A Station Among the Stars

I’ve been experimenting with an interesting set of goodies I discovered on the Marketplace — interlocking modules that let you construct your own custom space station or starbase, with almost idiot-proof simplicity and a lot of room for fun and creativity.  Market by Exosphere, the modules are fully mod/copy, and cover many of the situations you’d find in an RPG space opera, with more planned for the future.  You could also put together a nice, if perhaps a little lived-in-looking, spacegoing homestead for yourself.  Since the modules are mod-allowed, then if you’re good with texturing, you could redress the interiors to something less “worn.”  (As an aside, seeing this starbase does make me wonder what the insides of the RL International Space Station look and smell like after over 15 years of occupancy.)

Starbase 1

This is an exterior view of the work/test/construction platform put together by one of the owners of Exosphere, Brenda Hoisin, which she was kind enough to let me wander around in, as well as led me on a few tours of.  As you can see, Brenda’s station is complex and rambling; but it doesn’t have to be this way.  You can make yours as simple as you wish for your needs with just a few basic modules and connectors.  This one has most of the currently available modules attached, and so has many up-and-down access ways to get from level to level.  For even faster access to crucial areas, you could add in a teleporter system.  (I have noticed that you cannot do double-click teleports anywhere on board, which I find interesting.)

The following photo-rich article will seem like a bit of a catalogue, but I reserve that for Brenda and her (I believe) senior partner in the business, Eco Chronowire, at their blog/product site.  You can find the entire current line at their Marketplace store; there is no in-world store at the moment.  This is more of a travelogue, I hope, around a product line that I find very intriguing.  It is rather plugging their wares, but it’s worth it if you’re interested in the spacegoing life for yourself in Second Life.

Starbase 2 - Landing zone

There are two ways to arrive at the station:  landing at a dedicated landing dome which can serve as a single-ship “garage,” or the more public method of coming in at this landing pad terminal, with room for two ships at a time.

Starbase 3 - Entrance

With the multiplicity of spacecraft available, there is no standardized docking connection; so you’d better suit up to cross from your ship to the entrance airlock, which has double iris-style doors.  Remember to close the outer door and allow repressurization before opening the inner door!

Starbase 4 - landing-departure control

Inside, you’ll find an arrival-departure control center, and locations for adding in optional departure-lounge furniture (included with the module).  The furniture snaps into position using the same technology that lets you link modules seamlessly (more of which at the end of this piece).

Starbase 6 - long straight plain corridor

Access between sections can be directly between each module, which are usually separated by some sort of door, or by several different styles of corridor.  This one is relatively plain, and allows a view on either side of the station exterior; other styles are available, with various amounts of technology and viewports laid into the walls.  One particular long-bend corridor has a tech-y inner curve and windows on the outer curve.  Using four of those and four working modules, with a four-way junction, will give you something that could resemble a starfish to a degree.  (A new junction style has just been introduced, according to the Marketplace, allowing for another type of branching method.)

Starbase 7 - observation zone

Have hatches you don’t need to connect another module to right now, and want to seal off?  There’s a variety of “endcaps,” ranging from simple plates to radar dishes to observation blisters, to this larger dome with seats on the sides.

Starbase 8 - Research lab bulkhead

Most “square” doors are sensor-operated, opening when you approach and closing behind you.  According to Brenda, the owner can lock doors as needed, but I haven’t discovered how to yet.  I’ll need to ask her for the particulars at some point.  Iris doors open and close with a click; if you prefer continuous traffic access, just leave them open — although there’s always the danger of depressurization if you do that….  Specialized modules have marked doors that open and close on a click.  For instance, here’s the hatch (past a junction iris) to the research lab….

Starbase 9 - Research lab

…which comes with a variety of hardware available out of the package.  You can just make out me sitting at a work station on the right here.

Starbase 10 - Sickbay

The medical bay has an exam table with several animations laid in, and a quarantine area behind a curtain door, with two beds — one of which is behind a force curtain, for those really nasty patients.

Starbase 16 - Security 1

Security has its own module, which is not easy to get into.  Flash your pass here at the window and the duty minion, who will let you through the first checkpoint; beyond, there’s a metal detector with a second curtain door,…

Starbase 17 - Security 2

…beyond which is the actual security area.  The cameras follow your movement, which can be a little creepy until you get used to it.  One section is set off for office use, and there’s a brig area with two cells (mesh curtains to lock the malefactors inside until the space marshals arrive to transport them to the rockpile at the mining asteroid).

Starbase 18 - Alien Containment Lab

Are your people into collecting alien lifeform specimens?  There’s a fully-equipped containment lab, and several different species are available.  A few of them have eyes which may track you as you go by, so make sure the domes are sealed.  (Of course, if containment should ever break down, all bets are off….)

Starbase 19 - Crew Quarters (Commons)

The crew needs someplace to sleep and recreate.  Unless you insert a few empty modules and dress them as crew quarters, you can add some of these dedicated areas.  Each one has its commons, with two small cabins and a common steam room/shower area.  (Don’t think about living arrangements the size of something on Star Trek:  Deep Space 9 or similar; these cabins are cramped, with room for a rack bunk and maybe a table with two stools.)

Starbase 20 - Armory

For those times when you must resort to force majeure, haul your ashes down to the armory.  The goodies on the walls are for show, but you could set up your own weapons dispensers.  (Make sure anyone grabbing a pulser checks it out and in with the duty clerk behind the window.)

Starbase 21 - Dual-track lift tube

Need a lift?  There are vertical transporters that serve as connection points between levels; or, for something sexier, this dual-direction elevator tube is nice.  Someone can be going in both directions simultaneously, though that didn’t happen here.  (Or, if you don’t want to ride, you can walk down…but who wants to walk?)

Starbase 22 - Council Chamber

Regional meetings and pow-wows can be held in the Council Chamber, complete with large display board behind the podium, and animations for listeners and speakers alike.  (You can insert your own screens into the display, incidentally; it’s set up to run them as a slide show.)

Starbase 15 - Exosphere to Black Bishop Forseti link

Exosphere supplies connection points to two other brands of goodies:  the Forseti line from Black Bishop (pictured here is one of their core domes; I’m standing in the connector module beyond the curtain door), or to the Quandry Industries Nikov Construct space station.  Both sections are free on the Marketplace.

Starbase 11 - Airlock exterior

Some scenarios require you to get outside somehow or another.  Exosphere kindly supplies an airlock.  Open the internal iris, and you’ll find a curtain door that leads to the connector tube; and then this intimidating piece:

Starbase 13 - Airlock interior

Step on the pad and click the door — you did remember to close the iris doors, right? — and the room will depressurize and the door open with appropriate honking of a warning klaxon,…

Starbase 14 - Airlock open to space

…leaving you ready to go walkies.  (You did also remember to seal up your suit?  Okay; we’ll talk to again at the next séance….)

Starbase 25 - Escape pod 1

There are many more modules available or planned, but I wanted to note this last, recent addition.  Is your starbase suffering from a bad case of alien invasion, and you haven’t been able to hold off the ravening horde advancing on you?  Can’t make your way to the ships??  Solace and salvation are near, if you can fight your way to it:  an escape pod.  Up to three people can rush through the connector tube…

Starbase 26 - Escape pod 2

…and take seats on board.  (Here I am with Brenda Hoisin of Exosphere and another Resident, demonstrating this new goodie.)  Make sure you do take a seat, because when the owner clicks the button and the countdown finishes, then the gravity tether is released….

Starbase 27 - Escape pod 3

…and you’re cut free from the station — into a free-fall!  Fortunately, every starbase is orbiting a planet somewhere, so you’ll find a landing at the end of a long, tumbling re-entry.  Your graphics card better be able to keep up with this sucker!  Mine almost collapsed from the strain of trying to keep up with the refresh of this tumbling craft, and it’s brand-new with a crapload of memory.  Exosphere’s advertising plugs this escape pod as one of the wildest rides in Second Life, and I believe!  Quote:  “After a short time, the Escape Pod will hit the sim surface and may continue to bounce and roll. Depending on the regional land slopes, you may even end up several sims away. Do not attempt to exit the unit until it comes to rest.”  It thoughtfully deletes itself after 300 seconds, so you don’t need to worry about leaving trash on the land.  A new pod will replace the lost one at the docking tube, ready for use — should anyone still survive on board the station….

Starbase 28 - linking modules 1

I did promise to talk about how the modules connect together.  This is a setup I’ve built over my house, within a generated star bubble also available from Exosphere.  You’ll note the zebra-striped squares on each piece above; these are the connection points.

Starbase 29 - linking modules 2

It’s completely easy to do; just remember that you click on the module you want to move first, to attach it to the surface you want to stay where it is.  As Exosphere puts it, “I want this to go there.”  So here, I’m mounting a module onto the corridor.  Click on the hatching on the module first, then click on the same hatching on the corridor.  The module will twist around automagically and align itself to the proper point.

There’s lots more you can do here, but I’ve rattled on long enough already, and I haven’t bought everything because I don’t need it all for the small installation I’m putting up.  If you’re curious, follow the links at the top of the article and check it out, or direct questions to Brenda and Eco.

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