Follow-up Comment #2, patch #4739 (project freeciv):
In my opinion, the default ruleset benefits wonderfully from an active
maintainer, and it makes sense to have continuous development: if we're not
introducing new engine features, the game appears stagnant (for all that it is
under active development). With an active ruleset developer, this would mean
that each major release could include new and different gameplay features (as
happens with the commercial "Civilization" series), perhaps maintaining
compatible rulesets emulating prior releases for those who prefer the old
rules), rather than just enabling them for the mod community.
My understanding of the current development model is that new features are put
in the experimental ruleset for the branch in which they are enabled in the
engine (although only some features seem to make it: some get skipped because
nobody is sure if they match the style), and during release preparation,
features are migrated from the experimental ruleset to the default (now
classic) ruleset on an ad-hoc basis. This process could be improved with
ruleset feature development in trunk, balance adjustments and cleanup in
pre-release branches, and bugfixes in released branches.
Note that as engine features are developed, these may necessitate changes in
all the rulesets in an affected branch (possibly to enable a new feature, but
often just to keep the rulesets from failing to load, even with the feature
disabled). Given the small number of folk who play against trunk, this means
that most new engine features haven't had much playtesting. It may make sense
to maintain a playtesting experimental modpack that is playable on the prior
release (e.g. freeciv-2.5 default rules, playable on freeciv-2.4 engine),
which could be used to collect useful feedback on what should be included in
the default ruleset for the next release.
The fate of the "experimental" ruleset is also worth discussion: should the
current state be preserved (some players may like it)? Should it be adjusted
to be a patchwork ruleset enabling every possible engine feature (even if not
particularly playable)? Should it continue to be a place to introduce new
features, some of which might end up in "classic"? Should it be replaced with
a new ruleset based on "civ2civ3" but exposing engine features which might
imbalance gameplay, used for playtesting new features?
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