Saturday, December 15, 2012

VE-Soccer. A football video game in Second Life

VE-Soccer is is bringing football to the world of Second LifeFootball (or soccer as my readers from the US will call it) is the most popular team sport in Europe, South-America and Africa. No wonder that soccer video games are among the best selling video-games franchises. Pro Evolution Soccer sold several million copies and the FIFA football series has reached 100 million copies worldwide in 2010. At the same time the FIFA franchise has been translated into 18 languages and is available in 51 countries worldwide.
A VE-Soccer team. And the first time I saw prim hair for a long time.
In Second Life there have been some attempts to establish an SL soccer game but I never heard about them before. Maybe this is because they were promoted mainly among the Spanish speaking community. One older soccer league was called "Second Football" and another "ligafutbolvirtual" (LFV). Both game systems seem to have vanished from SL. But a new team of developers works on the game concept. When exploring the official SL forum for games a week ago, I noticed a short entry about a new soccer game called Virtual Evolution Soccer or in short VE-Soccer
VE-Soccer goal keeper
Two days ago I visited the VE-Soccer "A111 stadium" and I was surprised how appealing the game-play was for a game scripted in LSL. The movements seem to be based on motion capture animations and the controls are allowing many different moves, shots and actions. I have made a little video of my impressions. When taking into account the basic moves, VE-Soccer comes quite close to the experience of the famous soccer video game franchises.

As you can also see in the video, Second Life reaches its technical limits with many players on the field. The game experience will only be seamless if there is no lag. Therefore avatars on the sim are asked not to wear prim or mesh attachments or any scripts. While all the players on the field were following these rules there were some "script junkies" among the spectators. It also didn't help that VE-Soccer has already become an insider tip resulting in almost 50 people being on the sim at 1 pm SLT. And the tone between players confronted with the lag and the "script junkies" got a bit aggressive.

Some readers might ask: "Why are people creating lag not simply expelled?" I guess that is has to do with the publicity factor: It is not easy to earn money with the development of games in Second Life. VE-Soccer has found a sponsor called A111: a provider of gambling games in SL. This is not an unusual team-up: one of the world best RL football teams Real Madrid is sponsored by an online sports wagering agency.
Kick-off time
As helpful as the sponsoring deal is for the VE-Soccer developing team to finance their product, I am wondering how this relationship might effect policy towards people who overload the sim with their attached scripts. Banning people from the sim might make some visitors angry and that might not be good publicity for the sponsor. A solution to enforce responsible use of scripts could be a neutral technical solution like a land orb that expels people after a some time and warnings. People tend to get less angry with automatic measures than with real people who expel after a dispute. 

My favorite solution to the lag problem would be a fixed landing point up in the sky. Most roleplay regions in Second Life have such an arrival area. The landing point could be modeled after a team dressing room or a club house. Avatars would use a scripted teleporter in order to reach the stadium. The teleporter would do a script count as well as a rendering cost limit count of the avatar before executing the teleport. 

By taking into account the rendering cost limit, people would not be forced to take everything off and look like "2005 noobs" when playing VE-Soccer. The teleporter script counting the rendering cost could give players an accurate feedback about acceptable attachments. It would be so great if players could wear mesh jerseys and hair. People would look good when playing while having a fluid game experience. Selling mesh sport jerseys with individual team logos would also open up an additional income scheme for the game creators.
A clear-cut result and it didn't end there
As I said VE-Soccer is still in beta and I am curious to see how the game will look when it is officially released. According to the VE-soccer website, they are running a tournament called A111-Cup at the moment with a price money of 30.000 LS. The match that I was seeing and recording the footage from was part of the tournament.

If you have been looking for a good sport simulation in Second Life, stop your search and check out VE-Soccer. It successfully brings the a soccer game system to Second Life. Playing successfully with a team of real players is a new challenge for those who are used to the console franchises. VE-Soccer sets a new standard for future sport simulations in Second Life.

1 comment:

  1. The best way to avoid lag in these situations is to have the playing field on one sim and the spectator stands on another sim which completely reduces the lag on the field while allowing spectators to wear whatever they wish.