Summer of Code/GSoC Ideas 2020
If you'd like to get involved in ScummVM - or one of our sister projects, such as ResidualVM - we'd love to help you get started!
We've had a lot of successful student projects as part of Google's Summer of Code in previous years -- we hope to inspire you to work with us and (hopefully) add your own success.
We often get asks by students with no experience with ScummVM whether they have the necessary skills to participate with us. The idea of GSoC is to introduce students to open source development, so we are not expecting you to have experience with ScummVM. You will have time during the application and community bonding periods to familiarize yourself with the project. The technical skills required to work with us varies from task to task. For any work on ScummVM, you'll probably need to already be comfortable with a basic level of C++. Some of the tasks might need more specialized knowledge (for example, working with ResidualVM may need you to understand some OpenGL and 3D math, and some engine tasks may require some assembly or reverse engineering knowledge); we give our thoughts about this alongside each suggested task, below.
Most importantly, we'd like you to join our community. There are many previous GSoC participants who are still involved in our project, and whether or not you participate as part of Summer of Code, we'd love for you to get involved too.
You should come to our IRC Channel and introduce yourself! We're friendly, and it's often the easiest way to ask questions about the tasks and the code in general. The channel is the main form of everyday communication for the project, and there will almost always be developers there who can discuss your project ideas, answer questions and help out.
You can find more information about what we expect from you before you apply at GSoC Application.
We have a list of potential tasks further down on this page, but before you look at them, perhaps you'd like to take a look at some of the successful projects from previous years! We encourage all of our students to maintain a blog during their summer work, which is a nice way to get some sense of what they accomplished.
One popular type of task is to improve our support for the games you love, whether this means a new game engine, or helping us to perfect an existing one.
Sometimes source code is available - in recent summers, students integrated code supporting games such as Sfinx (blog), The Prince and the Coward (blog) and Avalanche (blog) into ScummVM. In fact, our support for the Wintermute engine was not only started by a GSoC student (blog), who integrated the code into our tree, but also drastically improved by another student a year later (blog).
A more challenging (but hopefully rewarding) idea is to start (or continue) reverse engineering a game where no source is available. Two good examples are the pair of students who drastically improved ResidualVM's support for Escape from Monkey Island (blog, blog), and the work on improving Operation Stealth (blog). Another option is to work on merging (and improving) someone else's reverse engineering work, such as was done with the ZVision engine (blog).
If you'd prefer to improve ScummVM more directly, there are even more options available there; in the past, students have (to give some examples) improved our OpenGL support, added a testing framework (blog), improved our scaler code (blog), written a new GUI framework, added loadable modules for embedded platforms (blog), rearchitected our keyboard input code (blog) and added support for high-colour (16bpp and above) graphics. It's difficult for us to imagine ScummVM as it was before some of these projects, you can make a huge difference!
The ideas here are meant to be just that - ideas. We hope they help inspire your proposals, but you should also consider suggesting your own completely new project ideas. Pick something you really want to see improved/fixed, and come and talk to us about it!
If you're looking for more inspiration for ideas, beware of our TODO (and the other TODO lists linked from there) and our OpenTasks pages. Many of the tasks listed there might be incomplete or outdated, or too difficult for a new developer. The best thing to do is to come and talk to us!
If you already have reverse engineering experience, you could consider working on one of the external in-development game engines, or even on support for a new game. However, doing this kind of work is very difficult and time-consuming - you would have to convince us that you have the necessary skills to actually be sufficiently productive, probably by demonstrating some actual progress first.
If you don't feel quite up to that level of challenge, we have lots of other suggestions:
Technical contacts: sev
Difficulty level: Medium. You'll need a reasonable level of programming experience, and probably some Director games.
Many 90s-era adventure games were developed using the Macromedia (now Adobe) Director tool. It would be nice to be able to play these games in ScummVM! We have a WIP engine in ScummVM tree, but it requires much more work in order to implement all hundreds of Lingo commands.
Enhance SAGA engine
Technical contacts: sev
Difficulty level: Medium.
We have been supporting the Inherit the Earth game for a long while. However, Amiga versions are not yet supported by this target. We have the original source codes, and the main difference is the data bundles format.
An additional target is to support Chinese version of ITE, that would require reverse engineering with Ghidra, in order to understand how the game does rendering of CJK glyphs.
Difficulty level: Medium/hard. You'll need to be able to understand 3D graphics, and rearchitecture/design the relevant parts of the engine.
In 2012, support for games using the Wintermute engine was merged into ScummVM, but it still lacks support for games which use 3D graphics. It would be great to be able to play these games in ResidualVM!
ResidualVM project. See Wintermute 3D for more details.
In Cold Blood engine refactor
Difficulty level: Medium/hard. You'll need to be able to understand the relevant parts of the engine.
ResidualVM project. See ICB engine refactor for more details
Difficulty level: Hard. Good knowledge of C++ and assembly (x86 or 68K or 6502) is required.
The immortal was released in 1990 by Electronic Arts. It's a mix of genres involving RPG elements with action and puzzles. The gameplay is different one variant to the other, and all variants are written in assembly, making it more difficult to support all the variants.
In 2018, a GSoC student picked this task but, due to personal issues, didn't manage to complete the task. The purpose of the task is therefore to implement an engine for a variant of the game, using the original sources and the work of JoeFish as a documentation.
Bring your own Adventure or RPG
Technical contacts: Talk to us on IRC, or send us an email.
Difficulty: Hard. You'll need good knowledge of C++, as well as knowledge of (reading) assembly.
Our project consists of re-implementations of classic games, and we have listed a number of potential new game engines that you could work on here on our ideas page. However, you may have a classic 2D Adventure game or Role Playing Game (RPG) you are interested in yourself that is suitable for ScummVM that you would like to reverse engineer and re-implement. If so, great!
Adding a completely new game engine is not easy, and you will have to convince us that you are aware of the challenges involved, that the game you are interested in is feasible, and that you have the necessary skills. Preferably, you will already have done some preliminary investigation, into for example data file formats, disassembly, etc.
Please come talk to us to see if we have a mentor who would be interested in working with you on such a game. We'd be happy to help out.
Unicode and BiDi support for GUI
Technical contacts: sev
Difficulty: Easy. It will take up to 2 weeks to implement. C++ knowledge required.
ScummVM GUI is based on char size strings, so we have to rely on code pages. With this task, you would need to switch our GUI to usage of Common::U32String, thus making it Unicode-friendly.
Along the way, we would need support for right-to-left languages, and basically flip the widgets horizontally.
Finally, there's always plenty of other practical tasks on our wishlist!
Game packaging system
ScummVM offers 9 freeware games for download, but they need to be downloaded and installed manually. It would be great to develop a universal system which would let us describe a game, e.g. provide screenshots, game descriptions, metadata, and package it for different platforms, so we could put them to different application distribution systems bundled together with ScummVM. For example, we could have Beneath a Steel Sky bundled together with ScummVM, with its own logo, description and instructions on how to add another game along the way.
Potentially and in the future this system could also be used for DLC on platforms which support it, like Steam, Android Play Store or Apple App Store, though support for Android and iOS is out of scope for this project.
Examples are: Linux packages, Google Play, Apple App Store, Steam, ForgeTV store, and anything beyond that.
Support for shaders and arbitrary scalers
Technical contacts: sev
ScummVM uses software scalers for graphics enhancements. In 2012 we were running GSoC for turning them into plugins. That work needs to be completed, basically, it is just rebasing of the patch. The rebasing was started here: https://github.com/digitall/scummvm/tree/gsoc2012-scalers-cont
Modern systems often have OpenGL with shader support. RetroArch project shaders are standard for them in open source gaming. LordHoto started work on adding support for those to ScummVM. His unfinished work could be found here: https://github.com/lordhoto/scummvm/tree/libretro-shader
We need to add both improvements to our scaler system. Recent PSP2 port already adds some basics for scalers, particularly in GUI, so that could be reused too.
We need to have it tested on desktops and at least Android, but preferably also Windows and iOS.
Technical contacts: bgK
The goal of this project is to add a programming interface to ScummVM that other programs could use to interact with it. This would allow advanced users to write companion applications such as:
- Game interface enhancement tools: Automappers for RPG / Interactive Fiction games. Interactive hint systems for adventure games.
- Input automation tools: Regression testing / Tool Assisted Speedrun scripts.
- Highly integrated frontends.
- Debugging / game development tools.
The interface needs to be bi-directional with the companion application being able to send requests to query information from ScummVM and to receive responses, but also for ScummVM to send notifications to the clients. The interface needs to be easy to integrate with from various programming languages and easy to experiment with.
The scope of the project is to design and implement the base system in ScummVM for Windows and Unix (using Named pipes / Unix domain sockets for communication), and to write a high quality companion application for one of the game engines in ScummVM.
Move Detection Code to the Main Executable
ScummVM grows every year, and for decreasing the executable size, we have dynamic plugins system in-place. During detection, we are loading every plugin and try to detect files. The relevant code interface is called MetaEngine. This is not effective and quite slow.
What is needed in this task, is changing our plugin system, so detection-related part of MetaEngine goes straight into the main ScummVM executable, and the engines are not required to load for detection.
Benefits would be faster game detection as well as the ability to detect games even if the corresponding plugin is missing, and let the user know which plugin is missing and needed to play that game.
You need a medium knowledge of C++ for this task. Some bash shell knowledge is a plus.