Developing the Second Life oil rig

rig1Further to my blog post of 22 June, Matt and I have been developing the wonderful oil rig donated to the Duckling project by Sky Maruti.

The first priority was to find a suitable spot on the Media Zoo island for the rig. We wanted it in the lagoon, but didn’t need it to overpower the other structure there, the boat house. Using the island owner’s avatar, I set about flattening the land on the peninsula, both above water and below.

rig2This opened up a sizable area of the lagoon, into which we placed the oil rig. Because it is a single (linked) artefact, I was able to place the structure precisely so that the bottom access platform just touched the water (this is where the evacuation rescue boat will dock), while the rear of the rig abutted the edge of the island.

Inside the housing areas of the rig, we are in the process of adding floors, extra stairwells, equipment, and so forth. At present, we are only doing the obvious builds. The occupational psychologists on Duckling will need to become familiar with the layout of the rig, and then sit down with us to work through the redesign.

In the meantime, though, I am searching X Street SL for artefacts to place on the rig. Some of these will need to be utilised for the altered environmental conditions that will necessitate the evacuation, so realism is important (an electrical fire needs to be caused by an electrical device such as a PC).

Once we have completed the new layout and placed the artefacts in suitable positions – and sourced a rescue boat! – the occupational psychologists can begin to finalise their SL-tivities.

Dealing in virtual real estate

Several weeks ago – and as part of Duckling – a Zookeeper, a learning technologist, a learning designer, an e-learning researcher and a smattering of occupational psychologists  met to discuss the ways in which the latter could introduce Second Life into some of their online activities (SL-tivities) for distance learning students.

Most of the ideas from the psychologists were terrific. My favourite was to construct a localised rail service that could be manipulated to introduce delays, accidents, etc., and ask the students to react accordingly. Another involved evacuation procedures for a burning submarine. Fantastic!

What I liked about these suggestions was the fact that everyone was thinking in terms of the unique benefits of the virtual world: do in Second Life what cannot be achieved in real life – or only with immense technical difficulty or cost.

Practically, in terms of time and SL programming skills, the railway was not possible; however, generating evacuation procedures were. Thinking a submarine might be quite hard to locate, we talked a little about other possible structures and came up with an oil rig.

A quick search on X Street found an ideal structure, built by a talented SL designer named Sky Maruti. I contacted Sky and arranged  to have my avatar, Johnson Zuta, walk around the rig the following day.

The oil rig seemed ideal, especially as it came with copy/modify rights. Matt and I could adapt it with extra stairwells, and add smoke and such as requested by the psychologists. We could also use variations of the rig for future projects.

I contacted Sky again, explained that we were very interested in the oil rig and asked whether we might be given the artefact rather than pay the L$7000, as we are an educational research project. After looking at the project website, Sky agreed, and donated the oil rig to Duckling , for which we are all very grateful. (Sky is now a firm supporter of Duckling.)

My first foray into virtual real estate has been fun, from generating the initial idea to locating and acquiring the SL artefact. And I’ve made contact with a talented SL designer, who we may be able to use in the future.

I look forward to adapting the oil rig and observing the  SL-tivities. I’ll blog about both of these events in due course.

Simon Kear

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