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Moriash Moreau: My Second Life
Friday, June 30, 2006
Just rolled out the alpha version a new type of monster: a long ranged attacker. The Kneebiter is a small, fast, relatively weak zombie-type monster. Just for fun, I dressed him up in a Cub Scout uniform (costume created by the Boy Scouts of Second Life). He alternates between moaning "BRAAAINS!" and demanding "CAAANDY!"

The main difference here is that he comes equipped with a slingshot. In addition to the normal close-range punch, he also stops every few seconds to fire a rock at the nearest player. Damage is the same as friendly fire from another player's monster gun. Not too overwhelming, taken singly. (Had to keep damage for the monster gun bullets small, or a stray 10-rounds-per-second burst from another player would be fatal.) But they can be pretty nasty in groups.

As you can see from the spatters of black ichor, the Kneebiters have no problem with shooting fellow monsters in the back. Works for me!

I've found that the monster's aim isn't too good against moving targets. This is mainly because I tied aiming into the existing movement system. A couple times per second, monsters scan for their targets, then turn to face them. Since the monster is already facing in the right direction, it's easy to fire a missile at the designated player. Just send the bullet straight forward. The problem comes when the player is running. Since the facing of the monster is only adjusted a few times a second, it's quite easy to move out of the path of the bullet.

I can see a couple of very easy ways to fix this (the simplest being to use a sensor to determine the exact direction to the target at time of fire, instead of using the coordinates found a fraction of a second ago), but I'm kind of warming to the idea of inaccurate shots. This has the effect of forcing the player to keep moving at all times, in order to keep the shooting monsters from effectively drawing a bead on him. Used this way, the bullets are more designed to encourage more active play than to do significant damage. I'll have to see if their aim is too pitiful to be useful for normal play (as opposed to the test swarms photographed above). I expect I could achieve the same effect by using more accurate fire methods, coupled with slower moving bullets. We'll see.

Addendum, 6/30/06
Oops. In the course of looking up a link to the definition for "knee-biter," I found out I was mis-using the term. Apparently, the term I want is "ankle-biter." Oh well, easy enough to fix. And I still think it's an appropriately gruesome term for a kid, in any case.

Addendum, 7/3/06
Went ahead and changed the fire routine to a sensor driven system. They're still a bit inaccurate when dealing with moving avatars, as a running avatar can still move just far enough out of the way to have the bullet land behind him. This could be mostly cured by increasing the velocity of the slingshot's ammunition. Right now, it moves at a paltry 15 m/s. With an avatar moving at a 6 m/s run, it's easy to see how it'd miss. I'll probably tinker a bit with increasing the speed of the shots for the Old Soldier (who will be using a rifle). I think I also see a way to make a rudimentary method of leading the target, by checking the target's velocity vector, and firing ahead of him. That will require some fairly tricky and time-sensitive calculations, though. I'll see if it's worth it.

I am the owner of the boyscout camp in SL, I see ya got our cub uniform hehehehee these are funny I need to get some for our haunted cemetary at the camp
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