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 look 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.

Continue reading “A novel lifeboat system for Second Life”

Viewing a bare canvas in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: White Canvas

The latest exhibition to come to Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas, is once again intriguing in subject. Put together at short notice by Diconay Boa Cross (Diconay Boa), White Canvas takes tattoos as its theme – a subject which itself is richly evocative, and has potential to be provocative in a number of ways.

The liner notes for the exhibition point to some of the many reasons we may get a tattoo. It’s also true that the tattoos we get can elicit a range of reactions: admiration, repulsion, acceptance, rejection, attraction – perhaps even predatory – and so on. Hence their evocative / provocative duality.

However, with the body as a living canvas, tattoos can also be genuine genre of art; the professional tattoo artist can wield their coil machine, use its needles and inks with the consummate skill of a skilled painter – and, with the right subject – produce pieces as exquisite as any Monet or challenging as any Picasso.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: White Canvas

Second Life brings this latter aspect of tattoo art particularly to life, and with a none of the pain that the recipient might otherwise have to face, and none of the limitations the artist may have to deal with as a result of fears over said discomforts. True, the tools of the trade might be GIMP, PhotoShop and an keyboard and / or tablet – but the results are the same.

A further advantage with tattoos in Second Life is that wee are able to change our tattoos as easily as changing a pair of earrings or cufflinks in the physical world. hence why, perhaps, that Diconay refers to tattoos jewellery for the Skin.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: White Canvas

The images presented in White Canvas bring to the fore the artistry involved in virtual tattoos – but this in turn echoes the beauty that can be achieved through the application of ink via needle. There is a lean towards the more exotic / erotic nature of tattoos in the framing of the images, which tends to separate them from the supplied liner notes for the exhibition rather than allowing the latter help to extend appreciation of the former.

However, this was an exhibition put together as something of a last-minute affair: Diconary and her SL partner Goodcross were actually due to exhibit at the gallery later in the year, but following an eleventh-hour drop-out, Diconary stepped into the breach so that Dido wasn’t faced with a missed exhibition, so allowances should be made for any apparent disconnects.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: White Canvas

Engaging and artistically framed, this is an exhibition that pays homage to tattoos in Second Life as a means for us to express ourselves and stands as a statement to the skill of a very talented avatar photographer.

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A tropical paradise in Second Life

The Sim Quarterly: Krak Bak Caye, May 2021

Come with me on an ocean of blue,
Where the Sun always shines and there’s nothing to do.
Where the water is warm and there’s nothing to do,
Will you come, will you come, with me?

OK, so Roger Whittaker wrote those words in reference to the beaches of his beloved Kenya, but they hold true for many a tropical paradise in the world, including Caye Caulker, the 8 kilometre long limestone coral island off the coast of Belize.

Those who have had the good fortune to visit Belize will know that it can be a place to escape the world and its worries, offering the visitor every luxury and opportunity for unique experiences (ever dreamed of renting a waterside cabana where each morning, the dolphins arrive and call for you to come and swim with them?).

The Sim Quarterly: Krak Bak Caye, May 2021

For those who haven’t had the opportunity to travel to Belize or its islands – particularly tiny Caye Caulker – then from now through until later July, then can visit it in spirit, thanks to the latest installation to arrive at Electric Monday’s Sim Quarterly. This is because the region has been gloriously transformed into the island of Krak Bak Kaye, inspired by Caye Caulker, to offer the chance of glorious escape.

Come with me finding tropical fish
That dance on the sea, whenever you wish.
At the end of your line is your supper-time dish,
Will you come, will you come, with me?

The Sim Quarterly: Krak Bak Caye, May 2021

On arrival at the landing point above the region, visitors will be offered a tourist brochure in the form of a HUD, and have the choice of taking two “flights” down to the island via floatplane Just click the signs next to each aircraft to be teleported to the beach or to the little Main Street that captures the essence of the older parts of Caye Caulker Village (admittedly, as the island has gained popularity, so has the number of hotels grown around the settlement, which has expanded well beyond what it once was).

From either point of arrival, visitors can roam freely and enjoy any of the opportunities the island offers: wind surfing, boating, fishing, swimming, diving Via the deep lagoon that sits off-shore – so be sure to pack your swimsuit when paying a visit!

The Sim Quarterly: Krak Bak Caye, May 2021

You can watch the weary world turning on its own.
Let somebody else pick up that silly telephone.
You can stretch yourself and laugh in the morning Sun.
You can smile, you can take a boat and sail for a while.
You can smile!

Gentle on the eye and the computer and rich in authenticity, Krak Bak Kaye is a perfect getaway – so why not book your ticket today?

The Sim Quarterly: Krak Bak Caye, May 2021

Lyrics to Come with Me by Roger Whittaker, from the album Roger Whittaker in Kenya (1982).

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Monochrome tales in Second Life

Kondor White Gallery: The Art of Black and White – Rachel Magic

There is something about black and white images – particularly those taken within Second Life, for some reason – that I find particularly evocative.

Whilst colour images, carefully pre- or post-processed, hold a depth of attraction and speak clearly to the artistic talent of the photographer-artist responsible for their creation, monochrome images – even through they have likely been subjected to a similar level of pre- or post-processing – just seem to retain a degree of natural depth to them I am drawn to. So much so, that I’ve honestly played with the idea of using black-and-white illustrations in my travelogue blog posts.

Kondor White Gallery: The Art of Black and White – Rachel Magic

The richness of depth and narrative was brought home to me again while visiting the Kondor Art Centre, curated by Hermes Kondor, and specifically The Art of Black & White by Rachel Magic (LarisaLyn), which can be found throughout May at the Kondor White Gallery.

Rachel states of herself that she doesn’t like to lock herself into one visual style, and anyone who has witnessed her work will know this in the case. But there are two constants to her work: a richness of expression and a depth of story. All of this is true within the two floors of the gallery space hosting this exhibition.

Kondor White Gallery: The Art of Black and White – Rachel Magic

The lower floor focuses on landscapes captured from around Second Life. These offer unique views of their settings, be it through focus or techniques such as over-exposure / strength of contrast. These approaches present extracts of stories that our imaginations are invited to fill out – what lies at the end of the road; where are the owners of the bicycles – are they at work, relaxing on a beach beyond at the fence; who might be riding on the train caught through an archway…?

On the upper floor, Rachel presents a collection of monochrome avatar studies that, by their nature, paint a broader story, each one complete in it framing, angle and focus. These are all completely captivating, although I admit that Sweet Child of Mine, tucked into a corner – one of four smaller sized images in this collection.

Kondor White Gallery: The Art of Black and White – Rachel Magic

A further attraction of The Art of Black and White is a single artist presenting a split of landscape and avatar studies in a single exhibition when the “norm” among artists is to lean far more towards a focusing on one or the other rather than offering both in equal balance.

Enticing and engaging, The Art of Black and White will run through May and is well worth visiting.

Kondor White Gallery: The Art of Black and White – Rachel Magic

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Enjoying a touch or Ireland in Second Life

Craggy Island, May 2021 – click any image for full size

Craggy Island, designed by Mishi (Mishi Masala), sits on a Homestead region as a “peaceful and picturesque island off the coast of Ireland”. It’s a place people are encouraged to visit for the views, to unwind and / or for the craic (gossip / new, presumably of the local variety!). It’s also a place Shaun Shakespeare pointed me towards by way of a landmark he dropped into my lap, so I donned my hiking boots and headed off to take a look.

Almost completely encircled by the green hills of an off-region surround, Craggy Island is a genuine delight, offering as it does not so much a sense of being out on a little island somewhere, but perhaps a place within the rural regions of Eire; From some angles, I felt is if I might be in Galway, perhaps Connemara, not far from the coast there. But then on swinging my camera around to look in another direction, the view brought to mind County Kerry, perhaps not far from Derryfanga – a feeling heightened by the simple expedient of positioning my camera so the intervening Linden Water between region and the peaks of the surround was masked from my view.

Craggy Island, May 2021

Undulating gently, this is a setting that is easy on the eye and a quiet delight to explore (the sussuration of waves duly noted!), the scattered buildings sprinkled across the moor-like landscape encouraging the feet to wander.

The landing point sits just a handful of paces from a thatched roofed pub – a place that has attracted the attention of one famous visitor! It is a natural place to wander towards, given the track the meanders towards it from the landing point, but turn the other way upon landing, and the stubby spire and slate roof of the local church might equally attract your attention as they peek over the lip of a small rise in the land, the smoke rising from the chimney of a house beyond it also encouraging feet to head in that direction.

Craggy Island, May 2021

But really, where you chose to roam makes no difference: you’re going to come across something worthy of your attention whichever direction in which you strike out.

To the north and east sits a farm that appears to be focused on rearing sheep and pigs – although a recently ploughed field close to hand suggests a modest crop of some short might also be cultivated. Away to the south and west, the crofter’s cottage with smoke rising from its chimney appears to be focal point for cattle and goat rearing. Or perhaps they are both part of the same farm.

Craggy Island, May 2021

Between them, the land rises and falls in gentle slopes and folds, places to sit nestled here and there, a small loch puddling the land, its calm surface home to a small mist. Horses wander more freely than cattle or sheep – which appear to keep close to the respective farm buildings, whilst a Romany caravan offers a particular retreat for those wishing to escape. Throughout, little tracks start here and there, wind along the grass for a while and then vanish, as if teasing those that follow them.

Needless to say, opportunities for photography abound throughout the setting, and if you have a wearable horse, this is a place that also offers the opportunity for taking a ride over its moorlands or along the low-lying areas of the coastline.

Craggy Island, May 2021

Watched over by the vigilant eye of a lighthouse and set under a hazy, late afternoon sky, the charm of Craggy island certainly lives up to the promise of céad míle fáilte.

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Personal statements through art in Second Life

Sina Souza: Retrospective (Nitroglobus Roof Gallery)

Art is a powerful means of expression. Among its many abilities, it can enthral, delight, puzzle, confuse, evoke feelings, provoke reactions, entice, suggest, and tell stories. It can also be a vehicle by which life – either as a whole or just that of the artist – can be reflected, examined, quantified, dissected, displayed, and offered for commentary, be it by the audience witnessing it, or (again) by the artist.

Thus, both its production and in its viewing, art can be cathartic for artist and audience alike, and this is certainly true for two small but utterly engaging exhibitions I’ve visited over the last couple of days.

The first is by Traci Ultsch, an artist who has only relatively recently started exhibiting her art in Second Life (her first in-world exhibition being in November 2020), but is who has more than demonstrated that she is an artist who can both evoke and provoke through her work in the most compelling of ways and with a richness of narrative. These traits are fully on display at Mareea Farrasco’s IMAGOLand art spaces, which is currently hosting Overdose by Traci.

Traci Ultsch: Overdose (IMAGOLand Art Space)

A small collection of five large-format pieces that offer a double-dive into matters of addiction which are presented in such a way that both their design and their presentation to have much to say about the subject.

I say double-dive because, as Traci notes in her introduction to Overdose, this is an exhibition that can be viewed in two ways:

The first view is a personal one looking at my past experiences with drugs and drug use. Each image dealing with a drug I’ve been involved with. Heroin, LSD and amphetamines. Which directly led to several overdoses and the problems following that.
Another view deals more with the overdose of general life itself and the pressures that can lead to the need for escape.

Whether one takes the first or second of these interpretations, there is no doubt that the images presented in Overdose exhibit a raw, loud power that is reflective of both the often skewed view of reality and self that drugs can induce, together with the highs (e.g. sense of Godhood / power, moments of starling clarity) and lows (loss of self, blurring of reality and the unreal, paranoia and withdrawal), and the cacophony of life that seems to increasingly haul us towards an all-or-nothing series of extremes, from the constant outpouring of streamed television through to the demands of skewed politics, religion and more that demand everything be measured in terms of being either “for” or “against”, to the ever widening social gaps between classes. and so on.

Traci Ultsch: Overdose (IMAGOLand Art Space)

Placed within a confined space, even the size of the pictures speak to the pressures of being constantly immersed / unable to escape no matter where we turn. They are, in short overwhelming – as can be the allure of drugs and/or the demands of life; whilst the hospital beds floating in the air offer a further statement on both aspects of Overdose and its meaning.

Often when it comes to art, Retrospective is used in terms of presenting a selection of past works that speak to the artist’s life and work to date. However, for her exhibition that is currently taking place in Dido’s space at her Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, Sina Souza uses the term and the pieces she is exhibiting to present a personal statement in a similar vein as might be seen within Traci’s – stories of personal struggles – as Sina similarly explains in introducing the exhibit:

[This] is an exhibition about struggles in my past, wrong decisions that I have made or experiences that I have gained.
It is a path between depression, strokes of fate and the problem of trusting others. But it’s not just a look back at what’s behind me, it is also a kind of self reflection, a step forward, a way to learn from mistakes and to grow from experiences. Sometimes we need to look back to look ahead.
Sina Souza: Retrospective (Nitroglobus Roof Gallery)

Thus we have personal, but again compelling pieces, the majority of which are presented in black-and-white, but all of which have a story contained within it – be it a message about the benefits of thinking outside of the box in whatever situation we find ourselves in, through to the weight of time that can often drag at us.

Richly evocative, powerful in narrative and deeply personal, these are two exhibitions in which the artists expose as much of themselves as they do their work. As such they are both deserving of being seen.

Sina Souza: Retrospective (Nitroglobus Roof Gallery)

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