Getting off-road in Second Life

The [aR] Wild Goose by Arton Rotaru (left, shown in its default finish) and the Piaggio Systems Trackie by Ape Piaggio (right) – off-road fun
From time-to-time I receive gifts and / or find little treats that are fun to use in Second Life. Not everything gets blogged, for a variety of reasons – including the fact that even if I have an idea for blogging, I sometimes forget.

Such is the case with a couple of unusual off-road vehicles that came my way – quite a while ago now, if I’m honest; after an initial play with them, each ended up being put away, their original packages only coming back to my attention whilst I was going through one of my regular inventory sort-outs recently. Neither is particularly me, but before they vanished within a box of “packaged” items, I thought I’d finally write them up, should anyone be interested.

First up is the [aR] Wild Goose by Arton Rotaru. This is a single-seat tracked vehicle that is – going by the seat alone – designed for those who like their off-roading in comfort. Protected by a roll cage (handy, as it can roll onto its nose when cresting ridges with steep drops on the far side), the Wild Goose sits on a pair of broad tracks driven by two high-positioned drive wheels that help give the vehicle its distinctive looks.

Ready to go in the Wild Goose

With the engine started as soon as you sit, the Wild Goose is ready to go. Most options are available via the vehicle’s menu when seated, although the important options (light, horn, cruise control, and menu access) are also available from the optional HUD, which also includes a large speedometer and also a useful rez zone locator: pop the HUD on and when Rez Zone is clicked, it will indicate any local rez zones in chat, complete with Map SLurls. Also, for those who prefer keyboard commands, a number of command options can be accessed via function keys.

Handling-wise – and while I am no off-road expert, the Wild Goose is fun. The UP / DOWN (W,S) arrow keys provide forwards / backwards movement (and throttle, effectively), as one might expect, the LEFT RIGHT (A,D) keys handle turning. PAGE UP / PAGE DOWN (E, C) set the Goose’s cruise speeds (10 speeds): tap PAGE UP for a higher setting, PAGE DOWN for a lower setting. Whatever is set is the speed at which the Wild Goose will cruise at from initial start or accelerate to if moving.

Up hill and down: the Wild Goose will go pretty much anywhere, terrain-wise

An unusual aspect of the Wild Goose is that it is both amphibious and (this being SL) it can fly, with either option available from the menu. Should you end up flipping it over, it also has a menu / HUD button (Recover) button for righting it. The menu also has a comprehensive set of options for resizing the Wild Goose to better suit your avatar’s size, together with a choice of male and female sit animations for better apparent grip on the two hand controllers, and a set of built-in texture options. A final set of options allows the vehicle’s handling characteristics to be adjusted to match / contend with terrain you’re driving over.

The Piaggio Systems Trackie, by Ape Piaggio is a smaller and – dare I say – far more raw vehicle, albeit one capable of carrying a (very brave) passenger! The “rawness” of the design is deliberate: Ape wanted a vehicle that looked like it had been cobbled together out of spare parts – and the look certainly works.   Like the Wild Goose, the Trackie is a tracked vehicle (hence the name!), and utilises what might be regarded as a more conventional caterpillar-style track arrangement.

Both driver and front passenger are fully exposed: no role cage or seat belts, the driver sitting directly over the exposed engine, the passenger almost the front fender. Adjustment when seated is minimal – the driver’s foot pedals can be raised / lowered. The Trackie’s HUD is a reflection of the interactive “dashboard” mounted to the driver’s left. Both can be used to start / stop the vehicle when in manual mode (complete with use of the ignition key), and to set the front of the Trackie with a couple of foot rests for passengers or turn the headlights on / off.

The Trackie, with menu and HUD that duplicates the interactive dashboard

Driving-wise, the Trackie uses the LEFT and RIGHT  arrow keys (A,D) for turning and UP / DOWN (W,S) for motion / Braking. The Two PAGE keys act as a conventional gear shift. Note that if you need to reverse, you’ll have to step down through the gears (PAGE DOWN) to engage reverse but use the UP (W) key to drive in reverse, as it is a conventional road vehicle accelerator.

The Trackie’s ability to negotiate climbs is also far more linked to throttle use than is perhaps the case with the Wild Goose, although like the latter, it had a handy Flip function on the menu should you end up overturning it. For those not wanting to both with the manual start-up sequence, the Trackie can be set to Auto Start mode – the engine will fire-up when you sit on the vehicle.

The Trackie handles terrain pretty much as well as the Wild Goose, although more care with gear shifts is required

I confess that neither vehicle is really “me”; I say this simply because I’m not that into road vehicles in SL per se, not as any critique of either. Certainly, of you’re fond of off-road vehicles and don’t have either of these two, they could be fun.

Which you may prefer comes down to wants and needs. The Wild Goose is the more polished in terms of looks and options of the two – and the broader range of options is reflected in the price tag: $1,699 at the time of writing. The Trackie is very much more suited to those seeking a more “home built” look. It weighs-in at just over L$1,000 less than the Wild Goose at the time of writing. If you’re looking for a vehicle you can rez and share with friends, both vehicles come with a set of driver permissions (owner, group or everybody), so it’s easy to offer friends the chance to drive around with you. However, if you want to carry a passenger, the Trackie has that spare seat.

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