Sunday, June 25, 2017

Devil's Head Bike Show

Devil's Head Bike Show

The level of creativity in SL is immense and certainly impressive.  It is one reason we enjoy writing Things That Move, witnessing the seemingly limitless creative ability of builders of all stripes.  Fisty Lowtide, our resident subversive, has hosted bike and car shows before with the intent to stimulate building skills and to encourage builders to raise the bar on build quality.  After helping judge, alongside Fisty Lowtide,  the Devil's Head Bike Show, we can assure you the bar is being raised!

The Devil's Head Bike Show was held June 23rd through the 25th and eighteen builders competed for trophies and cash prizes.  What we liked most about the bike show is the judging wasn't based on a builder's popularity, the judges were challenged with picking a 1st , 2nd  and 3rd place among some of the best bike builders in SL.

With any competition, there are rules:
  • Rules are simple..... it MUST be a new bike build. If anyone brings a bike that has been sold to ANYONE, or anyone but you own, it will be disqualified. It MUST be a 100% new build no excuses. You should have plenty of time to build something new for the show.
  • ONE entry per person.
  • No more then 70 prims for the bike.
  • You must be the builder.
  • No bikes built by other people will be allowed.
Builds were judged on the following:
  • Creativity - Outside the box thinking.
  • Textures - Paints, graphics
  • DETAILS - Brake lines....things of that nature
  • Realism - Would it really drive? Go crazy, but not unbelievable.
Things That Move congratulates all of the entrants and winners of the Devil's Head Bike Show.  I can assure everyone, each build blew our minds.   We also applaud Fisty for showing a lot of leadership in bringing together bike builders for this wonderful event.  We wish other vehicle builders would do the same.

1st Prize
Lexxa Choppers
Lexxa's Ride
(Lexxa aka gretchenmaul)

I just recently reviewed Lexxa's old school chops and bobbers.  After we were able to hang out with her for a bit, we learned how big a motor head she is.  What we enjoyed most about her entry, Lexxa's Ride is the level of detail on the paint and the tooling on the seat.  Lexxa didn't just bring an old school chopper to the show, she brought one which is graphically rich and mechanically clean.  I think it says a lot to say "less is more" and still, when you look closely at the pain, seeing the sparkle, there is so much more!

2nd Place
SSC Custom Motorcycles
Mob Star Socal
(Parkin Storme aka hardass parkin)
We've heard Parkin's name mentioned a few times in our travels among bikes and bike tracks.  Seeing how well he has put together what is simply an aped Road King with an impressive La Cosa Nostra themed paint stood out in our eyes.  The detail on the cylinder heads, air box cover and ignition cover grabbed an ordinary bike and made it special.  The chrome work, which seems hard to get right graphically, was extraordinary as well.  This was a work of art.

3rd Place
C&P Motors (Crow Dartmouth)
Crow is someone TTM has reviewed before with our Chopper Comparison.  In seeing his jet turbine powered bike, I can tell you his bike building skills have truly grown exponentially and that is compared to some already serious skills he had when we reviewed his choppers a year ago.  The jet bike, well it boggles the mind with the level of detail.  Now would we want to ride it in RL?  Oh hell no, the temps coming off the turbine would redefine the word pain.  Still in SL, we can do anything and Crow surely has with this build. 

Now can you see why it was so difficult to judge these bikes!   

This was an incredibly difficult show to judge.  While there were three builders who won, we observed some other fun builds Lizzy and I wanted to especially call out.

Miley's Speedshop Steempunk Sled

Moto Bazzi Big Kid Trike

Crazy Riders Nitrous Bike

CMC Creed's Assassin

Space didn't really allow us to show off every builder who entered the show but believe us when we say this, every builder raised the bar in bike design, presentation, detail and quality.  If you can't find a great bike from any of these builders, We'll pray for you to come to your senses.   Here are the other entrants:

Our hats are off to all of the builders.  Building vehicles and toiling away in mesh creator studios as well as Photoshop aren't skills Lizzy and I are likely to develop. Anyone who can build to the level we saw, humbles us.  We can point out what we enjoy and this weekend, eighteen builders put their greatest creations on the block to be judged and I can tell you, each builder is deserving of recognition.

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. 


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Lexxa Choppers - Mujer Mortal and the FTW

Lexxa Choppers - Mujer Mortal
and the FTW

What's better than riding a new bike?  Riding a new bike with retro styling made by a builder I had not yet met.  Lexxa is an aficionado of old school chops.  In this day and age of space age styling, plastic fairings and race boy performance, motorcycles lose their more gritty appeal.  When a builder, such as Lexxa, puts together some truly exquisite bikes which take us back to the earlier days of outlaw bikers and garage built bikes, we take notice!

The Mujer Mortal, is one of those old school chops, the kind of bike made from parts found around the yard and finished off with some unique style.  To me, this is an old Road King which found some new life with these outrageous apes.  It is the kind of bike which would cause dwellers of small towns to draw the shades when it roared through.  Everything about it sends a message and the growling coming from the pipes makes that message loud and clear.

Riding the Mujer Mortal is a another story.  From a rude looking and sounding bike with flames setting grass on fire, the ride is as smooth as Don Julio Anejo in a chilled shot glass. Entry into the turns does not take any thought, the bike follows your eyes with no effort whatsoever.  While mesh grab is something which happens to inworld riders, I couldn't make the bike merge into fixed objects which means, at moments, I wasn't fully paying attention to what I was doing though the bike forgave me.  Sure I bounced right off the walls and kept going.  This is a bike you could take on the toughest tracks and you would be laughing at riders complaining about their much lesser developed rides.

Now the FTW, I do love bobbers. This one reminded me of bikes I saw at the Texas Motor Speedway auto swap a few years ago.  It is an old school bike with the suicide shifter geared only for four speeds.  It isn't a rocket ship by any stretch as geared but it gives any rider looking for that old school feel the best of all worlds.  Oh and did I mention, it is every bit as rude and "put together" as it's sister the Mujer Mortal.  With the Schwinn  handle bars, reminding me of my yellow banana seat 5 speed, you get some mid-level apes on a bike perfectly capturing the true meaning of a bobber.

Like the Mujer, the FTW handles with ease on all sorts of tracks.  While the bike seems limited to four speeds (yes you can add more), the gearing fits the old school nature of this type of bike and I would be hard pressed to add more gears.  If I were riding it in RL, I would enjoy the country side rather than seeing it blur by.  It's a cruiser, a bobber, a work of art! 

About Lexxa Choppers

Lexxa (gretchenmaul) according to her profile is a "builder of quality old school choppers and hotrods, no poseball sex vehicles, 30 inch rims with rubber band tires here. I consider the engine to be the focus of the vehicle, I like all the mechanical parts."

To put it simply, she makes bikes not furniture and the bikes she builds are the kinds for the real deal riders.  Check out her Marketplace or her inworld shop to learn more and while you're at it, maybe one of her bikes can find its way into your inventory and onto a sky track.  I don't believe you'll be disappointed at all.  I wasn't!

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, June 9, 2017

Ethics Schmethics? Questionable SL Business Practices in SL

Ethics Schmethics?
The Truth of Questionable Business Practices in SL

I'm concerned.  Lizzy and I have been in SL for a very long time and we strive for a high degree of integrity, ethics and principles in what we do and have done.  Even the mistakes we've made along the way weren't based on avarice or maliciousness.  Being mean or manipulative isn't who are .  We all make mistakes and we learn from ours.  There are areas of concern regarding business ethics in SL: building, griping, land rentals and role play communities. While these areas are not always related, they underscore a consistency in how bad behavior is rewarded or at the very least, tolerated in SL. 

Not everyone operates with the same values in SL or RL.    In SL, we have heard of people copying original designs and reselling them as their own.  I don't know what truth is but I'll tell you, something doesn't feel right.

Related to the aviation community in SL, I saw a debate in a group starting with a person seeking advice about general and civil aviation aircraft and devolving into accusations.  There aren't many builders filling this section of pixel pilots. Most prefer the warbirds and fighter aircraft.  When one builder was recommended, the person asking said he wouldn't buy from that builder because he uses "ripped mesh" and followed by saying he would buy from another builder who has also been accused of using "ripped mesh".  What the hell is "ripped mesh" and why be a party to group think? 

Here is my understanding of the "ripped mesh" debate.  There are original creators of mesh inworld.  They start with Blender or another mesh creation tool and modify a six sided cube into an original mesh creation which is then uploaded inworld using LL's DMCA allowances.  Others buy mesh kits from external sources and even others acquire mesh designs from Creative Commons designers or just take what's out there and upload those designs inworld.  An argument ensues suggesting that however a mesh design is acquired, the original designer should be attributed in inworld product descriptions.  "Ripped mesh" is essentially taking from a third party original creator and selling it as your own creation inworld.  Because you didn't bake the cake from scratch, it isn't a cake, some might argue.  It is still a cake!

I've played some with Blender and I'll be the first to say, I'm not that good.  I have also seen the creations of original meshers who upload objects as their own.  With ripped mesh, the objects still require some finishing in a mesh creation tool for upload to SL.  If a builder bought a kit from vendors such as TurboSquid, this doesn't make the build any less legitimate inworld than an original mesh creation.  By comparison, kit mesh (still ripped) may look far better than original mesh and as such, customers may be interested in buying the better looking product.  Don't get me wrong, there are some amazing original mesh creators inworld and given a choice, I am inclined to purchase their products over some of the kits I have seen.  The argument from the naysayers, however, rings hollow and self serving.

Who am I to second guess someone's proclamations they "authored" the creation?  The point here is people are attempting to secure sales and make money.  If a builder isn't continually putting out new vehicles or products, they will not be competing with others.  The purpose of using "stolen mesh" or "ripped mesh" created by others is to generate sales revenue.  I get it. 

Is it unethical to use mesh you have not created without attribution to the original creator?  Some would say yes it is unethical.  These same people are purists and my argument has been if you are upset by a competitors using such a strategy, you aren't able to compete against and alleging unfairness, that garners customers and market share,  then close your trap, build a better product and compete.  To beat a bad business, build a better one

Why would someone cheat in business?  The obvious reason is to make money. Do you see a theme here?  We can't dismiss the creative process but when you throw your objects into CasperVend or on Marketplace, the creative process takes a back seat to commerce. 

Business ethics have always been a moving target.  Those struggling to gain leverage can claim "unfairness" toward businesses which have captured some market share.  The smaller business might stay the course and continue to produce based upon their growing skills or they may cut corners or further, they may steal ideas.  The same accusations have been directed to some of the largest and most prominent corporations of how they stole an idea.

So what's the recourse?  Consumers don't really care nor do they know better, they just want the next cool shiny object to fill their inventory.  Original creators do care when competitors use stolen mesh, scripts or designs because these same competitors are garnering revenue through "theft".  The anti-ripped mesh crew has a somewhat valid complaint because ripped mesh arguably dilutes the artistic contribution of those creating original mesh though if they got off their asses and built something new, they would compete.

This is nothing new.  I was playing Flight Simulator on its first release and finished at the 10th release when it ceased being developed by MS.  I bought aircraft, downloaded free aircraft and liveries to my heart's content, blind to the possibility these designs were sometimes being co-opted by less than ethical designers.  GTA is another platform where the same behaviors likely exist. Where modding is possible and can be monetized, ethics can go the way of the wind.  In reality, both GTA and FSX have models we can find in SL.  Should it matter to any of us? 

Still the "ripped mesh" argument is about ego more than a good or bad business practice.  Consumers still don't care and they will continue buying products based on looks followed by performance without consideration to the debate but should they care?.  The mesh and script thieves are more about the thief not caring because it is SL, we can do ANYTHING we want to do without being accountable.  All one can do is file an abuse report and let LL take it from there unless there is a DMCA issue then LL will take it from there.

As consumers we're less inclined to buy a product which uses fraudulently obtained parts, systems or designs. How would we know if a product made by someone was fraudulently produced and sold?  We can do our research and find all sorts of blogs and postings pointing stern fingers at one builder or the other with accusations claiming the use of "ripped mesh", "stolen mesh" or "we don't like the builder because he/she is selling more product."

There are some ways to protect the interests of ethical creators.  Let's start using this term "ethical creators".  Inspect their vehicle, if you see a plethora of parts entitled "object" one might suggest the parts were not legitimately obtained for resale.   I tested the practice, I selected an airplane and inspected the parts.  Each part had a specific name.  There were a couple of "object" titled parts but most of the build was made with specifically named parts.  One might suggest the parts were brought inworld as mesh objects, named in a specific manner during creation and so they could be found in the inventory, then applied to the final build.  Copybotted mesh, often has most of the parts entitled "object".

I don't think this practice is 100% fool proof but if you are concerned about buying vehicles from "ethical creators" you can use this practice to ensure the parts may not be copybotted.  Most bike and car builders, buy  or acquire kits either inworld or through ostensibly legal means.  There isn't a way to truly verify if an externally acquired vehicle or parts/sets of parts weren't obtained improperly without comparing the mesh skeleton to every single mesh creation available on the web.  So you see the limits of being a thoughtful consumer.

We're in the middle of this debate without fingers pointed our direction though we are responsible for the words we write.  We write reviews of products from a consumer's point of view.  Our hope is builders will increase their sales and at the very least, their work will be validated by an independent third party.  After hearing a recent assertion about a builder alleged to be "copybotting" original mesh designs for resale, I'm left scratching my head about whether writing this publication is perpetrating unethical activity.  The truth is, I don't know who created what. 

I'm still only a consumer, though we are going to be far more careful.  Because you SAY you made the mesh parts yourself, how are we to know?  Maybe attributions are what "ethical creators" should include in their builds with notecards and with their Marketplace descriptions.  If by proclaiming Larry over there made his own mesh truck only to learn later, Larry copybotted the truck from Helga, then Larry isn't only a thief, he is a liar too.  Let those words stick a blade into their soul.

Being uninformed isn't a ticket to tolerance. When we look past our need for instant gratification and research builders about their ethics, we can be better consumers.  We do this in RL, why aren't we doing so in SL?   If someone is selling something, it is because they want to make money.  I'm a good capitalist so go forth and make a LOT of money just do so honestly. 

It doesn't stop there.  Ethics are questionable inworld.  We had an experience recently where a group renting land was taking our rental fees, along with other renters, and not contributing those funds to the original land owners.  We were subsequently blocked from using the land we rented until we found out who owned the land and contacted them to gain access once more.  While we were "victims" along with the owners of the land in the fraud perpetrated by the group renting the land, we felt like we were made complicit in the fraud. 

In another instance, the manager and ultimate owner of a role play community was doing the same thing with rental payments by not using the rental proceeds to pay the tier on the land they were using for the enterprise.  We've seen this before and what we learned is LL or the land owners are not being paid causing the enterprise to fold because the bills weren't being paid by the owners or administrators.  Abuse reports are filed and the avatar leading the racket is banned from SL, for a minute, only to create another avatar within minutes to do the same thing over and over again. 

Roleplay community owners are more commonly clueless to concepts such as customer service or treating people well.  After a year doing the roleplay community thing, we have seen the worst of inflated egos, group think, bad behavior, nepotism and pettiness.  I have to tell you these virtual communities get one thing right, they create the worst by closely mirroring the worst in RL communities. 

I've come to a couple of conclusions.  There are people in SL who are dirt bags, loads of them.  Over the past year, we have quietly walked away from people who have values slightly better than your run of the mill conartist.  The primary conclusion relative to Things That Move is before we do another review, we will inspect the vehicle for copy-botting and if I don't feel assured a vehicle isn't copy-botted, we won't write the review. 

It is the best we can do.  We're not interested in being the "ripped mesh" police. If legally obtained mesh looks better than "original mesh", I'll be happy to point out the difference in skills or good business sense.  For those who want to play "ripped mesh police", go right ahead.  We have not been shy in calling attention to DMCA violations or design complacency, so we're not going to look the other way regarding copy-botting because now we're better informed. 

Here is the future.  With LL's new platform within reach of public access, when that happens, SL as we know it will shrink to a quick demise. It is a sinking ship.  Creators, builders and designers who have had early access to this new world and are populating it with products we can buy when we go there.  I am only hopeful the ethical standard which SHOULD exist in SL will exist in the new world we will all occupy.  We know it won't because some people prefer being pond scum.

Honestly, I'm more than a little fed up with the level of greed and lack of integrity which exists in SL.  We have seen the worst of humanity in this virtual world.  They can hide behind their screens and do things they would not dare do in RL because there aren't nor have their ever been repercussions.  Bad behavior is just that and should not be tolerated from anyone.   I am the first person to celebrate the successes of others.  When I've felt deceived however, maybe I should use this venue to call out the behaviors of those who are acting without integrity, honesty or ethics. 

Hey! It seems I just did!

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. 


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

AMOK Dynamics C130 Hercules

AMOK C130 Hercules

Last year I was approached by someone who seemed interested in me reviewing a plane.  I don't know if this is the plane of even if this is the builder I was being asked to review.  Time slipped by and we went on our vacation from SL, I never followed up.    So in bouncing around, like I do, I came across the AMOK C-130 Hercules.  Hmm this is a plane I like in RL, so why not review it?

I'm not unacquainted with AMOK Dynamics.  In my early years in SL, I had a number of AMOK Dynamics aircraft including the A4 Skyhawk, the Blackhawk, Seakhawk and as I recall, the F101 Voodoo.  That was literally another life and I'm not digging around in the attic to see if I have the hangar beasts correctly identified.  By in large, I liked the AMOK aircraft, especially the Blackhawk and Seahawk.  There still isn't as good a representation of those two helicopters in SL.  Yes, I know who builds them still and I stand by my statement. 

Getting involved in this means I spend a lot of time reviewing motorcycles and cars.  How dare I review aircraft?  What would I know about aviation.  Let's see, I have my private pilot certificate in RL and sure have spent a lot more time doing ground reference maneuvers than I have riding a motorcycle in RL.  Does that give me any credibility talking about aviation in SL?  Yeah, I agree...probably not. 

C-182 G1000 we are flying to Houston

Here is what I like from SL aircraft, my list of wants and needs:
  1. I want realism
  2. I want cockpit instrumentation:  Attitude Indicator, ASI and VSI
  3. I want to fly from inside the cockpit with limited need for HUDs
  4. When you turn the yoke or push stick to the side, the bank remains.  Zeroing the roll rate means the bank stops but does not return to level flight. 
  5. I'd like the option to change the graphics.
  6. Crossing sims should not mean I'm hurtled into other continents or game platforms.
  7. Full power does not mean light speed.  SL is not purely scalable to RL.  Going slow is fine by me if the flight feels real.
I'm sure I have other needs, ask Lizzy, she has a list of my issues.  I'm working through them thank you. 

That list sets a standard for me.  Now let's take a look at AMOK Dynamics C-130.  It is suitably realistic in dimension (as much as possible in SL) and in relative detail.  There are a lot of cool features if you look closely such as the start up process.  Each engine starts independently with the blades changing pitch before they start to spin.  I like that, it shows attention to detail.

Doors and other features are also realistic.  There is front door to gain access to the forward part of the aircraft and cockpit, rear crew doors and the loading ramp in the aft part of the aircraft.  Other features include payload systems through a menu, parachute drops, preset paints (Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and others), Jet Assisted Takeoff or "JATO" rockets, and an air refueling system for other pilots to request a "fill er up".  A lot of thought has gone into the operational detail of the aircraft.

If you can land it, you can fly it.  That's a little basic but kind of the truth.  I spent a lot of formative moments using every single inch of a runway when I was learning how to land.  With the C-130, landing was easy.  The plane pointed right where I wanted it to go and pitch control was highly responsive.  When I pulled power, I didn't get the expected descent.  In aviation, power controls altitude and pitch controls speed.  It isn't uncommon, few aircraft in SL do this very well at all which means to descend, you have to push the nose forward...which SHOULD increase airspeed and subsequently increasing lift defeating the concept of descending in this manner. 

Point to point flight was incredibly easy.  I was able to navigate without a lot of control correction.  Sim crossings were some of the easiest though I get thrown out of the aircraft around Nautilus which also kind of common.  I wonder what goes on down there?    My finding the bottom of the sea isn't the fault of the aircraft, it continued flying off in the distance to soon find its way into my Lost and Found.  It hasn't as of publishing which causes me to wonder where the graveyard of my ghost piloted aircraft is located.

What perplexes me with this C-130 is the lack of on board instrumentation.  Sure I can fly it in mouselook but I sure missed having working instruments on the dash panel.  I looked at the panel and the instruments appeared to be quite real but they didn't work. Flying in RL, you learn how to use the instruments and without them, the experience is sort of "meh".  The HUD generated instrumentation worked quite fine, however, with the level of detail and features loaded onto this aircraft, inoperable instruments seems to be lacking.  Perhaps on a later version this will be corrected.

The challenge to me last year was about an aircraft which would blow my mind.  Again, I don't know if this was the aircraft or the builder but as nice an aircraft as it is, my mind was not blown.  Most everything about it is really well done and from purely a flying point of view, it was an easy flying aircraft.  I guess for an aircraft in SL to blow my mind, I would expect some more realistic flight physics such as pitch controls speed and power controls altitude.  Only a few aircraft come close to capturing this in SL.  I can let that go as SL makes for a poor environment for aviation simulation.  The instrumentation, when I look at aircraft, I look in the cockpit to see if there is the possibility the instruments work.  Maybe that is too much to ask if I didn't see working instruments and full cockpit control authority in other aircraft especially at this price range. 

Am I slamming AMOK Dynamics?  Absolutely not!  I just hoped for a little bit more.

I love the C-130 as an aircraft in RL.  Growing up near an Air Force base, I have seen a lot of the military inventory.  During one cool moment, the Red Arrows were visiting and invited community dignitaries out for a special demonstration.  Of course I went. To start off the demonstration, their Charlie One Thirty taxied up with the British flag emerging from the top hatch.  The aircraft has a valiant history worldwide proven on a weekday morning in Texas, why not share it here inworld? 

There aren't many models of this aircraft, correctly done, in SL.  This one, I'm read how this aircraft is original mesh and I respect the effort as it is truly majestic and a great flying aircraft.  It meets most of my requirements and is an airplane which should capture any SL aviator's interest.  It did mine. 

I'm not going down the path of the SL aviation drama, life is too short.  There are places I go and places I won't go.  However, I can point and say, the C-130 is a well built, thoughtfully designed and feature rich aircraft.  It flies with great manners and with some level of realism.  If you're in the market for a large troop or cargo carrier, I can recommend this aircraft quite easily.  You can buy yours through AMOK Dynamics' marketplace or at their inworld shop.

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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.