A novel lifeboat system for Second Life

The WALT lifeboat with launch cradle / crane in the background

Ape Piaggio has released a curious – and possibly niche – product in the form of the WALT Deeplag Horizon lifeboat. It’s a product I was able to observe during development, and got to play with during pre-release.

Originally developed as a part of an oil rig emergency / evacuation game Ape developed with Analyse “Bandit” Dean, the Deeplag Horizon (name that might be a little raw in some cases) is primarily at those who may be involved in SLCG / SAR role-play, and who want to add some training capabilities for oil rig evacuations, etc. However, it is a versatile kit, so might have wider appeal, possibly as a lifeboat for large-scale SL boats – although I note this with a caveat.

Costing L$3,000 and available (at the time of writing, at least) through Ape’s in-world store, Deeplag Horizon comes in a neat little package comprising a boxed model of the craft sitting on one of its launch cradles. This contains:

  • Three versions of the lifeboat:
    • The Regular version, seating a total 15 avatars and suitable for general evac / reuse role-play.
    • An eXtra version, that is identical to the one above, but with additional singles and couples animations.
    • Short version, seating only 9, and potentially suited for use as a vessel lifeboat.
  • Two launch cradle / crane variants – these function identically, and are distinguished only by the placement of the support legs.
  • A HUD for the launch cradle / crane.
  • A coalesced Lifeboat Crane Tower.
  • A WALT Adjust Tool Box to assist with adding your own animations to the boat.
  • A textures set.
  • The user manual.
The two sizes of the WALT lifeboats: the R/X variant (top) and the S with one of the side egress doors open

The Lifeboats

This is a quick overview, the lifeboat (particularly the X version) packs a lot into it – all of which is covered in the user manual.

Outside of the differences noted above, all three lifeboats offer the same overall boxy look typical of these craft, together with the bare bones interiors that speak to function rather than comfort. The side egress doors and rear entry / egress doors open, as do the hatches for accessing the engines, air tanks, etc., while the gauges and indicators on the control panel all work (as do the light switches), offering the potential for Mouselook driving.

Obviously, given their function is to save lives in the event of a disaster, these lifeboats are not going to zip you around Blake Sea at a high rate of knots. However, they will pootle along nicely, with a top speed of 9 knots. Handling at lower speeds is very tight – the smaller of the two designs will literally turn on a sixpence (or dime for my American cousins) and the larger one not far off.

Both chat and dialogue menu commands can be used with the boats, the latter called by touching anywhere on the boat’s superstructure other than the doors. As is usual with boats, the ↑ and ↓ keys (or W and S) will increase / decrease the throttle (with reverse engaged on using ↓ with the setting at 0), whilst ← and →  will activate the steering. In addition, PAGE UP will jump the throttle directly to 100% and PAGE DOWN will cut it to 0%, bringing the lifeboat to a stop once its momentum has been lost.

The interior of the large versions of the lifeboat, with one of the floor panels lifted to give access to the RP air tanks

For those who wish, control of the boat can be handed off to someone else, and the Settings and Accessories options provide additional options, such as enabling / disabling rocking when the boat is on the water (Accessories) and inverting the rudder movement when the boat is in reverse (Settings) – handy when using a forward-facing camera when the boat is moving backward, if the “inverted” nature of turning when reversing confuses you, and more besides.

The Launch Cradle / Crane

This is a fun part of the system, a combined system for launching and recovering lifeboats. There are three ways to operate the launch cradle / crane: via the Crane HUD, directly by touching the crane to access its menu, or by accessing the crane’s menu through the boat’s menu. Of these, the HUD is a little less efficient on initial use, as the cradle / crane must be switched on to work – and this requires using the menu.

Once turned on, a lifeboat can be mounted in one of two ways: by rezzing one in place via the Rez Menu (note this has several options – refer to the user manual for further detail on these), or by pulling one from inventory and placing it on the water under / in front of the cradle / crane. The latter is the best way to get familiar with operations. Again, the instructions in the user manual are clear, and don’t need to be repeated here.

The Small variant of the lifeboat sitting in the launch cradle

When using the cradle / crane, it looks and works a lot better if there is a reasonable degree of elevation between the cradle and the water – 5 metres is a good height – or the additional tower can be used.

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