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Thursday, October 17, 2013

See Second Life by Air, If You Dare

Way back in the old posts, I did a piece on Second Life vehicles, and it's time for a little update!

I've always loved vehicles, especially airplanes and boats, and I have quite a collection of them.  Some of them are amazingly realistic reproductions of Real Life vehicles, and some are wild flights of fancy.

But travel by vehicle in SL is chancy, for several reasons.
  • Region crossings.  If you whiz too fast across a region boundary, especially with a heavily-scripted vehicle, the servers may not be able to hand you off fast enough.  Crossing a region boundary can mean as little as a brief control freeze, or it could throw you out of control...or even leave you sitting on or under the seabed, without your craft around you.
  • Full parcels.  If you try to take a 30 prim vehicle into a parcel that already has all the prims it can possibly handle, you wind up on the seabed again, without your vehicle.
  • Ban lines.  You usually don't see them coming until you're hung up in them like a fly in a spiderweb.
  • Security orbs.  Sailboats in particular are too slow to escape most security systems before they eject you from the land they're guarding.
But an alert avatar can avoid most of these hazards, most of the time -- especially since the server upgrades of the last few months.  Region crossings have improved a great deal.  I can now reliably fly some fast jets that only a few months ago were almost guaranteed to crash every couple of regions.

There is a clever gadget called a "Ban Line HUD" that shows you ban lines, full parcels, void boundaries, and rezzing zones.  It's a great aid to navigation, and I highly recommend it.  When flying, stay above 100m to avoid ban lines.

Security systems can still be a bother, but if you stick to Linden Ocean regions you should be able to avoid those as well.

Trip Planning.
One easy way to keep your destination in sight is to first find it on the main world map before you set out.  Click your mouse cursor ONCE on the point you want to reach (twice will teleport you there!)  Now you can close the map, and a red arrow will point to that spot.  Once you get within about 400 m of it, the arrow is joined by a red vertical beacon.   But before you head out, check the Map once more for any void areas.  Plan your course so as to go around those, staying in "live" regions.

A look at the Map, a beacon pointing to your destination, and a Ban Line HUD to see and avoid hazards will help insure a safe journey!

Increase your draw distance.
If your graphics card can handle it, being able to see further both makes the trip more interesting visually, and gives you more time to see and avoid problems.  You might also want to turn off Shadows to improve your viewer's performance.

Slow down!
I mentioned my fast jets, and they are indeed lots of fun.  But even so, I recommend traveling Second Life at a slower pace.  Helicopters, balloons, sailplanes and ultralights all give you more of a chance to sight-see, and they handle region crossings smoothly.  I tried flying my WarBug airplanes over long distances recently, and found a bug in them.  If you open the Map, they go crazy...so use them for local dogfighting only.

Here's a picture of one of my new favorites -- the F4U Corsair from EA Aviation.

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