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Weapons of Choice

July 15, 2007

[Originally published by me in New World Notes – small intro by Hamlet]

Snapshot_506
Unleashing the power of CCS high above the City of Lost Angels

Way back in its earliest beginnings, Second Life was conceived in part as a platform for game development. But as SL designers will eagerly tell you, hacking the code to support a playable system is a massive challenge. Accepting it are CCS and DSC, two robust gameplay engines already in use by many gamers in SL. NWN game correspondent Onder Skall breaks down the pros and cons of both in a compare and contrast accompanied by uniformly kickass screenshots. Whether you’re a gamer or game developer, it’s mandatory reading. Join Onder after the break.

System_showdown

 

CCS & DCS, a Feature Review

by

Onder Skall

If you’ve participated in role-playing games in Second Life, chances are you’ve used either the CCS or DCS systems. Hundreds of players use these systems in some of the most popular role-play environments in our virtual world. These are the systems that track what powers you have, how much damage you deal, and whether or not you just got killed.

Cola_bullet_dodge

CCS is the “Community Combat System”, created by Suzanna Soyinka and Jora Welesa, primarily used now in the City of Lost Angels. At the moment it functions as one gigantic multi-sim game, where new sim owners can integrate themselves into a pre-existing player base. An open-source version is coming soon where you can install and build your own custom game yourself.

Dcs2_in_action

DCS2 is the “Dark Combat System v2.0″, created by Miss Wright and Dimentox Travanti. Built from the ground up as a plug-and-play gaming system for your sim, a wide variety of games are being run through it now each separate from the other.

While similar in many respects, if you’re looking at adopting one or the other for use in your sim, there are a few things you should know.

First let me just say that this is one of the toughest things I have ever tried to write. Both systems are run by zealots fanatically engaged in making sure that every person who encounters their gaming system is thrilled. They’re there on the ground, watching the action, and making sure everything is going smoothly. This means that there are a lot of happy players, but it also means that the people running these games are really, really busy.

As a result, some things I had wanted for this article just never happened. Still, if you’re trying to figure out how to implement an RPG on your sim, this should serve as a decent guide to get you started. These are two of the most popular systems in Second Life, and I’d like to thank Suzanna Soyinka (CCS) and Miss Wright (DCS2) for allowing me to steal some of their valuable time.

There’s just so much to say about these systems that I’ve decided to collect everything into point-form notes listed at the bottom of this post.* There are details I will miss, so if you have questions feel free to email me or contact the game owners.

Compare and Contrast – Onder’s Take

If you’re trying to work out which of these to go with, you have a number of things to consider. Firstly, neither of these systems will cost much to implement (if anything) so cost is negligible. Both offer persistent character stats, power upgrades and stock animation/particle effects. While the specifics of how they’re implemented differ, they both offer a wide variety of skill setups to support whatever story you want to tell.

So what’s the difference? Damage is an area where things begin to really diverge.

Snapshot_001

In CCS, you have a hybrid system of collision damage and scripted melee combat. The advantage of using collision-based damage is that people can bring in their own weaponry (which the GMs will want to take a look at for approval), and swords used up close can create comparable damage.

Cola_death

The drawback, of course, is that a list of banned weapons had to be created and enforced (which, I should add, has been a successful tactic thus far.) The trade off for creativity in Second Life has always been a lack of security, and so the people involved do need to remember to police these things.

Dcs2_in_action_2

In DCS2, you have the option of using collision damage, damage determined by a set number range in a script, and a similar function for melee combat. The flexibility here means you can lock everything down and keep the game so only “DCS2 Approved” weapons can be used. Some argue that this flexibility also means that more scripts need to be run to determine damage, which would mean combat would cause more lag. Others would argue that this difference is negligible, but I would encourage you to log into the appropriate sims and fire off a few rounds.

Setup and profit are issues as well. If you’re serious about making a profit from the game itself, getting a copy of CCS, your own server setup, and a programmer to tie up loose ends will mean that you retain 100% of the gross.

Dcs2_with_weapons

If you just want a game on your sim and plan on keeping up the cashflow using another method, DCS2’s basic setup and ongoing server maintenance is completely handled by the staff. However, at a 10% commission on proprietary weapon sales, don’t expect any serious revenue from this model.

Since DCS2 is setup to be a multi-game system, your players will automatically adopt new character stats as they move from one sim to another. The idea here is that you get a pre-built user base who already know how everything works. CCS has a different set of roots, originally growing from a single game that spanned multiple sims and sim owners. This means that there’s the potential to join the existing game or create an entirely separate, unrelated world that you have complete control over.

Summary

Neither system can be said to be better than the other, but one could make the argument that each system is better for a particular audience. Going forward, these systems will become extremely divergent: DCS2’s proprietary nature means that they’re able to hire animators and scripters, which means a big library of add-ons. They’ve announced a monster system that I saw in action recently which works very well. More on that another time.

Pyro

CCS’s move to an open-source SourceForge project will mean a game built by the community. Expect an explosion of content there available for trade, fueled by an extremely engaged and active player base that already has a thriving wiki and message board.

As I’d mentioned, these are only two of the larger systems in Second Life. The complex inventory-based combat in The Outlands, the simple shooting interface of Tombstone, and the damage-meter system of Samurai Island all have their own merits, but may be limited in their availability. The Roleplay Combat System is now making the rounds, and DarkLife 2 is about to shake everything up.

Every time I think I’ve found them all I discover a hidden gem, so if neither of these strikes your fancy, drop me a line. After all, there’s something for everybody in Second Life.

Onderskall

Onder Skall (above) writes about SL games on his own blog, and continues to cover them for New World Notes. To tell him about a Second Life game, IM him in-world, or e-mail ruagamer at gmail dot com.

*CCS and DCS2 Feature Notes by Onder

Ccs_001

CCS (Community Combat System)

- SETUP: You’ll be setting up your own scripts. While this makes it a bit harder to get going, you get the advantage of fine-tuned control over every aspect of the game. Once set up, general maintenance and tweaking of the game is handled through a web interface.

- DAMAGE: The system has been streamlined for collision damage in ranged combat and keystroke sensors for melee. Very fast.

- CHARACTER STATS: All of this is maintained on the server and remains persistent. These stats link to your Second Life account. Note: separate implementations of the CCS system will have their own databases.

- COST & AVAILABILITY: Source code will be freely available for download from SourceForge.net. You’ll need to either get your own web hosting account with PHP and MySQL, or contact the creators of CCS to have them set up a database for you for a nominal fee.

- LEVELING: You have the option to switch on or off experience-over-time (so that people can earn exp just for role-playing), experience for combat, and GM awarded experience.

- CLASSES / RACES / POWERS: You can establish a series of races, and separately establish classes for those races. The actual powers players end up with are derived from the combination of these two factors, and increase in strength as the player levels up. Depending on setup, players may be able to buy new powers or automatically earn new powers upon levelling-up as well.

- EXTRAS: Comes with stock animations, particle effects, and scripts to place in various objects for location-specific effects (ex: a hospital bed that heals).

* * *

Dcs2_001

DCS2 (Dark Combat System v2)

- SETUP: Basic setup and configuration is handled for you. This makes starting a new game a snap, but you’ll have to go through admins to get everything done in the very beginning. General maintenance afterward is handled through a web interface.

- DAMAGE: Has three options, depending on what you want and the limitations of your sim: collision damage, scripted damage, or melee damage. Very flexible.

- CHARACTER STATS: All of this is maintained on the server and remains persistent. These stats link to your Second Life account. Note: your actual character info will change depending on the sim you are in.

- COST & AVAILABILITY: Free to set up and free to run, although you will retain only 10% of the revenue earned through DCS2 compliant weaponry sales.

- LEVELING: Players earn experience through combat with other players or NPCs. GMs can also award experience.

- CLASSES / RACES / POWERS: You can establish a series of races, and separately establish classes for those races. The actual powers players end up with are derived from the combination of these two factors, and increase in strength as the player levels up. Depending on setup, players may be able to buy new powers or automatically earn new powers upon levelling-up as well.

- EXTRAS: Comes with stock animations, particle effects, and scripts to place in various objects for location-specific effects (ex: a hospital bed that heals).

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5 comments

  1. What why can’t you people just speak English
    whats with all the Dungeons and Dragons crap
    look Man, after have all My shit erased time after time
    I log in and My hair is in My mouth and My profile is erased, what you think I’m going to be a premium Member
    Look I just want a weapon for My avatar…I seen this SL
    Police Officer get hit By this dude on a dance pad and Blood can out of the cop…I was in a sex room one time and this Lion Man thing grabbed Me and when it shook Me Blood Came out of Me, Whats with all the secrets in here
    what Type of weapon of a Sword will Make Blood come out of a person if I swing it at them and connect?
    dud it’s simple show a picture of a dude holding a sword and swiping a guy and blood coming out of the other guy… and put this one will do it be a Rogue Highlander and Kill with this sword…how fucking hard is that to say? ok Genius…which sword will be to My Benefit? that will Lower a Avatars life? and Make blood come out of the even in the spurt fashion?
    I need a Damage weapon, don’t give Me the run around just tell ok what is v3.0? why can’t you people just say swipe. Blood. die. Buy??? what are you that short hair kid on Buffy that use to turn into a weir wolf?
    Look Man just tell Me a good 200 300 L$ sword that will do it ok or where to go thanks….

    Regards
    Robert


  2. Robert,
    You’re on the wrong site.
    Look for something more simple minded, as that is what you obviously are.
    Regards
    Lizzie


  3. Well written and done, I am looking for a combat system for me and my tribe to play on an openspace sim. Any suggestions contact Maddness Axon in SL.


  4. i need free weapons.
    please give me.
    tnx :)


  5. Wow.. thanks.. nice summary of the systems, I’m looking to become a weapons designer and this has given me some real pointers as to the different systems out there..

    Its incredibly difficult to find the bare scripts for weaponsmaking, and of the four different systems only two really want you to even try to make new weapons available :)



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