It’s taken a while to reach the market place since I first wrote about it under the prototype name of WaveHopper (see Previewing a little wave hopping in Second Life), but Ape Piaggio’s WALT (Walter, Air Land, Technologies) branded SeaRoo has reached the market. The delays in the release have been due to some final fine-tuning of the vehicle and its scripting – and have also allowed Ape to add further animations as well as a number of further options for the vehicle.
Based on the physical world Innespace Seabreacher, a two-seat semi-submersible personal watercraft that is shaped like a Dolphin and mimics its movement on and under the water, the SeaRoo behaves like a speedboat and can make short dives (up to 60 seconds at a time) underwater. It can be piloted in both Mouselook (the dashboard has working instruments) and third-person views, making it an all-around leisure craft.
Priced at L$3,000, the SeaRoo is delivered in a package that comprises the vehicle, a system to build one or more SeaRoo mooring points (and which includes a fuelling station), an obstacle / race course building set, the SeaRoo Key (described below), a tool kit for adding custom animations (it comes with a range of single and couple animations for when it is not being piloted) and a comprehensive set of manuals, the main user guide of which includes a link for downloading a set of .PST files should you wish to create paint schemes for the vehicle.
I’m not going to run through absolutely everything with the SeaRoo – the user guide is comprehensive in that regard, but it is worth covering come of the highlights.
SeaRoo Controls and Operation
By default, the SeaRoo’s controls match those of an aircraft:
- The ◀ and ▶ or A and D keys turn the SeaRoo left or right when in motion.
- The ▲ and ▼ or W and S keys pitch the nose down (dive) or up (surface / jump)
- The PAGE UP and PAGE DOWN keys or E and C increase and decrease the throttle respectively, with PAGE DOWN / C putting the vehicle into reverse from 0% throttle.
- A double tap on PAGE UP / W will set the throttle to 100%.
- Pressing PAGE UP and PAGE DOWN (or E and C) simultaneously will cut the throttle to 0%.
Those who prefer a boat-style layout for the main controls, with the ▲ and ▼ (W and S) keys controlling the throttle, can switch to this mode of operation via the menu → Settings → Tuning → CTRL Style. In this mode, the PAGE keys and E/C will control the SeaRoo’s pitch down/up.
To sit in the vehicle, right click on it and select Sit Here from the context / pie menu. Once seated, and as with most vehicles, the SeaRoo’s engine can be turned on / off using “s” in local chat, or “start” / “stop” – note that all of the SeaRoo’s chat commands are entered in lower case.
Key Vehicle Features
Enabled by default, this causes the canopy to open and the dashboard to engage when you are with a few metres of your SeaRoo. Similarly, when moving away from the vehicle, the dashboard will turn off and the canopy canopy automatically close. This option can be disabled / enabled via the menu: Settings → Keyless.
By default, those sitting in a SeaRoo (pilot or passenger) get offered a HUD. It is not vital to piloting the SeaRoo, but provides an informational display (shown on the right) for fuel, speed, heading, engine temperature and power settings. It also includes three buttons:
- Resize: increase / decrease the HUD’s size via a dialogue box.
- Menu: access the main menu.
- Colors: set the colours for the SeaRoo’s dashboard.
Note that the HUD is inactive whenever the SeaRoo’s engine is not running, and further details can be found in the user guide.
When the SeaRoo’s engine is on, information on the vehicle’s speed, engine power level and temperature, and the fuel level is displayed over the SeaRoo’s tail. It can be disabled / enabled by typing “hud” in local chat.
General Handling Notes
Like many vehicles, the faster the SeaRoo goes, the more responsive it becomes. As such, I recommend handling it at low to mid-range speeds to get familiar with it, rather than leaping in and going flat out; but keep in mind some capabilities work best at mid to higher speeds, such as diving / staying underwater, and performing jumps and acrobatics.
As speed is increased, the SeaRoo also takes on a nice Dolphin-like movement as if responding to the waves as it moves. Also, like a real boat, if it is moving at speed and you press both throttle keys to drop the throttle to 0%, it may take time to come to a complete stop.
The vehicle’s time underwater is – as noted – limited to 60 seconds. This is because the air intakes must be closed when submerged. A timer is displayed with the stern hovertext to help keep track of submerged time, and an audible alarm will sound when 20 seconds of submerged time remains. Try to stay underwater beyond 60 seconds, and the engine will cut out to prevent damage, and the SeaRoo automatically surfaces. Once there, and providing the AutoRestart option has not been disabled, the engine will automatically restart.
Jumps are achieved from underwater by making sure you have sufficient speed, then pitching the nose up by about 30-45°. As you clear the water, gently pitch the nose forward to re-enter the water. Note that if you are moving too slow or pitch the nose up too high, the SeaRoo might either stand on its tail and fall backwards into the water, or perform a belly flop. You can also use SHIFT+ ◀ or A to roll left or SHIFT+ ▶ or D = roll right for both underwater acrobatics and to help level the SeaRoo after turning.
The SeaRoo has a limited fuel supply, and can be refuelled in a couple of ways:
- Using the fuel pump supplied with the SeaRoo dock system or any Bandit / TMS compatible gas station – see the user guide for details.
- Using the SeaRoo’s fuel canister when at sea: with the engine stopped and type “f” in local chat (no quotes) to trigger the refuelling animation. Note you may have to repeat this to completely fill the tank.
Continue reading “Product review: the WALT Sea Roo in Second Life”