The Summer Roadtrip Droptop by REIGN.-

The Summer Roadtrip Droptop by REIGN.

The Summer Roadtrip Droptop by REIGN.- You can see more information here. As is the case with all pictures on this blog, click for a larger version, which opens in a new window.

The July 2017 round of Collabor88 marked the first foray of well-known and well-regarded SL shoe brand Reign (stylised as REIGN.-) into vehicles. Now, I’m not particularly known for using – much less reviewing – SL vehicles, as I’ve always found them to be rather terrible to use, so this post is a foray into what could be considered uncharted blogging territory for me.

Why do I find using vehicles in SL terrible? First of all, the fact that driving and flight simulation controllers (steering wheels, pedals, flight sticks, throttles, rudder pedals and the like) have never really been integrated with any SL viewer cripples them w.r.t. their feel. Like it or not, they all feel like a driving or flying arcade game converted for an old home computer whose only gaming controller is its keyboard. Think Out Run on a PC.

Second, region crossings are always subject to the vagaries of inter-region handshakes and data transfers, and the amount of data that needs to be transferred depends on the travelling avatars’ texture, mesh, sculpt, prim and script load. This, in turn, causes all sorts of problems, including camera problems that can ruin your experience. I don’t even want to know what effect the abolition of net neutrality will have, but if you start having even worse region crossing problems, thank the morons and the neo-fascists who voted for Trump.

Third, the depth and realism of the simulation has always sucked compared to proper simulators like X-Plane. Fourth, there’s just too much unauthorised and unlicensed content on the SL market; far too many vehicle vendors in SL have taken, without authorisation or licensing, meshes from third parties, thrown their own scripts in, and that’s it. I can understand that a scripter may not be good with Blender, Maya or what have you. In this case, it’s always better to cooperate with a 3D artist who will create the necessary meshes and optimise them accordingly.

Finally, as is the case with far too many things in SL, because of the antediluvian and outdated default camera offsets, the vehicles are at least 20% larger than they are in RL, and, in many cases, they are no-mod.

Enter the Summer Roadtrip Droptop

So, the only use I’ve ever had for SL vehicles is to place them somewhere as decor. Of course, if a vehicle is no-mod, it’s useless even as a prop. At any rate, when I saw the Summer Roadtrip Droptop, I thought it’d be a good idea to give it a shot. After all, it’s not particularly expensive; it’ll set you back less than one US dollar. Even in today’s crappy RL economy, that’s not a prohibitively high price.

The Summer Roadtrip Droptop by REIGN.-

It has a cute and nostalgic design that harks back to the recipe of small, spartan, cheap, rear-engined cars of the 1950s and 1960s that were offered by the likes of Fiat, Gutbrod, NSU, Renault and others, without really copying any particular original design; instead, it incorporates – rather successfully – influences from many different brands. Refreshingly enough, it’s also not oversized at all. In fact, its size is realistic and pretty much true to what was the norm in those days. Plus, you get four cars in the package, each with its own colour scheme.

The inside of the car...

The inside of the car…

There are many nice details all over the car. For instance, the spartan interior that resembles the one of the original Fiat 500, the small whitewall tyres, the luggage rack on top of the rear bonnet, the (uncomfortable-looking) wicker seats; only the cup holders seem out of place and out of era.

The wicker seats look downright uncomfortable.

The wicker seats look downright uncomfortable.

The menu is relatively intuitive to use. I found myself needing less than five minutes of clicking around to get going, and didn’t even bother much with the instructional notecard. The driving experience is typical of an SL car, with the steering being somewhat more precise than what I’ve seen in other designs. Also, it’s obvious that the designer understands we use vehicles as props in SL, so several poses are included (I used a separate poseball from the “Live Free” set by Le Poppycock for the post’s opening photo, though).

So, is everything great with this car? Well, you’re certainly getting a generally well thought-out product at a great price. However, everything has drawbacks, and this car is no exception. Several of these drawbacks stem from simple misunderstanding and others stem from the designer’s own workflow.

Texturing

As I mentioned, you get four cars, each with its own colour scheme. I would much prefer it if you were given the option to use a HUD or a submenu structure to choose the bodywork and interior textures you wanted. Second, it’s a pity that the car doesn’t take advantage of normal and specular textures. Even blank 32×32 textures, with the appropriate values entered, would have worked wonders for the bodywork, the brightwork, the lights and the windscreen. I guess you could do this yourself, but I’m afraid you’ll have to hold your horses. The textures are grouped in a rather odd manner. For instance, the tyre and wheel combination has one texture. Therefore, you cannot just choose the hubcap, apply a blank texture as its specular and enter the glossiness and environment values you think would work best, as this would also affect the rubber, which would be unrealistic. The luggage rack’s texture is grouped with the suitcase. The bodywork textures aren’t grouped together. Finally, I’m not impressed by the headlamps; they are not perfectly convincing.

It would have been much more helpful if the textures were grouped as follows: bodywork & dashboard; brightwork; headlamps and indicators; other lights; seats and suitcase; door cards; tail lamps; windscreen; tyres; mechanical parts. That way, the designer or the buyer would find it easy to use materials in order to achieve the desired effect for the various parts of the car. Another gripe is the choice of colour for the mechanicals under the floorpan. Generally, these are painted black in almost all cars I’ve seen. Here, they’re almost white. It’s not hard to rectify – after all, the car is copy/mod. But I can easily see how the grouping issue can make things a bit difficult.

Features

Underpinnings

Although the bodywork suggests a rear-engined car, the underpinnings visible underneath show a front engine/rear-wheel-drive layout.

There’s one glaring issue with the mesh of the car. No, it doesn’t have to do with its geometry or what have you: the mesh is pretty much perfect, but the issue lies elsewhere. While its bodywork makes it perfectly clear that it’s a rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive car, we see its drivetrain follows the front engine/rear-wheel-drive layout. This is rather undesirable discrepancy, which can become apparent from certain angles. Furthermore, I’d have liked it a lot more if the headlamps were textured better and functioned as projectors when lit. Also, it’d have been great if the doors opened, but that’d be perhaps nit-picking, especially given the price.

Finally

Don’t let the drawbacks I mentioned discourage you. It’s a good product. It looks good, it’s cute, it does the vintage thing well, it avoids potential trademark and/or design patent infringements very successfully, it’s copy/mod, and, despite the texture grouping issue I’ve mentioned earlier, an advanced builder can do a bit of work to tweak its looks and make it even more realistic for photographic work. And you can use it both as a decently-handling vehicle and as a prop. Did I mention it’s cheap? And now, I’ll leave you all with a more provocative photo I’ve taken using it as a prop.

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Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-NE

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5 thoughts on “The Summer Roadtrip Droptop by REIGN.-

  1. I used to play with Il2, Red Baron and other well known flight simulators and i must agree with the feeling of a bit Arcadia of Sl. But where in hell one can find such a place where you can do all that and plus all the rest as in Sl? GTA was close but not the same.
    Also some simulators can not manage to emulate the reality of Sl, Sailing is the most closest to reality that one can have, parachuting as well.
    But i’m also a ferocious defender of everything that is mod, I make all i Do with “What the Fuck You Want to Public License” http://www.wtfpl.net/ and i do believe that driving and crossing sims are worth just by the cheer amazing surprise of being able to reach and see more and more regions that way then just teleportation over or flying to them.

    1. I can’t pass judgement on the realism of sailboats in SL, because I have never used a sailing simulator on a PC or game console, and I have precisely zero RL experience with sailing. Likewise, I have never flown an aeroplane, a glider or a helicopter in RL, but I’ve used X-Plane a few times on a friend’s computer, and it was a machine with four displays, three graphics cards, and all the necessary controllers. Of course, I have several years of driving experience (scooters, motorbikes and cars), and I’ve used both arcade-style (think Out Run, which I’ve mentioned in my post) driving games and driving simulators. With my experience, I can say that SL cars and planes feel like you’re playing an arcade game rather than a real simulator. I don’t know if this is because of the limitations of LSL, to be honest.

      1. Well i could advise you to try racing Nascar in SL, even real life Nascar racers felt it was the most close to reality:), but the fact that Sl interface does not work good with joystick controllers, at least to my knowledge, can be a restrain to realism, however where any can get the chance to use a bike, a car, a train, a boat, a plane, a rocket or else, all in the same space, all at same time?

          1. Region crossing is the compromise one has to accept to be able to use mainland or immense areas of land connected to each other. Where else could you sail for more then 4 hours on a row, without passing for the same spot once but in sl? But ok we can both agree that dedicated game simulators are always better then Sl emulations, but the fact remains, you can not find any other place where all are integrated and working at same time with better results then in SL.

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