Tuesday, January 31, 2017

OCC Customs Choppers - Road Glide 2016


OCC Customs Choppers
Road Glide 2016

Stylistically, the Road Glide isn't my thing.  I'm not really sure about the design compared with the Street Glide.  The bikes are essentially the same but there is that fairing.  The bat wing Street Glide fairing looks almost evil.  The Road King, it's retro. The Road Glide fairing, it looks space age which is probably the disconnect for me.  I'm not really into space age designs.

When I see a design in which all of the parts fit visually, the disconnect diminishes and I feel the click. 

Okay that aside, we really aren't talking about my preferences because when it comes to this bike from OCC Customs Choppers, we want to know if it is any good.  Right? 

It has been a long time since Lizzy and I had been riding.  During our hiatus from the pixelated flat earth society called SL, we did miss riding.  Funny how it all comes back pretty quickly.  We explored a new track too (new to us), Storm Wolves Motorcycle Club's track.  Knowing I wanted to review the new bike, I needed a scenic place to take pics to get the inspiration which is how I start writing reviews and how I come to know a vehicle...its in the visuals. 

When we got to the top of the SWMC track, I decided that it was no time like the present to try out the OCC Customs Choppers Road Glide. 

Looks Aren't Deceiving

Many of the OCC Customs Choppers bikes feature a matte or satin paint.  With all of the gleaming iron out there, a matte look is unique enough to be attractive and it certainly draws you into the details of the motor, tank shape, oversized bags and that enormous front wheel.  That's the part of this design I appreciate most.  I've seen RL designs of the Road Glide featuring a larger than spec front wheel and I love the look.  It takes the "space age" out of an already amazing bike and makes it special.

On the Ride

OCC Customs Choppers knows how to set up a bike and do so consistently.  For the most part, the bikes are set without tall gears and with the KCP/ACS based menu, adding or modifying the gear settings is easy enough.  What I notice from a perfectly set up bike is how well it handles the twists, how much correction I need, how sensitive the bike is, etc.  All of this is to say, how fluid is the bike when I navigate a track. 

From the laps (untimed because this track didn't have a timer I could find), this is one of the easiest rides I've been on in a long time.  While I didn't adjust any settings or gear sets, the bike was plenty fast for how I was wanting to ride this evening.  It is a capable and fun cruiser you'll have fun riding.  That's the point isn't it, having fun? 

If you want to set some timed records, this might not be your bike out of the box.  If you want something that looks good and rides very well, I don't think you can go wrong with the OCC Customs Choppers Road Glide. 

Fun bike!

About OCC Customs Choppers

OCC Customs Choppers has a new location, check them out.    I recommend you meet Indian Stargazer and his team.  Getting to know a builder is a really cool deal.  Not only can they help you get the bike of your dreams, they will often help you fit your avi to the bike and introduce you to custom options.  OCC also has an active group which says positive things about this company.  So join the group too!  If you aren't the social type (I'm not always) you can visit OCC's marketplace and get access to the products.

Find us on Facebook

You can get updates and new reviews through our Facebook group "Things that Moves in SL" which you should absolutely join or on my Google+ page.   Lizzy and I review bikes, boats, cars and aircraft.  If you would like us to review something that moves, send us a message. 


Friday, January 27, 2017

New Rides from LS Motors

New Rides from LS Motors
The GTI and the Fiesta

When the Ford Fiesta was first introduced, it was dopey.  In fact, as a rental car fleet mongrel, I remember praying I wouldn't be stuck with one of these little pieces of crap.  Hell, I would even take a Kia when they were next to horrible....a minivan would even be acceptable but not the Fiesta. 

Something happened with FoMoCo over the past decade.  Cars which drove like trucks were sent to the fleet farms and crushers from the dealers' lots and in their place came some solid sedans (saloons) and coupes which can closely compete with the equivalents from Europe or Japan.  There was more too! 

Boy racers (and yes Girl racers too...we aren't sexist here) started grabbing up these little hatchbacks, putting on trick parts to make an environmentalist faint.  What was the development of muscle cars like the Chevelle and Camaro when I was in high school, it is now the Fiesta and GTI.

Okay, we've bashed Ford enough and they are redeemable.   Now the GTI is never going to fall into the historical low water crossing of the Ford Fiesta.  I remember GTIs as the hotrod from the next generation of Volkswagons.  It came from the genetics of the Rabbit but more importantly it had a relationship with the venerable bug. 

VW doesn't have the most endearing image at the moment though they do make fine vehicles as most Germans automakers do.  When the Polo and ultimately the GTI was released several years ago, critics and consumers took notice.

Now I need to do a bit of a disclaimer.  Both vehicles are appropriately named to satisfy the LL DMCA brand police and Liam follows the rules.  Since these are my words and photographs....AND...we know what those cars are in RL, I'm calling them as they should be called.

History Lesson Over!

Liam Santos reached out to me recently and let me know he had two new cars which were released.  His Audi R8 is probably the best ACS automobile I've driven in SL.  We also tested his version of the Triumph Daytona for our Sport Bike Shootout last year and it remains the quickest and most predictable of the bikes I have tested. 

I paused about wanting to do another review because we're still in hibernation, then I saw the two cars.  These are Millennial Street Rods.  As I was taking the initial pictures of the cars, I was telling Lizzy how bad ass they were and how much fun they would be to drive in RL though I was probably too old to do them justice.  Inside, I know I would return the car with the gearbox near its liquid state, brakes burned off and tires worn to the steel belts. 

The cars?  We have the LS Fest RCN and the VW_POL Hurban.  Let's learn more about them.

  The Looks!


Both cars are highly detailed.  These are not painted prims with wheels and a script.  Detail and static functionality has not be overlooked.  The Fiesta sports a more elaborate paint scheme similar to what one would see with the FIA World Endurance Championship.  Even subdued stylistically, the GTI looks aggressive in white.

Even the interior is correct.  So many builders skip this step with textures which take away from the entire vehicle and making it look incomplete or half assed.  This is not the case with LS Motors' offerings.

Trailer Queens?  Not Hardly!!

Because any vehicle might look good just sitting there reflecting light, we aren't about them just being pretty, we expect them to convert liquefied dinosaurs into horsepower.  Liam's new street screamers did not disappoint. 

In the right hands, these little cars would undoubtedly be able to post some of the quicker laptimes.  I don't have those hands.  What I observed with both vehicles is they rez from the box correctly set up.  Even with the limitations of the ACS scripting, the cars handle well in the lower gears and higher ones.  The steering track was predictive without the need for correction.  Essentially, point the car where you want it to go and it goes there. 

It has been a long time since I have pushed a vehicle around tracks which makes me very rusty.  Racing is a diminishing skill.  If you don't practice regularly, performance falls away.  What made my rusty skills less significant is how forgiving both the GTI and Fiesta are around the track.  I had fun!

The Finish Line

Liam Santos isn't a prolific builder.  I think like a lot of people, he gets a bug in his head and goes to town building something new as well as fun.  Being selective in what he builds and the detail he puts in a vehicle speaks highly of him as a creator. 

Both cars weigh in a little heavy when it comes to land impact.  The Fiesta is 283 prims and the GTI 324.  It is hard for me to judge what works best, a lighter primmed vehicle over a heavier one in how it performs.  I've operated some extremely light vehicles which were highly unstable. 

Is there a direct comparison between high to low land impact?  Some would say there is.  What I observed is how well balanced and responsive both cars are. I didn't push both to their limits because I would have exceeded my current limits.  I do understand with more detail and complexity in the build, the land impact may increase. 

At a hair short of L$700 for either vehicle, you can have a properly constructed and set up car.  Compared to some vehicles costing three times as much, the performance isn't always worth the price.  In this instance, you'll get far more fun out of either of these two beasts at the fraction of the cost.

About LS Motors

Liam doesn't have an inworld store which means you can't try out a vehicle before you buy it.  Hey, that's why you have me.  I did a fairly thorough test of the vehicles in their out of the box state (I didn't adjust any settings) and honestly, I couldn't find anything wrong with either model.  Both are fun to admire and far more fun to drive.  Is fun worth it?  Hell yeah!!

Find Liam in world or through his Marketplace store.

Find us on Facebook

We're still enjoying our hiatus and hibernation from the SL pixels but we're starting to dip our toes back inworld on a limited basis.  We'll continue doing reviews when we have time and something special interests us. 

You can get updates and new reviews through our Facebook group "Things that Moves in SL" which you should absolutely join or on my Google+ page.   Lizzy and I review bikes, boats, cars and aircraft.  If you would like us to review something that moves, send us a message. 


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Vehicle Development: A Big Question Mark

Vehicle Development: 
A Big Question Mark...?

Recently, I was on a call with a client who wants to develop software for a specific market.  I have experience in that market. As I offered my suggestions about how they could use their base design into something attractive for that market, one of my client's senior leaders said, "we just want to build something which is 'good enough'."  Mediocrity was the starting point of their vision and to enter a market, "good enough" isn't all that attractive.  Amazing huh?

Vehicle builders can be a mix of artists, hobbyists or mass producers.  Each class may have different goals when they create vehicles for a target market.  Certainly the mass producers have created a vehicle which can be more easily replicated with different styles and the goal being to generate a profit.  I'm a good capitalist and I applaud the concept. As a consumer, I'm more attracted to what artists produce. The visuals matter to me.  Hobbyists can be hit or miss with product quality.

Let's get back to mediocrity though as it relates to development of vehicles.  What makes a vehicle junk, mediocre or special?  We have some limitations.  One of those limitations is the type of scripting used to make the vehicle operate and those other scripts which make the vehicle look as if it is operating (i.e., animations, poses, wheels turning, leaning, sails fluttering, etc.).  The other limitation is detail vs. land impact.  The more detail put into a vehicle can produce higher land impact. Building skill can reduce LI and still produce incredible detail.  A helicopter with an LI over 250 is too much in comparison to one with a LI of 90 though they basically do the same thing. Sounds obvious doesn't it? 

In defining special or mediocre, do you see how complex all of this becomes?  Actually for a consumer, "special" is very simple.  A vehicle has to look good and operate in such a way that it meets or exceeds our expectations.  Building something which looks good is relatively easy for a good builder.  Making that build work is another story.  I have in my inventory one of the most beautiful bikes.  Because it uses an old, unsupported and obsolete script, the bike cannot be ridden at all which makes it junk yet the builder still sells the bike knowing it is crap on MarketPlace  while monitoring feedback (kind of shady in my book).

Mediocre bikes, cars, boats and planes are what we tend to buy.  At the point a product is developed, designers begin with a vision that includes every possibility..."truly special and different".  Then when they look at the limits of scripting and even the limits of the environment in which the vehicle operates, some of the vision has to be scaled back.  "Special" becomes "mediocre" after the vehicle goes to market.  If it is new, then it is "special" for a time but will soon become mediocre when the next shiny object is released.  Consumers inworld and RL believe "what have you done for me lately."

That's about design...the build itself.  "Mediocre" as a classification fits into a concept of differentiation between other like vehicles.  We might say the new bike is "okay".  How many choppers or P-51s are truly differentiated from one another? They all look alike and function similarly. So how are they different and why should we buy different if different isn't necessarily better?

What can differentiate products and truly turn the vehicle building industry on its head is changes to scripting. 

Trudeau sail boats and Bandit sail boats exist at ends of spectrums.  Trudeau is the market pioneer and without a doubt, these are some beautifully crafted designs.  They can also be more difficult to sail.  When I sailed them, they used the SL or race directed winds (bet you didn't know SL had wind but it does).  Bandit uses onboard windsetting scripts controlled by local chat commands (the Trudeau used to have a notecard which would allow changes to the wind settings).  Neither script philosophies are necessarily mediocre but we have differentiation.  The script designs do something similar, differently. 

Sailing has so few builders that the market isn't necessarily saturated.  New boat designs are released infrequently. When they are released, the boats in the marinas change from old to knew almost overnight.  We do want the newest shiny object, we want builders to do something different and we'll buy it.  We want special.

Aviation based vehicles use different script philosophies to also do something similar in a different manner.  From sailing vessels to a helicopter, the basic operational commands are somewhat the same within the type of vehicle classes.  Those who are seeking greater realism and challenge may expect vehicles to behave with greater sensitivities and variability.   The spectrum is between "user friendly" and "operationally complex".  Here's a comparison: the manual transmission vs. the automatic transmission.  One is more complex to use though people prefer a stick and clutch over the push button and go technology.

By in large, SL vehicles are "user friendly" because SL is a fantasy land which promotes the concept "we can do things we cannot do at all, anymore or as much in RL."  They are also "user friendly" because keyboard commands don't have the same range of variability that a joystick or steering wheel would have. The environment has significant limits as well.  Scripts can make a prim into a sailboat, airplane or motorcycle anyone can operate.  In large measure, the form is unrelated to the function and function is critically important to delighting a consumer.  This is the point where we settle for mediocrity... function. 

ACS/KCP scripts dominate ground vehicle designs in SL.  There are other scripts making vehicles operate. Yet, what many or most builders use to pump out a bike or car is the ACS or KCP script engines.  There was a time when this script engine was a game changer and "truly special".  They work really well in comparison to other scripts.....BUT....as they work really well and as the market became saturated by ACS/KCP based ground (and some water vehicles) vehicles, you quickly get to mediocrity based upon the limitations of the script.

In a perfect world, my perfect world, I would like to see an SL ground vehicle behave as they would (or close to) in RL.  I don't expect a simulation because SL's environment cannot produce the dynamics of simulation.  In other games I've seen how this is possible with vehicles.  The Archeage glider is kind of phenomenal as is their roadster.  ARMA, GTAV and even GTA4 have moddable vehicles which behave toward limits of simulation.  They respond to physical dynamics within the operating environment: suspension travel and response, gravity, friction, centrifugal force, inertia, momentum, etc.

When you ride a motorcycle in RL, maneuvering at low speed and doing so at higher speeds require different control inputs.  This doesn't require the rider to stop and begin changing the transmission, changing the brake bias, or adjusting the inflation of the tires.  Yet with KCP or ACS, to go fast, the settings must be changed from a cruise setup or the bike will not be able to negotiate turns. 

SL motorcyclists, should demand a script engine allowing for automatic variability based upon performance desires.  If you want to go from slow to fast, the rider should not be expected to stop and change resistance or steering settings through the menu, only to be changed back when the rider wants to cruise. 

When you build a better mousetrap, you build something that is still a mousetrap.  Vehicle scripts as they are known today were once better mousetraps. They exist to do something however.  What has not happened is the next level of evolution in scripting. 

Several years ago, we arrived at the ACS/KCP scripting and since then, development has more or less stopped with some versioning but again, no evolution.  Maybe I'm asking for the impossible and ACS/KCP represents the absolute limit of what's possible to ground vehicle scripting.  You tell me.

The introduction  of mesh into SL represented a game changer to vehicle design. Mesh based vehicles were more visually realistic and had a lower land impact compared to prim or sculptee based vehicles.   I believe mesh drew people back to building and buying vehicles.  That was years ago, are they still interested?  Now we need game changing script engines to follow suit into something that is more fluid and realistic.

SL is a flat earth.  If it is growing, I'm not seeing it.  My observation is the people who first logged in are aging or not able to find their dopamine kick from the experiences they once had and are leaving.  For people who are coming inworld for the first time, many from other gaming experiences, they aren't finding our relative acceptance of mediocrity, they are finding it unacceptable. 

Perhaps it is time to evolve or die.  Perhaps it is time to demand better.

Oh...I'm not suggesting the pictures of vehicles represented in this article are junk.  The pictures come from past reviews. 

Find us on Facebook

We're still on a hiatus from SL as we cross into 2017.  As stated, I will to continue to write as the mood strikes.  Right now I'm a little grouchy and as I look at the articles we have written, I'd like to turn my "inner grouch" into a positive outcome. 

You can get updates and new reviews through our Facebook group "Things that Moves in SL" which you should absolutely join or on my Google+ page.   Lizzy and I review bikes, boats, cars and aircraft.  If you would like us to review something that moves, send us a message.