SL Gaming – My enthusiasm shift

Im an SL user of two minds, on the one hand I’m optimistic and supportive of the Second Life Platform and have empathy for those who work under the Linden monicker trying to make things better for everyone. But I’m also quick to say “WTF LINDEN LAB, GARGHHH WHYYYY!! &&*@*¢##€^£!!!”

 

Enthusiasm

Back in 2011 when Rodvik (now known as ‘Where’s Rodvik’) took command there was this thing called SLCC which was a real world convention SL users would get excited about and meet the Lindens. The last one i remember seeing had a team from the lab showing new gaming possibilities they were working on.

Since then that team seems to have gone along with the gaming possibilities and the vast majority of enthusiasm i had gained from ‘Where’s Rodvik’ and Linden Realms. Except thats not really true, i still have tones of enthusiasm which is why i get so frustrated and annoyed when ever i think about gaming in SL. I am just so dam fed up of having to script complicated work arounds in order to give users a simple fun experience.

And while i perhaps foolishly believe everything awesome is just on hold while the Lab hack and slash away at the back end of the grid to improve it before adding awesome, there is a worry LL just gave up because they lack the enthusiasm. If this is actually the case, can you blame them though?

 

Whats happened with Pathfinding?

Linden Lab must have put months of hard work into adding pathfinder and it’s hard to find many examples where it’s used.

Originally touted as allowing complex Ai, pathfinding turned out to be quite a nifty tool for creating more dynamic moving creatures. I was very excited with it and could not wait to start using it.

When it finally arrived amid a barrage of User generated lies about performance degradation, i found it a lot more complicated to set up than i was expecting. It isn’t a simple task of adding a pathfinding script to an object , you have to set up the surfaces on which the object will walk. Suddenly this tool becomes extremely complex even if to LL’s credit it’s the most simplest way they could implement it on the SL platform.

I tried using pathfinding for a Pixie game but could not stop it walking into a wall. I used it for attacking Goblins but they kinda cost to much land impact. I did however successfully use pathfinding for my shadow monsters in T H E  W E L L so the potential is there if you find the right use for it and maybe thats why we are not seeing many Pathfinding examples.

 

Seriously? Still making sculpties?

“BUT I WANT IT TO LOOK LIKE THAT!” says Metareality’s Kimberly Winnington with regards to comparing SL graphics with the new PS4 which made me LOL while walking home from the dentist. Fact is, even if SL could produce graphics of the PS4, unless SL content creators start using the same kind of tools Games Developers use to create efficient content SL will keep looking dated.

We are now almost two years into having Mesh import and I’m still arriving at new places, new experiences that make me wait 10 minutes before all the blobs have loaded and brought my computer to a grinding halt. I can tell when something is a Sculpty due to it first appearing as a huge blob and its signature swirling Sculpt Sphincter where the UV map converges into a tight texture stretching single point.

SculptySphincter

I fear some content creators are just ‘sticking to what they know’  others use sculpts just to beat the land impact system which ultimately leads to Sculpty Sphincters and high viewer display costs. I can understand places still having Sculpts because they have been there since before mesh, but NEW places with NEW content that is NEWLY created Sculpty prims. You are not helping the grid!

 

Still enthusiastic about gaming, but only just.

So all the enthusiasm i had about gaming in Second Life is still there, it’s just not the same enthusiasm i had when ‘Where’s Rodvik’ was enthusiastic about gaming in Second Life.

Some leading Games/Hunt Creators in SL are already at the platforms limit. i’ve heard them say they want to expand and do more but find the SL platform limited and unable to accommodate their creative itch. It’s only fare that a creator gets to a point in the platform before moving to bigger arenas, but it’s a shame SL can’t retain the experienced creators it has nurtured this far.

unity4

For me the possibilities are still there in SL, they are just a lot harder to do than i was hoping by now. But i can’t deny that i’ve started looking beyond the SL platform for further game creating experience. The Games industry as a whole is very interesting at the moment with small game developer teams disrupting the industry with truly original indie games.

It’s a shame Second Life might have missed an opportunity again. Or maybe the amount of potential game creators in SL is just to small to invest so much time supporting with new tools that might not get used once all the hard work is done.