The Culprit Console Piano in Second Life

Culprit Console Piano

Pianos have been – if you’ll pardon the pun – something of a theme for me over the last couple of years; particularly those made by Eku Zhong and Yure4u Sosa for their Culprit brand. In September 2018, I wrote about the Culprit upright piano, and then in March of 2019 year, I reviewed the Culprit baby grand (links below).

As I noted in writing about the latter, I have a Yamaha N1 piano in the physical world, a hybrid piano that allows me to have the richness of playing a grand piano in the compact form of an upright piano. And with their latest release, Yure4u and Eku have given me the opportunity to have a similar style of hybrid in Second Life, with the Culprit Sonata Console Piano.

Like the Culprit upright and baby grand before it, this is  Bento-configured piano, meaning it utilises the Bento skeleton and suitable animations to give a more realistic look to an avatar’s fingers when playing. However, unlike its predecessors, the console piano has some nips and tucks to the Bento system.

The Culprit Console Piano’s keyboard

Style-wise, the Culprit model resembles the Yamaha N2, offering a deeper body than my N1 – said to help provide a richer tone – with an upright-like keyboard. It’s provided with a range of finishes, with a default of wood for a freshly rezzed model. Texture options can be used to change both piano and stool together, or mixed between piano and stool to offer a custom look between the two.

As with the upright and the baby grand, the texture options are accessed via the piano’s menu. This also provides access to the piano’s playing options. These are divided up as follows:

  • Songs: 34 solo pieces to play, all public domain, representing a good cross-reference of music.
  • Christmas: 16 seasonal songs, all again public domain.
  • Muted: a total of 16 different playing styles without any associated music so you can set a style in keeping with the music you’re listening to out-world, or on your parcel stream.

The menu also includes options to adjust the seated position on the stool.

The Culprit Console Piano (centre) with the baby grand (l) and upright (r) for comparison

Play-wise the Culprit composite starts in a similar manner as the other two pianos in the Culprit Sonata range: sit on the stool and your avatar will be placed in an “idle” pose, performing a number of arms and finger loosening exercises. Selecting a piece of music from the menu will cue up the loop – and introduces the difference between this and the other Culprit pianos.

Like the Sonata baby grand and upright pianos, the Culprit Sonata Console piano uses Bento hand animations for a more realistic playing style with Bento avatars (footage taken from tests with the Culprit Sonata Upright)

Not only will the system adopt a playing style in keeping with the tempo of the selected piece and with individual finger movements for Bento avatars, the animations will actually adjust to the tempo within the piece – so that in sections where there is an increase in tempo, or if stronger emphasis in playing is required, the animation will attempt to replicate it; this presents something of a more fluid playing “style” for an avatar.

Those who have not swapped to using Bento-enabled mesh avatars can still use the Culprit Console Piano, just as they can the others in the Sonata range – the only difference is the finger movement will not be present in the animations.

In keeping with the Culprit upright and baby grand, there is no autoplay with this model. But as I note in my reviews of both of those models, the point about the Culprit Sonata range is the Bento capability – so having autoplay (allowing the piano to play tunes while not seated) misses that a bit.

One small point of note is that the piano is supplied both physical when rezzed and has a root prim base. The former means you can be catapulted ceiling-wards when standing from it, so setting it to phantom might be required. The latter means a little vertical adjustment when placing it in-world might be required to avoid the appearance of having it hovering above the floor. Neither of these points detract in any way from the piano’s attractiveness or playability.

If you have limited space in which an grand piano can be a little over-powering (inset), and an upright a little too “traditional”; the Culprit Console Piano might offer a stylish alternative to the one offer a more modest footprint than the other

Those who have a grand piano – and room for it – might not be tempted by the Culprit Console Piano. However, if you are pressed for space and miss having a grand in the house / aren’t too enamoured with a “traditional” upright, then this model could be right for you. Small and attractive, it fits into confined spaces admirably, and at 7 LI, isn’t a capacity hog. I’ve already added it to my Evening Star Linden Houseboat rezzer, where it sits nicely within the small lounge space I’ve created with that particular houseboat design, without overpowering the room and making things feel cramped.

The Culprit Console Piano is currently exclusively available at the Tannenbaum shopping event through until December 23rd, after which it will be available directly from the Culprit main store.. The price is L$995.

SLurls and Links

A little Culprit Moonwalking in Second Life

The Culprit Bento Moonwalker

Culprit owners Eku Zhong and Yure4u Sosa are known for producing quirky and fun products in Second Life, from vehicles to pets – like their Animesh followers, Sphynxie and Mousie, both of whom have been reviewed in these pages – as well as producing more “serious” items such as their Sonata Upright and Sonata Baby Grand pianos, which I’ve also reviewed in these pages.

For the start of November 2019, they’ve released another, more light-hearted product, currently available at the (I believe introductory) price of L$100: the Culprit Bento Moonwalker.

Exploring the new Bellisseria regions using the Moonwalker

Intended purely for fun (whilst allowing Eku and Yure4u to poke around at Bento), the Moonwalker is  – well I guess the best way to describe it is a wearable “vehicle” that looks like half a sphere setting on ED-209’s legs. Supplied No Modify (due to the risk of messing up the rigging), it is designed to be added to your avatar rather than rezzed and driven. This means using it is a three-step process:

  • ADD the Moonwalker to your avatar – note that as it is Bento it should reasonably resize to “fit” most humanoid avatars.
  • Disable your own animation override (the Moonwalker has its own).
  • Start walking!
While the Moonwalker isn’t intended to be rezzed in-world for use, this gives an idea of its size – although it will automatically resize to “fit” most humanoid avatars as it is Bento

Once you get going you can walk, run and fly in the Moonwalker exactly as you would your avatar on its own, using your preferred keyboard options (e.g. WASD or the arrow keys, etc). When you’re done with it, just detach it once more.

However, when using the Moonwalker, there are some points to note with the Moonwalker:

  • As a Bento rigged object, the Moonwalker uses the Hind Leg bones – so if you are already wearing an avatar / avatar accessory that uses those bones, it will clash with the Moonwalker.
  • You should ADD the Moonwalker to your avatar using the set attachment point – if you reposition it to any other attachment point it may not work correctly / you may have unintended outcomes (or as the user guide notes, “you might end up with fire coming out of strange places”!).
  • Bento can occasionally result in an avatar looking deformed when the Bento element is detached. Should this happen to your avatar in your view, or should you be told by someone else you look odd, just right-click on your avatar and select Reset Skeleton.

As noted, Moonwalker is intended for fun – although there is potential for an assortment of vehicles coming off the back of it. Given it is supplied No Modify (and No Transfer), it is supplied in four colour options and is available in-world at the Culprit store – link below.

Exploring Bellisseria’s new regions in the Moonwalker

SLurl and Links

With thanks to Eku for the gift!

More Culprit fun in Second Life

Culprit’s Sphynxie and Flying Machine

Culprit owners Eku Zhong and Yure4u Sosa have released a couple more fun items I thought would be worth a write-up: the Culprit Sphynxie and the Culprit Flying Machine. Both are decidedly quirky (hence my interest!) and both are liable to be attractive purchases for some.

Sphynxie is a full animated Animesh companion that attaches to your avatar (just ADD it), and which uses an avatar skeleton that can be animated far more fluidly than other forms of pet. It takes the form of a sphynx cat – the famous coatless (but not without fur; its hairs are just exceptionally short and fine) cat produced as a result of selective breeding, and builds on the work done with the Culprit Mousie (see: Culprit Mousie: a little silliness in Second Life).

Mousie was a prototype – our Animesh début revamped for an older creation I did ages ago. He started out with less features (but he’s been updated). Sphynxie is entirely news, and come with more animations.

-Eku Zhong describing the Culprit Sphynxie

Either someone on the left of this photo has been on the catnip, or just got startled…!

At L$599, Sphynxie is also slightly more expensive than Mousie, with the price difference explained by Sphynxie being more capable.

Supplied in a package containing the cat, a HUD and an instructions note card, Sphynxie is offered in a number of individual hair finishes and as No Modify / No Transfer. Using it is a simple matter of attaching the control HUD and – providing you have no other Animesh items already attached (or no more than one if you are Premium!); you can then ADD the cat to your avatar.

Left to itself, Sphynxie will stand beside you on his hind legs (like Mousie, Sphynxie is anthropomorphic in nature) and entertain himself, moving from pose to pose, looking around, breathing deeply and tail moving quite naturally. A right-click Edit allows you to reposition him – move him a little further away if your AO stands causes you to step on him for example, or to move him to your preferred side, etc. When you walk, he’ll trot along beside you. And, of course, being an attachment, he’ll teleport with you.

However, it’s when you click the HUD that Sphynxie comes into his own. This contains three options: New Name (opens a dialogue box in which you can give your Sphynxie a personal name); Channel (to change the channel over which your HUD communicates with your Sphynxie to avoid clashing with others) and Gestures.

This last one provides access to an extensive range of animations that will play on Sphynxie when selected – so you can have him greet people, respond to a conversation (sometimes a little snarkily – something ideally suited to his somewhat upper class English tone of voice!) sing, dance, perform a few ninja fighting moves – and a whole lot more, a small selection of which are shown in the video below.

Complexity-wise, Sphynxie has a slightly higher cost than Mousie – around 7K on top of your avatar complexity  – but this is by no means excessive. If rezzed in-world he is slightly more resource efficient than Mousie – his LI is 27 and he has a physics impact of 0.5 and server cost of 0.8; however, he will only play his default animations if rezzed like this, and will not be responsive to the HUD. Plus, if you are a Premium member and have Mousie, you can opt to wear them both (as Premium members can have up to 2 Animesh items attached to their avatar) and they will not interfere with each other.

For those who enjoy attachable pets, the Culprit Sphynxie is – like Mousie before him – a fun addition to have, and his animations are likely to keep people smiling.

Culprit Flying Machine – out over the water

Currently on a short-term offer of L$100 as part of the Culprit Fly Buy Friday promotions (just join the store group) is the new Culprit Flying Machine. Designed entirely for fun, it is perhaps one of the most unusual vehicles I’ve used in Second Life – one that in some respects defies description; is it a boat? Is it a plane? Is it – well, I’ll leave it to the pictures to speak for it!

Like many of Culprit’s vehicles, the Flying Machine is supplied with two versions in the box: a “solo” unit you can fly yourself, and a rezzer unit. The latter takes the form of a black base unit that auto-rezzes an initial flying machine (no Mod, as it is a rezzer version) over it, and that will rez a further machine as the previous one is used, with the owner able to set the total number of boats that can be rezzed at any one time (up to a maximum of 12). These machines will also de-rez when the driver stands up, so they leave no clutter.

The Culprit Flying Machine

Seating a maximum of two people, the machine will turn on its engine when the owner (or first person in the case of the rezzer version) sits in it, and the rear “pusher” propeller will start turning. Movement is then achieved using the standard Arrow / WASD keys (depending on your preference and viewer set-up) – Up / W for forward, Down / S for slowing / reverse; Left / A and Right / D for turning.

Any forward  / reverse motion will start the “oars” flapping, making them more like wings, – and like a bee, you’ll improbably hover above the ground and progress in your chosen direction as if being rowed along and pushed by the propeller. Should you reach Linden water, the machine will handle that as well, dipping the rudder slung beneath it as if to help steer. Stop forward / reverse motion, and the “oars” will come to a stop and  the machine will glide to a halt.

And there’s more. Touch the machine and you’ll get the “standard” Culprit vehicle menu. In this you’ll find the Flight option. Click this to check it, and you can actually fly the machine at more than just the default hover height – use Page Up / E to put the nose up and climb, and Page Down / C to put the nose down and descend. Be warned however; if you wish to maintain altitude you must stay in motion. If you stop, the “oars” will stop and – naturally, as you’re deprived of their lift – you’ll start to sink towards the ground until you reach the machine’s default hover height – and if you’re over Linden Water, you will sink!

Culprit Flying Machine – flying over Isla Pey

The menu also allows you to turn the engine off, sound the horn, adjust your seating position (which is not saved in the rezzer version), but I’m not entirely sure if the throttle / gear options work (shift up / shift down).

For the purists, the handling may not feel entirely aircraft-like, but remember this is a fun vehicle. What’s more, with its looks and animations, it would also be at home in steampunk environments as well as being used simply for fun. In all, six colour variants are available and can be purchased – as with Sphynxie from the Culprit main store.

The Culprit Little Motor Boat in Second Life

Culprit Little Motor Boat

Eku Zhong and Yure4u Sosa produce a wide range of items for Second life from buildings to furnishings to the more quirky. Within this blog I’ve written about a couple of items that might be considering furnishings: the Culprit Bento Upright Piano, and the Culprit Baby Grand; – and also one of the more quirky: the Culprit Mousie. Over the weekend I’ve had the opportunity to try out the newest of their fun items: the Culprit Little Motor Boat.

Launched in-world on August 3rd, 2019, the Culprit Little Motor Boat is a tender-style boat capable of seating up to four people – and little is the operative word here: it’s small enough to feel as though you could pick it up and walk off with it under one arm. This gives the boat a cute look – but if you find it a little too small, it has a scripted resizing capability so you can customise it to fit.

Culprit Little Motor Boat

The packaging for the boat is also small, but includes a lot: there’s a “solo” version of the boat, designed to be kept rezzed and which can be set for personal or public access and supplied Copy / Mod. There is also a version in a rezzer system. This takes the form of a buoy that auto-rezzes an initial boat (no Mod, as it is a rezzer version), and that rezzes further boats as the previous one is used, with the owner able to set the total number of boats that can be rezzed at any one time (up to a maximum of 12). These boats will also de-rez when the driver stands up, so they leave no clutter. Also supplied is a pier sign (provided Copy / Mod) that can be used with the rezzer, and an additional buoy.

When considering the Culprit Little Motor Boat the first and foremost thing to remember is that it is intended for fun. If you take your SL boating seriously, then this little boat may not be for you; but if you’re looking to offer people the opportunity to go motor boating on your estate or region – either on open water or on a Linden Water boating lake, or if you just want a little low-cost boat for occasional fun, then the Culprit Little Motor Boat could be just the thing.

Culprit Little Motor Boat

Operating the boat (either the rezzer version or the solo) is simple:  sit in it as the drive and the engine then starts. Steering is via the Left / Right keys, while the Up key supplies forward motion, the Down arrow throttles down and the Left and Right provide turning (you can use WASD if you have the viewer set that way).

In addition, a menu can be called up by touching the boat. This provides access for manually turning the engine off / on, throttling up / down, operating the interior light, and sounding the horn. It also allows adjustment of the driver / passenger positions, and provides access a range of additional options – camera position, etc. (I confess to not having tested all of these).

Culprit Little Motor Boat compared to a typical SL speedboat, in this case, the Foilstream Little Bee

Two interesting options in the menu are the Turbo button and the Flight button. The former should really only be used on open water as it is fast! The Flight option is handy if you do end up in trouble after using Turbo – such as finding yourself stranded inland, where it can be used to take to the air and fly back to the nearest suitable water.

There are a couple of quirks with the handling that those familiar with boating might find unusual. The first is that the Up key must be continuously pressed to maintain forward motion (like a car’s accelerator). Tapping the Down key will slow the boat / put it into reverse, but releasing the Up key will also cause the boat to slow down – an inertia setting within the menu allows you to adjust the degree of inertial drift.

The rezzer buoy and boat sign

The second is that if using the Down key for low speed manoeuvring (such as turning in a confined  space), Left / Right turning can get switched when moving forward again – just tap the Up key once to correct.

However, when used as a rezzer boat, I doubt either of these above points will be noted, as people using the boats will be too busy zipping around the water having fun rather than trying to be master boat handlers. My only real grumble with the boat is the engine sound loop, which has an awkward little break in it, making it obvious it is a short loop. However, just flicking local sounds off whilst driving resolves this.

The boat is provided in five individual finishes (shown below), with each package containing the rezzer and solo versions of each finish, boat sign and additional buoy. The normal retail price is L$299, however, they are also on introductory offer at L$100 through until midnight SLT on Monday, August 5th (offer extended from that stated in the Culprit group note card).

Culprit Little Motor Boat finishes

Again, this is a boat for fun, not necessarily the serious boating enthusiast; but for those interested, it can be obtained via the Culprit store in-world, where it can test also be test driven on the Culprit boating lake in-world.

Culprit Mousie: a little silliness in Second Life

Culprit Mousie – an Animesh companion

I’ll admit I’m not the greatest fan of attachable pets / companions in Second Life (I know, “Booooo!” 🙂 ). OK, so I do have a Zooby cat that can be attached and carried, but he’s designed more for free wandering and actually spends all of his time lying in his kitty basket at home. So when a Culprit Mousie (by Eku Zhong and Yure4u Sosa) arrived on our doorstep, I was not entirely sure what I’d make of it; however, having tried it out on-and-off over the last few days, I admit I can see some of the appeal.

One of the things that has recently revolutionised this kind of companion is, of course, Animesh. Thanks to the ability to make use of the avatar skeleton it is possible to produce companion attachments like this that have a considerable amount of dexterity and “natural” animations – and this is certainly the case of the Culprit Mousie.

I get the impression, someone might be mimicking me…

As the name implies, this is mouse companion who has the anthropomorphic ability to walk on his hind legs and use his forelegs and paws for gestures. He stands around 1/2 a metre tall when worn, and sits by default just to the right of your avatar.

The package is supplied with Mousie, a gesture HUD and instructions.  Both Mousie and the HUD are supplied Copy, No Modify / No Transfer. There is an order to wearing the HUD and Mousie – the former *must* be added first, then the latter.

Once worn, Mousie can be repositioned via right-click Edit, so if he is too close for your avatar’s stand animations so you look to be standing through him at times, you can shuffle him around within reason. Once in place, Mousie will self-animate, rocking on his heels, wriggling his tail, gesturing with his forepaws, etc., – and, if you’re standing still for a long period of time, will fold his forelegs and drum his “fingers” as if bored / impatient.

In this, Mousie’s “hand” movements are rather exquisite. His “fingers’ will curl and extend, he’ll delicately scratch himself, wipe his snout and even – or so it seems -occasionally and cheekily – raise a middle “finger” when his arms are upraised! As well as his forelegs / paws, Mousie will also occasionally flick his tail and twitch his ears. When you walk, he’ll waddle along beside you, looking like a speed walker with his forelegs swinging back and forth and little hind legs working overtime which – and I can’t believe I’m writing this – had me wanting to stop every so often and let him catch his breath!

The HUD provides access to the 3-function menu. This provides access to three buttons:

  • Gestures: as the name implies, provides access to Mousie’s range of gestures, each triggered via a button. These offer a range of options – dances, air guitar, blowing kisses – a total of 18 gestures in all.
  • New name: opens a dialogue box in which you can give your Mousie a personal name.
  • Channel: allows you to change the communications channel between your HUD and your Mousie  – this is recommended to avoid conflicts with other Mousie  users you might encounter.

The gestures themselves are – like Mousie himself – cheeky in places. They also include local sounds, so might be a source of irritation for others in the way that many gestures can – but there is no doubting their giggle factor, either.

Complexity-wise, Mousie adds around 5,300 to an avatar under the current ARC system, suggesting Eku and Yure4u have worked to optimise it. If you want to rez a copy of Mousie in-world, you can – he’ll have a cost of 29 LI (and a physics impact of 0.4 and server cost of 1.8); however, he will only play his default animations if rezzed like this, and will not be responsive to the HUD.

I’m still not won over to using a wearable companion for myself, but I admit that Mousie is different and fun enough in bursts  that he might make the odd appearance now and again 🙂 . For those who do like companion  / pets like this, he is somewhat different to the more usual dog and cat style of companion and  – as noted – comes with a certain giggle factor. Plus, at L$350, he certainly isn’t going to break the bank, and he can (at the time of writing) be obtained via the Culprit store in-world (at the time of writing it had yet to be added to the Culprit Marketplace store).

With thanks to Eku and Yure4u.

The Culprit Sonata Baby Grand piano in Second Life

The Culprit Sonata Baby Grand in two of its finishes

In September 2018, I wrote about the Culprit Sonata Bento Piano created by Eku Zhong and Yure4u Sosa (see The Culprit Sonata Bento piano in Second Life). At that time, I noted that Eko and Yure4u were working on a baby grand edition, and on March 13th, 2019 they graciously sent me a copy.

As I noted in that piece, as a pianist, I have a leaning towards the grand (concert or baby), as I appreciate the more rounded richness of its note. As having one in the physical world is impractical (although I do have a Yamaha N1), I enjoy having them in-world, and have been looking forward to the opportunity to try this particular baby grand and seeing how the Bento animations work with such an instrument.

The Culprit Sonata Baby Grand

Unlike the upright variant, the Culprit Baby Grand is supplied in one size, and follows the accepted shape of a grand, with a sweeping case built around a horizontal plate and pin block / action. In this, the Culprit Baby Ground might appear little different to other grand pianos in SL. However, it is fair to say that it is the play mechanism in this piano that is one of the aspects that sets it apart from others, even without the Bento play capability.

Where others might in part reproduce the mechanism – some strings,  the plate and sound board – or offer a texture of a grand’s “innards”, the Culprit Baby Grand goes much further. A peek under the raised lid reveals the cast iron plate with soundboard below – and a beautiful pin block and hammer set, with strings neatly positioned, presenting one of the best facsimiles of a grand I’ve yet witnessed.

Play-wise the Culprit Baby Grand is similar in nature to the Sonata upright: sit at the piano and you’ll be placed in an “idle” pose – and moving your arms as if conducting – or perhaps warming-up in readiness to play. While mentioning this pose, note that as playing the piano can result in your avatar’s eyes rolling up into the head and flicking back to this option – available from the Muted option (see below) before standing will avoid this. Sitting will also display the piano’s menu, which has the following options:

  • Texture: allows the piano body and the stool’s cushion to be textured to suit your preferences.
  • Muted: presents a total of 12 different playing styles without any associated music – so you can set a style in keeping with the music you’re listening to out world, or on your parcel stream.
  • Songs: offers 54 solo pieces to play, all public domain, representing a good cross-reference of music.
  • Duets: offers 11 duet pieces of public domain music to be enjoyed with a friend of partner playing with you.
The Culprit Sonata Baby Grand – mechanism detail

The menu also includes options to adjust the seated position on the stool, and to swap positions when playing duets, all of which makes for a pretty comprehensive set-up.

Selecting a piece of music from the Songs or Duets menus will display sheet music on the piano and move your avatar into a matching playing animation. It is here where the Bento element comes in. If you have Bento hands and watch yourself play (note that non-Bento users can still play the piano, it will just be minus the finger movements). The animations appear to be those used in the Culprit Sonata Upright, so just like that piano, they are fluid and natural, if with a slightly dramatic flair in a couple of styles  – although even the fact this is a grand, they are perhaps more in keeping with playing classical pieces than might be the case with the upright version.

Bento hand movements  are available in the three playing options built-in to the Culprit Sonata Baby Grand. Note the thumb-led glissando (filmed on the Sonata)

For those who like their in-world pianos to autoplay without being physically seated at it, the Culprit Baby Grand is perhaps not an ideal choice, simply because it does require and avatar to be seated (you can set rights to control who can). But then, this is a piano that is all about the Bento playing actions. On a personal note, I found the Culprit Baby Grand a little larger than I was expecting; the width of the piano means the reaching the extremes of the keyboard is a stretch for an avatar proportioned close to a physical world build, like mine. However, this is a minor point when compared to the “interior” modelling of the piano, its music selection and playing animations mean, all of which make it an ideal addition to any home – and it is now the preferred piano at Isla Pey, replacing the slightly smaller Lisp Persimmon grand.

With a total LI of 11, the Culprit Baby Grand will début at the Boardwalk shopping event from March 15th, 2019, at a price of L$995. It will be generally available, including via the Culprit store, from April 15th.