Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What's in a virtual boat?

So... what's in a virtual boat these days? Got me thinking. Back in time, Kanker Grenacre invented the Tako with left and right rudder function plus main sheet in and out. He also invented a windsystem, because the virtual wind of SL  was (and is) unsuited for sailing. Virtual sailing in SL  was easy, simplistic and far from realistic. Then Moth invented a new windsystem, The WWC, with support for shifts, gusts, local variances, waves, currents, shadowing and more.
Thinking about virtual boats
The WWC was a quantum leap towards realism. Not as simple as the Tako wind, but much more realistic and way more fun for racing. After a while someone added hiking to a boat. Then live flapping sails appeared; The T-One from Trudeau may have been the first to have that. Then Becca released her BBK boat building kit with yet another windsystem. The much simpler BWind. Soon after that, the Q2m appeared with luffing sails, BWind and - woohoo - full WWC retrofitted.  The Q2m therefor has windshifts, gusts, waves, current and even drift. A must have for dialups in Matchrace.
Looking at boats
Then came the Bolero. It has all the features of the Q2m plus working telltales. The modern Trudeau boats such as the LeetleCat II come with rudder, sheet in/out, hiking, luffing sails, capsize and reefing but sadly no telltales, no waves and no currents. There's also ReneMarine's beautiful RM8. It has wwc, luffing and there's an adorable little windex in the mast. Let's not forget the RM20 with a redesigned steering system. Then there's the ACA boats, the AC cats and the WildWinds; Lately the Nemo II entered the scene with its own interesting wind system too. So many boats to choose from.
Fizzin with El Megro
Finally there's the Flying Fizz. Still the most complete package on the virtual sailing scene of SL. It has rudder, sheet in/out, working visible sheets, kickinstrap, hiking, luffing sails, trapez, capsize, compass, telltales, crewed trimming, planing, waves, currents, windshifts, gusts, speed dependant sunds and saildepth adjusting. It even has a low lag mode. By any measure still the most advanced boat in SL. It only misses a few things. Drift is one of them.

That sorta defines a virtual boat in SL as of 2011. Makes me wonder if the Flying Fizz is the end of the journey. Some people seem to think it's too advanced already. Kinda weird, when it has a beginners mode. Then there's the usual suspects always saying it can't be done, no matter what they talk about. They said that about luffing sails. They said that about telltales. They said that about importing real wind to SL.
Tai Chi: Clear the mind
Nevertheless, I wonder what will be the next step of the evolution? More trim features? Better physics? More teamwork support? Boatkits already exist with support for up to four sailors. The options are endless as long as we can fit it within the constraints of SL.

Real boats have so many more trim options. Mastrake, shroud tension, backstay tension, running backstays, main sheet traveller, kickingstrap, cunningham, halyard tension, spinakker pole height, barberhaul, outhaul, leech-line, battens.... just to mention a few.
Watching the ocean from Seagull Islands
I don't know what's out there, in the future, waiting to be sailed. It seems development never stops, so I'd definately expect more features and better boats. What do you think? More trim options? Better racing conditions? New delicious hull designs? Realistic winds? How far should we take it? Or will we lean back as an old couple and rock only the chair we're sitting in, satisfied with the way things are - mostly because we're too tired or lazy to go and change them?


PS: Here's a taste of sailing with the built in SL wind.


  1. Absolutly YES to all.

    Trimming at profiles sheets MUST BE devolopment of any SERIOUS boat.
    Full dynamic weather settings MUST BE a major implement as well.
    Full crew manual movement onboard.
    YES for telltales, wash and wake audiovisual feedback.

    NOT for "arcade", YES for "simulator".

    Did you remember full expert settings from Fizz engines, that lack their use in Flying Fizz and was a love in the JG-44 30R?
    Did you remeber the love to trim canting keel and dagger deth on WildWind's JMO-60 and ACJ-2?

  2. Thanx El! For a minute there, I thought it was just me wanting to improve the sailing experience. Yes, it's too bad no-one uses expert mode. Is there an expert mode on the JG-44? Never sailed it. Neither did I sail those WildWinds.


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