Saturday, February 2, 2008

Second Life Surfing 101

If you are new to Second Life (SL) or new to SL surfing, here is a Q&A covering basic questions about surfing in SL.

What is Second Life Surfing?

There are many beach sims in Second Life with virtual waves coming into the shore. Orginally developed for their aesthetic appeal, Second Lifers soon identified waves as a source of potential fun. Today there are a variety of wave types, which have characteristics that allow surfers to ride them. Different waves have different characteristics. Different boards have different scripts, allowing them to perform different maneuvers on Second Life waves. Second Life surfers try to perform many of the same maneuvers that surfers execute in real life.

Where is it possible to surf?
To surf in Second Life, you need surfable Second Life waves. Most beaches with surfable waves will mention this in their profiles or on notices on the beach. If in doubt, look for surfboards on the beach and ask the regulars. Check out Socks' Rough Guide to Second Life Surfing for the full run down of surfing sims.

Is Second Life surfing difficult to learn?
Fortunately for many, Second Life surfing is much easier to learn than real life surfing. For one thing, you don't have to hold your breath for long or be a good swimmer! Second Life surfing is easy to start, but remains difficult to master.

What do I need?
Many surfing beaches have established beach clubs and club boards available for use by novices and regulars alike. Other beaches have surfboards for rent. Frankly, we suggest that you try using a club board a few times and see how you get on. If you like Second Life surfing, then buy your own board.

Can I surf anywhere in Second Life that has waves?
It's possible to surf most waves in Second Life, since the majority of waves on popular beaches are now surfable. However, as with other sims in Second Life, some beaches are private or members only and its not possible for visitors to surf. You may also come across beaches that do have public access, but don't allow you to use your own board. Read more about some of the best surfing locations in Second Life in SurfWatch Surf Reports. For a full guide on Second Life surfing spots read Socks' Rough Guide to Second Life Surfing.

Where can I buy a board?
There are many, many surf board shops in Second Life. Major surf beach locations generally have several surf shops offering a variety of boards and accessories. So, there are basically two ways to buy a new board: 1) find a popular beach location and check out the surf shops 2) search for surfing or surfboards in Second Life search (inworld).

Are boards expensive?
Boards range from L$ 450 to L$ 2,000, although most seem to be about L$ 555. Prices depend on how new the board design is, the features included in the board's script and the manufacturer.

Are there different types of board?

Yes. There are long boards and short boards. Some boards have scripts that enable more maneuvers than others. And then you have a myriad of graphic designs. The majority of surfboards in Second Life use animation scripts developed by Heather Goodliffe. However, you will also find i) non-HG boards that use scripts created by other developers (eg. Action Surf & Skate, HP Surf Boards and Rob John,) and ii) hybrids that use HG scripts, but also incorporate some extra scripts of their own for special features/functions. Custom board designers can create surfboards to your own specifications, with a unique design and sometimes with customised scripts.

I have a surfboard but it looks like its sinking: why?
Linden Lab updated the software server code for Second Life sims in April 2008 and the new update changed the 'physics' of how objects behave in Second Life. As one consequence, surfboards made before the update rezz a few inches below the water instead of on top of it. See the SurfWatch article on Heather Goodliffe's board update program.

Are there rules for Second Life surfing?
Not rules as such, although each sim will have its own rules, but there is a generally accepted surfing etiquette, which is much the same as real life surfing. In brief, the key points in Second Life surfing etiquette are:

* Line-ups -- Get in line and wait your turn in the line-up (queue to catch waves)

* Rights of way -- The surfer closest to the wave has the right of way

* Drop-ins -- Don't catch a wave already being surfed by another surfer (this is called 'dropping in' and is not polite)

* Paddling out -- Paddle in either side of the surf (via the 'channel') not straight into the waves

How do I meet other surfers?
Most Second Life surfers are friendly people! They are all to happy to meet other surfers (and wanna be surfers). Identify the surfers, go up, say hello, ask about the beach and the surf. Surfers are usually pleased to help and give advice.

What is the difference between the types of Second Life wave?
There are three types of popular surfing wave at the moment: 1) Ocean foam or 'fluffies': these are white waves that sit low on the water and are easy to maneuver on; 2) Pipeline waves: these are rollers that have a curved shape and allow surfers to surf up and down the face of the wave; 3) EPIC: this is a big, tubular wave that provides the closest thing to a tube riding experience in Second Life , allowing surfers to surf inside the tube.

Are there any surfing clubs?
There are a growing number of surfing clubs, competitions are becoming more frequent and more and more Second Lifers are taking up virtual surfing. Many core surfing beaches have members surfing clubs, so go to the beach and ask!

What is the best way to learn Second Life surfing?
As with many new pastimes inside Second Life and out, you can learn by trial and error (simply start surfing and find out first hand what works and what doesn't work) or you can get lessons. Some Second Life surfing beaches have beginners surfing lessons to help you fast track your learning process. Majini Island has a surf school.

Where can I find out more about Second Life surfing?
Come back to this blog! And often! Also 1) check out the Second Life Surfing Association site 2) join an Second Life surfing club 3) talk to other Second Life surfers.

First published 27 February 2008. Updated 21July 200

Useful links
SurfWatch Surf Reports: Socks' Rough Guide to Second Life Surfing (9 Jul 08)
SurfWatch: Heather Goodliffe announces board update program (5 May 08)
SurfWatch: Surf Reports
URL: Second Life Surfing Association (SLSA)

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