The CLSA Stampe SV4 in Second Life

The CLSA Stampe SV.4: making a low pass over the island home

Over the course of just over a year, I’ve written a couple of pieces about the aircraft available under the CLS Aviation, brand, owned by CaithLynnSayes. These have included the P92 and P2010 (read here for more) and the CLSA Fairey Gannet (read here for more), and both articles came after my initial introduction to CLS a aircraft via the freebie Firestorm Ryan Navion, also supplied by Caith (read here for more). My responses to these aircraft have been mixed – but given they are provided (albeit as unsupported items) at just L$10 per ‘plane, they cannot be faulted as means to get started with flying in SL.

Hence why I was drawn back to try another aircraft in the CLSA range: the Stampe SV.4. Originally a Belgian-made 2-seat tandem trainer that was first flew in 1933, it didn’t come into its own until after the Second World War, when it served as both a basic trainer for the Belgian Air Force (1947-1975) and was built under license in France and Algeria, becoming a popular civilian light aircraft / trainer in the process.

The CLSA Stampe SV.4 is a fun plane to fly

It’s not clear which variant of the Stampe the CLSA model is based on, but its natty performance envelope allows it to potentially be any version you like, and from my perspective it is one of the most fun aircraft I’ve flown in Second Life.

As is usual with CLSA aircraft, the model is a very accurate reproduction of its physical world namesake, including the more rounded vertical tail and rudder and lack of the distinctive “hump” of a fuel tank in the centre of the upper wing to help differentiate it from the British de Havilland DH82 Tiger Moth (which I’ve had the pleasure of flying in, and taking the controls of in the physical world!).

The ‘plane is delivered in the distinctive large crate of CLSA, which drops to the ground with an audible “whomp!” when rezzed. As well as containing the aircraft, the package also provides the default CLSA aircraft HUD, (not vital for flying the ‘plane), a radio headset / microphone combination, a Quick Start manual (a detailed manual can be obtained from the Help option in the aircraft’s menu – touch the aircraft to display this, or say “help” in chat when seated in the Stampe), and “templates” for painting. It would have been nice to have the headset supplied Copy / Transfer, to allow for sharing with any passenger carried in the forward cockpit, but never mind.

“Switches on! … Clear! … Contact!” – readying for take-off in the CLSA Stampe SV.4

Of the CLSA ‘planes I’ve flown, the Stampe is definitely the most fun. The basic controls are as one would expect: PAGE keys for throttle; Left and Right keys for banking; Down / Up for pitching the nose up or down. Additional controls – parking, brake, camera options, engine, etc., can be accessed via chat commands and / or via the  HUD.

The low speed of this aircraft means that it really is good for STOL activities: leave the brake on and run up the throttle before releasing, and you’ll be off the ground in a very short run. Conversely, keep your approach speed to around 30 km/h (19 mph or 8 metre per second) and you can drop the Stampe into almost any suitable area on the ground (including places you might not get out of again!). This STOL capability could make the Stampe ideal for GTFO! activities as a light courier, but as the GTFO! vehicle database is unavailable at the time of writing, I was unable to ascertain if it had been added or not.

That same low speed makes aerobatics a joy – I was stall-turning and looping to my heart’s content – and these can be further added to through optional elements such as the Luna Fatale Animated Wing Walker. It also means you can instruct passengers in the forward cockpit at a more leisurely pace than might be the case with other aircraft  – just use the “cmd” command in chat to pass control forward or take it back.

Pulling a loop over the island home in the CLSA Stampe SV.4

When it comes to aerobatics and flying, the Stampe includes a set of options to adjust its flight handling: pitch and roll rates, rate of climb, and throttle. these can be adjusted in  real-time when flying, and also output to chat for recording onto note cards which can be added to the ‘plane’s inventory. This means that if the Stampe is permanently rezzed as a shared plane within a group, pilots can load their personal flight preferences, thus allowing more experiences flyers to use more aggressive settings, while those with less experience can opt to use their own or say with the plane’s default characteristics.

A big plus (for me at least) is that unlike the Ryan, P92 and P2010, the Stampe *won’t* regard Linden water as land and happily taxi around on it or land on / take off from the surface.  Were I to critique the plane at all, it would be that banking – although far better than the Ryan, P92 and P2010 – can still be flat at times in the default handling mode (so use of the custom handling options might be called for).

I also feel the supplied exterior painting template leaves much to be desired. Some of the component parts are poorly rendered and indistinct, requiring a certain degree of skill when setting a personal colour scheme. A scripted painting mechanism is provided, which includes two custom finish slots, together with 6 supplied finishes. However, as the ‘plane is supplied with Modify permissions, it is possible to manually apply paint schemes, so multiple personal finishes can be used, if wanted.

Three of a kind: three of the supplied finishes for the CLSA Stampe SV.4

Overall, give this ‘plane costs just L$10, it’s a nice add to any collection and is, as noted a lot of fun to fly, and which tends to handle region crossings pretty well (allowing for speed and how you might tweak the speed settings).

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A Second Life Roadrunner

Riding the SG33E Roadrunner

Ape Piaggio has crafted some of Second Life’s more unusual vehicles, be they for land, air, or water (or even some combination thereof). and by “unusual”, I mean fun.

I’ve covered many of them in these pages, and am admittedly a confirmed fan of her work. Most recently, I’ve been involved in the development of her LS33W AirFish (read here for more). That project has been taking a little longer than anticipated, but there’s a good reason for this: Ape has been busy with a fun vehicle that’s she launched at the end of November: the SG33E Roadrunner.

This is a fun little 2-wheeler for running around on – particularly along the road networks of the Mainland, where I spent time testing it. Probably the best way to describe it is a marriage between an electric motor and a traditional push scooter that’s been given a few steroids to beef it up.

From boxed to “assembled”: the SG33E Roadrunner (note the black marks on the optional rezzed fenders are baked shadows for when the optional parcel racks are used)

Delivered in a neat packing case – itself a trademark of Ape’s products (and which will deliver a texture pack as well, when unpacked), the Roadrunner rezzes in its stowed mode – handlebars folded against the footboard, awaiting attention. Select Sit Here from the right-click context menu / the pie menu, and a neat animation will play, causing your avatar to kneel and unlock the handlebar before raising it to its upright position, and then “stepping” aboard the scooter.

At the same time the handlebars are unstowed, a Quick Start guide is displayed in local chat (user only – not general spam) listing the basic driving controls. Using the Touch option will list the Roadrunner’s menu, including the permissions options (who can drive / ride on the scooter); the adjustment options for correctly positioning avatars (the scooter can be resized); access to the couples poses (cuddles plus a couple of adult poses), and the scooter’s accessories options – of which more anon.

Readying the Roadrunner for riding

The basic controls are easy enough to master, and the simple fact is, with a little consideration for SL’s eccentricities, the Roadrunner is a great little ride – and be sure to check out the cute “reversing” animation.

The Accessories option adds to the Roadrunner, allowing a degree of customisation. This includes recolouring, plus the rezzing of the front and rear well fenders and / or the front and rear luggage racks. The racks also include headlights and tail-lights for night driving.

The accessories menu

Also included in the Accessories menu are the battery / recharge options. The former allows the Roadrunner to behave like a real electric vehicle: running only as long as there is sufficient charge in the battery. When it has expired, or is close to expiring, the recharge option can be used. This will display the solar-powered battery charger which, as it is attached to the scooter, doesn’t require rezzing rights in order to appear.

The Roadrunner is additionally capable of carrying passengers. Providing the driver is already on-board and permissions are set, a passenger can right-click and sit on the scooter – this will display the rear luggage rack, which is used as a passenger seat.

At L$350, the SG33E Roadrunner isn’t going to break the bank, and it weighs-in at just 6 LI. Those those who enjoy road vehicles, it offers a fun and unique means of both travel and exploration around the Mainland.

Riding Route 12 on the Mainland

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The Culprit Sonata Bento piano in Second Life

 

The Culprit Sonata upright (l) with my Lisp grand (r) at our home in SL

It’s no secret I play the piano; I’ve mentioned it a fair few times; I can sometimes be heard playing arrangements on my You Tube videos, and I’ve reviewed the various pianos I’ve had in SL through these pages.

By-and-large, I prefer to go for grand (concert or baby) pianos in SL, simply because a) the comparative sizes of houses in SL tend to mean a grand can be installed easily and not lost against a wall; b) I have a Yamaha N1 in the physical world, that nicely reproduces the sound of a grand (but only takes up as much space as an upright!), so I’m naturally more accustomed to the more rounded sound of a grand, and heaving on in SL puts me in mind of that roundedness.

Thus, finding me writing about an upright piano now might seem a little strange. But the upright in question is a little special: it is the first playable Bento piano I’ve been introduced to.

The keyboard is finished with a very natural looking ageing to the keys

The piano in question is the Culprit Sonata, created by Eku Zhong and Yure4u Sosa – and it is a delight.  Two versions of the piano are offered in the pack: “large” (for larger sized human avatars) and “small” (for more “normally” proportioned human avatars (the “small” should not be seen as indicative of the piano being suitable for Tinies). I found the “small” variant ideal for my avatar.

The design follows the standard upright piano look, while the menu system (active once seated) offers four main option sets: Texture, Muted, and Songs, together with an [Adjust] option for setting your seating position at the keyboard.

  • Texture provides a choice of eight Themes by which to  texture / colour the entire piano and its stool; and a Custom option, allowing you to mix and match the textures used on different parts of the piano to suit your individual taste.
  • Muted presents a total of eight 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. As one of the streams we have on the home parcel is a pure piano stream, I found this option a nice touch.
  • Songs, as might be expected, offers a total of 32 pieces to play, all public domain, and offering a good cross-reference of music.
Three of the menu-driven Theme finishes to the piano, and one variant of a Custom finish (l)

Sitting at the piano immediately puts you in the “idle” pose (also available from the Muted menu as a ninth option). This has you sitting and moving your arms as if conducting – or perhaps warming-up in readiness to play :).

Selecting a piece of music from the Songs menu 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,  turn off any animation option you may be using with them so as to avoid possible conflict with the piano, then watch yourself play.

The Culprit Sonata was, at the time this review was written, on display outdoors at the Culprit store

Rather than the traditional single pose hand movements we’re all familiar with when playing SL pianos, the Culprit Sonata will animate fingers and wrists to reproduce a range of playing styles, from the subtle to the quite effusive. Most fit the included music extremely well, and I found a couple of the Muted animations options particularly well suited to “playing along” with some of my favourite tracks on the Westworld TV series soundtrack (such as Sweetwater, No Surprises, Dr. Ford, and The Forest) that was playing on the stereo as I took the Culprit for a test drive – or test play, if you prefer 🙂 .

The finger and hand movements are fluid throughout – and I was impressed to see a thumb-led descending glissando in one of the animations; I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in a Second Life piano animation before, and you can catch it in the video below. Yure4u, Eku’s SL partner, modelled the animations on her own playing style, adding further depth to them, and while I did find a couple a little more dramatic than my own style of playing, they in no way put me off.

Bento hand movements in three of the playing styles built into the Culprit Sonata piano

At 7 LI, including the stool, the Culprit Sonata isn’t going to break the land impact bank, and the texture options offer sufficient variety in finish for the piano to fit almost any environment. Pricing-wise, it is placed at L$995, which perhaps puts it at the upper range of playable piano (I’m excluding those that come as Adult rated or with a host of non-playing animations). However, when you consider this is a Bento piano, offering some very fine finger / hand / wrist motions, and the effort put into producing these, the price doesn’t feel excessive.

The Sonata has some nice attention to detail around the keyboard and the brass fittings, and while I’m still naturally biased towards having a grand piano in SL (and Eku and Yure4u are apparently working on one), the upright version is now gracing the saloon at Caitinara Bar 🙂 .

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An inside look at Get the Freight Out in Second Life

Note: due to transitional issues, a temporary GTFO forum has been set-up for users. This currently supersedes the web addresses in this article.

Get the Freight Out (GTFO) is a popular in-world game among many vehicle users. HUD-based, it allows players to “haul” cargo from by land, sea or air, point-to-point across the mainland continents of Second life, and over their connected waterways and seas (e.g. Blake Sea). In doing so, players can earn in-game (and non-redeemable) “Goal dollars” – G$ and game experience points which allow them to “level up” through GTFO.

Since its launch, the game has grown to encompass, at the time of writing, over 280 different land, sea and air vehicles, and has over 300 “hubs”- the points at which players use to collect / deliver their cargoes – scattered around the Mainland continents of the grid, presenting players with multiple opportunities for collecting and delivering cargoes, with more being added all the time.

In fact, such is the popularity of the game that many vehicle creators are offering suitable vehicles with GTFO support out-of-the-box; no need to convert them for game use, all that’s needed is the game HUD. There’s even a “trial” HUD available for a refundable L$1 for those wishing to try the game; this offers all the features of the “full” HUD, but is limited in how far a player can level-up. All experience points and Goal Dollars earned while using it remain valid should the player go on to purchase the “full” game HUD (L$699).

Originally created and run by Rez Gray, the game changed hands early in 2018, when Rez and Cinn Bouchard (cinnamonmousse) reached an agreement for him to sell her GTFO, including the core assets of the system – the databases, LSL and PHP coding –  together with the in-world assets such as the game HUD, GTFO dock system, groups, etc, together with the rights to expand the game in certain directions. Since then Cinn and her in-world business partner,  Syler Avon (Jaiden Nexen), have been working with a small supportive group of people for the last several months to overhaul GTFO without changing any of the established game mechanics.

That work is about to come to fruition, and I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Cinn and Syler at the new GTFO in-world headquarters to discuss all that’s been going on since the purchase of the game, and what players and those interested in GTFO can expect to see in the very near future. However, we started the discussion on how they came to be involved in GTFO in the first place, with Cinn providing the background.

We found out about GTFO accidentally after I introduced Syler to sailing in SL. In mid-2017, we got some coastal mainland just off Blake Sea and built a house with a marina with room for all our boats, and we started noticing people arriving in the marina and then leaving, and I got a little nervous about what was going on. So Syler went to ask some of them what was going on, and they said they were loading and offloading cargo for the game, and that’s how we first heard about it.

– Cinn Bouchard on how she and Syler Avon became involved in GTFO

GTFO allows vehicles and vessels and aircraft of all periods and types to haul freight by land, sea and air

Curiosities piqued, Cinn and Syler sought out Rez Gray to find out more. At the time, Rez was – as Cinn put it – “up to his eyeballs” in trying to run and expand GTFO and handle other projects. As a result, they threw themselves in trying to help him with moving things forward. In particular, Cinn, using her background in programming, web design, and coding, became very heavily involved in the game’s back-end support: working on the database alongside Rez, learning how things worked, adding hub locations and vehicles to the games, etc. Syler, went out and placed dock systems, talked to new hub providers, and in group chat, finding out what people were interested in seeing with the system, and growing the sense of community among players.

Over time, Cinn and Syler built a small team of helpers, which they informally called the GTFO Ops Team, who gradually took on more of the general running of the game. A major contributor to the team was Keif Denimore, who overhauled the processes for adding new GTFO hubs and new vehicle APIs (used to identify vehicles and their freight capabilities) to the system. Eventually, with Rez keen to pursue other projects, the arrangement was reached that allowed the game to be transferred to Cinn’s ownership.

Syler and Cinn have been developing a new in-world HQ for GTFO, where people can find out more about the game, the GTFO community, obtain the game HUD, and more

Since taking the game on, the team has been focused on three areas: providing a more robust and capable back-end to the game, complete with a new website; to prepare the way for adding new in-game activities such as smuggling, and adding support for space vehicles; and to expand GTFO’s in-world presence and establish new partnerships. In addition, and as a related project, the GTFO team have been working to expand a more defined sense of community among GTFO players, and present opportunities for informal role-play alongside of the game.

One of the things we decided in taking on GTFO was to keep the game play going as it had been. We didn’t want to cause any major disruptions to people’s enjoyment, so we’ve had a slow transition over to new back-end infrastructure that will allow us to both run the game as people expect it, and expand it a lot more.

– Cinn Bouchard on some of the core decisions made in taking over GTFO

Critical to the initial transition was Ven (VenKellie), as Cinn noted. “His expertise with servers has been invaluable, and helped us move forward in ways I’d only hoped to one day achieve. We’re now developing everything on a cloud-based infrastructure, and we’ve completely overhauled the game on the back-end.” One of the major outcomes of this is a general move away from HUD-centric LSL processing, in favour of back-end processing.

Continue reading “An inside look at Get the Freight Out in Second Life”

Testing the LS33W AirFish in Second Life

Taking a prototype LS33W AirFish out for a test. Finish and colours are not representative of the production version

As is probably clear to regular readers of this blog, I’m a fan of craft built by Ape Piaggio. I played a (minor) role in the development of her Little Bee tender-style speed boat (which you can read about here), and for the last couple of weeks I’ve been acting as a test pilot / CTD (that’s “crash test dummy” for the uninitiated 🙂 ) for Ape’s newest vehicle: the still in development LS33W AirFish.

Based on the WigetWorks AF8-001, the AirFish is  a ground effect vehicle. This is a type of craft designed to attain sustained flight over a level surface (usually water) by making use of ground effect, the aerodynamic interaction between the wings and the surface over which it is travelling. another term for this type of vehicle is wing-in-ground effect (WIG), and it is the terminology generally used when referring to the AirFish and its physical world progenitor.

An overhead view of the AirFish

I confess, when Ape first told me she was developing the AirFish, I wasn’t convinced. We have high-performance boats in SL; we have aircraft; we have hovercraft; is a WIG vehicle likely to be popular? Well, on the strengths of having been testing this vehicle and seeing first hand the way Ape is both accepting feedback to tweak and improve it, and adding new features along the way – I can say it’s a heck of a lot of fun!

I’m not going to go into specifics about the AirFish here – I’ll save that for an in-depth review when it goes on sale (which might not be for a little while yet, as there is still much work to be done). What I will say is that the AirFish offers a lot to both motor boat fans and flying enthusiasts. On the water, it handles like a conventional boat and can happily motor around using its impellers. In doing so, it’s pretty manoeuvrable but not particularly fast (on-the-water speed isn’t the point). However, switch to the two rear-facing propellers (driven in the AF8-001 by a conventional V8 car engine!), and the AirFish comes into its own  – a fast, manoeuvrable craft able to pass over water and low-lying, relatively flat terrain at speed and with ease.

Airborne over water…

Once of the nice touches Ape has added – based on my own feedback, if I might toot my own horn a little – is a configurable set of flight controls. These allow pilots / driver to either use a standard “boat” layout to keyboard controls with the arrow keys / WASD for left/right and throttle up/down and vehicle pitch set via the PAGE keys. Or, for those used to flight controls, the arrow keys can be used for left / right and pitch up / down, with the PAGE keys used for adjusting the throttle.

Nor is the AirFish restricted to the water – a retractable undercarriage can be deployed to allow it climb up (and down) seaplane ramps, although it is not designed for trying to get airborne from a runway, and the AirFish is intentionally configured to prevent this: lowering the undercarriage locks it into its “taxi” mode.

I’ll have much more to say about the AirFish when it is officially released. In the meantime, those wishing to try a demonstration version can do so at the FoilBourne headquarters in-world, and as a further teaser, I’ll leave you with a short video of some of my trial runs testing the craft. Note that the vehicle finish and colours in both the images here and in the video are not representative of the production version’s finish or colours.

Note: this blog post and film produced and published with Ape’s approval.

Adding a little vehicle space with a rezzing system

Having room to moor / park all your boats and planes at home can be a problem (if you have room at all!) – so why not use a rezzing system?

Being into planes and boats in SL can be a little taxing. Not just on the purse / wallet, but also in where to park things. Even if, like us, you have a place near water where you can moor your boats and seaplanes, providing space for all of them can be a little hard – every LI given over to vehicles, moorings and so on, is one less for the house, furnishings and garden. Sure, you can always putt things out of your inventory when you want them – but where’s the fun in that? Having at least something out on your docks or slipway is part of the pleasure in owning vehicles.

In our case, we have numerous vehicles, some of which get considerable use – notably our two DSA G58 Barons and M33 Debonair, plus the Little Bee and FoilStream by Ape Piaggio, and the Bandit 210. Having all of these rezzed at any one time along with our Loonetta 31, which tends to be permanently rezzed, gobbles up 263 LI – and quite a lot of space. Add to that some of the vehicles have multiple finishes to them (different registrations or colour schemes), and of which we might want to use at any given time, even more LI can get eaten in trying to have all of them out at once.

Of course, hauling some of them of inventory when needed is always an option, it’s still a little boring and negates the idea of having “home space” for vehicles. So is there a compromise that allows for a quick swapping between vehicles while allowing some to be parked / moored and ready to go? If your vehicles have both copy and modify permissions, there is: a simple scene rezzing system.

A system like the RF Device / Multi-Scene Rezzer lets you quickly choose which (and how many) of your copy / modify vehicles you have rezzed and parked at home, and lets you swap between different types – note how I can swap between the two different ‘planes occupying the same mooring. Thus, you don’t have to keep everything rezzed at the same time, saving LI, and you don’t have to bother with manually hauling things out of inventory when you want to use them.

This is pretty much what we’ve had at Isla Pey for a good while – and note I am not talking any kind of temp rezzer here; they are a blight that should really be avoided. There are several scene rezzing systems available that fit the bill for vehicle rezzing, and I’ve been using a couple for the last few years. However, my unit of choice at the moment is the RF Device / Multi-Scene Rezzer.

Priced at just L$250, this is a low-cost, very easy-to-use system, comprising a “control panel” object and a single script. Simply rez the “control panel” object, rez and position your copy / modify vehicle(s) where you want it / them to be parked / moored when rezzed, drop the script inside the contents, then take the vehicle(s) and drop it / them into the contents of the “control panel”, and you’re done. Touching the “control panel” then displays a list of objects within it, with a corresponding set of buttons used for rezzing the vehicle(s) of your choice. You can even move the control panel around within your parcel / region and the vehicles will still rez correctly in their original places.

We have various vehicles stored in the rezzer (shown on the left with a custom finish) – including different variants of the same vehicle (indicated by the small arrows on the menu), any of which can be rezzed at the click of a button whenever it is required. Those rezzed can then remain parked / moored until needed or replaced by an alternative

Thus, using this system, we have direct access to a fair number of my boats and planes (some of which are copies with different registrations / paint finishes) which we can swap between quickly and easily, and without messing around with inventory and positioning things manually (particularly handy if you can’t use RTLP on your parcel).

The RF system, like many others, includes an “auto clear” function. So, if you only have space to rez one vehicle at a time, this will remove any currently rezzed vehicle before rezzing the next. But if, like us, you have room to have several (but not all) of your vehicles out at one time, the “auto clear” can be disabled, and you can manually delete any individual vehicle before  using the rezzing system to display another that might occupy the same spot when rezzed.

Easily use a single mooring / parking space to swap between vehicles or between different versions of a vehicle with different finishes (as seen above, where I’m swapping between two versions of my Little Bee), all without any tedious mucking about with inventory. 

Obviously, using rezzing systems like this isn’t a new idea – it’s actually as old as the hills in some respects. But, if you haven’t considered it before, and do have limited space for your vehicles and would like a more convenient way of displaying them / swapping between them in-world than having to refer back to your inventory – trying out something like the RF Device / Multi-Scene rezzer might be worth considering.