Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed.
First question: When did you first hear about JMonkeyEngine?
Way back in 2014, after a long period of developing desktop applications, servers, and minecraft plugins, I decided to look into writing games. At that time I was more into C#, but XNA was a sinking ship, so looked at alternatives. I found jMonkey and gave it a shot.
What made me stay with JME was the community. Actual developers of the engine would respond to my questions, which was encouraging and made me want to continue with it and contribute back. A lot of what I know now is down to the fact that people far more educated in game development than me took the time to share their knowledge.
I had a similar experience.
What were your first steps? Did you install the SDK right away?
I did install the SDK! At that time the SDK was “the thing to use,” and it was a cutting-edge tool.
I distinctly remember making an infinite-terrain world with a 2-D heightmap and cars.
And I remember some of the first mistakes I made, too: wondering why adding lights everywhere was slowing down my game (in a forward-rendering pipeline) and why shadows weren’t realistic with multiple lights.
I also remember Normen Hansen tutoring me into developing plugins and improving the SDK. For me, that was great. I felt like part of the family, and it was extremely encouraging to interact with such an intelligent and giving bunch of developers.
Suppose the old you (from 2014) was transported to the present, as a newcomer to the JMonkeyEngine community. What advice would you give yourself?
I think it’s important to make mistakes to become better at what you do. We all start with big ideas, and virtually all come to realize it’s way more difficult than we anticipated. That’s a learning process we all need to go through.
So my advice would be to keep doing what you’re doing, but don’t be disheartened by not achieving your goals on the first attempt. It takes years to become proficient.
Listen to those that know better and try to understand why they came to that conclusion.
Learning is not always about being right!
Next question: You’re currently JMonkeyEngine’s community manager. How did that role come about?
My primary talent is finding ways of getting things done. If it can be done, I can do it. That’s always been my attitude.
When it became apparent that there was a lack of direction, it rolled around in my head for quite some time. What could do to improve things? Did I have it in myself to keep the momentum going?
How has your passion for the role evolved?
My passion for the job remains the same as it was when I took the role, but I must admit it is a challenge!
I’ve managed companies, people, websites, servers, and all things in-between, but I’ve never managed an open-source project of this size. You don’t pay people. You have no definite control over what people do or don’t do. Instead you have to rely on support, trust, and a rather large dose of doing it yourself to encourage movement.
It’s very rewarding to work together to keep jMonkey alive and to see genuine improvement as time goes by.
Of all your JMonkeyEngine projects, which have given you the greatest satisfaction?
The most satisfying thing I’ve written for jMonkey is the JmonkeyStore. It’s nice to create something that brings people together and provides so much use.
If I had to choose something other than the store, it would be the shadows project for my game Animalia. It took me over a week — probably ten days — and countless headaches to get it just right, and when it finally worked it was ultra satisfying to have overcome all the issues.
What’s next for JmonkeyStore? Are you still adding features? Where do we stand with respect to its Patreon goals?
I’d love to allow buying and selling software.
There will also be the option of giving a developer a one-time payment of the buyers choice — a sort of “buy me a beer” option. As time goes by, it should bring more users to the community.
We’re about a third of the way to being able to do that. It’s a very exciting prospect to look forward to!
Have you paid any bug bounties yet?
The bug bounty system is another great tool we can bring forward when the Patreon sponsorship increases. It’s something I’m very much looking forward to switching on. It’s a great way to get contributions moving forward — and even finding bugs.
No bounties will be set until we increase funding. Right now the funding doesn’t warrant much incentive. It would only support one bounty every 2-4 months, which would stall things and probably cause more harm than good.
For now, we are funding the monthly costs of our web presence and services, paid for by our generous community.
I guess that’s enough for now.
I enjoyed conducting this interview. Thank you for your time.