Sunday, 1 April 2012

Tura takes her balloon for a test flight.

I think ballooning is the ideal way to explore the mainlands, but although I've tried several balloons in Second Life, I haven't found one I really like.

One banks like an aeroplane as it turns. Another places the default camera viewpoint so that the balloon itself fills most of the screen, and with rigid cam following, so it's like the balloon is nailed to the sky. Another drifts with the Second Life wind, which is a nice idea in itself, but that balloon offers no other way to drive it.

And I have some ideas for automatic shoreline following.

How do you find the way to the shore? If you're near it already, then gradient following will likely get you there: go downhill if you're over land and uphill if you're over water. You also want to keep your velocity parallel to the shore, but you have to combine those goals: far from the shore you want to go directly towards it, but near the shore, along it.

It takes a bit of thought to turn that idea into mathematics that works in ideal circumstances, then more thought to turn it into practical engineering, tuning the control systems for performance and stability, and dealing with practicalities like flat ground, local hollows, ban lines, sim boundaries, and so on.  Then there are other sorts of terrain-following you might think of: following any contour line, following Linden roads, seeking mountain peaks, navigating over the sea...

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