Friday, July 26, 2013

The Grim Combat System - A game construction kit for Second Life region owners

Back in February I reviewed a zombie fighting sim called "Axis of Evil". I was amazed by the game mechanics and the density of NPC monsters on the sim. I also mentioned in the post that the shooter is based upon a system called Grim Combat System (GCS).

The GCS creators claim that their combat system is the fastest growing combat system in Second Life and their region list shows that about 80 regions are offering shooter game experiences based on their system. The GCS approach is different to other Second Life combat systems. GCS does not only provide weapons and a meter that measures the players health. They provide a whole game construction kit for region owners. The GCS system includes - amongst many other items - all kind of monster spawners; exploding cars, barrels and dumpsters; low lag city building kits; scoreboards; recovery systems; fog machines; breakable glas; quest items and even quest NPCs (non playing characters).

The range of NPC adversaries is not limited to zombies. There is also a medieval theme available with elven, orc and goblin spawners or a Sci-Fi theme with alien and robot spawners.

The GCS HUD measures the player's health, holds the inventory, counts the kills and awards with experience points that will level the player up over time. Those points are also counted by a scoreboard that compares the performance of all active players. If the player dies, he/she needs to restart from the beginning: the hud will make a teleport button appear which resets the game.

There are also inventory slots build into the HUD for special objects you may either purchase or be awarded from doing quests that can help your character. "Health potions" will heal your wounded character, "Armor potions" restore your armor and "Effect potions" that may cure disease, or strengthen your defenses. A great GCS features is the GCS Potion Backpack which can be worn on the player's back. When you left click on it you will see a menu and it will give additional space (to the HUD) for collecting potions. 

A very interesting feature is the Player versus Player (PVP) modus. It can be enabled or disabled, depending on if you want to fight NPC enemies or other players. When PVP is ON other players will be able to shoot and kill you. Since the GCS is a very sophisticated combat system I think that it holds great potential as a RPG contest tool. I would certainly prefer it to most combat systems in use.

Last but not least the region owners have the opportunity to set-up quests with GCS. Questing can be fun and a great way to gain experience points and sometimes free rewards such as potions, weapons, or other custom goods. Players need to locate a quest giver - usually an NPC (Non Player-Character). Clicking or bumping into the quest NPC begins a dialogue in open chat. It will tell the player what has to be accomplished in order to earn experience points.

One other neat feature that most other combat systems in Second LIfe are missing is the pause button. Pressing it will lock the avatar so the player may not be killed or take any damage. A very helpful feature for any unforseen RL event - now you can run to the bathroom, or change a diaper, or answer the phone without having to start a game from scratch.

The Grim Combat System is the most advanced gaming and combat system that I have come across in Second Life and it has transformed many regions into great game zones. There is only two wishes that I have for the future: Firstly I hope that the monster spawners will get a certain artificial intelligence, so that they spawn monsters only once for a player and stop appearing infinitely. The shooter sim "The Maze" proofs that suc a feature is can be programmed in Second Life. The other odd thing is that one cannot shoot the monsters when they come too close. The player has to gain some distance first and then continue shooting. It would be great if enemies could be shot from any range. But that's only two little suggestions for improvement for an otherwise outstanding combat system. 


  1. As I recall, the minimum range problem is inherent in Second Life. Because of lag effects, if you are running forwards while shooting the bullets could rez behind you if the minimum range were too short. And the bullets have to be long and thin, or the minimum Physics time step would lead to them not colliding with walls, or targets. At 40 frames per second, a bullet traveling at 120 m/sec has to be 3m long. So the safe minimum range is longer than you might think.

    I miss New Jessie. They ran a web site, and there was a lot of information about these constraints on weapon design. It's partly why freebie guns are frowned on: the old models use huge numbers of prims, and often don't have scripting which is safe from such problems.

  2. Hi zhochaka, thanks a lot for sharing this knowledge with us. I am not sure, if the framerate really is connected with the speed that an object is traveling in SL but since I am not a technical specialist, I believe you until proven wrong. I am just wondering: If the framerate drops to 20fps, do the bullets need to be 6 meters? And is 120 meters per second a speed that is necessary for gaming? It would be interesting to get a few sources in order to learn more on this matter.