Bringing a little (Studio Skye) Zen to your SL garden

The zen garden at Isla Pey

While visiting JimGarand’s Grauland in January 2020 (see: Grauland’s touch of Japanese Zen in Second Life), I was struck by the zen garden included within the region design. An examination of the core elements in the design revealed them to be from the Zen Garden Building Set by Alex Bader, sold under his Studio Skye brand.

Alex has a reputation for producing excellent landscape building kits – and I’ve used several in constructing places like Holy Kai, although there are admittedly some that while mouth-watering in terms of my desire to put them to good use, such as his stream building sets, I simply haven’t (thus far) had the space in which to do them real justice. However, the Zen Garden kit was one that I immediately had a familiar “me want!” itch about, so that after a couple of days of pondering how it might work within Isla Pey, I snagged a copy from the Marketplace. And I have to say, it is simply superb.

The zen garden at Isla Pey  viewed from the house balcony

At L$899, the kit includes some 24 individual elements: rocks, gravel surfaces, gravel path sections, plants, shrubs, ground cover, ground pieces, stone steps, edging pieces (combinations of rocks and plants), and so on. All of this offers a comprehensive means to build a garden network of paths, plants and open spaces, which can both be used to provide places to sit or include additional features as well as being easily integrated into a broader landscape.

In addition, for those who might be daunted at the thought of trying to glue everything together themselves, Alex provides two “pre-built” and rezzer based examples of gardens: one 32m on a side (96 LI when rezzed) and the other 26x18m (46 LI). Also, a couple of textures are also provided for the purposes of blending any additional items – fillers and the like – that might be required to ensure a good pairing of garden to surrounding landscape elements.

The zen garden display at Studio Skye

Given they are “ready to go”, so to speak, the two example gardens are a good place to start with a design. As they are supplied in rezzers, also that’s required is a couple of clicks with the rezzers, and they can be put together in moments and the rezzer then used to position them as required. Just click the Finish option once placed, remove the rez box and then modify or extend the garden or blend it with a broader landscape using both the additional components in the kit and whatever else you have that you feel might work with it.

I opted to take this approach myself, using the 32mx32m garden as my starting point. To this I added some of the base, path and edge pieces to provide a basic design (one which currently uses the garden’s featured rock monolith seen in the photos here, although I’m debating swapping that out and creating a “formal” element common to zen gardens: an area of sand raked to resemble ripples on water). To this I added our selection of sculptures by Ciottolina Xue and Silas Merlin, plus trees by AzaleaBluebell originally offered as a Fantasy Faire hunt gift, together with a selection of shrubs to provide more of a garden feel.

The more extensive zen garden at Grauland

There are some additional nice touches with the set, together with a couple of “does” and “don’ts”. For example, the water elements include a volume control for adjusting / changing the sound being generated by their little falls. The edges of the individual paths are nicely “feathered” so that path sections can be more easily placed together and blended. Also, the kit is compatible with the Studio Skye 4-Seasons bolt on – although this is where the “don’t” comes into play. If you do plan to use season changing bolt-on, don’t link elements of the garden together, as doing so will adversely affect how textures get applied when changing the seasons.

Also, do take care should you vertically resize elements (e.g. so the base better connects with whatever is under it): many of the pieces have horizontal faces painted as edge cover, and resizing can leave these “floating” above the rocks / pathway section on which they are supposed to be growing, or no longer aligning with edges they are supposed to be draped over.

The zen garden at Isla Pey with the house behind

But, as noted at the top of this piece, this is a minor niggle. For those looking for a different look to their garden – one that can be unique to them whilst leveraging other plants and garden items they have, the Studio Skye Zen Garden Building Kit makes for a excellent purchase.

Links

Note: the statuary, trees, large bushes and benches seen in the images here do not form a part of the Zen Garden Building Kit, but have been purchased separately.

Product review: the WALT Sea Roo in Second Life

The Piaggio WALT Sea Roo in its box

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.

The SeaRoo can be touched for a menu system. If touched when outside the vehicle, the menu is more limited in scope (l) than when seated in the vehicle (r). When seated, the full menu is displayed, providing access to all of the vehicle’s options and settings. Refer to the SeaRoo’s user manual for full details

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.

Zipping along above the waves

Key Vehicle Features

“Keyless Activation”

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.

The HUD

The Sea Roo HUD

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.

Hovertext Information

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

After any trip, the SeaRoo can report a set of statistics for you. Toggle off via the button, if required

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.

Taking a dive under the sea – note the bow light will, be default, come on automatically when underwater and turn off when on the surface

Refuelling

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”

A vehicle transportation system in Second Life

Using the Piaggio Transportation System with my MD-900 helicopter and Piaggio RoadRunner scooter: note the scooter sitting under the helicopter’s tail boom

So you have a luxury yacht with a helipad and been annoyed that you can’t sail it with your favourite helicopter rezzed on the deck? Or you have a landing craft and would like to be able to have a driveable vehicle it can carry and you can drive straight off? Or a cargo plane you’d like to fly around with your favourite car inside ready to drive? Well, Ape Piaggio might have the answer.

While working to complete the SeaRoo aquatic vehicle (formerly the WaveHopper – see: Previewing a little wave hopping in Second Life – and still very much “coming soon” as the final bugs are ironed out), she’s developed a neat little script set called the Vehicle Transportation System that allows two Modify / Copy vehicles to be combined so that one can be carried by the other, so that the “one” can be used when desired / as the local region settings allow.

As usual, I’ve been able to take the system for a test-run and thought I’d offer a piece on it for those who might be interested.

The Piaggio Vehicle Transportation system classifies the vehicle to be carried (in my case, the Piaggio RoadRunner, foreground and shown with handlebars folded) as the “secondary vehicle”, while the carrier (in this case, my MD-900 helicopter) as the “primary vehicle”

The system does require a careful amount of setting-up. In particular, it requires the unlinking and re-linking of one vehicle. This is something that can create issues, because vehicles often use a defined linkset numbering system which, if altered, can stop the vehicle function correctly. For this reason, there are scripted tools available to manage linksets. It’s also why Ape provides two versions of the Vehicle Transportation System:

  • The Vehicle Transportation System, containing only the scripts needed to allow one vehicle carry another, and suitable for those already have a re-link / unlink tool, or are confident in their own ability to edit linksets.
  • A Combo pack, offering both the Vehicle Transportation System and Ape’s own Relinker Kit, suitable for those who are not confident in editing linksets or who do not have a suitable script set for linkset editing.

Both kits are available on the Marketplace and will deliver the scripts to your inventory in two different folders.

In addition, the following points should be noted:

  • Both vehicles must be Copy / Modify.
  • The system uses a pair of defined terms:
    • Primary vehicle – refers to the vehicle that will transport another vehicle (e.g. a yacht you want to carry a helicopter or jet ski or something; or an aircraft carrying a car or tank or other vehicle, etc.).
    • Secondary vehicle – refers to the vehicle that is being transported.
  • A primary vehicle can only carry one other secondary vehicle.
  • When in use, the system will only work in regions / parcels where rezzing is enabled.
  • If you are the only person on your primary vehicle, note that it may be auto-returned if you swap to your secondary vehicle and are away from the primary longer than the local auto-return time.

Setting The System Up

Note: for the purposes of this article, I’m using my Spijkers & Wingtips MD900 Explorer helicopter and Piaggio SG33E RoadRunner scooter as, respectively, my primary and secondary vehicles, ans they happen to be the two of my vehicles that offer a reasonably logical pairing. As noted above, the system can be used with any suitable pair of Copy / Modify vehicles.

Setting the system up comprises three steps:

  • Preparing a static version of the secondary to be carried by the primary.
  • Linking that version of the secondary to the primary.
  • Preparing a version of the secondary that can be rezzed from the primary when it is to be used.
The “static” version of the secondary vehicle ready to be linked to the primary – the idea here being my RoadRunner is “slung” under the helicopter’s tail boom

Preparing a Static Version of the Secondary Vehicle

  • Rez your primary vehicle.
  • Rez a copy of your secondary vehicle and place it on your primary where you wish it to be positioned when the primary is in use (e.g. put a helicopter on the helipad of a yacht, or a car in the cargo hold of a plane).
  • Edit the secondary and open the Contents tab.
  • From the Vehicle Transportation System folder in your inventory, drag and drop the script called CONVERT INTO STATIC OBJECT into the Contents tab of the secondary vehicle.

WARNING: this script will DELETE all contents from the secondary and render it unuseable, so again, you should only do this if the vehicle is COPY and you retain a working version in your inventory.

  • Wait for the local chat message –> CONVERSION FINISHED <–.
  • Leave the converted vehicle in place.

Linking the Static Version of Secondary to the Primary

Note, the following references using the Piaggio Relinker kit; if you are using another scripted means of unlinking / relinking an object, then please refer to the instructions available with that tool.

  • Edit the static version of the secondary vehicle and open the Contents tab.
  • From the Piaggio Systems Relinker System folder, drag and drop ONE of the ADD scripts into the Contents tab:
    • Use ADD (CONVEX) if the root of the secondary is mesh.
    • Use ADD (PRIM) if the root of the secondary is a prim.
    • If you are unsure of the root of your secondary vehicle, use ADD (NONE).
  • Close the Edit floater of the secondary vehicle.
  • Edit the primary vehicle, and then from the Build menu, select Scripts → Set Scripts to Not Running.
When linking your secondary vehicle to your primary, you must ensure you set the primary’s scripts to Not Running before doing so, and then set them to Running afterwards
  • From the Piaggio Systems Relinker folder in your inventory, drag and drop the RELINKER – MAIN script into the primary.
    • A series of dialogues will be displayed, requesting permission to de-link and re-link he primary vehicle.
    • You must reply YES to each in turn.
  • When the process has finished, local chat will display the message: DONE: REMOVING SCRIPT.
  • Edit the primary vehicle again Scripts → Set Scripts to Running.

Preparing a Rezzable Version of the Secondary for use with the Primary

  • Rez a new copy of the secondary vehicle and edit it.
  • From the Vehicle Transportation System folder, drag and drop the script SECONDARY VEHICLE SYSTEM into the Contents tab of the secondary vehicle.
  • From the General tab of the Build / Edit floater, highlight and Copy (CTRL-C) the name of the secondary vehicle.
  • Take the updated copy of the secondary vehicle back to inventory.
  • Edit the primary and open the Contents tab, then:
    • From the Vehicle Transportation System kit folder, drag and drop the script PRIMARY VEHICLE SYSTEM.
    • Then drag and drop the updated secondary vehicle from inventory into the Contents of the primary.
  • In chat, type NAME, followed by the name of the secondary vehicle as in appears in the primary’s contents. For example:

name SG33E RoadRunner

Note: you can use Paste (CTRL-V) to paste the vehicle name accurately. Also, note this is only required if the primary has other objects in its contents.

Your vehicles should now be set-up and ready to go. Take a copy of the completed pairing back to inventory so you always have a “master” copy.

Using the Vehicle Transportation System

Notes:

  • As per the notes above, the system will only work in regions / parcels where rezzing is enabled.
  • The engine systems of both the primary and the secondary vehicle must be OFF in order for the system to work correctly.

Use the primary vehicle as you usually would. It should perform exactly as it did before you added the secondary vehicle.

Flying my MD-900 with the RoadRunner “slung” under the tail boom

When you reach a point where you want to use the secondary vehicle, stop the primary and make sure the engine script is not running, then in local chat type RELEASE.:

The version of the secondary vehicle will be removed from the primary and a copy of the driveable version contained in the primary vehicles inventory will be rezzed in its place. You can then sit in the secondary and use it as normal.

Preparing the “driveable” version of my Roadrunner secondary after “detaching” it from my helicopter

When you have finished using the secondary, return to the primary and dismount from it. Make sure the engines of both are turned off, then in local chat type CONNECT.

The rezzed version of the secondary will be removed, and the “static” version will reappear connected to the primary.

Note: if the primary has been auto-returned  to your Lost and Found folder, you can re-rez it to complete the above operation  and continue travelling with the primary. Or you can delete the copy of the secondary and simply pull a fresh version of the primary from inventory the next time you want to use it.

This is an elegant solution for an issue many have found to be annoying. Those interested in trying it for themselves can obtain it as follows:

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!

Previewing a little wave hopping in Second Life

Ape Piaggio’s WaveHopper

As I’ve noted several times in these pages, I’m a little partial to Ape Piaggio’s vehicle designs, and often get to help out with her designs in a small way. These treats occasionally lead me to offer a “sneak peek” at an upcoming design, although occasionally it can take longer than anticipated for the final product to appear – as has happened with the Airfish that I previewed over a year ago, and which subsequently hit a couple of hurdles that stalled final development.

The last 24 hours have given me the opportunity to try out and give feedback on Ape’s latest in-development craft: the WaveHopper. This is a craft that should, all things being equal, be commercially available in the next few weeks, but with Ape’s permission, I thought I’d whet a few appetites for it here.

Ape Piaggio’s WaveHopper

Looking like a dolphin, the WaveHopper is a two-person craft that sits as a cross between a jet-ski (it is powered by a impeller mechanism in a similar manner to a jet-ski), a mini sub (it can operate submerged for up to a minute at a time), and an acrobatic craft. Its porpoise (see what I did there?) is to simply get out on the water and have fun – as I hope the accompanying photos demonstrate.

Once underway, the WaveHopper can travel on the surface of the water at a fair rate of knots (although handling at the upper end of the throttle can get some getting used to).  Aircraft-like in its controls, tip the nose down and you’ll dive – but the idea is not to stay under water. Instead, pull back up on the controls, and the WaveHopper will accelerate upwards and breach the surface like a dolphin making a jump. What’s more, with a little practice, you can pull stunts with it, rolling as you jump or leaving the water inverted or even pulling a loop, part in / part out of the water can be managed.

Ape Piaggio’s WaveHopper

It’s really designed for fun in a single region rather than long travels across multiple regions. It has a rocking motion when moving on the surface, and the finished version will have more buoyancy, and there will be a timer to turn off the engine to prevent overheating if submerged too long.

– Ape Piaggio describing the WaveHopper

And just in case you think the idea is a bit kooky – WaveHopper is actually based on a real vehicle (which has also been reproduced by a couple of other creators, although Ape’s design was my first exposure to it).  You can catch a video of the “real thing” below and get a feel for it.

Pricing for the WaveHopper has yet to be finalised, but I can say it’ll be packed with additional features, including working cockpit nav system for first-person operation, media system, boarding animations and a range of poses. Ape also noted she might offer some little extras to go with it so that owners can have even more fun. As such, I’ll be giving the WaveHopper a full review once it is available.

Ape Piaggio’s WaveHopper

And the Airfish? That’s apparently next on the list for completion!