Saturday, May 21, 2005


(Another featured game for SL-E3-- background here.)

Developer Jonathan Shaftoe on his game project:

So, Second Life has board games, but how often do they sit idle and unplayed, as there's never two people in the same place at the same time wanting to play? Game Matcher solves this, implementing board games (Go, currently) and a mechanism for finding online people to play against.

Jonathan Shaftoe on Game Matcher's key features:

There are two main parts to the project.

The first, obviously, is the board games themselves. Doing anything complex and interactive in LSL is always a challenge given the restrictions of the language and prim-count. But if a fully functioning
implementation of Go is possible, as I've shown it is, then many other games should also be possible. I hope to at least get Othello/Reversi done, too.

The second part is the key game matching part. I'll be creating a mechanism whereby players can register a permament interest in playing a type of game. Someone who wants to play can then send a message to all those online who have registered an interest saying 'I want to play now', so formalising the process of finding opponents and making it much easier to find people to play against without the need for formal events. A natural progression of this would be to include win/loss statistics, and maybe develop some form of rankings mechanism, but that's for the future.

Jonathan Shaftoe on the biggest challenges in creating Game Matcher:

My main concern is just finding the time to finish the project-- currently there's just the one of me, and given the twin demands of work and parenthood finding spare bits of time to do LSL coding is challenging. I've also not played that much with making things work cross-sim before as will be necessary for this. So though I'm fairly sure it's theoretically possible to do what I want to do, there may be gotchas I'm not yet aware of. Also, it's currently just me, and though I can code, I can't really build, so I may need to recruit a good builder at some point to try to make it all look good.

Oh, and I also need a better name than Game Matcher!

Shaftoe on the above screenshots:

The red and green translucent squares are the "position selection" mechanism, which takes two clicks to select a square to play in, thus reducing prim count considerably. You can see how they 'zoom in' from picture 1 to picture 2.

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Ah, the utter amazing thing that Hamlet sadly failed to neglect to mention is that Jonathan Shaftoe completed 90% of his Go board only two weeks after having become a resident of Second Life :)

Even after the first week, he had most of the complex stuff ready - mainly, the interface, and detecting the easier "atari" positions. And he isn't one of those 20-hours-a-day inworld scripters :)

I think that shows how hard the "learning curve" of SL really is. Sure, Jonathan is certainly a competent professional IRL, but I wonder how fast he'd be able to do an interactive 3D Go board using any other available technology from scratch, while at the same time learning how the technology works.

Kudos to Jonathan :)

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