Monday, May 29, 2017

Bull God Choppers: Chained Absurdity



Bull God Choppers: Chained Absurdity

See how clever I am? When  I meet bike builders and bikers, I often look at their groups.  It's a good way to find builders I haven't met or reviewed.  Bull God Choppers continually shows up in people's group lists.  There must be a reason why but I've known people to be members of builder groups which sell less than stellar products.  So who is this Bull God Choppers and who made them....umm...God?  Let me tell you of the Revelator!

I get an IM, out of the blue, from Blaze (aka Blazeabsurdity) and we all get these IMs from time to time, usually people asking the age old question "you pay for sex, yes?"  That wasn't the case fortunately.  Still I wondered, who the hell is Blaze?  Then I looked and it hit me like a ton of bricks, Blaze IS Bull God Choppers.  Wow, I finally get a chance to review one of his bikes and to meet a builder as well known as Bull God Choppers. 


Now Blaze isn't all bikes all the time, he builds cars, trucks, rock crawlers and I suspect he is one of those guys who can't stay idle for a minute.  He probably has his hands in dozens of projects at the same time and you have to  appreciate a builder who never stops for an instant.  Yeah okay enough about Blaze, let's take a look at this twisted mind who created the Chained Absurdity.  Better yet, I only play a psychiatrist on TV, let's just look at the bike.


The Chained Absurdity is unlike any chopper I have ever seen.  The frame is a massively sized bike chain holding an old school V-twin.  What I thought was cool is how the parts come together to create this unique ride topped off with some medieval apes.  Honestly, to ride this thing in RL, I would want to take it pretty easy.  One bad hop or having to grab handfuls of brake and Mrs. Badger won't have any prim babies....this is a nut cutter.


Here is another cool feature and probably more about practicality.  Sure you can resize most any bike to fit your avatar.  Resizing can come at a price.  I don't have the largest avatar though I'm your average 7 feet tall.  The male version was a little large for me.  When I resized it, the parts did come out of alignment but here is where Blaze is thinking about the customer, he also has a female version that fit me perfectly.  For larger and smaller avis, having the bike fit your body truly matters.  When we're riding, we don't notice how we sit on a bike though your friends will and it is a testament to the Revelator that his bikes look good with his customers.  It drives business his way.


Not all popular builders create great products are exhibit equally great customer service.  I think you'll find Blaze doesn't fit in that category.  The bike has an "out there on the edge look" and the ride, it is one of the best I've tested.  Great ride, "out there' looks and you'll know you have a ride which isn't only unique in the style department but can take on any track in SL with ease.


Check out Bull God Choppers and I always recommend you meet the builder, Blaze.  Join the group too!  You can check out all of Blaze's rides by making a visit to his inworld shop.


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. 

 
Robby

Friday, May 26, 2017

Ice's Custom Choppers: Legacy

 
Ice's Custom Choppers: Legacy

We met on a drag racing track last year. (This sounds like a romance but it wasn't, we never held hands)  As the lights flipped and we launched, Iceman Suavage and I were racing for big bucks.  I looked to my right and Ice was right there, the race was neck and neck.  Reaching into the bag of nails resting on the seat next to me, I tossed them out the passenger side window in front of Ice's racer and the rest was history.  I won!   Okay it wasn't that extreme but that's how we met Ice.  A really cool guy, an awesome bike builder and I get the great job of showing you what a great builder can do.

Ice is passionate about his builds.  Passionate might be an understatement.  When I was talking with him about why he builds, he said it always about the customer.  He wants his customers to have bikes which look great, ride perfectly and fits them.  I looked to his custom order board and saw maybe 20 names of customers wanting custom rides.  This is the kind of work to keep anyone busy  and might frustrate someone with the amount of work not completed.  Not Iceman, he exudes a positive and cheerful attitude.


For the Legacy bike, it is a standard cruiser looking a bit like a Heritage Softtail.  The textures, chrome and overall feel fit the bike perfectly and cast it as a professional creation.  The Legacy looks finished which says a lot for a bike. Sure, he has the "out there on the edge" designs which can have custom colors and textures and he'll size a bike specific for the customer.  The Legacy is for the conservative minded riders, people who aren't into the flash and flame but enjoy the clean lines of a well built cruiser. 


Sometimes builders will use the Advanced Lighting Model to set their textures into the mind blowing territory.  Sadly, not all of us have the processing horsepower to take advantage of the impressive paint jobs.  We can be left with a very odd looking bike.  Taking pics of this bike with ALM turned on, you can see how it pours red.  With the ALM turned off, the bike still looks brilliant in red and black.


Now I ride a lot of different bikes built by different people.  Everyone has their own style in design, texturing and bike set up.  Ice was proud to say his customers love how he sets up a bike.  Riding the Legacy, I can see why.  This is a KCP bike and I've come to believe they can only do so many things within the limits of the script.  However, the Legacy was one of the tightest and smoothest rides I've tested.  It wasn't geared as a rocket ship and it shouldn't be, this is a cruiser, the kind you would ride when you want to see the sights and enjoy the ride without a lot of effort or surprises from a crotch rocket.


Ice told me he loves "wowing the customer".  Warren Buffet talks about "delighting the customer" as a game changer.  As a merchant or builder, giving the customer something special should be the goal.  Ice certainly achieves that and is why I would recommend anyone seeking a sweet riding bike or cool custom job to give him a call.

You can get your bike from Ice's Custom Choppers right here and see what he has listed in his Marketplace store.  Most of his creations are inworld and while you're visting, be sure to meet Ice, he'll be someone worth knowing.  Take a ride on Ice's track too.  What's the point in getting a bike if you can't test it first?


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. 

 
Robby

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Legend Bikes - Elwood and Satan's Ride - Ape Hangers On A Mission From God?


The Legend Bikes
- Elwood and Satan's Ride -
Ape Hangers On A Mission From God?
 
Fisty Lowtide and Eldiablo Claven, the artists behind The Legend Bikes, released a series of Legend Bikes complete with ape hangers.  Even that sentence doesn't do these bikes any justice and I really thought about how to introduce them.  Let me tell you the story behind the bike and you'll understand better how special this bike design is.


 
Several weeks ago, Fisty, Lizzy and I were talking about bikes and he shared a picture of a gold ape hanger chop with a huge front wheel with a hint of rubber calling itself a tire.  I kind of liked the design but also it wasn't my thing.  Great looking bike and then it hit me.  He would be working with El, the mesh master builder, to reproduce the bike inworld.  You'd think the story would end there but it doesn't.
 
 
A few days later, Fisty sends me a picture of the bike El built.  It is the spitting image of the bike in the picture.  Now I became interested! 
 
Not long after, the bike hits me and I take it for a ride.  I was speechless and look how many words I can toss on a page.  The Elwood, as it is now known and named after the Rubber Biscuit eating bluesman, Elwood Blues, is maybe the best riding bike Fisty and El have produced. 

 
 
I'm not buttering anyone's bread here.  Nope, this bike screams around a track and unlike a lot of mesh bikes, there is no mesh grab at all.  While it isn't geared as a rocket ship, it is geared as a low riding chop ready to cruise.  Maybe I wouldn't want to ride it in real life with the metal seat and airliner tire on the back to give some shock absorption.  You know, I think I would want to ride it in RL!

 
 
The Legend Bikes are the result of a collaboration between two master builders.  El is also known as Slatanic Mechanic and if you've been around car and bike builders for any length of time, you'll come across El's original mesh creations.  The guy is beyond gifted, he is blessed with the artistic skills of one of the masters.  Fisty is an artist with textures and design as well as setting up a bike to ride as it looks.  These two are The Legend Bikes.
 
 
The Elwood and Satan's Ride are close to the same bike except for the visuals which are significantly noticeable.  Both ride amazingly well.  In fact, they are Lizzy approved which is a big stamp of approval from someone who is highly particular in her choice of bikes.
 
 
You can pick up your Legends Bike and specifically grab one or more of these ape hanging monsters at the Fisty's Fucking Motors or Slatanic Mechanic inworld shops.  Give them a try too, I know you'll be impressed not only with the ride but the mere fact, you have one of the hottest bikes in SL under you.
 
 

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. 

 
Robby

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Board Track Racer - Moto Bazzi GHOST


Board Track Racer
Moto Bazzi GHOST

A nonconformist is a person who does not conform to the trends of the average person. A TRUE nonconformist does what they want to do and not what other people want them to do.  A genuine nonconformist is a rare find.

Rob and I have been all over the grid discovering and blogging about all different Things That Move.  A little over a year ago we met Roxy Cyn creator of Moto Bazzi. We learned quickly that Roxy’s builds fit the definition of a true nonconformist.  Roxy is not inspired in her builds by other builders but in her own experience.   Her latest build the ‘Moto Bazzi Ghost’ is a perfect example of a bike that doesn't fit the mold for most other bikes in SL.


Most bike builds I’ve seen in SL have a clean sparkling shine. This look is desirable to many of SLs motorcycle enthusiast, however, if you are looking for originality and vintage you should check out Moto Bazzi bikes.


The Ghost has a certain charm of any vintage bike. It has character.  It was almost haunting when I sat on it. A barrage of memories came back to me of riding bike on my Grandpa’s farm as a kid. I stored my little Kawasaki 75 in his shed. When I would retrieve my bike the shed smelled of oil, saw dust and the nearby chicken coup.


Roxy always provides a history of her bikes and ‘The Ghost’ is no different. In Roxy’s own words,
“In the late 1800s bicycle racing was popular at velodromes on steeply banked, wooden oval tracks.  With the development of the internal combustion engine it followed that some would find their way onto bicycles.  By the early 1900s grandpa's father was racing motorcycles on dirt tracks, brick speedways, city streets, beaches & hill climbs.  Board tracks were built in the style of bicycle velodromes & men rode machines of death with no gears & no brakes around steep banked, wooden bicycle tracks.  1911 was historical in American motorcycle history with Schwinn bicycle purchasing Excelsior motorcycle in Chicago & Harley-Davidson introduced their 'improved V-twin', the forerunner of the Harley V-twin today.”



Roxy works hard on her builds and her passion and dedication shows. As with all of the Moto Bazzi bikes, this one features many fun details such as wrenches as foot pegs and an oily rag draped across the bike rack.


I encourage you to stop by Roxy Cyn’s, Moto Bazzi and check out ‘The Ghost’ and her other builds.


We highly recommend a trip to Moto Bazzi.  Spend some time there getting to know these great bikes and as Roxy is often inworld, IM her, she loves to talk about bikes and I know few people more knowledgeable about motorcycles than she. 


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.   Rob and I review bikes, boats, cars and aircraft.  If you would like us to review something that moves, send us a message. 

Lizzy Brinner

JJ Cycles - 2017 Nightstalker - New Release

 
JJ Cycles - 2017 Nightstalker

When I was a kid, Darren McGavin had a TV series called Kolchak: The Night Stalker.  His character, Carl Kolchak, was a newspaper reporter investigating the darker 2stories law enforcement wouldn't investigate.  One particular episode had a biker with a sword who would ride around cutting off people's heads.  Jimmie Jax is either "Carl Kolchak" or the biker with the sword.  With his latest release, the 2017 Nightstalker, I suspect Jimmie has the sword.

Less macabre as the lead in story, the Nightstalker is a clean and beafy fatboy dressed out in a conservative silver and black.  Every builder has his or her own style and Jimmie style tends to be focused around bikes you could ride off the show room floor with a subtle flair. 


It is when you first rez a bike, you have to take it all in and really look.  Every bike has its place in the world.  Bikes built to give one a platform for the ultimate mind clearing ride have immense value.  When you want to ride, you need a bike which can handle any twist or curve.  As you pull up on your friends, you still want to make a statement.


The Nightstalker is that statement.  It is slightly understated and conservative at first glance.  When you look at it for a bit, you pick up on the subtle curves and smooth lines all being carried by thick slabs of vulcanized rubber. 


Turning the key and pushing the start button, the bikes comes to life with that confident rumble.  Twisting the throttle and climbing up the gears, you'll begin to know the secrets this bike is keeping.  The handling, responsiveness, and sheer thrill of the ride makes this conservative looking fatboy a cruise maniac.


So is it the ride for the headless biker chasing Carl Kolchak?  Probably not but it is the bike Carl Kolchak would need to defeat any of his paranormal villains.  Maybe it's time to take a ride as I can see some looming mist in the distance.  I could use some help, you'll need the Nightstalker before we get started.




About JJ Cycles

At the JJ Cycles Main Store you can try out different bikes on the test track and you might even meet Jimmie. Do ask him for his autograph.  You can also buy on Marketplace.  With so many great bike builders, JJ Cycles is one you need to look into.


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. 

 
Robby
 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

EC-135 Kelly Shergood's Ultimate Challenge

 
EC-135 Kelly Shergood's
Ultimate Challenge

Lately, I have been complaining about needed evolution in script technology for SL vehicles.  Kelly Shergood must be 10 kinds of brilliant because she's done it!  Kelly and I spoke last year about my doing a review about her and her aircraft.  I'm sorry, we went on our hiatus not long after she and I spoke and I didn't follow up. As we get back into writing, we are revisiting those builders we wanted to review and finding the exploration a lot of fun.

I try to be efficient in my reviews believe it or not.  When I encounter a game changing approach to vehicle design and function, I go into greater detail.  My apologies if this article is longer than most but given the levels of quality and innovation which exist in the EC-135 and I suspect other Shergood aircraft, I wanted to be as thorough as possible.

The Story

Lizzy and I were at a live music venue when someone recognized me as the writer of Things That Move.  It took me awhile to make the connection of why I was being recognized.  However, this gentlemen mentioned that Kelly Shergood had a new EC-135.  I was still processing an odd feeling about being recognized associated with Things That Move and I think my reply was a meager if not kind of dismissive "Nice!"  Wow, I'm a celebrity?  No and far from it but I mentally filed away the lead for something to investigate later. 

The file was reopened the other day when I heard, then saw, an EC-135 flying overhead.  The sound is distinct and different from the more common Bell 407s I tend to see here.  It sounds different than the EC-145 as well, which I have seen frequently in other locations.  I can only suggest the whirring sound comes from the shrouded tail rotor.  This model of helicopter is unusual here.  Aside from 407s and 206s, I'll see Blackhawks and Apaches.  An EC-135?  It is an oddity and ultimately a message was sent encouraging me to get my hands on Kelly's newest design.



When I acquired the EC-135 Eurocopter, I recalled my first conversation with Kelly (I don't forget much at all) about her interest and accomplishment in creating realism with aviation in SL.  For the most part, helicopters have been easier to fly than fixed wing aircraft in SL, at least to me.  The reverse, I'm told, is true in RL.  Easy can be a lot of fun but it can also be a little boring.  Longing for a challenge and more realism, I had to give this helicopter a try.

As an aside if you are reading this publication for the first time, I do have a private pilot certificate in RL, restricted to fixed wing aircraft.  Aviation has always been passion for me and though I'm arguably an adult, when I hear an unusual aircraft overhead, I still look up to identify what it is.  When it comes to this publication, we spend a lot of time with bikes but when I write about aviation, my soul is fed.

A Feature Rich Environment

This article will not be a tutorial on how to fly the EC-135.  If you need help, join Kelly's group to  find a flight instructor to teach you how to fly this helicopter.  My purpose is to expose you to my experiences, why the EC-135 is unique to SL aviation and why it is absolutely special.



Tossing the helicopter on the ground for the first time, I recognized the model from some RL exposure and also seeing similar models in SL.  Anticipating this helicopter would be different and possibly a game changer given the creator's credentials, I looked past the physical similarities.  The special nature would be found at the controls and systems.

When you first rez the helicopter, it magically communicates with a server (there isn't magic involved really) and its N number is registered.  In the USA, aircraft have tail numbers starting with "N".  The POH talks about how this process works so please refer to the documentation.  My N number is 703 Tango or N703T. 

A menu system activated by clicking on the forward canopy, allows you to change the paint schemes but more importantly, you can adjust complexity and a slew of other things you may want to change.

Jumping on board the EC-135, I hit a wall.  You mean I have to throw switches to start the helicopter?  I don't just type "start" and go?  Well isn't that inventive as all hell?  The system flow makes sense and is oddly intuitive after reading the pilot operating handbook and the notecards.  In fact, this is one aircraft where you will need to study the documentation just to get started.  There is a learning curve to any vehicle and with the EC-135 that curve is highly observable but not insurmountable.

My first run up was less than stellar as I quickly crashed and underscores why I was never interested in learning to fly helicopters in RL.  The second run was much better but I didn't have the feel of the aircraft and being limited, at the time, to flying on a single sim with buildings around and a surround, the second flight ended much like the first...in a flaming crash.  I wasn't disillusioned though.  Instead, I remain excited about the challenge!


The latest flight was far better.  The trick for me was choosing the right control method and making those small corrections to get the best result.  A default method (H) enables single handed flying with the keyboard and use of the mouse for mouselook flight.  I confess to be oversimplifying this point.  The alternate method (K) is stated "two handed" control using gestures for the IJKL keys controlling the cyclic and the ASDW keys controlling the anti-torque pedals and collective.  Method K worked best for me and was easily switched by clicking the canopy opening up the menu system. 

The price of realism is realism can be challenging.  I never found flying an airplane was all that difficult in RL.  The hardest part was accomplishing consistency in my landings though they improved as experience grew.  The same can be said of the EC-135.  Out of the box, this isn't the plug and play helicopter we have come to know in SL.  If you're a roleplayer or pretender type, perhaps plug and play aviation will meet your needs.  If you're an aviator, the EC-135 is what you want and yes you can use it for roleplay activities too.

The EC-135 can be flown from the autopilot and I will transition to it at some point. Until then, I want to be more accomplished flying it by hand. What's the point of having all of these cool systems if I am going to push the "easy button"?   Once you have the feel for the helicopter with your eyes out of the cockpit and using the feedback from the HUD (which shows the relative position of the controls), stable flight becomes far easier.  Would an instructor help?  Absolutely!


Cool Stuff

There are some features to the EC-135 which are simply outstanding.  A turn off for me with SL aviation is not being able to fly in a first person mode, either with a first person camera view or through mouselook.  In order to fly first person, you need some functionality built into the dash and overhead panels.  Fortunately, this has been all well thought through during the design phases.  All of the systems can be operated by throwing switches from the pre-start check list to use of the autopilot. 

Another feature is use of an operable transponder.  Transponders identify an aircraft with air traffic control. In VFR flight (visual flight rules) aircraft dial in 1200 on their transponder indicating a VFR aircraft.  ATC may assign a transponder code for transition within an airspace or through the duration of a flight.  I won't wrap around the axle bloviating about transponders or other communications equipment on an aircraft any more than this. The EC-135 pilot can enter a transponder code in the transponder through the map and if called upon to "ident" or squawk that code, there is a button for that as well.  Now we can be seen by ATC.



The dash panel was very similar to the glass cockpits in an Archer and Cessna 182 I flew a few times.  There are some more traditional gauges such as the attitude indicator, airspeed indicator, Hobbs meter, and those for engine performance. 

The glass panels provide navigation information, transponder, digital horizontal situation indicator with altitude and speed strips, engine performance, systems warning and fuel levels.  All of that sounds quite complicated until you realize how incredibly easy it is to process the information in front of your eyes.  Needless to say, all of the panels work!  These aren't painted prims made to look like they work.

Features in the back are equally clever.  As this helicopter is configured as an air ambulance, flight medics/nurses can use the stretcher to place a patient on board as well as monitor vital signs.  If the proverbial brown stuff hits the fan, there is a defibrillator to cardiovert the patient's heart. 

Construction and mesh parts are exquisitely detailed. At over 80 LI, it is comparable to similarly complex helicopters.  Sim crossings were uneventful.  The cyclic and anti-torque pedals look realistic as well as the comms panel. They aren't painted prims or badly designed parts which stick up from the floor.

Interior textures are thoughtfully applied to achieve realism.  The exterior could use with some shine but that is pretty low on the list of needs.  All of the doors function including the aft hatches providing access to the patient area. A stretcher is provided allowing your patient to be loaded on board by the flight crew.  The repaint artists will be boiling up designs for sale providing operators to have a unique style to fit with their fleet.


Flight Design

Kelly has to have some RL aviation experience and I suspect it is extensive.  The process of starting any aircraft hundreds of times wouldn't necessarily require a written checklist.  However, as pilots, we are trained to religiously use written checklists usually found in tattered POHs.  Many of us create our own checklists.  By clicking on the checklist by the pilot's seat, it pops up in you hand and you can work through the pre-flight items all the way through most elements of flight.  I haven't seen such a feature before and again, this adds to realism. 

She posts the following in her MarketPlace offerings and it is equally emblazoned at her shop:
"The SA-FE (Shergood Aviation Flight Engine) engine driving this virtual reproduction was created by an RL helicopter pilot and designed to fly like an RL helicopter. The engine is purely physics based and features independent control of cyclic, collective, throttle and anti-torque pedals enabling true power-off autorotations."
It is important to understand the statement above before buying one of these aircraft.  They are not entry level helicopters.  Instead, they are designed, in my opinion, for the advanced SL pilot and those of us who have RL pilot certificates desiring more realism in SL aviation. 

If you wanted to fly in RL, you might have become immersed in a flight simulator.  I had a flight instructor suggest that the old FS9 or FSX were helpful for students in getting spatial awareness to the air traffic control system and with some elements of aircraft operation including navigation.  You can't simulate the physical feeling of flight from a computer based simulator and you won't have that physical feedback from this helicopter but you'll have visual feedback with the HUD.  It is damned close to a simulation as I have seen in SL.

One of the admonitions in the POH states to make small adjustments to the flight controls.  That is a common thing to say from CFIs to students, "make small adjustments."  In getting the feel of the controls, one needs to understand what controls impact what actions and by how much.  In doing so, the process for me has been to gain feel and competence in the use of those controls.  To go forward, traverse left of right, to slow down, to hover, to bank, etc., all requires a mix of control inputs.  I'm still learning the EC-135 control responsiveness and in time, I'm confident I will fly competently.


Final Thoughts

We have become used to easy flying helicopters in SL.  I enjoy them still.  In other articles, I have been advocating for more realism in vehicle design including the scripts which control how vehicles function and operate.  Resigned to the complacency of SL scripting, experiencing this helicopter represents a resurrected interest in SL aviation. 

So let's be honest about this helicopter.  It isn't one for someone who has never flown in SL to rez then plug in and play.  That kind of pilot will be quickly frustrated.   The difficulty level of most SL helicopters is probably a 4 or 5 on my list, maybe lower.  At the stage I am with the EC-135, the difficulty is more close to a 10 and I'll get to the point of 4 or 5 soon enough.  Being an advanced helicopter and Kelly is very clear it is advanced, it is targeted more for the skilled and advanced pilot.  It is designed for the aviator.

If you have longed for realism in SL aviation, the EC-135 is up your alley and will be a welcomed addition to your hangar.  Learning anything new is appreciated and I love the opportunity to learn and hopefully master this helicopter.  There is far more to present about the EC-135 but I have found that discovery is far more fun than reading about it.  So get one then fly and be happy!

Where Can I Get One?

As of this writing, you cannot get the EC-135 through Kelly Shergood's Marketplace store as the helicopter is still in Beta which I would anticipate updates to be forthcoming as tweaks are made.  You can find the helicopter at her inworld shop and I recommend looking around.  Should you meet Kelly herself, I'm sure she will fill you in on all things aviation as she is definitely capable of doing.  It is always good to meet the builder, creator and revolutionary.


Find me 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.   We review bikes, boats, cars and aircraft.  If you would like us to review something that moves, send me a message. 

 
Robby

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Philosophy of Building, Buying, Riding and Writing: 150 Articles!


The Philosophy of Building, Buying, Riding and Writing: 150 Articles!

One would think I spend a great deal of time navel gazing about arcane issues such as pixel based vehicles. That isn't entirely true, I spend a great deal of time navel gazing about other arcane issues too.  To write this, one needs to be filled with useless shit bouncing around between ears waiting to be puked onto a page.  After over 150 published articles and three keyboards, I still have a lot of useless shit in my head.  Thank you for helping me empty my mind.

Indulgences to my psyche aside, during a conversation with a builder recently, we talked about different builders.  The conversation was positive and more analytical rather than what one might imagine being a session of slamming the other guy.  Sure, builders may harbor discontent toward colleagues because there is competition.  The underlying theme of our conversation was how builders approach vehicle design, construction and feature additions differently.  Each builder has a signature to his or her builds.


Of late, I have documented builds from a few distinguished builders and designers.  I know I am just scratching the surface of the multitudes of builders out there.  During a recent vehicle auction, I met more builders I didn't know existed.  This means I need to get out more!  That auction alone was a testament to how differently people approach the process of design and turn a design into a creation.  Even as vehicles are largely homogenous in their own respective classes, there are almost infinitesimal ways to build something.

Here are some trends I've been observing over the past couple of years and make the prospects of having our moving toys even more attractive going forward.  To improve sales you have to build a better product but it isn't that simple.  You have to build a better product people want to buy at the right price point.


Product Improvement

Since the introduction of mesh design, we have seen a significant improvement in the visual representation of vehicles.  That improvement came almost immediately.  Scripting appears to have its limits, however.  The SL environment has limits as well.  What I'm finding is builders are optimizing existing scripts, fine tuning the vehicle's physics and adding other optimizing scripts to achieve better performance and improved realism in form and function.  I still believe the time has come for a script revolution or evolution but with declining numbers in SL participation, maybe the value add has gone away.


People are becoming more skilled with mesh creator tools.  As a result, there seems to be an increase in high quality original mesh design as opposed to downloaded kits or full perm kits remarketed under a different brand name.  Overall quality of original mesh is improving as we've seen a steady march to designs which closely resemble their RL muses.

When I joined SL in 2008, scripting and design was comparatively basic to what exists now.  It seems some builders have progressed with the physical designs but haven't improved the scripts making the vehicle work.  For the most part though, builders are cognizant about what they need to do to build a better mousetrap and are executing.


Realism

The march to product improvement has impacted realism.  Visually, mesh design has resulted in more visually realistic vehicles without the high land impact we knew before or without being required to add attachments to our avatars.  We can now have vehicles which look realistic.  Now some people may not want realism, having seen comments elsewhere, I believe most do want their vehicles to look like they do or would in RL.


Performance within the SL environment will always be the great limiter.  Realistic gravity, air density, friction, and terminal velocity are just some dynamics where the SL environment is limiting in aviation and maritime vehicles.  Ground based vehicles don't appear to be that significantly impacted by the same factors which would act on planes and boats.

Scripting appears to bridge the gap to a certain extent.  I absolutely appreciate the bright minds who can take the seemingly abstract world of code and produce functionality.  We have had evolution in the physical representation and I would love to see the same with scripting if such an evolution advances realism.

Goodbye to Marketplace

A lot of builders are foregoing product marketing through MarketPlace.  The DMCA actions against several prolific builders may have scared away builders from more publicly presenting their product offerings to the scrutiny of the mother ship. 

I haven't arrived at a point to believe LL is trolling through marketplace entries looking for violations.  Instead, I still believe competitors, self styled vigilantes, and disgruntled individuals are ratting out violators. Hey a violation is a violation and people need to play by the rules.  The "so what" is builders are selling inworld more exclusively. 

We talked to one builder who pulled all of his vehicles from his MarketPlace site to sell inworld exclusively.  There were multiple reasons we didn't discuss but I can suggest the cost of selling through marketplace is a disincentive along with opening the door to tattletales and others who are seeking to bring others down because that behavior is more common than not in SL. Even if an accusation is not substantiated, the process of having to prove yourself to LL has to be disruptive.


The advantage down the road is the growth of inworld malls once more.  I do kind of miss bouncing around different shopping areas and looking around without being asked which color of dress (I do provide that advice quite thoughtfully and without hesitation).  With vehicles though, if you can't test before you buy, how do we know if they are any good?   There are many builders who don't allow, or make it difficult, to demo a vehicle.  I still think this is insane and a bad business strategy.

Without MarketPlace, the better inworld marketers of products will be the ones to win the day.  There are a lot of publications, including this one, which help builders market products.  When you have an article, share the link in your groups as it will help you get customers to your door. 

As much as I think LL has its proverbial head up its ass (and I do) I still come back day after day to do our thing and I believe others who are just as critical in their views toward LL come back daily as well.  There are business cycles (growth, peak, contraction and trough) which influence every business and every industry.  The growth of SLX/XStreetSL/MarketPlace has, in my opinion, gone past the 'peak' phase of the cycle and is contracting. 

How builders market, sell and compete will be far more interesting!


Customer Service Still Matters

The customer isn't always right but is never wrong.  Listen to your customers and you'll make sales.  As a merchant, service provider or builder selling things, word of mouth in SL is bigger and far more powerful than it is in RL.  In RL, it used to be if one person had a good or bad experience, that same person would tell 7 people.  With social media, that number is likely greater.    Think about that for a moment.  In SL, the foundation is social and the audience is very very small.  Communicating discontent is as impactful as it is easy.

Lizzy and I have had bad customer experiences and while we're sitting on our hands to talk about those experiences more publicly, others are quicker to the trigger.  Look at what is happening in the RL airline industry.  Poor customer service policies and actions are punching the airlines in the face and if you have traveled for business like I have, they have it coming.

That said, there are two sides to the story.  You don't have to do business with people who aren't reasonable or disagree with what you are selling or how it is being sold.  If suggestions are reasonable to you and would strategically help your business, makes good choices.  Some customers are childish in their expectations but as they are squeaky wheels, they are heard by other prospective or existing customers who follow thoughts like lemmings. 


Kindness and being respectful go a long way in business.  My message to the airlines, some SL marketers and maybe some RP communities, don't be dicks.  Your business exists as long as people are giving you money.  When they stop giving you money for what  you are selling because of how they are being treated, the blame isn't on the customer.

If you're selling vehicles, allow us to test them.  That one issue is customer service centric and makes the difference between sales and no sales. 


Parting Thoughts

Well I didn't want this to be a rant but it kind of ended up that way. 

When I was little, I collected Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars along with Tonka trucks....Lionel trains.  I gave my remaining collection to my nephew and he is enjoying them just as much as I did when I was his age.  Having not completely grown up, I get a kick out of vehicles in SL. They are so much fun and SL is supposed to be about having fun.


We've seen our little publication move forward after 150+ articles.  I could not explore this outlet without the support of many builders who get it and are supportive.   Needless to say, the Badger is my biggest champion and a sometimes contributor to this publication.  Hopefully there is some symbiosis in what we write about and how builders market products.  There is a lot still to learn for everyone involved, even ourselves.

I would like to call out and thank Bikers Weekly for picking up articles and reposting them in their weekly publication.  As writers, we want people to read our stuff, we have this almost narcissistic need to be 'heard" and we are.   Thank you BB and Bikers Weekly!!

Thank you to our readers, we do look at the stats and know people are getting all filled up with the highly valuable useless shit we share here.  Also, thank you for allowing us to indulge our milestones....150 published articles, that's not so bad at all.


Find me 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.   We review bikes, boats, cars and aircraft.  If you would like us to review something that moves, send me a message. 

 
Robby