Friday, March 22, 2013

THE (amazing) MAZE - a new claimant to the SL shooter game throne

After my critizism of the LSL scripting language last Tuesday - a post with a rather pesimistic tone - I am today giving you a contradicting proof of what can be achieved with the Second Life scripting language (if you are a programmer and if you have enough time and resources). I am talking about a collaborative shooting game called THE MAZE.

THE MAZE is a huge underground labyrinth system that is filled with  deadly combat robots and zombies. You will encounter secret doors, traps, machines and special vehicles. In order to advance you will have to fight your way through THE MAZE and solve puzzles.

Another day at the Maze for Superflufee and his gecko pal 

The creators found a technical solution to make the enemy NPCs only appear once - and not in infinite numbers like in the AXIS OF EVIL. This important detail creates a much more realistic game atmosphere. The different NPCs have different skills and strengths which demand variable attacking tactics.

Disposing of good tactical skills is generally helpful if you want to advance in THE MAZE. There are many weapons available and each weapon has different characteristics. That's why a team of people with different weapons has greater chances to make it far into THE MAZE than a single player. While some players can use long range weapons others go into close combat. Only a team that communicates well and sticks to the individual duties will make it far.

Here is a video that gives you some first impressions of the place - even if the guy only plays with a free gun - and a rather weird Windlight setting:

MAZE weapons will keep track of your ammunition count. When your ammo count is zero you won't be able to reload. Luckily you can pick up ammo boxes to restock your supply. You can carry up to 18 ammunition magazines with the standard HUD. There's an ammo dispenser at the game entry point in the lobby. And when you are killing enemies, you'll notice ammo, gems and other objects dropping off the killed monsters. Pick the objects up by running on top of them. That way you re-up your ammo reserve and find treasures. I wouldn't recommend you to monopolize all goodies if you're with a group or you won't be a  popular team member. The treasures can be used to receive improvements to your weapons and tools, to get special gear, to receive parts that you need for puzzles, or even to have some machines and vehicles airdropped in for your use. 

The different weapons available for THE MAZE cost between 0L for a basic gun to 800L for a rocket launcher. In order to participate in the game, a player needs to buy the essential Player HUD for 25L. It allows you to reload maze weapons, collect ammo and loot, cash in loot for gold, purchase gear and upgrades and to explore the maze. Even if this enumeration of game-play options might sound complicated at first, the gaming experience is very intuitive once you start playing.

I also recommended to join THE MAZE inworld-group - which will cost you another 25L entry fee. In return the group has free gifts from time to time as well as news so that players can stay informed how THE MAZE is evolving. And the shooting game is most fun when playing in a team. As an inworld group member you can start a group chat and ask players who are online if they want to join your squad. Last but not least the group membership lets you set your home in the maze lobby which is handy in case you die. 

Oh oh, two zombies are attacking me

THE MAZE uses the traditional Second Life damage system which is one downside of the game. It means that you will be sent to your home location when you run out of life energy. So you either need to set your home to THE MAZE sim during the time of play. Or you will have to teleport back to the MAZE each time you die. It also means that there are no checkpoints and no matter how far you come, you have to start from the beginning once you get killed. It's however possible to cheat a bit: when I played THE MAZE for the first time I kept asking my team members to teleport me back to their place.

I have heard about THE MAZE from word to mouth in Second Life. There is - to date - almost no information about THE MAZE on the internet. Given the non-existent promotion the 750 active MAZE players of the inworld group are a benchmark of the fantastic game experience. I am wondering how much more success could this game have if there were web media pointing to them? 

Well, I will definitely be back at THE MAZE and maybe we'll go hunting the bad guys together - join my inworld group in order to get play dates.

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