HUD to HUD Comparison
by Siobhan McCallen
(Note: This is NOT a detailed review of combat HUDS. This is a comparison of why one might purchase a given combat HUD over another. Space constraints do not allow me to do detailed reviews of each HUD in this article.)
A week doesn’t go by where I don’t hear something like “Damn…there’s so many weapons out there. I can only afford ONE. Which one should I get?” And “damn” is the right epithet, because it’s a real quagmire to navigate. It’s not an easy answer, because so much depends on what you expect from it, and THAT depends on a whole raft of decision points, each of them as personal as your toothbrush. And hanging over the whole mess like stalactites are the various rules, regulations, and dismal realities surrounding the whole “weapon” issue and their use in-world that must be balanced into the equation. How much risk are you willing to take? Will it involve any risk at all? Is this a defensive tool against griefers, a role-playing tool, or a weaponized Swiss Army knife? Once you have it, how hard is it to use effectively, how effective is “effectively”, and what strategies will it most likely support?
First off, there are lots of kinds of weapons. In this article, we’re going to concentrate on a particular class — the HUD weapon. There are thousands and thousands of hand-held weapons, from pointed sticks to plasma cannons, and trying to do any kind of comprehensive comparison would be impossible. But HUDs — there are still a lot of them, but they fall into more highly stratified groups, and some have managed greater visibility than others. So I gathered up a number of the most famous — or infamous — of them all, and tested them. Some of them were my favorites at one time, but now need work. Others show promise. All of them have great things to say for them, and may well be exactly what you’re looking for, depending on just what you want them to do.
And because the guys with the suits look at these things, please keep in mind that the TOS and the Community Standards are pretty clear that any use of weapons is supposed to be with other consenting persons.
Abaddon -Mayhem Weapons
This is a nice effects — and limited combat — HUD, and has some very good particle attacks, but it isn’t the greatest combat HUD I’ve seen. It relies HEAVILY on fancy particle systems and passive attacks, and has NO significant defenses other than a single, slow, and standard NPV that is barely mentioned. It is beautiful for making it look like you’ve set fire to the world in a fit of absolute rage, but until that fire actually kills everyone in a 96-meter radius in a damage parcel, I’m afraid I’m just not impressed that it’s truly “combat” enough. Nor does it help me defend myself against a rampaging griefer who’s doing his best to ruin my day and cage me and my loved ones. (Mind you, you CAN just teleport away from a griefer…but privately, I feel that just encourages them. They feel like they’ve won, and they have their “lulz” all the way to the next person to harass.)
I’ve already done a detailed analysis of this HUD, and found it interesting, and well-made, but all in all not sufficiently weaponized. It’s in a special class of beautiful but relatively harmless pseudo-weapons that might scare the crap out of someone, and maybe startle them into running away, but otherwise won’t do much to muss them up. There are some very nice attacks — the “hell hounds” come to mind — but all in all, it concentrated too much on effects, and not enough on stomping the other guy into the ground, which is what combat, and the whole concept of a “weapon” is all about. And face it, it’s what the documentation claimed it could and would do.
I spoke to Smallbutt Mighty of Mayhem Weapons, and he says they are working on an updated version of the Abaddon HUD, but it was not ready to show at the time of this writing. I will be looking at it in detail when it is closer to release, and give an updated report on it. From the description, a lot of the things missing from the device may in fact be addressed in this upcoming product, making it truly a thing to behold. Time will tell!
Angst – Darkstar Heliosense (Update)
Angst HUD by Darkstar Heliosense
I gave this thing a right panning in a previous issue of MCR, but thought I would take another look at it, in case it had been updated. Sure enough, it had, and it looks like Darkstar Heliosense took some of what I had written to heart — but only some of it, and unfortunately, the least important pieces. The latest edition of Angst has a very pretty and fancy delivery box, which I had hoped was a sign of improved scripting. It did show that there was some hope. The first thing I noticed upon attaching the new HUD was that the crazy, distracting, sick-making spinny planet HUD was gone, replaced by a simple black box. MUCH better, if a bit stark. But hey, I had turned the whole thing black to escape the spinning before, so what the heck? This would do! But when I got into the menus, things were sadly not as much improved.
In a job I once held as a programmer, a co-worker once held a strange coding philosophy. If a line of code gives a syntax error, delete it. Repeat until there are no more errors and the code compiles without complaint. It must be okay, if it complies without errors, right? Unfortunately, the people who screamed bloody murder that their data was not going where it was supposed to, that the options missing because of the absent lines of code, and the hair-pulling due to the outright mangling of the data files gave rise to speculation that his philosophy had a few bugs of its own to be worked out. Fortunately for the company, he had to debug his philosophy someplace else — he was fired shortly after exposing us to his interesting theories of programming.
What seems to have happened in the Angst HUD is that Darkstar Heliosense has removed a lot of the things that I found bothersome in my original article, simply by deleting them entirely — the entire defensive suite of shields and interceptors, all of the active attacks, some of the passive attacks, and all of the particle attacks. The only passive attacks left are the ones I said actually worked, and worked well — but he did NOT fix the one thing I said was the chief weakness of the passive attacks, that anyone could trigger them! Mind you, when I first looked at the passive attacks from this HUD, the key of the target was in the description field of the attacking prim. Seriously, how hard would it be to compare this to who clicks on it in the touch event, and ignore the touch if it doesn’t match? The single most important problem I found (save for the attacks that simply did nothing at all), and that was left in place. What else was left in? All of the attacks that violate the TOS — chat spam and URL spam in particular. The URL spam bothered me, because not only could I not seem to get it to stop, but my NAME was on the attack window for the target to clearly see and AR. I think there are some natives in the Amazon jungle who don’t yet know how to do a screen-shot with that information on it, but I think even the underage escapees from the Teen Grid know how. (Who am I kidding? They probably taught their parents.)
I had hoped an update of this HUD meant it had improved. Unfortunately, it was just stripped down to the most useless nubbin of disappointment possible. It was gratifying to see that the creator had tried to take some of what I said to heart. He just took the wrong parts of it to heart.
Here’s a clue for the future: If you have to make a choice between changes to functionality or changes to appearance, choose functionality. I would have dealt with the spinny planet HUD forever if it meant that people other than the target could no longer trigger the passive attacks. Also, while prim shields are largely a waste of time in this shieldbreaker day and age, stripping the system of EVERY defensive mechanism seems a tad harsh. Some kind of defensive mechanism, even as simple as an NPV, would have helped. And given that the author already had access to “zomg” ghosting capabilities, this, combined with an NPV, might well have given rise to an advanced NPV that was immune to damage. But instead, the author simply stripped out all defenses and gave up. Sounds more like a fit of pique than a reasoned response.
In comparison to the other HUD weapons…there is no comparison. It isn’t even on the chart with them. Even Omega Concern’s Omicron has more than enough defensive, intelligence-gathering, and utility functions to make up for the fact that it no longer works as a viable weapon outside a damage parcel. I mention it primarily to show that things can get worse.
This HUD is in a typical two-piece design — a HUD for control, and a worn portion as an emitter. This was a difficult HUD to work with, as it was prone to errors, including a strange twisting of the buttons which very quickly made the entire HUD useless, requiring that a fresh one be unpacked. Clicking on the bottom two buttons in the left column (which reiterate the target or the current action) would cause all of the other buttons on the HUD to rotate with respect to the face of the HUD, going further and further out of alignment until it becomes impossible to click the correct button at all. Thankfully, unpacking a new copy from the box will fix this, but it’s annoying.
The HUD’s attacks rely heavily on deformation of the target avatar, or “trashing”, always in response to a passive click or sit. The push attacks seem to be either broken or relatively weak. Push and pull attacks do nothing, “orbits” are simple bounces. The “Stalker” attack is supposed to ask you who to attack, who you then say on channel 10. I’ve tried it several times, and it says nothing, and saying a name on channel 10 does nothing.
The TKO attack, however, works well, reminding me of the blackout attack from Abaddon. Some of the push-based attacks work for a few moments, then seem to cease functioning, only to start back up once the target begins moving. This is, to me, a clear sign that not all attacks were updated to Havok 4 physics. Some of this may also not be entirely the creator’s fault — there has been a persistent bug in push physics, caused by setting the “maximum” force of a push by setting it to an arbitrarily large integer. If the integer is actually *bigger* than 2147483647, the actual maximum push limit, the bug causes the push to be zero. It used to default the push to 2147483647, the maximum, but a few versions ago, that behavior changed unexpectedly. So if you took the easy way, and put in “9999999999” to save looking up “2147483647”, your push got negated. And yes, this broke a lot of weapons. (Update: Latest word is that http://jira.secondlife.com/browse/SVC-2723 is being looked at critically because of how much content it breaks.)
The defenses in Kinetic Theory are only average. The prim shields are only fair, and only as effective as prim shields ever are — which is not very. They work well against freebie guns, but against a good gun, such as a Gunslinger Kurosawa 1911 Custom, they don’t stand a chance. Even the damage round from this gun, which is not a shieldbreaker or a phantom tracker, has a decent chance of getting past the shields and doing Linden damage to the target. The shields are flickery, but not nearly as badly as the shields that were removed from Angst were. You will be protected to an average level if you stand still. But they will do NOTHING to phantom bullets or shieldbreakers. The inner and outer shields show basically a 20% failure rate individually against a GOOD gun. Both together are marginally better, but no better than 15% failure rate. Don’t rely on them if your opponent has anything better than a freebie.
The object interceptors in the Kinetic Theory are garbage. They appear to be rezzing quite quickly and in the right location, but are doing nothing to impede even freebie bullets from a Linden revolver. Even the interceptors from Avast worked better than these, and my chief complaint with the interceptors from Avast was that the shields triggered them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen interceptors this bad at blocking a simple bullet. But if you want to keep random people from bumping into you, and have rez rights, the av interceptors will keep random people a couple of meters away from you.
There are some goodies in this HUD, though — there are several skyboxes in the rezzer, freebie buildings that are available to be rezzed at a moment’s notice, along with the usual platforms, lights, nonphys vehicles, and bots.
Omicron, by The Omega Concern
Omicron by The Omega Concern
Pre-H4, I would have told you to run right out and get this device immediately, and to take their training class at The Omega Concern, as I felt utterly confident that it was the best overall defensive tool and utility suite on the grid. I sent a lot of people to do just that, even though it was pricey. Why? The thing just plain WORKED, and worked magnificently. Whether it was as flashy as blowing a person to pieces with a tactical nuclear device, or, like the Snark, causing them to fade suddenly and silently away, it just worked. It also had the best defensive gear available, from multi-layered prim shields and fast-acting interceptors to the best-possible NPV and phase vehicles.
THEN stuff happened.
First, a JIRA issue came up with phase chairs. Some people felt that the ability to evade sensors by sitting on a special type of offsetting NPV was a “security problem”,and that some few people were using it to get past security orbs and take dirty pictures inside houses. So, after much screaming and yelling, and because technically, these objects made use of a code exploit, the Lindens “fixed” the codebase, making phase chairs impossible. Soon after that, they rolled out the new Havok 4 physics engine, which utterly changed how things worked in a thousand different ways.
The Omicron has suffered horribly from Havok 4. EVERY attack in it has been effectively nerfed to nothing. Only a tiny handful of attacks — such as “smoke” and “antigrav” — still work as they did prior to H4. The rest are dead as doornails. They are, at best, pretty light shows, sound and fury signifying nothing. Unless, of course, you are on damage land. Then they can still kill you. But so can a freebie revolver — and it doesn’t cost L$2000.
On the plus side, the information-gathering systems in the Omicron always were the best. The simscan in the Omicron is the most detailed and useful in SL, not just giving distance from the scanning av, but full xyz coordinates, and a status report on what they’re doing — walking, sitting, in mouselook, away, busy. You can even click on a name in the simscan and do things directly to them from a menu. There’s a “cloak” option that hides you under the ground, but not very far, and it doesn’t use an invisiprim, so it doesn’t work well for hiding under a FLOOR.
I have been very disappointed with the support for the Omicron since Havok 4 was announced. The staff of The Omega Concern went to great lengths to reassure people that April Heaney was testing new modules for H4 on the beta grid constantly, in preparation for the big event, and that no one need worry — it would be ready for prime time when the rollout came. But This Did Not Happen. It has been said that April Heaney came down with a severe illness, and that is deeply unfortunate. We have all hoped she would recover completely from it with no ill effects, and be willing and able to come back and continue with her great creations. But now that she is back, she has been concentrating on other products for upgrade, before the Omicron.
THIS is what has disappointed me beyond all else: Comments on the SL Exchange forum and elsewhere that it was no longer functioning properly were denied outright. When pressed, staff would deny it was “broken”, and go to great lengths to convince people that all was well, the Omicron worked perfectly, nothing was wrong. I would much rather have seen an admission of “oh, yeah…H4 broke a lot of functionality, and when April is better, it’ll eventually be fixed”. I could have respected that honesty. But it did not come. During this period of uncertainty and dysfunction, the OC staff has steadfastly maintained that the Omicron “worked perfectly”, that everything “worked just fine”, and that reports that it was broken were “unfounded”.
I saw this laundry list of “this works, this works, this works” on the SL Exchange forum, called up my Little Wooden Boy, and tested every single function myself. I know how to use it — I’ve been through the training class for it — and NONE of the weaponry worked as documented in a safezone, except for antigrav. And that’s the key right there. (Of course, things other than weapons are working pretty well, though the phase shield is utterly useless, and other HUDs have better NPV defenses now.)
There is a world of difference between “works” and “works as documented and intended”. While it is perfectly true that pressing the buttons on the Omicron does NOT result in zero effect — it is not “broken” to the point of no function at all — the effects that are generated are not what are stated in the manual, and not what are desired by purchasers. “Kill” does not kill anywhere but on damage land — not at all what it did prior to H4. All of the “deadly” weaponry would force a logout due to an extreme disruptive orbit prior to H4, and none of them do so now. Therefore, “broken” describes their desired result, if not the entirety of their operation. If people bought the Omicron for the rezzer, or the sensors, or the interceptors, I would say fine. But they don’t — they buy it for the weapons. And the weapons do not do what the manual says they do. I will not recommend the Omicron AS A WEAPON until it does again.
I have repeatedly asked to speak to April Heaney about the Omicron, and have heard nothing. I had hoped to get a beta copy of the whatever is being worked on, and have heard rumors that others are in fact testing it, but have not been able to get ANY reply from April at all, much less anything I could test. If I had received a beta copy with corrections for H4, I would have reviewed them for this article, for otherwise, I think highly of April and The Omega Concern, and would love nothing more than to see those products return to full usability.
Overlord, by Artemis Latrell
The Overlord HUD calls itself, very pretentiously, the product of Krell technology, as found in the pulp SF movie “Forbidden Planet”. That would be all well and good, except that Krell technology was BETTER than ours, so much better that we couldn’t understand it, much less defend against it. (It also claims that SL was “visted by Krell warriors long ago, but that’s laughable too, as SL hasn’t been around for billions of years. It only feels like the BUGS have been around for billions of years. Fossil bugs…hmmm…like SVC-22? Digression, digression…) I tried to make this HUD work, but except for some of the intelligence gathering features, I found it almost unusable.
The orbit features does a flat zero. Nothing. Nada. Zip. It sends out “orbit drones”, they lock on the target, and spectacularly fail to do a damn thing. They even tell you they failed.
You can detect a physical object with the “grav scan”, then use “grav influx” against it. Nothing happens. I tried it against a physical cube, nothing. I tried it against a physical vehicle in motion. Nothing. It did zero.
The Rift function worked pretty well, throwing the target around violently. If someone was wearing a collision-based RP HUD, such as RCS, it would likely reduce their health to 0% almost instantly. But it has to be on land where you can rez AND has push enabled. Such areas are extremely rare these days, especially push-enabled land.
Under Defenses, they are better than nothing, but rely on you standing still and hoping and praying the bullets don’t hit you, as the prim shields turn OFF when you move. The “overlord mode” does nothing whatsoever. Revenge mode works, but could easily get you abuse reported if you’re not careful. The remaining mechs, bots, and chairs are basically just fancy NPVs of one sort or another. They do not protect you from RP or Linden Damage, provided someone can find your body. So if you fly up, or use it in an aerial environment, all someone has to do is fly DOWN, find your body, and shoot you. The full compliment of deflectors, interceptors, shields, etc. did not protect me from a Hydro-Shok tracker bullet from a Gunslinger Kurosawa 1911 Custom, which threw me all over the sim regardless of my shielding.
The tools in the Overlord HUD are quite nice. The platforms in particular have a useful feature — you can use the HUD to teleport to a platform you have rezzed, in case you lose track of it up in the sky. BUT…the HUD tries to do you a favor, and check to see if you are in a rezzable parcel first. This only half works. It can only check to see if the Build flag is on or off for the land. It cannot check to see if you have group build rights there. So, if the Build flag is turned off, but you have group build rights, it will still fail to rez anything due to the “land being no-rez”, which is NOT actually true. It is rezzable…for you. This makes at least parts of the device utterly useless for someone who lives on group-owned land with rez restricted to group members.
Project Phenom, by Aozora Tech
Project Phenom by Aozora Tech
This device is clearly a grudge HUD. When you look at it, the box it came in, the list of features, and the documentation it comes with, you can see the spit being saved up by the creator. And you know full well who the creator is saving it up to spit at — the creator, Ariu Arai, has a big chip on her shoulder for Darling Brody, and this device is clearly meant to directly compete with Brody’s Quantum Core. Is it a “copy” of the QC? Probably no more than any other piece of code on the grid, that takes inspiration from common sources. There’s probably common elements, like movelocks are movelocks, shields are shields, interceptors are interceptors, and some things have to be done the same way because that’s the only way to do them now under H4 — but did Arai somehow “crack” the QC and copy the code? I don’t think so. Did she deliberately set out to create something reminiscent of the QC, but try to outdo it? Now there, I think you’re onto something. I think either the QC, someone using a QC, or perhaps Darling herself pissed off Arai at one time, and this creator decided to out-QC the QC. I will say one thing about the Phenom AND the QC: a pile of work went just into creating the shipping crates for these things. They’re works of art on their own, and you can see where each is trying to outdo the other.
Phenom is carefully and well built, and works very, very well. It is early beta, and shows some signs of it, but the updates I have seen have shown improvements each time. The list of features is too long to go into, but contains a great many varied attacks. They are all brand-new, and designed directly for Havok 4. Some show a little degradation due to server-level collision bugs (SVC-2511), but still work okay. The “Toss” attack is one that mentions the “anti-griefing fixes” that sometimes cause prims to pass through avatars. These same anti-griefing fixes cause bullets not to properly affect avatars unless you aim at certain, non-intuitive locations. Supposedly, this bug will be fixed soon by a pending server change.
The traps, followers, and pushers in this HUD are very imaginative and fun to use. The particle attacks aren’t entirely limited to “picture-on-cardboard” style, which is nice, but some still are. The documentation makes many mentions of how “such-and-such” is similar to Darling Brody’s “thus-and-such” but is “so much better,” or “actually makes sense”. I thought this was a tad petty and “neener neener” of the creator, but so long as it works, I really don’t care.
I found a couple of the attacks a bit over the top offensive. Instead of simply being “annoying”, they actually offended me on a personal level. I don’t think rape, for example, is in any way funny or amusing, so putting a texture on someone saying “you gonna get raped” is hardly entertaining. But I understand that there are RP games that cater to this, so I will reserve judgement on the practice entirely, to the extent of saying that there may actually be a time and a place for it, perhaps to the effect of issuing a warning to someone who is being clueless in an RP area. The use of the term “lulz” on things also raises the hair on the back of my neck for some reason. I think it’s a potentially-irrational association on my part between that term and persons predisposed to grief.
But for the most part, if something says it kills, it kills in damage land, and incapacitates in safe land. The traps are imaginative and as close to inescapable as they can be. The followers are mostly funny and all annoying. The orbits do as close to an orbit as Havok 4 will allow.
There are some odd bugs. The simwide sensors sometimes do not detect people, or continue to detect them after they have left the region, requiring they be redeployed. The “sensor grid” requires link permissions, the reason for which is not given. When crossing sim boundaries, this permission is requested each time a new region is entered, and a “Welcome” sound is played unless it is turned off manually. If you are riding a train or flying cross-country, this gets old very quickly.
I do think highly of the defenses in the Phenom HUD, though. It doesn’t spend a lot of effort on multiple types of NPVs — it has one, with a few selectable options. The defaults, though, are pretty much what you’d want to use all the time. You are practically untouchable by anything — phantom, ghosted, and undamageable. There still isn’t a way to shake a follower, but they can’t really hurt you in this state, all they can do is be annoying. The NPV has some useful features, such as the abilty to warp your NPV to your camera position instantly, to switch the animations from “fly” to “walk”, and to select an avatar to go directly to. The shields are fairly standard, but the intereceptors are a bit more interesting, being cross-connected to the land tools, enabling you to automatically eject someone from your parcel on collision with them, a very useful anti-griefer feature. A bullet stands a good chance of getting you booted out of the parcel. The combination of NPV and interceptors makes you damn near untouchable, even in damage land.
Quantum Core, by Quantum Products
Second Life Hud Not Working Agency
Darling Brody’s Quantum Core is probably the most picked-on combat HUD on the grid. People revile it as a “griefer tool”. Stores put up special signs with extra requirements for purchasing it, from avatar age limits to payment info on file. Even though the official Linden party line on griefing is that there is no such thing as a “griefer tool”, only griefer actions, this device seems to attract the worst attitudes of any of the combat HUDs on the market. According to anecdotal accounts from Darling Brody, there have been active attempts by persons to have her products removed from SL, from SL Exchange (Now XStreetSL), from stores in world, and even to shut down her ISP connection.
I have read the vituperation with which her comments on the JIRA (the online tool used to report system bugs) are received, and there are a great many persons out there who feel that she is nothing better than a common griefer, and that her Quantum Core does nothing more than enable and cause widespread grief. People have gone out of their way to have things changed in the way SL functions, just to cripple the way things in the Quantum Core (and other tools like it) function. Phasing to avoid followers and sensor-locked weapons was a standard and useful defensive practice, but one that was labeled as a function of grief, being used to “circumvent security orbs”, and to “take dirty pictures inside private homes”. Because the function relied upon what was technically a “bug” in the SL server code, it was eventually “fixed” — but this removed a useful and valuable defensive function. Darling was one of the people who offered the security orb creators free code that would have fixed their devices, to prevent phasing from being an issue at all, but they would not use it. This, to me, sounds like the issue was not the security being breached, but a vendetta against the devices, and the creators who made them. It it had been the security issue, they would have taken the code fix and updated their wares. But they were clearly more angry than worried.
Or perhaps they actually felt threatened? The Quantum Core works very, very well. It has a good set of offensive and defensive tools, an excellent sensor suite, and shows some deeply imaginative and whimsical design.
I do find some fault in some key areas:
There are too many shielding systems. I would rather have a single shield or NPV, with settable options if I wish to reduce protection later. The QC has a number of different “shield crystals”, each of which are a separate nonphysical vehicle with different options. Contrast this to Phenom, which has a single NPV, but with settable options. In an emergency, I want to just jump on one vehicle and not have to think about whether I used the right one for this circumstance — give me the best possible protection NOW, and let me turn off what I don’t need once I’m totally protected.
There is a high reliance on passive attacks. I understand that due to limitations of SL, some things must be clicked on to acquire permissions to take effect, but those should be in a very low minority, and should be reserved for the least strategic of your attacks, as you can never predict when someone will click on anything, much less themself. It’s only really suitable for pranks and practical jokes, where the timing of the trigger isn’t critical. This in itself may be one of the things contributing most strongly to the perception of the QC as a “griefing” tool — a number of the attacks are not time-on-target, but instead are more like landmines or whoopee cushions. Such “trigger me someday” weapons are not plausible as defensive weaponry, because self-defense is strongly bound to a specific moment in time: when you are being attacked.
The particle effects tend to have a lot of the “picture on cardboard” quality, and in fact, you can specify your own texture for this “flying square of nonsense” sort of attack. I have no patience for these unimaginative and pooferesque bits of fluff. With a single keystroke combination, or a quick trip to the Advanced menu, they cease to affect you anyway.
I don’t know if the QC pioneered them, but Darling Brody loves her giant food product traps. This is the gadget that I keep rolling my eyes at most when I deride trapping someone in a giant hamburger, or a box of fries. I don’t know why someone thought this was a good idea in the first place, but I suspect a very bad dream after eating chili too late at night.
There is a “punish” mode that’s supposed to retaliate against attacks, but I couldn’t get it to work. I don’t think it’s a fault of the QC, I think it’s a collision bug problem. The QC sends a damage attack back at the attacker. I could see the attack lashing out, but it had no effect, so I suspect the bullets are going right through the avatar at center of mass — a clear sign of SVC-2511 at work. Last word is, a fix for this awful bug should be coming out soon, and bullets and other collisions will be working properly again at last.
The rest of the QC is excellent in manufacture. There are complaints of “lag” when using it, but I’ve not noticed any significant ones, except in two cases: when the device is rezzing large numbers of objects, or when the attack is one that deliberately generates it as part of the effect. All rezzers that generate large numbers of objects, especially physical ones, cause bursts of lag when the objects are being rezzed. It is unavoidable. But I have not seen a humongous problem in lag while using a QC, nor have I had complaints from friends who have used one. The only complaints of lag I have seen are from persons who object to the QC entirely, and use the perrenial complaint of “lag” just because everyone hates it.
X_HUD, by EAC Corporation
X_HUD by EAC Corporation
The X_HUD was the first major combat all-in-one that I got after Havok 4 came out, and for a while, I was very very pleased with it. It has good attacks, a fairly extensive selection of particles, but not too many, decent traps that don’t rely too heavily on food products, and an interesting stratification between major and minor attacks, followers, particles, and traps that make choosing an attack interesting. There are massively powerful orbits, and some “annoyance-level” attacks that are actually low-power orbits themselves. There are followers that almost qualify as traps, but don’t quite. The traps are clearly separated by the fact that they hold you in place, and the followers don’t — they just follow you around and annoy the hell out of you.
The biggest problem I have with the X_HUD is that Indira Matova, the creator of the device, seems to have lost her focus. Either she is hurrying to meet promised deadlines in getting updates out the door, or she has gotten tired of the product and is getting sloppy. There were more bugs in the latest version than in the prior one, and with systems that were working before. They all seem to be of the same category — missing objects, or object names that don’t match correctly. This speaks highly of a lack of attention to detail and careless quality control in testing. Neither of which is acceptable, and both of which are a darned shame. The X_HUD is otherwise a very good product. Indira is very responsive to problems, and does her best to overcome the fact that English is not her first tongue. I just hope the trend I have seen reverses, and it goes back to being as excellent as it started out and goes back to being #1 on my list.
If the X_HUD can overcome these problems, fix them, and achieve code stability with the base of features it currently has, it will be one of the best in this list. When I wear a combat HUD, I tend to wear the X_HUD anyway, because it is very simple to use, the HUD does not get in my way, and I can turn the simscan on and off easily. The defenses are adequate to good, and while the NPV doesn’t have a damageless “ghost” mode, I can rez a “ghost orb” and become an insubstantial phantom and simply fly through things. I actually prefer the ghost mode — the movement model on most nonphys chairs is awful, resulting in swinging wildly all over the place when you just want to turn a little to the right. With the ghost mode, you just fly around normally — you just can’t land on anything until you re-rez the same ghost orb and de-ghostify yourself.
There were a couple of other combat devices that would have been up with these, but just didn’t quite fit into the “incredibly excellent, high-powered combat” class, and a couple that DID, and I really wanted to recommend, but couldn’t because I won’t recommend a product that has no ongoing support, or has become orphaned by a missing creator.
The E.D.T. Biotec HUD is certainly packed with features, but from what I can see, the creator, Boomstick Bert, has divested himself of his products and has left SL. Even his website is no longer searching correctly on DNS. It’s a shame, too — the HUD worked really well, and had some great attacks in it. But who knows the reasons why people make these sudden reasons to pack up and leave? His profile says he’s “recreating” everything…but I’ve seen stuff like that before from people who’ve never come back.
Singularity HUD by Fox Labs
Singularity, by Fox Labs, is another HUD that looked good, but just plain didn’t make it. It had some cute features, but most of the functions were better done by other things. There was only one function I liked in the Singularity that I did not see in anything else — a mouselook interceptor. It would put a blinder prim on someone who locked their mouselook on you, but ONLY when they put mouselook on you. It would keep someone from locking any kind of mouselook-aimed weapon upon you, such as a gun or sensor-locked RP weapon like Callahan Combat. Very effective, and neatly executed, not requiring that anything be shot at someone to blind their mouselook — all they had to do was look at you with it, and BAM. But other things from Singularity bothered me, like a bug that made it impossible to cancel prims left over from a trap, even though I was the owner, and having to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to select and delete a microscopic tiny prim that was generating the effect. The creator was of practically no help on this, and seemed annoyed when I asked.
Second Life Hud Not Working Remotely
Another device, I tested because of “cuteness” factor. A long time ago, I had a cute little toy called a Kitty of Doom — a black cat robot follower that would rain destruction upon some poor unfortunate whom I designated worthy of smiting. But the KoD had not been updated for Havok 4, and thus fell into obscurity. But another animal-like device, this one by Fox Armoury called the Fox Bot, has become another Cute But Deadly(tm) infernal follower device that will hover at your side and slam a miscreant with various H4-compliant attacks of blistering awesomeness. I like the Fox Bot, but it not being a HUD, it *just* missed the scope of this article…but I thought it should get a mention.
Second Life Hud Not Working
If I had the ability to pick and choose, I’d pick the attacks from the X_HUD, the shields and followers from the Phenom, the sensors and intelligence-gathering from the Omicron, and the service and support of Darling Brody. But I can’t cherry pick these features into a single product, nor actually does a single product suit every need. In circumstances where one of these products will excel, it might seriously find difficulties in another. Phenom is excellent if you plan on staying in a single region for an extended period, but when you start crossing borders rapidly, it becomes a pain from all of the border-crossing spam it generates. Overlord may be good for some circumstances, but it may refuse to act in some circumstances due to safezones, or because you are in group-owned land. Abaddon is flashy and visually impressive, but if you want flashy and impressive, get an Omicron — it also has the best damn sensor suite in SL, and still has better defenses than Abaddon, Overlord, Angst, or Kinetic Theory. Abaddon is still great for booting people around, and will be better for different things later.
So…IS there a “best combat HUD”? Not really, no. Not for ALL circumstances, everywhere. They all have their uses. But some of them come close. I think the best you can do is to look at them all, balance the features with what you do, where you hang out, how you get around, who you hang out with, the rules of the places you stay — the entire constellation of factors that surround your HUD use — and pick the one or two that will meet as many of your needs as possible.
Even then, you’ll still find a seriously cool HUD or two along the way that does something special and cool that you simply Can’t Live Without.
Second Life Hud Not Working In Sim
How do I know? Because I’m still buying HUDs, that’s how!
Second Life Hud Not Working At Home
Thank You: To Smallbutt Mighty and Minuet Torok, Darkstar Heliosense, Artemis Latrell, and Ariu Arai for providing review copies of their HUDS.
This article first appeared in SL Monthly Combat Report by Lipstick Publishing Company