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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