Movers and shakers

Posted January 23rd, 2010 by wonko

I am working on a bunch of ideas, but common things like “airlocks” and doors are the first to get a guernsey. In our homebase, we will need airlocks – little intermediary chambers in between sectors.


An airlock with an "activate" pair of doors

There are a bunch of building primitives, so i made an elongated tunnel, purloined a “fence” segment [looked sort of industrial] and programmed it to slide down on activation – nothing new here. In the production airlock there will be a wall-mounted button to do this also, that would look more natural.  It did however get me thinking about moving objects in general.

Now I have seen vehicles, lifts and other essential things in other Activeworlds, so decided it was high time I understood how these things work. It seems there are 3 “classes” of objects termed “movers”.

Server-controlled movers are objects that users ride but do not have any control over the path they take. Lifts and busses are examples of this sort of mover – you “hop on board” and initiate the trip somehow [activate = click, bump = coming in physical contact with] and the object then follows the pre-set path with the user on/in it. All movers let you “detach” yourself from them via a button-bar icon, but it would be normal to go for the full ride and have the mover detach itself from you automatically when you are safe, at your destination and most importantly stationary.

Lift via a "server-controlled" mover

Lift via a "server-controlled mover"

There are some nifty controls available when defining these things. The movement is controlled via a “waypoint editor” – you control the world coordinate displacement in XYZ, velocity, as well as the bumpiness of the ride [rock and roll] with pitch, yaw and roll. There are some complications using “add on bump” when you try to get off the mover – each movement is another “bump” whilst on the surface of the mover which can get interesting [or less so if you do not want to re-take the journey].

The amount of control you have here is quite feature-rich and if you choose a suitable “pad” object, quite natural movements can be achieved. This sort of mover has natural applications for lifts, travel tubes, roller coasters and so on where you get on, strap in and hang on.

Magic carpet ride via a "user-controlled mover"

Magic carpet ride via a "user-controlled mover"

User-controlled movers are a lot of fun – naturally I decided I needed a “magic carpet” and decided you would need to climb on board and then click to say you were ready for a ride [and again click when you wanted to get off].  Walking [and flying] unassisted is necessarily tedious in most virtual worlds – a user-controlled mover lets you go fast and can make the journey much more entertaining. Essentially, a user-controlled mover “enhances” player movement – speeding it up, making flying much more risky – the control you have over this form of transport is fairly detailed – I had the carpet dipping and rolling, banking and flapping on tight corners, so violently in some trials that it actually flung me off when I banked too hard. It is rare that I howl with laughter whilst experimenting but this was fun – the avatar and the object are also separately configurable – this means that, although the carpet is wildly flapping underneath me, my avatar is steady … or the other extreme where you lean, tilt and get chucked about.

Cars, spaceships, skateboards and gliders are but a few obvious applications of this type of mover. The world has a bunch of cars but I could not find one in the Q2 sim that actually let me drive – it might be that the config is confusing for little kids – I am sure however we can come up with “vanilla” recipes of setting for types of vehicles.

"Pick-up" mover locations

"Pick-up" mover locations from

The third class of mover is a “pick-up” item that is attached to some part of the avatar [as per location tags above] – they are similar to user-controlled movers except you carry them around and choose when to wear them. I can see jet-packs, helicopter beanies and rocket-powered rollerblades as applications for this sort of mover. Because they are attached to the avatar, seeing them to remove them is problematic [indeed – server and user-controlled movers need to be big enough for you to see if you are relying on using activate to use them]. These become active when you attach them to you or hold them. Will play some more here when an application surfaces – they do not appear that different to user-controlled movers to warrant time now.

So what? I can see movers being very useful – transporters between locations, walk-through and guided tours of facilities, personal transportation and a bit of fun – if an oldie like me gets the giggles trying to hang on on a magic carpet ride, then I think our punters might like it also – especially if they can make and configure them themselves. Races take on a whole new meaning if you limit their speed setting but let them play with other parameters and get them to take to an obstacle course.

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