Friday, August 6, 2010

Ninja Combat System Developer Working on “First True Second Life MMO System”

Recently, I was contacted by Bioblaze Payne. Bioblaze was the head of the design team that created the “Ninja Combat System: Version 2,” or NCS2 as it was more commonly called. Bioblaze has still been at work, building a new ninja village, and a new system.

“We are still doing some works on Iwagakure Village,” Bioblaze told me “The Hotsprings, Bathhouse, Nightclub(Dock) Area, Caverns, and some of the School are done. The Foundry, City, Undercity, Sewer, Kage Building, Welcoming Area, and a few small things still need to be finished. The Marketplace is basically half-finished.”

“Since the introduction of new ‘Functions’ and Mesh-importing on the Beta servers, we reevaluated NCS2. Silicon Plunkett a long time friend of mine, joined up with me to create the first ‘*true*’ Secondlife MMO System. It seamlessly combines both, ‘combat system`s meters, and attacks,’ along with in-depth "roleplay" things such as mining, farming, and trading These can help you produce weaponry, projectiles, potions, which in turn you can sell on the Local Market of the game. (This) generates you a form of Currency, which will be interchangeable with the Linden dollar. For now, we are opening it up with a base creation system: Mining -> Smelting -> Smithing -> Forging.”

“We also have implemented a Full Food System. Characters have to eat you know? Something that a lot of people take for granted.” Bioblaze explained the food system was done by Satu Moreau, “Sushi, snacks, cups of ramen, the works. Once we see the Mining system going well, we will be opening up a ‘Food Creation’ system. Same basics like mining, which you will gather ingredients, some of which you can buy in a local ‘RP/CS’ Store, and some which you can grow yourself.”

“But the interesting thing is it will be implemented within actual restaurants. So your character can go in and work a few hours as a chef, making dishes. As long as someone eats it, you gain EXP in your profession. When the plate is done you`ll get a small bonus. Ingredients will have taste effects, sweet, sour, moist, soggy, etc etc., which you will have to combine correctly to produce meals. You can burn the food, over spice it, make it just about anyway you can in real-life. The more complex the meals, the harder and longer they take to cook, but the more experience you will gain in the long run. Same with any Smithing product.”

“This is just some of the things we have planned. Dynamic Hud Generation System, and Dynamic Auto Weaponry/Attachment Changer are some of the other things.” Bioblaze explained Silicon Plunket was playing a big part in the projects, and had become the co-owner of NCS2 Systems. Bioblaze and I came across Silicon while he was Away-From-Keyboard. Noticing some numbers with minus signs briefly floating over his head, -6, -20, etc., I asked Bioblaze. He answered, “He’s using the new system for showing EXP gains, damage losses, and level ups. Well, more like testing it (laughter). ... (I am) sending DMG commands to see if it works well.” Bioblaze explained the system had “flood protection to keep too much damage from being inflicted all at once and ending a fight almost instantly, “So you can’t get 600 and more DMG in a split-second.”

Bioblaze showed off some of Iwagakure Village, starting at the Iwagakure School of Arts, “When you start in this game, since it’s a ninja-based game, you start as a student. You have to attend classes, and by attending those classes, you get equipment. You get Jutsus, weaponry, and more. We also have the option to allow people to just skip the Student level, going directly to Genin. But by doing that, they don’t get anything free, except for the HUD.”

Bioblaze had also written some backstory for the game, the world as the characters knowing it coming to be in the years following the end of five centuries of constant warfare, “Since we want this to be a real MMO, we are striving for as much depth as possible, in both the storyline and the game mechanics. The actual backstory was created by us, the NCS2 team.”

Bioblaze showed off the “nightclub” of the village, at the docks “Second Life is played by adults. ... To say that a bar or tavern exists in a game, but a strip joint or a nightclub does not, it doesn’t seem realistic.” Before one makes plans for a wild time there, Bioblaze stated no nudity was permitted, and there were sets of rules for parties, “but it’s still a nightclub.” There will be liquor, such as saki, available, though characters whom indulge will have trouble, “we do have drunk effects, have to make our stuff realistic. If you’re drinking, your jutsus will be slower, your taijutsu will be sloppier. You may even fall over or a jutsu can backfire. That is, unless your using ‘Drunken Fist Style.’ Then the more you drink the faster and more insane your attacks, of course (laughter).”

Drugs are also available, sort of, “I consider tobacco a drug.” There will be cigarettes and cigars available, “Since a lot of Fire Jutsus are so simple, such as Fireballs, I wanted to create something new, something different, something that was interesting enough but not insane. So we produced Ash Jutsus, a meld between Fire and Earth, by funneling Chakra into your ‘smoke,’ you can generate huge clouds of Ash/Smoke which can be used to combine jutsus and many many other things. ... a lot of players whom have the habit would love to ‘Smoke’ (laughter).

“ We do have other drugs, but they are ninja-based, Soldier Pill, Plasma Pill, Food Pill, Enhanced Smoke, and others. Enhanced Smoke is a hallucinogen more or less, causing effects almost like drunkenness but closer to ‘stoned’ if you were a pothead. You’re slower it’s hard to charge your chakra, and it causes your screen to shift and change ever so often. Much like a Genjutsu but without the use of Chakra, and can not be broken. You have to take an antidote or heal.”

Bioblaze showed off the public bathhouse, “One side ladies, one side the men. Basic roleplay area, but it gives a place for relaxing and chitchatting with friends. Also, the water here heals you two to three times faster than just sitting down.” There was also a hotsprings that worked similar, but on stamina instead of health.

The last places shown were the quarry and foundry, the latter which wasn’t complete yet. The quarry, Bioblaze explained, has a “small market area for people selling their wares of ore and metal. In the storyline of our world, this place is one of the biggest mining villages. ... We will have hundreds of ore places here, this will be a busy area. Ore here can be mined and sold to the village, or can be taken to the forge and made into bars, rods, ingots, etc. Those in turn can be made into shuriken, kunai, etc. Ore can also be sold in the marketplace.” Just about everything in the game, he stated, would be sellable, “besides jutsu styles.”

Besides copper, iron, and other metals, there would also be a small amount of “chakra metal, which is a special metal that absorbs chakara. You can imbue your weapons with special properties by applying this metal to them. It takes your primary and secondary chakara types. Say you mined fifty pounds of ore. After you identify it as chakara ore, you process it. Once processed, it is turned into refined chakara ore. This allows you to choose from either your primary or secondary skills, and apply stat bonuses to it. So if you wanted an extremely powerful ‘Katel - Fire Chakra metal,’ an extremely powerful Fire Ninja would have had to make it, and sold it onto the market, else there wouldn’t be one. When you want refined ore, and want to apply a skill to it, it requires both that skill and chakra control. In order to produce good metal. Someone with 20 points in Earth and 5 Points in Chakara Control making a ‘ Dotel - Earth Chakara Metal’ would give a small 2-3 % boost in damage or resistance. With someone with 200 points in Earth and 150 points in Chakara Control, you would have a 20 to 50 % boost.”

Bioblaze hoped that the games players would have a sense of community, wanting people to think more of what others needed than just making money or becoming more powerful, “I think a lot of people forget that the community is what gets things done. Instead of relying just on themselves, they can rely on each other.” This way, he felt, more players could concentrate on just what they were good at, “more miners, more smiths, that means more ore and more and better weapons.”

Bioblaze commented he had a lot of things lined up, but too many to explain. He did say there was an alpha version of the new combat system being tested, and it would be released, for free, once the village was finished.

Following Bioblaze, I talked with a few others on his team. The lead GM of Iwagakure is Chibiusa Pinklady, “Part of what I do is see what people like, and what they want from the village. ... try to fill in the holes between the ideas, and refine what other people really want.” Her most interesting challenge, she thought, were the people, her first big job making sure there were “enough role players that are capable of leading the traditional 3-man teams ... When looking for talented people, you can't merely send out a notice and expect them to jump into your lap. Sometimes you get lucky, but I've discovered word of mouth to really be the best tool for that. And as with any large group, you find a number of different types, all that have their own interests in taking the position.” She will soon be starting classes for players new to the village, “what will really get the community churning will be new arrivals.”

Karasu Nakatani is the leader of the Hyuuga Clan, and described by Bioblaze as one of the main backstory contributors. Asked to describe his role, Karasu answered, “ I would go with ‘Writer.’ I am, like the entire team, doing my own share of work, where I am personally skilled at.” He has been writing up much of the backstory of the roleplay, but talks with others involved before completing parts, “At times it can require one talk to people about lack ofs and the such, but ... with everyone working together, it goes pretty smoothly.”

Karasu has had a few years of storywriting experience, putting tales to pen since his teens. As the leader of the Hyuuga Clan, he’s been writing it’s backstory, after talking with other players involved. The clan acts as “a sort of special task force for Iwagakure.” It also represents the royalty of the village.

TokenBlack Guyot was called one of the lead Administrators by Bioblaze, but in his words, “I couldn't think of any official title short of GM. I'm one of the folks that concentrate on creating and maintaining the paraRP aspects of the sim. Right now, that means setting up a balanced system as far as what people can and cannot do.” He was bringing in “some old contacts” ito the roleplay “to build a solid RP base. Once we have that, the roleplay itself will be on its way to becoming self-sufficient, ... attracting visitors who will then want to become apart of our world.”

He was also working on the backstory of “the Eight Gates.” TokenBlack explained, “In the RP, every person has what is called a Chakra Circulatory System,” much like the blood circulatory system, “but instead of blood it circulates chakra. The Eight Celestial Divination Gates are just that, different gates that once a person grasps the understanding of, can be opened and allow them to receive a boost of power and speed as a result of the surge of chakra being released by the 'opening' of the gate. However, taking advantage of such is forbidden because of the damage it can do to a person. Should someone go beyond what their body can handle they can tear their muscles to bits. As you go from each gate, located in different parts of the body you receive more power. But as a result, risk your life on an even higher percentage the farther down you go. Releasing the eighth is a guaranteed death, it being located in the heart. While you obtain god-like power, once it stops you stop, for good.”

Players will be able to collect the book in chapters across the roleplay area, “With each chapter, you will learn something about each gate. ... to complete the book, you have to find all ten. but through doing specific things one will be able to find them. But even with reading the book, it will take guts to actually avoid the warnings within the book itself and go about doing it.” The book describes “where within your body you can find the gate, and what one experienced upon opening it,” except of course for the eighth one, which is described by a witness.

TokenBlack also made a notecard for new players, “to give a bit of a headstart and clear any initial confusion. ... Should anyone want information on the sim in general, or how they can be an active part of things feel free to throw me an IM. There's something for everyone, and if there isn't already their input can bring it about.”

Then there was the builder of the village, Numberofthebeast Angelus. He had been building in Second Life “since Day One when I was rezzed back in 2004. It all began with ships , sci-fi spaceships.” He showed off his first real build, the Spirit Thorn starship, “Building in general is a passion of mine.” He explained that Bioblaze had found about him through a friend, “Bio asked me to work form him here after he saw my skill as a builder.”

The part of the Village that gets the most complements? “Everyone seems to like the cave system under the monastery. They’re always telling me they get lost so easy. ... Better carry a torch or a lantern.” The cave system has also been the most challenging for him to build as he keeps finding a prim out of place or a phantom wall as he keeps building and checking his work, “There are many secret passages and rooms crawl spaces and deck throughout the city, and I’m adding more every day. Some passages ways only the most skilled acrobat will find. Others you will just stumble upon as you get missions from the Clan lords. You just don't know what you'll find around the next corner. Could be anything from a treasure chest, to an enraged animal that you have unwittingly cornered.” Number thinks he’s about three quarters done, but there could be still more.

Another place that gets good reviews is a bar on the loading docks, No Mast, “It’s called No Mast because I used the mast from the ship to stabilize that area.” More recently, he’s been doing additional work on the Foundry.

“I’m always busy every day. My motto is ‘Make something new every day,’ but I’m happy to take breaks and help out my customers. I’d like to thank the NCS2 Team for giving me the opportunity to show the village I’m building to the world of Second Life.”

Iwagakure Village is located at Hinode Shima (150, 175, 1896)

Bixyl Shuftan

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