For the Record: CCS and DCS - The Realities of SL Game Development
Posted by Suzanna Soyinka on July 30 2011 00:32:27
For the Record:
Second Life and the internet in general has a very short memory. And because of that I feel its necessary to ensure I document some of the past so people know where I have always stood. And how it applies to where we are today.
A lot of people will probably say that I don't need to bother defending myself against any of this stuff because "everyone" knows what the truth is, but its obvious that really regardless of what I've shown over the years in my commitment to what we do that sometimes people get diverted into believing a different truth, a truth that some others in Second Life want people to believe is true, but it isn't.
So lets start with the beginning, and go from there.
The Creation of CoLA - CoLA and DCS
In June of 2006 I started creating the original CoLA, I was building an idea, something I had worked on before but never finished. Why did I do this? Because I'd been in Second Life for around a year at that point and Second Life seemed to have no point, the only thing I seemed to be doing was making a little bit of money on a pair of vampire fangs I'd made and that was about it. Second Life had no flavor, there were very few "communities" beyond GOR and that was hardly ever my thing.
CoLA was an extension of a game idea I'd been pushing around since 1999 or so called "City of the Fall" where a generalized apocalypse had occurred and Vampires, Werewolves and Humans were locked in a three way war against each other in the new forsaken world. It was originally a mod project I was developing in the Unreal 2.5 engine that never got enough support behind it from other developers to make it out of alpha, but, that was the original premise CoLA was developed from.
As we gained in popularity, and very quickly I might add, it became apparent that we were going to have to use some kind of system to regulate combat between players because role play combat at that time was turning up very mixed results and creating a lot of OOC issues. At the time I was working on a combat system called LACS, or Lost Angels Combat System, an idea that never really reached fruition due to the chain of events we're about to cover, you all know that bit of work today as CCS Lite, just a basic combat system with healing and a couple of minor script based abilities.
Well we worked under RCS for some time, and everyone that used RCS in CoLA paid the 250L it cost to buy RCS back in the day, and regardless of the fact that we'd opened an entirely new market for RCS, the developer of RCS was less than concerned for the needs of this rising RP community.
At the time I was approached by Dimentox Travanti and Miss Wright, Dimentox offered to take the burden of dealing with RCS off my hands and the burden of developing LACS off my hands by creating DCS, a simple script based combat system which had some minor script based persistence and a couple of basic abilities per race in the system. Miss Wright by association offered to become a member of the LA Staff and help me manage the growing Lost Angels community from a community relations perspective. Dimentox did the scripting for DCS, I will never deny that, but the development design was based around my conceptual design for what I felt a system should offer in comparison to RCS, which was a Star Wars RP safe zone meter that barely had any capabilities at all.
I will never deny that the work on DCS done by Dimentox was his work, he did the scripting, my input on the DCS project was on conceptual dynamics only. I did not script DCS at all, the reason I didn't was because Dimentox told me that I should concentrate on building the community, while he handled the code base for DCS, so I put LACS to the side and concentrated on managing the CoLA community.
Now don't get me wrong here I don't plan to slam Dimentox in any way, this isn't a drama post its just a recounting of the facts. Dimentox and I worked really well together when it was just us on the DCS project, but over a short amount of time it became apparent to me that there was an agenda beyond providing a tailored combat system to Second Life's first true dark role play community and that agenda was money.
I did tell Dimentox that the creation of enhancement items for DCS, in regards to its use in CoLA was fine, because I felt that his efforts in regards to creating an alternative for the RCS system for CoLA gave him a right to some level of compensation. The problem largely stemmed from there that a lot of what was created almost became "required" for combat and it ended up forcing a lot of community money into buying these upgrades.
Now I won't sit here and act like I was totally blameless, I was asked to create a healing system for DCS back then, called the DCS Auto-Doc, I did so, I did the scripting for it, I'm the one that created it. But I did it under the impression of trying to work with my partner and support the concept that the system should be supported by allowing us to create items exclusive to it so we wouldn't have to pay for it all out of our pockets.
This did not work out though, to be honest the history of DCS and CoLA is a very small history indeed. In comparison to the total history of CoLA as an absolute institution of Second Life role play, CoLA and DCS lasted all of about two and a half months. Pretty short, all told. Which is funny now that I look back on it, when I consider what a huge deal some people still make of it. two and a half months in the face of five years? Really? I know players in CoLA that have contributed more to what CoLA is in that time. I know sim owners and players in CCS that have contributed more to what CCS is, in that time...but I digress.
I'd like to say that the whole thing that went down that caused the split between DCS and CoLA was my fault, or Dimentox's fault, but to be honest it was really neither. At that time Dimentox and his wife, Miss Wright, were having some marital issues. He'd left her temporarily and was going to move away, according to what he told me. He asked me for his own sake to ban Miss Wright from CoLA, so he could work in peace and continue working with CoLA, and as it was a case of supporting someone who'd stepped up to help CoLA in the way he did, I did as he requested.
Now you need to keep in mind that both Dimentox and Miss Wright, at this stage of the game might stand up and say thats patently untrue, and its my word against theirs and I'm fine with that, it is a case of my word against theirs, though there are plenty of original CoLA staffers and even some original Toxian City members that remember this, simple facts are, Dimentox asked me to ban his wife, and I made that choice to support him.
At that time, Dimentox had been in the process of buying the Toxia sim, we were under the impression, between us all that what we'd do is I'd do the city build in Toxia, and Dimentox would handle DCS and the entire CoLA community would move to Toxia, off the mainland, and finally have its own sim.
As things turned out, Dimentox asked me, at that time, while he was in the middle of moving out, to keep an eye on the situation with the purchased estate and that if it went live to use his account to log in and start setting up the estate for the build. He gave me his login information of his own free will. And I rarely ever do this kind of thing but given the situation of extremity, ergo, he had no internet access at the time, when he contacted me to tell me the estate had gone live and asked me to go start getting things set up, I did so.
Regardless of that, in the 15 minutes I was on his avatar to start swapping terrain textures and prepping the sim for a build, his wife, Miss Wright, IM'd me, rather than ignore her, I told her it was me and that Dimentox had given me access to the account to take care of the estate of Toxia, she immediately started accusing me of stealing the DCS code base, so I, at that time, realized that I was dealing with a hostile situation, so I logged off the account entirely and never once accessed it again.
A few days later the inevitable happened, Dimentox and Miss Wright cleared up their marital issues and were a team again. DCS was suddenly shut down in CoLA, something I never had the capability to do because only Dimentox and perhaps Miss Wright knew the passwords for the DCS communications repeater in the original Satellite sim. And I was IM'd and put over a barrel by Dimentox, I would either build Toxia and move CoLA to Toxia, or I would pay him a huge license fee for DCS to remain in CoLA, regardless of Dimentox already having made a pretty good chunk of change on DCS "upgrades" at the CoLA communities expense.
Given the situation up to that point I have to say I went with my gut feeling, which was, if I had built CoLA in Toxia, and moved the community to Toxia, they'd have very soon enough kicked me out of there, banned me from the sims and kept the build, and the community. I felt that was what their intent was, in regards to the CoLA-Toxia build, so I made a judgment call, and that judgment call was to tell Dimentox that if thats how he felt he should treat me after I backed him up in his dispute with his wife, then he could go pound sand and CoLA would live, or die, without him and his system.
I shut down CoLA for about half a day that day, I needed a lot of time to think. In the end we re-opened the sim, using RCS again, and my plan at that time was to use RCS until I got LACS running myself.
The Emergence of CCS
Now, let me segue a second to a "current rumor" and I use that term loosely because its a rumor that goes all the way back to 2006 but has been debunked thousands of time since then. The "current rumor" is that I "stole DCS code and made CCS with it". If thats the case, why did I switch back to RCS when I reopened CoLA after Dimentox and parted ways?
I mean if I had the DCS code base in my inventory at the time, quite obviously, due to the simplicity of the script system at that time (and DCS was obscenely simple at that time for all intents and purposes it was nothing more than a GOR safe zone meter with a few added functions and caching) why didn't I just immediately open CoLA up back under DCS, but change the name of DCS in the scripts to LACS and claim I wrote it?
That is really what people don't even take into account. When they buy into popular anti-CoLA/anti-CCS garbage. And unfortunately make themselves look like ignorant hicks in association.
I'm not script stupid, I'm not going to claim to be the best scripter in Second Life but I'm obviously capable of scripting when I have to, lets take the facts of the matter into reality, I was creating scripted products for Second Life before Dimentox was even in Second Life, it would have been dreadfully simple for me to have "stolen the DCS code base" and to have simply edited it all to make it act like it was something else.
But thats not how things went, when I reopened LA after the irreconcilable differences between Dimentox and his wife and I became apparent, I reopened LA under RCS, the very same basic combat system we were using two months before Dimentox came in and designed DCS to cater to CoLA's needs and my conceptual dynamics.
We continued to use RCS for around two weeks when I was approached by Jora Welesa, who told me that they'd been trying to get together with Dimentox for several weeks about trying to help out with DCS but Dimentox had ignored them. Jora wrote the original code for what became the original CCS, I did not write it, Jora did, Jora built the very first LSL to MYSQL persistent role play combat system in Second Life and Jora did this even before the code Jora wrote became CCS.
The facts of the matter are, all Jora did was take my concepts, like Dimentox did, and apply them to a code base that did things better than DCS ever did. Anyone that thinks that I "stole DCS" to make CCS is inherently ignorant of the facts that the code base that Jora presented in December of 2006, was doing things that DCS simply could not do at all, database based persistence at that point had not been done, Jora was the first person to make it work. It wasn't until 8 months after CCS's release that Dimentox finally got around to making "DCS2" and it took Dimentox that 8 months to make DCS do what CCS was doing the day Jora showed it to me.
Now lets not get me wrong, I committed to the CCS project in a way that I did not commit to the DCS project, rather than just let someone else handle the combat system "for me" I did everything I could to ensure I personally contributed to the overall evolution of the CCS code base, it was rooted in Jora's original development but over time my own additions to the code were there too and in times when Jora could not be around due to real life responsibilities, I not only supported the code base but did updates and hot fixes to deal with issues the community was experiencing. I'm not completely unable to script as some people might wish you to believe but I will without any compunction, tell you right now that LACS would have never been as good as what Jora did with the original CCS code base because Jora had skills, at the time, in SQL development, that I did not have at all. And I'd have never been able to fit my understanding of SL scripting into a hybridized situation like Jora was able to.
And quite simply, it obviously it took Dimentox quite a lot of time to work it out as well, because as stated the creation dates of CCS and DCS2 are eight months apart. I'm not saying Dimentox is stupid, I'm not even saying hes incapable. What I'm saying is that anyone that continues to push around this "Suzanna stole DCS to make CCS" rumor shows their own ignorance of the facts of software development. If DCS had been capable of what CCS was doing, DCS would have already been doing it, the fact that it took eight months over overhaul to turn DCS into DCS2, to make DCS do what CCS was doing, is more than enough facts to show that DCS was no way involved in CCS's creation at all.
The only area of similarity between CCS and DCS is the fact that they use dynamics and concepts that I came up with to make RPG game interfacing in Second Life more functional and realistic. That is their only area of common ground, at all, both systems benefited from the ideas and concepts that I put into them.
Dimentox went his own way and he had plenty of original ideas of his own, I'm not dragging him down at all. He took what he did in code, and the ideas he and I had shared and he added to that and tried to stand on his own and I respected that, for quite some time, when it seemed like, after I gave him the CCS Main so he could know for himself that it was not his code, that he was going to remain professional about things. But he didn't, his wife didn't. They decided to throw in support for the NOR chain of sims, a chain well known for its theft of the CCS code base and its attempt to use that code base as an illegitimate product called WARPS.
And now as the haze of time settles on the grid and people forget or people are simply ignorant of the truth of the past, they have decided that the best way to deal with CCS and the CCS community, since we've been so successful (due to the strong efforts of our community members) that they need to revise history so the newer players that don't know any better believe a twisted version of the truth.
And the twisted version of the truth is that instead of NOR stealing CCS and making WARPS they just act like WARPS never happened and accuse CCS of the same crimes, against DCS. When there were no crimes ever committed against DCS. The earliest version of CCS will stand up to scrutiny against the earliest version of DCS as being completely different, because they were written by two different scripters of differing capabilities. The earliest version of WARPS looks just like CCS 0.4.6, because thats exactly what it was, and that was proven by a US Civil Court settlement between myself, and the person who maintained the WARPS system for NOR, once they realized they had done the wrong thing.
Simple facts are, DCS in its larval form back in 2006 was completely incapable of what CCS did the day we released it. Jora was so far ahead of Dimentox in scripting skill it wasn't even funny, and thats not all that surprising as Jora had been scripting for SWRP communities for two years before even I'd joined Second Life.
People that accuse me of stealing DCS code to make CCS simply insult the work that Jora did, to help bring CCS to life and support CoLA and the eventual CCS network that came afterwards.
Jora was a better scripter than Dimentox, thats the long and short of it. And if it makes some people feel better to accuse me of theft to explain that cold hard truth, then I guess thats just he way things are, but the truth of the matter is the truth.
Jora was a better scripter than Dimentox, and Jora was far more trustworthy too. And when the time came and Jora could no longer give their time to CCS as needed, Jora didn't fuck over the entire CCS community and take their ball and go home, Jora signed over the rights to the code base we'd worked on together for two years, to me, and told me to do my best, and I think largely, that I have.
Unlike certain people, if Jora was to come back today and tell me they wanted a 50% share back, on what we do, I would give it to Jora. I've spoken to Jora on this many times, attempting to get Jora back into the mainstream development of CCS, but Jora's life at this time just won't allow for it. And to Jora's credit Jora's never asked me for anything I've always offered. If I was to IM Dimentox and ask him for credit or compensation for the ideas of mine he put into DCS, he'd laugh at me, insult me, and mute me.
Thats the difference between CCS and DCS folks and thats the reality between them. Believe whatever you want, I know what I've had to live through in the last half decade. And I don't have to sugar coat anything or even change a bit of it in my favor. They are the facts. Like them, or not.
What CCS Really Is
CCS is what it is, its a great collective of individuals trying to do right by themselves and the communities they've created in Second Life. Its me, working every day to try to ensure that the spirit of the community is preserved in the ever changing environment of the SL grid. Its all the GMs and players working together to create great communities and RP or even just combat for fun that people enjoy, together, and its our third party developers working within the best of their ability, mostly, to help support a circular economy which benefits no one developer over the other in the development circle. Including me.
So just like the real life game industry, people like to single out individuals, like people credit Cliff Blezinski for Gears of War, but CliffyB would never be who he is now, without great people like Mike Stap and Eric Hamilton behind him. And just like that, CCS wouldn't be what it is today without the efforts of Jora Welesa and Melanie Milland, and more lately, Maldoror Bowman and Czar Sadofsky, people who believe in what we do, and have committed themselves to helping this project be the best it can be.
I own CCS, and I've damn sure worked myself to the bone for it in the last five years but don't for a minute think I discount the efforts of those that have helped me make CCS what it is, I never have and I never will, unlike DCS, which will rampantly deny I ever had anything to do with its development, I will blatantly and openly acknowledge the people that have helped me make CCS what it is and even credit them with authorship of the code base that makes CCS what it is. Without them, I might not be who I am, and CCS might not be what it is, but without me, CCS wouldn't have been what its become either, and the people that have given me their time, and given CCS their time, believed in me enough and trusted me enough to respect my conceptual development and never doubt that I would acknowledge their part in its realization. And they didn't do that because of some farcical legal contract, they did it because they believe in me and they know that I give back to what they put in tenfold. And that even without them, their work will never die, because I won't let it ever happen.
People who perpetuate rumors like "CCS is stolen DCS" are ignorant assholes, who disrespect the efforts and ability of one of Second Life's truly visionary and original LSL developers, Jora Welesa. And to be frank, its sickening that anyone is still even pushing that rumor around. It makes me sick, really, to hear it. Jora was so far ahead of their time, in Second Life, it was unbelievable. Jora was so far ahead of me and even Dimentox, in 2006, that Jora made both of us look like amateurs. And it just so happened that Jora believed enough in me and in CoLA, to share that visionary talent. And to trust it to me, in passing, 100%, that I'd never let them down or discount their contribution.
I for one don't ever forget that. I work myself til I have nervous breakdowns sometimes, to be worthy of that. But it seems like others can creatively forget whatever they want, if its to their benefit.
Anyways just a bit of a personal rant, its a long read, so I don't expect a lot of people to make it all the way through. Big ups to everyone who has ever given something back to this crazy idea. We all owe you. And I'm honored you chose to. I will try to live up to that trust, every day, til there is no grid left to service.
On with RP, on with fun combat. And everyone have a great day.