Art of War - MLT Style
By Drakona Lewellen, inspired by the work of Sun Tzu (Last Update on 26-Feb-2008)
“Only the dead have seen the end of war” - Plato
Chapter One; Preparedness
Do you see what I see?
One of the biggest contributors to lag in Second Life is the client's computer. This means you. First of all, any laptop by definition is NOT a gaming machine. Integrated graphics in your store-bought desktop will NOT hack it. Libraries can be written about the finer topics of computer hardware, and the kinds you should and should not use for gaming and Second Life in particular. Instead here I will focus on things that all users can adapt to fit their own unique computer setup. First of all, open your preferences… Ctrl+p or [Edit ▸ Preferences] from the drop-down menu.
- Make sure your bandwidth slider is all the way to the right. This will allow SL to have a higher choke limit on the amount of information downloaded to your computer. (The more it can download at once, the quicker things rez)
- Disk Cache is tricky. The more you have in your cache, the more you lag. But the smaller you allow your cache to be, the more “Out of Memory” issues you will have. Personally I found it best to keep the slider maxed out to the right, but to Clear Cache every time I am about to log out (it is cleared when you attempt to relog after hitting the button)
- Clear Cache…this little button in this tab should always be clicked every time you log into SL, so that your cache is refreshed the next time you try to log into Second Life. Clearing your cache fixes a lot of problems…this is the panacea for all of SL's little glitches.
- Run Second Life in a Window….this is all dependent on your graphics hardware. You will find that running SL in full-screen allots more system resources to run SL, but also runs it at a higher resolution, also eating more graphics memory. Play with this until you find one that fits.
- Quality and Performance slider should be in “Custom”, so you can individually tweak certain settings.
- Shaders…everything under here can go if you need to free up system resources and increase FPS (frames per second)
- Reflection Detail…lower it for increased performance.
- Avatar rendering….never EVER disable “Avatar Impostors”, as this actually helps reduce lag by rendering distant avatars with less detail than avi's in close proximity. Hardware Skinning and Avatar Cloth, however, can be toggled for increased performance.
- Draw Distance should be no higher than 128 but no lower than 96 meters when engaging in bow fighting. Turning this lower increases performance, but also reduces the range in which you can see who might be shooting you. Sometimes you might need to turn this higher.
- Max. Particle Count, Post Process Quality and Mesh Detail can be turned down to further increase performance.
- Lighting and Terrain Detail can also be reduced for faster performance.
- Click on “Hardware Settings” and make sure “Anisotropic Filtering” is disabled. This is a big lagmonster. Enabling VBO might slow down or increase the performance of your computer, based on your video card. Some run faster with it enabled, some others do not. Texture Memory should always never exceed the ammount of memory in megabytes that your video card has. Reducing this can help SL run faster, but also more unstable.
Chapter Two; The Essential Duality
The Most Dangerous Weapon:
Do you know what it is? In any fighting game, in every RL conflict; the most dangerous weapon any force can have is Communication. It's stronger than any bow, sword or spear. Without it, everything goes to hell. Communication allows for so many things to happen, and it enables the most important tactic that can be used in a battlefield: Teamwork. To have one, you have to have the other. If one fails, so will the other. Make sure you keep your teammates alert to your location when you have to…call out new arrivals into the sim…and sound off when you spot dangers and traps, escape routes and targets. There is no need to write out long diatribes in combat…that will get you capped quick. Don't worry about sounding corny either, it's a fight. Keep your Communications short, concise and easy to understand.
A well oiled team is a dangerous foe to face. A smaller, well-trained and cohesive unit that knows how to work as a team is more deadly than a disorganized force twice it's size and firepower. And also a lot more effective. Now there is no need to train to become the Gorean Sea Air and Land team, but a few combat tactics must be observed to work effectively as a single unit. All teams should have (in theory) three parts. These parts are:
- Combat Leader - They lead the force into combat, and make decisions when the plan and the battle changes (which it will undoubtedly do). They have to be strong and able to adapt to dynamic, ever-changing situations. Another important duty they perform is calling out targets for focused-fire. This tactic is called calling out the “TIP”s, which is discussed later.
- Main Fighting Force - They are the meat and potatos of the attack force. They are the ones that stick by the Combat Leader and assist the CL in the assault. They follow the CL commands, especially by focusing fire onto the TIP as it is called out.
- Rear Echelon - While not necessary for a team, having this extra group in a combat unit can dramatically change the course of battle. This group is the one that hangs back, providing cover fire and sniper support to assist the main assault. Another very important role this group performs is recon….they should be the ones keeping their eyes on the mini-map, watching for new enemy combatants entering from the TP points or flanking around to cut off the Team. They should also be positioned in such a way that they are guarding the extraction zone, such as the escape point from a city, camp or route to the TP's. These fighters are the main combat team's reserves.
Chapter Three; General Combat Tactics
Common Weapons and Tactics:
The weapon you will encounter the most in SL Gor is the bow, and/or variants of this weapon. While there are many versions of this, the main tactics with it remain the same. Arrows cause splash damage, and it works both ways. Learn to use this to your advantage, and keep this in mind when seeking cover. For this reason (splash damage), the following are the basic tenants a fighter must hold themselves to:
Always aim for the feet…where-ever the avatar makes contact with the ground. Even if you miss a little to the left, right, behind or in front of the target, the arrow striking the ground will cause “splash” damage which will radiate out and hit the target assuming it is within range of the splash damage. You will be surprised how forgiving the splash damage radius is to your aiming when firing onto a target.
There are usually two different combat-arrow types in every bow. These are “short” (or “normal”) range, and “long” range. The short/normal ranges will arc and fall to the ground after traveling some distance, while the long range has either no arc (fires completely straight) or a very subtle arc. For the majority of situations that occur, a fighter will want to have “short/normal” ranges enabled onto their bow. This is because of several very important reasons:
- Long range arrows tend to not hit targets easily and/or register on the meter as well (they seem to require the shooter to be more accurate). They have a nasty tendency to “shoot past” a target, and when engaging a target at normal distance with long range enabled, the arrows tend to be duds more often than not, thus not triggering the target's meter. Another very important fact about long range arrows is that most bow makers include a longer time-delay penalty of long range vs short/normal, reducing your fire rate as well. Long range should only be used in a fixed, preferably elevated position, and only when engaging targets at extreme distance.
- Short/Normal range arrows have a faster fire rate at the expense of distance and the inclusion of an arc…but a good fighter will remember this, and adjust the aim of the bow in correlation to the distance of the target being engaged. This is the mode you should have activated on your bow for almost every situation that occurs.
Positioning and Taking Cover
The ground you stand on and the surrounding structures will have an enormous effect on the outcome of any conflict, even if only by determining how the splash damage of arrows is affected. Keep in mind the following:
- If the enemy can see your feet, you do not get any easier to hit. Try getting somewhere that the enemy can't readily see your feet, such as being on a slightly elevated plateau of ground, or peering over the edge of a hillock or creekbed. In either of those positions the enemy can not see any lower than your knees, thus making you a lot harder to strike.
- Tight corridors, whether they are made of SL ground or prims, is a deathtrap plain and simple. Do not get caught in one; if you must move through one…do it quickly. They limit the areas in which you have to maneuver, and make it very easy to receive unholy amounts of splash damage. Remember this works both ways. If an enemy is chasing you and they must be funneled in a tight spot, that's the ambush point you should turn to engage them. It will be unforgiving for whomever finds themselves in that small valley.
- Anything made from prims makes horrendous defensive structures. If the prims aren't insanely thick, the arrows striking on one side of the prim will splash through to the other side. Yes. This means if you are standing close to a wall, and the enemy is shooting at you from the other side but only striking the wall, you will get hit. And it doesn't stop at walls. ANYTHING made of prims. If you are above the enemy on a prim platform or anything primmy, all the enemy has to do is shoot the prim floor under you and it will splash through and hit you. And you can not return fire. Even prim objects near you, such as prim rocks, trees, and railings that catch arrows will splash damage around when arrows strike it, just like ground. Most forts (cities, camps, etc) have walls, and these walls almost always have railings to hold the av from falling over the edge. Only problem is that an arrow striking the railing on the other side near you might as well hit you, as you will receive damage. Be sure, when using prims as cover, to stand far enough away from the prim so the splash damage doesn't strike your meter. Keep the prim between you and the enemy, but do not be against the prim either. But just like the previous tactics discussed earlier, this works both ways. If you see the enemy is in a position that they can not be hit directly but is against or near a prim that you can hit (such as railings, under the floor, the wall, etc), shoot for that spot and you might very well strike him with your own splash damage.
- Backdrops of any sort is murder. Whether it be made of prims or SL ground, being too close to a backdrop (such as a wall or hill/ledge) will spell doom for your conflict. This is all due to the ever-popular splash damage again. For example, let's say you are running around at the foot of a hill, and very close to it. An enemy opens fire, but misses you and your feet (they aimed high) and the arrow flew past you harmlessly, striking the hill behind. If the backdrop is too close to you, the splash damage will radiate back and hit you, even if the arrow flew *past* you. For this reason, do NOT get against walls, hills and other backdrops unless you have to. It makes the aiming a lot easier for the enemy. Again, as with before, this tactic works both ways. You will find that enemies that insist of engaging you while they are running on a hillside will lose health faster than if they fought you on flat ground.
Jinking means to move erratically. Try to anticipate the movement of the enemy, but also try to fool the enemy in turn. Don't just run in circles around the enemy; present your movements as unpredictable as possible. Go this way…then quickly go back in the other direction for a few steps…then turn back the other way..FAKE! turn back around and go back again….this is what you have to do to keep the enemy on their toes and make it as hard as possible to keep their aim trained on you at all times. If you change your course too many times too quickly, however, you will just spin your heels on the same spot of ground. Be sure you take a few steps in any direction before changing it, and faking movements helps a lot. Also expect your enemy to know this as well, and do their best to confuse and confound you.
Set to Run
This almost shouldn't be listed, but it has to be. Before engaging in a fight, set your avatar to “Run”. This is toggled with “Ctrl R”, or the slower *menu* way is to go [World ▸ Always Run] from the drop-down menu.
Check your bow before fighting
A lot of things can mess up the way a bow fires. You do not want to get caught in a situation where you run out into the field from the safezone with a glitched weapon. Not only will you look foolish, but you will feel a collar snap around your neck faster than you can blink. While any scripted object (like your bow) can glitch for no reason at all, certain things seem to elicit such naughty behavior more often than just bad luck. These are:
- Teleporting and/or moving between sims while the bow is unsheathed tends to glitch the bow
- GLM (Gorean Ladder Meter) is designed to disable any drawn weapon once you are capped. When you get free of being capped, you will need to redraw your weapon, even if it is already out, as it will be glitched.
- Using intersim teleporters (such as those “Touch me to TP to the market” pads) tends to glitch bows if they are drawn
- Toggling any object that controls your avatar's animations (such as AO's and certain gestures/poseballs) while the bow is drawn tends to glitch the bows if drawn
If you encounter or must encounter any of the above situations, it is good practice to re-draw your bow before you discover if it has glitched. Some bows, such as the iPwn bows, require that you Sheath first and then redraw, as they will still be glitched if you redraw without sheathing first. An ounce of prevention is worth a fuckton of cure, so always be on the safe side. Even if you get capped and released on non-GLM meters, it's still wise to reset the bow by sheath/redraw. And after re-drawing the bow, always fire a test shot. If it doesn't shoot, and/or the arrow doesn't rez (regardless if it made the noise and did the animation), you should detach the bow and re-wear it. When all else fails, then clear your cache and reloging.
Mentioned earlier, TIPs stands for “Target of ImPortance”. TIPs are called out by the Combat Leader. In any fight, it is better for group-led “focused fire”…when the entire combat unit engages the same enemy combatant to take him/her down quickly, while mainly ignoring the other enemy fighters. This is because fighting two enemies at full health is better than taking on three at half health each. The first enemy that should be brought down first is always their best fighter, because you will need all the help you can get, so it's best to do it before you start losing team mates. Afterwards you should work your way down their ranks, from Toughest-to-Weakest, this way it only gets easier as you go along, as you will have less health to deal with the final enemy combatants as well. If you do not know who is tough vs weak, then you will want to attack the enemy with the lowest health. Remember, work either Toughest to Weakest, or Lowest Health to Greater Health. Sometimes you will need to adapt and change things up as the fight commences. Always keep on the same target if you can, and avoid switching targets constantly, as that only spreads your damage out too thinly and does not cause a lot of harm.
Chapter Four; Mindset of the Champion
Pride and Fall:
No matter how good you think you are, there is *always* someone better. No matter how good you fight, you can *always* fight better with more practice. If you do become a great SL combat fighter, never ever EVER allow that to cloud your mind with arrogance and an inflated ego. That is just the precursor to epic failure, even if judgement isn't swift and immediate. Eventually, you WILL be beaten, regardless how good you are. Do not allow this knowledge to also depress you so you don't try. Always give it your best; just do not delude yourself and become an ass about your skills, and learn to be a good sport when you do get beat.