Having a little fun with starships

Loki Eliot is many things. Games developer, content creator, blog / philosopher to name but three. He’s also generous of heart.

His generosity and gaming nous recently combined when he wanted to present an SL friend and Star Trek fan with a special gift. The result was a flyable Starship Enterprise, which utilised a model he found on a Star Trek fan site and imported into SL before scripting it to fly and adding local lighting and materials.

Following this, Loki imported a number of additional Star Trek models, including one of the USS Reliant (“KHHHHHAaaaaaannn!!”) and a Klingon Bird of Prey, both of which he decided to put together into a little freebie boxed starship combat game and make it available via his in-world store.

While the set isn’t intended as a demonstration of materials capabilities (it’s more of a teaser / taster of an airship combat game Loki is working on), that the vessels do use materials piqued my curiosity enough for me to take a look. Besides, as Loki says, “Starships, PEW, PEW!

When seen on a non-materials viewer, both models do look a little basic, particularly the Reliant, even with the Advanced Lighting Model option enabled in the viewer. The textures are on the poor side and give the ship a bit of a cartoonish look – as Loki himself pointed out to me.

However, switch to a materials-capable viewer, and things tend to change. True, the hull detailing perhaps isn’t spectacular as it might be (remember, Loki was working from someone else’s designs, not his own), but it certainly adds a credible amount of depth to the model.

USS Reliant: (t) on an viewer without materials support but with ALM enabled; (b) on a viewer with materials support
USS Reliant: (t) on a viewer without materials support but with ALM enabled; (b) on a viewer with materials support

The Bird of Prey model was even more impressive, with the hull detailing leaping out very dramatically, bringing the ship to life.

As well as the lighting and materials elements, Loki has also scripted the ships as flying “sit” objects and added a range of Trek sound effects. For those wishing to try them as intended – in combat – they both fly well, and can be comfortably manoeuvred in a single region, although it might be best to fly them where there is a tad more space so you don’t end-up bouncing off sim boundaries in the heat of battle.

The Bird of Prey with Loki's lighting and added materials
The Bird of Prey with Loki’s lighting and added materials

While using the ships in combat wasn’t my original aim in getting them, and probably not something I’ll be doing a lot of, I have to say that trying it out was fun. Both ships handle well, and Loki has included photon torpedoes for the Reliant and disruptor fire for the Bird of Prey. Combat is very much a case of manoeuvring to get weapons lined on your opponent or across their line of flight and then firing away (just be careful you don’t end up hitting a comrade in your enthusiasm – or yourself!). Both ships will register damage when hit and “vent atmosphere”. Get hit too many times and you’ll end up drifting helplessly for 30 seconds. Vessel health can be regained by rendezvousing with the medical centre space station and touching it.

If you do find the ships a little bit of a handful on a single region, they are modifiable and will resize (no worries of LI ballooning), so they can be scaled down somewhat – although you’ll likely need to swap the avatar “sit” pose if you do, as the default can have bits of your avatar sticking out of the ships…

Loki has a video of the ships in combat (and shot with a materials-enabled viewer) on his blog article about them. Natascha Randt also made a fun little video on a non-materials viewer, which I’ve included here.

As mentioned, Loki offers the Star Trek Battle Game for free through his in-world store. This both reflects the fact that the original models are not his own and avoids any potential snarl-ups with CBS over IP. If you’re into aerial combat, or just into Trek and want to try something different, why not give Loki’s game a try?

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Of longjohns and pirates

It’s time to kick-off another week of fabulous story-telling in Voice, brought to Second Life by the staff of the Seanchai Library SL.

As always, all times SLT, and unless otherwise stated, events will be held on the Seanchai Library’s home on Imagination Island.

Monday 15th July, 19:00 – The City and the Stars concludes (2)

city-starsIn 1948 Arthur C. Clarke saw his first novel, Against the Fall of Night published in the magazine Startling Stories. Later, in 1953, it appeared as a novella in its own right, prior to becoming the basis of a much expanded work, The City and the Stars, published in 1956. Both focus on the same setting and principal character: the City of Diaspar and a young man called Alvin, but they tell individually unique tales – so much so that both remain in circulation,enjoying equal popularity.

One billion years in the future, Diaspar stands amidst the desert of Earth as the last, self-perpetuating city of humankind. Here, the Central Computer watches over people who live multiple lives over thousands of years before they return to storage, only to be “reborn” at a time selected by the Central Computer. Diaspar is utopian: poverty and need have long been eradicated and there is little strife. Life within the city is focused on creativity and art and in the deeper exploration of already well-understood fields. Enclosed, cyclical and ultimately static, Diaspar is both the culmination and twilight of human endeavour.

Join Gyro Muggins as he brings us the final part of a  story which has been hailed as one of Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s best works.

Tuesday 16th July, 19:00: Ruffles On My Longjohns (2)

rufflesIn 1913, American-born Ralph Edwards established a homestead in Bella Coola Valley, British Columbia, and went on tom become famous as a conservationist and the “Crusoe of Lonesome Lake”.

In the early 1930s, following his return to Bella Coola, he was joined by his brother Earle, and sister-in-law Isabel, who came straight from the city of Portland, Oregon on what was supposed to be a vacation visit. However, both of them fell in love with the wilds of British Columbia and decided to move there themselves, settling into a farm near Bella Coola.

Ruffles in my Longjohns is Isabel’s autobiographical account of her pioneering life with her husband, far from all the trappings of “civilisation” in the 1930s and 1940s. It is a firsthand account of homesteading, told with wit, whimsy and panache, the tale of “city girl” living on the frontier in a world of hard-bitten men, and how she coped, told in a loving, personal style.

Join Faerie Maven-Pralou as she embarks on the second part of a reading from this inspiring book.

Wednesday 17th July, 19:00: Ain’t It Great to be Minnesotan?

With Kayden Oconnell

Thursday 18th July, 19:00: Pirates Aboard! Forty Cases of Piracy

piratesForget the romantic / Hollywood notion of pirates and buccaneers daring the high seas in wooden hulls and under the canvas of sail; this is an unflinching look at piracy in the world today.

We’re all familiar with tales of ship-taking in regions such as Somalia, where coasters and cargo ships are routinely hijacked by pirates. However, the biggest threat presented by pirates around the world is that presented to blue water sailors. In this volume, Klaus Hympendahl interviews the survivors of forty cases of piracy, some of them quite brutal in natures,  and exposes the danger faced by sailors around the world today. Victims recount not only their own experiences at the hands of the pirates but also provide insight into how others facing similar situation can do by way of preventive measures to avoid being captured by pirates and how to deal with stress, aggression, and fear when faced with a confrontation.

Hympendahl also examines those regions of the world where blue water piracy is both at its most dangerous, including the Gulf of Aden, Somalia, Ecuador,  Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela and parts of Brazil.

Join Shandon Loring as he delves into Hympendahl’s work.


Please check with the Seanchai Library SL’s blog for updates and additions to the week’s schedule. The featured charity for July and August is Little Kids Rock. Have questions? IM or notecard Caledonia Skytower.

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