Sunday, November 16, 2008

Airships: Second Skies

Looking out the viewing window of the massive Deukalion airship

As Earl Pearse mentioned in the previous Airship post, there are a number of high quality ship builders in SL, so I decided to pay a visit to a few… beginning with the aforementioned Second Skies. Second Skies, owned by Mr. Gaius Goodliffe, has been in existence as long as I can remember (at least since 2006). Back then, they had two sims and a very nice aerodrome in which demos could be tested, along with a full size replica of their largest ship, the Prometheus.
Time change, and though they have relocated to the Extropia sim, their excellent ships are still available, including…

SSA-1871 Steamray

A ship designed specifically for a Steampunk audience, the Steamray can fly, sail, and submerge – all in one vehicle. Per the narrative in SL exchange..

Introducing the SSA-1871 Steamray: a multipurpose steampunk-themed vehicle created as an answer to the question, "If Captain Nemo built an airship, what would it be like?"The SSA-1871 has the following features:

* Multiple modes of operation: Airship, surface ship, or submarine.* Seating for three (including the pilot), with owner-controlled ejection feature.

* Particle effects: bubbles underwater, or a vapor trail in the empty air.

* Three different control modes: Flight Sim, Inverted, and FPS (first person shooter) modes.

* Autoparking feature to return your airship to precisely the position and rotation you like it in when not in use.

Test flight over Extropia

Took one for a test spin, and was quite impressed at the handling in all three aspects (submerged, surfaced, and in flight). A worthy consideration for a single passenger vessel.
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SSA-1941 Deukalikion

Not the largest ship in the Second Skies inventories, (that honor belongs to the Prometheus, which extends over 120m – practically half the length of a SL sim), the Deukalikion is a giant, flyable vehicle, as per the official description…

The SSA-1941 Deukalion is a large-scale structure, intended as a large airborne building, but fully pilotable should you choose to fly it around. Features include:

* 84.46 meters long, 24.5 meters wide, 8 objects, 289 prims total.

* Comes with autorez system for easy setup, moving, or deletion.

* Interior contains a spacious master bedroom, second bedroom, library/study, living/entertainment area, bridge, and observation deck/cargo area.

* Cargo door in belly of ship, opens and closes, lockable.

* All doors feature locks and configurable auto-close feature.

* All windows feature optional privacy glass.

* Bridge contains old-style ship's helm, modern system consoles, and seating for five in addition to the pilot.

* Helm can be configured for use by the owner only, any group member, anyone at all, or it can be disabled entirely.* Helm warmup period to help prevent accidental ship movement.

* Upmost deck holds seven individually sealed lifting gas cells for maximal safety.

* Six engine nacelles, powerful but with an audible but pleasantly low volume hum when in operation for passenger comfort.

* Constructed for use as a spacious residence, but adaptable to many roles, such as sky home, base ship, floating store, business office, or what else you might want a large floating structure for. It's the ultimate multi-purpose "skybox".* Flyable, even across sims, although the results are not always pretty (see owner's manual for details, available in the store).
One of the spacious living areas... and I do believe there is a larger area on the ship!
Over the last year, many people have asked about a "Prometheus Lite", something like the Prometheus, but not quite so large and with less prims, so it can be comfortably used on smaller parcels. This airship was built to satisfy that demand, but although it's lighter on the prims and size, it's most definitely not lighter on the features.
According to legend, Deukalion was the son of Prometheus, and this is the first of our next generation of large-scale airships. Improvements over the original Prometheus-class airships include the improved bridge design, new helm features like warmup and configurable permission to pilot, improved design and texturing of the engines, improved scripting and configurability for all the doors, both cargo and interior, and improved privacy options like optional one-way glass and locking doors.
A flyby with the Steamray, providing a contrast in size between the two ships
Visited it, and have to admit, it was quite nice as a potential domicile, so with the added benefit of flying the beastie, it would certainly stand out, no matter where it might be flown!
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SSA-1801 Vagabond

Though I have had many ships, there are a handful that I return to time and again. Of that handful, the one I have used the most is my personalized SSA-1801 Vagabond. Aside from the Art Nouveau styling, its ability to float on bodies of water, a spacious interior for personalization, and a comfortable observation deck, it has one ability that countless other ships do not have – the ability to cross sim seamlessly. This may seem a minor issue, but I have had far too many episodes of piloting other ships, only do discover upon crossing a sim that I end up in a parallel universe or the ship simply fails, and I am hurling towards the virtual ground.
Flying my Vagabond over New Babbage

That has not happened in my experience with the Vagabond. During the summer of 2007, I took it on a grand tour of the eastern-most Linden continent, and did not experience a single failure (had some issues with running up against privacy scripts, but that is another story)! The official narrative is as follows…

The SSA-1801 Vagabond is a flying steamship, designed to evoke the spirit of the 19th century "tramp steamer", in a Mark Twain meets Jules Verne sort of way. The SSA-1801 Vagabond has the following features:

* 30 meters long, 28.5 meters wide, 16 meters tall.

* Single object, 199 prims.

* Carries 15 passengers (3 on bridge including the pilot, 12 on deck) when unfurnished. Adding furniture with sit targets gives additional seating.

* Seven interior rooms: bridge, forward dining or lounge, captain's cabin, first mate's cabin or office, engine room, boiler room/galley, and upper deck passthru.

* Modifiable -- link in your own furnishings and/or change interior layout, add wallpaper (textures), etc.

* Quasi-historic, retro-futuristic design, with steampunk animated texturing.

* Engine sounds, propeller motion, texture animation, and particle effects that vary depending on speed.

* Travel by sea or by air, works as a boat or as an airship (max altitude: 768 meters).

* Programmable autopilot capable of flying the ship on courses crossing any number of sims, with or without a pilot or passengers onboard.

* Ejection mechanism for unwanted passengers.

* Autoparking feature to return your airship to precisely the position and rotation you like it in when not in use.

Ideally, Mr. Goodlife will develop an upgrade for this workhorse of the skies, but for now, if you are in search of a dependable and era-specific ship, I wholeheartedly recommend the Vagabond!
A good quantity of operating textures appropriate for any Steampunk environment

One last item of note… at the hangar that houses temporary versions of the listed ships (and a good number of others, I might add), are a series of animated textures, which one might see out and about in SL. Most fit the Steampunk genre, are well made, and very well priced, so give them an eye at the very least, when you spend more time than you had intended at Second Skies!

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