My greatest thrill writing about virtual worlds with user-generated content like Blue Mars or Second Life is coming across projects you never thought possible. Take this helicopter, which is quite probably the first chopper made for Blue Mars, which I recently spotted on YouTube:
It was created by a Blue Mars user known only as "0ne", who describes himself as an extremely new user, an emigre of the now-defunct world called There.com, where he also made vehicles. “I have spent more time in the City Editor than I have in the actual world,” he admits, laughing.
A programmer in real life, 0ne played around with Blue Mars’ Lua scripting until his chopper worked the way he wanted: “I used the ‘AddImpulse’ function to make it move, and I made it so that it always points to the helicopter's Z+ axis (up) so that it can go up/down. Then I used the same function to control the pitch, yaw, and roll of the helicopter in order to point the Z axis in different directions. So, which ever way the Z axis is pointing, the helicopter flies that direction (like a real helicopter.)"
You can read more about 0ne’s chopper in the description of this YouTube video. Pay no attention to the visual quality of the helicopter itself: “[It] needs major upgrades so that it looks better in Blue Mars' awesome graphics," he tells me, "but right now I was just worried about getting it to fly.” (Priorities!) Even better, 0ne tells me he may bring a private jet he once made in There to Blue Mars too.
What about Blue Mars should I write about next? Email and let me know: hamlet at bluemarsonline dot com.