Tuesday, October 21, 2008


"A brand you can trust!" says my avatar brother wolfie (and it should be known here that only I have the cheek to call the awe inspiring director of Search and Rescue of Second Life®, wolfgeng Hienrichs "wolfie" by the way ;-). Not to put too fine a point on it, when it comes to vehicles I trust wolfie with my life!

Tegen Barzane's air, sea and land craft go the distance where most others fail, indeed metamorphosing from one state of being into the other quite seamlessly along the way. A boat will continue its journey on land, the aircraft will swim underwater and cars and trucks will take to the skies like swallows. And what is more, a Tegatti will fly/swim/go over sim borders as smoothly as silk, reminiscent of the legendary vehicles of Cubey Terra. A minimalistic approach to the design of the vehicle itself as well as superb scripting see to it that these sturdy vehicles accomplish most of the tasks that an environment possessed of inherent difficulties for riders will present:

Tegen Barzane and wolfgeng Hienrichs.
Photo courtesy of Hardwarehacker Hoch

"There are many obstacles that discourage vehicle use in Second Life" says Ms. Barzane, "such as ban lines, security devices, failed sim crossings and badly designed continents where roads and waterways often don't even join up. This is a huge shame because exploring Second life in a boat or car can be a wonderful experience. You can discover many unexpected things, meet people you wouldn't otherwise meet and really experience the amazing diversity that SL has to offer. To many people there seems no practical point to using vehicles when you can fly or teleport, but to me it is all about imagination, about making SL a world and not just a virtual chat room. Originally my intention was to focus on boats. But I also became interested in other vehicles and when I couldn't find the vehicles that performed the way I wanted, I made my own. And now I make all kinds of vehicles.

The Terraform Helicopter

Amphiban/airborne Forklift.
Photo courtesy of Hardwarehacker Hoch

I try to make my vehicles as usable as I possibly can. I put a lot of work into ensuring that they are easy to drive and to control. I also try to deal with the technical problems SL creates. For instance, due to a bug most vehicles currently crash when they enter full lots, with the driver often forced to re-log. I have developed a way to avoid this so most Tegatti vehicles can travel over full lots with no problems. Ban lines are a big problem, so I have designed a HUD that can show the user where the ban lines are".

Tegen Barzane originally trained as a land surveyor in Real Life and then continued on to obtain a degree in art and design history. Thus the sturdy, minimalistic appearance of the Tegatti craft has sound design principles founded in a solid knowledge of design principles, particularly those regarding form and function.

The amphibian, off-road truck...
Photo courtesy of Hardwarehacker Hoch

"To me Second Life should not try to emulate real life too closely, it can (and should) be better than real life in so many ways. So I don't try to make my vehicles as exact copies of real vehicles, but more a SL interpretation of them".

Ms. Barzane is a designer that would do the Bauhaus School proud:

It's my art history background at work here too - the Modernist injunction "truth to materials". I see a need for design honesty in the sense that as a car is made from prims we shouldn't try to hide that with panels pasted with photos of real life vehicles. We should be proud of the prims and show them, they are the essence of SL construction. I also feel that too much realism is counter productive in a virtual world, it is important to leave gaps for the imagination to fill in as this can make a much more immersive and satisfying experience than photographic ultra-realism".

And as for the amphibian/airborne multi-functionalism of the Tegatti craft? Tegen Barzane says:

"Flying cars are pretty standard in Second Life, mainly for practical reasons. But the image of the flying roadster does illustrate a point. You will see that in flying mode Tegatti vehicles have jet flames coming from their wheels.

This I do because there is a kind of credibility limit, not just with vehicles but with all SL products, where while you can make things that are not possible in Real Life you can only go so far. The user needs to see some reason why the thing works: a heavy truck that just magically flies would look weird and unconvincing, but one can imagine a truck that flies using jet flames, lasers, plasma clouds or whatever. It always needs to be believable at some basic intuitive level or the virtual illusion is lost."

So, what does the future hold for Tegatti and indeed for Tegen Barzane herself?

"In the last year or more I have become pretty experienced at making different types of vehicles and now I have reached the point where I feel able to combine that knowledge to make new things. So I am now experimenting with novel types of vehicle, but there will always be some kind of visual explanation as to why they are able to work. Mainly I'm planning vehicles that are able to transform their appearance to some extent for different purposes. Second Life gives up a lot of tools to accomplish this, the biggest problem is in being able to think up a new but believable idea.

Second Life Coastguard Plane, taking some serious nosedives...
Photos courtesy of Hardwarehacker Hoch

I have a great belief that Second Life will grow and grow, and that as it does the technical problems will be overcome. So I am very pleased and excited to be a part of that. I will be continuing to improve my scripts and builds and make the best vehicles that I can. At some point I plan to build some sail boats as well as some SL specific vehicles that don't exist at all in real life. That is what I love most about SL - the creative potential is endless, the only limit being what you are able to imagine".

You can teleport to Tegatti Industries at Talakin directly from here (airport) and here (boatyard).