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!

The PrimPossible 1 LI Bento Piano

The PrimPossible Bento Mo-Cap 1LI Piano, shown in the built-in white finish option

Ample Clarity, the owner of the PrimPossible brand, made his mark producing 1-prim household items, initially using sculpties (not good for rendering, etc., but nevertheless impressive for their time for those pushed for LI) and more recently for doing much of the same with mesh. He’s well aware of my fondness for the piano, and so recently sent me a beta version of his new 1 LI mesh Bento baby grand piano featuring a selection of motion captured animations, and I decided I’d take it for a quick spin.

I cannot speak to the packaging of the piano, as it was delivered to me unboxed. However, in terms of shape and styling, it follows the expected form for a grand, and rezzes with the lid open and music stand raised. The former will tend to close when an avatar sits on the stool, but typing “open lid” (no quotes required when typing) in open chat will set it open once more.

Given this is pretty much a single mesh, there are some elements that can catch the eye a little: the curves of the housing rim perhaps aren’t as smooth as seen on other piano models; the detailing of the soundboard / plate / strings is a little basic compared to other piano models I’ve tried (but also better than others). Certainly, the keys and nicely raised and the texturing of the ivory gives them something of a look of having been used, rather than appearing utterly pristine – a touch I appreciate in my SL pianos.

The PrimPossible Bento Mo-Cap 1LI Piano, shown in the built-in white finish

Sitting at the piano will open the main menu, the top level of which provides access to the piano’s impressively broad range of animations. Depending on which animations are available, depends on whether you have the Adult or PG variant. For the PG variant, which I have, the animations are broken down into the following categories / sub-menus:

  • Bento: general single (male or female avatar) and couples sitting animations than make use of Bento animations. This can place avatars on or around the piano in a variety of animated poses.
  • Non-Bento: similar to the above in terms of general sits / cuddle, but also with non-Bento piano playing animations (female, male and duets), and a selection of “friends” animations that again place avatars in poses for chatting, etc., around or on the piano.
  • Bento piano: a set of four playing styles created for Bento hands and finger movements.
  • Bento Mo-Cap: as set of single and duet playing styles for Bento hands and created using motion capture software.

The Bento piano animations offer sufficient range for playing most of the pieces of music included in the piano, with Piano Boss adding a little athletic fun to the start of any playing for those so inclined! The Mo-Cap options (two single pianist options for “standard” and “tall” avatars, plus three duet pairs) are, like the Bento animations, fluid, and offer perhaps a more natural placement of hands whilst playing (as they have been motion captured).

Bento hand animations

A total of 24 pieces of music are supplied, the majority of them classical and public domain (Ernest Gold’s theme from Exodus would have entered public domain in 2017, had it not been for the 1978 change to US copyright laws….). Accessible through the Extras > Music Menu option, these are a familiar and popular selection – Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Grieg, Mendelssohn, Satie, etc., – with a touch of Gershwin.

The music menu includes a Start / Stop option (so you can play the piano sans music, if you have music playing over the stream, etc.), plus options for selecting / playing / looping pieces, and for adjusting the piano’s internal playback volume. I confess that some of the pieces seemed to suffer in places from recording levels perhaps being set too high, with a – to my ears at least – a noticeable distortion.

When playing music, it is also possible to alter the playing animation to better match the piece selected, if desired, and the duets options offer a nice sense of shared moments, although having a couple of additional pieces obviously suited to duet play might be nice. For those who enjoy their piano to play by itself, this is possible: simply use the music menu to select the music and play mode and then click Play (if the piano isn’t already playing). You can do this either whilst seated at the piano or with a touch to bring up the menu when standing.

Also included in the menu are options to set permissions on who can use it (owner, group or anyone), plus texturing options and to adjust the level of shine, the ability to set it to phantom (and avoid bouncing into the air when standing up!), and to adjust your sitting position. The latter brings out one of the little niggles I have with all pianos that have both the instrument and the stool as a single item: as the stool is “fixed” relative to the piano, I never can quite get my avatar to what I feel is the optimal position for playing.

A final thing to note about this piano is the LI. The single LI count of the piano applies to when it is not in use; as soon as an avatar sits at the piano, the LI count will increase to 3. This is necessary due to the nature of SL and sit targets: the PrimPossible piano requires an additional (and invisible) “shell” to be rezzed with it in order for avatars to be correctly sit targeted. This shell is automatically deleted when the piano is not in use, returning it to the advertised 1 LI.  So, if you opt for this piano, do keep this in mind should you note the LI count changing – it’s not an issue / error.

Under the lid, the detailing is perhaps a little limited compared to some other piano makes, but at least as good as others – and remember, this is a single LI mesh object

The PrimPossible Bento piano is available in four versions and price points:

  • No Copy, Mod or Transfer PG at L$800 or Adult at L$950.
  • Copy, No Mod / Transfer PG at L$2,000 or Adult at L$2,400.

These prices are also listed as being “introductory beta”, and I understand that further animations and Mo-Caps will be added over the coming months. Even so, when comparing the L$2,000 price tag for the Copy version to something like the Culprit Sonata Bento Baby Grand (supplied Copy, No Mod / Transfer, and which I reviewed in March 2019), that’s a hefty difference should you be in need of a Copy version of a piano. Were I to give a very quick, high-level contrast between the PrimPossible and the Culprit it would be:

  • PrimPossible lower rendering and server costs (4576 and 1.0 respectively), lower LI (1 or 3), but fewer music options (24) and playing styles (for the present). Includes non-playing animations.
  • Culprit: higher LI (11) with a higher level of detail (particularly the soundboard / plate / strings / hammers  / dampeners), more music options (56) and playing styles. Higher rendering / server costs (8561 and 10.7 respectively).
The PrimPossible Bento Mo-Cap 1LI Piano

As it is, the Culprit wins out for me for general home display / use. I find the playing styles more varied (and some more reflective of piano playing techniques) – although it’ll be interesting to see what else is added to the PrimPossible model as the beta progresses. As someone who loves the grand piano, I also appreciate the amount of work put into the Culprit’s “innards”, and I’m not sure I like seeing one clambered all over / sat on, so the additional sitting animations in the PrimPossible model, while potentially fun, hold no real appeal here.

For those who might be pushed for LI, and given more is to come with the PrimPossible piano, it is certainly worth a look and consideration, given the range of prices and the additional animations. As it is, the PrimPossible has been added to my Linden Home houseboat (where it will admittedly be more decorative than functional), where it looks quite at home.

Links

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.