THE STATE OF PLAY

Experience Permissions are still not here. It’s got to the point where I’m talking to someone who does not use Second Life and I’m explaining what I’ve recently been doing with story telling and HUDS and RPG. They genuinely get excited and suggest ideas that I’ve obviously already thought about but cant implement due to the way SL works. In some cases i could do some of the gameplay elements suggested, but with the experience I’ve gained i’ve learnt that if things are to complex for me to understand then i should not use them.

It was also funny to hear at the mention of the ‘experience permissions’ , “what? That still not out? you was telling me about that years ago”, well yes i was.

I used to run Role Play events in Second Life, it is what got me noticed in New Babbage. That was all by accident really, thanx to Professor Nishi blogging about a painting on my wall that exploded into a four month long unplanned role-play story. Every year after that i did a story adding new story telling mechanics. By the time i did Dark Aether falls my story telling had become a complex system of HUDs, Machinima, clue hunting and monster bashing that had varying levels of accessibility for those new to SL and those who had been in New Babbage for years.

It all got rather complex though and i felt i had hit a limit with what was possible. I got to a point where things stared to break because i was out there pushing the limits. for example HUD embedded shared media video was at the mercy of wether the flash plugin worked with viewer. I found some TPV’s played shared media differently.

So i took break from running Role Play stories for a year, which has turned into two. In that time I’ve been looking at ways to create easy to implement and update story telling mechanics and its not been easy.

health
The Escapades Bashable Project allows you to bash items around the island to get prizes. The HUD’s health metre is reduced by some of the monsters that can be released while bashing.

STORY TELLING

My most successful experiments have been in RPG style HUD caption story telling common in Japanese RPG games. This basically has a HUD with all the story elements inside that hear a command from an object and display the appropriate info. Once you have the HUD on its very simple, the complexity comes from needing the User to attach the HUD and in having the HUD auto update which I’m hoping Experience Permissions will help address. In future i would like people to arrive somewhere agree to playing the game and have the HUD auto attach and detach depending which level they are and updated HUDs will be attached automatically. This would allow me to update and add new stories and character interaction without having to worry about sending everyone new HUDS and telling everyone to get the latest HUDs. Likewise players won’t have to dredge through inventory and make sure they have the latest version of the HUD.

HEALTH/DAMAGE

Another experiment I’ve been working on is Health and Damage. While i’m not really into player on player violence in Second Life i do believe in having consequences to actions and risks. Having a health metre brings to an experience a sense of wariness of ones actions. This does not have to be the Users health in an experience, it could be the health of a machine needed to complete a task. Linden Lab has a health system built into SL but it’s rather limited to land settings. With a HUD its basically a script that starts with the count 100 and every time you are hit or do something wrong that count is reduced until it reaches zero. This is fine for simple health, but if i want to start combining different types of effects that have varying abilities of damage things quickly become more and more complex.

LEVEL UP

Thirdly i’ve tried to get my head around scoring. Keeping scores is like Health and Damage but extremely complex for me and I’ve yet to fully work it out. People play my Bashables game on Escapades and suggest making a levelling up system, with better weapons and build up armour and XP points and I’m like ‘YIKES, HOLD ON!’.  It’s something i really need to sit down and work on as i would love to be able to create a system where if you break lots of barrels on escapees you get rewarded with level up “BARREL BREAKER” and then if you break enough barrels you can make a raft called the “BARREL BITS RAFT” which appears on your HUD as an object you can rez by clicking the HUD and sail around the island. Problem here is keeping track of all the different counts for all the different things and at the moment I’m a bit sceptical on wether this is possible since as soon as you reset the script everything you achieved would disappear.

The goals have always been about making interaction in SL as simple as possible for the user/player, but also to make is as simple and flexible as possible for me to build and expand story elements. There is no point me scripting a highly complex HUD only for me to have to rewrite the whole thing again because i wanted to add one extra character interaction.

Eventually i hope to have a system that i can quickly change and adapt to the unfolding Role play stories. A system that i don’t have to spend hours scripting, but can just copy paste and have autoupdated so that the players don’t notice it’s happened and i can concentrate on telling the stories i want to tell while those experiencing them are free to be immersed.

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