wanted to draw a slightly better ironclad, it'd probably be pretty easy to get it accepted. If you want to change the look and feel of the whole goddamn thing, good luck with that; release your own tile set.
Problem with art is that unlike with bugs nobody even know what needed and what isn't. As result there is really low guarantee that art you can make actually going to be used.
If you have a very small patch that obviously fixes something broken and doesn't change much else, you are gonna have an easy time, be that change art or code. And as you said, either way, that's how you should probably start. Little things.
Either way, if you want to make major changes, be those changes in art or code, you are going to meet resistance, especially if you don't already have social capital built up in the project by making lots of smaller changes.
Getting your changes upstream in a open-source project is a fundamentally social process. If you show up with a bunch of patches and then leave, well, a lot of your work is probably not going to get used. Hell, even if you do everything right, a lot of your work isn't going to get used. That's just how things work.
Still I can't agree that upstreaming of code is anything like hard in case of most open source games. There is only few projects that feature complete and have plenty of programmers. Of course such projects usually have higher requirements to contributors, but most of projects are newbie-friendly as they always happy to see more developers.
But all this is saying is that there are very few individuals who are willing to work on managing open source projects. Or at least they don't get in contact with the projects they could help with.
Open source projects need more contributors than just programmers, but how to achieve that is a hard question. Programmers don't make good artists, UI designers or managers, but finding individuals who would like to contribute is an issue.
Personally I'm participate development of VCMI (FOSS engine for Heroes of Might & Magic 3) and there is plenty of artists that contributed to modding community in past and totally okay with contributing their work under CC licenses. Sure that for more popular titles it's may be even easier.
But I agree it's really tricky to find contributors who going to work on brand new game or professional software like GIMP.
Have you seen any discussions around things like: new Firefox UI, concepts for new LibreOffice UI, new versions of Gnome and KDE? Many communities certainly aren't very good at letting designers feel valued. Graphics is a perfect bike-shedding issue: everyone can have an opinion, can point to X examples that are "better" and many projects have difficulties to deal with that.
Graphics also profits very much from a consistent style, which a) requires someone to create such a style, b) for contributors to adhere to it. This makes small-scale contributions harder and less interesting, so it is harder for new designers to get started. Which again makes it harder to find people willing to do most of the work (which would lead to more consistent styles).
Most projects have coding leads that police code contributions in style. For graphics, you'd need a graphics lead that can have a similar role for design and is backed enough that they can ignore some criticism. Which leads back to the issue of getting people started and into such a trusted position. It requires trust by the designer that their invested time will be worth it, and trust by the project that handing a lot of control to the designer will have a good result and that they'll stay on board.
It seems to me that as a code contributor it is easier to "rise through the ranks" from small commits (and potentially staying there without issues). Splitting graphics work in small but interesting chunks seems way harder.
One game where it seems to have worked reasonably well is the transportation simulation Simutrans. There is a multitude of tilesets, but some of them work really well, despite being made by multiple people. Most of them are whimsical pixel-art style, which probably makes it easier to mix and match styles.
(Sorry if this comment is a bit all-over-the-place, but as I was writing new angles appeared)
With design, it's subjective (this is key), and benefits from a comprehensive approach by a dictator. Many small contributions from a large number of contributors is not a good thing (generally). It turns into design by committee; which in general, just generates shit. Part of this is because you can't design isolated parts, you need an overall working view and inderstanding of the entire functioning system at all times.
You can get around this with extremely strict style rules, which would allow the same type of contributor patterns as the coding side of things. But that's very rare to find, for one because it's extremely difficult to create those rules in the first place.
Creating a decent looking tileset (GPL licence)from scratch (no Civ2/official scenario units or derivatives allowed) isn't easy. Luckily I knew some scenario makers & graphic designers from the Civ2 scenario community and received their permission to use some of their work in Freeciv. They made some amazing stuff* in their days and a selection of their work is included in the Amplio set.
There a few units in there by me as well. If you look closely you'll even find a small easter egg.
*For those who still have a copy of Civ2/ToT lying around and have some time to burn. Check out Captain Nemo's "Red Front" scenario. It's a full blown civ2 re-enactment of operation Barbarossa from start to finish with changing rulesets & tiles (summer and winter conditions). Too bad that Freeciv didn't really have any proper scenario tools. "Red Front" would have been a perfect showcase.
1) The devs don't play nice with designers, so... why would the designer want to contribute?
2) There is no product manager there to drive features, or make the devs play nice with the designers, or push deadlines... and if there were the devs would probably bail.
So... yeah. This is why open source projects tend to suck... you don't have product managers or designers. Just devs to who do a half-ass job of PM and UX. Anyone can say all they want about management and schedules and planning... at the end of the day job security for managers is ensured due to the fact that devs, when left alone, produce inferior quality software.
I don't think it is much more prevalent in programmers than artists. (That's why I also think that the 'show me your GH profile'-style recruitment is shortsighted; most of the best coders I've ever met (who I consider geniuses, really) had no OSS contributions at all, they just make boatloads of money at bigcos (Google, MS, fintech)).
I am not aware of any other trades / industries where people work on things to give away for free in their own time (and even be expected to do so in order to get a job)
(I suppose more for the first part of what you are asking and not so much for the second part, but then there are several companies paying people to make edits to OSM)
You do not understand why Open Source exists, how it works, or why people contribute to it.
Any "community" based activity such as neighborhood watch, habitat for humanity, barn raising.
Of course it's not the same thing as releasing your work under permissive license, but most of content on sites like DeviantArt artists wasn't paid for.
Artists, lagging behind in new technologies, still didn't embrace these projects as means to self promotion. But I believe this will greatly improve with time.
No, they don't. Look at the various art communities (DeviantART, Tumblr, etc.). Much like open source, there's a vast amount of art being put out there for free for the sheer fun of it as well as for self-promotion.
I think the issue with open source games is simply social and cultural: there wasn't an effort to involve artists from the beginning, and so they didn't get involved.
Unfortunately, while the comment above was rather acerbic and in poor taste, the idea that you should keep your comments to yourself unless you can directly help the situation is not in itself helpful.
For instance, I can point out that you might have a scary looking mole on your neck, and should probably go see a dermatologist, without actually being a dermatologist.
It appears to look like this nowadays: https://play.freeciv.org/webclient/?action=new
Th web based game works great (and IMO the graphics are certainly polished to at least civ3 standards).
Some people appreciate retro looks, but everything from the sprite resolution to the colour palette feels like a nineties aesthetic.
There's also some layout logic at work. If you look at the way the units are aligned in the tileset you may notice that defensive units point right and offensive units point left.
As far as I know, you have never been tempted to do anything to help them on that front either. But if that bothers you so much, feel free to ask for a refund !