I have been around Torque since near the beginning of GarageGames and I simply loved the engine and what it promised. I believed in the technology and was very upset to see how quickly GG lost focus. How many game engines were they trying to develop at one time? Quite frankly, I don't even think Unity is around today beyond a niche product if they would have stayed focus. I think the real turning point was Torque 2.0 (or whatever it was called). It was certainly sad to see it go MIT after I had invested a lot of money into Torque. Now, I have a much different attitude, I'm excited. That being said, there are still a great many things that worry me.
How can an open source project succeed? I think there are many examples of how they can succeed. Blender Foundation is a perfect example of how to do it. I think the major turn for them was the Open Movie projects. What did it do for them? It provided needed capital to develop tools that would be needed for the project and then give those tools back to the community. Blender, IMHO, is an awesome piece of software that provides a tremendous feature set that is capable of being used professionally. Other open source projects that are very success are Krita and GIMP (though less so as of late ).
So what am I proposing? Quite simply, a plan.
1) Identify a core team to lead an Open Game project.
2) Identify the game concept and create preliminary design, technical, and art documentation.
3) Approach the Blender Foundation about co-developing the project.
4) Run an INDIEGOGO or Kickstarter campaign to get funding for the project (or even through Blender.org).
5) Commence the project.
6) Market the project and build the community.
7) Establish a long-term core team with a centralized location (if possible).
Who should be in the core team?
This should be made up of experienced community members who can oversee the rest of the team (contractors, less experienced devs, etc). It is vital that people have trust in the team and that they are capable of completing the project.
What kind of game?
Quite frankly, I think this is an easy answer. Make a Tribes-esque game. Many people from the original GG community were die-hard fans of the Tribes series of games and the series still has a following today. I believe that this type of game is also ideal for a smaller project because we can implement the gameplay mechanics and focus on creating just a few fun, polished maps rather than spending a large amount of resources trying to create a game that is way out of scope for our resources. Additionally, the game can be expanded after release by the mod community.
Why approach the Blender Foundation?
Like it or not, we need more credibility. The Blender Foundation will bring much needed credibility and potentially bring the support of the open source community. As a Blender user, I would love to see additional game-development related features funneled into Blender. Much of the art could come via the Blender Foundation as well.
Why a campaign?
Like it or not, many of the developers of Open Source projects have a full-time job. This means less focus on making this happen. Having a budget to pay some people full-time will go along way with making progress.
Quite simply, people need to know that Torque is alive and development continues. It will also be important to identify the specific engine related features that are being developed with the game to keep the community excited and supportive of the project.
Why establish formal centralization?
I see the biggest advantage for this in the long term. It would be great to have a few full-time people working on this, even if was just 2 or 3 people. It would help the engine progress and they could additionally oversee the development of additional Open Game projects in the future.
Sorry to be so long winded, but I believe that Torque can be a highly successful OpenSource project, but I think we need some focus and a tangible goal.